Beyonce Fan

Why You Should Respect Performers

Beyonce Fan

If there ever was an argument for the superiority of Dyson products, it was made earlier this week in Montreal at the Bell Centre when Beyoncé had her hair tangled in a fan. Had there been a Dyson Air Multiplier on stage rather than a thing with whirling blades, hair stylists everywhere wouldn’t have had a heart-in-the-throat moment. Still, credit must be given to the stalwart performer, who kept on keeping on, singing “Halo,” tonsorial issues notwithstanding.

There must be something about performers, hair, and a contract with Pepsi. Who can forget Michael Jackson in 1984, when his hair caught on fire during the third take of a Pepsi commercial? In Beyonce’s Pepsi spot, there are shattered mirrors, but no fireworks.

(Was Beyoncé’s hair mishap an accident. . .or something else of a more spectral variety, a thriller, as it were?)

While people might think that the life of a musician is all limos and lager, living life large, performing can be deadly. Like the case of Les Harvey, of Stone the Crows, who was electrocuted by a microphone in 1972. Or Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson who had a fatal gripper on stage in 1996, as did Miriam Makeba in 2008. And there are more who gave up their lives so we could be entertained.

Make no mistake: Performing can be hazardous to your health. Of course, if you’re a musician and not performing, it can be equally untoward (cf: Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison. . . .).

Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Morrissey are mocking your shoes.

Introducing Your Judges

Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Morrissey are mocking your shoes.

Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Morrissey are mocking your shoes.

Look at this picture and just imagine the comments. Imagine being a poor soul with ugly shoes who happens to pass by. The insults would be earth shattering. Mozzer, Russell Brand and Noel Gallagher all passing judgment on you in a public space? It’s just too much.

But now imagine that rhetorical arsenal put to work for good. Imagine these were the judges of a nationally televised talent show. Forget American Idol or The X Factor or America’s Got Talent…this is Fuck Off The Stage!

Act after act would come out to perform their bit and then stand there as these three loudmouths dress them down for the entertainment of millions. Mozzer’s turn-of-phrase, Noel’s Northern English verbal blunt trauma, Brand’s…Brand-ism. The horror!

And the best part would be that nobody wins…ever. The season would end with no winner, no big finale…just those three guys having pints and talking shit. THAT I would watch.

Photo via Russell Brand on Twitter

Elvis Costello at Hyde Park

The Costello Variations

Elvis Costello at Hyde Park

So I am watching Elvis Costello & The Imposters’ performance at Hyde Park on AXS TV. It was pre-Royal Baby. No lullabies were included. An hour-or-so-long set of the hits being rat-a-tat-tatted out with the drive of Pete Thomas on the drums like a high-speed stamping press.. Accidentswillhappenican’tstandupforfallingdownhighfidelityalisonradioradio. Barely a pause. At one point, a roadie has to step back away from Elvis as he attempts to swap out a guitar. Elvis sweats. He sweats some more. The crowd stands around. Nieve fiddles around with the knobs on his keyboards. Elvis chews—what?—gum. Davey smiles like Karl Pilkington. The band plays on and on and on and on and on.

And something occurred to me.

When Elvis started the set, his vocals were cringe-worthy. He was off in pitch. Off in timing. Just off.

But what was he off of? It was off of the versions of those songs as I have come to know them from his recordings. To be sure, I have seen him live many times. But even there, the sound of the songs, by and large, had to be comparatively close approximations of what had originally appeared on the recordings. Sure, he would mix things up—adding something of a reggae approach to “Watching the Detectives”—but again, all of the audio cues had to line up in some way with what had been released on My Aim Is True.

Here’s the thing: Is it possible for Elvis (or any other artist who is performing his or her own work) to do an off version of one of their pieces? After all, what it is departing from is something that that person had done, as well, and had that person (or a producer or whomever) decided to have another recorded version, another approach that is different from the one that we have come to expect to hear, then wouldn’t the version that we now know be, in some nontrivial way, off from what we expect?

How do we know that there isn’t a deliberate effort to sound crappy? How do we know that the artist just doesn’t want to seem as though he or she has forgotten the words or that their ability to vocalize isn’t want it was some 35 years ago.

What if, say, Costello was to put out My Aim Is True: The Laryngitis Sessions? Wouldn’t a scratchy, barely-audible rendition of “Waiting for the End of the World” be as valid as the “straight” version that we’re familiar with?

We expect everything to default to a definitive version. Variants are acceptable, but only within certain parameters.

Rock and roll doesn’t necessarily work that way. But our expectations do.

