Monday, November 28, 2011

Paul Weller album coming in March

I caught Weller's memorable show at the Wiltern in LA for his last tour, so I'm really looking forward to the new material. Read more from the press release below... 

Paul Weller continues to push boundaries with his forthcoming album Sonik Kicks, scheduled for March 27 on Yep Roc Records and the follow up to the Mercury Prize Award nominated Wake Up The Nation.

Through, fans can preview first single “Around The Lake.” It will also be available for purchase on iTunes this week. 

Sonik Kicks features fourteen brand new tracks: “Green,” “The Attic,” “Kling I Klang,” “Sleep of the Serene,” “By the Waters,” “That Dangerous Age,”  “Study in Blue,” “Dragonfly,” “When Your Garden’s Overgrown,” “Around The Lake,” “Twilight,” “Drifters,” “Paperchase,” and “Be Happy Children.” Both Noel Gallagher and Blur's Graham Coxon appear as special guests.

Since Weller isn’t one to wait 20 years to be invited to perform his “classic” album, he has decided to do so now.  Sonik Knicks will be performed in full at The Roundhouse in London, England on March 18-19. Tickets are on sale now. US shows are in the works for Weller and will be announced at a later date.

2012 will also mark two important anniversaries for Paul Weller. In 1977 (35 years ago), The Jam's debut album In The City became one of the most important early UK punk albums. Since then, Weller consistently changed and evolved his sound through his work with The Style Council and as a solo artist. It was 20 years ago in 1992 when Weller released his self-titled first solo album.

With Sonik Kicks, Paul Weller once again shakes up his palate and stirs his influences anew.  He mixes pop art punch with soulful communication; jazzy explorations into psychedelia and dub with razor-sharp melodies and abstract soundscapes with clear-eyed forest-folk. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Doors' making of 'L.A. Woman' coming in January

Fans of iconic rock band The Doors are in for another treat. The group's final album from 1971 is being celebrated with a behind the scenes DVD/Blu-ray: "Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD/Blu-ray), set for Jan. 24.

It is told through new interviews with the band's surviving members, as well as Elektra Records' founder, the group's original manager, primary engineer/co-producer and others. The high-definition video also features live and studio performances and rare archival photos. The documentary contains rare footage of The Doors in the studio and on stage and was made with the full involvement, approval and cooperation of The Doors.  

DVD and Blu-ray Track Listing
Early Doors                                                             
The Changeling                                                                    
Been Down So Long / The Miami Effect
The Doors Workshop                                        
Crawling King Snake                                     
Love Her Madly                                                    
L.A. Woman                                                           
The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)
Riders On The Storm                                       
Cars Hiss By My Window / Jim In Paris
Hyacinth House                                                  
Closing Doors                                                        

John Densmore On L.A. Woman             
Riders On The Storm                                       
The Doors Guide To L.A.                                 
Thoughts On Performing Live                
Crawling King Snake                                     

Neil Diamond back on the road next summer; new comp due

Neil Diamond, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Kennedy Center honoree this year, will launch a North American tour on June 1. 

Columbia/Legacy has also announced The Very Best of Neil Diamond - Original Studio Recordings, due out Dec. 6.

The album will feature 23 of the most popular hits and signature tracks from America's quintessential singer-songwriter. This is the first Neil Diamond collection to draw from the artist's complete studio discography and includes tracks such as "Forever In Blue Jeans," "Cherry, Cherry," "Sweet Caroline," "I'm A Believer," "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, " "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Red, Red Wine," "America" and more.

Diamond will make several media appearances in addition to being a Kennedy Center honoree on Dec. 27, including the Today Show, NBC's Tree Lighting at Rockefeller and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

2012 TOUR 

June 1
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
BankAtlantic Center
Dec. 12
June 3
Tampa, FL
St. Pete Times Forum
Dec. 5
June 6
Atlanta, GA
Philips Arena
Dec. 5
June 8
Wantagh, NY
Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Dec. 5
June 14
Washington, DC
Verizon Center
Dec. 5
June 16
Uncasville, CT
Mohegan Sun Arena
Dec. 5
June 18
Philadelphia, PA
Wells Fargo Center
Dec. 5
June 21
Montreal, BC
Bell Centre
Dec. 12
June 23
Boston, MA
TD Garden
Dec. 5
June 26
Toronto, ON
Air Canada Centre
Dec. 12
June 28
London, ON
John Labatt Centre
Dec. 12
July 1
Cleveland, OH
Quicken Loans Arena
Dec. 5
July 3
Detroit, MI
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Dec. 5 
July 6
Chicago, IL
United Center
Dec. 5
July 8
Milwaukee, WI
Dec. 10
July 11
St Paul, MN
Xcel Energy Center
Dec. 5
July 13
Saskatoon, SK
Credit Union Centre
Dec. 12
July 16
Edmonton, AB
Rexall Place
Dec. 12
July 18
Calgary, AB
Scotiabank Saddledome
Dec. 12
July 21
Vancouver, BC
Rogers Arena
Dec. 12
July 23
Seattle, WA
Key Arena
Dec. 5
July 28
Salt Lake City, UT
Rio Tinto Stadium
Dec. 5
August 7
San Jose, CA
HP Pavilion
Dec. 5
August 29
Phoenix, AZ
US Airways Center
Dec. 5
September 1
Las Vegas, NV
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Dec. 5

Leonard Cohen album due in January

Old Ideas, the 12th studio album by Leonard Cohen, will be released by Columbia Records on Jan. 31.  

