Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I already wrote about how the BBC was reporting that The Specials might reunite, but no one seemed to know if the band's leader and keyboardist, Jerry Dammers, would be involved, aas he's never been a part of their prior reunions.

"The Beeb" has just spoken to the man: check out the interview here. He didn't commit to anything - he said they had rehearsed, but seems skeptical that it could work, and if he does it, he really wants it to be good.

So, rest assured, if this happens, it'll be good.


Last night, I caught The Verve at the Wamu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Great show. The Verve isn't a band that I have a, like, religious attachment to - but I can see why other people would. And I've always admired them, and loved their final album, 1997's Urban Hymns. "The Rolling People," "The Drugs Don't Work" "Sonnet" and especially "Lucky Man" are just classics.

It was great to finally see them, and they did a great show. They played every song that I wanted to hear. Of course, they played some of the earlier stuff, which made me want to check it out. I do have 1995's A Northern Soul, but nothing else. They also played a new song which I liked - but the audience seemed to have checked out for that one. Which struck me as odd: the indie/alternative scene in the '80s and '90s, like the punk scene of the '70s, seemed to shun nostaligia. Here's a band that is trying not just to reunite, but also reactivate as a band, and people didn't seem too interested. Well, I liked their new song, I hope their album lives up to the band's legacy.

Monday, April 28, 2008


A friend of mine goes to the desert every summer to go to the Coachella festival. She loves her indie rock. She told me that this year's highlight was none other than Roger Waters, and that the crowd loved his performance, which not only included Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety, but lots of other Pink Floyd tunes.

I have to admit I was suprised by that. I mean Roger's songs hold up to anyones, but still, the indie crowd has an aversion to artists that are firmly "classic rock." It's cool to like the Syd Barrett-era Floyd, but not the more commercially successful version that followed.

You can find reports on Coachella all over the web, I don't have to point to them. Most of them rave about Prince's performance: he covered Radiohead's "Creep" and The Beatles' "Come Together," and was joined by Morris Day and Sheila E. during the show. (My friend wasn't super-impressed with Prince, which I found shocking). Prince was a sort of last minute addition, and was allegedly paid north of four million - and also cut into the set time of the original day two headliners, Portishead, who haven't played the U.S. in like a decade or something. I like Portishead, but it's kind of weird that Coachella had to go so "off-brand" (to use the marketing term) to be successful - their headliners were Prince, Waters and scourge of indie rockers Jack Johnson.

UPDATE: I don't know if this is a joke, but as I published this last post, I got an email from Coachella's publicity firm offering a $1000 reward and four lifetime Coachella tickets for the safe return of Roger Waters' giant inflatable pig, which apparently "escaped" during his performance.

Anyone with information on the lost pig should email


E Street Band member Danny Federici's funeral was last week, and Bruce Springsteen spoke. You can read the text of his moving eulogy at his web site.


I recently wrote about the Marvin Gaye biopic that is in the works. But there's also a new DVD set, that collects the documentary What's Going On: The Life & Death Of Marvin Gaye and the concert Greatest Hits Live in '76. I love this kind of thing. I never had the opportunity to see Marvin perform - not even on screen. Now I'll get to see what a Marvin performance looked like (of course, it's never the same as being there).

Marvin is one of those figures, like James Brown, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding... the list can go on and on. They're names that you know growing up, but you only know a song or two. Before the CD (and box set) era, it was hard to get a grip on what the best albums were (as the Internet wasn't a factor at the time, and magazines weren't so list-addicted). "Classic rock" radio stations ignored them due to their color or age or both in favor of giants like Styx or REO Speedwagon or Foreigner.

Anyway, I got into these artists during college, or after college, and I am grateful that I did. Listening to the artists that influenced your favorite artists can give you a new appreciation of the continuity of music. I'm listening to Marvin Gaye right now - he's one of my favorite singers. If you're not familiar with him, you should check him out also. Outside of Marley, Stevie and Dylan, few artists were able to tackle matters of the world and matters of the heart the way he could.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Last year's Rock The Bells Festival featured the reunion of Rage Against The Machine, as well as Public Enemy and The Wu-Tang Clan, which is a pretty tough to beat bill. But they've got a great lineup this year as well: A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mos Def, Rakim, de la soul, Method Man & Redman and Ghostface & Raekwon are all on the bill. Unlike last year, lots of these guys will have new music out (Q-Tip, Nas, Mos, Meth/Red and Raekwon). I thought the organizers did a great job last year, so I'm really looking forward to this festival.


This week, The Replacements reissued their first four albums - Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink, Hootenanny and Let It Be.

