Sunday, January 31, 2010


Last year, I went on OutQ Monday morning after the Grammys and was ready to defend the fact that I voted for Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Raising Sand five times, over the likes of Leona Lewis and Lil' Wayne. Tomorrow, I'm going on the air, but I don't have anything that I felt that passionate about. Beyonce and Taylor Swift both had big nights, and I don't have huge opinions about them. Some people probably thought that Lady Gaga should have won more awards.

I was happy to see Green Day win Best Rock Album, I was glad to see Judas Priest, Maxwell, Levon Helm and Booker T. Jones get some Grammy love. I guess that's what we'll be talking about tomorrow! On Wednesday, I'll be back, talking about film music: the Oscar nominations come out Tuesday.


Brendan O'Brien has produced some of my favorite artists, so I'm glad he got the Grammy for Producer of the Year. Some of the recent albums he produced: Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream, Pearl Jam's Backspacer, AC/DC's Black Ice, Killswitch Engage's self-titled record and Mastodon's Crack The Skye. I thought T-Bone Burnett would have also been a good choice, but so was Brendan.


Congratulations to Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & The MGs, who won a Grammy tonight. Booker T. released a cool instrumental solo album this year, Potato Hole.  The backing band on it was The Drive By Truckers and Neil Young played lead guitar on most of the album as well. He thanked them, and his wife, during his brief acceptance speech during the pre-telecast awards ceremony.


It is really easy to be cynical/skeptical/dismissive of the Grammy Awards. But when someone wins, who really wants to win, it's cool.

Tonight, Judas Priest won their first Grammy ever, for their live version of "Dissident Aggressor," from A Touch Of Evil Live. Singer Rob Halford and drummer Scott Travis were two of the only rock and rollers to show up to the pre-telecast. Rob was definitely happy to win. He said, "Judas Priest has been making heavy metal around the world for 35 years. We love what we do."

I didn't vote for the song, because it is a live version of a song that was originally on 1977's Sin After Sin. Great song, but I hate when they nominate old songs. I voted for Megadeth's "Headcrusher." But I'm not mad, I'm glad to see Rob and the guys win. I'm not a huge fan, but I've had the privilege of interviewing Rob, and he's a great guy who I have a lot of respect for.


Two nights after NARAS honored Neil Young at their annual MusiCares Person Of The Year event, Neil just won his first Grammy. Ever. He's never won one before. What? It's true. He won it for The Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 for Best Boxed or Limited Edtiion Package. Well, he and his team deserve it for sure.  The Archives is the first of the new wave of box sets.  The catch is, you have to have a lot of content, and fans who really, really, really want to hear it to put out a box set like this.

By the way, at the MusiCares event, Neil noted that he has written a few songs for his next album.  I'm not a huge fan of his last one, but the one before that, Chrome Dreams II, was really good. I never give up on Neil, you never know when he'll unleash another classic, and I think he's due for one.


Steve Earle put a lot of love into his latest album, Townes, a tribute to his late mentor, Townes Van Zandt. Not my favorite Steve album, but he has so many classics to choose from.  This is his third Grammy Award.


No secret that I'm a huge fan of Levon Helm, and I'm glad that his Electric Dirt album won the first ever Americana Grammy. Tough category: he was up against two of my other favorite albums of 2009: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life and Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel's Willie and the Wheel. Lucinda Williams and Wilco were also nominated. It's Levon's second Grammy, his first was in 2007 for Dirt Farmer.


Well, of course I voted for Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" from the film of the same name forthe Grammy for Best Song Written for Television, Motion Picture or Other Visual Media. But the award went to A.R. Rahman for "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire. I'm not too mad: the music from Slumdog was like an extra character, and it was an incredible soundtrack.  Slumdog Millionaire also got Best Compilation Soundtrack.


Well, that was depressing! I was on Amazon, looking for some old albums by The Stooges, and on top of the results, it asked "Are you looking for The Strokes?" HELL, no!  I'm looking for The Stooges!

A few years ago, I saw both bands, back to back, at Little Steven's Underground Garage Rock Festival at Randall's Island in NYC. The last three bands of the day were, in this order, The New York Dolls, The Strokes and The Stooges. It was the Dolls' first NY gig in, like, three decades.  The Strokes were way out of their league, and lets leave it at that.

Anyway, I was looking for The Stooges, because I was listening to their 1969 self-titled album yesterday and thinking, "wasn't this remastered?" It was, in fact, a few years ago.  So I'm going to get the remasters of that album and 1970's Fun House. Those are both on Rhino, because at that point The Stooges were on Elektra. Raw Power, meanwhile, will be reissued by Sony Legacy later this year.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Wow, I really wish I had been there. Every year, two nights before the Grammys, NARAS has its annual MusiCares Person of the Year tribute show. MusiCares "offers a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need," including "financial medical and personal emergencies." This year, Neil Young was honored.  I found a good account of the show at, where else?  The great Neil Young blog, Thrasher's Wheat.

