Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Edie Adams Television Collection Gets Release Date

Ernie Kovacs was the man.

But then again, his wife Edie Adams had a big-ass pair of trousers too.

Kovacs tirelessly wooed Adams until she finally relented and said yet.

She was quite a catch, and he knew it.

He died in a car wreck on the way home from Adams' baby shower. The two took separate vehicles.

After his passing, she continued to produce television specials, which have now been compiled in a very detailed box set.


More than 50 years after it premiered on the ABC network, the variety shows Here's Edie and The Edie Adams Show are set for release on DVD and digital formats. This is the first time either television show has been seen in any format since its original broadcast more than a half a century ago.

Produced and Distributed via MVD Entertainment Group in association with Ediad Productions, Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection is set for release in stores across North America and Internationally on November 19, 2013.

The 'wow' factor of this box set resides in the eclectic guest stars Edie Adams was personally able to secure for the show. Jazz fans will be able to see, rare performance footage of giants, such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman and Al Hirt, among others. Popular vocalists include Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin and Johnny Mathis and more.

Comedians include Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin, Soupy Sales along with Buddy Hackett, Dick Shawn and Terry-Thomas who co-starred with Adams in the classic motion-picture It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

Classical music fans can look forward to performances of Andrew Previn, Lauritz Melchoir and Laurindo Almeida. Additional guests include Allan Sherman, Spike Jones, Peter Falk, Sir Michael Redgrave, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Buddy Hackett and more.

Unlike any variety show before or since, Here's Edie The Edie Adams Television Collection is a tour-de-force for a female entertainer in the early-1960's. After the sudden passing of her husband Ernie Kovacs in January 1962, Adams forged ahead with her own headlining show, showcasing her many talents.

Adams hosts, sings, dances, acts, does comedy, takes an uncredited role of costumer Enke and also produces her own show. While much has been said of Adams' preservation efforts of the Ernie Kovacs archive, she also left behind a stunning body of her own work that survives due only to her indefatigable preservation efforts.

This 12-hour, four DVD set features a new digital transfer from original 2-inch videotapes of the entire 1962-64 run of 21 episodes (with her famed Muriel Cigar commercials intact) plus extensive bonus footage.

This material includes rarely seen Adams musical numbers from numerous Ernie Kovacs shows of the 1950's with introductions from Kovacs himself. Other bonus features include a set of commercial promos by Adams and another Mad World co-star Sid Caesar (whose The Sid Caesar Show alternated weeks with Edie's shows), a Muriel Cigars promotional film and more.

Also included is a lush 16-page booklet packed with rare photos from the family archive, an essay from Edie's son Joshua Mills and a show-by-show rundown from Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams curator and DVD co-Producer Ben Model.

Directors for Adams shows included Barry Shear and Joe Behar (who also directed many episodes of Ernie Kovacs's shows) as well as Steve Binder (The T.A.M.I Show, Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special), which helped forge each episode as a unique program unto itself. Conceptualized by Adams, her shows were not only themed but also taped in-studio as well as on location. This includes entire episodes shot in a Las Vegas hotel/casino nightclub, another on the streets of London, one shot entirely in the sparse Nevada desert and another in New York City to accommodate her busy schedule.

Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection


*Here's Edie Pilot Airdates: April 9, 1962, May 26, 1963 (as Special #7)
Guests: Dick Shawn, André Previn
*Special #1-"New York" Airdate: October 23, 1962
Guests: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Peter Falk, the Claremont String Quartet
*Special #2-"London" Airdate: December 13, 1962
Guests: Sir Michael Redgrave, the Piccadilly Buskers, the Grenadier Guards, the Third Air Force Band, and the children of London. 
*Special #3-"Bossa Nova" Airdate: January 20, 1963
Guests: Stan Getz, Laurindo Almeida, the Roger Wagner Chorale, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra (plus cameos by Don Rickles and Cesar Romero)
 *Special #4-"Las Vegas" Airdate: February 26, 1963
Guests: Charlie Barnet, The Eligibles, the Earl Barton Dancers, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra, Eddie Fisher
*Special #5 -"Western" Airdate: March 16, 1963
Guests: Hoagy Carmichael, Rowan & Martin, Hank Henry, the Homer Garrett Dancers, The Eligibles, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra.


 Here's Edie (contd.)

*Special #6-"Love" Airdate: April 19, 1963
 Guests: Buddy Hackett, The United Nations Children's Choir, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra
*Special #8 -"Bob Hope" Airdate: June 18, 1963
  Guests: Bob Hope, Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, The United Nations Children's Choir, Jerry Fielding and His Orchestra The Edie Adams Show (After the show returned from a summer break, it was given a new title.)

*Special #1 Airdate: September 26, 1963
  Guests: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eddie Sauter, Stan Getz 
*Special #2 Airdate: October 10, 1963
  Guests: Louis Nye, Maury Wills
*Special #3 Airdate: October 24, 1963
  Guests: Al Hirt, Nancy Wilson

Sid Caesar and Edie Adams promos
Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:
"Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)"- Ernie in Kovacsland, July 6, 1951
"My Funny Valentine" - Ernie in Kovacsland, August 23, 1951
" 'S Wonderful" - Kovacs on the Corner, January 1952
"I Feel a Song Coming On" - Kovacs Unlimited, May 28, 1952
"Mississippi Mud" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 4, 1956
Marilyn sings "Ballad of Davy Crockett" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 4, 1956
"Paradise" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 23, 1956
"Get Happy" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 26, 1956
"A Sunday Kind of Love" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, January 30, 1956


The Edie Adams Show (contd.)

*Special #4 Airdate: November 7, 1963
Guests: Allan Sherman, The United Nations Children's Choir; plus regulars George Furth, Don Chastain, Peter Hanley
*Special #5 Airdate: November 21, 1963
Guests: Don Chastain, John Hendricks, Lauritz Melchior, Count Basie and His Band; plus George Furth *Special #6 Airdate: December 5, 1963
Guests: Sammy Davis Jr., Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley 
*Special #7 Airdate: December 19, 1963
 Guests: Rowan & Martin, André Previn; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley
*Special #8 Airdate: January 2, 1964 
Guests: Pete Fountain, Cliff Norton; plus Don Chastain, Peter Hanley


Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:
"Everything I Have Is Yours" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 12, 1956
"Dancing on the Ceiling" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 17, 1956
"Chicago" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 20, 1956
"I Could Have Danced All Night" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, April 26, 1956
"Moritat" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, May 8, 1956 
"Honey Bun" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, May 17, 1956
"Summertime" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, June 12, 1956


The Edie Adams Show (contd.)

