Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  July 20, 2002 at 2:00 AM
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Rapper Nelly's red-hot summer jam, "Nellyville," staved off the challenge of several newcomers to hold its place atop the Billboard 200. "Nellyville" (Fo' Reel/Universal) remained at No. 1 for a third-straight week after selling 340,000 units. "By the Way," the latest from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, debuted at No. 2 after selling 280,000 units. "The Eminem Show" (Web/Aftermath/Interscope) slipped to the No. 3 spot but has sold more than 4 million units to date. "Nellyville" has sold more than 1.5 million copies and also tops Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for a third consecutive week. The single "Hot in Herre" is No. 1 on the Hot 100, Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and the Hot Rap Tracks tally. "Hard Candy" by the Counting Crows (Geffen/Interscope) debuted at No. 5. "A Gangster and a Gentleman," by rapper Styles of the Lox was No. 6, with sales of 135,000 units.


Bruce Springsteen fans got another glimpse at the forthcoming "The Rising" album when the track "Into the Fire" was released to radio. The song opens quietly before building in intensity to become one of the most impassioned pieces Spingsteen's ever written. The lyrics seem to trace the ascent of rescue workers into the World Trade Towers in a deliberate, slow-march cadence, with Springsteen singing in a gnarly, alt-country voice that breaks into an anguished cry. On the chorus, Springsteen is joined by backup singers who give the song an uplifting, gospel feel as they sing: "May your strength give us strength, May your faith give us faith, May your hope give us hope, May your love give us love." Another track from the album, "Mary," is scheduled to be released next week.


Blues diva Shemekia Copeland currently is finishing work on a follow-up to her Grammy-nominated compact disc, "Wicked." The still untitled album was recorded in New York and produced by Dr. John, and is to be released on Sept. 17. The CD features members of both Dr. John's and Copeland's touring bands. Copeland was named Best Blues Artist (Female) in the 2002 Living Blues Readers Poll, less than two months after winning the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Contemporary Female Artist Of The Year.


Baltimore's historic music venue the 8 x 10 Club will close its doors for good on Aug. 3 but not before some of the greatest musicians to play there over the years return for one more party. The club's "Farewell Celebration Month" is a 12-night party with shows from The Radiators (Aug. 1), Baltimore's top blues band The Kelly Bell Band (Aug. 2) and a grand finale on Aug. 3 starring the Jarflys, featuring Jimi Haha of Baltimore's Jimmie's Chicken Shack and a host of special guests. The runup to the last weekend features performances by Baltimore's Lake Trout, George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, June Yamagishi, Deep Banana Blackout, Acoustic Syndicate and Mambo Cambo.


Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has collaborated with British musician and actor Darryl Read on a project combining poetry and music entitled, "Freshly Dug." The album features 16 new poems by Read, performed by the author, accompanied on piano, organ and keyboards by Manzarek. The compact disc package includes photography by Gered Mankowitz (Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Giles Giles and Fripp) and an essay by journalist Pete Feenstra of Soundcheck magazine. The session took place in Los Angeles. Manzarek taped Read's poems to his music stand and improvised off basic themes he created for each of Read's works. "I'm glad this CD is finally available in the U.S.," Manzarek said. "Darryl and I had a great time recording together. He is down, funky and a very Beat poet! All in all, I think of this as a very cool disc." Manzarek also is working on a concert scheduled for Los Angles in the fall reuniting the surviving members of the Doors. Ian Astbury is slated to provide vocals for the group.


Widespread Panic lead guitarist and co-founder Mike Houser revealed, in an emotional statement to his fans, he has missed several shows on the band's current tour because he is suffering from terminal cancer. Houser has not played with the band since July 2, prompting rumors about his condition. "As some of you know, I have contracted a terminal form of cancer," Houser revealed on the band's Web site. "I want to assure all of you that all that can be done has been done, and I want to thank all of you who have contributed information, medicine, and so on. "As for me, I am at my home in Athens, Ga., surrounded by my family and being well taken care of. In the words of Lou Gehrig, 'Though some of you may have thought I have caught a bad break, I feel like the luckiest man in the world.'

"Between my best friends, J.B., Todd, Sunny, Dave and JoJo, and you, our friends, and best support group in the world, I feel strong and well taken care of. I have hopes of playing again soon although I can't say for sure when or where, and I hope to see you all there," the statement said.


MTV's next pop star reality series will be centered on the everyday home life of rapper P. Diddy. Sean "Puffy" Combs will follow the lead of the Ozzy Osbourne family saga, "The Osbournes," as the next musical celebrity with a production crew in his living room. The show is slated for a debut this fall. David Lee Roth, Motley Crue's Tommy Lee and even Liza Minnelli are in the wings as "real" wannabes.


Los Lobos has been hired to provide music for a new television series, "Greetings From Tucson." The band has been signed to write an original theme song for the series and write incidental music to accompany the comedy show about a Latino family, which is scheduled for broadcast on the WB network on Friday nights this fall. "I couldn't think of a more fitting band than Los Lobos to be our partner on 'Greetings From Tucson'," said WB entertainment president Jordan Levin. "Having a band of their caliber write an original theme song and score the entire series will add another unique voice to this ground-breaking series." Los Lobos has an extensive history making soundtracks, including the Grammy-winning score to the 1995 film "Desperado," and the soundtrack to "La Bamba," the 1987 biography of singer Richie Valens, which hit the top spot on the Billboard charts. Los Lobos is currently on tour in support of a new album, "Good Morning Aztlan."


Epic records has scheduled Pearl Jam's seventh album for a Nov. 19 release date. The band plans to play some live shows this year in support of the album, which still is untitled. A world tour is in the works for 2003. Pearl Jam has yet to decide if the band will release the live shows on individual compact discs as they did on the last tour, but a collection of rarities is planned for release next year.


Miramax Home Entertainment will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do" with the Sept. 24 release of a two-disc DVD of the band's 1964 film "A Hard Day's Night." Along with the original feature will be "Give Me Everything," a new "companion anthology" to the film, and a new half-hour documentary, "Things They Said Today..." The VHS version of the title only will include the documentary as a bonus. For the release, "A Hard Day's Night" has been digitally enhanced from the original 35 millimeter negative, as has the mono soundtrack. The DVD also features 30 interviews with cast and crew members and Beatles associates including director Richard Lester, musical director George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen, and actors John Junkin and Victor Spinetti.


With Conan O'Brien sidekick, drummer Max Weinberg leaving his "Late Night" duties to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, guitarist Jimmy Vivino will take over leadership of the "Late Night" band. Weinberg's place will be taken by drummer James "Worm" Wormworth, who is the regular drummer in Vivino's band. Weinberg essentially hired Vivino's group to back him on the TV show, replacing Wormworth, but when the Vivino band plays its numerous live shows Wormworth is the drummer. Wormworth and "Late Night" bassist Michael Merritt have a longstanding musical relationship going back to the 1970s, when they were the award-winning rhythm section behind blues giant Johnny Copeland.


Elvis Presley's greatest recordings will be packaged together with highlights from his labelmates on Sun Records in time for the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death next month. Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison are some of the artists included in the 44-song, two-compact disc historical set. "Sun Records 50th Anniversary" features such legendary tracks as Presley's "Mystery Train," Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes," and Sonny Burgess' "Red Headed Woman." Producer Sam Philips, the mastermind behind the Memphis label, is universally credited for jump-starting Presley's career. Philips recorded such rhythm and blues and blues giants as Ike Turner and Howlin' Wolf before becoming a pioneer of rockabilly. An alternate take of "Mystery Train" is included in the package.

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