I'd read that the show's highlight was Ben Harper's version of "Ohio." But reading over it, there were lots of performances I wish I'd seen: John Mellencamp's "Down By The River," Stephen Stills and Sheryl Crow's "Long May You Run," Norah Jones' "Tell Me Why," "Comes A Time" by Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Willians and Patty Griffin, Wilco's "Broken Arrow," "Rockin' In The Free World" by John Fogerty, Keith Urban and Booker T. Jones, Elvis Costello's "The Losing End," Dave Matthews' "The Needle And The Damage Done," Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Neko Case and Leon Russell's "Helpless" and the debut of the new version of The Red Hot Chili Peppers (with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer) doing "A Man Needs A Maid." Neil himself was there, but didn't perform.  I know that these events are usually kept as an "industry" event, but I would love if there would be some way to buy or even stream some of these performances.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I've written about Peter Gabriel's next album, Scratch My Back, due out in a few weeks. It's an album of orchestra covers of songs by Paul Simon, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, David Bowie, Regina Spektor and others. He recently gave The Quietus a tour through the album.  Check it out here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


In honor of Black History Month (February), The White House is hosting "A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" on February 11 at 8 pm ET. President Barack Obama and The First Lady will be there and performers include Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, and more, with Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah hosting (c'mon, Queen, you're not gonna do "U.N.I.T.Y."?).


I really dug Jakob Dylan's solo debut, 2008's Seeing Things, produced by Rick Rubin. Now he's about to release his second solo album, Women and Country, due April 6 according to Billboard. This one will be produced by T-Bone Burnett, who produced The Wallflowers' breakthrough album, 1996's great Bringing Down The Horse. Solo artist/New Pornographers singer Neko Case and a singer named Kelly Hogan guest on much of the album, and Jakob plans to tour with them this summer. People get hung up on two things with Jakob Dylan: one, his last name, and the other is that he's kind of an icon of the '90s. Get over it, he is a great songwriter and is making great music today.


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, about once a month I go on SIRIUS XM’s The Catholic Channel’s Busted Halo show to talk about music. Tune in at about 7:20 pm ET on SIRIUS channel 159 and XM channel 117. Thursday nights are “Faith & Culture Thursdays” and we usually talk about a certain artist. We’ve discussed Bruce Springsteen, U2, George Harrison and Bob Dylan in the past, and tonight we’ll be talking about Black Sabbath. Seriously!

Not being of the faith myself, I was a bit worried that this would seem blasphemous. The perception of Sabbath and frontman Ozzy Osbourne is a lot different than the reality. I have interviewed all four original members (we’re only talking about the original lineup) – Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward – for The Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978, which I wrote the liner notes for (and I mention this at every opportunity, sorry about that). They used the scary imagery, not because they believed in black magic or whatever, but because as young guys, scary music was cool. I’m not trying to play these guys off as angels, but they weren’t Satan worshippers. In fact, they told me one story about a bunch of actual Satanists who were waiting to meet them at their hotel after a concert, and they all kind of rolled their eyes about it.

Geezer Butler wrote most of the lyrics, and actually came from a Catholic home. Songs like “After Forever” are actually very pro-God, it actually expresses sympathy for atheists and cynics. So, hopefully no listeners will be offended, it should be an interesting discussion.


Today it was announced that the Iron Man 2 soundtrack would consist of AC/DC songs. I can't wait for the film, and obviously I love AC/DC, but this seems like a marketing thing. That said, AC/DC's music probably will work really well in the film, and it's way better than using a bunch of nu-metal bands that will be over by the time Iron Man 3 comes out. Read more at AC/DC's website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET I go on the SIRIUS XM channel OutQ. I am a weekly contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. We talk about - surprise! - music. I am usually on for a half-hour, but tomorrow I will be on for an hour.

First, I will be talking about The Jackson 5. Universal/Motown has just reissued the band's last bunch of albums for the label before they left for Sony, including the soundtrack to their 1971 prime-time TV special Goin' Back To Indiana, as well as 1972's Lookin' Through The Windows, 1973's Skywriter, 1973's G.I.T. (Get It Together) and 1975's Moving Violation. Talk about boys to men: the brothers changed a lot in this four years. These albums don't have their biggest hits, but they are worth having for sure.

I'll also be talking about the Michael Jackson concert film, This Is It, which came out on DVD this week. I haven't seen it, but if you have, please call in! I do have some of the tracks from the film, including the title song, co-written by Michael and Paul Anka. It also has a really, really sad demo version of "She's Out Of My Life," with Michael singing accompanied only by an acoustic guitarist. Stunning.

Finally, I'll be talking about various songs you can download to raise money to help fund relief efforts in Haiti, which I've already written about. I can add another one to the list I already posted: Wilco is offering "free" downloads of two concerts from the summer of 2009 on their website, but they ask that if you download them, you donate at least $15 to either Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders. Of course, you should donate what you can to the people of Haiti in thier hour of need - but it's nice that you can get some cool music in return for your generosity!


A few weeks ago, I wrote about Little Steven's year- and decade-end charts. Now, you know I'm a huge fan of Little Steven, his Wicked Cool Records label and his Underground Garage channel on SIRIUS XM. But even I called him out on naming The Beatles Mono Box Set the best album of the past decade. I mean, how could anything else possibly compete with all of those Beatles classics? I also was surprised to see Kelly Osbourne on the best singles list. Apparently, Entertainment Weekly was surprised also: they interviewed him to call him out on those and a few other picks. Check out the interview here.


Third Man Records has released two new 7" singles today. First, the well-publicized label debut from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson. Side A is Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good," and Side B is Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' "Shakin' All Over." Supposedly, there's a whole album to follow.

Also out is a 7" by a new group, The Black Belles.  They look like witches. They sound pretty badass though, I'm definitely psyched to hear more from them. They are like psychadelic garage rock from the mid '60s.  As you can see, they have a look.  There is a video coming out, directed by Jack White.

