Tuesday, 28 June 2011

“Classic” Rock on Tour

Over the past week a few “classic” rock tours have been announced which will no doubt appeal to Generation Baby Boomer…and you know, people of all ages who just dig the artists.

Former Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter, Roger Waters is bringing the over-the-top concert production of The Wall to Australia in January 2012. Apparently when The Wall first toured in the 1970s it was a massive financial flop, but something tells me that this tour is going to rake in the big bucks (read: exorbitant ticket prices). And just as well as it’s tipped as a $60 million production. Just like the original production, the wall will be constructed on stage, there will be flying pigs, bombers and assorted puppetry.

Bat out of hell, Meatloaf is also set to hit our shores. As well as playing a mini-set at the AFL grand final in October, Meat (as he is affectionately known…gross) will be rocking the suburban stadiums around the country later this year. Maybe he’ll get his Eddie on and ride in on a Harley.

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame has also announced an Australian tour with former Eurythmic, Dave Stewart as the support act. I’m not a massive fan of old Stevie or the Mac, but she does have an incredible voice and is looking pretty tops for her age…and she’s done some amazing collaborations with the fabulous Tom Petty.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Oh, It's a Jolly Holiday

I just returned home from a truly fabulous weekend in Sydney with my lovely mum, J. We wined, we dined, we saw the sights, we walked for miles, and we saw Mary Poppins at the Capital Theatre. Now, I’m not afraid to say that I love a good musical and I love musical theatre even more. The singing, the dancing, the sets the costumes…I love it all.

This production of Mary Poppins is truly magical and anyone who doesn’t enjoy it clearly has no soul. It is a slick production with plenty of “special effects” and newly created songs, and the casting is just exceptional. Seriously, half the time I thought I was looking at Julie Andrews. Perfection!

So anyway, here is a list of some of my favourite musicals. It’s a bit of a mix of productions I’ve seen and musical movies which I love.

Mary Poppins
I’ve seen it in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Theatre and in  Sydney, and both times were amazing. I also love the movie and have watched it a bazillion and one times. It’s so magical and innocent, and still manages to capture my imagination at 27.

I’ve also seen this twice, both times at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. It’s great on stage and great as a movie. Amazing costumes and good old 1960s rock and roll. It’s also full of hilarious innuendo and is super kitsch. And John Travolta as a woman in the movie? Yes please!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
No! Not the awful Tim Burton remake of a few years ago. That was a big black mark against both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s names. I’m talking about the super awesome 1970s Gene Wilder version. I’ve pretty much watched this film since birth and I still love it. It’s magical, it’s full of chocolate, it’s quirky, it’s got Gene in it. Seriously, what’s not to love? Apart from that lame “Cheer Up Charlie” song.

The Wizard of Oz
I’m not going to say much about this movie musical, because everyone has seen it. But if you haven’t seen it or don’t like it, I’m pretty sure you have no soul and we can’t be friends. Sorry! Oh and this film was made in 1939, which continues to blow my mind. It’s 72 years old, people! Amazing.

The Sound of Music
Now, I must admit that I only started to appreciate this musical in recent years, but now I absolutely love it. It’s got drama, romance, amazing Austrian countryside, Nazis! It’s such an amazing story and the music is timeless. Julie Andrews is so perfect, as she always is.

Now I want to go on a jolly holiday…or for a jaunty saunter.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

If You Were a Wink, I'd be a Nod

Juno. I know it’s a movie and this is a blog about music, but whatever…that’s a technicality. Juno is one of my favourite movies of all time. I’ve watched it at least 10 times and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. There are so many things I love about this movie. The cast, the characters, the script, the way it perfectly combines comedy, tragedy, teenage angst and an adorable romance between two awesomely awkward high schoolers.

Another thing I love about Juno is the soundtrack and the music references throughout the film. The first time I saw Juno, I was blown away by its soundtrack and the way the music goes hand in hand with the plot.

