Monthly Archives: November 2010

Axl Rose Sues Guitar Hero Over "Slash"

You saw this one
coming a mile away, admit it…

 

By Fred Mills

 

With Thanksgiving just a few hours away, Los Angeles-area
lawyers are giving thanks for Axl Rose and his perennially-litigious frame of mind.
According to a report published this morning at Billboard.com, the Guns N’
Roses majordomo has filed suit against Activision, which creates the “Guitar Hero” video game, to the tune of
$20 million.

 

The lawsuit claims that the game maker “violated a deal not
to include any imagery” or references to former GNR guitarist Slash (or, for
that matter, Slash’s post-GNR outfit Velvet Revolver) – the likeness of Slash,
of course, turns up in the GNR song “Welcome to the Jungle” in the video game,
outfitted in his signature hat, sunglasses and nose ring. When Rose spotted
this, he apparently went ballistic.

 

The lawsuit is quoted as stating, “[Activision] began
spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions to not only
feature Slash and VR prominently in GH
III
but also promote the game by emphasizing and reinforcing an association
between Slash and Guns N’ Roses and the band’s song ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.”

 

There’s a lot more, and you can read the entire report here at Billboard.com

 

 

Bardo Pond Preps New Album – Finally!

Let’s not have such a
long gap between records from here on out, okay folks?

 

By Fred Mills

 

It’s been five years since phabulous psychedelic pharmacists
Bardo Pond released a new studio album, and as good as 2006’s Ticket Crystals (ATP Recordings) was, that’s
a long time for fans who over the years have thrilled to the band’s music. Even
more striking about the band’s relative silence was the sheer volume of output
that came before in terms of full-lengths (several on Matador, no less),
singles, EPs and their self-released experimental “Volume” series, along with
the Adrop suite that came out on the
Three Lobed label, also in 2006.

 

The drought is just about over, however: on January 11, Fire
Records will release Bardo Pond, and
that’s the artwork below. You can also check out an advance teaser MP3 too:

 

 

 

We don’t have too much additional info just yet, other than
this particularly evocative snippet of description courtesy the label. If you’re
a Bardo fan (ain’t we all?), however, it seems to work just about perfectly:

 

 

“This cauldron is a
bit of a different brew. It made total sense to me (as it will to you) when he
later told me the name of the LP is just “
Bardo Pond.” Why? It’s a distillation. Two
decades of playing together have sandblasted away everything unessential and
left us with what we have here. It was like no one else before them had ever
gotten near the plagal cadence, not Lou Reed or the Stooges or 2,000 yrs of
church music. They invented it all over again, independent of any of that,
after gawd knows how many yrs of flailing away and burning themselves up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read: Steven Pond’s Head Hunters Book

 

Published
recently by University
of Michigan Press,
Head
Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album does more than give the bestselling 1973 album from Herbie Hancock a
reappraisal – it challenges the way critics and the public frequently view the
intersection of jazz and commercialism.

 

By Steve Pick

When histories of jazz are written, fusion gets short
shrift. Oh, Miles Davis gets acknowledged for being the first to mix jazz
elements with rock instrumentation and volume, and maybe Weather Report and
Herbie Hancock get mentioned for selling a million records. But for the most
part, the way things were in the ‘70s gets shuffled to the side, as if there
was nothing more interesting than a rearguard action by some acoustic
traditionalists waiting for Wynton Marsalis to come along and pick up the jazz
tradition in the ‘80s. Or, alternatively, the ‘70s avant-garde players carried
their own flame in opposition to the commercial fusion players until they had
to fight their own mostly losing battle against the neo-cons led by Marsalis.

 

Either way, these histories ignore the incontrovertible fact
that it’s pretty hard to sit still in your seat when “Chameleon” from Herbie
Hancock’s Head Hunters album comes on
the stereo. Holy moley, this is one heck of an exhilarating track, with so much
syncopated movement going on in the multiple rhythms of the bass, percussion,
conga, drums, and clavinet. For over fifteen minutes, the funk inspiration
strikes, providing perfect grounding for synthesizer and soprano sax solos to
jump around the beats. No, it doesn’t sound like Art Blakey and his Jazz
Messengers or the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but
there seems no question that art is being made here.

