Friday, May 29, 2009

Ozzy Osbourne Sues Tony Iommi Over Black Sabbath Name

Singer Ozzy Osbourne has filed a lawsuit against his Black Sabbath bandmate, guitarist Tony Iommi, claiming that Iommi illegally took sole ownership of the band's name in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Osbourne is suing Iommi for a 50 percent interest in the "Black Sabbath" trademark, along with a portion of Iommi's profits from use of the name.

The Manhattan federal court suit also charges that Osbourne's "signature lead vocals" are largely responsible for the band's "extraordinary success," noting that its popularity plummeted during his absence from 1980 through 1996.

Ozzy's suit follows one filed by Iommi in December 2008 against Live Nation. In that filing, Iommi claims the concert giant sold merchandise bearing the band's logo, despite the 2006 expiration of a merchandising deal, reportedly worth nearly $80 million. Soon after that agreement concluded, Iommi reclaimed the band's trademark.

Iommi's suit argues Live Nation continued to sell more than 100 items of merchandise featuring the band's likeness, name and logo, despite the receipt of cease-and-desist orders from the guitarist's camp. Iommi's suit seeks damages in the amount of three times the profits from the merchandise sales, plus a halt to the Black Sabbath product sales.

Iommi and bassits Geezer Butler have both said some less than kind things about working with Osbourne in a new interview with Decibel magazine. The pair recently completed a new studio album as Heaven & Hell, the post-Ozzy version of Sabbath featuring vocalist Ronnie James Dio, and Butler said that working with Dio was much easier than Osbourne.

"Ronnie's a songwriter in his own right — he's got tons of ideas. Whereas Ozzy . . . in the old days, he'd come up with a vocal line and I'd write the lyrics. Ronnie is 100 percent involved in both the musical side and the vocal side, and he writes his own lyrics as well."

Butler added that Osbourne didn't take him seriously as a songwriter, saying, "If we were with Ozzy and I came in with the killer riff of all time, Ozzy wouldn't even think of doing it because I'm not the guitarist and that's the way he thinks . . . That's why it was so bloody hard to write anything."

Butler said about Heaven & Hell's debut CD, The Devil You Know, "If we'd written this album with Ozzy, we'd still be working on the first track."

Iommi added that there was a sharp difference between the singers live as well, saying, "It was great being with Ozzy on the road . . . but with Ronnie it's a lot different, because we go out and we know exactly what we're gonna be doing. With Ozzy, we didn't really know. It was touch and go sometimes on some of those early shows, whether he was gonna turn up, if he'd be able to sing, if his voice was gone, or what. We'd have to cancel shows, which Geezer and myself really hated. But with Ronnie, we've never canceled a show."

Heaven & Hell's will tour Europe later this spring and summer, with North American dates scheduled for August.

Ozzy Osbourne is currently working on his next solo album.

Cheap Trick Preps 'The Latest,' 'Sgt. Pepper' Live Releases

Cheap Trick is stepping outside of the label world to release its next studio album, The Latest, itself.

The veteran rock group will start taking pre-orders for the 13-track set, which it recorded during the past year, mostly in Los Angeles with producer Julian Raymond, on Friday, May 29, via its official web site, www.cheaptrick.com, and at Amazon.com. Those who pre-order will receive The Latest on June 23, the day Cheap Trick starts it summer tour with Def Leppard and Poison in Camden, N.J. Amazon will have exclusive rights for one month, and the album will also be available in limited LP and 8-track editions.

Dave Frey of Red Light Management says that via Amazon and other database information, anyone who's purchased Cheap Trick music, merchandise or concert tickets in the recent past will be notified about the album. Those buying tickets for the tour will also be able to purchase The Latest at a slight discount.

"We just want to sell it over time and not have it be all about making a big impact in the first few weeks," Frey says. "We've got a lot going on with online marketing direct to people who have bought Cheap Trick things. We want to try to do as much direct to consumer activity as possible and do everything we can to remove anything that's in the way of the band reaching the fans directly."

The Latest is certainly an album likely to curry favor with the Cheap Trick faithful, filled with anthemic power pop tunes such as "Miss Tomorrow," "California Girl," "Alive" and a cover of Slade's "When the Lights Are Out," Beatlesque songs like "Miracle," "Everybody Knows" and "Times of Our Lives," and the power ballads "These Days," "Closer..." and "Smile."

"We wanted to make a record that sounded like 2009, get something that sounds like us this year," drummer Bun E. Carlos explains.

Guitarist Rick Nielsen adds that, "I think it seems like we kinda grew up but didn't too old, 'cause musically there's a lot of different aspects to it. When you hear something like ('Sick Man of Europe'), you think, 'This can't be the same guys.' It sounds too energized for what people expect from somebody who's been around as long as we have...But musically I think it sounds like we grew up a bit."

Besides The Latest, Cheap Trick has also recorded a version of the "Transformers" theme for the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen soundtrack, which also comes out June 23.

The group is also planning to release some sort of document from its 2007 Hollywood Bowl performance of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but is not ready to announce it yet. That performance, a 40th birthday tribute to the classic album, featured such guest vocalists as Aimee Mann on "Fixing a Hole;" Joan Osborne singing "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds;" Ian Ball, of the band Gomez, on "When I'm Sixty-Four;" and Rob Laufer, who once played George Harrison in "Beatlemania!," on "Within You Without You." Also that night, Ministry's Al Jourgensen and guitarist Sin Quinn joined on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" from Abbey Road.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lawyer Seeks Trimmed Prison Time For Phil Spector

A lawyer for Phil Spector is seeking to reduce the convicted record producer's prison sentence by a year.

Attorney Doron Weinberg said in a court document filed Wednesday that Spector isn't disputing the mandated sentence of 15 years to life in prison for his second-degree murder conviction. But Weinberg wants a sentencing enhancement for use of a gun to be trimmed to three years instead of the four requested by prosecutors.

Weinberg's memorandum to the sentencing judge also says Spector isn't responsible in actress Lana Clarkson's death and that the prosecutors' case was based on "conjecture, not facts."

Spector was found guilty April 13 of shooting Clarkson at his home in 2003. His sentencing is scheduled for Friday, May 29, in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Phish Releases 13 Minute 'Elastic' Single

Days before Phish is set to embark on their 2009 summer reunion tour, the jam band has released "Time Turns Elastic" on iTunes. The track is taken from a forthcoming, untitled album due July 28 that sees the band reteaming with famed producer Steve Lillywhite, who they previously worked with on 1996's Billy Breathes.

Unconfirmed Internet rumors suggest a few possible titles: "Party Time" and "Light (Yellow)." Bassist Mike Gordon also said via his hotline that one of the original, shortlisted titles was "The Best Fucking Phish Album Ever!" Gordon said the title reflects "the intention" the band had for the album and adds that he thinks the new record is "pretty slammin'."

The release of "Time Turns Elastic" also marks the band's first recorded output since 2004's Undermind and will come out on their own JEMP Records, which since 2005 has served as an archival, live release label. While the song is yet to be properly played in a live setting as Phish, lead guitarist Trey Anastasio has been exploring it in another context.

"Time Turns Elastic" was co-written by Anastasio with composer Don Hart, and the two performed it with a classical orchestra on September 27, 2008 in Nashville and more recently in Baltimore on May 21. An orchestral version of "Time Turns Elastic" that features Anastasio and the Northwest Sinfonia is due June 9 and is available for pre-order on the Phish website.

After nearly five years apart, the band returned to the stage at the Hampton Coliseum in early March 2009, when they debuted another new song, "Backwards Down The Number Line." This summer's trek marks Phish's first formal tour since 2004. The band will kick off the trek at Fenway Park on May 31 and have scheduled multiple night runs throughout the summer at outdoor venues like Jones Beach, Red Rocks, Alpine Valley, the Gorge, and headlining two nights of Bonnaroo.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Judas Priest Digs Deep For Upcoming Live Album

Judas Priest has chosen 10 songs not previously released in live album form for its next concert set, A Touch Of Evil: Live, due out on July 14, in the midst of the band's U.S. summer tour.

