Thursday, January 29, 2009


I mentioned that the only new Neil Young song that I really like is "Fork In The Road." I'm glad that it is going to be available as an MP3 (which the song mentions "sounds like shit") next Tuesday.  


There's a documentary on Bad Brains in the works.  It seems like a cool doc with a compelling story is a good way to expose more people to bands that don't get enough attention (see: Motorhead). I was just listening to their early compilation Black Dots the other day, and was blown away by how powerful it was.  It's hard to imagine what it sounded like when it was brand new. 


I don't know who is playing Ozzfest, or if there will be
an Ozzfest, or what Metallica is doing this summer. But as of now, the Mayhem tour is the metal tour of the summer: it will feature Slayer, Marilyn Manson and Trivium.  Nuff said! 


Since The Pixies reunion, Frank Black seemed content to return to his solo career. But now he has a new group, Grand Duchy, which is a collaboration with his wife Violet Clark. This is all according to Pitchfork. I'm sure lots of people are disappointed that he isn't doing any new Pixies music.  I'm not: I thought the reunion was incredible, but I don't think that they would have had the chemistry that they did back in the day. 


PJ Harvey scored the new Broadway production of Hedda Gabler, starring Mary Louise Parker. Read all about it at the Daily News. More exciting: she has reunited with John Parish - they recorded the album Dance Hall At Louse Point in 1996.  This spring, they will release their second album together, A Woman A Man Walked By. They're supposed to tour also: hopefully they'll play some of PJ's solo music as well. 

BILLY POWELL 1952 - 2009

Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell died on January 28. Along with guitarist Gary Rossington, he was the only original Skynyrd member who still played with the band. I'm glad he lived to see Skynyrd get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and return to arenas (Kid Rock took them on his arena tour). For a while, it seemed like Skynyrd weren't getting their due respect, but in recent years, I think that has changed.  Listen to any of the albums that they made before the horrible plane crash - they are all classic. Rest in peace, Billy Powell. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well, they've been announced! Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band will be in U.S. arenas through April and May, stadiums in Europe in early June, then a few weeks off (during which time the Bonnaroo festival, which they are rumored to be headlining, takes place), then European stadiums in July. I predict there will be stadium runs in a few U.S. strongholds (Jersey, Boston and L.A. probably) and that'll be a wrap for this tour. Tickets for most shows go on sale the day after the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, reviews for the album have been mixed, but I think with an artist like Bruce, some reviewers approach the album with an agenda: the reviews sometimes say more about them, and how they want to be percieved, than it does about the album. That may be true of all reviews, but I think it is moreso when it's a superstar artist. On the other hand, of course, there are people who fall over themselves trying to kiss Bruce's ass. Personally, I've heard this album two times (amazon still hasn't delivered my copy, even though it's in stores today!) and I like it a lot.


Anthrax is releasing a new album, Worship Music, in June. It will
be their first with their new singer - their fourth lead vocalist in 25 years - Dan Nelson. The album sees them returning to their original label, Megaforce. Neil Turban was the original singer (actually there were others before him, but he was on their debut, 1984's Fistful of Metal). He was fired. He was replaced by Joey Belladonna, who was their singer during what is referred to as their classic era, 1984 - 1992; after they signed a huge deal with Elektra Records, they fired him. They replaced him with John Bush, formerly of Armored Saint. A couple of years back, there were plans for a tour with both Bush and Belladonna, but Belladonna backed out at the last minute. A few years later, he rejoined the band for a reunion tour, but when it came time to make a new album, he left again. I guess Bush had enough of the band, so they moved on with a brand new singer.

Anthrax often seemed on the verge of breaking through, but it never really happened in the way that it did for Metallica, or even Megadeth or Slayer. Still they've toughed it out through trends, bad record deals and rotating lineups and they're still here. Who knows, maybe this will be the album that brings them to a larger audience, although I don't think it will put them in arenas.

Guitarist Scott Ian has been an influence on me: when metal seemed very closed off to outside influences, very conservative, he was talking about hip-hop (obviously Public Enemy but also Run-D.M.C.) but also bands like Fishbone and Faith No More and Living Colour who didn't fit neatly into metal. Without making a big deal about it, he was turning on white people to music that was being made by black people, which I think had a big effect on some of his fans. Also, how many metal bands were covering Joe Jackson?

