Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's "The Music's Over" odd couple

The following people died on March 31 - Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Selena - both of whom died young.

I've written about Jeffrey Lee Pierce a couple of times before, but I don't think I've ever written about Selena. This bit from The Music's Over caught my eye:

By the early ’90s, Selena was approaching superstar status, designing her own clothing line, opening boutiques in Texas and appearing in Spanish novellas and alongside Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway and Marlon Brando in Don Juan DeMarco.

And I have written about that...

I'd expect a stage production based on Queen, but this?

There has been a move to convert musical catalogs to the theatrical stage. Now you can obviously see the Who on stage, and I could imagine Queen on stage, and I guess I could imagine Abba and the Four Seasons on stage, but a few years ago I never would have dreamed that this would happen:

Green Day won two Grammys for its multi-platinum American Idiot, which sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. Now the band plans to bring that explosive album to the stage with Michael Mayer, Tony Award-winning director of Spring Awakening. American Idiot follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration—an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day’s electrifying songs. This high-octane show includes every song from the album, as well as several new songs from Green Day’s upcoming release, 21st Century Breakdown. With an onstage band and 19 young performers, American Idiot debuts at Berkeley Rep, the theatre that launched Passing Strange.

Please note: This is not a Green Day concert—this is the stage version of American Idiot developed by Green Day and Michael Mayer. Although the band will not appear on stage, the show will definitely rock.

H/T Stereogum.

Monday, March 30, 2009

And if Billy quits, will they hold auditions to replace him?

If you establish a band and have a few hits, there are times in which the band can keep on going for decades afterwards...even if most of the original members have long since departed. Such is the case with Smashing Pumpkins, which only has one original member - some guy named Billy Corgan. There was another original member, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, but he left recently.

But both NME and Stereogum are reporting that Corgan - excuse me, Smashing Pumpkins - are holding auditions for a drummer on April 10 in Los Angeles. Applicants...

...should send their background info, photos and performance web links via email only to: pumpkinsdrummer@gmail.com.

Wonder if this guy will submit his info.

At this point, I don't know if they have reserved the pumpkinssinger@gmail.com e-mail address.

Origins of Piedmont Country Music

OK, you don't have a lot of time to get to the talk, but if you're near the University of North Carolina you might be interested.

Origins of Piedmont Country Music with Patrick Huber

Monday, March 30, 2009
Reception at 5 p.m.; Reading at 5:45 p.m.
Location: Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Free and open to the public
Information: (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu
Part of the Southern Historical Collection Book Series

Patrick Huber's book, Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South (UNC Press, 2008), focuses on overlooked roots of American country music—factories in the pre-World War II Piedmont South. Through colorful portraits of mill-hand fiddlers, guitarists, and banjo pickers, Huber illustrates a distinct music melding the rural countryside and urban-industrial life. book cover

Huber, focusing on country music recorded between 1922 and 1942, draws from sources including rare 78-rpm recordings and unpublished interviews. The author did much of his research in the Southern Folklife Collection, affiliated with the Southern Historical Collection at UNC's Wilson Special Collections Library.

Huber is a history associate professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and co-author of The 1920s: American Popular Culture through History.

More at the link.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Exhibitionist - Evan Lysacek's musical choices, 2008-2009

I have attended three days of the ISU Worlds figure skating championships in Los Angeles, California. And while I often blog about things that I don't understand, the intricacies of figure skating are beyond my comphension. While golf is simple to understand (you have to get the ball into the hole), figure skating is, to put it mildly, a bit more complex. I suspect that I'll understand the offsides rule in soccer (football) before I understand a triple whatever vs. a double whatever.

Which is why I'm confining myself to talking about the music.

I've already talked about figure skating music a bit, but when I was talking earlier, I was talking about the music that is used in competitions. (Incidentally, if you read that earlier post, I should inform you that Laura Lepistö came in 6th place in the ladies' competition.)

Today (Sunday) was exhibition day, in which the winners in the four categories got to have some fun and show off a little bit, without the pressure of wondering whether your axels were properly greased.

The exhibitions were all good, but the one that caught my attention musically was Evan Lysacek, the winner of the men's competition. Now during competitions this year, his musical choices have been "Bolero" and "Rhapsody in Blue," but you figured that things would be a bit different during an exhibition.

And the bass started.

And the drums started.

And the singer started singing.

I'm gonna fight 'em off
A seven nation army couldn't hold me back...

Yup, Evan started with the White Stripes' "7 Nation Army."

But we never got to the crunching guitars part, because the music changed.

To Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger."

By the time the music changed again, to Kanye West's "Stronger," it was almost expected.

And actually, if I had done a bit of reading beforehand, I would have known that there was a good chance that he would have skated to these songs. You see, his website lists his 2008-2009 music selections.

2008-2009 Season
Short Program
"Bolero" by Maurice Ravel

Free Skate
"Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin

"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson and
"Wall to Wall" by Chris Brown

"Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes,
"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk and "Stronger" by Kanye West

And it turns out that Lysacek also performed in an exhibition at the Four Continents championships. If you view and listen, you can see not only how he incorporated the three songs, but also how the individual songs were remixed to fit what he wanted to do in the routine.

By the way, Lysacek's website lists his musical selections for the past several years. Some other interesting exhibition choices from the past include U2's "One," INXS' "Need You Tonight," and Elvis' "Hound Dog."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Composers of the Nineteenth Century

Half the time I forget that we've moved from the 20th century to the 21st century, which only goes to show how far away we are from the 19th century.

This website includes short biographies of selected 19th century composers, including Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, and others.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A musical group

Joe's Crab Shack, Redondo Beach California.

The Library of Congress has everything

There have been huge efforts by various agencies, museums, and the like to document sound recordings from past decades. And the Library of Congress is in on the act, too.

Follow the link, and the links within the resulting page, to hear the boys of St. Joseph's Seminary performing Spanish Californian mission music, March 27, 1938.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26 - another day the music died

The Music's Over includes a number of entries for people who died today, March 26, including Noel Coward (1973), Eazy-E (1995), and Jan Berry (2004.

And the blog is also reporting that "England" Dan Seals has passed away, on March 25.

