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By Andy Argyrakis
Super Bowl sized Prince
Friday, February 2, 2007
All eyes in the sports world turn to South Florida this Sunday for the Super Bowl to catch the Chicago Bears take on the Indiana Colts, but those in entertainment realms generally only care about half time. That's when an A-level artist gets around fifteen minutes to push their latest product or shock the world with a statement (or clothing malfunction) which becomes the subject of water cooler conversation the next morning. From Michael Jackson to U2 to Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, the highly coveted time slot has been visited by just about everyone who's anyone, though Prince has yet to take the ball until now. That's right, the one time unpronounceable symbol will be decked out in his usual grandeur, though he won't be as scandalous as say Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Ever since becoming a Jehovah's Witness, he's cleaned up the act, substituting swears for Scripture and sexual gyrations for peace signs. Does that mean no "Little Red Corvette?" With a newly reformed Purple One, baby that's much too fast. www.superbowl.com.
For those handful in the Windy City who may be uninterested in the athletic action, there's always Rock Star Supernova, the super group of sorts comprised of drummer Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), bassist Jason Newsted (Voivod), guitarist Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N' Roses) and reality TV winning front man Lukas Rossi. While all bets indicate the project won't last longer than Tommy Lee's techno project (or better yet, his on again/off again relationship with Pamela Anderson) the over hair sprayed troupe is giving it a whirl anyway (including a stop on Saturday, February 3 at the Rosemont Theatre). www.ticketmaster.com On a much more artistically satisfying note, those in Nashville, can catch Joanne Cash that same evening hosting America's second longest running radio show "Midnite Jamboree" at the Texas Troubadour Theatre. The legendary sister of Johnny Cash is gearing up for a new CD release (with three unreleased duets featuring her late great brother) and will be performing live on the Ernest Tubb originated program. For those who can't make it to Music City, there's always WSM Radio, also the spot to catch "Grand Ole Opry." www.etrecordshop.com.
Burning Down the House
Thursday, February 1, 2007
After ninety years in existence, London's legendary Hammersmith Palais is closing its doors to make way for a restaurant and office complex. Though protesters sought to preserve the building, requests were denied by local council members and the musical landmark is slated to be demolished. Aside from hosting memorable gigs by The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and U2, its best known for The Clash's shout out in (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais. Another more recent staple of the venue is its hosting of the Shockwaves NME Awards, which will feature Kasabian and Jamie T before the doors get bolted. As if shutting down CBGB wasn't enough!
Despite the tears shed over these losses, London locals (and Brit-rock lovers across the globe) can at least be rejoice over the recently formed super group The Good, The Bad, The Queen. The line-up is led by Damon Albarn (of Blur/Gorillaz fame), along with former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Fela Kuti/Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen. The foursome will test the waters in America this spring with an impressive round up of dates, including SxSW Festival and Coachella Valley Music Arts Festival.
While he may not pack the underground intricacy of the aforementioned, Billy Joel is also exciting his legion of supporters with a monumental announcement (at least in his world). The "Piano Man" will release his first pop single in 14 years called "All My Life," hitting iTunes on February 20. Though he's practically toured annually, the singer/songwriter only released a classical project and recycled greatest hits or concert compilations since 1993's River of Dreams (Columbia). Why rush when one can keeping raking in the royalties?
Joel's semi-regular tour mate Elton John hasn't been nearly as stagnant, releasing several new studio CDs this decade alone. However, music won't be the center of attention at his 60th birthday party on March 25, but rather U.K. tabloid hound/George Michael wanna-be Robbie Williams, who is rumored to pop out in his birthday suit (literally) according to The Daily Star. The apparent soundtrack song to the strip tease? Tom Jones' "You Can Leave Your Hat On." Seriously guys, why not a simple sing-along and a few shots over "Tiny Dancer?"
Bono the author?
Brandy to jail?
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Bono holds many job descriptions, from U2 front man to AIDS activist to ONE campaign figurehead to God's occasional advisor. But this year he can add author to the resume when On the Move (Thomas Nelson) hits stores in April. However, fans need not fear the iconic front man will give up his primary day job since the text will be lifted straight from a lengthy speech he delivered as keynote speaker for the 2005 National Prayer Breakfast (at the White House no less). Aside from his words of wisdom for all religions relating to AIDS and poverty problems in Sub-Saharan Africa, the book includes moving photographs taken from Bono's first trip to Ethiopia in 1985. All royalties won't hit the Irishman's pocket, but rather ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History (www.one.org).
Speaking of prayers, Brandy supporters have been on their knees given her recent brush with the law. No, it wasn't because of some scandalous escapade or publicity stunt gone awry, but rather a car accident (and just for the record, she wasn't intoxicated or under any other influence). According to Yahoo! News, the California Highway Patrol is calling for the singer turned actress to be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in a fatal wreck from last month. Though the incident has given this celeb more headlines than she's had in years, these clippings won't likely make her press kit.
On a less weighty note, RCA Records just unveiled plans for the fourth Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album to land at the top of summer (May 1 to be exact). The raucous art rockers are naming the project Baby 81, inspired by a child admitted to the hospital following 2004's tsunami that was claimed by nine different parents before finding its proper home. And like that ambitious moniker, the album is expected to deliver equally emotionally and explosive guitar-drenched rock, a la Led Zeppelin crossed with a current garage appeal.
Street Date: Do we really need more Madonna?
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
After a steady stream of ad campaigns, television specials and over saturation in all aspects of the media, Madonna bows with her latest CD/DVD spectacle The Confessions Tour (Warner Brothers). Like The Rolling Stones, Madge feels compelled to release a live collection from just about every tour she embarks upon, though at least this set list differs from last year's double disc outing I'm Going to Tell You a Secret (Warner Brothers). Consider this Confessions package to serve as the audio and visual soundtrack to the tour of the same name, covering 2005's Confessions on a Dance Floor (Warner Brothers) in near entirety, along with the expected "Live To Tell," "Ray of Light" and "Lucky Star." But even with these fan favorites backed by glitzy production and over the top costumes, is the product really necessary? While die-hard club goers would quickly quip "absolutely," Madonna's more casual crowd could write it off like a virgin (touched for the ten millionth time).
Almost equal awareness has been placed on Norah Jones' Not Too Late (Blue Note) the latest in her commercially watered down jazz palette. Though the singer/songwriter has been the rage of Starbucks regulars for the past half decade, is she really the best of today's sophisticated bunch? It's all a matter of opinion (and certainly not on the favorable side of this particular critic) but there are a few possibilities worth betting on as stores open their doors: long lines and platinum-plus sales given her throngs of pedestrian appreciators who've waited three years for this title.
Less commercially minded consumers are no doubt awaiting Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's sophomore stab Some Loud Thunder (Wichita). Though the Brooklyn/ Philadelphia rockers' debut was arguably more hype than heart, the current disc is rumored to show greater creative depth and indie evolution. Another band boasting an acquired taste audience Mercury Rev hits American shelves, but with an unconventional album called Back To Mine (DMC). Rather than new material from the dreamy space rockers, expect a compilation of members' favorite songs (akin to what they might spin during a DJ set) including David Bowie, Nico, John Cale and George Jones. And don't forget old folker Art Garfunkel, who drops the standards disc Some Enchanted Evening (Rhino). While he may be jumping on the Rod Stewart/Barry Manilow bandwagon, this is one pleasantly surprising collection that trades cheese for class.