RIP: Jim Marshall

Legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall died in his sleep on March 24th in a New York City hotel room. No cause of death has been announced.

Marshall, an iconic artist whose career spanned 50 years, is credited with some 500 album covers. His best known images include Jimi Hendrix setting fire to his guitar at the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967, Johnny Cash giving the finger at San Quentin Prison in 1969, and the cover of The Allman Brothers' Fillmore East album.

A California resident, Marshall was in New York City at the time of his death for a photography-related event. He was 74 years old.


RIP: Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

Singer, songwriter, guitarist Alex Chilton, best known as a member of of '60s pop-soul group The Box Tops ("The Letter") and leader of power pop cult favorites Big Star, died on the evening of March 17th in New Orleans, of a possible heart attack. News of Chilton's death was confirmed by his Big Star band mate, drummer Jody Stephens.

Despite never being a household name, Chilton's music did garner some mainstream exposure late in his life: the theme song to That '70s Show was a reworking of Big Star's "In The Street", performed by Cheap Trick; Gilmore Girls featured the band's "Thirteen", and an exclusive prep school attended by one of the show's main characters was named Chilton Academy. His career both as a solo artist and with the aforementioned Box Tops and Big Star--each of which he rejoined in he mid-'90s--spanned 5 decades and influenced a score of artists including Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Teenage Fanclub and latter day Big Star band mates Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies.

And of course, there's The Replacements, whose Paul Westerberg wrote "Alex Chilton", which contains a line both author and subject will always be remembered for:

"I never travel far / without a little Big Star"

Alex Chilton was 59 years old.

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) pays tribute to Chilton on the floor of the US House of Representatives: "His music will live on forever...He is an embodiment of Memphis music: hard, different, independent, brilliant, beautiful. We're lucky he came our way."

[Alex Chilton photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images]


Best. Simpsons. Ever.

Well, at least it's our favorite ever: "Mother Simpson," the eighth episode from The Simpsons' seventh season, first aired in 1995 and it's a great one.

After faking his death to avoid going to work, Homer goes to the Springfield Hall of Records to clear things up. There he discovers that his mother, who he thought had died when he was a child, is in fact alive. A visit to Mona Simpson's grave reveals it is actually Walt Whitman's; when Homer accidentally falls into his own freshly dug grave, he is berated by a lady who claims he is in her son's final resting place. Homer puts two and two together and, after 27 years, is reunited with his mom.

We won't give away any more of the plot, but "Mother Simpson" manages to be both funny and touching, and along the way, reveals little mysteries, such as the reason for Lisa's intelligence. It also has, arguably, the most poignant finale of any Simpsons episode. A classic.

Red Hot Chili Peppers / "Magic Johnson"

50 years ago this fall, what many consider the greatest NBA franchise of all time, moved from Minneapolis to sunny southern California to become the Los Angeles Lakers. Why are bringing this up? Oh, it's just an excuse to post one of our fave tracks from the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Mother's Milk [EMI-1989]: a tribute to Lakers great Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

RIP: Corey Haim

'80s teen heartthrob Corey Haim died Wed. March 10th at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA. No cause of death has been announced, but Haim had been recently suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Best known for his roles in the movies Lucas (1986), and The Lost Boys (1987), the Toronto-born actor's career had been subsequently derailed by drug abuse. In recent years Haim co-starred with childhood friend Corey Feldman on the A&E reality show The Two Coreys, which was canceled in 2008 after 2 seasons.

Haim was 38 years old.

From the Vaults: The Action

Rolled Gold

It's quite fitting that in an era of disappearing record stores we'd stumble upon this long-lost gem of mod psychedelia while browsing in a now-defunct East Village shop a few years ago. A collection of demos recorded in 1967, Rolled Gold has been compared to such classics as The Who Sell Out and it's easy to hear why.

Originally recorded for George Martin's AIR label, its distributor, EMI, inexplicably passed on the recording and the potential album was aborted. Subsequently, The Action splintered and these songs remained missing until this 2002 release. A damn shame indeed, for this collection represents some of the finest music ever to come out of the British mod movement of the '60s. Lofty praise, for sure, but one listen will confirm any doubts you may harbor regarding this unearthed classic.

