Music

Music (22)

Halsey Accuses Grammy Officials Of Taking 'Bribes' For Nominations

Written by 30 November, 2020

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Halsey criticized the Recording Academy’s behind-the-scenes operations – including by stating that the organization accepts "bribes" for Grammys nominations and awards.

Halsey's 2020 album "Manic" failed to receive a single Grammy nomination despite having been the first album of 2020 to be certified Platinum by the RIAA.

In the Instagram post, the performer mentioned that many people had reached out offering her words of support and that while she was upset, she was going to choose her words "carefully."

She went on to claim that success at the awards show "often" results from private performances, "knowing the right people," and campaigning "with the right handshakes and 'bribes' that can be just ambiguous enough to pass as 'not-bribes.'"

"And if you get that far," she went on write, "it’s about committing to exclusive TV performances and making sure you help the Academy make their millions in advertising on the night of the show."

She ended her post arguing that the Grammys aren’t "always about the music or quality or culture," and that she hopes the process and the organization will become more transparent.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 December 2020 07:44

The Oddest Songs Of Christmas: Randy Bachman's 'Taking Care Of Christmas'

Written by 29 November, 2020

Some of the tunes I've been choosing for my daily "Oddest Songs Of Christmas" posts really are best described as terribly inept attempts to provide a little holiday spirit. The singing is clunky, the instrumentation is overblown or the finished track is just boring.

And then there are those tunes that aren't bad in the traditional sense of the word. There are some Christmas singles that are so magnificently insane that they transcend what we think of as good or bad music. They might be catchy and you may even sing along to them. But as you do, you'll feel both joyous and embarrassed.

One Christmas song that neatly fits into that category is the 1996 Randy Bachman track "Taking Care Of Christmas." The song was a bonus track recorded for the album "Randy Bachman Songbook," which featured re-recorded versions of songs Bachman had written and recorded while being part of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. One of BTO's biggest hits was "Takin' Care Of Business," which might have one of the most distinctive guitar riffs of the classic rock era. And for whatever reason, Bachman thought it was a good idea to recreate that song, while changing the lyrics to make it a Christmas tune.

The result is a track that manages to be both ear candy as well as infuriating. You can't help but sing along, but you also hate the fact that you can't resist. Now the fact that Bachman recorded an all-Christmas album in 2008 that also included this song must mean some people loved it. And I'll admit, I've listened to the track a lot this week. I just hate myself for doing so.


Last modified on Sunday, 29 November 2020 13:41

Today's Song You Should Know: 'Little Miss Information' By Insiders

Written by 16 November, 2020

If you're a rock music fan, you're likely familiar with the story of Big Star, a Memphis-based band that created three albums of music that are still regarded as highly influential even though the best-selling release - the debut album entitled "#1 Record" - likely only sold a few hundred copies when it was released in June 1972.  But the band's music has been re-released continuously over the ensuing decades and you can now buy pretty much every track and live show the band ever recorded. Their music matters because not only were they talented, but their songs captured the zeitgeist of what was to come in music. Every one from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck to Paul Stanley have cited the band as an influence. 

There are a precious few bands like Big Star that just seem to capture a specific moment in time. More often than not, the bands aren't all that successful at the time, but as the years pass, their talent and influence become clear. Which brings me to the Chicago band Insiders.

The band was part of a massive wave of talent that exploded in Chicago in the 1980s. You could go to clubs seven days a week and not catch all of the talent playing on a regular basis. And for whatever reason, the scene never took off the way it did in L.A. in the late 1980s or Seattle in the 1990s. A number of bands were signed by major labels but for the most part, the exercise was more frustrating than starmaking.

One group that nearly everyone thought would break big was the Insiders. Imagine Lennon and McCartney backed by Tom Petty's Heartbreakers. Their songs were ear candy, the band was incredibly tight live and they were one of the few bands that didn't have a weak spot in the lineup. After being initially courted by Warner Brothers, they signed with Epic and released their debut album, "Ghost On The Beach" in 1987. The title track became a Top Ten modern rock track and the album reportedly sold about 100,000 copies. 

