Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Music News

AC/DC DEFENDS DECISIONS ON WAL-MART, iTUNES …AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson defended the band's decision to sell its new album, Black Ice, exclusively through Wal-Mart in a new interview with Reuters, explaining, "A lot of people were saying 'Ah man, you're going to the big Wal-Mart, you're selling out.' Wal-Mart were the only big store to stock all of our albums, every single one of them, and they've never deviated. And they sold AC/DC shirts and pajamas for kids, which we thought was really cool." As for the group's equally controversial stance on keeping its music off iTunes, Johnson said, "Maybe I'm just being old fashioned, but this iTunes, God bless 'em, it's going to kill music if they're not careful. It's a monster, this thing. It just worries me."

Guitarist Angus Young told the New York Times that the band objects to iTunes' insistence that songs must be available individually and not just as part of an album. He said, "It's like an artist who does a painting. If he thinks it's a great piece of work, he protects it. It's the same thing: this is our work."

Black Ice, AC/DC's first album in eight years, comes out on October 20th. It will also be available through, with independent record stores selling a vinyl version.

AC/DC has sold 26.4 million albums since 1991, when SoundScan first began tracking record sales, making the group second only to the Beatles.

Wal-Mart has reportedly guaranteed that it will sell 2.5 million copies of Black Ice. The band's last effort, 2000's Stiff Upper Lip, has sold 940,000.


METALLICA DRUMMER DOESN'T UNDERSTAND AUDIO COMPLAINTS …Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told us that he doesn't understand the controversy that has broken out in recent weeks over the audio quality of the band's new album, Death Magnetic. Some fans and publications have accused the group and producer Rick Rubin of mixing the album at such a loud volume that the music is distorted and difficult to listen to. But Ulrich said that he's more than happy with the way it turned out: "I listen to this record, and I listen to it every couple of days. And when I hear it, it puts a smile on my face and it blows me away, and I don't understand what people are talking about. Somebody told me the other day that there were 12,000 people that had signed a petition to remix the record. We've sold two and a half million copies of Death Magnetic. You do the math yourself."

Death Magnetic has sold more than a million copies in the U.S. alone since coming out on September 12th.

A number of fans said online that they prefer the versions of the CD's tracks prepared for the Guitar Hero video game, which are mixed differently.

Metallica begins a North American tour on October 21st in Glendale, Arizona in support of Death Magnetic.


U2 BRINGS NEW ALBUM TO NEW YORK …U2 has been hard at work on its next studio album, due out in early 2009. The set was expected to be released this year, but was pushed back after U2 members caught the creative bug while in the studio. Now one of the album's producers, Daniel Lanois, tells Canoe Jam! that he's been in New York City recently producing the set. He says "I enjoy the duality of my laboratory work and studio experiments I'm doing with U2 with my own musical career."

Lanois first worked on U2's The Unforgettable Fire and has teamed with Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson and others.


PETE TOWNSHEND EYEING FUTURE 'QUADROPHENIA' PROJECTS ..Pete Townshend said that he's looking forward to revisiting the Who's Quadrophenia, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Townshend answered fans questions on and said that future Quadrophenia-based projects still interest him, explaining, "I would love to see an orchestrated version of Quadrophenia. I would love to do a surround-sound version of the original recording. Roger (Daltrey) is keen to take the 1996 (extended band version of ) Quadrophenia on the road again one day and I'd like that too."

Townshend added, "I'm genuinely excited about the British theatrical production of Quadrophenia because the people involved... really understand the essential poetry of the story. In a rock piece, if you try to overcook the story, the dramatic narrative, you might break its very spine... In rock, narrative can really stop the listener from taking center stage."

He explained that older pieces need to constantly be infused with fresh ideas to continue to work: "What I do must stand to be revisited over and over again by a listener who is growing, changing, using the music like a scent. Rock musicians of all kinds are still struggling to understand how sometimes we pull it off without knowing how we did it."

Last week Roger Daltrey said that troubled British singer Amy Winehouse and Carl Barat -- the former Libertines' bandmate of the equally troubled Brit rocker Pete Doherty -- would make a great addition to a proposed West End musical of Quadrophenia.

Quadrophenia, which was released on October 19th, 1973 featured such classic Who songs as "The Real Me," "5:15," "I'm One," The Punk And The Godfather," "Sea And Sand," and "Love Reign O'er Me," among others. A film version based around the Who's album was produced by the band and released in 1979.

The Who kicks off their 10-date North American mini-tour on October 21st in Auburn Hills, Michigan at the Palace Of Auburn Hills.


TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS MULTI-DISC DOCUMENTARY HEADING FOR BEST BUY …Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are reissuing a two-DVD version of their Peter Bogdonovich-directed documentary Runnin' Down A Dream: Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. The new edition, which features the entire four-hour film -- with newly added bonus material, will be sold exclusively though Best Buy stores. Runnin' Down A Dream was originally released on DVD last year as four-disc set.

The new two-DVD edition features the new bonus performances:

"Too Much Ain't Enough," recorded live on December 31st, 1978 in Los Angeles, California at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

"The Waiting" featuring Eddie Vedder, recorded live July 3, 2006 in Denver, Colorado at the Pepsi Center.

A cover of Van Morrison's "Mystic Eyes" recorded live on October 27th, 2006 at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre.

Runnin' Down A Dream features interviews and appearances by such heavyweights as Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn, Dave Stewart, Jeff Lynne, Rick Rubin, Jimmy Lovine, and others.

The movie also features footage of Petty recording with his Traveling Wilburys bandmates, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.

Petty says the key to keeping the Heartbreakers a living, breathing unit, is having them spend more time on the road than holed up in recording studios: "I've seen people that have been around a long time, and they just fall into routine and self-parody, and that's just not where we want to wind up. We want to keep this thing fresh, and we really believe in this music -- this rock and roll music that we're playing -- and we want to keep it fresh and contemporary, you know, and avoid any sort of routine to it."

Classic Rock Videos

The King:

Aretha Franklin Releases First Christmas Album Through Borders

Aretha Franklin released her first-ever Christmas album today in an exclusive arrangement with Borders. This Christmas Aretha is available at Borders and Waldenbooks stores and at

The album contains eleven holiday themed tracks of which three were produced by Franklin and two more include the singer on piano. The balance of the tracks were produced by Tena Clark who has worked with Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle and others.

Franklin is also joined by her sons, singer Eddie and guitarist Teddy, on This Christmas and The Lord Will Make a Way. On the latter, Franklin said "It's one of those old time, good time recordings. It's so smashing, right there on the front burner. Check out that groove!"

The track list for The Christmas Aretha:

Angels We Have Heard on High
This Christmas
My Grown-Up Christmas List
The Lord Will Make A Way
Silent Night
Ave Maria
Christmas Ain't Christmas (Without The One You Love)
14 Angels
One Night With The King
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
'Twas The Night Before Christmas


Don’t Sell Your LPs!

By Scott Westerman - Curator -

My first 45: Limbo Rock by Chubby Checker. My first LP: Shut Down Vol II by the Beach Boys. LPs who’s grooves I wore out with repeated play: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Earth, Wind & Fire. The number of LPs and 45s in my library now: 672

Remember the sound of putting a needle to vinyl and waiting for the first track to vibrate out of the grooves, through the cartridge and the pre-amp, across the amplifier’s power transistors (after adding appropriate bass and pressing the ‘loudness’ button) and along the two pairs of copper wires towards those expensive speakers that were the heartbeat of that stereo system that cost almost as much as your first automobile?

In the day, exploring an album often meant discovering a deep track, about three cuts in, that would never be selected as a single, but touched something at your emotional core (Quatermass - Good Lord Knows is one of my faves). If the LP was Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon, it meant 45 minutes of bliss, interrupted only by the amount of time it took to flip the disk to side two. If it was The Firesign Theater’s “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pilers”, it was something you replayed until the Adventures of Porgie and Mudhead were burned, line by line, into your long term memory.

Vinyl was an experience you shared. Listening to the Bridge Over Troubled Water LP while exploring the heights of passion with a half dozen other junior high couples in the dark corners of a friend’s basement. Wondering what the heck the obscure band was that the guys at Discount Records always liked to play while you and your testosterone charged buddies were trying to sneak a peak at banned Jimi Hendrix “Electric Lady Land” album cover. Or running Funkadelic’s “I Got A Thing” over and over so your band could learn the nuances of a bass line, a wah wah peddle, and some drum licks in a hopeless attempt at imitation.

Vinyl, when mixed with the 12AX7A vacuum tubes that powered your stereo created a warmth that added an indescribable something that the best digital Pro Tools plug-in could never recreate. The LP’s cover became a work of art in itself. Sgt. Pepper’s cover launched a hundred analytical dissertations, fed the Beatle rumor mill and became fodder for trivia buffs who memorized the names and faces of every image thereon.