While it would not be surprising that some audio sweetening took place to ready these tracks for contemporary release, the production is impeccable, considering its demo origins. (As a matter of fact, at first listen over the aforementioned record shop sound system, we were under the impression this was probably the work of some retro-minded youngsters.)

Even though 35 years passed before it saw the light of day, Rolled Gold has aged incredibly well. No, strike that: this is a batch of timeless late '60s English pop that, luckily for us, was rescued from oblivion to be enjoyed over and over again.

Highlights: Far too many to mention--there is only one weak song among the album's 15 tracks--but "Things You Cannot See", "Brain" and "Climbing Up the Wall" are just outstanding.

[Album cover art courtesy of The All Music Guide]

It's ALL About Perspective

[courtesy of GR Jones]

New Releases

Among this week's debut are:

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB Beat the Devil's Tattoo [Vagrant]+
BROKEN BELLS self-titled [Columbia]+
GORILLAZ Plastic Beach [Virgin]+
TED LEO + THE PHARMACISTS The Brutalist Bricks [Matador]+
Sisterworld [Mute]+
JOSH ROUSE El Turista [Yep Roc]+
DAVID S. WARE Saturnian: Solo Saxophones, Vol.1 [AUM]

Also, the following reissues were released this week:

RUBEN BLADES Greatest Hits [Fania]
THE FLESHTONES It's Super Rock Time!: The I.R.S. Years (1980-1985) [Raven]
Valleys of Neptune [Legacy]*
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS Greatest Hits [Blackheart]
PAVEMENT Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement [Matador]+

*CD/DVD versions--the latter including interviews and relevant footage--of Hendrix's first three albums (Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland) plus First Rays of the New Rising Sun, were also released this week.

+ Album available in streaming audio on Spinner for a limited time.


Oscars Recap (sorta)

We don’t have much to add to the millions of words already written about Sunday night’s Academy Awards—and it's not like anyone really cares what we think about the subject—but we sat thru most of it so here’s our take, anyway:

- Our longstanding crush on Sandra Bullock notwithstanding, her Oscar win for starring in what is essentially a Lifetime movie—wealthy, white, suburban mom rescues inner city black youth who becomes an NFL player—was a bit much.

- The tribute to the late John Hughes was our favorite part of the evening; it was trés cool to see Matthew Broderick, Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Alley Sheedy, and Macaulay Culkin come together onstage to pay their respects to the man who helped make them stars. Broderick's funny and touching anecdote referencing the role for which he is best known was tops:

...and thanks to him, for the last 25 years, nearly every day, someone comes up to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, "Hey, Ferris. Is this your day off?"

- Wow, Jeff Bridges IS The Dude.

- No more choreography, please!

- A woman who made a war film won Best Director and her film got Best Picture: Kathryn Bigelow made history, yes. She’s also pushing 60 and hot, too. Sorry, couldn't help it.

RIP: Mark Linkous

Singer/songwriter Mark Linkous, who led the critically acclaimed band Sparklehorse, took his own life on Saturday, March 6th in Knoxville, TN. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Described by The New York Times as having "developed a style that sent sunny, Beatles-esque melodies through a filter of crackling, damaged folk-rock, and...songs...filled with entropic imagery", Linkous released four albums with Sparklehorse, and had participated in the recent Danger Mouse/David Lynch project Dark Night of the Soul, as well as collaborations with the likes of PJ Harvey, Daniel Johnston and Tom Waits, among many others. At the time of his death, Linkous was said to have completed most of the work on an upcoming Sparklehorse album.

He was 47 years old.


Tit for That: The Milk of Sorrow

Perhaps The Milk of Sorrow is a much more poetic translation,
but Peru's entry in this year's Academy Award nominations for
Best Foreign Film is actually titled The Scared Tit (La Teta Asustada) in Spanish. Thought you'd like to know.


Hot Tub Time Machine: Better Off to The Future?

