Sunday, December 28, 2008


U2's new album has both a title and a release date. No Line On The Horizon will be out on March 3! They are taking pre-orders at Amazon already, and there's like five different versions of the album, depending on how much deluxe stuff you want. I'm just getting the regular version on CD for $9.99.

Even after Zooropa and Pop threatened to make the band irrelevant (not to me - I love both albums), All That You Can't Leave Behind brought them back to the mainstream in a big way and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb kept them there. There has never been a band whose new albums have mattered so much, for so long, as U2's. It will be interesting to see if the mass public still cares about their new music as much this time around. I, for one, think they will.


Like a lot of other Bruce Springsteen fans, I can't wait to hear his new album, Working On A Dream (even though I don't love the title track, I do like the second single, "My Lucky Day," available as a download at amazon). Bruce just left a message to fans about the new album at his official website.

In other Bruce news, I just saw the already-classic film The Wrestler, and Bruce's title track, which runs over the end credits, is just a perfect ending to the film. This song is up there with "Streets Of Philadelphia," and I bet this one will also win an Oscar.

A similar Bruce song is "The Hitter" from Devils and Dust, which Tom Jones just covered. His version is better than Bruce's believe it or not. But both versions are worth checking out.


No, a goth hasn't hacked into No Expiration to talk about the next Twilight film. I wanted to inform everyone about the upcoming film, Suck: it's a vampire flick that somehow involves the music industry, which has long been rumored to employ bloodsucking freaks. But the reason I'm looking forward to the film, even if it does, er, suck, is because of the cast: Henry Rollins plays a radio DJ, "Rockin' Roger," vegan restaraunt owner Moby plays "Beef Bellows," frontman of a punk band called The Secretaries Of Steak, Alice Cooper plays a bartender, Iggy Pop has a role, and in a move sure to confuse the hip elite, Alex Lifeson of Rush (and co-star of the film Trailer Park Boys: The Movie) is also in the film. And so is non-musician Malcolm McDowell, from Heroes, Star Trek: Generations, numerous superhero cartoons and yes, A Clockwork Orange. Even if the story isn't great, this promises to be a great "guilty pleasure."


This photo, as many of my Neil photos, comes from the great Neil-centric site Thrasher's Wheat.

Yes, I'm a bit behind in my blogging, sorry about that.

Anyway, so I went to the Neil Young/Wilco concert at Madison Square Garden (night one only) and it was a really good show.

Wilco was great. I'm not the hugest fan, so I actually enjoyed seeing an abridged version of their show. I saw them a few years ago at Radio City Music Hall, and felt they were a bit overindulgent (just my take, and clearly I was in the minority, excuse the pun), but I really enjoyed thier set at MSG, even though half of it was taken by "Spiders (Kidsmoke)." Which is cool, I love that song.

Neil opened with seven rocking songs, six of which were by Crazy Horse, which made me wonder why he doesn't just tour with The Horse again. I mean, "Cinnamon Girl" and even "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" work for lots of Neil's bands, but "Love And Only Love" and "Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)" seem like songs he should reserve for The Horse. Neil's band was pretty much the same one he used last year: Ben Keith on steel guitar, guitar and keyboards and Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas on bass, and they were occasionally joined by Neil's wife Pegi Young on vocals and piano and Anthony Crawford on vocals and guitar. The only change was Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina was replaced by Chad Cromwell, who has played on most of Neil's recent albums anyway.

Anyway, the band did a great job on the Crazy Horse stuff, and were probably better suited to some of the more acoustic stuff, like "Oh, Lonesome Me" and the Harvest material.