But like a lot of bands, the follow-up album turned into a bit of a nightmare. They recorded a bunch of tracks in Memphis, which the label apparently decided didn't include a hit. They recorded another group of tracks and eventually were dropped by the label. The entire story is much too long to get into here, but it's worth noting that Chrysalis Records wanted to sign the band, but wasn't willing to pay Epic's price for the recorded tracks.

The band later released several albums through the independent label Monsterdisc, including "Live At Fitzgerald's," an absolutely smoking live album that included tracks from their debut album as well as ones that had been slated for the follow-up.

There are a number of great unreleased tunes from the Epic period, but I wanted to showcase "Little Miss Information" here. In part, because it's just a song with a hook as powerful as a cannonball. And also because a member of the band posted this live clip on YouTube, which gives you an idea of just how good a band they were live.

"Ghost On The Beach" has been out of print since the early 1990s and it has never been released digitally. I love the band enough I spent some time trying to shake loose tracks from Sony to release independently, but wasn't able to make it happen. But if you like their sound, a collection of unrleased tracks called "Back In Memphis" is floating around on some torrent sites. And you can listen to a couple of live tracks and well as songs from their unreleased Epic album on this Soundcloud page.

Last modified on Monday, 16 November 2020 03:04

'The 54th Annual CMA Awards' - Old Dominion (Photo Gallery)

Written by 12 November, 2020

The 54th Annual CMA Awards were hosted by Country Music superstars Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker and featured performances by Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Charles Kelley and Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire and Chris Tomlin, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Morgan Wallen and more. Trailblazing Country legend Charley Pride received the 2020 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.



















Last modified on Thursday, 12 November 2020 14:14

'The 54th Annual CMA Awards' - Morgan Wallen (Photo Gallery)

Written by 12 November, 2020

The 54th Annual CMA Awards were hosted by Country Music superstars Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker and featured performances by Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Charles Kelley and Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire and Chris Tomlin, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Morgan Wallen and more. Trailblazing Country legend Charley Pride received the 2020 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.



















Last modified on Thursday, 12 November 2020 11:56

'The 54th Annual CMA Awards' - Eric Church (Photo Gallery)

Written by 12 November, 2020

The 54th Annual CMA Awards were hosted by Country Music superstars Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker and featured performances by Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Charles Kelley and Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire and Chris Tomlin, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Morgan Wallen and more. Trailblazing Country legend Charley Pride received the 2020 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.



























Last modified on Thursday, 12 November 2020 03:54

'The 54th Annual CMA Awards' - Dan + Shay And Justin Bieber (Photo Gallery)

Written by 12 November, 2020

The 54th Annual CMA Awards were hosted by Country Music superstars Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker and featured performances by Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Jon Pardi, Charles Kelley and Carly Pearce, Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett featuring Reba McEntire and Chris Tomlin, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Morgan Wallen and more. Trailblazing Country legend Charley Pride received the 2020 CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.


































Last modified on Thursday, 12 November 2020 03:52

Today's Song You Should Know: 'White Punks On Dope' By The Tubes

Written by 14 November, 2020

If you are familiar with the music of The Tubes, it's probably from one of their two big 1980s albums. Toto’s David Foster and Steve Lukather produced the album The Completion Backward Principle, which produced the hit "Talk To Ya Later." And 1983's album Outside In included the #1 hit "She's A Beauty," which still gets a lot of airplay on those "hits of the 80s & 90s" radio stations.

But in the mid-to-late 1970s, the San Francisco-based band was known as much for their insanely over-the-top theatrics as their music. Their shows were part rock, part performance art and while they didn't sell a lot of records in that early period, they had a reputation as a band you had to see live.

Their best album from that period was their self-titled debut, which included the songs "What Do You Want From Life?" and "White Punks On Dope." While both songs ended up being released as singles, the tracks received 99% of their airplay from college radio stations and FM stations that were still holding on to "freeform" format.

