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Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International   |   May 31, 2003 at 3:00 AM
LISA MARIE TELLS ALL

Lisa Marie Presley, riding high on her debut album and about to launch her first tour, is featured in a no-holds-barred Playboy interview. The 35-year-old daughter of rock icon Elvis Presley admits in the interview she likes rough sex "the way they do it in porn movies," and speculates, "I think I'd be much better as a lesbian." Presley explained her bizarre 20-month marriage to Michael Jackson by saying: "He is not sexually seductive, but there is something riveting about him. He doesn't let people see who he is... I got caught up and thought I was in love with the man." As for her 107-day marriage to Nicolas Cage, Presley said she ended up hating him after he threw temper tantrums, but that they've patched things up and remain friends. The real man in Presley's life remains her father, who doted on her and took her on road trips. "Anything my father did for me or gave me was done out of love," she said. "I'm sure I had moments when I was a snot. But my mom was there to smack me back to the other side."


LIVE LED

A treasure trove of Led Zeppelin live material was released on Atlantic Records. "Led Zeppelin DVD," a two-disc set, and "How the West Was Won," a three-CD set, cover rare and unreleased material from one of the most popular live acts in rock history. There is no overlap between the two releases. "We were never really part of the pop scene," said guitarist and group leader Jimmy Page. "It was never what Led Zeppelin was supposed to be about. Our thing was playing live. In that sense, Zeppelin was very much an underground band. The fact that it became as successful as it did was something that was almost out of our control. We actually shunned commercialism, which is why so little official footage of the band has ever been seen before."


J LO ON HER BEAUS

Jennifer Lopez talked openly about her failed marriages and tabloid-documented relationship with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs in the new Vibe magazine. "After my first divorce I wasn't trying to be exclusive with anybody, but Puff came at me hard," Lopez said. "He said he looked at me and fell in love and made me love him, too. We started a very tumultuous affair." Before too long, though, things went wrong. "I was in this relationship with Puff where I was totally crying, crazy and going nuts; it really took my life in a total tailspin," she said. "I had to think, do I want to be home with kids in 10 years wondering where somebody is at 3 in the morning?" Lopez married Cris Judd on the rebound from Combs in what turned out to be a doomed relationship. "This wasn't an easy thing to walk away from, but we didn't have what it takes to make a marriage work," she said. Lopez told Vibe that she's finally found her ideal mate in fiance Ben Affleck.


ALLIGATOR CHOMPS HANDY AWARDS

Alligator Records artists dominated the W.C. Handy Blues Awards. Singing sensation Shemekia Copeland won three Awards at the 24th renewal of the event, held this year at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. Copeland, the daughter of the late Texas blues giant Johnny Copeland, won more awards than any other nominee. Her win for Blues Album Of The Year for 2002's Dr. John-produced "Talking To Strangers" marks the second time Copeland has won the category. She won the same award for her 2001 album, "Wicked." She also won Contemporary Female Artist Of The Year and Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year for "Talking To Strangers." Copeland, 24, already has won seven awards.


JOURNEY MARKS 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Journey -- Neal Schon (guitar), Ross Valory (bass), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Steve Augeri (vocals) and Deen Castronovo (drums) -- is celebrating its 30th anniversary by headlining VH1 Classic's "Classic Rock's Main Event" tour with fellow road warriors REO Speedwagon and Styx. The arena and amphitheater trek launched May 10 in front of a capacity crowd at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Originally slated to end July 26 in Atlanta, the tour has been extended into August. Before the tour got underway, after years of campaigning by the group's fan club, Journey was honored in its hometown of San Francisco April 25 by the California Music Awards with a commemorative plaque on the city's Rock 'N Roll Walk of Fame outside the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Founding member Greg Rollie and former drummer Aynsley Dunbar were on hand for the event, which was hosted by Mayor Willie Brown, who spoke to the crowd of his experiences at Journey concerts. Journey recently released a four-song EP, "Red 13" (Red Distribution). It was written, recorded, produced and mixed by the band entirely at Jonathan Cain's home studio. "Red 13" is also available on the band's Web site journeytheband.com and at all of the band's shows. Also available on the site is an inspirational instrumental called "Showdown" written and performed by Neal Schon, which fans can download for $1.49. Proceeds go to the San Francisco V.A. Medical Center, which benefits veterans from all wars.


GATHERING OF THE VIBES 2003

Terrapin productions has expanded its annual Gathering of the Vibes rock festival into a summer season with four distinct events. The season kicks off next weekend with Summit on the Hudson Music Festival. The series continues with the Eighth Annual Gathering of the Vibes July 10-13 in Mariaville, N.Y.; Bridgeport Blues Festival Aug. 30-31 in Bridgeport, Conn.; and Summit on the Sound Music Festival Sept. 13-14, also in Bridgeport. Returning to the venues that helped launch the "Vibes" to prominence, each music festival in the summer series will exhibit a unique flavor and ambiance, drawing from diverse audiences throughout the Northeast. Home to 1997's Gathering of the Vibes, majestic Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., will host the Summit on the Hudson Music Festival. The two-day event features an anomalous mix of jazz, folk and rock acts, including Branford Marsalis, Chuck Berry, Arlo Guthrie, Little Feat, The Radiators, Martin Sexton, Steve Kimock, Reid Genauer and Medeski Martin and Wood. Gathering of the Vibes, Terrapin's flagship multi-day music, camping and arts festival, returns to Indian Lookout Country Club outside of Albany, N.Y., site of last year's event. Vibes veterans and festival newcomers alike will congregate for a celebration headlined by the Allman Brothers and James Brown. Other artists include Gov't Mule, The David Grisman Quintet, Rusted Root, Susan Tedeschi, Dickey Betts & Great Southern and The Derek Trucks Band. The Bridgeport Blues Festival will fold the acts on the B.B. King Blues Festival -- King, Jeff Beck, Galactic and Mofro -- into a lineup featuring Chuck Berry, Robert Cray, James Cotton, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Marcia Ball and the Holmes Brothers. Acts for Summit on the Sound have yet to be announced.


BOWIE BONDS QUESTIONED

Billboard.com reports Moody's Investors Service has put "Bowie Bonds" on a watchlist for possible downgrading. The $55 million in bonds issued against David Bowie's future publishing royalties beginning in 1997 may be downgraded, according to Billboard.com, because of the recent downgrading of bonds held by major label EMI. Billboard.com quoted David Pullman of the Pullman Group, sales coordinator of the asset-backed securities, as maintaining the Bowie Bonds would still carry an investment-grade rating if they were downgraded "several notches" by Moody's. "The deal has outperformed everything in the corporate bond world," said Pullman. When Pullman unveiled the "Bowie Bonds" -- during the stock market boom of the late 1990s -- at the MIDEM convention the industry responded favorably. At the time these were the first bonds tied to potential revenues generated from record master and publishing rights. James Brown and the Isley Brothers are among the musicians who have followed suit, but it appears that the record industry's current woes are contagious.


THERE'S NO GOOD IN GOODBYE

Three years after the death of soul and blues star Johnny Taylor, Malaco Records has announced plans to release his final album, "There's No Good in Goodbye." The album contains 15 previously unreleased tracks recorded throughout his 16-year stint at Malaco, including five from the sessions of his 1999 album, "Gotta Get The Groove Back." Taylor, best known for his crossover pop hits "Who's Making Love" (Stax) and "Disco Lady" (Columbia), possessed one of the greatest soul voices, in a class with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Al Green. Unlike these legendary contemporaries, Taylor spent the vast majority of his career making uncompromising R&B records and playing for inner city black audiences and the blues and soul circuit. His albums sold in black mom and pop stores, often reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, charting a commanding SoundScan lead above names like B.B. King, Little Milton, Delbert

McClinton, Susan Tedeschi and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Although virtually unknown outside the black community, it was not uncommon for Taylor to sell 500,000 or more units of an album. As an R&B interpreter, Taylor was without peer ­even if he lacked the widespread kudos of pop music critics for not writing his own material. His audience was fiercely loyal to the end. During his 16 years at Malaco, Taylor consistently recorded extra tracks while making his albums, ensuring the label and his heirs would be able to assemble a first-rate album of vault jewels. Continuing the tradition, Taylor's son, Floyd Taylor, is now a Malaco recording artist. His solo debut, "Legacy," was released in spring 2002.


YELLOWCARD'S OCEAN AVENUE

Southern California punk heroes Yellowcard will release their Capitol Records debut, "Ocean Avenue," July 22. The quintet, which has created an enormous national grass-roots fan base from a relentless touring schedule, is one of the only working punk bands with a classically trained violinist in its ranks. The band is scheduled to play the 2003 Vans Warped Tour, kicking off July 18 in San Antonio. Yellowcard has built its following by connecting personally with its fans, playing hundreds of shows at all-ages punk nights, rock dives, suburban VFW halls, living rooms and back yards. The band goes as far as to contact local high schools during tours to offer free daytime concerts at selected schools. "Ocean Avenue," Yellowcard's major-label debut, was produced by Neal Avron and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge. The 13-song album offers a passionate brand of anthemic and melodic punk, but with a twist -- complementing the standard band setup with the furious violin playing of Sean Mackin.


ROCK FOR TOURISM

Canada is looking to its high-profile rockers to help offset the drop in tourism prompted by the SARS outbreak. Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, the Tragically Hip, Sum 41, Our Lady Peace, Glenn Lewis and Remy Shand will play a one-day festival at the Skydome and Air Canada Centre June 21.


PETER FRAMPTON NOW

Peter Frampton's first studio album in nine years will be released Aug. 26 on Framptone Records/33rd Street Records. The CD contains Frampton's first new studio recordings since his contributions to the soundtrack and Oscar-winning film "Almost Famous." The first single, "Verge Of A Thing," ships to rock radio Aug. 1. Recorded and mixed entirely at his home studio in Cincinnati, "Now" includes 11 tracks, all produced by Frampton. Except for "My Guitar Gently Weeps," a passionate tribute to his friend and colleague George Harrison, Frampton wrote or co-wrote all music and lyrics.


GUY'S BUDDIES

Blues legend Buddy Guy has a new album, "Blues Singer," due out June 3 on Silvertone Records. A couple of notable friends, B.B. King and Eric Clapton, sat in on the acoustic session. Clapton plays on the Frankie Lee Sims song "Lucy Mae Blues," then King and Clapton trade guitar solos on John Lee Hooker's "Crawlin' Kingsnake." The song can be previewed on Guy's Silvertone Web site. The album includes two other outstanding Hooker covers, "Black Cat Blues" and "Sally Mae," along with Muddy Waters' "I Live the Life I Love," and Skip James' "Hard Times Killing Floor." Drummer Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan, John Lennon), bassist Tony Garnier (Asleep At The Wheel, Dylan), and guitarist Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) all are in Guy's band on the record. "Blues Singer" was produced by Dennis Herring (Cracker, Counting Crows) at his Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Miss., the same studio where Guy's 2001 release "Sweet Tea" was made.


MARS VOLTA KEYBOARDIST DIES

Jeremy Michael Ward, keyboardist in Mars Volta and also a member of Defacto, died last weekend, according to Defacto's record company Gold Standard Labs. "The members, family, and friends of the Mars Volta were shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of band member Jeremy Ward," read a statement from the band on GSL's official Web site. "Ward was found dead in his Los Angeles home by his roommate on Sunday evening. The cause of death has yet to be determined pending autopsy." Ward, 27, and Mars Volta were on break in Los Angeles between legs of a tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The group was scheduled to start the next leg of the tour June 2 at the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla. The band had been touring to preview its Universal debut, "De-Loused in the Comatorium," due out June 24.


50 CENT'S INCREASED VALUATION

50 Cent's single "21 Questions," featuring Nate Dogg, topped three Billboard sales charts this week to continue the rapper's torrid run. "21 Questions" is No. 1 on the Hot 100 for a second-straight week, and tops the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and the Hot Rap Tracks tally for a sixth week in a row. The rapper has four tracks in the top 100, three in the Top Ten -- Lil' Kim's "Magic Stick" featuring 50 Cent is No.8 on the Hot 100, and 50 Cent's former No. 1 "In Da Club" is No. 9. 50 Cent also has "P.I.M.P." at No. 60. On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, 50 Cent appears on a whopping eight entries.


BRIAN WILSON TO PERFORM 'SMILE'

Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson will return to London's Royal Festival Hall Feb. 20, 2004. For the first time in his 40-year career, Wilson will perform his unreleased masterpiece, "Smile." The concert will include classic Beach Boys and Brian Wilson favorites as well as selections from his new solo album. Last year Wilson performed sold out concerts at Festival Hall in January and June. The four January 2002 concerts sold out immediately and when Wilson returned to London later that year to perform at the Queen's Jubilee Concert, he sold out another two nights. Among those who attended the Festival Hall performances were Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Elvis Costello and Richard Ashcroft. The gigs were cited as the concerts of the year by most U.K. critics. Wilson and the Royal Festival Hall were honored with the prestigious Live Event of the Year Award by Time Out Magazine.


ON PUBLIC RECORD

Rachel Sage has a new CD, "Public Record," due out Aug. 5 on her own MPress Records. The follow-up to 2002's critically acclaimed "Illusion's Carnival," "Public Record" builds on Sage's trademark folk-noir sound to include harmonica, horns and electric guitar. Sage took an improvisational approach in the studio with the record. "My goal from the onset was to make a record that relied more on spirit and poetry than on vocal or piano technique," she said. "Coming off a year of solid touring, I was physically and creatively excited to shake myself up and leave old methods behind wherever I could." Most of the songs on the disc came from Sage's own personal experiences. The pop-flavored "Bravedancing" and the ballad "Chasing The Girl" tell tales about ill-fated relationships forged from passion rather than compatibility, while "Back To Freedom" and "What If" are spoken-word poems put to music.

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