Tuesday, May 27, 2008
THE Handwritten lyrics of "Give Peace a Chance" are to be auctioned in July. The lyric sheet was given to a fan who snuck past security to hang out with the Lennons at their "bed-in for peace" in Toronto, where they also recorded the song.
YOKO Ono and the holders of hours of video tape of John Lennon are awaiting a May 21 hearing to see who controls the video, which was shot by Ono's ex-husband, Anthony Cox. The holders of the tapes say they bought them from Cox. Ono claims the footage was private and never meant to be seen by the public.
OVER the weekend, Sir Paul was honored by Yale University with an honorary Doctor of Music. An enraged McCartney demanded an additional Doctor of Film for his '80s opus, 'Give My Regards to Broad Street'.
LEXUS gave Paul a new hybrid luxury sedan earlier this month (guess he can't afford one!). Instead of shipping it by boat they sent it as air freight, which burns more fuel. Those who have bought into the global warming hoax have been critical of the move, McCartney himself was reportedly "horrified". McCartney also wants the world to "go veggie".
McCARtney is headlining a Liverpool concert on June 1st which also includes Foo Fighters and a few Liverpool bands. It's McCartney's contribution to the city of Liverpool being designated Europe's 'Capital of Culture' for 2008.
"I REAd the news today, oh boy," and got a free copy of Macca's latest CD, Memory Almost Full with the May 18th edition of the London Mail. Sir Paul's generosity extends to a free concert in Kiev, Ukraine on 6/14. For those wanting to go, flights to Kiev run about $2900...which I think is what I paid to see him in Columbus.
ALSO, having just spent $47 million dollars to get rid of his wife, McCartney wants to bring her on his next world tour because it's the only way he can see baby Beatrice.
AS MEentioned here, the two Traveling Wilburys albums that were issued last year as a collection will be re-released as individual albums (Volume One and Volume Three. Thought wanting one without the other is like wanting a left arm but not the right. Should you own these albums in some form? Should you own a copy of 'Star Wars'...or the Bible? I still recommend the set instead. You get the same music plus a DVD for a lower price.
RINGO key rings? It's not a dream...it's true. Find them along with more snazzy merchandise on the Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band tour...maybe coming near YOU! Tour member Colin Hay sez, "It's a mistake for you not to geet tickets. Wait, I'm getting another call. Who can it be now?"
ORF Wit' his head! A topiary sculpture of the Beatles, only recently unveiled in Liverpool, was vandalized when some scouser decapitated Ringo. Starr upset the local faithful on the telly recently saying that he missed "nothing" about Liverpool, contradicting the sentimental lyrics on his latest album (reviewed here), Liverpool 8. "It's damp and it's cold and it's dark," said the former Dingle resident. Way to promote the Capital of Culture, Ringo!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Rock 'n roll icon Chubby Checker continues to make history when he brings his tour to Belterra Casino in Florence, Indiana, which is a short drive from Cincinnati. I've interviewed Chubby twice before, in 1999 and 2000, when he was coming to Evansville, Indiana, and I was a writer for a paper there called News4U (which I think is now defunct). I took the occasion of Chubby's coming to my town to reconnect with him and hear what he's thinking about these days.
The last time I interviewed Chubby, he was very emphatic about his legacy, what he calls 'Dancing apart to the beat'. You see, according to Chubby (and his website), 'dancing apart to the beat', where couples dance together without touching, did not exist before he did "The Twist" on "American Bandstand" in 1959. Ergo, everything that followed, from disco to the rave, owes something to Chubby Checker. He makes a good case, but the way he was so emphatic and adamant about it took me by surprise back then. Eight years later, he's mellowed about it...or not. "In the 20th century", he says, "we’ve done things that no ones ever done. Like on this telephone, we’re talking right now. I always call myself the Alexander Graham Bell of the music industry because I gave rock ‘n roll the dance that it never had: The Twist, The Fly, The Pony, The Shake, The Hucklebuck. I mean, all these dances have been going on since I came on the stage on “American Bandstand” in 1959. I went on “American Bandstand” when I was in high school and changed the world right then, right then and there. “The Twist” is the only song to be #1 twice. It’s the biggest song of the Sixties. Think about that. All the British Invasion and all of the Woodstock, “The Twist” was the biggest song of the Sixties. We’re the only people that had five albums, not in the Top 100, we had five albums in the Top 12, all at the same time on the chart…nine double-sided hit songs, first platinum – “Let’s Twist Again”, first Rock ‘n Roll Grammy – “Let’s Twist Again”."
