It’s a sure thing that Michael Jackson’s life was not going to end pretty. In fact, it can be argued that this mode of death is not the worst thing that could have happened. Seeing him waste away from cancer or die in prison, or collapse and die onstage would have all been worse. You could feel that how ever it was going to occur, Michael stood a good chance of going out in spectacularly tragic fashion. If the rumors are true, it was a shot of Demerol and he stopped breathing. At least it was mercifully fast. Can you imagine the mad scramble that’s now going to occur for his assets being carried out while he was still breathing? And who gave him this alleged shot? I have a feeling that a number of Dr. Nicks are about to be uncovered. At least his poor tortured soul departed quickly for what I hope is a better life somewhere else.
Sad to hear of the death of guitarist/keyboard player/singer/songwriter/mad genius Jay Bennett at age 45. I don’t want to be a hater here but like many others, his portrayal in the Wilco film, I Am Trying To Break Your Hearthas always been very problematic for me.
Tribute records are only as good as the person being feted. Their success or failure is also directly linked to how much energy the performers put into the project. Most tributes operate via telephone and UPS, meaning everyone uses the telephone to figure out what song they want to cover, and then UPS (or if you’re really sexy and rich, Fedex) delivers the finished tape. Actually, in some really impersonal cases, the music might be sent via email. Gee, ain’t this `ol digital world great?
Willie Nile: House of a Thousand Guitars
Circle P/River House RHR9904 (CD). 2009. Willie Nile, Brad Albetta, Frankie Lee, Andy York, prods.; Stewart Lerman, Rich Pagano, prods., engs.; Rich Lamb, eng. AAD? TT: 52:36
There wasn't space in the May issue of Stereophile for all these photos of the gorgeous and very talented Eliane Elias so here are a few more to ogle. And while you do, I know you'll all be doing it because you respect her as an artist. Seriously though, her new record Bossa Nova Stories is wonderful.
Another South by Southwest is in the books. My 21st out of a possible 23 festivals. Let me start with three acts that were among the most prominent participants there in terms of appearances. It seemed like every time I turned aroundday, night, those sunny, warm Austin spring afternoons when the free drinks flow freely and the good times rollthere would be Raul Malo, the Heartless Bastards and/or M. Ward playing yet another gig.
ARVO PÄRT In Principio In Principio, La Sindone, Cecilia, vergine romana, Da Pacem Domine, Mein Weg, Fur Lennart in memoriam.
Tõnu Kaljuste, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
ECM New Series 2050 (CD). 2009. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Teije van Geest, Margho Kolar, engs. DDD. TT: 70:44