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Showing posts from 2006

Get Crazy (1983)

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I hope everyone had a good Christmas, and will have a Happy New Year as well.

Last night, I watched a movie that I enjoy watching on or around the New Year's holiday. Get Crazy is a hilarious cult film from 1983. It's a wacky farce about attempts to stage a New Year's Eve Concert at an arena called the Saturn Theater. That fictional venue is based on the Fillmore East, where director Allan Arkush was once employed. Arkush is best known for directing the 1979 cult film Rock 'N' Roll High School. Get Crazy has the same energy and free-spiritedness as that movie, but for my money, it is far more inspired and amusing. It is a fast-paced series of cartoonish vignettes which are both sharp and funny.

Daniel Stern stars as the arena's stage manager, who is scrambling to get the venue ready for the event. Ed Begley Jr. and former pop idols Bobby Sherman and Fabian play villains who want to sabotage the Saturn, even if they have to blow it up in mid-concert. That may give…

Goodbye, Tower Records

The Tower Records store in my area has closed its doors. It happened on Wednesday night. A friend of mine was there on the last day, and informed me that it was the last day. Today, I walked past it during my Christmas shopping errands, and the once bright and colorful store was in complete darkness.

The writing was on the wall, of course. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, but said its stores would remain open. In early October of this year, the announcement was made that Tower Records had been sold to a company that was going to liquidate it. Days later, the going-out-of-business sales began. I remember going in my local Tower in mid-October and stocking up on several CDs at 20% off. The next time I went, I purchased three more CDs at 40% off. The next time, CDs were being sold at 60% off -- but I could no longer find more titles that interested me. My friend told me that everything was being sold at 80% off on the final day, but he was only able to find three CDs and one DVD …

John Hiatt - Live at the Hiatt

The folks at Hip-O Select have issued a 5000-CD limited edition of Live at the Hiatt, a recording of an October 1993 John Hiatt concert in London. Hiatt was backed by the Guilty Dogs, the alt-rock trio who played on his 1993 studio album Perfectly Good Guitar. Live at the Hiatt was originally available only as a promotional giveaway item connected with that album. Information is here:

http://www.hip-oselect.com/scr.public.product.asp?product_id=9F1B71B5-AB67-415A-B2C4-9B0E27E02431&cat_id=42029550-8DEE-4E9C-B712-5F1511256DD9

For Hiatt-philes like myself, it's good to have the disc commercially available while the supply lasts. Still, a lot has happened since 1993. At that time, there was no such thing as a live album from Hiatt. But since then, two have been commercially released: Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan in 1994, and Live From Austin TX in 2005. And -- get this -- both of those albums were also recorded in 1993 with the same band. Therefore, Hiatt's casual fans will prob…

Al Jardine, Family and Friends

Do you remember when, several years ago, former Beach Boys member Alan Jardine assembled a touring band called Beach Boys Family and Friends, but was forced to change the name after Mike Love took legal action against him? It was later known as Al Jardine, Family and Friends as a result of that feud. Besides Jardine, the band included his two sons Matt and Adam, Brian Wilson's two daughters Carnie and Wendy (both from Wilson Phillips), and nine instrumentalists, some of whom had previously played with the Beach Boys road band. A November 1999 performance was captured on an independently released CD called Live In Las Vegas. It was released in 2002, but it is already out of print (indie CDs tend to get discontinued fairly quickly). I recently added a review of the album to my Beach Boys page:

http://rarebird9.net/beachboys.html

Purists may object to the CD's existence, but they shouldn't. Jardine and his ensemble did the Beach Boys legacy proud with this disc.