I think Anthrax's biggest mistake may have been Belladonna: I wish John Bush had joined earlier. Belladonna was like a Journey-wannabe, and that made Anthrax seem different, but I think they needed a tougher sounding singer. Still, they made some great records with him.


Bill Bruford is one of the most talented drummers ever to sit behind the kit. A true artist, he would probably frown on the fact that my (and many other fans) favor his late '60s/early '70s work as a founding member of Yes; of course, he also played in a few different versions of King Crimson, a band called U.K. and he was even Genesis' first touring drummer when Phil Collins started singing for them. Bill led many of his own groups as well. He just announced that he is retiring from touring. I've seen him with Crimson and Yes (and the sort-of-Yes-reunion group Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe) and he was just great. He is about to put out his autobiography, which should be interesting, as he sort of looks down a bit on rock/pop with a sort of detached semi-fond bemusement. But what a career, he really pushed drumming to a new level.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


There's so much Bruce Springsteen
stuff going on, between his new album Working on a Dream (due out Tuesday), the Super Bowl performance, the summer tour (some European dates have already been announced) and of course his great song "The Wrestler" from the film of the same name.

Bruce and his team tend not to deal with archival projects often, and rarely when there is new stuff going on. But manager Jon Landau told Billboard that a Darkness on the Edge of Town box set, akin to the recent Born To Run box set, is in the works, which will probably entail remastering the album, including a live performance and a documentary on the album.

Landau also addressed the somewhat-controversal Walmart exclusive release, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Greatest Hits album. Obviously, the chain's record of treating workers badly is fairly well publicized, and would seem to go against Bruce's philosophy. Landau pointed out that 15% of Bruce's sales already come from Walmart and "We're not doing any advertising for Wal-Mart. We haven't endorsed Wal-Mart or anybody else. We're letting Sony do its job making sure the record is well-presented in as many places as possible." I don't like it either, but I think Bruce's people probably feel that this particular moment (Bruce is returning to blue-collar icon status after years as a politically progressive dude that may alienate some of the very folks who he tries to speak for) - between being pals with the President and playing the Super Bowl, and a Walmart exclusive with all the radio hits was a good way to reach out to an audience who maybe wasn't feeling Bruce for a few years. I don't love it, but I'm OK with it. I'm not buying it though. But to end this post on a positive note, I've heard Working on a Dream, and it's great.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


In 2008, Nine Inch Nails really started forging their own path in a way that so many artists talk about doing, but they rarely actually go through with it. Trent Reznor gave away music, released as much music as he wanted, didn't waste time thinking about trends or the market and did pretty well thanks to the loyalty of a large base of hardcore fans. So I rate NIN as part of my best of '08 both because of Trent's music but also the decisions that he's made.  Honestly, I don't know how often I'll listen through Ghosts I-IV, but I do think that The Slip is a great album.  


Despite lots of hype about a Faces reunion tour and album, and the fact that Flea's name was being thrown around as the bass player, Billboard says that a rep for Rod Stewart says that there are no plans for a reunion in 2009, and a rep for Flea says he knows nothing about it. What a bummer. 


The Daily Swarm has pictures of The Specials being fitted for suits for their upcoming tour. Sadly, still no word over whether or not leader/keyboardist Jerry Dammers will be involved. 


This has to rate high on the list of all time gaffes by nominating committees of major awards shows. Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" wasn't nominated for "Best Original Song" at this years Oscars. Not only that, but only three songs were nominated - most categories have five nominees. The others were Peter Gabriel's "Down To Earth" from Wall-E and A.R. Rahman's "Jai Ho" and "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire. Backstreets has a number of possible explanations for why Bruce was snubbed -- all bad ones.  The Academy should be embarrassed. Also snubbed: Clint Eastwood, who did a song for his film Gran Torino. Messing with a rock star is one thing, but Clint?  Come on! 