 

Steven F. Pond sets out to closely examine Head Hunters, and in the process
explores questions of genre identity, commercialism, the African music
diaspora, the nature of funk, and the role of marketing in music. For many
years, Head Hunters was the
best-selling jazz album of all time (until eventually Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue caught up and surpassed
it), and yet critics at the time of its release were sharply divided as to
whether or not it was even jazz. Pond prefers to use fusion jazz as the term
for the music here and by Miles, Weather Report, Return to Forever, and Grover
Washington, Jr., to name a few disparate entities sharing only electric
amplification as common ground. His opening chapter is a bravura take-down of
the idea of narrowly defining genre at all. By comparing a number of critics
and the way they attempt to define these musics as something related to but
largely outside jazz itself, Pond shows that the impulse to reinforce one’s own
tastes through genre rules breaks down at both the edges and the center when
looked at carefully.

 

Commercialism is a bugaboo not just in jazz, but pretty much
all across the musical spectrum. There is seemingly a universal need for
individuals to define their tastes in opposition to that of others, and one of
the easiest ways to do this is to declare popular music inherently lesser than
that which is heard by smaller, apparently hipper audiences. There is no
question that music which receives a larger listenership must have something
which makes it connect to a wider range of backgrounds, but it doesn’t
necessarily follow that the only way to do this is to “dumb” down the product
into an essence of lowest common denominator. For one thing, Duke Ellington,
the Beatles, and Nirvana had huge hits in their careers, but their critical
reputation has never suffered.  Pond
quotes Head Hunters producer David
Rubinson: “They’d say, “Jesus, this record was successful, he made a lot of
money. That must have been his motivation.” And that’s completely backwards.
The motivation was to make the music that they wanted. And the fact that it
sold was a side effect.”

 

 

Pond has a blast tracing the connections between African-based
music around the world and the sound of Head
Hunters
. It may have been mentioned before, but not very often, that funk
is related to the roll of the gankogui bell found in Anlo-Ewe music from the
coast of Ghana, and thus to the more familiar clave heard in Afro-Cuban music.
By incorporating the concept of signifyin’, familiar to us through the
African-American word play of the dozens, into musical terms, and using Amiri
Baraka’s concept of “the changing same” to show that what is borrowed from one
aspect of African culture can be transferred onto a different role with a
similar purpose in another, Pond shows that Head
Hunters
has as much to do with traditions outside the U.S. as it does with
whatever commercial aspirations may have existed in 1973. Here and in the
chapter on funk, Pond uses written music to give extra meaning to his examples;
they are not necessary to gain an understanding of his points, but depending on
familiarity with rhythmic depictions, at least, they do give greater emphasis.

 

Which brings us to funk. Again and again, fusion jazz
musicians in the early years cite James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone as a
primary influence on their decision to try this new approach. Pond demonstrates
exactly what it was that attracted players with a jazz background to this new
syncopated approach, and his close analysis of “Make It Funky” by Brown and
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin” by Sly give even greater appreciation
for their achievements. In addition, Pond traces the origins of funk itself
back into jazz history, with the incorporation of Afro-Cuban elements into hard
bop. So jazz influenced pop before pop influenced jazz to become pop. Musicians
do their best work when they don’t worry nearly as much as critics and fans do
about genre restrictions.

 

Early on, Pond discusses the concept of a “web of
affiliations,” a notion to which he returns again and again. Genre, commercial
success, African influences, and funk all play a role in the understanding of Head Hunters, but rather than assume
each of these is a separate concept, Pond believes them to be interrelated. The
jazz desire for improvisation and originality merges with the African
influences which were exotic at the time and the funk influences which were
changing the way music was heard, leading to a perfect nexus for commercial
success. But Pond takes these webbed ideas further, and links them to a
discussion of marketing, a subject rarely discussed in any serious works on
music criticism. Head Hunters was not
a success the first few months it was in stores until a particular Warner
Brothers promotions man pushed the record outside of the jazz sections in
record stores and convinced R&B DJs to play it on the radio. Vernon
Slaughter is not a name familiar to music fans, but he brought to life his
conviction that Head Hunters could
reach a new audience. Of course, timing is everything – within a few more
years, radio would be more rigidly controlled, and the influence of one area’s
promotions would not be able to bump sales up nationally.

 

There is more in Pond’s book, particularly about the
aesthetics of studio overdubbing. By focusing so relentlessly on one beloved
album which has not received the critical attention it deserves, Pond forces a
rethinking of much that is conventionally accepted by music historians. It’s
not as though he’s suggesting a dropping of critical standards so much as
remembering that those standards are created the same way that the music is,
within a context of cultural, historical, commercial, artistic, and individual
concepts which change depending on when, where and how – and by whom – they are
viewed.

 

 

Lemmy Documentary Gets Release Date

What the f**k did he
say?

