4/28/2010

There's One in Every Crowd: When Legends Become Celebrities (Eric Clapton edition)

Last night, an old friend who lives a time zone away, mentioned he was going to see a Jeff Beck show this week. We brought up that a mutual friend recently told us he went to see Eric Clapton at a Miami arena not too long ago. This was puzzling, since someone who has been coasting and not making any effort to maintain a music career should be playing 5,000 capacity theatres and not arenas. Obviously that many people want to see Clapton perform, so they go.

But, at this late stage of his career, Clapton--despite his talent--is, quite frankly, famous for being famous. Or at least, for once having been of a certain artistic stature. (The "Clapton is God" folks were surely far off the mark, weren't they?) This was made pointedly clear by Alan Paul in his unsentimental Clapton entry in the Music Hound Rock Guide, published a little over a decade ago:

"[He] has remained constantly revered...even though his output" since the mid-'70s "has been exceptionally mediocre--with occasional forays into wretchedness...Clapton can still play...but he seems to have long since stalled creatively."

Not much has changed since then, unfortunately.

If you are a true fan of the man, and not a nostalgia warrior, his artistic descent must make you painfully aware of the new-found irony in the title of his 1976 album, No Reason to Cry. These days Slowhand is a celebrity; and Jeff Beck is far more interested in messing about with his cars than playing guitar. So, of the famous Yardbirds triumvirate of guitarists, it is actually Jimmy Page who ends up smelling like a rose. How the hell did that happen?

4/25/2010

Experiencing Hendrix

We've been listening to Jimi a lot lately; wondering how someone who's been gone 40 years can still hold that much sway over us.
And then we came across Chris Richards' Washington Post review of Jimi's Valleys of Neptune album [Experience Hendrix/Legacy-2010],
a recent offering of mostly unreleased material. In it Richards states:

"Why does this stuff still sound so good? Hendrix can no longer shock us with kaleidoscopic garb or onstage bravado, but his music still manages to violate our expectations with a subtlety that feels like magic."

Yeah...

4/23/2010

Bret Michaels Suffers Brain Hemorrage

AP/Yahoo:

LOS ANGELES – Bret Michaels is in critical condition suffering from a brain hemorrhage, his publicist said Friday.

Joann Mignano, Michaels' New York-based publicist, confirmed a report on People magazine's website that said the former Poison frontman was rushed to intensive care late Thursday after a severe headache. The report said doctors discovered bleeding at the base of his brain stem.

Mignano said tests are being conducted but did not know where he was being treated.

The 47-year-old glam-rock reality TV star had an emergency appendectomy at a private care facility for diabetics last week after complaining of stomach pains before he was scheduled to perform at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Michaels later wrote on his website that though the surgery "has taken its toll," doctors expected him to make a full recovery.

A Pop Trifecta: Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Santigold

In an effort to show we're not just some grouchy, Mojo-reading, old farts—which, of course, we are—we're selecting three tunes of very recent vintage that we happen to enjoy from a couple of artists we have directed quite a bit of disdain their way. (Santigold and her new-wave influenced techno dub leanings have always been alright in our book, though.)

So, here they are:

* Lady GaGa - "Summerboy"
The much more PR-savvy musical heir to Dale Bozzio, GaGa had us fooled at first listen: we thought Gwen Stefani had finally released a song worth listening to.




* Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold"
Despite her lovely bosom—yes, horny heterosexual males write and contribute to "5"—this chick irks the crap out of us. But this track has one of the catchiest choruses we've heard in a while. Did we mention Ms. Perry's cleavage? Yes? Oh, ok.




* Santigold - "You'll Find A Way"
As mentioned above, we've got no beef with Santigold; au contraire. And this happens to be a cool tune with a nice post-modern bent. (Yes, we have now managed to be fratty, nerdy, and pretentious in one post.) Hands down, one of the best songs of the past decade.


Are We The Only Ones Who Think...

...Blind Melon would be kings of the jam band circuit had vocalist Shannon Hoon not died of a drug overdose in 1995? Seriously.
You know the latter-day Deadheads would love them...

Happy Birthday

The Mopefather himself, Robert Smith (51) of The Cure, on April 21st.

4/20/2010

RIP: Guru

Keith Elam, one half of influential rap duo Gang Starr, and best known by his stage name Guru died on Monday, April 19th after a long battle with cancer.

Aside from his work with the aforementioned Gang Starr, Guru released 8 solo albums, including the highly-acclaimed Jazzmatazz Vol.1 and Vol.2 in 1993 and 1995, respectively.

In late February of this year, Guru suffered cardiac arrest and fell into a coma, which he came out of a few days later, but eventually succumbed to cancer after his brief recovery.

Guru was 43 years old.

4/17/2010

RIP: Peter Steele

Brooklyn born Petrus T. Ratajczyk, best known under his stage name, Peter Steele, died from heart failure on April 14th.

For 20 years Steele was the frontman, bassist, and songwriter for Type-O Negative, a popular and influential pioneer in blending goth and metal.

He was 48 years old.

h/t GR Jones.

4/09/2010

Haiti

In the era of the 24-hour news cycle tragedies occupy a fleeting place in the media, their place quickly taken over by a newer concern. But the sad aftermath, of course, lingers.

Here's a couple of fave Haitian tunes of ours:

"InflaciĆ³n", a killer track by the legendary, NY-based Tabou Combo, from their album The Masters [Barclay-1975];



and "Pwazon Rat" (Rat Poison) from Vodou Adjae [Mango-1991],
the stellar debut album by Boukman Eksperyans:

4/08/2010

RIP: Malcolm McLaren

A seminal yet controversial figure in the annals of punk rock, former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren died in Switzerland on April 8th, after succumbing to cancer.

Best known for managing the aforementioned Sex Pistols, McLaren previously ran an infamous clothing store and punk rocker hangout called Sex, with then-girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. He also managed both Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow, and later embarked on a music career as an artist, with several albums and two Top Ten UK hits, "Buffalo Gals" and "Double Dutch" to his credit.

Malcolm McLaren was 64.

4/01/2010

The Last Time: Stones 2010 Tour a Farewell?

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Rolling Stones' upcoming massive world tour may be their last hurrah together. According to the folks at Glorious Noise:

At a hastily assembled press conference today, the Rolling Stones announced that they are planning another major tour which very well may prove to be the biggest tour of their storied career and perhaps the greatest tour of all time. With some of the details just now coming to light, many fans are speculating if the magnitude of it may signal that it will be their farewell tour.

While many details are still in the development stages, one item that is finalized is the setlist. At the press conference, the band appeared together and told a room full of reporters that they would be following a similar pattern as many other bands are following recently: playing one of their classic albums in its entirety.

“We took a look at all of the albums that we felt fans would most enjoy hearing,” declared an energetic Mick Jagger, “and we’ve decided to do the ‘Harlem Shuffle’ across North America!” The band will be performing Dirty Work in its entirety for the first set of their show.

Which is pretty interesting since they did not tour behind 1986's Dirty Work, at the time deepening a developing rift between Jagger and Richards. But ostensibly, the dead giveaway is the announced on stage guest appearances by bassist Bill Wyman--who left the band in 1992--and tributes to Ian Stewart, Mick Taylor, and of course, Brian Jones. Hmm...