Thursday, July 23, 2009


One of my favorite albums of the year is one that hasn't gotten much hype, Buddy & Julie Miller's Written In Chalk. I've written about Buddy before, he's a great artist, and so is Julie. Buddy has played in Emmylou Harris' backing band, he's played for Steve Earle and for Lucinda Williams, and more recently in the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss touring band. Julie Miller's songs have been covered by Emmylou, The Dixie Chicks and even Brooks & Dunn. Buddy and Julie each make great solo records, and they always guest on each other's albums, but they also make wonderful albums together like this one.

It's a wonderful "Americana" type album. Buddy sounds more country than most "country" singers, and Julie just has a sadness in her voice that can make you ache. But there's a lot of fun parts to the album: the opening track, "Gasoline and Matches" is sexy and fun, and a cover of Mel Tillis' "What You Gonna Do Leroy" featuring Robert Plant himself is rollicking. But "Long Time" could have been a late night torch ballad from the '40s and "Every Time We Say Goodbye" is as sad as it sounds. Someone more popular could have a monster hit with "Don't Say Goodbye" (sung here by Julie and Patty Griffin) - hopefully it won't be a bombastic over-the-top diva. You can buy a few songs on iTunes, but treat yourself and get the whole album.


In A Tribe Called Quest's classic "Check The Rime," Q-Tip said, "Industry rule #4080, record company people are shady." Having had a number of his albums shelved by labels, he's still living that line today. But now AllHipHop reports that Tip is going to put out a book called Industry Rules, about, well, the industry, as well as fashion, love and morality. I'd read that.

And of course, I recently wrote about his Kamaal/The Abstract album, which is actually going to come out.


Jack White has been busy lately, not just starting his new company Third Man and starting a new band The Dead Weather, he's also spent a lot of time in front of a camera. There's the upcoming documentary It Might Get Loud with The Edge and Jimmy Page, of course. But The Dead Weather have a great video for "Treat Me Like Your Mother." And The White Stripes have a doc of their own coming out, Under Northern Lights. Check out the video and the trailer:

The Dead Weather - Treat Me Like Your Mother

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As if splitting a touring schedule between The Allman Brothers Band and The Dead (the band featuring surviving members of The Grateful Dead) wasn't enough, Warren Haynes recorded a new album with Gov't Mule, By A Thread, which comes out next week. He also did a solo album with a backing band that includes Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr. of The Meters and Ian McLagan of The Faces. I've interviewed Warren a few times, it's always a pleasure, and his love for music comes from a very pure place. He's not cynical, he's not pandering, he's not trying to follow trends to get more popular. That's why he's great. And don't write him off as a "jam band guy" either, he may tour with many of those bands, and I'm sure he blows their asses off the stage on the regular.


It's a ridiculous premise, The Beatles didn't destroy rock and roll. But what I kind of respect about the premise of the book is that it doesn't totally follow, and swallow, conventional rock critic wisdom. The basic premise, according the The New York Times review, is that The Beatles took dance music that crossed racial barriers and made it into music made mostly by, and for, white people. On one hand, I seriously doubt that The Beatles could have predicted that as they were evolving artistically, the music they were making would be considered "music for white people." Yet it is an interesting point. The guy also wrote a book debunking the myth of Robert Johnson, so he likes doing this kind of thing. Hopefully his next book will be, Do, Like, You Really Like Pavement. Really? Or No, Admit It, No One's Listening: Animal Collective Is Boring.


In the past few years, conventional wisdom says that rock critics, and movie critics are irrelevant thanks to bloggers. Despite being a blogger for a while now, I have to disagree. When Roger Ebert writes a film review, I take his opinion into account when deciding if I want to drop $30 on a night out with my wife (unless Mr. Ebert is talking about sci-fi/superhero stuff, in which case he tends to be a stick in the mud). Ditto for critics. There aren't really any music critics quite as recognized as Ebert, but there are some who I respect a lot. Anthony DeCurtis is one, Bill Flanagan is another. When Mojo gives someone a great review, I take heed.

Here's an article from the blog Drowned In Sound about why music critics are more important than ever.


If you want to read all the latest news about music in movies, you gotta check out The Playlist. I often refer to them, and a recent post says that the Funny People soundtrack has a previously unreleased John Lennon recording: a demo of "Watching The Wheels." I doubt I'd buy the soundtrack for it: I'd love to get it on iTunes, but for some reason, iTunes - who force artists to sell albums a la carte - often force you to buy entire soundtracks, and not individual tracks, which is annoying. The soundtrack also has Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr ("Photograph," co-written with George Harrison, so all four Beatles are represented), Robert Plant, Warren Zevon and Wilco.