The 10 songs poetically address some of the most profound quandaries of human existence - the relationship to a transcendent being, love, sexuality, loss and death. Arguably the most overtly spiritual of the revered artist's albums, Old Ideas inspires commitment to a greater sense of compassion and decency. 

It can be preordered now at, where his song, "Show Me The Place" is also streaming. Fans who pre-order will receive an instant download of the new song. 

While the recording began this past, many of the new songs and their lyrics have been in the works for years. Early versions of "Amen" and "Lullaby" were originally recorded in '07, while early versions of "Lullaby" and " The Darkness" were performed live during Cohen's last world tour. 

Fans were given another hint of what to expect when Cohen made remarks as the recipient of the Principe de Asturias Prize for literature in Spain in October:

"As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these...Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty." 

The album was produced with Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. Complementing Cohen's signature baritone on Old Ideas are vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes. The album's cover design and drawings are Cohen's own.

Going Home
Show Me The Place
The Darkness
Crazy To Love You
Come Healing
Different Sides

Bonus Q&A with Chris Isaak

Here's more from my interview... 

Q: The last time I saw you live was over the summer at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, Calif. Before “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing,” you invited some female fans onstage and they got a little too touchy feely. Does that happen often?
[Laughs] You know, I’ve invited women, men, anybody that looks like they’re having fun. I try to get people up onstage. I’ve told the guys, ‘it’s way better to get people that look like they’re having fun than someone who stands onstage and looks like they’re beautiful and bored.’ When people get nervous, sometimes that’s all they know how to do. I just look for people who are dancing and I go, ‘c’mon, have fun.’ 

Q: It must be a struggle sometimes for you to get through the song.
You know, people touching you and stuff like that – I’m not paying attention; I’m just trying to hit the notes and play the guitar usually. I have had things happen onstage where I go, ‘What were you thinking?’ I look at the audience and usually it’s happening behind me. That’s what people forget. I’m singing and somebody will be behind me doing some crazy dance. I don’t see it a lot of times, because I’m at the front of the stage. 

Q: Are you still doing the acoustic segment at these shows where you delve into ‘Beyond the Sun’ material?
Yes and now the record’s out. At the time we were doing some of that, it was before. I think people are going to like it. It’s been so much fun for us to play this stuff live. I mean, giving us an excuse to be able to play Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” or “It’s Now or Never” has just been, we’ve been having a ball doing it. 

Q: Will you be including holiday material at the upcoming shows?
We’ve got a few Christmas songs that we’re going to put in there. I did a Christmas album that I’m pretty happy with. I’m one of the few guys that’s probably written a bunch of Christmas songs, so we’ll do a few of mine and others. That should be a nice mix. When we do a show, I don’t just go, ‘You came to a holiday show. I’m only going to do [singing] “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”’ No, you’re going to do “Wicked Game,” “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing,” “Somebody’s Cryin’”, then some holiday songs, then some Johnny Cash and Elvis.

Q: Sun Studio, where you recorded the new album, is such a landmark of early rock 'n' roll.
You’re standing there going, ‘this is the door that Elvis walked through and he probably stood out here and was just sweating and nervous, thinking ‘they’re going to make fun of me but I gotta go in and see. Maybe they’ll like my voice and I can make a record.’ This is where a scared Jerry Lee Lewis walked through and said ‘I hope he likes my piano playing.’ Where Johnny Cash came though and said, ‘I’ve got a couple songs. I’ll play the good one first and maybe he’ll like the gospel.’ The history of just standing in that doorway. My drummer and I talked back and forth and said, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf…if you’re a musician and you really love that music…Memphis at night: I remember it being hot. Nobody was out there and it’s kind of in a run down part of town, with muffler shops and industrial stuff. 

Q: These old songs you covered are probably etched in your mind, right?
I grew up listening to this music and in my career, I got to work with Roy Orbsion and Jerry Lee Lewis. I’m sitting in my room and I’ve got two pictures. One is of my mom when she was a little girl about 3. It’s funny, her in a little pink dress. Next to it is a picture of Johnny Cash, all in black, taken for a Sun Studio publicity picture. When I worked with Johnny, I asked him to sign it. He put it in his hands and just looked at it for about a minute, which is forever. I thought, ‘I’ve pissed off Johnny Cash.’ Then he goes, ‘damn, I was a good looking man.’ I remember it was funny in a way, but also poignant because it was toward the end of his life. He’s looking back. 