Vinyl, in the hands of the right disc jockey became an instrument that could create a symphony where disparate artists came together in a seamless harmonic whole to take you on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Then came one turn of the evolutionary road, where it was thought that Vinyl was as anachronistic as a pterodactyl, technically deficient and ultimately too fragile to be a permanent part of the audio archive. CDs and their successor, the MP3 were pure digital storage devices that could be identically cloned without the generational losses inherent in the magnetically arranged iron filings on strips of Mylar or the vibratory bands encircling black plastic.

For three decades we’ve believed that digital perfection was the be all and end all. But now, it seems that everything old is new again. Even as CD sales continue to decline, vinyl is in a renaissance.

The Chicago Tribune quotes Ken Shipley, co-owner of the Numero Group, a Chicago label that specializes in reissues of underground soul music. “We’re seeing the (vinyl) resurgence in all walks of life: from 50-year-old guys who want high-quality product to match their high-end stereos to 19-year-old kids who are sick of the minimalist Ikea design that has plagued dorm rooms for the last decade..Vinyl is the new books.”

Pressing plants are being brought out of mothballs and limited edition vinyl box sets are selling out, at price points that would make CD manufacturers salivate. Bill Gagnon, senior vice president of catalog marketing at EMI Music told the Trib that he expects vinyl to eventually make up about 4% of EMI’s revenue. As with everything else, it’s the younger generation that is driving the demand.

Will the LP supplant digital? Nope. The pure ease of carrying your entire record library around in a cigarette box that renders it perfectly and pristine first time, every time ensures a digital future.

But like the Keener generation, new audiences are discovering the same magic we remember from that first time we put needle to groove.


Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at's look at the 50 most controversial, weirdest, best and worst album covers as put together by their staff:


14. Mortad Hell: ‘There’s A Satanic Butcher In Every One Of Us’ Who, what? Well this cover certainly would explain the music, death metal. And who doesn't love blood and a butcher on any album cover?



14. Kjell Kraghe: 'Vind I Seglen' Again, the staff has pulled out some obscure artwork from some obscure artist. Wouldn't make my list, but they seem pretty smitten with it.



14. ManOwar – ‘Anthology’: Anthology is the second "best of" album by the heavy metal band Manowar.

This 1997 compilation album of ManOwar’s greatest hits perhaps belonged to the Eighties for it’s pure cheesiness value. The boys must clearly have worked out to get that authentic Conan the Barbarian look. After doing some research about the band, all I could find was this cover making list of the 'worst' album covers of all time on a variety of web sites. We get the picture, I don't think that their music mattered.



14. The Beatles: ‘Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Not in the top five? A real slip up for Gigwise, this cover is iconic.

The Grammy Award-winning album packaging was created by art director Robert Fraser, mostly in collaboration with McCartney, designed by Peter Blake, his wife Jann Haworth, and photographed by Michael Cooper. It featured a colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people on the front of the album cover and lyrics printed on the back cover, the first time this had been done on an English pop LP. The Beatles themselves, in the guise of the Sgt. Pepper band, were dressed in custom-made military-style outfits made of satin dyed in day-glo colours. The suits were designed by Manuel Cuevas.

According to Blake, the original concept was to create a scene that showed the Sgt. Pepper band performing in a park; this gradually evolved into its final form, which shows the Beatles, as the Sgt. Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes, rendered as lifesized cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of the Beatles as they appeared in the early '60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. The wax figures appear to be looking down on the word "Beatles" spelled out in flowers as if it were a grave, and it has been speculated that this symbolises that the innocent mop-tops of yesteryear were now dead and gone. At their feet were several affectations from the Beatles' homes including small statues belonging to Lennon and Harrison, a small portable TV set and a trophy. A young delivery boy who provided the flowers for the photo session was allowed to contribute a guitar made of yellow hyacinths. Although it has long been rumoured that some of the plants in the arrangement were cannabis plants, this is untrue. Also included is a Shirley Temple doll wearing a sweater in homage to the Rolling Stones (who would return the tribute by having the Beatles hidden in the cover of their own Their Satanic Majesties Request LP later that year).

The collage depicted more than 70 famous people, including writers, musicians, film stars and (at Harrison's request) a number of Indian gurus. Starr reportedly made no contribution to the design. The final grouping included Marlene Dietrich, Carl Gustav Jung, W.C. Fields, Diana Dors, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sigmund Freud, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, William S. Burroughs, Marlon Brando, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and controversial comedian Lenny Bruce. Also included was the image of the original Beatles bass player, the late Stuart Sutcliffe. Pete Best said in a later NPR interview that Lennon borrowed family medals from his mother Mona for the shoot, on condition he not lose them. Adolf Hitler was requested by Lennon, but ultimately he was left out.

This cover belongs in any top ten list, why it ranks so low with Gigwise is anyone's guess.