2018: The Year in Review (Sort of)

Yes, it’s been another 12 months, and with it comes another abridged and personalized version of a yearly recap. Let’s get crackin’, shall we?

KAMASI WASHINGTON Heaven and Earth [Young Turks]

If not this one, then…
Oh, if only Donny Hathaway were alive to hear this.
Didn’t really have one this year…
DOJA CAT “Roll With Us” [Kemosabe/RCA]

The first single off Amala, the debut album by LA’s answer to Cardi B, is as shallow and expletive-laden as anything comparable out there these days, but it’s the enticing guitar-led, dream trap with atmospheric background vocals that make the song irresistible.


One hell of an artistic statement, the video clip for this engaging hip-hop/R&B hybrid, is a timely depiction of current US culture and pregnant with symbolism: people gleefully dancing and being all-out consumers while engulfed by chaos; gun violence in which the weapons are treated with more care than the victims; Death riding a pale white horse (from the biblical book of Revelations); and spectators capturing it all on their cellphones.
At a juncture in which so-called artists are seemingly more preoccupied with shilling for their own clothing lines and fragrances and making fools of themselves in all kinds of ways, Gambino reminded us all what it is to be a talented, socially conscious artist and what they can do in that regard when so inclined.

BROWNOUT Fear of a Brown Planet [Fat Beats]

The Austin, TX latin funk soul brothers pay tribute to Public Enemy with a collection of instrumental covers that must be heard to be believed. And enjoyed, of course. (“Bring the Noise” is among the highlights.) You better believe this hype.


An intimate confessional album, The Wilco leader’s official solo debut, were it not for the mostly lo-key production and being released under his name, could be the band’s most recent record. Like the “solo” albums by the late Tom Petty, the point of making a record identical to those you make with your still active band might be lost on anyone not the titular artist, but the songs themselves are top-notch and it’s a shame Wilco itself did not get to tackle them. 

Runner up:

Declan, if you were going to work on another collaboration with Burt Bacharach why pray tell would you use the Imposters if you weren’t going to rock out? Talk about a bait and switch…and who OKd that hideous album cover?

GRETA VAN FLEET Anthem of the Peaceful Army [Universal]

Anything that gets folks rocking out, especially in these times of mainstream rock and roll’s diminishing returns, is a godsend. But pinning one’s hopes on musical ventriloquists feels bittersweet, to say the least. Jeez.


An almost half hour instrumental amalgam of latter day Foo Fighters channeling Pink Floyd, Rush and Yes performed solely by Grohl, “Play” is a decent and enjoyable composition but it’s the kind of song you’ll watch on YouTube, marvel at the man’s prodigious talent and inevitably forget not long after. 

JOHN COLTRANE Both Directions at Once [Impulse]

Unreleased studio gems from the titan of the tenor sax recorded in 1963.  

Runner up (various):
THE BEATLES self-titled aka The White Album [Apple]
MILES DAVIS & JOHN COLTRANE The Final Tour [Columbia/Legacy]
ERIC DOLPHY Musical Prophet [Resonance]
LIZ PHAIR Girly-Sound to Guyville [Matador]
PRINCE Piano and a Microphone: 1983 [Warner Brothers/Rhino]

Rock music’s irrelevance in the mainstream

We’re not ready to ask for the death certificate quite just yet but our beloved is definitely on life support, as far as the masses are concerned. And what has taken its place is largely abominable. (Thank God for indie rock.)

Artists woefully remunerated for streams of their recordings

The streaming services allege they are paying out a substantial portion of their revenue (as high as 70%, according to Spotify) but major label artists are seeing miniscule fractions of that. Meanwhile, the labels—who are, um, “silent” business partners with the streaming services—remain mum on the subject.

Vulture publishes a ‘Who’s Who’ of C-Z list celebrities

Put together for those of you with a spouse, children or otherwise good friends who routinely mention or, God forbid, follow many of these famous-for-being-almost-famous, tabloid denizens, Kardashian worshippers and wannabes, this past April the folks at Vulture put together something they called “Welcome to the Who-niverse: A guide to the many, many celebrities whose names make you say…"Who?", a handy primer designed to help one tell these people apart. Good grief!

The release of Dr. Dre’s Marvin Gaye biopic

Here’s hoping the rapper/producer can succeed where others’ attempts failed (notably, Cameron Crowe, F. Gary Gray, Lenny Kravitz and Scott Rudin) by virtue of being rebuffed by the estate of the legendary Motown icon.

Runner up:
A new Guns N Roses album with Slash and Duff.

Jefferson Airplane/Starship vocalist Marty Balin; avant garde composer Glenn Branca; noted drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler; the one and only Roy Clark; Motorhead and Fastway guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke; Nokie Edwards, guitarist for The Ventures; the Queen, Aretha Franklin; legendary Chilean crooner Lucho Gatica; jazz/latin band leader, trumpeter, percussionist Jerry Gonzalez; jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove; former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan; noted trumpeter Hugh Masekela; blues guitarist Matt Murphy; Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers; The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan; bassist Joe Osbourne of studio legends The Wrecking Crew; Pantera’s Vinnie Paul; drummer for Cracker, The Plugz, Social Distortion and Izzy Stradlin, Charlie Quintana; bluesman Otis Rush; Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks; The Fall’s Mark E. Smith; record store pioneer Russ Solomon; Agent Orange/Adolescents bassist Steve Soto; jazz legend Cecil Taylor; guitarist Wah Wah Watson; the great Nancy Wilson.

Once More With Bleeding

Williamsburg, BKNY

With a righteous stomp reminiscent of Local H and the gleeful abandon of Lightning Bolt, Brooklyn’s Even Twice may share the spirit and intensity of their aforementioned two-man brethren, but on Sunday night they rocked the house with the kind of high-octane set one would expect from a couple of Ramones fans who own some Rush records.

Blasting through 30 non-stop minutes of their own brand of no nonsense rock and roll, Bob Hait (vocals, bass) and Pat O’Shea (vocals, drums) performed choice cuts from their two previous albums and an upcoming third produced by Paul Q. Kolderie (Dinosaur Jr, Hole, Morphine, Pixies, Radiohead), leaving it all on stage, as required and expected.

They’ll be likely coming to a town near you in 2019. Miss them at your own peril.


MILESTONES: 25 Notable Albums from 1993

Not a list of the best or the biggest released that year (although some of those are included here) but a rundown of some interesting albums, many of which were debuts, some are the artist’s seminal or most controversial release, a few were game changers and some of ‘em just never got the love they deserved. Regardless, you should revisit each and every single one; shame on you if you missed 'em the first time around.
Together, they not only have in common a 25th anniversary in 2018, but can be seen as a clue as to what was in the water in the year of our rock and roll nineteen hundred and ninety-three.

