Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Feb. 1, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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Sharon Osbourne had been a music industry icon long before her family shot to fame via MTV. Sharon was behind an instantly infamous January 2000 press release announcing she was resigning as manager of the Smashing Pumpkins after three months "due to medical reasons." "Billy Corgan (the Smashing Pumpkin's frontman) was making me sick!" she said. Now Kelly Osbourne's boyfriend, Bert McCracken, frontman for the Used, tells Spin magazine's in-house gossip Marc Spitz all about a recent run-in he had with Corgan in the magazine's March issue -- on newsstands Feb. 4. Corgan, now fronting a band called Zwan, was getting ready to go onstage after McCracken's band at the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas in Los Angeles. When the two passed each other backstage, McCracken tripped him. "He looked way too important to talk to anyone," McCracken tells Spin. "So playfully, I stuck my foot out. Then he turned around and gave me this look like, 'I hate you more than anyone in the whole world' and kicked me in the ribs really hard. I've always been a big Smashing Pumpkins fan. I'm just kind of a troublemaker at heart." Corgan had no comment.


Pearl Jam says the band will release an official bootleg of each show on the 2003 "Riot Act" world tour. Each bootleg will be a limited edition, double-disc CD set. Unlike the 2000 bootleg series, the 2003 bootlegs will not be available in stores. Currently, the band plans to make them available only at the following URL addresses:,, and Bootlegs will be sold for $12.98 to Ten Club Members and for $14.98 to non-Ten Club members. Those who order an official bootleg prior to the show-date can expect it to be shipped within two to three days. Rush shipment options will be available. Also, anyone who orders an official bootleg will be able to download, at no additional cost, an mp3 of that show within hours of the show's real-time completion. The U.S. tour kicks off April 1 in Denver and runs to July 9 in New York.


Five-time Grammy-nominated Arista recording artist Avril Lavigne has logged her third consecutive No. 1 single on the Billboard Top 40 Monitor chart this week with "I'm With You" -- the first time a debut artist has accomplished this feat since Ace Of Base back in 1994. The follow-up hit to "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" from Avril's five-time-platinum debut album "Let Go," "I'm With You" also is positioned as the No. 1 most-played video this week at both MTV and VH1, where it is tied with the Dixie Chicks. Avril's first major headlining North American tour, the five-week "Try To Shut Me Up Tour" will begin April 9 at Air Canada Center in Toronto in her native Canada, and finish May 17 at First Union Center in Philadelphia. Fellow Arista group Gob is set to open all dates.


Many of the top musicians in New Orleans turned out over the past two weekends for a celebration of the venerable club Tipitina's 25th anniversary. The 10-day event was capped off with two nights of monster jamming from the Radiators, the Big Easy's longest-running rock band, which coincidentally was celebrating its silver jubilee as well. For the first set on Saturday night, the Rads played the songs from "Work Done On Premises," the group's first album, in order. By the end of the run the group had been joined by trombonist Mark Mullins, former group member Glenn "Kul" Sears on vocals and Theresa Andersson on violin, playing a vast range of material from their own originals to Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" and the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." Perhaps the highlight of the event was the "Founder's Ball," a wild jam session with Cyril and Ivan Neville, Robert Randolph, George Porter Jr., Stanton Moore and the Dirty Dozen Horns. The most dramatic success was the "Horns and Hatchets" show that matched top local brass bands with the relentless chants of the Mardi Gras Indians.


A new album of previously unreleased acoustic performances by Irish guitar legend Rory Gallagher is scheduled for a March 4 release on BMG Heritage. Although Gallgher is best known for his exciting electric guitar work, the material here reflects his interest in folk and acoustics music as well. The record also features guest appearances from Bela Fleck, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and Lonnie Donegan. Gallagher always intended to make an acoustic record but never managed to finish the project before his death in 1995. His brother Donal put this project together in Rory's memory. Keenly aware of his brother's folk tastes, Donal set about shaping the album he considered Rory would want to have made. The record soon evolved into a virtual tribute to Rory from the folk world, with contributions and collaborations from Carthy, Jansch, Ronnie Drew and The Dubliners, Juan Martin, Bela Fleck, Roland Van Campenhout, Maire Ni Chatasaigh and Chris Newman, and Rory's early influence Lonnie Donegan. The diverse line-up underscores the eclectic collection of material, ranging from flamenco to Irish traditional to skiffle and American folk and blues.


Darius Rucker has put his solo career on the sideline and will return with a new Hootie and the Blowfish album after the band's nearly five-year hiatus from the studio. "Hootie and the Blowfish" (Atlantic) is set for a March 4 release. The first single, "Innocence," will be released to U.S. radio outlets Feb. 10. The last Hootie album, 1998's "Musical Chairs," debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and sold 810,000 copies in the United States. A compilation album, "Scattered, Smothered and Covered," came out in 2000. "I really worried, after being in total control, about going back to a four-man democracy, but as soon as we got back together, it was easy," Rucker told Billboard magazine. "Cracked Rear View," the band's 1994 debut, sold over 10 million copies to make Hootie and the Blowfish one of the most successful rock groups of the 1990s.


