Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rock Royalty Jams For Second Night In NYC

U2 brought three generations of chart-toppers — Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and the Black Eyed Peas — with them onstage Friday at another night of mix and match magic at Madison Square Garden.

Metallica brought the thunder to Lou Reed and Ray Davies. It was the second of two concerts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they will be edited into an HBO special to be seen on Thanksgiving weekend.

During U2's set, Bono was waxing poetic about the spiritual, physical and political power of rock 'n' roll until finally the Boss had had enough.

"Let's have some fun with it," Springsteen said. They performed U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," with Bono and Springsteen trading call-and-response vocals during the final verse.

U2 topped the bill for the four hours of music. True to the spirit of Rock Hall events, producers sought some unusual pairings for artists to pay tribute to influences: Annie Lennox and Lenny Kravitz joined Aretha Franklin onstage, and Sting popped up to sing "People Get Ready" with Jeff Beck.

Jagger, who sang "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" with U2, also danced a duet with the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie on "Gimme Shelter." Jagger stuck his microphone in his waistband as the black mini-skirted Fergie approached. U2 stood in the background, the world's most expensive "house band," as Jagger called them.

"Weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs...," Bono joked.

U2 asserted authority when everyone left the stage, closing the show alone with "Beautiful Day."

Just to show music's finest aren't perfect: U2, Springsteen and Patti Smith needed a do-over when they mangled their version of "Because the Night." They almost needed a third, when Smith missed the cue to start.

Metallica went for an easy cheer from the New York crowd by playing video of the Yankees' relief pitcher Mariano Rivera behind them during "Enter Sandman." The song is played at Yankee Stadium when Rivera enters a game.

Metallica paid tribute to influences by playing songs by Bob Seger and Queen. Frontman James Hetfield noted the band's trepidation when Rock Hall officials suggested artists to share the stage with.

"We're not the most jammy kind of band," he said. "We're kind of a tight little unit. We don't let a lot of people in."

One choice was unsurprising: Ozzy Osbourne, who sang "Paranoid" and "Iron Man." The others were less obvious but went over hugely well, judging by the crowd. New York's Reed had a muscular backing for "Sweet Jane" and Davies had the type of riffage he hadn't seen since the Kinks on "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night."

"We didn't know what to think of this at first," Hetfield said about meeting Davies. "We got completely schooled."

Jerry Lee Lewis began the show with his hit "Great Balls of Fire." A half-century ago he might have ended it with some leaps or kicking of furniture; here he slowly pushed his piano stool over at the song's end.

Aretha Franklin was a teaser, introducing one song as being "for those of you who don't feel they're getting enough respect" — then sang a tune from the Broadway musical "Ragtime." She introduced her band and drew a blank on the name of her guitar player. She barely acknowledged Lennox when they shared the stage for "Chain of Fools.

She still has a gale's force voice, though.

And, in the end, audience members got their "Respect."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peter Gabriel To Release Orchestral Covers Album

Peter Gabriel is releasing an orchestral covers album, his first LP in seven years. Scratch My Back is a "song swap," according to one of Gabriel's collaborators, where the singer and a host of "extremely legendary artists" will cover each other's material.

Gabriel recorded the album at George Martin's Air Lyndhurst studios in London, working with Bob Ezrin, producer of Lou Reed's Berlin, Pink Floyd's The Wall and Gabriel's self-titled 1977 record. "The songs are not simply covers," composer John Metcalfe told BBC 6 Music. "They are major reinterpretations of some famous stuff. It's quite radical."

Metcalfe describes his role as "reinterpreting the music of the songs [Gabriel] has chosen to cover". "[It's] quite onerous, as some of the songs are among the best known in the last 40 years," he said. "The album will be acoustic, using only orchestral instruments (no guitars, drums or world instruments), and range in size from sparse chamber music to a much fuller orchestral sound."

Though Scratch My Back won't be released until spring 2010, fans had their first taste of the project at this summer's Womad festival, when Gabriel performed Paul Simon's "The Boy In The Bubble" with a string section. "There [is material from] some all-time great singer-songwriters and bands," Metcalfe said, "and then there are some bands that are very, very well known from the last 10 years, and one or two more recent bands and singers as well."

Scratch My Back has been described as a tit-for-tat affair, with Gabriel covering artists like Paul Simon and then, presumably, Paul Simon covering a Peter Gabriel song. But the logistics of this have not been confirmed, and it's not clear whether this means it will be a double album.

Fans on Peter Gabriel message boards have pounced upon a Scratch My Back track listing posted by a Japanese distributor. While the page offers few details – and gives a bizarre release date of November 18 – it does list 13 track titles. Among these are songs by Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Lou Reed, Bon Iver, David Bowie, Neil Young and Elbow.

It seems a plausible list, at least for the project's first volley, but as to whether or not it's legitimate? John Metcalfe isn't saying. "I'm not allowed to say who [is included], just yet, but there are some very, very famous singers and bands involved," he said. "There should be something in there for everybody."

Alleged songs on Scratch My Back:
1. Heroes (David Bowie)
2. Street Spirit (Radiohead)
3. The Book of Love (Magnetic Fields)
4. Flume (Bon Iver)
5. My Body Is a Cage (Arcade Fire)
6. Listening Wind (Talking Heads)
7. I Think It's Going to Rain Today (Randy Newman)
8. Apr├Ęs Moi (Regina Spektor or Eartha Kitt)
9. Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks)
10. The Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon)
11. The Power of the Heart (Lou Reed)
12. Philadelphia (Neil Young)
13. Mirrorball (Elbow)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

U2 To Play Free Berlin Concert For MTV Awards

U2 will perform a free concert in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on November 5 to coincide with the MTV Europe Music Awards being held in the city on the same night, organizers announced.

The event comes four days before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War that had split the city and Germany.

The barrier was peacefully swept away in the months that followed and the two countries reunited 11 months later in 1990.

"It'll be an exciting spot to be in, 20 years almost to the day since the wall came down," said U2's manager Paul McGuinness. "Should be fun."

According to MTV Networks International, owned by Viacom Inc, tickets to attend the gig will be free-of-charge and are available on www.u2.com and www.mtvema.com.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eric Clapton Pulls Out Of Rock Hall Of Fame Concerts

Eric Clapton has pulled out of the Rock and Roll Hall 25th anniversary concert extravaganza scheduled Thursday, October 29, and Friday, October 30, at Madison Square Garden in New York, to have gallstones removed, organizers have announced.

Bruce Springsteen's participation was up in the air, meanwhile, after the rocker abruptly cancelled a concert in Kansas City on Monday due to a bereavement.