A Touch Of Evil includes live renderings of longtime fan favorites such as "Painkiller," "Dissident Aggressor, "Riding On The Wind," "Between The Hammer & The Anvil" and "Eat Me Alive," as well as "Hellrider" from Angel Of Retribution, the group's 2004 reunion album with frontman Rob Halford, and two tracks -- "Death" and "Prophecy" -- from last year's rock opera Nostradamus.

"I love those songs," Halford says. "All of those songs just crush. Because they've never been recorded live in this way, it's just something fresh to put out. And when you listen to it and think this band has been around for three decades, with a combined age of 250-something years...I mean, how cool is that? It's a very fierce record and just captures the band's attitude and feeling in a very strong, determined way.

"I mean, we could've put 'Living After Midnight' or 'You've Got Another Thing Coming' out -- again. But why? This is just something great to give our fans."

Judas Priest, meanwhile, is preparing for its summer tour, during which the band will play its 1980 album British Steel -- which includes "Living After Midnight" -- in its entirety from front to back.

"All of us around the world have our respective headphones on, ready to dive into the deep end together," Halford said of preparations for the tour. "It's very bare-bones in terms of production, which in essence makes it a lot easier to re-learn in rehearsals.

"We're all very excited about it. British Steel means a lot to everybody in Priest. I listened to it for the first time recently and I thought, 'Man, this is gonna be so cool to play this stuff live.'"

The Priest tour, with Whitesnake opening, kicks off June 29 in Indianapolis and wraps up August 23 in Gilford, N.H. Halford says the band still plans to play Nostradamus in its entirety later this year or in 2010.

Sammy Hagar Stimulated By Chickenfoot

Tired of the tequila-friendly party shows that he's been performing for the last 13 years with his post-Van Halen solo band The Waboritas, Sammy Hagar says his decision to form Chickenfoot with guitarist Joe Satriani, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith was a challenge he desired as an artist.

"I just got to a point where I felt I needed to grow," Hagar says. "I was feeling stuck and stagnate. And the whole party thing I created, I just got tired of doing that. You need to eat and feed yourself in order to grow and the best way to do it for me is to start new projects, and I don't want to call this band a project because we're a band. It's just getting together with other people for new input that stimulates and inspires you to become better. That's all there is to it."

After making its debut at a February 2008 solo Hagar show in Las Vegas, Chickenfoot songwriters Hagar and Satriani started working in earnest last October. The band then reconvened earlier this year to record its self-titled debut effort, which is due out June 9 on Redline Entertainment.

"I don't think I could have written a record this good by myself in 100 years," Hagar says. "And by getting together with Joe, I think we wrote some amazing songs. It's funny he's in the same place as me. He's tired of being a solo artist. We're all on the same page so much in this band it's scary. And we want to take this thing worldwide. We need to take this to everyone who loves this kind of music. I really think it's Montrose, Van Halen and the thing Chad brings is a deep pocket. He plays this groove that is kind of Zeppelin-esque. We're really coming from everywhere."

Currently finishing up its debut mini-tour playing clubs, Chickenfoot is set to make its national television debut on during the first week of Conan O’Brien’s "Tonight Show" on Friday June 5. The band then starts looking ahead to a month-long European jaunt beginning June 20 in Austria before returning stateside for a full North American run slated for August and September. Hagar says the group will then take a break while Smith returns to the Chili Peppers to presumably work on recording that band's next studio effort. Chickenfoot may get back together in early 2010 for an Australian tour with another American leg as well.

While the current outing finds the band playing its debut effort in its entirety, along with unreleased new track "Bitten By The Wolf" and covers such as Montrose's "Bad Motor Scooter" and Deep Purple's "Highway Star," Hagar hints the band isn't adverse to loosening up its set list in the future to include material from the members' star-studded resumes.

"At some point, I think it will be the next album project and tour when we have more songs under our belt, we'll deconstruct Chickenfoot," Hagar says. "So it'll be a little bit of Joe, a little bit of Sammy, a little bit of Van Halen and maybe a little bit of the Chilis. That'll be a wonderful thing down the road when we're in an arena and doing 'An evening with,' but right now we really want to play all of the new songs. And right now we're paying almost two hours, so it's crazy. It's awesome."

Monday, May 25, 2009

John Fogerty Revisits 'Blue Ridge Rangers'

John Fogerty says he can "take a deep breath" now that he's finished his next album, John Fogerty: The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers, a sequel to the 1973 solo debut that followed the demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

As to when the new set will be released, the rock 'n' roll singer-songwriter said he doesn't yet know. "We're in talks. Stuff can change," Fogerty says. "I'm just glad that it's done. I stuck with it quite awhile there, to get it right. I wasn't going to let it go until it was what I wanted it to be."

Like its predecessors, The Return is a collection of vintage country and American roots music covers -- along with a new version of one of Fogerty's own songs (he wouldn't specify which one). He recorded and produced the album with T-Bone Burnett and Lenny Waronker at Village Recorders in Santa Monica, California.

Rather than the one-man-band affair of the original Blue Ridge Rangers album, the new set features players such as Buddy Miller, Greg Leisz, Dennis Crouch, Jay Bellerose and Kenny Aronoff.

"Those guys are just fantastic players," Fogerty explains. "They really captured or understood what the Blue Ridge Rangers vibe is. It's a really cool record."

Fogerty -- who's touring Canada, with a quick dip into the U.S. for a May 29 show in Rochester Hills, Michigan -- said he'd like to put the Blue Ridge Rangers on the road once the album is out. "Lord knows we played it great live in the studio -- it's probably more live than many rock 'n' roll records," he says. "I think it really needs to be presented that way to an audience. We'll have to wait and see how everything shapes up."

Fogerty and company, meanwhile, are still putting the finishing touches on a new DVD, John Fogerty -- Comin' Down the Road, which includes footage of a 2008 performance at London's Royal Albert Hall and a chronicle of his life and career. Its release date is undetermined.

Fogerty's Creedence Clearwater Revival tenure will be represented this year, too, with newly sanctioned contributions to an upgraded and expanded version of the Woodstock documentary that's due out June 9, as well as a six-CD Woodstock boxed set that's being released August 18.

"I gave my blessings after all this time," Fogerty said of the footage of CCR's Woodstock performance. "We weren't in the movie on purpose; nobody really understood what the movie would be; the track they wanted to use was 'Bad Moon Rising,' and I just didn't feel like it was our best work. But now it's OK. Historically it is what it is. It doesn't matter if it's well done or not well done. It's just history."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Queen Considering 'Idol's' Lambert As Frontman

American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert's performance with rock band Queen on the finale of the TV singing contest this week has the British band thinking about a new front man.

"Amongst all that furor, there wasn't really a quiet moment to talk," Queen guitarist Brian May told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. "But and I are definitely hoping to have a meaningful conversation with at some point. It's not like we, as Queen, would rush into coalescing with another singer just like that. It isn't that easy. But I'd certainly like to work with Adam. That is one amazing instrument he has there."

The English band recently ended a four-year partnership with Paul Rodgers, the former lead singer in the bands Free and Bad Company.

Lambert, 27, dubbed "Glambert" by fans, lost out in the American Idol final to Kris Allen. But his vocal skills and flair for the dramatic made him a good fit for performances with both Queen and glam rockers KISS in the show's finale.

May seemed comfortable about the role of American Idol as a launch pad for a career in the rock world.

"If you have enough talent and enough will to succeed, you will get there by whatever route presents itself," he said. "Once you have scaled the castle walls, with the sword in your hand, it matters little how you got there. I've not always been positive about shows like this but there is no doubt that it offers a door to some real genuine talent along the way."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Springsteen To Be Final Musical Act At Giants Stadium

Bruce Springsteen announced from the stage of his Izod Center concert (May 21) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, that he and the E Street Band will return as the final major musical act to play Giants Stadium on September 30, October 2, and October 3. Tickets go on sale June 1 at 10 AM EST. Springsteen holds the record as the number one selling artist at the Meadowlands (which includes Giants Stadium) in New Jersey, having sold out 56 concerts to date with the E Street Band.

