Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bob Dylan to Host XM Satellite Radio Show

Here's the AP story:

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/news/wire/sns-ap-dylan-radio,0,3703865.story?coll=sns-ap-entertainment-headlines

NEW YORK -- Bob Dylan will host a weekly music show on XM Satellite Radio, the first time the rock star has had his own radio show. Dylan will select music for the hour-long show, which will debut in March on XM's deep album rock channel, the station announced Tuesday.

He'll also offer comments on music and other subjects, interview guests and answer e-mail from XM subscribers. "Songs and music have always inspired me," the 64-year-old Dylan said in a statement. "A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic."

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Rock Star: INXS DVD

First off, let me apologize for reporting some time ago that the Rock Star: INXS DVD was going to be released on December 6th. I was going by Amazon.com's release date (again). It actually was released a week earlier, on November 29th. Maybe they moved the date up at the last minute, but in any case, the DVD was released two weeks ago.

How is the DVD? It could have been much better, but for $10 (that's what I paid), it's a good-enough-for-now souvenir to remember the show by. If you expect to see performances by the show's early eliminatees, you'll be disappointed. Only the last six finalists (J.D., Marty, Mig, Suzie, Jordis, and Ty) are showcased here. But good performances were selected to represent them. Among the 17 clips are: Jordis' stunning performance of "The Man Who Sold The World", Marty's bold acoustic rendition of "Mr. Brightside", Ty's flawless "No Woman No Cry", and Suzie's sensational "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance. Other notable moments contained on the DVD are Mig's showy "Live And Let Die", Marty's "dark" reinvention of "Baby One More Time" and his gripping version of Radiohead's "Creep", Suzie's classy "Bring It On Home To Me", and J.D.'s hard-rocking arrangement of "California Dreamin'". I was hoping for a multi-DVD set that would contain more (like, say, the complete series?), but it's good to have this much for now.

Also, the DVD contains a five-song "first concert" by INXS and J.D. which was filmed after the finale but wasn't shown on TV. They perform "Need You Tonight", "Never Tear Us Apart", "Suicide Blonde", "Pretty Vegas", and "Don't Change". It's a good set, and Fortune sounds very much like Michael Hutchence (I guess that's why he got the job). One amusing moment: during "Never Tear Us Apart", Fortune walks over to where the other 14 contestants are sitting and allows them to take turns singing a few lines.

The plastic packaging contains a red sticker that reads: INCLUDES FOOTAGE TOO HOT FOR TV! Is it a big tease? Yes. In fact, I believe the third of the three segments, which shows the contestants (when there were at least 13 of them) playing and goofing in the mansion, actually was shown on TV during the last episode. But the first of the three is a classic. It was filmed during the night of J.D.'s wild birthday party. J.D. sits buck-naked on top of his birthday cake (which was destroyed in a food fight), and the camera follows him to the shower when he goes to wash up. The new lead singer of INXS already has rock-star notoriety. And then (exactly 52 minutes later, we are told), Suzie walks over to the flattened remnants of the birthday cake, sticks her finger in the frosting where J.D.'s bare buttocks had been, and eats it! YUCK! I thought it was nasty when she drank champagne off his foot...

Also, the DVD features footage of casting interviews with all 15 contestants, some of which would never make it past TV censors. Especially (but not surprisingly) J.D.'s interview.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

INXS "Switch"

The much-heralded INXS CD Switch, the first to feature new lead singer J.D. Fortune, was released last Tuesday. I've listened to it a number of times since, and I have to conclude that it's a decent effort with mixed results.

Some of the time, the band seems to be sticking to its '80's dance-rock formula, sometimes too much so. For example, the opening track "Devil's Party" sounds very much like "Original Sin", and Fortune's vocal sounds slavishly like Michael Hutchence, the band's late original frontman. Fortune still sounds Hutchence-like on the single "Pretty Vegas", the song he co-wrote with Andrew Farriss. (Songwriting credit is also given to Marty Casey and Jordis Unga for that song; am I remembering that Rock Star: INXS episode wrong?). But it's a solid song -- after all, it helped J.D. get the job. "Hot Girls" duplicates Hutchence's brand of sexual panting. "Hungry" and "Perfect Strangers" basically have traditional INXS grooves, with a touch of the '00's pop that is derived from '90's alternative rock. "Like It Or Not" has the most primitive groove, and the worst lyrics.

On some tracks, the band seems to try different directions with varying degrees of success. The ballad "Afterglow", co-written by Andrew Farriss and Desmond Child, is passable pop melancholia. On "Remember Who's Your Man", Fortune suddenly sounds like Lenny Kravitz, who he also seemed to be imitating on the premiere episode of Rock Star. "Never Let You Go", co-written by Fortune and drummer Jon Farriss, is an appealingly laid-back pseudo-reggae number that recalls the Swing album from 1984. "Us" is a deeper song than we expect from INXS, convincingly calling for unity and non-complacency in solving the world's problems.

A pleasant surprise for fans of the show Rock Star: INXS is a guest vocal from Suzie MacNeil on the closing ballad "God's Top Ten". She sings the first stanza before J.D. takes over for the second. It's a nice taste of McNeil's voice on record, which we will hopefully hear more of in the future. Also, you can briefly hear Deanna Johnston bellowing in the background during "Hot Girls".

Overall, Switch offers plenty to like, but still comes across as a minor disappointment. It's possible that the next album could be better -- if there is a next one.

Valerie Bertinelli Divorcing Eddie Van Halen

It's actually happening this time. After 24 years of marriage (and on/off divorce rumors), actress Valerie Bertinelli has filed for divorce from Eddie Van Halen. How do we know it's true this time? Bertinelli's publicist confirmed it yesterday. The AP story is here:

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/news/wire/sns-ap-people-bertinelli,0,1697589.story?coll=sns-ap-entertainment-headlines

It's a shame it has to happen. Still, it's (sadly) surprising when a celebrity marriage lasts nearly a quarter-century, especially after the divorce rumor was rampant so many times in the past.

Friday, December 02, 2005

No Genesis reunion within the next 12 months

This was reported by the German website Deutscher Genesis Fanclub yesterday:

Both the Genesis and the Steve Hackett Management told the Italian Fanclub DUSK that there are no plans for any kind of action (Reunion, live performances) for the next twelve months. This indicated that the protagonists will meet again in twelve months to discuss the possibilities for a reunion in 2007. It seems that the different commitments, especially of Gabriel and Collins, simply make a Reunion in 2006 impossible. Meanwhile, the mysterious Reunion-Talk took place on November 19, not the 20th as rumoured before.

http://www.genesis-fanclub.de/genesis/reunion/genesis_of_a_reunion_engl.htm