Bruce Springsteen has agreed to play a benefit concert at Somerville Theater in Somerville, Mass., on Feb. 20. The concert will benefit DoubleTake Magazine, a quarterly publication based in New York that has a local office in the same building as the Davis Square theater in Somerville. Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, are committed to the event, but will perform without the rest of the E Street Band. DoubleTake Magazine's Web site says the publication "has temporarily suspended publication pending further funding," but adds, "We hope to be on newsstands again soon."


Fresh off its January residency at the Knitting Factory in New York City, Brothers Past is planning a yearlong U.S. tour in support of "A Wonderful Day." The title track of the Philadelphia quartet's debut has drawn raves from critics all over the country. After selling out the first two nights of the Knitting Factory residency, Brothers Past wrapped up its run at The Knit by moving its hypnotic stage show out of The Old Office into the main room for Saturday's grand finale. Influenced as much by Pink Floyd and the Beatles as Radiohead and Stereolab, "A Wonderful Day" is a concept album that surveys the paranoia, uncertainty and frustration of insomnia. Ultimately, hope and triumph prevail against a multi-textured sonic backdrop that takes the listener across the digital divide into the darkness of night. "It's about the uncertainties of what happens when you can't sleep and your mind starts racing," said guitarist Tom Hamilton. "The album is saying that tomorrow is always different. It's something for the listener to relate to -- to be able to say, 'I've felt like that, and this guy is OK'."


Caitlin Cary is putting the finishing touches on her second full-length album, "I'm Staying Out," scheduled for April 22 release. The album follows last year's acclaimed "While You Weren't Looking." Chris Stamey once again produced. Cary is joined on the album by longtime accompanists Jen Gunderman (piano, organ, accordion and vocals), Dave Bartholomew (acoustic and electric guitars, vocals), Brian Dennis (guitar) and Jon Wurster (drums and percussion) as well as special guest Don Dixon. Several artists make cameo appearances, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Greg Humphreys, Thad Cockrell, Audley Freed, Mitch Easter and Jane Scarpantoni. "We made what I believe is a big, colorful record," Cary said. "There's a purple song and for sure a red song, and yellow, and several shades of green. So I guess it's safe to say there's a lot of variety. There are complex stories in a lot of the songs, but not the sort that bog things down. I think a lot of energy runs throughout, so that even the sad or the poignant songs don't dwell in melancholy, and the songs with 'plots' will still be good listening after the story's been digested."


The Salute To The Blues benefit concert will take over Radio City Music Hall in New York City Feb. 7 with an all-star blues lineup. Harmonica player and 2002 Grammy nominee Kim Wilson, who will be featured on the show, will have a new studio recording out on M.C. Records in May. Among the many artists expected to take the stage are B.B. King, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Aerosmith, Lyle Lovett, Aaron Neville, Keb' Mo', Odetta, Dr. John, Vernon Reid, Mavis Staples, Gregg Allman, and Chuck D. "Bringing all these legendary performers together under the same roof to celebrate the blues is truly a historic event," show producer Alex Gibney said. "For blues aficionados, it just doesn't get any better than this, and with the participation of some of today's hottest contemporary artists, the concert will surely inspire a new generation to explore the genre further." The concert will be filmed for theatrical distribution and will be directed by Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") and produced by Martin Scorsese. The event is part of Scorsese's "The Blues" -- a seven-part series of personal and impressionistic films viewed through the lens of seven world-famous directors who share a passion for the music. It's expected to air on PBS next fall.


A "lost" album of demos recorded by the late singer-songwriter Townes Van Zant, "In the Beginning," is set to come out April 22 on Compadre Records. The 10 songs were recorded as demos in 1966 -- some with a band, some solo -- well prior to his debut LP, "For The Sake Of The Song," later retitled "First Album." Brad Turcotte, president of Houston-based Compadre, talked about the project. "Townes spent a lot of time here and honed his skills in local spots like The Jester, Sand Mountain and later the Old Quarter so it's a huge honor and very fitting for a Houston label to release 'In The Beginning'," Turcotte remarked. The album's release marks the end of a long search for Jeanene Van Zandt, Townes' ex-wife, executor of his estate and mother of two of his three children. "Townes told me about these songs many times and I had lyrics on them but he insisted he had recorded them when he first came to Nashville," she recalled. "Townes' first publisher, Jack Clement, rang me about 10 years ago when he came upon a cache of Townes' material but neither of us thought there was anything else in the vaults. Then I got a call from our mutual friend, photographer C.J. Flanagan, who said Jack had found these tapes when he was converting the catalog to digital."