Lou Reed "Coney Island Baby" reissue

Just recently I picked up the CD reissue of Lou Reed's 1976 album Coney Island Baby, which was released this past September. This was a face-saving album for Reed, recorded shortly after his notorious 1975 double-album Metal Machine Music successfully pissed off nearly everyone within earshot. It's one of the best albums Reed made during the '70's. It's surprisingly down-to-earth, which was a big change not only from Metal Machine Music, but also from Reed's cartoonish glam-rock period in the earlier '70's. Coney Island Baby was Reed's warmest and most civilized solo album up to that point, picking up where his self-titled 1972 debut had left off before he detoured into Transformer-era self-indulgence. The title track, "Crazy Feeling", and "A Gift" showed a new and surprising sensitivity. If you prefer Reed's dark side, "Kicks" is an unsettling song sung from the point of view of a psycho who kills for thrills. Velv…

MSN Music: no more downloads

As of this past November 14th, the MSN Music site no longer sells 99 song downloads. Here is what the site says:

Beginning November 14th, 2006, MSN Music will no longer offer music downloads through the MSN Music store. The "Buy" buttons that you are used to seeing on the MSN Music album and artist pages will change to links that connect you to Zune and Real Rhapsody.

Is this earth-shattering? Hardly. MSN Music surely wasn't the only game in town. Besides Zune and Real Rhapsody, we can easily utilize such services as iTunes, Napster, and Sony Connect.

However, if you are a fan of Rock Star: Supernova (the TV show, not the band), and you have been meaning to download performances from MSN Music but have been putting it off (as I was until today), you may not have much time left to do so.

If I may suggest a well-rounded track listing for your personalized Rock Star CD, this was the track listing I put together for mine:

1. Back of Your Car - Ryan Star
2. When the Time Comes (The…

Jason Newsted won't be on Rock Star: Supernova tour

In case you haven't heard, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted has suffered an injury to his bicep and rotator cuff, and will be out of commission for up to nine months. This means he will not be touring with his new band Rock Star: Supernova (whose debut album will be released on November 21st). His replacement will be Johnny Colt, who has previously played with the Black Crowes and Train. I suppose the band formerly known as Supernova can still be called a supergroup. Here is the story:

http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=61430

Also, the House Band from the reality show will not be touring with the band as planned, and neither will former contestants Storm Large and Magni. Budget cuts are the apparent reason.

Supernova change their name

After being ordered by a judge to change their name because it is already taken, Supernova has now changed its name to Rock Star: Supernova, which was the name of the reality TV show in which the rock supergroup chose their frontman Lukas Rossi. Here is an article about it:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14842454

Yes, that is an awkward name for a band. I would have gotten rid of the colon, and maybe even the space between "Rock" and "Star". Oh, well. I hope they've cleared the name with CBS and with Mark Burnett, so they won't be forced to change it again.

I would hate to be in charge of their marketing and graphic design, considering the copy changes that now must need to be made. What a mess!

Rock Star: Supernova - and the winner is...

...Lukas Rossi.

Surprised? Me neither. Tommy Lee claims that the decision was made based on viewer voting. We know better. Tommy has been fawning over Lukas all summer long. Gilby Clarke has said he is “inspired” when he watches Lukas. Jason Newsted was initially critical of him, but hasn’t been lately. I think their minds were made up some time ago. Tommy’s was possibly made up from the beginning. During the broadcast of the finale, a commercial for the new season of Survivor aired. For no apparent reason, the commercial contained footage of Lukas singing "Headspin". It was obviously a not-so-subliminal message from Mark Burnett. It was kinda like watching the movie Easy Rider where you see the final shot before the movie is over.

I do hope the guys from Supernova (or whatever they will be called) remain happy with their choice. Out of the final four -- heck, out of the final eight, Lukas was my least favorite. But, hey, it's not my band. The new band-formerly-known-as-Su…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week ten

Storm Large didn’t make it to the final round of Rock Star: Supernova. I figured there wouldn’t be more than one female left standing for the finale. I will miss Her Largeness, but – whatever. The show only has one week to go. I guess I’ll miss all of them after next Wednesday. Or almost all of them.