Q: For your last few albums, you’ve enlisted female guest vocalists like Stevie Nicks, Trisha Yearwood and Michele Branch. And Michele actually is on the new one too. What do you find is so enticing about her voice in particular?
Michele has got a really honest believable quality to her voice. It’s very open. When I hear her, I love it when I hear a female vocalist sing a love song and you fall in love. When you listen to it, you believe them. It’s not just pretty words. There are a lot of people with pretty voices but it’s a believable thing. Why was John Lennon such a great singer? Because you believed him. I believe Michele and she has such a sweet quality to her voice. We went into do “My Happiness” and I didn’t know if it was going to work. We sang it and it was [definitely] a duet. We had to have her. 

Q: With the passing of Joe Frazier earlier this month, I wondered if he was someone you looked up to while boxing in college.
Oh my gosh. Yeah, he was. Everybody liked Smokin’ Joe Frazier. He was even musical; he had a band. Smokin Joe & the Knockouts. There’s never going to be another like him. The fights he gave with Mohammed Ali, those are still some of the greatest fights I saw in my life. I loved boxing and those guys in the days I was boxing in Japan , I was a light heavyweight, I would watch Joe and his head bob. I remember trying to learn how to do that. Sometimes, it makes me sick to think if they can get Smokin’ Joe, then I guess old Father Time can catch anybody. Because he was about as tough as they come.              

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An interview with Chris Isaak

courtesy Vanguard Records
A version of my interview originally appeared at

Once musicians make their initial visit to Sun Studio, it’s like finding the Holy Grail. Just ask Chris Isaak, who had a concert tour bus driver go to 706 Union Ave. – an address he’d memorized - while passing through Memphis years ago. 

“It was three in the morning. My drummer and I got out, stood there and had a very stilted, quiet conversation because both of us were in awe,” recalled the singer/guitarist, in a phone interview from home in San Francisco.

Commonly called “the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll,” the small recording facility is where producer Sam Phillips first oversaw sessions by (and in many cases, discovered) Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and others during the 1950s. 

“If you could take a time machine and go back, thinking of everyone who’s gone through that door just makes you stop in your tracks,” marveled Isaak, 55. 

Best known for the pop single “Wicked Game,” which reached Billboard’s top 10 in 1990, Isaak has had several CDs (“Heart Shaped World”, “Forever Blue,” “San Francisco Days,” “Baja Sessions”) go gold or platinum over the past quarter century. He has also acted in feature films (“The Silence of the Lambs,” “That Thing You Do!,” “Married to the Mob,” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”) and done TV work (“The Chris Isaak Show,” “Friends,” “Ed,” “Wiseguy”). 

When the opportunity came to return to the Memphis studio and record an album that pays homage to his Sun inspirations, Isaak jumped at the chance. The idea was a no-brainer, since the sharp dressed musician favors reverb-drenched, roots rock music. 

“It was the most fun I’ve had making a record, by far,” he enthused. “I sing this stuff at sound checks all the time. People haven’t heard me because they hear my records, but when I’m home, I don’t pick up a guitar and play my own songs: I either write something new or I’m singing Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis or Johnny Cash tunes.” 

The solid new collection “Beyond the Sun” finds Isaak and his veteran backing band paying homage to Sun artists with faithful arrangements of hits like “Great Balls of Fire,” “She’s Not You” and “Ring of Fire.”

Vocalist Michelle Branch, guitarist Waddy Wachtel and Cowboy Jack Clement (a producer/engineer/songwriter in the early Sun period) also lent a hand. “These songs come second nature and are a big influence on me,” noted Isaak. 

While Presley popularized songs are well represented (“Trying to Get to You,” “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” “My Happiness”), Isaak also covers lesser known selections (Perkins’ “Dixie Fried,” Jimmy Wages’ “Miss Pearl”). Howlin’ Wolf’s “Everybody’s in the Mood,” The King-associated “Love Me” and “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” are among the material on the deluxe edition. 

During “I Walk the Line,” Isaak, who can break into a marvelous falsetto voice at any moment, sings in what is probably his lowest register since “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.” 
“That’s the lowest it goes, boy.” 

Upbeat Isaak original “Live it Up” is in the same vein as the classics. The track came quickly for the songwriter a day after telling the band they needed a “real straight ahead Chuck Berry rock beat,” because “everything was either a shuffle or stripper” rhythm [he demonstrates both]. “I finished it between the time I jumped out of bed, got shaved and went to band practice.” Disc 2 contains Isaak’s own “Lovely Loretta.” 