But I wouldn't rate the show as classic, and I'm sorry to say that that's mainly because of the fact that he played eight new songs. I don't mean eight songs from his latest album, last year's Chrome Dreams II (which I liked), eight songs from his upcoming album. And I was excited going into the show hearing that he would be debuting lots of new material. But like "Let's Roll" and the Living With War album (and "Ohio," for that matter), these songs were inspired by recent events and have an immediacy to them. But I just didn't think that they were great songs. After playing about four new ones, he told the audience that he was "auditioning" for the record company, "So cheer for the new songs even if you don't like them." I'm sure lots of readers of Thrasher's Wheat would disagree with me, but I just wasn't feeling most of the songs. Still, I will pick up the album the day it comes out, and I hope after a few listens, I change my mind.


I'm sure there's lots that people can complain about when watching Cadillac Records, the film about Chess Records. For one, Phil Chess, brother of Leonard Chess - they ran the label together - wasn't in the film at all. For another, neither was Bo Diddley, surely one of the most important artists on the label, and of the rock era. I guess both omissions may have been to streamline the story: having just one Chess brother made it more focused, and Chuck Berry represented the rock era overtaking blues, so maybe the producers felt that Bo would have been one character too many. (Or maybe Bo, who once told me that he never made a dime off of record sales, didn't allow the film to use his likeness - and watching this film, you can see why he didn't get paid, or didn't feel that he got paid fairly).

But I loved the film. I thought Jeffrey Wright, an amazing actor, was great as Muddy, Eamonn Walker was incredible as Howlin' Wolf, Mos Def kind of stole his scenes as Chuck Berry and Beyonce was way better than I expected her to be as Etta James. I'd love to see Walker as Howlin' Wolf in his own film, and ditto for Mos Def as Chuck. Or even do like an HBO series of spin-offs. There was a lot I didn't know that I learned watching the film: I knew there was a Muddy/Wolf rivalry, but you really see how it developed in the film. I also didn't know how crazy Little Walter was (and Columbus Short played that role extremely well). Great movie that seems to be in danger of being lost, despite Beyonce's star power. That would be a shame, more people need to see this film: and hopefully it turns people on to the incredible music that Chess brought to the world: the music of Muddy, Wolf, Chuck, Etta, Little Walter, and also Bo, Walter and John Lee Hooker (also not in the film), among many others.


I've probably talked more about Christmas music than any non-Christian this year, and the season is now over, but I have to let you know about a great holiday song that I forgot to write about. A funny and unexpected team up that somehow makes sense, The Hives and Cyndi Lauper. "A Christmas Duel." Cool stuff, available at iTunes.


Tom Freund is an artist I haven't thought about much lately. I remember hearing him on the local station WFUV, there was this one song "Digs" that I really liked from his 1998 album North American Long Weekend. I know he recorded an EP with Ben Harper, but I could never find it. Hearing his music, I could see how they could be good collaborators, but Ben's songs just stuck with me more.

Anyway, I just discovered that Ben produced Tom's latest album, Collapsible Plans, which is really cool. It features new songs, but also some re-recordings of older ones. You can buy the album here.


Last year, The Beastie Boys released an album of all instrumental jams called The Mix-Up. I thought it was a shame that it didn't get more attention, as I've always dug their vocal-less jams. I remember reading that they were going to give the tracks to other artists to remix/add vocals to, but that never happened. But, without a lot of hype, they just released six more instrumentals, I think it's an iTunes exclusive, simply called The Mix-Up: Bonus Tracks. Totally cool jams, and well worth the six bucks. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to their next album, which is supposed to be more of an old-school hip-hop thing, like Licenced To Ill (not lyrically, I'm sure).

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So, today, Larry Flick mentioned that it'd be cool if I could do an hour on his show tomorrow instead of a half hour. Why not spend half of the show on my original idea of cool box sets/gift ideas, and the second half on my favorite albums of 2008? That's cool, except I can't seem to be able to come up with these kinds of lists without thinkingandthinkingandthinking about it for a super long time. So, I'm not going to give away all of my picks - and I'll probably do a feature here in the next week or two about it. But three of my picks are definitely Mudcrutch's debut/reunion album, Aimee Mann's @#%&*! Smilers and The Foxboro Hot Tubs ' Stop Drop and Roll!!!