 

By Fred Mills

 

After premiering at SXSW this past March and having a number
of film festival screenings in the following months, the documentary on
Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister is now set to officially debut worldwide in
February.

 

It’s titled Lemmy: 49%
Mother F**cker. 51% Son of a B*tch
, which according to Babelfish roughly
translates to Lemmy: 49% Mother Fucker.
51% Son of a Bitch.

 

Check out the trailer and more details at the LemmyMovie.com
website
, or check the clip  below which
was circulated back in the spring. It’s a beaut.

 

 

 

Fire Recs Does 30 Giant Sand Reissues

First three are
already out, with the remainder set to start rolling out pronto. Watch this
space tomorrow for a special announcement….

 

By Fred Mills

 

Back in the summer we published a massive, two-part
interview
with Giant Sand mainman Howe Gelb. Among sundry matters he outlined
some of his plans for the remainder of 2010, which included releasing a new
Giant Sand record, which he’d recently finished recording in Denmark (where
most of the band members actually liveas well as reissuing the first one, 1985’s
Valley of Rain.

 

(Gelb had a funny story to go with the latter that’s worth
repeating here: “I’d decided to move to L.A.
and drove out there, because I’d had two records I’d recorded and each one
found a home. Ten minutes before the Giant Sand record, I put together a
country record called the Band of Blacky
Ranchette
, and a guy in France wanted to put that out and a guy in England
wanted to put out the Giant Sand record, as well as Enigma Records here. So I
had both tapes in the car, had decided to move to L.A. in my van, and the night
I got there I had a feeling the van was going to get ripped off, and I took all
my stuff out of it, but I forgot about the tapes, they were behind the couch.
And sure enough the van did get broken into, and they stole a bunch of stuff of
my bass players. And I thought I had taken everything out, I was really happy,
and then later I realized, “fuck, the tapes are in there.” And the
funny thing was I forgot that a friend of mine, a radio guy named Jonathan L,
had given me a cactus to take out to a friend of his, and the cactus saved two
of the reels because whoever was rooting around there in the dark obviously got
spoinked by the cactus. So some junkie or something stole two reels, which was
the final mixes of the first Giant Sand record, so we had to remix them. We
have since found a cassette of the original mixes, so it’s just like a little
interesting aside. Not an important thing, but it’s nice to hear it on
cassette, and it sounds good, so we’ll release that version of it.”)

 

At any rate, the new GS
album, Blurry Blue Mountain, is out
this week via the Fire label and we shall have a full review of it promptly. Also,
check back with BLURT tomorrow, Nov.
25, as we’ll have a very special announcement of yet another new Gelb-related title that is about to come available – we
guarantee you’ll be surprised.

 

In the meantime, however, Fire has also unleashed the 25th Anniversary Edition of Valley of Rain, additionally announcing plans for an
ambitious reissue program for 30 albums dotting the GS/Gelb back catalogue.
Just out are 25th Anniversary Editions of 1986’s Ballad Of A Thin Line Man and 1988’s Storm, both core though often overlooked
titles in the band’s canon; Storm has
long been a favorite of yours truly, and it’s great to have that and the others
in pristine remastered/remixed form. Each title also boasts new artwork and
liners; Valley of Rain sports a
different track sequence from the original LP, and latter two also have one
bonus track apiece. These and all forthcoming titles will be available on vinyl
too. You can read a good review roundup of the three albums at Adequacy.net and
keep your eyes peeled for the BLURT treatment as well.

 

Coming up next will be Love
Songs
(1988), Long Stem Rant (1989) and Swerve (1990). The
projected reissue schedule is below, but as a note on the Fire site cautions,
exact dates are tentative. Regardless, 2011 looks to be the Year of the Sand
Man. (For a comprehensive Giant Sand discography, click over to our good
friends at Sa-Wa-Ro. You’ll be glad you did, and more than a tad amazed at the sheer
quantity of music that Gelb has been responsible for in nearly three decades of
operations.