Billy Corgan has done hardly any interviews since rebooting The Smashing Pumpkins, and none since drummer Jimmy Chamberlin left the band. That's probably a good idea, since he tends to say hot-headed stuff that journalists go to town with. But it also leaves him open to being criticized. So he just took to The Smashing Pumpkins website to explain his reasons for continuing on as The Smashing Pumpkins, even though there are no other founding members of the band. Basically, because he is the band, and pretty much wrote all the songs himself anyway. He'd rather be surrounded by people who care about the music than people who don't.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This week will be rocking: I'll be talking about the deluxe reissue of R.E.M.'s Reckoning, the deluxe reissue of The Who Sell Out and some of The Rolling Stones' reissues. I'll be on at 9:30 am ET instead of the usual 9 am.


Rakim - formerly the MC of Eric B & Rakim - hasn't released a new album in a decade. At one point, he was signed to Dr. Dre 's Aftermath Records, and they worked on an album, but he's off the label so that album is locked in the vaults for now. But he hasn't lost his touch, just check out his verse in DJ Premier's remix of "Classic" - by Kanye West, Nas and KRS-One. But Billboard reports that he is about to return to the scene this month with The Seventh Seal. He is one of the greatest MCs of all time (if not the best), hopefully people will notice his album.


I'm kind of surprised over how upset Trent Reznor gets over negative comments online, he should know that it's par for the course. But after recently announcing that he was quitting Twitter, he announced info about the final Nine Inch Nails shows (which I wasn't able to get tickets for, they sold out too fast!) via Twitter. But now he's deleted his account. One of his last tweets mentioned that he was having discussions with Grant and Kristan Morrison. Grant Morrison is one of the greatest comic book writers ever - he brought a real counter-culture and underground sensibility to mainstream comics, notably with Animal Man. But he even wrote stuff like Superman and did an incredible job. I wonder what they are working on? Year Zero, maybe?


I can't wait to hear the new Pearl Jam album, Backspacer. You can pre-order it at their website, along with the singer "The Fixer."


Earlier this year, I mentioned that Anthrax was going to release their new album, Worship Music, in June. That didn't happen, and now it isn't happening in the near future. They just announced that they are ditching "new" lead singer Dan Nelson, and they are going to have to find a new vocalist and re-do all of the vocal tracks for the album. They had to cancel a bunch of tour dates, except one where former singer John Bush will front them. What a bummer: hopefully they can find someone else soon. If Phil Anselmo wasn't back with Down I would think he'd be a great choice if he's gotten his demons under control.


I have to admit having felt some cynicism (and even dread) over the prospect of a new Alice In Chains album. Jerry Cantrell was the band's leader, but without the late Layne Staley, how could there be an AIC? Very few bands have been able to pull off replacing a lead singer: the better idea seems to be what the guys from Mother Love Bone or Joy Division did: stick together, and form a new band (Pearl Jam and New Order, respectively).

But I recently bought the new single, "A Looking In View" on iTunes, and have to admit it was really great. Tonight, I went to a preview of the album put on by the band's new label, Virgin Records. It was like being in a time warp in a way: the label rented out a large theater in the New York Times building (couldn't have been cheap) for an actual album that hasn't been leaked, and lots of people showed up. As soon as I got home, I went to the band's website and watched the video for the song, which other than some nudity, looks poised for Headbanger's Ball and maybe even 120 Minutes.

Anyway, the best song I heard was called "California," and it's maybe as good as anything they've ever done. A lot of times it sounds like Layne himself is singing, and when you listen to the album, you realize how much of the vocals were actually Jerry's.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Like many other people, I was sorry to hear that Adam "MCA" Yauch of The Beastie Boys has a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland. Thankfully, it's "very operable." He talks about it in this video.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


At this point, I'm only going to see Bob Dylan if there's someone else great on the bill. I had kind of decided to stop seeing him perform a while ago, but this tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp seemed to be a good time to give him a try again. I only caught the second half of Willie (the town of Bethel isn't equipped to handle the influx of traffic for an event like this, it took over an hour to go the last ten miles). But Willie kind of does the same show every time, and it's always great (in my opinion, anyway). Personally, I'd like to hear some of his more recent material, but he knows what the people want - and this wasn't necessarily his crowd - and he delivered.