*Special #9 Airdate: January 16, 1964
Guests: Terry-Thomas, Spike Jones,
*Special #10 Airdate: February 6, 1964
Guest: Bobby Darin
*Special #11 Airdate: February 20, 1964
Guests: Woody Herman and His Band, Jack Sheldon, Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill
*Special #12 Airdate: March 5, 1964
Guests: John Raitt, Louis Nye, Charlie Byrd, Mitzi McCall & Charlie Brill
*Special #13 Airdate: March 18, 1964
Guests: Johnny Mathis, Soupy Sales, Alan Sues 


Song performances from Ernie Kovacs shows:
"To Keep My Love Alive" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, June 27, 1956
"Take Me in Your Arms" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, July 24, 1956
Medley: "Lullaby of Broadway" & "42nd Street" - The Ernie Kovacs Show, August 27, 1956
Muriel promotional film (1965)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The OCD Chronicles: Death Cab For Cutie - "Photobooth"

Death Cab For Cutie takes the Shoe Leather Express
You might be able to tell through my words, thoughts, and endless reminiscing that my heart is full of flawed romanticism. Certain actions from years ago still haunt me and I’m very aware that I cannot change things that I’ve done to others, or choices that I may have made.

This includes a list of women that I could not communicate effectively with or provide the type of relationship that they may (or may not) have been trying to achieve. And while my choices-those flawed and those that were correct-have led me to the place that I am at today, I cannot help but wish the path to my current happiness was a bit more honest, efficient, and completely aware of how love may be life’s only true fulfilling thing. These feelings of regret are brought to light through songs.

After all, it’s the soundtrack to our lives, right?

And there’s probably one band in particular that is led by another man with a full heart, who’s catalog is filled with glances in life’s rear view mirror, constantly re-evaluating scenes in his head and roads he could have taken instead.

Christ, even their name is stuck in a reference from yesterday: Death Cab For Cutie.

I’m tired of talking about this band’s rise and fall in my own playlist, but I cannot ignore how there are songs in their catalog that serve as triggers. Because, let’s face it, part of becoming completely enamored with a band’s music often depends on how closely it relates to your own life. There may be themes or topics that appear in their songs that are so close to a personal experience or event that you’re almost certain that the lyricist has been snooping around in your journal, emails, or even worse-your mind, to come up with a few lines of prose for a fucking pop song.

And you love them all the more for it.

Like I said, I’ve fallen out of love with Ben Gibbard, but admittedly this may having more to do with no longer being such a fanboy that I don’t have a proper reference to his most recent work. All I have is the moment where our relationship ended, and the fond memories that he created with Death Cab For Cutie before our falling out.

One snapshot is the appropriately titled “Photobooth” from their 2000 e.p. Forbidden Love.

 The extended play is for completists only. Casual fans can stay away because short of half the songs on the five track e.p. are mere alternate takes or acoustic versions of songs that already appeared in their much better full length offerings. Two other songs are leftovers and they sound it.

That leaves one truly good track, which stands out in my mind as “great” because of the aforementioned connotations to my own memories which also seem to reflect Gibbard’s.


“I remember when the days were long” Gibbard begins “And our nights when the living room was on the lawn.” Usually, as we get older and more responsible, we tend to forget those times when our vehicles were the ticket to freedom. It was a time when an act like being able to simply hang out with a member of the opposite sex required traveling a short distance, and often the grass of a park, or cemetery, or beach, or whatever, became our refuge and our furniture. After all, how can you discover each other through thought or touch when your parents or roomates are within earshot in another part of the house?

“Constant quarreling, the childish fits/And our clothes in a pile on the ottoman” It must have been the hormones, because when the fuck did so little turn into so much drama? It is moments like this when I look back and realize how much time was wasted on trivial things, preventing us from enjoying what Queen referred to as this “crazy little thing called love.”

Those moments are precious, and to squander them now seems wasteful, but during your younger years, I’m willing to bet that most relationships are spent creating and dealing with petty bullshit instead of enjoying the moments you have with someone else to the fullest. Particularly in the summer.

Did you ever find love at the beginning of the season, work like hell to get them in the sack and then realize when it was all over that there was no chance of the relationship ever moving beyond that one moment? By the time the leaves on the trees begin to change, so does your attraction.

 Gibbard’s next line is where “Photobooth” really stands next to copyright infringement for me:

“Well I lost track and those words were said
You took the wheel and you steered us into my bed
Soon we woke and I walked you home
And it was pretty clear that it was hardly love”

When you finally get “permission” to advance, when it becomes clear that everything you have worked for the entire season to achieve is finally becoming a reality, it’s only afterwards that you figure out how maybe the other person isn’t the complete package that you’d hoped for. Maybe the sex wasn’t that good. Maybe you’re plagued with the guilt of saying things you didn’t actually mean and now you’re faced with the reality of having to distance yourself away. Maybe it’s the regret of opening the present before Christmas morning. 

The temperature in Iowa at this moment has literally dropped over twenty degrees in the course of one or two days. The hint of fall is approaching, and the memories of all of the things that didn’t get done are clearly in front of me.

Yet, my mind wanders as it often does, to a time when the only honey do list was to change direction with the season, on that seemingly endless quest to connect with someone. To finally get it right. To build a more permanent memory than some immediate snapshot taken in the photobooth of some dingy bar of a relationship that was extinct before the machine dished out the evidence of another example of wasted time.

Not necessarily wasted on the other person, but maybe the time spent with that person was riddled with pointless exercises that prevented you from taking the next step, or stepping away to look for a connection in a different direction.

May the cool air push your hard heart forward.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Former Genesis Guitarist Kicks Off Genesis Revisited Tour II

The most interesting thing to note about Steve Hackett's upcoming tour of old Genesis material is that he's got Phil Collins' son with him.

Initially, I was worried that old Phil himself would weasel his way out of retirement and join him. But then I remembered how Collins' last "retirement" tour with his old bandmates was a complete failure and how Collins is old and decrepit now, unable to hear anything out of his left ear and unable to hold a drum stick after an injury to his vertebrae after watching long-time touring percussionist Chester Thompson play all of his drum parts for him.

It should be noted that Thompson is actually about three years older than Collins, but then again, age ain't nothin' but a number.

Just ask Aaliyah.

Oh wait...

I suppose I shouldn't be so snarky towards Collins. After all, the most recent news from his camp was that he was suicidal and suffering from a severe case of low self esteem. Maybe a nice, relaxing evening watching Brother Bear in his tax-haven compound in Switzerland is in order.

Or perhaps he could go online and check his bank statement.

That should cheer him up.

But seriously folks, Steve Hackett is still out there trying to earn a buck playing smaller venues and I bet that it ranks above any Phil Collins/Genesis tour anyway, while still far behind any stage offering by Peter Gabriel.

A little bit of advice, Steve: I would hide any evidence of your involvement with the "supergroup" GTR from any future publicity. Trust me, don't let your heart rule the mind on that one.

The press release of Hackett's tour follows:

World-renowned guitarist/composer Steve Hackett is set to tour North America in support of his latest album, Genesis Revisited II with the Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited Tour 2013. The dates will kick off in St. Charles, IL on Friday, September 20th, will run through mid-October and will boast a set list of all Genesis material including such fan favorites as "Musical Box," "Firth Of Fifth" and "Supper's Ready". The performances will also include a specially-designed light show.

