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{5.03.2002}

 
Marshall Mathers, class act

From the Reuters newswire:
Eminem dresses as Osama bin Laden for new video
Reuters
May 3 2002 7:41PM
LONDON (Reuters) - Controversial rap star Eminem is up to his old tricks again, this time trying to shock fans by dressing up as Osama bin Laden in his new video.

Aired on BBC's "Top of the Pops" for the first time in Britain Friday, the video for his single "Without Me" depicts Eminem as the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on America, dressed in combat clothes hiding in a cave.

The video mimics footage of bin Laden that has aired on CNN, with a red "ENN" logo on the bottom left of the screen in the same style as that of the American cable news network.

In the video, the bin Laden character is seen trying to escape but is captured by a group of rappers and starts dancing to the song.


posted by Anon. 3:08 PM
 
Google search of the day

Someone found this site today by doing a search for "Nashville underage dating." Hm.

posted by Anon. 12:47 PM
 
She put me through some changes lord

Rolling Stone, as reported early in these pages, is feeling the heat from the Maxim magazine Blender. Rolling Stone has decided that Blender's success means that RS must do shorter articles, briefer pieces, more newsy stuff. Yet a quick look at the covers of this months Blender cover and this week's Rolling Stone suggests a larger difference. On the Blender cover, featuring the Osbournes, everything on the cover, every headline, involves a musician or music. No teen actors. No movie articles. The magazine says it's a music magazine, and the content and cover reflect that.

But on Rolling Stone's cover, featuring Kristen Dunst? There are five different headlines on the cover, and only one -- referring to Eminem's new album -- refers to anything involving music. Maybe it's time RS goes back to its roots.

posted by Anon. 12:44 PM
 
First, Reich

My mother called me yesterday. She's lending a hand with the Robert Reich for Governor campaign. Said they needed a song to play for when Reich enters the Massachusetts State Convention. Said it should either be about Massachusetts or themes involving Reich. (No, not "Short People" by Randy Newman.)

I'll see if I can find a song that is thematically in tune -- but the song I suggested that was Massachusetts related? No, I couldn't suggest the Standell's "Dirty Water," even if that's what I chose for the 50 States of Rock and Roll.

But the runner-up?

That's right. Just imagine it. Robert Reich coming out, and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" playing. "I'm in love with Massachusetts! I'm in love with the moonlight! Route 128 when it's cold outside! I'm in love with Massachusetts! Im' in love with the radio on!"

Man, I hope they use it.



posted by Anon. 9:35 AM


{5.02.2002}

 
Don't look back

In decidedly happier news than the Sheryl Crow news below, the Bob Dylan movie seems to really be happening. Here's the story from Variety:
'Masked' cast amassed
 
Cruz, Lange, Wilson join ensembler
 
By DANA HARRIS
 
Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lange and Luke Wilson will star opposite Bob Dylan in Intermedia Films' "Masked & Anonymous," with Jeff Bridges also in negotiations to join the cast.

Ensembler is the feature directorial debut of "Seinfeld" writer-producer Larry Charles. Destiny Prods. and Intermedia co-chairman Nigel Sinclair produce.

Guy East and Moritz Borman, also co-chairs of Intermedia, will serve as executive producers. President of production Basil Iwanyk and director of production Tobin Armbrust will oversee the film for Intermedia.

Written by Rene Fontaine and Sergy Petrov and based on Enrique Morales' unpublished short story "Los Vientos del Destino," "Masked & Anonymous" tells the story of singer (Dylan) who has fallen from grace and is forced to return to the stage for a final benefit concert. The film is slated to go into production this July in Los Angeles.
Okay, the part I'm most excited about? Jeff Bridges as co-star. Bridges is my favorite actor of the post-Newman generation. The part that I'm least excited about? Um, everything else.

I mean, Penelope Cruz? ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Thanks to Brian in LA for sending this my way.


posted by Anon. 5:27 PM
 
Did she jump or was she pushed?

One of the stranger stories I've read in a while is this one. Because AOL only keeps an archive of Reuters/AP pieces for a week, I'm posting it here in its entireity. But it sure sounds like Sheryl Crow is backing down -- or putting her own needs ahead of anyone else's. Is it chickenshit? Cowardly? A betrayel of every musician out there who has been screwed and pummelled in an industry that squeezes them like blood from a stone.

Th3paragraph explaining that what started for her having problems with the war against file-sharing turning into a war against the industry says it all. A very, very disappointing article. If I ever buy an album of hers -- which I never have -- I'll make sure to buy it used.
Sheryl Crow wants to sing, not fight
Reuters
May 2 2002 3:42PM
DETROIT (Reuters) - With a new album out and a tour looming, Sheryl Crow says all she wants to do is have some fun -- which means backing off her role as a leading activist in the Recording Artists Coalition.

Crow, whose new album, "C'mon, C'mon," debuted at No. 2 on the pop charts, co-founded the RAC with Don Henley and others to lobby Congress and state lawmakers for better treatment of musicians by major record labels.

She performed at fund-raising concerts the RAC held in February, on the eve of the Grammys in Los Angeles, and has been at the forefront of challenging what the RAC brands as unfair and coercive business practices used by major labels to deny artists fair compensation and control their careers.

But in a recent interview, the 40-year-old singer, songwriter and musician said she is less involved in industry politics at the moment.

"I'm really concentrating on my music right now," says Crow, who kicks off the "Today" show's outdoor concert season on Friday in New York City and headlines a summer tour starting July 10 in Charlotte, N.C. "I can't carry the (RAC) mantle forever."

Crow, who has sold more than 17 million albums and won eight Grammys, said she believes the debate over industry practices has placed too much emphasis on contract issues, at the expense of other important matters, such as piracy.

"I feel like issues that are of concern are CD-burning and the attitude toward music as intellectual property that should be paid for," she said. "Unfortunately we detoured and started focusing on contract issues, which pitted us against the music industry. And unfortunately, any time there was anything negative in the press, it was always my picture in the paper."


posted by Anon. 5:23 PM
 
Second listen

Second listen of YHF in process... and I am liking it ... more.

posted by Anon. 4:08 PM
 
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot RealTime Review
Summary


You can read below the entries -- riffed in real-time as I was listening to the new Wilco album, from front-to-back. For me, the album definitely suffers a little bit from what the last couple Radiohead songs suffer from -- a bit too many "interesting" collages and sounds, but not enough in the way of beautiful songs. That said, it's melodic, it's not discordant like much of Kid A. Tweedy's lyrics are much more focused here than on Summerteeth, and as a picture of mental landscape it covers a lot of territory. The best songs upon the first listen are "I'm the Man Who Loves you," "Reservations," "Pot Kettle Black," and "Kamera."

