Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cheap Trick notes

A new Cheap Trick studio album titled Rockford (named after the band's Illinois hometown) is going to be released on June 6th. Here is the press release from Big 3 Records:

If I'm not mistaken, producer Linda Perry is the former lead singer of 4 Non Blondes ("What's Up"), and it seems she also had a hand in the songwriting. CT bassist Tom Petersson is hailing this album as "by far our best work yet". Maybe he shouldn't build hopes up too much; it's hard to imagine an album being better "by far" than their late-'70's albums. I have heard three of the tracks: "Welcome To The World", the single "Perfect Stranger", and "Come On Come On Come On". They do sound promising. Very pleasant retro-'80's power pop.

FYI, "Come On Come On Come On" is not a remake of their early song "Come On Come On". I wish they'd give it a different title. Also, there is a track called "O Claire", which I assume is not a remake of the short Heaven Tonight track of the same name. I wish they wouldn't recycle these titles.

In other Cheap Trick news, newly remastered editions of two CT albums were released on March 7th. Those were Dream Police (1979) and the underrated All Shook Up (1980), which were the last two albums from the band's best period. Both of them contain bonus tracks. The five bonus tracks on All Shook Up consist of the Roadie theme song "Everything Works If You Let It" (which, like the All Shook Up album, was produced by George Martin) and all four tracks from the 1980 EP Found All The Parts. It's good to finally have all five of those songs available on a U.S. CD.

It came to my attention recently that the band's 1983 album Next Position Please (produced by Todd Rundgren) is out of print in the States. However, a new "authorized" edition of the album is now available for download. Here is the MSN Music page for it:

The original LP version of Next Position Please contained 12 tracks; the cassette and CD contained 14, adding "You Talk Too Much" and "Don't Make Our Love A Crime". This "authorized" version contains two more tracks, totalling 16 in all. "Don't Hit Me With Love" was on the album's original demo, but was not originally included on the album; "Twisted Heart" has previously only been available on the box set Sex America Cheap Trick.

The release date is listed as March 7th -- the same date as the two aforementioned reissues -- but there's no CD available at this time. Could it be that this album will only be available for download? This would seem like a strange way to go for a 1983 catalogue title, but it's not out of the question. Maybe it's cheaper for Epic Records if they don't have to manufacture the hardware.

Recent page updates

I've recently added reviews to three of my site's pages.

On the Lou Reed page, I've added reviews of Street Hassle (1978) and American Poet (2001):

On the Ten Years After page, I've added a review of their 2005 2-CD live album Roadworks:

And on the Byrds page, I've added a review of Byrd Parts 2, a 2003 release on the Australian Raven label. It's the second in an apparently ongoing series of CDs that collect various Byrds-related recordings:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Cars on Leno

Yes, I watched The Tonight Show With Jay Leno last night, to see the New Cars perform at the end. What do I think? Uhh...I don't know. They performed the Cars classic "Good Times Roll". Instrumentally, they sounded fine. But Todd Rundgren's lead vocals? I wasn't feeling it. I won't condemn the man for one performance of one song, but Rundgren is no Ric Ocasek, and no Ben Orr, either.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Rundgren did not do an overt imitation of Ocasek. I have memories of the reformed Doors performing on Leno's show three years ago, with Ian Astbury doing an obvious and embarrassing imitation of Jim Morrison. Considering that, I do respect Rundgren for performing the Cars song his own way.

But his way of singing the song did not appeal to me. I'm beginning to think I was probably right the first time: the Cars ain't the Cars without Ocasek or Orr. When I heard that Rundgren was taking on the frontman role, I thought maybe I was wrong about that. My verdict is not final, but based on last night, I have my doubts about the whole New Cars thing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kasim Sulton "Kasim" (1982)

Kasim Sulton, the bass player for the New Cars, previously played bass in Todd Rundgren's Utopia. He will reportedly sing the lead vocal on the Cars hit ballad "Drive", which was originally sung by the late Benjamin Orr, while Rundgren will handle vocal duties on the rest of the songs.

Besides his time in Utopia, Sulton has a long history as a session bassist. He was briefly a member of Joan Jett's Blackhearts in the late-'80's, during Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You" period. He has also often played with Meat Loaf; in fact, he did session work on Meat's mega-seller Bat Out Of Hell, which Rundgren produced.

Kasim has also recorded two proper solo albums, twenty years apart, in 1982 and 2002. (That's not including 1998's The Basement Tapes, a collection of demos that Sulton recorded over many years). His 1982 solo debut Kasim is out of print.

That album featured enthusiastic power pop similar to that of Utopia, without Rundgren's eccentricities. It's a very good album of its kind, easy to digest and easy to like. Confusingly enough, Sulton is credited with "all lead and backing vocals" and "all instruments", but then co-producer Mark Onofrio is credited with "all drums and percussion" and "backing vocals". And then more musicians are credited, including Blue Oyster Cult's Buck Dharma (who played lead guitar on three tracks). Whatever the recording circumstances may have been, Kasim is a delectably sweet offering, worth searching out for fans of Utopia and for power pop junkies.

Kasim Sulton - Kasim

Kasim Sulton "Kasim" (EMI America ST-17063) 1982

Track Listing:

1. Someone To Love
2. Evil
3. White And Red
4. This Must Be Love
5. Don't Break My Heart
6. Drivin' Me Mad
7. Roll The Dice
8. Just A Little Bit
9. Sweet Little Accident
10. Rock And Roll

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The New Cars

Yes, the Cars are back...sort of. A new version of the band has been launched, featuring original guitarist Elliot Easton and original keyboardist Greg Hawkes. The band's founder Ric Ocasek is not on board. Instead, the New Cars (apparently their official name) will be fronted by none other than Todd Rundgren. This could be interesting; Rundgren is quite an eccentric character and an accomplished musician/producer in his own right, although his career output has been about as inconsistent as can be. The replacement for original bassist Benjamin Orr (who succumbed to cancer in 2000) is session bassist extraordinaire Kasim Sulton, who was a member of Rundgren's band Utopia. Tubes drummer Prairie Prince appears to be the drummer for the New Cars, although it isn't clear if he will be in that position full time.

The New Cars reportedly recorded a live album in January, which will also include three new studio tracks. Next Tuesday, March 14th, they will formally announce their plans in a press conference, and they are scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that evening.

Noble PR in England has released a teaser trailer, featuring a snippet of the first single, titled "Not Tonight". You can view the trailer here:

Here is the official New Cars website (although nothing is there yet):