Friday, June 11, 2021

The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes

 


Babe Rainbow by The House of Love is easily the most overlooked masterpiece album of the 1990s. Released in the summer of 1992, it is a wonder to behold and fit with nothing being put out at the time. 

The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes should have been a number one song everywhere.

WARNING: This video has flashing lights that may be problematic or difficult for some people.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Five Stars

 


Wolf Alice receive five stars from the NME for their third album.

In broad strokes, ‘Blue Weekend’ is a study on relationships – yes, with romantic partners, but also with friends, with yourself and with the world at large. The sparse and minimal heartbreaker ‘No Hard Feelings’ contains evocative scenes within its exploration of a separation. “It’s not hard to remember when it was tough to hear your name,” Rowsell sighs. “Crying in the bathtub to ‘Love Is A Losing Game’.” The song referenced might change for different people, but the feeling that sucker-punches you from within is universal.

Albums still matter. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Buffalo

 


The song Buffalo is a wonderful example of what it looks like when you're doing amazing work and the world doesn't pay attention.


I don't know what happened to the Hologram of Baal album. I remember when it came out. I remember having to get it in Columbia, South Carolina from a record store that I don't think is there anymore. It was barely even released in this country. An amazing record, part of a series of albums that are woefully overlooked and were executed with skill and precision. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Heads Will Roll

 


Porcupine was the only really difficult Echo & the Bunnymen record. Each and every one of the other five (with the original lineup) is a near-perfect execution of all of their great ideas. The song Heads Will Roll is the only real way to explain why I think that.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Ugliest Song in the World

 


The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy put out a string of under-appreciated albums on Creation Records. This was at the tail end of that era and is easily the rockingest song I can find. The guitar licks alone will blow you away. Do not pay attention to the visuals because they don't really match anything. The audio alone will suffice.



Monday, May 10, 2021

UB40

 


It has been revealed that the British government spent years watching the activities of UB40 because it thought that they were involved in some sort of subversion.

By 1983, with the cold war in resurgence, agents of subterfuge began to develop more sophisticated means of plotting their dastardly schemes. Swapping code words behind newspapers on park benches had become too obvious; now they met in low-lit speakeasies, handed their contact a 50 pence piece and asked them to put a song on the jukebox. If they returned having chosen UB40‘s ‘Red Red Wine’ – one agent singing the title, his contact replying with an impassioned “stay close to me!” – they were safe to lay out their plans for the revolution.

At least – with apologies to the MI5 rock blog surveillance bots that are blowing fuses right now – that’s the sort of thing Thatcher’s government thought was happening in the 1980s. UB40 drummer Jimmy Brown revealed last week that “MI5 were tapping our phones, watching our houses”, a fact previously exposed by whistleblower David Shayler, who claimed in 1997 that MI5 spent much of the ‘80s monitoring UB40, believing they were communists plotting to bring down the government. When ‘Red Red Wine’ hit Number One, Thatcher must have been having soft-reggae nightmares of sabres at the gates. No doubt they also had Simply Red and The Comm(ie)unards in their sights, and trailed anyone buying Chris De Burgh’s blatant tribute to the Chinese Red Army’s only female general Zhang Qinqiu, ‘The Lady In Red’.

If you can wade through the bullshit, it would appear that the Thatcher government was absolutely paranoid about any sort of criticism or cultural uprising from the left side of the political spectrum. Thatcher repeatedly beat back the challenge from the left and had a firm grip on power almost until the end. She privatized England and ruined everything for everyone except the people who were born into wealth.

UB40 was a band made up of people who were smart enough to realize that they could entertain and inform and comment on things. They didn't subvert or damage anything or anyone except the sensibilities of everyone who couldn't stand their music. And while they have a solid place in musical history as a crossover reggae and pop act, what they don't have is the ability to properly sue the British government into oblivion for the obvious invasion of their privacy. How much damage was done I have no idea. In this country, the paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover was used to ruin and sabotage countless lives and reputations. Where does everyone go to get their rights back?