Like the other four contestants, Storm sang a cover song plus an original song on Tuesday’s performance show. First, she did David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”. Her vocal could have been better, but she had attitude to spare, and that made it entertaining. Attitude was the key word for her original song “What the What is Ladylike”. (In case you didn’t know, the second “what” was substituted for the “f’ word). It was fun to watch and hear, but Dave Navarro (who performed the Bowie song with her, and interacted well with her) must have been high when he said it was the best original song in the show’s history. It was good to hear Storm scale it down for her Wednesday performance of Pink Floyd’…

1987 Syd Barrett tribute album

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Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #12 is completed. The subject is Beyond The Wildwood: A Tribute To Syd Barrett, which was released in 1987. It consisted of covers by various (and mostly unknown) artists of songs by Syd Barrett, the original Pink Floyd founder who passed away this past July.

http://rarebird9.net/syd.html

Rock Star: Supernova - Week nine

And the dark horse is out of the race. Ryan Star was eliminated this week from Rock Star: Supernova. This is one of those weeks in which I hated to see someone go. It has been entertaining to watch Ryan improve his performances over the course of the show. When the season began, he made no impression on me at all. And he got off to a bad start in the first reality webisode, when he refused to do the impromptu singing that Supernova asked the contestants to do. Jason Newsted remarked that Ryan needed to work harder to get up to the same level as the other 14 original contestants. As it turned out, he outlasted 9 of those 14, because he did work hard to stand out. His methods during the first three weeks were weak, but once he hit his stride, he became an interesting performer, generally improving from one week to the next. He only fell in the bottom three twice these past nine weeks, but the second time was his last. Of course, he is now free to continue his solo career (he has already…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week eight

To no one’s surprise, Patrice Pike was eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova this week. I thought she was going to go sooner, but I’m glad she didn’t. I thought she was deserving of the opportunity to sing an original song of hers in front of millions of viewers. Patrice’s song “Beautiful Thing” really took me back to the ‘90’s, like I was watching a second-stage performance at the H.O.R.D.E. festival, and that’s meant as a compliment. I’ll probably be purchasing a 99 cent download of the song from MSN Music. Her Wednesday performance of the Pretenders’ “Middle Of The Road” was adequate, but adequacy doesn’t quite cut it at this point in the competition. I hope to see more of Patrice in the future.

Magni made a second undeserved appearance in the bottom three. He did well with Nirvana’s smash “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and probably would have done it even better if he wasn’t feeling ill. On Wednesday, he brought down the house with Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”, keeping him safe for at least an…

Two solo albums from Cars members are reissued

This week, the reissue label Wounded Bird Records has released two mid-'80's solo CDs from members of the Cars: Elliot Easton's Change No Change (1985) and Benjamin Orr's The Lace (1986).

Elliot Easton was the Cars guitarist, and was the catalyst for the current New Cars fronted by Todd Rundgren. His solo album is mostly un-Cars-like, except for one song called "I Want You". The rest of the album is guitar-based singer-songwriter rock. Easton partnered with Jules Shear for the songwriting duties on the ten proper album tracks. Change No Change gets good marks for effort, but Easton is no singer. His flat vocals are the album's downfall. The reissue features five bonus tracks which were recorded in 1993 by an Easton-led group called Band Of Angels.

Benjamin Orr was the bassist and sometime lead singer of the Cars. Orr died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer. The Lace is his only solo effort. If you remember the hit single "Stay The Night", you have a g…

Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson split

You've probably heard by now that actress Kate Hudson is separating from Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson after six years of marriage. The American media is claiming that Kate's relationship with Owen Wilson is the reason for the split, although Wilson's lawyer says that Wilson didn't cause the split. I'll leave the gossip to Us Weekly:

http://www.usmagazine.com/blog/2006/08/16/inside-owen-and-kate%e2%80%99s-romance

It doesn't seem like six years to me since Hudson and Robinson were married. The year 2000 almost seems like yesterday to me.

Of course, 2000 was the year in which Hudson received an Academy Award nomination for her role as a groupie named Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. If you haven't yet seem that film, which is based on Crowe's experiences as a 15-year-old reporter for Rolling Stone, I highly recommend renting it. It is one of the best rock and roll movies ever made, although I realize that sounds like faint praise.