The soundtrack is full of indie lo-fi classics by artists such as Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power, Sonic Youth and of course, Kimya Dawson (and her bands, The Mouldy Peaches and Antsy Pants). Songs by classic artists like Buddy Holly, The Kinks and The Velvet Underground are also on there, and fit perfectly into the overall sound and feel of the movie.

Juno’s character is quirky, odd, and totally endearing…and so is the film’s music. There are so many quirky, adorable songs on the soundtrack, including the six that Kimya Dawson has contributed. Her sound is so unique with her idiosyncratic, story-like lyrics and almost monotone vocals. People seem to be a bit divided on old Kimya Dawson, but I think her songs make the soundtrack and the movie.

Characters, Juno and Mark are also massive music fans and the movie is peppered with music references. When asked what her favourite band is, Juno responds with, “it’s a three-way tie between The Stooges, Patti Smith and the Runaways”…which is pretty cool.

I really don’t think Juno would be the same without its amazing soundtrack as the music has a great way of enhancing the movie’s plot and further developing the characters. Hrm…I totally want to watch it again now.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I Do Judge a Book By Its Cover

Obviously the music industry has changed over the past decade or so. CDs are becoming less popular, with digital downloads taking their place. While I am partial to the odd bit of downloading (just for the sheer convenience of it), I still love CDs. I love having something tangible to hold, a booklet to flip though and some cover art to gaze at.

While there are some truly horrendous album covers out there, there are also some truly fantastic ones too. Here are a few of my favourites.

Revolver – The Beatles

London Calling – The Clash

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Ramones – Ramones

Not So Tough Now – Frenzal Rhomb

Milo Goes to College – The Descendents

Who’s Next – The Who

The Eraser – Thom Yorke

On The Beach – Neil Young

The Information – Beck

It looks plain, but the album was released with a blank cover and one of four different sheets of stickers for fans to make their own album art. Pretty awesome, right? One of my friends, G, was so excited about the sheet of stickers that he spent the better part of a day designing his album art, only to be extremely disappointed by his efforts at the end of the day and getting the shits with it. Hilarious. 

Arcade Fire – Funeral

Patti Smith - Horses

Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division

Bookends – Simon and Garfunkel

They’re on the pot!

Remain in Light – Talking Heads

Monday, 20 June 2011

Music Heroes: Part 3

Another one of my all-time favourite people in music is David Byrne. David is one of the founding members and principal songwriter of one of my favourite bands of all time, Talking Heads – a band that was at the forefront of the new wave movement in the late ‘70s.

As one of my parent’s favourite bands, I’ve listened to Talking Heads since birth, but it’s only been in the last 10 years that I’ve really paid attention to the sheer brilliance of their music and to David’s career in depth. I think my dad, in particular, is pretty proud that he’s bred a massive Talking Heads fan and that in recent years, I’ve actually started to understand the intricacies and complexities of their music. The older (and wiser) I get, the more David Byrne fascinates me.

It’s hard to know where to start with David. Aside from Talking Heads, he has done a ton of other projects. He’s enjoyed a fairly successful solo music career, started his own record label, penned a number of books, cut it as a visual artist, produced and directed a couple of films, and is an avid cyclist (he has a regular cycling column in the New York Times) and activist. He’s even appeared on The Simpsons. Oh yeah, and he’s received Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe awards (for his film scores) and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

David’s done some pretty interesting things. In 2008, he designed a series of unique bicycle racks in the form of image outlines (guitars, dollar signs etc) which were placed around New York City for public use. David also released a book, Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information, which included artwork which he composed entirely in PowerPoint. In 2005, he also started his own internet radio station, Radio David Byrne.

Over the years, he’s collaborated with more artists than you can poke a stick at including Brian Eno, Devo, Morcheeba, Fatboy Slim and most recently, the Arcade Fire (that collaboration is particularly interesting as I’m also a big Arcade Fire fan).

