Flashback Friday #1 – Greetings To The New Feature

No one asked for it, but here it is, anyway: a new feature on ESDMusic which, hopefully, will become a regular reason for you to visit the site…provided, of course, that we can come up with enough material to maintain it. But, frankly, when you hear the premise, I think you’ll agree that with all of the music geeks we’ve got around here, that shouldn’t be an issue…

Borrowing on the same general concept as Bullz-Eye’s Mix Disc Monday, Flashback Friday will allow our writers to venture into the depths of their possibly-embarrassing personal histories by pulling out old mix tapes and writing about them. In theory, this should reveal a lot about where we were musically at the time we made the tapes; in reality, however, it may just indicate how limited our budget was at the time…or, at least, that’s what this tape of mine shows.

That’s right, as the person who came up with this idea, it’s only fair that I get the ball rolling, and lemme tell ya: I was attending Averett College in Danville, VA (go, Cougars!), and it was a real rarity for me to buy anything that wasn’t on its second or third markdown in the cut-out bin…and, believe me, you can tell.

Title: Greetings from Averett, Vol. 2
Date of creation: late March 1991 (approximate)

Side 1:

“Main Title / Rebel Blockade Runner,” John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra (Star Wars: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I’ve always been of the mind that every mix needs to start off with something witty, clever, funny, or just, y’know, something memorable. Given that this was 1991 and we were on what would turn out to be a 16-year drought between new “Star Wars” films, beginning the tape with the familiar main titles from the original flick – now known as “Star Wars: A New Hope” – certainly qualified. Unfortunately, the title theme segues directly into another track, ”Rebel Blockade Runner,” and as a result, the whole thing ends up going on longer than most normal people would ever maintain interest. I mean, I love that soundtrack, and even *I* started to get bored. By the way, while I’ve attributed this to the actual “Star Wars” soundtrack, given my budget, I have to believe that this was much more likely taken from an el-cheapo recording done by, say, the Generic Philharmonic Orchestra…which means it’s almost certainly not John Williams conducting but, probably, his non-union Mexican equivalent. (Juan Williams?)

“Losing My Religion,” R.E.M. (Out of Time)

This is the track on Side 1 which most definitively dates the tape for me. As noted, I was a man with limited funds, and most of my purchases were CDs and cassettes that I’d rescued from the cut-out bin at the record chain in the local mall, but I sucked it up and bought Out of Time on its first day of release. I still remember writing a review for the Averett College newspaper, The Chanticleer, and declaring that this song’s lyrics sounded like a parody of the band’s style. (“I think I thought I saw you try” is the one that leaps immediately to mind.) I must’ve made this tape within a day or two of the album’s release and only known this song; otherwise, I almost certainly would’ve put “Texarkana,” “Near Wild Heaven,” or “Shiny Happy People” on here instead.

“This Is the World Calling,” Bob Geldof (Deep in the Heart of Nowhere)

Wow, did this album get reamed when it was first released. I’m sure Bob didn’t expect much else, though; after you’ve been held up as the pop star who fed the world, you ought to know that the press is going to tear your next LP a new center hole. Yeah, that’s right, Geldof’s fallible. So what? And, anyway, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone said; it just wasn’t as good as, say, your average Boomtown Rats album. I still say the first half of the album is pretty damned good, and this song, which leads off the record, is definitely a highlight.

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In celebration of my having interviewed Graham Gouldman yesterday…

…I present the following fantastic collaboration for your approval: Mr. Gouldman performing an acoustic version of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” accompanied on acoustic guitar and harmony vocals by…wait for it…Neil Finn and Roddy Frame.

Fuck me. That’s quite a trio, innit? Hey, David, I think we’ve found yet another answer to the question, “Name three people I’d like to have a drink with.”

Road Warriors 16

It’s a nineties rock party at minor league baseball stadiums this summer, as Counting Crows, Live and Collective Soul will all tour together. Third Eye Blind will also join them on some of the dates. The tour begins July 22 in Wilmington, Delaware and runs through September 2 in Fargo. For more information, visit www.countingcrows.com.

The self-proclaimed world’s largest music festival is Milwaukee’s Summerfest. At 11 days long and with a ton of A-list talent, it’s hard to argue with that proclamation. Some of the confirmed acts are Wolfmother, O.A.R., John Mayer, Los Lonely Boys, Ben Folds, Peter Frampton, B.B. King, The Fray, Goo Goo Dolls, Sara Evans, Toby Keith, INXS, Weird Al Yankovic, Gym Class Heroes, Papa Roach, Puddle of Mudd, Silversun Pickups, Tool and Blue October. Whew. The festival runs from June 28 to July 8. For more info, go to www.summerfest.com.

311 is working on a new record and plan to return to the studio to record it in the fall. Meanwhile, front man Nick Hexum is talking about testing out some of that new material while the band tours with Matisyahu this summer beginning June 21.

