Mediocre Mick

So I actually listened to the songs that Mick’s Web site is streaming from his new album, Goddess in the Doorway:

“Visions of Paradise”—Perhaps if Eddie Money had recorded this song in 1988 I might have liked it.

“Joy”—Would someone please just kill Bono?

“God Gave Me Everything”—At least this song rocks a bit. Would’ve been a nice inclusion on Steel Wheels.

“Don’t Call Me Up”—Cloying, but I like it. I can still buy Mick as a crooner. Isn’t that what old irrelevant rock stars are supposed to do, anyway? This song is good stuff; the perfect rock cliche of unrequited love turned to hate, hate that’s ultimately betrayed by feelings still unresolved. I love the way Mick says “Argen-ti-nah”, the Bon Jovi-esque guitar solo near the end, and the wonderful strings that Axl Rose only wished he could pull off with such finesse.

“Goddess in the Doorway”—Good beat, in the right Detroit techno hands it could make a dance remix as good as the Stones’ “Dance”. Why those hands would soil themselves with this album in the first place is another question.

“Too Far Gone”—Could have been a really cool song if it wasn’t so overproduced. Why is there an organ and strings in what should have been a nice stripped-down track bemoaning our fast-paced society? (Yes, Mick, you and your boys screwed up when you went disco instead of continuing to chase Gram’s Cosmic American vibe.) I still like the song, hope someone with more talented producers with better ears will record it someday.

Who knows what’s lurking in the tracks I didn’t hear, but I doubt it’d be enough to make this anything other than a middling record from someone who’s long ago given up the ghost of respectability. Jann Wenner, were he capable of it, should be embarrassed. If Lester Bangs were alive today, I think he’d need quite a bit of Romilar to get through this whole album.

Tonight’s the Night

Tonight’s the Night

Wilco at the Riviera Theater, Chicago

By Derek Phillips

In 1973, Neil Young toured for an album that was vastly different than the country comfortable Harvest that had made his name as a solo artist the year before. In fact, the set list for many of the ’73 tour dates didn’t include a single song from Harvest, but instead had tracks from Tonight’s the Night, Young’s harrowing tribute to close friends and drug casualties that wouldn’t see official release for almost two more years. As Wilco’s set closed in on ten songs, almost entirely from their as yet unreleased album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (YHF), I began to wonder if Tweedy was walking in Neil Young’s footsteps

Wilco took the stage of Chicago’s Riviera Theater to the precocious and creepy strains of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a song and a movie that are equally innocent and dark—not unlike Wilco’s latest recordings.

From the onset it was clear things had changed since their last Thanksgiving show, now a Chicago tradition. First, the stage was outfitted with white Christmas lights resembling stars against a black sky. Large yellow-white oriental globe lamps also hung above the band adding to the stark, dark spacey-ness of the fantastic YHF.

More importantly, guitarist/keyboardist/collaborator Jay Bennett was gone, having left the band a few months ago. Bennett’s influence on Wilco’s best work (arguably 1996’s Being There and 1998’s Summer Teeth) is undeniable. His sense of melody and skill on keyboards, guitar and as a sound engineer were surely the bedrock of what made Wilco the great band it is today. And most of the first set avoided any guitar-heavy songs with the band focusing on its moodier and more keyboard-driven tracks.

From set opener “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” to “A Shot in the Arm” to the tenth song in the set, “Misunderstood” the band floated through their more introspective songs, completely ignoring the implied demand for toe-tappers like AM‘s “Casino Queen” or “King Pin.” Ten songs down and no sign of any of the lighter, country-inspired tunes that established Wilco as THE band of Was Tweedy antagonizing the audience like Young did on his Tonight’s the Night tour? This show was a journey, a test of faith for both the band and the audience. Wilco was walking into the darkness and we were about to see who would follow.

But the band had an ace in the hole with Glenn Kotche on drums. If the driving guitar and spirit of Jay Bennett was missing, it was craftily hidden by Kotche’s truly inspired percussion. Tastefully injecting stuttered percussive flashes into Tweedy’s sparsely populated songs, Kotche added a level of sophistication to songs that could easily be lost in their own space. As the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot wrote in his review of the previous night’s show, “Kotche pulls melody and texture from an instrument typically consigned to the rhythm section.”