Clapton, 64, "will spend time recuperating at home in the UK and is very sorry to disappoint the fans and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," a statement said.

It added that his tour itinerary was otherwise unaffected.

The guitarist was scheduled to perform at Madison Square Garden on Friday, the second of a two-night celebration of the hall's 25th anniversary. Jeff Beck will take his place. Others on the bill include U2, Aretha Franklin, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Annie Lennox.

The concert is not related to the annual Hall of Fame induction, which takes place in New York next March.

Springsteen, 60, is scheduled to perform on Thursday. But he cancelled a recent show "due to a death in Bruce's immediate family," according to his Web site.

Kansas City broadcaster KMBC-TV quoted police officials as saying that a 34-year-old member of Springsteen's road crew died at his hotel, but that the death was not suspicious.

Neither concert officials nor Springsteen's publicist were immediately available for comment.

Others on the Thursday bill include Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Sting and B.B. King.

Monday, October 26, 2009

U2 Concert Goes Global Over YouTube

"Enough of the folk mass!" Bono declared during U2's historic Rose Bowl performance on Sunday (October 25), before 96,000 fans. Some are already calling it the
biggest rock show of all time -- at least as measured by the size of the tour's infrastructure and cost -- with the people who attended the show and millions more watching it live on YouTube. It may, in fact, have been the largest live-streamed event yet.

The concert featured an expanding LED video screen, a 360-degree stage, lasers, and more, was certainly the largest event ever held at the Rose Bowl. Consider the staging: a four-legged circular stage rig known as the Claw or the Space Station.
Designed to bring the stadium audience closer to the band, it cuts holes in the fourth wall between star and fan, creating a feeling of immersion and communal connection that's startling in such a huge venue.

"I was born to lift you up," Bono sang in "Magnificent," one of many songs performed from the band's latest album, No Line on the Horizon. Those joyfully shouted group choruses, to older songs like "One" and "With or Without You" but also to newer ones like "Magnificent" and "Unknown Caller" (the latter aided by lyrics splayed across the Space Station's screen), offered the clearest route to union.

U2's time-honored approach to spiritual enlightenment worked its magic too, when Bono prefaced the old favorite "Where the Streets Have No Name" with some verses of "Amazing Grace," or when he interjected phrases from crowd-pleasing oldies like "Stand by Me," or simply shouted "Soul! Soul! Soul!" (His funniest interjection, though, was when he compared himself to Dennis Hopper and then did a bit of that actor's heavy breathing from the film Blue Velvet.)

After three decades as an important band, U2 is long past simple uplift. Its music is as much about emotional entanglement (as in "Ultraviolet") and disorientation ("Vertigo"). Ultimately, it is a meditation on space: the majestic natural landscapes that the Edge's guitar playing often describes; the crowded dance floors or train platforms Clayton and Mullen's rhythms evoke; the inches between a whispering mouth and a lover's ear, or the infinite journey of a prayer hurled into the air.

"God will put a wind at our back and a rising road ahead, if we work together as one," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in an on-screen message late in the concert. That vision of nations and individuals opening up to one another is at the core of U2's mission. This extravagant tour gave the band another way to enact it and made for a whole new concert experience in the process. Incidentally, Pasadena police reported no major problems with the 96,000 U2 fans, in or out of the venue.

Wanna see the show again? Head over to this U2 @ The Rose Bowl link.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Roger Daltrey Teaches Class At Oklahoma University

On Wednesday, October 21, student musicians at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma attended a master class taught by legendary Who singer Roger Daltrey.

The iconic performer, interviewed by Flaming Lips manager and CEO of the new school Scott Booker, answered questions from the student audience and met with The Flaming Lips who were also in the audience.

"I'm very impressed with your college," Daltrey stated before touching on topics such as interpersonal band dynamics, the musicality of Pete Townshend's legendary guitar destruction, and the importance hearing protection.

Performance class students learn and perform important songs from contemporary music history and are currently working on The Who's 1965 single, "I Can't Explain."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum...Gentle Giant Goes Digital

On November 3rd, progressive rock band Gentle Giant is releasing seven of their best-known albums and tracks in digital form for the very first time via their own Alucard label, through EMI Music's Label Services unit.

In A Glass House, The Power & The Glory, Freehand, Interview, Playing The Fool-The Official Live, The Missing Piece and Giant For A Day will become available through all digital channels.

The digital releases will also include previously unheard bonus tracks and artwork.
The band has chosen favorite live versions of songs from each album and some obscure radio sessions. Two of the bonus tracks, “Intro 74” and “Intro 76,” have been partially re-recorded, embellished and remixed by the band's primary keyboardist Kerry Minnear.

More Gentle Giant music will be available in a variety of formats in 2010, starting with the January release of the seven remastered titles on CD. Gentle Giant box sets and "Limited Edition" vinyl LPs are also on the way.

Gentle Giant, active from 1970 through 1980, was made up of multi-instrumentalists, and lived to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular. The group's dozen albums combine a range of musical styles -- jazz, pop, classical, British soul, rock, blues, medieval, pop, blues. To learn more, head over to the Gentle Giant Home Page.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Shows By Veteran Acts Boost Concert Biz

The numbers are in for Pollstar’s third quarter concert ticket sales charts and it appears early predictions about how fans would spend their money this year were right: They still want to see shows, but they want to make sure they get more bang for their buck.

Overall sales of tickets were up by about 2.8 million units, but much of that increase is due to stadium tours by acts like U2, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.

While arena-level sales were also up, movement up or down on the club and theatre front was negligible. And despite Herculean efforts like Live Nation’s weekly Wednesday deals aimed at getting butts in seats at amphitheatres this past summer, sales of tickets at the outdoor venues were down almost 1.2 million units, continuing a trend that began a couple of years ago.

The top five spots on the Worldwide Tours chart for the first nine months of 2009 were claimed by four big name acts (U2, AC/DC, Springsteen and Coldplay) and an elaborately staged prehistoric spectacular (“Walking with Dinosaurs”), with Madonna, Britney Spears, Nickelback, Kenny Chesney and Pink rounding out the top 10.

In fact, looking back, veteran acts have dominated the Pollstar charts all year. Although the top place on July’s mid-year Top 100 North American Tours chart went to a revitalized Britney Spears, Fleetwood Mac staked out the No. 2 spot and Elton John/Billy Joel, Eagles, Celine Dion, Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band and The Dead all landed in the Top 10. Country and comedy acts were also well represented, with Kenny Chesney coming in at No. 7 and Dane Cook at No. 10.