In an interview, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson mentioned that they actually considered reuniting and decided against it.

I think it would be pretty impossible for these guys to live up to whatever expectations people have for them. On the other hand, they're both still alive and well. Paul does his solo thing, and Tommy does his solo thing and also plays in the Guns N Roses machine. Maybe they should just tour as "Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson," it would allow them to do Replacements songs without having to be The Replacements.

I first got into them when I saw them open for Keith Richards & The X-Pensive Winos. My brother went crazy over them and didn't shut up about them for, like, two years, which made me not like them. But these days, I have to admit they were a great band.


This is one heavy group of bands: the Metal Masters tour will feature Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell (the Ronnie James Dio fronted version of Black Sabbath), Motorhead and Testament. People will no doubt snicker at it - and no one who shows up will care. This is sort of like Ozzfest, without the younger bands that the older fans don't care about (and without Ozzy). It will be interesting to see how this does. I'd be into going if I could get my hands on a ticket. I've haven't seen Priest since high school - and that when they were touring for their awful, synth-heavy album, Turbo. I did see Halford open for Maiden a few years ago, though, and he was great. I've never seen the Dio version of Sabbath. Motorhead is always great though. Talk about a trend-proof concert.
Meanwhile, Priest is meeting a new audience, like so many other older rock bands, via the game Rock Band: Priest's Screaming For Vengence will be the first full album download sold through the game.


Wetlands was a cool NYC club in the '90s. Billed as a "jam band" club - Blues Traveler, The Dave Matthews Band and Phish all played there back in the day - it also hosted hardcore shows, experimental hip-hop, ska and more. I myself saw some incredible early Ben Harper shows there, Everclear before they got huge, and even a Liz Phair spoken word thing (which was actually not great). It was kind of like Bonnaroo - based around jam bands, but not excluding music outside of that world. I respected that.

But despite booking a wide variety of talent, the club seemed to have a perspective - it wasn't just about booking anyone who was available. Activism was always an important part of the club. It felt like a cool place to hang out. I was bummed when it closed down.

Now, there's a doc on the club, Wetlands Preserved. I want to check this out. You can find out more about it here.


I've already written about The Allman Brothers Band cancelling their Beacon Theater performances and even dropping off of Bonnaroo due to Gregg Allman's ongoing recovery from Hepititis C.

Happily, the band say that they'll be back on the road in August. As they did last summer, they'll be touring with Bob Weir's band Ratdog. I saw them at Jones Beach last summer, and they were just ridiculously good; they were also mind-blowing at Farm Aid. They're going to reschedule this year's Beacon run for early 2009 (I don't know if they'll also do the Beacon in the spring, as they have done every year since 1989 or something.

Glad to hear Gregg is recovering well, and I look forward to seeing the Brothers on the road (where they belong) this summer.


Yes, scary picture, I know. It's the guys from '80s thrash metal band, Anvil. I barely remember them from back in the day, so I was surprised that someone actually just did a documentary on them. And even more surprised that the documentary got rave reviews. But supposedly, Anvil! The Story Of Anvil is great, and may bring the band to bigger fame than they got in their heyday, such as it was. I'll be curious to see this. Learn more about the movie here.


Lots of rock stars end up appearing in comic books, and getting their own comic books. As a comic book fan, I usually view this as, at best, a harmless ego stroke to a very wealthy rock star. Or, at worst, it's a lame marketing ploy.

I think Tori Amos' upcoming project, Comic Book Tattoo (out in July) will be different, and hopefully better. She has "cred" in comic book circles, due to her friendship with Sandman creator Neil Gaiman (who will write the intro). She has name-dropped him in her lyrics, and supposedly his character Delirium (from Sandman) is based on her. She's assembled a cool team of comic book talent (read about it here) so I have semi-reserved high hopes for this.


A lot of people hate on Rob Thomas and matchbox twenty. I don't: I'm not a huge fan, but they have some good songs. I like that song "Disease," and also "Unwell," I like the song Rob did with Santana, "Smooth." I've interviewed Rob and he was always cool. But what I like about him most is the fact that he and his wife, Marisol, spend not just money but also time on helping animals and people in need. They established the Sidewalk Angels Foundation to help both people and animals (it's rare for a charity to concentrate on both), and they both donated time at the now-defunct Pets Alive animal shelter in upstate New York (defunct because the woman who ran it died last month - happily, a Utah organization Best Friends Animal Society has swooped in to help the animals that were living at Pets Alive - read about that here).