What's a cooler gift than a box set? I'm a huge fan of the format, and so are lots of other music fans. So I thought that tomorrow, I'd talk about some recently released box sets that I think are pretty cool.

First off is Roy Orbison's The Soul Of Rock and Roll. This is sort of the classic, career-spanning box set, including hits, album tracks and lots of rare stuff. Fans won't feel ripped off by it, but it's also a good starting point for people just getting into Roy (although starting off a new fan of any artist with a box set can be overwhelming - The Essential Roy Orbison might be a better jump on point). It has a nice booklet with comments from Roy's fellow legends.

Then, there's Hank Williams' The Unreleased Recordings. This box set is made up of long-lost recordings of Hank's radio show from the early '50s: he used to do a 15 minute show at 7:15 am, while people were making breakfast, milking cows, etc. The show was sponsored by Mother's Best flour, which he often plugs. This box set includes some of Hank's classics, as well as his covers of other hits of the day. It may not be the best intro, but on the other hand, it's not like it is for super fans only. Personally, my starting point to Hank was 40 Greatest Hits, but that's hard to find, Gold is proably a better choice.

Cheap Trick 's 2 CD/2 DVD Budokan! is the opposite of a career
spanning box set: it is dedicated to a pivotal moment in the band's career: namely April of 1978 when they played Japan. They didn't really realize how huge they were there until they took the stage. But this was the moment that their career changed; the original live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan was the record that made them stars in the U.S. (and helped kick off the trend of live albums).

Finally, the deluxe reissue of R.E.M.'s full-length debut, Murmur. There's really no reason to remaster the sound on such a lo-fi classic, but the reason to pick this up (even if you have the original
- and who doesn't?) is the bonus second disc with a live performance from Toronto from July 9, 1983.
If you've got a music fan in your life, chances are they may not evne have these yet, they are all fairly recent releases, and they'll brighten anyone's day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Being Jewish, I'm not a
huge Christmas guy. But there are some fun Christmas albums out there. On OutQ, I'll be talking about some of them.

Little Steven's Christmas A-G0-Go has some cool new seasonal songs by Underground Garage regulars including The Len Price 3, The Cocktail Slippers and The Boss Martians. There's also some classic stuff like Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa," The Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight)," The Kinks' "Father Christmas" and Keith Richards' "Run Rudolph Run."

We Wish You A Metal X-Mas features one-off metal supergroups doing Christmas songs. I wrote about this one back in August.

Stephen Colbert's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All! is pretty funny, and has some great contributions from John Legend, Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello and even Toby Keith. Plus a clasic duet with Jon Stewart, "Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?"

I'm also talking about The Reverend Horton Heat's 2005 album We Three Kings, which is one of the most rocking Christmas albums ever. And Phil Spector's 1963 Christmas album. Say what you want about him, but that's a pretty great album.


At this year's Kennedy Center Honors, The Who were one of the artists who were, well, honored. George Jones, Twyla Tharp, Morgan Freeman and Barbra Streisand were also honored. (I would have loved to have seen Babs being congratulated by Bush; I heard she said that it would have been nice to get the honor next year).

The Who were paid tribute with a lineup worthy of this summer's VH1 Rock Honors: Chris Cornell sang "Won't Get Fooled Again," Bettye LaVette did "Love Reign O'er Me," Joss Stone did "My Generation" and Dave Grohl sang many "fucks" in "Who Are You." Plus Jack Black did the speech about the group, saying that "It's about time they get some sweet-ass recognish." Apparently, some folks were offended by the whole thing. That's fine: I'm glad The Who and thier followers can still stir up "the man."