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few surprises in 2009. A look at the leading 10 events on the mid-year Top 100 Concert Grosses chart (also from July) reveals the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival landed at No. 1, dwarfing the competition by earning more than $15 million in three days, and its country sibling Stagecoach claimed the No. 5 spot with a gross of more than $6 million.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beatles Boost Music Game Sales To New High

The music game genre experienced a much-needed lift in September on the backs of new releases The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5.

MTV's Beatles game, released Sept. 9, won the battle with total unit sales of 595,000, according to the NPD Group, making it the third-best selling game of the month overall behind Halo 3: ODST and Madden NFL 10. Activision's Guitar Hero 5, released Sept. 1, ranked fourth overall for the month with 499,000 in sales.

Both totals are on par with that of first-month sales for the flagship music offerings from both companies last year. Activision's Guitar Hero World Tour had first-month sales of 534,000 units last year, while Rock Band 2 sold just over 238,000 copies its first month.

From a revenue standpoint, the Beatles game raked in the second-best totals for the month, driven primarily by the fact that the average game sold for 130% more than other games. This was due to the many different versions of the game that sold with more expensive custom controllers, such as the $250 premium edition that included replica versions of the Fab Four's instruments. Neither NPD Group or MTV would release specific figures on bundle sales.

Combined, however, both The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 drove a 72% increase in revenues for the music game genre over September 2008. From both a revenue and unit sales standpoint, the results represent good news for a music industry with vested interest in the continued popularity of the music game genre.

Year-over-year revenues for the genre had fallen 46% this year through August, sparking speculation that the category was a passing fad. However that decline was likely more a function of fewer and cheaper music games hitting the market this year over last until last month's dual unveilings.

And more help is on the way. Activision will release the much anticipated expansion of the music game genre into hip-hop with DJ Hero on Oct. 27, as well as the teen-oriented Band Hero on Nov. 3.

On the heels of these sales figures, MTV released the first full-album downloadable content update for The Beatles: Rock Band in the form of Abbey Road. For $17, owners of the game can download the songs not already included in the shipped version as a sort of "complete my album" purchase, or buy a select few tracks from the album individually for $2. Those tracks include "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Oh! Darling," and "Because."

MTV said the first downloadable single made available for The Beatles: Rock Band -which was "All You Need is Love"-has been downloaded 100,000 times. All proceeds for the sale of that single via the game will go to the charity Doctors Without Borders.

Overall, MTV says it now has 900 songs available to download to the Rock Band franchise, with plans to reach 1,000 available songs by the end of the year. It says about 60 million songs have been downloaded in the lifetime of the franchise.

Meanwhile, Microsoft unveiled plans to add a special section to its Xbox Live Marketplace dedicated exclusively to the purchase of downloadable music for games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and other rhythm-based titles. Gamers will be able to sample the tracks from directly within the Xbox Live dashboard.

U2 Gig To Be Streamed On YouTube

U2's concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California on Sunday, Octber 25, will be streamed live on video-sharing website YouTube, the band have announced.

Manager Paul McGuinness said that, as the gig was already being filmed, it was "the perfect opportunity to extend the party beyond the stadium."

Fans in 16 countries, including the UK, the US, Australia and India, will be able to watch the show. YouTube said it would place adverts around the video "in the normal manner," and that clips from the concert would be available on the site after the gig ends.

The site will also offer viewers the ability to chat to one another using Twitter, or to give money to Bono's RED charity via a "donate now" button, while they watch the show.

McGuinness said that U2 "wanted to do something like this for a long time."

He added: "Fans often travel long distances to come to see U2 - this time U2 can go to them, globally."

However, it is not the first time that U2 have dabbled in live streaming - they allowed fans to watch a Boston date of their Popmart tour in 1997 via Microsoft's MSN website.

YouTube has also experimented with live broadcasts in the past, most notably with its YouTube Live show, which premiered last year with performances from will.i.am and Katy Perry. The company is keen to expand its business beyond hosting short amateur clips.

Earlier this year, it began streaming Hollywood movies like Cliffhanger to users in America. UK broadcaster Channel 4 has also announced it will offer a full catch-up service via YouTube by the start of 2010.

However, live streaming poses bigger technical issues than offering pre-recorded content, and issues over music rights may prevent the U2 experiment becoming more commonplace at any great pace.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Elvis' Hair Leaves The Building...For $18,300

A pile of hair believed snipped from Elvis Presley when he joined the U.S. Army in 1958 sold for $18,300 on Sunday (October 19), according to a Chicago auction house.

The King's hair was one of up to 200 items of Elvis memorabilia collected by the late Gary Pepper, who was the president of the Tankers Fan Club set up for Elvis fans.

The top price of $62,800 was paid for a cream collared cotton shirt with the monogram EP that came with a magazine showing the King wearing the shirt, or at least one similar. It had been expected to sell for between $2,000 and $4,000.

A red ultrasuede shirt, which was also expected to sell for between $2,000 and $4,000, and was also believed to have been worn by Elvis sold for $34,000.

Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers posted the results of the auction on its website, saying the lot of hair sold for $18,300 which topped the expected price of between $8,000 and $12,000. All prices on its website included the buyer's premium.

The auction house said the hair was given to Pepper to mail to Presley fans. No DNA test was carried out on the hair but the auctioneer quoted "an expert in celebrity hair authentication," John Reznikoff, saying it matched the Elvis hair he has in his collection.

No details of the winning bidder were immediately available.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Uriah Heep Revisits Classics On 'Celebration' CD

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Uriah Heep have a new CD called Celebration, which features 12 of their most well-known songs, such as "Free Me," "Gypsy," "The Wizard," "Easy Livin'," and "Lady in Black," all re-recorded by the band's present lineup. The CD has includes "Only Human" and "Corridors of Madness," two brand new songs.

To support the CD's release, Uriah Heep is scheduling concert dates throughout Europe, with more shows being added. Celebration -- available as a standalone CD, a Deluxe Edition CD + DVD and a Collector's Edition with a CD and 7-inch vinyl record signed by the band -- is on sale now in Europe, with a U.S. release for November. For more information, visit Uriah Heep's Web site.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rod Stewart Interprets Soul Classics On New Album

Rod Stewart brings a splash of color to the staid surroundings of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He's wearing a blue striped shirt, a white business suit jacket with thick red trim and blue Converse slip-ons -- a look that combines nautical and vaudeville, which seems perfectly fitting for Stewart, the perpetual showman.

After completing a 20-city North American tour earlier this year, Stewart returned to recording and made the album he says he's been waiting his entire life to create. Soulbook, a collection of classic soul songs from the '60s and '70s, will come out October 27 on J Records.