Politics and music - should one be considered over the other?

When I listen to music, I often pay more attention to the instrumental rather than the lyrical aspects, although I try to be cognizant about what is being said. Musicians often use their music to state their social, political, religious, or other views, which means that I often find myself listening to music with which I do not philosophically agree. To take one example, I do not necessarily endorse the political views of the Clash.

Some people are able to listen to music with which they do not agree, and some do not. Some, however, believe that the music itself is reflective of a political view.

Take this Guardian blog post entitled "Spandau Ballet: The sound of Thatcherism." It's not a compliment.

Thatcherism was about more than politics. It was, obviously, also a cultural phenomenon that transformed British society....

Maybe pop writers loved the avowedly anti-Thatcherite likes of the Smiths – and we certainly still hear plenty about them from pop writers – but the records people were buying were made by musicians who reflected the aspirations and assumptions of the time, even if they did so unwittingly. They were buying records by people like Spandau Ballet.

For purposes of the post, Thatcherism is defined as more than a political movement.

[T]he link between Spandau Ballet and Thatcherism is about more than the personal politics of Tony Hadley. It's about the emptiness of Spandau, the aspiration to do nothing more than look good in a nightclub, the happy embrace of style over substance.

But if you use that definition, there are a number of bands that could be lumped into the Thatcherite category. Perhaps Madness and Depeche Mode would be excluded, but Duran Duran didn't really delve into politics all that much, nor did Culture Club. ("War is stupid" does not rank as the greatest political manifesto of all time.)

And there are plenty of bands from other decades who emphasized style over substance, or sometimes both. The Beach Boys and the Beatles are two examples of bands that played both sides of the fence, and there are die-hard fans of both bands that feel that they either got better or worse in the Pet Sounds/Revolver period.

In my view, the first question is whether the artist in question put out good music that reflected his/her/their views - I can deal with the specific views later. And, measured by that metre-stick, Spandau Ballet passed the test.

The Brat Pack Sings - Introduction

Last week, I wrapped up my multi-week post series entitled "When Madonna Was Hot" - a series initially conceived several years ago that talked about several songs that Madonna released in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In my view, there are three benefits to a multi-part post series:
  • They offer the opportunity to explore a topic in more detail.

  • They provide a recurring feature for blog readers to enjoy.

  • They take up space.
So now that "When Madonna Was Hot" has run its course, I've been trying to think of a new series of music posts to run.

This led me to think of the Rat Pack - that group of individuals that included Frank Sinatra and his good buddies, several of whom - Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra himself - were well-known musically.

A couple of decades after the Rat Pack reigned in both the swanky joints and the dives, a whole crop of movie stars emerged that became collectively known as the Brat Pack. Primarily known for various teen movies during the 1980s, several of the Brat Pack members have gone on to have long and fulfilling movie careers.

Admittedly there is some debate about who is in the Brat Pack and who isn't. One site specifically lists eight actors and actresses as part of the Brat Pack - Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy - but others expand this definition significantly, mentioning other names such as Kevin Bacon, Matthew Broderick, Tom Cruise, Jon Cryer, John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr., Jami Gertz, Jennifer Grey, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Mary Stuart Masterson, Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, Kiefer Sutherland, and Patrick Swayze.

Regardless of how you define the group, the Brat Pack was primarily known for its movie work. But what about the music element? Did any of the Brat Packers follow in the footsteps of the Chairman of the Board and his pals?

Tune in next week. I'll confess that as I write this, I've only come across one example of a Brat Packer singing, and if I can't find any more this will be a very short series. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ramones cover the Beach Boys

As long as we're talking about the Ramones, here's an unreleased track.

The Ramones work well as a Beach Boys cover band, at least for the earlier stuff. I can't see them performing Pet Sounds.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ralph Tomaselli, "Monopoly"

In the course of my flittings around the world, I've had the privilege of following the careers of some local (southern California). One of those groups was Alexa's Wish, based in the Inland Empire of California. I was a neighbor to the bass player/singer, Ralph Tomaselli (in fact, my daughter used to play with Alexa), and attended some gigs over the years, both with their original guitarist and with their new guitarist.

As time went on, Ralph moved away and I lost touch with him, but I continued to check the band's MySpace account now and then. As I did so, I noticed that the number of members in Alexa's Wish decreased, until there was only one member left - Ralph himself.

Then I found Ralph on YouTube. Here's his song "Monopoly":

This is, by instrumental necessity, a softer sound than that performed by Alexa's Wish, but it's still some good stuff.

Ladytron, "Ghosts"

Another band from across the sea sings another song called "Ghosts." And it's on video:

Figure Skating Music

Since I plan to attend the ISU Worlds in Los Angeles later in the week, it might be helpful for me to review what I'll be hearing. Figure skaters don't skate in silence, but take some time to select music to which to skate. Jo Ann Schneider Farris:

Figure skating programs need to be a certain length.

For example, skaters competing at the Pre-Preliminary level skate to music that is one and one-half minutes long. The music a figure skater skates to must be custom made and put on a CD....

Some good selections for ice skating routines include tunes from movie soundtracks and classical music.

Vocal music is not a good idea unless the program is for a show, exhibition, or artistic event.

It is important to take some time before choosing a piece of music to skate to.

Some skaters will skate to the same piece of music for an entire year.

For example, let's look at what Laura Lepistö has been skating to this season:

Music Short Program / Original Dance as of season 2008/2009
Imagined Oceans by Karl Jenkins

Music Free Skating / Free Dance as of season 2008/2009
Don Juan DeMarco (soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

For more on Karl Jenkins, go to http://www.karljenkins.com/. For more on the late Michael Kamen, go to http://www.michaelkamen.com/. Both composers are popular choices among figure skaters. As far as I know, the Ramones have not been chosen by a figure skater (for one, their songs are probably too short).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Embedding disabled by request? Here's why...

Back on October 14, 2008, I posted an item in this blog that discussed the song "Stronger." I discussed two versions of the song, one by Kanye West and one by 30 Seconds to Mars. But when you look at the post, you can only see one of the videos, the one featuring 30 Seconds to Mars. If you want to see the Kanye West video, you have to click through to another site. Most people won't bother.