Anyway, recently an organization called SHARK educated matchbox twenty about the cruelty that rodeos profit from, and Rob and the band pulled out of some rodeo concert. SHARK convinced Carrie Underwood to pull out as well. Now SHARK is being sued by said festival. Well, Rob obviously cares a lot about animals, and I give him credit for publicly admitting his mistake in (at first) agreeing to play the rodeo. He's walking it like he talks it, and how can you not respect that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Anyone can act tough by getting into fights and acting all macho. You're probably tougher if you don't have to do that. That's what I think of Big Boi from OutKast: can you imagine being in a duo with Andre 3000? OutKast is one of the greatest hip-hop combos ever, and one of the most commercially successful of the past few years.

So imagine if your partner decides he doesn't want to rap. He doesn't want to really work with you. And, turning down millions in ticket sales, he doesn't want to tour. Big Boi has like this calm, zen-like way of dealing with it. He just moves on, doesn't talk smack about Dre, and hopes that dude will come around.

So, it's funny that Big's new single, "Royal Flush," features Dre (as well as Raekwon from The Wu-Tang Clan, a bunch of guys who could maybe learn a thing or two about co-existing with bandmates from Big Boi). He raps on it. It's a great song. Talk about just rewards. Here's hoping they do an OutKast album soon.

Oh yeah, and on the macho tip: Big Boi also talks about being influenced by, of all people, Kate Bush, and he recently collaborated with the Atlanta Ballet. For real.


Despite winning Best New Artist at the Grammys a few years ago (despite having released six albums by then), Shelby Lynne is always a bit overlooked. She's a great singer, I enjoyed a lot of her records , especially Identity Crisis, Suit Yourself and I Am Shelby Lynne.

She has just posted an essay on her website arguing the merits of analog over digital and vinyl over iPods. I'm with her on this one. Check it out. And while you're at it, check out her music too, she's great.


Green River - the semi-legendary Seattle band that featured future Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament and future Mudhoney members Mark Arm and Steve Tuner is reuniting for a party celebrating the 20th anniversary of the great Sub Pop label. The shindig will take place July 12 and 13 in (duh) Seattle. Mudhoney will also play, as will Comets On Fire and some other cool bands. I guess a Soundgarden reunion would be out of the question, but it would be cool if they could get The Afghan Whigs and Mark Lanegan to play (not to mention The Reverend Horton Heat).

Happy 20th, Sub Pop.


I've written about how Chris Cornell has mentioned working with Timbaland on his next album. He must be really into it: on his website, he's announced that he has postponed his upcoming spring European tour to continue work on the album, which he says is his "best work ever." Not best solo album, his best work ever. I'd be glad if it was better than Audioslave or his first two solo albums, but will it really be better than Soundgarden and Temple Of The Dog? That's hard to imagine, but I'm looking forward to hearing this.

Meanwhile, Chris will be touring the U.S. this summer as part of the Projekt Revolution tour, which is Linkin Park's version of Ozzfest I think. I saw Linkin Park once when they opened for Metallica... boring. I'll wait for Chris' next tour, but I have to wonder how he will be recieved.


Jane's Addiction has confirmed that it will reunite - with bassist Eric Avery - when they are honored at the NME Awards tomorrow night.

I wonder what - if anything - this will lead to?


I'm a fan and admirerer of Tim Robbins. Although I haven't seen too many of his movies, I was totally moved by Dead Man Walking, which he directed. I just think the way the guy handles his career and his life is really admirable, his politics are right on, he's got a great relationship with Susan Sarandon, (who not only ROCKED in The Rocky Horror Picture show, but also did a cool duet with Eddie Vedder on a song called "Croon Spoon" on the soundtrack of the Robbins-directed Cradle Will Rock soundtrack) he is the rare actor who "gets" rock and roll and I just like him. His list of top albums (at his website) includes Tom Waits, X, The Clash, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and Rage Against The Machine. He also showed that he doesn't take himself too seriously with his appearances in films like High Fidelity and Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny.

He recently made the keynote speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. He's an odd choice, being so progressive - the radio industry is so old-fashioned and, well, it isn't progressive. Tim railed against right-wingers, urged broadcasters to "appeal to our better natures" and denonced the obsession with celebrity culture. Read more about it here. Good on you Tim. If acting, directing and softball and activism don't work out, I can use someone to help me write for No Expiration.


Ever since I was a little kid, I've been a big Bill Cosby fan. I loved Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. Is he perfect? Well, who is? But he's done his best to make a difference in the world. He's taken a lot of flak for his comments about hip-hop music. I've never found myself disagreeing with him, though (although I may have when I was younger).