Rattling off his impressive resume is second nature for Chubby, but what really gets him excited is when you ask him about his new single, "Knock Down the Walls." Chubby hasn't had a major label release since 1982's 'The Change Has Come' on MCA, and his last releases, like 2001's instructional 'Sixty Minute Workout', went by mostly unnoticed. But now Chubby Checker has gone digital - "Think about that. “Knock Down the Walls” you can get on iTunes and Amazon.com. That song is Chubby Checker 21st century. It has even no shades of the 20th century. In fact, most performers, your great performers and the most popular people that are making millions of dollars today, can’t even come near that song. That song is 21st century. I don’t think any man or woman that comes from the 20th century can match what we’ve done with “Knock Down the Walls”. And there’s nothing like it. It’s totally…don’t expect to see the Chubby Checker that you knew. All my old fans, I don’t know that they might want to gravitate to this song because it’s so unlike anything that I’ve ever done. In fact, I have a lot of new, young fans, that start at about nine or ten years old to 25 years old, that covet this song, “Knock Down the Walls”. It’s nuts. It’s crazy. I’m getting play on Adult Contemporary. I’m getting played on Top 40. I haven’t been on Top 40 radio since 1965. “Knock Down the Walls” has given me some new territory…familiar territory that I’m familiarizing myself again with Top 40 radio. Some of these disc jockeys weren’t even born when Chubby Checker came around, but they really love this song and the song is getting a lot of airplay."
For all of his talk about hit records, it struck me that his desire to get the song played went beyond fame or profit. I mean, a legend like Chubby Checker can't get any more famous. He really wants to share this song with the world: "Only about 5% of the people have heard this record. We’re struggling getting airplay, but you know something? I think they’ll come around...when they realize that we’re making a statement in the music industry once again with a great new song that the new people that really like it are picking up the phone and asking for “Knock Down the Walls” and the message that “Knock Down the Walls’ has is probably the best message in the music industry today. Not because I did it. I just think God gave it to me and I put it out there."
You can hear the song for yourself on MySpace, download it, or wait for it's release as part of a new 'greatest hits' package: "July 22nd is the official release of “Knock Down the Walls” and what we did – it’s a double-sided CD. One side is the 20th century and the other side is the 21st century." But don't just settle for the music, as Chubby explains:"We have a new t-shirt, called ‘King of the Twist’ t-shirt, and we have a new candy bar, the world’s only checkerboard chocolate candy bar. By September 1st, 10,000 stores will have all these records and t-shirts and candy bars. So, I’m really excited. I’ve got a second chance. It’s just great."
So, if you're heading out to see Chubby, expect to hear his new song and his old favorites, but prepare yourselves: "We're gonna kill 'em. That's what we do. Take out your insurance. We’re coming. That’s what we do. You know the centerpiece of this show is not about me. It’s about the people. They are the centerpiece of this show. They always have been. I play for them. I mean, they are the most important part of what I do. And this is why out of all that we’ve done – we don’t get a lot of airplay, we should; we don’t get the recognition that we deserve; we’ve done more things than most singers have ever done – but what’s kept me in business is what we’re going to be doing at Belterra. That show that we have…nothing can touch it. It’s just so perfect. For some reason, we’ve created perfection when we do our live show. Our live show’s kept us in business all of these years. This has been the pearl of my success – the live show."
I couldn't let Chubby off the line without getting him to say something controversial (unless he already had!), so I turned the conversation to politics and the burning question - has Chubby Checker endorsed a candidate? "A long time ago...and I’m not saying who I did, either. But I’ll tell you something. Something wonderful is happening in America right now. I think that our country is getting ready to look totally different in the face of the entire planet. We’re the greatest country in the world and I think this election is going to prove that we are the greatest country in the world. We’re able to reach out to all the countries in the world and make peace in the whole planet. I really believe that. We’re at a time in our lives right now where America really stands up for something. It’s wonderful."
