Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


The Rolling Stones are not afraid of being too old to rock 'n' roll, lead guitarist Keith Richards told The New York Times. "This is not something you retire from," Richards told Bernard Weinraub. "It's your life. Writing songs and playing is like breathing -- you don't stop." Richards insisted he will play until he is physically unable. "I want to do it like Muddy Waters -- till I drop," he said. Richards talked openly about the heroin problems that plagued him in the past. "I know I was the most likely to die," he said. "It was an experiment that went on far too long, and it was the only thing in the world that ever beat me." Stones drummer Charlie Watts described his own bout with heroin abuse. "I was very ill," he said. "My personality changed completely. It was a nightmare for my daughter and my wife." Watts cleaned himself up. "It was difficult at first," he said. "It showed me the power of drugs. I realized what they can do to you." Today, the revitalized Stones feel they have the vitality to play great rock 'n' roll as well as they ever have. "Rock 'n' roll requires a certain amount of energy," said the band's recently knighted lead singer Mick Jagger. "It's not like you have to be a brilliant musician, but you need a kind of explosive kind of musical energy to play rock 'n' roll well. And we have that."



P. Diddy and Pavarotti are unlikely partners in a new ad campaign using pop stars as pitchmen against unauthorized music file-sharing. Britney Spears and Shakira are among other stars participating in the campaign. "Would you go into a CD store and steal a CD?" Spears asks in one of the spots. "It's the exact same thing, so why do it?" The Recording Industry Association of America is backing the multimedia public relations effort. The industry is trying to combat a significant drop in CD sales this year -- 7 percent during the first half of 2002 -- that it blames on file-sharing and Internet piracy.


Ruben Blades' new album, "Mundo," is a breakthrough release for the Panamanian-born singer and songwriter, a visionary world music statement combining Latin, Celtic, Middle Eastern, African, Afro-Cuban Sounds and more. "There is, we hold, a common patrimony, bigger and richer, that transcends all artificial differences and persists in our souls, throughout time and distances," Blades said. "The shared memory of a unique route, which will forever identify us, even in our darkest hours. It is to this universal memory that we appeal with the creation of this collection of songs and we dedicate it to all beings, wherever they exist." Blades will tour the United States beginning in October in support of "Mundo." The record, Blades' 17th, is designed to highlight the commonalities that bind all people. "Racism is absurd and my new record reflects that," he said. The tour opens Oct. 12 in Miami. An acclaimed actor, Blades also will appear in "Imagining Argentina" with Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" starring Johnny Depp, Enrique Iglesias and Willem Dafoe, and "Assassination Tango," produced and directed by Robert Duvall. Blades also composed the score for "Empire," starring John Leguizamo, and appeared in an episode of Showtime's "Resurrection Boulevard" on Sept. 11.



Pioneer rapper Chuck D. would rather hit the lecture circuit than play ball with the current leaders of the rap industry, the Public Enemy front man told Newsday. "The mainstream has accepted its brand of what hip-hop is and what it isn't," Chuck D. told Glenn Gamboa. "We go against that particular grain." "Revolverlution," the newest Public Enemy disc, doesn't have a playa in sight, but rather some sobering observations from the rapier wit of Chuck D. on tracks like "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" and "Son of a Bush." "When Public Enemy releases a record," Chuck D. said, "it's a platform to make a statement, to speak with some clarity, even though there's confusion and chaos at times. Each release is a passport to the world. We've been to 53 countries, and we'll go around the world as many times as we can. I've always said we're the first hip-hop act to go around the world and enjoy it. Each time there's a chance to be a revisionist and a chance for revolution. That's the beauty of it."


Top rockers from the 1990s have banded together to form Audioslave, with a debut album scheduled for Nov. 19 on Epic records. The album features former lead singer/guitarist of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, and Rage Against The Machine's Tim Commerford on bass, Tom Morello on guitar and Brad Wilk on drums. The project was recorded in Los Angeles at Oceanway Studios with producer Rick Rubin. The first single will be "Cochise," with a video directed by Mark Romanek. "Cochise was the last great American Indian chief to die free and absolutely unconquered," Morello said. "When several members of his family were captured, tortured and hung by the U.S. Cavalry, Cochise declared war on the entire Southwest and went on an unholy rampage, a warpath to end all warpaths. He and his warriors drove out thousands of settlers. Cochise the Avenger, fearless and resolute, attacked everything in his path with an unbridled fury. This song kinda sounds like that."