It's a natural next step after recording standards for his four-album Great American Songbook series. Those four albums have sold nearly 9 million copies combined, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since the first was released in 2002, and the 2006 Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics Of Our Time sold 724,000. A Songbook boxed set has sold 89,000 copies.

Soulbook features duets with Mary J. Blige (on "You Make Me Feel Brand New") and Jennifer Hudson ("Let It Be Me") as well as two tracks featuring the original performers: "Tracks of My Tears" with Smokey Robinson and "My Cherie Amour" with Stevie Wonder. Al Schmitt, Sam Cooke's original producer and engineer, engineered the album.

"I couldn't keep putting it off," Stewart says. "I was very frightened of doing it, because as I say in the liner notes, these are the guys I looked up to and admired all my life. It was a big step."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, Phil Lesh Pushing 'Furthur' Into 2010

Furthur, a new band featuring the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, along with Jeff Chimenti, John Kadlecik, Jay Lane and Joe Russo, will play a two-show New Year’s Eve run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Mail order tickets for the December 30th and 31st shows begin on Saturday, October 17, through GDTSToo MailOrder.

Online sales will be available next week through the usual outlets.

Furthur played their first shows for three nights in September at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. They're also scheduled to play a quick East Coast run before the Christmas break. Tickets are now on sale with dates, venues and showtimes as follows:

December 8 & 9
Hammerstein Ballroom
New York City, NY
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Showtime: 8:00 PM

December 11

Chevrolet Theater @ Oakdale
Wallingford, CT
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Showtime: 8:00 PM

December 12 & 13
Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park, NJ
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Showtime: 8:00 PM

In other Grateful Dead related news, today (October 16) is Bob Weir's birthday. The singer, songwriter, guitarist and founding member of the Grateful Dead is 62 and still going strong.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clarence Clemons Tells Springsteen Tales in 'Big Man' Book

The Big Man is "very happy" with Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, Clarence Clemons' new memoir. But how does The Boss feel about this look inside his usual close-knit camp?

"He loves it," the saxophonist tells Billboard.com about Bruce Springsteen's reaction to the book. "I was getting the manuscript together and one day I was reading it on the plane, and (Springsteen) asked...'Do you mind if I take at look at it?' And he took it to his seat and he came back about 45 minutes later and said, 'Man this is fantastic. This is great!' And that was the best thing I ever heard. It thrilled me so much that he accepted and appreciated what I was doing, and he gave me his blessing. That's the big key is getting the blessing from above in doing something like this."

Springsteen also wrote a forward for "Big Man" and has been hyping it at his shows, referring to Clemons as "the author" during his concert introductions.

In "Big Man," Clemons and his co-writer, TV veteran and good pal Don Reo mix each of their autobiographical remembrances with "tall tale" sections that Clemons describes as "stories that could be true or are true in a certain aspects" -- although Reo introduces a couple of them as complete fabrications. But Clemons says those chapters only add to the overall flavor of the 400-page book.

"We look at ('Big Man') as something entertaining," Clemons explains. "It's not just hard facts or a biography. We mix it in with stuff that makes it more entertaining and interesting. I didn't want to write a flat book about my life because it could be boring and my life is anything but boring." He adds that there are many stories he and Reo left out that may appear in a second book. "The next book could be an X-rated book about the life," Clemons notes, "although some of the stories we didn't go into deeply in this one we'll just go through in a little more detail."

Clemons is also starting to eyeball his musical life beyond the E Street Band, which wraps up its Working On A Dream tour on November 22 in Buffalo. He expects to record another album with his Temple of Soul band, but he's also confident that this won't be the last time we see the E Street Band and, like many Springsteen fans he's excited to see what his employer and friend decides to do next.

"Whatever it is, it is going to be fantastic," Clemons predicts. "That's one thing I've learned in all these years we've been together, that whatever change he makes, whatever route he takes, it is going to be fantastic."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009 DVD Coming For Christmas

Bonnaroo 2009 featured over 140 bands performing more than 200 shows, 21 comedians, exclusive film premieres and so much more. If you weren't one of the lucky souls to be there firsthand, you can still view the highlights on Live From Bonnaroo 2009, a new DVD (out on December 15) created to reflect the breadth and diversity of the Bonnaroo experience.

The DVD features exclusive performances and backstage footage of artists such as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Phish, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costello with Jenny Lewis, Andrew Bird, Coheed and Cambria, Rafael Saadiq, Santigold, Passion Pit, Amadou & Mariam, among many others.

The DVDs were initially made available to ticket buyers for the price of $10 including shipping and handling, but a limited number are available for pre-order through the Bonnaroo website for $15 plus shipping and handling.

Want a free peak? Check out this trailer for the DVD.

The complete track list for the DVD is as follows:

  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "Outlaw Pete"
  • Phish - "Down With Disease"
  • Beastie Boys - "Intergalactic"
  • Snoop Dogg - "I Want To Love You"
  • Elvis Costello with Jenny Lewis and Her Sound - "Go Away"
  • Ben Harper and Relentless7 - "Fly One Time"
  • Andrew Bird - "Fitz and the Dizzspells"
  • The Decemberists - "The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid"
  • Del McCoury Band - "Moneyland"
  • Coheed and Cambria - "Welcome Home"
  • Amadou & Miriam - "Masiteladi"
  • Santigold - "LES Artistes"
  • Zac Brown Band - "Who Knows"
  • Passion Pit - "Little Secrets"
  • Raphael Saadiq - "Keep Marching"
  • Cage the Elephant - "Ain't No Rest"

Fantasy To Release Creedence Clearwater Revival CD/DVD Collection

On November 3, Fantasy Records will release The Singles Collection, a two-CD, one-DVD box with a slip case, containing all of the band's U.S. singles -- 30 songs in all. Top 5 smashes like "Bad Moon Rising," "Green River," "Down on the Corner," "Travelin' Band," "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Run Through the Jungle," "Up Around the Bend," "Long As I Can See the Light" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door" are joined by seldom-heard singles that never charted, like "Porterville" and "Call It Pretending" on Fantasy's Scorpio subsidiary, and later singles "Tearin' Up the Country" and "45 Revolutions Per Minute [Parts 1 & 2]."

The 30 songs, (which are presented in their original single mixes, many of them in mono -- are making their CD debut), housed on two CDs, will be joined by a DVD containing four never-before-available, long-pre-MTV music videos of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," "Bootleg," "I Put a Spell on You" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door."

Also included in the package is a poster featuring the dozens of international single sleeves, along with a 16-page booklet with liner notes by former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres, who lived and wrote in the Bay Area during CCR's golden half-decade.

