Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well, you can check out the video for Jack White and Alicia Keys' 007 theme "Another Way To Die" here. Personally, I really like it, both the song and the video. On one hand, it's too bad that Amy Winehouse couldn't get it together to do a song (she was the producers' original choice) but I think they way the song turned out is great. This is a really cool collaboration: it's like 1/3 Jack White, 1/3 Alicia and 1/3 Bond music. I definitely hope that they work together again in the future. I've really liked some recent Bond themes: especially Garbage's "The World Is Not Enough," but also Sheryl Crow's "Tomorrow Never Dies" and even Madonna's "Die Another Day" (which I read Elton John said was "the worst Bond theme ever"). I was actually a bit disappointed with Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name." But I really really dig "Another Way To Die."

Monday, September 29, 2008


It's great to see the late career-acclaim that Levon Helm has been getting in recent years. He'd hit hard times: he was suffering from throat cancer and thought he wouldn't sing again. And he was having financial troubles, and nearly had to literally sell his farm.

Well, he recovered from cancer, and decided to have a blowout party at his barn where he charged admission and played a righteous jam with his friends. Well, that jam turned into an ongoing thing - called "Midnight Rambles" - and ended up raising enough money for him to keep his place. Now his Rambles are big draws, and he even takes his show on the road. I saw a Ramble last year, and was blown away, it was an amazing show. He also put out his first solo album in decades last year - Dirt Farmer - and it was like an instant classic.

Just a few weeks ago, Levon was named Americana Artist of the Year at The Americana Awards in Nashville; the night before, he did a Ramble at the Ryman auditorium, where he was joined by Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, John Hiatt and Sheryl Crow. It's good to see the man getting his due while he's still here to appreciate it.


Enough with these rumors! That's Robert Plant's attitude. He took the rare move of commenting on his website via a press statement about the Led Zeppelin tour rumors.

It says that after this leg of his tour with Alison Krauss wraps up on October 5, "...Robert has no intention whatsoever of touring with anyone for at least the next two years. Contrary to a spate of recent reports, Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin. Anyone buying tickets online to any such event will be buying bogus tickets.
'It‘s both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward,' Robert Plant said.
'I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects,' he added."

When I wrote about this reunion last week, I'd mentioned rumors that Page, Jones and Bonham were rehearsing with an American singer. Since then, I decided not to write about the rumors that Plant was going to go out with them. Anyway, I guess those were the rumors that Robert was referring to in this statement. So, it looks like Jimmy and John Paul may be taking the Yes route next year: touring with the son of one member, and an "understudy" for another. Not a cool move. Jimmy and John Paul, please, please PLEASE reconsider.


I'm glad, as most people are, that Paul McCartney's recent concert in Israel, went off well with no one getting hurt. His oover of John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance" was supposedly a highlight of the show.

Earlier this year, there were reports that Paul was working on a new album with Youth from Killing Joke. Paul and Youth had done two amibent instrumental albums together already, under the name "The Fireman." I thought that this next album would be a "normal" Paul McCartney album. Nope: it's going to be a Fireman album with a twist: Paul will be singing on it. Still, I wonder if he's also working on a more conventional rock/pop album, and if he is going to tour the U.S. anytime soon. I don't see him touring for a Fireman album.


Last year, the Super Bowl had Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and this year, it will have Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Cool news: first of all, it's cool because it will remind a global audience just how powerful this band is. But even more cool than that: it probably means there will be more touring in 2009. Bruce probably wouldn't be doing the Super Bowl if he didn't have a new album or tour to promote, and hopefully he'll have both. I'd love to see him do "Livin' In The Future," but those lyrics would probably be hard to swallow for the conservative football crowd.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


After seeing Lucinda Williams in concert last year, I decided to take some time off form her, although she is one of my favorite artists. Then, over the summer, I saw her open for John Mellencamp. She was pretty good. 

