Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tom Petty's Perfect Song

American Girl is a perfect song, musically and lyrically.  As always, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers closed last night's show at the Garden with it.  From the guitar intro into the first line "She was an American Girl/Raised on promises", the song grabs you.  The chorus just invites the listener to sing along.  Petty closes his shows with the rockers.  The first song of the encore was Runnin' Down a Dream. 

The show opened with Listen to Her Heart and flowed into You Don't Know How It Feels.  Tom is a man of few words. To quote a cliche, he lets the music speak for itself.   He thanked the audience profusely throughout the show.  He referred to the Garden as the Temple of Rock and Roll.  The band gave a first rate performance for the next two hours, which would make them the high priests of the temple.

They are truly a unit.  Understated, each musician contributed to the performance.  Mike Campbell has always been a glue in the band.  Petty introduced him as the co-captain.  As a guitarist, he's probably one of the most underrated.  He could go up against anyone.  Benmont Tench's keyboards really struck me.  They were evident and added a perfect layer(s) to the sound.  Scott Thurston went from keyboards to guitar to harmonica and vocals.  Ron Blair and Steve Ferrone were the steady backbone.  They all raise the bar for Petty. 

The band performed a few songs from the new album Mojo grouped in the middle of the show. It lead off with the jaunty Jefferson Jericho Blues.  Good Enough is a down and dirty, dark guitar blast of music.  I loved it.  What stood out on the new songs was Mike Campbell's guitar work.  It was smooth, bleak, melodic and blue. 

The hits just kept on coming in this show: Learning to Fly,  Refugee,  Mary Jane's Last Dance, Free Fallin', I Won't Back Down..... Don't Come Around Here No More was the highlight for me.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers never disappoint. The set was solid rock and roll. It's good to be Tom Petty.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Noise Annoys

It started before 8am and the  jackhammering across the street continues.  Between that and the a/c, there's a cacophony in my apartment.  The soundtrack to my morning is Noise Annoys.  The Buzzcocks wrote a song that conveys  the frustration and anger at noise.  The play of guitars sounds like a traffic jam.

There is only one set of lyrics:
Pretty Girls Pretty Boys
Have you ever heard your mother say
Noise Annoys

The only word that changes is Say which becomes Shout and then Scream.  The song builds, the anger surfaces.  We can all relate.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Live Nation Gone To The Birds

As if Live Nation isn't having enough problems, now they have to refund tickets to the Kings of Leon show that took place on July 23rd in St Louis.  The band played 3 songs and left the stage.  There was an announcement that due to the band's safety, the show had been canceled.  Kings "safety" was compromised by a pooping pigeon that apparently landed it's goods in the mouth of the bass player.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Guster New Music

New music from Guster.  New album Easy Wonderful comes out on October 5th.  You can download the song Bad, Bad World from their website and/or listen here. 

Bad Bad World by guster

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Liggers and Banarama

A few days ago, the discussion between T'Boo and I turned to liggers. The British press referred quite often to the ladies of Bananarama as being the ultimate liggers. After this discussion, I heard Robert DeNiro's Waiting.  I don't think I've heard that song since it was released. What made this band so successful? They aren't immensely talented. They had great style (let's wear hats, burlap sacks and vests and make it look good).  They were not coordinated.  They had a string of big hits.   I liked the early Bananarama when they worked with Fun Boy Three and did songs like It Ain"t What You Do and Really Saying Something.  I'm waiting for the cast of Glee to perform Cruel Summer

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Idol Judge

According to Hits, both Chris Isaak and Harry Connick Jr have spoken to American Idol producers twice about filling Simon Cowell's empty seat. They also noted that Donald Trump was promoting himself for the position, but it looks like he wasn't considered a serious candidate.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Towering Presence Retires

Russ Solomon the founder of Tower Records retired from the music business this weekend at age 84. He started selling used records out of his family's drug store. He went on to build a retail empire.

Sacrament Press has the full story.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shortsightedness & Greed Killing Part of the Music Business?

It seems like issues that have plagued the music industry leaders, keep coming back to haunt them. Two financial revealings this week point to just that.

The first comes from the RIAA, which is essentially a lobbyist for the major record labels. It's no secret that they've been suing people who shared music over the Internet. Now it's no secret how much they spent on lawyers to do it in 2008. There's a document circulating that the sum is $16 million. TorrentFreak has an article on why the RIAA think it was worth the money even though they only received about $391,000 as a result of their lawsuits. Go figure. I see it as $16 million dollars to alienate your audience/consumers. Give them something they want, at a price point that makes sense and they will pay for it.

The other piece of news is concert promoter Live Nation announcing yesterday that tickets sales for the top 100 touring acts are down 12% in the first half of the year and they expect the numbers to be worse in the second half of this year. Per Encore: Executive Chairman Irving Azoff, who presented via video conference, chided investors for the sell-off.
"I'm hoping that what I'm seeing as all you guys e-mail back to your offices to dump the stock isn't indicative of the fact that we have a group of investors that are so shortsighted," Irving said.

In this case not only have ticket prices confused and angered ticket buyers, but now the chairman is chastising investors. Is this a house of cards waiting to fall? I don't think that will happen, but in order to prevent it, it seems like some serious rethinking/restructuring needs to take place.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. There has got to be a trainer out there who will come in and show them how it's done.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Interesting Reads on Music & Broadcasting

The Wall Street Journal had a few interesting reads over the past week:

The touring business is in a slump. Could be high ticket prices/fluctuating ticket prices, high service fees/no service fees that have the consumers confused and waiting before they purchase tickets. Read

Fortune's Fool is a new book by Fred Goodman (Mansion On The Hill) that profiles Edgar Bronfman Jr. He is currently chief executive of The Warner Music Group. The book takes a look at the history of the Bronfman family and Edgar's foray into the music business. Read Review.