Last year, John Mellencamp stopped just cranking out his hits and doing different versions of classics like "Pink Houses" - a la Dylan - and focusing on his new material. He played a couple of songs from his latest, Life, Death, Love and Freedom, which were great, and a song from his next album too.

But the part of the show that stood out most for me was Dylan. The first time I saw Dylan was in 1993, I think. He was co-headlining with Santana. I was a huge Dylan fan by then, but had heard all the stories about how awful he was live. I wanted to at least see him once. He knocked me out. I saw him probably 10-15 more times through the '90s, and he was great every time. But the three times I've seen him in the '00s, he's been a letdown. Plus, I saw him join Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band on the last night of their Rising tour in 2003 at Shea Stadium: they did "Highway 61 Revisited" and it was embarrassing. So as I had done with the late James Brown and Ozzy Osbourne, I decided to enjoy the records, and not be let down by the performances.

Well, last night was great. Every song was either from the '60s or the '00s, and they all came off great. The standouts: the opener, "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" (Bob played electric guitar on that), an electric "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (also with Bob on electric guitar, he played keyboards for the rest of the night), "The Levee's Gonna Break," "Workingman's Blues #2," "Thunder On The Mountain," and, yes, a rocking "Highway 61 Revisited." The two best parts: an electric version of "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding," and a gorgeous version of "Forgetful Heart" from his great new album Together Through Life, which featured Bob singing and playing harmonica in front of a mic (no keyboards) like an old school crooner. Sometimes you wonder if Bob prefers playing the songs with the band to actually singing, and feeling, the lyrics, but you didn't on this one. It was incredible.

Anyone know the next time Dylan is playing New York?

Friday, July 17, 2009


I'm not someone who over-romanticizes Woodstock. Obviously I understand the historical importance of the event, but I think it's been celebrated enough already. There were some great artists there - Jimi Hendrix , The Who, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone - but on the other hand, there were quite a few lame ones. But I did like this story about the two people from this iconic photo of the event, which was used as the cover of the original soundtrack. It's from The New York Daily News. Forty years later, the two people are still together!


The blog Tiny Mixtapes has an interesting article about "The Myth of D.I.Y." The writer was in college during the whole Napster deal, and seems to have illegally downloaded lots of music over the years. In this article, he sort examines the consequences that free downloading has had on music -- the fans and the artists and the culture. Check it out.


I'm not sure why Forbes interviewed Afrika Bambaataa, but it was an interesting interview, and Afrika gives props to some current hip-hop artists, but points out that hip-hop isn't just about money. What I didn't know is that he is an international advocate for the rights of indigenous people's rights. Read the interview here.


Zakk Wylde has been playing guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, on and off, for like 20 years. Almost as important as his guitar playing is the fact that he is sort of the quality control guy in the Ozzy organization. He's not intimidated by Ozzy or Sharon, and is quick to point out when Ozzy's album is going in a non-metal direction. So it's a bummer that Ozzy has been saying that he's getting rid of Zakk. Worse, Zakk said (via twitter) that he hasn't heard about it. I hope that this is just a rumor, I think Ozzy needs Zakk. The other rumor is that he's looking at John 5 of Rob Zombie's band (and formerly of Marilyn Manson). Good musician, bad choice. Stick with Zakk, Ozzy.

I interviewed Zakk a few years ago, about the time that the film Rock Star was about to come out -- he essentially played himself in the film. I asked him about the rumors that Sony was trying to get The Offspring to write a song for Ozzy, he said, "Who, 'Shitspring?' Not on my watch, brother!" I'd also heard that Dave Grohl (who wrote a really cool song for Tony Iommi's first solo album) was going to contribute a song. "The guy from 'Shitvana?' Dude, this is Ozzy Osbourne we're talking about!" I don't agree with him on everything (but thank god Offspring didn't write a song for Ozzy) but there's no one else in his organization who would just say, "crap idea!" He needs that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I'm being pre-empted today! But tune in next week, I'll be back talking about some rocking reissues from R.E.M., The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today is our 7th wedding anniversary, it's been seven great years (and seven years before we got married!). A lot of our first encounters were music oriented: a Matthew Sweet show, a PJ Harvey show, the bar where I used to DJ. So were a lot of our first dates: an R.E.M. concert, a Ben Harper show, Lollapalooza, and even a roadtrip to Cleveland for the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and the accompanying concert.