Right wing governments all over the world fear criticism and humiliation, mockery and satire. They fear the arts, they are terrified that beautiful and talented people will make fun of them and they are especially concerned that their rich backers will have to live in a country where taxes are used to take care of the poor and the sick. What's shocking is not that it happened but that it took this long to expose the stupidity of the bureaucrats who thought a band could overturn a government. Not even U2 could ever manage that.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Penthouse and Pavement

 


The original album cover painting for Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement album is being auctioned off.

Purchased directly from the artist Ray Smith (British, 1949-2018) by Martyn Ware, founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17, and offered for sale by him.

Penthouse And Pavement was Heaven 17's debut album, released in September 1981. The imagery of the cover satirises the early 1980s' emergence of the 'yuppie' and the idea apparently came from a Toshiba advertisement spotted by band member Ian Craig Marsh. The band are pictured as suited, deal-making, successful businessmen, contrasting with the traditional perception of musicians as boho types.

 I'm sad that Mr. Ware is selling this and I hope it is because of good reasons only. It's a very thoughtful painting, and the satire lands perfectly. You don't see works of this depth come out very often, certainly not as they relate to the early New Wave movement. The colors and the designs of the suits they are wearing - absolutely priceless. This screams 1981 at you, it really does.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Love is the Law

 


Well, I liked it. 

The Seahorses lasted about five minutes and then the band blew up. They barely made it past their unreleased second album. All of the songs on their debut album, Do It Yourself, are excellent and they left behind a slew of B-sides and a non-LP single, the equally brilliant You Can Talk to Me.

Love is the Law is indulgent, silly, and doesn't go on long enough. It's as Led Zeppelin as you're going to get in the Nineties and it sounds like the Kinks opened up the gates of hell and let everyone interesting out.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Beast

 


It sounds like someone has produced a proper, well-researched biography of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and that's a good thing. What is desperately needed, as far as music icons of the 60s and 70s are concerned, is for someone to clear up all of the misconceptions and bullshit and just tell the truth about the people who lived and made music during that era.

Dave Grohl has written the forward for the book:

“John Bonham played the drums like someone who didn’t know what was going to happen next – like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don’t think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time.

“You have no idea how much he influenced me. I spent years in my bedroom – literally fucking years – listening to Bonham’s drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power. Not just memorising what he did on those albums but getting myself into a place where I would have the same instinctual direction as he had.

Beast: John Bonham And The Rise Of Led Zeppelin is set to tell the story of Bonham’s rise from being a self-taught drummer at the age of five to being in one of the most successful rock bands all of all time. He died in 1980 at the age of 32. 

To this day, Bonham is posthumously described as one of the most important and influential drummers in rock – often topping best-of lists. Adam Budofsky, managing editor of Modern Drummer, once wrote [via Blabbermouth]: “If the king of rock ‘n’ roll was Elvis Presley, then the king of rock drumming was certainly John Bonham.”

There's no question about the impact of Bonham's drumming. What I hope the book can do is separate the man from the myth and just tell the truth of what went on in those days.  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Moby is a Scumbag

 

I remember reading this and my initial reaction was, wow, what a scumbag:

Moby has discussed the controversy behind his claims that he once dated Natalie Portman in a new interview.

Back in 2019, an excerpt from Moby’s book, Then It Fell Apart, heard the musician recount taking the actor for a drink and, later, kissing her while visiting her at Harvard.

Soon after, Portman refuted the musician’s claims that she was involved in a romantic relationship with him, saying she found it “disturbing” that false stories were being used to promote the book.


This is why you should believe women when they tell you things:

Portman released a statement about Moby’s anecdote yesterday (May 21), saying: “I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school.

“He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher – it almost feels deliberate. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.”

Are there any other women out there? It would be shocking if there weren't.


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Mockingbirds

 


Mockingbirds from Grant Lee Buffalo is a song of unmatched beauty and grace. If you have never heard this song before, all I can do is hope it lands at precisely the right moment and delivers a few moments of inner peace and awareness.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Cry

 


Noctorum is an ongoing project from Andy Dare Mason and Marty Willson-Piper. They come together with a handful of other musicians and create incredible music that does not get enough attention or acclaim. To say that these records are overlooked is an understatement. Noctorum albums arrive infrequently but with tremendous love and care attached to them.

