DEF LEPPARD Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (Island)
HALL & OATES Playlist: The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates (RCA)
MUDCRUTCH self-titled (Reprise)
PORTISHEAD Third (Island)
THE ROOTS Rising Down (Def Jam)
Also free, is their Madison Square Garden show on June 23rd. (They'll be playing another gratis gig at London's Brixton Academy a week prior.) Fans are exhorted to check coldplay.com for updates and not the venue box office since no tickets will be available there.
1. BOBBY DARIN “I’m Beginning to See the Light” (Capitol)
2. THE DRAMATICS “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” (Stax)
3. FOO FIGHTERS “Everlong” (Roswell/RCA)
4. GOO GOO DOLLS “Don’t Change” (MCA)
5. ISLEY BROTHERS “It’s Your Thing” (T-Neck)
6. DEAN MARTIN “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” (Capitol)
7. THE POSIES “Going, Going, Gone” (DGC)
8. PRINCE “Anotherloverholenyohead” (Warner Bros)
9. SIMON & GARFUNKEL “The Only Living Boy in New York City” (Columbia)
10. STEELY DAN “FM” (MCA)
So, to help you plan your above 85 degree season film watching season, we direct you to the good people at PopMatters, who have put together a four-month installment of upcoming flicks, called "The Return of the Popcorn Circus", starting with movie releases for the month of May. Butter and salt, please. Thank you.
No word as to whether this performance will herald future live appearances by the beloved and influential '90s quartet. In the meantime, here they are performing "Stop" and "Mountain Song" at the event (quality is not 100%):
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Julian Lennon, Sean Lennon--heirs to their dad's publishing--and EMI Blackwood Music Inc, seeks financial damages and the filmmakers to cease distributing, selling and promoting the movie.
Expelled hit theatres on April 18th.
BLIND MELON For My Friends (Adrenaline)
ELBOW The Seldom Seen Kid (Polydor)
THE FEELIES Crazy Rhythms (A&M)
STANTON MOORE Emphasis! On Parenthesis (Telarc)
TOKYO POLICE CLUB Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek)
Shellac, Mogwai, and Polvo are among the other acts on the festival bill.
One question: Who represents the Ramones estate? With 3/4 of the original Ramones now deceased (that would be Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee) do original drummer Tommy Ramone, and long-standing drummer Marky Ramone have a say? Or is it the individual estates of, primarily, Joey and Johnny the ones in charge? Just curious...
MIRACLE BRAH Plate Spinner (Not Lame)
MICHAEL PENN MP4 (Days Since an Accident) (57/Sony)
THE RACONTEURS Consolers of the Lonely (Third Man/Warner Bros)
TV ON THE RADIO Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope)
What are YOU listening to?
According to their record company’s press release, beloved Argentine rockers Los Fabulosos Cadillcas will reunite and work on a new album and tour extensively, “following a six-year hiatus”. How do you ‘reunite’ after just “a six-year hiatus”? Especially in this era of three years between albums being the norm. Fellow Argentines Soda Stereo reunited last year, a decade after their 1997 farewell tour, and while the news of their re-teaming was a nice surprise, it didn’t feel like they’d been gone that long. Bands shouldn’t be able to reunite unless 15 years have passed. There, we’ve said it. Otherwise, it feels like a cheap marketing ploy, regardless of the intent.
“Well, we had Matthew McConaughey lined up initially, but Magnum, P.I. traditionalists raised a real stink about the mustache issue. It turns out Matthew can’t actually grow one,” producer Shel Burnstein told the dubiously-monikered Serious Sports Network, earlier this month. “The similarities between [Actor Tom] Selleck and Donnie are almost eerie. Their mustaches, I mean – they don’t actually look that much alike otherwise, but the near-identical ’stache is a big hit around Hollywood.”
Furthermore, SSN states that “McConaughey in the starring role drew scores of protests from mustache lovers everywhere. The American Mustache Institute was especially vocal.”
We shit you not.
Production for the movie would begin after the current baseball season, since, according to Bernstein “a mustache like that is worth the wait, especially if we can get [Dodgers manager Joe] Torre to play Higgins.”
The Onion just got served.