I love him primarily for his music, but I also respect all of the other projects he takes on too. He is an insanely intelligent and eccentric man, who knows music like the back of his hand. He isn’t afraid to take risks and experiment with different styles, genres and instrumentation.

One of my all-time favourite albums is Talking Heads’ Remain in Light. You’ll have to listen to it for yourself as words cannot describe the brilliance. Song like Born Under Punches and Seen and Not Seen are so complex, with layers upon layers of sounds and effects, but with simple, pared back (almost spoken) vocals and a simple, driving beat. Amazing.

Even Talking Heads’ more popular, radio-friendly songs like Take Me to the River are still complex in their musical style and lyrics, while Psycho Killer is almost complex in its simplicity alone (is that an oxymoron?).

David Byrne’s lyrics are also incredibly unique and reflect his intelligence and idiosyncrasies. As well as his diverse career and numerous side projects, in his lyrics are where his eccentricities truly shine.

David still tours, doing solo shows with a full band supporting him. I’ve been lucky enough to see him play twice, once in 2009 and once in 2005, both times at the Convention Centre in Southbank. Both times he’s been nothing short of brilliant. He plays a lot of his solo music mixed with a healthy dose of Talking Heads classics. His onstage persona is still well and truly intact, full of oddities and quirks. His solo songs are fantastic live, but it’s the Talking Heads gems that really get the crowd going.

I adore Talking Heads and David Byrne and will pay attention to anything that he puts his name to. For someone with such diverse interests and range of projects, I’ll be interested to see what he does next.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Biffy Clyro – Crap Name, Good Band

One of my favourite bands of the past year has been Scottish trio, Biffy Clyro. I started listening to them at the start of last year, even though they released their first album back in 2002. Prior to last year, I’d heard a bit about them from my Irish friend who loves them and has seen them live a couple of times.

After listening to their recent albums Only Revolutions and Puzzle a few times, I went to their gig at the Hifi last May and was blown away. The trio (consisting of twins, Ben and James Johnston, and front man, Simon Neil) gave so much energy on stage and, for a three-piece, their sound was huge. After absolutely hammering through the first few songs, Simon was sweating buckets and was forced to take his shirt off (oh well!). Their gig was absolutely amazing and I’ve been totally smitten with them ever since.

For those who don’t know them, Biffy Clyro have a pretty straight up rock sound with some heavy metal, grunge and punk influences thrown in. They have some beautifully melodic songs like God & Satan and As Dust Dances but they also churn out a lot of heavier rock songs like That Golden Rule. They also do perfect, quirky pop songs like Bubbles and Saturday Superhouse.

Simon’s lyrics are pretty great too…some deep and heartfelt, some totally random and hilarious (“I pronounce it aluminium ‘cause there’s an i next to the u and m”). Also, Simon’s Scottish accent comes through pretty strongly in his vocals which adds another appealing dimension.

Overall, Biffy are easy to listen to, have a distinct sound without being sameish and put on a killer live show.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Music News from Around the Traps

·         Rumour has it that production on the Jeff Buckley biopic (which has been in the works for years!) is due to start soon with Penn Badgley (of Gossip Girl fame) cast in the lead role. Penn apparently beat out Robert Pattinson (thank god!) and James Franco for the role. Personally, I think James Franco would have been better cast. I just can’t see old Lonely Boy cutting it as the late great Jeff Buckley.

·         For their latest tour of the US, the Foo Fighters have put together a hilarious 52 page rider of backstage demands with tongues firmly in cheek. There are plenty of jokes, insults, diagrams and activities included in the rider. Read more here.

·         Metallica and Lou Reed have been in the studio, working on some new material together. It seems an unlikely (but awesome) combo. From what I’ve heard, it’s basically a ten-track Metallica album with Lou Reed on vocals. Should be interesting!