In March, Pearl Jam is going to reissue their classic debut, 1992's Ten, kicking off a two-year reissue campaign lasting through 2011, the band's 20th anniversary. Of course the band don't want to make this some BS lame-ass reissue. They had Brendan O'Brien remix the entire album: Rick Parashar produced the album, but Brendan produced their next few albums, Vs., Vitalogy and No Code, and will be producing their next one also. They've often said that they wished he produced Ten, and he actually did remix some Ten tracks for their rearviewmirror best of. Plus, Jeff Ament, who was the art director on the debut, got to rework some of the art.

They're going all out with four different editions: the "Legacy Edition" just has the remastered original album and the new remix, plus six bonus tracks. The "Deluxe Edition" adds a DVD of their legendary episode of MTV Unplugged, including "Oceans," which didn't make the broadcast. The "Vinyl Collection" is the remastered and the remixed versions on vinyl.

But the big kahuna is the "Super Deluxe Edition," which includes all of the above, plus a 2 LP live set recorded 9/20/92 in Seattle (mixed by Brendan OBrien) and a cassette - yes a cassette - replicating the original "Momma-Son" Pearl Jam demo, the music recorded by Jeff, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready and their friend (and future drummer) Jack Irons, which they sent to Eddie Vedder, who wrote lyrics and recorded his vocals over it and sent it back... the rest is history.

The Super Deluxe version goes for $140, but they're making it worth it. I have to say: I have NEVER felt ripped off by Pearl Jam, and I don't think that I will with this reissue. But even when I get this, I won't get rid of my original Ten CD. I was probably one of the first people to buy it - I was a big fan of Temple Of The Dog and Mother Love Bone - I remember how much that CD meant to me. It still means a lot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


John Fogerty is going to reunite with The Blue Ridge Rangers! OK, The Blue Ridge Rangers were a one man group consisting of just John Fogerty. It was his first project after the breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and I think he gave it a band name to make the point that he was Creedence. It was a bunch of covers, and I think the album holds up really well. It came out in 1973, and now John is returning to Blue Ridge for another album of covers. I'm a huge fan of John's, I loved his last album Revival, and I can't wait to hear this one. The very busy T-Bone Burnett produced the sessions, which featured Buddy Miller and Kenny Aronoff among other great musicians. He also has a DVD coming out called Comin' Down The Road which features a documentary on his life and career. I'll be curious to see that, but not if they sugar coat it. His anger has gotten the best of him in the past, and taken him away from music for years at a time, I wonder if he'll discuss that in the doc.


When I first heard that Joe Satriani was accusing Coldplay
of copying his 2004 song "If I Could Fly" in their "Viva La Vida," well I thought it was a bit of a stretch. Coldplay are hipster dudes who probably are allergic to anything with too much testosterone or flashy technique. Plus, it isn't like Joe is in his commercial prime as he was around the time of Surfing With The Alien. Odds are, Coldplay's members never heard of Joe, much less his song.

Then I checked this video out on YouTube. That is one hell of a coincidence. Hopefully the two parties can work it out, and maybe perform together at the Grammys, letting Coldplay off the legal hook, and giving Joe some much-needed promotion.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


You gotta love The Raconteurs.  Their latest release will be a new version of their song "Old Enough," featuring bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and up-and-coming bluegrass singer Ashley Monroe. It will be a CD single with a guest-less bluegrass version of "Top Yourself," which is my favorite song from their new album. 

The Raconteurs, who seemed to start out as side project for all four members, has turned out to be a great band. I wonder how long it will take them to do a new album - will Jack White do another White Stripes record before they work together again? I guess it's a cool decision to have to make: which awesome band do I work with next? 


Well, you can now pre-order Neil Young's Archives at Amazon now. I can't believe it's finally going to come out. Some of the producers of the box set recently did a Q&A on the great Neil Young fansite Thrasher's Wheat to talk about it. Check it out. Meanwhile, I have tickets to see Neil at Madison Square Garden in about a week and a half, I can't wait. 