There are numerous tracks that I could highlight, but let's go with Cry from Honey Mink Forever. An absolute stunner of a track, so beautiful as to not be believed. Who melds progressive rock chops, broken hearted vocals, and the smooth sound of Seventies soft rock? Who has the comprehensive knowledge and ability to create something like this? Well, these guys did it and they make it sound effortless.




Friday, April 2, 2021

The Connells '74-'75

 


Here's a wonderful version of '74-'75 by The Connells. This is one of those songs that always kicks me in the gut when I hear it. I can't believe it wasn't a bigger hit and I am trying to process how it was the third single from Ring, which was their fifth album. Released in 1995, it was as close to a hit single as the band would get, which is a crime in and of itself.



Normally, your baby boomer/Seventies nostalgia turns me into a bit of a jackass. I love laughing at the misery of people who had a hand in ruining the world. This song is nothing if not clearly, and lovingly exempt from pithy navel gazing and hoary memories about getting buzzed on cheap beer. It's such a great song.

We had it so good in the 1990s. These kids today, they'll never really understand how close we came to perfection. And then the fucking Internet ruined everything.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Aural Sculpture

 



If you were going to look at all of the albums released by the Stranglers in the Hugh Cornwell era of the band's history, Aural Sculpture is one of the best examples of how their musical proficiency delivered the goods. It's one of my favorites, and it is part of a run of three albums that were very commercially appealing (it's the one after Feline and right before Dreamtime). These are complex, well recorded songs that outshine much of what was released at the time. In the mid-1980s, everything was plastic and overwrought with foolishness. The Stranglers were having none of that.

In America, the Stranglers were completely overlooked and ignored. They were writing whole entire albums of classic songs and received none of the attention that went to The Clash and Duran Duran. But, somewhere in the middle of all that, they were coming up with better ideas and catchier hooks. They were writing serious songs and delivering them with every single member working at the very top of their game. It's listed as their eighth album and I don't know how anyone gets to that point in their career without some friction and tension. You could not be in The Stranglers and not have something to offer. No one coasted on anything. The end result is a dynamic that can't be described. 

Yeah, the misogyny has always bothered me. The Stranglers were part of that movement in England that was punk, then post punk, then  new wave, then whatever came after. They should have left that stuff in the rehearsal room.

Their label at the time, Epic, rejected the first pass at these songs. I can't imagine why since there isn't a bad one in the bunch. Laurie Latham came in and offered up some softer edges but, really, none of that detracts from the fact that the album itself is a sonic masterpiece. There's no running from the drum effects, the horns, the guitars, or the keyboards. Everything is filled, nothing is left out, no one is spared a chance to shine.

I have no idea why it isn't more popular. What the hell is wrong with people?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Beeswing

 


Richard Thompson has done what he swore he wouldn't do and that's write about (part of) his life as a working musician:

Richard Thompson came of age at an extraordinary moment in British culture. It was 1967 and popular music was reflecting a wide range of influences. In the midst of this musical awakening, eighteen-year-old guitarist Thompson co-founded legendary folk rock group Fairport Convention and helped them to invent a new genre of music.

Going back to his childhood and reflecting on his heady period of personal creative intensity, Thompson details life on the road, his relationship with bandmate Sandy Denny, playing alongside Jimi Hendrix and Nick Drake, a devastating car crash, his partnership with his ex-wife Linda and his personal, spiritual journey from esoteric bookshops to extraordinary meetings with saints in Morocco.

Beeswing is the intimate memoir of a British musical legend.

Richard Thompson is a world-renowned singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work in the folk rock group Fairport Convention. Rolling Stone named him as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time. Thompson has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic and is the recipient of an Ivor Novello Award. He was awarded an OBE in 2011. He continues to write and record new material and frequently performs live at venues throughout the world.

One thing I did not know is that he has lived in Montclair, New Jersey for years. No wonder he makes so many swings through the Northeast! Every time he comes through my part of the world, I regret not being able to see him play live.

