Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Dec. 21, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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The New York Post reports recent videos by Busta Rhymes and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs have prompted the music video giant to review its product placement policy. The Post reports the Viacom-owned network has issued new internal guidelines cracking down on product placement by artists with a financial interest in the products. The recent videos that sparked the review are Rhymes' "Pass the Courvoisier" and a Combs video that prominently displays the rapper's Sean John line of clothing. "We are taking a look at our policy on product placement because it is an issue that has become more important over the broadcast landscape," the Post quoted MTV spokesperson Jeannie Kedas as saying. "We're just taking a look at the entire landscape right now, and we're talking to labels, the artists and even viewers about this."


Popular New Orleans rockers the Iguanas will visit Cuba with a group of fans as part of the Adventures In Rock series. The innovative music-related travel agents already have taken fans to Paris and New Orleans to see such events as the Voodoo Festival and the Rolling Stones "Forty Licks" tour, but this is the first time the destination and the band are packaged together exclusively. The Iguanas and fans are taking a chartered jet to Cuba, where the band will jam with Mezcla -- a favorite of Carlos Santana -- and meet with local artisans and musicians. The trip, from Jan. 3-11, 2003, costs $3,250 per person and includes round trip airfare to Havana from Miami, eight nights of accommodations and most meals. More information can be found at


The hot young rock band 4 Way Street electrified a crowd at New York's Bitter End this week with a terrific set featuring material from their upcoming self-titled debut (Jan. 28, 2003, Sliced Bread Records/City Hall). Combining close four-part vocal harmonies with a songwriting aesthetic both timeless and unmistakably modern, Philadelphia's 4 Way Street joins an uncanny pop sensibility with deep roots in folk and rock music to create a sound all its own. Each member contributes equally to the band's distinctive sound, sharing lead vocal and songwriting talents equally across a wide range of new material. For an encore the band played an incredible version of the Darlene Love classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" from "Phil Spector's Christmas Album."


The hard rocking Texas trio Reverend Horton Heat, led by the reverend of the same name, has announced a special live recording of the band's upcoming House of Blues/Hollywood shows Jan. 3-4, 2003, which will be released in 2003 as its first-ever official live album. The band also announced a special low-ticket price for both shows of only $10. In addition, anyone who presents a ticket stub from Reverend Horton Heat's New Year's Eve show at the House of Blues in Anaheim can get in free. With Heat on lead vocals and guitar, Jimbo Wallace on doghouse bass and Scott Churilla on drums, the Reverend Horton Heat continues its endless tour of the country in support of the band's latest CD, "Lucky 7." On this current tour, the Reverend Horton Heat also continues a practice established several years ago of playing multiple dates at smaller venues in as many markets as possible, bringing a special up-close and personal feel to their barn-burning live shows.


Moby recently vacated his Los Angeles hotel when he discovered that arch-rival Eminem and his entourage were staying there. "Eminem is in my hotel shooting a music video," Moby complained to fans on his Web site. "So in the interest of personal security and whatnot I've moved hotels, just to be on the safe side. 'Cos then I find out that Eminem is having a party on the roof of said hotel after the video shoot is over. And I really don't want to encounter 20 drunk Eminem friends/well-wishers at 2 in the morning as I'm heading out for a stroll around the neighborhood. Call me paranoid, call me a woosie, but I'd rather err on the side of non-confrontationalism."


Grammy-award winning artist Shakira and her foundation Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) and The Reebok Human Rights Program announced they will partner in a year-long project to distribute l0,000 pairs of Reebok shoes to Colombia's neediest children, beginning this week in Shakira's hometown of Barranquilla. The distribution program starts at Escuela San Vicente de Paul, one of the neediest schools in Barranquilla. The balance of the shoes will be distributed early next year. In conflict-torn Colombia, 7.5 million children live in dire poverty. Many suffer from untreated diseases and others have been left orphaned by the hostilities. The plight of these children motivated Shakira to create Pies Descalzos several years ago. It supports hospitals, educational opportunities and community programs that provide a range of outreach, support and other necessary services to benefit children.


The original Tipitina's, New Orleans' historic music venue, will celebrate its silver anniversary with the 25th Anniversary Series, Jan. 15-25, 2003, featuring a spectacular array of musical talent. Tipitina's is internationally recognized as a music shrine, a must-see destination by music devotees, and a catalyst for the New Orleans music tradition. The club's 1977 genesis gave rise to a fertile period in New Orleans music history by providing a venue for established artists to perform, such as Professor Longhair, the Meters, Allen Toussaint and James Booker. The club also served as a starting point for seminal groups like the Neville Brothers, Cowboy Mouth, and Better than Ezra. Tip's will host an ambitious 10-day series of special performances. The Founder's Ball, to be held Jan. 17, will honor the 14 individuals who created the club. The event's all-star group will feature Dr. John and a legendary New Orleans rhythm section -- Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Ivan Neville (Neville Brothers, Keith Richards), George Porter Jr. (Meters, Gov't Mule), and Stanton Moore (Galactic). The series will culminate with a pair of shows to celebrate the Radiators 25th Anniversary on Jan. 24 and 25. The 25th Anniversary Series will pay homage to the club's history and serve as a grand musical thank you to all the musicians, staff, and patrons that have made Tipitina's the soul of New Orleans music.