When fans bump into John Paul Jones in the street, I bet one question they don't ask him is, "Why don't you collaborate with Sonic Youth on a performance of a piece composed by multi-media artist Takeshisa Kosugi?" Find out more about this at The Guardian

I wonder if the Sonic Youth folks know that JPJ's other next move is probably to tour with a Robert Plant-less "Led Zeppelin" featuring the dude from the Creed offshoot band. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Over the summer, I wrote about (RED) WIRE, the online music magazine that is part of the Product (RED) project. Basically it features big name artists contributing exclusive songs - they hope that you subscribe to dig the tunes, and the money will go towards fighting hunger and disease in Africa. Learn more about it here. I just watched U2's cover of Greg Lake's (!) "I Believe In Father Christmas," John Legend's cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and The Police with Elvis Costello & The Imposters' mash-up of "Watching The Detectives" and "Walking On The Moon." Pretty cool stuff. I'm happy to pay for this stuff.


OK, I'm going to sound like a middle aged New Jerseyite here, but for the second year in a row, the Grammy nominations have dissed Bruce Springsteen big time. There were some really good nominations: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Raising Sand did really well, and the nominations will likely expose even more people to a classic album. And all the nominations for R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan will no doubt expose her to new fans, regardless of whether or not she wins anything (I downloaded two of her songs on iTunes tonight and liked them a lot). I am glad to see Adele do so well (I was shocked that she got more nominations than Duffy). I won't even complain about Lil' Wayne getting more nominations than anyone else - he isn't for me (although "Swagga Like Us," featuring Wayne, Kanye West, Jay-Z and T.I. is probably the best hip-hop song of the year, even I can admit that).

But "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" is a classic. I like Sara Barielles' "Love Song," but it is really that good? Is Jason Mraz's song "I'm Yours"? Who decides this stuff? Both were nominated for Song of the Year. "Girls..." is also an incredible production. But apparently not as good as Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love." "Girls..." did get two nominations in the rock category. I also felt that Al Green's Lay It Down should have gotten more nominations than it did, and in the top three categories (all of his were in R&B).

Ah well, Bruce will be fine, so will the Reverend Al. And I'm glad for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, they have my vote in every category they're nominated in.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have to admit, I'm not loving the first single/title track from Bruce Springsteen's new album, Working On A Dream. However, I do really like the second single, "My Lucky Day," which is available this week as a download exclusively from Amazon (next week it will be on iTunes). 

There's a less hyped new Bruce recording out there as well: a cover of Harry Chapin's "Remember When The Music" from the Serve3 compilation, which benefits World Hunger Year. 

In other Bruce news, I bought Tom Jones' cover of Bruce's "The Hitter" from Tom's new 24 Hours album (the original is from Devils & Dust). I'm not a Tom Jones fanatic (I do respect him though) but he did a great job on it. It's epic, not kitchy.  You should check it out. 


Earlier this year, I wondered if U2 were going to be working with Rick Rubin, after he produced two tracks with them for their greatest hits album two years ago. Well, The Edge tells the best music magazine in the world - Mojo - that they ditched the tracks that they worked on with RR, and this album is totally a Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois deal. No band has mattered as much for as long as U2 -- I for one bet that they stay relevant with the new album. 


I've never actually seen the Elton John documentary, Tantrums and Tiaras, and as a fan, I wasn't sure I wanted to.  But I'm going to give it a try. I have no illusions about what Elton is like - he's a diva. It doesn't take away from the amazing music he's produced, or the incredible charitable work he's done over the decades. 

Meanwhile, Elton is planning another co-headlining tour with Billy Joel.  I went to that the first time they did it, like 14 years ago, and it was pretty great. Also, NME reports that Mark Ronson is producing Elton's next album.  That has the potential for greatness. I'd heard that he wanted to do an album of collaborations with hip-hop artists, which would probably be embarrassing.


Another potential reunion I've been following, other than The Faces and The Kinks is that of The Specials.  Well, the band has booked a few dates according to NME, and singer Terry Hall is onboard. Alas, keyboardist/leader Jerry Dammers isn't (yet).


