Friday, October 31, 2008

The latest Led Zeppelin rumor: Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge to tour with Page, Jones & Bonham

The Led Zeppelin reunion tour rumors are flying so fast and furious these days it's hard to keep up. Robert Plant's going to do it. Oh wait, no he's not. Oh, but now they're looking at other singers. Could be, but who? Steven Tyler jammed with them but kept forgetting the lines to songs. Seriously? Who knows. It's all gotten very weird.

And so it is with a very large grain of salt in our other outstretched hand that the Daily Vault presents the latest rumor to cross our plate, which goes something like this:

The lead singer from Alter Bridge, Myles Kennedy, is rehearsing in Coventry, England with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham for a tour to start in February or March. Rehearsals will soon be moving to another country (France? Canada?) try to throw the press off the path. They have people working full time to throw chaff at the media (well, that part's certainly consistent with recent reports...) to keep people guessing.

After Zep's triumphant reunion show in London ten months ago, Plant was quoted as saying "you never know" about a full tour from the band, but he has since been absorbed in touring his collaboration with Alison Krauss. According to the rumor, Plant is said to have threatened legal action if the other three try to use the Led Zeppelin name, logos or other Swan Song trademarks without his participation. At the same time, other reports suggest Plant hasn't ruled out joining in a future Zeppelin tour, but just doesn't want to do it in 2009.

As stated above, take all of this with a grain of salt, as we do. We don't know if the above rumor is fact, fiction, or some creative mix of both designed to throw everyone off the trail of what's actually happening. All we can say for sure is that there are an awful lot of people interested in seeing Zeppelin or some variation of it play live again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Latest reunion rumors: The Jacksons

Is the long-whispered Jacksons reunion finally coming together? The Australian Associated Press, quoted here on Pollstar, reports that Jermaine Jackson says it is, and that it will include "the entire family, including little sister Janet." And to think I put my old flared bell-bottoms in the garage sale just last spring...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nick Hornby plugs Fuel/Friends; Big Brother bullies ECEU

Today we have good news and bad news on the MP3 blogging front.

The good news: this morning no less a music-world luminary than the revered Nick Hornby of Songbook fame plugged this writer's very favorite music blogger Heather Browne and her site I Am Fuel, You Are Friends (a Pearl Jam quote). And where did the wise and wonderful Mr. Hornby offer this well-deserved nod? In -- wait for it -- THE NEW YORK TIMES. Woo-hoo! Way to go Heather!

The bad news: another of my favorite music blogs -- Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands -- announced late last week that it is in danger of shutting down under legal pressure from the authorities. And not just any authorities -- Google itself. The virtual publisher, via Blogger, of this blog. And Heather's. And hundreds of other music-related blogs. Where exactly does protection of creators' intellectual property rights -- which I support wholeheartedly -- bleed into Orwellian censorship? I don't know, but this incident suggests the boundary between the two has become almost too blurry to make out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bryan Adams confronts fan sites (he has fan sites?)

A few years back when Prince sicced his unholy hordes of attorneys on a bunch of fan sites who were guilty mainly of promoting the man's career for free, Daily Vault Founder Christopher Thelen vented his spleen in the Purple One's general direction. For many years Prince reviews were simply not available on the site, replaced by this note.

So you might be forgiven for wondering how the DV might react to the recent news that Bryan Adams has pulled almost the same bonehead maneuver, sending the Web Sheriff (no, really, that's their company name) after a bunch of fan sites and even a tribute band?

First, obviously, we have to stop laughing. A Bryan Adams tribute band? Seriously?

Fortunately, we understand from this article in the UK Register that Adams has stopped short of lawyering up and is in fact in the process of working out mutually agreeable arrangements with said fan sites. A much better outcome for all concerned, though it may represent a lost opportunity for Adams. I mean, a ban from the Daily Vault certainly would have been the most attention he's gotten from us in years...

Monday, October 27, 2008

AC/DC gives the UK economy a boost -- or not

It's silly season again as the world economy self-destructs and the U.S. election barrels toward the finish line and journalists wonder if they should feel guilty for being secretly happy they have so much material to work with. Give The Guardian's Alexis Petridis credit, though, he came up with an original angle -- AC/DC album sales as a leading indicator of Great Britain's economic health. Except, as Petridis' research suggests, it seems the better Angus and company do, the worse the British economy does... and Black Ice just went number one in the UK despite the band's refusal to provide digital downloads. Criminey!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ben Folds Five on MySpace

But the real highlight of my Friday was wandering by MySpace and finding high-def video of the entire Ben Folds Five reunion show -- orchestrated to kick off MySpace's new Front To Back series -- waiting for me there. A completely brilliant show done up just right by the producers with interview clips and excellent videography of the show. Bliss, I tell you, bliss.