In alphabetical order by artist:

FRANK BLACK self titled [4AD/Elektra]
THE BREEDERS Last Splash [4AD/Elektra]
DEPECHE MODE Songs of Faith and Devotion [Warner Bros]
FIREHOSE Mr. Machinery Operator [Columbia]
FISHBONE Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe [Epic] CHARLIE HUNTER TRIO self titled [Prawn Song]
JELLYFISH Spilt Milk [Charisma]
LENNY KRAVITZ Are You Gonna Go My Way? [Virgin]
MELVINS Houdini [Atlantic]
MORPHINE Cure for Pain [Rykodisc]
ME’SHELL NDEGEOCELLO Plantation Lullabies [Maverick]
LIZ PHAIR Exile In Guyville [Matador]
PORNO FOR PYROS self titled [Warner Bros]
THE POSIES Frosting on the Beater [DGC]
SMASHING PUMPKINS Siamese Dream [Virgin]
SNOOP DOGG Doggystyle [Death Row]
TEARS FOR FEARS Elemental [Mercury]
VARIOUS ARTISTS Judgment Night soundtrack [Immortal/Epic]
PAUL WELLER Wild Wood [Island]
PAUL WESTERBERG 14 Songs [Sire/Reprise]
WU-TANG CLAN Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) [Loud]
YO LA TENGO Painful [Matador]


This One’s For The Ladies: 5 Female Drummers You Should Be Acquainted With

Due to ignorance, sexism, laziness and what have you, women behind the kit don’t get the respect they deserve. And it doesn’t help much that the most visible female drummer of the last 20 years [cough*Meg White*cough] is such a musical disappointment.
We’re obviously not going to change the world but feel it’s quite worth it to highlight and point out some badass ladies that deserve every bit of your attention.

Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Her current gig—playing for Jack White since 2011—is her most high profile yet, but this L.A.-based drummer is a fixture on the Hollywood independent film circuit as a composer and is a founding member of indie cult favorites Autolux.

Recommended track: Sample Azar’s tasty Bonham-meets-Chamberlin groove on “Turnstile Blues”, the leadoff track from Autolux’s debut album Future Perfect [DMZ-2004].

Inspired to play drums after seeing the late great Tony Williams behind the kit, Blackman is an impressive jazz and rock musician who is probably best known for her longtime stint as Lenny Kravitz’s touring drummer. But Blackman has an imposing list of credits to her name, including playing with Ron Carter, Bill Laswell, Joe Henderson, Mike Stern, and Cassandra Wilson, in addition to her own records and duties as an international drum clinician. In 2011 she played drums for her husband Carlos Santana’s one-off reunion with John McLaughlin.

Recommended track: Her playing on the tribute to the legendary saxophonist on “For Wayne (Shorter, That Is)” from her album Music for the New Millennium [Sacred Sounds-2005] is both groovy and sublime.

California-born, Texas-raised and a resident of NYC since 1989, Ibarra is a noted jazz drummer with a predilection for the avant garde and experimental who's also worked the likes of Arto Lindsay, Thurston Moore, and Prefuse 73. Ibarra is also known for exploring the music of her Filipino heritage and other styles of music from around the world.

Recommended track: “Logistic” from the David S. Ware album Go See the World [Columbia-1998].

Courtney Love’s larger than life persona is why Hole were (in)famous but Patty Schemel is why they kicked ass as a band. A longtime favorite of ours, Ms. Schemel is a badass rock and roll drummer who deserves way more props and recognition than she gets: one need only listen to her both explosive and propulsive stick work on Hole’s “Violet” from Live Through This [DGC-1994] to hear why.

Overshadowed in the iconic indie rock band Sleater-Kinney by the songwriting partnership of Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker (as well as their relationship drama), Weiss has demonstrated over the years her mastery behind the kit in and out of the group (Bright Eyes, Stephen Malkmus, Quasi, The Shins), as evidenced by her ranking by Stylus Magazine as one of rock’s top 50 drummers.

Recommended track: Plenty of Sleater-Kinney songs, of course, but to hear Weiss in a freer, more open context, “Real Emotional Trash”, the ten minute title track from the 2008 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album [Matador] is a must listen.


Mr. Jones' 21 Favorite Covers of All Time

[As always, when attempting this kind of exercise, familiarity and poignancy—as well as considerations of time, space, length, reader interest, etc etc etc—will inevitably lead to some favorites falling by the wayside. But such are the pitfalls of compiling a list of any kind, although slightly less stress is involved when the main criteria is favorites. And so, with that out of the way, and in alphabetical order by artist, have at them. Cheers. - KJ]

RYAN ADAMS “Wonderwall” (Oasis)
Noel Gallagher likes it so much he plays it this way now as a solo artist. Props.

JON AUER “Gold Star for Robot Boy” (Guided by Voices)
A heartfelt rendition of an indie rock classic and a lesson in what covering a song is all about.

JON BRION “Voices” (Cheap Trick)
Mr. Soundtrack took a nice ballad and made it a dark, sad, lovelorn, midnight piano and vocal lament.

THE CARDIGANS “Iron Man” (Black Sabbath)
Even Ozzy digs this trip hop-inspired re-casting of a metal classic.

GUSTAVO CERATI "Bajan" (Pescado Rabioso)
The original, written in the early '70s by the late great Luis Alberto Spinetta, is a revered classic in Argentina. This cover introduced it to a new generation.

EVAN DANDO “Frying Pan” (Victoria Williams)
Always loved this one, despite finding the original to be quite underwhelming.

DEVO “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones)
The quintessential cover version. Take notes, boys and girls.

DIVIDIDOS “El Arriero” (Atahualpa Yupanqui)
An Argentine folk song of protest played as a blistering SRV blues tune.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. “Smile” (Charlie Chaplin) 
A wonderful tribute by the man who ably played him on the big screen.

EARTH WIND AND FIRE “Got to Get You into My Life” (Beatles) 
I’m an apostle in the Church of McCartney but this one beats the original by a country mile.

FIREHOSE “Walking the Cow” (Daniel Johnston) 
Probably the best thing Firehose ever recorded w/Mike Watt on the mic.

PETER FRAMPTON  “Jumping Jack Flash” (Rolling Stones)
Yes, I love this one. And while the classic original was from 1968, this cover sounds as if it was a Sticky Fingers outtake. (Check out the version from Frampton Comes Alive, tho.)

TED LEO + PHARMACISTS “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” (Split Enz)
The original is nice enough but Mr. Leo gives it some bite and rocks the crap out of it.

HIGH LLAMAS “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” (The Smiths)
Sean O'Hagan and co. transport this one from rainy Manchester to sunny Southern California courtesy of a Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds-type arrangement. Yeah.