But no matter how I feel about her performances lately, I would always buy a Lucinda album the minute it comes out. I'm glad that she has an album coming out - Little Honey - and the songs that I've heard were pretty good. On the same day, she's releasing Lu In 08, a four song digital EP of protest songs: Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," Bob Dylan's "Mater Of War," and a Thievery Corporation song that featured Wayne Coyne from Flaming Lips, "Marching The Hate Machines Into The Sun," and an original, "Bone Of Contention." Definitely something to look forward to! 


The Obama/Biden campaign is selling a CD to help raise funds for their campaign. Yes We Can: Voices Of A Grassroots Movement features mostly previously released tracks by Buddy Miller, keb'mo, Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow. But the coolest track on the album is John Legend's cover of U2's "Pride (In The Name Of Love)." You can get the CD here


Not only does Kanye West have a new album coming out, but he is also developing a show that looks like a hip-hop version of The Muppets, to be called Alligator Boots.  Supposedly, it will debut on Comedy Central next year. There's a one minute clip here, and it's pretty funny. Kanye may say some crazy stuff, but at least he ain't boring. 


So, I've been meaning to write about Metallica's Death Magnetic for a while. I think it's a good album, very solid, I'd give it a "B." It's not a classic on the level of Kill 'Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and ...and Justice For All. I think it's as good as "The Black Album" (although lacking in singles that are as catchy) and definitely better than Load, Reload and especially St. Anger

But there's been a lot of controversy around the album's sound... that is, the way it was mastered. Oddly enough, I remember complaints like this when Justice came out: the drums sounded awful and there was no bass. This time, it's actually that the album is "too loud." Meaning that there's little dynamic space between the loud parts of the album and the quiet parts.  I wrote a bit about this in May, citing an article in England's Telegraph. That hi fidelity is dying because of mp3s and ipods. 

In the past few weeks, there's been controversy about Death Magnetic, with people saying that the album sounds better on Guitar Hero than it sounds on CD, and allegations that the guy who mastered the album, Ted Jensen, didn't like the way it came out.  Here's a story about this from the Wall Street Journal - which Metallica and producer Rick Rubin declined to comment on. 

It's a shame that artists are catering their albums toward such a low fidelity format. I wonder if I'll listen to Death Magnetic the way I listen to the first four Metallica albums ten years from now. And if I don't, I wonder if it's because it gives me ear fatigue due to the lack of dynamics. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


My post last night about Chris Cornell has sparked some emotions. Let me clarify: I'll always be a fan. I'm going to buy the album. I hope I like it. If I don't, that's OK too. I don't love his other solo albums either (they both have good songs, but I don't regard either of them as classics on the level of Soundgarden or Temple Of The Dog). I don't love every Bob Dylan album, or every Prince album or every Neil Young album.

I think it is smart that he's trying something new artistically, and also looking to a new audience: the '90s alt rock audience are the next classic rock crowd. They don't necessarily care about hearing new music. I think Chris is clever to look to other audiences, especially if that's where his muse is taking him. I'm not a snob, but seeing him onstage as part of Timbaland's Fall '08 line with One Republic and The Pussycat Dolls made me cringe a bit. After David Cook proves himself as an artist and not just a contest winner, I might be OK with Chris writing him a song (but the fact that Chris collaborated with a guy who writes for Hinder is a bit embarassing too).

But whatever, Chris has nothing to prove to me or anyone else. I'm just looking forward to the album, and I hope it's great.


Web cams tend to be boring, but this one is kind of cool. You can watch the final preparations for Neil Young's "Linc-Volt" car, the one that he is doing a documentary film about. It's a 1959 Lincoln Continental that is being retooled so that it will be a diesel/electric hybrid that gets 100 miles per gallon, and will help eliminate the need for roadside refuelling. And our dependence on not just foreign oil, but also domestic oil that makes millions for bush, cheney and their pals.


Has it really been that long? Yes, I stopped circulating Kinks reunion rumors back in February. But apparently, Ray Davies told The BBC that he's still open to a reunion. But, again, only if they could come up with at least a few new songs.

Meanwhile, Ray's new stage musical, Come Dancing, has opened in the UK. It features the title track, but the other songs are all brand new. Hopefully there will be some kind of soundtrack around that.