Friday roundup: James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, Change My World, ISC

It's Friday and our item-bag overfloweth:
  • On November 4 Atlantic and Rhino team up to release a limited- edition CD boxed set containing Japanese imports of all 10 of Led Zeppelin's albums in mini-LP replicas with artwork from the original U.K. LP sleeves. The Led Zeppelin Definitive Collection of Mini-LP Replicas boxed set will be available for a suggested price of $199.98. Listening party samplers available in Real and QuickTime formats...

  • Original sensitive-guy singer-songwriter James Taylor offers a glimpse into the thought behind his recent Covers album and his work for the Obama campaign in this interview.

  • Agape Children's Choir and Little Engine Productions have created an amazing nonpartisan music video aimed at mobilizing voters in this important election season.

  • The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) has extended its deadline for submissions for the 2008 contest to December 1. A small sampling of this year's crop of judges for this annual competition includes: Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20); Chaka Khan; Tom Waits; KT Tunstall; Robert Smith (The Cure); Ricky Martin; Loretta Lynn; Neil Finn (Crowded House); Buckcherry; T-Pain; James Cotton; Jerry Lee Lewis; Craig Morgan; Ray Davies (The Kinks); and McCoy Tyner. For more information and to enter, visit the ISC site.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pete Yorn: "American Blues, Vol. 1"

At this point I'm convinced it's not just me; this election season really is bleeding into the music world in a way we haven't seen in decades. You just can't get through the day anymore without finding a story about a Jon Bon Jovi ripping on McCain/Palin for using his song, or a James Taylor doing five benefit concerts for Obama/Biden (not to mention Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel) or, today, a new election-themed music video. This one's special, though. The artist is Pete Yorn, the song is his brand new "American Blues, Vol. 1," and the video found below is homemade, nonpartisan and quite moving in using familiar images to convey the simplest message -- VOTE. Please do.

Pete Yorn - American Blues Vol. 1

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mark Oliver Everett (The Eels) gets personal

Every once in awhile as I hopscotch across the interwebs a story will stop me dead in my tracks and hold me there until I finish the last word. Today the honor goes to Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. E, as in the mastermind behind alt-rock iconoclasts the Eels.

It's been widely known that Everett had a troubled childhood and lost his sister and mother to suicide and cancer in the late 90s, as he was working on albums like Novocaine For The Soul and Electro-Shock Blues. What I personally wasn't aware of is that Everett's father was a famous physicist who came up with the parallel worlds theory, which suggests that every decision made creates an alternate reality. Everett's relationship with this odd, brilliant and distant man, who died of a heart attack when Everett was 19, forms the backbone of his new biography Things the Grandchildren Should Know. He also sat for interviews for a Nova special on his father called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives (check PBS for local airtimes in your area). Finally, don't miss the fascinating article that triggered this post, over on (surprise, surprise) USA Today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Long live the album (or, Third Eye still Blind)

There have been a few times over the eleven years I've been writing for the Vault when my thoughts have gone back to one of the more scathing reviews I've ever written. The target was Third Eye Blind, which is in itself pretty laughable -- I mean, who cares? But see, a decade ago, right around the time "Semi-Charmed Life" was getting play on FM radio, TEB frontman Stephan Jenkins recorded bumpers for ABC's old family-friendly TGIF segment. This was also right around the time my seven-, nine- and eleven-year-old kids were following Full House, with the end result that my eleven-year-old came home one day having purchased an album riddled with references to sex, drugs and suicide. As you may have guessed, I was not happy about this.

Now, I've considered a few times over the years whether I was a little hard on Jenkins and TEB. It probably wasn't their idea to record those bumpers. And while I remain very comfortable with the parenting decision my wife and I made, at least one TEB fan wrote in to tell me I was in fact exactly what I stated right up front in my review -- a prude. Fine. Given what passes for standards of public behavior today, I'll take that as a compliment.