SEU JORGE “Life On Mars?” (David Bowie)
When it comes to Bowie covers, this one is hard to beat...it was even a fave of the man himself.

GARY LUCAS + GODS AND MONSTERS “Jack Johnson/Ghostrider” [live]
A Miles Davis/Suicide medley by the esteemed guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley) and his killer Gods and Monsters trio on their self-titled album.

LUNA “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (Guns N Roses)
Longtime favorite o' mine, which is, um, pretty sweet.

ELLIOTT SMITH “Because” (Beatles)
First heard it in a movie theatre during American Beauty’s closing credits. Still blown away.

TUCK & PATTI “Castles Made of Sand” (Jimi Hendrix)
I really wish Jimi had lived to hear Patti Cathcart sing one of his tunes with that incredible voice.

Take a song, make it your own and give its fans another reason to love it. And maybe win over some other folks, too. Hats off, Butch!

YES “America” (Simon and Garfunkel)
It never stops being a tad weird to hear Jon Anderson sing about the New Jersey Turnpike, but it's a great cover of a beloved tune, so...

Very Special Mention: Mark Kozelekof Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon famerecorded an entire album of acoustic covers of Bon Scott-era AC/DC songs (What's Next to the Moon) that must be heard to be believed. Awesome.


Big Star - 'Columbia' [audio+video]

For anyone who had ever followed them, Big Star’s April 25, 1993 reunion performance at Missouri University was a most improbable and unpredictable occurrence: the beloved cult heroes had been broken up for 20 years, had no current or planned activities, and only came about because a MU student decided to contact Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens on a whim and they, incredibly, said yes.

The show—with Big Star acolytes Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies joining Chilton and Stephens—was captured for posterity as Columbia: Live at Missouri University 4/25/93 [Zoo-1993] and those of us who are quite partial to the band rejoiced over this fine-sounding document of what turned out to be the final and longest-running incarnation of the power pop deity considered by some to be the “American Beatles”.

But be still my beating heart: footage of the Columbia, MO show has been synced to the album’s audio by one Juan C. Marioni and uploaded to YouTube. God bless you, sir.

Milestones: 'Never Mind the Bollocks'

Never Mind the Bollocks...

Revered as one of the greatest and most influential rock records of all time, the band’s sole studio album was not just a collection of raucous tunes sung by an anti-singer frontman but the sound of the British working class’ distrust and frustration with the establishment set to music. THAT’s what all the fuss was about.

Although correctly deemed a game changer upon release, hindsight has revealed it to be more rockin’ than revolutionary, musically speaking. Regardless, its influence was staggering and could still be felt decades later in the music of such acolytes as Nirvana and Oasis. And deep into the early 21st century it still rocks harder than most, as a matter of fact.

Released October 28, 1977.


Monday Music Trivia

• The infamous Sex Pistols TV interview with Bill Grundy came about due to the originally scheduled guests, Queen, canceling their appearance on the show.

• Drummers Alan White (Yes) and Alan White (Oasis) are not related, although the latter is the younger brother of Steve White, longtime drummer for Paul Weller. And speaking of brothers…

• The wryly titled Tour of Brotherly Love (2001), with The Black Crowes, Oasis and Spacehog, featured three bands with siblings who were notorious for fighting amongst themselves. (Contrary to popular belief—and much to the likely chagrin of local concert promoters—Philadelphia, aka the City of Brotherly Love, was not on the tour itinerary.)

• Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who is best known in the US for film roles such as Hugh Grant’s goofy roommate in Notting Hill and Ben Stiller’s former bandmate in Greenberg, was Super Furry Animals’ original vocalist.

• Shania Twain’s real name is Eileen Regina Edwards.

Howard Duane Allman (Nov 20, 1946 – Oct 29, 1971)

Today in Music History (October 29):

1965 – The Who release the single “My Generation" in the UK. The song was ranked 11th by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 13th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll. It reached No. 2 in the UK, the Who's highest charting single in their home country but only No. 74 in the US.
1977 – The Belgian travel service issued a summons against the Sex Pistols claiming the sleeve of the band’s single “Holidays In The Sun” infringed on the copyright of one of its brochures.
1987 – Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood's first ever British art exhibition, Decades, opened in London, featuring portraits of friends and rock stars from the past 20 years.
1996 – The Stone Roses break up.
2007 – Walk the Line is voted greatest music biopic of all time in a British poll.
Today’s Birthdays include Moody Blues/Wings singer/songwriter guitarist Denny Laine (74); legendary guitarist and founder of Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Peter Green (72); Roger O'Donnell, longtime keyboardist for The Cure (63); Sugarcubes co-vocalist Einar Orn (56); and drummer Peter Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies (53).


Milestones: 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'

Tales From Topgraphic Oceans

Looking back from a 21st century vantage point, vis-à-vis popular music, the ‘70s can be seen as both insane and interesting times indeed. Just the fact that complex, ornate rock music that in certain instances referenced, if not emulated, the grandiose aspects of classical music was often making inroads on the pop charts, can seem like a baffling occurrence for those of us now living in a time when only disposable, heavily pre-screened, lowest common denominator pop music can march in the hit parade.

But prog rock really was popular back then. And one of the most vivid examples of this phenomenon was how a double album consisting of only 4 songs and the recipient of mixed reviews could manage to garner enough popular support to sell in excess of 500,000 copies in the US alone. (And yes, excess is the key word here.) The old wornout clichés, “You had to be there” and “It was a different time” certainly apply.

Because of its range and scope—and frankly, for failing to reach the same highs of their three previous albums, including the prog masterpiece Close to the Edge [Atlantic-1972]—this album has since become a cause célèbre for those who decry what they see as the pretentiousness of prog rock. And, in our humble opinion, they do have a point: the leadoff track “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” holds his own, but the rest? Not so much. However, there are plenty of interesting moments that could have been condensed into a few shorter, more arresting songs as opposed to opuses that often wander about aimlessly. (Keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who quit the band after the tour supporting it, has published hilarious accounts of his boredom onstage playing these songs.)

Composed largely by vocalist Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe with “important contributions” by the rest of the band (who were not fully on board with the idea of the album and remain of two minds about the experience to this day), its almost hour and a half running time is emblematic of the time and place and the band itself, warts and all.

Released October 26, 1973


What Is And What Should Never Be

Anthem of the Peaceful Army 

What a perfect example of the push and pull re GVF:

Pitchfork panned this record and there was a Twitter uproar. On the one hand, P4K are professional trolls with a long-standing reputation for fucking with bands and fans alike. But they know their shit. Meanwhile, I don’t really have time for people who think these Zeppelin wannabes are some sort of musical second coming of bluesy, heavy, guitar-driven rock. But I must admit, anything that gets folks rocking out, especially in these times of rock and roll’s diminishing returns, in so far as mainstream music is considered, is a godsend. But pinning one’s hopes on musical ventriloquists feels bittersweet, to say the least. Jeez.


