Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  March 1, 2003 at 5:00 AM
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As predicted in this space, the record industry made sure 2003 will be remembered as the Year of Norah Jones at the Grammy Awards gala. The voters got it right, recognizing this talented young singer for her voice, not her videogenic qualities, dancing ability or work as a clothes horse. If there is to be a future for the music industry it had better emphasize the music part of the equation. Even though he was overshadowed in the awards department by Jones, Bruce Springsteen struck the night's inspirational touchstone with a version of "The Rising" that probably made more than a few members want to change their votes on the spot. Springsteen received an honor greater than any award, however, when the Madison Square Garden crowd gave him the night's only spontaneous standing ovation. There were a number of kneejerk reactions to Sept. 11, 2001, that already sound hopelessly dated as world events fly past at a terrifying pace, but Springsteen's inspired hymn to the firemen who climbed to their deaths inside the World Trade Center trying to save others takes on added meaning over time, and the whole world got the message. By contrast, Eminem looked pointless and stupid in his segment, blathering on about the pitfalls of celebrity.


Simon and Garfunkel fought bitterly during a rehearsal for their onstage reunion at the Grammy awards show, reports the New York Post. The duo "bickered like ex-spouses" said Page Six, "and almost didn't make it onto the stage later for the Grammys, where they appeared together for the first time in 10 years." The Post quotes sources who claim Garfunkel told Simon: "You don't play for me -- you play for yourself! We have to play in sync." The stage manager cleared the stage, the Post reports, and the duo returned to their dressing rooms to cool off. The Post quoted Simon spokesman Dan Klores as saying the sources were "liars," but one Post source countered: "It happened. I was one of the people cleared from the stage. It is a shame because they would make a ton of money if they did a tour, but they looked very uncomfortable in each other's presence."


Fred Durst is ticked off at Britney Spears and wasn't hiding the fact at the Grammy celebration. Spears drew Durst's ire when, after a brief fling with Durst, she claimed he had been stalking her. Durst responded by writing a song, "Just Drop Dead," that goes even further than Justin Timberlake's diatribes against the pop tart. When asked if he planned to run into Spears at the Grammy awards, Durst replied, "I hope not."


How about that rendition of "London Calling" done at the Grammy awards by Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and friends? The pioneers of British punk will be remembered with a 40-song, two-CD retrospective "The Essential Clash," due out March 11 on Epic Records, the morning after the band is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The digitally remastered tracks span the Clash's reign from 1977 ("White Riot") to '85 ("This Is England"), including 18 single sides (A's and B's) along with 22 LP and EP signature tracks. The track listing was personally supervised by the band, including Joe Strummer, who had been working on the album shortly before his death in London in December 2002, at age 50. The release of the CD set will be followed in April by "The Essential Clash" DVD. The DVD will feature all of the band's videos as well as a never-before-seen 60-minute film called "Hell W 10" (Hell West Ten). "Hell W 10" was shot in 1982 and was written and directed by Strummer. It stars The Clash and was originally a silent film narrative that loosely featured Mick Jones as a villain and Paul Simonon as the feature's hero.


Britney Spears, fresh from a trail of outrageous party antics and estranged lovers, has been grounded by her mother and business manager, reports the New York Post. Six months ago, Spears said she was taking a six-month hiatus from working, and proceeded to burn a blue streak of gossip fodder along the party scene. Two weeks ago, according to the Post's "Page Six" column, Spears' mom organized an intervention and grounded the pop tart. "She is busy recording her new album due out in the fall," a pal told Page Six. "No one knows specifically where she is, but some of the album will be done in Los Angeles." The Post reports Spears has canned three songs written for her next album by Fred Durst after Durst called her a "whore" in a new song he wrote for his former lover. "She doesn't want anything to do with him," said the Post source.


Armand Richard, who will serve as the Big Shot of Africa in Zulu's 2003 Mardi Gras parade next Tuesday, spent more than $10,000 to be elected to the position, reports Bunny Matthews in the March issue of OffBeat magazine. The position is one of the most coveted honors in the Big Easy -- Zulu is the first big parade on Mardi Gras day. Louis Armstrong reigned as the Zulu King in 1949, the same week he was on the cover of Time magazine. The Big Shot position rivals the King as the most important figure in the parade. "It's an ongoing thing with the Big Shot trying to outdo the King with parties at Zulu functions," Richard told Matthews. "Zulu politics is quite interesting because it's all a fantasy. But when it comes to dollars and cents, the dollars and cents are real." In real life, Richard is a high school administrator in charge of discipline at an inner city school in New Orleans.


Former Eurythmics star Annie Lennox has a new album, "Bare," due out June 9 on BMG International and June 10 on J Records domestically. "Bare" was cut in London with producer Steve Lipson (Cher, Pet Shop Boys), who has described "Bare" as a "truly career defining album. Her best yet." Songs included are "Pavement Cracks," "The Hurting Time," and "The Saddest Song." Lennox will be playing material from the album before its release during a North American tour that will hit Miami on March 26, Tampa, Fla., on March 28, Atlanta on March 30 and Toronto on April 4. More dates will be announced.


Radiohead should have a new album out in June on Capitol Records in the United States. The title has not yet been determined, although it has been rumored to be both "2+2=5" and "Are You Listening." The band's previous album, "Amnesiac," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 in 2001. "Kid A," released in 2000, opened at No. 1 on the chart. The band is scheduled to perform a number of festival dates in Europe over the summer, including a headlining slot June 28 at the Glastonbury festival in Pilton, England.