And just as other senses sometimes sharpen when one is lost, so too have the members of Wilco stepped up in Bennett’s absence. Longtime auxiliary player, Leroy Bach, washed the songs in lush keyboard parts and though not an inspired guitarist like Bennett, Bach is a capable guitarist who may in time find his own style as the band progresses.

But the MVP of the show was undoubtedly bassist John Stirratt. His pristine harmonies and McCartney-esque bass playing pulled together all of the elements, old and new, of a band in flux. Most notably on YHF’s “War on War.”

And, in the end, this was not an antagonistic show, nor was it an exercise in artistic bullying in which the band forces the audience to swallow unfamiliar material wholesale. Wilco may be moving on but it’s not forgetting and the band played a number of songs covering the seven years of its history. Old timers sang along loudly to “Pick Up the Change” and “I Got You” while their girlfriends cooed at Tweedy as he lightly touched their hearts with “Far Far Away,” “Sunken Treasure” and “One By One.”

In fact, it was in the first encore that IT actually happened. Tweedy finally delivered “California Stars,” his equivalent to Young’s “Heart of Gold.” And that was the difference between the two. Where Neil Young was dragging his audience through forced group therapy in 1973, Tweedy was just asking a loyal audience to follow him. And we did.

There are similarities, of course. Wilco has drifted away from the roots-rock sound that established it as a true American treasure, just as Young drifted away from the down-home folksiness of Harvest (No Depressioners can find solace in the fact that Young has continually returned to his folk roots, just as Tweedy may someday). But in walking away, both Young and Tweedy have stepped into new territory. As Young said in an interview years ago, “Heart of Gold” may have put him in the middle of the road, but he soon got bored and headed for the ditch where you meet more interesting people—maybe even Jeff Tweedy.



And Look! It’s All Here! On Display!

Johnny Loftus

After mainlining triptophan for 12 hours, it’s likely that the majority of Mick Jagger’s aging domestic fanbase were lying catatonic in their Barcoloungers by the start of “Being Mick,” ABC’s documentary of the legendarily rooster-like Rolling Stone. But even if those in Jagger’s near-septegenarian agegroup had skipped a fourth and fifth helping of green bean casserole to see the show, they may have been left scratching their heads. Because if “Being Mick” illustrated anything, it’s that Jagger’s new solo material is banking on a much younger demographic than his regular gig’s bombastic tours and schlocky studio work normally aims for. Filmed by documentarian Kevin MacDonald (One Day In September), “Being Mick” is a decidedly MTV-esque (think of that network’s “Diary” series, and you’re close) look inside Jagger’s bizarre world; a place populated by enormous homes, numerous children, plenty of jet-setting, and – of course – Lenny Kravitz.

The nice thing to see is that Jagger doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks of him. He doesn’t apologize for his, er, “bohemian” approach to love and marriage; in fact, he jokes with one of his twentysomething daughters, promising her that he won’t date anyone younger than her. The documentary paints Mick as an aging, yet still vital English Gentleman who is as happy showing off his collection of 18th century oils as he is grooving in a studio with Wyclef Jean. Now, as it has been noted here at GloNo, this is TV, and it is sweeps week, and “Being Mick” is at its core an extremely expensive ad for his new record. But like it or not, Mick Jagger didn’t become impossibly, sickeningly rich and famous without a little bit of talent. And “Being Mick” does succeed at proving that the man is, in fact, an impossibly, sickeningly rich rock star who still has some talent. At first, the sequence chronicling Jagger’s visit to Jean’s studio to record the final track on Goddess In The Doorway seems oddly incongruous. As Clef and Mick do a faux electric slide side by side, Jean’s posse looks on with puzzled glances. Read: “Yeah, I know he’s Mick Jagger, but GODDAMN, that white boy’s old!!” But this is followed by a shot of said white boy laying down his vocals to a track playing in his headset. With his voice all we can hear, Jagger shimmies and shakes, flails wildly and smacks his lips, obviously enjoying the song and his vocal. It amounts to not only a testament to his still-strong voice; it also acts as a clinic for those burgeoning rockstars in short pants over at MTV who seem to use their “Diary” platform as an excuse to bitch and moan about how tough touring is. Jagger takes it in stride, finishes his vocal track, and before we know it is relaxing in the limo, chatting politely on a cell phone about his excitement over working with Jean. All in a day’s work for an aging Glimmer Twin.

