Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Great ideas in record label marketing: Free Dirt

It must have been fun to work at Warner/Reprise in 1969. There were so many great groups on their roster: Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, the Kinks, the Grateful Dead… They were the cool label. Selling those records to all the hip kids must have been a piece of cake.

Or maybe not.

Because when it came time to come up with a campaign to promote Neil Young’s first album with his new band Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, they ended up with a novel idea: free dirt. That’s not a euphemism for anything. You could send in a form and they’d mail you a baggie of dirt from Topanga Canyon. No self-addressed stamped envelope or anything!

“Miss Penny in shipping has demanded tranquilizers, overtime, and an Easter bonus for her boys if they have to bag dirt. But what the hell. Nobody understood Galileo either. Read on.”

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Once again yet even more Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone

One of the things that inspired us to start Glorious Noise in 2001 was Jim DeRogatis’ biography of Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt. Our first big, multi-post project was to dig through a bunch of old copies of Rolling Stone magazine and liberate original record reviews written by Bangs but never republished.

Then sometime around 2006 the Stone finally put a bunch of their old reviews online. We linked to as many as we could find. And then after a year or so we found even more.

Since then, RS.com has undergone a redesign or two and none of those old links work anymore. The people who make the decisions apparently didn’t think it was worth the effort to make the old links redirect to the updated content, so they’re all effectively dead now. Additionally, some of the reviews that were up in 2006 and 2007 don’t seem to have made the transition (Tony Williams’ Emergency, for one example). And worse yet, they weren’t even captured by the Internet Archive’s wayback machine. So boo.

The Web taketh away, but the Web also giveth. Now there are several new Lester Bangs reviews online that I hadn’t seen before. Blessed be the name of the Web.

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (RS33, May 17, 1969)

“Can this be that same bunch of junkie-faggot-sadomasochist-speed-freaks who roared their anger and their pain in storms of screaming feedback and words spat out like strings of epithets? Yes. Yes, it can, and this is perhaps the most important lesson the Velvet Underground: the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels.”

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Five From the Archive: Smashing Pumpkins in 2011

The Smashing Pumpkins at Le Grand Rex in Paris, France. May 22, 2007

Rolling Stone recently ran a Readers’ Poll of The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs, as selected by their readers. The response was so large and varied that they decided to make it a Top 20 list instead of the regular Top 10 with Rolling Stone Readers’ Polls. I had been planning on running a Five From the Archive piece on the Smashing Pumpkins anyway, and when I read this, I thought it afforded the perfect opportunity. Here’s what I’ve done.

Last fall, the new Smashing Pumpkins lineup – Jimmy Chamberlin is out on drums – did a short tour of the states in October, and a quick jaunt into Europe in November. So I chose five songs from those shows that were also included in the Reader’s Poll. All but one of the selections are from Siamese Dreams, for two reasons. First, the album dominates the Readers’ Poll. Second, I have a special attachment to the record. I was a bit obsessed with it when it came out. I went on and on about what a brilliant set of songs I thought it was, to anyone who would listen. Including some GloNo colleagues I knew back then.

1. Smashing Pumpkins – “Starla”.  This epic length track, from Siamese Dream days, came in at Number 2o in the Readers’ Poll. I remember “Starla” from one of the many CD singles they were releasing at that time. I’m going to be honest with you. Some of my college buddies and I enjoyed sparking up to this one at the time. Full show: October 7, 2011 – Fox Theater, Oakland, CA

2. Smashing Pumpkins – “Geek U.S.A.”. This one of my favorite tracks from Siamese Dream.  I loved the three song sequence on the album of “Geek U.S.A.”, “Mayonaise”, and “Spaceboy”. I thought it represented some pretty innovative rock and roll at the time. It came in at Number 13 in the Reader’s Poll. Full show: October 14, 2011 – Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

3. Smashing Pumpkins – “Zero”. This is the one not on Siamese Dreams. If you guessed that, give yourself a gold star. Full show: November 13, 2011 – 02 Academy, Glasgow, Scotland came in at Number 12 in the Reader’s Poll.

4. Smashing Pumpkins – “Soma” Apparently, this is also the brand name of a drug called Carisoprodol. It’s a muscle relaxant. “Soma” came in at Number 4 in the Reader’s Poll. Full show: November 11, 2011 – Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK

5. Smashing Pumpkins – “Cherub Rock”. The recording for this one isn’t as hi fi as the others, or something. It’s quieter, anyway. Good rocker. “Cherub Rock” came in at Number 3 in the Reader’s Poll. That’s the closet we got to the number one song. Full show: October 17, 2011 – 930 Club, Washington, DC

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the author, Matthew F.