Selling England by the pound and charging $50 a seat here in the states.
The Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited Tour has already broken box office records in the UK, Europe and Japan. Please see below for the full North American itinerary. Steve Hackett's recent double disc Genesis Revisited II (InsideOut Music) features reinterpreted Genesis classics from the period dearest to Hackett, the "golden era" 1971-1977, with a stellar array of guest performers; Hackett enlisted the help of 35 special guests to provide the songs with a new unique edge. The star-studded line-up includes respected vocalists Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Simon Collins (Phil Collins' son), Amanda Lehmann, Conrad Keely, Francis Dunnery, Neal Morse, John Wetton, Nad Sylvan and Nik Kershaw. Steve Rothery of Marillion and Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings and Transatlantic joined in to share guitar duties, while Jeremy Stacey and Gary O'Toole are amongst the chosen drummers.

In 2010, Steve Hackett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame at The 25th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony alongside his Genesis bandmates from the classic line-up: Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. For more than three decades, Steve Hackett has been known for his innovative tone and extraordinary versatility as a guitarist and composer. He helped define Genesis' sound as lead guitarist in the classic line-up and went on to have a highly-successful career as a solo artist, and also as part of 80s supergroup GTR with Steve Howe.

Steve Hackett North American tour dates:


20 St. Charles, IL Arcada Theatre
21 St. Charles, IL Arcada Theatre
22 Milwaukee, WI The Pabst Theatre
23 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre
25 New York, NY Best Buy Theater
26 Lakewood, NJ The Strand Theater
27 Westbury, NY NYCB Theatre At Westbury
28 Ridgefield, CT The Ridgefield Playhouse
29 Albany, NY The Egg Center For The Performing Arts


3 Montreal, QC Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier Place Des Arts
4 Quebec City, QC Grand Theatre De Quebec
5 Gatineau, QC Le Casino Du Lac Leamy
6 Belleville, ON Empire Theater
8 Oakville, ON Oakville Centre For Performing Arts
9 Oakville, ON Oakville Centre For Performing Arts
10 Munhall, PA Carnegie Music Hall Of Homestead
11 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
12 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
13 Collingswood, NJ Scottish Rite Auditorium

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

KISS - Lick It Up

Thirty years ago today, KISS did the impossible and made a correction to their downward trajectory by releasing an album where the members appeared without their makeup.

Hard to believe, but the record buying public was swindled once again by viewing such an event as an important artistic endeavor, rather than rightly hearing that Lick It Up was anything more than par-for-the-course bullshit, this time featuring “newest” member, guitarist Vinnie Vincent.

I’m already getting mad at the band again by writing this, and I haven’t even gotten to the actual review of the record yet.

You see, Vincent had already contributed to their last album, Creatures Of The Night, a surprisingly decent effort that continued to feature original guitarist Ace Frehley on the cover (and subsequent video for the lead-off single, “I Love It Loud”) even when he was nowhere on the recording.

Vincent was hired to be a reliable songwriter and contributor after Ace became disillusioned with the band’s nonsense, while the remaining creative core of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley refused to provide Frehley’s replacement with any contract, naming him as an official member.

Now, you would think that such an arrangement would have caused Vincent to balk at any additional work with Simmons and Stanley, but the dumbass continued along with them, including a stint as a full-fledged makeup-wearing member going by the name of “The Ankh Warrior.”

The makeup thing clearly wasn’t working for them any longer, so Simmons and Stanley pressed on sans makeup, and they suckered Vincent into working with them again for Lick It Up.

Here’s the thing, the idea of KISS doing a record without their makeup was still a huge deal thirty years ago, even though they had released an album entitled Unmasked three years before Lick It Up. As fans discovered, Unmasked was a ruse to sell more records; none of the members actually ditched their makeup as the title suggested.

Lick It Up was different as KISS actually swindled MTV into giving them airtime for the big “reveal,” although they let the second least popular VJ, JJ Jackson (Nina Blackwood was first because they gave her the graveyard shift while “Triple J” got evenings) host the event. Jackson did a good job of hyping the proceedings, but if you were like me (yes, I watched it), the moment you saw the member’s true faces, you screamed at the television screen for them to put it back on.

The members of KISS are not the most visually stunning specimens in rock music.

Thirty years later, nobody gives a shit about what the members of KISS look like, and all we have left is the recorded evidence of Lick It Up, 10 songs of frustratingly mediocre arrangements and an endless parade of embarrassing sexuality that goes beyond the norms of traditional rock and roll juvenilia.

The title track was everywhere, or at least it seemed. Despite having MTV on board and placing the post-apocalyptic video which featured thralls of women thrusting themselves at the makeup-free band members, the actual single never made it into the Top 40 Billboard charts, leaving “Beth” as the lone hit single (at that time) for these pathetic creatures of the night.

Again, the 10 songs featured on Lick It Up were the direct result of Vinnie Vincent’s involvement with the band, and while he fought tooth and nail to suggest that his contributions were the reason for the band’s resurgence-adding to his suggestion that he should become a full, card-carrying member of the band-there is nothing on this album to warrant any amount of pride or credit.

If anything, Vinnie Vincent would have done better to hide his involvement, telling anyone who feigned interest on his career that he was a session player for Happy Days or the tambourine player for Dan Hartman.
“Lick It Up” is essentially two chords and a suggestive lyric, which doubles as a sexual innuendo for eating sperm and is remarkably not even close to the most patently offensive article on the album.
For that, you have to (once again) rely on Gene Simmons, who pens an ode to anal sex (“Fits Like A Glove”) as well as one to skull fucking (“Dance All Over Your Face”). Simmons dwells on the opposite sex and the act of intercourse with such a notable amount of disdain that you wonder if all of his conquests were mentally challenged enough to legally consent.

And after viewing his face on the cover, you also tend to wonder if he was still “masked” for the acts themselves.

All of this sounds like sour grapes, I realize, but when you hear Lick It Up you immediately ponder “What’s the big deal?” and “Why was this even notable?” These are the musical equivalents of conversations in the locker room after 8th grade football practice or the musings of some schmuck who has never seen the female form outside of his dad’s Playboy collection. To understand that this was the work of men past the age of 30 is an embarrassment, and the lack of creative musicality on Lick It Up is a slight to the rock and roll genre.

Ironically, Paul Stanley later nailed it on when he declared that Lick It Up was a sub-par effort, one in which fans purchased it because “people were listening with their eyes and not their ears.” Had they been using both of their senses, it be should have been clear that KISS were a very ugly band with very ugly intentions.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mickey Thomas Revamps Starship Moniker For A New 10-Year Tour Of County Fairs

Starship post-Jefferson announced recently that they will be releasing their first album in over 20 years, insuring that we will see frontman Mickey Thomas' promotional photo for the next half decade in various county fair posters across the country.

Evidently, they have exhausted all of their greatest hits options (what, no live recordings of their most notable songs or re-recordings of the hits?) and not gotten the memo that nobody gives a shit about hearing anything coming out of Thomas' mouth besides hearing "We Milked This Titty For All Its Worth" "We Built This City" for the millionth time.

