Quote of the Day

"It’s Slippery When Wet with umlauts."

- Todd Totale revisits Dr. Feelgood, which Motley Crue plans to play in its entirety this summer.


Spector Gets 19 Years to Life

Phil Spector was sentenced [May 29th] to 19 years to life in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson who was shot through the mouth in the music producer's home six years ago.

Spector, 69, looked straight forward and showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler ordered a term of 15 years to life for second-degree murder plus four years for personal use of a gun.

The judge also ordered Spector to pay $16,811 in funeral expenses, $9,740 to a state victims' restitution fund and other fees.

Spector, dressed in his customary dark pinstripe suit with a red silk tie, was led away immediately. His attorney asked that he be transferred immediately from county jail to a state prison. It was not immediately known to which prison Spector would be assigned.

Spector gained fame decades ago for what became known as the "Wall of Sound" recording technique that changed rock music.

Clarkson was most famous as the star of Roger Corman's 1985 cult film classic "Barbarian Queen." She was 40 when she died.


Happy Birthday

The Modfather himself, Paul Weller (51), on May 25th; rocker Lenny Kravitz (45), on May 26th. Here are two respective faves of ours:

Worst Album Cover of the Decade

It's pretty safe to say the upcoming sophomore release from VH1 reality star Brooke Hogan--daughter of the Hulkster himself--is the winner. Feast your eyes on this monstrosity:

Milestones: "Eighties"

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]

Yes, it's been 25 years since Killing Joke released this classic single. Dedicated to Mr. G.R. Jones:


Are We The Only Ones Who Think...

..."American Idol" has gone from a launching pad for mainstream pop singers to a Broadway musicals casting service?

Even though we rarely, if ever, watch the show those who do have assured us over the years that we were right in our original assumption. But after we caught the remaining two hopefuls singing a couple of bars of Queen's "We Are the Champions" during the recent season finale, we're thinking the "Idol" folks are going to staff the next Rent. Bleech.

And speaking of "American Idol"...

Quote of the Day

"He's the most influential musician alive. Every bad singer on American Idol tries to sound like him, and fails miserably...
It would be an inspiring thing for him to be the musical laureate of America. Because he is anyway."
- Elvis Costello on Stevie Wonder


Top 5 Most Popular Music Sites

During the month of April these were the music sites with the most unique visitors:

1. AOL Music (28,634,778)
2. MySpace Music (27,423,200)
3. Yahoo Music (20,578,092)
4. MTV Networks Music (18,543,442)
5. ArtistDirect Network (12,193,996)

[Courtesy of hypbebot]


Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Jay Bennett,
best known as a key member of Wilco, from 1994 to his departure from the band in 2001--after working on their landmark album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot [Nonesuch-2002]--died at home in his sleep
on May 24th. The exact cause of death is unknown at this time.

Bennett recorded five solo albums post-Wilco. The most recent, Whatever Happened I Apologize, was released in late 2008.

He was 45 years old.

Milestones: Illmatic

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]



Illmatic is the best hip-hop record ever made. Not because it has ten great tracks with perfect beats and flawless rhymes, but because it encompasses everything great about hip-hop that makes the genre worthy of its place in music history. Stylistically, if every other hip-hop record were destroyed, the entire genre could be reconstructed from this one album. But in spirit, Illmatic can just as easily be compared to Ready to Die, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Enter the Wu-Tang as it can to Rites of Spring, A Hard Day's Night, Innervisions, and Never Mind the Bollocks. In Illmatic, you find the meaning not just of hip-hop, but of music itself: the struggle of youth to retain its freedom, which is ultimately the struggle of man to retain his own essence.

Prefix magazine, January 1, 2002


Like Sunday Morning

Dub Side of the Moon [Easy Star - 2003]
Radiodread [Easy Star - 2006]
Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band [Easy Star - 2009]

For the most part, just the mention of tribute albums these days pretty much provokes dismay or worse, indifference. But a few years ago when we first heard of a reggae tribute to Dark Side of the Moon, our first reaction was "Damn, what took them so long?" After all, Pink Floyd's seminal album is a pothead classic, so giving it the reggae/dub treatment was a no-brainer. New York's Easy Star All-Stars were up to the task, and what could've been a lazy parody turned out to be a fun, able re-imagining of a legendary album.

