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.


John Frusciante released six solo albums in less than a year during his time off between The Red Hot Chili Peppers' By The Way and Stadium Arcadium albums. But nothing since, which sort of made me worry about the guy. From all accounts, he really doesn't do anything other than make music, and when he's not doing that, it means trouble. But he's just announced that he has a new record on the way, The Empryean, due out on January 20. According to Billboard, Flea will be guesting on it, as will Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Modest Mouse. I don't love all of John's solo work - some of it is barely listenable (but he's admitted as much about some of his early solo records) but I'm glad that he's still working, and I'll definitely check it out.


Yes, I'm a reunion-watching junkie. I've been hoping for The Kinks to get back together. I was holding out hope that Bill Berry would rejoin R.E.M. (although they did fine without him).

Right now, it looks like there's a good chance that The Faces might get together, and that's pretty exciting. I think it's been close before - either Rod Stewart wants to do it and Ronnie Wood can't make it because of The Rolling Stones' schedule, or Rod doesn't feel like it. But now it might happen: supposedly, Rod, Ron, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenny Jones had a rehearsal this week. That's a show I'd love to see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Rolling Stone's "Smoking Section" has an exclusive story about Ben Harper's new band. They're called Relentless7, and he debuted them at his recent Rock The Vote gigs with The Beastie Boys. He says they're more of a "rock" band than his other group, The Innocent Criminals. He also says that he'll always work with The Criminals, it seems like this is just a break. Their last album, Lifeline, is one of the best things they've done together, but they've done so many great albums together. I'm looking forward to hearing Ben's new band, and also to hearing him reunite with The Criminals in the future.

MITCH MITCHELL 1946 - 2008

Mitch Mitchell died today - he was the drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Of course, Jimi Hendrix was the obvious focal point for the band: his guitar playing, singing, his persona, everything about him, musically, was perfect. But the name on the record is "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" instead of "Jimi Hendrix" for a reason. You just need to listen to it to understand. Listen to "Fire," Mitch is as exciting as Ginger Baker or John Bonham or Keith Moon. Even after Jimi split with bassist Noel Redding, he still played with Mitch in a group that also featured bassist Billy Cox from Jimi's other group, The Band Of Gypsys. In fact, Mitch and Billy just finished a Jimi Hendrix tribute tour. Rest in peace, Mitch Mitchell.


So this week's theme is going to be
hip-hop and R&B. First off is Q-Tip's new album, The Renaissance. I'm glad it came out at all - his last two albums were shelved by his record labels. He is a really ambitious artist, and doesn't pander, and that may be why he has never sold tons of records, but it's also why people still care about him after all these years. His last album came out in 1999! That's a long time in any genre, especially hip-hop. He has some cool guests on the album, including Norah Jones, D'Angelo (also on sabbatical) and Raphael Saadiq. It's a really ambitious album, and I really dig it.

Speaking of Raphael, I really dig his album, The Way I See It. It's more than a tribute to Motown, it's more like a thank you letter. I believe in saying "thank you," and I love old Motown, so I'm cool with this album. I'm sure some people will complain that it sounds too old-school Motownish. This is my favorite of the albums I'll be talking about this week.

I was really looking forward to John Legend's new album, Evolver. I like it, but don't love it. it sounds very contemporary R&B, and is a bit more Brian McKnight than Al Green or Marvin Gaye. That's just my take. I like "Everybody Knows," and also his Estelle collaboration, "No Other Love," which features the great reggae sax player Dean Fraser. I also like his Barack Obama tribute song, "If You're Out There." The great thing about John Legend: you don't have to enjoy every album equally, he's gonna be around for a long time.

I'm also talking about tracks from upcoming albums by Common and Kanye West. Common's has a very Afrika Bambaataa electro sound (the songs were actually produced by Pharell) and I like them. I'm not super into Kanye's new autotune heavy singing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I first started reading about the Neil Young Archives series of box sets when
I was in college. About two decades ago. It's been delayed ever since. That's longer than Chinese Democracy! But right now, Amazon lists it's release date as January 27. Of 2009! I'll believe it when I see it.
The DVD box set is $309.99 and the Blu-Ray is $388.99. But what does a Blue-Ray player cost? I think I'm going to have to go with the DVD, even though Neil says it should be experienced in Blu-Ray. It's supposed to be 10 DVDs, covering 1963 - 1972.


Mudcrutch is about to release a live EP, four tracks recorded from their recent shows. I don't know if Tom Petty will ever work with them again, I hope he does. Their album is one of my favorites of the year.