Thompson specifically did not write about his final tour with Linda Thompson and it is not likely that he will. In fact, this might be the only book he writes about himself.
 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Wolfgang Van Halen

 


One of the things I learned years ago was that Eddie Van Halen had some quirks about him. He suffered from health issues and he made his own way through life and through music. Sammy Hagar told a lot of stories that he's probably being forced to quietly forget but who knows? These guys made a lot of money and a lot of music together. Nothing I was ever interested in.

It seems to me that Wolfgang Van Halen is mourning his father and needs some help. He needs the help that his father's peers could probably give him. The music industry? No, he does not need help from the business side of things. And then there are the people involved in the making of guitars. I am hoping those people reach out to the kid and give him the support and help he needs.

Everyone grieves in their own way, so the world should cut Wolfgang some slack. It would be easy to joke around and point out that no one wants to be subjected to the emotional push and pull of someone who can't figure out how they want to honor their famous dad. There's an uncle sitting on the drum set right behind him and I don't know that I've even heard anything from Alex Van Halen, other than this note about how Michael Anthony is doing exactly what you'd expect someone to do in this instance, which is step up and be a man

The right response here is understanding and support. I hope the people in Wolfgang's life are giving him that.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Wolf Alice

 


This is one of those bands that I love rooting for:

There’s something about third albums that seems to spur bands on to become quintessentially themselves. Primal Scream’s 1991 opus ‘Screamadelica’ saw the Scottish band ditch indie rock for the pills and thrills of the dancefloor, while The Clash honed their politicised punk and melting pot of influences to craft 1979’s seminal ‘London Calling’. And just last year Haimreturned with ‘Women In Music Pt. III’, their most experimental and emotional work yet, an album that feels like a full realisation of their sound.

Now, with ‘Blue Weekend’, it’s Wolf Alice’s turn to add their name to that lineage. The follow-up to 2017’s Mercury Prize-winning ‘Visions Of A Life’ is the London band’s best yet: coolly confident, rich in stories about life and love; it’s an unpredictable-yet-cohesive adventure through sounds and styles. Perhaps it’s the result of the four-piece’s comfort in knowing that, after two albums’ worth of touring, there’s a fanbase waiting eagerly for their return.

We really don't live in a world of albums anymore. What we're talking about it irrelevant as it relates to how the music industry works right now. Wolf Alice have put out two great, great albums but they have been a live music fixture for a long time, relatively speaking, and pull it off better than their peers right now. If we were living in another era, you'd already have five records in the bin and they'd be signing to a larger label or in the process of calling it a day. 

This is a band that has been a foursome since 2012. You could fit entire careers inside of the period of their existence. The fact that we're tracking their output by looking at albums is secondary to the fact that they have developed into a solid unit. 

When they say there aren't any great bands anymore and rock and roll is dead, Wolf Alice is the best way to refute that. I am hoping they get to stay around a while and keep making music.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Banjo Player Needed, Will Consider a Mardy Bum

 


I didn't even get a chance to write about some other idiot doing something stupid before this happened:

The shit really hit the fan a few days ago, though, when bandmember Marshall WinstonWinston Marshall tweeted at Ngo in praise of his agitprop fanfic: “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.” But where Peterson’s Randian self-help schtick seems more like an elaborate performance art joke, Ngo’s weird fantasies of a great, black-clad Army of the Left, particularly in the context of the January 6th Insurrection, are far more dangerous.

The backlash directed at Marshall was immediate and voluminous, and led to this morning’s announcement that he’d be stepping away from the band, in which he said “I have offended not only a lot of people I don’t know, but also those closest to me, including my bandmates.” Clearly, Mumford’s other sons were not happy.

The band's praise of right-wing failson Jordan Peterson should have tipped everyone off that there is clearly a streak of evil running through Mumford & Sons that otherwise wouldn't have shown up if Marshall wasn't intent on embracing garbage like Andy Ngo.

