Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Redesigns, Erects Pay Wall

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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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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.

Update: This is what Rolling Stone became under Needham. RS-909, November 2002. -ed.

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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Style vs. Substance

Warning to all, I’m in a particularly bitter and cynical mood today. But what a great lead-in to my continued rant about the Fourth Estate: “I can’t imagine MTV with all their censorship…”

Remember back when MTV was subversive and anti-corporate, almost like The Stone at its genesis?

I wasn’t even allowed to watch it because it was full of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I used to race home from school as fast as possible for about an hour of view-time, hoping to catch a Twisted Sister video before my mom got home from work. But now that it’s full of corporate-approved sd&rnr: Watch on kids, become better consumers. Is there anything in our lifetime that better exemplifies the commercialization of pop culture and its resulting affect on the world we live in? You want to name names, MTV is the one, The Devil Made Me Do It.

And for all the bally-hooed Internet Revolution (revulsion), I don’t see much going on that’s at all subversive to the prevailing society, government, corporate music industry, or anything else. Oh, we all read the Web sites about Lisl and get our alt.news and then go back to farting around at work, making jack for The Man to buy our crap at Ikea so that we can sit around and bitch about the sorry state of the world in comfort. And don’t give me “Napster, dude,” which was only sort of subversive, because the Old White Men put a stop to that right quick. Besides, when you really think about it, was a bunch of stoners trading unpaidfor copies 70’s disco tunes and bootlegged versions of ICP’s “Slim Anus” really revolutionary?

No. Because the Real Rock Revolution, historically, was about telling The Man to go fuck himself. You had something better, more Real, more Alive, and more fun than anything that He could dream up. You were smarter than He was and you didn’t buy His Pat Boone records. Rock and roll was a lifestyle, a way of thinking, a belief system. “Rock and roll can change your life.”

Rolling Stone changed lives. MTV changed mine and most of my friends’. But to that I say, “Yeah, so what?” We all know that these days. It did change our lives but it didn’t change much else. We told The Man to Take This Job and Shove It and we went out and got another J-O-B. We even got one where we, under the guise of being cool, decided to sell off a part of what rock and roll stood for. “Hey, I can make money marketing cool!?!?”

So we just continue to draw finer lines of cool, to absolutely no end. I do it all the time: “Britney sucks because she’s a corporate drone.” But why can’t Britney “change your life” too? She can, and does. And since no one really ever threw the Man off his or her back, it don’t matter, just don’t mind. Think about it for a second, does it really make a difference if you listen to Public Enemy instead of Backstreet Boys? In this day and age, not in the least, because you’re still lining up at Starbucks regardless.

So what’s next?

The appeal of rock has always been rebellion, but who are we rebelling against when a guy like Ronald Reagan drapes his presidential campaign with a Springsteen song that’s not even about the patriotic furor that the Elephants thought it was? (Or maybe they were smart enough to know that the American public would buy it anyway. Who really cares as long as I can pump my fist and shout, just don’t spill my beer.) And this was over 15 years ago; people haven’t been getting much smarter since.

But we have been getting cooler. We’re all hip to the Rock ethos. We’ve substituted this phony rebellion for anything real in the world. There is no rock and roll left, just marketing campaigns. There is no truth, no honesty, no nothing: All style, cool, no substance.

But why?

Blame falls on only one set of shoulders here, and yes, it is this thing, formerly known as The Press, currently known as The Media. But let’s just call it what it is: the corporate infotainment industry. To bring this entire rant full circle, remember the Lester Bangs character’s statement in Almost Famous, the crucial thing that he tells Crowe on the phone about journalists? “We’re not cool,” he admits. Funny how, in a world where everything has to be cool, the media shouldn’t be. But it is. Increasingly more so, every day.

This is wrong, absolutely wrong. Our job as a member of the Fourth Estate isn’t to make friends with the world, it isn’t to be a nice guy. It’s to be suspicious, critical, and keep these mofo’s in line. To keep society from being ignorant and stupid and liking shit music, shit culture, shit politicians, shit everything. We’ve been doing a really fucking good job, haven’t we? We suck.

And that, my friends, is the great crime of the turn of the century, that the media has substituted Rock and Roll cool for honesty. And thus, rock, in its conquering and all-powerful moment has come to destroy itself. Or rather, we have destroyed it. Part of the bargain that we made with rock in the 60s was that we’d die before we get old, that we’d have sympathy for the devil, that we would teach the fucking world to sing. But we didn’t. We didn’t change the world, we didn’t even really change ourselves.

Except we all got cool. Great. Enjoy that new mass-produced single and your 60-hour-a-week job and your closet full of Gap crap and your boring life that’s only punctuated by a few fleeting moments of greatness in anything before it becomes recycled and corporatized. And we’re really sorry, but we’re too busy sucking down free cocktails to care. Party like a rock star, dude. Or if you’re a journalist, just party with one.

Lester Bangs on Zawinul

And here is one more review by Lester Bangs. This one is a double review of a couple jazz albums. It originally appeared in the August 5, 1971 issue of Rolling $tone, and hasn’t been published since…

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Lester Bangs on Chuck Berry

Here is the latest installment in the series of reviews by Lester Bangs that have remained unpublished since their original magazine appearance. This one is also from the August 9, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone. This time it’s a Chuck Berry review.

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