Rock News Two: The week in pop music

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Nov. 9, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Eminem's Shady/Interscope soundtrack "8 Mile" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 this week, the second time the rap star has topped the Billboard album charts with a new release this year. "The Eminem Show" sold 1.32 million units in its first full week of release to debut at No. 1. "8 Mile" moved 702,000 units in its first week, but the numbers still were sufficient to top the charts and the album also yielded a No. 1 Hot 100 single, "Lose Yourself." Four other albums enjoyed top-10 debuts in this week's chart. Christina Aguilera checked in at No. 2 with "Stripped" (RCA) and the strength of 330,000 units. The Nirvana hits collection, "Nirvana," debuted at No. 3 and featured the No. 1 rock single, "You Know You're Right." Rascal Flatts debuted at No. 5 with "Melt," and "Scarlet's Walk," an ambitious album from Tori Amos that was prominently featured at the recent College Media Journal convention in New York, opened at No. 7. Last week's No. 1 debut, Santana's "Shaman," dropped to No. 4.


The New York Post reports federal prosecutors are investigating several major rap figures for criminal conspiracy and may expand the investigation to include last week's slayings in New York of pioneering DJ Jam Master Jay and rap promoter Kenneth Walker. Though local police officials say the two cases appear unrelated, the Post reports the feds are investigating them. "They look at all rapper-related cases, which is why they're going to be looking at these two," a law enforcement source told The Post. The article maintains the feds are looking at links between rapper-related crimes, including homicides in the Bronx and New Jersey, and shootings, assaults and extortion in New York. "We started looking at different crimes, and it just started to snowball," the source told The Post. "A lot of the same names were overlapping in different crimes."


Howard Stern has secured the remake rights to "Rock 'N' Roll High School" and "Porky's." Stern currently is looking for writers to update the scripts on these raunchy comedies and he plans to act as executive producer for the films, which he will develop and then shop to major studios. "If I say to an audience, particularly my audience, this is 'Howard Stern Presents,' it means something to them," Stern told the Hollywood Reporter. "It means that it's going to be crazy. It means that it's going to be different, and they know I'm not going to be giving them any schlock." "Rock 'N' Roll High School" featured punk rock pioneers the Ramones as characters. "The musical aspect of it turns me on," Stern said. "It would be really interesting to take an unknown band and put them in it and see where it goes. So it could go either way. But right now, I'm leaning toward an established band."


Paul McCartney finished his 50-date North American tour last week with a bang, grossing in the neighborhood of $100 million, which is likely to make it the biggest money maker of the year, averaging around $2 million a show. "Nobody goes out (on tour) to lose money, but the main thing is the audiences are having fun," McCartney tells Billboard in the Saturday issue. "In some ways, (the response) has reminded me of the early Beatles tours." McCartney broke the tour into two parts, a spring and fall leg. "This tour (was) the ideal size," said the former Beatle. "After the first leg, we said, 'What we need is a nice holiday,' so we took some time off; I got married (to Heather Mills) and had my honeymoon -- a wonderful time."

McCartney's band for the tour included Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards, guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist Brian Ray, and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. The shows balanced material from the Beatles, Wings and McCartney solo projects. "I've played with most of these guys before, and we have a nice selection of songs," McCartney said. "This band has really taken off."


Guitarist Joe Satriani began a tour in support of his latest album, "Strange Beautiful Music," last weekend in San Francisco. The tour will continue until mid-December when it wraps up in Michigan. Satriani, who first gained commercial success in 1987 with the album "Surfing With The Alien," has sold 7 million albums worldwide. In August Satriani was named the sixth-greatest guitarist of all time by English guitar magazine, Total Guitar, finishing behind Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.