In the course of writing this blog, one of the phrases that I have encountered most frequently is the YouTube phrase "Embedding disabled by request." Every time I see the phrase, I get more and more irritated about it.

Delving into the subject a little more, I ran across this post from MediaMemo that talks about the issue. The post, written by peter Kafka, includes portions of an email from an anonymous person who works for one of the major labels. Here's an excerpt:

I work at a major label and I’ve been told informally that embedding is disabled on our label’s YouTube clips because the deal terms negotiated with YouTube on our first licensing deal a couple years back demanded such large advance and per-stream payments that YouTube could only come close to the ad rates required to satisfy the terms by selling the advertising around the video, and not just on in-video overlays. So in the negotiation, YouTube told us only way we could get the terms we asked for was to disable the embedding on our videos.

The explanation sounds reasonable, but it could cause problems for YouTube. Not that this particular blog is the most influential one in the world, but there have been occasions where I have refrained from mentioning a YouTube video in this blog. For example, when I discussed the Madonna song "Like a Prayer," I did not include a YouTube video of the song.

I included an MTV video of the song.

There's part of me that would think that things would be wonderful if you didn't have to visit silos to get information, and the MTV collection of videos is somewhat limited. And I'll grant the Warner Brothers isn't helping the situation by refusing to put its videos on YouTube (see my February 7 post on Devo's "R U Experienced," which again links to MTV). But it's appearing more and more that, for my purposes anyway (which include embedding of videos in this blog), I'll need to get familiar with the silo structure.

Melanie C, "Never Be The Same Again"

When I wrote my "Ghosts" post, I thought I had already posted the Melanie C video for "Never Be The Same Again" in this blog. Turns out I hadn't. I have now.

Phoney Villagemania has bitten the dust

The Guardian blog recently published an account of Bob Dylan's portable toilet (horrors!), along with a list of other music stars who have supposedly gone off message.

The one that I liked the best was the late Joe Strummer:

Joe Strummer had a watertight rep, too. Yet back in 1999 the Clash singer appeared on the front of NME dressed as the cowboy out of Village People along with his Fat Les mates Keith Allen, Damien Hirst and Alex James. Groucho Calling.

By the way, I wrote about original Village People cowboy Randy Jones in 2006.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Siobhan Donaghy, "Ghosts"

So anyways, on Sunday night I was listening to last.fm, and I decided to switch to a more poppish feel and choose songs that were similar to Melanie C.

Why? Because I was hoping that "Never Be The Same Again" would come up in the random selection.

It didn't, but this song did. Here's the video:

Upon first reading - and, in fact, upon third reading - the lyrics to Siobhan Donaghy's "Ghosts" are a bit mystifying. Here's the chorus:

Sworn under an oath to war
Sworn under an oath to war

And that's the most comprehensible part of the song. But that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful. A contemporary (2007) album review singled out this song:

The gem of the album, however, has got to be the title track Ghosts. This is Donaghy at her most experimental and, in my view, her best. Random words and backwards production trickery combine to produce a peculiar yet harmonious sound that works well in the context of the music. The result is a song that is every bit as haunting as its title suggests.

But the review notes that it took Donaghy a while to reach this stage:

No matter how hard she tries Siobhan Donaghy will never be able to shake off the label of ex-Sugababe. She first hit the music scene at the tender age of 14 as one of the original trio but left the band in September 2001, disillusioned with the direction in which the pop world was taking her, to pursue her own style of music.

Donaghy herself loved the song:

I guess my ultimate favourite is the title track, as it was pain-staking to say the least with lots of to-ing and fro-ing with lyrics, backwards lyrics, made up lyrics, and the creation of a weird and wonderful soundtrack.

However, at present she has no plans for another album:

At this point in time I have no further plans to undertake another record of my own. Ultimately, the true nature of the business side of the music industry is enough to keep me away. Nonetheless, if I find myself in the future bursting with ideas and experiences I feel the need to share through music, I will be back.

By the way, here's a live performance:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman, "Stumblin' In"


And why am I sharing this? No real reason, really...other than to mention that I have chosen NOT to share my Empoprises StumbleUpon items in my Empoprises FriendFeed account. So if you want to see them, please go to http://empoprises.stumbleupon.com/. You can see some of my favorite Empoprises posts, plus some other related and unreleated material from others.

And as for Suzi Quatro, she's still recording. And Chris Norman the rocker should not be confused with the Chris Norman of North America who "brings to life the ernergetic dance music of Maritime Canada, Scotland and Ireland with an emphasis on the music's 16-19th century roots."

They say it's your birthday (and why that's a bad title)

The reason that the title above is bad is because, to my knowledge, "Birthday" was never released as a Beatles single.

And the birthday that's being celebrated is the birthday of the seven-inch single, as the Guardian notes. And while their math is suspect (many of the 2008 vinyl sales were for LPs, not singles), there's still a love for the good old seven-incher. First, the history:

In June 1948, CBS-Columbia unveiled the LP (long-player) on hiss-free, durable vinyl, and its own custom player. Nine months later, on 31 March 1949, RCA released the first commercial seven-inch single, spinning at 45rpm. Eddy Arnold's Texarkana Baby / Bouquet of Roses was on bright green vinyl, soon followed by Arthur Crudup's That's All Right / Crudup After Hours on cerise vinyl – both rock'n'roll primers. The two formats, singles and four-track EPs, were colour-coded - green vinyl for country and polka, red for classical, yellow for children's, blue for international, cerise for rhythm'n'blues.

The colors faded away, and as time went on, the single became prominent.

Until Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came along, pop's principal medium was the three-minute seven-inch, with cheap portable devices such as dansettes built with a rack to play numerous singles in succession. The peak of seven-inch consumption was 1979, also the dawn of post-punk. It's no surprise that the vinyl torch has been passed on to the indie scene.