A limited edition collectors' version of The Singles Collection -- featuring actual vinyl 45 rpm singles with reproductions of the original Fantasy label design and housed in their rare picture sleeves -- will also be available.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beatles Release Companion Books For Remastered Catalog

A companion book to The Beatles' remastered back catalog has been released just in time for Christmas. The Beatles Box Of Vision is a collection of three books, one of which includes storage space for every Beatles CD.

The first book in the collection is an LP-sized, 200-page collection of original Beatles album artwork, while the second features a 'Catalography' of the Fab Four's career, including photos and notes. The third and final book provides fans with the space to store the digi-packs that house the remastered CD versions of the Beatles' back catalog. The collection is on sale from Boxofvision.com and Harddaysnightshop.com.

The package was designed by Jonathan Polk, who served as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for Capitol Records when The Beatles' released Love, Let It Be...Naked and The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 1 And Vol. 2. "It's the ultimate fan piece," Polk said in a statement.

Monday, October 12, 2009

After The Beatles, U2 Now Wants Its Own Game

Don’t think that the success of The Beatles: Rock Band escaped the attention of rock legends U2. The Irish mega-band’s tours ooze with computers and big-spectacle props like the cylindrical video screen on their 2009 360° tour. Syncing up a few songs with a guitar controller may seem antiquated by comparison to a few of the stages they’ve assembled, but U2 definitely want an in to music gaming.

“We definitely would like to be in there, but we felt some of the compromises weren’t what we wanted,” U2 bassist Adam Clayton says. “That could change.”

Video games have become a hot new way for musicians to sell their wares in an age where conventional sales and retail chains have dwindled. So while U2 obviously have high standards for the level of animation and rendering that would need to go into such a project, they are certainly business-savvy enough to understand that they could make a few dollars under the right circumstances.

Zappa Vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock To Release Vintage Live Recordings

This December, Frank Zappa vocalist and 2008 Grammy Award recipient Napoleon Murphy Brock plans to release This Is What Frank Zappa Heard - Just In Case You Were Wondering - Live At The Red Noodle In Waikiki, Hawaii, a CD of vintage live recordings.

Zappa fans are only too aware of Brock's vocals, sax and flute on Zappa albums like Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, Bongo Fury and Thing Fish, not to mention his work with keyboardist and fellow Zappa alumni George Duke, as well as the recent incarnation of the Grande Mothers Re-invented.

On August 8th, 1973, Zappa was in Hawaii and alerted by his road manager Marty Perellis that a local band with an incredible lead singer was performing to standing room only audiences, and that it might be wise that he come and see this for himself. When Zappa went to the club and watched the show, he witnessed a young talent singing, dancing, playing sax, flute and keyboards, in a manner that made it appear he was having more fun than even the other patrons in the club. After two hours of observing and listening to this young man and his very disciplined band of musicians, he introduced himself as Frank Zappa, and the young man introduced himself as Napoleon Murphy Brock. The next words out of Zappa’s mouth were, "You are my new lead vocalist."

"As I understand it, he had just finished touring Australia, and they were getting ready to go to Europe a week or two after that," recalls Brock. "And he was taking a little break. He stopped off in Hawaii for a week or so. And his road manager Marty Perellis set Frank up in a hotel and then went out walking around in Hawaii probably to see if he could get lucky or something! If you want a good time, what better place to do it than in Hawaii? Hawaii is literally paradise."

"Marty came into the club and saw us playing but didn't recognize us, because no one knew about us except the club owners that hired us and the people who came to see us," Brock continues. "He ran back to the hotel, woke Frank up and said, 'Hey, get your clothes on, I just found your new lead vocalist.'"

Brock joined Zappa's group in October 1973 and remained until 1976.

This Is What Frank Zappa Heard - Just In Case You Were Wondering - Live At The Red Noodle In Waikiki, Hawaii was taped on on August 8th, 1973, and has been digitally enhanced with the final mix completed in Hamburg, Germany. Some of the songs covered include Harry Nilsson's "Coconut", Carole King's "So Far Away", James Brown's "Make It Funky" and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." The CD is currently available for pre-order from Napoleon Brock's official Web site.

Napoleon Brock will be playing with keyboardist and fellow Zappa alumni George Duke on October 31 at the Amsterdam Jazz Festival. The ensemble will be backed by the Metropole Orchestra. The music will consist of original compositions written by Duke and Murphy. For more information, go to the Amsterdam Jazz Festival Web site.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

After The Police, Stewart Copeland Feels Lovely

Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police, has always had a few choice, four-letter words for his bandmate Sting. And while that is not news for fans of the 1980s megagroup, his new word may be. It is "love."

Copeland is currently touting Strange Things Happen, his new autobiography that spans his 57 years from learning to beat on drums to The Police reunion of 2007/2008.

Still, Copeland being who he is and his relationship with the bassist he calls "Stingo" being what it is, the idea of love is not arrived at easily. In fact, it is preceded by words like "claw" at his mate's neck or worse, "murder" him.

"The Police is not a cozy place. We push and prod and challenge each other. We rattle each other's cage," Copeland says.

Yet, he is quick to explain that all the conflict that led to their bitter breakup 20 years ago is not rooted in the sort of deep-seated animosity that fans may assume, given their history. Rather, they are artists who often have different visions but who share the same passion for music.

Born of the creative need to get their songs right, The Police ushered into the musical arena their own blend of reggae- and punk-infused pop hits such as "Roxanne," "Message in a Bottle" and "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic."

"I don't think there is anything to hide in the story I have to tell," Copeland said. "I think it's pretty clear to the reader, the love and respect I have for my two colleagues (Sting and guitarist Andy Summers).

"I use some pretty colorful language to describe them because they are pretty colorful characters."

Copeland is the first to say there is no mystery to him, nor deep introspection that comes from "Strange Things Happen." But upon a close read, fans discern that great art -- whether music, books, painting or theater -- is born from a combination of training, talent, luck, passion and sometimes conflict.

In Copeland's case, he had them all, but none of it came together in quite the way it did when The Police took the stage. The band formed in the late 1970s as punk rock was taking hold in clubs in London and New York, and after a lot of hard work and some experimentation, great music flowed.

Individually, however, the trio differed in the way they heard and felt music, and their arguments led to a bitter breakup in the late 1980s.

All that history has been covered before. Copeland even made a documentary movie about it in 2006, "Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out." What his fans may not know is how Copeland's changed after The Police, which is what "Strange Things Happen" truly addresses.