Anyway, Bill is supposedly working on a hip-hop album (he's producing, not MC-ing) called The Cosby Narratives, Vol. 1 State Of Emergency. Unsurprisingly, there are no real credible hip-hop artists collaborating with him. Hip-hop gets real defensive about any criticism of the art-form as a whole - which I guess makes sense. But that doesn't mean it should be beyond criticism, especially from someone who lived through the Civil Rights era.

By the way, this isn't his first foray into music. Other than some of the great songs by Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids (I loved "Soap And Water"), Bill himself is supposedly a good jazz drummer, plus he actually did some vocal albums (which I've never heard) and in the '60s ran a record label that signed Deep Purple.

Monday, April 21, 2008

DANNY FEDERICI 1950 - 2008

I was away for the weekend, and upon returning, I read the sad news that E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici succumbed to melanoma.   

It's easy to get overshadowed in The E Street Band - there are lots of colorful characters and celebrities. But to me, Danny was kind of like his beloved instruments - the accordion and the organ: helping to create a sound, a tone, a vibe. Not necessarily being flashy and calling attention. But when he got the spotlight, he made it count: as I write this, I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band's Live 1975-1985 box set, disc 1: you can kind of hear what Danny added to the sound on "Spirit In The Night," "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," and the instrumental "Paradise By The 'C'." He had a great solo on "Hungry Heart" and on "You're Missing" and "Ramrod." 

Back in my interviewing days - during the era that Bruce wasn't working with E Street - I often interviewed the guys in the band, and had the privilege of interviewing Danny a few times - at the time, he had just started doing solo accordion based records. At that time, a few of the guys didn't really like discussing the "Bruce thing" - they weren't really sure that they'd ever work together again, and there had been a few one-offs, but nothing to indicate that they'd ever record or tour again. But Danny was cool with talking about it: he indulged me and was more than happy to talk about not just his days with Bruce in the E Street Band, but also in Child (a Zeppelinesque band they were in together) and Steel Mill.  He told me about Steel Mill opening for Grand Funk Railroad, if you can imagine that. He told me about wanting to be in a rock and roll band as a kid, but he only had the very un-rock and roll accordion. So, he laid it on a table, it looked like an organ, and viola, he was a rocker! I wish I still had that tape.  It's worth mentioning that he and bassist Garry Tallent have been with Bruce longer than anyone. The authorized biography, Greetings From E Street: The Story Of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, the book starts not with Bruce, but with Danny. 

When I interviewed Danny, as all the E Streeters always are, he was a bit cagey about any speculation about when he might work with Bruce again. I interviewed him once when he was getting together with Bruce for a benefit - it may have been a Christmas concert type deal. He'd denied knowing anything about it. After the interview, I walked him to the elevator. He gets in, and as the doors were closing, he winks and says, "You know, I may be seeing your friend Bruce tonight..." 

Thanks for indulging my questions, Danny. Thanks for the music. And by the way, if you want to make a donation in his name, you can donate to The Danny Federici Melanoma Fund

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Garbage was one of the most unique bands of the '90s, and one of the reasons for that was their stellar frontwoman Shirley Manson. Unfortunately for her, she is stuck in the major label system for her solo album, and her label doesn't know what to do with her. As she wrote on her blog:

"I played some of the stuff to the record label not long ago and they described it as being very noir. At the time, I took the comment as being a huge compliment. That they liked the intensity of my material. But then I realized it wasn't intended as a compliment. But I'm 41, I'm a woman not a kid. I have no interest in making silly pop music and I don't want to wear a silly sexy outfit and sell myself short. I'm sure it will all get sorted out in the end. But I do think record companies, in general, have different ideas about how they promote women. In the end, it is down to each and every woman to fight to be treated as an individual. I just want to be who I am."

She's right about the "women" thing, but I also think it's the "I'm 41" thing. Labels don't know how to work with artists that don't appeal to teenagers or 20-somethings. When someone figures out how to do it - Starbucks has done a good job for sure - someone will make lots of money from it. There's got to be a decent amount of people out there interested in hearing Ms. Manson's new music, I know I am. I wonder if Garbage is still together. I didn't love their last album, but "Bad Boyfriend" was a classic.


Tom Petty's reunited band Mudcrutch, who I've written about, how have a website. They just kicked off their tour - the shows, which feature everyone in the band taking a turn singing, and Tom playing bass and not guitar, sound like they're a real hoot. Too bad the band is only playing the west coast. I shouldn't complain - I'm glad that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are touring this summer, and will be playing MSG - but I'd love to see Mudcrutch.

Anyway, Mudcrutch's reunion/debut album (what other band's reunion album is also their debut?) comes out April 29.