Milestones: Yo La Tengo - 'Painful'


Five albums into a career with rotating bassists and a shaky grasp of the environs of the recording studio, the Hoboken quartet took a great leap forward on album number six, their first on Matador. Long-time bassist James McNew made his debut with the band on the previous year’s May I Sing With Me? [Alias-1992] but it’s on Painful that his playing truly coalesces with the band’s Velvet Underground-meets-shoegaze aesthetic, bringing about with his new bandmates, founding members Ira Kaplan (vocals, guitar) and Georgia Hubley (vocals, drums), a new phase in the band’s career which would yield their best music and firmly establish Yo La Tengo as one of indie rock’s premiere bands.

Released October 5th, 1993.

Highlights: “Big Day Coming”, “Double Dare”, “Suddenly Organ”, “A Worrying Thing”, “I Heard You Looking”.


Tuesday TV Trivia

• Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both auditioned for the part of "Fonzie" on Happy Days [1974], but were turned down for being taller (6’0” and 6’1”, respectively) than Ron Howard (“Richie Cunningham”), Anson Williams (“Potsie”) and Donnie Most (“Ralph”).

• Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen have each played the son of their real life father Martin Sheen on screen but Emilio actually played a younger version of Martin in a flashback sequence on The West Wing [1999].

• Although her character “Julia” on Designing Women [1986] was a staunch liberal, Dixie Carter was actually a Republican in real life. So a compromise with the producers of the show was reached: whenever Julia got off on a liberal rant, Dixie Carter would get a chance to sing on a future episode.

• According to Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the scenes for the feminist bookstore on Portlandia [2011] are filmed in the actual bookstore that inspired it with no added set dressing.

• The starship Enterprise on Star Trek: The Original Series [1966] has tubes in its hallways marked “GNDN”. Those initials stand for “goes nowhere, does nothing”.


Monday Movie Trivia

• According to Matthew Broderick, not a day goes by over the last 30-plus years that a stranger on the street doesn't ask, “Hey Ferris, is this your day off?”

• Even though the song “Dazed and Confused” was the inspiration for the title of the Richard Linklater film of the same name, the Led Zeppelin song he wanted to use in the movie was “Rock and Roll”, which Robert Plant vetoed.

• Although the character of Jimmy (played by Maris Valainis) in Hoosiers [1986] is quite vital to the plot of the movie, he only has four lines.

Blue Jasmine [2013] is the only Woody Allen movie in which the lead American characters are played by non-Americans. (Cate Blanchett is Australian; Sally Hawkins is British.)

• Jim Carrey, who played Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon [1993], shares a birthday with the late comedian: January 17th.


Friday Factoids

• On a recent visit to Washington DC, Peter Frampton told lawmakers he’d earned $1700 from 55 million streams of his song “Baby, I Love Your Way”.

• Before he became famous Bruno Mars was a well-known Elvis Presley impersonator in his native Hawaii.

• When Paul McCartney got back to London from Lagos, Nigeria after recording the bulk of the Band on the Run album there, he found a letter from EMI, dated before he left, not to go to the African country due to a recent cholera outbreak.

• Phil Collins’ maniacal laugh on the Genesis song “Mama” was inspired by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s hip-hop classic “The Message”.

• Jack White’s birth name is John Anthony Gillis.


Milestones - Thank You, Boys: Nothing's Shocking Turns 30

Nothing's Shocking
[Warner Bros - 1988]

Because of the band's glowing reputation in the music press as an art/funk/metal hybrid with a killer stage show that preceded my actual encounter with their music, I was intensely excited about the prospect of listening to their major label debut album. And then one summer night in 1988, while in bed listening to the local rock radio station, a song came on that somehow, unmistakably, led me to believe it was them, even though it didn’t adhere to the above adjectives. It was their unofficial theme song “Jane Says” and I was hooked. (Curiously, because I’ve never owned it on vinyl, it was a while before I discovered that one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs, “Pigs In Zen”, which closes out the album, was a CD/cassette bonus track. Boy, does that vinyl version now seems like it stops rather than ends with “Thank You, Boys” as its closer.) Ultimately, the record was a game changer, one whose power has not been diluted over the years and deservedly so.

Included in both Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Nothing’s Shocking is not just a landmark recording in the annals of alternative rock but a thrilling, majestic collection of songs that alternately fires you up and lulls like a sunset when its work is done.

Released August 23, 1988.

Highlights: “Ocean Size”, "Mountain Song”, “Jane Says”, "Pigs In Zen”.


All Hail The Queen [RIP]

More eloquent and heartwarming statements have been made as we mourn the passing of one of the faces on our musical Mt. Rushmore so I'll keep mine brief.

Here are the two things that happened when I heard she was gravelly ill:

- I flashed back to her 2015 appearance in honor of the great Carole King at the Kennedy Center Honors. Her rendition of King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” that night was one of the greatest musical performances I have ever witnessed. Ever. (King was very emotional and President Obama was seen wiping a tear or two. Damn.)

- The chorus of her duet with the late George Michael started buzzing in my head.

Yes, we have lost a true musical giant but she gave us so, so much; enough to last a couple of lifetimes.

God bless you, Queen.
(1946 - 2018)


Dave Grohl - "Play"

For a few years now, Blue Oyster Cult guitarist/keyboardist Richie Castellano has been delighting music fans with a series of one man videos in which he performs such classics as The Beatles’ “The End” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’ve yet to see his clips do so immediately. They are far and away worthy of your time and attention.

Dave Grohl is no stranger to one-man endeavors: he wrote, performed and recorded the self-titled Foo Fighters debut album by his lonesome, of course. (The one exception being Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs playing rhythm guitar on the song “X-Static”.) But that was a record made by a 25 year old rock star trying to find his way back into the world of music after the demise of his massively popular band. This lone gun endeavor, on the other hand, is the fruit of a wildly successful career rocker pushing 50 and availing himself of the ample resources at his disposal to do anything he pleases. So when it’s his turn to do the one man video thing he one ups Castellano and others by having a film crew document his gimmicky performance—Grohl appears as multiple versions of himself, all playing at the same time—of a 23-minute original instrumental in which he even plays instruments we don’t normally associate with the head Foo, such as keyboards, minor percussion, tympani and vibraphone.

“Play” is almost a half hour long and has accountrements of prog rock littered throughout, but no one who’s heard the dude's music will be surprised by this instrumental track. In other words, if latter day Foo Fighters were to channel Pink Floyd, Rush and Yes, this would quite likely be the end result. However, unlike the best work of those acts, there are transitions between the sections on “Play” that are bit clumsy and could’ve benefitted from the logistics of being performed by an ensemble, as Grohl performed each instrument for one complete take and went back to the beginning every time he flubbed a part.

