Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Oct. 19, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Joni Mitchell, calling the music industry a "cesspool," said in an interview with Rolling Stone she'll never make another major label deal again. The 58-year-old singer songwriter said she is "ashamed" to be part of the music business and may retire from recording.

"I hope it all goes down the crapper," Mitchell told Rolling Stone. "I would never take another deal in the record business, which means I may not record again, or I have to figure out a way to sell over the Net or do something else. But I'll be damned if I'll line their pockets." Mitchell's "Travelogue," just out on Nonesuch records, could be her last album. Mitchell laid much of the blame for the industry's woes on the way MTV has promoted the sexual exploitation of children, noting she saw her 3-year-old granddaughter imitating MTV divas with a crotch-grabbing dance. "It's tragic what MTV has done to the world," said Mitchell.


Blues and roots singer Maria Muldaur celebrated her 60th birthday with a music party featuring appearances by several former band members and special guests. Amos Garrett played a memorable guitar solo on Muldaur's biggest hit, "Midnite At The Oasis." David Nichtern, Taj Mahal's drummer Tony Braunagel, Dan Hicks, Roy Rogers, Norton Buffalo, Angela Strehli, and harmonica whiz Rockin' Jake all joined in. "There was some great jamming going on," said Jake, "and Maria pulled out many of her classic old tunes that I'd never heard her perform before." Rockin' Jake also noted Muldaur's keyboardist, Chris Burns, is joining his band for its upcoming tour. Burns co-wrote four of the songs on Rockin' Jake's "Badmouth" album.


The New York Post asserted that Madonna will never again be offered a starring role in a film after the disastrous first week of "Swept Away." Bill Hoffman reported that Madonna's handlers claim the Material Girl was sabotaged by the critics. "It's a public hanging by the critics, an assassination," Madonna publicist Liz Rosenberg told Hoffman. "I can't believe the level of rage being directed against her. It's a sad state that these critics are taking such joy in it." In its first weekend, "Swept Away" only netted $375,000 playing in 196 movie theaters around the country. The Post reported that Cinema 7 in New York's East Village sold only five tickets to the first matinee showing of the film and 22 to the second. "God, it was awful," the Post reported a woman who stormed out of the theater as saying. "Unwatchable!"


The Who's Pete Townshend has said he plans to record with Roger Daltrey again, but not as The Who. The Who have been on tour this year despite the death of bassist John Entwistle, who died on the eve of its opening night. "Because of the power of the shows, and their financial success in a slightly depressed marketplace, there are those who conclude that I will naturally continue to perform with Roger under The Who banner," Townshend wrote on the band's official Web site. "There are those, who perhaps think they know me better (as a grouch, a spoiler, a self-obsessed creative, an insecure and pretentious self-styled artist etc), who conclude that now it is all over." Townshend went on to say his already damaged hearing was seriously impaired by the just-completed tour. "I still don't think I can write new songs for this thing we all call the Who," Townshend continued. "The Who is a brand name, and two old guys called Roger and Pete. I think I'm going to stick with the two old guys and let the brand name look after itself. It [has] done pretty well without my help -- and despite a huge amount of my active interference -- for the 20 years since 1982 when I did my last studio session with the band."


Les Claypool will be a keynote speaker next week at the CMJ music convention in New York, and also will perform with his band Frog Brigade on Saturday night, Nov. 2, in Times Square. His new album "Purple Onion" was released last week and debuted on the Billboard 200 and among the top 15 independent releases nationwide. "Purple Onion" is Claypool's first solo release after many years with Primus and other side projects."I'm really excited about this because it is my first solo recording and there's been an incredible response to it," said Claypool. "There are a lot of different variables that for me make it a very exciting record."