I should mention that I am in no way dissing the other nominees, I love Peter Gabriel's song, and I've written about that already. And having seen Slumdog Millionaire, I can say that the soundtrack was extraordinary. But I don't think that any of the single songs are as important to the film as the entire score as a whole. Whereas in The Wrestler, the song is the perfect punctuation for the end of the film. But A.R. Rahman definitely deserves to win Best Score. 


Two weeks ago on OutQ, I planned on talking about some reunions to look forward to in 2009, but I didn't get to it. So, I'm making up for that this week. I'll be talking about as many reunions as I can get to, including The Kinks, The Faces, Mott The Hoople, The Specials, Faith No More, blur, Pavement, Phish and No Doubt (who never broke up, but lots of people probably thought Gwen Stefani wouldn't return to the band after her solo success). I don't know if I'll get to all of those bands though.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cheap Trick may be doing a Vegas residency where they perform The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band backed by an orchestra. That'd be a cool gig for the band -- I'm guessing they'd be able to do their own shows on their nights off -- and another reason for Beatles fans to go to Sin City (along with Cirque du Soleil's Love). Hopefully it will be received more like the original album than the film that starred The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. 


According to the NME, The Faces' reunion really is on, and they are going to be using Flea as their bass player. Of course, their original bass player was the late Ronnie Lane, who quit the band towards the end of their run, and was replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi. I don't know why they aren't going to use him, but Flea is a cool choice. It's weird though: he sort of comes from the anti-blues-rock, anti-rock star punk scene, so it's interesting that he would play in a blues rock band of huge rock stars (Rod Stewart and Ron Wood). Still, I'm looking forward to seeing The Faces, and having Flea only makes it a cooler situation. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Booker T. Jones is about to release a solo album without his longtime band The MG's. It's called Potato Hole, and it's coming out on the awesome Anti- label, which has also put out albums by Mavis Staples and Tom Waits, among others. Best of all: his backing band is The Drive-By Truckers, but Neil Young is playing lead guitar (payback for Booker playing on a Neil solo tour in the '90s and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 2001-2002 tour)! It will be mostly originals, but also will have covers of the Truckers' "Space City," Tom Waits' "Get Behind The Mule" and OutKast's "Hey Ya." Really.


AC/DC did it again with Black Ice. Ignored trends, came up with great riffs and fun songs. In years past, this resulted in decent selling albums. In 2008, it resulted in one of the biggest success stories of the year: they had a #1 album which sold 2 million copies, and almost unheard of number for a band of their age. I think that people have never placed more value on ignoring trends than they do now.

Of course, that was partially due to their partnership with WalMart, which I'm not mad at. AC/DC has never been a remotely political band, and they know where their fans are. This album holds up well to the rest of the non-Back In Black Brian Johnson-era albums, and the single, "Rock and Roll Train," was one of the best of the year (the same was true for 2000's "Stiff Upper Lip").


I work in satellite radio, I'm from the New York area and I'm not a huge indie-rock dude. Still, I was really bummed to hear that L.A. indie-rock station Indie 103 went off the air.

Other than NPR stations and Little Steven's syndicated show, terrestrial radio is boring and lame and has been for as long as I can remember. I was surprised when I went to L.A. a few years ago: I listened to the station and marveled at how cool it was. Plus, they had some pretty cool DJs; Henry Rollins had a show, I think Dave Navarro did, but the guy who got the most attention was Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols.

But the craziest thing is that, after firing the staff, the station's owners decided to keep the station online. And the station's owners pretended that they were the station's staff (who they had just fired) to keep the station's cred. The Daily Swarm interviewed the channel's program director, who said: "None of the primary DJs or music programmers at the station are involved in the website... My concern is that people are confused. They are running an ad on the air saying we couldn’t play the corporate radio game anymore and that we didn’t want to change our format to be more mainstream and that we decided to play music on the web, but the staff of Indie had no control in the decision to shut down the station. I guess they had some success with the web and want to keep it going. But I don’t want the listeners to be confused." Typical radio industry stuff: trying to pull a fast one on listeners who they don't respect enough to figure out what's going on. Which worked in 1989, before the web. Although now it seems like they've decided to put some money back into the station, as they've announced that some of their DJs, including Rollins, will keep their shows on the streaming channel. Well, I guess it's better than nothing.