As an exercise in rock star ego he could’ve done considerably worse but “Play” wasn’t meant to reward anyone but Grohl himself. A decent and enjoyable composition, it’s the kind of song you’ll watch on YouTube, marvel at the man’s prodigious talent and inevitably forget not long after.


Today in Music History (August 8)

1960 - Decca Records destroys 25,000 copies of Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Lover Her" because they felt the song, which recounts the last thoughts of a teenager dying from a car accident, was "too tasteless and vulgar". A cover version by Ricky Valance, went to No.1 on the UK chart a month later. 

 1966 - The Beatles release their seventh album, Revolver, in the US. Featuring "Taxman", "Eleanor Rigby", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Here, There and Everywhere", "She Said, She Said", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Tomorrow Never Knows", the album spent 77 weeks on the Billboard chart peaking at No.1. Exactly three years later, in 1969, the photo session for the cover of their Abbey Road album takes place on the crossing outside Abbey Road studios. After photographer Iain McMillan, balanced on a step-ladder in the middle of the road, took six shots of John, Ringo, Paul, and George walking across the zebra crossing while a policeman held up the traffic, the band then returned to the studio and recorded overdubs on "The End", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Oh! Darling".

1981 - MTV broadcasts its first stereo concert: REO Speedwagon in Denver, Colorado. The band had just released their hit album Hi Infidelity.

1986 - David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash is released from prison after serving three years on drug and weapons charges. (His conviction would be overturned by a Texas appeals court in November of 1987.)

1987 - U2 score their second US No.1 single from The Joshua Tree with "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", which received two nominations for the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988: Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

1988 - N.W.A release hip hop classic Straight Outta Compton on Ruthless Records. In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

1992 - A riot breaks out during a Guns N' Roses and Metallica show at Montreal Stadium when Metallica's set is cut short after singer James Hetfield is injured by pyrotechnics. Guns N' Roses took the stage but frontman Axl Rose claimed that his throat hurt, causing the band to leave the stage early. The cancellation led to a riot by the audience who overturned cars, smashed windows, looted local stores and set fires.

2010 - John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, has his parole hearing delayed until early September so that officials could gather additional information. Chapman had become eligible for parole in 2000 after serving 20 years, but had been denied his freedom five times.

 2016 - The judge presiding over the "Stairway To Heaven" copyright infringement trial rules against Led Zeppelin and their publishing company's attempts to recoup nearly $800,000 in legal fees. While a federal jury determined that Led Zeppelin were not guilty of plagiarizing Spirit's "Taurus" in a copyright infringement trial, judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that, since the lawsuit itself was not frivolous and meritless, the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy (California) Wolfe and their attorney Francis Malofiy were not obligated to repay the defendants' legal fees.

2017 - Singer/guitarist/songwriter/television host/actor Glen Campbell dies in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 81. Campbell released more than 70 studio albums and sold 45 million records worldwide. His hits include:"By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman" and 'Rhinestone Cowboy", and his guitar playing can be heard on "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers and "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees. 

Today's Birthdays include...drummer Liberty DeVitto, best known for his work as a drummer for Billy Joel's recording and touring band as well as Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, Rick Wakeman, Bob James and Meat Loaf (68); A Flock of Seagulls drummer Ali Score (62); Dennis Drew, keyboardist for 10,000 Maniacs (61); Madness guitarist Christopher Foreman (60); and U2 guitarist and backing vocalist Dave Evans aka The Edge (57).


The Four Album Run

Scores of artists have had the opportunity to release a great album; some have been inspired enough to put out two of 'em back to back. But when you get to three consecutive records your wading into choice territory. And a quartet of great albums in a row is, undoubtedly, big name real estate.

Here are 5 artists in alphabetical order who have managed to score a four leaf clover (notice the respective timespans and be further impressed): 

The Cure (1985-1992): 
Head on the Door, Disintegration, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Wish

Guided By Voices (1994-1997): 
Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Under the Bushes Under the Stars, Mag Earwhig

Pink Floyd (1973-1979): 
Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall

The Rolling Stones (1969-1972):
Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St.

* Stevie Wonder (1972-1976): 
Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Songs in the Key of Life

* [a case can be made for a five-album run]

Til Tuesday - "Voices Carry" (live in NYC)

Hard to believe but, in a previous musical life, indie singer/songwriter darling Aimee Mann was the frontwoman of a Boston-based, major labeled-backed, MTV-featured new wave combo. Yup.

Here they are, performing their lone Top 10 hit and title track of their 1985 debut album, in the city it was recorded, during the tour for said album.


U2 - "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"

“...dressed up like a car crash / your wheels are turning but you're upside down...”


It's Electric: Tom Morello

Lars does it again: The latest installment of his show features the great Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave/Prophets of Rage guitarist talking about his bands, playing with Springsteen, the new Atlas Underground project, and his experiences as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee. Not to be missed.

Monday Music Trivia

• Because The Grateful Dead refused to sign the Screen Actors Guild’s 1947 Anti-Communism Loyalty Oath as a condition of their membership, the oath—a remnant of the Hollywood Blacklist of the McCarty era—was made optional and later removed from SAG bylaws.

• The original title for The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead album [Sire-1986] was Margaret On The Guillotine which later became the title of a song on Morrissey’s solo debut album Viva Hate [Sire-1988].

• Initially considering The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds [1966] a Brian Wilson solo album, Capitol released the album’s first single “Caroline No” under Wilson’s name.

• The Ramones’ self-titled debut [Sire-1976] reached Gold status (500,000 copies sold) in 2014, thirty-eight years after its release. And speaking of rockers from Queens...

• Kevin Shields, the mastermind behind Irish shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine is actually a native New Yorker: he was born in Jamaica, Queens in 1963 and lived in the NYC-metro area until his Irish parents moved the family to Dublin in 1973.


Fountains of Wayne - "This Better Be Good"

The demise of the New Jersey store from which they took their name—featured in the ‘Another Toothpick’ episode of The Sopranos—was probably an omen, as the band outlasted its namesake by only a couple of years. And when you add the desultory vibe of what turned out to be their final album, 2011's Sky Full of Holes (the recording of which singer/guitarist Chris Collingwood referred to when asked about a possible reunion as “staggering to think of everything that would have to happen for me to want to repeat that experience”), then it’s plain to see how referring to FoW in past tense is not just accurate but quite inevitable.

In any event, “the American Sloan” (are Sloan “the Canadian Fountains of Wayne”?) had their moments and not just the Top 40 hit “Stacy’s Mom”. Case in point:

Stop Trippin'

One of my biggest beefs regarding music analysis/journalism these days is the unnecessary proliferation of ignorance and misinformation. This is a byproduct of the lack of importance given to music in light of its freely and readily accessible nature diminishing its value. But I digress.