There is Copeland's work composing musical scores for movies and operas; his playing with musicians in Italy and other countries; his adventures in tribal African and his life as a husband and father of seven kids living in Los Angeles.

What emerges is a picture of an artist as an everyday guy -- a sort of "everyday Joe" for music fans and artists.

Yet, always hanging over Copeland's adulthood is the long arm of The Police, and in 2007, the old group reunites.

"I can take not one more word from you about anything," Copeland writes about his thoughts when listening to Sting complain in their first rehearsals.

"Do not even make eye contact with me, let alone make another suggestion about how I would play my drums ... you (expletive) piece of (expletive.)," he writes.

After the tour starts, things get better. Then, they get worse, before getting better, then worse once again.

The tour, which encompassed 151 shows worldwide, sold over 3 million tickets and took in $358 million. Fans loved it.

"Here's the thing: we wouldn't be any good at music unless we cared a lot about it," Copeland said. "We really care that we go out there and terrify the world, that we slash and burn. It's really important to us. That's why we start shouting."
Strange Things Happen is on bookshelves now.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

For Springsteen And Giants Stadium, A Last Dance

Giants Stadium heard its last sha-la-las — at least, the amplified kind with tens of thousands of voices singing along — on Friday night (October 10), when Bruce Springsteen played the final concert before the stadium is demolished.

During the three-hour set, sha-la-las filled this year’s “Working on a Dream,” the 1984 song “Darlington County” and Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl,” the finale that Springsteen called the stadium’s “last dance.” It was his 24th performance, dating back to 1985, at Giants Stadium, where the audiences are his most fervent fans: fellow New Jerseyans.

So in a way, the Boss could identify with the place, and he did — at least half-seriously — in “Wrecking Ball,” a robust, guitar-strumming song he wrote to start off each of his five final concerts at the stadium.

It may be the only song ever to make Giants Stadium itself the narrator, “raised out of steel in the swamps of Jersey.” It remembers games played and blood spilled, and envisions the stadium’s fate, when “all this steel and these stories, they drift away to rust/and all our youth and beauty’s been given to the dust.” Typically, Springsteen was thinking about work, mortality, and a sense of place, on his way to a chorus where everyone could join in.

He wasn’t overly sentimental. Later, he pointedly called Giants Stadium “the last bastion of affordable sports seating.”

At each of the Giants Stadium concerts, Springsteen played one of his albums all the way through, and the one he chose for Friday was his 1984 blockbuster, “Born in the U.S.A.” Before he started the title track, he said it was “the song we started out with the first time we entered this arena.”

The album inaugurated Springsteen’s stadium era, when he strove to draw mass audiences, though still on his own terms. Born In The U.S.A. is an album of big riffs and broad strokes. It was also an album about home: a country (the U.S.A.), a hometown (“My Hometown”), and houses holding personal memories. And it was a paradox.

The lyrics, by and large, are about hard times and irreparable losses. Springsteen had hits with “Born In The U.S.A.,” about a neglected Vietnam veteran, and “Dancing In The Dark,” about depression with the barest glimmer of hope. Yet most of the music is celebratory, brazening through setbacks with rock and roll: theRolling Stones twang of “Darlington County,” the merry carousel-organ chords of “Glory Days,” or the rockabilly boogie of “Working on the Highway,” which ends with its narrator in prison.

The musicians who made “Born in the U.S.A.” are all still in Springsteen’s E Street Band except for keyboardist Danny Federici, who died last year. The concert had no celebrity guest performers; this was the home team.

Performing the album 25 years later, Springsteen sang with deeper nuance; he was more desperate in “Born in the U.S.A.,” angrier in “I’m Goin’ Down.” And the band has slightly bulked up the music without cluttering it. There was a seismic drum interlude by Max Weinberg in “Born in the U.S.A.,” and Nils Lofgren played frantic, searing guitar solos in “Cover Me.” The songs have not faded.

The rest of the concert spanned Springsteen’s major-label career, reaching back to “Spirit in the Night” from his 1973 debut album. It reaffirmed the band’s camaraderie; Springsteen kissed both Patti Scialfa, his wife and E Street backup singer, and Clarence Clemons, the band’s saxophonist. The set riffled through styles, from the swinging “Kitty’s Back” (with Roy Bittan splashing jazzy piano chords and Mr. Springsteen playing barbed, bluesy lead guitar), to

the Irish jig of “American Land,” to chiming anthems like “Badlands.”

There was a glimpse of politics, in “Last To Die,” and a rush of redemption in “The Rising” and “Born To Run” (which had Jay Weinberg, Max’s son and occasional E Street Band replacement, on drums.) And there was the constantly renewed bond between Mr. Springsteen and his audience. He strolled walkways where fans grabbed his legs, he picked up signs with requests — choosing “the perfect request for this evening,” the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time” — and he crowd-surfed in “Hungry Heart.” The video screens kept intercutting Springsteen and the musicians with fans singing, verses and choruses, as if to say the songs were theirs now, too.

They were songs full of hardworking people, and Springsteen’s last goodbye to his home stadium was to them: he dedicated “Jersey Girl” to “all the crew and staff that’s worked all these years at Giants Stadium.” Some had probably been singing “sha-la-la” too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

NYC’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Annex Honors John Lennon’s Birthday

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex in New York City is offering fans free admission on October 9 and 10 to provide the ideal place to pay special tribute to legendary artist, John Lennon on what would have been his 69th birthday.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC showcases rare artifacts from legendary artists including Springsteen, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and its featured exhibit, John Lennon: The New York City Years.

John Lennon: The New York City Years represents a decade of freedom in New York City during the era of love, peace and rock and roll.

The exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Yoko Ono, wife and widow of Lennon. The exhibit is on loan to the Annex by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. and was curated by Ono and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs, Jim Henke.

The exhibit includes a selection of rare artifacts, films and photos as well as exclusive New York-centric additions provided by Yoko Ono.

For tickets on all other days, go to www.rockannex.com.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Carly Simon Planning First Ever Shows In Europe

"Anticipation," indeed. Singer/songwriter Carly Simon is planning to play concert dates in Europe early next year for the first time in her 38-year career, she announced.

Times and places are still being worked out, but she expects to perform at small venues beginning in January, to promote her upcoming acoustic album Never Been Gone.

"I'm going to do what Elvis should have done," Simon said, referring to the King of Rock 'n' Roll's noted failure to perform across the Atlantic. "I like to play small places, because I'm much better in an intimate setting than I am in a large hall where I can't see everybody. I really like to see the people that I'm singing to."