After the critical and commercial success of Dub Side of the Moon, the All-Stars tackled what many believe to be the 21st century Dark Side of the Moon itself: Radiohead's OK Computer. Fans of the beloved Oxford quintet held their breath and braced for the worst--the pun in the album title didn't help--but if ever fears were unfounded, this was it: Radiodread succeeds in such a way that reggae fans unfamiliar with the source material would surely embrace it; and those of us who love OK Computer can't help but be amazed by the seemingly effortless nature of these well-crafted covers, featuring such reggae icons as Horace Andy, Toots and the Maytals, and Israel Vibration.

Despite successfully reinterpreting two timeless recordings, setting their sights on the best known album in Western Civilization must've been a bit of challenge. Doesn't sound like it: the All-Stars adeptly make The Beatles' ornate 1967 masterpiece their own, without a blemish. However, unlike their previous two releases, they mostly equal and rarely surpass many of the exceptional reggae covers of the Fabs' material already out there. Then again, we're talking about some of the most covered material in pop music, so the most fair of assessments would be to recognize Lonely Hearts Dub Band gets the job done in an enjoyable and satisfying manner, nonetheless. Special mention: the dreamy dub arrangement of "Fixing a Hole" and "She's Leaving Home".

While we are mostly partial to Radiodread, all three of these releases are worth picking up and for much more than just the novelty/curiosity factor. With this trilogy of recordings the Easy Star All Stars have admirably and successfully managed to breathe life into the album-length tribute, a phenomenon that had sadly become tired and rote. More, please.

Why Don't We NOT Show it In the Road?

After his security people voiced their concerns, Paul McCartney asked that his London home not be searchable via the Google Street View web application. His request was granted.

Quote of the Day

"This is kind of weird, but you know what I watched for the first time last weekend? Eddie Murphy Delirious. It's funny, every guy who hears this can't believe I made it through the '80s without watching this film -- it sounds like it must've been a boys' sleepover staple, the same way Pretty in Pink was for my group of friends in junior high."

- Whitney Matheson, USA Today's PopCandy blog.

Um, since she's an adult married woman now, Matheson's husband should inform her that kids old enough to watch Delirious did not have "a boys' sleepover" unless they were passed out, drunk, on the floor. She makes it sound like a lost scene from Big.

The Church in NYC

Veteran Australian rockers The Church will be touring behind the just released Untitled #23 [Second Motion] and performing live at NYC's Irving Plaza on July 8th. More tour dates here.

Iggy Pop Plans to Re-form The Stooges

Guardian UK:

Five months after the death of guitarist Ron Asheton, Iggy Pop announced this week that he plans to re-form the Stooges. The singer hopes to reunite with Stooges guitarist James Williamson to perform tracks from their legendary Raw Power album.

"There is always Iggy and the Stooges, the second growth of the band," Pop told the Australian. "I had a meeting in LA last week with James [Williamson]. It was the first time we had seen each other in 30 years. So we talked about doing something together. Raw Power would be the repertoire."

Released in 1973, Raw Power is a punk-rock touchstone. Its eight songs were co-written by Pop and Williamson, and mixed by David Bowie. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain frequently called it his all-time favourite album and Henry Rollins has the title of one of the album's songs, Search and Destroy, tattooed on his back.

If the Stooges go back on tour, Mike Watt of the Minutemen is strongly rumoured to replace the late Ron Asheton on bass. No dates have yet been announced.

Iggy Pop's new album, a jazzy record inspired by a Michel Houellebecq novel, was released this week.

Why, Iggy? Why?


A Message to Williamsburg and Silverlake Hipsters

Courtesy of The Most Interesting Man in the World:

[Sorry for the ad but this one was too good to pass up. -KJ]

Now on Channel 86: Recently Cancelled TV Shows

Close to 40 network TV shows just got canceled this week. The pulling of the plug for some of them was unexpected, others deserved it, but in the end, they all got the ax. Here are some notable ones not coming back next season:

"My Name is Earl" (NBC)
Thought this one was popular and doing quite well. Guess we were wrong.

"Samantha Who?"
Caught this Christina Applegate vehicle one once or twice; were not impressed.

"Boston Legal" (ABC)
Killer show; too bad it's gone. But syndication--already in effect--should whet any appetites for this one.