In any event, there's a lot of information out there that can be accessed in order to verify and substantiate assertions and claims. And if that fails then listen to the damn music: Raw Like Sushi and Blue Lines are NOT trip-hop records, no matter how elastic your definition. 

Stop it. Please.

[Reverb: An Introduction to Trip-Hop In 5 Records]


Operation Finale (Official Trailer)

A film about the capture, transportation to Israel and subsequent trial there of Nazi Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann, architect of the infamous Final Solution, Operation Finale will arrive in theatres in late August.

Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley plays Eichmann.


Kevin Shields: The Jazzmaster Soundmaster

Few guitar players have helped raise the profile of the Fender Jazzmaster like Kevin Shields of the legendary My Bloody Valentine. The NYC-born, Irish rocker owns some two dozen different versions of the misnamed guitar—it’s never really been an instrument employed in or suited for jazz—which has been the cornerstone of his band’s soundscapes for more than two decades.

Here he talks about the guitar and how it has informed his approach to making music.


In Bloom

Graham Brice's Flowering Future

[Full disclosure: Brice is a friend and colleague with whom I've shared a stage on numerous occasions. Regardless, this is as objective a review as humanly possible. - KJ]

Brice is a talented British singer/songwriter who's become a welcome quantity over the last decade or so among the New York City audiences who've had a chance to enjoy the Elvis Costello/Ray Davies influences of his songcraft. With a few releases under his belt, each as intriguing and engaging as the last, it seems as if they'd been leading towards this particular EP which, in a catalog of winners, is without a doubt this Brooklyn-based artist's finest moment.

Right off the bat, Brice doesn't waste any time reeling you in. “Antipodean Arms” is not just a great leadoff track but one that makes every effort to burrow and nest in your ear canal. As befits a disciple of his fellow countrymen, the aforementioned Costello and Davies, Brice has a knack for a turn of phrase or two and the bittersweet "I'm Alright With That" underscores this gift quite well indeed. "Canal" and "Trudge", respectively showcase Brice's maturation as a songwriter and a skilled arranger, in a way he's hinted at and occasionally achieved in the past, while "Honey Bear" closes things out in a lovely, albeit ultra sweet lullaby that ultimately works as a tender send-off.

A wonderful batch of indie rock singer/songwriter fare, here's hoping Flowering Future blooms widely and unchecked. Yes, it’s that good.


Here's The Official 'Shazam!' Trailer

So, it looks like DC has decided to counter the Marvel universe's cinematic dominance/onslaught with a superhero teen comedy? That's what it looks like, judging from the Shazam! trailer.

Shazam! hits theatres April 2019.


Ten Years After: 'The Dark Knight'

The folks over at Polygon look back at The Dark Knight, the epic installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.
There is little world-building outside the logic of the immediate narrative. Nolan’s Batman isn’t a superhero in the gleeful, laws-of-physics-defying, action-figure sense, instead burdened by ethical rhetoric and villain complications. The movie is not “for the fans,” and yet it’s held as a blockbuster pinnacle by those who’d self-identify as such. Quality notwithstanding, The Dark Knight is singular. 
The director and his collaborators, Olympians of their crafts, seize the opportunity to push the limits of what movies can do. The Dark Knight is elegantly excessive, a confluence of Nolan’s film-tech obsessions, philosophical puzzles and wealth of popcorn movie knowledge. Everything that can be explored — architecture, performance, film chemistry, noir tropes, screenwriting “rules,” practical special effects, Ethics 101, action geography, orchestral sound, the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, pragmatic costuming, the spectrum of humor, truck mechanics — is explored. The DNA of The Dark Knight is geek in nearly every way, except for the fulfillment of page-to-screen recreation. Nolan co-opts Batman like so many revolutionaries have over the character’s 75-plus-year history, and burns cash like he’s The Clown Prince of Crime. 
Despite monetary evidence to be argued otherwise, it’s hard to imagine any director in the future having the same indulgent opportunity as Nolan had on The Dark Knight. This is not for a lack of a talent pool; only now, under immense pressure, are studios waking up to the fact that directors of various genders, races and other marginalized factors possess Nolan’s ability to project their collective knowledge onto the canvas of a $185 million blockbuster. But in 2018, the “auteur” director has been replaced by the masterminding producer and committees that ensure there’s a game plan for the next five installments in the megafranchise. The films will be shot, and reshot, whether planned in advance — which is often is the case, and wisely so — or abruptly interjected into the proceedings, in case, say, a Star Wars movie needs to be “more Star Wars” than the director was able to deliver. In theory.
[Polygon: We Will Never See a Movie Like 'The Dark Knight' Again]

No Comedy Without The Cringe?

Let's cut to the chase: Why has comedy become overly reliant on cringeworthy scenarios to entertain us? We're not talking about an occasional moment of painfully awkward and embarrassing interactions or realizations but a constant display of cringe-inducing situations that permeate the modern comedy landscape on film and TV. Frankly, it seems like a way out of not having a genuinely funny scene and resorting to hacktastic writing.

If puns are indeed the lowest form of humor and/or wit, then the crutch that eagerly and repeatedly resorting to cringe has become is quite a simply bane on good comedy writing.

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana..."


Today In Music History (July 20)

1940 - Billboard publishes its first comprehensive record chart.

1968 - Cream begin a four-week run at No.1 on the US charts with Wheels Of Fire. The double album consisting of a studio record and a live record reached no. 3 in the UK.
On the same day, Iron Butterfly's second album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, enters the US album chart on the strength of the album's the 17-minute title track. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida eventually sold over 4 million copies.

1975 - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play the opening night of their Born To Run Tour at The Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island, which was also the live debut of Steven Van Zandt as a member of The E Street Band.

1986 - Sid and Nancy, a film based on the life of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, premieres in London.

2008 - John Lydon denies claims by Bloc Party's Kele Okereke that he was racially abused and attacked by a member of the Sex Pistols' entourage at a music festival in Barcelona. Okereke claimed he had been attacked by several men after approaching Lydon backstage at the Summercase festival. He said the 'unprovoked' attack left him with a split lip and bruises.

Today's Birthdays include...singer Kim Carnes (73); Mr. Carlos Santana (71); Twisted Sister guitarist and Sevendust manager Jay Jay French (66); Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook (62); Brand New Heavies bassist Andrew Levy and Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard (both 52).

Pay-To-Play: Scamming the Hip Hop Hopeful

In an even more odious version of the pay-to-play scam rock bands have been dealing with for decades (although it's more of an L.A. rather than a NYC thing) in which artists have to sell a certain amount of tickets to earn the right to perform at a certain venue, the hip hop counterpart entails getting ripped of by not even being allowed to perform, after coming thru financially. Ugh.