 

 

27th SEPTEMBER 2010
GIANT SAND – Valley Of Rain (25th Anniversary Edition)

OCTOBER 2010
GIANT SAND – Blurry Blue Mountain & Valley Of Rain (25th Anniversary
Edition)
GIANT SAND – Blurry Blue Mountain
GIANT SAND – Ballad Of A Thin Man (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Storm (25th Anniversary Edition)

NOVEMBER 2010
GIANT SAND – Love Songs (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Long Stem Rant (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Swerve (25th Anniversary Edition)

DECEMBER 2010
GIANT SAND – Ramp (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Center Of The Universe (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Purge & Slouch (25th Anniversary Edition)

JANUARY 2011
GIANT SAND – Backyard BBQ Broadcast (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Goods & Services (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Glum (25th Anniversary Edition)

FEBRUARY 2011
GIANT SAND – Chore Of Enchantment (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Cover Magazine (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Black Out (25th Anniversary Edition)

MARCH 2011
HOWE GELB – Confluence
HOWE GELB – ….Some Piano
HOWE GELB – Hisser
HOWE GELB – Dreaded Brown Recluse
HOWE GELB – Sno Angel Wingin It

APRIL 2011
The Band Of Blacky
Ranchette
– The Band Of Blacky
Ranchette

The Band Of Blacky
Ranchette
– Sage Advice
The Band Of Blacky
Ranchette
– Heartland
The Band Of Blacky
Ranchette
– Still Looking Good To Me

MAY 2011
GIANT SAND – Its All Over The Map (25th Anniversary Edition)

JULY 2011
HOWE GELB – Sno Angel Like You

 

 

 

 

Have a Slayer Holiday Season!

 

 

Gut an elf for
Christmas…

 

By Fred Mills

 

Nowadays, cool/quirky YouTube videos are a dime a dozen,
with everyone who thinks they’ve come up with something original typically
being wayyyy behind the curve. Not always, though, as the video clip below – a
suburban home’s Christmas lights being turned on (and off, and on…) in
synchronization with the mighty Slayer.

 

Apparently the SoCal-based guy who set up the light display
has plans to do something similar with a Pantera song in time for Christmas.

 

Thanks to Boing Boing for posting this – in fact, you should
also go to the BoingBoing.net site and check out some of the comments that
folks have made about the video. As one wag pointed out, it would be awesome to
make a road trip to watch the light and sound display in person, but probably  not be all that cool if you happened to be the
next door neighbor…

 

 

Lights Change Name to Even WORSE One

Nearly as good as
Strawberry Alarm Clock! Too bad Biffy Clyro was already taken…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

We get press releases all day long. Some better than others.
Some accompanied by photos that more or less compel us to share it all with
you, dear readers. So anyway, as you’ll read below, it looks like the American
band formerly known as Lights is now going by the utterly memorable name
Cliffie Swan, primarily because there is a female artist from Canada who is
called Lights. That will be a lot easier for Googling the band, at least. One
question, though: who the fuck is (was) Lights?

 

***

 

“Everyone is talking
about Lights! Even
“Sir” David Bowie’s assistants! Thing he needs to know that they need
to tell him (because otherwise how would he know?), as do all you friends and
fans of Lights, is that the band has officially changed its name to Cliffie Swan.
Lights haven’t just gone out, they’ve been reborn! Here’s hoping this will end
all confusion between the wretched Canadian musician
Lights
and the incredible talents of Sophia Knapp, Linnea Vedder and Alana Amram.
These sultry ladies have been hard at work in New York, preparing their new album (slated
for early 2011) and practicing for a couple shows where they’ll surely debut
some of these new rockers live. Union Pool December 7th, Brooklyn!
Save the date. If you don’t anticipate being out East this winter, you might
dig their cover of “As The World Falls
Down
” that grabbed the
attention of the thin white duke himself
, as we mention above.”

 

Pictured above: ex-Lights. Pictured below: still Lights. Take your pick.

 

Watch: Sakamoto/Bowie Mr. Lawrence DVD

Merry Christmas Mr.
Lawrence, directed by Nakisa Oshima, gets a BluRay overhaul loaded with extras
courtesy Criterion. See also our Ryuichi Sakamoto interview elsewhere on the
BLURT website
. Film trailer is below.

 

By A.D. Amorosi

Nakisa Oshima’s Merry
Christmas Mr. Lawrence
– based on the novel The Seed And The Sower by Sir Laurens van der Post, is the
prisoner-of-war film that got away, a sweeping epic that’s densely
claustrophobic and a deeply passionate film that studies guilt, order, loneliness,
brutality, the past’s personal crimes and the intricacies of male bonding
without lending itself to the obvious. As it is a Criterion BluRay, the
restored high-definition master pops so that David Bowie’s golden hair (new POW
Jack Celliers), the purple lilacs of Jack’s childhood and Takeshi Kitano’s dark
eyes (Sergeant Hara) stand in stark contrast to the broken foliage and bland
sands around them.