The Working on a Dream tour has earned rave reviews, with Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant proclaiming, "It just got better and better...perfect, simply perfect." Rolling Stone Online proclaimed of a rehearsal concert, "Springsteen seemed to offer a renewed sense of purpose and optimism onstage rejuvenating and uniting a people in danger of losing their faith."

"He's the best there is," exclaimed Melissa Baron of SF Weekly, "Springsteen played so hard that sweat dripped off his whole body." Ricardo Baca of The Denver Post wrote, "Springsteen is a better showman today than in 1984," while Mike Ragogna said in the Huffington Post, "If you haven't been to one of Springsteen's shows in a while, you need to catch this tour." Meanwhile Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe writes, "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band don't have to play for two hours and 40 minutes. Nor, when they play, is it a requirement that Springsteen fall to his knees, shimmy and shake, attack his guitar like he's still discovering new sounds it can make, or take audience requests that he and his band don't know how to play...Springsteen and his band did all of that and more." Martin Cizmar of The Phoenix New Times had never seen Springsteen live. "I'm not from Jersey, I didn't grow up with The Boss and I'd never seen him play before," Cizmar admits, "but I will say that nearly everything you've heard or read about a Springsteen show is true. The fans are rabid, the set marathon, Springsteen a first-rate showman."

Working on a Dream debuted at #1 in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and New Zealand and received exemplary reviews in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, People and Vintage Rock .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ian Hunter Readies New Album, Anniversary Shows

It's been nearly two decades since Ian Hunter has released a pair of solo albums just two years apart. But the Mott the Hoople frontman credits 2007's Shrunken Heads with helping prod him toward Man Overboard, which is due out July 21 on L.A.-based indie New West Records.

"I really had a good time on Shrunken Heads," Hunter says. "I thought if I could write (another album) quick and do it, the situation will not have changed, so I was able to do that."

Hunter said three of the new album's songs, including the opening track "The Great Escape," were started during the Shrunken Heads sessions.

"Man Overboard" was recorded in the same studio in Prawling, N.Y., where he made Shrunken Heads, with many of the same players.

"I've noticed that a few (song) writers seem to be doing quick ones now," Hunter said. "My only thought is it was kind of a time where (George W.) Bush was coming to an end and we knew (Barack) Obama would get in, and you think, 'There might not be so much to write about 'cause he seems like he's a decent guy.' So people had a lot of songs to get out. I know people who normally take five years to make a record are just getting stuff out there now, or that's how it seems."

Hunter hopes to tour in support of Man Overboard, but not long after his release he'll be turning his attention toward five Mott the Hoople 40th anniversary shows taking place in October at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

Hunter warned not to expect more out of Mott than these shows, however. "That's not on my agenda," he said. "But that could change, I guess. I mean, I never thought I'd ever do this. So I haven't got a clue."

Derek Trucks Outshines Legends At Blues Fest

You didn't have to go very far to beat the 83-year-old B.B. King at his own longstanding game, and a bunch of guitar guys did just that on the second day of the Doheny Beach Blues Festival in Dana Point, California, on Sunday, May 17.

One of them was Derek Trucks. The 30-next-month prodigy spent many minutes being ingenious, virtuosic and deadpan before he was joined by the great Elvin Bishop for a scorching jam that put a smile on his legendary frozen puss. Bishop had brought a band of his own for the Saturday program, but Sunday he soared with Trucks' group.

This was a highlight of a day that was full of them.

New Orleans native Kenny Neal provided blues with a feeling, as the saying goes, to take command of his set with the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue. Revue leader Tommy Castro, another guitarist, had preceded him, but Neal made him hard to remember.

Coco Montoya, a former drummer and a protege of the late Albert Collins, poured it on with flawless execution and a rich flow of ideas early in the afternoon.

But it wouldn't be the blues without a harp player, and Phillip Walker held up that banner. He and the Hollywood Blue Flames purveyed a laid-back, 1930s and '40s feeling with no help from any screechers.

That was not the case with Buckwheat Zydeco, who was forbidden by his doctor to play his customary accordion licks and manned the Hammond B3 instead. The band, with his son subbing for him on accordion, kept up a howl with the aid of a bebopping trumpet man and a couple of gray-haired guitar players. It was almost completely unconvincing.

That could not really be said of King, of course, who has forgotten more about the blues than all of the above have known. But he rambled on about digging his grave with a silver spade and buying a tombstone after being pronounced dead. He ladled out the Southern courtesy in his endearing way, but when it came time to play his guitar -- whatever happened to Lucille? -- it came out fumbly and disconnected.

But as he said more than once, he's 83.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dylan Poem Actually Hank Snow Song

A “poem” purportedly written by a teenage Bob Dylan and up for auction at Christie’s is actually a song written by the late Canadian country singer Hank Snow, the auction house said. Christie’s announced on Tuesday (May 19) the sale of the hand-written poem believed to have been written in 1957 when Dylan was 16 and away at Jewish camp. But Christie’s failed to detect that the words, with a few minor variations, matched those of a song previously recorded by Snow, who died in 1999 at age 85.

“Additional information has come to our attention about the handwritten poem submitted by Bob Dylan to his camp newspaper, written when he was 16, entitled ‘Little Buddy.’ The words are in fact a revised version of lyrics of a Hank Snow song,” Christie’s said in a statement. “This still remains among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan and Christie’s is pleased to offer them in our Pop Culture auction on June 23.”

The manuscript had been expected to fetch $10,000 to $15,000.

Christie’s said Dylan, still using his given name Robert Zimmerman, signed the piece Bobby Zimmerman and submitted it to the Herzl Camp newspaper. The editor of the paper kept it for more than 50 years and recently donated it to Herzl Camp, a Jewish camp in Wisconsin, Christie’s said.

Written in blue ink on both sides of a single sheet of paper, it reads in part, “But I’ll meet my precious buddy up in the sky/ By a tiny narrow grave/ Where the willows sadly wave.” Those words and others match the Snow song.

The Hank Snow Country Music Center lists the “Little Buddy” lyrics and music as by Snow but does not provide a year. According to amazon.com, the song appeared on a compilation record “The Yodelling Ranger,” a box set of songs from 1936 to 1947.

Dylan’s management office had no immediate comment.

Born Clarence Eugene Snow in Nova Scotia in 1914, Snow quit school at 12 to work as a cabin boy on fishing schooners, according to the web site of The Hank Snow Country Music Center in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

With that early income, he bought his first guitar and entertained crew and friends before getting his own radio show with a Halifax, Nova Scotia radio station in 1933.

There he changed his name to “Hank, The Yodelling Ranger” and played county fairs and local radio stations throughout Canada in the 30s and 40s.

Fuse To Broadcast 2009 Bonnaroo Festival

The 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Phish and dozens more, will be televised on June 2 on Fuse. The event will be covered exclusively on Fuse during the week-long Fuse Fest programming (June 15-19), culminating with the highlight show “Fuse Fest: Bonnaroo 2009” on June 20.

Fuse’s original Bonnaroo programming will include live performances, backstage interviews, and documentary footage from various Bonnaroo artists. Additional information about “Fuse Fest: Bonnaroo 2009” can be found on Fuse.tv.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outside Lands Festival Adds More Artists To Lineup

Additional artists have been added to an already stellar lineup for the 2009 Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival event, taking place August 28 - 30 in San Francisco's legendary Golden Gate Park.

The expanded line-up now includes Lucinda Williams, Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band, The Avett Brothers, Bat for Lashes and Los Campensinos! They will be joining
headliners Pearl Jam and the Dave Matthews Band, who are set to headline the event. Tickets for the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival are available for purchase now at www.SFOutsidelands.com.