Although Bruce Springsteen's presence is rarely felt on his website, he has occasionally addressed his fans from that forum: to defend the awful treatment of The Dixie Chicks at the hands of country, to let everyone know what songs are on the mix tape that he plays before his concerts and now, that he is endorsing Barack Obama for President. I'm glad he's making his voice heard, and hopefully there will be some kind of tour during election time.

Although the Vote For Change tour of 2004 obviously wasn't successful, when Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band along with John Fogerty, Jackson Browne and Patti Scialfa played New Jersey on that tour, it was a very powerful moment. Maybe a second time will achieve the desired result. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


With his ugly divorce behind him, Paul McCartney is supposedly getting ready to release another new album and hit the road. The cool U.K. magazine Uncut reports that Paul is looking to hit the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, and that he has another new album ready.

Paul always mixes whatever is on his new album with his older material - lets hope that this album is a good one. I haven't been a big fan of most of his material in the past, say, two decades. The last album I liked a lot, other than the covers album Run, Devil Run (which included some originals, including one of his best solo songs, "Try Not To Cry") was 1989's Flowers In The Dirt. On that album, he collaborated with Elvis Costello, and I think he probably needs to collaborate with someone like that to make another great album. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to hear a Paul McCartney album that holds up to the best music of his post-Fab Four career.


Previously, The Allman Brothers Band postponed their upcoming annual residency at New York's Beacon Theater. Now word comes that they are also cancelling their Bonnaroo performance, and I guess they'll be postponing their own summer concerts. Gregg Allman is supposedly still recovering from his Hepatitis C treatment.

Here's hoping that he does recover, and is able to perform again. he truly is one of the greats.


When I read books, I mainly try to avoid books about music, since I read too many music magazines anyway. I made an exception for Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume 1. It was just such an amazingly written book, period, and I've been looking forward to the next volume. Uncut magazine is reporting that he's working on it.

But (according to the great blog Product Shop NYC) his next book may not be Chroicles Volume 2, but a children's book called Forever Young. I just look forward to reading anything that Bob writes. But as I recently mentioned, a new album would be great, too. It's pretty amazing to think about this: his last three albums, Time Out Of Mind, "Love And Theft" and Modern Times are all classics. He could do a show drawing mainly from those albums, and it would be a great show (at least the setlist would be great, the show would only be great if Bob was in the mood to play a great show).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


As usual, I've been picking up a bunch of singles at the iTunes store. Here's my take on some new stuff I've been listening to:
The Breeders: I loved Pod, Safari and Last Splash. I didn't like the last one, Title TK, it took like a decade, and felt like it was a record to say "remember us?" I thought Kim Deal would be re-energized by the love she got on The Pixies' reunion tour. It's not well known, but The Pixies recorded two new songs during the reunion: one was for a Warren Zevon tribute album, the other, "Bam Thwok," was written by Kim for the Shreck soundtrack. They didn't use it, but the band released it (on iTunes) and it was a lot of fun. Anyway, though, I'm sorry to say that based on "We're Gonna Rise" and "Bang On," I'm not really feeling the new Breeders record.

Jamie Lidell is a guy with a modern take on classic R&B. Which is music industry speak for "the press and industry will love him, until they realize that he won't sell records, and then they'll move on." He had a great song called "Multiply" that I really loved, and I also like his new one, "Little Bit Of Feel Good."

Ashes Divide is a new project by Billy Howerdell, the guitar tech guy to many an alternative rock band, who went on to found the great project A Perfect Circle with Maynard James Keenan of Tool. Lots of it is Perfet Circle-ish, which is natural, but it's hard not to think of Maynard when you hear the songs. That's the way I feel.

I've written about how I have been looking forward to hearing Eric Avery's solo debut, Help Wanted. I have two songs - "All Remote And No Control" and "Belly Of An Insect." His vocals are kind of like Ian Curtis from Joy Division. It's pretty cool, but like his first post-Jane's Addiction project Deconstruction (which featured Dave Navarro) I don't know that these are songs that I'll go back to very often.

Ike Reilly is a great singer/songwriter who I discovered only due to a former boss of mine - he had me do a feature on him for VH1 News, surprisingly. I'm glad I discovered him, and hearing his new songs "Hip-Hop Thighs #16" (which sounds like it starts out with a voicemail message from Joe Strummer) and "Fish Plant Rebellion" remind me that I need to check out more of Ike's music.