When I asked Dave Marsh his take on this album, his review was brief: "zzzzzzz." Dave hates prog rock, but he's right in that I do wish there was more exhilaration on display here, more of the rush, more of the love for rock and roll and not just the love for radio. I'll be interested to see if on the fourth or twentieth listen, the collages and sounds will still be interesting, or whether they'll be dull. And if the songs that leave me cold somehow reach me. I have a feeling that some of this will sound much better live -- right now, some of the songs sound like ships in bottles, perfectly preserved little dioramas, albeit with some strange detours and nooks

Any Pmix readers out there have their own takes on YHF? Write in, and I'll post the best submissions. I think it's safe to say that this will be one of the most discussed -- and argued about -- albums of the year.

posted by Anon. 3:45 PM
 
Song 11: Reservations

Piano chords, and Tweedy's singing. "How can I convince you it's me I don't like, not be so indifferent to the look in your eyes, when I've always been distant, and I've always told lies for love." Nothing opaque about that lyric. "I've got reservations about so many things but not about you." This is not a happy album -- the churning sounds that come in and out of these songs is confusion, emotional ups and downs, from the Disneyland keyboards to the sad strings to the angry feedback. "Not about you, not about you, not about you, it's not about you." Me think the singer doth protest too much. I've never liked Wilco's slower songs as much as the fast ones, but this is an exception -- this is beautiful, and it's showing real emotion in the vocal and the performance that this record hasn't had enough of. The song fades out. Now there's a sound that's like a clarion call -- and piano chords, like at the end of A Day in the Life, a famous album closer. The chords ring out, long spaces between them. The bubbling gurgling of synthesizers. Organ. Something escalating, then subsides. The organ is trailing out now. Silence. Is it over? No, the CD is still going. NOW it's over.

posted by Anon. 3:39 PM
 
Song 10: Poor places

Starts off with the voice of distant beeping, like a radio transmitter signal. These guys are in love with the radio, and not just song but sounds."There's bourbon on the breath of the singer you love so much; he takes all his words from the books you don't read anyway." Distant piano, an orchestral sound in the distance. The Radiohead Kid A influence is showing here, though again, not in the vocal. This song is dull. Ah, the bridge, here's a melody. "It makes no difference to me how they cried all over overseas; when it's hot in the poor places tonight, I'm not going outside." Another voice is heard in the background -- sounds like a telephone operator. This song became much more interesting towards the end. Another entropy ending. "Yankee... hotel... foxtrot," the announcer keeps repeating, in a clipped foreign accent. Wailing sound of guitar feedback -- then it cuts out.

posted by Anon. 3:32 PM
 
Song 9: Pot kettle black

Another lazy vocal with a good beat -- "I myself have found a real rival in myself... I am hoping for the rearrival of my health." This has a great beat and melody -- Tweedy's vocal is an urgent whisper. "It's become so obvious you are so oblivious to yourself."

What a chorus! "I'm not gonna get caught calling a pot kettle black -- every song's a comeback, every moment's a little bit later." Now the rhythm is shifting again, slower. The percussion is crazy, they were just hitting everything around in the studio that they could find on this record, you can tell. Now the acoustic guitar is back into the mix. This one reminds me of the fast songs on Summerteeth -- there's more of a structure to it so far than a lot of the other songs on this record. Even that high guitar from ST is on here. And yes, this song is exhilarating. Really, really good.

posted by Anon. 3:26 PM
 
Song 8: I'm the man who loves you

Violent charred distorted electric guitar. Lovely melody to Tweedy's vocal. Ah, it's a letter song, love these. This song is great, as Tweedy sings a love letter. "But if I could you know I would just hold your hand and you'd understand I'm the man who loves you." This is a flat-out good song, though the strangely violent guitar seems out of step with the "woo woo" back-up vocals. Tweedy is doing a lot of playing with assonance in the lyrics for this record. Ah, a horn section coming in! We haven't had that on this record of different sounds. "I'm the man who loves you!" And again, the electric guitar comes in at a different rhythm... so strange. Now the electric guitar is becoming the center of the song as we head into the last seconds. It's like a sloppy 10th grader solo. Such a strange way to end things.

posted by Anon. 3:22 PM
 
Song 7: Heavy metal drummer

Starts with a bit of a hip-hop beginning -- two seconds -- then it's back into piano and percussion. "I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands I used to go see," Tweedy sings, his vocal is too cute, earnest. There's a lot of piano on this record. The bridge: "I miss the innocence I've known, playing Kiss covers beautiful and stoned." But this song isn't rocking -- it has a strange, distant groove. "Classical music blasting masks the ringing in my ears." Again, the whistle-like sound of keyboards, providing call-and-response to Tweedy's vocals at the end. This song feels too much like a chemistry set -- it wants to rock, but there's nothing exhilarating about it. It's knob-twirling. Ah, now at the end, there's a better groove. This is a song that could grow on me. A lot.

posted by Anon. 3:18 PM
 
Song 6: Ashes of American flags

The sound of coins falling -- or is the sound of things breaking? This has the backbeat of "Radio King" from the first Golden Smog record. "I could spend three dollars and sixty three cents on diet coca-cola and unlit cigarettes," he sings. "I wonder why we listen to poets when nobody gives a fuck... I know I would die if I could come back new." It's beautiful sounding -- the instruments on this whole album are great as aural landscapes, but are they great songs? Right now if there are lonely teenagers lying in bedrooms across America listening to this on their headphones, they're nodding in sympathy. "I would like to salute the ashes of American flags..." Remember, this was recorded pre 9/11. It ends halfway through a piano riff.

posted by Anon. 3:15 PM
 
Song 5: Jesus, etc

The beginning almost has the feel of an old Spinners album -- "I'll be around," that lyric even makes a Spinners allusion! There's a nice vibe, guitars and drums. "Voices escape singing sad sad songs, tuned to chords strung down your cheeks." Strings! This is Tweedy making a 70s Motown song! I really like the vibe here. This is Tweedy's straightest vocal so far on the album. "Skyscrapers are sccraping together." The lyrics on this album aren't as completely nonsensical -- free associative -- as on Summerteeth, but he's definitely in that opaque mode. Now there's the plucking of strings. This song feels like a lazy August late afternoon. But I find myself yearning for more of a chorus or structure. Ends on a very pretty violin.