The complete 2009 Outside Lands lineup is:

Pearl Jam
Dave Matthews Band
Beastie Boys
Incubus
Black Eyed Peas
M.I.A
Jason Mraz
Ween
The Mars Volta
Thievery Corporation
Modest Mouse
Band of Horses
TV on the Radio
The Dead Weather
Atmosphere
Tom Jones
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band
Silversun Pickups
Lucinda Williams
Robert Randolph & The Family Band
The National
Q-Tip
Brett Dennen
The Avett Brothers
Built To Spill
Mastodon
Raphael Saadiq
Calexico
Os Mutantes
Midnite
JJ Grey & Mofro
Kinky
Tea Leaf Green
Deerhunter
Lila Downs
Zion I- local
Bat For Lashes
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Groundation
The Dodos
Bettye LaVette
Los Campensinos!
Dengue Fever
Heartless Bastards
The Dirtbombs
Lenka
Akron/Family
John Vanderslice
Matt & Kim
Portugal. The Man
The Morning Benders
The Duke Spirit
Zee Avi
Blind Pilot
SambaDa
Ryan Bingham
Darondo with Nino Moschella- Local
West Indian Girl
Extra Golden
Big Light

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fire Department Shuts Down Chickenfoot Show

The launch of new rock supergroup Chickenfoot’s short spring tour at Seattle’s El Corazon last night (May 14th) pleased the rowdy crowd despite a number of logistical issues. Nine songs into the band’s main set, a visit from the local fire department to the crowded club prompted a halt on movement from the venue’s bar to its stage room.

Chickenfoot were nine songs and 40 minutes into their set and presumably ready to continue when the group’s singer, Sammy Hagar, told the audience, “The fire department’s going to shut us down in 10 minutes … This is the end of the regular set.” He also promised a 45-minute encore to make up for the delay.

For 20 minutes, the music was halted while the crowd began to trickle out (some with help from the club’s security staff); eventually, Hagar and bandmates Michael Anthony (like Hagar, a former Van Halen member), cult shredder Joe Satriani on guitar, and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) made good on Hagar’s promise, playing through six more tunes, including set-ending jams on “Bad Motor Scooter” (which Hagar first performed with his former group, Montrose) and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.”

The rest of the set was made up of tunes from the band’s debut album, due in June and also titled Chickenfoot. The tracks are as driving as you’d expect given the group’s lineup, and the fans ate up songs such as the bluesy “Sexy Little Thing” (”She can drive and not get wasted/Stoner’s dream on a Friday night”), the rocking “Oh Yeah” (”When I was a young man I slept around/When I turned 30, I settled down”), and the grungy “Bipolar.”

All four musicians seemed to be having a blast, perhaps because El Corazon — capacity 807 — is smaller than the rooms they’re used to playing. (They brought a good deal of their own arena-ready gear for the show, which sounded huge.) Both sets seemed well rehearsed, something Hagar hopes not to repeat too much, as he put it during the encore: “It feels like we’ve been together a long time,” he said. “We don’t like to rehearse &8212; well, Joe does … But there’ll come a time when Chickenfoot doesn’t have to rehearse. We’ll just come on and play.”

Iron Maiden's ' Flight 666' Documentary Coming In June

Can you handle 45 days on the road on the most adventurous rock tour ever? Flight 666 documents the first leg of Maiden’s legendary Somewhere Back In Time world tour, which took them 50,000 miles round the planet playing 23 concerts on five continents in just 45 days.

One of the stars of the movie is the band’s customized Boeing 757, Ed Force One, which carried the band, all their crew and 12 tons of stage equipment and was piloted by Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, a fully qualified and active Airline Captain with Astraeus Airlines.

Scheduled for release on Tuesday, June 9, Flight 666 is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD. There's also a double-CD soundtrack album and limited edition double-vinyl picture disc. A special souvenir Limited Edition Deluxe DVD with 26-page booklet will be available later this summer.

Flight 666 was directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen with the Banger Productions team (Metal: A Headbanger’s Story and Global Metal) who take you right inside the Maiden family with almost total access to the band, something which Maiden have never allowed before. The 5.1 soundtrack was mixed by Maiden producer Kevin Shirley.

As a very special bonus for the fans, Maiden have included a second disc of the entire set from the 2008 segment of this tour with the DVD (and long-play Blu-ray). Sixteen songs from 16 different cities in 11 countries around the world, for the first time ever encompassing such varied places and cultures in one concert.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

‘Taking Woodstock’ Goes To Cannes

CANNES, France - Ang Lee views his 1970s drama "The Ice Storm" as a representation of the disillusionment of the '60s, the hangover of Woodstock. Now director Lee has gone back in time a few years to capture the party that led to the hangover. "Taking Woodstock," Lee's Cannes Film Festival entry, presents a loving glimpse of the behind-the-scenes hijinks that resulted in the gloriously sloppy music fest.

Set in 1973, 1997's "The Ice Storm" was a portrait of suburban families unraveling amid adultery, casual drug use and the backdrop of the Watergate scandal. "Taking Woodstock" shows the summer-long buildup to the 1969 rock 'n' roll gathering that lured half a million free spirits to a rainy, muddy patch of farmland.

Woodstock "has a symbolic meaning to me. It's the innocence of a young generation departing from the old establishment and trying to find a more refreshing way, more fair way, to live with everybody else," Lee said Saturday before the Cannes premiere of "Taking Woodstock."

"It was dirty, filthy. It was actually a mess," said Lee, a best-director Academy Award winner for "Brokeback Mountain."

"But you have to give those kids, those half a million kids credit, that actually, they had three days of peace and music. Nothing violent happened. I think that's something. I don't know if we can pull that off today."

Based on the memoir by Elliot Tiber, "Taking Woodstock" is the story of a dutiful son (Demetri Martin) who views the upcoming rock festival as a means to save his parents' seedy Catskills motel from foreclosure. After Woodstock organizers lose their permit to stage the event in a nearby town, Elliot brokers a deal with the promoters to stage the event on the dairy farm of his neighbor Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) in Bethel, New York

"Taking Woodstock" also features Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber, Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman.

It's Lee's lightest film since the mid-1990s, when he made the romances "Sense and Sensibility," "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "The Wedding Banquet."

The project landed on Lee's desk by chance while he was promoting his last film, the dark World War II-era spy thriller "Lust, Caution." Tiber was the guest following Lee on a San Francisco TV talk show. The two talked a bit and Tiber gave Lee a copy of his book.

"I was yearning to do a comedy-slash-drama again without cynicism," Lee said. "It took me a long way to get there. I thought after 13 years, I sort of earned the right to do it, just be relaxed, be happy and at peace with myself and everybody else."

With a 1960s-soaked soundtrack featuring The Band, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, Richie Havens and Country Joe and the Fish, "Taking Woodstock" is awash in period detail, from Volkswagen Love Bugs to hippie hair and sideburns to a vintage Slinky toy commercial on TV.

Lee ran a hippie camp to teach the extras the right way to behave and carry themselves. The filmmakers said their hardest task was getting the extras to look like '60s youths.

Screenwriter James Schamus — who heads Focus Features, which is releasing "Taking Woodstock," and who won the 1997 screenplay prize at Cannes for "The Ice Storm" — said there's a different look to today's young people, with their passion for fitness and disdain for pubic hair.

Said Schamus: "When you think about it, a generation of people who weren't fat, who weren't staring at themselves in the mirror all the time, and not shaving everything off down there, it captures the difference of 40 years right there."

AC/DC Concert Shakes Munich All Night Long

A concert by AC/DC in Munich on Friday, May 17, drew over 100 noise complaints by irate neighbors, police report. Complaints came from as far as Unterhaching, a suburb almost 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the concert venue. Police said complaints were about “overly-loud music” that violated local noise ordinances.