Fans of Sir Paul McCartney are in for a special bonus Monday when Capitol records launches a special Web site only available to those who've already purchased Macca's "Back in the U.S." concert video. The site, which only can be accessed through the concert DVD disc itself, presents 30 additional minutes of performance footage plus backstage outtakes not featured on "Back in the U.S." The McCartney DVD set records for highest single-week sales and highest debut sales of a music DVD when it moved 61,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The companion McCartney CD sold 224,000 copies to debut last week at No. 8 on The Billboard 200. "The album, DVD and this secret Web site are a constant memory of the tour with a built-in ticket to the future," McCartney said in a statement. "We couldn't get everything into the DVD feature and the (ABC) television special, so the idea to be able to give both PC and Apple users a 'secret' concert and more of the backstage footage is just fantastic to me."


Sugar Hill Records will release "Crazy: The Demo Sessions" by Willie Nelson Feb. 11, 2003. The digitally restored and re-mastered collection includes eight previously unreleased recordings, including one newly discovered Nelson composition called "I'm Still Here." Seven tracks are rare demos released on compilations and bootlegs but never properly identified as original demos. They include "Three Days," "I've Just Destroyed The World," and the version of "Crazy" pitched to Patsy Cline in 1961. The sessions, recorded in the 1960s for Hal Smith and Ray Price's publishing company Pamper Music, offer a firsthand look at Nelson's singular artistic vision and serve as a vital missing link between the era of the polished "Nashville sound" of his early 1960s albums and his breakthrough album "Red Headed Stranger" in 1975. "As a producer, I've listened to countless song demos, but these tapes were like nothing I've heard before," said producer Steve Fishell. "Within 15 minutes I found myself reaching in the refrigerator for a cold beer. The demos show us that Willie had his unique sound as early as 1960, but it took 15 years for the world to catch up with him."


Rosanne Cash will release her first studio album in 10 years, "Rules of Travel," March 25, 2003, on Capitol Records. Cash wrote or co-wrote eight of the 11 songs on "Rules of Travel," which also features writing contributions from John Leventhal, Marc Cohn, Jakob Dylan and Joe Henry. Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle and Teddy Thompson lend their vocals to several songs, and Johnny Cash performs an unprecedented duet with his daughter. "Rules Of Travel" almost did not get made. While beginning work on the record in 1998, Cash suddenly lost her voice and was unable to sing for more than two years. Autumn of 2000 brought encouraging signs and, after much work with a voice therapist, Cash was able to successfully resume work on the album. "It was such a revelation losing my voice, and getting it back," Cash said. "I feel a lot of passion about singing, and a lot less fear." "Rules of Travel" was recorded at 12th Street Studio, Sear Sound and New York Noise in New York City and was produced by John Leventhal (Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, Joan Osborne). A Grammy award winning singer and songwriter, Cash has released 10 albums over the past 20 years and charted 11 No. 1 singles.


New York-based Easy Star records has released a reggae tribute to Pink Floyd's classic rock album, "Dark Side of the Moon," titled "Dub Side of the Moon." The Pink Floyd album is reimagined by the label's in-house producers, Michael G and Ticklah, a.k.a. The Easy Star All-Stars. The scheduled Feb. 18, 2003, release of "Dub Side..." coincides with the 30th anniversary of the release of the album that inspired it. "We're hoping it will be an introduction to reggae for a lot of people," said Michael G. "We didn't have to compromise ourselves at all. We took the source material very seriously, and we were careful to respect the integrity of these songs, as Pink Floyd had written them. But we found that they lent themselves to this process, and the more we explored, the more possibilities opened up." Michael G and Ticklah first set plans for the album in motion, with the help of other Easy Star co-founders Lem Oppenheimer, Eric Smith and Remy Gerstein, more than three years ago. Since then, they've recorded at several different studios and enlisted scores of guest vocalists, including roots/blues artist Corey Harris, dancehall veteran Frankie Paul, current Wailers singer Gary "Nesta" Pine, harmony trio The Meditations, electronic artist Dr. Israel, legendary toaster Ranking Joe, and frequent Easy Star contributor Sluggy Ranks. On the instrumental side, the album features members of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, The Soul Providers, The Dap-Kings, The Daktaris, Roots Combination, King Chango, and Tru Mystic Sound System, among others.