This is in addition for the hundreds of thirty and forty-somethings across the country named "Sara" who can be found mouthing the line "storms are brewin' in your eyes" right along with Mickey.

Perhaps Thomas should pay closer attention to another line from the same song:

"Move on, it's no good to go back in time"

In other Starship news...This time of the Jefferson variety (try to keep up), Paul Katner (the only remaining original member) continues to peddle his latest version of the band.

While I haven't spend a ton of time researching what Katner's band is up to, the Jefferson Starship website is filled with curious announcements like "Jefferson Starship Saves The Universe" and a wide array of photoshopped Richard Nixon photos.

Sounds like someones is still way upset about Nixon's backroom authorization of the bombing of Cambodia!

The aforementioned new promotional shot of Mickey Thomas and press release of Starship's newest record are found below.

Classic rockers Starship featuring Mickey Thomas have signed to Loud & Proud Records; the band's first new studio album in more than 20 years, Loveless Fascination, will be released worldwide on September 17th. Of the signing, Loud & Proud President Tom Lipsky commented, "Mickey Thomas is one of the most gifted singers in rock music history. His voice is pure, and without boundaries. Loveless Fascination stands with pride next to the most impressive work of Mickey's entire career."

Frontman Mickey Thomas added, ""It's been a long time coming. With each passing year, the bar was raised higher and higher for this album. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you the expectations caused me a few sleepless nights. Finally I just said - let's play it like we used to play it but play it like it's today! Then everything fell into place. The right management came along, the right songs appeared, the perfect producer and finally the label I hoped for. Now the wait is over. Please PLAY IT LOUD!!"
Find your way back...to the stage next to the funnel cake stand!

Produced by musician/producer Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner, Dio), Loveless Fascination finds Starship featuring Mickey Thomas in reinvigorated form with their classic arena rock sound enhanced by modern elements and a harder edge. Starship will play select tour dates around the world in advance of the album's release; please see below for the itinerary.

Starship featuring Mickey Thomas is one of the most iconic rock band from the '80s, with several platinum- and gold-certified albums to their name, recording several of the decade's biggest anthems, including "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," "Sara" and "We Built This City." "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" and "Sara" each reached #1 on the singles chart and were also each nominated for Grammy Awards; additionally, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" also received an Oscar nomination. "We Built This City" and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" were more recently featured prominently in the smash hit musical and film, Rock Of Ages, introducing the band to a whole new generation of fans.

While the band's history goes back to the '60s, this incarnation of the band was started in 1979 when Mickey Thomas joined Paul Kanter to resurrect Jefferson Starship. To date, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas has sold millions of albums worldwide and continues to tour the globe, taking their powerful live rock show to the masses. Starship featuring Mickey Thomas is Mickey Thomas (vocals), John Roth (guitar, background vocals), Jeff Adams (bass, background vocals), Darrell Verdusco (drums), Stephanie Calvert (vocals) and Phil Bennett (keyboards, background vocals).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pretenders - Break Up The Concrete

To give you an idea of how great the Pretenders’ debut was/is, Chrissie Hynde has made a thirty-year career of it. Not to discount everything she’s released since then—I love II, Learning To Crawl, and parts of Last Of The Independents—but let’s be honest and acknowledge that it’s next to impossible to recreate the stars that aligned so perfectly on that first album.

It is a testament to Hynde’s strength and talent that we’re still referring to her latest incarnation of the Pretenders. And it is quite possible that we wouldn’t be speaking of her longevity had the original version of the Pretenders stayed alive and stayed the course.

Thanks to unnecessary tragedy, they didn’t, but Hynde has tinkered with that original formula just enough to remain relevant and just enough to keep us from entirely writing her off. One area of the Pretenders’ musical canon that, surprisingly, hasn’t been examined is Hynde underneath an Americana backdrop.

The ninth Pretenders album, Break Up The Concrete, provides us with an example of this window-dressing. The results are a curious blend of well-worn comfort and strange unease. While the real rockers are changin’ tires upstairs, bro, Hynde has made an album that’s as unthreatening as the music in the garage shop’s waiting room.

Hynde’s remained as one of rock’s most notorious lefties, but even the political diatribes are uncharacteristically tame. The rootsy instrumentation renders them as little more than as boomer hypocrisy, their themes deadened with the nostalgia of the arrangements instead of bearing real teeth. Even the ballads, which make up the bulk of Break Up The Concrete, sound lethargic and grown up.

These are songs that should work well under the new direction, and to some extent, they do, but only when you forget how well Chrissie could command a ballad without the aid of accordions, pedal steels, and Eisenhower-era recording strategies.

Make no mistake; this is by no means a bad record or one of the worst albums you’ll hear this year. It is, however, a very unsettling listen to a hear a woman who’s built her career on sass suddenly turn so cordial. With Hynde now staring down 60, Break Up The Concrete is the first album where she truly sounds her age.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pretenders - II

When it was originally released in 1981, The Pretenders’ II was almost universally panned by critics as reticent follow-up to their stunning debut. When bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died after II‘s release, Chrissie Hynde regrouped with both grace and a creative spark that led to another acknowledged highpoint, Learning To Crawl.

Twenty-five years later, Rhino Records has re-issued the first two Pretenders efforts, with an additional disc for each that contain the obligatory bonus tracks. The debut really should need no introduction, but perhaps a re-introduction is needed for II, particularly since it would be the last album that featured the original line-up, back when The Pretenders were truly a band instead of a nomenclature for Chrissie Hynde. Of course, these past twenty-five years have featured a lot of disappointments from Ms. Hynde, which makes II stand as one of her better moments and one that ultimately didn’t deserve the critic’s knee-jerk vitriol.

When placed side by side, II does contain some prominent shortcomings over Pretenders: there’s some obvious filler (“Pack It Up,” “Jealous Dogs”), a few blatant attempts at re-writing the formula of the first, and yet another Kinks cover. While Pretenders jumps off the needle with energy and excitement, II sounds like a set from a band still reeling from the success of their initial offering while becoming comfortable with each other.

At the same time, II provides a big handful of songs that either match or exceed the expectations previously laid out. “Message Of Love” quotes Wilde before Chrissie re-writes it (“Life is unkind / We fall but we keep getting up / Over and over and over”) in terms that even an Akron high school dropout could relate to and “Talk Of The Town,” in a perfect world, should have been just as big of a chart hit as “Brass In Pocket.”

Thanks to some incessant touring to capitalize on the success of the debut, themes of the road pop up on a few standouts: “Birds Of Paradise” is a heartbreakingly beautiful song about a relationship being torn apart by distance, while “Day After Day” seems to suggest that, regardless of the difference in time zones, things will work out (“We’ll meet again / And pick up where we left off”).

The discovery in this expanded edition is with disc two, prominently featuring a live performance from the tour that features the band in top form.