·         This week marks the 25th anniversary of The Smiths legendary album The Queen is Dead. Most fans and critics agree that this is the Smiths’ masterpiece, however the band disagree, stating that they prefer Strangeways, Here We Come. Whatever, Morrissey!

·         Apparently a new supergroup is headed our way. It’s no Audioslave or Velvet Revolver, but the band’s line-up is still pretty interesting – Dillinger Escape Plan’s guitarist, Ben Weinman, former Mars Volta drummer, Thomas Preidgen, ex-Jane’s Addiction bassist, Eric Avery and Mastodon guitarist, Brent Hinds. The band doesn’t have an official name yet, but they’re joking around with the name Giraffe Tongue (gross).

Friday, 17 June 2011

Rock n Roll High School

A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation to my ten year high school reunion…terrifying, I know. While my high school days were really fun, the idea of going to a ten year reunion is pretty daunting. Seriously, has ten years really past since I walked out of those school gates?!

Anyways, when I got the invitation, I started reminiscing about high school – mostly about my friends and our shenanigans but also about the music I used to listen to. I hear some songs now and I’m instantly transported back to the year nine common room or the quad outside the canteen.

So here is a list of songs that remind me of the old high school days:

·         My Poor Brain – Foo Fighters
·         Popular – Nada Surf
·         Apple Shampoo – Blink 182
·         Bleed American – Jimmy Eat World
·         Eulogy – Tool
·         Self Esteem – The Offspring
·         The Grouch – Green Day
·         Heroin Girl – Everclear
·         Leaving Home – Jebediah
·         Pinball Les – Custard
·         Chop Suey – System of a Down
·         Blue Monday – Orgy
·         Got the Life - Korn
·         Disco 2000 – Pulp
·         Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
·         Song for the Dumped – Ben Folds Five
·         Take a Picture - Filter
·         Ship of Beers - Frenzal Rhomb
·         She’s Got the Look - Guttermouth
·         Pretend We’re Dead – L7
·         Bound for the Floor – Local H
·         Fox – Millencolin
·         Punk Rock Song – Bad Religion
·         Shake Hands with Beef – Primus
·         I Make Hamburgers – The Whitlams
·         Just Ace – Grinspoon
·         The Impression That I Get – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
·         Celebrity Skin – Hole
·         The Rockafeller Skank – Fat Boy Slim
·         Glycerine – Bush
·         1979 – Smashing Pumpkins

Some are a bit embarrassing (Korn…god), but to be honest, I still have most of these songs on my iPod today.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Music Heroes: Part 2

Say what you will about Green Day, but I love them…always have and (probably) always will. I’ve loved them since I was a wee lass of just 10 years old when my primary school friend stole her sister’s copy of Dookie and played it to me in her bedroom. I didn’t know much about music back then, but as soon as I heard the opening bass line of Longview I was hooked.

From this...

Since then, I’ve been a devoted fan. I’ve stuck by them through the changes (sell outs, some may say), the good albums and the not so good albums (hey, I still dig Warning). I have all of their records, all of their DVDs, all of their b-sides and everything else in between. Anyone who knows me will tell you how obsessed I am with this band (particularly my friend J, who I've dragged along to five of their shows so far). Judge away but I’m not afraid to say that they are my favourite band of all time.

I’ve seen them live a bunch of times and they put on a truly amazing show. Their shows have become giant spectacles, with fire, explosions, t-shirt guns, and tickertape, but they still manage to keep a sense of intimacy, making everyone in the audience feel connected to the music and to the band. On their most recent tour, Green Day delved into their archives and played a ton of older songs, as well as the newer, bigger hits. I never thought I’d hear Going to Pasalacqua or Scattered live…but I did and it was incredible.

....to this.