We've moved to less tangible forms of music, but even the non-Luddites have to acknowledge that singles had their heyday once upon a time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When Madonna Was Hot - "Frozen"

OK, we're here in 1998, and Madonna has a new song out - in my opinion, her best song ever. But I'll let you be the judge:

And remember how Madonna began to violate her consistency? Well, "Frozen" is in complete lyrical opposition to her earlier staple hit "Material Girl." I remember:

...They can beg and they can plead
But they can't see the light, that's right
'Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right, 'cause we are

Living in a material world
And I am a material girl...

Quite a contrast to this song:

You're so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time with hate and regret
You're broken
When your heart's not open

But some people get just a little too involved with textual criticism. Novice Academician:

1) "You only see what your eyes want to see"
Well, actually our eyes don't have any intelligence to decide what it want to see. The line would have made sense if it reads like this,

"You only see what your mind instructs your eyes to see"

More here.

So what happened after 1998? She had an excellent retro hit with "Beautiful Stranger," and then (at least in my view) she lost her touch. She still put out songs, but at least to me they weren't interesting any more.

This concludes the When Madonna Was Hot series - hope you liked it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The "young folks" will like this

According to Stereogum, Peter Bjorn & John are in Austin right now.

3/18 Vice (302 E 6th St) @ 10:45 PM
3/19 Emo's Main Room (603 Red River St) @ 1 AM
3/20 Cedar Street Courtyard (208 W 4th St) @ 10:45 PM

Godley & Creme, "Cry"

From Universal Music Group/YouTube. Embedding disabled by request.

Why "Cry"? I'll explain later.

It's not unusual for musicians to be knighted

Inasmuch as Sir Tom Jones is on top of the British charts right now, I figured I'd go back and look at his royal history. He was actually knighted in March 2006:

Singer Tom Jones has been knighted at Buckingham Palace for services to music.

He was invested as Thomas Woodward, his real name and the one under which he began singing for relatives as a boy in the south Wales valleys in the 1940s....

The 65-year-old, who first met the Queen at a Royal Charity performance in 1966, was accompanied by his son, daughter and granddaughter when he arrived to pick up his award.

The account above was from the BBC. StarBlogs took a different approach:

In a solemn ceremony yesterday, the Queen of England knighted singer Tom Jones at Buckingham Palace making him a Knight of the British Empire. Then she threw her underwear at him.

Oh shush, you silly Brits. Of course she didn't REALLY do that.

(But she wanted to.)

The Welsh singing star is not the first musician to be knighted in Britain. Here is a selection of other musicians, excerpted from this list:

Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), kt. 1883
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934), kt. 1911, OM 1911, GCVO 1933, bt 1931

Somehow, the list cited above didn't get around to mentioning some more...ahem...popular musicians, such as Elton John, Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have been noted for musical, business, and charitable contributions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maybe if Oasis got Barry Gibb as its lead singer, things would go better

NME trumpeted the news on March 15:

Oasis have returned to the Top Ten of the UK singles chart tonight (March 15) - but have failed to claim their first Number One single since 2005.

'Falling Down', the third single to be taken from current LP 'Dig Out Your Soul', is the band's 23rd UK Top Ten hit, but only just made it, going in at Ten.

So who did nab the number one slot? "Islands in the Stream." No, not the original; the remake.

Comic Relief has recorded its 11th number one single.

Gavin and Stacey stars Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon went straight to top spot with (Barry) Islands In The Stream.

A spokesman for the Official Charts Company said the charity's singles had sold more than five million copies in total, raising over £5.5 million.

The original song Islands In The Stream was written by The Bee Gees in 1983 and first became a hit for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

The Red Nose Day version features special guests Sir Tom Jones and Bee Gee Robin Gibb.

Uh...SIR Tom Jones? I seem to have missed the news of that knighthood. Wonder if the Queen swooned when he showed up.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Um, this may not be something to brag about

MAD Magazine is admittedly not what it was in the past. I mean, when Cracked makes fun of you and seemingly gets away with it, it appears that a shark was jumped at some point or another.

But that didn't stop Stereogum from running this item:

Radiohead will soon play Mexico for the first time in 15 years. More importantly, Mexican MAD put Thom Yorke on their cover.

You can see the cover here.

Oh, and according to Google Translate, "cosa que no sabias" means "things you did not know." And no, I didn't translate the text next to the gay community graphic.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Songwriters Guild of America on 360 deals and artists' rights

The whole turbulence in the music industry has been brewing for some time. I've already posted about how the music labels are moving toward 360 deals to survive, or deals in which the label gets a cut of everything that an artist does, including merchandising and tours. I've also written two posts on the UK-based Featured Artists' Coalition, which seeks to represent artist rights, as opposed to the rights of the music industry or the Internet industry (e.g., YouTube and MySpace).

In February, the Register published an interview with Rick Carnes of the Songwriters Guild of America. You can guess where his sympathies lie.

The major record labels are our biggest "commercial" opponents. They have wreaked havoc on the songwriting community by forcing controlled composition clauses into their artists' recording contracts. After them it would be all those companies out there that want to use our songs to sell something else (such as advertisers) and not pay us a dime.

Any time you go on a website offering free music that it has no license to use and it is selling your site visit to advertisers, you are looking at one of the "greatest commercial opponents of songwriters". I wish I could offer you a list but it would be too long to type in one sitting. Besides, didn’t Richard Nixon get in trouble for having an enemies list?

I hear a lot of talk from Google and the big online companies about their “partnerships” with the “music industry”. I find more often than not when you drill down on what that means it is deals with major labels.

And Carnes also mentioned 360 deals in passing.

Most songwriters today are independent operators. Music piracy was the death knell for the day of music publishers having staffs of songwriters. The Brill Building is still there, but the last time I visited it was to talk to the folks at Saturday Night Live. There wasn’t a songwriter in sight.

Business relationships now are with lawyers and managers. They put together the deals and venture capitalists put up the money. The deals are done to get the next big recording artist signed to a label and then everyone gets a piece of the action in some 360 deal.

Used to be you found a great singer then you looked for a great song. Now you find a great deal maker then look for someone with deep pockets.

More here.

Featured Artists' Coalition and the wayback machine

OK, so I just wrote about the Featured Artists Coalition like it was something new.

Turns out it's been around for a while. Ian Youngs of the BBC wrote about them back in October 2008.