It's all about the reissues today. And one artist in particular:
THE REPLACEMENTS Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Stink EP [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Hootenany [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Let it Be [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
1. BEATLES “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (Apple)
2. BLIND FAITH "Can't Find My Way Home" (ATCO)
3. DAVID BOWIE “Space Oddity” (RCA)
4. JOHNNY CASH “A Boy Named Sue” (Columbia)
5. CROSBY, STILLS & NASH “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (Atlantic)
6. THE GUESS WHO “Undun” (Buddha)
7. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE “Crosstown Traffic” (Reprise)
8. KING CRIMSON "21st Century Schizoid Man" (Atlantic)
9. LED ZEPPELIN “Whole Lotta Love” (Atlantic)
10. B.J. THOMAS "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" (A&M)
11. THE WHO “I’m Free” (Decca)
12. FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” (Bizarre/Reprise)
"Whatever. The song kinda sucks anyway. Don't bother. Fuck 'em."
Well, actually, we've got nothing against Weezer, so we'll agree with the first half of the above.
On Wednesday and Thursday night, The Late Show with David Letterman, featured Gossip and The Black Keys, respectively. Not bad.
We’d never heard of Gossip, which features a very large front woman who’s not afraid to shake her booty to the primal but fun groove created by the guitarist and drummer that round out the trio. Nice, but nothing to write home about. On the other hand, we’d not been unimpressed by The Black Keys in the past, and last night, the raw, blues-informed vibe of the Ohio duo’s “I Got Mine” even got Dave and resident bandleader Paul Shaffer into it. (See video clip below.)
Good stuff. Still needs a bass player, though.
[The Stranger album cover courtesy of allmusic.com]
1977's The Stranger, the album that many consider to be Billy Joel's finest moment, will get the the deluxe reissue treatment on July 8th. Columbia Records plans to release two versions: a two-CD set and a two-CD/single-DVD package. The extra disc consists of the previously unreleased "Live at Carnegie Hall 1977", recorded on June 3rd of that year, prior to the sessions for The Stranger. The DVD includes video clips and a 1978 hour-long appearance on the BBC's "The Old Grey Whistle Test", which allegedly only aired once. Chuck Klosterman's gotta be ecstatic.
Today's NY Times has a piece on "Record Store Day" and how lack of music sales have decimated some 80 local shops across town.
First it was "YYZ" with Rush, now this. They're gonna revoke Dave Grohl's alt/indie membership. Ha! What say you, Pitchfork? Interestingly, the Foos never seem to do this sort of thing here in the US. (Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush joined Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins in Toronto; the Huey Lewis jam was in Osaka, Japan.)
Avery's impressive solo album, Help Wanted, was released last week on indie label Dangerbird.
Comets on Fire, Foals, a one-off Green River reunion, The Helio Sequence, Iron & Wine, Low, and the aforementioned Mudhoney, among others.
Oh, yeah, the new album is called Saints of Los Angeles. (Which would be Saints of the Angels, in Spanish. Ha!) Release date is June 17th.
[Paul Simon courtesy of RollingStone.com]
Just in time for his Neil Diamond-like reappraisal by a generation of hipsters, an interview with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin has resurfaced, in which the saxophonist accuses Paul Simon of outright theft–-and more-–during the sessions they collaborated on for Simon's landmark Graceland album.
"I have plenty of recollections of working on that one [Graceland]. I don't know if you heard the stories, but it was not a pleasant deal for us. I mean he [Simon] quite literally–-and in no way do I exaggerate when I say–-he stole the songs from us...The guy was clueless...He's the world's biggest prick, basically."
"It was ridiculous. [On the second day together with Simon in the studio] I think David starts playing 'The Myth of the Fingerprints,' or whatever he ended up calling it. That was one of our songs. That year, that was a song we started working on By Light of the Moon. So that was like an existing Lobos sketch of an idea that we had already started doing. I don't think there were any recordings of it, but we had messed around with it. We knew we were gonna do it. It was gonna turn into a song. Paul goes, 'Hey, what's that?' We start playing what we have of it, and it is exactly what you hear on the record. So we're like, 'Oh, ok. We'll share this song.' A few months later, the record comes out and says 'Words and Music by Paul Simon.' We were like, 'What the fuck is this?'