In another vignette, Mick jets to Miami Beach for a session with Lenny Kravitz. Upon entering Lenny’s lair, one of Jagger’s pals describes the combination home/studio as a rock star’s 21st century vision of a 60s rocker’s intergalactic bachelor pad wetdream. Or something like that. Which would also describe Kravitz’ production of “God Gave Me Everything I Want,” a crunchy, double-tracked slice of rawk that, if it didn’t sound almost exactly like Lenny’s own new single, would be the perfect re-introduction of Jagger to a new generation. (Or maybe that’s exactly the point…). But that’s just good ol’ Lenny, continuing to one-hour martinize the greasy, analog work of his 60s and 70s AOR heroes.

Either way, when at the end of “Being Mick” the man of the hour takes the stage in LA for the song’s premier performance, his funky chicken in stride as he fronts a band of well-coifed young guns, Jagger tears into the aggressive vocal with mirth that suggests he’s still virile in more ways than one. Whatever you think of Mick’s opulent lifestyle, his past (or current) dalliances, or his charmingly detached austerity, at 58 he’s still a rocker. And in the end, perhaps that’s what being Mick Jagger is really all about.


Annoyance Alert

I’ve just witnessed an ad on ABC for a show that will be on at 10 pm Eastern Thanksgiving night: “Being Mick.”

Yep, him.

(See him mugging in the studio; see him in exotic places; see him with a toddler; see him just like a regular person who happens to be incredibly rich and consequently unlike any regular people that any of us know.)

Let’s see… Britney, JLo, Garth Brooks, and now Mick all in a matter of a few days on the tube, all around the “sweeps” that drive up costs that advertisers pay for commercial time—and drive up the costs that we all pay for products to accommodate that charge.

How can purveyors of rock and roll change your life? Well, one way is by lightening your wallet.

The Glorious Noise Empire

Here at Glorious Noise, we do not not try to be all things to all people. We do what we do, and we hope you like it. We like it, and we’re going to keep doing it. This message is just a little heads-up to what’s shaking here behind the scenes…

About every two weeks or so we are changing the playlist of our Glorious Noise Radio station. We’ve got over four hours of great songs streaming to you in both lo-fi (for modem users) and higher-fi (for our broadband friends). [Update: sadly, we’ve abandoned the Live365 station because they started charging money for it – ed.]

The Glorious Noise Message Boards are in full effect, boy. Start your own discussion, or contribute to an ongoing one. Get as loopy as you want to.

Get updated! Do you have a hard time remembering just how much you love Glorious Noise? If you have other things on your mind, be sure to sign up for the Glorious Noise mailing list. Sign up through Yahoo Groups. [Update: the mailing list no longer uses Yahoo; it’s all us now – ed.] We send out one tiny message a week (or so) to let you know what’s happening on the site. We are going to start giving away free shit to randomly chosen people on the mailing list, so sign up now. We are also in the process of making available rare Mp3s files exclusively to our mailing list members. Woo hoo!

We’re hosting some cool new sites. Check out these sites and look where they’re coming from: the Blue Ribbon Brothers [Update: changed name to Riviera – ed.], Via Chicago [Update: no longer hosted by Glorious Noise – ed.], and the Wilco Timeline Project. If you know of any other cool little sites that don’t need a lot of space or bandwidth and would like to be hosted for free, let us know by adding a comment, and we’ll see if they would fit in on the Glorious Noise network!

Let us know what else we can do. It’s all about you. No, that’s a lie. It’s not really all about you, but if we like your suggestion we’ll do our best to do something about it. Thanks for coming here. We realize that the Web has a lot of cool stuff on it, and we appreciate you spending some of your time with us. Rock on!