The Afro Celts have a fourth album, "Seed" (Real World) set for release March 25. "Seed" follows the Grammy-nominated "Volume 3: Further in Time," released in 2001 when the group was still known as Afro Celt Sound System. As the revised group name suggests, "Seed" marks a new chapter for the group. The arrangements employ more acoustic instruments along with the world music and electronic elements for which the band is known. The album was recorded at the Britannia Row Studio in Islington, London, famous for its association with Pink Floyd. Though the core of the group remains -- Simon Emmerson (guitars), James McNally (keyboards, piano, bodhran, bamboo flute), Iarla O'Lionaird (vocals), Martin Russell (keyboards, programing), N'Faly Kouyate (vocals, kora, balafon), Myrdhin (harp), Johnny Kalsi (dhol drum, tabla), Mass (drum programing) and Emer Mayock (uilleann pipes) -- the Afro Celts enlisted a group of international musicians on the album, including Jesse Cook, Jah Wobble and Eileen Ivers.


Blues guitar great Ronnie Earl debuts for Canada's Stony Plain records March 18 with "I Feel Like Goin' On." One of the finest guitarists of his generation, Earl is at the top of his game on the new release, 74 minutes of pure, intense and soulful blues (almost all instrumental with the exception of a single vocal from Boston's Silver Leaf Gospel Singers on "Mary Don't You Weep.") Earl's music straddles the line between blues and jazz, with touches of soul and rock. Joining Earl on the album are Dave Limina on keyboards, Jimmy Mouradian on bass and Lorne Entress on drums. Guitarist Jose Alverez makes a special guest appearance on second guitar on "Howlin' For My Darlin'." The album, produced by Earl at Wellspring Sound in Acton, Mass., was recorded live in the studio -- all first takes with one guitar and one amp. Earl has called it his favorite studio recording of the dozen-odd CDs he's released since leaving Roomful of Blues in the late '80s.


After more than 25 years recording with such musicians as Bruce Springsteen, David Johansen and Carole King, violinist, vocalist and songwriter Soozie Tyrell is readying her debut album, "White Lines," for April 8 release on Treasure Records. Tyrell is known primarily as a musician's musician, most recently evidenced by her distinctive violin playing on Bruce Springsteen's Grammy-nominated album "The Rising" and subsequent playing with the E Street Band on Springsteen's 2002-2003 world tour. Other recent guest credits include Sheryl Crow's Grammy-nominated disc, "C'mon, C'mon," and the forthcoming new album by Train. Tyrell is joined on the album by guests, including Hiram Bullock, electric guitar on "Who Rules Your Life," which Bullock debuted with Tyrell live several years ago, and "Out on Bleecker Street." Also included are Patti Scialfa, background vocals on "St. Genevieve" and "Out on Bleecker Street," and Springsteen, lead guitar on the title track and backing vocals on "St. Genevieve." Throughout the record, Tyrell is backed by bassist Tony Garnier and guitarist Larry Campbell, both members of Bob Dylan's band. Tyrell's drummer, Richard Crooks, also spent time supporting Dylan, and Dr. John.


Hypnotic French electronic group Telepopmusik, whose debut single "Breathe" is a favorite on dance floors, car stereos and now televisions as the soundtrack to the popular current Mitsubishi Outlander ad campaign, will embark on its first U.S. club tour, kicking off in Boston Feb. 13 and ending in Miami on March 2. Telepopmusik core members Stephan Haeri and Christophe Hetier (aka DJ Anti-Pop) will joined by Scottish guest vocalist Angela McCluskey on all dates. Telepopmusik's debut album, "Genetic World," a sweeping mélange of sounds, styles and beats, was released in the United States in 2002. The album's first single, "Breathe," the seductive electronic song that pulses with the jazz-inflected sounds of vocalist McCluskey, became the song that drives the new installment of Mitsubishi's "Wake Up and Drive" campaign.


British techno-pop pioneer Gary Numan has a new album ready for release on Eagle Records. The two-disc set documents a complete live show at Brixton Academy on Feb. 25, 2003. Recorded on "The Pure Tour" in autumn of 2001, "Scarred" is the first release of what will be a definitive series of live Numan recordings released by Eagle in 2003, all packaged in a generic style with expanded booklets and extensive sleeve notes. The sleeve notes for "Scarred" were written by Burton C. Bell, lead vocalist of Fear Factory, whose cover of Numan's "Cars" was a radio mainstay a few years ago.


Austin, Texas,-based groove-merchants The Derailers are set to release "Genuine" (Lucky Dog) March 25. Their second release on the label (and fifth studio disc overall), "Genuine" again finds the hard-working quartet deftly merging Bakersfield giddy-up, classic "Big O" crooning, Marty Robbins' bordertown sizzle, Possum-inspired honky-tonkers and the Fab Four's knack for mixing it all up and kicking it back out fresh. Or, as lead guitarist Brian Hofeldt calls it, "our Bakerpool/Liversfield thing." Like the band's 2001 label debut for Lucky Dog, "Here Come The Derailers," the new album is produced by Kyle Lehning (Randy Travis, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, etc.). From the band's inception in 1994, Hofeldt and vocalist Tony Villanueva proudly have flaunted their affection for the blue-collar rock'n'tonk stylings of Bakersfield's seminal Buck Owens and The Buckaroos, and roots-rock legend Dave Alvin, who produced The Derailers' "Jackpot" (1996), "Reverb Deluxe" (1997) and "Full Western Dress" (1999).

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