Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Oct. 26, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Australian rockers The Vines, whose debut album "Highly Evolved" has been certified gold, will headline the MTV2 Handpicked Tour, a companion tour to the "MTV2 Handpicked Vol. II" enhanced CD. U.K. quartet The Music, whose debut album will be released in the United States in early 2003, will support on all dates. The Vines, who have gone from small clubs in their native Australia to the cover of Rolling Stone's "Rock is Back!" issue in less than a year, have claimed the hearts of U.S. rock fans since the first blistering chords of their debut single, "Get Free," now a modern rock radio mainstay and MTV2 Handpicked video. The MTV2 Handpicked Vol. II enhanced CD, arriving in stores this week, features 14 tracks and three video clips from an extraordinary roster of fast-breaking MTV2 artists including The Vines, The Music, Coldplay, OK Go, Doves, Norah Jones and many others. The release officially was launched with a 30-minute MTV2 special.


Radiohead was named "best act in the world today" for the second year in a row at the 13th annual Q Awards, held earlier this week in London. Coldplay won the best album award for "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (Parlophone); the best single award went to Sugababes for "Freak Like Me" (Universal Island). Pink won the best video award for "Get the Party Started" (Arista), Depeche Mode was given an innovation award, and Moby was named best producer. Electric Soft Parade won best new act honors, Tom Jones received the merit award, Echo and the Bunnymen were given the inspiration award, and Jimmy Cliff was presented with the classic songwriter accolade. Swedish rockers the Hives were named best live act. Readers of Q magazine voted on most of the awards, with some chosen by a panel assembled by the publication.


Sean "Puffy" Combs is planning a five-day party to celebrate his 33rd birthday, The New York Post reports. Puffy, who turns 33 Nov. 4, plans to charter jet his partymates to Marrakech, Morocco, for the fete. "A friend of Puffy's is paying for it all," the Post's spy reports. "He is renting out two jumbo jets, one from Paris, one from New York, that will bring everyone to Marrakech. It will be just a wild, wild week."


Audioslave, the new configuration of Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk, Tom Morello, and Tim Commerford and Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell, has written and recorded a pair of songs with rapper DMX, reports. Commerford says one of the two collaborations with DMX is a pairing of the rapper and all four band members, while the other is a leftover track for which Cornell has not yet written lyrics. A DMX spokesperson says one of the songs is slated to show up in the forthcoming DMX/Jet Li film "Cradle to the Grave," the soundtrack for which should arrive in January or February on DMX's Bloodline label. Commerford said one cut was slated to appear on the Island soundtrack for the upcoming "Jackass" movie but was pulled from the project. "It's so good," the bassist said, noting he's not sure where and when it eventually will show up. "It's such a great song that we can't put it out now because it'll get too much attention."


Todd Rundgren and Sanctuary Records have a long-term arrangement to release a number of albums culled from the legendary musician's personal bootleg collection, beginning with "Live At The Forum '94," which arrived in stores Sept. 24. Under this deal, Rundgren will supply Sanctuary Records with audio and video recordings that reflect 35 years of his career, including his solo work, as well as his years spent in the rock groups Nazz and Utopia. Sanctuary will then compile the material into a series of albums and concert DVDs to be released throughout the next year, including Utopia's "KSAN '79" and Nazz' "Anthology." "Live At The Forum '94" was recorded in England in North London's famous venue, The Forum. Rundgren runs through a set list that includes his legendary 1988 hit "Bang The Drum All Day," "Love of the Common Man" and selections from his 1994 album "No World Order," the world's first audio-only interactive CD-ROM. Through his partnership with Sanctuary Records, Rundgren will personally approve and endorse all albums and longform concert videos by both Rundgren and Utopia.


Kittie will release "Safe," a seven-song extended play featuring live tracks and remixes of the title song by KMFDM's Sascha Konietzko, Nov. 9. The original version of "Safe" appeared on Kittie's "Oracle" album. "I am totally into doing this remix for Kittie," said Konietzko. "My own project, KMFDM, has a long-standing history of combining hard music and female vocals, therefore this stuff is right up my alley ... and the kids just love it!" The five live tracks were recorded at the House of Blues in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 12. "This show was our first on the West Coast with our new lineup," said guitarist/vocalist Morgan Lander. "The fans were just great and their energy so high, we had no choice but to kick ass for them in appreciation." The EP also includes bonus live footage of "Wolves," "Mouthful of Poison," and "Charlotte" filmed Aug. 13 at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood.