Bassist Howie Epstein, 47, formerly with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died Sunday in Santa Fe, N.M. Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano reported a female companion who brought Epstein to the hospital said he had been using heroin. "We are deeply saddened at the news of Howie's passing," Petty said in a prepared statement. "It's difficult to put into words how much we loved him and will miss him. The world has lost a great talent and a kind and gently soul. We can only take solace in knowing he is now at peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends." Epstein joined the Heartbreakers in 1982, replacing original bassist Ron Blair, and left last year, citing "ongoing personal problems."


Rob Trujillo has been named the new bassist for Metallica. Trujillo has played with Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne. Trujillo replaces Jason Newsted, who left in 2001, and recorded on the new Metallica album, "St. Anger," due out June 10 on Elektra Records. Producer Bob Rock has been filling in on bass since Newsted's departure. Metallica hits the road for the Summer Sanitarium tour with Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. Trujillo toured with Metallica when he was in Suicidal Tendencies in 1993. "The last two years of just being the three of us have taught me so much about myself, about James and Kirk and about Metallica," drummer Lars Ulrich noted. "To welcome Rob into Metallica in 2003 after all the growth and soul searching we've been through for the last two years, feels ... awesome. Being at full strength again is at this moment indescribable."


Blur has a new album, "Think Tank," ready for release May 6. "It's an album about love and politics," Damon Albarn told The album was recorded last year in Morocco and England. One new track, "Brothers and Sisters," "starts off like John Lee Hooker and ends up like Grandmaster Flash," Albarn said. Another, "Out of Time," which features a Moroccan orchestra, will be the first single, due in April. "Think Tank" was produced by Blur and Ben Hillier, with additional production from Fatboy Slim, who produced two tracks, including "Crazy Beats," and William Orbit. After Graham Coxon quit the band two months into the sessions, Albarn took over the guitar work. "There was nobody else to do it, so I had to," he said. "It was really difficult, but with that massive change came a new vitality."


Mullets are the new targets of hairstyle critics, replacing the much loathed moussed bouffants of "hair metal" bands. Mullets -- short in front and long in the back -- are favored among hard-rocking, hard-working, hard-partying blue collar American males, and the two-CD set "Mullets Rock!" is the music of their lives. Epic/Legacy Records will release the 35-song, 2 1/2-hour "Mullets Rock!" March 4. It is a classic rock collection from the 1970s and 1980s, featuring Mountain ("Mississippi Queen"), Deep Purple ("Smoke on the Water"), Foreigner ("Hot Blooded"), Foghat ("Slow Ride"), Ted Nugent ("Free for All"), Brownsville Station ("Smokin' in the Boys Room"), Rick Derringer ("Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo"), Cheap Trick ("Surrender"), Journey ("Any Way You Want It"), Toto ("Hold the Line"), Eddie Money ("Two Tickets to Paradise"), REO Speedwagon ("Roll With the Changes"), Allman Brothers Band ("No One to Run With"), Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble ("Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"), George Thorogood ("Bad to the Bone"), Lynyrd Skynyrd ("Simple Man"), Edgar Winter ("Frankenstein"), Grand Funk Railroad ("We're An American Band"), Bachman-Turner Overdrive ("Takin' Care of Business"), Alice Cooper ("School's Out") and Meat Loaf ("Bat Out of Hell").


The eighth annual Baton Rouge Blues Week is scheduled to run from April 27 through May 3. Featured shows will include keyboardist Marcia Ball on the 27th at The Atrium Pub in Catfish Town, guitarist Tab Benoit April 30 at 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at Phil Brady's, and legendary songwriter Tony Joe White May 3 at The Varsity Theatre.


Aerosmith's Joe Perry and Steve Tyler canceled plans to play Mardi Gras Kings of Orpheus this week, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "They've got a recording contract coming up, and Orpheus released them from their obligation," Orpheus Vice President Ardley Hanemann Jr. told the Times-Picayune. Orpheus had no trouble filling the regal position. Travis Tritt will reign over the Orpheus parade March 3, then perform at the Orpheus ball later that night.


"Super Riddim Internacional, Vol. 1" is a monumental new work by the Monterry, Mexico-based El Gran Silencio set for release March 24. Vol. 2 will be released in the fall. The album is a soundtrack to an imaginary world where Mexican breakdancers chill to a new kind of international folkloric lounge music. It's music that would feel equally at home in Los Angeles or Barcelona, and maybe even Morocco or New Dehli. El Gran Silencio combines its Mexican roots with influences from Spain to India. From deep roots in the alternative scene of a town that has been called the Seattle of Latin alternative, El Gran Silencio has traveled a musical path that meanders through rock, hiphop, norteño, cumbia, pagode, ragamuffin, rumba flamenco, and even raga.


Brooklyn's Biohazard has always been a band designed for the road. Touring is the band's most effective method of getting face-to-face with the world's youth; sharing feelings of rage and frustration toward a goal of unity. The band opened a tour over the weekend in Boston on a bill with Hatebreed and will wrap up this leg April 12 at L'Amour in Brooklyn. Drummer Danny Schuler offers: "Expect to see us ripping ourselves wide open and showing everyone what's inside us every night. I don't think many bands have the balls or capacity to be as naked and out there as we are." Guitarist Billy Graziadei promised, "On this tour, you're going to see four guys from Brooklyn running around on stage, super-psyched and aggressive, delivering their music with a message and power. There are a lot of weak, perpetrating bands out there playing heavy music and pretending that they're hardcore, but with Biohazard, it's the real deal."

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