I honestly don’t know what it is about this band that keeps me coming back for more, that has kept me utterly obsessed for almost 17 years now. I love their early pop punk records, and their faster stuff (Insomniac). I love Billie Joe Armstrong’s singing voice and intonations. I love Tre Cools drumming style and Mike Dirnt’s bass riffs. I love that they change things up and try new styles (they managed to pull off two concept albums, people!). I love that their music reminds me of different periods in my life, from being a teenager in Hobart, to moving to Brisbane, to being at uni and beyond. Their records are just so comforting to me…even the newer ones.

Sure, they’ve changed a lot. They moved from an independent label to a major, they’ve become more mainstream and accessible, they’ve branched out to Broadway (and apparently cinema, if the rumours are true), and many have criticised them for selling out, but I don’t care.

I love this band more than words can describe. Maybe it’s pure nostalgia, maybe it’s something more. All I know is that when I hear news about Green Day (like that they are currently working on new material!), I still get all teenage fan girl at the ripe old age of 27.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Rumour Mill: Harvest Festival

It looks like there might be another new music festival headed our way. New music festivals seem to pop up all the time – Sunset Sounds, Soundwave Revolution and now the heavily rumoured Harvest Festival.

There has been a lot of rumours going around but it seems that Harvest will take place in mid-November in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and is being put on by the team that brought us Soundwave and Soundwave Revolution.

Rumours surrounding the line-up are also starting to spread with The National, Portishead, Bright Eyes, The Flaming Lips, Aphex Twin and Mogwai tipped to play. I’d go just to see Portishead, Bright Eyes and The Flaming Lips alone!

I guess we’ll see what news comes out over the coming months. You can check out more info here.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Let’s Go Surfing

Last month, I saw New York hipsters, The Drums at the Hifi Bar. They delivered a really fun, upbeat show, full of cute indie pop songs about surfing, cats, love and loss. We were up on the balcony and had an awesome view of the band (and the hipster crowd below…seriously, so much plaid).

Image courtesy of myheartbeats

The lead singer has a great, unique voice and some truly superb dance moves (think Flashdance). They really got the crowd going, with the whole audience singing along to their more popular songs like Let’s Go Surfing and Forever and Ever Amen.

The Drums were supported by Tiger Choir from Tasmania who had a really interesting sound and got the crowd warmed up nicely.

Image courtesy of myheartbeats

The acoustics at the Hifi seemed a bit crap on the night, with quite a bit of feedback, but that didn’t hinder anyone’s enjoyment. It was a great, fun gig, full of memorable songs…and memorable dancing.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Loved Ones / Dave Hause

Last year, I was lucky enough to see The Loved Ones open for Strung Out at the Hifi. I have to admit that prior to the gig, I didn’t know The Loved Ones, but that night I became a massive fan. Last year, I was also lucky enough to see Dave Hause (lead singer of The Loved Ones) doing a solo gig, opening for Hot Water Music and the Bouncing Souls at the Zoo.

After the Loved Ones’ gig in June, I went out and bought all of their records and have played them pretty heavily since. In case you’re wondering, they have two full albums, Keep Your Heart and Build & Burn and a couple of EPs, Distractions and The Loved Ones. Dave Hause also released his first solo record, Resolutions, earlier this year and while it’s not as great as the Loved Ones’ albums, it’s still pretty solid.

When I heard them at the Hifi, the thing that drew me to them was definitely Dave’s voice. It’s melodic, strong, sometimes a bit rugged and scratchy. He sounds a bit like Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem, but with more range and depth.

Apart from Dave’s voice, The Loved Ones’ music is fun, catchy punk rock, with a few ballads and slow songs thrown in for good measure. In my mind, Keep Your Heart is their most solid album, full of classic songs with interesting lyrics that really showcase Dave’s voice. They also put on a great live show with heaps of energy, crowd interaction (“How do you pronounce my name? ...Dave.”) and great sound.