Gospel supergroup The Blind Boys of Alabama, who collaborated with Peter Gabriel on two songs from his new album "Up," have been asked by Gabriel to join him on his North American tour, which starts Nov. 12. The hippest septuagenarians on the planet, the Blind Boys are known for their exultant, energetic live shows. Before hitting the road with Gabriel, the Blind Boys will make two national television appearances. They'll perform a song from their new album "Higher Ground" on the "Late Show with David Letterman" Nov. 6, and will be featured on a segment hosted by Dan Rather on CBS's "60 Minutes II." The Blind Boys also are connecting with the jam band crowd. They recently appeared at the Jammy Awards, and their version of "Amazing Grace" (from the Grammy-winning album "Spirit of the Century") closes out the double-disc set from the inaugural Bonarroo festival. Their performance of the song can also be seen on the festival DVD release, out next week.


British rockers Oasis canceled a concert in Manila due to recent terrorist attacks. A spokesperson pointed to "recent terrorist attacks both in Bali and the Philippines" as the reason. The band was scheduled to play Wednesday in the Philippine capital but did not want to perform under the "extreme security precautions." Ten people have been killed and almost 200 wounded in bombings in Manila and the southern city of Zamboanga. An Oct. 12 bomb attack at a nightclub in Bali in Indonesia killed more than 180 people. Oasis is on a tour of the Far East to promote its latest album, "Heathen Chemistry." The show scheduled for Saturday in Singapore is the final date on the Far East leg. The band plans to embark on a European tour beginning Nov. 13-14 in Glasgow, Scotland, and running until Dec. 18-19 in Birmingham, England.


Kurt Cobain's sensational last letter to his fans, among the documents published this week by Newsweek as part of his newly released diaries, reveals his thinking behind the decision to commit suicide. The Nirvana frontman wrote about his addiction in the diaries, to be published Nov. 4 by Riverhead Books as "Journals." The letter was written in 1992 after Cobain returned from drug rehab and it describes how he turned to heroin to deal with an "uncomfortable stomach condition." "So after protein drinks, becoming a vegetarian, exercise, stopping smoking, and doctor after doctor I decided to relieve my pain with small doses of heroine (sic) for a walloping three whole weeks," wrote Cobain. "It served as a Band-Aid for a while but then the pain came back so I quit. It was a stupid thing to do and Ill never do it again and I feel real sorry for anyone who thinks they can use heroine as a medicine because, um, duh, it don't work." Yet an autopsy revealed Cobain had heroin in his bloodstream following his April 1994 suicide. Cobain's greatest fear, according to the letter, was being perceived as an old rock star. At the end of the letter he wrote: "Hope I die before I turn into Pete Townshend."


Capitol Records, whose inaugural batch of 78 shellac records was released by its founding partners Johnny Mercer, Glenn Wallichs and Buddy DeSylva in the summer of 1942, will celebrate its 60th anniversary with the release of "Capitol Records: 1942-2002," hitting stores soon. The digitally remastered 96-track, six-CD boxed set pays tribute to the defining artists of popular music history -- from Stan Kenton, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra to Peggy Lee, the Kingston Trio and the Beach Boys; from the Beatles (the first time their music has ever been included on a multi-artist compilation), the solo careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, the Band and Pink Floyd to Merle Haggard and Duran Duran; from Bonnie Raitt, Everclear and Garth Brooks to Kylie Minogue, Radiohead, Coldplay and The Vines. The box set is being released in two versions. The deluxe version is packaged in a 10-by-10-inch box with a full-size, 144-page clothbound "coffee table" collector's volume of classic artist photographs. The special version is in a "brick" format, with a smaller 72-page photograph booklet. Both boxed set versions contain the same CDs, along with booklets containing extensive discography information, including many track annotations that have been compiled for the very first time.


Superb Records, a Los Angeles-based record label, has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with book publisher Wiley Publishing Inc. for the rights to release audio compilations marketed with the "Music For Dummies" trademark. Under the pact, Superb Records will produce and release CDs in a wide array of musical formats, including rock, soul, hip hop, jazz, blues, and electronica. Each CD will be comprised of chart-topping hits with CD cover art that will emulate the distinctive yellow and black "For Dummies" cover design. Superb Records plans to release 20 compilations over the next 18 to 24 months. Initial titles include "70's Soul For Dummies," "Disco For Dummies," "80's Pop For Dummies," "Nu Soul Divas For Dummies" and "Classic Rock For Dummies." Release dates will be announced soon.


