Time for bed

So my wife has been working late this week, and the duty to put our four-month old daughter to bed has fallen to yours truly. When 8:00 PM rolls around, it’s time to take her into her nursery, put on a CD, and rock her to sleep to the music. Normally, I’ve been sticking to the tried and true – Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson – but, this week, I’ve tried to branch her out. The soundtrack thus far has been…

Monday: XTC, Skylarking. She was out by the time “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” came on.

Tuesday: Colin Hay, Man @ Work. Somewhere around “Looking For Jack,” I felt the telltale twitching of sleep.

Tonight: Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love. Clearly, the kid was tired; we weren’t even all the way through “Sowing the Seeds of Love” before she had passed out enough for me to carefully transition her from my arms to her crib.

I don’t think Jenn works late tomorrow, so I probably won’t have daughter duty…but, if I do, I’m considering The Blue Nile‘s Hats.

New Cars follow-up

FYI, here was Todd Rundgren’s official comment on the New Cars and why he got involved:

For the screamers:

Now that the cat is out of the bag, or rather ‘car is out of the garage’, I should address the issues I would have dealt with had someone given me a heads up before we went public.

There is a new cadre of ‘fan’ who has taken to constant second guessing of my motives and decisions. Their responses are usually Cassandraesque, rife with predictions of career death and loss of core audience. If results are not to their satisfaction, they threaten… what? To actively campaign against playing my music on the radio?

Here are the facts. I don’t know what kind of job you have, but I imagine that if you want to keep it you have to adapt to changes in your job description and to changes in the job market itself. And I don’t know if you’ve heard, but musicians have notoriously brief careers. You can’t do the job well on a part time basis, so you had better make a living at it. And if you want to keep the job, you better take advantage of whatever opportunities you have to work.

You would have thought that 2004 was a big year for me careerwise, and in many ways it was. But the effort to bring the tour to the widest audience was not a profitable venture and I am still paying it off today. You would have thought that 2005 has been a nearly disasterous followup, and in some ways it has. But I erased the debts of last year, got caught up on my taxes and even vacationed for a couple weeks. Oh yeah, and I supported my family.

So now an opportunity has arisen for me to pay my bills, play to a larger audience, work with musicians I know and like, and ideally have some fun for a year. The catch is, a lot of people have been counting on something else. Let’s make this clear: the possibility of a Utopia reunion of any kind has always been extremely remote. We disbanded for specific reasons that a previous reunion attempt only exacerbated. Despite whatever enjoyment we got from playing the music for our fans, the reformation left a sour taste. It would be ludicrous to Spinal Tap our way through a tour so fans could be satisfied that we simply showed up on the same stage. That’s a redefinition of Utopia I can’t personally handle. No ‘magic date’ is so magical that it can transform such an ingrained relationship. It’s not happening and we’ll all have to live with it.

The rest of the equation is obvious. I can take out a band of my own and slide inexorably into debt, or I can go out solo and take my chances. Except that’s no choice. Most of my recent material doesn’t translate to the accoustic guitar (let alone piano), so the act has become stale to the point that I won’t accept any more gig offers for solo shows.

So you see, if someone gives you an opportunity to make a good living for a year without violating your musical ethics (or HAVING to play Beatle songs), and throws in the ability to retain your own identity and perform your own material and possibly create new fans, well, what choice do you have, really? The schedule even gives me plenty of time to record a new solo project, so what’s the problem? If my working musician’s decision offends you, start calling the DJs and beg them to stop playing all that TR music that’s in such heavy rotation.

Otherwise, me and Kas and Prairie and Elliot and Greg will be playing parts of the country we’d never get to otherwise, and hope to see you all there when we do.


Ten songs I never need to hear again.

Again, Mayor of Simpleton gets an assist for this thread, as it was his post on the Lennon tribute that got the mind whirring.

This list could probably be a thousand songs long, and split up by genre, but for the sake of your time and my sanity, I submit to you the 10 songs that I never, ever need to hear again. I won’t list things like “What’s Up” or “Ice Ice Baby,” because there is no point in listing them. I’m after songs that are accepted as classics, but make me want to put on Metal Machine Music and beat my head against the wall.