[AV Club - The Scam Industry: How the Hip-Hop Boom Sets Hopefuls Up for Failure]

Christopher John Cornell (July 20, 1964 - May 18, 2017)


Jamie Foxx: 'Off Script'

The actor/comedian/musician has been hosting a web series of 10 minute episodes in a lively, informal setting (a purported movie set trailer), where he interviews the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Jeremy Renner, Sarah Silverman, Gabrielle Union, and Vince Vaughn.

Check out the most recent installment, featuring Denzel Washington.

Most Popular Netflix Shows Around The World

This list shows the top Netflix show in every country. (It's Stranger Things in the US.)
Lots of other interesting viewing tidbits as well. Check it out.


Boosler Calls Out Masking 'Vile' Statements as Jokes

In a CNN OpEd piece, veteran comedian Elayne Boosler called out folks who make incendiary comments only to call them "jokes" when faced with the repercussions of their statements. And while the OpEd focuses on non-comedians, she takes Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee's respective and recent controversial remarks to task as well.

What's interesting is how her fellow comedians will react to Boosler's OpEd, since so many of them, from Bill Burr to Dave Chapelle to Tracy Morgan to Jerry Seinfeld, have been quite vocal about their displeasure in not being able to engage in the kind of jokes Boosler is decrying here. Hmm...

[CNN - Boosler: Saying 'Joke' Is No Excuse For Offensive Behavior]


New Tom Petty Box Set: 'An American Treasure'

A 4-CD box set of 60 unreleased Tom Petty songs compiled by family and associates will see the light of day in late September.

Encompassing live and studio tracks, alternate takes and deep cuts, An American Treasure was put together by Petty’s wife and daughter, along with Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. A 2-CD version will also be available.

An American Treasure will be released September 28th.


Monday Music Trivia

- Composers Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers are the only musicians to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and a Pulitzer.

- Blur's "Song 2" is two minutes and two seconds long, has two verses and two choruses, is the second song on Blur’s self-titled album, was the second single released from the album and reached as high as, you guessed it, no.2 on the UK charts.

- What about the other 45? Paul Simon’s classic “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” only lists five.

- In a recent interview, Diane Lane fondly reminisces on her brief romance with Jon Bon Jovi during the ‘80s and lets on how the band wore athletic supporters aka jockstraps under their leather pants. (Bon Jovi allegedly wrote “You Give Love a Bad Name” about Lane.)

- Former VH1 exec Bill Flanagan’s music biz roman a clef A&R features thinly veiled portraits of Island honcho Chris Blackwell, an unflattering portrayal of Whitney Houston, and a scathing depiction of a two-faced, manipulative, asshole singer rumored to be Michael Bolton.


Really, Jerry?

For a while now, every interview and/or talk show appearance by Jerry Seinfeld seems to further confirm he's a jerk upset about having to live in a world in which we take into consideration equality, sexuality and other people's general perspective on things. Like the kinda guy who, let's say, not only has no problem with the name Washington Redskins but also mocks those who do. He's more and more become that guy. Or maybe he always was and it's gotten more exposure these days, as the height of his sitcom popularity is further in the rearview mirror and he's measured by the content of his more recent endeavors.

The latest season of Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffeewhich I have yet to see despite having quite enjoyed previous seasonsis taken to task by Eater's Greg Morabito, essentially for "tone-deaf remarks that indicate just how out of touch Seinfeld is with the rest of the world." Morabito goes on to describe Seinfeld's faux pas as if they're one big jumble of his often mocked "What's the deal with..?" bits that take on Harvey Weinstein, gays, people's names but miss the mark badly.

The new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, 12 episodes in all, features Dave Chapelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate McKinnon, and the late Jerry Lewis. It's streaming now on Netflix.

Elvis Costello Postpones Live Dates Due to Cancer Treatment

Ultimate Classic Rock:

Elvis Costello has cancelled the remaining shows of his current European tour with the Impostors after revealing he’d undergone cancer surgery and returned to the road too soon for his recovery to be complete. He apologized to disappointed fans while thanking those who’d attended the concerts he’d managed to perform...Costello’s North American dates are not currently affected by his change of plans. They’re set to commence on Nov. 2 and conclude on Dec. 4.


Slayer's South of Heaven Turns 30

Largely written by the late Jeff Hanneman and welcomed with a mixed response upon release, Slayer’s fourth album was their second with Rick Rubin at the helm and the last they recorded for Def Jam Records.
While it remains guitarist Kerry King’s least favorite record in their catalog, its stature has grown over the years, becoming a fan favorite and considered underrated by many in retrospect.
South of Heaven was released on July 5th, 1988.

Today in Music History (July 5)

1954 – While jamming for the first time in a recording studio with Scotty Moore and Bill Black—in this case Sun Studios—Elvis Presley goes into an upbeat version of “That’s All Right” which producer Sam Phillips records and becomes Presley's first single on Sun Records.

1966 – On a recommendation The Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler, goes to see Jimi Hendrix play at Café Wha in New York City. Chandler suggests Hendrix move to England, which he does and Chandler becomes his manager.

1969 – The Rolling Stones give a free concert in London's Hyde Park before an audience of 250,000 as a tribute to Brian Jones who had died two days earlier. The concert was guitarist Mick Taylor's debut with the Stones and King Crimson’s live debut as well.

1975 – Pink Floyd premieres their new album Wish You Were Here at the Knebworth Festival.

1986 – Janet Jackson starts a two-week run at No.1 in the US with her album Control, which featured the hit singles “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, “Nasty”, “When I Think of You”, “Let's Wait Awhile” and the title track.

Today's Birthday's include...The Band's Robbie Robertson (75); Mr. Huey Lewis (68); guitarist Jimmy Crespo, a member of Aerosmith from 1979 until 1984 (64); singer/songwriter Marc Cohn (59); Bengt Fredrik Lagerburg, drummer with Swedish rockers The Cardigans (45); and Nick O'Malley, bassist for Arctic Monkeys (33).


The 'Lost' Jane's Addiction Album

[American - 1994]

The end of Jane's Addiction after the brilliant Ritual de lo Habitual [Warner Bros - 1990] and the band headlining the inaugural edition of the Perry Farrell-conceived Lollapalooza in 1991, left denizens of the Alternative Nation hungry for more of the power and majesty of the L.A. art-rock quartet. So, when not too long after Jane's demise guitarist Dave Navarro and bassist Eric Avery teamed up with drummer Mike Murphy in a new outfit—sticksman Stephen Perkins chose to join forces with Farrell in Porno for Pyros—expectations were undoubtedly high.