So, for our wedding, I wanted to create a cool playlist for a CD to give out to everybody. Of course, it turned into a 2 CD set. I don't mean to brag, nor do I mean to boast, but people still tell me that they listen to it, which is nice!

Billie Holiday: "Come Rain Or Come Shine" (used at a lot of weddings, but with good reason, I didn't feel it was too cliche. Our Rabbi used some of the lyrics in the ceremony)

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald : "They Can't Take That Away From Me"

Ray Charles: "Ain't That Love" (I was going through a big Ray phase - this was years before the movie - but I wanted to use a lesser known song) .

Buddy Holly: "Everyday" (we both love Buddy Holly, it's such a sweet song)

Paul McCartney: "Every Night" (one of my fave Paul solo tunes, I first heard it on Unplugged, which is what we used on the CD).

The Beatles: "Here, There and Everywhere"

The Beatles: "In My Life" (the string quartet played this before our ceremony)

The Beatles: "Something" (I wanted John, Paul and George represented!)

Smokey Robinson: "I Second That Emotion"

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: "You're All I Need To Get By" (I thought the song was getting overshadowed by Meth & Mary's "You're All I Need" which sampled the original. I love Marvin, there's lots of songs we could have gone with).

The Temptations: "The Way You Do The Things You Do" (again, another wedding band standard, and again, with good reason. I wnted a lot of Motown representation!)

Stevie Wonder: "I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It Wille Be Forever)" (Stevie has so many songs, I wanted to choose less obvious ones. This is one of my favorites.)

Stevie Wonder: "As" (My favorite Stevie song. I asked the wedding band to learn the song -a big ask, as it is over seven minutes with lots of changes. The huckster-ish band leader said "no problem." Then they played the CD and sort of played along with it. Lame. I actually told Stevie Wonder this story and he laughed, but said he felt it is one of his best lyrics. If you don't know this song, you should check it out).

Al Green: "Let's Stay Together" (Al is one of my favorite singers ever).

Otis Redding: "That's How Strong My Love Is" (Otis could really sell a love song!)

Ben Harper: "Gold To Me" (I consider Ben to be a peer of the other people on this collection. One of our first dates was seeing Ben Harper play the Supper Club in NYC, and he played this song).

Bob Marley: "Turn Your Lights Down Low" (Again, wanted to avoid the same songs everyone chooses, and Bob has an embarassment of riches, including this one).

Van Morrison: "Crazy Love" (Other people have done good covers, but the original is great. Maria really wanted this one).

Neil Young: "Harvest Moon" (Neil is my favorite artist, so I wanted him here. I turned Maria on to him, and this has always been one of our favorite songs by "Young Neil").

Chris Whitley: "Spanish Harlem Incident" (at the time, he was still alive. Great artist, I figured maybe I could turn a few people on to him. I interviewed him a few times, and when we talked about this Bob Dylan cover, he was speechless: he said the song was so good it was ridiculous, and just made you want to give up!).

Joan Osborne: "To Make You Feel My Love" (Joan has always been one of our favorite artists, and she does a great version of this Dylan song, first recorded by Billy Joel for his Greatest Hits Vol. 3 album, and then by Bob for Time Out Of Mind, one of my favorite albums).


Aretha Franklin: "Baby I Love You" (I wanted the Queen to be a part of our wedding mix)

Bonnie Raitt: "Thing Called Love" (we're both fans of Bonnie, this is just a great song. We both listened to a lot of WFUV - 90.7 in NYC - at the time, and they always play a lot of Bonnie)

Prince: "Nothing Compares 2 U" (I wanted Prince represented, and I figured lot of people only know Sinead's cover, not Prince's original)

Sade: "By Your Side" (I wrote a bit about this song before, this was a kind of new song at the time, but I was totally blown away by it and thought that it was a shame that more people didn't know it)

Ben Harper: "By My Side"
Ben Harper: "Not Fire, Not Ice" (a great song that isn't on any of his studio albums!)

Cowboy Junkies: "Angel Mine" (most of thier songs are a bit depressing, but they are one of my favorites)

The Indigo Girls: "Least Complicated" (on one of our first dates, Lollapalooza, I took the Indigo Girls' Rites of Passage with us. Apparently, I'm one of the only straight guys who likes them? I don't know, I saw them open for Neil Young in like 1989 and was hooked. Anyway, I wanted to see if Maria liked them, and it turned out she did, which was a good sign!).