posted by Anon. 3:10 PM
 
Song 4: War on war

Striden acoustic strumming -- then strange electric noises -- then the drums quicken, and the piano ... is this album going to be like Summerteeth, where the faster songs were the best? "It's a war on war," Tweedy, again with the overdubbed vocals, chants like a mantra. Beautiful Fisher Price high notes, this one shows a little of the Mermaid Avenue influence. A driving song, roll down the window. The acoustic guitar keeps up, this could be something off A.M. were it not for the electronic synthesizers and feedback noises skittering in and out. How are they going to recreate this album live? Will they even bother? "You have to learn how to die if you wanna wanna be alive." Here again, things start to get crazy in the last part of the song -- more of the heavily distorted guitar and keyboards. Now the drums are quickening, and the melody is slipping out. And it ends on the radio noises, again.

posted by Anon. 3:06 PM
 
Song 3: Radio cure

The sound of foottaps, some distant instruments. Minor chords. Tweedy's vocal, sad and drawn out, breaking up. You can hear the influences of the radio -- the distance, sounds like it's coming in on a low frequency. Low bass sounds, orchestral. Oooh -- the sound of radio frequency scratch coming in only a minute and a half in. The melody on this one isn't doing a lot for me -- this one seems more like Tweedy playing around with effects. "My mind is full of radio cures" -- that's a great line. "Electronic surgical words." The foot-tapping just keeps up, while these strange sound effects drift in and out, and the distant sound of acoustic guitar fingerpicking. It's obvious that this is a record best enjoyed with headphones in a quiet place, just to hear all the sounds at their stereophonic best. Now it's suddenly showing more life -- synthesizers, bouncy melodies. Tweedy's voice has now left the languor, he's losing it, it's showing strain. "Cheer up... honey I hope you can." The final plucks of a string. Hmmm.

posted by Anon. 3:02 PM
 
Song 2: Kamera

Tweedy overdubs of his own vocal, opens with acoustic guitar. Whistles. This is good, really good. "I've driven in the dark, echoes in my heart." The sound effects are great, driving the song forward. Tweedy is doing his own harmony, I think -- it sounds great. It's not as lush as Summerteeth -- it seems to combine Summerteeth with Being There in the music. The acoustic guitar break, very nice. Great beat. Backup vocals coming in, call and response. There's still a languor here, kind of the lazy breeze of "Far Far Away." The melody and beat on this are delicious. Okay, now I'm excited. More xylophones at the end -- with the acoustic guitars, a nice sound. Great end. Good song.

posted by Anon. 2:57 PM
 
Song 1: I am trying to break your heart

Load the CD into my laptop. It annoyingly opens up a QuickTime presentation without asking for it. Stopped it, now am just playing the CD. The first song. I am trying to break your heart. I hear vibraphones -- or is that a xylophone? Then the sound of an alarm clock -- or is that a jackhammer? Aural collage -- is it like Radiohead? No ... it actually sounds a lot like "Sunken Treasure" and "Misunderstood" on Being There. "I am an American aquarium drinker" -- well, Tweedy is still doing the strange lyrics of Summerteeth. Really interesting sounds -- but the song isn't grabbing me. Tweedy's vocal is too sleepy. "Take off your Band-Aid because I don't believe in touchdowns": bad line. "What was I thinking when I said Hello?": good line. This sounds like one of those that's going to take some time to get into. But the piano later into the song, a nice touch.

The last minute or two: feedback, Tweedy's vocal is more strained. More discordant -- but not necessarily avante garde, this is still a song. Yes, it's a lot like those two songs from Being There, with some sound effects thrown in. Now Tweedy is doing some gobbledygook -- or is it backward tape? hmm.


posted by Anon. 2:53 PM
 
The Real-Time Rock Review

I just bought Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Yes, a week after it was released. What can I say, I delayed it because I was waiting for my tax refund check to arrive. Then I made it my reward for getting an outline in this morning to the UK people who optioned a script I wrote.

Now, you could be looking through any number of publications for reviews of YHF that are reasoned and based on reflections and many listens. But instead, Palmermix is going to offer you its INSTANT reactions to each songs, as I sit here for the next hour, listening to the album straight through, I'll post my reactions song by song. Woo hoo!

posted by Anon. 2:44 PM
 
It's Rico's world, we just live in it

Rico Gagliano had a piece on All Things Considered's broadcast yesterday reviewing Gomez's new release, In Our Gun. If you like Rico -- and who doesn't like Rico? -- you can get more Rico at Rico's website or Rico's LiveJournal. Keep the good work coming, Rico!

posted by Anon. 9:18 AM
 
Stolen goods

Do you remember every CD that you ever lost, or every one that was ever stolen from you? I do, at least most of them. Someone took my copy of Seargant Peppers. Don't know who, don't remember the exact time-frame, either, just that one day, I was looking through the Beatles section, and there was a void between Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour. John Cougar's American Fool I think was stolen (or borrowed and not returned) during my freshman year of college -- I remember one day waking up and thinking, hey, "Jack and Diane," only to look on the shelf and only see Uh-Huh sitting by its lonesome. I left my copy of the second Ben Folds album at my friend Jessica's apartment in Boston; her roommate claimed it as her own, moved off to art school in Chicago. When I asked Jessica if she could get it back for me, she looked at me like I was insane. Hey, what was her roommate doing taking a disc that wasn't hers, eh? On that same trip, I also lost my copy of James Brown's Live at the Apollo, but that one I won't accuse Jessica's roommate of lifting. That one I think I just left somewhere. McMahon has my copy of the Pogues Essential, and I know he's been waiting for the statute of limitations to kick in -- or for me to forget -- so that it officially becomes is. Uh-uh, I'm getting it from you, boy. That disc is coming back to poppa.

Now here's a better question. Do you remember every CD you borrowed from someone but "forgot" to give back? I have a copy of the Thelma and Louise soundtrack that I borrowed from a woman I dated for a month my senior year in college. Well, I didn't even borrow it from her -- I borrowed it from the bar where she worked nights.

I also borrowed a CD of Ray Charles' greatest hits from his ABC records years -- so that's after Atlantic, Ray's "Hit the Road Jack" and "Georgia on My Mind" time -- from my friend Jed. I borrowed this CD from Jed in 1995, when we both lived in Rhode Island. We now live in Los Angeles. 3 blocks away from each other. I think it's time I gave Jed back his Ray Charles CD.

I feel better already.

posted by Anon. 8:43 AM
 
Foxtrot!

