Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Hits

I have 2 Rhino comps of Halloween music. Scary background noise, TV themes and actual hit songs. So here are my favorite Halloween songs. Taken from both comps and without doing too much research elsewhere. In other words, not definitive but what the hell.
Ghostbusters - Ray Parker
Haunted House - Jumpin Gene Simmons
Monster Mash - Bobby Pickett
I Put A Spell On You - Sreamin Jay Hawkins
Themes from Twilight Zone and Addams Family
Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
I Was A Teenage Werewolf - Cramps
Purple People Eater - Sheb Wolley

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fans Love 'Em, Critics Hate 'Em

Jon Bon Jovi is looking for any avenue he can to sell a new record. No longer an automatic add on radio, he needs a platform for new his albums. So, he's pimping himself out to NBC for a whole bunch of promotions Jon Bon Jovi Finally Gets Respect As An Artist « Idolator: Music News, Reviews
And why not? Older acts don't sell records anymore. Do you remember that Dylan and Springsteen released albums in 2009? Sure the die-hards buy them, but the fringe buyer just yawns. So he goes on QVC or HSN and hawks his stuff to that older demographic. Nothing wrong with that.
But what I really love about Bon Jovi is that "serious" critics have been hating on them for years. But they won't go away. The Dave Marsh's of the world hate the band. Keep thinking they'll disappear. But Jon Bon Jovi knows how to sell his catalog of hits to new generations. His upcoming World Tour will sell out, even though his albums don't sell.
But it's all about keeping the brand name out there. And since he'll never go away, snobby rock critics will just have to live with it. And that's why I love Bon Jovi.
Also worth noting is the Showtime documentary of their 2008 Worl Tour, in which JBJ proves to be the driving force and leader behind this big corporate Rock band.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Garth In Dreamland

Poor Garth Brooks. Still thinks this is 1992 when the Record Industry crammed their over bloated albums down the consumer's throat. A couple of good songs, lots of filler and high prices. The Industry told consumers too bad. If you want the single, you'll have to cough up for the whole thing.
Brooks still lives in this era. In this article to publicize his so-called comeback he rails against the RIAA giving in to Itunes (who he calls "sweet") for selling singles for 99cents. No Brooks wants that price higher, and also won't go on Itunes unless he gets an album-download only deal.
I loved the Garth of the 90's. Thought he was artist of that decade. But now he's out of step. Taking money from a Vegas casino to run through his old songs is okay. And charging high ticket prices is fine by him. But giving the Country consumer a nice price on music isn't.
I wished he had stayed "retired".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Playlist for 10/28

Hall & Oates - Box Set
Soulsville sings Hitsville
Stax Does The Beatles
Aretha Franklin - Rare and Unreleased Recordings
Nellie McKay-Normal As Blueberry Pie

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rawk and Roll!

The Australian Band Wolfmother's 2nd album, Cosmic Egg, will have some people howling the same things they did after their first album came out: derivative, copy-cats, recycled Zep/Cream riffs. But hasn't Rock and Roll always recycled itself? Zeppelin took from the Blues, the Stones from R&B and the Beatles from American Rock and Roll of the late 50's.
Lead singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale knows how to win you over. Pummel the doubters with enough hooks that they will succumb. But Stockdale is no show off. He's a great guitarist but he respects his era. And while I'm no doubter, I get it. This is meat and potatoes Rawk like we got in the 70's. Lyics? It's not about them. Castles, the Sun, Kingdoms you know the reat. But I bow to their thump, and hope the doubters never get in the way of this monster truck.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monty Python

When George Carlin died, I blogged that he and other 70's comics were like comedy rock stars. Charting albums regularly. Their albums played a big part in growing up in that decade. Monty Python may have played a lesser role, but their albums did help them cultivate its following. The recent, excellent 6 part IFC documentary on Python had a little bit of information on this. Songs played an important role in Python's shows and movies. They didn't sell like Carlin, Pryor, Cheech or Martin, but the College kids who found them were the ones who made Python cult favorites and then later on just plain stars in the U.S.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Other Thing