Emmylou Harris: "One Big Love" (Emmylou's classic Wrecking Ball came out around the time that we started dating. We both had respect for Emmy, but this album made us a fan. One of the few albums by a "legacy" artist that actually turns a new generation onto an artist - although many falsely make the claim to do so).

Peter Gabriel: "In Your Eyes" (what else needs to be said about this classic?)

Pearl Jam: "Thin Air" (Pearl Jam had to be part of this mix, they were and still are a huge part of our lives. When I met Maria, she had a huge collection of Pearl Jam and NIN bootlegs, I was super impressed. But NIN wasn't going to make this collection. Pearl Jam was tough also, but "Thin Air," written by Stone Gossard, really fit nicely).

Bruce Springsteen: "Prove It All Night" (Bruce also was and is a big part of our lives. We're going to see him twice in October, actually. )

U2: "The Three Sunrises" (They've always been one of my favorites, and Maria is a fan also. I always hear that people use "One" at their wedding, which sounds like Reagan using "Born In The U.S.A. at his rallies. Don't they read the lyrics? But this is a nice song).

The Ramones: "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" (We wanted to sneak some punk rock in)

Matthew Sweet: "I've Been Waiting" (Matthew says he's actually played this at some weddings).

Elton John: "The One" (I wanted to include a newer song instead one of the '70s songs that gets overused and overplayed)

John Hiatt: "Have A Little Faith In Me" another WFUV song, just a gorgeous song.

Etta James: "At Last" (cliche, but we were dating for 7 years so I thought it made sense)

Bruce Springsteen: "If I Should Fall Behind" (Bruce has said that he doesn't think of it as a wedding song, but I think it is a beautiful, and realistic, view of a long relationship. Maybe Bruce just doesn't think of himself as a "wedding song" type guy!)

So there it is, I think it still holds up seven years later, and so do we!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


A couple of years ago, VH1 Classic sent me to LA to interview
the ladies from The Bangles, and Susanna Hoffs mentioned to me that she was doing an album of covers with Matthew Sweet. The Bangles have been without a bassist since Michael Steele left the band (actually, I think she left the country when bush was re-elected). I thought, Matthew Sweet would be a great addition to the band - either as a bass player or a producer. Well, it looks like he is going to be doing both on their upcoming album. Matthew and Susanna are doing the second Sid and Susie album which comes out this month, and in the fall, he's going into the studio with the Bangles to produce their next album.


A lot of Willie Nelson albums have a stunt-y vibe to them. They are often a genre exercise, or have a lot of "stunt-casting of special guests. Not Spirit. Released in 1996, it was produced by Willie, featuring all songs written by Willie and had just a small band: Willie, sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, Johnny Gimble on fiddle and Jody Payne on guitar. It's a great album, that didn't get much hype, and if you're a Willie fan, you should check it out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The Guardian has a fun story about this fax, written by Joe Strummer about Bruce Springsteen. Check it out. Bruce & The E Street Band recently played two UK festival dates: they opened one with Joe's "Coma Girl," and the other with The Clash's "London Calling."


Pearl Jam is going on tour! The closest they are playing to my area is Philadelphia, but that's not too far. Get the dates at their website.


I've often marveled at how Trent Reznor has been cutting his own path in the music business since leaving Interscope Records. There are very few artists as innovative as Trent artistically, or business-wise. He just posted some advice for upcoming musicians on a forum at, check it out.


Chris Cornell tells Rolling Stone that he and the other guys from Soundgarden have been talking ... about putting out a collection of B-sides and maybe a box set. He says that a reunion isn't out of the question. You have to admit, they quit while they were on top, and not many bands do that. And new songs probably wouldn't have the power that the old ones did. Still...


So many artists use their website as a perfunctory
marketing tool. Beck is actually making pretty creative use of, though. I already told you about his "Record Club," where he and his friends cover an entire album in a day (some of his versions of songs from The Velvet Underground & Nico are already posted to the site), but he's also adding his DJ sets and also a feature called "Irrelevant Topics," where he interviews another artist. When he does this for a magazine, there's usually an editor to mediate and keep them away from "irrelevant topics," but that won't be the case at! The first artist he is interviewing is Tom Waits. Should be interesting!


Paul McCartney doesn't often address fans on his website, he's just not that guy. Still, he felt the need to in the wake of Michael Jackson's death. Here's what he said.