If you …

Redbone impostors played at Montana state fair

If you ever go to see a show in your town by a forgotten band who are best known for a decades-old hit song, you can sometimes expect to see no original members on stage -- but this is ridiculous. A band who played at the Butte-Silver Bow Fair in Montana claimed to be Redbone, a '70's group best known for their 1974 hit "Come And Get Your Love". Redbone does still exist, but the band that played under that name at the Montana state fair were impostors! Here is the story.

My first question is: who would have the 'nads to pull a stunt like this? And my second question is: why would anyone want to impersonate Redbone?

Rock Star: Supernova - Week seven

Goodbye, Zayra. Zayra Alvarez was finally eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova, a number of weeks after she was expected to be. INXS would have eliminated her at least three times by this point. Her performances on the show were often bizarre renditions of classic rock selections, sometimes bordering on camp. I think everyone was well aware that there was no way Zayra would fit into Supernova in a million years.

So, why am I so sad to see her go? This may be the first time since week one that I hated to see someone go this much. Say what you will about Zayra, but she was never boring. For better or for worse, she has been a standout contestant every week. I am totally going to miss her strange-yet-sexy stage presence, and her way of rethinking songs. Granted, she lasted as long as she did for entertainment purposes. But now that she has been sent packing, Rock Star will be a bit less entertaining in the coming weeks.

But I doubt that Zayra is very sad to go. In my view, she was not in t…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week six

Ooh! Double elimination! I was wondering if and when it would happen. INXS did it last season. The difference is that INXS did it to two contestants whose performances stuck out like sore thumbs that week. This week, the two unlucky contestants didn’t perform all that badly. In fact, no one performed badly this week – which is not to say that everyone sounded good.

Josh and Jill were the ones who got the dual axe. I think it has more to do with time constraints (there is now talk of Supernova tour dates!) and with past performances than with their performances this week. Josh and Jill were both on borrowed time for different reasons. Besides, this double-axe gives Supernova one less person to take to Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, Jill did a decent job on Tracy Bonham’s demanding “Mother Mother”, although her stage antics got in the way, even causing her to miss one crucial note right near the end. On Wednesday, she did okay with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, but she didn’t hit it out of the par…

More Cure deluxe editions

Following the 2005 releases of 2-CD deluxe editions of the first four Cure albums, Elektra has now released three more this week. The Top (1984), The Head On The Door (1985), and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) are the three latest Cure albums to receive the expanded treatment. The first disc of each set contains a remastered version of the proper album. The second disc of each set contains a lengthy set of bonus tracks, mostly consisting of related demos and live recordings culled from bootlegs. These deluxe editions are mainly geared toward Cure fanatics.

The Top has been out of print in the U.S. for some time, so it is good to have it available again in some form. This album was recorded at a time when leader Robert Smith had temporarily become a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the Cure, and his health suffered as a result. On The Top, Smith is noticeably stressed out, seemingly unable to decide if he wanted to stay with the Cure's earlier doom-and-gloom approach…

Arthur Lee of Love dies at 61

Arthur Lee, the founder of the '60's cult band Love, died yesterday from leukemia at age 61. The troubled Lee did not attain much commercial success with his band, but he is regarded as a major influence on other rock veterans. Robert Plant has said that Love's 1968 album Forever Changes is one of his all-time favorite albums. Others who claimed a Lee influence include Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. Lee must be receiving quite a hero's welcome somewhere.

Rolling Stone has a good article on Lee, with a playlist of essential Love tracks, here.