The material from II is given a great kick in the ass thanks to Martin Chambers‘ kit work and James Honeyman-Scott’s subtle guitar flourishes. Both musicians are frequently overlooked by their contemporaries and the live disc demonstrates how criminal these oversights are and how fortunate Hynde was at discovering them and giving them an outlet for expression.

Seven months after the tour had ended, both Farndon and Honeyman-Scott died from overdoses which, by turn, ended the original intent that The Pretenders were “them” instead of “her.” Hynde had spent years trying to find this right balance only to have half of her musical equilibrium become another rock and roll footnote.

The upside is that the first two Pretenders albums established her own talents enough that she was allowed to continue, sometimes faltering a little beneath her original glory, but never embarrassing it. The tragedy is that the original quartet didn’t have additional recordings to examine, but the two that we do have are wonderful offerings. Chrissie puts it best in “Talk Of The Town” when she sings: “You arrived like the day / And passed like a cloud” but as the expanded edition of II demonstrates, there’s plenty of fair skies to enjoy in The Pretenders’ second album.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Velvet Underground - Squeeze

In 2001, Velvet Underground guitarist Doug Yule offered this explanation for the unthinkable decision to carry on the band’s moniker without Lou Reed: “Bands were- and occasionally are today-one of the few truly democratic institutions. You can’t fire someone from a band…In a band, everyone’s equal. If they’re not, it’s not a band. When band’s need to change, to lose one or two people, they break apart and reform. The majority keep the name.”

This explanation may have held some weight with the Velvet’s immediately after Reed departed; Yule and Mo Tucker continued to perform as the band (augmented with two other players) and they were arguably entitled to do so.

But after a few gigs and the glaring reality that nobody gave a shit about the Velvet Underground without Reed at the helm, the point should have been very clear to Yule that it was time to leave the convenience of his quasi-notorious moniker and seek out creative fulfillment on his own.

Squeeze is a Doug Yule solo album, plain and simple. And the argument of whether the blame of allowing the Velvet Underground name grace the cover rests on him or manager Steve Sesnick is irrelevant.

Both should have known better.

It’s painfully obvious with the cover art-which is hugely indebted to the look of Loaded-that both were intending to draw some kind of consistency with the last proper Velvets release.

Unfortunately, within moments of Squeeze’s first track, “Little Jack,” you notice that this has nothing in common with its predecessor. Spend a little more time with it and you almost get the sense that Squeeze is the only dud in the Velvet’s otherwise perfect catalog and could have caused even more damage to their legacy if it wasn’t for the fact that it never received a proper release in the band’s native country.

It’s lighthearted, breezy and completely lacking in the Velvet’s reality-caked character studies. While Reed’s subject matters often represent the wrong side of the tracks, “Little Jack” attempts to do the same by lamenting how “mother dear” left him alone to let the streets raise him. Yule even admits that Jack’s “life was lily white,” which further illustrates the divide between him and Reed’s songwriting prowess.

Musically, everything on Squeeze is incredibly pedestrian. Yule is a decent enough guitarist, but there’s barely a hint of character in his playing, and he appears to be doing double duty on bass throughout the record.

The female vocalists who pop up now and then are uncredited and the drummer is none other than Deep Purple’s Ian Paice. Paice is a remarkable drummer, but if there was ever an example of how Maureen Tucker’s primitive abilities trump his technical prowess, it is glaringly obvious on this set. His rapid-fire fills and quick precision stick out like a sore thumb, further adding to the glaringly obvious notion that Squeeze is a Velvet Underground album in name alone, and not even a worthy springboard to Doug Yule’s post-Velvet career.

Surprisingly, its quick departure from the musical landscape (after being out of print for almost 40 years, you can now get Squeeze on an unauthorized compact disc-mastered directly from vinyl-if you've got some pressing need to be ridiculed) made sure that it didn’t drag the Velvet’s name down with it. 

Meanwhile, the poor performance of Squeeze’s overall execution also ensured that Yule himself was quickly downgraded to an afterthought, never once again being offered an opportunity to relish in the critical glow that the Velvet’s originally afforded him.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Jerry Garcia Band - Garcia Live, Volume 2: August 5, 1990 Greek Theatre

After an incredible run by the Grateful Dead in the spring of 1990, Jerry Garcia traveled on well into the summer with a series of shows with the renewed Jerry Garcia Band moniker.  His band provided him with an even more laid-back approach to the material selected-heavy on the Dylan covers and even a few tunes from the Dead’s catalog-with Garcia’s well-worn voice providing a nice cover for the unit’s easy-going interpretation.

And above it all is Jerry’s picking, which is simply in top form with this selection from an afternoon performance at Berkley’s Greek Theatre. This is the second part of a series of live sets from Garcia’s side project and the quality of this latest edition is high enough to understand why it was selected for release.

GarciaLive, Volume 2 repeats a half-dozen tracks from the eponymous double disc album from 1991, also recorded during this same tour. The first and second set close with the very same selections, as a  matter of fact, which would be a bigger issue if Jerry wasn’t in such fine shape for both shows.

The redundancies of those tracks are also overlooked thanks to an appearance of Bela Fleck on banjo for “Midnight Moonlight” and Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come.” These two tracks practically make GarciaLive, Volume 2 required listening for any Dead aficionado or anyone who enjoyed ‘91’s Jerry Garcia Band, but who might be afraid of double-dipping into their wallet for a similar performance.

Admittedly, there isn’t much of a difference in terms of style, but there’s ten more tracks presented that weren’t on that aforementioned title. Another feature of this release is how backing vocalists Gloria Jones and Jackie LaBranch both sound like they’re having a blast. Throughout the set you can hear them offering shouts of praise and joy mid-song, like Garcia is channeling some higher power in his fingertips while the rest of the band follow like worthy disciples.

GarciaLive, Volume 2 is a perfect Sunday afternoon-type of release, with its subtle deliverance and excellent reminder of how 1990 might have been Jerry’s last real hurrah. It presents him in a more accessible light while providing enough spontaneity to please any fan of Garcia’s historic tone and legacy within the jam community.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shearwater Parts The Waters For Upcoming Covers Album

Here's some late-but-not-breaking news from the Shearwater camp.

Evidently, it's an album of covers and I questioned the need to cover a Coldplay song (who wouldn't?) but then I read the press release again and noted that the cover choices were based on the band's that Shearwater have traveled with or slept with throughout their career.

Actually, I'm not sure about the "slept with" part, but it certainly sounded more juicy than just another collection of cover songs.

I like the Swans reference too, as the drummer who played with Shearwater when I saw them, now pounds the shit out of his drums for the Swans currently so, you know, six degrees of Michael Gira.


We are pleased to offer details on behalf of Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers, a new collection of reinventions and collaborations, available on CD, LP and digital on November 26th via Sub Pop. The album was produced, mixed, and engineered by Danny Reisch at Good Danny’s and Public Hi-Fi studios in Austin, Texas. You can now listen to the lead-off track, a cover of Xiu Xiu’s “I Luv The Valley OH!!”. Please find a tracklisting below.