Was (Not Was) reunited a few years ago, and just released their new album, Boo! Even when I don't love their music, I just find them interesting. You've got two really wacky musicians with two straight up R&B singers, and when it works, it's really fun. "It's A Miracle" should be a hit (but probably won't be) and "Mr. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" has a very interesting back story: Don Was, David Was and Bob Dylan wrote it together in the late '80s, hoping to get it on a Paula Abdul album. Ms. Abdul turned it down, and it languished in song purgatory until now.

Annie Lennox's performance of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers To Cross" from American Idol's "Idol Gives Back" show was pretty powerful. I don't hate on Idol the way other people do - I'm not going to try to defend it either, but Annie could sing nearly anything, and she does a great job on this timeless classic.


There are lots of things not to like about large scale concerts these days - the mallification of the venues, the ridiculously high prices of tickets/parking/everything at the concert to name a few things. But for me, there is something to be said about artists who can rock a crowd of thousands, or tens of thousands, of people. Yes, I'd rather see my favorite artists in a club or small theater than in an arena or stadium, but I like the fact that, after all this time, The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen or U2 or Pearl Jam can still rock a huge show.

But in fifteen or twenty years, who will be rocking the huge shows? There's an article in The American about that: in the past two years, the only touring acts under 30 years old to make the top ten touring acts were Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera (both of whom I believe have potential for longevity). The other younger acts include some country performers - Kenny Chesney, Rascall Flatts, and the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill team, plus The Dave Matthews Band. Everyone else is older - people like The Rolling Stones, The Police, U2, Genesis, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Roger Waters, Madonna and Bon Jovi.

Maybe as music genres splinter off more and more, it is inevitable that fewer acts will be able to command large crowds, but there's something sad about the prospect of that. On the other hand, there's always exciting new artists starting up, I just hope that continues. Despite the fact that No Expiration covers more, uh, "heritage" acts, music really lives in the clubs and bars, not the stadiums.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I can always count on interesting stuff from Les Claypool. He is one of my favorite musicians, his imagination seems to have no bounds, and his band, Primus, is one of very few artists to have toured on Lollapalooza, The H.O.R.D.E. and Ozzfest. The first time I saw Primus, they were opening for Rush. Second time, they opened on the Anthrax/Public Enemy tour. Third time, Shea Stadium opening for U2. Fourth time Lollapalloza (with Alice In Chains, Fishbone, Tool and Rage Against The Machine also on the bill). Les has jammed with Adrian Belew of King Crimson, Tom Waits and Alex Lifeson of Rush.

His latest project is the film Electric Apricot, which he wrote, directed and co-stars in. It's basically a Spinal Tap-ish "fake" documentary of the jam band scene. I haven't seen it, but I have the soundtrack, which features four trcks from the title band, which Les plays drums (not bass) for. I like the way they kind of parody the jam band scene, but you can tell they also love it (as Les has spent lots of time at jam band festivals in recent years). I'm looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes out on DVD.

Coincidentally, I recently listened to the only album by Oysterhead, which featured Les, Trey Anastasio of Phish and Stewart Copeland of The Police. 2001's The Grand Pecking Order kind of introduced Les to the jamband scene. In my mind, the album is a classic. I saw one of their few shows, at New York's Roseland, and even convinced my bosses at Video Hits 1 to allow me to interview the band and shoot the show, which was a huge thrill. I am probably one of the only people to interview the three of them together. Oddly, all three guys said that they didn't want to reunite with their former bands, and since then, all three of them have. Here's hoping for an Oysterhead reunion!


Bobby Whitlock may not be a household name, but you've definitely heard his piano playing. He was the keyboardist in Eric Clapton's short lived group, Derek & The Dominoes. For my money, that's my favorite part of Clapton's career.

The band didn't last long, mainly because of drugs probably. But their one album, Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, is a classic.

Anyway, after they broke up, bass player Carl Radle played in Clapton's band for a while, and died in 1980, and drummer Jim Gordon (who also played the piano coda at the end of "Layla") was confined to a mental institution in 1984, he's still there today. Bobby Whitlock did some solo albums and kind of faded into obscurity. But he and his singer/sax playing wife Coco Carmel, have a new album out called Lovers.

Clapton has spent most of his career moving forward and not reuniting with old band mates. That changed a few years ago when Cream played a few shows. Then Clapton and his old Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood played some gigs together.

Although Clapton and Whitlock's breakup was supposedly bitter, it would be great to see them doing some old Derek & The Dominoes songs together.


