Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lennon License Plates Being Used to Fight Hunger

On what would have been John Lennon's 68th birthday, Yoko Ono and Michael Towner of Florida's Foundation Consultants have announced that the Imagine license plate campaign will be expanded from Florida to the other 21 states where money can be raised through specialty license campaigns.

Ono had originally agreed to the campaign, which uses the famous self-portrait of Lennon along with the word Imagine, in the state of Florida as a way to raise money for the Florida Association of Food Banks. As of October, the campaign had raised $786,125 for Feeding America through the issuing of 31,445 specialty plates.

Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, said “As the economic crisis worsens, more and more people are coming to food pantries and soup kitchens served by our network of food banks, desperately seeking help to feed themselves and their families.” Feeding America is the United States' largest hunger-relief charity, providing food to over 25 million Americans each year.

Michael Towner explains the new strategy. "We are following on from our efforts in Florida to take the plate to Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois and then move into the remaining 17 states that provide a revenue generating specialty license plate program. This will have a tremendous impact and provide critical funding to alleviate hunger in those states where they are now facing increased demand and decreased funding. I am sure John would smile as he sees his image on cars throughout the U.S.A.”

Music News & Notes

EMPEROR To Release 'Live Inferno' In April

Norwegian black metal legends EMPEROR will release "Live Inferno", a special live series features various releases recorded/filmed during the band's sold-out 2005-2007 reunion performances, on April 16 (in Europe) via Candlelight Records. Several formats will be available, including a two-CD/slipcase with a 16-page booklet, a limited-edition box featuring two CDs and DVD with an enhanced 24-page booklet, a single DVD, and two limited-edition double-vinyl gatefold sets. The audio portion of the "Live Inferno" series features exclusive recordings from the band's headlining performances at Norway's Inferno festival and Germany's Wacken Open Air festival. Each recording will be pressed as individual double-vinyl sets; the first pressing limited to 1,000 copies on black vinyl with any additional pressings in varied colors selected by the band. A special gold-vinyl seven-inch limited to 2,000 copies titled "Thus Spake the Nightspirit" (featuring a live rendition of the band's famed song from the album "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" with a live recording of "Inno A Satana" from the band's popular "In the Nightside Eclipse" album on the b-side) will be pressed and released via the label's official webstore beginning February 16. The video portion, titled "Live at Wacken Open Air 2006 - A Night Of Emperial Wrath", has a running time of 70 minutes and includes footage professionally filmed at the Wacken Open Air festival with additional on-stage and exclusive backstage footage filmed and compiled by the band.

"It looks like these releases will be the final nail in the coffin for EMPEROR," says guitarist Samoth. "They are a testimony of the live reunion that took EMPEROR to even new heights; unique events like Wacken where EMPEROR headlined in front of 60,000 people. We had a great run of shows and feel lucky that we were able to come back even bigger and perform songs from our complete catalogue for a lot of dedicated fans old and new. There will be several cool formats and limited editions coming that should be a nice treat for the fans and a worthy representation of the EMPEROR legacy. EMPEROR is dead, long live the EMPEROR!"



Jeffrey Wright on Cadillac Records

By Fred Topel | Images property of TriStar

In the latest musical biography, Cadillac Records, Jeffrey Wright plays Muddy Waters, the first blues artist discovered by Leonard Chess for his Chess Records label. To play the famous bluesman, Wright had plenty of research materials.

"There's a couple biographies, several documentaries based on those biographies but mainly, there's this library of music," Wright said. "For me, the intriguing way into the character was through the music. There is a specific cultural and historical place that the music comes from and it's also specific to personality. Not a lot of affectation. Folks aren't out there in the middle of the fields in Mississippi under that midday sun putting on airs. It's an expression of their experience and it's coming through relative to community but as I said, also relative to the personality so there really is a lot of information encoded in the music."

You don't need video or film footage when the man himself put his own voice down on vinyl. "He's a musician so just finding the music and finding his voice and listening and not only the way he expresses himself musically through the music, but also through his language and the way he speaks because the music as well, one of the things I really adore about the blues is it's a celebration of the language of the black American south, a language that I grew up with. My grandparents were from southern Virginia and North Carolina so I've always had a deep, deep love for the language and the sounds and the music as expressed through that."

Compared to other historical characters Wright has played, Waters actually offered a tad more flexibility. "I've done a fair amount of nonfictional characters, biographical characters. I think it's because I lack imagination. I'm too literal or something. They each have their individual challenges. There is a standard that you're trying to achieve obviously with a character that's known. There are different pressures. For example, with Basquiat, Basquiat was known in a much smaller circle than he is known now. The Powell piece in W recently was a different impetus. That was an opportunity to use the work to add my two cents' worth to the political discourse at the time. It was an opportunity to be relevant to these extraordinary days that we're just beginning. Each role, whether it's fictional or biographical has its own challenges, its own reasons for doing."

Cadillac Records is out in theaters now.