Alanis Morissette is set to release a CD/DVD, "Feast on Scraps" Dec. 10 on Maverick/Warner Bros. records. The new album will consist of live concert video footage and out-takes from her last album, "Under Rug Swept." The DVD concert material was recorded Aug. 13 in Rotterdam, Holland, and includes songs spanning Morissette's career --"Ironic," "Thank U," "You Oughta Know," "Hand in My Pocket," and "21 Things I Want In a Lover." The video also includes backstage footage and a look at the making of "Under Rug Swept." The bonus CD features eight songs from the "Under Rug Swept" sessions, including "Sister Blister" and "Sorry to Myself," which were included as bonus tracks on the Japanese release. "Unprodigal Daughter" and "Purgatorying" are both included as out-takes and in live performance, and the single "Hands Clean" appears in an acoustic version.


Spin Magazine tries to make a case for Eminem as his generation's version of John Lennon in its upcoming Eminem cover story. The case? Lennon and Eminem were both subjects of pickets and protests. They both wrote songs about troubled relationships with their mothers. They both wrote about their strange public lives with their wives. They both wrote about how much they loved their kids. Few other pop musicians since Lennon have found a way to render their private psychodramas into compelling art as effectively as Eminem, Spin maintains. The dyspeptic rapper approves of the comparison. "I would rather have that than Elvis," Eminem philosophizes in the piece. "I hope I don't ever get killed by a fan like that, though." Of course, he could always opt for being his generation's Kurt Cobain. One glaring omission from the Spin story was a lack of explanation for Eminem's irrational fear of Triumph, the insult comic dog.


Rock Espanol pioneers Jaguares, fresh from the success of their cross-cultural breakthrough Revolución Tour with Morrissey, have a new album, "El Primer Instinto" (BMG U.S. Latin), and appear on the cover of the debut issue of Rolling Stone Mexico. The album earned "Hot Shot Debut" status on Billboard's Top Latin Albums Chart with its debut at No. 2. "El Primer Instinto (The First Instinct)" features acoustic versions of the band's best-known material and two new pieces, "No Importa (It Doesn't Matter)" and "Arriesgate (Take A Risk)." The first U.S. single from the album is "Te Lo Pido, Por Favor (I Ask You, Please)," a re-working of the Juan Gabriel classic. The inspiration for including the track was sparked by a tribute concert last year in which Juan Gabriel and numerous Latin superstars -- such as Jaguares, Ana Gabriel, Alejandro Fernandez and Alejandra Guzmán -- each performed a Juan Gabriel song. Jaguares also invited numerous guest musicians to join them on "El Primer Instinto." Los Lobos' David Hidalgo appears on "La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)" and "La Vida No Es Igual (Life Is Not The Same)." Jimmy "Z" Zavala -- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Eurythmics, Slash's Snakepit, Rita Coolidge -- plays harmonica on "Te Lo Pido, Por Favor" and saxophone on "Imagíname (Imagine Me)" and "Viento (Wind)."


The American debut of the Anuna holiday show will take place Dec. 16 at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York. The troupe, which includes 16 singers and five dancers, is the original Riverdance Choir. Anuna was founded in 1987 by Dublin composer Michael McGlynn to explore and redefine the music of the ancient Celts. The group's name derives from the Irish concept of An Uaithne, which collectively describes the three ancient types of Celtic music: Suantraí (lullaby), Geantraí (happy song) and Goltraí (lament). Under the direction of McGlynn, the group has produced 10 studio albums and has performed with Elvis Costello, Sting, Michael Crawford, the Chieftains, Jeff Buckley, Sinéad O'Connor and Andrea Corr. The performance will feature music from the new album, "Winter Songs," scheduled for release Nov. 19.


Tickets for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's shows in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Ludwigshafen and Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and Vienna have just gone on sale and more 2003 European dates are to be announced. These concerts follow the success of the band's most recent European trip, which began Oct. 14 in Paris and ended at London's Wembley Arena Oct. 27. Selling out immediately, the October shows inspired raves from the European media and cheers from fans. The Barcelona concert aired live on MTV Europe and VH-1 UK, reaching more than 127 million homes. The commercial-free broadcast, with a one-hour backstage special airing in advance, was an unprecedented European TV event. Springsteen's "The Rising" album has been certified Gold in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, India and Australia. It is certified Platinum in Poland, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Norway and Canada, as well as double-Platinum in the United States. "The Rising," Springsteen's first album of new songs with the E Street Band since 1984, debuted at No. 1 on the album charts in 11 different countries, including the United States. The band returned to the States Nov. 3 with a show in Dallas.