Shearwater bandleader Jonathan Meiburg says of “I Luv The Valley OH!!”:

“Xiu Xiu’s deeply anxious song always seemed like it wanted to be a big rock anthem to me, so we decided to go for it and and blow it out. I played a white 3-pickup SG (like Sister Rosetta Tharpe!) through a Marshall stack (like AC/DC!) for the opening guitar riff – not a sound that’s ever appeared on a SW rec before – and Cully Symington whacked the drums with mallets as hard as he could, sounding more like the Swans’ orchestral-percussion approach than a regular drum set. I love how this song – about imploring a partner to take Mifeprex, I’m pretty sure - seems to explode and implode at the same time, a state of ecstatic terror that Jamie’s music often inhabits and that lurks in a lot of my songs, too. (For more info, including a Fellow Travelers track by track breakdown by JM, click here).

About Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers:

JM: Fellow Travelers wasn’t supposed to be a full-length record, so I’m a little surprised to admit that it’s my favorite Shearwater album so far. Somehow it slipped under the door. It was meant to be a small thing, maybe a home-recorded EP, to release between Animal Joy and the next full-length (for which we’re in the studio right now). But it took on a life of its own. Re-imagining and renovating songs by the bands we’ve traveled with—with assistance from the bands themselves—was like leafing through a scrapbook, and brought back the highs and lows of a decade of touring, from dives in Oklahoma and squats in Slovenia to the Fillmore West, the Bataclán, and the MGM Grand...(read more at Sub Pop).

Fellow Travelers Track Listing:

1) “Our Only Sun” – a fragment of the song “Deeper Devastation,” by Jesca Hoop
2) “I Luv the Valley OH!!” – Xiu Xiu
3) “Hurts Like Heaven” – Coldplay
4) “To Be of Use” – Smog
5) “Natural One” – Folk Implosion
6) “Ambiguity” – David Thomas Broughton
7) “Cheerleader” – St. Vincent
8) “Tomorrow” – Clinic
9) “A Wake for the Minotaur” – Shearwater & Sharon Van Etten
10) “Mary is Mary” – Wye Oak
11) “Fucked Up Life” - The Baptist Generals

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bigfoot Sighting On New Release By Former Parliament-Funkadelic Legend Jerome Brailey

Former Parliament-Funkadelic drummer Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey has continued to remain active even after he left the Mothership, announcing the arrival of the latest album from his band Mutiny.

It appears to be another offering from the P-Funk family that continues a legacy of consistent funkiness and quality grooves.

Details follow in Bigfoot's press release and teaser video that appears to be of the same quality as the Patterson film itself.

Funk Road, the latest album by Mutiny now available on the Catbone Music label. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey, was drummer during the peak of Parliament-Funkadelic's fame and co-writer of such classic hits as "Tear the Roof Off" until he split from "The Mothership" to form his own band, Mutiny.

Funk Road is an amazing, eclectic album of funk, soul, electro, rap, jazz and more. The genre jumping Bigfoot has also done session work with Keith Richards, Snoop Dogg, Pharoah Sanders, Jah Wobble, James Blood Ulmer, Bill Laswell and more! The Funk Road CD contains a single disc with 15 songs.

Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey is an American drummer, best known for his work with Parliament Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins and numerous related projects. Brailey is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic and has earned numerous Gold and Platinum records with the P-Funk Organization.

Brailey has performed with iconic Classic Soul R&B groups; The Unific's (Court of Love, Beginning of My End), The Five Stairsteps (Ooh Child) and the Chambers Brothers, (Time Has Come Today). He joined George Clinton's P-Funk collective and appeared on many of their most popular recordings. He co-wrote one of Parliament's biggest hits, "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)." Samples from that body of work have since appeared on hundreds of hip hop and contemporary R&B songs.

After leaving P-Funk, Brailey formed his own band, MUTINY. They released their debut album "Mutiny on the Mamaship", followed by "Funk Plus the One". Mutiny also released on Brailey's own label, five other records and Aftershock 2005 on Bill Laswell's "Black Arc" Label. The Mutiny Album's are still heavy on the Funk of Braileys roots, but it's delivered in a way that's even more stripped down and almost with less cliché than before (a sound that's heavy on the bass and guitar in the instrumentation, and which has a decidedly darker feel), the guitar is produced with a cool compressed quality that often makes it sound quite sinister-and the vocals are locked tightly into the mix.

Brailey has appeared as a session drummer with a diverse group of artists, including Jah Wobble, Bill Laswell, James Blood Ulmer, Lucky Peterson, Dave Stewart and Buckethead. Therefore, under the leadership of Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey, Mutiny is one of the few acts with roots originating from the P-Funk Empire to establish an identity and sound independent of George Clinton. Who can doubt Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey's amazing talent? Considered one of the world's foremost drummers, Jerome is in a unique class: Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame Member, Former Drummer and Songwriter for Parliament/Funkadelic, and Founder, Producer and Songwriter for Mutiny.

Pre order here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome To The Machine Explores The 12 Commandments Of The Music Industry

So you want to be a rock and roll star?

Your best bet is just to stay in school.

I'm reminded of high school peers who left for L.A. immediately after graduating (and a few who didn't even wait for that) only to return a year or two later with a few depressing stories and a new career as a line cook. At the time, it was the only gig they could secure with a scary skull tattoo on their forearm.

Nowdays, I work with people with full sleeves in a business casual environment.

Evidently, it's no longer something that a recruiting manager has a concern with, so your options are now more wide open than ever, kids.

If you must indulge in the quickly diminishing dream of becoming a rock star, a new documentary presents an informative and comedic look into the behind the scenes world of the music business.

A glimpse of the film's contributors is found below, and this is probably the only place you will find Uriah Heep, Lydia Lunch and Kool & the Gang in the same package.

It also appears that the EDM/D.J. dreamers would find some interest in the flick too, with the inclusion of some of that genre's stars.

Speaking of: when did we get to a point where becoming a successful d.j. sounds more enticing than becoming a lead guitarist?

But seriously: be cool, stay in school.

Welcome to the Machine is a documentary analysis of the functionality in music business. This automatically makes the film a 100% documentary with comedy and drama, as well as 100% semi-investigative. In 12 chapters we're trying to answer the question what the every day work life of a music star looks like. What do you have to consider when starting a band? What is a manager actually doing? How do music media, band contests and other promotion strategies work? But most of all: Is there a formula for success?

The film gives a clear answer to that, although that is to say that there are as many formulas for success as there are artists/bands. This is clearly shown in all the interviews, which have been taken with national and international stars during the production of Welcome to the Machine.