We tried calling him, and we can't find him. Weeks go by and our managers can't find him. We finally track him down and ask him about our song, and he goes, 'Sue me. See what happens.'
Classy. (We've also heard first-person accounts about Simon's less than pleasant undertakings in the past.) If the above is true, they should've sued Simon, just on principle alone. Here's the entire interview.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Spiritualized, Beck, Foo Fighters, Gnarls Barkley, N.E.R.D., David Byrne, the Raconteurs, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, John Fogerty, Roky Erickson, the Black Keys, Del the Funky Homosapien, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, José González, Erykah Badu, Manu Chao, the Mars Volta, Antibalas, and more.
Oh, and those flavor of the month losers are also on the bill...
The album is tentatively scheduled for an early May release.
[Nada Surf's Matthew Caws courtesy of redboy.com]
NADA SURF / SUPERDRAG
4/11/08 - Terminal 5, NYC
About halfway through their 90 minute set, Nada Surf vocalist/guitarist Matthew Caws announced, "Contrary to popular belief, we enjoy playing this song. And now we'll enjoy playing it for you." With that, bandmates Daniel Lorca (bass) and Ira Elliott (drums) joined him by launching into "Popular", the 1996 MTV hit that once threatened to bury them in the black hole that is one-hit wonderdom, before their 2003 comeback with album number three, Let Go, breathed new life into their career.
And on this full-house homecoming--probably their largest headlining audience to date--they seemed to be keenly aware of this fact: 10 of Let Go's 12 tracks made the set list; twice as many as current album Lucky in fact. Regardless, the Brooklyn trio--augmented by Calexico multi-instrumentalist Martin Wenk--was in fine form, making the most of an evening in which they were joining their 1996 tourmates and fellow Elektra Records signees Superdrag for a bit of heady mid-90s nostalgia.
Since they reunited last year, the original Superdrag lineup--John Davis (vocals, guitar), Brandon Fischer (guitar), Tom Pappas (bass, vocals) and Don Coffey, Jr (drums)--has been performing a set culled largely from the band's first two albums, Regrettfully Yours (1996) and Head Trip in Every Key (1998), as well as some John Davis solo tracks.
Kicking off their high-energy, hour-long stint with fan favorite "Garmonbozla", the boys from Tennessee did not disappoint one bit and had no problem winning over the New York crowd with their rockin' show and Southern charm. (They warmly acknowledged the evening's vibe of brotherly love between the two bands by dedicating "True Believer" to Caws.) Yes, they played a bunch of their best loved tunes, including "Do the Vampire" and their big hit "Sucked Out". But who expected otherwise? Glad to have you back, gentlemen.
July 9 Seattle, WA
July 10 Portland, OR
July 14 Morrison, CO
July 15 Morrison, CO
July 17 Oklahoma City, OK
July 19 Kansas City, MO
July 20 St. Louis, MO
July 22 Grand Rapids, MI
July 23 Indianapolis, IN
July 25 Cleveland, OH
July 26 Pittsburgh, PA
July 29 East Rutherford, NJ
Weinberg is said to be making the move to Los Angeles when O'Brien takes over for Jay Leno as The Tonight Show's host next year.
The CD version of April, on Kozelek's own Caldo Verde Records, is out now and contains 4 bonus tracks. (They are alternate versions of the album's "Tonight in Bilbao", "The Light", "Like the River" and "Tonight the Sky".) Upcoming tour dates can be found here.