The video below is the full concert for a New Year's Eve 1975 show at Bill Graham's Winterland. It opens with lead singer Fee Waybill dressed in a white tux as he goes through a rambling albeit pretty straight-forward version of "What Do You Want From Life?" But fast-forward to about 90 minutes in when the band tackles "White Punks On Dope?" with the already tall Waybill sporting foot-high heels and an outfit best described as "space hooker."

Review: 'Bruce Springsteen's Letter To You'

Written by 23 October, 2020

It's not an exaggeration to say that no artist has had a larger influence on how I view myself and the world around me than Bruce Springsteen.

I saw him live for the first time by accident. I grew up in Southern Indiana, an unhappy teen desperately longing for something more. I knew my place was elsewhere. I had no desire to get married out of high school and go work at the local Whirlpool factory like so many of my friends. I had no concept of what I might do with my life and my unhappiness was a burden that I wore like an uncomfortable concrete overcoat. One winter my rage and hopelessness was more than I could bear and for some unknown reason I decided to run away to Chicago. 

I didn't know anyone there, I barely had enough money to buy a soft drink. It was cold and desolate and I ended up riding the El train back and forth, trying to stay warm. At one point I needed to go to the bathroom and randomly got off at a stop on Chicago's Northside, hoping to find a bathroom and maybe convince someone to buy me a sandwich. The only place I could find was a small club, The Quiet Knight and I managed somehow to talk my way into the club. Maybe it was because I just looked harmless or maybe it's because I knew the music of The Persuasions, who were the headliners. I sat in the back corner of the club, trying to make myself small enough so no one would toss me out. And the opening act that night changed my life. 

I wasn't familiar with Bruce Springsteen before that moment. I was a hardcore music fan & remembered hearing some buzz about him. Comparisons to Bob Dylan and other comments that didn't motivate me to listen to his music. But in that small club. Springsteen and his pre-E Street band backup did a loose, rambling set that seem to look right into my soul. He was this unsettling mix of energy and thoughtfulness. He had so much to say, even though I barely understood any of it. I understood he was on a mission and on some level it suddenly occurred to me that like him I had things to say. And I needed to figure out what that meant and I knew I couldn't do it hiding in some club surrounded by strangers.

Looking back, it's strange how often Springsteen's music has been a familiar fabric interwoven into the important moments of my life. I went away to college and was in love with a smart and stunning young woman who worked at Columbia Records. She pulled some crazy amount of strings to get me into one of Springsteen's legendary shows at the Roxy. In fact, that show she and I attended was one of the last things we did before she was murdered. The joy of the night is wound up tightly with the pain and when I heard the recently released official bootleg of the show, it brought me to tears despite the passage of nearly 40 years. 

Springsteen Bruce Springsteen is seen in concert in New York's Madison Square GardenSPRINGSTEEN 1978, NEW YORK, USA

His Darkness On The Edge Of Town album came out just after my father died, a man whose life was filled with so much disappointment and unfulfilled dreams. The songs from that album haunted me for years. They seemed so personal to my life and fraught with emotion, even though the stories were Springsteen's and not mine.

It feels like his music has always been there speaking to my soul, even when I didn't appreciate it at the time. I was dating a woman I nearly married during his The River & Born To Run years and her love for Springsteen was a reflection of the joy she felt about life. It was a bond between us, the kind of shared experience that adds a special texture to a relationship. It's impossible for me to hear that music without thinking of her and remembering us at our happiest times together.

Over the years Springsteen's music changed as he experimented with different styles and backing musicians. I didn't always love the results, but I understood the compulsion to experiment. To wring every last little bit of creativity and opportunity out of life. I was a stand-up comic for ten years, a syndicated talk show host, a financial news reporter who also did the voice of a stock-picking sock puppet. I got married, had a kid and became a full-time TV industry journalist. I seemed driven to push myself in new directions, new careers. Even if my choices weren't the ones others would wish for me.