Rumors have been circulating that Chris Cornell may be one of the guys that Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are considering approaching for their "Led Zeppelin" reunion tour. Cornell says he hasn't been approached. Well, he would be a cooler choice than the dude from Alter Bridge. Although I wonder if he could hit the notes - he is older now than Plant was when Zeppelin broke up.

Still the Alter Bridge thing would be so embarassing: not only would it make Page and Jones look lame, it also might lead to a Creed reunion. I've heard that they've also been jamming with Steven Tyler. Page toured with The Black Crowes a few years ago. I'm not a huge Crowes fan, but I think Chris Robinson would be a decent choice. But, as I've mentioned before, I think it would be better to just reunite The Yardbirds instead.


Genesis has just released thier third box set in recent years: this one contains the studio albums from the Peter Gabriel years. The band has always been talking about wanting to do a tour with Peter. Phil Collins has always said he'd be into just playing drums and having Peter sing; Steve Hackett has said he'd return to the band if Peter did. There was talk of such a reunion in 2004, and Peter decided against it because he was working on his next album (which hasn't come out, four years later). That led to a reunion of the trio version of the group. But Tony Banks, promoting the box set, has been talking about the band maybe doing some performances of their final album together, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Which would be cool - but my favorite album is Selling England By The Pound!


The Nirvana fan club reports that the band's legendary set from Reading '92 will be coming out on DVD later this year. I want to see that. I never actually went to see them in concert, which I regret of course. When I listen to Nirvana, it still blows me away, every time.


This picture is from Backstreets.

Bruce Springsteen (along with Patti Scialfa) performed one last gig as Barack Obama's support act. I'm glad it worked out, last time he opened for someone (John Kerry), the results weren't as good! He debuted a new song, "Workin' On A Dream." Now, word comes - according to the cool blog Stories In High Fidelity - that his next album will come out in January, in time for Barack's inauguration. And the Super Bowl. That's pretty exciting. The mood for his Super Bowl performance will be pretty great. He's not the liberal complaining about the Republican President. He will be the friend of the just inaugurated and very popular current President.

Other Bruce stuff: his cover of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," which he closed his solo shows on the Devils & Dust tour, is now available on iTunes. Also, he released a free mp3 of a new Halloween song, "A Night With The Jersey Devil" (along with a well produced video, with more acting than I think he's ever done in a video) on his formerly lame official website.

But what I want to know: will we ever get to hear any of his recent Barack fundraiser concert, where he and Billy Joel played as one band? And will he actually put out a Darkness On The Edge Of Town box set, a la his Born To Run box set from a few years ago?


AC/DC's new album, Black Ice has sold a million copies in the U.S. already, and is at #1 for the second week in a row. It's their first #1 album here. They are also on the cover of Rolling Stone - also for the first time ever. How'd they do it?

A few years ago, I asked Tom Petty how he was still able to attact young crowds to his show. He said, "Because I don't pander to them." I think the same is true here. AC/DC never wondered if what they were doing was hip, they just do what they do.

I haven't heard the album, other than the first single, the instant classic "Rock and Roll Train." My copy of Black Ice is coming in the mail, I'm eager to hear it.


The latest in the saga of The Kinks reuniting (or not) is that Ray Davies told The NME that the band is working on a new album, and he'd like to tour if they can come up with some good new songs. I think he is referring to the original version of the band: Ray, Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory.

Ray is going on a U.S. solo tour: I hope to catch him in NYC in December. He also is planning another solo album with a choir, and an album of collaborations.


Tomorrow on OutQ, I'll be discussing new albums by some classic bands. The only one I really like, though, is The Pretenders' Break Up The Concrete. It's sort of a '50s rock and roll inspiried album. For some reason, it doesn't feature drummer Martin
- instead, Chrissie Hynde uses session legend Jim Keltner (who was in Neil Young's band when The Pretenders opened for Neil). But, The Pretenders are whoever Chrissie says is in the band.

There are also new albums by Oasis and The Cure. Neither moved me much, I'm sorry to say. Funk/disco/rock band LaBelle released their first album in 32 years, the stuff I heard sounds nice, but it didn't floor me. I'm actually most familiar with the least famous lady in the trio: Sarah Dash. I saw her in Keith Richards' backing band. She sang lead on "Time Is On My Side" and tore that s*** up.

Finally, there's the album by "Queen + Paul Rodgers." I'm more of a "greatest hits" guy when it comes to Queen than a die hard fan, so I don't take the album as personally as some die hard fans might, but it's really not good, and borders on the embarassing. I think Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul should have come up with a different band name.