There are a lot artists who try as you and they might, never really grab ya. Then there are those who made one single that for some odd reason touched you. No, not there! In the heart or the head or some combination of both. Most are pop artists. And most of these one track wonders fall into the category of the "guilty pleasure."
The music business needs to start developing talent or the slump they're currently in is not gonna get any better any time soon. One reason people aren't buying records anymore, or downloads if you must, is that in some genres there's a lack of compelling talent.
Course that's common sense, and this is a business that seems to always be looking for a silver bullet. Or backward at its glorious past.
Fitting right in with that last vision is the "new" Beatles album that's in the offing. Amazing how many new albums come from people who've been dead for years ain't it? This one will use music from the Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas. Sounds classy right? Not. Check this quote from Giles Martin, Sir George’s son that appeared on NME's website:
"What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period."
Uh Huh. Maybe it's me but the real Beatles album experience seems to have aged rather well thank you. What we don't need is another remix album. What we do need is for Sir Paul and Ringo to spend some time in the tape vault and then release some of the jillion outtakes, alternate takes, live material, etc. that have been mouldering away there for years. No release date yet on the new album.
Earlier this week I was invited to Per Se, a sleek restaurant in the Time Warner Center here in NYC for a lavish lunch sponsored by Concord Records. Co-owner Norman Lear was there. So was former SNL and now Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer who served as MC. The occasion was the release of another Ray Charles project which I will be writing about in more detail in an upcoming issue of the magazine. Titled Ray Swings—Basie Swings, it's an elaborate studio creation. Again though, Look for more in December's Stereophile.
For as long as I live, like it or not, I'll remember 10:28 am 9/11/06 like it was yesterday. I remember the roar and the sight of the giant radio antenna on the last of two towers standing disappearing into the massive clouds of gray smoke. I remember the emergency room personnel at St. Vincent's out in the street waiting for survivors that never came and the clouds of gritty smoke and 8 x 11 sheets of paper blowing up the streets of Brooklyn. And then I remember the jumpers, those who'd rather jump than burn.
As we all know, the focus of Stereophile's music section, and rightly so, is recorded music. But in my unsubtle opinion, music writers or just music fans who only listen to recorded music and never see anything performed live, are missing half the ballgame. If the only way you know a certain artist is through their records, then sorry to say, and yes, I know that not everyone lives in a city where they can see live music, you’re only getting half the story. I know critics who've been let go because they basically refused to go out to see live music. They were happy to stay homehey, no traffic, no lines, no fighting the elements, sounds good to meand listen to CDs or LPs. Unfortunately though, while they may have stayed comfy cozy at home, their opinions on music ended up having only a certain amount of value. The X factor about seeing music live versus hearing it on record is that often you have to see the music performed live to make any sense of the record. Though rare, it can also work in reverse as well: you have to listen to the record to make sense of a live show.
I love Bob Dylan: the man, the music, the whole enchilada. I even like the endless tour, (currently playing triple A ballparks), which he seems determined to continue on until, to use that famous line from Midnight Cowboy, he "dies on the stage."
One distinguishing mark of the "old" music business, i.e. the one before downloads, the one that made buckets of money, the one where half of my friends used to work, was that it was so big that folks on say, the classical side, had no idea who worked on the rock side. Even within the same company. They were different planets.
So there I am, sitting eating my lunch, watching the news on TV, waiting like the slavering dog that I am for more Mel goes Mad, when none other than Alice Cooper a.k.a. Vince Furnier, he of the large pearly whites and the exquisitely died hair, comes on CNN and begins batting his bright eyes and cheerfully expounding on his new youth center in Phoenix.
Just prior to the morning hour at which most liquor stores open, Don Byron and I are sitting outdoors at a sidewalk cafe on a steamy Park Avenue South (Technology Gulch)when a scene breaks out on the sidewalk.
Byron (head turns and he murmurs): "Oh my god."
A stringyhaired, smelly, obviously intoxicated woman staggers after a younger, taller man who's also worse for wear, and hollers in a drunken growl: "I got my own phone now. Yes it is. It works you used it."
Byron (laughing): "It's the metropolitan wino scene. You know what I mean? You know the scene in Firenze, now here it is in New York. It has all the elements: the dirty clothes, the ruddy skin, the formaldehyde lips."
Rumor is that the suits at MTV are beginning to kvetch about the expense of having bottled water delivered to the NYC offices of the network. Man, when the bottled water bill gets up on the bean counter radar nothing good can come of it.