Well, it turns out that AC/DC actually is in the studio, and they've chosen a great producer: Brendan O'Brien. O'Brien has a long list of credits, including three of the last four Bruce Springsteen albums, as well as records by Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine and Matthew Sweet, among others. Here's hoping that this results in a great album.
What's funny is the way this news has gotten out: not via AC/DC or Brendan O'Brien, but The Supersuckers. On their web site, frontman Eddie Spaghetti said that the guy producing their album works as an engineer for O'Brien, and was called away from doing 'Suckers mixes to work on AC/DC.
I'll take this opportunity to try to pimp the 'Suckers. Great band. Saw them twice last year, once opening for Social Distortion, and then again for The New York Dolls. Lots of fun, criminally underrated. Anyway, here's hoping for new AC/DC and Supersuckers music soon.


As I've mentioned, it looks like the Ozzfest is going to follow Lollapalooza's example and go from being a traveling summer tour to a one-weekend event, and it looks like this year it will be headlined by Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica.
A cool combo: one of my first concerts was Ozzy with Metallica opening. This was before Cliff Burton had died, and Metallica was a hungry up-and-coming unstoppable band, and they easily blew Ozzy away. I've seen Oz a number of times since then (both solo and with Black Sabbath) and every time he's been way better than that first show.
Anyway, I think this is the way to go for Ozzfest: Ozzy needs too many nights between shows, and that probably doesn't work for all the other bands on the tour. Making it a one-weekend thing is probably ideal. What would be really awesome would be Ozzy doing a solo set one night, and playing with Sabbath the next. It will be interesting to see if this rumor turns out to be true.

Friday, April 11, 2008


By now, every magazine, website and blog has posted an opinion on The Raconteurs' new album, Consolers Of The Lonely.

Jack White's two bands have generally fared really well in the press, and I imagine that at least some writers have thier knives out, plus they are probably a bit sore about not getting advance copies because of the way the band surprised the industry by releasing it with a week's notice.

My take is that it's a great album. I loved their debut, and I don't know if it is better. I do know that none of the songs immeadiately grab you the way "Steady As She Goes" did. But I do know that "Top Yourself" and "Carolina Drama" are classics. But I don't know if the album is a classic yet. I am looking forward to spending more time with it though. Which I will be doing, because I have tickets to see them next month at Terminal 5.


I haven't gotten to see The Rolling Stones flick Shine A Light yet (I hope to this weekend) but I have been digging the soundtrack.

Some might ask if it really is necessary for another live Stones album - there are eight others, plus the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus soundtrack.

My reply would be yes. Yes, this is a live album worth getting. In fact, I'd say it is another live album worth having. I like almost all of the Stones' live albums (Still Life isn't great though), but this is one of the better ones.

I will allow the point that some of the songs have appeared on a lot of live albums before: by my count, there are five authorized versions of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," five of "Sympathy For The Devil," four of "Start Me Up," four of "Brown Sugar" (a song I think should be retired, I'm sorry), and five of "Satisfaction." Many of the other songs on the album have appeared on live albums before, but surprisingly, many haven't, including one of the band's best songs, "As Tears Go By." Also never on a live album "Little T&A," "She Was Hot," "Loving Cup," "Some Girls," "Far Away Eyes," "You Got The Silver" and Muddy Waters' "Champagne And Reefer." A live version of "All Down The Line" was a b-side to a single, and Keith Richards did "Connection" on his Live At The Hollywood Palladium album, but neither song has ever been on a Stones live album.

Fun statistics aside, it's a great live album, I think it shows that the Stones are still at the top of their game. They choose great songs to play, and the collaborations really work well (Jack White on "Loving Cup," Christina Aguilera on "Live With Me" and especially Buddy Guy on "Champagne And Reefer").

My only complaint: the most recent song is "She Was Hot" - from 1983's Undercover, which kind of makes them seem like the relics their critics would want you to think they are. I thought that their last album, A Bigger Bang, was easily their best since Tattoo You, and maybe even Some Girls. I would have loved to have heard "Rough Justice," "Back Of My Hand," "This Place Is Empty," "Oh No Not You Again" or "Infamy." Or even from the Forty Licks best of, "Stealing My Heart" or "Losing My Touch." Or even "The Worst" or "New Faces" from Voodoo Lounge.

Of course, that gives me something to look forward to on their next live album.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Most rock stars have a sense of reverence about legendary blues artists. These are the people who laid the foundation of the music that changed the world. You could be more crass about it and say that the early blues guys got exploited and later waves of rock stars got rich by commercializing what had come before them. 

But whatever, Mick Jagger doesn't play the reverence game. In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Mick is on the cover with Keith Richards and Jack White. (interestingly, Keith and Jack are interviewed together, Mick alone). 