And then last night I read this piece, in which an older but apparently no wiser Stephan Jenkins wastes a substantial number of syllables ragging on the album as an art form and basically admitting he can't be bothered to put together ten decent songs at once, that three or so at a time is more his speed. Let me tell you two things: 1) The day albums cease to be a relevant art form will be the day I roll up the Daily Vault and take it off-line; and 2) The day I give a flying anything what Stephan Jenkins thinks will be... well, clearly, that just won't happen.

Digital downloading won't kill the album any more than the Kindle will kill books. These art forms have endured for good reasons. Trend-hopping stylistas like Jenkins always make the same mistake, assuming that smaller and faster and less substantial and less meaningful automatically equals better. Twitter is maybe the ultimate example of this simultaneously lazy and hyperactive cognitive A.D.D., which is why I'd guesstimate its half-life at about six months. If there's one thing this nation, this culture is crying out for right now, it's more substance, not less. Long live the album.

Monday, October 20, 2008

AC/DC hit Black Ice today

The media blitz is on as headbanger heroes AC/DC return eight years after their last studio album with Black Ice, and the Vault is joining the fun with a day-of-release review.

Out of the hordes of surrounding mainstream media coverage, I would also point you to this entertaining UK Telegraph review with Angus Young, particularly his explanation for the group's decision to sell their album only in hardcopy form via Wal-mart or acdc.com, no iTunes or downloads at all:

“We don’t make singles, we make albums. We work on getting the songs on our albums to work together... So that’s how we feel about our albums being a complete piece of work. And we won’t go on iTunes unless they offer the option to us to 'lock’ our album... In the US, though, we’re looking at iTunes being the biggest music retailer in the country. We looked at who was number two and found that it was Wal-Mart. So we decided to make this album exclusively available in Wal-Mart stores... I remember when we first started touring in the US back in the Seventies, we’d arrive in these towns, and I’m talking about all these places in between New York and Los Angeles, and we’d always go straight to the local record shop. These are the places where people hung out – you could talk music, pick up a few albums and all of that. Now you go back to these places and they’re all closed down. However, there is a Wal-Mart in all these towns, so we believed this to the best alternative to iTunes."

The record shop is dead; long live the record shop. Hope it's a great run, Angus.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's get serious: A Night For Vets

Every once in awhile we are reminded that in addition to entertaining us, music can be a powerful force for good in the world. Every once in a while we are similarly reminded that the "M" in MTV used to stand for music. These two trains of thought will come together a week from today as MTV teams up with CNN to present "A Night for Vets: An MTV Concert for the BRAVE."

I can't put it any better than Pollstar did: "
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have both been lightning rods for controversy over the past few years, but there's one thing we can all agree on: the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who've served there." The concert and associated broadcast content produced by CNN will highlight veterans' issues including mental health support and disability benefits, preventing homelessness, and properly compensating those who serve.

Live performers will include
50 Cent, Ludacris and Saving Abel, with taped performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock, Angels and Airwaves, Fall Out Boy, Juanes, Nelly and Taylor Swift, among others. News content will feature Anderson Cooper and CNN will air a separate special hosted by Cooper focusing on the many challenges faced by returning veterans.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bon Jovi joins the chorus against McCain/Palin

Didn't we just run this story? In any case, Jon Bon Jovi is the latest big name to join the ranks of musical acts complaining that the McCain/Palin campaign is using one of their songs without their permission. Bon Jovi, who hosted a big-dollar fundraising dinner for the Obama/Biden campaign at his New Jersey home just last month, was distinctly unhappy to learn that his song "Who Says You Can't Go Home" has been used recently at rallies staged by Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. Bon Jovi joins Heart, Foo Fighters, Jackson Browne and a host of other acts who have objected to their music being used by a Republican ticket they don't support.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tim McGraw did not approve this post

Whatever else you might have to say about Tim McGraw's brand of very mainstream, very commercial country music, the man has a huge following and also, it appears, considerable integrity. Not only did McGraw not approve of his label -- Curb Records -- issuing his third greatest hits CD overall and second in the last two years, he's speaking out against it. Best line of the article: "In the spirit of the election year, I would simply say to my fans 'I'm Tim McGraw and I don't approve their message.'"