One other thing about the Beatles box set: the packaging. I'm not a big fan of cardboard, and getting the CD's out required some delicate maneuvering. Most of the time, if it's a record I like, and it comes in cardboard, I'll replace it with a jewel case. With this Beatles set I had to double check everything to make sure there were no scuffs. Only found 1 but the CD played fine. And I've also decided once and for all to keep my original 1987 CD's. Besides the first four of those are in mono, so I get a quarter of the mono box.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Joss Stone

I don't have every studio album by the Rolling Stones, missing some of the later stuff, but I have all 4 albums by Joss Stone. A white Brit girl who loves our Soul music, Stone keeps pumping out albums even though she's never had a big single, or even a hit single. But she's well known. She pops up on a lot of tribute shows, awards shows or just plain music specials. She's like the female John Legend or Brian McKnight.
But the girl has the goods. She can sing, and sing Soul real good. Her latest Colour Me Free is worth your trouble as well. It's probably her best overall album, although its too long at 52 minutes. Trim 3 songs and she has an excellent album instead of a pretty good one. What all this means is that I'll probably be back for album #5, although I could wait for her inevitable greatest hits album, which will have lots of potential. Just like Stone.

Call It A Comeback

The latest singer to come out of "retirement" is Garth Brooks, who plans on hanging out in Vegas and doing weekly shows. I stress the word "retirement" because Brooks never did retire. In 2000 he said he would, saying he wanted to watch his children grow. But in the last 9 years he kept doing what he did before 2000. Except make an album or do long tours. In 2007 he played some shows. He also recorded some new songs for a Greatest Hits album. He popped up on TV specials.
But musicians are like boxers. They say they will but never do retire. Eminem and Jay-Z retired. Unfortunately Eminem didn't keep his word. Tina Turner retired. Then did a world tour. In the 70's Frank Sinatra retired for a couple of years. The R word is an easy excuse for musicians to slink away for a year or two, then make a dramatic return.
Brooks is just the latest example of stars who miss all the adulation that comes with being a celebrity. They also miss the money. I don't know Brooks' financial situation, but I'm guessing he's not making as much money as he did when he stopped in 2000. The same with all these rappers.
So, money plus ego equals a comeback. Let the adulation begin again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hip Hop Honors

The best part of last week's VH1 Hip Hop Honors were the reminiscences by people who put together the honoree, Def Jam Records. And it was those rap's that stood out for me in the show. This was Hip Hop before the cartoonish gangsta that now drags the genre down. Some day Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin will get into the Rock Hall for founding Def Jam.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playlist for 10/21

This one was easy:

Beatles - Stereo Box Set

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pack Rats

There's a site from England Pop FreakyTrigger that is reviewing and commenting on every #1 British single. I sometimes add my 2 cents, usually where the song peaked on the U.S. charts. But one thing I've noticed is how there is a pack mentality to this site. If the moderator, who reviews these #1's doesn't like it, most of the board won't either. But not me. I seem to be liking more stuff than him and the board. "I Want To Know What Love Is", "We Are The World", the cheesier "Dancing In The Street" from Bowie/Jagger. All panned, all liked by me.
For a contrast go to I Love Music which is U.S. moderated and has a ton of topics to comment on. The same board had a running one on "We Are The World" and the Foreigner song and most people liked it.
Maybe it's a U.S. vs. Britain chart thing. Because most of their #1's didn't hit #1 (or even hit at all) in the States. So, I'm going to continue to stick my neck out and just go with own feelings. Pack be damned.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nightmare Is Over

My long national nightmare is over. I finally got the Beatles stereo box, and for $180 from Amazon. The wait was worth it. It's punchier than the old discs. And the discs now look and sound like something from the 21st Century. But I'm not getting rid of my 1987 discs. I also don't care too much for the DVD's about each album, since they are mostly taken from the Anthology TV series. Newbies might enjoy it, but I'll probably never play them again. The new liner notes are a good idea, because the old booklets were terrible. All in all a good investment. Now how about releasing Live at the Hollywood Bowl?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Mom's 80th