In the case of both artists, as is usually the case with Third Man 7" singles, Jack White is the producer. GREAT stuff.

Monday, January 25, 2010


A lot had been made of how Conan O'Brien had Max Weinberg and the band play very expensive songs in his last week on The Tonight Show last week. Questlove of The Roots, house band for Jimmy Fallon's show, breaks down the science "walk on" music on late night shows - I didn't realize that this was started by Paul Schaffer on David Letterman's show. Read all about it on a very extended Quest tweet.


According to British tabloid The Sun, Ronnie Wood. Keith Richards has been drinking forever, but after seeing how Ron has gone off the rails (and there are rumors that Mick Jagger is going to fire him from The Rolling Stones), he has decided to lay off the sauce. I don't even know what to say about that! Here's hoping that both Keith and Ronnie do what they need to, to stay healthy.


The Specials reunion is definitely coming to the U.S. Other than doing Coachella, they'll be doing some U.S. shows including one in New York.  They'll also be playing Jimmy Fallon's show. Not that The Specials need any backing, but it would be cool if they jammed with The Roots.

It's just too bad that they couldn't make it work out with founder/leader/keyboardist/songwriter Jerry Dammers.


This won't be good for anyone, except for Ticketmaster and Live Nation's big wigs.  Not for the bands and not for the fans.  With thanks to The Daily Swarm, read more about it here and here.


Peter Gabriel tells Rolling Stone that he doesn't think he'll be performing with Genesis when they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March. The picture at the left is a shot of Peter in the Genesis days... maybe it's best not to go home again.  On the other hand, I'd love to see that lineup of the band perform. I guess it could not really be a true Genesis reunion, as long as Phil Collins is physically unable to play the drums. I just hope they all show up

If *I* was in charge, I'd have Muse perform the old Peter-era stuff, and then have Rob Thomas join them to do some stuff from the Phil era.


In his new interview in Rolling Stone, Ozzy Osbourne says that Ozzfest will return this summer after taking last summer off. He didn't mention if it would be a one-weekend "destination" festival as it was two years ago, or a summer tour, which is what it had been for years before that. He also confirms that Zakk Wylde is no longer in his band, and that he has replaced him with someone named Gus G. I wonder if Mike Bordin is still the drummer, since his band Faith No More has reunited

Anyway, I just started reading his book I Am Ozzy, which really shows how hard he had it growing up.  It's amazing that he got to where he is today, given the conditions he grew up in.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


By now, everyone knows that you can download all the performances from Friday night's Hope For Haiti telethon on iTunes. There were truly great performances by Bruce Springsteen ("We Shall Overcome" with members of The Sessions Band, all of whom were on the last E Street Band tour as well), Stevie Wonder ("A Time To Love" which went inot Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), Sting (The Police's "Driven To Tears"), Justin Timberlake (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah") and Dave Matthews and Neil Young (Hank Williams' "Alone and Foresaken"). But the two best performances of the night were by Mary J. Blige ("Hard Times") and Jennifer Hudson ("Let It Be"). It also includes the collaboration between Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bono and The Edge ("Stranded") written just for the occasion.

I've also mentioned that you can get Eddie Vedder's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "My City Of Ruins" from The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony on iTunes which also raises money for Haiti. Rihanna performed "Redemption Song" on Oprah this week, that's also at iTunes.

There's also this online album, Download To Donate For Haiti. It features songs by Peter Gabriel (his cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" from his upcoming album Scratch My Back), a song by Slash with Beth Hart (she had a hit in 2000 with "L.A. Song," she still does her thing and has also toured as Jeff Beck's singer), The Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morissette, as well as Linkin Park, The All-American Rejects and a few others. Find out more at Music For Relief. And you can donate more here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I wrote about Conan O'Brien's last stand at host of The Tonight Show in my last post, but I wanted to dedicate a post to his final words on the show.

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I’ll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let’s make an amazing thing happen right now."

What a lovely sentiment.  What a dignified way to sign off. What a great attitude.  Words to live by.

Also worth mentioning here is what Neil Young said to Conan after his great performance of "Long May You Run": "Thanks for all you've done for NEW music!" It's true: I'm listening to the 1997 collection: Live From 6A: Great performances from Late Night With Conan O'Brien.  Like Arsenio Hall in his day, Conan brought artists onto TV who wouldn't necessarily get on network television at the time. Some of the artists on the collection, like them or not, include Cake, Ani DiFranco, Edwyn Collins, 311 and Matthew Sweet. Conan is a true music fan, and it showed when you watched whatever he was hosting, Late Night or Tonight Show. Long May You Run, Conan.


It seemed like such an odd day: it was Conan O'Brien's last day as the rightful host of NBC's The Tonight Show, and while that was a bummer, the Hope for Haiti telethon put on by MTV put everything in perspective. Tom Hanks appeared at both events, as did Neil Young.

Although the telethon aired (live) before Conan, Conan taped his show before the telethon, so both Tom and Neil probably had to jet across town.  It all worked out.

Neil performed at the telethon with his fellow Farm Aid chairperson Dave Matthews.  They did a pretty stark acoustic duo version of Hank Williams' "Alone and Foresaken." On Conan, he performed one of his classics, "Long May You Run" (the title track of the lone Stills-Young Band album, released in 1976). If you saw the show, it ended with Will Ferrell dressed as the late Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant, leading Max Weinberg and the band through "Freebird." The performance was cooler looking than sounding, because Will's voice got annoying. But when he wasn't singing, he was making out with some chick, or playing (what else?) the cowbell. But a funny point was that he was wearing the same Neil Young Tonight's The Night t-shirt that Ronnie used to wear. The band were joined by supporters Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons and Beck. And Conan actually played a pretty face-melting guitar solo himself.