Basically, three bored life-long friends--plus the nephew of one of these middle aged dudes--are transported via magical hot tub back to 1986 and embark on some comical adventures. Does it work? Looks like it just might. Will there be a good dose of current cringe-inducing humor? Let's hope not.

Starring John Cusack (an '80s teen idol himself, who seems to be doing a turn a la Molly Ringwald in Not Another Teen Movie here),
Rob Corddry
, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke. Here's the trailer:

Michael Cera to Star in Gilligan's Island Movie

Um, yeah.
Can you believe this nonsense?
Good grief.

TCM Bests Oscars Posthumous Tribute

If we're ever watching the Academy Awards' Oscars telecast, the one thing we always look forward to is the "In Memoriam" part of the show, in which tribute is paid to the actors and industry folks that have passed away in the previous 12 months.

Unfortunately, because of time constraints on an already too long show, many people are left out, much to the chagrin of both the Academy and the families of the snubbed. The TCM channel doesn't have that particular problem, and as such does a much better job with their annual "TCM Remembers" tribute, albeit by shortening the onscreen time of those honored.

As for New York magazine's bet that Patrick Swayze will be the last to be honored during this year's "In Memoriam", we dunno...it's hard to pick an end-of-montage actor among people who, while talented and noteworthy, were mid-montage material. It's not like there were Brandos or Newmans who died this past year, right?

Meanwhile, check out the most recent "TCM Remembers":


What We're Listening To

GIRLS Album [True Panther / Matador]
NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN Rapture [Music Club]
LENNY KRAVITZ Mama Said [Virgin]
MASTERS OF REALITY Sunrise on the Sufferbus [Chrysalis]
LOS TRES Fome [Sony US Latin]

What are YOU listening to?


RIP: T-Bone Wolk

Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, a 30-year bassist/collaborator with pop icons Hall & Oates, died of a sudden heart attack on Feb.27th.

Once referred to by Hall as "the ampersand in Hall & Oates", Wolk was scheduled to appear tonight with his long-time employers on Jimmy Fallon's 1st anniversary show.

Eerily, this past weekend, unaware of the well-regarded musician's passing, we found ourselves visiting Daryl Hall's Live form Daryl's House website for the first time in months and soaking up some of the stellar performances, of which Wolk was an integral part. Man...

T-Bone was 58 years old.

Guru Suffers Heart Attack; Slips into Coma

Guru of seminal rap duo Gang Starr and Jazzmatazz is in a coma after suffering a heart attack on Sunday. The 43 year-old will undergo surgery this afternoon.

Born Keith Elam, Guru rapped on Gang Starr hits including "Words I Manifest," "Just to Get Rep," and "Full Clip," and the group earned critical acclaim for Guru's earnest, intelligent lyrics and DJ Premier's innovative sampling and use of jazz in their music.

With Guru's Jazzmatazz, the rapper delved into jazz further while also collaborating with the Neptunes, Kelis, and Chaka Khan. He had recently hinted on Twitter that he and DJ Premier were set to work on new Gang Starr material, and had a Jazzmatazz tour planned.

[Guardian.co.uk via All Music Guide]

See No Evil: Network TV Roundup

The NY Times' recap of the returning prime-time network TV dramas pre-Spring, post-Winter Olympics included this gem:

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC) It must be the first law of “Law & Order” thermodynamics: As the original show has improved over the last two years, “SVU” has declined. The only idea the writers seem to have left is to put Elliot (Christopher Meloni) or Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) in danger, preferably in a situation that includes serious injury or torture. Returns Wednesday, with back-to-back episodes featuring the noted thespians Kathy Griffin (as a lesbian-rights activist) and Mischa Barton (as a prostitute).


Speaking of TV, our new favorite cable show is TNT's Men of a Certain Age starring Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher, and Ray Romano, a well-written slice-of-life about three childhood friends as they approach the big 5-0, created by Romano. Also in the running is HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show, the animated version of the hilarious, world famous podcast featuring The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant and the incomparable Karl Pilkington. Also, a special mention mention to another HBO show: Bored to Death, a Jonathan Aames-created, Brooklyn-based comedy nugget starring Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson.