Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  July 2, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Britney Spears discovered the New York restaurant world is a tougher marketplace than the pop charts after New York's glitterati gave a hearty thumbs down to her new eatery, Nyla.

VIPs "fumed as they were made to wait in the rain by uncooperative bouncers" reported the New York Post in its Page Six column. The Post also noted Bobby Ochs, a partner with Spears in the restaurant, was served with a lawsuit during the opening night party from the landlord of his last project, Peaches, which he opened with Marla Maples.

That eatery lasted eight months before closing. Though Spears in not yet of drinking age, the Post reported she ordered three bottles of Cristal champagne for her entourage.


DJ Spooky, the innovative laptop computer/turntable master who has become a sought-after collaborator by rappers, rockers and jazz performers of all descriptions, is about to release an album likely to dramatically influence turntable culture in the near future.

"Optometry," scheduled for a July 9 release on Thirsty Ear records, is a statement of purpose from a sonic visionary whose credits include looping Northwest coast Indian chants for the American Museum of Natural History exhibit "Drawing Shadows to Stone."

"Optometry," part of the Matthew Shipp-curated Blue Series for Thirsty Ear, features an all-star lineup including pianist Shipp, bassist William Parker, drummer Guillermo E Brown, saxophonist Joe McPhee and special appearances by Billy Martin's "Beats" -- of Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Priest of Antipop Consortium and others.

As rapper Carl Hancock Rux says on "Asphalt (Tome II)," a manifesto/critique of hip hop style up to the moment: "Yeah, I like it."


Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw has his first album of original material since 1990, "Easy," scheduled for release in September on Spinart/Cooking Vinyl records.

Best known for his early '60s hits "Louisiana Man" and "Diggy Diggy Lo," Kershaw selected the compositions for "Easy" from his personal songbook at the urging of his son -- and sometimes bandmate -- Tyler. Kershaw is planning a national tour in support of the album.

Kershaw was part of the original Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley, and his first TV appearance was on the premier of the Johnny Cash show in 1969 -- which also featured Bob Dylan. His 1961 hit song "Louisiana Man" recorded with his brother, Rusty, was the first song broadcast from the moon back to Earth by Apollo 12, and has since been recorded by more than 800 artists.


The Los Angeles-based heavy metal band W.A.S.P. has a new record out, "Dying For The World," inspired in part by the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Group leader Blackie Lawless grew up in the New York City borough of Staten Island and took the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center personally.

"This is without question the most vicious album I've ever done lyrically," Lawless fumes. "I want people to understand that this thing we're dealing with is a long way from over. This whole Middle East situation is going to have to be dealt with sooner or later."

Lawless expressed the rage and confusion he experienced after a trip to Ground Zero on several of the album's songs.

"After I left New York, 'Hallowed Ground' became pretty self-explanatory. I was trying to create something that described my original emotions when I was down at Ground Zero. I felt like a kid, like I was seeing everything through a child's eyes. When a kid is abused, he has a confused look that says 'Why is this happening, and where am I going to go from here?' I wasn't writing especially with contempt, but more with confusion."

The album also references the travails of Native Americans on "Trail Of Tears," a departure from anything Lawless has done before.

"After the last tour, I went out to the desert to reacquaint myself with my ancestry, and I was listening to a lot of Native American Indian music. I kept thinking that this was a little piece of history I felt people really needed to hear about," he said. "It's all about the uncertainty of a people not knowing what's going to happen to them."


British singer-songwriter Julia Fordham, who had a hit with "(Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways" from the soundtrack of "The Butcher's Wife," has released her seventh album, "Concrete Love" on Vanguard records. The album was produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell) and features keyboardist Billy Preston and Steely Dan's Dean Parks, backing vocals by Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens, and duets with seven-time Grammy nominee India.Arie and acclaimed singer-songwriter Joe Henry.

The duets with Henry -- "Alleluia" -- and India.Arie on the title track are the high points, along with "Roadside Angel," which pays homage to Minnie Riperton, who Julia sites as an influence.

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