But Bruce Springsteen's music never left me and I would unexpectedly find older music of his dropping into my life with unsettling messages. As a thirtyish punk, I was lukewarm to his Tunnel of Love album with its subtle, almost slight arrangements and subject matter that made me long for the days of "Sherry Darling." But a couple of decades later, fighting to keep my marriage alive, I found its vision of the struggles between the promise of love and the reality of disappointment to be entirely too real for me.

In recent years I've begun to feel my age and as those feelings have seeped into my psyche, I've watched the same battles come into view in Springsteen's life. His autobiography and Broadway show centered on the struggles of a man who is looking back as much as he's moving forward. He hopes he's been a good man, he wrestles with the memories of  the mistakes and missed opportunities. Springsteen has been reflecting a lot about his life and it's come at a time when I've done the same. 

That reflection has been evident in the interviews Springsteen has given about his new album Letter To You, which has also spawned an Apple TV+ documentary of the same name. Even in the cheeriest of circumstances, reuniting with his beloved E-Street band on their first new album together in decades would be an occasion for reflection. But the album finds Springsteen and the band in perhaps the last chapter of their long friendship and the 90-minute film lets those moments wash across the screen without any explanation. 

Bruce Springsteen's Letter To You was primarily filmed during the recording of the album of the same name and if you're hoping to see some insight into the creative process, you'll be disappointed. The footage is less about the songs and more about the friendships and relationships that made the songs come to life. It's about the warm memories of the past, the lost friends whose memories haunt and the compulsion to keep creating - keep pushing forward - because like sharks most artists will drown if they stop moving.

As a man who feels every bit his age it's unsettling to see Springsteen and the band looking so very much like the senior citizens they are in real life. Springsteen seems frail and withered in some of the footage in a way that is startling. He's always been such a towering force of nature that seeing him slumped and tired, to hear his voice take on that old guy rasp is a painful personal reminder that like Springsteen and the rest of the E-Street Band, my years on this earth are limited.

The music of Bruce Springsteen changed me life and he continues to have an impact on the way I see myself. I won't argue that Bruce Springsteen is the most important musician of our generation. But he fills that role for me and ultimately, that's all you can hope for from your heroes.

Bruce Springsteen's Letter To You premieres Friday, October 23rd, 2020 on Apple TV+.




Last modified on Saturday, 24 October 2020 00:00

Today's Song Your Should Know: 'Hot Child In The City' By Nick Gilder

Written by 20 October, 2020

Odds are that unless you're well into your 50s, you're not familiar with the song "Hot Child In The City." Despite the fact that it was a #1 hit in both the U.S. and Canada, it didn't really chart well outside of North America. And since the album that contained the song - 1978's "City Nights" -  isn't available digitally, people aren't like to just randomly run across the song. Which is a shame, because while Gilder's commercial success was short, he released some really solid pop-rock music. 

Gilder first hit the charts as the lead singer of the Canadian band Sweeney Todd, who had a #1 Canadian hit in 1976 with "Roxy Rolle." Gilder and guitarist/songwriting partner Jim McCulloch left the band and Gilder signed a solo deal that led to 1977's album "You Know Who You Are." His second album was 1978's City Nights, which contained "Hot Child In The City" as well as "Here Comes The Night," which charted in Canada's Top 20 and #44 in the U.S. 1979's album "Frequency" included the single "(You Really) Rock Me," which only reached the middle of the singles chart. That was essentially the last of the commercial success for Gilder, although he released five more albums, most recently 1999's "Long Time Coming."

While younger music fans might not be familiar with "Hot Child In The City," they might have heard his second most popular composition. Gilder co-wrote (with Holly Knight) the 1984 Top Ten hit "The Warrior," which was released by Scandal and remains a fixture on pop-rock "Variety" radio stations.


Last modified on Tuesday, 20 October 2020 14:49
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