The interviewer asked him if he was intimidated by playing on stage with Buddy Guy in the Shine A LIght flick, and Mick said, "I'm not intimidated. I might have been when I was twenty." But then added, "Well, not even then." The followup question was if he would be intimidated by anyone onstage? "No (laughs)." 

On one hand, I find it annoying that this guy - even though he is the singer from The Rolling Stones - doesn't bow to Buddy Guy (and Keith Richards would probably agree with me on that one). On the other, here's a guy who isn't what you would call a great singer in the technical sense, who is a good but not great musician (Keith would be much harsher than that in assessing his chops) and yet he is intimidated by exactly no one.  You've got to admire that kind of confidence, that kind of swagger. I wonder how many rock stars there will ever be with that kind of confidence (who aren't totally full of shit). 


British magazine NME is going to be honoring the almighty Jane's Addiction at the NME Awards, being held in the U.S. for the first time. They are getting the aptly titled "Godlike Geniuses" award.  Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins will perform, but no word yet on whether or not bassist Eric Avery, who has never participated in any of the band's reunions will show up.  His solo debut, Help Wanted, came out earlier this week though. 

To me, Jane's were one of the great bands of my generation, a shoo-in for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the minute they are eligible. Here's hoping that the guys can get over their differences: the last Jane's reunion (which saw them record a really good album, Strays, and headline the last Lollapalooza tour) supposedly ended badly, allegedly due to issues having to do with spouses. 

I don't know if I want to see Jane's reunite again; they've done it three times already. On the other hand, they've all proved time and time again that something about the chemistry of the band is much greater than the sum of their parts. 


Recently, I bought song "Sour Girl" by Stone Temple Pilots at the iTunes store. This is notable because this was the first time I ever spent any money on the band. 

Some may find that odd, as I am a big fan of many of the other loud "alternative" rock bands that were popular during the '90s.  I have kept the "hate-o-rade" to a minimum here, but hear me out. 

But when I saw them on MTV, it was the "Sex Type Thing" video. I thought these guys were ripping off Alice In Chains (a band I loved), big time. People started saying that they were ripping off Pearl Jam, which I didn't understand. Until I saw the video for "Plush." Then "Creep" - which I thought was a bit like Nirvana's "Something In The Way." I thought they were kind of like a Seattle tribute band, who had forgotten to cover Soundgarden

Then I heard their first single from their second album, "Wicked Garden," which reminded me of "Spoonman." I just couldn't take these guys seriously at all. Meanwhile, a lot of other bands that seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon - Candlebox, Bush, Sponge, etc. - seemed to be crawling out of the woodwork. It surprised me that any fans of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Jane's Addiction, etc. would swallow this stuff. It turned out that people didn't like the bands because they were "authentic" or "credible" - but because they liked the songs (and because they seemed to be part of the zeitgeist of the moment). I worked as a DJ at a bar, and absolutely refused to play their music, which was childish and immature. 

I eventually admitted to myself that they did write some pretty good songs: "Interstate Love Song," "Big Empty" and "Big Bang Baby" were good, and they did a kind of interesting version of Zeppelin's "Dancing Days." I even liked "Mockingbird Girl" by Weiland's side project, The Magnificent Bastards. I thought "Sour Girl" was their best song (although it sounded nothing like anything else they ever did, more like The Association than any alternative rock band). 

I never really liked Weiland's post-STP band Velvet Revolver, featuring ex-members of Guns N' Roses, a group Weiland probably wouldn't have admitted to liking during the heyday of "alt-rock." He recently quit/was thrown out of the group, and has reunited with STP. But his press release announcing his departure was such a lame cheap shot: he suggested former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, rather sarcastically. I've never really liked Skid Row anyway, but it seemed like Weiland saying, "I'm taking my credible alt-rock ass out of your world, return to hair metal now" or something. At least Bach doesn't change his look for every video: he represents a certain kind of music and stands behind it and never worries about being trendy. Still, the other guys in STP seem OK - they seem like dudes who listened to Zeppelin and The Clash - so I don't want to hate on them. And I realize that Weiland is a seriously messed up guy who will probably never conquer his demons. But still lame. 

OK, enough hating. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Having already reissued their classic album The Joshua Tree, U2 is now preparing to do expanded reissues of their first three albums, 1980's Boy, 1981's October and 1983's War. They did such a good job with Joshua Tree, I'm excited to see what tracks and video footage they unearth for this. The Edge is overseeing the reissues, which is good news. I also hear that they may finally be releasing their classic 1983 home video, Under A Blood Red Sky, on DVD. 

Of course, the most exciting news as far as U2 is concerned is that they are working on a new album that should be out this year, and that they will be touring in 2009.