Courtney Love was in the sunniest of moods when she guested on "The Howard Stern Show." Love told the radio audience she has buried the hatchet with the former partners of her deceased husband Kurt Cobain in Nirvana. "We love each other," Love said of Dave Grohl and Krist Noveslic, the former Nirvana members now in the Foo Fighters. "We're getting along. We worked it all out." When Stern asked Love how the reconciliation occurred she said, "Lots and lots and lots of money." The reconciliation has paved the way for new Nirvana material, long under litigation, to be released. "You'll get the new Nirvana album by Christmas," Love promised.


Carly Simon is set to release her first Christmas album, "Christmas Is Almost Here," as well as a two-disc, 40-track set of her biggest hits, "Carly Simon: Anthology," on Rhino records. Simon's first Christmas-themed album was recorded at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles and produced by Don Was. With liner notes written by Simon herself, the album includes versions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "O Come, All Ye Faithful," and "I'll Be Home For Christmas," as well as three originals -- "The Land Of Christmas (Mary)," "Christmas Is Almost Here," and "Heaven Can't Be Far." Also included is a new version of John Lennon's "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" as well as a Simon/Willie Nelson duet on Nelson's classic, "Pretty Paper." Additional musicians contributing to the release include keyboardist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), drummer Jim Keltner, keyboard player Billy Preston, and Simon's son, Ben Taylor. "Anthology" features 40 tracks from Elektra, Warner Bros., Mirage, Angel, Epic, and Arista spanning 1971-2000. The collection features the gold singles "You're So Vain," "Mockingbird" (with James Taylor), "Nobody Does It Better," and "Jesse" as well as the Grammy- and Oscar-winning song "Let The River Run" from the film "Working Girl."



Susan Tedeschi is set to release "Wait For Me," Nov. 19 on Tone-Cool/Artemis Records. The album is the follow-up to Tedeschi's critically acclaimed, gold-certified 1998 release "Just Won't Burn," which earned her a "Best New Artist" Grammy nomination in 2000. "Wait For Me" features several new originals written and produced by Tedeschi, as well as songs by Bob Dylan ("Don't Think Twice") and Paul Pena ("Gonna Move") among others. Veteran producer/engineer Tom Dowd (Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, John Coltrane) worked on some of the sessions. Contributors on the album include Tedeschi's guitarist Derek Trucks; southern music stalwart Col. Bruce Hampton; and pioneering rock 'n' roll pianist, Chuck Berry-collaborator Johnnie Johnson. Tedeschi will head out on tour in December to support the album.


"The Codetalkers with Col. Bruce Hampton," the latest project from the southeast's legendary rock surrealist Bruce Hampton, is scheduled for an Oct. 22 release on Harmonized Records. The album includes fan favorites such as "Beggin," "Grandma," "I'm So Glad" and "UFO." Pre-sales for the album are available through Hampton, one of the most influential figures in southern rock and the jam-band scene, has been involved with a series of groundbreaking musical institutions dating back to the Hampton Grease Band and including the Late Bronze Age, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Fiji Mariners. Two classic Late Bronze Age albums that have been long out of print, "Outside Looking Out" and "Isles Of Langerhan," also have just been reissued with bonus tracks. Hampton fans will find one of "Isles," bonus tracks, "A Sensitive Pond and the Sailor," a revelation. Available at



Pioneering rock band King Crimson will release its new studio EP "Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With" on Sanctuary Records Oct. 8. King Crimson is led by founding guitarist Robert Fripp, longtime guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, stick player/bass guitarist Trey Gunn and drummer/percussionist Pat Mastelotto. Fripp has led the band through more than three decades of musical experimentation that completely pushes the structure of rock, jazz and classical music to its limits. King Crimson has enjoyed some measure of commercial popularity over the years, but its fan base primarily is a die-hard cult. Regular touring has broadened the band's appeal, and a recent tour opening for Tool successfully exposed another generation to King Crimson's challenging-yet-rewarding music. Tool's lead singer Maynard Keenan stated: "I have a feeling kids are going to come and hear King Crimson and go, 'Tool ripped these guys off blind,' because it'll be right there for you to see. But we've said that all along, that we're definitely influenced by this band, there's no mystery." The band will follow up the EP with a full-length album, "The Power To Believe," in early 2003, along with an extensive world tour.