WILL.I.AM'S LATEST OBAMA SONG had a big viral hit with "Yes We Can," a pro-Obama song that really helped to rally the troops earlier this year. He's done a few more Obaba songs since then, which is cool. They haven't really appealed to me on a musical level, but anything that helped the cause I was cool with. He now has a new song - "America's Song," featuring himself, Faith Hill, Seal, Mary J. Blige and Bono. Again, not really a great song to my ears, but nice effort. Supposedly it was being offered as a free download today at Oprah's web site, but I can't find it, and apparently neither can a lot of other people judging by her message boards. Hopefully it will be available for everyone who wants it.


Nick Drake is definitely an acquired taste. I remember reading about him, and then checking him out, and not really getting it. I'm not a total die-hard by any means, but I get it now. He was a great songwriter who died too young. A lot of people discovered him decades after his death when his song "Pink Moon" was used in a car commercial. Now, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Norah Jones and Jack Johnson are among the artists participating in a tribute album to him. Speaking of people who died too young, it will include Heath Ledger's video for Drake's "Black Eyed Dog." Jack Johnson will be putting the tribute out on his Brushfire Records label later this year.


A week ago, some anonymous person dropped off a copy of Bruce Springsteen's upcoming Working On A Dream album on my desk. I wasn't sure I wanted to listen just yet: I pre-ordered my copy anyway, and even if I hadn't, I enjoy hearing albums on release day like I used to before I was involved in the entertainment business. I can't pretend that it wasn't fun getting stuff early, but that isn't really part of my gig anymore, and I'm glad to return to hearing new music at the same time as the rest of the world.

But, I cracked. The new album is great. I don't know if I love it as much as Magic, but it's pretty great. That's after two listens.


It's hard to think about music stuff today -- what an awesome and exciting day. Barack Obama is the President Of The United States Of America!

But another small bonus: with little fanfare (but probably because it was going to leak), U2 has released the first single from No Line On The Horizon, "Get On Your Boots." It's kind of a Zooropa-ed version of "Vertigo." In other words, it's a guitar rocker dressed up with some cool electronic sounds. I'm still digesting.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Yes, it was cold out, but I
have loved to have been at the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial honoring Barack Obama. Lots of huge stars there - and it was really cool that Bruce Springsteen both opened and closed the show: he opened with "The Rising," backed by a huge multi-cultural choir, and closed with Pete Seeger doing "This Land Is Your Land." I didn't see the show - I don't have HBO - but I watched that performance, and it was so incredibly moving. 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, Seeger singing that song (including "banned" lyrics "The sign said private property / and on the other side, it didn’t say nothing / That side was made for you and me")... it was just so moving and powerful.

Bono was on the bill as a solo artist, but it turned out that all of U2 turned out to perform "Pride (In The Name Of Love" and "City Of Blinding Lights." I guess Bono is relieved that, for the next four years, if he hangs out with the President, his bandmates won't cringe and give him the silent treatment. I can't wait for the inauguration tomorrow: Barack is an extrodinary guy, but not a superhero, so I don't think that his inauguration will actually be the end of our long (inter)national nightmare: but hopefully it is the beginning of the end of it.

There were lots of artists from different genres there, but I was very glad to see Garth Brooks - the best selling country artist of all time - on board. He also played Al Gore's "Live Earth" concerts, so he's probably not the most red-state guy anyway, but still, he's country's biggest superstar, welcoming an African-Amerian Democratic President. Pretty awesome.


One of the disappointments of 2008 was that more people didn't notice the new Al Green album, Lay It Down, which was produced by ?uestlove from The Roots. It is a really great album, and the best R&B record of the year in my opinion (edging out Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It). ?uest really did an amazing job with this one. With The Roots moving from being a constantly touring band to being a New York based group (since they are going to be Jimmy Fallon's band on his upcoming late-night show), I wonder if ?uest will be doing more work as a producer.