The big news in the album sales chart's this week isn't what's at #1 -- that's just Kenny Chesney, country crooner. No, the big news is that the fourth-highest debut of the week -- behind Chesney in the top spot, the John Williams score for the Star Wars sequel at #6, and rapper Cee-Lo at #11 -- is WILCO at #13, selling 56,000 copies in its first week on the minor Nonesuch label. To give you a sense what a big deal this is for the band, their last album, Summerteeth, debuted in the 70s, selling 19,000 copies its first week.

Expect the sales to tumble severely next week -- these high numbers were no doubt due to expectant fans eager to finally buy the new disc -- but perhaps not that severely. According to this wire story, the sales were helped by the underdog status Wilco earned through many articles nationwide talking about their label plight and break from Reprise.

posted by Anon. 7:53 AM


{5.01.2002}

 
Berry picking

I had an email exchange with a critic friend yesterday. He's a music critic, but I find that I agree with him more about movies than music. We're both fans of John Ford, even though we're both progressives (well, okay, Dave's a communist, while I did vote for Gore over Nader), and Ford was pretty right wing with some knee-jerk right wing positions that came close to John Birch territory.

Dave was suggesting that another friend of his was unable to enjoy Ford just because he detests Ford's politics. This seems strange to me -- I don't know how anyone can't enjoy the Searchers, Red River, or, my personal favorite, Ford's take on the Wyatt Earp/Doc Holliday story, My Darling Clementine. The only explanation I could have is that maybe he just hates westerns, the way that some people just hate country music. But no, Dave said it was because of Ford's politics.

I think that if you choose only to enjoy, watch, read, or listen art that was made by menschs and by people of your same political colors, you're going to cut yourself off from a lot of great art. The same can be said if you never read or listen to watch work by artists who happened to be assholes or sociopaths. Jerry Lee Lewis is probably an evil man who may have killed his wife; Ezra Pound was a sick fascist and a supporter of the Nazis; Robert Frost was such a jerk that his own wife refused to see him on her deathbed. (Just think about that.) But they all made some undeniably terrific art.

I was thinking about this, simply because while I was stretching after arriving home from my three mile run, my carousel was playing the second disc from Chuck Berry's The Chess Box. You can rent Taylor Hackford's Hail Hail Rock and Roll, a Berry-authorized project, and Chuck still comes across as an asshole in it. And that was before he was caught installing video cameras in the female bathroom stalls of his restaurants. And before that urban myth (it is a myth, right?) involving Chuck and hookers and yelling "Breakfast Time" while he did something that's considered disgusting everywhere except for in certain clubs in Amsterdam.

No one is going to mistake Chuck Berry for Muddy Waters or Roy Orbison, two men who were by all accounts lovely people. But the guy created so much of the foundation for rock and roll. If the Beatles owed a ton to Buddy Holly, then the Rolling Stones owed a ton to Chuck. As for me, I recently rediscovered Chuck's song "The Promised Land" (no relation to the Springsteen song). It's a terrific number, and if you happen to have any Berry anthologies lying around your house or apartment that you haven't listened to in years, dust it off, put this on, and skip straight to "Promised Land."

You can thank me after the song's over.

posted by Anon. 7:18 PM
 
On Paul Allen's turntable

Some days, I wish I were Paul Allen. Have tons of money, thanks to co-founding Microsoft, yet not universally known as the visage of evil, unlike his former partner Mr. Gates. Throw lots of money into projects and companies and media firms because they seem cool. Start a rock and roll museum and get Frank Gehry to design the building. Buy a couple of sportsteams. Ah, yes. Paul Allen is no stranger to good times.

Paul's own website includes this list of his favorite albums. Given his famous Hendrix worship, it was no surprise to find some Jimi choices on there.

But Jackson Browne's Late for the Sky? Joni Mitchell's Shadows and Light? The first Living Colour album? Peter Gabriel's Us?

And you just know that Bill Gates isn't a Kate Bush fan.

posted by Anon. 5:32 PM
 
Links

A great site to add to your bookmark or page's linkbox is the Daily Chord, courtesy of the folks at the South by Southwest conference. They digest music news so that you -- or I -- don't have to. Check it out.

posted by Anon. 5:08 PM
 
Panaceas

I've mentioned a few times singles that would be on my all-time top 20 list. Alongside "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and "Train in Vain," I would also make space for "Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson. Years have gone by since Ghostbusters II, so we no longer have to make that unfortunate association with this wonderfully upbeat soul song. And if you've had a shitty day -- or if you're having a wonderful day -- this wonderful song will set you to a higher altitude. "Once I was downheart/disappointment was my closest friend; then you came and it soon departed; and I've never seen its face again." Now that's a lyric.

Is this just a hallucination on my part, or do I remember a weird music video that Vh-1 would run in its early days that featured footage of Jackie Wilson singing "Higher and Higher" intercut with really low-budget claymation figures? Help me out here.

posted by Anon. 5:01 PM
 
Questions that keep me up at nights

"Little Latin Lupe Lu": racist? Just wondering.

posted by Anon. 4:41 PM
 
50 States of Rock and Roll
Oregon


50 songs, 50 states, 50 musicians!

Yes, I've been negligent about the 50 States business. Yes, I'll try to be better. For our latest state in our exercise in musical patriotism, let's pick Oregon. Ah, Oregon. Home to -- wait, what is Oregon home to? I know Kindergarten Cop was set there. And Gus Van Zandt is from Portland. Oh, and Nike. Yes, home to Nike! Well, Steve Prefontaine ran with the U of O team.

Anyway, you'd be surprised to know how many paens to Oregon have been recorded by today's hottest stars. Actually, you won't be surprised to know that no one sings about Oregon or Portland much. But I can count on a native, at least. Yes, Elliott Smith, whose "Alameda" off of his very fine Either/Or, his swan-song album for the Kill Rock Stars label, refers to a song in the great city of Portland, Oregon. Nice song, too.

The list so far...

Alaska: "Anchorage," Michelle Shocked
California: "California Stars," Billy Bragg and Wilco
Indiana: "Goin' Back to Indiana," Jackson Five
Kentucky: "Paradise," John Prine
Massachusetts: "Dirty Water," The Standells
Nevada: "Viva Las Vegas," Elvis Presley
North Dakota: "North Dakota," Lyle Lovett
Oregon: "Alameda," Elliott Smith
Utah: "The Promised Land," Bruce Springsteen


posted by Anon. 4:38 PM
 
I think I've got your number

Whatever happened to Laura Branigan?

posted by Anon. 2:51 PM
 
More a Legend than a Band

The Flatlanders -- the legendary Texan group made up of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock -- have reunited. I do like Joe Ely, but as I find Jimmie Dale Gilmore's a voice easily one of the most abrasive, annoying voices in popular music, I've never been a gigantic fan of the Flatlanders' work. Yet the cult around their limited work is similar to that which has grown over the years around power pop heroes Big Star.

posted by Anon. 2:49 PM
 
Readings

A quick perusal through a few favorite sites offers up these goodies:

Stephen Kinzer offers a sad, nice piece in the New York Times on what Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was doing in Honduras -- and what she hoped to do there in the future.