The D Las Vegas

The D Goes Down

The D Las Vegas

For about the past year or so, there have been billboards around Detroit promoting a casino in Las Vegas (there are three casinos in Detroit proper, and one clearly visible from the city’s underdeveloped water front in Windsor) that is said to have the Detroit attitude. It is called The D Las Vegas, presumably so as not to be confused with The D Detroit.

So let’s get this straight: Someone is going to want to go from Detroit to Las Vegas so that they can go to a casino that has a restaurant serving Detroit coney dogs? Isn’t the whole point of leaving someplace to go someplace else that you’re someplace else, someplace different? Do Parisians think that the place to go is the Paris Casino? Do Roman’s go to Caesar’s? Are a whole lot of Venetians. . . . You get the point.

It seems somewhat ironic that the day that the D, the authentic city, not the place that is part of the so-called “Freemont Street Experience,” filed for bankruptcy, the D, the other one, announced its lineup for its one-year anniversary this coming September.

The headliner will be Kid Rock. Detroit’s own.

Rock, like Jack White, a former Detroiter, have made efforts to support the city, for which they deserve massive credit.

But it is sad, that the actual city fell so low as to have to had papers filed in court, in large part because there are so few actual jobs making stuff but a whole lot of low-paying jobs in service industries—like casinos.

The celebration at the D is going to kick off on September 26 with Rock’s pal Uncle Kracker. Rock plays the 28th.

Chances are, there won’t be a whole lot of celebrations in the actual D anytime soon.

Nikki Yanofsky & the Sound of Authentic Soul

The other evening I had the opportunity to listen to one of the best vocalists I’ve ever heard in a comparatively small setting in downtown Toronto. What is all the more remarkable is that the set lineup was of music that I appreciate, but don’t much care for. Ella Fitzgerald. Sarah Vaughan. Billie Holliday. Like that. Music of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

Yet there I sat. Amazed. The vocals were rich. The vocals were authentic. The vocals indicated a depth of feeling, passion and understanding that one recognizes as going beyond simple skills to a depth of soul.

The woman who was singing is Nikki Yanofsky.

She is 19 years old.

Her breakout came at age 12, when she was a headliner at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

She is not a novelty act. Yanofsky is real.

She did “I Would Rather Go Blind,” a song that I’d thought was Rod Stewart’s from Never A Dull Moment (1972), but which I learned was Etta James’s. Her recording was done in 1967. But I’d only known of Stewart’s rendition, and it was one that was formative for me back then, back when high school sometime-could-have-been was seen with someone else.

Yanofsky, who has worked with people from Herbie Hancock to Phil Ramone, who has performed live with Stevie Wonder, who has Quincy Jones as the executive producer of an album that will be released in the fall, says that she wants to bring the music of Fitzgerald and the like to her generation.

Yet I wonder.

I wonder whether this is possible. Conceivable. Do 19-year-olds want to listen to music that has stood the test of time in an era where time is accelerated?

One thing that is interesting about Yanofsky is that while there are plenty of others who have vocal range—think of Joss Stone or Leona Lewis (both of whom have a few years on Yanofsky, but are still under 30)—there is very real passion that she evinces in her vocals. Passion is what we crave in music if it is to actually move us.

The conceit of this site is that “Rock and roll can change your life.”

But I would argue it can change your life only if you are younger than 30. Because it is when you are 15 or 19, when you are alone, listening to music, that there are certain artists who have an effect on you that is transformative. At that point in life you are still malleable. Still being created. And certain music can change what you are, what you become. You are falling in love. You are being heartbroken. You are on top of the world. You are at the deepest depths of despair. You are always being formed and reformed.

And there is the music.

We were told not to “trust anyone over 30” for socio-political reasons. But it probably has a lot to do with being 30 and pretty much set in our ways, no matter how flexible we want to claim that we are.

So I listened to Yanosky and was more marveled than moved. At least less moved than I would have been had I listened to her rendition of “I Would Rather Go Blind,” when I would hear “When the reflection of the glass that I held to my lips. . .revealed the tears that were on my face” and then had to go to high school the next day.

Nikki Yanofsky: Web, Facebook, Twitter.

Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza 2013 Lineup (with mp3s)

Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza has announced its 2013 lineup and has already sold out of three-day passes, individual day passes, and VIP passes. I’ve gone every year since it settled in Chicago and have consistently had a good time. Some years have been more fun than other, but there are always bands I’m excited to see and there are always a few surprises.

It will be fun to see the Cure headline a big fest like this. I haven’t seen them since the Curiosa Festival came to Tinley Park. I’m also super excited about seeing Father John Misty, but — as always — it would probably be way better to see him in a smaller, darker venue. He’ll probably play at 2 o’clock as the sun beats us all into submission. But hey, that’s when the good stuff happens at Lollapalooza. Nobody goes to these things just to see the headliners, do they?

