Here's a weird one. I was recently going through CDs that sit on my shelves, in my collection so to speak, and for kicks I decided to check how much a random handful were worth on Amazon. Perhaps it's my naivet, but to my very great surprise, many were out of print. So let me get this straight, a business that needs catalog pieces right now as much as ever is allowing a significant portion of their holdings go out of print? Wow! I was at a party recently where I overheard this: "So do the big labels want to go out of business or is there another plan?"
Reissues. Hey, I don't care who you are, everyone has a guilty pleasure that's now been reissued on CD, possibly with bonus goodies. What's gonna happen to reissues in the big, new, alldigital, alldownload, allthetime world is an easy one: listeners will do the same thing they do with new records, download the tracks they want and leave the lesser tracks as scraps. Funny how it's now possible to think of cuts of meat and record albums in the same breath: bites of choice flesh you eat surrounded by bone, fat and gristle you leave. It must make musicians feel real good to see their collection eviscerated in this way. You can say it serves them right for filling out albums with lesser tracks but then there's that creeping alchemy that happens upon further listening when some of the tracks deep into the record become essential. How many album tracks have you grown fond of after repeated listens versus those that jumped out at you the first time you dropped the needle or pressed play?
Is it me or does Phil Spector, the Wall–of–Sound inventor turned murder suspect, look more and more like a middle aged woman, particularly with his new blonde doo. If I were his lawyer I might have asked that he not change his hairstyle from notoriously weird to super weird on the eve of the trial. The photos, CNN.com has some doozies, that are really, really strange. Him with that Doris Day gone mad hair waving a pistol around demanding God knows what? Whatever the verdict, the man needs supervision.
jazz fusion is a movement in music, that I have to say, often leaves me cold. Yeah, Bitches Brew is great and other masterworks of the genre obviously resonate, but shows like a rare appearance by guitarist David Torn that I caught on Tuesday night at Joe's Pub are less than thrilling.
Why rage against an ill wind? I realize that complaining incessantly about the ongoing plundering of rock, classic and otherwise, by Madison Avenue ain't gonna make it stop but is there no one who can resist the allure of cash?
SXSW Part 3
So it was definitely the year of the female singer at SXSW 2007. Lily Allen was sassy and backed by a horn section. White dudes hooting on tenors, always a good time. The person I was with turned to me about halfway through and said, "I like this but I can’t tell you why." I took that to be a good sign.
SWSX 2007. It was the year of the female singer. And of course of Iggy.
Let's do Mr. Osterberg first.
South By Southwest usually saves the best for last, which always seems to mean the final act at Stubb's on Saturday night. For those unfamiliar with Austin, Stubb's is a BBQ joint, once owned by CB Stubblefield or "Stubb," a Navasota, Texas native who opened his first pit out in Lubbock after returning from the KO-rean (as they say it in Texas). While C.B. and his Lubbock restaurant are gone now, his name lives on in a line of nationally marketed sauces and in the Austin location, which has what can only charitably called a "venue" out back. Big, slanty, mudhole is more like it. Instead of an amphitheatre, Stubbs is a hillside sloping down into a gulley which collects rain, trash and chicks showing their tits to whatever heartthrob (Iggy Pop?) is onstage at the time. If it rains, forgetaboutit. Last year I stood in the rain and watched the Pretenders and promised myself nevermore. This year I watched an earlier act on the same bill, the Kings of Leon, who were absolutely wonderful except for the fact that they've now adopted a weird, pretty boy kind of look. They played a set heavy with the material from their new record, Because of the Times which was Stereophile's Recording of the Month for March, and it rocked.
So I'm sitting in traffic on MOPAC, the north/south expressway in Austin, listening to Willie Nile sing "Streets of New York," a tune that can be thought of as his "Jungleland" from his latest album, Streets of New York, on the CD player of my rented Jeep Liberty.
Today I got The Essential John Denver and a newly remastered reissue of Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees in the same package. Mercy! I got a chill pulling them out of the envelope. Denver and Scaggs together again! What kind of subtle coding was Sony/BMG sending by pairing this dynamic duo? The Seventies really did suck? We're out of ideas so here's two surefire golden oldies? If you thought the George Winston reissues were great then check out these two?
How anyone was surprised that Britney Spears has shaved her head is beyond me. As Stereophile's assistant editor, the intrepid Stephen Mejias reminded me, she was brainwashed as a toddler thanks to that malevolent mindfuck known as The Mickey Mouse Club. Add to that she's a piece of unreconstructed white trash from Louisiana, who's now been coddled beyond all description and suddenly head shaving looks like the least of her worries.
Today Kurt Cobain would have been 40. Seems like yesterday when we were seeing that searing image of his suicide: the photo taken in the room where he died, of his Converse All Stars, still on his feet, sticking out from behind a piece of furniture.
Last week I went to an advance screening at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) of Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, a new film about the short, creative, and ultimately kinda sad life of songwriter/arranger Billy Strayhorn. "Strays" or "Sweet Pea" as his friends knew him was part, some would say most, of the brains behind Duke Ellington's success in the forties and fifties. The film will be shown on PBS around the country in February.