Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just for the record

We don't do this. EVER.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Asia Redux (Redux) (Redux)

As far as I'm concerned, this blog is about disagreeing sometimes with my fellow DVers. So...it's time to do that again. :)

To My Fellow Reviewers (You Know Who You Are):

I acknowledge, first off, that I am often in the minority among my DV friends. I don't get the Grateful Dead, I dislike Bob Dylan, I kinda like Barry Manilow -- I am, needless to say, the very soul of uncool sometimes. After many years of struggling with this, I have learned to deal with it.

But I'm about to take it another step. I kind of like Asia, at least their first and second CDs, Asia and Alpha. I cheerily admit everything after that is crap, except for "Days Like These" off their Then And Now CD. Slick as the Exxon Valdez spill? Check. Corporate, soulless, mechanical? Yep, all that's somewhat true. Live albums recorded in more locations than "CSI" spinoffs in a shallow attempt to cash in on the same songs over and over again? I agree. But damn it, there are occasional moments when "Heat Of The Moment" or "Don't Cry" just hits the spot. I don't own the CDs, I don't need to own the CDs, but they're...acceptably mediocre with a chance of partly fair.

My fellow writers seem to believe they're the musical equivalent of Times Beach, Missouri. And now they've decided to give the new CD a bad rep even before it's been released by being a bit...er...what's the term I'm looking for here...ah, yes, snarky *grin*... about who's actually in the band.

There's a serious point to this; in my judgment, critics perpetuate their opinions of artists without paying attention to what they might be doing at the time. Yes, Asia's new CD, Phoenix, will probably mostly suck. But if it doesn't...are we going to be sufficiently open-minded to admit it doesn't mostly suck?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Washed-Up Band Strikes Back Against "The Man"

This just in from Daily Vault Staff Writer Bruce Rusk:

Eighties has-beens and one-and-a-half hit wonders The Romantics took time off from their gala tour of Holiday Inns and mall openings to file legal action against Activision Games and their partners Redoctane, publishers of the wildly successful Guitar Hero series of games.

For those of you who have lives (or don't have teenagers), Guitar Hero is a video game wherein the player manipulates a plastic guitar thingy and plays along with famous rock songs. Most of the songs are covers (used by permission) and some are the original recordings. Yes , royalties and all that do apply. Some major acts including Metallica, Aerosmith and Pearl Jam have blessed the games with their original recordings. The rest apparently gave permission and cashed the check, thank-you-very-much-nice-doing-business-with-you.

In one of the many versions of the game; Guitar Hero Encore: Rock the 80s, a cover version of The Romantics' ubiquitous "What I Like About You" is included. Apparently the band took offense to the fact that according to them, the song "sounds too much like us."

Okay you window-lickers, when the sound of your careers fading further off into the sunset subsides, listen closely...

IT'S A COVER! IT'S SUPPOSED TO SOUND LIKE YOU!

According to a statement from the band's lawyer, The Romantics felt the cover "infringed" on their "trademark sound" and wanted to "share in any "good commerce" generated by the game.

OK, I see, you want some money. That I understand.

The irony of this is that the same song is now the advertising jingle for Hampton Inns. In fact, it's been flogged all over the airwaves in several advertising campaigns for things like cleaning products and frozen desserts over the past two decades. However, when it's being used to shill window cleaner, it's really the Romantics performing, thereby leaving their integrity intact and their wallets a little fatter. That'll come in handy as they travel out to the brightly lit stages of their stellar career, like their upcoming shows at the St. Angela Merici School's 21st Annual SummerFest 2008 and the National Cherry Festival.

As I was marveling over this incident, I discovered that a judge threw the case out stating that Activision had acted within that law, and without ill will towards the band. I suspect an appeal is coming, as soon as they can whore that song out to Tampax or Quaker Oats and raise enough to pay their lawyer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Asia redux (redux)

Just for the record, this post is all Michael Ehret's fault, except for the parts that are all Bruce Rusk's fault.

See, Michael, having read Bruce's and my reviews of the original self-titled Asia disc from 1982, clapped his hands together with glee when he heard the recent news about the four original members of Asia reuniting not just for a tour, but for a new album, titled Phoenix and due out in April.

This naturally led to a conversation on the Vault writers' e-mail discussion list that went something like this:

Funny you should mention the "not-original" Asia... yes, [keyboardist Geoff] Downes kept the name alive for 15 years with no other original members. The main other guy was a bassist-guitarist-vocalist named John Payne, with rotating touring guitarists and drummers. Every so often one of the other original four would play a few shows with Downes and Payne for old times' sake -- I think [guitarist Steve] Howe once played most of a tour in the early 90s while the [guitarist Trevor] Rabin edition of Yes was busy recording Talk.