Enrique Iglesias is currently on a North American tour promoting "Quizás," his first album of all-Spanish material in five years. The show concentrates on Iglesias' hugely successful English repertoire but features a special selection of his Spanish language songs. "The power of music in Spanish is so strong," explained Iglesias, "that I couldn't stay away from it any longer." "Quizás" (Maybe) features Iglesias at his best, performing the warmly romantic pop that earned him album sales in excess of 30 million units, 14 No. 1 singles, a Grammy, two American Music Awards, and eight Premios Lo Nuestro. "Quizás" was produced by Enrique Iglesias, Lester Mendez and Rafael Peréz Botija. Iglesias wrote or co-wrote every track but one as he recorded the album while in the middle of a hectic, worldwide promotion schedule for the "Escape" album, his 2001 multi-platinum release which has sold over 8 million copies worldwide and produced 3 hit singles. "Mentiroso" (Liar), is the first single from the album, which also includes a healthy dose of Iglesias'calling card, romantic ballads, with "Tres Palabras" (Three Words), and "Para Que La Vida" (Why There's Life) in which Iglesias nurtures a broken heart and counts the hours since his love left him: "Fifteen days and six hours have passed," he sings. There's also groove music such as the mid-tempo "La Chica de Ayer" (The Girl from Yesterday) and the danceable "Mamacita." "I can't say enough about my fans," said Iglesias. "They have been with me almost seven years, since I started, and I feel they have grown with me every album I release. They are loyal and I love it."



Yoko One took the witness stand in a Manhattan courtroom last week in an attempt to prevent a former aide to her late husband, John Lennon, from releasing photographs Ono claimed were unauthorized. Ono appeared with her son, Sean Lennon, and testified Fredric Seaman is exploiting Lennon's legacy by selling $75,000 worth of Lennon memorabilia and attempting to sell 374 photos of Lennon. Ono, 69, said she and Lennon asked Seaman to sign a confidentiality agreement when he was hired in 1979. Lennon was killed on Dec. 8, 1980, outside of the Dakota apartment building where the Lennons lived. "We decided we wanted to keep our lives private," Ono testified. "We had to. It was a very, very tense time." Seaman countered he owns the pictures, which he claimed were taken with his own camera. "This case is about the underside of the music business," said Seaman's lawyer, Glenn Wolther. "It's a far cry from the idealized world of 'Imagine'."


New York DJ Funkmaster Flex of WQHT Hot 97 FM is charged with attacking rival DJ Big Steph Lova of WWPR Power 105 FM last week in front of the Hot 97 studios in lower Manhattan. Steph Lova, whose real name is Stephanie Saunders, filed charges against Funkmaster Flex, whose real name is Aston Taylor, charging the 33-year-old DJ verbally abused her, then hit her, choked her and scratched her. Funkmaster Flex was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault and released on his own recognizance pending a court appearance next month. Flex has reportedly had it in for Steph Lova since she conducted an interview with rapper Nas in June during which Nas accused Flex on the air of accepting pay for playing records.



A selection of early oil paintings, watercolors and sketches by the late Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, will be on view at Johnny's in Darien, Conn., starting Oct. 19 and running for several weeks. The works to be displayed date from Garcia's high school days through the 1970s. Few of these works have been seen in public. Most have been in storage for decades. A few have been sold through outlets in Las Vegas, art galleries in San Francisco and private sales. The works are from the private collection of Hank Harrison, manager of the Grateful Dead from 1965 to 1973. Harrison acquired these pieces directly from Garcia. In addition to the art works, pieces of memorabilia from Garcia's personal effects will be on sale. Included will be letters by Garcia, one of the black shirts he wore, and rare Herb Greene photos autographed by Garcia. Photos of the artwork will appear on by early October.


Priscilla Presley celebrated the release of her former husband's greatest hits package, "Elvis 30 No. 1 Hits" Tuesday at New York's Hard Rock Cafe. Priscilla was joined by the Strokes, "American Idol" star Justin Guarini, Eve 6 and New York Giants running back Tiki Barber at the bash, held by RCA records. Also on hand was the traveling Elvis exhibit, Mobile Graceland, which features 18 artifacts that have never before left the Graceland mansion, where Elvis died. Among the artifacts is the D.E.A. badge given to Presley by Richard Nixon when Elvis visited the White House and proclaimed he was ready to do his bit for the war on drugs.



Think you're better at imitating Stevie Wonder than the finalists on "American Idol?" Here's your shot -- the producers of "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" have set the first auditions for the next installment of the show for Oct. 21 in Detroit. Auditions will continue in New York on Oct. 24. Over the next two months the show's talents scouts will hold tryouts in Atlanta, Nashville, Miami, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. Simon Cowell, the acid-tongued critic from the first show, will be back to torture the contestants again.

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