The first three Love albums are the only proper ones currently in print in the States: Love (1966), Da Capo (1967), and Forever Changes (1968). The best place to start is the 22-track compilation The Best of Love, which contains the essential songs from the first four albums. Those who want to investigate further should try Forever Changes. It is an odd but brilliant album which requires multiple listenings to fully app…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week five

Dana Andrews is the latest contestant to be eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova. She took it well, and went out with a smile on her face. The guys from Supernova chalked it up to maturity on the part of the 22-year-old. That may be true, but I also think that Dana was relieved. Even with her new dark-and-damaged look, Dana was much too nice to front Supernova, and everybody knew it. In order to stay on the show, Dana would have had to continuously (and increasingly) act like someone she wasn’t. And for what? I don’t think the girl was in this competition to win it. She has her own band (called Everything After) and now has had five weeks of TV exposure to use as a springboard. Her chances of getting a recording deal are good, and she’ll probably be quite the local hero when she returns to her hometown. Besides, she clearly wasn’t happy with the criticism she was getting from the other contestants in the mansion. I’ll bet she’s not sad to be leaving those trappings. Dana’s performance…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week four

Phil Ritchie is done on Rock Star: Supernova. This is not surprising at all. Most of his performances have been on the bland side, except for the one he gave last week. Maybe he needed a more intense song than the Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” to show his strength. In any case, his blandness returned, and he's on his way back home to Lennex. Tommy Lee said it was a “question of commitment”, because the band felt that Phil didn’t really want to front Supernova. As I said before, I think that’s the case with a number of the contestants.

Before I go any further, I want to commend all three of this week’s bottom three for their cool and unexpected song choices on Wednesday’s show. It made for quite an unusual hour of prime-time network TV. Phil chose a song called “Smoking Umbrellas” by Failure. It failed to save him, but at least he went out with something different. Patrice chose the Radiohead song “My Iron Lung”, and definitely showed us something different than her last four perform…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week three

Jenny Galt was the third contestant to be eliminated on Rock Star: Supernova. This is not surprising at all. She is not a bad performer by any means, but she's definitely not right for Supernova, or even for this show. On Tuesday night, she performed the Incubus song "Drive". She didn't sound bad, but as Gilby Clarke put it, she would fit in better at Lilith Fair than at Ozzfest. Technically, there was nothing wrong with her vocals on her Wednesday night performance of Stone Temple Pilots' "Vasoline", but she just didn't connect on a visceral level. She was the logical one to be let go. Hopefully, she can use the TV exposure as a springboard to future success with her acoustic duo Cherrybomb.

The other two people who landed in the bottom three were Dana and Josh. I like Dana a lot, but Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" proved not to be a good song choice for her Tuesday night performance. But on Wednesday, she chose the Sass Jordan song &qu…

Shine on You crazy Diamond

You've probably heard by now that Syd Barrett, the original Pink Floyd frontman and founder, has died at the age of 60. He died on July 7th, apparently from complications caused by diabetes. Surprisingly enough, the media did not report his death until four days later. I hope that he is resting in peace, now that he is finally safe from stalkers who camped out near his property. Barrett hadn't sung or played a note in over 30 years, but still his fans could not leave him alone. This shows the lasting influence of a man who recorded very little in his short career.

For those who are unfamiliar with Barrett's story, Wikipedia has a wealth of information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syd_Barrett

Barrett's sister Rosemary speaks about his private life in this UK Times article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2271741,00.html

Rock Star: Supernova - Week two

Chris Pierson, the Rock Star: Supernova contestant who seemed destined to be the first one to go, was the second one to go instead. He was given a chance to get back in the game after bombing on opening night, but he wasn't able to redeem himself. On Tuesday's performance show, he did a passable but unimpressive job of singing Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out", and a similar job on Tonic's "If You Could Only See" on Wednesday's elimination show. It would be okay to see performances like those in a bar, but on television Chris just doesn't have a commanding presence, and he is certainly too lightweight as a singer to join a supergroup.

The elimination of Chris means that Zayra Alvarez is safe for another week, but probably not for longer. On Tuesday, she did a strange, sexed-up Latina version of the Kinks classic "You Really Got Me", a song that she says she was not previously familiar with(!). So, why did she do that same song again o…

What's become of the Rock Star: INXS contestants?

Now that the second season of Rock Star is underway, this question is worth asking: what has happened to the first season's contestants, who competed to become the new INXS singer? Have they gone on to bigger things, or have they gone back to obscurity?