Joe Heim has a good review of Paul Westerberg's new album in the Washington Post, one that talks a lot about the burdens of the Replacements legacy.

And Richard Cromelin of the LA Times has written a nice piece about Arthur Lee, the lead genius of the great Los Angeles late 60s band Love, whose Forever Changes is regarded as a classic, and whose "Always See Your Face" was, for me, the definite highlight of the High Fidelity Soundtrack. This is one of the few bands of the psychedelic period that I can actually listen to. After problems with drugs and prison, Lee is attempting a comeback. We wish him well.




posted by Anon. 2:34 PM
 
Eminem vs. Moby; a Newman is Hard to Afford

Page Six of the NY Post occasionally will have great music bits. Today, there are two.

First there's this:
RELENTLESSLY thuggish rapper Eminem is again dissing his MTV contemporaries. Eminem, who has previously slagged Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, has turned his ire against *NSYNC, Limp Bizkit and Moby in his new single "Without Me." Eminem raps about kicking *NSYNC's Chris Kirkpatrick and Limp Bizkit "where the sun don't shine" and says Moby, 36, is too old and that "nobody listens to techno." Moby responded by branding Em's music "misogynistic and homophobic," and cracked, "I am honored to have received my first celebrity diss."
Why give Moby a hard time, Slim? Then there's this bit:
THE operators of the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor don't want to be blamed for the hefty price of tickets to see Randy Newman. Making his first East Coast performance since winning a long overdue Oscar for "Shrek," the singer/songwriter will do a one-night stand Saturday in the 300-seat venue. But tickets are a whopping $150 apiece. Ads in local papers carry a disclaimer at the bottom: "Ticket prices are a reflection of artist fees."
Yes, $150 for Randy Newman is a bit much, even for a quiet intimate 300 person evening with Randy Newman. I'm curious if he's going to play the same song 5 times -- that is, if he's going to play his different songs from Meet the Parents, Monsters, Inc. Bug's Life, and the Toy Story movies, all of which sound exactly the same.Thanks to Jo Jo Flattery in NYC for pointing this out!
posted by Anon. 7:41 AM


{4.30.2002}

 
TLC update

Evidentally, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was simultaneously irreplaceable and irrelevant to the other members of the group. Read here:

ATLANTA (AP) - TLC won't replace Lisa ``Left Eye'' Lopes, who died last week in a car crash in Honduras.

Rozonda ``Chilli'' Thomas told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Grammy-winning R&B trio will release its fourth album and plans to continue performing, but she and Tionne ``T-Boz'' Watkins won't add a new member.

``As for Lisa being replaced - never,'' Thomas said. ``You can't replace a TLC girl. The chemistry we have is something God gave us. You can't put that together." ....

TLC, the top-selling female group of all time, began working on its latest album last summer. Lopes wasn't scheduled to be featured on each song, so her death shouldn't affect the album's release, Thomas said.

``The last couple of albums, Lisa was only on like three songs, and she's on a few songs on this one,'' Thomas said. ``So music-wise, it's the same.''


posted by Anon. 3:45 PM
 
Flashlight!

George Clinton, maestro impresario of Parliament and Funkadelic and one seriously weird dude, is suing Johnny Cochran, former OJ lawyer and frequent host of lousy court-related television programs. Here's the story. Sadly, it's not as interesting as I hoped.

posted by Anon. 3:42 PM
 
Vs.

Bangles vs. the Go-Gos? Bangles, all the way, the Bangles. Just listen to "Goin' Down to Liverpool," and then come back to me. I just read a day or two ago that the Bangles are back in the studio working on a new album. I'd link to where I read that. But I forget where I read it. YES!

posted by Anon. 3:29 PM
 
And is this the UK?

Friday night had a great time with a good friend. Had dinner at the Kitchen, next door to Akbar; I've always called that area Los Feliz, but apparently, no, it's considered Silverlake, too. We ended up at a bar over in Atwater Village -- which for you non-Angelenos is on the other side of the 5 freeway from Griffith Park, kind of due south of Glendale and due east of Los Feliz -- where a mighty fine D.J. played a lot of old punk and old mod songs. The D.J. wasn't necessarily ambitious: he played the entire Never Mind the Bollocks album, without interruption. I hadn't listened to the entire Sex Pistols record.

What struck me more than anything with the Pistols album was how harmless it sounded. So much is made of the scene that was built around the Pistols -- the punks and the violence and the piercings -- or about Malcom McLaren's media manipulation of them, that very little ends up being talked about the music. I've never found the Pistols one tenth of the band that the Clash were, but what is often forgotten about the Pistols is that they were actually quite melodic. They might have distorted their power chords, but there really isn't that far a distance from the Pistols records and the three minute garage pop classics that you could find on Nuggets. I'll make the claim that nothing on the Pistols album is as scary as the music on the first Stooges album, or as wild as the MC5's Kick Out the Jams. Instead, the Pistols record is full of two-to-three minute melodic three chord wonders, whose lyrics might be proclaiming anarchy, but whose adherence to a sound not that different from the early Townsend and Davies numbers tells another story entirely. Not that the album didn't sound youthful and fun -- but then, "rough boys" is exactly what Townsend called them, didn't he? I want to bite and kiss you...

posted by Anon. 3:06 PM
 
Petty

To grow up in Los Angeles in the late 70s and the 80s meant to grow up listening to Jackson Browne, the Bangles, Guns N' Roses. But more than anything, for me, at least, it meant listening to Tom Petty.

When I was 14 and 15, I listened to REM, to the Who, the Stones, Springsteen, Dylan. The alternative stations then all played the Cure and the Smiths, and that wasn't my thing. (This was pre-Nirvana.) The classic rock stations, they played Zeppelin, Rush, Supertramp. Not my bag, either. So I embraced the American side of the alternative stations, and the singer/songwriter side of classic rock.