The inaugural Big State Festival will take place October 13 and 14 at the Texas World Speedway in Bryan-College Station. Headlined by Tim McGraw, other acts so far include The Wreckers and Los Lonely Boys. Tickets go on sale June 5 at www.bigstatefestival.com

Bombastic rock band The Mooney Suzuki is gearing up for its summer tour in support of the new album, Have Mercy. Supporting the tour for two separate legs are The Photo Atlas and The Dark Romantics. Here are Read the rest of this entry »

Wearing gold spandex pants, she made a hip-hop album…

What can we possibly say as a preface that would do it justice?

Happy Friday, everyone…!

P.S. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Head over here for more…if you dare!!!

Deep Cuts: Squeeze, “Love Circles”

Inspired by the ever-interesting Jefitoblog, which has been offering up a lot of love to Squeeze lately (including the first half of his Idiot’s Guide to the band as well as some hard-to-find live MP3s), I thought I’d similarly pay tribute to one of my favorite songs by the band, taken from one of their criminally overlooked albums.

Frank was released in 1989 to a fair amount of critical acclaim, but precious little of that translated into sales for the band. After staging an unexpected commercial comeback with 1987′s Babylon and On, an album which produced two top-40 hits for the band (“Hourglass” and “853-5937″), it was actually rather shocking that Frank didn’t sell very well, but my theory has always been that the band’s label – A&M – had decided to ignore top-40 radio for the album and instead focus on Billboard’s latest and greatest chart: Modern Rock. It made a certain amount of sense, given that Squeeze had always been more college-radio darlings than a full-fledged mainstream success, but, still, to go from having 2 top-40 hits to being dropped by your label altogether within the span of two years…? Somebody screwed up somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t Squeeze.

There are, unfortunately, a lot of great tracks to pick from when it comes to spotlighting the unheralded numbers from Frank, including the Jools Holland piano stomper, “Dr. Jazz,” and Glenn Tilbrook’s ode to a woman’s time of the month (“She Doesn’t Have To Shave”), but my favorite has always been “Love Circles,” which offers Chris Difford the vocal spotlight yet still provides some downright fantabulous harmonies for the chorus. It was released as a single, but it did precisely diddley…but, thanks to the aforementioned Jefitoblog, you can check out the song here.

Video Vault: Madness, “House of Fun”

No one, but no one, made videos that were more fun than Madness’ vids from the early ’80s. Even better, you could tell that they were having just as much fun making them. You can keep the lightning-quick edit fests of today. Give me fun over stylish any day of the week.

American Idol: Anti-Climactic All The Way

Last night’s “American Idol” grand finale had few big surprises, some good performances and a lot of the usual fluff. And of course, Jordin won. Not that the entire world, including the African Children’s Choir, didn’t see that coming.

It started out with Jordin and Blake singing the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” which was okay and kind of fitting since Jordin is 17 and the lyrics are about a girl being “just 17.” Then they cut to Gwen Stefani wearing a cream puff and singing her new single while on tour…that was random, and mildly annoying.

Then Kelly Clarkson sang her new single, and it was both angry and great…her raspy growl is in fine form.

Then they started with that “Golden Idol” award crap. The best presentation went to Margaret Fowler, aka Big Bird. It was funny, especially when she kissed Ryan on the lips, but other than that forgettable.
Then the top 6 guys from this season sang “Ooh Baby Baby” and Smoky Robinson came out to sing a medley with them….which was pretty decent.

Then it was a highlight of the show, as Blake came out to beatbox with Barry B. and Doug E. Fresh. Wow, I have no idea how they do that, and that’s what makes it so damn entertaining.

The next Golden Idol Award went to the most original vocal, and it was Sholandric, who I barely remembered from the auditions….yawn.

The 6 female finalists got to sing “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” and welcomed Gladys Knight to perform a medley with them. Tony Bennett was welcomed back after that to perform since he was sick after his mentoring a few months ago.

The Golden Idol award for “Best Buddies” went not to Simon & Ryan, but to Jonathan and Kenneth…..those guys were weird but are so funny to look at. Simon’s reference of Jonathan to a “bush baby” was validated when they showed a photo of an actual bush baby.

Then Melinda got to sing with BB and CC Wynans, who she used to perform with as a backup singer. That was pretty cool. After that, Carrie Underwood came out and sang the Pretenders’ “Stand By You,” which she had performed last month in Africa for “Idol Gives Back.” It was boring, but then Clive Davis came out to present Carrie with an achievement award for selling 6 million albums. He also mentioned that Chris Daugthry’s album has sold 2.5 million. Wow.

Then came the African Children’s Choir, and they were great, but they followed that with Sanjaya singing “You Really Got Me,” complete with Joe Perry on guitar and crying girls in the audience. Green Day then sang John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” and it was kind of bland.

Taylor Hicks sang “Heaven Knows,” and it was okay. Are you sensing a pattern here? The whole show had a pretty bland theme.

Jordin and Ruben Studdard sang a duet together, and it was actually pretty good….though Ruben stood five feet away from Jordin for fear of knocking her over.

After that, Bette Midler came out and sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” one of the sappiest songs of all time. It really wasn’t very good either, and I wish she would have sang “Rachelle Rachelle” instead.