I wish this album got more mainstream Grammy nods. I think the Grammys got a lot right this year: particularly all the nods for Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and also exposing artists like M.I.A. and Adele to bigger audiences via high profile nominations: but the dissing of Bruce Springsteen's "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" and Reverend Al's Lay It Down from the big categories was a big bummer. Anyway, you should check out this album.

Al's last two albums which reunited him with producer Willie Mitchell, were good, but this one is great, you should check it out.


I know there are a lot of totally die-hard Elvis Costello fans out there: I'm not one of them, I'm more of a casual fan. So, I feel like I'm at an advantage when a new album comes out: I'm not like, "Well, it's no Armed Forces" or whatever. 

So, I'll say that I love Elvis' latest album with The Imposters, Momofuku. I don't tend to love Elvis' non-rock stuff, like his collaborations with Burt Bacharach or opera singer Anne Sophie von Otter, but I do think that they benefit his rock albums. Anyway, I have most of Elvis' records (I got them when Rhino reissued them), and I enjoy many of them, but some of the new songs - like "No Hiding Place," "Go Away" and especially "American Gangster Time" are among my favorite songs he's ever done. 

Elvis also gets an honorable mention for some cool collaborations this year: Jenny Lewis' "Carpetbaggers" (returning the favor to Jenny, who is all over Momofuku), Lucinda Williams' "Jailhouse Tears" and Charlie Haden's cover of Hank Williams' "You Win Again." 

Elvis is also headlining the Telluride Bluegrass Festival this year.  You've got admire someone who is credible in so many different music genres. 


The guys from Metallica were on hand at the press conference announcing this year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How many other artists use their Rock Hall induction as part of the promotion for an album that has debuted at #1?  Probably only U2

Anyway, they were asked about something that I was wondering about: will they perform with former bass player Jason Newstead? James Hetfield said that they'd extended the invitation, and that the band wanted to avoid the weird drama that surrounded past inductees like Blondie and Van Halen

I've been listening to tons of Metallica lately, and I'm always blown away by how great their first four albums were. I've also been watching the doc Some Kind Of Monster, and it's interesting: their then-long-time-producer Bob Rock says that he doesn't think they'll ever have a permanent bassist to replace the late Cliff Burton: but he turned out to be wrong. Jason was probably the perfect replacement for Cliff, but Robert Trujilio is just as perfect for the band. I wonder if Robert will be included in the induction, and every member of every band isn't always included (i.e. only the original four members of Black Sabbath were inducted, not all 50-whatever people who have played with the band). I gotta think the band has told the Rock Hall that if Robert isn't included, they wouldn't play: I think the same thing happened with The Rolling Stones and Ron Wood

I wonder what will go through Jason's head, playing with the band he spend so many years in and walked away from.  I wonder if they would include Dave Mustaine: probably not, since he wasn't on any of the band's albums, although a lot of the songs that he co-wrote were on Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning. Still, it would be cool to see Metallica jam with Mustaine. 


British rock band Mott The Hoople is going to reunite for a pair of shows in England in October. I don't know if they're going to do anything else, but frontman Ian Hunter confirmed the rumors on his website. I'm not a huge Mott fan -- I'm not too familiar with most of their music -- but I thought I'd pass the info on. This week on OutQ, I'll probably discuss this, since the theme of my segment will be reunions to look forward to in 2009. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I loved The Raconteurs' Consolers Of The Lonely when I first heard it, and I love it even more now. I don't know if I prefer it to their debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, or if I prefer them to Jack White's other band, The White Stripes. (I do think that they are better live, though.) I have been writing a lot of these "BEST OF '08" entries, but if I could only pick a short list of favorite albums of the year, this one would probably be in the top 5. I also loved the band's "Old Enough" single, which featured a new bluegrass version of the song with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and bluegrass newcomer Ashley Monroe (there's also a guest-less bluegrass version of "Top Yourself," my favorite song from the album). You should really check that out. I'm looking forward to their upcoming collaboration with Adele. And one of my favorite songs of the '08 was Jack's collaboration with Alicia Keys, "Another Way To Die" from the new 007 flick, despite the fact that lots of people HATE it.