Happy 80th Birthday to my Mom, who while not the music fan as my Dad was a big fan of Elvis, Tom Jones, Engelbert and a lot of German Pop singers. Liking Engelbert or Neil Diamond wasn't a Guilty Pleasure to her or my Dad. And I think appreciating all kinds of music, Popular or Underground, is what makes me sympatetic to fans of a Celine Dion or Michael Bolton. Because my parents were just like them when I was small.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

NPR's Best Voices

NPR wants its listeners to chip in with their picks for best Voices in Music history. They plan on putting a Top 50 together. I'm not expecting too many surprises. Rolling Stone did one of these years ago.
My own list would include Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Rod Stewart, Ray CharlesElla Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr., etc., etc. I think all but Haggard and Stewart will get on the NPR one.
Anyway go here to read about it: Voices

Friday, October 16, 2009

If Abba, then....

If Abba gets in the Rock Hall, will that open the door for other "Pop" oriented artists like Hall & Oates or Neil Diamond? The last may be a long shot. Listen to this WNYC - Soundcheck: Smackdown, which has a Rock Hall voter on it talking about the "elitist" Nominating Committee keeping Diamond out. He's right, we all know that.
But if Abba can get in this year, I think other acts like them have a better chance. Now don't get me wrong, we won't see the Carpenters get nominated. It has to be an act that either critics like or have had some musical longevity that the snobs at the Hall can't avoid. That's what happened this year with Kiss (a non-Pop act, I know), but now is happening with Abba. So, let's root for them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Is it

If "This Is It" was the first release of a new Michael Jackson album, it wouldn't get much airplay. Publicity, yes. But the song, which was co-written in 1983 for a Paul Anka album, and then renamed "I Never Heard" in 1991 by a female singer isn't anything great, but I will admit that the creamy sound and the backing vocals do remind me of his early 80's work. And that's a good thing. Anyway, all the publicity in the world wouldn't have won many skeptics over on this song. But collectors and completists will eat it up. That's what happens when you die young.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Playlist for 10/14

Rosanne Cash - Hit List
Robert Earl Keen - Rose Hotel
Mark Knopfler - Get Lucky
Mika - Boy Who Knew Too Much

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recycled Goods

The greatest thing about the Internet is that it gave me a chance to find other music writers who I've never heard of, or should I say, don't remember.
Tom Hull designed the website for Robert Christgau and Hull's own grading of albums and writing's is just like Christgau's. But Hull's specialty is Jazz.
I have his site bookmarked and sometimes I wonder why. He follows Christgau's reviews and opinions too easily. But I do like his off and on Recycled Goods column, which looks at reissues and comps. Christgau used to do this every Christmas, but hasn't since leaving the Village Voice.
Anyway, Hull isn't an essential music critic, but bookmark his site, it will at least keep you interested in Jazz.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Non-Com's

Reading Twitter posts from Rock Hall Nominating Committee Members Robert Hilburn and Toure, I'm beginning to wonder how seriously this whole yearly meeting is. Hilburn says he sent in his picks, but judging by them, not one got on the ballot. Hell, somebody asked him who would make a good Early Influence/Sideman inductee and he came up with nothing. Toure says his main job was to champion LL Cool J. No other name was brought forward by him. It can't be all haphazard. The final ballot is always a mix of genres. Which means somebody is overlooking the whole process. Yet they always come up with B-list nominees: Laura Nyro, the Chantels, Darlene Love, Jimmy Cliff.
What I'm trying to say is that the whole process is getting staid. I'm big on adding a whole new set of 30 Nominating Committee members every 3 or 5 years. Yes, there are 30 people (or "experts", if you will), scattered throughout the world, who can easily fill slots every few years. Why keep Little Steven or Hilbun or or Seymour Stein or Dave Marsh or Robbie Robertson as NomCom members when all we're going to get from them are the same staid choices. And how did Paul Shaffer get on this committee? Do you realize that Hilburn has been on the committee since 1986! It took these Non-Com's until 2009 to finally nominate a Prog-Rock group! There is an arrogance to it all. A genre like Prog didn't register on their radar, because it wasn't critically acclaimed. But it's a popular genre. So the Non-Com's have pretended that it doesn't exist, until this year. You want Rush, Neil Diamond, Roxy Music, the Smiths, Alice Cooper, Yes, Barry White, the Spinners (my personal fave), ELO or Willie Nelson on the ballot? None of whom have ever been nominated. Get fresh voices who can argue their worth. Why aren't critics/Pop music experts like Rob Sheffield, Chuck Eddy or Sasha Frere-Jones on the committee? And I know I'm missing some African-American critics, too. Until then, we'll have to wait forever, like we did this year with Kiss and Genesis, for these people to get to overlooked artists that have been eligible for years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rooting For Anvil the Movie...but