Cadillac Records chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. In this tale of sex, violence, race and rock and roll in Chicago of the 1950s and 60s, the film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America's greatest musical legends.

The story of how the blues became popular and gave birth to rock and roll begins at a dingy bar on the rough South Side of Chicago in 1947, where an ambitious young Polish émigré, bar owner Leonard Chess (Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody), hires a talented but undisciplined blues combo that includes quiet and thoughtful guitar prodigy Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and impulsive and colorful harmonica player Little Walter (Columbus Short). Fascinated by the sound of the music – and eager to cash in on the record burgeoning record business – Chess arranges a recording session for Waters. Waters' early recordings start moving up the R+B charts and receiving heavy play.

Chess treats his musicians like family – he buys them a Cadillac when they record their first hit record – although the line between business and personal sometimes causes conflict with his increasingly talented and successful stable of artists. After backing up Muddy on his early recordings, Little Walter becomes a star in his own right, but his quick temper and loud manner often run him afoul of friends and the law. He also finds that the only woman he can talk to is Muddy's girl, Geneva (Gabrielle Union), who struggles to remain loyal despite Muddy's poorly concealed affairs. Big Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), a songwriter and bandleader, also is a key member of the Chess Records family, as is Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker), an intense and proud blues singer who develops a musical rivalry with Muddy.

But it's not until 1955 when a Chess artist finally "crosses over" into the realm of mainstream ("white") America – a skinny guy from St. Louis named Chuck Berry (Mos Def), whose dynamic "duck walk" and catchy, country-tinged tunes mark the birth of rock-and-roll. When Berry is arrested and jailed at the height of his career, Chess finds another talented performer to cross over – singer Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles), an emotionally scarred young woman whose vulnerability tempts Chess' loyalty and concern in unexpected ways.

As rock-and-roll grows more popular, the Chess artists find themselves revered by a new generation of musicians, but they have also each earned and lost a small fortune on booze, women and the high life, and their addictions begin to take their toll. Even as tragedy befalls, their music and their spirit remain strong: as the sixties wind down and Leonard Chess gets out of the record business, the blues live on.

Vinyl Collective Sales For November

This from my vinyl friend Virgil over at Stop by and get some vinyl for your Christmas list!

Each month, we get a report from the company that manages our online store with the sales for the month. I put together the list of the top 40 sold for the previous month and share that with you. It looks like the Under the Influence 7? series dominated the charts which is pretty exciting to see. Lots of other great records made the list, too. It will be interesting to see what tops the charts for December.

1 TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET/ THE ERGS! “Under the Influence Vol 4? 7? green w/ black
2 JEALOUS SOUND “Kill Them With Kindness” dbl LP white vinyl PRE-ORDER
3 TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET/ THE ERGS! “Under the Influence Vol 4? 7? red vinyl
4 MUSTARD PLUG / BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY “Under the Influence Vol 3? 7? vinyl
6 MUSTARD PLUG / BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY “Under the Influence Vol 3? 7? vinyl
7 WHISKEY & CO/NINJA GUN “Under the Influence Vol 2? 7? gold vinyl
8 MUSTARD PLUG / BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY “Under the Influence Vol 3? 7? vinyl
8 TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET/ THE ERGS! “Under the Influence Vol 4? 7? set of all 3
8 TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET/ THE ERGS! “Under the Influence Vol 4? 7? cloudy sky blue
11 WHISKEY & CO/NINJA GUN “Under the Influence Vol 2? 7? BOTH COLORS
12 FAKE PROBLEMS / LOOK MEXICO “Under the Influence Vol 1? 7? yellow vinyl
13 JAWBREAKER ì24 hour revenge therapyî LP
14 MIKE PARK / O PIONEERS!!! split 7? pink/blue swirl vinyl PRE-ORDER
15 WHISKEY & CO/NINJA GUN “Under the Influence Vol 2? 7? sky blue party cloudy
16 JOEY CAPE “Bridge” LP army green vinyl
17 NORMA JEAN “The Anti-Mother” LP black/white half and half vinyl PRE-ORDER
18 THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES “Easter” LP Orange w/ White/Blue/Black Splatter vinyl
19 V/A “All Aboard: A Tribute To Johnny Cash” LP brown vinyl
20 JOEY CAPE “Bridge” CD
21 FALCON “God Don’t Make No Trash” 10? royal blue vinyl
22 MATT SKIBA / KEVIN SECONDS LP white w/ charcoal swirl
22 KID DYNAMITE “Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems” LP black vinyl
24 TIM BARRY “Manchester” LP brown vinyl
25 ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD “Only God Can Judge Me” 10? white vinyl
25 KID DYNAMITE “Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems” LP gold vinyl
27 MATT SKIBA / KEVIN SECONDS split LP set of all 4 colors PRE-ORDER
27 TIM BARRY “Rivanna Junction” LP grey/black half & half
27 JEALOUS SOUND “Kill Them With Kindness” dbl LP baby blue vinyl PRE-ORDER
30 THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM “Sink Or Swim Demos” 7? yellow vinyl
31 TWO COW GARAGE “Speaking In Cursive” LP gold vinyl
32 DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE “Narrow Stairs” LP
33 V/A “Delicious Vinyl: Fest 08? LP
33 LET ME RUN “S/T” 7? white vinyl
35 NIGHT MARCHERS “See You In Magic” dbl LP colored vinyl
36 FAKE PROBLEMS “How Do You Spell Hero?” LP picture disc
37 PORTUGAL THE MAN “Censored Colors” LP purple w/ white and green splatter
38 AVAIL “Over The James” LP beer colored amber vinyl
39 NORMA JEAN 4 x LP Vinyl Box Set colored vinyl A (400)
39 TIM BARRY “Manchester” CD
41 SAY ANYTHING “Is A Real Boy” dbl LP white vinyl
41 TIM BARRY “Live at Munford Elementary” 7? brown vinyl