"Some time ago, the media came up with the idea that Michael Jackson was going to leave his share in the Beatles songs to me in his will which was completely made up and something I didn’t believe for a second.

Now the report is that I am devastated to find that he didn’t leave the songs to me. This is completely untrue. I had not thought for one minute that the original report was true and therefore, the report that I’m devastated is also totally false, so don’t believe everything you read folks!

In fact, though Michael and I drifted apart over the years, we never really fell out, and I have fond memories of our time together.

At times like this, the press do tend to make things up, so occasionally, I feel the need to put the record straight.



I can't wait to see this movie. There's a great interview with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White in the new issue of Guitar World.


Props to MSNBC for this cool feature: albums that artists don't want you to hear. The list included a Neil Young album which I consider a classic, but which Young Neil doesn't want to re-release, Time Fades Away. It also includes albums by Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, The Beatles and a band who had the rights to the name "The Velvet Underground."


Cheap Trick's upcoming album, The Latest, will not only be released on CD and MP3, but on 8-track. Nuff said! Read more about it at BoingBoing.


I just wrote about Soul Train's new YouTube page where you can watch classic performances from the legendary show. But I just read at Vintage Vinyl News that Soul Train is going to release classic shows on DVD via Time Life. That's something to look for this holiday season!


A couple of months ago, I went to the Road Recovery concert, featuring Tom Morello, Wayne Kramer, Perry Farrell, Iggy Pop, Jerry Cantrell, Handsome Dick Manitoba and some other great artists. It was a bit bizarre, because the show was to benefit drug treatment centers, and the show's MC, former MTV and SIRIUS host Matt Pinfield announced that he would be checking into rehab the following Monday. Well, it looks like he's doing well. Here's a new interview with him by The Gothamist.


Eric de la Cruz, the guy who needed a heart transplant and couldn't afford it, passed away. Trent Reznor raised LOTS of money on the Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction tour through auctioning off VIP packages. They raised enough money, but Mr. de la Cruz's health was too weak, they couldn't do a heart transplant on him unless his health improved, and, tragically, it didn't. He died on the 4th of July. Read his sister's goodbye here.


Hope Sandoval will be releasing her new album Through The Devil Softly on September 15. I didn't love her last one, or the last Mazzy Star album, but I loved Mazzy's first two. And she tells Rolling Stone that Mazzy's fourth album (and their first since 1996) is almost finished, but has no idea when it will come out. I think that she is a lovely singer, and Mazzy Star were totally underrated.


Slayer's new album, World Painted Blood, will come out late this summer. During the summer, they're going to be touring with Marilyn Manson and a bunch of younger bands on the Mayhem Festival. And speaking of Slayer, watch this hilarious video. So much user-generated content is goofy and a waste of time... but this one really made me laugh.


Letting fans remix "Space Oddity" seems like allowing people to spray graffiti on the Mona Lisa, but David Bowie isn't just a music pioneer, he's long tried to use technology to engage his fans. In honor of his breakthrough song's 40th anniversary, he's releasing a single with a few different versions of the song, plus isolated tracks so you can make your own remixes. Read more here.


More and more, I'm becoming interested in following technology. It's sort of a necessity in 2009, especially if you work in media. I feel like tech gadgets and companies are kind of like the new rock stars - they are certainly often more interesting than the newer rock stars.

Anyway, I was kind of surprised when I heard that U2's upcoming tour was going to sponsored by Blackberry, after the band seemed so tight with Apple last time around: they premiered "Vertigo" on an iPod commercial, and even had a custom U2 iPod. The tech blog ExploreMusic has some insight into why U2 is working with Blackberry: Bono said that they had access to Blackberry's labs and tech guys. Read more about it here.

It is interesting that U2's No Line On The Horizon has gotten the most lukewarm response of any of their albums since they've become superstars. Part of the problem, I thought, was that the first single, "Get On Your Boots," is a bad re-write of "Vertigo." But I've been hearing that, because the band and Bono have been supportive of efforts to get terrestrial radio to pay higher royalties to artists, terrestrial radio has been giving them the cold shoulder. I wonder if that is true. Although, at some point, every band gets too "old" for radio: the stations that still play your music aren't interested in new music, and stations that play new music aren't interested in 50-something artists. Its happened to artists with remarkably long strings of hits, including Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. Who knows though: maybe if they release "Magnificent" with a killer video, it will make the album a bigger deal. I think the new single is "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," which I think they worked on with of The Black Eyed Peas. Dude has had lots of hits, but I don't think that this is one of them (and neither was his solo album, which totally tanked).