I would love the chance to see The Kinks one more time, if they could pull it off.


I was wondering how Jon Anderson felt about his bandmates Chris Squire, Alan White and Steve Howe touring with an "understudy" as Yes.

Well, he's let his feelings known on his website. His post is called "Disappointed, and Very Disrepected." He basically says that only Alan called him to see how he was doing after he fell ill, and that no one asked him his opinion about thier decision to tour without him.

There's been two other times where Yes sort of went on without Jon when he quit. In 1980, Jon quit the band and was replaced by Trevor Horn of The Buggles (later to become a big-name producer) for the album Drama. I have a friend who cites it as his favorite Yes album, but really it didn't work. The band toured, but tickets went on sale before the album came out, and in that pre-internet era, people weren't aware that Jon wasn't in the band. It didn't go over well, and after one tour, Yes broke up.

He quit again in 1988, and the band tried to go on without Jon: from what I've heard, they were going to have guitarist Trevor Rabin sing; they started working with singer/multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood (who would briefly join the band about a decade later); or that Roger Hodgson of Supertramp was working with them. Ultimately, none of that happened, and Jon rejoined when Yes and Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe "merged."

There are two people you absolutely need to have Yes: one is Chris Squire and the other is Jon Anderson. But tickets are about to go on sale for this farce. I LOVE Yes. But I won't be buying tickets for this nonsense. Guys, cancel it, say your apologies to Jon, and hit the road in 2009. Or whenever Jon's ready. This is a bad idea. There was talk a while ago of a tour that would be Chris Squire touring with his pre-Yes band, The Syn (Alan White would play drums even though he wasn't in the group), Alan touring with his band White which would also include former Yes and current Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes, and Steve Howe doing solo acoustic sets. Then, they'd all get together and perform songs from Drama. The tour was cancelled, the reason that was given was that someone had visa problems. But now the same guys are touring, but using the Yes name. Not cool. Call it "Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White." But not Yes.


Yes, Bono now has a blog.  It's at The Financial Times website and it is pretty One-centric. It's interesting and it also shows that, unlike many celebrities who champion a cause, he's really done his homework. I really respect the way that Bono can play both sides of the political fence in order to push his agenda of ending world hunger, which really isn't a political issue, but a humanitarian one. But I wonder if I would be able to do that in his position.  I know his U2-mates cringe when they see a picture of him with bush II. I doubt it will be much more fun when pictures of him with Palin come out. 


David Gilmour was on the British show Later... With Jools Holland talking about his new live album, and he performed a moving tribute to the late Richard Wright. He did Pink Floyd's "Remember A Day" from A Saucerful of Secrets, which Wright wrote and sung.  See the clip here


(I got this photo, as I often do, from Backstreets.)

Bruce Springsteen turned 59 yesterday. Normally, I don't do the "Happy Birthday ___!" thing for artists, I'd rather just talk about their music. But with Bruce it really is pretty extraordinary: at 58 he released one of his best albums, and went on an incredible tour... one that saw him changing up the set nightly and playing 3 hour + shows.

And in the next year, there's talk of a new album with The E Street Band (some stuff that they didn't finish during the making of Magic, and other stuff they recorded on tour), another tour with the band, and a Darkness On The Edge Of Town box set. Plus, he's said he's working on another solo album, and he has a solo acoustic track coming out for the film The Wrestler. We should all retain our creativity and vitality so much at that age. I look forward to seeing many more shows with The E Street Band, The Seeger Sessions Band and his solo gigs. So don't worry Bruce, 60 is the new 30.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'll stick up for Chris Cornell's decision to work with Timbaland on his upcoming album. Timbaland is clearly a really creative guy, and has made some great records. But I wish Chris hadn't performed at Fashion Rocks a few weeks ago. It was basically a performance by three artists Timbaland is working with: a group called One Republic, The Pussycat Dolls and Chris Cornell. Each group performed a portion of thier song, but the Dolls got about twice as much stage time as Chris. Really.