Looking at what happened, you get the sense that he triggered a vehement response from the band and from management. There's no throwing him out, no lifetime ban. He's going to "step away from the band" and give everyone a chance to duck down while the social media shitstorm flies overhead? You step away when there's a likely chance that you'll be resuming your role as lead banjo player when it's time to tour again and make some money. There is (I'm guessing) a clause in the band's agreement with one another that says that if a key member leaves, it's either time to disband or pay someone off and they don't want to do that right now, especially when there's no touring or performing revenue.

Let's not end this by saying that Marshall can't have conservative or Tory or whatever views. He is free to think, say, and believe whatever he wants. He can praise Ngo every day if he likes. The problem is, if he embraces authoritarian-leaning, hateful ideology, the fans of Mumford & Sons are also free to cancel the entire extended enterprise from their lives as well. People have walked away from Morrissey for a lot less.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Mumford & Sons Needs a New Banjo Player

 


This is the intersection of everything in our culture that is stupid. Here you have Winston Marshall, aka, some banjo playing twat in Mumford & Sons endorsing a book by serial fabulist and white nationalist supporter Andy Ngo.

You can't find anyone dumber than these two. You can't miss making your mark on the culture better than this. It's like the perfect combination of being blissfully ignorant and wantonly stupid in public.

There are lots of banjo players out there, when you think about it, and I never do.

Friday, March 5, 2021

You Have to Save Yourselves

 


Music venues around the world are struggling because of COVID-19. We are on the cusp of getting through this but we need to hang on and get everyone vaccinated. That means that we must be ready to support small business, continue to wear masks and keep ourselves socially distant.  This is true in America and Britain and everywhere else. 

Here, in the States, we have initiatives that are working through Congress that will push vaccinations and support the small businesses that are struggling. That's the proper role of government. In Britain, the government has said eh, fuck it to playing a proper role and they're going to let the music industry dry up and evaporate because the Tories don't give a shit.

Liam Gallagher is doing what he can, but he can't save everyone:

Liam Gallagher has teamed up with Glasgow venue The Priory to help it raise vital venue-saving funds.

The former Oasis frontman has donated a number of items to a special prize draw, which is aiming to raise money to help ensure the survival of the influential Scottish venue which has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Before anyone says, it's the least he could do because he's rich, remember that nobody is making any money right now except for the vinyl records they sell and the eight bucks you get a year from now after Spotify plays your song a billion times. 

It should not be left to artists to save the venues but that's where we are. It should be a change in government policy and a grant of assistance that takes care of all the venues and businesses as well as reforms that make it so that Brexit doesn't bankrupt working musicians. 

I guess, at some point, everyone will have to leave the British Isles and relocate to America if they want to play live. That certainly seems like a possibility. Each and every artist now has to figure out how to save themselves. How did we get into this mess?

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Evan Dando, Live at Walgreens

 


Singer and songwriter Evan Dando is not on a nationwide tour of Walgreens but he is in the vicinity of Falmouth, Massachusetts and they just found his wallet so it's all good.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Marilyn Manson Has Been Getting Away With it For a Long Time

 


Brian Warner has been getting away with this sort of thing for years and it's time to admit that there is a massive problem here:

Bianca Allaine has joined the growing list of women who have accused Marilyn Manson of abuse. The actress claims that the shock rocker forcibly kissed her when she was 16 in 1995, and then engaged in a “terrifying” sexual relationship with her when she was 19. She also divulged that she had plans to speak with the FBI about her experiences.

Allaine, who has mostly acted in B-movies like Zombinatrix and Nightmare Next Door, told her story to The Sun, explicitly detailing a disturbing experience with the singer. “Marilyn Manson might be scary, but Brian Warner is the most terrifying person I’ve ever met in my life,” said Allaine, referencing the rocker’s real name. “He’s evil.

She added, “We were often never alone on the tour bus, and his fetish back then was to watch people have sex with me or do things to me. A lot of times I didn’t want to have sex with these guys, but he was like, ‘Please, please, I really need it, I need to see it.’ He would masturbate and if he didn’t finish he’d want to have sex with me afterwards, he would bite me so hard.