Back to Neil.  What I didn't know (until I checked the great fansite Thrasher's Wheat) was that yesterday, Neil's long time film making collaborator L.A. Johnson passed away. L.A., who worked on the Woodstock film, worked with Neil as a director or producer on many of his films, including Journey Through The Past, Human Highway, Rust Never Sleeps, Weld, Year Of The Horse, Silver and Gold, and also worked on Neil's albums including Greendale and Living With War.  He also worked on the video content on the Archives box set, and was working with Neil on the Linc-Volt documentary.


I haven't read a lot about the fact that you can buy a recording of Eddie Vedder's rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "My City Of Ruins," recorded at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.  It's just 99 cents  at iTunes and the money goes to Artists For Peace And Justice for Haiti Relief Efforts.

Obviously, give all you can to whatever organization you think will be the most effective one. But this is a nice effort.  And Eddie's version of one of Bruce's greatest songs is really, really great.


What else is there to say?  Tonight saw lots of great performances, and Mary J. Blige kind of took the cake with "Hard Times." Donate what you can here.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Image and info from MTV. So, after you finish watching MTV's Hope For Haiti telethon tonight (or you can listen to it on SIRIUS XM's The Pulse) you can switch over to NBC to watch Conan O'Brien's final show as host of The Tonight Show. As everyone probably knows, Jay Leno takes over after the Winter Olympics. Tonight's musical guest will be none other than Neil Young! I wonder what he will play.

I look forward to see where Conan (along with his great band, The Max Weinberg 7) ends up. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The Who just released Greatest Hits Live exclusively on iTunes. Kind of a weird collection, spanning thier entire career, pretty much. The oldest track is "My Generation" recorded for the BBC in 1965, and the most recent is a live version of "Eminence Front," was recorded last year. Some of the stuff was previously released, like the BBC session, some stuff from their 1989 tour and one track is from Live At Leeds, but the rest seems previously unavailable.  Still, save for one long medley track ("Naked Eye/Let's See Action/My Generation" live from 1974 that lasts about 15 minutes) they're all available a la carte.  Some of it seems pretty great, but if you are new to The Who, or don't have any live stuff, start with Live At Leeds or Live At The Isle Of Wight. There's also a cool live concert inculded in the deluxe reissue of Who's Next. The Who should have fewer greatest hits collections (I can think of five) and more live recordings from different periods in their career.


I wrote about the Bad Brains documentary last year, I just saw this trailer today, which features Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins , Don Letts and Adam Yauch, among others. I won't claim that I was down since day one, but I started checking them out in the late '80s/early '90s. I can't say I loved them immeadiately, but they were a great band, and way more deserving of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than many Hall of Famers. Anyway, I am sure the film will be great, it was directed by Mandy Stein, the same woman who did the Johnny Ramone concert film/doc Too Tough To Die.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Ozzy Osbourne's book, I Am Ozzy, comes out in a few days on January 25. Now news comes that Black Sabbath guitarist/founder/boss Tony Iommi will be releasing his memoirs, Iron Man, soon, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Tony with Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice, aka Black Sabbath MK 2, aka Heaven & Hell, have some dates booked for this summer, provided that Dio recovers well from his chemo (which, supposedly, he has been).

Ozzy did an interview in Rolling Stone where he expressed ambivalence about working with Sabbath again (not surprising, given that he and Tony are involved in an ugly lawsuit). I wish that they could get it together.  Actually, I don't care if they never perform again: I have been lucky enough to have seen the classic version of the band a few times. But as a huge fan (and writer of the liner notes on the definitely Sabbath box set, The Black Box), I'd just love to see them end this dumb lawsuit.


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET I go on the SIRIUS XM channel OutQ. I am a weekly contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. We talk about - surprise! - music.

It's a tale of two artists, two friends of Elton. Elvis Costello and Rod Stewart. Mainly because they both have recent releases worth talking about. They both have incredible legacys to live up to, and each does it in a different way. Elvis seems unintimidated by his: he may address his older songs when he performs, but he certainly isn't confined by them, nor does he seem worried about replicating their success.  As a result, he has had a really interesting career. His last two albums, 2008's garage rock album Momofuku and 2009's bluegrass album Secret,
Profane and Sugarcane both show that he has many tricks up his sleeve, and
that he is still an incredibly intense artist, three decades in. And his passion for music is now on display more than ever thanks to his TV show Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... But he is fine with addressing his legacy via his "Costello Show" series of live recordings.

Rod Stewart meanwhile, seems content to kind of do whatever keeps him in the mainstream and on the charts, as long as it isn't too much work. Just my opinion, and I admit that it's a bit churlish to complain about a guy who has been the singer on some truly great rock and roll records: his own, The Faces and The Jeff Beck Group. But hey, it's my blog and my opinion.

Feel free to agree or disagree: call in during the show (1-866-305-6887), or tweet at Larry.