Growing up in LA, Petty was the closest thing that an LA kid had to what Jersey kids had in Springsteen and Indiana kids had in Mellencamp and Michigan kids had in Seger. A classic rock and roll troubadour who sang about our streets and our town and our landscape, and set heartaches, true love, friendship all against the same backdrop that I lived in. Never mind the fact that Petty himself was a transplant, a Gainesville, Florida, native who moved to LA only when he first came out to make it. He still sang about my city, and the chiming sound of his and Mike Campbell's Rickenbacker guitars was a great sound to grow up on.

I've been thinking about Petty recently, mostly because he's an artist I once loved, who now does very little for me. Those early "classic" records like Damn the Torpedos and Long After Dark just sound like generic rock and roll. Southern Accents, featuring "Don't Come Around Here no More" sounds worse -- an overproduced, synthesizer-heavy album, where the songs would have been much better suited with stripped down, spare productions. What's interesting is how good one of Petty's least-known and least successful albums, Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) holds up. "Jammin' Me" is a mediocre song -- but "Runaway Trains" is easily one of the ten best things that Petty ever recorded, and "All Mixed Up" and "Ain't Love Strange" are mighty fine.

After "Let Me Up," Petty did his most successful record, Full Moon Fever, and followed it up with Into the Great Wide Open. Into the Great Wide Open has some great songwriting, but it suffers from Jeff Lynne's over-lush production. After that, Petty just seemed to lose his rocker edge, and get more interested in, well, smoking pot and writing about pot. "Mary Jane's Last Dance," an awful song, was the beginning of the end for me. Wildflowers had about three or four lovely songs -- the title track, "Time to Move On," "Hard to Find a Friend" -- but overall was so laid back it put me right to sleep. His soundtrack for She's the One actually showed some signs of life. "Walls" was his best single since "Free Fallin'," there was a nice cover of Lucinda Williams' "Change the Locks," and there were a couple other tracks that were solid. Echo though was another step back.

A sure sign of an artist in musical trouble is when they and their record companies release far too many anthologies within a span of time. Petty has released a box set, a single disc greatest hits, and a two disc greatest hits all within the last decade. That's overkill and a half.

Today I put Full Moon Fever on. When I was 14, it might have been my favorite record. It was in some way's Petty's breakthrough -- in the sense that its success (nominated for Best Album of the Year by the Grammys) and Petty's participation in the equally successful Traveling Wilburys record somehow elevated Petty from the Mellencamp-Seger levels of rock royalty into those levels of Harrison, Orbison, and yes, even within spitting distance of Dylan. I was curious how well it aged.

It's aged surprisingly well. There are some genuine clunkers -- "Love is a Long Road" is boring Vh1 blues, and "Runnin' Down a Dream" sounds all too ready for classic rock. "Zombie Zoo" just sounds strange, a weird ending to the record. But the rest of the second half -- "Feel a Whole Lot Better," his beautiful Byrds cover; "The Apartment Song," a great melodic rockabilly number; and "Depending on You" and "Yer So Bad" are great driving songs. "I Won't Back Down" has an undeniably great hook, and "A Mind with a Heart of Its Own" has a fun lyric.

And then there's "Free Fallin'." Take a step back. Forget having to watch that awful video of Petty going up and down the Westside Pavillion escalators and of a blonde skateboarding (a video that exemplified how much damage a video can do to enjoying a song). Forget Tom Cruise singing the song in a desperate state in Jerry Maguire. See if you can actually remember the first time you heard that song -- it wasn't the first single, so maybe you first heard the song when you first put the album on. Remember those opening chords, ringing out, the simple images of "a freeway running through the yard," and then the exhiliration -- and sadness -- of that chorus, as it began with an exultation of freedom -- "I'm free" -- only to then exclaim not freedom but recklessness with the fall. "Free Fallin'" was a great song, that was played to death. Overexposure is not limited to the Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow magazine covers of the world.

"Free Fallin'" seemed to promise something that Petty has never again been able to deliver. In general, what keeps Petty from ever hitting the Dylan and Springsteen levels, I fear, are his lyrics. They're a little too goofy, a little too whimsical, and when he tries to go a little beneath the surface, he can't seem to go too deep at all. At his best, Petty is a great rocker and a good songwriter of melodies -- "King's Highway" from Into the Great Wide Open is another great one. He has certainly written and recorded about twenty or so genuinely excellent songs -- from "Mystery Man" and "American Girl" from his debut, to "Listen to Your Heart," "Insider," and many others.

That's not enough of an oeuvre to put him into the level of Springsteen and Dylan, and he has never taken the same musical chances or made the musical evolution course that Van Morrison and Neil Young have bravely taken. But Dylan's recent work shows that one can still be older and still not play it so safe, evolving in new and interesting ways. It will be interesting to see if in his future albums, Petty can learn from that example, and take a few steps back from the middle of the road.



posted by Anon. 2:09 PM
 
Oooof

You really don't want to know how many people have somehow been forwarded to this site the last two days from Google in search of "Lisa Lopes death pics" and similar searches. You really, really don't.

posted by Anon. 9:05 AM


{4.29.2002}

 
The Palmermix IM Interview: Thom Jones

I made the mistake of eating too much at lunch, so instead of getting much work done, I've been mostly screwing around. There's a great story that Faulkner was sitting out on his porch one day, just staring out at the trees, having a drink. His wife comes out onto the porch and says, could you please run this errand? "Dammit, woman," ol' Bill replied. "Don't you know not to interrupt me when I'm writing!"

Anyway, as a special Palmermix treat, here's an interview with one of my old writing mentors, Thom Jones. That's not Tom "It's Not Unusual" Jones, the Welsh singer, but instead Thom Jones, author of gritty short fiction, compiled in the collections The Pugilist at Rest, Cold Snap, and Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine. If you like Tim O'Brien and Denis Johnson, you'll probably go for Thom. Anyway, though he's a Doors fan, Thom is a swell fella, and in the past few months has developed carpal tunnel syndrome, broken a hip, and lost his beloved dog Shelby to cancer. Not so good times. But that's not stopping Thom from using his love for music to hammer out peace in the Middle East!