British pop and rock stars including Radiohead, Robbie Williams, David Gilmour and Kate Nash have signed up to a new body to fight for musicians to have more control over their work.

It is almost exactly a year ago that Radiohead made their latest album available on their own website.

It was a simple act - but it was like an incendiary bomb in the music industry.

Radiohead were one of Britain's biggest bands, but their major label deal had expired and they proved that big names no longer needed the big labels.

While acknowledging that most bands don't have the power of Radiohead, the Featured Artists' Coalition still decided to pursue its goals.

Many will always need labels to build their careers and market their music. But artists do not need labels as much as they used to.

It is against this backdrop that the Featured Artists' Coalition has been launched, with the aim of wrestling more control for the musicians.

That includes keeping ownership of their recordings - currently, the rights are usually kept by the labels.

But this is just Britain. What about the U.S.?

Featured Artists' Coalition - Artists vs. the labels

One of the ways in which the music labels justify their actions is to say that they are working on behalf of the artists.

Some artists don't see it that way, according to the Inquisitr.

140 of Britain’s biggest rock and pop stars have joined to form the Featured Artists Coalition, a group that aims to speak collectively on behalf of musicians, instead of the music industry....

[Their] first decision: voting against the prosecution of ordinary members of the public for illegally downloaded music.

The Inquisitr links to an article in the Independent that quotes Billy Bragg:

"What I said at the meeting was that the record industry in Britain is still going down the road of criminalising our audience for downloading illegal MP3s," he said.

"If we follow the music industry down that road, we will be doing nothing more than being part of a protectionist effort. It's like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

"Artists should own their own rights and they should decide when their music should be used for free, or when they should have payment."

But that wasn't the only concern of the artists, according to the Independent:

The Featured Artists Coalition, which consists of 140 of Britain's biggest rock and pop stars, said at its inaugural meeting that companies such as MySpace and YouTube should be required to remunerate the artists when they use their music for advertising.

Actually, I'm of a divided mind on this one - think of all of the benefits that artists have received when their music is featured in Apple commercials.

The Featured Artists Coalition has a website, at the http://www.featuredartistscoalition.com/ URL, and includes (currently) this list of supporters:

Billy Bragg
Boilerhouse Boys
Chrissie Hynde
Craig David
David Gilmour
Gang of Four
Iron Maiden
Jazzie B
Jools Holland
Kaiser Chiefs
Kate Nash
Richard Ashcroft
Robbie Williams
Sia Furler
Soul II Soul
Stephen Duffy
The Cribs
The Verve
Wet Wet Wet
White Lies

And they have a charter:

A charter for fair play in the digital age

We believe that all music artists should control their destiny because ultimately it is their art and endeavours that create the pleasure and emotion enjoyed by so many.

This means that:
• artists should retain ultimate ownership of their music
• all agreements should be fairly conducted and transparently accounted
• rights’ holders should have a fiduciary duty of care to the originator of those rights and must always explain how any agreement may affect how their work is exploited.

This will be achieved by:
• changing artists’ approach to agreements
• changing the recorded music and technology companies’ treatment of artist rights and incomes
• up-dating laws to reflect the new music landscape.

So we will campaign for laws, regulations, business practices and policies that protect artists’ rights.

We will stand up for all artists by engaging with government, music and technology companies, and collection societies. We will argue for fair play and will expose unfair practices.

How will this mesh against the 360 agreements that labels are negotiating? We will see.

[12:33 - MORE HERE.]

This movie will not be rated G

Stereogum reports that a new movie called Straight Outta Compton is in development, and that the producers include "Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E's widow Tomica Wright."

If they pull it off, it could be a riveting movie.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When Madonna Was Hot - "Erotica"

Now perhaps the less said about "Sex" the better. But I want to look at the song "Erotica" on its own merits.

And it does have merits. For one, by this time Madonna was openly contradicting things that she would have done a mere few years before. Rolling Stone noticed the difference:

[The album] succeeds in a way the innocent post-punk diva of Madonna and the thoughtful songwriter of Like a Prayer could not have imagined. Its cold, remote sound systematically undoes every one of the singer's intimate promises.

Clinical enough on its own terms when compared with the lushness and romanticism of Madonna's past grooves, Erotica is stunningly reined in; even when it achieves disco greatness, it's never heady. Madonna, along with coproducers Andre Betts and Shep Pettibone, tamps down every opportunity to let loose – moments ripe for a crescendo, a soaring instrumental break, a chance for the listener to dance along, are over the instant they are heard. Erotica is Madonna's show (the music leaves no room for audience participation), and her production teases and then denies with the grim control of a dominatrix.

Against maraca beats and a shimmying horn riff, "Erotica" introduces Madonna as "Mistress Dita," whose husky invocations of "do as I say" promise a smorgasbord of sexual experimentation, like the one portrayed in the video for "Justify My Love." But the sensibility of "Erotica" is miles removed from the warm come-ons of "Justify," which got its heat from privacy and romance – the singer's exhortations to "tell me your dreams." The Madonna of "Erotica" is in no way interested in your dreams; she's after compliance, and not merely physical compliance either. The song demands the passivity of a listener, not a sexual partner. It's insistently self-absorbed – "Vogue" with a dirty mouth, where all the real action's on the dance floor....

Erotica is everything Madonna has been denounced for being – meticulous, calculated, domineering and artificial. It accepts those charges and answers with a brilliant record to prove them.

All Music Guide agreed:

"Erotica," and her album of the same name, bear witness to some of Madonna's most interesting and overlooked work. The single comes with seven mixes, most either house or hip-hop. The first is an edit of the album version; the second, a hip-hop mix by Kenlou B-Boy, features a different base line; while the sizzling third mix, courtesy of William Orbit, features alternate lyrics. The fourth and fifth mixes are house mixes (the fifth being a dub mix), while the sixth mix is a jeep beat instrumental, and the seventh, (the "Madonna's In My Jeep Mix"), lays the vocals over the jeep beats. This single packs a satisfying package, especially for fans of her more dance-oriented work, but don't overlook the original album version, which is one of her darkest, most sinister, and most interesting singles in her catalog.

