Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Sept. 30, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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The Rolling Stones brought the 40 Licks tour to New York last week, opening with a show for the VIPs at Madison Square Garden, with an even more exclusive bash scheduled for Roseland. But on Saturday night, the Stones played at Giants Stadium for the real New Yorkers, the working stiffs who can't afford the four-figure scalper's tickets and the real source of the Stones' fan base. This crowd didn't share in the debate about whether the Stones are passe, nor could they name-check the designers who contributed the elements of Mick Jagger's costumes, but they knew all the songs and sang along at the top of their collective lungs.

The concert was a wild celebration of rock's liberating power as the soundtrack of real people's lives. Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood, drummer Charlie Watts and their pumped musical associates all knew what was at stake and rode the crowd's energy for all it was worth. Jagger, the ultimate rock showman, sensed the crowd's mood and ran the show with the certain knowledge that he had the world's largest backup vocal group at his disposal.

The Stones opened with a crackling "Brown Sugar" and the fans sang along to every word. Jagger, who has understood the ironies of being an aging rocker since 1974 and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll," has turned that song into an anthem in praise of the music. He had the rafters at Giants Stadium shaking with the fan refrain "I like it," even prompting the band to add another chorus to keep the crowd going.

By the time they got to "You Can't Always Get What You Want" Jagger was the preacher leading his congregation in a rock hymnal of moral philosophy. He didn't even need to sing the words himself. No one present for this moment will ever hear that song the same way again. The Stones-haters whose favorite groups can't be distinguished from the latest video games have a long way to go to match the power this band and its audience can still bring to the playing field.


Beck's latest album, "Sea Change," was written about the breakup of his relationship with designer Leigh Limon, he told the Los Angeles Times.

"When I started out, I had this idea about making music for other people to enjoy. I didn't want it to be all about me," Beck told Robert Hilburn. "After writing these songs, I also worried that they would be seen as a plea for sympathy or something. I needed time to make sure I could look at them clearly."

The songs were written last year, prior to Sept. 11, and it took Beck until February to make it into the studio to record them with producer Nigel Goodrich, who worked on the 1998 album "Mutations."

"I think I saw that the album wouldn't just be some meaningless ego thing, that the themes were universal," Beck said. "That's when the record started to make sense."

The album marks another shift in Beck's chameleon-like persona, a strategy the songwriter has worked hard to maintain. "I know that some artists prefer to go in a straight trajectory," he said. "I think they make it a lot easier on themselves, but there's a price you pay for it. They sit in one place for so long that they almost become a statue. The way I've done it is a lot more work and it's hard for people not to get confused. But I think that price you pay is worth keeping the creativity alive."


Hurricane Isadore left New Orleans residents soaked but still determined to party, and the Howling Wolf club in the warehouse district was party central all weekend. Friday night OffBeat magazine held its 15th anniversary party, then Ravi teamed up Saturday night with Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson and Jim McCormick in a benefit for homeless children at the Maple Leaf.

Howling Wolf was packed with local musicians and well-wishers for the OffBeat party celebrating New Orlean's best local music publication. Keyboardist Joe Krown led an all star band that included guest shots from John Boutte, Sista Teedy, Gary Hirstius, Kermit Ruffins, Little Freddie King and Brotherhood of Groove with a special set from Mem Shannon and his band.

DJ Davis of All That, who appears on the magazine's cover, was surrounded by fellow musicians outside the club asking him to autograph the magazine. Saturday's show featured sets from each band followed by a jam session, and a silent auction to benefit Ravi's "Sunflowers in the Shade" program. Ravi started Sunflowers in the Shade, conducting regular music workshops at Covenant House in New Orleans, in January 2002. Residents (homeless children) are given the opportunity to participate in whatever capacity they are most comfortable -- from listening to learning an instrument.


Bob Dylan's mid-1970s Rolling Thunder Review will be the subject matter for the next installment of the Dylan bootleg series. "Bootleg Series, Vol. 5 -- Bob Dylan Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue" is scheduled for a November release.

The Rolling Thunder Revue was a novel concept that gathered many of Dylan's cronies from the folk music days for a series of surprise concerts. The whole tour was filmed in what would become the film "Renaldo and Clara." For years, inferior sounding audio bootlegs of these shows have circulated among collectors. This two-CD set finally releases selections from the best recordings mixed from the multi-track masters of Dylan's performances from the Revue's appearances in Worcester , Cambridge and Boston, Mass., and Montreal. A bonus DVD packaged with the set will include two songs from "Renaldo and Clara," remixed for 5.1 surround sound. This limited edition DVD will make these songs available for the first time on any home video format.


Grammy Award-winning Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés was forced to cancel a U.S. tour and was prevented from attending the Latin Grammy awards along with 21 other Cuban musicians. A new federal law prevented Valdés from getting a travel visa for his American tour. Though Valdés was unable to attend, he won the best pop instrumental album award for "Canciones Ineditas" (Egrem). Valdés canceled dates in New York, Rochester, N.Y., San Antonio, Texas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chapel Hill, N.C., and other venues.

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