I'm probably not about to go camping in the desert, but if I were going to, I'd do it for this year's Coachella festival. The lineup has some great artists: Them Crooked Vultures, The Specials, Muse, Faith No More, Les Claypool, Devo, Sly & The Family Stone, The Dead Weather,  and de la soul. Plus some younger artists who I like, including LCD Soundsystem, She & Him, The Avett Brothers, MGMT, Coheed & Cambria, The Raveonettes, Sia, Corinne Bailey Rae, Porcupine Tree, Shooter Jennings, Band Of Skulls, Spoon and King Khan & The Shrines.  And "Thom Yorke???"  I presume that name is because Thom Yorke hasn't named his new project. Great lineup.  I love that Pavement - the big deal reunion of the year - are billed beneath a cartoon band, Gorillaz.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I read that Ronnie Wood is considering a solo tour this year. Supposedly, he was hoping for a Rolling Stones tour, and since (he thinks) that that isn't happening, he wants to hit the road, and focus attention on his music rather than his personal life. He supposedly has been working on a solo album for a while, and now he wants to get it out there. I wonder if the Stones are really not touring, or just that they are going to tour without Ronnie.  I hope that they can work things out. Whatever he does, I hope he's OK.  And I hope that he doesn't do a Faces tour without Rod Stewart.


I can't really add anything to the discussion about Haiti - so much has been said, and it is such a tragedy. There are lots of organizations accepting donations to help aid the situation there, which is a disaster.  I myself have given to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to 90999.  Whatever you may think of the Red Cross, I think that they are the most well eqipped to get aid to those in need as quickly as possible. I may be wrong, I'm not an expert. 

MTV is doing the right thing by putting on a telethon this Friday night to raise funds: artists involved will include Wyclef Jean, Bono, The Edge, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Sting, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Taylor Swift.  Wyclef, George Clooney and Anderson Cooper will be the hosts. All the performances will be available on iTunes the next morning. The show will be broadcast over a ton of networks.  Get more info at MTV.


Elvis Costello has just started releasing albums in a series called "The Costello Show." They are different concerts from different periods in his career. Last year, he put out Live At The El Mocambo,  recorded in Toronto on March 6, 1978, supporting his debut album My Aim Is True.

Now, he has released Live At Hollywood High, recorded just a few months later on June 4, 1978 on the same tour.  Like El Mocambo, it is a really intense, rocking album.  As I've often said, I don't like the kind of ageism that people use when they write off older artists simply because they are old. Especially in the case of someone like Elvis, who has made some great music in the past decade. But there is something to be said for listening to recordings of a band when they are young and hungry, and in 1978, Elvis and The Attractions were young and hungry. I'm not the hugest Elvis fanatic, but I highly recomend both of these recordings.

Of course, the other Elvis Costello show is Spectacle, which I just wrote about.  I don't get Sundance (the channel which airs it), but you can get Season 1 on a DVD box set, and it is a really great show if you are a true music fan.


It seems like there's been a deluge of Rod Stewart releases over the past decade or so.  I'm here to help!  I've gone through a lot of the recent stuff to give you the low-down. I have mixed feelings about Rod. On one hand, he is one of the greatest singers in rock or pop music in the past fifty years, no question. On the other, he also seems like one of the laziest. He just doesn't seem to try hard anymore -- just my opinion.  I can't think of many artists with a farther gap between their classic stuff and their worst stuff. And it's not even like Bowie, where at least he is ambitious. Of course, Rod has a better voice, and probably like Sinatra and a lot of singers of that era, sometimes just stepping up to the mic and singing is enough.

I recently picked up The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971 - 1998, a 4 CD box set from Rhino that ostensibly gives an "alternate" history of what might have been in Rod's career, and also posts the theory that there isn't as much of a difference between the Rod of 1971 and the Rod of 1998. I gotta disagree with that. I have no doubt that Rod always wanted to be the biggest star in the world, and that's what he was aiming for -- not some kind of credibility that would please music critics. There are some real gems in this box set, spanning the entire '71-'98 period. A lot of it is stripped down versions of songs that made his albums, like his cover of The Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart Of Mine" and The Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." And other stuff like his cover of Buddy Holly's "Maybe Baby" which was previously unreleased, as well as his version of Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" (also covered by The Yardbirds). It also has a previously unreleased version of Bob Dylan's "Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar," from a previously unreleased 1992 album Once In A Blue Moon (which was shelved in favor of his MTV Unplugged... and Seated album. Incidentally, that album has just been released this week, exclusively at My verdict is, I probably shouldn't have spent $60 on this because I'm not a big enough fan, but if you are, you'll like it. If you're just starting out with Rod, I would recommend instead the 1990 4-CD box set Storyteller, which has most of his biggest hits, plus some Jeff Beck Group and Faces material, and some lesser known stuff as well. If you don't want to dive in that deep, The Definitive Rod Stewart is a more recent 2 CD set. If you really want to hear Rod rocking, get The Faces career spanning 4 CD box set, Five Guys Walk Into A Bar. A shorter version is the single CD best-of Good Boys... When They're Asleep.

Rod's latest album, Soulbook, also released late last year, is the latest in a series of thematic covers albums. Of course, there is his Great American Songbook series, which yielded four volumes between 2002 and 2005 and saw him singing Sinatra-esque standards. It also saw him returning to multi-platinum sales, in an era where few of his peers could pull that off. I can't say that I'm very familiar with these albums, as I'm not a fan of the material. I did check out his 2006 album, Still The Same... Great Rock Classics Of Our Time. It probably should have been called "great SOFT rock classics.." because most of the songs were middle of the road mid-tempo songs. I'm not mad at that though: he's so great at singing that kind of thing. Even though he doesn't sound like he's breaking a sweat, he still does a great job on some of the tunes, like Bob Seger's title track and Van Morisson's "Crazy Love."