The noise did not drive off Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who showed up at the concert with his wife, Stephanie. The 37-year-old minister has admitted his love of heavy metal before and said that he’s been a fan of the Australian rockers since he was a teenager. Stephanie zu Guttenberg was heard to say she had never been to an AC/DC show before, but was going because her husband was so excited to see the band.

The concert at the Olympic Stadium drew 70,000 fans. Police said despite the noise, the concert was extremely calm. Four people were arrested for trying to get into the stadium with counterfeit tickets, otherwise there were no reports of brawling or rowdiness. Five fans without tickets also climbed a crane at a nearby building site in order to get a free peek from afar into the stadium.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Queensrÿche Concert To Be Broadcast Live On cdpulse.tv

Queensrÿche will take their acclaimed American Soldier Tour online by broadcasting an entire show live in high definition at cdpulse.tv. When the band takes the stage at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on May 19 at 8PM ET, fans worldwide can watch a high definition stream of the performance live as it happens.

Fans can gain access to the show by purchasing an e-ticket at cdpulse.tv for the cost $5.95 for an advance ticket or $7.95 for a ticket on the day of the show. The show can be viewed virtually worldwide in high definition clarity via premium content delivery access systems featuring 43,000 servers in 17 different countries. For more details and technical information, please visit cdpulse.tv.

As with all shows on the American Soldier Tour, Queensrÿche will be performing three separate suites during the two hour performance, each focusing on a different album. The show opens with a suite from the band's 1986 gold album Rage For Order, including some tracks the band has not played live in over 20 years.

The second suite focuses on the new epic concept album American Soldier, which was released on March 31 from Atco/Rhino. The suite features guest vocal performances by Navy rescue swimmer and Blue Angels crew chief A.J. Fratto on the intense set opener "Sliver" and lead singer Geoff Tate's daughter Emily on the moving ballad "Home Again."

The final suite revisits 1990's triple platinum opus Empire with performances of some of the band's most beloved tracks including "Jet City Woman," "Silent Lucidity," and "Best I Can."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'A Hard Day's Night' Best Reviewed Film Ever

The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night is the best reviewed movie of all time - so says Rotten Tomatoes, which just compiled a list called, appropriately enough, the "50 Best Reviewed Movies Of All Time."

The 1964 black-and-white rock 'n' roll comedy scored a whopping 100% Fresh ranking - out of the 70 reviews counted - putting The Fab Four's cinematic debut, directed by Richard Lester, at the toppermost of the poppermost.

Outranks Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca

While this will no doubt come as sweet news to the millions of Beatles fans around the world, the fact that A Hard Day's Night, a madcap knockabout filmed at the height of Beatlemania, outranks spoolers such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca and other various and sundry masterpieces might be something of a shock.

Still, it should be noted that Lester's breathless form of guerrilla filmmaking and fast-paced editing presaged music videos and MTV.

Hampered by time constraints and a half-a-shoestring budget, the director had no choice but to rely on nothing more than his own impetuous creativity, Alun Owen's sharp-witted screenplay, The Beatles' sheer brilliance and magnetism, plus one "clean old man."

In its consensus of A Hard Day's Night, Rotten Tomatoes writes, "Despite its age, [it's] still a delight to watch and has proven itself to be a rock-and-roll movie classic. Witty one-liners, classic pop songs and world-class charm build up to happy-go-lucky moments of liberation that capture the sheer exuberance, innocence and rock n' roll spirit of four young men trying to make their own rules in a world determined to confine them."

Bono's Provocative Elvis Tribute Unveiled

Few would dispute that Bono knows how to write a song, but can the U2 frontman pen a poem? On the morning of May 13, he offered his skills up for public scrutiny by unveiling an ode to Elvis Presley on BBC Radio 4.

In his familiar gravelly voice, the 49-year-old rock icon delivered a fast-paced, 14-minute tribute to The King. Recorded two years ago, but written in 1994, the poem, entitled American David, contained an array of strange and risqué rhymes set to a musical backing track made up of Elvis tunes and other pop culture recordings from the last 50 years.

A warning about the poem’s language preceded the airing, as a series of offensive words including “nigger” and “spastic” were employed. While Bono considers himself a “super fan” of Elvis, he didn’t shy away from his famous flaws. One rhyming triplet played on the singer’s long weight battle: “Elvis the bumper stickers/ Elvis the white knickers/ Elvis the white nigger ate at Burger King and just kept getting bigger.”

Another took aim at his iconic dance move: “Elvis the ecstatic/ Elvis the plastic/ Elvis the elastic with a spastic dance that could explain the energy of America.”

But other lines told of the U2 singer's admiration, as he called the late pin-up "pharoah-like," a "genius" and a "psalmist."

Yusuf Islam (AKA Cat Stevens) Plays First L.A. Show In 33 Years

With a wry nod to his problems with American immigration authorities, British folk singer Yusuf Islam performed his second U.S. concert in 33 years on Monday, May 11, treating 400 fans to classics from his youthful days when he was known as Cat Stevens.

The 60-year-old musician treated the invitation-only crowd to an hourlong set that included such hits as "Peace Train," "Wild World" and "Where Do the Children Play?" as well as a selection of tunes from his new album, Roadsinger.

Looking professorial with his full gray beard, checkered shirt and sleeveless jacket, the bespectacled singer sprinkled his performance with lighthearted banter.

"I bet you thought we'd never make it," he said at the outset, later explaining that he was referring to his 2004 deportation from the United States after his name appeared on a "no-fly" watch list designed to weed out suspected terrorists.

Islam, who became a Muslim in 1977 and abandoned his pop star life, ran afoul of authorities who alleged he supports charities that ultimately funnel money to terrorist groups.

Islam denied the allegations and has frequently spoken out against terrorism. He has since returned to the United States on several occasions.

But he encountered bureaucratic difficulties on his current visit. An unspecified work-visa issue forced him to cancel a planned May 3 show in New York, where he played a similar promotional show in 2006. This left Los Angeles as his sole American date.

He has said he plans to perform a handful of shows around the world to promote Roadsinger, only his second mainstream pop release in three decades. But no dates have been announced beyond the American pair. It was not known if the New York show would be rescheduled.

Islam last toured the United States in early 1976, by which time he was becoming disenchanted with his pop career amid declining sales. After a London show in 1979, he focused solely on his family and faith.

He made a tentative return to the pop world in 2006 with the album An Other Cup, and promoted it with an intimate London show that was filmed for a DVD.

The recent show at L.A.'s El Rey Theater, which was organized by the record label, was also filmed. Accompanied by a four-man band, Islam sang and played his acoustic guitar. A number of celebrities attended the show, including Irish actor Colin Farrell and singers Josh Groban, Chris Isaak, and Michelle Branch.

Many songs were greeted with standing ovations. During the two-song encore, they cheered the line "Look at me, I am old but I'm happy" from "Father and Son," and clapped along to "Peace Train."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Aerosmith Hits Jackpot With Branded Lottery Games

When Aerosmith hits the road this summer, fans in some of the states the band visits will have a new way to win backstage passes, front-row seats and an extra few million dollars to spend on concessions. The group and singer Steven Tyler's publisher, Primary Wave Music, struck a deal with the gaming technology company GTECH to launch a band-branded series of lottery games based on "Dream On" and other songs from Aerosmith's catalog.

GTECH, which creates lottery games for state and private gaming operations, has created products featuring entertainment properties like "The Three Stooges" and "World Series of Poker." (The company also produces a Billboard game in partnership with this magazine.) But when Primary Wave Music approached the company about creating a game based on Aerosmith, it jumped at the chance to roll the dice with classic rock. Although there currently aren't any major lottery games based on pop music properties, EMI recently signed a deal with Pollard Banknote to develop others.

GTECH is offering lottery operators a complete package of games, prizes and marketing materials, including scratch-off card designs based on the band's songs, logo and images; preapproved marketing materials including TV commercials and radio spots; and prize packages with concert tickets, backstage passes, memorabilia and possibly even a private concert. The marketing theme is "Dream On," perhaps appropriately, and the company has prepared more than two dozen scratch-off card designs based on other songs.