You probably already know that INXS have since released a moderately successful album called Switch , featuring new singer J.D. Fortune, and have been touring the world since the beginning of the year. The reason that came together so fast was because the plans were already set up before the winner was selected last season. Also, runner-up Marty Casey has also released an album with his band the Lovehammers, which has also been a modest success.

Not much has been heard from the other contestants, but it has been less than one year since the first season ended. Deanna Johnston and Mig Ayesa are involved with the new season in behind-the-scenes jobs. Jordis Unga and Wil Seabrook have both apparently signed record deals. (Seabrook was e…

Rock Star: Supernova - Week one

The second season of Rock Star began this week. This is the TV reality show which INXS used to select their new lead singer J.D. Fortune last summer. This summer, the band searching for a singer is Supernova, a new supergroup made up of Tommy Lee (the drummer from Motley Crue), Jason Newsted (the ex-Metallica bassist), and Gilby Clarke (the early-'90's guitarist for Guns 'N Roses). The show's format is essentially the same: 15 contestants are vying for the job. Each week, the contestants each perform a classic rock song backed by an adept house band. The three contestants who receive the fewest viewer votes are brought up for elimination the following night. This season, the contestants are able to choose a rock and roll song of their choice for their elimination night performance. Based on those three performances, the members of Supernova eliminate at least one contestant from the competition.

When INXS introduced the show last year, it was a matter of which contestan…

Matthew Sweet "Girlfriend" special edition

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This week, a 2-disc special edition of Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend was released. The first disc contains the original 15 tracks (newly remastered) plus three bonus tracks that were originally released on an EP titled Girlfriend: The Superdeformed CD. The Japanese version of the Girlfriend CD also contained these three songs as bonus tracks. These three demos include: "Good Friend", which was the original version of the title track; "Teenage Female", about a young girl with a crush on a pop idol; and "Superdeformed", a full-bodied alt-rock gem.

The second disc contains 13 tracks that were originally issued on a 1992 promo CD called Goodfriend: Another Take On "Girlfriend". That disc was mainly distributed through Sweet's fan club, and I thought it would never be reissued as a commercial item. It contains four songs recorded acoustically in Sweet's house, two that were recorded for the BBC, six live recordings from San Diego S…

Vince Welnick, the final Grateful Dead keyboardist, dies

In case you haven't heard, Vince Welnick died last Friday, June 2nd. The cause is believed to have been suicide, although an official autopsy is scheduled this week. Welnick was the fourth and final keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, having played in the band from 1990 until its demise in 1995. Before that, Welnick was a long-time member of the Tubes. His age is in dispute; his publicist says he was 51, but other sources say he was 55. Check out this article in the San Francisco Chronicle; the headline says he was 55, but the first paragraph says he was 51.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/03/MNG45J861V4.DTL

Here is the eerie part: all four of the Grateful Dead's former keyboardists are now dead. Original keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died in 1973 from a liver ailment. His replacement, Keith Godchaux, was killed in a car accident in 1980, shortly after he was asked to leave the band. The third keyboardist, Brent Mydland, died of a drug overdose …

Big Star tribute album

Big Star Small World, a long-lost tribute album featuring various artists' recordings of songs by Big Star, was released last week on the Koch label. This album was originally intended to be released in 1998, but its original distributor folded before its release date, and it is now finally seeing the light of day. It was executive-produced by Jody Stephens, Big Star's drummer. Time has not been kind to this collection; four of the participating bands (Gin Blossoms, Afghan Whigs, Whiskeytown, and Idle Wilds) have since broken up, and a few of the other artists (Juliana Hatfield, Teenage Fanclub) have undeservedly faded into indie-label oblivion.

Tribute albums in general tend to be tired exercises that end up making their subjects seem trivial, usually because the participants are less talented than the original artist, and they simply bring the subject's music down to their level. Big Star Small World is fortunately not one of those cases, but it's also no unearthed tr…