Chris is going to do a west coast tour with Timbaland where they do the entire new album and nothing else. I'm not sure how much I'd pay for that. I think what I've heard is ok, but money's tight, know what I mean?

And now I've heard that Chris has written the first single for American Idol winner David Cook's upcoming album. I think it must be really liberating for Chris to let go of the hangups that indie rock or alternative rock had in the '90s. But I feel like he's lowering his "stock," for lack of a better way to put it. I don't think you should say yes to anything, just because it puts you in front of a new audience. Although I do wonder if younger pop kids will care about Chris Cornell (or, for that matter, Linkin Park fans, since Chris toured with them this summer).


This morning on the news, there was a report on this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot. It basically mentioned that Metallica and Run-D.M.C. are on the ballot, but Bon Jovi is not, and were they, overlooked, as they have been around for 25 years and are now eligable? Yes, I live in the tri-state area, and most news teams probably weren't asking this question.

I'm not a snob, but I don't think I'd vote for Bon Jovi. I do think that if The Stooges and Jeff Beck are inducted this year (both are on the ballot) that the Hall will have corrected most of its most egregious oversights.

If I were to add some other artists, I would suggest The Beastie Boys (who were on the ballot last year, but aren't this year), Kiss, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, The New York Dolls and Bill Withers off the top of my head. And Warren Zevon and Tom Waits. And LL Cool J if he's eligible.


After last week's metalfest, I'm gonna chill a bit on this week's show. If last week was a tight pants show, this week is a loose pants week. We're going to talk about Elvis Costello's recent Momofuku, Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley's new solo album Acid Tongue, Randy Newman's Harps and Angels and Todd Snider's Peace Queer EP which comes out next month. I don't know if there's really a theme here, other than all four of these folks are people you wouldn't want writing a song about you, particularly if you pissed them off.

I was also going to talk about the next wave of Replacements reissues, but I haven't gotten them yet.


On October 20, Elton John is going to be performing his classic 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at New York's New Amsterdam Theater with the help of some of his friends, including Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters and the fearless and hilarious Jane Krakowski. I'd love to go, but not being totally rich, I can't afford it. But I ain't mad (or too mad), as the concert will raise funds for a number of AIDS charities. I'll just put it on the list of Elton shows I wish I'd attended, including his 60th birthday concert, the solo piano show he recently did (it was a Hilary Clinton benefit, though, and as an Obama supporter, I didn't want to spend too much money on that, even though I'm OK with Hil) and the concerts he did in NYC a few years back with a full orchestra. Find out more at Elton's website.


Mr. Jimmy Page and Mr. John Paul Jones:

I know not to believe things that I read in silly tabloids like The Sun, but please put out a press statement assuring fans that you aren't actually rehearsing for a "Led Zeppelin" tour with Jason Bonham and a new singer.

Yes, it may be disappointing that Robert Plant has decided to keep touring with Alison Krauss and not entertain the idea of a reunion. But please, don't do this. Jimmy, remember when you did that tour with the dude from white snake? 'Nuff said.

It's true that the things that Robert said in the latest issue of the British version of GQ weren't too cool ("The endless paperwork was like nothing I've experienced before. I've kept every one of the emails that were exchanged before the concert and I'm thinking of compiling them for a book, which I feel sure would be hailed as a sort of literary version of Spinal Tap"). But this is no way to get back at him. The idea of a Zeppelin tour in 2008 or 2009 is dicey anyway -- Jason is great, but he's not John Bonham -- but without Robert, it just looks desperate and lame.

I think you need some tough love here from a true fan. Hopefully Robert will come around when Alison returns to her regular band, the excellent Union Station.


No Expiration

Monday, September 22, 2008


Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the artists on this year's ballot, and it looks like the next induction ceremony will really rock. The Stooges are nominated for the 15th
 (or so) time. If they don't deserve to be in, no one does. 

Run-D.M.C. is on the ballot in their first year of eligibility, and they're a shoo-in, in my opinion. They are to hip-hop as The Stooges are to punk. 

Metallica are eligible for the second time: they should have gotten in last year, but I'm sure they'll get in this year. It's cool that they're getting in right as they're releasing a great album (which I still need to write about). 