Chubby Checker and the Wildcats will be appearing May 24th at Belterra Casino, Resort and Spa in Florence, Indiana. For ticket information visit their website. For more Chubby Checker tour dates, visit chubbychecker.com.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
- Black Crowes - Warpaint
- Johnny Cash - The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show
- Johnny Cash - Live from Austin, TX [CD/DVD]
- Elvis Costello & the Impostors - Momofuku
- Elvis Costello - This Year's Model [deluxe edition reissue]*
- Bob Dylan - The Dylan Trilogy**
- Bob Dylan - Dylan [3-cd career retrospective]
- Bob Dylan - Dylan [1-cd compilation of 3-cd set]
- Electric Light Orchestra - Platinum***
- Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
- Gary Louris - Vagabonds
- Magnetic Fields - Distortion
- Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch
- Willie Nelson - Legends of the Grand Ole Opry
- Willie Nelson - Live from Austin, TX [CD/DVD]
- Willie Nelson - Moment of Forever
- Willie Nelson - One Hell of a Ride [4-cd career box set]
- Randy Newman - Leatherheads [movie soundtrack]
- Frank Sinatra - Beautiful Ballads & Love Songs
- Frank Sinatra - Sinatra at the Movies
- Mark Stuart - Left of Nashville
- They Might Be Giants - Here Come the 123s [CD/DVD]
- I'm Not There soundtrack - cover versions of Dylan songs
- Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story soundtrack - many songs written by Dan Bern
- Stacey Earle - Just Along for the Ride [Sept.]
- Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart - Love from Stacey & Mark [May]
- John Hiatt - Same Old Man [5/27]
- Billy Joel - The Stranger [2-cd reissue] [7/8]
- Billy Joel - The Stranger [2-cd/2-dvd box] [7/8]
- Move - 4-cd box set ['08]
- Move - Looking On [reissue w/bonus tracks] ['08]
- Sam Phillips - Don't Do Anything [6/3]
- Frank Sinatra - Nothing But the Best [5/19]
- Traveling Wilburys - Volume One [6/3]****
- Traveling Wilburys - Volume Three [6/3]
- Neil Young - Archives ['08] [on Blu-Ray disc only]
- Crosby, Stills & Nash - 7/16 - South Bend
- Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart - 6/17 - Bloomington
- Davy Jones - 7/4 - Indianapolis
- Alison Krauss & Robert Plant - 7/15 - Cleveland; 7/18 - Lexington
- Gordon Lightfoot - 9/24 - Cleveland
- Willie Nelson - 8/1 - Louisville
- Tom Petty - 6/22 - Cleveland; 7/3 - Noblesville; 7/8 - Cincinnati
- John Sebastian - 8/9 - Cleveland
- Loudon Wainwright III - 9/27 - Indianapolis
- Weird Al Yankovic - 7/3 - Indianapolis; 7/5 - Merrillville; 7/6 - Toledo
- Weird Al Yankovic - 7/20 - Columbus; 7/21 - Cincinnati
**Box set of three most recent studio albums – ‘Time Out of Mind’, ‘Love and Theft’, and ‘Modern Times’.
***2-disc reissue of the compilation albums ‘Burning Bright’ and ‘ELO Classics’. If you only get one ELO compilation, avoid these and buy the excellent ‘All Over the World’ from 2005 or 2-disc ‘Light Years’ from 1997.
****The Traveling Wilburys Collection released last year is split into separate discs, retaining the bonus songs from the box set discs.
Monday, May 5, 2008
My introduction to Jack Benny may have been when Radar did an impression of him on “M*A*S*H”. The episode, ‘Movie Tonight’ from Season 5, originally aired in 1977. I probably saw it then, having to watch what dad or my brothers wanted to watch, or in the reruns as ubiquitous in my own life as they have been on television. Or maybe it was on local public radio station WVXU, which had a daily block of old-time radio shows for many years, and currently carries the syndicated program When Radio Was, but I don’t remember ever making a habit of it.
For awhile there in my early teens, I was interested in a line of old time radio shows on cassette (yes, I've been weird a long,long time). They came on a spinner rack that would turn up in an odd store here or there. One of those I had was a Jack Benny show. Benny's radio show was so popular that his personality quirks became instant laughs when even hinted at. He was notoriously stingy with money, was never older than 39 and fashioned himself a violin virtuoso (all the while playing up the screeches and miscues). Benny's comic legend was in his timing. He turned pausing into an art form, garnering howls for saying nothing.
writing all of this purple prose because a local PBS affiliate here is currently running episodes of his TV series, "The Jack Benny Program" from the mid-1950s as "The Best of the Jack Benny Show". I'm not sure how they're choosing which shows to run. The handful so far have been from 1955. This is about the time he's transitioned fully from his radio show (1932 - 1955) to his television show (1950 - 1965).
I guess I was just thinking about all the people who have no idea who Jack Benny is...and that bothers me. I was heartened by the blog of an apparently young woman who's crazy about Benny's fellow radio/TV pioneers, Fibber McGee & Molly. Here are a couple of examples of his show from YouTube.
First up, Benny disguises himself to win cash from Groucho Marx on "You Bet Your Life"...
next, Benny with series regular (and cartoon voice legend) Mel Blanc.