Wilson, of Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews, disagrees about the song's merits, stating the following about the song:

Erotica (1992)

Released simultaneously with her pornographic coffee table book "Sex," the first single was the tuneless, surprisingly tame title track...

Incidentally, this series has been going on for a while, and since seven is a nice number, I'm only planning on doing one more post in this series. As a result, I'm going to skip over several 1990s Madonna songs, including "I'll Remember," "Secret," and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

If you read my 2003 post, you know where I want to go next. And you probably know what I'm going to say about reinvention of a persona.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Warner Warmed-Over - a new covers album

OK, I know that Warner Brothers is evil, but this sounds intriguing.

A new entry...is the dramatically titled Covered, A Revolution in Sound, meant to celebrate Warner Bros. 50th Anniversary. It's unclear if Michelle Branch handling Joni Mitchell or Adam Sandler doing Neil Young constitutes a revolution in sound, but Flaming Lips' heavily psychedelic and percussive take on "Borderline" is at least fun...

Now "Borderline" didn't make my When Madonna Was Hot series, since it was released very early, in her anonymous disco period. Not sure what a psychedelic version would sound like.

Regarding some of the other artists, Branch covers "A Case of You," Sandler covers "Like a Hurricane," and Missy Higgins covers Roxy Music's "More Than This."

More at Stereogum.

Well, "Flirtin' With Disaster" does describe Andy Gibb in some ways

My latest peek into The Music's Over notes that two people died on March 10:

Troubled singer Andy Gibb
Molly Hatchet lead singer Danny Joe Brown

Two singers with two different styles of music, and two different causes of death (Brown suffered from diabetes, Gibb from cocaine addiction).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shooting their own selves in their collective feet

I have a few music RSS feeds that I read, one of which comes from the Guardian. Inasmuch as it is English, the current tussle between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society is not merely of academic interest to the Guardian readers.

So the Guardian has suggested several things that British YouTube users could do to get their music fix.

One of them caught my eye:

Imagine YouTube but with higher quality videos, fewer "OMG ur AFAG!!!" comments and – let's get serious now – a better logo. That, then, would be Vimeo.

But Vimeo isn't the only one:

While YouTube, the Hoover of the online video world, has become an overused byword for audio-visual content on the web, numerous alternatives are absolutely fine. Just this morning electro-pop musician Frankmusik, so plugged in that he's allowed Island Records to electronically tag his movements around the country in the name of interwebular accessibility, was unfazed by YouTube's decision to pull pop videos, as he webcast from his studio on Kyte.

I'm special

Now this is an odd thing.

Normally when a long-deceased band starts advertising that they're back in the spotlight, the truth is that the band is not back in the spotlight. In many cases, the leader of the band has gathered some new people and marketed the new band as the old one.

But occasionally this happens in reverse, as Jerry Dammers talks about the forthcoming Specials reunion - one from which Dammers himself has been excluded.

Alexis Petridis interviewed my former bandmates John Bradbury, Lynval Golding and Terry Hall, who are intending to take part in what they claim to be "The Specials' 30th Anniversary Tour"...

I was the Specials' founder, main songwriter and keyboard player. Referring to a statement I had made outlining how I had repeatedly been excluded from the proposed reunion, Petridis writes that these three "dispute pretty much everything the band's founder now has to say about the reunion"....

Lynval Golding phoned me saying that I was not required for the band - "like Bill Wyman from the Stones" were his exact words. Terry's manager circulated emails from which I was excluded. Rehearsals were held without me, and I only managed to attend two - one of which was attended by only four people.

For their part, here's what was said in the previous article:

But for all the trio's positivity, a distinct whiff of the old trauma surrounds the band's reformation. The band's founder member, keyboardist and chief songwriter, Jerry Dammers, didn't play at Bestival, but was initially involved in the reunion. Then relations between him and the rest of the band appeared to inexorably sour. Hall suggested that "the door was still open" for him to take part, but Dammers put out a long statement that decried the reunion as "a takeover", involving Hall's friend Simon Jordan, the multi-millionaire former owner of Crystal Palace: the implication being that the tour's primary motivation is money. It went on to claim that Dammers had been "kicked out" of the band he formed, that he had been legally prevented from contacting any members of band, that the other Specials refused to rehearse with him. But the reformed Specials dispute pretty much everything the band's founder now has to say about the reunion. "I've read Jerry's statement and I just don't get it," says Hall, for once looking like someone who might be physically incapable of smiling. "'They're trying to kick me out of the band' - not at all mate, not at all."

No, they say, Dammers wasn't ex-communicated by the other members. Golding and Bradbury both claim they spent vast amounts of time trying to convince Dammers to take part and that it was his own intransigence that caused the split.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The music industry takes a 360 degree turn

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch posted an item on Sunday regarding a conversation that he had with "a big music label executive." I'll caveat by noting that the executive remains anonymous, and that this is the opinion of only one person, but it certainly provides some fodder for speculation regarding the future direction of the music industry.

First, the executive claims that recorded music revenue will fall to zero.

The labels fully understand that recorded music, streamed or downloaded, is going to be free in the future....CD sales continue to decline by 20% per year, and the only thing that’ll stop that trend is when those sales reach zero. Nothing will replace those revenues.

Second, as the revenue falls, recorded music will become marketing material.

[T]he Internet services being sued today for copyright infringement will be embraced in the future as ways to get the word out on hot new music.

But if the music is being given away, what's left to market? Everything else.

No longer will the labels be tied to revenue limited to sales of master recordings - by then most or all artists will be under 360 music contracts that give the labels a cut of virtually every revenue stream artists can tap into - fan sites, concerts, merchandise, endorsement deals, and everything else.

I encourage you to read the rest of Arrington's post. And regarding 360 music deals, he wrote about those back in November 2008, referencing a statement by Warner Music's Edgar Bronfman:

Bronfman says that every new artist they sign they take rights in every revenue stream. Calls these 360 rights, and that over 1/3 of their artists are under these contracts. He says that they can’t make the investment they need to make unless they have these rights, and their incentives won’t be aligned.