Interviews with artists: Adam Green (US), A.F.I. (US), The Album Leaf (US), Amorphis (FL), Asaf Avidan & The Mojos (IL), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (US), Bloodhound Gang (US), Blood Red Shoes (UK), Blumentopf (DE), Buckcherry (US), Bullet For My Valentine (UK), Bunny Lake (AT), Chilly Gonzalez (CA), Coldcut (UK), Combichrist (NO), Gabriella Cilmi (AU), Cypress Hill (US), Dälek (US), Danko Jones (CA), Disturbed (US), Donots (DE), Eight Legs (UK), Fatboy Slim (UK), Fehlfarben (DE), Fettes Brot (DE), Gentleman (DE), Die Goldenen Zitronen (DE), Halestorm (US), The Heavy (UK), Helloween (DE), The Hidden Cameras (CA), HIM (FL), Infected Mushrooms (IL), Jan Vogler (DE), Japanese Popstars (IE), Kim Wilde (UK), Kool And The Gang (US), Lacuna Coil (IT), Lordi (FI), Lydia Lunch (US), Marina and the Diamonds (UK), Maximilian Hecker (DE), Megadeth (US), Melissa auf der Maur (CA), Morcheeba (UK), Nada Surf (US), Natalia Ushakova (AT), Nazareth (UK), New Model Army (UK), New Young Pony Club (UK), One Republic (US), Oomph! (DE), Papa Roach (US), Paradise Lost (UK), The Parlotones (ZA), Peaches (CA), Helen Feng (CN), Das Pop (BE), Otis Taylor (US), Shantel (DE), Die Sterne (DE), Steve Aoki (US), Sunrise Avenue (FI), Suzie Quatro (US), Texas Terri Bomb (US), Thomas Anders (DE), Timid Tiger (DE), The Reverend Peyton´s´ Big Damn Band (US), TV Buddhas (IL), Uriah Heep (UK), You Love Her Coz She´s Dead (UK), Xiu Xiu (US), Yaron Herman (IL), The New Vitamin (AT) etc etc ...

Interviews with music business professionals: Anton Corbijn (Director), Ray Cokes (MTV Legend), Marie Clausen (Senior Product Manager K7 Records NY), Rupert Hine (Producer), Thorsten Schliesche (Napster Vice President Sales & Marketing Europe), Jim Mahoney (Vice President American Association of Independent Music), Prof. Felix Oberholzer-Gee (Harvard Business School), Hannes Eder (General Manager Universal Music Austria), Joachim Hentschel (Rolling Stone), Mag. Thomas Böhm (Amadeus Awards), Prof. Stan J. Liebowitz (School of Management University of Texas), Georg Spatt (Head Of Radio Station Ö3), Jörg Timp (Manager Starkult Promotion Berlin), Sasha Saedi (Senior A&R Manager, Universal), Klaus Totzler (Musicjournalist, ORF), Thomas Rabitsch (Produzent), Walter Gröbchen (Monkey Music), Josef Schartner (PR), Anna Katzdobler (PR), Michael Gaissmeier (PR)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium

Despite Okkervil River’s Will Sheff best intention, New Hampshire is not New Jersey, and the adolescent angst of white, upper-middle class upbringing does little to threaten Springsteen’s blue collar dread of becoming another trapped soul in the industrial machine.

With The Silver Gymnasium, Sheff steers his band down a nostalgic path, peppering their sound with an equally nostalgic arrangement that becomes more Beaver Brown Band than E Street when the whole thing wraps up.

Yes, Okkervil River’s seventh album is their first disappointing one. It’s a big statement about his childhood in the small New Hampshire village of Meriden, a town of nothing more than 300 residents and a boarding school where his parents taught.

Kimball Union Academy is a private institution where parents can fork over around $50,000 a year for the privilege of sending their kids to a remote New Hampshire village. And while I’m very familiar with the pain and pleasures of small town living, I am also acutely aware how time has the tendency to magnify both of them.

For Sheff, he offers very little in the way of The Silver Gymnasium to demonstrate how Meriden is a worthy enough environment to warrant 49 minutes of its listener’s attention. For all of New Hampshire’s well documented physical beauty, Sheff focuses his attention on the obvious relics that were shared by anyone growing up in the 80’s. We get the prerequisite mentions of Walkmans and Atari consoles, but barely a compelling reason of why this, of all topics, deserves to be the inspiration for another Okkervil River concept album. He even admits so much on “Pink Slips,” “This wish just to go back/When I know I wasn’t ever ever happy/Show me my best memory/It’s probably super crappy.”

Even with this admission, Sheff continues with an endless parade of prose that seems more of the product of his own pretentious need to appear literal. I mean, what the fuck would a ten year old kid be doing with studying the label of a bottle Miller High Life anyway? But somehow the “Champagne of Beers” gets a pop culture nod right next to Michael Jackson cassettes in another bounce between one of The Silver Gymnasium’s supposed eras of inspiration and the product of Sheff’s own English major that enabled him to take such creative liberties with his own memories.

Musically, The Silver Gymnasium offers a bit more in the way of production values and new approaches in the band’s arrangement that I’m not exactly sure are the result of producer John Agnello or Sheff’s own desire to make a very appropriate facsimile of the time period he’s reflecting on. Whoever instigated such a design-with the record’s inclusion of dated synthesizers and cheesy Clarence Clemons saxophones-they should have noticed that one of Okkervil River’s strengths in previous albums was how vital their shoestring budgets were in making their songs sound so epic.

With the shoestring budget apparently gone, the grandiose moments now sound contrived while Sheff’s own voice losing much of its unique character as well. It has now become another soulless instrument, always staying within the same range, always projecting the same level of sadness to the point where you’re exhausted from the endless barrage of mope by the end of the record.

Tellingly, Sheff has commissioned an 8-bit video game as part of the promotional push behind The Silver Gymnasium, in an effort to somehow make his nostalgic musings seem more legitimate. Having taken a spin through the game’s primitive graphics, I can tell you that it’s just as boring as any other 8-bit game as you’ll remember. It’s also a perfect symbolic metaphor of practically all of my complaints with the record itself.

These time capsule memories and romantic notions of Sheff’s childhood may have indeed meant the world to him, but that doesn’t mean that they are universal enough to carry the same kind of emotional weight for the rest of us.

After all, there’s a reason why the Atari 2600 is still collecting dust in your parent’s attic.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Eagles - The Long Run

The Long Run was one of the only records I remember my dad purchasing on the first week of its release.

You must understand that there were two records from my childhood that seemed to be permanent fixtures in my parent’s shitty stereo system: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and The Eagles Hotel California. They played incessantly, and while I have fallen out of love-and then back in love-with Rumors, I haven’t heard Hotel California for decades, and I seem to be fine with that. It’s still etched in my memory and while I’ve grown to despise the fucking Eagles, man, I can admit that Hotel California is arguably a significant piece of work and the band’s crowning achievement.

After the massive success of that effort, The Eagles took three years to follow it up with The Long Run. On the surface, the cover art makes it seem that the album is another epic offering. With its black cover and slick, thin grey font, it gives the impression that those three years were hard ones, resulting in a release that would continue the band’s rise as American cultural observers and mellow rebel rousers.

So why-aside from the hit singles-don’t I remember The Long Run like I do its predecessor? We’re talking an album that reached #1 on the album charts during a period of time when that took some doing. 