Federal courts threw out the FCC's ruling on indecency. As per the WSJ article: A three-judge panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the Federal Communications Commission's indecency policies violate the First Amendment and are "unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here." Read article. As Howard Stern said this morning, don't get too crazy over this. He's sure the FCC will have something up their sleeve to counter this. His fights with the FCC have been well documented.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My One George Steinbrenner Story

I'm a Mets fan so I can't say I had strong feelings about the way George Steinbrenner ran his team. George passed away today, leaving a winning Yankee legacy behind him.

Phil reminded me today of the time he, myself and Mike Breen went to taping of Late Night with David Letterman. It's something we did frequently. When you're in college and the entertainment is free, you go for it. Mike was selected to talk about his brush with greatness. Before he became a nationally respected sportscaster, he parked cars at a golf club in Westchester during his Fordham days. Letterman asked him how the celebrities tipped. Mike said that most gave a deuce. Letterman than asked about Steinbrenner, who Mike had previously mentioned. Mike said he would give a $5. Letterman was taken aback by The Boss' generosity.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Give It Up Love

TechDirt points out that Mike Love was at it again suing his cousin Brian Wilson. The guy never stops. For someone who was soooo into meditation and being zen, he seems to be the most high strung and vindictive with a lot of time on his hands. Wonder why an attorney would even give credit to his ridiculous claims by taking on his case.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Summer In The City

When the temperature hits 100 in NYC, the soundtrack is the Mark Sebastian (John's brother) and Steve Boone song. Mark originally wrote it as a poem and his brother adapted it for the Lovin' Spoonful.

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty... Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city.

Happy Birthday Ringo

Ringo (do I need to use his last name?) turns 70 today. He's celebrating at Radio City Music Hall with his All Starr Band. In honor of his birthday I thought I'd post a copy of my Help album. His "ring" is circled. The ring of course was a plot in the film. What possesses a four year old to alter album covers? It was done all the time back then. Unfortunately it's a pleasure that is not available to kids today. Happy Birthday Ringo!

Piece of trivia: Originally the Beatles were suppose to be spelling out HELP in semaphore for the cover. This turned out to look esthetically unpleasing to the eye, so the photographer Robert Freeman decided to place them as he thought would look best. There are many theories about them spelling out NVUJ or LPUS (lp record by us). It seems those theories are as baseless as Paul being dead.

Friday, July 02, 2010

When A Crocodile Eats The Sun

Living in this country, it’s hard to relate to the family life of Peter Godwin as portrayed in his 2007 memoir When A Crocodile Eats The Sun (a reference to a total eclipse), which is why I found this book to be a must read. The son of a British mother (a doctor) and a Polish/British father, he grew up in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe. In his second memoir, he chronicles the plight of not only the whites in Zimbabwe (most of whom were farmers), but the black middle class as well. Both are nearly eradicated with the rise in power of President Robert Mugabe, who might be better termed as a liberator turned dictator. A bloody and terrifying period began with his “land reform” program in 2000.

Peter uses his previous works as a journalist for National Geographic, etc to form the political and personal skeleton of this well written, coherent account of life in his Africa. Most Americans, myself included, have little knowledge of Africa. Crocodile is enlightening. Peter captures the political history along with citizen’s accounts of daily life, which makes for a captivating read. Following these realities will also sicken your stomach.

At the center of this book are Peter’s parents and family, specifically his father. Without giving anything away, Peter learns of his father’s well-kept secret, only after Peter himself becomes a father and is residing in New York. The story of his father’s survival is riveting and at times heartbreaking.

As a journalist, Peter digs deeper and as a reader I benefited. This book is not for the faint of heart. In 2008 I read an article in the New Yorker profiling Robert Mugabe and his nephew Leo written by Jon Lee Anderson, another journalist who embeds himself for the profound story. Leo is privileged by his uncle’s connections, was given the contract to build a new airport, has amassed wealth and was arrested for contraband export among other things but charges were dropped for lack of evidence. At the time this article was written, inflation was accessed to be around 230 million per cent! 80% of Zimbabweans were out of work and a bottle of water cost the equivalent of $19. No better way to cripple a country.

Peter himself seemed crippled in dealing with his past at the price of ignoring his present. He is able to get himself assigned to news pieces that will bring him back to Zimbabwe to frequently check on his parents and friends. Funerals and sick visits become the norm. His children know him more from his phone calls than his presence. By his writings, he is opening the eyes of an otherwise oblivious sector and I’m sure takes pride in knowing that he is affecting change.

At one point, Peter is listening to the music of local musicians Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi. Both are political, speaking out against oppression, aids, etc. Mapfumo left Zimbabwe and resides in Oregon. Mtukudzi still lives in the country. Both write songs whose upbeat melodies probably (I say probably as most of the music is not in English) disguise their real lyrical story. In listening to their music, I can’t help but think of The Specials, especially their song Free Nelson Mandela, which might be heavily influenced by these two musicians. All these artists are striving to make us aware.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Twisted Reality

Dee Snider and his family are following in the footsteps of the Osbournes and Simmons with their own reality show, Growing Up Twisted which debuts on July 27 at 10pm on A&E. Dee is most famously known as the front man for the band Twisted Sister. He's a great guest on Howard Stern, has a radio show, House of Hair and is the national spokesperson for the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies. The show takes place at the Long Island Snider home. When I was in high school, I used to see Twisted Sister live at a club called Speaks in Island Park. Along with Twisted Sister, Zebra, The Good Rats and Blue Angel, (which was Cyndi Lauper's first act) seemed to be performing there at any given night. Dee is staying close to his roots with this show.