Soulbook is a bit like Motown or soul night on American Idol. Fine, but nothing you'd really want to buy, and the versions don't add anything to the original versions. The backing band, produced by Steve Jordan, sounds very L.A. There are a few guests on the album: Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson, but it's not a duets album. If's fine, but it's hard to see the point. On one hand, it would be phony for Rod to record these songs like it was 1960-whatever, but on the other hand, it's just a bit (or more than a bit) too smooth. If you want to hear new takes on Motown classics, I suggest the Standing In The Shadows Of Motown soundtrack, which features MeShell NdegeOcello, Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins and Joan Osborne re-interpreting the label's classics (backed by the surviving members of the original house band, The Funk Brothers).

What's next for Rod? It seems like a Faces reunion isn't going to happen - I doubt Rod wants to deal with Ronnie Wood 's antics. I've read that he might be interested in working with Jeff Beck again. Beck actually told Rolling Stone that he'd be interested, but only if it was a serious album, not "a weekend blues album" (which is probably how Jeff would rate a Rod blues album in 2010). I've also heard that Rod would love to collaborate with The Black Keys, which is probably the coolest thing that he could do at this point. He should listen to Buddy Guy's Dirt Floor and B.B. King 's One Kind Favor, and then get with the Keys and make an awesome album. For now, we have the recordings of when he actually was awesome.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I've been wanting to check out Elvis Costello's interview show on Sundance, Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... I finally picked up the DVD box set of season 1, it's really great. In the first episode he interviews, and performs with, the show's executive producer, Elton John. The show features lengthy interview segments, more like conversations, and unique performances. In the Elton episode, Elvis and his band, (The Imposters, also featuring former Elvis Presley guitarist James Burton and New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint) opened with Elton's "Border Song." Stunning. I'm midway through the second episode, where Elvis interviews President Bill Clinton. Anyway, if you're a big music fan, this is highly recommended.  The first season also features Lou Reed, James Taylor, The Police, Smokey Robinson, one episode with Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones and John Mellencamp, and another with Jakob Dylan, She & Him and Jenny Lewis. The current season has featured Bono and The Edge, Levon Helm, Sheryl Crow and a two part Bruce Springsteen episode.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Well, I'm glad that Ryan Bingham won a Golden Globe tonight for Best Original Song. His song "The Weary Kind" (you can buy it on iTunes) from Crazy Heart... it kind of tied the whole film together (to paraphrase Jeff Bridges' "Dude" character). This will help his career out,  and I love when award shows are able to give much-needed exposure to deserving artists, rather than awarding the same superstars over and over. And speaking of "The Dude," congrats to Jeff Bridges for winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Drama for his portayal of "Bad Blake" in the same film.

Hopefully this will lead to an Oscar nomination and win for Ryan Bingham. The Globes, as much as they are a hack award show, are often a good way to predict the Oscars. Although it isn't always the case: last year, Bruce Springsteen rightfully won the Globe for his title track to The Wrestler, but then didn't even get a nomination for the Oscars. Oddly enough, that gives the Globes a bit more cred in my mind. Oscars, you blew it last year, don't do it again! Anyway, check out my last post to see a great video of Ryan performing "The Weary Kind" on Mojo Nixon's show on SIRIUS|XM Outlaw Country.


Yes, two of my favorite artists ever are up for the "Best Original Song - Motiton Picture" Golden Globe tonight, U2 and Paul McCartney. I've heard U2's song "Winter" from Brothers, it was cool. I really liked Paul's "I Want To Come Home" from Everybody's Fine. But I would really love to see Ryan Bingham's "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart win. I haven't seen the other two films, and "The Weary Kind" is pretty central to Crazy Heart. Also, Ryan is a great artist (you can hear him on SIRIUS XM Outlaw Country) who would get a big career boost from the award.

I won't be watching the Globes - 24 debuts tonight! Also, the Globes are kind of bogus.  As opposed to the Oscars, which are voted on by over 6000 people (making it difficult to "campaign"), the Globes have 82 voters, and their only criteria for maintaining voting status is to have two articles a year published.  It could be in the smallest publication. Plus, with that few voters, lots of movie stars are able to effectively campaign. There are often events where a movie star will pose for photos with all of the voters. These are probably the types of people who feel "completed" by the presence of celebs, and I'm sure that's an effective method of getting people to vote for you.  Read more about it here.

Anyway, this past week, Ryan Bingham came to perform on Mojo Nixon 's show on Outlaw Country, here's his performance of "The Weary Kind." Stunning.

The 82 voting members of this organization (the Academy has 6000) have had their credentials challenged year after year. Very few members are full-time journalists. The skinny is that they’re in it for the parties and the movie stars and, of course, the annual network TV show which nets them a tasty $6 million.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Earlier this week when I discussed my favorite albums of 2009 on SIRIUS XM show The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick, I mentioned my favorite album of the year: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life.  I mentioned that Dylan started the album when a film director asked him to write a song for his movie. That director was Olivier Dahan, and he wrote and directed the film, My Own Love Song, which stars Renee Zellweger and Forest Whitaker. Apparently, Dahan asked Dylan to write a song, and he came up with "Life Is Hard," and that somehow led to Dylan writing the entire album (and also doing the score and incidental music for the film).  Supposedly, the movie will hit theaters on September 24, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Watch this video. All the way through, to the end.