Da Phazz, Rachid Taha, Miro, Angelique Kidjo, The Soft Boys, Transglobal Underground, Khaled, Sparklehorse, The Gotan Project, Manu Chao, The Feelies and Charles Aznevour are among the artists who will appear on the soundtrack to "The Truth About Charlie," scheduled for release Oct. 22 on Epic Records. The impressive array of world music assembled on the album accompanies the Universal film, which is directed by Jonathan Demme. Music always has been central to the conception of Demme's films, and it plays a substantial role in setting the mood for "The Truth About Charlie."


New Orleans' Basin Street Records will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an all-star concert of local musicians Nov. 29 at the legendary Big Easy nightclub Tipitina's. The show will feature the great local trumpet star Kermit Ruffins and his band The Barbecue Swingers, pianist Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentleman and special guests Irvin Mayfield and Bill Summers of Los Hombres Calientes, Dr. Michael White, Victor Atkins, Edwin Livingston and Ricky Sebastian among others. Basin Street founder and president Mark Samuels has developed a handful of New Orleans artists, earned a Grammy nomination and won a Latin Grammy with an independent label with a roster that includes some of the most popular local New Orleans bands. Ruffins, whose "...Live" was the label's first release, has a new album, "Big Easy," which features guest appearances from Los Hombres Calientes' Bill Summers, Hammond B-3 master Davell Crawford, drummers Herlin Riley and Shannon Powell, and vocalist Juanita Brooks.


Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Gary Moore and Gary Brooker are among the all-star British cast collected for the excellent tribute album "From Clarksdale to Heaven: Remembering John Lee Hooker." This is the first of a two-volume tribute put together by Eagle records with help of Hooker's family. This first volume celebrates the influence Hooker had on the British musicians of the 1960s. These same British musicians reintroduced the blues to American audiences through their versions of songs by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and, of course, Hooker. In 1964 Eric Burdon and the Animals boys covered the Hooker classic "Boom Boom," outselling Hooker's original on the American pop charts. From his birth in the delta town of Clarksdale, Mississippi until his death on June 21, 2001, John Lee Hooker was both an inspiration and a musical god to musicians all over the planet. As a blues player, music, in the words of Robert Cray, "just came out of his soul. It was true soul music." Also included on the project is "I Wanna Hug You" from Hooker's daughter, Zakiya, backed by the legendary blues pianist Johnnie Johnson. The booklet for the album includes liner notes with unpublished family photos contributed by Zakiya. Hooker himself appears on the release with the never-before-released track of Jimi Hendrix's "Red House," which Hooker recorded in 1989 as part of a Hendrix tribute.


Led Zeppelin have denied reports they are to reunite for a tour in 2003. It had been rumored that the group were to reform and tour the US, with Jason Bonham standing in for his late father John on drums. According to the London Sunday Times, band members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had resolved their differences during a series of meetings at Page and Plant's management company, Trinifold. However, Trinifold partner Robert Rosenburg subsequently told the British Broadcasting Corp. newspaper reports were "completely speculative."

"We don't know where these stories are coming from," he said, "certainly not from our office. At this point there is no tour, nor any plans for one, and no discussion have taken place about a tour." Though guitarist Page and singer Plant have toured together in recent years, Led Zeppelin have not worked together as a group since the death of Bonham in 1980. Promoters are said to have offered the group "substantial sums" to reform.


ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard had an emergency appendectomy in Paris, but the show went on without him. The band played its scheduled Oct. 14 Paris date with drum tech John Douglas (Kik Tracee) on drums. It was the first show ZZ Top, which also includes guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill, has played in its 33-year career without its original lineup. "I really hate to miss a show, but we're lucky that John's available," Beard said in a statement. "I'll be back in there as soon as the doctors give me the OK."


Following the release of their sophomore album, "Trinity (Past, Present and Future)," Detroit hip-hop trio Slum Village will team up with Flowetry and India.Irie for a series of North American dates on the "Voyage to India" tour. Before they had released anything to the public, Slum Village already were heralded as the next generation of hip-hop torch-bearers by Q-Tip of Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and others. The trio entered the public eye in 1999 with the release of the acclaimed debut album "Fantastic, Vol. 2" followed up by "Trinity" in 2002. "Tainted", the first single off the new album was "Handpicked" on MTV2 and one of the top 10 most requested videos on BET's 106th and Park. The album's second single, "Disco (remix)," was produced by Timbaland and features Ms. Jade and Raje Shwari.