Back in 2007, Depunked explained the economics of a 360 music deal:

Album Sales: The artist will get somewhere between 15-30% which is an estimate of $1-$3 per album sold. The larger percentage goes into the label’s pockets and covers production expenses.

Publishing: Artists get about a dime for writing their own songs and music, more if the song is featured in film or television. The labels now get a cut of that.

Touring: After all standard “touring” expenses are covered (travel, equipment, set costs, staff) the label will now get 10% of what’s left over

Merchandising: We’re no longer just talking T-shirts here. We’re talking endorsement deals, clothing lines, fragrances, energy drinks.. whatever the artist puts it’s name on the record label takes 10% of.

I'm mulling two questions in my mind:
  • Even with the additional revenue streams, will labels make money?

  • How does this affect the economics of going indie vs. going with an established label?

Jim Bakker edits Rolling Stone

My writing is at time fairly easy to detect, inasmuch as I like to recycle a number of phrases as I write. "This is what he said," "so anyways," and other phrases pop up often. One of my favorite phrases, however, is taken from a Jim Bakker book title: I Was Wrong.

When Rolling Stone assembled its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in November 2003, the second album on the list was Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. Rolling Stone noted:

"Who's gonna hear this shit?" Beach Boys singer Mike Love asked the band's resident genius, Brian Wilson, in 1966, as Wilson played him the new songs he was working on. "The ears of a dog?" Confronted with his bandmate's contempt, Wilson made lemonade of lemons. "Ironically," he observed, "Mike's barb inspired the album's title."

All in all, this is somewhat ironic when one remembers what Jann Wenner initially thought of Wilson's "genius" claims.

[December 1967 was the] month that Rolling Stone ran an article by editor Jann Wenner unfairly describing The Beach Boys as “just one prominent example of a group that had gotten hung up trying to catch The Beatles.”

Ironically, Wenner's creation subsequently decided that Pet Sounds was better than Revolver, Rubber Soul, and even The Beatles (i.e. "the White Album").

But Rolling Stone still liked Sgt. Pepper better.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The music store, post Tower and Virgin

As Tower Records and Virgin Megastores depart, brick and mortar music selection decreases.

Wal Mart, Chino, California.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Are the Beastie Boys truly on Twitter?

On March 3, I got an message that the Beastie Boys were following my Empoprises Twitter account @empoprises.

So I went to @beastieboys to check it out.

The following/followers numbers looked like they were in reasonable balance, which was a good sign.

One of the tweets linked to material at http://paulsboutique.beastieboys.com/, which was another good sign, although the site didn't explicitly mention the Twitter account.

However, a Coed Magazine post did.

So, Beastie Boys, what'cha want? (In addition to promoting "Paul's Boutique," of course.) Here's the March 2 post:

Check us out on Quicksilver's Race to S.K.A.T.E. http://bit.ly/racetoskate

So I checked them out. Again there's an album promotion, along with this text:

Every Friday during the Month of March at 7:00PM Eastern (4:00PM Pacific) Quiksilver will upload a video of a different Quiksilver pro doing five tricks. Your job is to film yourself doing those same five tricks earning yourself one letter per trick spelling S.K.A.T.E.

Of course, if I had been paying attention to this @lutheranlucciol tweet I would have known this a few days ago.

Johnny Cash, "Delia's Gone," 1969

If there's anything that Rick Rubin realized when he began working with Johnny Cash, it was that he had to work with the original material.

And he did.

Long before Rubin and Cash assembled the first of several American Recordings, Johnny had himself a TV show. One night on that TV show he introduced and sang a love song.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This is what he said!

If you are a complete masochist and read a lot of the stuff that I write, you'll notice that certain phrases pop up over and over.

Once of the phrases that I use ad nauseum is the phrase "this is what he said."

I was suddenly reminded of this phrase when I was researching a personal blog post on Willard Scott and ran across this post from the Loudon Symphony Orchestra. It describes flutist Cathy Gilstrap and her husband David.

Cathy has several fond memories of her time with the LSO. She and David note that the group treated them like family after a 1996 car accident, donating money and hiring a housekeeper for them while they recuperated. Musically, Cathy remembers the terrific flute part in Scherazade, by Rimsky-Korsakov. Another outstanding moment was a Gala Concert in the 1990s at which Willard Scott narrated the Copland Lincoln Portrait and PDQ Bach’s knock-off, the Bach Portrait.

That's where I stopped reading, and paused with anticipation.

Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" was written in 1942, by request:

In 1942, shortly after the U.S. entered World War Two, conductor Andre Kostelanetz commissioned Aaron Copland to compose a work to fortify and comfort people during that time of national distress....

Copland used excerpts from different Lincoln speeches, combined with musical quotations from American songs, such as "Camptown Races."

The text of "Lincoln Portrait" appears below. You will see the "this is what he said" line that I like to quote at the drop of a hat - a very tall hat.

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."

That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said.

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility." [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]

He was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and lived in Illinois. And this is what he said. This is what Abe Lincoln said.

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country." [Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862]

When standing erect he was six feet four inches tall, and this is what he said.

He said: "It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says 'you toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle." [Lincoln-Douglas debates, 15 October 1858]

Lincoln was a quiet man. Abe Lincoln was a quiet and a melancholy man. But when he spoke of democracy, this is what he said.

He said: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."

Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of these United States, is everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. For on the battleground at Gettysburg, this is what he said:

He said: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Now the piece has been performed by numerous people over the years, I'm sure. I've heard James Earl Jones do it, and here's then-Senator Barack Obama reciting the lines.

From that excerpt, you can see that this is a serious work. A dramatic work. A modern work.

So I was very curious to see what "Professor" Peter Schickele did with it.

The New York Times described the work in a 1985 article:

New was a world premiere, not by P. D. Q. at all but by Professor Schickele himself (there is a third level, when Mr. Schickele drops his professor act altogether and composes ''serious'' contemporary music, but that isn't part of his P. D. Q. Bach personna). A tercentennial tribute to J. S. Bach, this ''Bach Portrait'' uses Aaron Copland's ''Lincoln Portrait'' as its model, from Copland's music to the grave intoning of actual words by the great man in question. The words, with intoning by Mr. Schickele, of course, had nearly all to do with haggling over money. The music was a collage of Copland and Bach, with a bit of Stephen Foster and other snippets for decoration. The effect was cute.