1. THE BEASTIE BOYS “So What'cha Want?” Check Your Head (Capitol)
2. CHOCOLATE GENIUS INC “Amazona” Black Yankee Rock (Commotion)
3. HELMET “Speak and Spell” Size Matters (Interscope)
4. LONGWAVE “Wake Me When It's Over” The Strangest Things (RCA)
5. THURSTON MOORE “Patti Smith Math Scratch” Psychic Hearts (DGC)
6. NADA SURF “All Is a Game” The Weight Is a Gift (Barsuk)
7. RADIO 4 “State Of Alert” Stealing Of A Nation (Astralwerks)
8. JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION “Calvin” Acme (Matador)
9. TV ON THE RADIO “The Wrong Way” Deperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go)
10. UNSANE “This Plan” Occupational Hazard (Relapse)
[VP of alt-Latin indie Nacional Records; MC for the Latin/Jewish rap crew Hip Hop Hoodios; co-founder of the Latin Alternative Music Conference; attorney; former publicist; and more importantly, long-time "5"er, Norek contributes to our fair blog a post "about an Indiana artist who was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [who] deserves your attention and...your money. All he asks is that you put your Williamsburg/Silver Lake/DF hipster-ness aside and give him a fair shake." You've been warned. - KJ]
The first album I ever purchased was a used cassette copy of John Cougar Mellencamp’s American Fool at the Slingerlands Elementary School student sale. It was 1982 and the massive drumbeats and farm boy swagger of “Jack and Diane” were thoroughly rocking my second grade world. An early infatuation with Mr. Cougar began one snowy day several months prior when school was cancelled and I spent the entire afternoon glued to the MTV in our basement. At some point, a scruffy guy in a leather jacket from Indiana appeared on the screen. Sure, the Hell’s Angels he rode motorcycles with looked vaguely menacing, but then the singer flashed a goofy grin, harkened the viewer to “make it hurt so good,”and did a soulful strut across a run-down diner parking lot. My musical DNA was altered forever.
Many groups captivated my MTV-addled mind in the elementary school years. While I was spellbound by the big hair and hook-filled synth-pop of Duran Duran and Kajagoogoo, these highly stylized acts were still too otherworldly and exotic to personally relate to. In early ‘80s upstate NY, the local industrial scene was not so much “Manchester underground” as it was Schenectady General Electric.
My ensuing love affair with heartland rock was a rollercoaster ride marked by various highs and lows. One particularly bleak moment was a failed attempt as an eight year old to enter the MTV “Pink Houses” contest (the prize being an actual pink house in Bloomington, Indiana with Mellencamp performing at the winner’s moving-in party.) My mom quickly dashed those dreams, admonishing that “we’re not moving to Indiana, and you’re not getting a pink house!”
Mellencamp also got me in trouble in other ways. Although I came from a comfortably middle class background, at sleep away camp I was “the poor kid” who hailed from a small town outside of Albany, New York that nobody had ever heard of. Rockin’ the boombox with albums like Scarecrow, the 1985 classic about the plight of family farms during the Reagan era, was not exactly the best way to endear oneself to wealthier bunkmates. Some of the brats from Beverly Hills and Westchester would pick on me and call me a hick, but what did they know? Certainly I was keeping it more real with John Cougar than the campers from the 90210 who didn’t see the irony of blasting N.W.A.’s “F*** tha Police” on end. (Early pre-Rodney King childhood observation: “Um, aren’t the police who your parents call when they see a person of color standing in front of their Bel Air gated communities?")
Fast forward a few years. Before I was conscious that ‘Rock en Español’ was an actual genre with a storied history in Latin America, I translated and performed “Pink Houses” as “Casas Rosadas” in 8th grade Spanish class. Encouraged by the newfound attention from classmates and friends--particularly of the female variety--I eagerly added additional anthems from my musical heroes (usually of the Mellencamp/Petty/Springsteen mold) to the bilingual song canon: “Jack & Diane” became “Juanito y Diana,” “Free Falling” was “Libre Cayendo,” etc. A chance experiment with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” as “Hielo Hielo Bebe” led me to the conclusion that rap en español was far easier to perform than rock, since almost every word ended with an “a” or “o” and could be more convincingly rhymed. A decade later this observation would allow me to tour parts of the globe as MC for Hip Hop Hoodios, but still, credit is due to the Indiana knight for inducing these post-ethnic excursions in the first place.
Nearly three decades after scoring the American Fool cassette for twenty five cents, being a John Cougar fan hasn’t gotten any easier. Co-workers chortled when they heard I paid seventy five bucks for tickets to my Mellencamp/[John] Fogerty dream bill. Spoiled camp mates from the Westside of LA who called me a hick have been replaced by a fiancee from East LA who calls me a hick. That’s OK, though. It takes a certain type to appreciate the redneck liberal genius behind rock staples like “Authority Song” and “Pink Houses".