Simon, 64, has largely eschewed public performances, thanks to a ruinous combination of stage fright and fear of flying. To coincide with the album's October 27 release in the United States, she plans to leave her home on the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Boston, to perform in New York on both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today.

Appearances on CBS' Late Show With David Letterman -- "when he gets himself together" -- and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report are also on the cards. A swing among the West Coast talk shows will depend on whether there's "energy" around the record, she said.

Never Been Gone, which is coming out on her son Ben Taylor's Iris Records label, offers freshly arranged home recordings of Simon's big hits, including "You're So Vain," "Anticipation" and "The Right Thing To Do". It also includes two new tunes, "No Freedom" and "Songbird."

"I had a great time doing it, and I hope I have a great time promoting it," Simon said. "I feel as if there's a very good energy around it. But commercially, I'm not expecting very much from it."

Simon's previous album, This Kind of Love, her first recording of new material in nine years, was released in April 2008 through Starbucks' Hear Music label. But the coffee giant exited the music business days before it hit stores, leaving Simon in "a really bad funk" when the album fell between the cracks.

Jon Anderson: "It's Not Respectful" For Yes To Tour Without Him

Yes singer Jon Anderson says it's "inappropriate and not respectful to the fans" for Yes to tour without him. Despite recent health problems, he's fit and able to rejoin the band for their current tour. But they'd made other plans.

The prog giants are on the road with former Yes tribute singer Benoit David in Anderson's place. The lineup also features Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White, with Rick Wakeman's son Oliver on keyboards.

But Anderson, whose serious respiratory problems forced the band to cancel their 40th anniversary tour last year, says fans who buy tickets to see Yes are expecting to hear him sing and it's misleading for the band with David to use the name.

"I'd actually been ill for about five years and it got to the point where I couldn't continue," Anderson says. "I had to take a complete break - and ended up having six operations.

"The band recruited a guy from a Canadian Yes tribute band and went on the road with him. I felt they could have waited until I'd recovered.

"I said to them I was available, but they said they were contracted to Benoit. It's a complicated situation.

"I think it's inappropriate and not respectful to the fans. People have bought tickets thinking I'm performing on the tour.

"I would like everybody to know that, as much as I wish the band well, they should not tour as Yes. The fans should be advised that I'm not part of the tour."

Yes state on their website that Anderson is not on tour with them. The band have endured a stack of lineup changes since they formed in 1968, with bassist Squire the only member who's always been there. But they've enjoyed their most successful eras with Anderson at the mic.

Anderon's currently working on three albums' worth of material, including a sequel to his 1976 concept release Olias of Sunhillow. He also has plans to work with Wakeman again soon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grateful Dead Headed To New York Historical Exhibition

Next March, the New-York Historical Society will stage what is billed as the “first large-scale exhibition of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive.” Drawn from the Archive housed at the University of California Santa Cruz, The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society, is being billed as a history lesson of the Grateful Dead, its music, and their phenomenal impact and popularity with a wide selection of original art, posters, banners, props and other relics.

According to the New-York Historical Society web site, the exhibition will look at how the Dead's origins in northern California in the 1960s was an amalgamation of the Beat Generation and the Hippie scene. It will also touch on the band's iconoclastic approach to the recording industry, which served as both a curse and a blessing during the Dead's 30-year run.

Of course, this being New York. the Dead's days in the city will be examined, with glimpses into early dates at Greenwich Village coffeehouses, impromptu performances in Central Park and at Columbia University during the 1968 Student Strike; to concerts at the Fillmore East, the Academy of Music and the 46th Street Rock Palace in Brooklyn during the 1970s; and, ultimately, to concert events at larger halls and stadiums such as Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and Giants Stadium.

Before the March opening, a special fund-raising event where art, artifacts and documents from the Archive will be previewed is to take place on October 21 at the New-York Historical Society. Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are expected to attend. For more information, send an e-mail to rsvp@nyhistory.org.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Has Neil Diamond Been Dissed By The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Jon Bream, author of the new book, Neil Diamond Is Forever: The Illustrated History of The Man and His Music, wants to tackle that “egregious oversight” with YOU and your audience!

According to Bream, who's been the pop music critic at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for 35 years: "The elitist club that runs the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t think Neil Diamond is hip enough to even be considered for induction. I say put him on the ballot and let the voters decide. His credentials are more impressive and compelling than those of many inductees. He has written hits for the Monkees, Smashmouth and many others as well as for himself. He’s scored 12 top 10 singles in the ‘60s ‘70s and ‘80s. In this decade, he has worked with the hippest producer around, Rick Rubin, for two albums with a third in the works. His music has been widely influential, and he’s beloved by two generations of music lovers.

"Look at the stars that turned out to honor him at the Grammys gala in February – Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Adele, Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Cornell and even Kid Rock. At age 68, Neil satisfies his crowd better than Bob Dylan, Elton John or Rod Stewart do theirs. And they’d be envious of his 3.6million tickets sold since 2001. Neil has been the uncrowned king of pop for five decades.

"The snobs on the Hall of Fame nominating committee finally put Kiss on the ballot this fall. I say put Neil Diamond on the ballot. I’ll vote for him and I’m sure many, many other voters will, too. See you at Neil’s induction ceremony to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

Check out Vintage Rock's interview with Jon Bream, as well as a review of his new book, Neil Diamond Is Forever: The Illustrated History of The Man and His Music.

KISS Army Worldwide: The Ultimate Fanzine Phenomenon To Coincide With Tour

In celebration of releasing Sonic Boom, their first studio album in 11 years, KISS has pushed up the release of their book KISS Army Worldwide: The Ultimate Fanzine Phenomenon to coincide with their North American tour.

KISS fans everywhere can get an inside look and visual history told through concert photos and fanzines chronicling the group from their beginnings in the 1970s right up to today. The book features previously unpublished photos, fanzine covers and other shared memorabilia from both the fans and the band.

The book also includes commentary from Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who provide insight on topics such as the rock and roll DIY aspect of fanzines, how these fanzines contributed to the band’s evolution, as well as the band’s appreciation of their faithful fans. There are also interviews with members of the KISS Army from all over the world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jethro Tull's 1978 Madison Square Garden Concert To Be Released

On October 20, Virgin/EMI will release a classic Jethro Tull concert for the first time on DVD, CD and online. Filmed and recorded live in New York City on October 14, 1978, Jethro Tull: Live At Madison Square Garden 1978 features more than 90 minutes of music and video presented in 5.1 surround.

Documented during Tull's Heavy Horses tour, Jethro Tull: Live At Madison Square Garden 1978, includes stellar performances of many of the band's most popular songs, including “Aqualung,” “Locomotive Breath,” “Songs From The Wood,” “Thick As A Brick,” “Heavy Horses” and many more. This concert also marked the first time a rock act was beamed live from America on British television.