Recorded in a box-sized bedroom, mellowdrone's "a demonstration of intellectual property" testifies to how much mileage one artist can get from budget gear, hard work, and a sprinkle of genius. This six-song extended play, originally made available by mellowdrone -- aka Jonathan Bates -- last February and remastered for an April 1, 2003, release on ARTISTdirect Records, marshals enigmatic lyrics, massed harmonies, searing dissonance, a rhythm track sketched by the artist's voice and fleshed out by vivid drum samples, textures that float like clouds and slash like hurricanes -- all as a self-portrait intended to reveal Bates as, in his words, "a sarcastic little bitch." From the simplicity of the two-chord instrumental track "tiny little" to "bitelip," a meditation on death that opens in a state of fragile sorrow and ends in a convulsion of furious agony, "a demonstration of intellectual property" will challenge skeptics of lo-fi production.


Burrito Deluxe, a band that features legends Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Garth Hudson, Tommy Spurlock and Carlton Moody alongside newcomer Willie Watson, will release its debut album "Georgia Peach" (Lamon Records, distributed by Redeye Distribution) Feb. 28, 2003. Among the album's special guests are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, former Flying Burrito Brother Gib Guilbeau and Barry Bales of Alison Krauss and Union Station. "Georgia Peach" derives its name from another GP -- the late, legendary Gram Parsons, nicknamed the "Georgia Peach" -- with whom Sneaky Pete played in the Flying Burrito Brothers. Spurlock frequently accompanied the band on their Los Angeles dates. Burrito Deluxe culled its band name from the title of the Flying Burrito Brothers' second album. The band's tri-generational makeup illustrates the depth of Gram Parsons' influence on contemporary music of the past three decades.


"The Power To Believe," the first full-length King Crimson album in three years, features a lineup of guitarist Robert Fripp, vocalist/guitarist Adrian Belew, Warr guitarist/rubber bass guitarist Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto. Fripp originally formed the group in 1969. Mastelotto said much of the material on "The Power to Believe" evolved on the band's last tour before it was recorded in the summer of 2002. "We did things differently this time in that we actually went in to a real studio -- The Tracking Room in Nashville -- to record most of this new album, other than the drum tracks we did at my studio. And we also brought in producer Machine (White Zombie, Pitchshifter) for assistance," he said. "Robert considers an album to be the end of a chapter and a tour to be the start of a chapter, which is the opposite way most musicians work. The songs are worked out and perfected on tour before they are recorded for an album. A lot of times music is about finding an atmosphere, which has to set the music up. There's a mystery to music, and that's what gives you goosebumps." King Crimson, which recently expanded its fan base by touring with disciples Tool, will hit the concert trail again in 2003 to promote the album.


Virtuoso roots guitarist Deke Dickerson has a new album, "Deke Dickerson in Three Dimensions," scheduled for a February release. On the record Dickerson draws from virtually every 20th century musical genre: country, rhythm and blues, western swing, rockabilly, surf instrumentals, ghostly ballads, and pedal-to-the-metal rock 'n' roll. "Someone once told me that because I'm a Gemini, I'd never be satisfied playing just one kind of music," Dickerson said, "and whether or not that's the reason, it's true that I love just about every form of American music, and I try to incorporate elements of them all into my presentation." The album is broken up into three separate sections labeled "Rock 'n' Roll," "Rockabilly," and "Hillbilly." The "Rock 'n' Roll" session was centered around legendary New Orleans session drummer Earl Palmer, who played on thousands of hit records by such diverse artists as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Richie Valens, Eddie Cochran, and even the Beach Boys and Willie Nelson. "Earl brought that funky New Orleans rock 'n' roll vibe with him into the studio," Dickerson said, "and everybody else just fell in around him. Playing with Earl was as effortless as riding a magic carpet. It was incredible working with the greatest rock 'n' roll drummer who ever lived!"


Pianist Omar Sosa has a new album, "Ayaguna," ready for release in February on OTA Records. The recording consists of live duet performances with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. These two kindred spirits have been performing together since 1999, delighting audiences throughout Europe, Japan and the United States with their inspired musical chemistry and creativity. "Ayaguna" was recorded at Motion Blue in Yokohama, Japan. The intimate duo setting allows Omar to exult freely and passionately at the piano, moving with ease from intensive groove patterns to delicate, balladic modes of expression. The performance is enhanced by the live interaction of the Motion Blue sound engineer, who provides an undulating dimension of audio effects throughout the concert. While the various sound effects interact with the piano performance, the percussion accompaniment by Ovalles provides a steady base for the aural feast. Ovalles is featured on a number of interesting Venezuelan percussion instruments, including quitiplas and culo'e puya, as well as congas, bongo, maracas, guiro, snare and cymbals. The title is taken from Ifa, the religious practice of the Yoruba culture of West Africa, and its New World offspring in Cuba, Santeria. Ayaguna is one of the paths of Obatala, the deity of peace and wisdom, albeit a path of Obatala as a young and fierce warrior, for whom revolution is a necessary part of change and progress.

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