Man, this thing was the medical "Law and Order": 15 seasons. Should generate even more moolah than it already has in syndication.

"King of the Hill" (FOX)
Two words: Abe Vigoda. We didn't even know they still made new episodes of this one.

"Prison Break"
(See "King of the Hill")

"Kath & Kim"
This Molly Shannon-starring comedy had disaster written all over it, from the get-go, in our humble opinion. Looks like TV-watching folks concurred.

"Sit Down, Shut Up"
Wow, this animated series only got 4 episodes aired before it got dropped. We saw the first 2 and enjoyed 'em. Oh, well...


Blues for the Common Band

One of our biggest gripes is the sad state of affairs that is bands trying to make a name for themselves performing live in NYC. Inquiring as to our availability, we recently we got an e-mail from a local promoter who strikes us as not only someone who we’d like to work with, but also a stand up guy who is genuinely invested in doing the right thing. Suffice to say, we regularly forward his emails to friends in bands actively playing out and looking for gigs, as well as looking forward to working with this promoter in the very near future.

But this particular email of his reminded us once again why, as performers, we're so disappointed in the NYC live music scene. (When fellow musicians tell us it’s actually WORSE in L.A., we just sigh dejectedly and count our rather limited blessings in that regard.)

The whole point of playing live—aside from developing stage “chops”—is to get exposure for your act and connect with an audience. But we live in a city where clubs don’t cultivate a following of their own—there are very little or no places out there that prompt people to say “Hey, let’s pop into 'Bar X'; there’s always great live music there. It may or may not be our cup of tea, but it won’t suck”—so, consequently, folks come out ONLY to see bands they know and leave as soon as those guys are done.

Why? Well, after sitting thru a couple of bills loaded with crappy bands, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the vast majority of clubs/promoters book their venues based on draw and not on quality. Which explains why people split after their buddies are done with their sets. They don’t want to risk sitting thru some crappy-ass bands, and rightfully so: they’re spending their hard-earned cash on this particular experience with so many other sure-thing entertainment options available to them out there.

Bands need to reach a wider audience; not just friends coming out to give their support. Don't get us wrong: we think it's an awesome thing to have friends and family come out to see you play—God bless 'em—but they have lives and can't be coming out to all your shows. The idea is to reach people whose only connection to you is your music and their desire to see it performed live. The question then becomes, where are these people and how do we get to them? Not in the bar you’re playing, unfortunately. And in this city—with the aforementioned situation and myriad of entertainment options available to folks—it's an uphill battle. Facebook and MySpace help, but only so much.

But that’s how it is here, and so we deal with it.

Here’s the big question, though: how does one get any exposure and expand one’s fan base under these circumstances? And if a new/upcoming band can draw 50 people on their own—and are not guaranteed extra exposure—why have a club make that money when they can find some loft space to set up their gear and play, charge $10 a pop, buy a couple of kegs, get a buddy to DJ between sets and make a party of it? It might be a much better option all around. (The same applies regarding what we told an industry buddy who stated that indies are looking to sign acts that can sell 3000+ albums on their own: “If you can sell 3000 copies on our own why would you WANT or NEED a label?”)

For the record, this particular promoter was looking last minute for a band with substantial draw to play a venue with promised exposure to A&R guys and a decent technical set-up. Very cool. We commend him for providing that kind of opportunity. But he is a lone wolf in that sense, since most clubs make high-draw demands on a daily basis, and yet have nothing to offer in return but a time slot. (And we didn't even get to the infamous pay-to-play policies of certain venues and/or their catering only to acts whose management and/or label can foot the bill for an entire door cover charge—$400, give or take—so they can perform in front of an audience.)

Sorry for the rant. But we needed to get this off our chest and hopefully it will reach someone who understands and is in a position to do something about it.


Alice in Sampleland

One of our fave tracks of the year--and quite reminiscent of some classic DJ Shadow grooves--is this reconfiguring by an Australian DJ that goes by the name Pogo, based on samples from Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

["5"er GR Jones gets props for the heads up.]