I'm glad to hear that the great Living Colour is working on the follow up to their reunion album, CollidOscope, which I thought was a really good album that didn't get its due. They are actually having a contest with fans -- they want a fan to create the album art. Find out more at their MySpace page. They also have a new live album recorded at CBGB in 2005 on their reunion tour, and also a live DVD recorded in Paris (also from the reunion era). It's weird how critics fell over themselves praising Living Colour back in the day, and now they sort of don't pay them the respect that they are due. I think they were one of the top bands of the '80s/'90s "alternative rock" era, although they weren't contrarian enough to think of themselves that way. They were as comfortable playing with Bad Brains as they were with The Rolling Stones, and that was one of the great things about them. 


Well, it looks like The Faces reunion is closer to being a reality. Rolling Stone interviewed Ron Wood who said that the surviving members of the band - Ron, Rod Stewart, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenny Jones - rehearsed last week and "sounded great." (They used Rod's bassist Conrad Korsch, not Tetsu Yamauchi, who originally replaced the late Ronnie Lane when he quit the band). Wood mentioned that a number of bass players offered to sit in, including Flea. No matter who is on bass, this promises to be an awesome tour, as long as Rod Stewart can still sing rock and roll (and remember how to be cool). 

Monday, November 24, 2008


And ain't that the story so often with Billy Corgan? I kind of respect his stubbornness: he simply does not play the game. In the press and onstage, he says what he wants to say, even if it comes off crazy/stupid/douchey. 

Let me start off with the bad, so I can end this post on a good note. Billy, who has allegedly been getting in some verbal battles with fans over his unwillingness to do "greatest hits" type sets at the Smashing Pumpkins' shows, recently complained from the stage about Eddie Vedder writing "All The Way" about the Chicago Cubs, saying that it jinxed the team. Whatever Bill. 

On a positive note, I really like the two new songs The Smashing Pumpkins posted on iTunes, "G.L.O.W." and "Superchrist." 


Apparently, The Vatican has ended its long running beef with John Lennon for his immortal comment that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. The NME reports that "semi-official" Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has an article saying that Lennon was just "showing off." Well, between this and Paul McCartney finally being allowed to perform in Israel, it's a pretty good year for The Beatles! 


Today, Bruce Springsteen released the first single from his upcoming album, Working On A Dream -- the title track -- as a free download at iTunes and his official site. By tomorrow, it won't be free anymore - it will cost the usual 99 cents. The song is more in the vein of Magic's "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" and "Your Own Worst Enemy," it is very "wall of sound" sounding.  I don't love the new song yet, but I've only heard it once. And of course, I'm looking forward to the new album, which comes out January 27.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


People always make a big deal about the theme songs to films in the James Bond franchise. I have the new compilation The Best Of Bond... James Bond, and I gotta say, there's a lot of pretty bad songs on it. But since I don't dwell on the negative, let me list my favorite few.

1. Paul McCartney & Wings - "Live and Let Die" from 1973's Live and Let Die. This is one of the few Bond songs that transcended the movie: I think that people don't even think of this as a Bond theme. It's one of Paul's greatest post-Beatles songs, and it even holds up to a lot of Fab Four stuff.

2. John Barry & Orchestra - "James Bond Theme" from 1962's Dr. No. The first, and one of the most distinct movie themes ever.

3. Duran Duran - "A View To A Kill" from 1985's A View To A Kill. In 1985, you couldn't pick a more appropriate band for a Bond theme than double D, and the band rose to the occasion with one of their greatest songs ever, and a great video to boot. "Bon... Simon LeBon."

4. Garbage - "The World Is Not Enough" from 1999's The World Is Not Enough. In the late '90s, Garbage was one of the few bands that made sense for a Bond theme. This featured an even better video than "A View To A Kill." Shirley Manson was perfect for this.