Indie label Slewfoot Records has announced a second edition of its "Slewfoot Cavalcade of Stars Tour," starring rocker Kristie Stremel, heartland roots kings The Morells and former Domino Kings bassist/singer Brian Capps, which will hit six Midwest markets in early November. The Morells will back both Stremel and Capps. The label's first Cavalcade Tour last year drew packed houses for a string of Eastern dates. All three acts will have new album releases coming from Slewfoot in the first quarter of 2003, which will be distributed by Southwest Wholesale as part of the new agreement between the two companies. Kristie Stremel's first CD, "All I Really Want" was the perfect showcase for the Kansas City-based singer/guitarist's brand of power pop laced with roots influences. A former member of the group Frogpond, Stremel later formed her own band, Exit 159, in 1997 and received several local awards for her subsequent seven-song extended play and full-length album. Since then, she's become one of the most highly touted singer/songwriters to emerge from the area. The Morells consist of bassist Lou Whitney, original members D. Clinton Thompson on guitar and Ron "Wrongo" Gremp, plus Dudley Brown on keyboards, The Morells' self-titled 2001 CD pulled influences - and some obscure songs - from a diverse pool of rockabilly, hillbilly boogie, honky-tonk, rhythm and blues and flat-out rock 'n' roll. Singer/bassist Brian Capps was a founding member of hard-core country band The Domino Kings, recording two albums with them before deciding to go solo. Capps wrote many of The Domino Kings' songs.


French electronic music trio Telepopmusik, whose hypnotic debut album "Genetic World" was released earlier this year, will provide the soundtrack to the launch television ad campaign for the Mitsubishi Outlander sport-utility vehicle with their debut single, "Breathe." Created by Deutsch LA as part of Mitsubishi's "Wake Up and Drive" campaign, the new spots are described by the agency as "a classic story of boy-meets-girl, boy-still-hangs-with-buddies, boy-sometimes-wears-drag, boy-gets-married, boy-has-daughter." The campaign comes on the heels of the recent Mitsubishi Eclipse campaign that featured the single "Days Go By" by U.K. dance trio Dirty Vegas. The commercial helped propel Dirty Vegas's debut album to a top-10 entry on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.


The Riverbabys won the 2002 Louisiana Blues Challenge Wednesday night at Grant Street Dancehall in Lafayette. The club hosted the challenge for the third year in a row. The Riverbabys competed against Shotgun House, Sonny Bourg and The Bayou Blues Band, DZ and Shades of Blue, The Reverend Ronnie Dixon, Mike Saucier and The Wine Alley Blues Band. The Riverbabys will represent Louisiana at the 19th International Blues Challenge in Memphis during BluesFirst Weekend in February 2003.


"Steal This Album," a collection of never-before-released original tracks from the vaults of multi-platinum recording artist System of a Down, is in the final stages of preparation. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and System's guitarist Daron Malakian, and currently is being mixed in Los Angeles by Andy Wallace (who mixed the "Toxicity" album). "We don't consider any of these songs B-sides or outtakes," said System vocalist Serj Tankian. "The songs that didn't make it onto 'Toxicity' are as good as, if not better than, the songs that did - they weren't originally included because they didn't fit the overall continuity of the album, and we're happy that our fans will be able to hear them in their completed form."

The final track listing for "Steal This Album" won't be determined until mixing has been completed. At least one acoustic song -- "Roulette," which Malakian began writing seven or eight years ago -- is planned and features only Tankian (vocals) and Malakian (vocals, guitar). In addition, various "interludes," intros that have been used on the band's tours, and other musical tidbits will be woven throughout the CD.

"This record is like a bridge between 'Toxicity' and our next studio record," explained Malakian. "It may give our fans a clue at the direction we're headed in musically."

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