The unedited transcript of today's chat is as follows:
MOP: yo hoss
Tj: hi
MOP: hows the wrists
Tj: same deal
MOP: i'm sorry dudeski
MOP: how's the writing coming along
Tj: i haven't done any basically
MOP: what are you doing with all that free time
Tj: i went swimming today
MOP: with your little yellow floaties on your arms?
Tj: how would you feel about putting yasar arafat up for a few nights?
MOP: he probably scores some good wacky tobacky
MOP: but seeing as how i live in the orthodox part of los angeles, it's probably not a swell idea
Tj: gee, when will people learn to get along?
MOP: if everyone played chess instead of war, what a more beautiful world it could be
Tj: there is a place, perhaps you've heard of the Big Rock Candy Mountain
MOP: i think we need to get sharon and arafat and their women in one large dance hall, with sawdust on the floor and a killer jukebox. then i, jukejoint ray, will plunk a few quarters in the jukebox, and soon ariel and yassir will be grooving to some old coasters records
Tj: it's in the bible
MOP: or maybe the rascals
MOP: i bet yassir and ariel can both love "good lovin'," everyone loves that song, it's blue eyed soul we can all support and love
Tj: the blues bros.
MOP: surely arafat and sharon will like some smokey robinson and the miracles, it's not like they were political like marvin or curtis
MOP: no, not the blues brothers, jesus christ, we are lucky that you are not down there hammering out a peace
MOP: next thing you know, you['re going to want yassier and sharon to listen to some country joe and the fish
MOP: what, thom jones is the peace negotiator? quick, get me two tickets to melbourne
MOP: i'll then hop a puddle jumper to tasmania, i'll be safe there
Tj: bolts of painful electricity are shooting down my arm
MichaelOPalmer: what music have you been listening to lately
MichaelOPalmer: what tunes are the panacea for your woes
Tj: i haven't been listenting to any
Tj: mostly i like to sleep


There you have it. Stay tuned for further exciting updates from the literati world!

posted by Anon. 4:03 PM
 
Jam band crackdown

About 200 people were arrested in a crackdown at a series of concerts in Alabama by jam band Widespread Panic this weekend. No, they weren't arrested for bad music taste. No, they weren't arrested for bad white dancing. No, they weren't -- okay, okay, enough. They were arrested for drugs. The authorities referred to the crackdown as -- I'm not joking -- Operation Don't Panic. Here's the wire report.

posted by Anon. 3:17 PM
 
More on RS

I don't mean to suggest that Rolling Stone should abandon all commercial music or instincts. Obviously, Rolling Stone is a magazine, a commercial enterprise. That's why I can't get angry at them for putting Britney Spears on the cover occasionally, or other music hotties. That's what sells magazines, and I understand that. I also understand that if RS put Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams on their covers, they wouldn't sell many issues at all. That said, it's one thing for RS to give cover space to hot musicians and another thing for RS to give cover space to subjects that its readers read about already in Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, etc. And also, giving covers to teen-oriented stars is one thing -- but in the past decade there has been a steady trend within the magazine of gearing itself towards 15 year olds. (Stranger still that this is still guiding the magazine given the recent studies that have refuted the notion that teenagers are the most "open-minded" (i.e. most easily swayed to new products) to advertisers' strategies.) Yes, there will be a cover devoted to an occasional aging rock dinosaur (last year's actually insightful Dylan interview by Mikal Gilmore (I think it was Mikal Gilmore) comes to mind), but overall, Rolling Stone stopped being a "just music" magazine a long time ago.

So it's not just about which music. Spin has always covered the "hipper" bands, yet their music coverage has always been smug and self-righteous; I've always found that the best pieces in Spin have always been the non-music pieces, especially in the days when Elizabeth Gilbert and Elizabeth Mitchell were writing for them. It's not about which music Rolling Stone chooses to cover -- it's about Rolling Stone choosing to cover music, and not just all this other pop culture crap.

Surely there's a way for Rolling Stone to be to music what Sports Illustrated is to sports: the place to go for in-depth, well-written commentary and profiles and, yes, news. There's no way though for Rolling Stone to compete with the Internet and cable news when it comes to breaking news, though. As for competing with Blender, I think that Rolling Stone trying to go after the Maxim and teen markets won't succeed. Kids can smell that kind of thing a mile away. Just look at all the failed teen movies that came out after American Pie succeeded.



posted by Anon. 2:55 PM
 
Newsstandoffish

The New York Times and the news wires report that Jann Wenner has fired Robert Love as editor of Rolling Stone. If you're like me, Rolling Stone stopped being your favorite read a while ago. That said, the explanations for the changes at RS deserve some comment.

First, here's an excerpt from the wire story:

NEW YORK (AP) - Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone, is replacing the top editor of the magazine and shifting its focus away from long features in favor of shorter, newsier stories on music and entertainment.

The change comes as Rolling Stone faces declining newsstand sales and the perception of an older readership while an upstart music magazine, Blender, has been hitting a nerve with younger readers.

Robert Love is stepping down as managing editor of Rolling Stone, Kent Brownridge, Wenner's top deputy, said in an interview Monday, confirming a report in The New York Times. No replacement for Love was immediately named.

Brownridge said Rolling Stone was not responding directly to the competitive threat from Blender but to changes in the culture that require a more timely approach to providing news about music, movies and other forms of entertainment.

``Rolling Stone is a very different magazine than it was 10 years ago, and things are happening in the culture that dictate a faster take on what's going on,'' Brownridge said. ``This is a phenomenon, among other things, of the Internet and 24-hour news channels.''
So basically Rolling Stone and Wenner are going to try to make the magazine briefer and "newsier," avoiding long profiles. There's also a quote in the story that the magazine is going to focus more on youth, considering Blender's success.

My impression has been that Rolling Stone for the last decade has been only about appealling to teenagers and early twentysomethings. Sure, they still will give a little space to half-assed Hunter S. Thompson pieces, or a Tom Wolfe essay. But the Rolling Stone of the late 60s, 70s, even early to mid 80s wouldn't be having the stars of The Sweetest Thing on the cover. The worst thing you could say about Rolling Stone coverage during that period is that Jann Wenner would occasionally slip or push his own buddies onto the cover -- a little Boz Scaggs there, a little Carly Simon here, fair enough. But for the past 15 years, there's been a clear shift in placing an emphasis on glitz and teens. It's been a depressing change. All that and there's been much less music coverage, and much more "entertainment."

The other insane part of this news is Rolling Stone's failure to learn from the example of other publications. Throughout the 90s, when other magazines and newspapers felt pressure from the Internet and 24-hour news channels, they attempted to "hip" up their publications and also to focus on briefer news and more of it, often with a lot of "entertainment news" thrown in. This explains how Time and Newsweek, which were once at least moderately interesting reads, are now often excruciating.