I still remember seeing Mellencamp’s clip for “Small Town” in fourth grade and thinking he made the video just for me. Music video shot in an unremarkable, all-American looking small town? Check. Gratuitous shots of kids playing little league baseball? Check (the video happily coincided with the apex of my short-lived career as a shortstop for the General Electric-sponsored team.) Real life video extras who looked like they visited the bar more often than the gym? Check. The video was shot in Indiana, but it could as well have been any small town in the rust belt economy spanning from the Midwest all the way east to Albany.
This writer has no beefs with the Arcade Fires and Bright Eyes of this world--he’s heard that some people even enjoy listening to them. Let the hipsters mock The Cougar all they want, but he just shuffled his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is still pissing vinegar into the GOP punch bowl more than thirty years after his debut. To paraphrase another fine Indiana poet, the late Kurt Vonnegut: Here’s to many more years of pissing, Señor Mellencamp. And so it goes.
"We are increasingly relying on slow, sleepy music and unchallenging books to take our minds off the pressures of modern living...Coldplay...seem to hit just the right spot among Britain's insomniacs."
(He never recorded in the studio with Genesis but performed on stage with the band, and is featured on the live Seconds Out and Three Sides Live albums. Bruford also released some highly acclaimed prog rock albums of his own: Feels Good to Me, One of a Kind, and Gradually Going Tornado. He also happens to be our favorite all-time drummer, hands down.)
While Genesis was always quite popular they seemed to catch more flack than any of their art-rock contemporaries. The live performance of their signature work, the two disc concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway [Atlantic-1974], was derided by many for the theatrics employed by lead vocalist Peter Gabriel in bringing to life the numerous characters that populate the story. (The album itself was heralded as an extraordinary work.)
On the other hand, when they decided to scale down the length and complexity of their songs on …And Then There Were Three [Atlantic-1977]—its title a reference to the band being reduced to its core members, vocalist/drummer Phil Collins, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford, and keyboardist Tony Banks—Genesis was met with accusations bordering on duplicity and sedition: “…this contemptible opus is but the palest shadow of the group's earlier accomplishments," was Rolling Stone’s take on the album that became the blueprint for their massive success in the ‘80s. Before they got all Lite-FM on us, the Collins-led Genesis had a couple of decent albums towards the end of their run. Duke [Atlantic-1980] is definitely one to seek out.
“An uncanny masterpiece” is what The Who’s Pete Townshend called In the Court of the Crimson King [Atlantic-1969], and very few have dared disagree. (Omar Rodriguez-Lopez probably has its tunes memorized.) The debut album by master guitarist Robert Fripp’s ever-changing ensemble of players—among them, one Greg Lake, soon to be of Emerson Lake & Palmer—is breathtaking in its fluidity and scope. From the fearsome, hard rocking, free jazz-influenced “21st Century Schizoid Man” to the majestic title track that closes the album, this is one for the ages. The eighth and final King Crimson album—or so it was thought of at the time—Red [EG-1974], is an economical, stripped down affair that alternates between heavy proto-metal guitar riffs (“One More Red Nightmare”, the title track), soft pastoral soundscapes (“Providence”) or both (“Fallen Angel”, “Starless”). A fan favorite.
After a 7-year hiatus, Fripp formed a new King Crimson with stunt guitarist/drummer Adrian Belew and bassist Tony Levin—in addition to the returning Bill Bruford—and released the new wave-influenced Discipline [Warner Bros-1981], a landmark album that managed to evoke the spirit of the band’s past and point to its future, while keeping its feet firmly in the present. Truly ahead of its time. (Just ask Primus.)
The most popular and enduring of the prog rockers had their first major crossover hit in 1971 with “Roundabout” but the following year they released what may consider the pinnacle of the genre, Close to the Edge [Atlantic-1972]. Featuring just three songs—on the original vinyl, the side-long title track plus side two’s sublime “And You and I” and the pseudo funky guitar and organ workout of “Siberian Khatru”—the album featured Yes’ classic lineup: vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and, of course, Bill Bruford on drums. Even the non-prog friendly folks at Pitchfork call Close to the Edge "an essential document of just how powerful prog could be when focused." It’s probably safe to say you don’t like progressive rock if you don’t dig this one.