Virgin Killer Album Cover Art Sensored

Access to editing a Wikipedia article in the U.K. has been effectively blocked after the U.K.’s Internet Watch Foundation added a Wikipedia article on Virgin Killer, an album from German heavy metal group Scorpions, to its blacklist.

The album is from 1976, and the cover art image, depicting what appears to be a nude underage girl, is what caused the blacklisting.

Reports are that in an attempt to block access to the Wikipedia article, the ISPs Virgin Media, Be Unlimited/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon, and Opal began routing traffic through transparent proxies. However, this caused more problems, as the use of proxies means that to Wikipedia editors appear to be coming from a narrow IP address range.

Thus, as Wikipedia says in their administrators’ discussion over this issue:

As Wikipedia tracks anonymous users by their IP addresses, a flood of valid edits and vandalism are coming from indistinguishable sources, and blocking vandals from editing can affect hundreds of thousands of users as collateral damage.

British Telecom does not appear to be filtering, according to Wikipedia.

While the image was up for deletion, according to that same admin page, at least for now, that request has been tabled, based on “Wikipedia does not censor,” but also later with the following discussion over the article itself:

Secondly, for those wanting to remove the image because they believe it to be unnecessary, the article is an academic discussion of the controversy surrounding the album image. Since it is a discussion about the controversy surrounding a still-legal image (as noted above, no one has ever been charged or prosecuted for making, selling, or purchasing that album), there is no reason why the image shouldn’t be on the page.

One workaround if one needs to really see this article: use the secure Wikipedia server. According to that same post, the Virgin Killer article is now tops in popularity (small wonder).

According to Wikipedia’s lawyer, Mike Godwin, (his comment is in that admin discussion as well), the image does not violate any U.S. law. Interestingly, one of the admins compared the issue to the U.K. having its own “Great Firewall,” much like China:

“This is the first I’ve come across UK wide internet censorship, and I’m shocked. I had no idea until now that like China, we too have built a great firewall - only we keep quiet about ours. I can still access the pages from Wikipedia’s https login. This is an absolute farce …”

And no, at the time of this writing, this issue has not been resolved.


I suppose in some countries (ours included) this could be considered as 'kiddie porn' and the excuse that it is "art" doesn't fly with me. Children who are naked do not belong on album covers, it is that simple.

Classic Rock Videos

The Animals - We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at's list of the top 50 dirtiest and sexiest album cover art, this time #13 (Gigwise comments in quotes):

13. Prince: ‘Lovesexy’ – "The site of Prince unclothed is enough to send many-a-woman or gay man weak at the knees, and that’s exactly what we got back in 1989: the pint sized music icon completely bollocks naked. As with many albums on this list, a number of stores refused to stock it, while others covered it in a black sleeve."

Lovesexy is an album by Prince, released in 1988. Lovesexy was issued as a substitute record after the release of the infamous Black Album had been suddenly canceled. The Black Album and Lovesexy almost act as companion pieces, sharing the song "When 2 R In Love," but nearly opposite in theme. The album was recorded in just seven weeks, from mid-December 1987 to late January 1988, at Prince's new Paisley Park Studios, and most of the album is a solo effort from Prince, with a few exceptions. The opening track, "Eye No," was recorded with the full band (Miko Weaver on guitar, Levi Seacer, Jr. on bass, Doctor Fink and Boni Boyer on keyboards, Eric Leeds on saxophone, Atlanta Bliss on trumpet and Sheila E. on drums). Sheila E., in fact, plays drums on several tracks and sings backup, along with Boyer. Leeds and Bliss provide horns on most tracks, and Ingrid Chavez provides the intro to "Eye No". As opposed to the LP release, early CD copies of Lovesexy have the entire album in sequence as a single track, so the album is heard in the context of a continuous sequence, though later editions have it as 9 separate tracks.

I have one word for the cover- ewwwww!