In my ongoing quest to

In my ongoing quest to avoid supporting the Media Borg, I am hereby giving up listening to my favorite radio station, WDFN 1130AM, Detroit’s best sports talk station. I am doing this for one simple reason: The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications. I just can’t ignore this fact any longer, so I’m tuning out.

I encourage those of you who also oppose(d) the 1996 Telecommunications Act that eased the FCC’s restrictions on media ownership to do likewise and stop listening to Clear Channel-owned stations in your area.

Oh, and by the way, lest you think I’m a complete loony for thinking like this, go ahead and read this article on explaining how Clear Channel is blatantly defying the FCC, even in its diminished regulatory capacity, and screwing us all.

It’s no wonder that radio has a bland sameness to it nationwide—it really is programmed by one big corporation—explaining why a music lover like me (used to) listen to sports talk.

Please help me find an address for the king of the UN

This doesn’t have anything to do with music, but I recently received this email from a friend of mine, and I felt the need to share it with you. I certainly don’t advocate this kind of “Send this to ten of your friends” message, but this is a special exception. My friend has given permission to publish this here but has asked me to change his name, which I did.


Dear Friends,

I am not into politics and whatnot but it seems that most of you are and should be commended for it. Since you are, however, I have a few questions that you could perhaps help me get answers to. I am interested in writing a letter to the leader of the UN (King/Prince/Commissioner I don’t know his title) to find their schedule for the year 2002. Reason being, I thought that maybe after they are done setting up a multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan they could perhaps come to the United States and help US set up a multi-ethnic government. I figure, if they can work their magic in a place like Afghanistan, what with the centuries of warring tribes and whatnot, they could surely do the same with the United States where people are, on the surface at least, a little bit calmer (or maybe they just don’t LOOK as crazy). Anyhoo, I don’t know the fella’s name that runs the UN. The old guy had double first names, being a foreigner and all. Could you imagine, Paul Paul Stanley? WOW!! I’ve seen the new guy’s picture and he has a graying beard. If you could tell me how to get in touch with him I would appreciate it. If he is anything like me (and we’re all more alike than different) then he likes to make lists for himself (gotta have goals). I would just like to talk to him to see if we can’t get on his list and whether they will have the time help us out next year. Perhaps if I made a internet chain letter where it had some sort of form letter and everyone added their address and social security number as they received it and that stuff about how bad luck (or at least no multi-ethnic government) will come if they don’t pass it on to 10 friends. This could show the King of the UN that it’s not only me that wants the UN to help the U.S. So political/computer savvy friends, I would appreciate your advice.


Paul Stanley [not his real name – ed.]

Please add a comment if you agree with this (address and social security number are optional, of course…).

Calculated Oops

Britney Spears Live from Las VegasOn the day following the Britney Spears HBO bump-and-grind performance from Las Vegas, I noted that on sports talk radio there were discussions about the appropriateness of men above, say, age 25 finding 19-year-old Spears sexually appealing. While not promoting a Don Henley defense here, the whole thing strikes me as rather absurd. Too many of these people were trying to come off as though they are in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. “Can you say ‘bullshit,’ neighbor?”

To use the time-honored sports-talk metaphor, let’s break things down…

* Title IX notwithstanding, sports is a testosterone-driven arena. If there is any question about that, then ask yourself this: Why do ads for strip clubs in Windsor appear in the sports section of the Detroit Free Press and not the entertainment section? Sports is nothing else than the Entertainment Business writ large. Just like music. In fact, when you consider the ties between the two, things become rather inextricable.

* How many “sports fans” are “fans” of Anna Kournikova? How many “sports fans” have you ever heard holding the view that “She’s too young to ogle”? I’ve heard approximately none. How many “sports fans” managed to have their Internet-based fantasy sports team playing interrupted by opening an attachment to an email that was a virus disguised as pix of Anna? Let’s see: Spears, 12/02/81; Kournikova, 6/07/81. Yep, a vast difference.