Over the course of over 40 years, Jethro Tull has released 30 studio and live albums, selling more than 60 million copies since the band first performed at London's famous Marquee club. Tull's founder, the influential singer and flautist Ian Anderson, will tour to 20 U.S. cities in October and November, following a tour of the U.K.

Beatles, Jackson Bring "Help" To Music Business

Renewed interest in the Beatles and Michael Jackson slowed the decline of U.S. album sales in the third quarter, although the industry is still on track to fall for the eighth time in nine years.

Sales were off 11.1% compared with the same period in 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan. After the second quarter, sales were down 14.7% compared with the first half of 2008.

So far album sales are down 13.9% this year. Total album sales fell 14 percent in 2008.

Music retailers are hoping that the continued performance of Jackson and Beatles albums and a strong fourth-quarter release schedule will continue to make up lost ground.

During the quarter, Jackson's June 25 death fueled sales of about 5 million units, and the September 9 re-release of the Beatles catalog has sold 1.3 million units so far.

So far this year 11 albums have topped the 1 million-unit mark, the same number as in 2008. In 2008, the top seller was Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, at 2.5 million units; this year's top seller is Jackson's Number Ones, at 1.8 million units.

In terms of genre sales, the Latin category leads the decliners so far this year, with a 35.1% slump to 12.6 million units. Rock sales dropped 11.5% to 88.1 million units. R&B (which includes rap) fell 6.6% to 51.4 million units. Country was off just 1.7% to 30.3 million units

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Queen Book Packed With Photos, Memorabilia

Voyageur Press has joined forces with renowned British rock journalist Phil Sutcliffe (Mojo, Los Angeles Times) for Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History Of The Crown Kings Of Rock. This beautifully packaged book, a perfect balance of photos and text, arrives on November 15, and retraces the history of this massively popular and influential group.

Brimming with more than 400 photographs and pieces of memorabilia — including concert programs, posters, domestic and foreign 45 singles, LPs, backstage passes, ticket stubs, and more — Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History Of The Crown Kings Of Rock also includes a discography and commentary from dozens of admiring musicians and performers. The result is a complete and captivating portrait of this larger-than-life group, one that captures and celebrates Queen, one of popular music’s most successful recording artists of all time.

Fronted by the unforgettable Freddie Mercury, Queen almost single-handedly created the common phrase “arena rock,” with mammoth tours, stage shows, costumes, and such classic anthems as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Under Pressure” (with David Bowie), and “Radio Gaga.”

Nearly two decades after Mercury’s tragic death in 1991, Queen has retained an enormous global fan base. The band’s music continues to live on -- both in film (Wayne’s World) and as a major influence on other artists (Lady Gaga supposedly modeled her nom de plum after Queen’s aforementioned “Radio Gaga”), while original members Brian May and Roger Taylor recently reunited with singer Paul Rodgers (Bad Company, Free) to take Queen out on the road once more on a pair world tours, as well as recording the CD, The Cosmos Rocks.

As of 2005, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums had spent a total of 1,322 weeks or 27 years on the United Kingdom album charts; more time than any other musical act - including the Beatles and Elvis Presley. As of 2006, Queen had sold in excess of 300 million records, singles, videos and DVDs worldwide.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Paul McCartney To Unleash 'Good Evening New York City' Set

Paul McCartney's historic three-night musical christening of New York's Citi Field, witnessed by 120,000-plus attendees, will be immortalized November 17 when Hear Music/Concord Music Group releases Good Evening New York City.

This momentous musical experience will be available in two formats: a 3-disc (2 CD + 1 DVD) standard edition and a 4-disc (2 CD + 2 DVD) deluxe version featuring expanded packaging and a bonus DVD including McCartney's traffic-stopping, headline-making July 15 performance on the Ed Sullivan Theater marquee (including bonus numbers not aired on the Late Show with David Letterman broadcast).
The set will also be made available in high quality vinyl.

In any configuration, the 30+ songs and nearly three hours of music comprising Good Evening New York City are a must-have for attendees wishing to relive the July 17, 18 and 21 shows, those who couldn't get tickets and/or anyone interested in an audiovisual document of a living legend.

As the inaugural musical event at Citi Field, the site of the former Shea Stadium, the July 2009 shows held special significance not only for McCartney but for generations of his fans. The shows were performed on the same hallowed ground that The Beatles, in 1965, played the 34-minute show that would set the precedent for the modern day stadium rock show -- and where in 2008 McCartney joined Billy Joel for the final rock show before the original stadium's demolition.

As documented on Good Evening New York City, "I'm Down" from the 1965 set list was revived for the Citi Field shows, albeit this time played through a PA that was not overpowered by screaming fans (though there were still several thousand who tried). Other highlights of the set include faithful takes on Beatles classics "Drive My Car," "Got To Get You Into My Life," "The Long And Winding Road," "Blackbird," "Eleanor Rigby," "Back In The USSR," "Paperback Writer," "Let It Be," "Hey Jude," "Helter Skelter" and more, plus "Something" rendered on ukulele gifted to Paul by George Harrison, and a tribute to John Lennon in the form of a medley of "A Day In The Life" and "Give Peace A Chance."

Wings era chestnuts include “Band On The Run," "My Love," "Let Me Roll It" and the pyrotechnic tour de force of "Live And Let Die," while timeless McCartney solo material ranges from "Here Today" to the upbeat "Flaming Pie" and "Dance Tonight" to a pair of numbers from Electric Arguments, the 2008 album released under the alias of The Fireman.

The concert footage featured on Good Evening New York City standard edition features concert footage directed by Paul Becher, who has overseen live visuals for McCartney for some 200 performances and counting. The 33-song, 2-hour, 40-minute performances were shot in high definition using 15 cameras and digital footage incorporated from 75 Flipcams handed out to fans over the course of the three night stand. The audio mix, in both stereo and 5.1, was handled by longtime McCartney engineer Paul Hicks, whose credits include the recent Beatles remasters, The Beatles Anthology, Let It Be... Naked and two Grammy awards for his mixing work on the Beatles' Love album.

The deluxe edition bonus DVD will feature footage of McCartney's July 15 performance on the outdoor marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater, previously available only as a webcast on the Late Show with David Letterman website. The marquee set, which marked McCartney's return to the site of The Beatles U.S. television debut, generated front page headlines and literally stopped traffic as word of mouth generated a crowd that packed Broadway from Columbus Circle to Times Square.