1) “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da,” the Beatles. I love the Beatles. Love, love, love the Beatles. But this song drives me batshit crazy, it’s Paul at his dopiest. I get the sense that Paul wrote it to be one big nose-thumbing fuck you to John. Now that John’s dead, it’s become the song that makes me want to punch babies.
2) “Under the Bridge,” Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s the lisp. That damn lisp.
3) “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” the Who. Even Townshend is embarrassed by this song now.
4) “Come on Eileen,” Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I watch Kevin Rowland and “Eileen” in the video, in their rolled up overalls, and think, Man, I bet they really stink.
5) “Imagine,” John Lennon. Yes, yes, war is bad, we get it, John. You know what’s worse? The fact that Paul wasn’t around in the ‘70s to make you step your game up a little.
6) “Fly by Night,” Rush. The song is all about a new start. Here’s hoping this song finds a new life, somewhere far, far away.
7) “Sweet Child ‘o Mine,” Guns ‘n Roses. It may have launched them into the stratosphere, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. Axl, in case you didn’t know, no woman likes to be called ‘child’ by her lover. If given a choice, they’d even prefer ‘Rocket Queen’ to ‘child.’
8) “Blister in the Sun,” Violent Femmes. I lost a girlfriend in high school because of this band, but that is not why the song is here. It’s here because I’m simply sick to death of it. “I stain my sheets, I don’t even know why”? Thanks for sharing, Gordon. Now stick your arms into this white jacket and everything will be fine.
9) “The Reflex,” Duran Duran. Those who know me know that I am a dyed in the wool fan of the boys from Birmingham, but this is a silly, silly song. The only reason it succeeded was because Nile Rodgers edited the shit out of it and made it a dub mix.
10) “Light My Fire,” the Doors. Me: Denis, can you take this one for me? Denis Leary: Sure, you Duran Duran-loving pussy. ‘I’m drunk, I’m nobody, I’m drunk, I’m famous, I’m drunk, I’m fucking dead, okay?’ Jesus. Go get some Stones records, you fairy.

After yesterday’s INXS bashing…

…is it too early to start sniping about “The New Cars”…?

Actually, I admit it, I’m curious to hear them.

No, Ric Ocasek is nowhere to be found…although he reportedly gave them his blessing…but Eliot Easton and Greg Hawkes are in the house.

So who’s on lead vocals?

Todd Rundgren.

He’ll be joined by Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince, both of whom have worked with Rundgren many times in the past.

Cars fans have gotten up in arms, as have Rundgren followers, and you can’t really blame them. It’s not the Cars if Ric Ocasek isn’t in the band, and who wants to hear Todd sing other people’s songs when he’s written so many of his own? But I still can’t believe it wouldn’t be worth hearing…

A band you missed – The Irises

The Irises and their debut album Not Good In Bed would have made the top spot of my Best of 2004 list last year, if the Beastie Boys hadn’t also released To The 5 Boroughs as well. Actually, I would have liked to have listed both albums as best of last year, but wasn’t allowed to, so the edging out occurred. Still, I’d like to key you all in on to this fantastic group, especially those of ye who are into power pop or melodic pop of the three-minute variety. I’m still spinning this disc regularly, and that’s truly saying something after a whole year.

The band is fronted by lead singer Roxanne Heichert. She’s got one of those voices that you can get into instantly, which is great, because the music appeales instantly as well. My fave songs on the album are “Perfect Boyfriend,” “I’m That Fool,” and “Loneliness,” but all the songs here are top notch. The Irises understand the whole less-is-more ethic, too. Ten songs and thirty some-odd minutes. Just like the old days. Hopefully they’ll put a new album out soon that’s just as excellent as the debut, but until then you can check out their official homepage and listen to clips of the songs there. However, this is one of those grooves that definitely should be purchased as well. If you missed ‘em, check ‘em out now.

For God’s sake, leave the song alone!!!



According to RollingStone.com

Avril Lavigne, Black Eyed Peas, Sum 41, the Deftones and Duran Duran are among the artists recording John Lennon songs to raise funds for human rights organization Amnesty International. The recordings, which will be released as downloads through amnesty.org, will be part of Amnesty’s new youth-oriented music campaign that begins in January.

Three years ago, Yoko Ono donated the rights to her late husband’s solo tracks to Amnesty for use in its Imagine campaign, which asked children around the world to sing the 1971 peace anthem. (December 8th is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lennon’s death.)

For the new campaign, Lavigne recorded “Imagine,” with accompaniment by pianist Chantal Kreviazuk and production by Butch Walker. Lavigne stayed faithful to the original. “I did a mellow version,” she says.