Monday, October 13, 2008

AC/DC still says no to iTunes

The new AC/DC disc Black Ice -- out next week -- might be one of the year's most anticipated new releases, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to buy and download it online. The band, along with the Beatles one of the most notorious holdouts against the digital download age, is distributing Black Ice only in full CD form and only through Wal-Mart stores and its own Web site. Lead singer Brian Johnson can barely hold back his disdain for iTunes and digital music in general in today's interview with Reuters, saying iTunes is "going to kill music if they're not careful."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wampus Multimedia takes on MySpace Music

Ripped from the virtual pages of Wampus Multimedia's very own blog (see also our musical blogroll in the column at right), here's a link to bales of interesting reading about the new MySpace Music and the many devilish details that lie within.

Not that I'm going to soapbox on that particular subject today; it's really just an excuse to remind you all that Wampus head honcho Mark Doyon has been one of the wisest voices in the wilderness commenting on music industry developments for some time now -- and as a singer-songwriter, independent label owner, publicist and music blogger all rolled into one, why wouldn't he be? He sees these issues from all angles, not just one particular self-interested one. Plus, he wrote "Cuckold Of Titan," so that entitles him to your eternal attention regardless.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Foo Fighters the latest to cease-and-desist the McCain campaign

One of the most overused aphorisms of our political culture is the old George Santayana quote "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Still, someone might want to whisper it in the McCain campaign's collective ear, since it has yet again been smacked down by an artist whose music it tried to co-opt. First it was John Mellencamp, then Heart and ABBA and Jackson Browne and now this time around, the offended party is the Foo Fighters and the song is "My Hero." I believe the phrase you folks on the campaign trail are puzzling over is "intellectual property rights" -- or was it "finding some gimmick to manufacture an artifical connection with all those young voters who don't believe a word coming out of our mouths"?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October's Daily Vault Retrospective: Kansas

This month our Daily Vault retrospective spotlights one of the most underappreciated bands of their era, the boys from Topeka, the group called Kansas. Known mostly for late '70s AOR staples like the driving "Carry On Wayward Son" and the haunting #1 hit "Dust In The Wind," Kansas was (and is) much more than those two famous songs. They were in fact the first homegrown American prog band, as their first three albums attest. And while, like many of their musical peers, they tasted commercial schlock-dom in the early '80s, they recovered nicely later in the decade and continue touring and making new new music to this day. Read more about it here and here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We're voting Depeche Mode in '09

Those '80s synth pop icons Depeche Mode are back for more as the group just announced a world tour to begin next May 10 in Israel. Actually, they're calling it their "Tour Of The Universe 2009," with many more gigs across the globe promised following the opening salvo of European dates in May and June. Unconfirmed reports of Gahan, Gore, Fletcher & associates playing Alpha Centauri do appear to be premature, though...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lucinda Williams gets happy

Newsflash: alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, long known for the intensity of her bittersweet ruminations on missed connections and failed relationships, is happy. At least so claims the New York Daily News in this recap of Williams' forthcoming album Little Honey (out Oct. 14), full of celebrations of her new relationship with co-producer Tom Overby. A happy Lucinda Williams. What's next, AC/DC singing lullabies?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday roundup: Pretenders, Kid Rock, Kingston Trio

Plenty of tidbits to consider this Friday...
  • We're not quite sure how an article ostensibly about the new country-flavored album from The Pretenders came to be titled "Chrissie Hynde has never heard of Sarah Palin," but this piece from MSNBC is still worth checking out.

  • Word from the New York Times is Kid Rock has finally joined the 21st century and made his music available online via Rhapsody (lucky them). Now if AC/DC would just end their holdout...

  • Nick Reynolds, a founding member of folk-rock pioneers The Kingston Trio, has died. The group's focus on guitars and harmonies inspired Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the Beatles, among others. R.I.P.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Judas Priest: Halford interview

Reunited road warriors / metal demi-gods Judas Priest continue to tour behind their June double-album Nostradamus, but frontman Rob Halford managed to take time out to do this in-depth interview with Pollstar. Interesting to hear the king screamer himself make some spot-on observations about the state of the industry and the wonder that 35 years or so later, Judas Priest can still fill amphitheatres around the globe with headbanging teenagers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Something Phish-y going on

It seems the boys from Phish -- the most celebrated jam-band in the land since Jerry Garcia passed on -- are ready to saddle up again. Four years after the group announced they were done with a series of farewell concerts, they have announced three dates for next March in Hampton, Virginia, with the promise of more to come.