Released to mixed reviews and poor sales, Deconstruction's lone album deserved a much better fate for a collection of songs that, in essence, amount to a solid Jane's record without Farrell's vocals. (Avery handles singing duties throughout.) Despite being a proposition that should've lured any fan of the band, it was not to be and Navarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers soon thereafter while Avery laid low for over a decade. 

Time has been kind to the album, however, and it could be argued to be a more satisfying than any part of the post-reunion Jane's Addiction catalog. Dark, brooding and at times rather insular, but with all the virtuosity, controlled bombast and grandeur that marked Jane's Addiction's best moments, Deconstruction is definitely worth the attention of anyone who enjoys both Van Halen and the Velvet Underground.

Released July, 1994.


Money For Something

The Warners Music Group has been practicing some hardcore artist divestment over the last 5 years, more or less, basically selling off entire subsidiary labels and/or the complete catalogs of artists for whose music they hold the rights. (Interestingly, the artists in question have the right to oppose the divestment.)

Question: Couldn’t they make a killing on the licensing of all that music? Or have they figured that a lump sum is a better deal? And what’s the endgame here? (OK, that's three questions...)


Dr. Dre To Bring Marvin Gaye Biopic To The Screen

Dr. Dre is working on a movie about the late singer Marvin Gaye, Variety has learned. The rapper, whose film credits include 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, on which he served as producer and inspiration for the film, is in the early stages of getting the project off the ground. And rights to use Gaye’s music have been secured, according to sources. Sony/ATV Music Publishing is home to Gaye’s songwriting credits.
Stay tuned.


Somebody Needs To Get In Touch With Their Attorney

Aside from the very similar name and being led by a singing bassist, there's very little in common between Skeleton Key, the NY-based '90s Primus-meets-Tom Waits quartet, and modern rockers The Skeleton Keys from Portland, OR but lawsuits have been filed over less than that, so...


Happy Birthday: Femi Kuti (56)

The crown prince of Afrobeat and an old favorite 'round these parts...



Take A Break, Michelle

It's only three episodes in but The Break with Michelle Wolf, a weekly show on Netflix from the popular comedian, is proving to be not much more than a low-rent version of The Daily Show. And that's the best thing one can say about the show, so far.
Missing the incisive bite of Wolf's standup, The Break sputters to its conclusion every week, leaving one grateful for its Domino's Pizza-approved running time. Which is a shame since Wolf is a gifted standup and so, hopefully, she can imbue her show with some of that same magic down the road.

15 Years Ago: 'Hail to the Thief'

Hail to the Thief


At the time, the initial burst of faux studio verité that opens the albuma guitar being plugged into an ampmay well have been an inside joke, signaling to Radiohead fans that the quintessential rock and roll instrument, and a big part of the band’s early sound, was back to the fore. But the fact that the very next sound is an anxious, programmed beat is what’s most telling: the promised return to The Bends-era guitarplay was not to be this time out. However, the beloved six-string is featured more prominently than on the previous two releases and ultimately lets Hail To The Thief come across as a more conventional recordfor Radiohead, anywaythan either Kid A or Amnesiac. And while that may not be an important or even relevant distinction 15 years later, at the time it was at the core of a discussion regarding Radiohead's past and what direction their music would be taking ever since the release of Kid A drew a line in the proverbial sand.

Regardless, the songwriting and arranging are both close to the same level of artistry found on their masterpiece OK Computer, with Hail To The Thief including some of their very best work (“2+2=5”, “Sail To The Moon”, “Go To Sleep”, “There, There”, “A Punch-up at a Wedding”). This is the work of a band trying to find a compromise between classic songwriting and progressive/avant-garde experimentation; struggling between being true to the muse and not alienating and leaving its loyal fans behind. In lesser hands, this could spell death to a promising career. But looking back it's clear Radiohead succeeded here way more often than not, and in the end that’s what makes this album such a wonderful listening experience: a love/hate relationship between man and machine that humbles one and humanizes the other. And we get to sit back and enjoy it.

Hail to the Thief was released June 10, 2003.


Anthony Bourdain's Appetite for Rock and Roll

The late celebrity chef was an old punk rocker who loved music and brought the rock and roll attitude to the culinary world. Ultimate Classic Rock has more.

[UCR: How Rock Music Shaped ‘Bad Boy’ Chef Anthony Bourdain]

New Smashing Pumpkins Song: "Solara"

The semi-reunited Chicago quartet has just released the Rick Rubin-produced “Solara”, the first recorded material from Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin in almost 20 years.

The band will hit the road next month.



Skeleton Key - "Watch The Fat Man Swing"

In the midst of the late '90s electronica craze, at a time when many looked to The Prodigy and their brethren  to point us all in a new direction, this NYC quartet not only revved up the guitars, but actually enlisted a dude to bang on a collection of junkyard objects, seemingly underlining the point of proudly distancing themselves from the then-current status quo.

Though largely forgotten these days Skeleton Key's groovy, four-on-the-floor, Primus-meets-Tom Waits formula was not just a cool, refreshing vibe but underscores how a variety of non-mainstream music managed to attract major label attention in the '90s, at a time when the suits had no clue what "the kids" were into or jonesing for.

"Watch The Fat Man Swing" is the leadoff track from their critically acclaimed, Grammy award-winning major label debut Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon [Capitol-1997]

Happy Birthday: Jason Falkner (50)

A founding member of the late, great San Francisco power poppers Jellyfish, Falkner is a talented solo artist who once teamed up with fellow producer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion to form The Grays (whose sole release was 1994's underrated and out of print album Ro Sham Bo on Epic Records) and has collaborated with the likes of Air, Beck, Brendan Benson, Chris Cornell, and Paul McCartney.

Currently on the road as lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the aforementioned Beck's European tour, Falkner's "I Live" is a delicious slice of '70s AM-radio power pop from his 1996 solo debut album Jason Falkner presents Author Unknown [Elektra].


"The Band You've Known For All These Years..."

It wasn’t really until the second half of the 1960s that the album became popular music’s main format to not only disseminate an artist’s work but, in many cases, to make a musical statement by said artists. With that in mind, it’s not a stretch to state that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Parlophone-1967] marks the specific point in time in which the album format established itself in that regard.

Considered by many the greatest album in the history of popular music, time has not been completely as kind to its status, even within The Beatles’ catalog itself, as befits such a designation. But its release was indeed a watershed moment that showed what was possible for a pop combo to achieve and has proven to be immensely influential.

As the folks over at Pitchfork acknowledged in their 2009 appraisal of the Fabs’ remastered catalog, the shadow cast by Sgt. Pepper’s, even in these fractured times, is “so pervasive and so instructional regarding the way music is crafted and sold to the public that [the album format] is still the predominant means of organizing, distributing and promoting new music…decades later, well after the decline of physical media.

Not too shabby.

Released on May 26th in the UK and June 1st in the US, 1967.