Thirteen years later, the Times quoted a portion of the piece:

When he stood erect he was two feet across, and this is what he said - this is what Jack Bach said...

No offense to Willard, but I'd love to hear James Earl Jones recite THAT. But it's good enough to hear the good Professor recite it.

When Madonna Was Hot - "This Used to Be My Playground"

Madonna sings! And she sings a delightful, understated melody.

Now Madonna had tackled slower stuff in the past - "Crazy for You" and "Live to Tell" come to mind - but the results weren't all that satisfactory.

And Madonna was continuing her movie career post-"Dick Tracy." Certainly things were looking up when "A League of Their Own" came out, starring Tom Hanks and featuring a stellar cast. I'm not a movie person so I've never seen it, but even I'm familiar with Hanks' line "There's no crying in baseball!"

Madonna was still working with Shep Pettibone, and (as Wikipedia notes) the song was recorded during the sessions for another Madonna/Pettibone collaboration, the Erotica album. However, the song didn't appear on that album, nor did it appear on the soundtrack for A League of Their Own.

As for Pettibone, his collaboration with Madonna (which began in 1986) would eventually end after Erotica, as Madonna decided to go in a diferent direction for her Bedtime Stories album.

I guess you can say that Maverick used to be his playground. Then again, Maverick isn't Madonna's playground anymore, either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Johnny, go to Gaithersburg instead - you'll feel better

Confession - this is a non-scheduled post, posted immediately after it was written because I have nothing else to do on my current business trip.

(Who am I kidding? I could be catching up on Google Reader. Oh wait, I did that.)

So anyways, by the time you read this, I know for a fact that I have completed an all-day business meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. After the meeting is done, I had an evening ahead of me. I already told you about the options for my evening, including two musical possibilities.

Well, it turns out that I did not see TOMMY or listen to classical guitarist Tracy Anne Smith.

And I didn't even play trivia (yet), and I only prepared for the next all-day business meeting for about an hour or so.

And I didn't go to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

By process of elimination, this means that I hung out with forensic scientists.

So why am I writing about this in my music blog? Three reasons:
  1. This is a follow-up to a previous post in the music blog.

  2. It is a chance to parody that very post in the music blog.

  3. There was actually some musical content during the dinner, as one person desperately tried to end the sharing of silly iPhone applications (an ocarina, a dentist drill) by sharing some Edith Piaf with the other assembled diners.
Edith Piaf's biography can be found here.

And a YouTube video can be found here.

And as for why I was watching a French video in late January...well, it's a topic that I briefly discussed at the dinner.

Tommy, go to Bethesda instead - you'll feel better

Confession - this is a scheduled post, written in advance of its publication because of a forthcoming business trip.

(Who am I kidding? I write most of these posts in advance. Do you really think that I wake up at 5:00 am to write about business?)

So anyways, by the time you read this, I anticipate that I will be in an all-day business meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. After the meeting is done, I will have an evening ahead of me. Perhaps I will prepare for the next all-day business meeting. Or perhaps I will hang out with forensic scientists (which for me is a good thing). Or perhaps I will find a place in Gaithersburg to play NTN Buzztime trivia. Or perhaps I'll do something else...

...like see a local production of one of the most famous rock operas ever. On Wednesday, March 4, 2009, there will be a preview performance of The Who's TOMMY at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville, Maryland.

But if I'm looking for a slightly different musical experience, I may instead go see a classical guitarist. On the same day (Wednesday, March 4, 2009), Tracy Anne Smith will be performing at The Mansion at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Now perhaps it's just me, but if I recall correctly Tommy had some medical issues. Perhaps Tommy should go to Bethesda instead. Perhaps it might be good for him.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Osmond Boys - not the Beastie Boys

I thought I'd check and see who had March 3 birthdays. I did, and I ran across this line:

March 3, 1978 Douglas Osmond, born in Provo, Utah, vocalist for Osmond Boys

Now that's an Osmond that I haven't heard of, and an Osmond group that I haven't heard of. Until now - it turns out that there were four Osmond boys (including the aforementioned Douglas), and that they released two albums a couple of decades ago.

Entertainment Weekly reviewed the band.

Yes, the next generation after the original Osmond kids — Donny, Marie, and the rest — is now with us, in the persons of Michael (14), Nathan (13), Douglas (12), and David (11), the four oldest of brother Alan's eight sons. They've been performing for four years, and on their debut album, Osmond Boys, their boyish voices sound clear, eager, and unpretentious, with just the right touch of teenage scorn when (in ''Reverse Psychology,'' their second single) they pretend they don't care about the girl they like.

While the reviewer only gave a C+ rating to their first album, the reviewer did compare them to another then-famous band:

Song for song, in fact, the Osmond Boys make stronger music than...Wilson Phillips, who've been riding high on the pop charts since the spring.

But the reviewer found a bit of controversy:

In their quasi-hard-rock number, ''All Tied Up,'' the Osmond Boys sing ''you tie me up like a sacrifice.'' Does that mean their album has to be released with a warning sticker?

Obviously the EW reviewer is unfamiliar with "Crazy Horses".

At the Royal Tahitian, circa 1966

The Royal Tahitian was apparently south of Ontario, California. I saw this clipping in the Applebee's at Ontario International Airport.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mackintosh Braun

If you follow my last.fm account, you know that I've been listening to two Mackintosh Braun songs repeatedly - "Here" and "On and On" (both of which are available for free download from last.fm).

If you have additional interest in Mackintosh Braun, you may want to visit their MySpace page.

Mackintosh Braun is an Oregon based electronic duo. Their debut album “The Sound” is already a cult classic, reaching listeners all over the world.

"The idea was to create an album that you didn't have to skip through, hopefully this is one of those albums for people." Combining a creative blend of organic instrumentation with electronic clicks and pops, Mackintosh Braun accomplishes a feat that few achieve.

Their album "The Sound" is available via CD Baby.