Rhode Island and New Hampshire will launch Aerosmith-themed lotteries this summer and GTECH says more are in the works. The company has also signed a deal with Primary Wave to develop other music-related games.

"Aerosmith is the ideal band to try this with," says Primary Wave chief marketing officer Adam Lowenberg. "The band is very much interested in establishing new precedents, whether it's 'Guitar Hero' or the Rock & Roll Roller Coaster or even, going back in history, to mixing rock and rap. They really get off on being first, and GTECH shares that desire to innovate."

For GTECH, Aerosmith represented a band that spoke to the lottery's demographic, which skews male, middle-aged and lower middle class. "Beyond Aerosmith's iconic position in the music industry and the recognizability of their brand and knowing what they are planning to do relative to current and future tours and album releases, we really thought we could plug into the band," says Ross Dalton, GTECH senior VP of printed products and licensed content. "Whether you're 70 or 20, you know a handful of Aerosmith songs and have a connection to the band. You could probably count on one hand the number of bands that would be both palatable in government-sponsored gaming and recognizable to a broad demographic. That's why we got very excited about Aerosmith."

The band has the potential to hit a jackpot, too: In addition to an upfront fee, it will receive a bonus based on the number of lottery tickets sold.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yoko Ono Talks About New Lennon Exhibit

A new John Lennon exhibit is particularly emotional for his widow, Yoko Ono. Besides Lennon’s guitars, letters and other personal effects, it also includes a paper bag containing the bloody clothes from the night he was shot to death.

Ono received the items from the medical examiner in December 1980, when the former Beatle was gunned down in New York City at age 40.

“It was hard to include,” Ono said. “And I thought it might be criticized as well.”

But ultimately, Ono thought it was important to let people see the effects of gun violence.

The Lennon items are part of a new exhibit launching at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex. “John Lennon: The New York Years” includes Lennon’s famous New York City T-shirt, his upright piano from his Dakota apartment, and a posthumous 1981 Grammy Award for the couple’s album Double Fantasy.

“I know it’s a kind of a sad and very poignant kind of paradox I think that he loved this place so much and this is where he was killed,” she said in an interview after a news conference for the exhibit.

There are also letters documenting Lennon’s long-fought battle against deportation in the early 1970s, both from the government and supporters. Glass cases also contain a dozen or so handwritten lyrics.

Ono says Lennon’s death still haunts her nearly 30 years later. “I still get affected by it.”

“If it (his death) was a slow process we could have talked about it or something,” she added, holding back tears.

The exhibit will be on display throughout 2009.

The Police Set For More Reunion Shows?

The Police may yet reform once again, after drummer Stewart Copeland refused to rule out further shows.

The post-punk veterans got back together for a world tour in 2008, including a headline slot at the Isle Of Wight festival. The tour saw them play to three million people, and Copeland told BBC News that he would be willing to do it again - but joked that it would not be not for a good while. "I'd recommend that every artist should do it every 20 years. So call me in 20 years," he said.

Copeland has also just completed composing the soundtrack for the forthcoming show Ben Hur Live, a project which he described as a "no brainer." He describes the show as "music mixed with media, some thrashing drums with an ethnic element, a Middle Eastern feel".

Described by producers as an 'operatic sports event', the show premiers in London this September and then travel through Europe. The climax of the performance reportedly features a live chariot race involving 20 horses.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Van Halen Confirmed For 'Guitar Hero,' New Music Games Coming

Activision Blizzard is releasing three new music-based games this year: "DJ Hero," "Guitar Hero 5" and "Band Hero," and also confirmed the existence of "Guitar Hero: Van Halen."

Few details were provided for any of the games. "DJ Hero," which was previously confirmed, still doesn't have a full set list in place, but the company has released new details about the controller. It will be a single turntable device with three colored buttons similar to the five fret-buttons featured on "Guitar Hero."

Band Hero is positioned as a more family-oriented version of "Guitar Hero," focusing on top 40 hits. "Guitar Hero 5" is expected to be similar to all previous installments, but with the ability to "drop in and out of songs and change band members, instruments and difficulty levels on the fly."

The company confirmed the development of "Guitar Hero: Van Halen" to videogame blog Joystiq. It is scheduled for release in the second half of the year. No specific tracks were listed, but Activision said it will include music from guest bands like Queen, Weezer, blink-182, The Offspring, Queens of the Stone Age and others.

It's also not clear which band members will appear as avatars within the game.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Emerson Cancels Solo Tour and Proposed ELP Reunion

Keith Emerson has canceled both the summer tour for the Keith Emerson Band and a possible late-year reunion tour with Emerson, Lake and Palmer due to ongoing right hand injuries. He posted the following notice on his official website:

Dear Friends,

It is with much regret that I have to announce that due to past right hand injuries the resulting nerve damage and dystonic factor has made it unable for me to play the keyboards to the high standard I have always set myself and have to cancel my forthcoming Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla USA and European tours.

I am also going to have to cancel the proposed Emerson, Lake and Palmer tour which we were going to do at the end of this year.

I will of course continue with my physical/chiropractic/acupuncture therapy etc. in the hope that this will eventually get me back on form.

This is absolutely devastating to me as music will always be my main key to communicating with a world-wide audience. I know how much my fans and fellow band members were looking forward to these shows and it saddens me greatly to have to come to this decision and make this announcement.

Thank you for your understanding.

Keith Emerson

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Legendary Big Star Albums Remastered And Reissued

Big Star released two albums in the early ‘70s, neither of which set sales records. Yet in the 35 years that have ensued, artists like R.E.M., Wilco, The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey, The Bangles and Steve Wynn have enthusiastically acknowledged the band’s influence. On June 16, Ardent/Stax Records through Concord Music Group will reissue Big Star’s #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974) albums, completely remastered with the never-before-released single mix of “In the Street” and single edit of “O My Soul.”

Additionally, Ardent/Stax has released #1 Record and Radio City on two separate vinyl LPs featuring faithfully reproduced artwork, including the original Ardent Records labels.

Big Star’s legacy has long outlasted its short tenure as a band. Led by ex-Box Tops singer Alex Chilton and including Chris Bell (vocals, guitar), Andy Hummel (bass) and Jody Stephens (drums), the group’s inspired mixture of ‘60s pop, powered interplay and irresistible melody was exciting and special: it was out of step with the mainstream rock sounds of 1972. Though Chilton had come off of a #1 blue-eyed soul hit, the Box Tops’ “The Letter,” Big Star’s music was a glorious mesh of British-influenced pop, Byrds-esque harmonies, taut edginess and studio expertise. Traces of the Beatles, the Kinks and Badfinger pulsate through their repertoire.

Big Star began as Alex Chilton, having left the Box Tops to forge a solo folk career in New York, returned to his hometown of Memphis, encouraged by guitarist and engineer Chris Bell, who led a local trio called Ice Water. Chilton joined the band, which immediately set up camp at the city’s Ardent Studio with aid from the studio’s owners/in-house producers John Fry and Terry Manning. The band’s name was changed to Big Star, after the supermarket chain prevalent in the South.

The band’s debut album, #1 Record, flew in the face of 1972’s abounding folk rock and progressive rock sounds. The album’s greatness was not lost on rock critics of the day, but in the end it did not sell particularly well, attributed in part to the piecemeal distribution network of Ardent’s distributor, Stax. Still, songs like “In the Street,” “Don’t Lie to Me, “Feel” and “The Ballad of El Goodo” became cult classics.

Tension began to mount within the band’s ranks as Bell saw his role as leader eclipsed by Chilton’s dominant personality. Bell preferred that Big Star remain a studio entity while Chilton was eager for the band to hit the live circuit. Around Christmas 1972, Bell quit his own band and Big Star soldiered onward as a trio.