Saturday Night it Is, Then (maybe)

Friday night is such a hipster orgasmatron: Beasties, YYYs, the much despised by us VW, the National, Fleet Foxes...ugh. Unfortunately, two hip-hop favorites of our are also on that bill: Q-Tip and The Pharcyde. Also, we don't know who half the folks on the Sunday lineup are, so Saturday it is. Not that we're necessarily going to make it out there: we're tired of dealing with the muddy sound and bad sightlines inside; outdoor summer shows barely even register with us anymore. [sigh]


Start Us Up

[They've called us out over at The JB Random Report regarding our opinion of The Rolling Stones pretty much coasting during the last 25 years, as far as recorded output goes. But we're not haters. So, we're posting a relevant feature from the 12/2/02 issue of our old newsletter to prove it. -KJ]

While The Beatles are without a doubt the most popular and influential act of the rock era, it can be argued that The Rolling Stones have had more of a direct influence on the sound of the rock combo per se. Never ones for elaborate studio wizardry, The Stones’ loose, seemingly sloppy groove and interlocking twin-guitar approach has been adopted by countless bands, particularly within the American indie/alt-rock nation--just ask The Replacements or Liz Phair. And let’s not forget the band’s influence on Aerosmith, Guns 'N' Roses or The Crowes: both Sheryl and Black.

So, we’ve compiled a few lists--we even went over our customary number of entries on one of them-- and dedicate this issue entirely to one of the few acts--even though it’s been a long time since they’ve deserved the title--to have ever been worthy of being called The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.

"The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band changes every night. Somewhere in some little dive in the middle of nowhere there’s a band playing like nobody’s business. And on that night, they are the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band."
Keith Richards


(in chronological order):

1. Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones Records-1971)
Welcome to the ‘70s. The Stones will be your guide.

2. Exile On Main St (Rolling Stones Records-1972)
Their ultimate album and one of the great rock and roll classics. Decadent, raunchy, awesome.

3. Some Girls (Rolling Stones Records-1978)
The punks may have said they were rebelling against the rock and roll status quo exemplified by The Stones. But privately, no one in their right mind would ever dis this one.

4. Emotional Rescue (Rolling Stones Records-1980)
Not a great one, but we have a soft spot for it, nonetheless.

5. Tattoo You (Rolling Stones Records-1981)
The last hurrah. Their final stab at remaining The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.

(in chronological order):

1. "19th Nervous Breakdown"
One of their coolest tunes. Just ask The Strokes: they’ve based their entire sound on this song.

2. "Ruby Tuesday"
A psychedelic classic.

3. "Gimme Shelter"
Not only a classic, this baby also boasts one of the greatest intros ever.

4. "You Can’t Always Get What You Want"
"...but if you try, sometimes you get what you need." Amen.

5. "Can’t You Hear Me Knocking"
The Santana-like jam at the end of this track is one of the top moments of guitarist Mick Taylor’s stint with the band.

6. "Happy"
Keith’s signature song: "I need a love to keep me happy". For us, sometimes this song alone comes mighty close.

7. "Shattered"
By 1978 disco and punk had threatened to make the Stones obsolete. This was their way of fighting back.

8. "Beast Of Burden"
Soulful, bluesy, and hands down, one of their very best. A bedroom classic, as well. Oh, yeah.

9. "Start Me Up"
The last great Stones classic. Great video.

10. "Waiting On A Friend"
Mick and Keith’s musical tribute to their long-lasting friendship. Beautiful.

Gotta fit "Under My Thumb", "Time Is On My Side", "Paint It Black" and "Send It To Me" in there somewhere, though. [Our thanks to "5"er Amanda Hanks for inspiring this list.]

There’s a million of these, but here are 5 interesting ones:

CHARO AND THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA / "Let's Spend The Night Together"
Yes, that Charo. We’ll let you make up your own mind about this one.

DEVO / "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction"
When covering a song the idea is to make it your own. Otherwise, what’s the point? One of the coolest covers in rock and roll, period.

PETER FRAMPTON / "Jumping Jack Flash"
More Stonesy than the band’s own classic. The rare instance of the cover actually improving on the original. Look for the version off Frampton Comes Alive!

BETTE MIDLER / "Beast Of Burden"
Midler covers the Stones? Bleecch! Not even Mick Jagger’s appearance in the video could save this one.

BRITNEY SPEARS / "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction"
"Satisfaction" is one of the most covered songs of all time, so it merits double mention. It’s also been desecrated more times than we care to list (memorable among them: Justine Bateman’s all-girl bar band in the 1988 film of the same name) but Ms. Spears’ version is just plain horrendous.

