Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  March 20, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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Former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford will headline the 2003 Metal Gods Tour, a multi-band package featuring the headliner's quintet Halford, co-headliners Testament, Immortal, Symphony X, Dark Tranquility, Amon Amarth, Carnal Forge and more. The 2003 Metal Gods Tour is set to kick off April 25 in Chicago, and will wrap up on the West Coast by mid-June. This will be Halford's first full-length tour of North America in nearly three years.

"The tour is quite remarkable," Halford said. "Over the last decade, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal have fragmented into all these unique sub-genres, so we felt it would be ideal to put some of the best Metal bands from the various genres together on the road. Today's Gods of Metal, if you will."

The Metal Gods Tour will feature U.S. Bay Area Thrash Metal kings Testament and New York-based Progressive Metal act Symphony X. Halford often has professed his affinity for bands of a darker nature, so the inclusion of Black and Death Metal bands were an obvious way to round out a lineup.

"It will be enjoyable to watch Metal fans of all types mix together with their enormous enthusiasm," Halford said. "Often fans of Death and Black Metal bands won't go see some of the other acts co-headlining The Metal Gods and vice versa. We're accomplishing a lot together. I'm certain the bands are going to enjoy themselves as we roll around the U.S. and Canada, so the fans are certainly going to experience the best each act has to give. When done, the tour will be remembered as something rare."


Epic Records is set to release Howie Day's "Madrigals" EP April 29. The EP features a five-song CD that includes new demo versions of "Madrigals" and "You & A Promise," a remix of Howie's first single "Ghost," and exclusive live tracks of "Bunnies" and "Sorry So Sorry." The "Madrigals" EP bonus DVD has more than 30 minutes of live performance footage and features those same fan favorites from Howie Day's Dec. 4, 2002, at the New York City Bowery Ballroom show.

The Madrigals EP is the follow-up to Howie's debut, "Australia," and precursor to Day's highly anticipated sophomore release. Before Day heads to London this spring to work with producer Youth (Crowded House, Dido, the Verve), he will appear on NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" and have an April one-hour "Music Choice" special. Look for Day's new video "Sorry So Sorry" on MTV's "120 Minutes" and Much Music's "Oven Fresh."


This week marks the 65th anniversary of the first recording of a song written by Carl Sigman. Sigman, who died at the age of 91 in 2000, composed such significant songs as "Ebb Tide," "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story," "It's All In The Game," "What Now My Love," "Buona Sera," "Arrivederci Roma," and "Answer Me, My Love." He also was a charter inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The song that started it all was "Just Remember," recorded by Australian Brian Lawrance and his Lansdown Orchestra on March 22, 1938, and released thereafter in England on Rex Records. The song was a collaboration with Johnny Mercer, who was Sigman's mentor. The two lived in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood in New York at the time and often spoke of their aspirations over steaming bowls of kreplach that Carl's mother prepared for her son and his friend.

Mercer, for whom Sigman provided melodies, liked his tunes but suggested his friend concentrate on lyrics. Mercer told him "a band has 15 musicians who can write tunes (versus) one person who can write a lyric."

This past year has seen a concerted effort to bring Sigman's catalog into the limelight through the activities of the family owned Major Songs (ASCAP), the company that owns most of the Sigman copyrights. Under the direction of Carl's eldest son Michael Sigman, former editor of Record World and publisher of The L.A. Weekly, the company entered into a domestic administration deal with Bug Music and has signed with 18 sub-publishers around the world. A fully annotated 74 track, three-CD boxed set of significant recordings of Sigman's songs -- by such artists as Frank Sinatra (who recorded 12 different Sigman compositions during the course of his career), Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Sonny and Cher, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Glenn Miller, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Armstrong, The Righteous Brothers, Louis Prima, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Four Tops, Ray Conniff, Merle Haggard, Tony Bennett and many others -- has been made available to commercial, film and TV music supervisors and producers through Major Songs' current initiative.


Beat poet, cartoonist and Fugs founder Tuli Kupferberg is putting together a new songbook project that is open to public contributions.

"For the fifth edition of my infamous songbook, 'Listen to the Mockingbird,' I am now seeking contributions from others besides my egomaniacal self," Kupferberg said. "I want 'Parasongs' on any subject."

A parasong is a song using new and original lyrics set to an older -- generally a popular -- melody. Martin Luther set many of his religious hymns to the popular songs of that period. Parasongs tend to be parodic and/or humorous but need not be and do not have to follow the original lyrics at all. Send lyrics to: or snailmail them to: Tuli Kupferberg 160 6th Ave. New York, NY 10013.


Baltimore's Dog Fashion Disco is set to release its second effort, "Committed to a Bright Future," May 6 coupled with a full U.S. headline tour with TubRing, LUXT and Dirt.

"I couldn't be more proud of our new album," said vocalist Todd Smith. "I believe it shows how we are capable of playing many different styles and how we have grown as musicians."

As unpredictable as the names implies, Dog Fashion Disco melds together elements of heavy metal with flutes, saxophones and trumpets.

"We are out to change the landscape of heavy music as people know it," Smith said. "I believe people are tired of bands all sounding the same and not taking chances to push the envelope and expand musical expression. I am very excited about the upcoming headlining tour. Our fans will finally see us play a longer set of our new material and experience our full live show. Our fans can expect a full projection movie playing behind us. This film will feature amputees, clowns, car crashes, cartoons, and other vomit-inducing imagery. I will be in my prettiest dress looking somewhat like Marilyn Monroe meets Gene Simmons."

Dog Fashion Disco's first album, "Anarchists of Good Taste," was released in 2001 through Spitfire Records.

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