On the other side of the spectrum, Warped Tour vets Billy Talent turned up the volume on “Cold Turkey,” which they recorded at Bryan Adams’ Warehouse Studios in Vancouver. “They asked us what song we wanted to do, and that was the first one that came to my mind,” says guitarist Ian D’Sa. “It’s an awesome song. But we sped it up a bit because it’s kind of slow.”

Black Eyed Peas are recording “Power to the People” for the project, while singer/rapper K-Os tackled “Jealous Guy.” According to an Amnesty spokeswoman in Ireland, more details will be announced in the coming weeks.

That having been said, I *do* wonder what song Duran Duran is going to be doing…

The Teardrop Explodes: “Count To Ten And Run For Cover”

Man, I’ve forgotten how many mix tapes I made for people that had this song as their title cut.

The Teardrop Explodes are mostly remembered for being Julian Cope’s baby, but most of the songs on Everybody Wants to Shag…The Teardrop Explodes were as much the work of one David Balfe, who co-founded Zoo Records with Bill “The KLF” Drummond. The material on Everybody Wants To Shag was originally recorded back in the early ’80s, but it didn’t see release until 1990. “Count to Ten and Run for Cover” is one of those songs that charges out of the gate and doesn’t stop until…well, until it’s over. A lot of the tracks on this disc have been described as “New Wave synth rock,” and that’s as good a description as any. It’s a right fist pounder.

What’s next? Andy Rourke hocks his old set lists…?

According to Morrissey-Solo.com, Mike Joyce – former drummer for the Smiths – was on BBC Radio 6 the other night, plugging the fact that he’s going to be selling a bunch of his rare Smiths stuff on eBay, apparently including tapes of heretofore-unreleased songs. (He played one of the tracks, an instrumental.)

I’m sure he’s going to be making claims that it’s all Morrissey and Marr’s fault for not splitting up royalties accordingly back in the old days, but, c’mon, man, you used to be the drummer for the Smiths, and you went on to play with th the Buzzcocks, Public Image Ltd., Sinead O’Connor, and Julian Cope, which I’m sure weren’t gigs you did out of the kindness of your heart. Where’d all the money go? Has it really reached the point where you have to start hocking memorabilia like this…?

Substitute my INXS for crap.

OK, so I wake up this morning and turn on the tube and flip through the channels, and when I land on VH1, lo and behold there’s the new INXS. Does anyone wanna place bets on how soon this stinky new version of the group ends up in the bargain bins or on the shelves of your favorite used store? This is definitely one case where the band shouldn’t have played on. I didn’t keep up with their search for a new singer when it was on TV, but all I can say is that new guy (even if I remembered his name, he’d still only be worthy of the name “new guy”) reeks.

The other day on the Opie and Anthony Show on XM radio, new guy and INXS did an interview, and new guy sounded like the most retarded “Man, I’m so mellow, and I really feel the music” kind of dude I’ve heard in a long time. It was obvious just from that that the guy isn’t in his element and this whole thing is pointless. INXS would be smart just to put itself to bed and completely forget this chapter. Ah, but I s’pose it’s just like Queen trotting out a fellow dinosaur as of late to replace Freddie during some concerts and people gettin excited about that. The baby boomers really are starving for those good old daze, aren’t they?

Whatever happened to…

…the Real People?

They emerged in 1991, in that unfortunate time frame where anyone who wasn’t Nirvana was shit out of luck…but it was even worse if you were a Britpop band. This was post-Stone Roses and Happy Mondays but pre-Oasis and pre-Blur, and, buddy, if you can name more than a handful of British bands to emerge during that window, you either wrote for the NME or worked for a record store. But the Real People were the brainchild of Tony and Chris Griffiths, who knew how to write a great hook. Their first, self-titled disc was solid – the song “The Truth” remains one of the best pop songs of the early ’90s – but the second disc, “What’s On The Inside,” took five years to hit stores…and, although it was a strong, more Beatlesque effort, it came out on an indie label (Granite Records?) and never made it beyond UK release. (I stumbled upon my copy in NYC…and, for Shep Medskerbone’s amusement, I should note that I bought it the same day I picked up the Lightning Seeds’ “Dizzy Heights.”) After that, the band vanished into thin air. They don’t even have a website anymore, and searches for the individual band members doesn’t turn up much. The most recent information I can find comes from this interview, but it’s from 2001, suggests that the band were working on a new disc, but…it never emerged, apparently. There’s also a site that has photos from 2004, but the band’s own website seems nonexistent; it’s a message board that requires approval to access…but I requested approval 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard a word.

Come on, guys, wherefore art thou…?

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