And I've been complaining about Jeff Beck not being in for about as long as I've been complaining about The Stooges. Yes, he's a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as a member of The Yardbirds, but he deserves to be recognized for his solo career, especially the first two albums by The Jeff Beck Group. But hell, if Clapton is in for his solo career, Jeff Beck definitely deserves to be inducted. 

Also on the ballot: Chic, War, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Wanda Jackson and Bobby Womack. All great artists, but I think it is all about The Stooges, Run-D.M.C., Metallica and Jeff Beck. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Josh Hisle isn't a household name, but if you've seen Neil Young's Crosby Stills Nash & Young documentary film Deja Vu, you know his name. He is the young soldier who went to the middle east to fight for America. His first tour of duty went well. But when he was called back for a second tour of duty, he questioned the war, and especially our government. He is also a musician, and he is shown in Deja Vu singing his own song, "Traitor's Death." There's an interesting interview with him at Glide magazine's website. Check it out.


Sometimes interviewers just know a bit too much, and they are a bit simpatico with the artist, and the interview ends up being not interesting.

Other times, the interview just has no clue, and that will lead to a crap interview 95% of the time.

But sometimes when an artist does an interview off of the beaten path, it is more interesting than the Rolling Stone/New York Times piece (and I say that as someone who reads both).

But I really enjoyed this online fan Q&A with The Hold Steady's Craig Finn on ESPN.com. It turns out that lots of indie rock fans are also baseball fans.

TORI AMOS IN 1991 (and 1992)

I just got a copy of the live Tori Amos album, Live At Montreux 1991 & 1992. Wow. In 1991, she hadn't yet released her debut album (I'm not counting her album as "Y Kant Tori Read") and she performed at this festival, just playing piano and singing these incredibly powerful songs. A year later, she returned to Montreux, with her classic debut, Little Earthquakes, under her belt.

Hearing this woman sing these songs so unadorned really is incredible to hear. I know she'd been compared to Kate Bush, but other than some vocal similarities, I just don't hear it. Tori has always been her own woman (or at least she has been since she went solo), she's a complete original. It all starts here. She is as tough and as heavy as any metal dude, and more original than any indie rocker (most of whom get tons more favorable press, mainly because rock critics seem to relate to them more).

I'm glad I discovered Tori fairly early, I got to see her around this time at Town Hall in New York City and it really blew me away. You should check out this live CD, the DVD, or both.


For years, Pearl Jam and King's X fans have heard about
a collaboration between the bands respective bass monsters, Jeff Ament and Doug Pinnick. Doug does guest vocals on one track on Jeff's upcoming solo debut, Tone. So, is that it?

Well, in a series of questions from fans that Jeff addressed on Pearl Jam's website, he says that he and Doug and drummer Richard Stuverud (who plays on Tone, and who played with Jeff in Three Fish) Jeff said
"...we have a dozen songs from a few years ago to tinker with and finish." So that's something to look forward to.


Yep, according to this. Jimi Hendix's recording with The Ghetto Fighters may be seeing the light of day soon. Of course, nothing Jimi-related ends up being released without a fight from the Hendrix estate.

As a fan, I don't care about the politics involved. I wonder if the material is any good, and if so, will we ever get to hear it?


Liz Phair made a video where she asserts control over her creative direction from songwriting/producing team The Matrix. You can see it here: it's a bit goofy. I am a fan of Liz's, but I think she may be going a bit crazy.

While I'm on the topic of Ms. Phair, I'll mention that I picked up the Exile In Guyville re-release, and it sounds as good as ever. As an album, it is still a classic. The re-release isn't great if you have the original, though. The bonus tracks are really not great, and the DVD documentary is kind of dull. The idea that Liz shot and narrated it is great and makes sense. But, Liz, mic the people you're interviewing. I mean, I know everyone loves the lo-fi-ness of Exile, but come on.

But to end this post on a positive note, I'm looking forward to hearing her next album, which will be on Dave Matthews' ATO Records label, which has also released music from Gov't Mule, My Morning Jacket, Jem, David Gray and Patty Griffin.