They are a relatively unknown band (in Australia at least), which I find strange because their music is so appealing and accessible. But the fact that they’re not that big definitely isn’t a bad thing. They still keep the DIY punk sensibility alive. When I saw them at the Hifi, they were manning the merch stand and when Dave toured with the Bouncing Souls, I’m pretty sure he was moonlighting as the roadie. Also, I had a (slightly drunk) chat with Dave at the Zoo…and he was lovely!

It’ll be really interesting to see what these guys do next. They’ve definitely won me over.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Some Upcoming Shows

Here is a list of some upcoming shows (that I’m interested in) in and around Brisbane. I’m definitely going to a few, undecided about a few, and missing one big one (Soundwave Revolution is on the same day that I land in New York. Bit disappointed as I’d love to see Van Halen…but hey, New York is going to be fricking awesome!).

·         Helmet – June 23rd at the Hifi
·         Rise Against/Sick of it All/Break Even – July 18th at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre
·         Del tha Funkee Homosapien – July 22nd at the Hifi
·         No Use for a Name – July 23rd at the Zoo
·         Get Up Kids – August 5th at the Hifi
·         Regurgitator – August 20th at the Hifi
·         Soundwave Revolution – September 24th at the RNA Showgrounds
·         Chris Cornell – October 15th at QPAC
·         Elton John – November 30th at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Reviewed: Eddie Vedder, QPAC, 10.03.2011

As this blog is brand, spanking new, I’m going to be doing some backdating. A few months ago, back in March, I saw Eddie Vedder (best known for his Pearl Jam front man duties) play at QPAC in Brisbane. I guess it was similar to The Cure concert in a sense – “big artist plays intimate gig with amazing acoustics”. I went along to the first of three sold out Eddie shows in Brisbane, and while I had truly crap seats (as crap as you can get in a 2,000 capacity venue, I guess), the experience was amazing.

I saw Pearl Jam play in 2009 at QSAC (definitely not to be confused with QPAC) to a sold out crowd of tens of thousands of people. While the band played a fantastic set, with great energy and tons of classic songs, the gig was slightly disappointing due to the ridiculously expansive venue and distinct lack of intimacy. It definitely wasn’t the band’s fault…the venue just sucked big time. Eddie’s solo show was pretty much the antithesis of the Pearl Jam gig of ’09.

When Eddie appeared from the side of the stage, he was met with a wall of cheers as the crowd erupted. It was clear that the audience was full of diehard Pearl Jam fans who were truly elated to see Eddie play such a small and (there’s that word again) intimate show.

Eddie’s show was simple and beautiful…it was basically him, a seat, some mics, a kickboard (which he used to great effect) and a bunch of guitars in the middle of the stage. After the screams died down, Eddie launched into a set full of Pearl Jam songs, covers and some of his own songs taken from the Into the Wild soundtrack and his newly released solo album, Ukulele Songs (which was unreleased at the time of the gig).

From the first note of the first song, Eddie had the audience captivated. The covers and his solo work were met with a captivated mellowness, but the crowd really got going when Eddie launched into Pearl Jam classics such as I Am Mine, Man of the Hour and Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (my personal highlight of the evening).

In his laid back, down to earth manner, Eddie interacted with the crowd a fair bit, cracking jokes and telling stories. Oddly, he also messed up a few of his songs half way through and had to start again (“When you’re really into a song, that’s when you fuck it up”). I’m not sure if it was nerves or just a lack of practice. It was endearing though and seemed to make the audience love him even more.

Speaking of the audience, there was a fair bit of (positive) heckling going on. If ever there was a lull between songs, someone would scream out “LOVE YOU, EDDIE!” or something similar. It seemed to catch Eddie off guard, but he seemed appreciative and humble.

After Eddie’s set, he came back to play a six-song encore including The Needle and the Damage Done (a Neil Young cover which Eddie dedicated to Mike Star of Alice in Chains who died of an overdose a few days prior) and the Pearl Jam mega hit, Better Man.

