Mitchell: Music sometimes too close to evolving events for comfort
A couple of days ago the airwaves went silent when it came to broadcasting Ke$ha’s newest hit Die Young due to the sad and insane doings at Newtown.
Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of other times that cruel history and ill fates have affected and even ruined rock/pop music careers.
The New Zealand band Split Enz had the beginnings of a huge hit in the U.K. with a wonderful song titled Six Months In A Leaky Boat just as Britain declared war against Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
The tune was suddenly considered a morale drain in that Britain was on the other side of the ocean and the war would be conducted almost exclusively with the navy.
Oddly enough, Split Enz were playing in Kelowna at the old Memorial Arena just as things were evolving and it was obvious the NATO allies to Britain would probably ban the burgeoning hit too and you could tell Split Enz kinda knew it and their performance that night, 30 years ago, was less than exhilarating.
Luckily, Split Enz folded to become much of Crowded House who enjoyed lots of hits later on.
Then there is the case of the late ’60s prog rock band simply named Family who were stars in the U.K. and looked to be ready to have a big breakthrough in the USA until the Charlie Manson’s ‘family’ set about their murderous shenanigans and essentially put the nail in the coffin of that bands’ career (you can download their three biggest Brit hits Burlesque, Its Only A Movie and Sat’d’y Barfly).
No one would book a band with that name but Family members went on to join King Crimson, Blind Faith, Streetwalkers, Asia and even Rod Stewart’s band which shows the pedigree of that group’s talents.
And, luckily for this beleaguered reviewer, I now don’t have to take up much more space about Ke$ha’s less than spectacular album that is full of crass juvenile songs and moronic chants about club life, hedonism and one night stands.
Warrior is mostly an uninspired would-be party album full of dross and calculation and I’m not sure if Ke$ha will earn another hit off of this trivial release thus putting her career in jeopardy.
But Ke$ha has cleaned up somewhat—in the liner photos she doesn’t physically have shite all over her.
Incidentally, radio in America has also banned Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks because it references shootings at school.
Makes me wonder how harmless pop music can be banned so quickly (given the first amendment, free speech) but military assault weapons and overload capacity bullet clips (re: the second amendment, to bear arms and other musketry) takes forever and probably never.
Buddy Guy: Live At Legends (Silvertone)
Buddy Guy owns the hottest blues club in Chicago and probably the world with his venue called Buddy Guy’s Legends.
And Guy is a legendary blues master who, at age 75, seems like he has been around forever because he was discovered so young, beginning his professional career as a teenager in the mid-’50s of the last century.
Unfortunately Guy has not released a very good concert album here and maybe he was just a little too comfortable in his own digs where his performance suffers for it.
There are only 10 tunes on this 54-minute CD that is bolstered with three new studio recordings.
On the plus side is a superb rendering of Mannish Boy from his old mentor’s songbook Muddy Waters and Guy offers a splendid take of his old original Best Damn Fool where he strangles the hell out of his guitar neck.
But after this, things get overly indulgent with a ribald, oddly arranged, too long take of Willie Dixon’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You while the two closing medleys are a mystery.
Guy pairs up Little Walters Boom Boom with Cream’s Strange Brew followed closely by Jimi Hendrix’ Voodoo Chile with (again) Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love for separate medleys.
But both tunes are less than three minutes long and sound like haphazard toss offs that have no context nor reason while they leave Guy’s own better originals on the shelf.
The three new studio tracks are much better.
Guy is remarkably incendiary on the original Polka Dot Love that features Reese Wynans on keys and Dave Grissom on guitar while Guy offers a slow tongue in cheek take of Muddy Waters Country Boy where he plays the rural rube with some of the lyrics.
Mostly, this hybrid concert/studio album is best for only the committed fan.
A Grammy Salute To Whitney Houston: (RCA)
Just last week I mentioned the new two-CD Deluxe Hits collection released for Whitney Houston and speculated that her label would somehow repackage her relatively small back catalogue ad infinitum.
But I didn’t think it would be done in just one week.
That very recent hits collection was subtitled I Will Always Love You whereas this Grammy Tribute DVD riffs on that title with We Will Always Love You with performances by contemporaries such as Celine Dion,
Usher, Britney Spears, Jennifer Hudson, LL
Cool J, Halle Berry, Yolanda Adams, Cece Winans and others.
There are interviews with these contributors and their fond remembrances while hard core collectors may want this DVD for Houston’s Super Bowl XXV National Anthem as well as her first ever TV appearance on Merv Griffin’s talk show way back in 1983.
Furthermore there are eight “iconic” videos to some of Houston’s biggest hits.
I wonder what Houston product will come in the mail next week?
For completest fans only.