Alice In Chains has toured over the past few years with guitarist/leader Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez along with singer/guitarist William DuVall.

I'm a big AIC fan, but I didn't catch any of the shows. I just think that Layne Staley isn't really replaceable. I saw William DuVall in Jerry's solo band, and he was great. But seeing AIC - it would be like replacing Kurt Cobain in Nirvana. Now I hear the guys are going to do a new album. I'll be interested to hear it, but can you really have an Alice In Chains without Layne?


A few years ago, a documentary about Muhammed Ali 's famous "Rumble In The Jungle" match against George Foreman in Zaire in 1974 came out: it was called When We Were Kings. The film touched on the concerts that took place around the fight, but now a documentary on those performances, Rumble In The Jungle, will be coming out. James Brown performed, as did Bill Withers, B.B. King and many others. I recently raved about the James Brown DVD box set I Got The Feelin' - the footage of James back in the day is pretty awesome - and this should be similarly great.

Another great soul/R&B doc from that era is Wattstax: it was a 1972 concert billed as the "Black Woodstock," featuring Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Kim Weston and The Bar-Kays, among others . I had the privlege to interview Chuck D. about it when it came out (Public Enemy used the in-between-song-banter on It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, and Chuck did a commentary track for the DVD), which was really cool experience. I was surprised that I hadn't really heard of the concert before the release of the DVD, despite having listened to It Takes A Nation thousands of times.


I've been following the rumors about The Specials reuniting: it turns out that the band members, minus keyboardist and leader Jerry Dammers, recently played a gig in England earlier this month (on The Isle Of Wight). Read more about it at Marco On The Bass, a blog about reggae/ska/soul.

It would be cool if everyone could get together and do just one last tour.


Yesterday was Farm Aid 2008. I went last year when it hit New York, and the year before in Camden, New Jersey. This year is was in Boston, but I didn't have to bucks to make the trip. Plus, I saw John Mellencamp earlier this summer, and I'm going to see Neil Young and his current band later this year. Of course, Willie Nelson played (his Farm Aid sets are usually a bit messy), as did Dave Matthews (as a duo with Tim Reynolds, as they did last year). Also on the bill was The Pretenders (who have a cool album out that I'll be writing about soon), Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Chesney (as the token mainstream country act on the bill), Jakob Dylan and the great patriot Steve Earle. Farm Aid is a great event, you should catch it if you can.

Neil has also announced the lineup for this year's Bridge School Benefit concert. Neil of course is headlining, Pegi Young is also on the bill, as well as Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, Cat Power and opera singer Josh Grobman. For real. One night, ZZ Top will be playing, the other night it will be "The Smashing Pumpkins." I always say that I'm going to go to The Bridge School Benefit concert, but this is not one of the more exciting lineups (although I'd like to see ZZ Top "unplugged"). It is, of course, a great cause to support regardless of who is playing in any given year.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Norman Whitfield is far from a household name, but his name is familiar to Motown fans who read the credits. He produced and/or wrote some classic Motown songs like Marvin Gaye's "Pride & Joy," The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You," and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips, as well as Marvin.

Because of my recent interview with Smokey Robinson, I've been spending a lot of time listening to Motown: the music that that label created in the '60s (and '70s) is really mindblowing.


Stone Gossard has released his new solo single, "In Flames" as a digital download that you can get at Pearl Jam's web site. He's going to be doing a couple of solo shows coming up, I'm hoping to catch him when he plays Brooklyn. I don't know when he's going to be releasing the Hank Williams tribute I heard about. I also wonder when the next Brad album will be coming out. Stone's a busy guy lately!

Meanwhile, Eddie Vedder just wrote a song for his favorite baseball team The Chicago Cubs. It's called "All The Way" (but the season isn't over, so they may not be, in fact, going "all the way"). I'm not a huge follower of baseball, but I know it ain't easy being a Cubs fan. Anyway, the song will probably also be available at Pearl Jam's web site.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The word "genius" is often misused. You know when it isn't overused?  When it is used to describe Smokey Robinson

I had the opportunity - and privilege - to interview the man yesterday, and it was one of the great experiences of my professional career. This guy's catalog of songs is really unbelievable, he has written songs that people will be listening to for as long as people are listening to music. He was one of the five guys in the room with Berry Gordy when Motown was founded; Smokey was the VP during all the years that he was also a star, producer and staff writer.