* Spears appeared on HBO. Not broadcast. Not basic cable. Gee, do you think that the venue might have had a little something to do with her ability to strut her stuff in a way that would otherwise be considered verboten? (Although with last week’s “Victoria’s Secret Underwear Extravaganza on the Network Owned By Disney, Which We Thought Was Always About Less Obvious Sexuality” may have changed things somewhat in this regard.) And what about the fact that she was on 9 pm—isn’t that post-family hour?

* Spears appeared in Las Vegas, at the MGM Grand. The tribute to Dorothy in that hotel notwithstanding, the first thing that anyone arriving in Vegas knows is they aren’t in Kansas anymore. Despite the Las Vegas Tourist Board’s attempts to make people think that Vegas is “family friendly,” the only families that it is friendly to are those that own the casinos. As for the other “families,”: “Gee, Mom, will you let Sally and me out of the closet so that we can watch the pirate ships blown each other up? Mom? MOM? Damn. She must be back at the video poker again… Gimme the beef jerky.” Make no mistake that Vegas is still about silicone and slots, about the Big Win. Which Spears and her handlers hope to realize (the Big Win, that is; the other two are already accommodated).

The whole thing is pathetic. And moreover, it is simply characteristic of what is happening to popular music. While pop music has always been a function of someone figuring that they could make a fast buck by promoting the sound of the moment, there is a vast difference in degree today than there has ever been. The Selling of Stars At Any Cost has become the order of the day among massive conglomerates. It is all about maximizing investment at the cost of taste. At the cost of talent. It is about moving Product. And these products have an increasingly short sell-by date. Most of these people who are plastered on the cover of Teen People (hmm… AOL TimeWarner, which owns HBO, owns that, too…) have careers with all of the substance of cotton candy. Chances are, 20 years from now Eddie Money is more likely to still be performing with Ringo’s All-Starr Band at outdoor concert venues while most of the people of Spears’ ilk will be performing at some sort of dinner theatre. (While some may claim that she’s the next Madonna, I’d argue that there already is—or has been—a Madonna, and so that position has already been filled: There are no second acts.)

There is no question that Spears is now meant to appeal more to the people who are claiming that it is “wrong” than she is to the mobs of teens who attend her shows. Who has a greater degree of disposable income? And who can spell “hypocritical”?

The Glorious Noise Interview with Camden Joy

When I was young, we approached rock and roll like that, that it had been broken open and sucked dry by greedy adults and nothing remained of it but a few shards. The Rolling Stones, for example, could be reduced to the mumbles and guitar jabs at the start of “Stray Cat Blues,” the submerged clatter of “I Just Wanna See His Face,” and the line in “Respectable” about smoking heroin with the president. Three fragments. And I’d have to say that even that was pretty generous of us. The Clash and the Who were each reduced to just two fragments. My friends and I called these “moments,” and we constantly bickered over the merits of this or that “moment.” I’m the one who said the moments occur when a performer strays from the script, when you sense they haven’t practiced this part but aren’t worried what to play. It was Roy who said these moments were “steered entirely by the majesty of impulse.” I always loved that, “the majesty of impulse.” Made passion sound like some kinda key to royalty.

— From The Last Rock Star Book Or: Liz Phair, a Rant by Camden Joy

We are pleased to present to you the Glorious Noise interview with one of my favorite contemporary authors, Camden Joy. He was called “one of the smartest, funniest, and most thoroughly twisted people writing about rock today” by Jim DeRogatis, the author of the Lester Bangs biography, Let It Blurt, and authority on smart, funny, twisted writers. In the interview Camden Joy discusses his role in reviving interest in alternative country legends, his love of genetically-modified fruit, and his waning interest in current popular music. He also mentions his three brand new novellas that were just published by Highwater Books.

Read all about it here.

Continue reading The Glorious Noise Interview with Camden Joy

Boxing Bob Dylan

Nothing’s free in this world. Especially when it’s offered by a corporation. Is it worth it to accept freebies from the Man when he seemingly expects nothing in return? Not when it’s box seats to a concert. You’re better off watching it at home with relatives you hate. At least you can kick them out…or kill them. This Glono feature looks at the sick world of corporate boxes and how they can kill your favorite rock stars.

Continue reading Boxing Bob Dylan

Rock and roll can change your life.