Lonnie Donegan, the king of skiffle who influenced a generation of British musicians from John Lennon to Van Morrison, died at age 71 Sunday during a tour of England. Donegan's simple, rhythmic style was adapted from American jug band and folk music of the 1930s, and yielded such memorable hits as "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (on the Bedpost Overnight)" and "Rock Island Line." His influence has continued subtly over the years, inspiring groups like Mungo Jerry ("In the Summertime") in the late 1960s. Even contemporary musicians such as New Orleans' talented Mike West cite Donegan as a central influence. Donegan made two albums with popular musicians who were influenced by him. In 1978 "Puttin' On the Style" featured Ringo Starr, Elton John and Brian May. In 2000, Morrison and Donegan released a live collaboration, "The Skiffle Sessions."


Arista recording artist Avril Lavigne received a belated birthday present with the news that "Complicated," the debut single from her 3 million-selling debut album "Let Go," has set a new record for a female artist, logging 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 chart and surpassing Natalie Imbruglia's near 4-year-old record of 14 weeks for "Torn." Lavigne, 18, will headline the first major benefit date of her career on Nov. 18, the annual awards dinner for PENCIL -- Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning -- the New York City organization known for its flagship Principal For A Day program. Tuesday night Lavigne performed at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City at Teen People magazine's fourth annual "What's Next" issue along with Justin Timberlake, Mario, Dirty Vegas, Cam'ron and others.


The California Guitar Trio released its all-instrumental holiday CD "A Christmas Album" this week on InsideOut Music America. Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya initially made the CD available last year only on its Web site during its concerts. The title was changed to "A Christmas Album" for the current release. "Fans and friends had suggested over the years that we record a Christmas album, but we'd never even performed traditional Christmas music at any of our concerts," said Richards. "I think people just thought it would be an interesting thing for us to do. Then about a year ago, we got a call from a music agency that was looking for Christmas music for a Coca-Cola television commercial. Somebody from the agency had seen us play live in Los Angeles and thought we'd be a good choice to submit some music. We received good money just for the submission only, whether or not they decided to use what we did for the commercial." None of the group's submissions were chosen for the commercial but the experience inspired them to record a full album of holiday music. "We used the money we received from the Coca-Cola commercial submission to finance the recording of the album," Richards said.


The CMJ convention wrapped up in New York over the weekend with a healthy dose of Les Claypool. The Primus founder and rock innovator gave a lively keynote speech Saturday to the DIY section of the seminar, then performed with his band Frog Brigade later that night. "Depending on what you want, being tied to a major label can be more of a hindrance than a help," he told a packed crowd of young musicians at the conference. "If you sound like Stone Temple Pilots or Korn, a major label is a good place to be. Get a good lawyer and in 10 years your career will be over. If you sound different, you want to be on an independent label." Claypool used his own experience as a guide, describing how he built Primus up from scratch, then abandoned that group for other projects when he felt it was getting too predictable. "It's harder to do commercial radio and TV that way," said Claypool, "but at this point in my career I'm not looking for that anyway." Claypool concluded "touring is the key to it all, especially now with the Internet and the new jam band audience out there."


Singer-songwriter Paul Simon has a new greatest hits collection, "The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Goin'," just out on Warner Bros. The set features 19 Simon singles and album tracks released by Columbia and Warner Bros. from 1972-2000. The classic tunes include "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard," "Kodachrome," "Loves Me Like A Rock," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "Slip Slidin' Away," "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," "You Can Call Me Al" and "Graceland." Also included are two tracks from Simon's "You're The One" album, "Love" and "Hurricane Eye." The package also includes a limited-edition bonus disc featuring five previously unreleased live tracks -- "American Tune" (recorded in New York City, 1973) "Duncan" (recorded in London, 1973), "The Coast" (recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, 2002), "Mrs. Robinson" (recorded in New York City, 1999), and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with Aaron Neville (recorded in New Orleans, 2001).

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