The actress continued, “I was like a little puppet that he would play with, I feel he used me, 100 percent, he didn’t care about me. It was like, ‘How low can I get someone to go to please me?’ That’s his M.O, he wants to degrade you. And he gets pleasure out of that. He’s a sadist.

If someone had done something in the early 1990s to stop Warner from abusing women, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. The music industry is designed to allow men to abuse women if that's what they are inclined to do and that was never more true when Warner was starting out. We are just now scratching the surface of all the shit that went on and it's sickening. 

You can be well assured that he had a manager and that person helped enable what was going on. Warner had a music label and they probably knew what was happening as well. He had publicists and tour managers and supporting musicians and all of them knew he was doing this shit and they did nothing about it, afraid to lose their cash cow. This guy was making money for people and they turned a blind eye to the fact that he was a criminal. The only difference between Warner and a guy in prison for sexual assault was the fake veneer of respectability that a music career gives to someone who gets off on hurting other human beings.

Everyone knew what he was and they were okay with it. That's the problem here. How many others are there? Who else was doing this? Because it wasn't just this asshole. It was an entire industry designed around permissive behavior.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Justice is Served


New Jersey needs to find some better cops:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said Wednesday that they were dropping drunken-driving charges against musician Bruce Springsteen.

Mr. Springsteen was arrested on Nov. 14 by federal law enforcement rangers in Gateway National Recreation Area. He had faced charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and for reckless driving, according to prosecutors. He was also charged with consuming alcohol in a closed area.

During a hearing Wednesday, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said they were dropping the two driving-related charges because tests showed Mr. Springsteen’s blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit. Federal Judge Anthony R. Mautone subsequently dismissed the two charges during the hearing.

During the hearing, Mr. Springsteen pleaded guilty to the third charge of consuming alcohol in a closed area. Judge Mautone imposed a $500 fine on Mr. Springsteen for the charge, citing the rock star’s mostly clean driving record and lack of previous criminal convictions.

If it were any other elderly male in that jurisdiction, he would have gotten off with a warning. I don't think he was treated fairly at the time of his arrest. This was largely a "fuck you" from law enforcement to a recording artist who has been holding cops accountable for decades with a consistent message of "apply the law fairly."

That's all this was. Springsteen could live anywhere in the world and he chooses to stay in New Jersey. That should say something about his character and his belief that you should not be a hypocrite in your life or your art.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)

 

Wow:

Former The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has released a cover of John Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)" which was originally on 1973's Mind Games. Ashcroft recorded it at Abbey Road Studios as well as California's Redtone Studios in East Palo Alto, and worked with frequent collaborator Chris Potter who has worked with Ashcroft since The Verve’s Urban Hymns. It sticks pretty close to the original but Richard brings his own flair to the overtly political song, not to mention his distinctive voice.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Steve Vai

 


Over forty years ago, Steve Vai had a mental breakdown. Because of the shame and stigma that surrounds these types of things, it seems like he hasn't really felt like he could talk about it:

Appearing on the Cassius Morris Show, Vai said: “Things came to a head for me when I was touring with Frank Zappa and I was in Montreal in 1980, and I just had a complete, sort of, breakdown, anxiety attack, that lasted a year and a half.”

“It was panic, it was all fear, there’s a fear that was in the background that just overcame me. And I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t doing drugs, nothing. I harboured a fear of going insane when I was younger.”

Later in the interview Vai discussed his difficulties reconciling his fame as a guitarist with his mental health: “I love music, I love the idea of playing music and all, but I was under the impression that if you become famous you would go insane,” he said.

What I think we're missing here is a chance to ask Vai how he dealt with this challenge to his health and what he's doing today to take care of himself. We attach so much baggage to the idea that you're supposed to always be perfect. It would be better if we could make it so that people could talk openly about these issues and not have to wait decades to revisit what went on.

IN any event, please support Backline. They provide mental health services to people in the music business.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Brexit Threatens to Destroy the British Music Industry

 


There may be a day when you won't be able to see musicians from Great Britain continue as recording and touring artists. The British Tory government has decided that getting rid of an entire industry is fine as long as their bet on Brexit pays off.