I hope The Raconteurs will be an ongoing project for a long time, although I don't think we'll hear much from them in '09: Jack usually switches off between his bands, and The White Stripes are rumored to be co-headlining Coachella. And I've even heard that he wants to start another new project. That should be interesting, but I hope he doesn't overextend himself.


Yesterday on OutQ, I talked about this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, as well as The Stooges, who should be getting in. But you may wonder, "OK, I'm interested in these artists, where should I start if I want to check them out?" I'm glad you asked! Here's my beginner's guide:

The Stooges: The Stooges don't have any kind of best-of retrospective. Which is fine, they really only made three albums, plus their comeback album, The Weirdness, in 2007. I'd say just start with their classic debut, The Stooges, from 1969. Just go in order from there! Fun House, from 1970, is also a classic. After that, they broke up, but then reunited with a slightly different lineup for Raw Power in 1973. That was their last album until The Weirdness. Of course, Iggy Pop had a pretty great solo career post-Stooges, and you can get an overview on the 2 CD set A Million In Prizes, which includes a bunch of Stooges songs.

Metallica also doesn't have a best-of, which is probably smart: when they finally release one, it will probably sell tens of millions... unless CDs are totally extinct. They may actually have missed a chance to make millions of dollars! Anyway, with them, I'd also start with their debut, 1983's Kill 'Em All. Then, their second album, 1984's Ride The Lightning and 1986's Master Of Puppets. That's their best music, right there. After that: 1988's ...and Justice For All and then I'd go with 1998's Garage Inc., a two disc set with all of their covers up to that point, and a full disc of newly recorded covers. After that, 1991's Metallica ("The Black Album") and 2008's Death Magnetic.

Run-D.M.C. has a couple of best-ofs, I think the best one is probably Greatest Hits from 2001. But really, I would just start with their debut album, 1984's Run-D.M.C., and then skip ahead to their third album, 1986's Raising Hell. Then, back to their second album, 1985's King Of Rock. Then their fourth one, 1988's Tougher Than Leather.

Surprisingly, Jeff Beck doesn't have many best-ofs, and I don't love the track list on the one that is still in print, 1995's The Best Of Beck. It only has one song from the original Jeff Beck Group, which included singer Rod Stewart and bassist Ron Wood. I'd rather spend the extra money on the 1991 3 CD box set, Beckology, which includes stuff from The Yardbirds and his entire solo career up to that point. Otherwise, I'd recommend getting the two albums by the original JBG, 1968's Truth and 1969's Beckola, and then Jeff's first instrumental album, 1975's Blow By Blow.

As for this year's other inductees, Bobby Womack, Little Anthony & The Imperials and Wanda Jackson, I'm not enough of an expert to make recommendations, but I'll look into them and hopefully make some recommendations in the next few months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Due to Larry Flick's interview schedule and my busy work schedule, I unfortunately won't be on OutQ Thursday. Which is a real bummer, because I want to take to the airwaves to blast the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who will NOT be inducting The Stooges this year. I know Larry feels the same way. I'm very happy for Metallica, one of my favorite bands ever (when I was a kid, I thought they were talking to me on their albums), Run-D.M.C. and Jeff Beck. But if The Stooges don't deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then no one does. Just looking over the list of inductees over the past few years, I ask this: has Leonard Cohen/Percy Sledge/Jackson Browne/Brenda Lee/Steely Dan/The Eagles really influenced more artists? I'll be on Larry's show Friday morning to talk about all this, and list the artists who wouldn't exist if it weren't for The Stooges' influence.


One of my favorite personal musical discoveries of 2008 was Drive-By Truckers. They aren't a new band, they've been around for more than a decade. I'd heard of them, but never really checked them out. Thanks to the awesome radio channel Outlaw Country and it's sheriff DJ RigRocker, I got turned onto them in a big way. I just love thier new album Brighter Than Creation's Dark, especially "Three Dimes Down," "The Opening Act" and "The Man I Shot." Actually, there are lots of great songs on this album. RigRocker told me that the album to get, though was 2001's Southern Rock Opera, and he was right about that. I feel like I'll have more to say about that in a seperate post at some point.