Then came the Sgt. Pepper tribute, with all of the past champs except Fantasia contributing. Where was she anyway? Anyway, it was okay except for Carrie Underwood singing “She’s Leaving Home”….ugh, nothing like butchering a classic.

Finally it was the moment of truth…..the judges all but proclaimed Jordin the champ, and then Ryan made it official. Blake, you just couldn’t measure up with that sappy ballad. And since Jordin’s dad is a former New York Football Giant, I’m hoping her win is a good omen for my G-men this fall. Hey, I had to say it.

Folks, it’s been fun recapping this season with you…..by the time we meet again in January, Melinda will have out-sold both Blake and Jordin and we’ll be saying that it really doesn’t matter who wins this thing. Have a great summer everyone…..

American Idol: Breathe a Sigh of Relief

In the final faceoff of the season on “American Idol” last night, Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks did very well, but there is one thing I noticed about them both….they were extremely relieved upon finishing their final songs. Blake was like a kid on a sugar rush, and Jordin started crying during her last few notes. Then, it was in the hands of voters, and there was no more preparation or nerves….there is no decision, but they both knew that they could now relax and enjoy the grand finale.

Before we get to the performances by Blake and Jordin, we have to mention that Paula Abdul allegedly broke her nose after tripping over her dog at home. I wonder if the dog was waiting with a Breathalyzer.

So this week the final two got to choose their favorite song from a past episode, another random song of their choice, and the song written by the winners of the songwriting competition on the show.

Blake started with Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” one of his shining moments from a few weeks back. It wasn’t quite as good as the first time, but still pretty damn good. Randy gave Blake a 10 out of 10 on the beatboxing, but said the vocals were just “aight.” Paula said he outdid himself, and Simon said Blake is a great performer but that the vocal was flat in the middle. His second choice was Maroon 5′s “She Will Be Loved,” and it was kind of mediocre. Randy said it was a nice vocal this time, Paula said it sounded great (she is a wuss with or without a broken nose), and Simon said it was good but safe, and not as good as the first song. Then Blake performed the winning song, “This Is My Now,” which was a horribly sappy, formulaic piece of crap…..it doesn’t matter if they leave this to professionals or everyday peeps, the result is always going to be something along the lines of Diane Warren Lite. Anyway, the song was clearly better suited for Jordin, because Blake sounded pretty bad singing it. Randy said the song didn’t suit him, but that it was still pretty good; Paula said he did a great job (of course she did), and Simon said it was a little odd, and “not you.” Taking nothing away from those songwriters, that song may have cost Blake the title.

Jordin started with Christina Aguilera’s “Fire,” a very ambitious song but one that she kind of grabbed by the balls to force out a decent performance. Randy said it wasn’t the greatest performance but that the vocal was stellar, Paula said it was stellar, and Simon was happy she chose a “younger” song, but that it was “shrieky.” He then said that Round One went to Blake. Jordin’s second choice was Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing,” and she hit it further out of the park than the first time she sang the song. It was the kind of performance that wins titles. Randy said Jordin is the most talented singer at her age the show has ever seen and that the performance was flawless, Paula said it was a great vocal, and Simon said “THAT was good.” Tie game? Maybe a slight edge to Jordin at this point. But then she took on the sappy “This Is My Now” and as you would expect, did a better job than Blake. Randy said Jordin was the best singer of the night, Paula said she was proud, and Simon said he didn’t think Jordin did well enough last week to win, but that he was wrong…..and that she had just “wiped the floor with Blake.” Yep, pretty much.

So while Blake hung in there for a long time and is one of the most unique contestants the show has ever seen, barring a miracle Jordin will be crowned the sixth American Idol tonight. I’m still bitter about Melinda, but in the end, despite what they want you to believe, this is NOT a singing competition…..rather, it’s a competition based on a combination of singing, performance and good looks….and Melinda didn’t have as much of the latter as the other two.

The show closed last night with Chris Daughtry playing “I”m Going Home,” the song that has been played at the end of each results show this whole season. That dude also was robbed last season, but he got the last laugh because he’s running rings around Taylor Hicks and Kat McPhee with his record sales. There is hope, Melinda.

See you all tomorrow as we wrap this sucker up.

Italians say “No” to Babs’ ticket prices

Italians aren’t standing fo it, no sir. They may love Barbra Streisand, but not enough to shell out between $200-$1200 to see her perform. Per the article,

“The 24,000-seat stadium, owned by the city and managed by the [Olympic] Committee, “is public property and cannot be used for immoral deals that are shameful to a civilized country.”

Stapp’s wife: “There’s a lot of pot in the house.”

America’s Least Wanted: Scotty Stampp

Oh, that Scott Stapp. How the mighty weak have fallen. Recently, Stapp’s wife called the po-po on him, citing his throwing a glass at her after heavy partying, and “a lot of pot” being in the hizzouse. The paddy wagon showed up and confiscated Stampp’s guns that his betrothed also alerted them to (though he obtained them legally). He was released from jail yesterday and will have to undergo random drug testing. Sheesh. We can lock up Paris Hilton, but we can’t get this guy behind bars for a good long time? Can we at least force him to drink Drano?

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