He remembers things that happened over 40 years ago with total clarity, and despite the fact that he is one of the most covered and most admired songwriters of all time, he is still grateful and graceful when discussing the songs and people who he has discussed probably thousands of times over the decades. Thank you Smokey, for being so cool. But more than that, thanks for the music. 

(When I find out how and where the interview will be used, I'll post the info). 


Bono and The Edge have written a new song, "Sugar Daddy," for Tom Jones' upcoming album 24 Hours. They're going to play on the song as well. They've done this before: they wrote "One Shot Of Happy, Two Shots Of Sad" for Frank Sinatra (he never recorded it, but Nancy Sinatra did), and they also wrote songs for Tina Turner and Roy Orbison. The album will also have a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "The Hitter" from Devils & Dust

It's easy to write off Tom Jones because he is Vegasy, and I used to do that too, I guess. Later I realized that not everyone has to be "credible." Tom Jones is a good singer (although he goes over the top sometimes, in my opinion) and a pretty hip guy who is passionate about music. I interviewed him and he was really cool; in fact, after the interview I was approached about maybe doing something for a Tom Jones box set (which has still never gotten past the discussion phase): he liked me because I approached him with respect, didn't treat him like kitch. And didn't ask him about ladies' underwear being thrown onto the stage. 

Back to U2: I look forward to hearing this song; this, along with the Under A Blood Red Sky reissue will have to hold me over until their new album, which is coming out next year


Few songs are scrutinized as heavily as James Bond themes. And for
the upcoming flick, Quantum of Solace, the fact that it is a duet for the first time will only put it under the magnifying glass of high expectations even more. Add to that, the hype that surrounds everything that Jack White and Alicia Keys do. 

I like it, but I'm not sure how it holds up to past themes. I do hope they collaborate more in the future: it's not like you have total artistic freedom when you're doing a Bond theme. 

Hear the track here (before it gets taken down). 


The indie rock blog Brooklyn Vegan posted an open letter to career-making/career-ending indie rock blog Pitchfork from a band called the Airborne Toxic Event. Apparently, this band (who sound like The Strokes to me) are pretty hyped and Pitchfork took them down, as they often do to bands after a certain amount of time. The letter is interesting: it's funny that the band admitted to enjoying Pitchfork's infamous career-ending Jet review.  But clearly they felt that the blog didn't give them a fair shake.  

The indie rock world is a weird place.  Not weird like Primus or Tom Waits. Weird like Heathers.  


A couple of weeks ago, I saw Steve Earle at a lovely church in Monclair, New Jersey. It was very much like the show I saw about a year ago. Allison Moorer opened (unfortunately, I got out of work late and missed her set), Steve played solo acoustic, sometimes joined by a DJ and/or Allison. Great show: the man with just an acoustic guitar just has such power. There are very few artists who can do such a great show just playing solo acoustic: Bruce Springsteen (whose "State Trooper" Steve covered) and Neil Young maybe. Maybe Eddie Vedder. Hamell On Trial. Not many others though. 

That night, I saw Steve on Letterman: instead of plugging his own album, he did Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me," which he'd covered for a tribute album a few years back.  It was the year anniversary of Warren's passing, and of course he was a friend of Letterman's. Pretty moving. But it also reminded me that seeing Steve fronting a band is great, too. I hope he returns to that at some point. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I love this story. Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson flew to the aid of 221 stranded British tourists in Egypt. Bruce is indeed a licenced pilot (obviously) and even flies Maiden's jet around while the band is on tour. Anyway, read the whole story at England's Daily Mail. The only thing that could have made this story better is if he rescued 221 nuns in Iron Maiden's custom jet.