Figures from the music industry have hit back at the government’s response in a recent debate about the potential for visa-free touring for artists and crew wishing to tour Europe post-Brexit.

After over 280,000 people signed a petition calling for the government to establish visa-free touring for artists and crew through EU member states after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal failed to do so, the campaign was debated by MPs in Parliament yesterday (February 8).

Cross-party MPs repeated fears that the new added huge costs to future live music toursof the continent would prevent rising and developing artists from being able to afford it, as well as claims from European promoters that they’re likely to book fewer UK acts for events and that a great deal of jobs and income for crew, haulage and production will be lost to the EU with operations based in Britain now unviable.

Another repeated sentiment was that Brexit only stood to damage the UK’s “soft power” as a leading force in music, and that visa-free travel throughout the EU for artists and crew would be the easiest solution.

After the UK government said they put the responsibility for the lack of arrangements for artists at the foot of the EU and the European Commission then denied that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals”, yesterday’s debate saw the Conservative Minister for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media Caroline Dineage reject the idea that negotiating visa-free touring was an option and repeated that “the UK pushed for ambitious arrangements” but claim that “quite simply the EU rejected this and there was no counter offer”.

Modern artists can't survive on Spotify checks alone. They need to play live, they need to sell vinyl records (which is weird, but yeah, people do pay $29.99 for something that goes on the shelf and never gets played), and they need to survive in this very strange period of transition and change. The government should subsidize artists and help them get through the COVID-19 era. This is true in Great Britain, all throughout Europe, America and wherever else live music and recording artists are struggling. 

The government of Boris Johnson is hell bent on destroying the country's music industry. There's a cultural thing at work here. Artists lean left in terms of politics and, if you're a Tory, you're sick and tired of widely admired people telling everyone what a piece of shit you are. That's no reason to eliminate an entire industry.

Friday, February 5, 2021

God Bless the Go-Gos

 


The Go-Go's were the bane of uptight Catholics and humorless stiffs, a band who went to number one and said nah, we're sick of this shit. They fought with each other and did drugs because that's what everyone did. They were probably the loudest band of the 1980s. I'm a sucker for blue vinyl and God Bless the Go-Go's is coming out in that format.

What I really like is that the digital download version will give you bonus tracks and help you relive the rebirth of a great American band.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Endless Arcade

 


Here's a little something about the new Teenage Fanclub album:

Teenage Fanclub's anticipated 11th album, Endless Arcade was set to be released at the beginning of March but due to production delays, the album will now be out April 30 via Merge in North America and PeMa in the UK/EU. Similarly, the band's UK and European tour has also been rescheduled, with a few dates in England and Scotland happening in September, and then the bulk of the tour moving to Spring 2022.

On the brighter side, the Fannies have just shared a new single from Endless Arcade, a shimmering Norman Blake number titled "I'm More Inclined," full of the jangly guitars and lush harmonies we've come to expect from the band. “When we first started talking about getting songs together for a new album, Norman said, ‘I have one ready to go now!,’" says the band's other main songwriter Raymond McGinley. "That was ‘I’m More Inclined.’ He played it to us, we loved it, and that got us started on the whole thing that became Endless Arcade.” 

A slightly delayed album is still better than nothing. We're not talking about a Second Coming or a Chinese Democracy kind of delay, but you have to wonder if these production delays are going to affect other releases. 

I don't know if anyone should really count on touring and playing this year. Seems like another lost opportunity to get back to normal.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Brexit is Destroying the British Music Industry

 


There are some brilliant reactions to Brexit, but Fish says it best:

Despite widespread anger from artists and music industry bosses calling on the government to “take this seriously and fix it”, ministers rejected the idea this week – insisting that “taking back control” of the UK’s borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.

 Over 100 musicians, including the likes of Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Ed Sheeran, signed an open letter yesterday (January 20) criticising the government for their failure to support touring musicians in the Brexit deal.

 Now, Marillon’s Fish, real name Derek William Dick, has added his voice to the outrage, saying that Brexit will “destroy” UK artist’s ability to tour in the EU.

 [...]