FRIDAY

The Killers
Nine Inch Nails
New Order (soundcloud)
Queens of the Stone Age (soundcloud)
Steve Aoki (soundcloud)
Thievery Corporation (mp3)
Lana Del Rey (mp3)
Flux Pavilion (soundcloud)
Band of Horses (mp3)
Hot Chip (mp3)
Crystal Castles (mp3)
Imagine Dragons
Frightened Rabbit (mp3)
Dillon Francis
Smith Westerns (mp3)
Disclosure (soundcloud)
Father John Misty (mp3)
Ghost B.C.
Modestep
Emeli Sande (soundcloud)
Jessie Ware (soundcloud)
Atlas Genius (soundcloud)
Timeflies (soundcloud)
Theophilus London (mp3)
Monsta (soundcloud)
IO Echo (soundcloud)
Icona Pop (soundcloud)
Chance the Rapper (mp3)
Lance Herbstrong
Robert DeLong (soundcloud)
Deap Vally (soundcloud)
Twenty One Pilots (soundcloud)
San Cisco (soundcloud)
Hey Marseilles (mp3)
Keys N Krates (soundcloud)
The Neighborhood (soundcloud)
Pacific Air (mp3)
American Authors (soundcloud)
Houndmouth (soundcloud)
Brick and Mortar (mp3)
D-Pryde
Brite Lite Brite (soundcloud)

SATURDAY

Mumford & Sons (soundcloud)
The Postal Service (mp3)
The National (mp3)
The Lumineers (soundcloud)
Kendrick Lamar (mp3)
Eric Church (soundcloud)
Steve Angello (soundcloud)
Ellie Goulding (mp3)
Azealia Banks (mp3)
Local Natives (mp3)
Dada Life (soundcloud)
Matt & Kim (mp3)
Foals (mp3)
Death Grips (mp3)
Court Yard Hounds (soundclouds)
Adventure Club
Ben Howard (mp3)
Griz (soundcloud)
Charles Bradley (mp3)
Heartless Bastards (mp3)
Baauer (soundcloud)
Haim (soundcloud)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (mp3)
St. Lucia (mp3)
Shovels & Rope (soundcloud)
Little Green Cars (soundcloud)
Family of the Year (mp3)
360
The Bright Light Social Hour (soundcloud)
Reignwolf
Pujol (mp3)
Planet Hemp
Cole Plante (soundcloud)
Lukas Nelson & P.O.T.R. (soundcloud)
Blondfire (soundcloud)
Frontier Ruckus (soundcloud)
Wheeler Brothers (soundcloud)
The Dunwells (soundcloud)
Supreme Cuts (mp3)
Cherub
Wild Cub (mp3)
Brooke Waggoner (soundcloud)
Beast Patrol (soundcloud)

SUNDAY

The Cure
Phoenix (mp3)
Vampire Weekend (mp3)
Knife Party (soundcloud)
Grizzly Bear (mp3)
Major Lazer (mp3)
Dog Blood
Two Door Cinema Club (mp3)
Tegan and Sara (mp3)
Beach House (mp3)
Cat Power (mp3)
2 Chainz (soundcloud)
Alt-J (mp3)
The Vaccines (mp3)
DIIV (soundcloud)
Alex Clare (mp3)
Baroness (soundcloud)
Lianne La Havas (mp3)
Wild Nothing (mp3)
Angel Haze (mp3)
Wavves (mp3)
Alvin Risk (soundcloud)
Jake Bugg (soundcloud)
Wild Belle (mp3)
Art Department (soundcloud)
MS MR (soundcloud)
Guards (mp3)
Kill the Noise (mp3)
Skaters (soundcloud)
The Orwells (mp3)
Palma Violets
Astro (soundcloud)
Machines Are People Too (soundcloud)
Yawn (mp3)
Half Moon Run (soundcloud)
The Mowgli’s (mp3)
Wake Owl (mp3)
Bear Mountain (mp3)
O’ Brother (soundcloud)
Makeshift Prodigy (soundcloud)

Photo by Alan M. Paterson.

Wings Over America

Wings Over America gets deluxe reissue treatment

Wings Over America deluxe reissue

Concord Music Group’s reissue campaign of the Paul McCartney catalog continues on May 28 with 1976′s triple live album, Wings Over America. This will be the fifth release in this series following Band On The Run (2010), McCartney and McCartney II (both 2011), and Ram (2012). All of those have featured excellent remastering and presentation. Bonus tracks have been a little skimpy, but the focus of these reissues seems to be presenting the official recordings with the best sound quality.