He also came back for a second encore, which seemed to leave the crowd more confused than anything. The second encore was only one song and it was a cover (Hard Sun). When Eddie finished the song and left the stage, the entire audience hung around for ages, expecting him to come back with more…but sadly, he didn’t. It was a bit of an odd ending to an otherwise amazing and memorable concert.

Eddie Vedder is a real craftsman and his passion for his music is evident. It was great to see such a huge music legend in such an intimate setting and it only heightened my love for Eddie and Pearl Jam.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

New RCHP's Album...Minus John

So a couple of days ago, the Red Hot Chili Peppers announced that their tenth studio album is set for release in late August this year. The record, titled I’m With You (pretty lame title, I think. It’s up there with By The Way), is their first release in over five years and their first recording since their legendary guitarist, John Frusciante, left the band.

John will always be in my heart...and this photo

John has been replaced by Josh Klinghoffer, who has played with John on some of his solo albums and side projects, and has also been the band’s touring guitarist in the past. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a mad keen John Frusciante fan (I have all of his solo albums…the good ones and the really awful ones from when he was a junkie) and was pretty devastated when he left the band. It’ll be interesting to see what Josh brings to the table and if he can fill the inevitable void that John has left.

In the early 2000s, I was a massive Peppers fan, but their last album, Stadium Arcadium (man, all of their album titles are pretty weak) was a little disappointing. It was a double album, but really only had enough great, memorable tracks for a standard single disc…there was just too much filler.

Being the fan I am, I will definitely be buying the new record, but sadly, with low expectations. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong…

Tom Petty vs. The Record Companies

You know how I said that I love Tom Petty because he stands up for his beliefs? Well, the man really does. In the late ‘70s, Tom took a stand against his record company and the contracting standards of the entire music industry. He fought hard, lost a lot of money in the process  but eventually, he came out on top.

The music industry has long been known for onerous contracts that can keep even top-selling artists forever in debt to their record labels. Generally, a record label advances an artist a sum of money against future earnings from royalties. Because the cost of extras like studio time, marketing and tour expenses must be recouped by the label before an artist earns any royalties, many artists never sell enough records to repay their advance. The system fails when a top-selling artist finds themselves deeply in debt to their record label, despite having sold millions of records. In 1979, Tom declared bankruptcy in an effort to free himself from his contract with Shelter Records.

When Tom filed for bankruptcy, he had little to show for the two hit albums he had already produced. Unhappy with the terms of his contract, he seized on the sale of Shelter by ABC to industry giant, MCA as justification to declare himself a free agent. Tom stated that he refused to be "bought and sold like a piece of meat”. Tom refused to allow his next album to be released, even going so far as to bear the cost of recording it personally, leaving him about half a millions dollars in debt. He eventually filed for bankruptcy, hoping to gain leverage in the brewing legal dispute by having the bankruptcy court declare his extremely unfavourable contract void (which he apparently signed under duress). 

Eventually, MCA caved and agreed to release Tom from his existing contract by re-signing him to a contract with a new subsidiary label created especially for this purpose. The album, Damn The Torpedoes, went on to sell millions of copies and was one of the band’s most critically acclaimed records.

But Tom didn’t stop there. In the early ‘80s, he once again threatened to withhold his new album, Hard Promises, when MCA announced its intention to sell it for $9.98 (a dollar more than the typical retail price at the time). After another heated battle, MCA caved again, and sold the album for $8.98.

So that is the story of Tom Petty vs. The Record Companies. Pretty cool, huh? I love that he sticks to his guns and fights for what he believes in. His battles have also set a precedent and have helped other artists in their struggles with their record companies. But sadly, he didn’t change the entire music industry and tons of artists are still being screwed out of their royalties due to dodgy, constricting contracts. But keep fighting the good fight, I say!

Music Heroes: Part 1

There are a few people in the music world that I really love, respect and admire. People that not only create amazing, timeless music, but people that carry themselves with integrity and ooze awesomeness.