Here's the reality of publication. A bi-weekly magazine like a Rolling Stone is never going to compete with a 24 hour news channel or the Internet, in terms of providing up-to-the-minute news for a media savvy, news-starving public. So it's silly and ridiculous for Rolling Stone to try to compete. The longer profiles that Rolling Stone is now going to shy away from is exactly what RS can provide that the Internet and the news channels can't -- especially utilizing the access that Rolling Stone, as an established, long-term entity has that the other sources don't.

Here's something to consider. While Time has continued to try to dumb itself down in its effort to appeal to youth and the LCDs, it's interesting to note that the best writing these days in the Time-Warner family of magazines can be found in, of all places, Sports Illustrated -- as it's the only publication there that's allowed to have longer, more in-depth profiles, with often terrific writing. I can read a piece in SI about a sport that I don'ty even enjoy or follow, and I will still enjoy the piece. Now, did Sports Illustrated change itself when ESPN and the sports websites all became huge? No, not really. They sleeked up the graphic design a little, they maybe added some sidebars, they snazzed up the front of the book section, but there are still the in-depth commentaries and profiles that have become SI's hallmark.

A lot of sports magazines have folded or failed over the years. Somehow, SI has survived -- and even thrived -- even in the channel-clicking, quick-fix culture, precisely because instead of trying to emulate the emergence of cable news and the Internet as sources, SI has continued to offer something that the cable news and the Internet haven't. Rolling Stone, I fear, is making a poor choice that will lead only to further snags -- and irrelevance.

It's a shame, because it's a magazine with a pretty impressive history of writers and photographers. There used to be a time when Rolling Stone's writers themselves were celebrities -- when you turned the pages, eager to read the latest piece by Lester Bangs or Dave Marsh, by Greil Marcus or Cameron Crowe or Joe Estrezhas, or even by William Greider or Mikal Gilmore. I don't know anyone who picks up a Rolling Stone today eager to read a specific writer.

One more note to RS: fire Peter Travers, who isn't just a bad critic but apparently is the biggest junket hack of them all -- reminding me of that old John Breaux, Senator of Louisiana Line: "I can't be bought... but I can be rented!"

posted by Anon. 12:26 PM
 
Better

One of the greater web-projects has been the popularity of "public ranking" sites, where people are asked to rate things, vox populi style. Unfortunately, the major ranking going on can be succinctly represented by the two most famous sites using this format: AmIHotorNot.com and RateMyRack.com. I'm not linking those, because Palmermix firmly believes that if you're going to support the objectification of women, then you at least should have to make the extra effort to TYPE the link in your browser.

But the Lower East Side's top blogger, Lockhart Steele -- whose blog has been on vacation for the last week while he readies the premiere of a hot new summer publication -- sends us this link. Pretty fantastic. Garden gnome vs. the movie "Hackers?" Brain surgery vs. James Bond Jr.? Gravity vs. the direction Right? This site encourages a complete hierarchy of everything on earth.

Requisite music content: as of 7:55 AM today, these were the top 10 What's Better rankings.

Top Ten List

1. Kirsten Dunst
2. Einstein
3. Elle Macpherson
4. Nicole Kidman
5. Darth Vader
6. Milla Jovovich
7. Star Wars
8. Earth
9. Porsche Carrera GT
10. Christina Ricci


Bottom Ten List

1. Adolf Hitler
2. Osama Bin Laden
3. Bill Gates
4. Michael Eisner
5. Dog Crap
6. Backstreet Boys
7. N'Sync
8. KKK
9. Hanson
10. Rupaul

I love the Web! Where else can anti-Eisner sentiment win out over the boy bands (or, for that matter, the Klu Klux Klan!) I'm also glad to see that Einstein beats Nicole Kidman. Enjoy!

posted by Anon. 7:57 AM


{4.28.2002}

 
Sunday ramble

I've had a lot of non-Palmermix work to catch up on this weekend. But while reading pilot scripts today, I've also been doing a little bit of surfing and catching up on the NYT. Jon Pareles has a fine piece, inspired by Layne Staley's recent death, about drug abuse fueling the muse but also fueling a steady decline in musicians -- and the dangers in the musicians' creation of a drug mythology with their fans. (For some reason, Pareles name was left off of the piece on the Web, but he did write it.)

There is also a brief Q&A with Elvis Costello in today's NY Times Magazine. I hadn't realized this, but EC is currently an artist-in-residence at UCLA, which means he does a season of concerts there. Neat.

Back to work. On the turntable this morning: Ron Sexsmith's third album, Whereabouts; Kasey Chambers' Barricades and Brickwalls, reviewed in these pages a month or two ago; and Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey. This was the first album of Van's I ever got into, so it has a special place in my heart, even if it's often described by critics as inferior to Astral Weeks, Moondance, and St. Dominic's Preview, the other high points of Van's first solo "good" period.

Whereabouts is inconsistent, though "Must Have Heard It Wrong" is a lovely song. I prefer Sexsmith's first solo record, which is self-titled. His music reflects his influences Tim Hardin and Harry Nillson, but his voice reminds me most of all of that of Daniel Lanois. (Lanois has worked a little with Sexsmith in the past, producing one song on his debut, and he was going to do his recent Blue Boy, but had a prior committment to a certain Irish rock band. So Steve Earle and engineer Ray Kennedy, who bill themselves as the Twangtrust and produced an earlier version of Lucinda's Car Wheels (before she fired them or before they moved on, replaced by Springsteen keyboardist Roy Bittan, depending on who you hear the story from) and also produced the now defunct V-Roys' fine All About Town. Whew.)

I haven't heard Blue Boy, but I'd be curious to, mostly because I hear Earle and Kennedy encouraged Sexsmith to rock out a little, and because Sexsmith's first albums were produced by Mitchell Froom, Latin Playboy and husband of Suzanne Vega. I don't like Froom's work -- he gave a tinny, thin sound to the Richard Thompson albums he produced (from Rumour and Sigh to You? Me? Us?; RT's most recent album, the consistently satisfying Mock Tudor, was produced by the same production team responsible for Elliot Smith's XO), and while I liked the Los Lobos record Kiko, I think in general Froom has an interest in a mechanical/industrial sound that doesn't suit Los Lobos either, and which has harmed later Lobos efforts.

But back to Van Morrison. Tupelo Honey is a great Sunday record, even more so when you're getting to enjoy some blue skies and weather in the 60s; it's a day that's reminding me the good side of living in Southern California.


By the way, if you don't own Tupelo Honey, Amazon is somehow selling it for $7.99. I'm curious if the other albums from his Warner period are equally low-priced. If so, then pick up the other ones I list above, too.
posted by Anon. 2:42 PM

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