Dana Glover's "Testimony," just out on DreamWorks records, is an impressive debut. After years paying her dues in North Carolina, New York and Nashville, the gospel and soul-influenced singer/songwriter found her niche in Los Angeles, where she soon was discovered by DreamWorks executive Robbie Robertson. "I wasn't fully aware of who Robbie was," Glover admitted. "I knew his songs from The Band but didn't put it all together. It helped that I didn't realize it because I got to know him on my own without being intimidated. And because he's an artist himself, he knew how important it was for me to find my own voice." Robertson was intrigued by Glover's songwriting. One of the most impressive songs on the album, "Cherish," was written in response to several numbing public tragedies. "This was inspired by the Columbine shootings," she said, "but we started the vocals on Sept. 12. It was really something. I was singing the words and in the room right beside us the TV was going. They were talking about the shock of the towers coming down. As much as the lyrics can be very serious, I wanted them to somehow be uplifting at the same time. So I'm saying, 'Yes, you don't know when things are going to change. So cherish every moment. Hold on to the ones you love -- they're gone in the twinklin'.' I try really hard to live that way."


Michael Bloomfield, the guitar hero who made his mark with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and "Super Session" with Al Kooper, is well-served on the outstanding tribute album, "In Memory of Michael Bloomfield." Recorded by the Ford Blues Band and augmented by guitarist Robben Ford and Chris Cain, the album follows last year's excellent Butterfield tribute from the Ford band. "We gave it our best shot," said group leader MarK Ford, "and we feel very proud of it. After all these years it was such a joy to find ourselves making these last two CDs. We were playing some of those songs that used to make us laugh and cry and to wonder at the greatness of these two incredible men and the musicians who worked with them." The record intersperses interview segments, in which Bloomfield talked about his life, with versions of "Killing My Love," "Stop," "I Got A Mind To Give Up Living," "Peter's Trip" and "Blues With A Feeling," among other tracks.


Los Angeles punk band Savage Republic has confirmed a series of reunion tour dates in November after a 13 year break since their last live appearance in 1989. Band members Ethan Port, Bruce Licher, Thom Fuhrmann, Greg Grunke and Robert Loveless will be joined by drummer Joel Connell for dates in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Brooklyn, New York and Chicago. "Savage Republic is a band that has always worked outside of the mainstream," said guitarist/percussionist and Mobilization Records co-founder Ethan Port. "When Mobilization Recordings completed the arduous process of putting the Savage Republic studio recordings back into print, we discovered that there was not only a willingness to play live again but there was also a genuine need to play alongside one another again. However, this is a one-time only event and we have no plans to reform."


British dance music pioneers Soft Cell have announced their first U.S. tour in 18 years. The duo of vocalist Marc Almond and synthesizer master Dave Ball will play 11 dates across the United States beginning Nov. 30 at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. Their only previous American trek ended in 1984, though the band turned in a spirited performance on the "Today Show's" Summer Concert Series this past July. Almond and Ball will perform songs from their spinART/Cooking Vinyl release "Cruelty Without Beauty." The record is currently available with a free bonus CD containing three versions of the single "Monoculture" remixed by Jan Driver, Playgroup and Antoine 909 and Oggie B, respectively, as well as the complete "Monoculture" music video. The "Monoculture" remixes also are to be released on 12-inch vinyl Nov. 5. Soft Cell's hits from the early 1980s also will be on the set list, including the No. 1 hit medley, "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go."


RebbeSoul is set to release "Change The World With A Sound" on 33rd Street Records in plenty of time for Hanukkah, which begins Nov. 29. RebbeSoul just returned home to Oakland, Calif., from performing in Israel as part of a concert tour of villages racked by terrorist bombings. "Change the World..." is progressive rock and world music, with a funky Middle Eastern groove, based on traditional Jewish melodies.


Continuing their annual tradition of unpredictable New York Halloween performances, Medeski Martin and Wood will once again play in their home city -- this time at the Hammerstein Ballroom -- on Thursday, Oct. 31. The show marks the band's first major New York City appearance since the release of their 10th studio album, "Uninvisible." DJ Spooky's Optometry Project and Smokey Hormel (Tom Waits, Beck) and Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto, Gorillaz) will open the show.

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