The studio release following Close to the Edge has the distinction of being one of the most debated albums in the annals of rock music: Tales from Topographic Oceans [Atlantic-1973], an ambitious, symphonically-conceived, four-song, double LP mostly written by Anderson and Howe and inspired by their interest in Eastern religions. Yup, sounds dicey. And in fact, it is. Lead off track “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” holds up during its entire 20 minute length, but the rest of the album’s shining moments are quite few and very far between. Considered by some as the nadir of prog rock, Tales is in essence another classic example of a double album that could’ve been singularly improved by slimming it down to one. Still, it's got people talking and arguing about it some 35 years later.
Yes always had a strong underlying current of pop sensibility no matter how complex and elaborate their songwriting. Which is why the contemporary pop smash that was 90125 [Atlantic-1983] was not much of a surprise: they simply inverted the formula with great results both artistically and commercially. This is the one with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, by the way.
Where are they now?
Genesis reunited in 2007 for a summer world tour after a ten-year hiatus. A new studio album is “very unlikely” according to Phil Collins.
Albeit with a different set of musicians—as always, led by Robert Fripp—King Crimson has not stopped touring and recording since their 1981 reformation. (The Crimson vaults have been bursting with numerous live albums released by Fripp’s own DGM label on both CD and digital download. These include both classic performances and recent shows as well.)
Yes had been on hiatus since 2004 but in early 2008 a summer world tour commemorating their 40th anniversary was announced. Titled “Close to the Edge and Back” it will feature Oliver Wakeman—son of Rick—on keyboards, in addition to Anderson, Squire, Howe, and drummer Alan White (1973-present).
Carolina González and Seth Kugel
[St. Martin's Griffin]
Yes, a big chunk of it is about food—not that there's anything wrong with that—but the authors often go out of their way, literally, to check out a few off-the-beaten-path music venues and night clubs; and the section titled "The ABCs of Latin Music" is an on-point, 5 page summary/primer that should be read by anyone interested in learning the basics of "ñ" music. Another worthy section, "Latino New York: Now on DVD or in a Bookstore Near You" is self-explanatory and highlights a few overlooked gems from the worlds of film and print. Bottom line: these guys truly know their stuff. (Full disclosure: We are friends of the authors and did some minor research for the book.)
An informative and entertaining read that captures the essence of Latino NYC in its many and diverse manifestations, this is the rare guide that is indispensable for both natives and newcomers alike. Highly recommended.
The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Dead Or Alive, A Flock of Seagulls and Naked Eyes will tour this summer as part of the inaugural '80s-themed Regeneration Tour, scheduled to begin August 1 at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix.
It’s been rumored that Warner Bros will make available online their entire out-of-print catalog. There's a lot of that music people want and would gladly purchase directly from them, and since no printing or advertising costs would be involved, it could also offset a portion of lost revenue from piracy. More importantly, from their current standpoint, they’d have much more control of the product in the marketplace.
Which brings us to what a record store-owning friend told us last year: he theorized that if the majors wise up they will find a way to cut out the middleman—iTunes, eMusic, etc—and sell directly to the consumer in whatever digital format we want. "You want Bob Dylan? Come to sony.com. We got him exclusively."
The band is currently in the studio working on a new album for a tentative 2009 release and a tour to follow. (Hurry up, boys: Live Nation is counting on that touring cash.)
[Thanks to "5"er Harold Martinez for the heads up.]
THE BREEDERS Mountain Battles (4AD)
NICK CAVE & the BAD SEEDS Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (Anti)
JOHN COLTRANE The Impulse! Albums: Volume 2 [5 CD Box Set] (Verve)
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER Come and See the Show: The Best of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Shout Factory)
[Click on above links to listen to entire album.]