This week, I'm going to be talking about the biggest album in the world at the moment: Metallica's Death Magnetic. And if you're calling to dis it (as one guy named Wayne did last week when we weren't even talking about it) you best be prepared to scrap! I hate saying "it's their best album since..." it is their best album since at least the black album, if not ...and Justice For All.

We'll also talk about Motorhead's new one, Motorizer. A very consistent and underrated group. Maybe the documentary Lemmy will change that.

Also, AC/DC's new album, Black Ice. Actually, I've only heard one song, "Rock and Roll Train," but it's pretty great. AC/DC have a limited time SIRIUS/XM channel, AC/DC Radio.

And if we get to it, we'll hit the Black Sabbath debate: who is the better singer, Ozzy Osbourne or Ronnie James Dio?


None of the members of Pink Floyd (other than Roger Waters) are very talkative, so I thought it was bitter and sweet that David Gilmour wrote a little bit about his late bandmate Richard Wright on his web site.

Oddly, Wright passed away just as the latest issue of the cool British magazine Uncut, with Floyd on the cover, came out. It has a list of the top 30 Floyd tunes, as selected by Gilmour, Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and their famous fans. The #1 was the entire "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" suite.


MTV.com reports that 50 Cent was mocking Kanye West's new song from the stage at his recent show in Albany. Both artists have albums due out in December, and it seems kind of likely that both albums could come out on the same day, which also happened last year.

I would (again) put my money on Kanye: his music is consistently creative, and I think he is about more than just hype and beefs. For all 50's talent, he gets more attention for his battles than anything else. Kanye outsold 50 by far last time, I doubt the outcome would be different for round 2.


There are few living artists who deserve a museum in thier honor while they are alive. B.B. King is one of them. On the occasion of his 83rd birthday, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.

And this was just a few weeks after he released what may be remembered as one of his greatest albums - really - One Kind Favor.

I love B.B. I've had the privlege of interviewing the man, he's always been really cool. More than that, he just brings such a joy to his music, I love it. I remember watching one of the Martin Scorsese blues documentaries that came out years ago, it had footage of a young B.B. saying he wanted to be the biggest blues artist ever. And he did. There was also a part where he talked about playing the Fillmore West for the first time, and his bus got there, and there was a line around the block - of almost all white folks. He told his bus driver to keep going, this couldn't possibly be the place that booked him. The bus driver drove around and figured that, yes, it was. All those white folks were lined up around the block to see B.B. King. It was pretty moving the way he told it.


Another Bob Dylan book is due out, but unfortunately, it isn't Chronicles Vol. 2. Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: The Lost Manuscript is a collab between Bob and photographer Barry Feinstein, and it dates back to the '60s. The book pairs Bob's poetry with Feinstein's Hollywood photos. Get a taste of Bob's poems at the New Yorker.

But supposedly Dylan is actually working on Chronicles Vol. 2.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Haaretz reports that Paul McCartney is receiving death threats from radical religious groups: they say that suicide bombers will be targeting him if he performs his scheduled concert in Israel on the 25th.  Here's hoping that Israel's security for the show is impenetrable (clearly they know something about protecting themselves) and that the show goes on.  


Pink Floyd's keyboardist Rick Wright died today after a short battle with cancer. I got to interview him once about ten years ago. We were talking about his then-semi-current solo album, Broken China, but I couldn't resist asking him about the Dark Side Of The Moon/Wizard Of Oz rumors. He was really cool. Without saying it, I could tell he'd like to play with Floyd again, and he got his chance, twice. Once, of course, was at Live 8, and after that, the post-Roger Waters version of the band performed at a tribute to their original leader, Syd Barrett. I'm glad he had that closure. 


Aquarium Drunkard is a cool blog that focuses on indie rock and roots rock. I prefer the latter, of course. They just posted a cool clip of Crosby Stills Nash & Young performing Neil Young's "Down By The River" in 1969. Check it out here

In other Neil news, I just got tickets to see Neil at MSG in December with Wilco opening. Pretty much with the same band I saw him with last year: it was a great show, and hopefully it will be even better this time.