At my day job working in the interactive department at SIRIUS XM, I produce a number of videos that we post to our YouTube page and website. Some interviews, some performances. I occasionally operate a camera - not my area of expertise at all, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I've enjoyed shooting some performances, but I think I can retire from that now. Mary J. Blige performing "Color" from the film Precious blew the roof off, I doubt I'll ever film anything that tops that one.

This was filmed as part of our Artist Confidental series, where a SIRIUS XM host interviews the person between performances. What was so interesting about the performance of this particular song was that it was not planned. Artists usually give a pre-planned setlist for TV shows, radio shows, webcasts, etc. This was a live radio broadcast: it was live without a net. During the show, Mary decided to play this song. When she mentioned the song, some of the band members immeadiately looked a bit nervous. They had rehearsed the songs on the set list, not "Color." I was under the impression that the keyboardist in blue was the musical director. When you see him saying something into his mic, it was fed right into the other members in-ear monitors. I couldn't hear him, I think he was actually directing them through the song. Well, watch the video, they killed it. Just an unbelievable performance. I didn't have ear-monitors - so all I could hear was Mary, the bass player, the drummer and the backing singers, no keyboards (they didn't have amps, they were just fed straight into the board). So what I was hearing at the time, was much more stripped down than what you hear in this video. Still, I was stunned and had a lump in my throat.

I have long thought that Mary is one of the best singers out there, and more than that, when she sings something she believes it. She makes you believe it. I think that even if she didn't have an incredible voice, she'd be a great singer just on the strength of her convictions. I think Mary really identified with the title character of Precious. If, as she says, she is truly stronger with each tear, she must be a strong lady.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Wow, today I had a real treat. It was an absolute privlege to get to see Ringo Starr backed up by Ben Harper & Relentless7 (and accompanied on some songs by Joan Osborne) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Artists Den, a TV program that airs on Public Television. The premise of the show is to have great artists perform in unusual locations.

It must be fun to be Ringo. You just walk into the room and people are happy just to see you. If that idea bugs you, you may not want to see Ringo live. Oh, also: get a life! Lighten up. Have a yoo-hoo!

Ringo and the band (which also included a violinist and two keyboardists, making the Relentless 7 an actual seven person band), accompanied by Joan Osborne, opened with "Photograph." I used to think of this merely as a great pop song. I hear it differently these days: Ringo wrote it with George Harrison, and the line "all I've got is a photograph, and I realize you're not coming back any more" hits me where it hurts (George has become an increasingly important figure in my life in recent years). The other thing that struck me during this song: now this would be a great "All-Starr Band."

They also did Ringo's lovely new song "Walk With You" (the album version features great vocals by Paul McCartney). And The Beatles' classic "I Wanna Be Your Man," which featured Ringo singing from behind the drums. It's fun watching Ringo the frontman, but watching him behind the drums... it's really something. People have joked about him being really "lucky" to have been in The Beatles, but the fact is, he was the perfect drummer for them. Charlie Watts wouldn't have worked, Keith Moon definitely wouldn't have. His style was perfect for the band, and he was a hot drummer. Today's performance of the song rocked. "I Wanna Be Your Man" is not given its due as one of the most important rock and roll songs of all time (as Little Steven tells it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it for The Rolling Stones who couldn't get a hit at the time, and it gave them their first hit single... The Beatles recorded it later).

Ringo took a break and Ben his own mini-set. No Expiration readers know that I am a huge fan of Ben's, I've been attending his concerts since 1994, when he was opening for other people in bars. It's pretty amazing to see him playing in Ringo's band, and seeing Ringo cede the stage to him.  I was wondering how it would go over: safe to say that probably 80% (or more) of the audience weren't too familiar with Ben. I thought he should have gone with his more anthemic songs ("With My Own Two Hands," "Better Way," "Shimmer And Shine" or even "Burn One Down" but that may have been too easy).  He once told me that putting together set lists was an art form that he still didn't have a handle on. But still, "More Than Sorry" and  "Morning Yearing," went over well. But he really won people over with "Up To You Now," the only Relentless 7 song he did. In fact, when Ringo returned to the stage, he said, "I have to follow that?" That came from a Beatle! (Ben did four songs, but it's late, I can't remember, I forgot to bring a pen... the other one may have been "Waiting On An Angel" UPDATE: it was "Walk Away" thank you Morgan).

They played a pretty heavy song from Y Not?, "The Other Side Of Liverpool," which is a bit dark for him, and deals with his youth (including his father leaving the family). They also did the classic "It Don't Come Easy," and of course, "With A Little Help From My Friends" (with help from Joan Osborne). They left the stage, and then Ringo came back out in his coat, and said "I was this close to the car!" and threw off his coat, got behind the kit, and they did a rocking version of "Boys" (a song The Beatles did,  I don't know who did the original).