 Fish said: “I’m still reeling from the new regulations revealed by the UK Government just over 2 weeks ago regarding touring in the European Union post Brexit. I’ve been trying to make sense of it all from all the sometimes contradictory and often vague information available on various websites that are constantly being updated and working out how this affects my own business and career. It’s quite frankly confounding.

 “I’ve grown tired of hearing ‘So what did musicians do before we joined the EU then?’ In 1973 when the UK joined the EU I was 15 years old and the Global Music Industry revenues were around 5 billion US dollars.

 “By the turn of the century they were around $25 billion and today worth around $21 billion with the UK music industry generating $7.5 billion. That is a figure that doesn’t even take in the vast independent network or all the ancillary workers and bolt on industries that contribute hugely these days to the International music business.”

An entire industry is being destroyed. All of the bands, the people who support them, the independent labels, the venues where they play, all of that is being destroyed. 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

No Glastonbury This Year

 


Well, this is very sad but not entirely unexpected. It is just not safe to have a festival of this size in our current state. You could make it a restricted event and have people vaccinated beforehand, but how do you plan for that in the summer when we are struggling in the middle part of January to understand the situation? Glastonbury is not an English only affair and Brexit probably complicates it behind the scenes. How does someone living in the Netherlands come to the festival this year with all of that headache ahead of them?

This will have the added effect of causing numerous music acts to miss another year of income. And that's devastating--it rolls downhill from the artists to everyone who supports the live music industry. There is no foreseeable effort to bail them out in England at all. The government there hates the music industry with a passion, and the feeling is mutual.

Again, very sad.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Neil Peart in Rolling Stone

 


It was interesting to read this article and see some updates about what has happened in the year that has gone by. The death of Neil Peart is a private matter for his friends and his family and I did not need to know any more about that. I don't consider myself someone who needs to stay on top of what's happening so I did not know about Alex Lifeson's health issues from earlier this year. On the whole, everyone seems so broken hearted. Very sad.

What bothers me about the idea of Rolling Stone doing a cover story on Peart is that, when he was alive and when he was making music, they didn't really give him the time of day or acclaim that he deserved until the later period of the band's existence. Certainly, in the period up to the mid-2000s, there was little if any respect paid to Peart, to Rush as a whole, and to the accomplishments of the band in the music business and as artists. 

They went decades without good reviews, television appearances, and the sort of appreciation that they had coming. How did that feel? Did they care? Did Peart care about any of that? I doubt he really did. But when you think of everyone connected to Rush and to the business of getting their music in front of people, yeah, I think it must have been difficult to see their year-in, year-out efforts dismissed and ignored.  I'm still shocked that they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They outclass they place, they really do.

Rolling Stone in particular ignored the fact that Rush was tremendously successful both as recording artists and live performers. Their albums flew off the shelves; their tours were extensive and it is easy to see that, halfway through their career, they had already eclipsed so many "cooler" and "hipper" bands.

The deaths of Gord Downey and Neil Peart have driven a stake through the heart of the music community in Canada. Such tragic losses but so many great memories and great songs left behind.

Anyway, I don't need to see or read more. I have the records and that's enough. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Dear Madam Barnum

 


The third-to-last or second-to-last (however you want to count it) XTC album was called Nonsuch and it landed in the middle of my late college years. It was excellent and well liked but entirely a digital thing to me. It was probably the first XTC album that I acquired in a format other than vinyl record or cassette, but I probably can't even remember that correctly. It was a relative long time ago.

The third song on the album was Dear Madam Barnum. By this time in an XTC album, you have already been hit across the head with the opener and the follow-up and now it's time to stretch out and enjoy the back and forth of Andy's songs and Colin's songs.

At less than three minutes, this is meant to get you well into a cycle of exciting back and forth emotions.


I hope the music embeds, and I hope you realize that no one can explain an XTC song. You have to experience it for yourself. If I were to sit down and try to detail what's happening, I'd lose the plot and say something positively shitheaded and wrong because I have no idea what's going on. Someone's quitting their job as clown and I'm all for it, sad sack melodrama notwithstanding (my favorite kind).