[Tin Machine cover art courtesy of allmusic.com]
Tin Machine [EMI-1989]
Live: Oy Vey, Baby [Victory-1992]
After his groundbreaking and highly varied work in the ‘70s, David Bowie started the ‘80s by following the noted Brian Eno-produced album trilogy—Low, Heroes, and Lodger—with Scary Monsters, arguably his last classic album. He would end the decade that brought him deserved superstar status (via the blockbuster Let’s Dance album, in particular) by choosing the one option this chameleon-like artist had yet to embrace: to become an equal member in a four-piece rock band. It was also the last time Bowie would find himself ahead of the musical curve.
Joining forces with American co-horts—stunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the former Todd Rundgren rhythm section comprised of Sales brothers Tony and Hunt, on bass and drums, respectively—Tin Machine debuted with a self-titled, raunchy, bluesy, heavy-hitting record that deftly quotes and insinuates elements of the previous 25 years of guitar-based rock music. (We’re looking at you, Reeves.) It not only earned positive reviews but also predated the raw, unadorned music that followed in the wake of the Seattle-based grunge explosion of the early ‘90s. Loaded with gems, the album rocks hard (“Heaven’s In Here”, “Under the God”, “Pretty Things”, “Video Crime”, the title track) but doesn’t forsake catchy melodies for power (“Baby Can Dance”, the Who-influenced “Bus Stop”) and includes one of Bowie’s most beautiful love songs: the trippy, near-psychedelic “Amazing”, as well as quite a few instances of social commentary. (The cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” does not improve one bit on the original, but then again it wasn’t much to begin with.)
Surprised and baffled by Bowie’s new band and the perceived shift in his seemingly established aesthetic, a few detractors were aghast: noted critic Ira Robbins of the Trouser Press Guide called it “blunt, vulgar, violent, ephemeral and derivative” and accused Bowie of using Tin Machine as an excuse “to revisit his past under cover of an autonomous timeline (thereby escaping accusations of regression)”. All of this may or may not be valid, but in the end, like all albums ultimately do, Tin Machine speaks for itself. And the quite pleasing, roaring sound it makes comes across loud and clear.
After a long and storied career, it’s safe to assume that one other thing Bowie did not foresee encountering was the possibility of a sophomore slump: Tin Machine II is both a tad under-cooked and a little more commercially-inclined than its predecessor, consequently falling short of the debut’s power and consistency. It is in no way a dud, however: “Baby Universal” is a catchy rocker; first single “One Shot” was a minor hit that could’ve easily been on Scary Monsters; the majestic balladry of “Amlapura” is a welcome change of pace, reminiscent of “Amazing”; and closing track “Goodbye Mr. Ed” is arguably the best thing on the album. (The hidden track “Hammerhead” is not bad, either.)
As if Gabrels’ six-string firepower wasn’t enough, the band brought along British rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Armstrong to augment their live sound (on stage Bowie stuck to singing and occasionally playing saxophone), which can be appreciated on Oy Vey Baby, its title a cute pun on U2’s 1991 comeback album. It must be stated here that despite its inspired moments (“Amazing”, “Goodbye Mr. Ed”, and the 12-minute “Heaven’s in Here”) Oy Vey is not the place to start when inquiring about Tin Machine; for the most part, it fulfills the simple function of demonstrating how the band sounded live. A worthy purchase if the band's studio recordings strike your fancy, though. (Fans of guitar heroics are sure to find much to like.)
It has been said that Bowie’s core audience never embraced the band and allegedly made their distaste quite known. (The pinnacle of this dissatisfaction was evident when the band’s roadies actually resorted to wearing t-shirts that read "Fuck You, I LIKE Tin Machine.") For whatever reason, Bowie considered the experiment over and resumed his solo career shortly thereafter, bringing along Gabrels on a partnership—including Tin Machine—that lasted over a decade.
Definitely worth checking out, this brief detour—Tin Machine lasted a mere 4 years together—is recommended to those interested in the various incarnations of The Thin White Duke. Some of it, after all, is amazing.
Availability: Tin Machine has since been remastered, while II and Oy Vey, Baby are currently out of print. (II is actually a quite sought after collectible, especially the American version with the uncensored album cover.) Bowie hinted in the mid-90s something about the possibility of releasing a box set's worth of the band's unreleased material, including what was to be Tin Machine III, but has remained mum on the subject since.