Everyone left the auditorium pretty exhilarated. My friend and I (he is the biggest Beatle fan I've ever met, and I've met many) were discussing how, wow, it would be so great if Ringo would tour with this band. Ringo, Ben, Relentless 7, Joan Osborne. It would be incredible, and go way farther towards bringing Ringo to a younger generation than any of his All-Starr tours do. Between Ringo, Ben and Joan, that's a full set.  Not of the boring classic rock radio hits, but of some of the best songs you'll ever hear! But the fact is, that probably won't happen. So I'm glad I got to see what was probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal. I can't wait to see it when it airs.  Thanks to the folks who helped me get my ticket.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


A few weeks ago, I wrote about rumors of Johnny Cash's final album, American VI: Ain't No Grave. Looks like that's the name of the album, and here's the cover, it comes out on February 26 on what would have been The Man In Black's 78th birthday. These songs were recorded during the same sessions that yielded American V: A Hundred Highways.  He knew these songs would be his last ones.  It gives a lot of weight to songs on American V like "God's Gonna Cut You Down." I imagine this album will be similarly heavy. Like that album, this one features Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers.  Some of the songs: Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day," Kris Kristofferson's "For The Good Times," Queen Lili'uokalani's "Aloha Oe," and one of the last songs Cash wrote himself, "I Corinthians 15:55." I think Johnny Cash's American Recordings albums were phenomonal, and I'm glad that we're getting the chance to hear all of the sessions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET I go on the SIRIUSXM channel OutQ. I am a weekly contributor to The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. People love lists, and debating over them. So tomorrow, I'll be armed with some of my favorite albums of 2009. I'm sure Larry will bring some of his. Our tastes in the '09 definitely intersect at a few points, like Florence & The Machine and Muse. I think he tweeted asking listeners to request some of their favorites. My favorite album of the year is Bob Dylan's Together Through Life. But I'm sure we'll discuss The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, N.A.S.A.'s The Spirit Of Apollo, Care Bears On Fire's Get Over It! and Miranda Lambert's Revolution.


Yeah, every single magazine, website and blog has already posted their "Best of '09" list already.  I was just waiting for them to get out of the way, so mine doesn't get lost in the flood. I'm not great at this. It takes me a few listens and sometimes a few months to really come to a decision on this kind of thing, but as of now, here are my favorite albums of the year that was. They're not really in order... except for the first three.

Bob Dylan's Together Through Life, and not Christmas In The Heart, is my favorite album of the year. It's like if Bob took a Tex-Mex band to the Chess Records or Sun Records studio in the late '50s. If it was Sun, the air conditioning was broken. If it was Chess, it was in August, and the air conditioning was broken. "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" is one of my favorite Dylan songs (ok, that list is over 100 songs long, but still).

The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre is the one album you should buy on my recommendation, if there was just one. They should be the biggest thing, and no one knows who they are! I have to thank Little Steven Van Zandt, who signed them to his Wicked Cool label, produced their record, played on it, and plays their records on his Underground Garage channel. They would be great without him, but I have heard of them thanks to him.

I didn't expect to love Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall as much as I do, I didn't love their last two. But it's just great. I remember a few years ago, VH1 did some documentary on punk rock, and the interviewer asked Lars Fredericksen if punk rock was dead, and he nearly flipped out. He was like, "I live punk rock, punk's not dead!" These guys bleed punk rock, they are the real deal and they are one of my favorite bands.

Speaking of "the real deal," Levon Helm's Electric Dirt is another great album. Whether it's blues, gospel, R&B, rock, country or anything in between, this guys sings (and plays) it with total authority. But it ain't a museum piece: dude rocks the party.

Speaking of rocking the party, check out N.A.S.A.'s The Spirit Of Apollo. It's two DJ/producers: DJ Zegon and Squeak E. Clean (aka Sam Speigel, also known as brother of Where The Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze, which explains the sick guest list). It's like a party on a spaceship that has been boarded by Tom Waits, Method Man, M.I.A. and John Frusciante (to name some of the many contributors to the album).

Also rocking the party, albeit in a more old school way: Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel on their collaboration, Willie and The Wheel. It's party music, but from like 60 or 70 years ago. It always amazes me that Willie Nelson keeps coming up with new things to do, and they work (not always, but when they do work, they work well).

Another great collaboration is the long-standing (and very inspiring) one between married couple Buddy & Julie Miller. I love their Written In Chalk album. It's a real shame that more people don't know who they are. But No Depression did (rightfully) name Buddy their Artist Of The Decade.

The Dead Weather's Horehound... well, I guess it's no secret to No Expiration readers that I'm a huge fan of Jack White's various projects. Part of it is his talent: but a big part is that he is a great collaborator. It works with Brendan Benson in The Raconteurs, and it works with Allison Mosshart (also the singer for The Kills).

Laughin' and Cryin' With The Reverend Horton Heat may not make anyone cry, but it can make you laugh, and at some points, it makes you think (but without realizing it). Check out "Rural Point Of View." Nice reality check for us progressives. Like with Rancid, I didn't love the last few albums by The Rev, but this one knocked me out.

Ben Harper making an album with a new group, Relentless7, and going back to the clubs was a big gamble, right as he was starting to play big venues. But it worked out. It took me a few listens, but I really dig his latest, White Lies For Dark Times. It is his most "rock" album ever, and it's a great one. Well done, Ben.

Muse. The Resistance. Get it. This will be their year. They're huge all over the world, rightfully so, and this should be the album to make it happen here. They opened for U2 in stadiums, and acted like they owned the stage. They definitely kept U2 on their toes.

Four honorable mentions that I feel I have to add: Miranda Lambert 's Revolution, Florence & The Machine's Lungs, Pearl Jam's Backspacer and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown.

A few more: Rosanne Cash's The List, The Avett Brothers ' I And Love And You, Norah Jones' The Fall, Maxwell's BLACKSummer's Night, Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled debut, Alice In Chains' pretty great comeback Black Gives Way To Blue, and Care Bears On Fire 's debut Get Over It!