Despite the Stones’ reputation for being a great live act and huge concert draw, their live albums have never met with much critical acclaim ­ or sales.
(We happen to like Still Life [Rolling Stones Records-1982] but acknowledge it's not all that. And yes, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out [ABKCO-1969] is overrated. It doesn't suck, tho.)

Milestones: Regatta de Blanc

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]


Regatta De Blanc


Bearing a faux francais title--it's supposed to translate as "white reggae"--the trio's sophomore effort is definitely a step forward sound-wise from its predecessor. Its punchy bass, crisp drums and aggressive, but well-defined guitars came to be known collectively as "the Police sound"--widely imitated but never quite equaled. Kudos to producer Nigel Gray.

While Andy Summers has no solo-penned songs on this one, Stewart Copeland contributes three, two of which are among his very best: the humorous birthday nightmare "On Any Other Day" and the jazzy "Does Everyone Stare?" Of course, once again Sting wrote the bulk of the material--including such live staples as "Walking On The Moon", "Bring On The Night" and the all-time favorite among non-casual fans, "Message In A Bottle"--but Regatta is the most collaborative of Police albums as far as songwriting is concerned.

It also includes their best attempt at straight-up reggae: "The Bed's Too Big Without You". Legendary reggae producers/sidemen Sly & Robbie produced a cover of this last song, while The Roots' drummer ?uestlove is on record stating that "no pop album is more perfect than side two of Regatta De Blanc." Talk about props…

Milestones: Superunknown

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]




The first to sign with a major label but the last of the big ‘90s Seattle bands to break on through to the mainstream, Soundgarden’s early material is not that far removed from the tunes that made them the rock gods they briefly were. Whether their initial offerings Ultramega OK and the Grammy-nominated Louder Than Love—what a great title!—have aged well is a moot point. They are both—as is the entire Soundgarden catalog, for that matter—highly representative products and artifacts of their specific time and place, and as such should hold up to both scrutiny and repeated listenings. Of course, your mileage may vary.

That said, the kind of subtlety, nuance and attention to detail that characterizes Superunknown, their fourth and best known album, was never implied before. Certainly not on their first two full-length releases and not on their breakthrough 1991 disc, Badmotorfinger, despite that album’s marked improvement in every aspect over the band’s previous work. Soundgarden’s sound was at the intersection where Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and punk rock meet. On Superunknown they deftly added elements of pop and psychedelia and put together what is widely recognized as the best hard rock record of the decade.

And when you listen closely to this 70-minute, tour de force you can sense that the band knew it was onto something; that their songwriting had turned a corner and the need to make a lasting musical statement was in the air. However, a non-sympathetic ear in the studio could've changed the course of the album in irreparable ways. Luckily, former Material keyboardist Michael Bienhorn would be enlisted to flesh out the band’s sound with a panoramic, accessible production that brought out and featured Soundgarden’s best sonic qualities.

As for the songs themselves, the singles “Spoonman”, “Fell On Black Days”, “Alive in the Superunknown” and of course, the crossover pop hit “Black Hole Sun” were all an inescapable part of the mid-‘90s MTV-watching, radio-listening experience. But an album of this depth offers plentiful rewards, especially over time: in addition to the above, the plaintive “Like Suicide”; the defiant “My Wave”; drummer Matt Cameron’s “Mailman” with its dirgy, psychedelic Sabbath undertones; and the apocalyptic “4th of July”, are all a big part of what makes Superunknown a landmark record, offering up a widescreen view of this important hard rock quartet at the height of its powers.

Milestones: Amorica

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]



When the Black Crowes debuted in 1990 their sound was as out of step with the mainstream as the alt-rockers that took over little more than a year later. Hair bands ruled the day, but changes were afoot: on the strength of “She Talks To Angels” and the Otis Redding classic “Hard To Handle”, The Crowes sold 5 million copies of their first disc and established themselves as one of the ‘90s biggest acts.

With no big singles to its credit, Amorica, their third album, is best remembered these days for the close-up of the Stars ’n’ Stripes bikini with overflowing female pubic hair that graces its cover. However, it would be foolish to dismiss a high caliber album such as this solely on the basis of controversy and a lack of chart-busting action. Make no mistake, this is The Black Crowes at their best, for Amorica is pregnant with bluesy riffs, tasty grooves, and great songs that distill their Stones/Faces/Allman Bros. influences into one very fine brew; at once both heady and intoxicating. Drink up, baby.