Tom Petty is one of my greatest music heroes. I hold him in the highest regard, mostly because he has made some truly amazing music throughout his career, but also because he is just so damn likeable and really stands by his beliefs. He is a visionary and a perfectionist and an absolute craftsman.

I recently watched a four hour-long documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (I think it’s called Running Down a Dream), and while it may sound long and arduous, I was completely captivated, mostly due to Tom’s amazing storytelling abilities. Throughout the film he talks at great length about his hometown in Florida, his relationships with his family, his band mates, his experiences on tour and details of his personal life. He also talks about how he took on the music industry…and won (I’ll post more on this later). He also has a truly soothing speaking voice…seriously, people, it could melt butter.

And I love his (their?) music no end. Two of my all-time favourite albums are Tom Petty’s debut solo album, Full Moon Fever, and the Heartbreakers’ record, Southern Accents. Tom can tell a story in a song like nobody’s business. Reading the lyrics to Rebels or Dogs on the Run is like reading the first chapter of a great American road novel (think On The Road). He really is a great American songwriter and half of the appeal of his music is his narrative-style lyrics.

Anyways, I could go on all day about my love for Tom Petty, but let me just finish by saying that he is a musical genius…and seems to have the integrity to back it up.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The List

You know how I said that I love a good list? Well, I really love a good list. A few months back I made a very selective list, which I then turned into a playlist (how good is technology, right?), of my favourite songs of all time. It started out as a top 20, which then morphed into a top 50 and now it’s a top 57.

These, to me, are classic songs by classic bands. Some of them are obvious classics, some of them are (maybe questionable) personal classics, and some of them have just stuck with me for a very long time.

There were a few self-imposed rules applied to the list – one song only per band/artist, the songs had to mean something to me etc. I must also point out that the list isn’t completely reflective of my overall music collection or taste (for example, there is a U2 song on the list and I’m definitely not a U2 fan…I think Bono is a turd). Also, the list is not in any particular order…that would have been way too hard.

Anyways, enough prefacing. Here is the list! And feel free to judge…haters to the left!

1. Longview – Green Day
2. Don’t Forget Me – Red Hot Chili Peppers
3. Everlong – Foo Fighters
4. Rat Fink – The Misfits
5. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
6. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
7. Sweet Thing – Van Morrison
8. A Man Needs a Maid – Neil Young
9. This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads
10. Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – The Arcade Fire
11. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
12. Boiled Frogs – Alexisonfire
13. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
14. Close to Me – The Cure
15. Bigmouth Strikes Again – The Smiths
16. Know Your Quarry – Biffy Clyro
17.Baba O’Riley – The Who
18. I Never Came – Queens of the Stone Age
19. Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
20. Bandoliers – Them Crooked Vultures
21. Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam
22. Havana Affair – The Ramones
23. Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
24. Ashes to Ashes – Faith No More
25. Temptation – New Order
26. Plug in Baby – Muse
27. An Ode to No One – Smashing Pumpkins
28. Love, You Should Come Over – Jeff Buckley
29. These Foolish Things – Ella Fitzgerald
30. New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
31. Money Money 2020 – The Network
32. Parabola – Tool
33. This is the Day – The The
34. Breed – Nirvana
35. Fireball – Deep Purple
36. Carvel – John Frusciante
37. Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
38. Sabotage – Beastie Boys
39. Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
40. The Perfect Drug – Nine Inch Nails
41. Emo – Blink 182
42. London Calling – The Clash
43. Good Die Young – The Divinyls
44. Sweet Child O Mine – Guns N’Roses
45. There Was a Time – James Brown
46. Fight the Feeling – The Music
47. Summer Cannibals – Patti Smith
48. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
49. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
50. America – Simon and Garfunkel
51. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
52. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love – Van Halen
53. Tiny Dancer – Elton John
54. Rebels – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
55. Smallpox Champion – Fugazi
56. Massive – The Loved Ones
57. Paper Tiger - Beck