The summer tour with Jane's Addiction was supposed to be Nine Inch Nails' final U.S. dates (actually Bonaroo was supposed to be the last one) but Trent Reznor has decided that the last shows shouldn't be (a) shows with short settimes due to co-headlining and (b) shows in daylight. So he has just announced some final club shows in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago on Of course, one of Trent's biggest influences is David Bowie, who has "retired" a few times.

I presume that he isn't retiring Nine Inch Nails to reunite with The Exotic Birds. Check out this 1985 TV interview!


Besides being one of the most prolific artists today, Jack White is a smart business guy - or is smart enough to surround himself with smart business folk.
His Third Man Records has a complex in Nashville with a vinyl record store and a film developing studio.

But even though Jack kicks it old school and is not a fan of the web, he doesn't pretend that it doesn't exist. Third Man has just announced The Vault, a paid subscription service that gives access to exclusive content for $7 a month. For $20 a month, you get all of the $7 membership stuff, plus a 7" single and a 12" single and a t-shirt every three months. They are made to order: after the first sign up deadline passes, they will print up just as much stuff as they need. That's a pretty clever way to engage hardcore fans in a meaningful way. I will probably be signing up for the premium plan, and I hope that this works our for Jack's team. Meanwhile, I can't wait to hear the Dead Weather record, which comes out next week. Check out trailers for the video for "Treat Me Like Your Mother" here. Yes, they did trailers for a video. It will debut on Cinemax on July 11.

In other Jack White news, did you know that he was a budding actor at one point? As a rock star, he has had cameos in Cold Mountain and Walk Hard, but an early film appearance, from his pre-White Stripes era, Mutant Swingers From Mars, is going to be screening at the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival later this year. Check it out: I don't see Jack in it, but I am sold on this movie! (I found out about this at Twenty-Four Bit).


A few years ago, I remember Dave Grohl telling Mojo magazine that he wanted to do another side-project with Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age (and The Eagles Of Death Metal) and John Paul Jones. Both guys guested on The Foo Fighters' 2005 album In Your Honor (not on the same song) and of course Dave is a one-time member of The Queens. Well, Josh's wife, Brody Dalle, formerly of The Distillers and now of Spinerette, kind of spilled the beans about the project to Antiquiet. I can't wait to hear this.

The Foo Fighters are supposed to be on hiatus, but they just played for Barack Obama and lots of U.S. troops at The White House on July 4, and they played a new song, "Wheels," which is going to be on their greatest hits album, which is coming out in November.


Between Q-Tip's solo debut, 1999's Amplified, and last year's The Renaissance, Q-Tip recorded two albums that were unreleased by the record label he was signed to. One of them, Kamaal/The Abstract, will finally be released in September. I have heard some of it (it was so close to being released that advance CDs went out to critics), and it is a pretty cool album.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


No real theme this week, just a bunch of albums that I thought might be of interest. Regina Spektor's Far (if Larry doesn't like Tori Amos, I'm not sure how he'll feel about Regina, but I'm a bigger Tori fan anyway). Todd Snider's The Excitement Plan, which features a cougariffic duet with Loretta Lynn, and a song about Doc Ellis' legendary no-hitter on acid. Wilco 's Wilco (The Album), which, inevitably, includes "Wilco (The Song.)" They may be too clever for their own good, but it's a pretty good song. They are one of the bands that the indie folk adore that I also like. Mos Def's The Ecstatic, which may be his best album since Black On Both Sides (although I feel like most of his albums don't live up to his potential). Street Sweeper Social Club's debut album, which I like a lot. And Pete Yorn's latest, Back & Fourth, which was produced by indie-darling Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes. I like the songs that I've heard so far, although I don't think he's ever lived up to the promise of Music For The Morning After.


Someone asked Boots Riley if Street Sweeper Social Club is "the new Rage Against The Machine." Here's what he said, via Twitter: "No-StreetSweeperSocialClub isn't the new RATM.We're the new Sly&TheFamilyStone.With a plan." Let's hope.


Soul Train has its own YouTube page! Here's The Jackson 5 doing "Corner Of The Sky." Might be lip synching, but still fun to watch.