Rolling Stone Redesigns, Erects Pay Wall

RollingStone_redesign_2010.png

Rolling Stone is taking a cue from Rupert Murdoch by relaunching their online experience with—wait for it—a pay wall. Yes, misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows and the media industry is certainly in misery.

The Associated Press reports that today’s Rollingstone.com relaunch will not only be a look and feel redesign but also a new approach to their online content and business model.

Homepage content, including top news stories, recent photo essays, and some features from the latest issues, will remain “free” and supported by ad revenue. Access to the full issues will be behind a pay wall, with one-month passes going for $3.95 and annual subscriptions at $29.99. But there’s a twist…there’s always a twist.

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Senate Urges Review of Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger

Yep, elections have consequences and after years of hyper capitalism and oversight-free marketeerism, the Big Wigs in Washington are starting to think bigger isn’t always better for the consumer.

This week Rolling Stone reports that lawmakers have asked the Department of Justice to review the merger between live event ticketing mega-giant Ticketmaster and event promoter Live Nation.

The proposed merger would find Ticketmaster, the nation’s biggest ticketing service and owners of Front Line Management and secondary ticketing site TicketsNow, joining up with Live Nation, America’s biggest concert producer. Live Nation, which also owns dozens of amphitheatres and has inked 360 deals with artists like Madonna and Jay-Z, launched their own ticketing service late last year in a move that was expected to create competition in the ticketing market. Instead, the two companies quickly began talks to merge, announcing plans to create a joint company called Live Nation Ticketmaster in February 2009.

For some reason, Senators think that an expansion of an already shitty ticketing service with the nation’s largest concert promoter might be a bad thing for music fans. Go figure…

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Open Letter to the Stone

The Open Letter to Rolling Stone that everyone is attributing to Joan Jett was actually written by Maya Price.

Updated links 11/26/2008.

Bang a Gong, Get It On

When looking around for something to write about, I checked out rollingstone.com, figuring that there might be a hook or a bit of news that would be worth noting on this site. For example, I was pleased to see there that Elvis Costello will be releasing Cruel Smile next month, which will include live cuts from a tour that I chronicled here back on June 8.

That was the bit of news. But then there is the hook. Which is, arguably, the hook on the back of a bra. There, along the top of the page were photos of: (1) Bree Sharp; (2) Jennifer Love Hewitt (with a fetching Valley of the Dolls look designed to appeal to male libidos everywhere); (3) Eve. Not one skinny, gap-toothed signer or buff actor. Just the girls. (Not that I’m complaining, mind you.) But that trio cycles me back to Johnny Loftus’s piece here on September 4 about the change of guard at the periodical that was once all the news that fits (I promise to stop referencing this site). Now, it seems, what matters most is how snugly clothes can fit (assuming that they’re being worn).

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Everybody Must Get Stoned

Another chapter in the ongoing tale of how the media business sucks

Rolling Stone has finally given up. Yep, according to the New York Times, Jann Wenner has hired a limey editor who’s going to have the magazine doing the Full Monty posthaste—by this I mean employing the we-need-to-be-more-like-Maxim formula of shorter stories, more pictures, and dumber content. The new kid on the block is one Ed Needham, he of For Him Magazine infamy, who is quoted in the article as saying, “I don’t think people have time to sit down and read.”

Now I’m the first in line to bash The Stone for hyping whatever happens to be popular without regard for taste, for being Jann Wenner’s personal suck-up tool, for being all too frequently a tool of the music biz. But at least the magazine, for all its faults, still had content: Actual researched stories, frequently interesting, occasionally even enlightening. Stories that had to be read, not just skimmed or flipped through. Apparently, that’s becoming a thing of the past; The Stone is choosing to become just another piece of crap.

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 alt.country 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.

Smartass Motor City Punks

Check out this letter to the editor from the July 6, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone:

I can’t help but notice that nearly every time you mention Detroit, it’s some sort of put-down. I wish you wouldn’t pass judgment on an entire city. Not everyone around here holds John Sinclair as his savior, or spends his time grooving on the MC5, Alice Cooper, the Stooges and so on. […] Not all of us are smartass Motor City punks.

Jeff Stern

Southfield, Mich.

Isn’t that great! Associating “punks” with the MC5 and the Stooges (and Alice Cooper — huh?) back in 1972. How cool is that?

Posted another Lester Bangs review. This time it’s Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality.

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