Is it possible to enjoy a documentary but not enjoy the bands music. It's definitely possible to enjoy a doc, but not its subject. So, I've answered my own question. The Story of Anvil is a great doc, but the bands music still didn't make me want to put them on top of Metal's Rushmore. I had the same problem with Metallica's film. I don't care for their music, but found the rest fascinating. The 2 guys in Anvil you root for. Metallica you don't. There's no ego in Anvil. Metallica? But back to the music. Anvil is of its era. Even the newer album sounds like 1981. That's good for its longtime fans and fans of metal. I do like some of that stuff, but find most of it passable. But I hope Anvil get almost as rich as Metallica off of this film. Metal survivors worth cheering on. That's what makes a good doc.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Getting Older All The Time

One of the first things a 62 year old Rock friend of mine does when he gets his Rolling Stone is look at the obituary section. And then he goes to his local paper and looks at birthday's. His Rock and Roll peers are getting older-just like him. Some are dying at ages younger than him. While others are creeping towards 70.
This is happening to me also. I see people who were young stars now nearing or going over the 50 mark. Springsteen is 60. He's on the cover of AARP for heaven's sake. But that's what aging in a Rock world does. We still have younger pictures of these people in our minds. And now that they are getting older. Recording less, but touring more, we lose interest in their new stuff. I'm still interested, but a lot of others have tuned them out. U2's latest album has crept past a million in the U.S. But you'd think that all the hype and a big tour would've have pushed it there already. Their fan base is also nearing 50, just like them, and they don't buy as many records as they used to. Just give them the hits and they'll be happy.
But I'm sticking with my favorites, as I get older and as they do.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Beatles Update

Amazon has now changed my Beatles stereo box set to a shipping date of Nov. 1. This still does not make me want to panic. Because they have the best price. It looks like that is the date that they are getting a bunch of stereo sets in. If it bleeds further, I may have to make it a Christmas gift to myself.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Robert Hilburn's Book

One thing that always happened after Robert Hilburn did a piece on U2 or Springsteen were the inevitable letters from readers wishing he'd move on to something else. Hilburn loved those acts, and wrote about them often. Those two, along with Dylan make up a good portion of Corn Flakes with John Lennon (Rodale), Hilburn's memoir of 37 years as a Los Angeles Times music critic. Oh, to be sure there are things in here about Lennon, Kurt Cobain and others. Being a music critic for 37 years, Hilburn did write about other artists.

His look back at how he got to the L.A. Times, and his childhood make for a better read than what he makes of Bono or Springsteen.
And that's what makes this a rather frustrating read. Does anyone need any more books on what Bono or Springsteen or Dylan think? Especially when nothing new is revealed in those interviews? LA Times music readers know all about this. Hilburn was rather stubborn. Sticking to cover stories on these guys, when readers wanted him to branch out more.
Knowing (and having read Hilburn's pieces) that he championed many albums and artists I wanted him to dig deeper. There are blurbs in the book about those things, but they are tossed off. But then I realized that if Robert Christgau or Dave Marsh wrote this book, there would be lovingly crafted chapters on Sonic Youth or the Who (and Marsh loves Bruce too).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Playlist for 10/7