"Gone", "A Conspiracy", "Nonfiction", "Ballad in Urgency",
"Wiser Time".


Milestones: Tin Machine

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc. which celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues with this one. -KJ]



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-hortsstunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the former Todd Rundgren rhythm section comprised of Sales brothers Tony and Hunt, on bass and drums, respectivelyTin 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.

[Tin Machine cover art courtesy of allmusic.com]


Top 10 Gripes About the New Star Trek Movie

We haven't seen it; the various Michael Bay-like trailers we saw did not inspire a, um, trek, to the local cineplex to witness what to us comes across as another Hollywood popcorn flick in space, and not the prequel to the televised and cinematic adventures of our favorite Starfleet officers.

But we're not alone: many of the hardcore faithful have taken issue with a few of the gaping holes in the JJ Abrams-directed Star Trek. Here are the main 10 gripes.


From the Vault: Time's Up

Time's Up


There had been a handful of African-American hard rock bands before them--most notably Washington DC's seminal Bad Brains--but when NYC's Living Colour broke on the scene at the tail end of the hair band era with their highly acclaimed and successful debut album Vivid (Epic)--which was released 21 years ago (!) last week--millions of mainstream hard rock fans pushed aside the novelty aspect of the band's lineup and definitely took notice of the exciting quartet and its distinct take on a stagnating subgenre.

After all the exposure and numerous accolades garnered by Vivid, the band released the sprawling Time's Up, which expanded on the soul ("Love Rears It's Ugly Head") and hip-hop ("Under Cover of Darkness" featuring Queen Latifah) flavors of their debut; showcased legendary guests Little Richard and Maceo Parker ("Elvis Is Dead"); and even added a touch of psychedelia ("This Is The Life", one of the greatest album-closing tracks ever) to their bone-crunching hard rock (the Zep-like stomp of "Pride", "Information Overload", and the title track). The band's lyrical content also featured their continued interest in socially conscious issues, incorporating war, history, race and sexual politics in a pointed but never heavy-handed manner.
(The guys from Rage Against the Machine must've been listening.)

While not as well known or readily accessible as its predecessor, Time's Up is an undoubtedly rewarding listen, one of the best records of its kind, and a brief snapshot of where hard rock found itself then: in between hair metal on its last legs and right before the Seattle explosion of the early '90s.

Inexplicably, the gold-selling, Grammy award-winning Time's Up is out of print on CD but still available for digital download. Check it out: time's running out.

New Wilco Album Cover

We dig Wilco 'round these parts but when they screw up--as someone clearly did by choosing this album cover--we're not gonna flinch. Here's hoping the music on this self-titled release, which hits retail on June 30th, is significantly more inspired than its graphic presentation. Good grief.

The Last of the New York Virgins

Headline sounds like a song title, huh? Well, in truth we're referring to the closing of NYC's Union Square branch of the Virgin Megastores. (The Times Square location closed shop last month.)

Idolator's Maura Johnston took a stroll--and some pictures--throughout the retail joint to potentially bargain hunt and record its final throes. The store is due to close by the end of May.

...and while we're on the subject...

Quote of the Week:
"Where will men shop if all the electronic shops and music stores close? Welcome to the digital desert."
- in London's Sunday Times, May 10, 2009.

What We're Listening To

LO BORGES [self-titled] (EMI Brazil)
Frampton Comes Alive! (A&M)
Cantina Claqueur (SVA Recordings)
LUSK Free Mars (Zoo/Volcano)
JOE ZAWINUL Rise and Fall of the Third Stream (Atlantic)

What are YOU listening to?


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Like the burrito, Cinco de Mayo is generally misrepresented: not a Mexican holiday per se--although it is observed in the state of Puebla--but a date that here in the US serves to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. (And for Corona beer distributors to up their advertising budgets.)

In light of the occasion and the recent woes which have befallen our neighbors to the south, we have chosen to pay tribute by featuring a trio of tunes from our favorite Mexican bands. (Unfortunately, none of them are from Puebla, but it's the spirit that counts, right?)

Café Tacuba:



¡Viva México, cabrones!