For a while, I wasn't sure how I felt about Aimee Mann's @#%&*! Smilers. That's just because I love some of her albums so much - the Magnolia soundtrack/Bachelor No. 2 and Lost In Space are among my favorite records ever. I also love Whatever and I'm With Stupid. And I liked her last one, The Forgotten Arm. She actually has quite an intimidating catalog, which is fitting, because she's actually a bit intimidating, in that she has suffered so many fools throughout her career, you can just tell that she doesn't suffer fools lightly anymore, and nor should she.

Anyway, Smilers took me a while, but now I love it. "Freeway" is for sure one of her best songs ever. And who can't relate to something like "Thirty-one Today." So, it is among my favorite albums of the year, even though I didn't love the tour. Still, I always look forward to hearing what she'll do next: I hope she welcomes the electric guitar back into her life, after casting it out for this album and tour.

On a more personal level, this album has a special place for me, because it is sort of what I bonded with Larry Flick over - he was interviewing Aimee for OutQ and I interviewed her afterwards for That's when Larry and I became friends, and that led to me being a weekly contributor to his OutQ radio show, a pleasure and an honor.


I love Mudcrutch's reunion/debut album. Mudcrutch is Tom Petty's pre-Heartbreakers band that also include longtime Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. They put out a self-titled studio album this year, as well as a four track live EP Extended Play. Like with The Foxboro Hot Tubs (aka Green Day), Tom was able to a great album under another name, and it seemed like he enjoyed not having the pressure of being "Tom Petty." Also like Foxboro, Mudcrutch did a short tour, but no NJ/NY area shows unfortunately. I was of course stoked to see Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' summer tour which was awesome, but I was bummed that they didn't do any Mudcrutch songs. Hopefully Tom will revisit this in the future, but who knows if he will: I think this was his way of giving closure to his first band.


I've said it already, but Stop Drop and Roll!!! by the Foxboro Hot Tubs was my favorite album of 2008. The Foxboro Hot Tubs, of course, are actually Green Day, a band who never topped my end-of-year chart before (although I am a huge fan of American Idiot). It sounds like the guys were listening to The Underground Garage for weeks on end and then decided to make an album that wasn't as heavy as American Idiot. It's not the deepest album, but it's fun and I love it. I probably listened to it more than any other album that came out in 2008. I'm looking forward to the next Green Day album, which is going to be produced by Butch Vig. But I hope the band will do some Hot Tubs material when they tour.


David Bowie has always been a trendsetter, and usually in a fairly positive way. He's one of the most influencial musicians of the pop and rock and roll era, and most music fans would probably agree that that's a good thing. He was also one of the first musicians to embrace the internet, and establishing a community with his fans.

But the UK's Daily Mirror says that David Bowie's "Bowie Bonds" from the '90s are to blame for a trend that ultimately led to the economic mess that the world finds itself in. I'm not a financial expert, so click the link to read the whole story, but the gist of it is this: in 1997, Bowie, and some financial "experts," figured he has a certain amont of money coming in every year... so why wait for it? He would take a huge upfront lump sum, and investors were guaranteed a good income.

I remember thinking about this at the time: I'm a huge Bowie fan, but his records were becomming willfully uncommercial and his tours were not huge greatest-hits fests. How much money was he presuming to take in from 1997 (he was over 50 years old at the time) and, say, 2007? I wonder how the investors did on those Bowie bonds. He hasn't had a hit in the past decade. And obviously this model of lending on future money coming in hasn't worked very well for the world's economy. But I don't know if you can really blame Bowie for that. Do you blame him for Spandau Ballet?


Earlier today, music websites were going nuts over the news that Ryan Adams said he was leaving his band The Cardinals, and stopping music for a while. Apparently, he said this on his blog. I had a busy day, and at any rate, Ryan Adams isn't known for his great editing skills or his brevity, so I figured I'd check the blog out from home. It looks like he's taken that post down, and now he says: "Of course everything i said got taken out of context.
as always, i did not say i was quitting i said i was taking a step back… so thanks…..thanks again." I think he's a very talented songwriter who clearly has some issues. I know he's recently fought a winning battle with addiction, but that must be tough when one is on the road. Right now for Ryan Adams, I'd say it's probably better to fade away than burn out.