 

 

Interviews and making-of featurettes with producers, cast
and composers (Tom Conti and the double-duty-doing Ryuichi Sakamoto) are indeed
fascinating as is Hasten Slowly (a
documentary about van der Post) and the package’s culturally explosive essay by
Chuck Stephens. But mostly, it’s the opportunity to re-live 1942 Java and a
vision of sensitive yet savage captors (Sakamoto’s Captain Yonoi) and captives
(Conti’s Colonel Lawrence, Jack Thompson’s Commander) of World War II often
portrayed with dumb comedy and ham-handed dialogue.

 

Scenes of tense ritual destruction of the self and the soul
(seppuku, burial in sand) are part of Oshima’s trick bag (he did the hard
sensual In the Realm of the Senses and Empire of Passion) as is his wont
for one-take cuts and choppy edits. Sakamoto’s ever-so-slightly facile and Shakespeare
spouting Yanoi makes Bowie’s
nail-tough Celliers seem starker still in retrospect. But mostly, you’ll pay
attention to Oshima’s warm tones, Conti’s dignified soliloquies and Kitano’s
childlike diabolical and awkward ways with kindness and destruction.

 

Special Features:

 

New, restored high-definition master

The Oshima Gang,
an original making-of featurette

New interviews w/ Jeremy Thomas, Paul Mayersberg, Tom Conti,
& Ryuichi Sakamoto

Hasten Slowly, an
hour-long documentary about Laurens van der Post

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Chuck
Stephens

 

 

 

 

Xmas Wishlist 1: Lennon Box Of Vision

 

This year’s followup
to the 2009 Beatles
Box Of Vision may
not be as essential as its predecessor, but if you’re a true fan, it’s still a
must-own.

 

By Rick Allen

Let’s face facts; you probably don’t have most of
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s collaborative projects beyond the two studio Plastic
Ono Band albums, Live Peace In Toronto, Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey. Even if you
bought the others back when they came out on vinyl it’s not likely you bought
them again on CD.

 

That means that several slots in the CD Storage
Book part of the hefty (12 pounds) John Lennon Box Of Vision will remain empty. But that doesn’t mean this attractive
100 dollar plus presentation isn’t worth picking up. It’s a no brainer for
hardcore collectors and Beatles fans. For everyone else it’s still a cleverly
conceived and lovingly crafted and even practical piece with a silver-inked
portrait of John on the front of the outer box and a reproduction of his
line-drawing “Baby Grand” on the back.

 

 

The most practical and maybe the best reason to
have it is the LP Artwork Book which features hi res LP size reproductions of
the covers of John’s solo albums as well as the ones he and Yoko made together.
These are much easier to read than micro-printed CD booklets but looking
through them also brings back the emotional rush of picking up a brand new
Beatle LP for the first (and sometimes the hundredth) time. Listening to an
album, a Beatles album especially, while getting lost in the cover art is an
experience that’s much missed by those who remember doing it. When CDs were
first coming onto the market and manufacturers and retailers were looking to quash
the relatively easy shoplifting of these new pocket sized recordings it’s a
mystery why record companies didn’t simply package the new media in standard
sized album covers made with an accommodating CD sized pocket.

 

Problem solved. In addition, these pictures,
printed on high quality paper, are beautiful. They may not carry the nostalgic
weight of those in the companion set, 2009’s The Beatles Box Of Vision, but this is one area where many of the John and Yoko
albums stand on equal ground with Lennon’s solo releases. The covers are also
reproduced behind the plastic covers of the sleeves for the actual CDs in the
CD Storage Book to make for easy sorting.

 

The third part of the Box Of Vision is the Catalography which features a full discography
of John’s solo and John and Yoko’s albums. The Catalography also has the album
covers and notes and guide by tax attorney and Beatle-ologist Brice Spizer.

 

If
you have the scratch, The Lennon Box Of
Vision
is worth the investment even if you aren’t a Lennon or Beatles fan.
It probably won’t be in production for long and it’s almost certain to increase
in value as time goes by. If you are a Lennon fan/collector the Box will have
great practical value and, like all things Beatles, the emotional worth will be
immeasurable.

 

 

Courtney Love Tweets More Nude Photos

 

Well, almost nude… by the way, who the hell is the other chick, the one showing some nip?

By Perez Mills

Last month, as we were gradually approaching the full moon, Courtney Love ran amok on Twitter, uploading a bunch of naked photos of herself via TweetPic. Why? Because she could!

This weekend, with the bright light of the silvery moon shining down once again, she was at it again, as the photos above and below indicate. Thanks to Huffington Post for bringing this important music news to our attention, and if you want to see all the photos, make sure you go to Courtney’s Twitter page. She also has been uploading images of, uh, one of her feet attired in different sexy high heels…