5. Jack White & Alicia Keys - "Another Way To Die" from 2008's Quantum Of Solace. I've written about this one already, you know I love it. I hope Jack and Alicia work together again .

6. Madonna - "Die Another Day" from 2002's Die Another Day. Supposedly Elton said this was the worst Bond theme ever, but I really like it. I guess Madge was inspired by spies: her Austin Powers theme "Beautiful Stranger" is one of my favorites by her, and I like this very electro songs as well. Also a great video.

7. Sheryl Crow - "Tomorrow Never Dies" from 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. Bond's evening gown vibe is outside of Sheryl's denim comfort zone, but she did a great job on this song.

8. Shirley Bassey - "Diamonds Are Forever" from 1971's Diamonds Are Forever. I'm not really into the old school schmaltzy thing, but this was a good song, sampled to great effect by Kanye West in "Diamonds From Sierra Leone."


I'm sort of looking forward to seeing Cadillac Records. I'm having a hard time with Beyonce being cast as Etta James. I think her Dreamgirls castmate Jennifer Hudson would have been a better choice, but I'll give it a chance. I'm looking forward to seeing the great Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters and Mos Def as Chuck Berry.

The soundtrack is kind of legit sounding, although taken on its own... well, lets say I can't really imagine anyone reaching for it in five years. That's only because the original versions of the Etta, Berry and Muddy songs are so great, what's the point? I'm sure it works for the movie. But I just listened to Beyonce's "At Last" followed by Etta's. I don't like to be negative, but I think Etta's version is all you need. Chuck Berry's songs are perfection, but I have to say it's funny hearing Mos Def sing them. Anyone in a rock band (Mos fronts a band called Black Jack Johnson) should cover a Chuck Berry song at least once. Jeffrey Wright does a decent job with Muddy's songs, but again, those songs are perfect the way they were. The album ends with Nas ' collaboration with his dad Olu Dara, "Bridging The Gap," which links hip-hop and blues. Hopefully this film will do that, and will turn on young kids to Chess: not just Etta, Chuck and Muddy, but also Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, and the other great artists on the label. To me, Chess is the most important record label ever. Yes, more important than Sun.


Even though Soul Men hasn't gotten great reviews, I want to see it. I was always a big fan of Bernie Mac - I loved the first season or two of his own show, plus the Oceans films and also Bad Santa. And I've written about the late Isaac Hayes. It's eerie that those two legends, both in the film, died one day apart in August.

The film, also starring Samuel L. Jackson, is a fictional story based in the Memphis soul scene of the '60s and '70s, which makes it of interest to me. I don't have the soundtrack, but I did download a few songs from iTunes.

"I'm Your Puppet" is a song from the era sung by John Legend (in the film, he was the original lead singer of the group that Bernie and Sam were in). John sings it well, but Sam and Bernie's backing vocals are kind of funny. It probably works in the film.

"Water" is another Stax song, this one covered by the great MeShell NdegeOcello. She's great at this kind of song. Unless she gets too jazzy or too out there, I usually enjoy her stuff.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings cover The First Edition's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." The First Edition featured Kenny Rogers on vocals (the original was used to great effect in The Big Lebowski). Great version.

The Sugarman 3 & Lee Fields: "You Don't Know What You Mean (To A Lover Like Me)." The Sugarman 3 is from Daptone Records, the label that puts out Sharon Jones' music. They are sort of revivalists, which I think is cool.

All of these songs are available at the iTunes store, they're worth the combined $3.


Last week, the soundtrack to the film
Twilight was the #1 album in the country. I attribute this to (a) it's part of the Twilight craze: kids love the book and are eagerly anticipating the film. (b) It features two new songs by Paramore. I can't get into them: they're like a band fronted by Avril Lavigne. It just isn't my thing.