Once again, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have neglected to induct The Stooges. It is such an egregious oversight, I'm embarrassed for the organization.

To be clear, there are lots of artists who I think deserve to be in who aren't. Tom Waits. The MC5. Peter Gabriel. Bill Withers. Emmylou Harris. Gram Parsons. Motorhead. The list goes on.

But none of them changed the course of rock music the way The Stooges did. This is tough to imagine, but imagine a given band had never existed. How different would music be? How different would music be, say, had The Eagles never existed? I think commercial country music would be very different. Would rock and roll be very different? I don't know.

But here's a short list of artists who would probably not be the artists they are today without The Stooges: David Bowie, Patti Smith, The Pretenders, R.E.M., The Ramones, The Clash, Jane's Addiction, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana. That's off of the top of my head, there's so many more. And then imagine what music would be like without a Bowie, without a Patti, without Jane's Addiction. Hall of Fame voters, shame on you.

On the positive side, I'm happy to see that Run-D.M.C. and Metallica and Jeff Beck are going to get in. I am not one of those people who doesn't think hip-hop belongs in the Hall of Fame: I think hip-hop is rock and roll played on different instruments. I don't know how many hip-hop artists I think have the longevity and deserve to be in, but Run-D.M.C. certainly do.

I feel actual pride for some reason about Metallica's induction. When I was a kid, I felt like if you didn't understand Metallica, you didn't understand me. A lot of other kids felt that way too. Decades later, you realize how crazy that sounds, but when you're a teenager, that's the way it is. They belong in the Hall of Fame, no question.

And I've long been a fan of Jeff Beck - I love the first two Jeff Beck Group albums with Rod Stewart singing and Ron Wood on bass (for my money, it's the best stuff all of them ever did). I also love some of his instrumental stuff like Blow By Blow. Jeff's already a Hall of Famer as a member of The Yardbirds, but it's good to see him get his due for his solo career. If he performed at the ceremony with Rod n' Ron (who are working together again with The Faces), man would that be awesome.

I don't want to talk smack about the other inductees, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony & The Imperials, I realize they are both also influential artists.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


After playing tons of new, as-yet-unreleased songs in concert on his recent tour, Neil Young has another new song. It's called "Fork In The Road," and it addresses his critics and... well, just check it out. It's much funnier and light-hearted than anything he's done in a while (like, since Everybody's Rockin' maybe) and the video is shot with a webcam. I wonder if The Archives will be coming out this year?


No surprise that U2 would grace the cover of Q magazine, as they are starting to promote their upcoming album, No Line On The Horizon. In the issue, Larry Mullen kind of complains about Bono's political activism. I think it's fair to say that the non-Bono members of the group get irked when they are working on a new album, and Bono has to go take a meeting at the U.N. or for the One campaign or for (RED). I get it, but the guy genuinely wants to make the world a better place, and he has used his celebrity and his charisma to do it for twenty years now (although he certainly has his critics who think that he should just shut up, and that celebrities and rock stars should stick to their day job). I myself am not of that mind, although I can sympathize with a band who want their singer around all the time.

But more than that, he mentioned cringing when seeing pictures of Bono with Bush and Tony Blair. I guess if you're in Bono's position, you can't be a die-hard progressive and not meet with Bush - he was the most powerful man in the world, and what are you going to do, wait until his term ends to meet with a more sensible, caring, intelligent president? People are dying every day. Still, as a U2 fan, and I'm sure for U2's drummer, it hurts seeing photos of Bono with Bush.

The quote from the magazine: "Tony Blair is a war criminal and I think he should be tried as a war criminal. Then I see Bono and him as pals and I'm going, 'I don't like that.' Do I think George Bush is a war criminal? Probably -- but the difference between him and Tony Blair is that Blair is intelligent. So, he has no excuse."

Amen. I think Bono has enough sense to realize that all three of his bandmates, and probably most of his family and friends, feel the same way. Happily, Bono's next event with an American president will be the concert honoring Barack Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.