In 1974, Ardent released Radio City, the second and (for the moment) final Big Star album. Its best-known song, “September Gurls,” remains one of pop’s classic songs with its mesmerizing chorus and Chilton’s ringing guitar break sounding like the Byrds fused with the venom of the Kinks. “O My Soul,” “Back of a Car” and “Mod Lang” are cut from a similar cloth while “Life Is White” and “Way Out West” show the band’s slower side. And as liner note writer Brian Hogg observed, there are times on this album that the tension within the group is plainly audible: “The ever-present aura of something gradually becoming unhinged, combined with masterly songs, somehow jells to create a remarkable collection and makes Radio City one of rock’s seminal albums,” he writes.

After Radio City, Hummel quit the band and was replaced by John Lightman on what was to become Big Star 3, shelved for years until the myth surrounding the band grew to titanic proportions. Tragically, Chris Bell died in a car crash in Memphis in December, 1979. Chilton went on to record inspired if sporadic solo albums while producing records by the Cramps and Chris Stamey. Jody Stephens works at Ardent Studio to this day and has been the sparkplug behind Big Star’s reunion tours, during which the band played on both The Tonight Show and The Late Show With David Letterman.

As the reissue’s other liner note writer Rick Clark observed, “It has been said that art should create the sense that time has stopped. Big Star transcended normal escapist pop convention by creating music that somehow froze moments that were concurrently vibrant and startlingly brilliant, yet oddly spent. Somehow Big Star could make you feel good in the face of dashed expectations and decay. It’s that realness, in the band’s lyrics and urgently bright sound, which has allowed Big Star’s vision to endure way beyond its brief lifespan.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dylan's 'Together Through Life' Debuts At #1 On U.S. & UK Album Charts

Bob Dylan's Together Through Life has entered both the U.S. and UK album charts at #1, marking the artist’s second consecutive U.S. #1 debut and his first chart-topping release in the UK since New Morning in 1970.

Together Through Life is a true international hit, as well, achieving #1 debuts in Austria and Denmark, Top 5 entries in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and New Zealand, and Top 10 rankings in Italy, France and Belgium.

"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'," the first track on Together Through Life, is serving as the soundtrack for a series of on-air and online promotional spots for the highly anticipated second season of True Blood, the smash hit HBO vampire series. The eagerly awaited second season of True Blood launches on HBO on Sunday, June 14.

The True Blood promos debuted on HBO on Saturday, May 2, and are airing in heavy rotation on HBO and HBO's multiplex channels. The True Blood/"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" promos premiered online on both HBO.com and BobDylan.com May 4.

The promotional spots can be viewed by clicking on the following link: http://www.hbo.com/trueblood/video.html?maven_playerId=trueblood&maven_referralObject=4777340

"When I heard the song, I knew it would be a perfect fit for our characters and storylines," said True Blood creator Alan Ball.

A short film for "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" has been lensed by AFI and Sundance Film Festival award winning director Nash Edgerton, and will be seen on the IFC Channel and on IFC.com, beginning Tuesday, May 12.

Eric Clapton Joins Joe Bonamassa Onstage In London

Joe Bonamassa, the American DIY guitar whiz who has been voted "Best Blues Guitarist" by Guitar Player magazine three years in a row, was still buzzing the day after playing with Eric Clapton at London's Royal Albert Hall.

"It was the thrill of a lifetime for me," Bonamassa said from the studio where he was watching footage of the concert, which was filmed for a DVD release in the fall. "I find that the higher you go up the ladder sometimes, the more humble and nice people are. That's truly the case of Eric Clapton; he's my hero and the reason I play the way I play, just basically one of those guys who plus the guitar straight into an amp and it sounds like him."

Clapton's guest spot at the recent concert -- which also featured former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones, now a BBC disc jockey, on "Your Funeral, My Trial" -- came after Bonamassa wrote him a letter that was delivered by a mutual friend. "We'd met a couple of times before," Bonamassa said, "and invited him to come and sit in with me. He wrote back and said, 'I'd love to come.' I was really surprised he agreed; he's got his own run of shows (starting May 11 in Dublin) and was busy in rehearsals. A lot of time when you're rehearsing and everything, the last thing you want to do is go sing some more and play some more, but it was really nice of him to come and do. It meant the world to me."

Bonamassa said he's pleased with the footage he'd seen so far, noting that "everybody played really well, and we got everything recorded. There were no sidesteps." He'll continue touring in Europe until June 6, supporting his latest album The Ballad Of John Henry, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Album chart after its Feb. 24 release.

The guitarist plans to stay overseas after the tour, hunkering down in Greece to do some recording with local musicians "and see what comes of that. It will be the start of the next album, but it won't be 'Joe plays with a bunch of Greek guys.' That will be an element of it, but I'm taking a worldly approach to it. We'll do a few things there, then maybe take it back to America and do something in the South, make it swampy, and go some other places and put all together and see what we've got." Bonamassa expects to release the album in 2010.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cat Stevens To Sue Coldplay, Depending On Satriani

Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens believes that the Coldplay song, "Viva La Vida," sounds like one of his 1973 songs, but he stopped short of saying he would sue for plagiarism.

"My son brought it to my attention and said: 'Doesn't that sound like 'Foreigner Suite?'" the musician, now known as Yusuf Islam, told Reuters. "The song definitely sounds like it. It has such logical chords and the melody has to be what it is..."

Asked during a telephone interview from London whether he would pursue the issue legally, Islam, 60, said "it depends on how well Satriani does."

U.S. guitarist Joe Satriani has sued Coldplay, accusing the British band of copyright infringement. He claims substantial original portions of his song "If I Could Fly" are recycled in "Viva La Vida" and is seeking damages.

Islam, whose new album "Roadsinger," comes out on Tuesday (May 5), was unable to perform at a New York concert on Sunday because of "work permit" issues. The singer, a Muslim convert, said the problem was unrelated to his being denied entry into the United States five years ago because his name was on a government no-fly list.

"It's just been delayed by a week," he said of his trip to the United States to promote the album. "The day I was scheduled to go to the (U.S.) embassy they had implemented a new system. There were gremlins in the works, but they (U.S. officials) were all so nice."

Islam is scheduled to play one show in Los Angeles and appear on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on May 13.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Turtles Are Back!

Memphis, TN - Like the 1960s themselves, The Turtles were a remarkable harmonic convergence, a once-in-a-lifetime happening. There was something magical and star-crossed about The Turtles and now their remarkable songs have been collected for you to share in those memorable times. Save The Turtles: The Greatest Hits of The Turtles will be available through The Turtles official website, Amazon, iTunes and anywhere CDs are sold.

Along with "Happy Together," "It Ain't Me Babe," "Elenore" and "She'd Rather Be With Me," this CD includes newly remastered versions of 20 original recordings from the original master tapes and even an unreleased commercial never before made available.

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, along with The Turtles, have sold over 60 million records worldwide, and have sung on hit records for such notable artists as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, T. Rex, Todd Rundgren and Ozzy Osbourne. Along with The Turtles, Flo & Eddie have toured continuously for the past three decades, building on their legacy as one of the most successful musical groups in the history of recorded music.

With each sale of Save The Turtles: The Greatest Hits of The Turtles, the group will give a financial donation to the Turtle Hospital, in the heart of the Florida Keys. The Turtle Hospital, located in Marathon, Florida, is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 with its main goal being to rehabilitate injured sea turtles and return them to the sea, educate the public, assist with research and work towards environmental legislation which keep the beaches and water safe and clean for turtles. What better way to help the Sea Turtles? Save The Turtles!

Gary Wright Announces U.K. / European Tour With Spooky Tooth

Coming full-circle in his four+ decade career, Gary Wright will be performing with his first band, Spooky Tooth, in the U.K. and Europe this month. The first date will be part of a remarkable week-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Island Records and its founder Chris Blackwell.