Topper Headon was the drummer of The Clash during their glory days, but because of his out of control drug abuse, Joe Strummer had to fire him. The Independent has a great interview with the man, who went from being a rock star, to a cab driver, to a busker, all to support his habit. The guy who did the interview
knew Topper when he was driving a cab (the writer also being a cab driver for the same company). Topper is now clean and sober, works with various charities and rehab clinics, and even does stuff for Joe's Strummerville charity, and says he has made peace with Joe. (he also said that Joe wanted to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and that even though bassist Paul Simonon was dead set against it, Joe was going to get another bassist, but then he died).


The corner of 205th and Hollis Ave in Hollis, Queens, is going to be renamed Run-DMC JMJ Way, in honor of Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. If anyone deserves their own street, especially in Queens, it's Run-DMC.


Vibe is the latest magazine to tank. I remember buying one of the first issues with Chuck D and Flava Flav of Public Enemy on the cover. Since I'm not a huge mainstream hip-hop guy, I haven't really bought it too often lately, but this issue with Barack Obama on the cover was a good one. I'm sorry that even more writers, editors, etc. are now out of a job.


Last month, Sky Saxon of The Seeds passed away. The Seeds were a big part of the 1960's L.A. garage rock scene, and were mostly known for "Pushin' Too Hard" and "Can't Seem To Make You Mine," both of which are on the Nuggets box set . Great songs. I think songs like those, which were undeniably cool, and probably not too difficult to play, inspired so many people to pick up instruments, start to sing, and/or start a band. Recently at SIRIUS XM, I caught some of The Bangles' performance for Artist Confidential, and at one point, they broke into "Pushin' Too Hard," it's just one of those garage rock classics. You should check it out if you haven't heard it.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I honestly haven't spent much time reading Spin in the last few years, but the new issue has a great feature on Prince's Purple Rain that I had to check out. It's an oral history of the album and film with almost all of the players (except, of course, for Prince himself). Definitely worth reading, and the magazine also allows you to download a track by track tribute to the album by the likes of The Riverboat Gamblers, The Twilight Singers and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.


OK, I'm a bit late on this, but it's pretty awesome that Paul McCartney recently joined Neil Young on stage for his cover of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life." I don't know how long this video will stay up before getting taken down, but enjoy it for now!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


A few days ago, my wife and I lost one of our beloved cats. We took her to the vet, she had cancer. It was quick, but devastating, we loved her a lot. You can never be prepared for the quick death of a loved one, animal or human. One thing that I did find some comfort in was the music of George Harrison. Solo, with The Beatles, and with The Traveling Wilburys, he's written songs that somehow made me feel better. "Here Comes The Sun," "Beware Of Darkness," "End Of The Line," "Any Road" from Brainwashed, "Horse To Water" (one of very best songs which he wrote for a Jools Holland album) and especially "All Things Must Pass" made me feel a bit better. Thank you George.

Brainwashed is that rare album by an artist who knows that it will be his last statement. Not a bullshit retirement thing, but by someone who knows that their time is truly running out, like Warren Zevon's The Wind and Queen's Innuendo. I knew that there were a lot of extra songs from the album, because I interviewed the late Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi, and he talked about stuff that he played on for the then-years-away George Harrison album that was never released. So I was glad to hear that Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison, who finished up Brainwashed, will finish up the rest of George's songs for a future release. I ain't mad at that.


Yep, Hot Sauce Committee Part 1 is the name of the new Beastie Boys album which comes out September 15. Nas and Santigold both guest on it. I just got a deluxe reissue of Ill Communication in the mail, and there's going to be one of Hello Nasty soon as well.


Nuggets is, like, the garage rock compilation. If you want to get into garage rock I'd recommend listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage (preferably on SIRIUS). After that, get Nuggets. Compiled by future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye in 1971, it was a double album that collected out-of-print garage rock gems. It was maybe the first time that a collection recognized that fans might care about rock and roll records that were no longer available. It was also a great celebration of bands just rocking out! Rhino re-released it as a 4 CD box set a few years back, and since then they've put out other collections under the "Nuggets" banner. The latest one is Where The Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965 - 1968. It has tracks by The Byrds, The Buffalo Springfield, Love and lesser known bands like The Seeds, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Standells.


Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Last year, I wrote a lot about a possible Kinks reunion. In a recent interview though, Ray Davies said that he missed the band but didn't think that it would happen (mainly because of Dave Davies was the impression that I got). He did mention that Julien Temple is working on a documentary about the band though.