About two or three years ago, [original Asia bassist-vocalist John] Wetton and Downes got together and made an album -- I think it was called Icon -- and then Yes went on hiatus, so Howe became available, and [drummer Carl] Palmer jumped in too. Apparently you hit it right on the head as far as the "other" Asia -- Downes left them by the side of the road... But that's not the end of the story! John Payne and the other two guys who were current in Asia at the time have now formed a band named -- I kid you not -- "Asia Featuring John Payne." As opposed to the Downes-Howe-Wetton-Palmer edition of Asia, which is technically known as "The Four Original Members of Asia."

See, it isn't just progressive rock MUSIC that's complicated...!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday roundup redux

Drop everything because here comes another Saturday roundup...
  • New benefit CD Cinnamon Girl -- Women Artists Cover Neil Young For Charity officially drops Tuesday, February 12th worldwide and on iTunes. The double-CD from American Laundromat Records focuses on Neil's early work (1969-1979) and features 21 new cover versions of his most popular songs by Tanya Donelly, Britta Phillips, Lori McKenna, Jill Sobule with John Doe, Josie Cotton, Kristin Hersh, The Watson Twins, Darcie Miner, Elk City and many more. All proceeds from the project are donated to Casting For Recovery, a national non-profit support and educational program for women who have or have had breast cancer.
  • Haale (as in halle-lujah, or jale-peno ), is a downtown New Yorker of Iranian descent. Her full-length debut No Ceiling melds the Persian influence of her bloodline — including the work of the mystical poet Rumi and the Sufi trance tradition -- with her fondness for Hendrix, Dylan, Radiohead, and psychedelia. No Ceiling sounds as different and intriguing as they come today, and will be released March 18, 2008 on Channel A Music.

  • The Mimi Fishman Foundation has launched another on-line charity auction. The latest auction, which concludes February 21, 2008, includes rare and signed memorabilia donated by Phish, Oysterhead, moe., Michael Kang (The String Cheese Incident), and artist Scramble Campbell. Items include: signed Oysterhead poster (Trey Anastasio, Stewart Copeland of the Police, and Les Claypool); signed Trey Anastasio Band poster; hand written lyrics from Michael Kang of the The String Cheese Incident; signed poster and more from moe.; signed Page McConnell (Phish) poster; rare Phish shirts (Coventry, 20th Anniversary show). To view and/or bid on the auction, as well as read about the charities the auction supports, visit the Mimi Fishman Foundation Auction Page.

Friday, February 8, 2008

International recognition

The International Songwriting Competition annually considers over 15,000 entries from over 100 countries. And wouldn't you know it, one of the finalists this year is taken from one of the Vault's favorite independent albums of 2007...

Hearty congratulations to Diego Sandrin for his nomination in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter category!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday roundup?

Hey, why not... it's not the day, it's the content. And we've got a full load for you today, all on the theme of innovation -- or was it inspiration? You decide.
  • This Mardi Gras (February 5), Bonerama and OK Go will release You’re Not Alone, a five-song digital EP. Bonerama and OK Go spent the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina recording at Piety Street Studios deep in the city’s Upper 9th Ward. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the EP – available exclusively at iTunes – will benefit members of New Orleans’ music community who are still struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives in the aftermath of the flood. Note also, on Monday, February 11, Bonerama and OK Go lead singer Damien Kulash will perform “A Million Ways” on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.

  • "Blood On The Tracks is a murder-mystery set against the world of rock n' roll. But not just any rock star is knocking on heaven's door. The murdered rock legend is none other than Bob Dorian. Suspects? Tons of them. The only problem is they're all characters in Bob's songs." So goes the jacket copy for producer/writer Tom Grasty's cleverly conceived murder mystery cenetered on the death of an ever-so-slightly fictionalized rock icon -- a figure of, shall we say, Dylanesque proportions. Good luck, Tom!

  • Guru, one half of the critically acclaimed hip-hop duo, Gang Starr, began releasing his own collaborative solo albums in 1993 under the creative collective name of Jazzmatazz. The ongoing series showcases Guru’s collaborations with top hip-hop, R&B, and jazz artists, merging hip-hop with jazz in a style that has, in turn, influenced both genres. On February 12, Virgin/EMI will release The Best Of Guru’s Jazzmatazz, an 18-track CD and digital collection presenting together, for the first time, the best cuts from the groundbreaking series, including the hits “Lift Your Fist” with The Roots, “Trust Me” with N’Dea Davenport, “Watch What You Say” with Chaka Khan and Branford Marsalis, and “Keep Your Worries” with Angie Stone. The collection also features collaborations with Donald Byrd, Kelis, Ramsey Lewis, Erykah Badu, Lonnie Liston Smith, Jamiroquai and others, plus three rare bonus tracks.