I decided to revisit this album, nearly three decades after last hearing it, searching for clues as to why what once was The Eagles’ final moment had been completely overlooked in favor of the aforementioned Hotel California and the ubiquitous Greatest Hits Volume One.

The reason, as it turns out, is because The Long Run is a lazy record, full of professional gloss and contrived arrangements. The conflict surrounding its development was one resulting from clashing egos rather than creative debate of “How do we set about topping Hotel California?”

They barely come close, which is what makes the album so frustrating, but it isn’t until you let The Long Run settle for three decades or so before the real resentment towards the Eagles begins to take shape.
And the inspiration for that resentment is clear with this album’s ten tracks.

It’s most obvious on the hit single “Heartache Tonight,” which found Glen Frey and composer J.D. Souther struggling with coming up with a chorus. They used the phone-a-friend option and called up their Detroit buddy Bob Seger who managed to come up with one during the phone call. In case you’ve forgotten, the chorus goes “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight/A heartache tonight, I know.”

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

The Eagles hired Timothy B. Schmit as the replacement for founding member Randy Meisner, which is ironic as Schmit seems to have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on the sheer fact that he’s made a career out of being the runner up to everything that Meisner had ever done.

Initially, Schmit was passed over for Meisner in Poco, only to get the job a few years later when Randy left to join the Eagles. When Meisner quit The Eagles, guess who got the call?

Prior to his joining, Schmit was probably best remembered from the awful Firefall hit “Just Remember I Love You.” It’s good to know that Tim’s penchant for soft-rock schlock followed him to his new band, in the form of the ultra shitty “I Can’t Tell You Why.” If there ever was an Eagles hit devoid of any hint of their previous formula, Schmit delivered it with this track.

But the real spite must be saved for Don Henley, particularly with the way in which the man has conducted himself during the years that followed The Long Run. If Hotel California was Henley’s commentary on decadence and the homogenization of American culture, then how are we to view his own contribution to the same sins?

His holier than thou lyrics are in full view throughout The Long Run, culminating in the side one closer, “King Of Hollywood.” Henley treats the object of his scorn with an overly long six-and-a-half minute track which is nothing more than a shittier sequel to “Hotel California.” In it, Henley manages to sound like a jealous ex-boyfriend, attacking his scarf-wearing enemy’s small penis (“You’d know it if you saw his stuff/The man just isn’t big enough”) and his coke-fueled inability to achieve an orgasm (“Still he just couldn’t get off”).

The Long Run’s only saving grace comes from Joe Walsh’s “In The City,” which was originally a solo recording from earlier in the same year for the movie The Warriors. Frey and Henley apparently liked the track so much that they re-recorded it for The Eagles record.

Of course, if the Eagles were so desperate for material to use tracks that had already been released, or ones that were evidently inspired by Animal House (“The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks”), then you have to wonder what exactly went on during the three years since their last release.

What the record-buying public ended up with was merely a collection of capable, but hardly credible, songs that reek of contractual obligations and an understanding that fans like my father would end up buying pretty much anything that The Eagles released. Its self-important looking cover and never ending musings on how greed and decadence are values worthy of ridicule don’t seem to apply to the worlds of The Long Run’s creative forces.

That’s something that we all did manage to find out in the long run.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden

True story: I once received a Christmas present from a co-worker who knew I was a music fan. The album that he bought me was the Eagles'r Greatest Hits 1971-1975.

I was gracious; I thanked him for the gift and referred to the record’s huge appeal. Privately, I thought it was a little shortsighted. I mean, I was sure that I had let on about a few bands that I like and I am absolutely positive that the Eagles never once entered into the conversation. Perhaps this is the record that people turn to whenever they’re faced with addressing someone who is a bit of a music fan; because, fuck, so many people bought Greatest Hits that it must mean that everyone who likes music loves that album.

I left the gift in its shrink rap and traded in on something more aligned with my own musical taste.

So maybe I’m not the best choice to review the new Eagles album and maybe the idea itself is a bit presumptuous. It’s not as if anything I say is going to make jack shit of a difference to the band’s core audience, an audience that’s likely to include my own father.

Whatever. I’m going for it.

The first thing you’ll hear from critics and fans is how much Long Road Out Of Eden sounds like the “old” Eagles. Yes, the harmonies are enviable, the production is immaculate, and the performances are what you’d expect from a band that holds the record for most albums ever sold. There’s nothing in the Eagles double-set to alienate a single soul out of those twenty-eight million customers that bought Greatest Hits.

The very notion that this album even exists angers me. There’s not a shred of evidence that these guys genuinely felt the need to work together again. There’s no unfinished business to address or any creative urge to explore. Eden sounds like it was conceived with the help of accountants who ran profit illustrations long before rehearsals were even scheduled. Guaranteed: if it appeared that not enough profit would have been generated from a new studio album, we wouldn’t even be talking about a new Eagles album. It’s safe to say that the tie-in with Wal-Mart addresses exactly that and helps ensure that the band gets paid even when the industry is in peril.

Speaking of Wal-Mart: the hypocritical notion of preaching about “Business As Usual” while offering their product exclusively at perhaps the most unethical retail in the country demonstrates the complete lack of moral code that the band possesses. It also speaks volumes on how the Eagles view their own fans. To them, their core audience consists entirely of blue-collar shoppers who are too stupid to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart and who’ve yet to grasp the concept of downloading. In the Eagles’ eyes, they probably think that pricing the album below $12 is doing us morons a favor.

They may have indeed found a way to reach the majority of their core audience, but they certainly haven’t found a way to come close to the impact that their original material had on them. In other words: the lemmings will buy Eden out of sheer obedience, but don’t count on them to replace their Greatest Hits package when they’re looking for a peaceful, easy feeling.

Even Joe Walsh, perhaps the most amiable fellow in the Eagles line-up, successfully raises my blood pressure on the new album with his seven-minute long “Last Good Time In Town.” In case you hadn’t gathered by its “clever” title, “Last Good Time” is a pathetic slice of middle-age tripe that reminisces to the good times when Joe had a little bit of trouble getting his dick hard, thanks to all the coke and booze he was abusing.

Glen Frey deserves credit for not only rewriting some of his mid-80s solo material for Eden, but also for using what sounds like the same equipment that he worked with during The Allnighter. But the biggest douche bag would have to be Henley, who goes out of his way to provide the band with the most virtuous bullshit to work from while managing to come off as someone who’s been living in isolation ever since The Long Run.

With no new ground broken, no hints at the band’s fabled mid-70′s brilliance and no redeeming value whatsoever, Long Road Out Of Eden is just like all the other shit you don’t need at Wal-Mart. Despite all of their stubborn inclination to create something intentionally out-of-step with today’s music landscape, the Eagles may have inadvertently made the perfect snapshot of what’s wrong with America today. It’s filled with self-righteousness, completely out-of-touch of touch with reality and it may qualify as the most hypocritical record ever made.

Here’s hoping that Long Road Out Of Eden provides the Eagles with a quick expressway to a destination that holds them accountable for their contemptuous actions.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.