On May 29th, a re-formed Spooky Tooth with original members Mike Harrison and Wright along with guitarist Steve Farris (Mr. Mister), bassist Shem von Schroeck (Kenny Loggins / Michael McDonald) and drummer Tom Brechtlein (Chick Corea) will take the stage of London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, cementing the band’s place in the history of the storied label (which also launched the careers of U2 and Bob Marley).

British-based, Spooky Tooth’s place in the history of music is clear, as one of the most innovative, progressive rock bands of the late 1960s / early 1970s. Employing a ground-breaking twin-keyboard sound, the group hit their critical apex on 1969's Spooky Two which included the song “Better By You, Better Than Me” (covered by Judas Priest in 1978). Other artists on the Anniversary program include Cat Stevens/Yusef, Keane, Paul Weller, The Fratellis, Ladyhawke, Baaba Maal, Sly & Robbie and Amy Winehouse. Full details are at http://www.island50.com.

Then, Spooky Tooth is on to Germany, to perform an open air concert on May 31st at Kulturelle Landpartie in Muetzingen and then theater dates at Muziktheatre Piano in Dortmund on June 1st and Tante Ju in Dresden on June 6th.

When back in the States, Gary will continue work on his forthcoming full-length record of all-new material. Connected will include the single, “Satisfied,” which features Ringo Starr on drums. The new material will continue in the vein of Wright’s latest The Light of a Million Suns EP which includes a Hip Hop/R&B-infused update of the enduring hit “Love is Alive,” which first appeared on his seminal The Dream Weaver album.

Spooky Tooth - Dates/Venues
May & June 2009

May 29
Island Records 50th Anniversary
Paul Weller, Ernest Ranglin, Spooky Tooth
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Shepherd's Bush Green
London, W12 8TT
020 8354 3300

May 31
Venue: Kulturelle Landpartie (open air concert)
Muetzingenta e. V.
Ziegelei 10,
29499 Muetzingen, Germany
Phone: 0049 (0)5863-788
Web: http://muetzingenta.de

June 01
Venue: Musiktheater Piano
Luetgendortmunder Str.43
44388 Dortmund, Germany
Phone: 0049 (0)231-60 42 06
Web: http://www.musiktheater-piano.de

June 03
Venue: Downtown Bluesclub / Landhaus Walter
Hindenburgstr. 2
22303 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: 0049 (0)40-27 50 54
Web: http://www.downtown-bluesclub.de

June 04
Venue: Colos Saal
Rossmarkt 19
63739 Aschaffenburg
Phone: 0049 (0)60 21 27239
Web: http://www.colos-saal.de

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pete Seeger To Celebrate 90th With Springsteen And Friends

When Emmylou Harris was a young girl trying to figure out whether she could have a career in music, she decided to seek advice from the wisest man she could think of — so she wrote a note to Pete Seeger.

She didn't know him, and he didn't know her: Seeger was already approaching legendary status, while she hadn't recorded a single tune. Yet, Harris was inspired by his integrity, and she'd learned to play the guitar by listening to his classic "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

"I actually wrote him a letter, hand-printed, front and back, I don't know how many pages, saying I want to sing folk music, but I don't think I've suffered enough," she said, laughing. "He actually wrote me back ... basically saying life will catch up to me, and encouraged me to be bound for glory. Just hearing from him was one of the most amazing things that had ever happened to me, up to that point."

On Sunday, Harris will perform at Madison Square Garden in a tribute concert to Seeger on his 90th birthday. The event will also feature Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and dozens of others. The concert will surely be an homage to one of music's most revered voices, a man known for his poignant protest songs and social activism, from the fight for racial equality to labor rights and world peace.

He has been a fervent anti-war activist and is credited for popularizing the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." His leftist politics (he was once a member of the Communist party, which he later renounced) got him blacklisted during the 1950s.

While his politics sometimes overshadowed his music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member is considered one of folk music's greatest artists, and inspired artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen, who in 2006 released the album "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," which features the Boss singing Seeger's songs.

But Seeger is not interested in celebrating past achievements at Sunday's event. He says he only agreed to take part in the event because it will benefit the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a nonprofit organization he founded more than four decades ago to help preserve the river, which has suffered from pollution.

Funds from the concert will help restore the Clearwater, the huge boat Seeger built to draw people's attention to the organization. (Tickets ranged from $19.19, the year he was born, to $250, with the majority of seats at $90 to honor his birthday.)

"We need to raise an endowment fund" for the boat, said Seeger, who lives along the Hudson River in Beacon, in upstate New York. "I agreed to the concert, although I don't like big things."

Harris said putting the focus of the concert on the Clearwater is another example of Seeger's principles being paramount to his music. "It's never been about Pete," she said. "It's always been about the world and what he believes in and doing the right thing and making the world a better place. He's really lived what he believes; I think it's an inspiring example for all generations."

Seeger will perform one song — but he's not saying which one. "No one knows except me. It's a secret," he said. (His many iconic songs include "If I Had a Hammer" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!") With so many honors including a Presidential Medal of the Arts, he is typically humble when asked which song he'd most like to hear during the anticipated four-hour concert. "They don't need to sing my songs, there are a lot of good songs," he said.

Seeger recently released a new album, "At 89," his first in five years. He played during the inauguration festivities for President Barack Obama in January and performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. But he prefers to sing and strum his signature banjo for children: "For the rest of my life I hope to sing only for the children ... and I like to sing with the kids in the school. Kids are the hope of the future."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal To Team For 'Bontaj' Tour

If Bonnie Raitt has her way, this summer's BonTaj Roulet tour with Taj Mahal will be the first of many such outings.

"I trademarked BonTaj Roulet," Raitt says. "I had the idea for this back when I did Lilith Fair, the whole idea of a touring mini-festival and ticket prices going to social causes. It's not only the beginning of what I hope will be many years of BonTaj, but a franchise I'd like to see grow to where we can take it to Europe and get a combination of special guests and showcase new bands. That's my dream -- a rotating music festival where we're basically a kind of brand name and can do a lot of different things under that."

Mahal, meanwhile, says he's all for it. "As musicians, there's things you want to go out and do, different projects," he explains. "Both of us have a broad overall viewpoint of the music that's out there and musicians and culture and whatnot. There's a lot of stuff you can find your way to through the music, so this could be a really great thing. And I know we'll have a lot of fun."

The 30-date tour, which kicks off Aug. 6 in Williamsport, Pa., will donate $1 per ticket sold to the BonTaj Collective Action Fund, which will allow fans to vote on organizations and causes that should receive the money via the www.bontaj.com web site. Special Action Fund VIP Packages, which include premium seats and meet-and-greet opportunities, will raise additional funds.

Raitt and Mahal, who met around 1970 and worked together on Raitt's 1973 album Takin' My Time, are also stoked about the musical end of the tour, of course. Both will perform with their own bands, then come together for a collaborative set at the end of the night that Raitt says they'll begin preparing for after she comes off the road from her current U.S. tour.

"We have to plan ahead," she explains. "Both bands are going to want to back us up on ever song and we could just make a big noise if we're not careful. There's a bunch of stuff we should be able to look in our toy chest and be able to pull out on a given night -- back-porch country duets on guitar, stuff with just a small cut-down band, at least four or five killer R&B blowouts...I'm hoping we'll get a dozen songs we really love and then pick and choose each night depending on how we feel."

Raitt says there are no firm plans yet to document this tour. "I don't want to be tied down for this tour," she says. "I want to test the waters and have a blast with it and let it unfold. Down the line we'll probably make a DVD of it, but I don't know if that'll be this year."

Raitt is similarly circumspect about plans for her next album, the follow-up to 2005's "Souls Alike." She says that she has "a bunch of songs I really like" but says she really hasn't focused on a full-length project yet. "That's really down the line," Raitt says.

"I'm happy to be independent and considering my options. There's a lot of shifting going on in the music business, so I want to see what happens. The music part of it is no problem; you've just got to be really ready to do the promotion part, so I want to be energized to do that and do it right," she said.