But the album does have some good stuff: Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole" (not new, but a cool tune) and a band I never heard of called The Black Ghosts, who I am now interested in hearing more from. There's also songs by Perry Farrell (it's OK), Iron & Wine and the film's co-star Robert Pattinson, who apparently likes Ray LaMontagne a lot.

For some reason, this album reminded me of the soundtrack to The Crow, another gothy highly anticipated soundtrack from an eagerly anticipated film back in 1994, which also hit #1. It featured some classic track from Nine Inch Nails (a cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls"), Rage Against The Machine ("Darkness") and Helmet ("Milktoast"), plus cool covers from The Rollins Band (Suicide's "Ghost Rider") and Pantera (Poison Idea's "The Badge"). The big hit was Stone Temple Pilots' "Big Empty." At the time I was annoyed that a not credible band was soiling the soundtrack, but today I have to admit it's a pretty good song.

Anyway, for my money, The Crow soundtrack is way better than Twilight's. But if Twilight gets attention for Muse and The Black Ghosts, then great.


I never got around to writing about the Big
Blue Ball record that came out this year: basically, it's a bunch of songs recorded by Peter Gabriel and other musicians he invited to his Real World Studios for songwriting summits in the '90s. It just came out this year, and it's great.

But a newer song that Peter has is "Down To Earth," from Wall-E, one of the best movies of the year. It's a lovely song, available on iTunes. Peter Gabriel is probably the most perfect guy they could have asked to do a song for this particular movie. But Moby would have been a good choice also.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


No hip-hop group tours like The
Roots - they are practically a jam band at this point. I remember interviewing ?uestlove a few years ago; he said that he went to a bunch of Phish shows to study them: he wanted The Roots to be like them at some point. He wanted The Roots to be able to play large venues, play whatever they want (not just their more well known songs) and not have to worry about promoting albums.

So I was surprised to read that the band are retiring from the road next year, although for a good reason: they are going to be the house band for Jimmy Fallon's late night show. Jimmy Fallon's gain is the touring world's loss, I bet they'll be an awesome band for the show, it will be interesting to see if they back up other musical guests. They can certainly play any kind of music. I wonder what Black Thought will do though.


Big Boi said in an interview with MTV that the Outkast camp will release three albums next year. Big will release his album, followed by Andre 3000's, followed by a group album. I already mentioned that I like Big Boi's "solo" song "Royal Flush," which features Andre 3000 and Raekwon. He has another single out, "Sumthin's Gotta Give" with Mary J. Blige. I'm looking forward to that. I think Andre might get a bit overindulgent with his album, but I'll check it out. Hopefully they'll return to Outkast with renewed energy.


Bruce Springsteen has a new album! The follow up to the classic Magic is Working On A Dream, and it is due out January 27. Like Magic, Devils & Dust and The Rising, it was produced by Brendan O'Brien. The songs were started during the Magic sessions, and also feature The E Street Band. Not many artists get to plan their album around performances at the President's inauguration and the Super Bowl halftime show, but that's Bruce for you. Here's hoping for another big tour in 2009.


A few months ago, I wrote about The Smashing Pumpkins and said that I thought they Billy Corgan still had some good Pumpkins songs in him. Well, he did: they just released a two track single on iTunes, "G.L.O.W." and "Superchrist." I think both songs are great, not that they're likely to get any notice. After the original Pumpkins reunion failed to set the world on fire, I think the band has lost their shot of getting the attention that they used to get from radio/press/etc. Which is too bad, the songs are good. The only press that Billy has gotten lately has been bad: apparently select vocal fans haven't enjoyed the song selection at the recent Pumpkins gigs, which of course pissed off Mr. Corgan, always game to scold fans during a show. I'll give it to him: he never makes things easy on himself. He has noted in interviews that fans seem to want to hear a "greatest hits" show, and that's not where he's at. I guess he's earned that right, but fans don't have to keep coming back. Anyway, Mr. Anonymous, please take note that I do enjoy both of the new Pumpkins songs.