Wings Over America is a great 70s live album, but I’m most excited about the DVD/Bluray release of the concert film, “Rockshow.” When we were in high school, GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips and I rented this movie from Crazy Larry’s and watched it in his parents’ basement shortly before watching 80s sex comedy “Hard Bodies” (“HEY DORK EAT ME”). I haven’t seen either movie since then.

Full press release below…

Take Flight Again in 2013… With Wings over America

· Re-release of Paul McCartney & Wings’ groundbreaking 1976 live album Wings over America containing bonus material out May 28th on Hear Music/Concord Music Group

· DVD release of the live concert film ‘Rockshow’ documenting the band’s epic Wings over the World tour across America (June 11th)

· Theatrical release of ‘Rockshow’ and an exclusive VIP premiere screening – featuring an introduction by Paul – at BAFTA (May 15th)

This Spring will see another chapter unfold in the life of Wings, the band formed by Paul McCartney after the break-up of The Beatles – and one of the most successful bands the UK has ever produced.

Wings over America

First, the historic live album, which documented the band’s triumphant 1976 tour across North America, will be reissued in a range of formats. Fans and hardcore devotees alike will be especially thrilled with the stunning four-book, four-disc (3CD, 1DVD) Deluxe Edition Box Set. The box set’s superior audio and video include the two-disc Wings over America album remastered at Abbey Road, a bonus audio disc recorded live at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, a bonus DVD containing the rarely seen 75-minute television special Wings over the World and the photo gallery montage entitled ‘Photographer’s Pass’. Moreover, the Deluxe Edition Box Set contains four exquisitely rendered art books packaged with an incredible array of exclusive memorabilia, souvenirs, mementos, keepsakes and never-before-seen photos and art work from this historic tour. The spectacular 110-page commemorative tour book beautifully recounts the behind-the-scenes drama through dozens of live performances and backstage photos along with new interviews and liner notes from eminent music journalist David Fricke. The Wings over America leatherette-bound ‘Tour Itinerary’ contains extravagant memorabilia including printed 8X10 glossy band photos, a backstage guest pass, facsimiles of the invitation to the infamous end-of-tour party at the Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills along with Wings over America concert tickets, original album art work, tour posters, set lists, lyrics, press materials and much more. ‘Look’, the box set’s warm and intimate book of Linda McCartney photography features Paul and the band in their everyday life as they made their way across the country in the spring of ’76. Lastly, the set contains ‘The Ocean View’ an extraordinary hardbound compendium of drawings and sketches by artist Humphrey Ocean that captures the band on tour in relaxed and revealing ways. A striking artistic achievement in and of itself, the audacious Wings over America Deluxe Edition Box Set is a must have for any McCartney enthusiast.

Rockshow DVD Release

And for the first time a DVD will be released by Eagle Rock of the live concert film Rockshow which was shot in 1975 and 1976 when Paul McCartney & Wings undertook the epic Wings over the World tour–the largest-scale tour they would ever undertake as a band. Packed with all the classic Wings hits – plus some of Paul’s solo and Beatles classics – the film is released on both DVD and Blu-ray formats. Although filmed on this tour at the enormous Kingdome in Seattle, Rockshow, originally an edited version of the concert, was not premiered until November 1980 in New York and April 1981 in London. It was originally released on Betamax (later on laserdisc) but it’s only now that the complete full-length concert is being made available fully restored from the original 35mm film and with restored & remastered sound, including a 5.1 mix for the first time.

Rockshow Theatrical Release

And then third, but by no means least, Eagle Rock has partnered with distributors Specticast who are releasing the film theatrically worldwide for a ‘one night only’ event’ on May 15th (see here for more details: http://rockshowonscreen.com/) – meaning the film will be shown in more than 500 theaters across the world! The theatrical release features an exclusive introduction with Paul McCartney, but there will also be an exclusive VIP premiere screening of Rockshow, with Paul in attendance and introducing the film, at BAFTA on 15 May 2013.

For Wings Across America Paul brought with him one the most sophisticated and dazzling rock shows of the mid-Seventies (a time when nobody worried about extravagance or expense) and the band would eventually perform to more than 600,000 people at 31 shows in the US and Canada, ending with three mind-bending nights at The Forum in Los Angeles. It’s no exaggeration to say that the demand that greeted Paul McCartney & Wings (Linda McCartney, Joe English, Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch) in the spring of 1976 as they embarked on what would become their one and only North American tour was overwhelming. Having released four consecutive chart busting albums including Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound – not to mention 1973’s Academy Award-winning James Bond theme “Live and Let Die” – Paul’s solo career was in full flight… and having not performed in the States for 10 years either solo or with The Beatles, excitement had reached fever pitch.

Now Paul gives fans the chance to be able to immerse themselves in a concert that is destined to live forever.

www.paulmccartney.com

Rock and roll can change your life.