Miranda Lambert - Revolution
Madonna - Celebration
Noisettes -Wild Young Hearts
Zac Brown Band - Foundation
Sam Bush - Circles Around Me
Genesis - Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Miranda Lambert Wants Airplay

Who needs Country airplay? Miranda Lambert wants it, but doesn't get it. Her highest charted Country single went to #7, "Gunpowder & Lead", none of her others went Top 10. Yet, she's critically acclaimed. And both of her albums went Platinum. But she wants more. Hell, when your Columbia you need to sell. The label pulls you one way, while you try to stick with your principals. This is where Miranda is at album #3, which came out last week, Revolution.
She sticks to her tough girl with a slightly tender soul routine. But it's all about songs. It always is with Country albums. Most are singles plus filler. A formula that has always dogged Country albums. Garth changed a lot of that. He saw the album as an entire listening experience. The latest generation of Country singers have tried to get their albums to reach beyond the 3 singles that will most likely be released from it.
Lambert is smart. She writes great songs, but here she also picks out good ones from John Prine, Julie Miller and Fred Eaglesmith. All excellent writers. So, like her previous album, I'm pleasantly surprised that her struggle to get airplay and be a relevant album artist have resulted in another prime album.
I fear she'll be struggling for a long time, as long as she's on a major label, for sure. But if the results continue like this, than I say let her fight it out for years and years.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mr. Magic

One of the first Hip-Hop compilations, no make that the first Hip-Hop compilation I ever bought was called Mr. Magic's Rap Attack Vol. 4 which came out in 1988. It had seminal songs like "Push It" and "It Takes Two", also Kool Moe Dee and Public Enemy classics.
I still have it, but at the time of its release Rap was just reaching a peak. This is pre-Gangsta stuff, when the genre was still vital.
Mr. Magic died on October 2 of a heart attack. He was a pioneer of the genre. Spinning the songs and promoting them via compilations.
His comps were early samples of what was to become a bigger boom. But when someone that close to it dies, you have to give respect.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Best Music Writing 2009

Since 2000, Da Capo has been putting out a book series called Best Music Writing, the latest installment for 2009 was co-edited by Greil Marcus. I highly recommend these books, especially if you can't keep up with all that gets published on music. Here they go with articles, liner notes, internet blogs and everything else. This is all stuff from 2008, not 2009, as Da Capo is always a year ahead of itself. I was familiar with some of these things. But this is a nice reminder that good music writing is still prevalent.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Joel Whitburn

J0el Whitburn's 12th edition of his Top Pop Singles out and what makes this even more essential than any other volume is the inclusion of Bubbling Under Hot 100 titles. Lots of forgotten songs that hardcore fans will recognize.
Whitburn's books have been with me since I first started to get into serious music watching. And no music fan should be without one of his books. You can subscribe electronically to this book, but I want instant access via hard copy. In that sense I'm still old fashioned.

Joel Whitburn's Record Research Music & Billboard Charts Data

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rock Hall's Brit Bias

How many Brits are on the Rock Hall's Nominating Committee? Could the answer be zero? New Order, Joy Division, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, the Smiths, even Jesus & Mary Chain. All more important and influential than the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So why have none been nominated for the Rock Hall? This question came up right after this year's nominees were announced. Future Rock Legends posted it on their Twitter page. Duran were never a critic fave, so I doubt they'll ever get on the ballot. Does the Hall have a bias against 80's British bands. Do they have a bias against Brit bands from the 70's? How to explain the absence of Roxy Music? Mott the Hoople? Even the Jam? Dire Straits anyone?
Yet, the Peppers get nominated first time out. Of all the bands above the 2 on my radar are the Smiths and Roxy Music. The Smiths have had a profound effect on today's Indie music. Roxy Music had the same effect on the New Wave acts of the early 80's. Is there such a thing as being too British for an American Hall of Fame?
The fact that none of these have ever gotten on a ballot is disturbing enough. Does the Rock Hall Nominating Committee need more Brits? As of 2009 the answer is obvious.
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