Saturday, December 13, 2008

Various Artists - Just In Time For Christmas (1990)

I would like to belatedly thank the person who posted a response on this blog last year, making me aware of a Christmas song by Klark Kent (a.k.a. Stewart Copeland) which did not appear on the Kollected Works CD. The song “Yo Ho Ho” was part of a 13-track various artists CD called Just In Time For Christmas, which was released in 1990 on the now-defunct I.R.S. Records. Those who appreciate the rest of the Klark Kent repertoire will enjoy this comical Yuletide song as well. If I didn’t know better, I would think that Copeland’s jokey vocals on the song were mimicking the style of Psychedelic Furs singer Richard Butler.

There are other enjoyable items on the CD as well, by other artists who recorded for the Miles Copeland-run label. This collection generally eschews the classics and covers that fill current holiday CDs in favor of originals, although there are some familiar tunes here, including a sincere minimalist treatment of “Silent Night” and a reverent Steve Hunter guitar instrumental of “We Three Kings”. The CD also offers an electronica variation on “Hark” (as in “The Herald Angels Sing”) and a complex mashup by parodists Dread Zeppelin of Spike Jones’ “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” with Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” and Led Zep’s “How Many More Times”. The Jules Shear-led band called Reckless Sleepers provided an agreeably warm take on William Bell’s “Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday”.

Most of the rest of the tracks are originals. The dB’s sprightly folk-rock ditty “Home For The Holidays” is not related to the well-known classic of the same name. Deborah Holland, who worked with Stewart Copeland in a trio called Animal Logic, contributed “It Only Comes Once a Year”, an uplifting song that found its way onto in-store satellite broadcasting networks. Tracks from Squeeze and Timbuk 3 succeed moderately well at pseudo-hip humor, but Wall Of Voodoo’s bad-taste contribution is rather excessive. Also, Rebel Pebbles’ “Cool Yule” suffers from too much girl-group cuteness.

Just In Time For Christmas could definitely serve as a quirky alternative to the current crop of holiday CDs. It’s out of print, but is worth searching out for fans of pre-grunge alternative rock, especially those who feel that they must own that rare Klark Kent track.

Various Artists “Just In Time For Christmas” (I.R.S. X2 13052) 1990

Track Listing:

1. SQUEEZE – Christmas Day
2. REBEL PEBBLES – Cool Yule
3. KLARK KENT – Yo Ho Ho
4. TORCH SONG – Hark
5. RECKLESS SLEEPERS – Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday
6. STEVE HUNTER – We Three Kings
7. THE dB’s – Home For The Holidays
9. DEBORAH HOLLAND – It Only Comes Once A Year
10. TIMBUK 3 – All I Want For Christmas
11. KENNEDY ROSE – More Than One Night A Year
12. DREAD ZEPPELIN – All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
13. WALL OF VOODOO – Shouldn’t Have Given Him A Gun For Christmas

Van Halen's Legendary M&M's Rider

The folks at the Smoking Gun website have provided me with a hilarious '80's flashback. They have published Van Halen's infamous 1982 concert contract rider that stipulates that no brown M&M's should ever be included in their backstage servings. Here it is:

Here is what the Smoking Gun site says about the rider:

While the underlined rider entry has often been described as an example of rock excess, the outlandish demand of multimillionaires, the group has said the M&M provision was included to make sure that promoters had actually read its lengthy rider. If brown M&M's were in the backstage candy bowl, Van Halen surmised that more important aspects of a performance--lighting, staging, security, ticketing--may have been botched by an inattentive promoter.

While the concert riders of famous musicians are now old news, it is revealing to thumb through the 53-page VH rider to see examples of the detailed demands that such artists make. Personally, I would find it hard to blame some promoters from missing certain details of these riders. Reading the lengthy VH rider becomes mind-numbing after a while.

If you want to cut to the chase, the stipulation about the brown M&M's is found on page 9 of the rider. Farther down on the same page, it stipulates that the band was entitled to "One (1) large tube KY Jelly". Well, that killed my M&M craving.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Did Coldplay rip off Joe Satriani?

American rock guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani is suing Coldplay, claiming that the title track from the Britpop band's 2008 album Viva La Vida "copied and incorporated substantial original portions" of his 2004 track "If I Could Fly". Hmmm...Coldplay stealing from Satch? When I first heard this, I thought it sounded almost as unlikely as, say, Avril Lavigne ripping off the Rubinoos. It is hardly uncommon for two songs to resemble each other purely by coincidence. In fact, Coldplay were already accused of stealing that song's melody from an obscure Brooklyn band called Creaky Boards. But this clever YouTube video supports Satriani's claim quite well:

Maybe Coldplay should have asked Satch's permission to sample it. Just kidding. In any case, the plagiarism-or-coincidence argument may boil down to this question: How likely is it that Coldplay listen to Joe Satriani?