“I wanted to suck people in to loving this music as much as I do,” said Isaak. “If I made it all obscure - which I could do easy because I [dig] so much” of the Sun catalog, then “people won’t get it. That’s why it’s titled ‘Beyond the Sun.’ People can hear ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ or ‘It’s Now or Never’ and see these guys’ [careers] all started with Sam Phillips and this is where the music went.” 

Ideally, he envisions a scenario where some teenager enters an independent record store, comes across his album and eventually gets turned on to the original versions. “If it makes people discover this music, then my job is done.” 

Next month, Isaak will be seen on PBS performing Buddy Holly’s “Crying Waiting Hoping” during “Listen to Me.” The all star concert special was filmed two months ago in LA to commemorate the same-titled Holly tribute album put out by Verve Forecast. (Other participants from the collection who appeared live include Stevie Nicks, Lyle Lovett, Cobra Starship and Patrick Stump).

Isaak chose the forlorn ballad “Hoping,” a longtime fave, then“took it back to what the words were” for the tribute album. “If you just broke up with someone and put that on, you’re going to cry like a baby.”

Although Holly’s widow Mary Elena was in attendance, Isaak said he was more apprehensive about singing it with Phil Everly “sitting 15 feet in front of me. I’m so nuts about the Everly Brothers. I think they’re the greatest harmony singers of all time.”

Fans headed to the upcoming shows can look forward to a mix of Isaak’s radio hits, Sun tracks and possibly some holiday songs from 2004’s “Christmas.”

“I’m a big believer in giving the people what they want to hear; that’s how I stay in business...My piano player is so good. We got an upright piano. I love that it blows smoke out of the top and flames. It’s so corny and hilarious, but it’s awesome. I don’t think there’s any symphony orchestra in the world that can compete with us.”

Upcoming tour dates:

11/23 Santa Rosa, CA   Wells Fargo Center For The Arts
11/25 Thousand Oaks, CA   Fred Kavli Theatre
11/26 Solana Beach, CA   Belly Up Tavern
11/27 Anaheim, CA   City National Grove Of Anaheim
11/30  Honolulu, HI   Blaisdell Concert Hall
12/1 Kahului, HI   Maui Arts & Cultural Center
12/06   Ashland, KY      Paramount Arts Center
12/08 Flint, MI      Flint Cultural Center
12/09 Carmel, IN      The Palladium
12/10 Skokie, IL      North Shore Ctr. For The Perf. Arts
12/11 Louisville, KY Louisville Palace Theatre
12/14 Allentown, PA Allentown Symphony Hall
12/15 Tarrytown, NY The Tarrytown Music Hall
12/16 Collingswood, NJ   Scottish Rite Auditorium
12/19 Alexandria, VA Birchmere

Monday, November 21, 2011

Depeche Mode's Gore & Clarke reconnect

courtesy Mute Records
Very exciting news from my inbox this morning. Read on...

After 30 years working on their respective ongoing music projects, Vince Clarke (Erasure / Yazoo / Depeche Mode) and Martin L. Gore (Depeche Mode) come together for the first time since 1981 as VCMG to release a brand new album preceded by a series of EPs.

VCMG is the fruit of initially tentative discussion and subsequent enthused collaboration where Vince and Martin, both influential as pioneers in electronic music, get to exercise their lifelong love of the genre as the techno inspired VCMG.


As Vince explains: “I’ve been getting into and listening to a lot of minimal dance music and I got really intrigued by all the sounds… I realised I needed a collaborator… so it occurred to me to talk to Martin.”


Says Gore: "Out of the blue I got an e-mail from Vince just saying, 'I'm interested in making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?' This was maybe a year ago. He said, 'No pressure, no deadlines,' so I said, 'OK’.”


The writing and recording of the album was done in a typically unique way with the pair working alone in their respective studios, communicating only via email, exchanging files until the album was ready.  It was in May 2011 that the pair met for the first time to discuss the project when they both performed at Short Circuit presents Mute festival in London.


The album (title to be announced soon) was produced by Vince Clarke and Martin L. Gore and mixed by the influential Californian electronic artist Überzone /Q and will be released in early 2012. 


The first release is an EP entitled Spock. 

EP1/Spock will feature remixes from Edit-Select, aka Tony Scott, the UK DJ / producer and founder of EditSelect Records whose previous remix credits include Speedy J, Death In Vegas and Gary Beck; Regis, British techno musician Karl O’Connor, member of the Sandwell District collective and co-founder of Downwards Records); DVS1, Brooklyn based producer Derek VanScoten (Radiohead / Sleigh Bells / Emancipator); plus XOQ, the alter ego of Überzone / Q, who mixed the VCMG album.

EP1/Spock will be available initially as a global exclusive on Beatport on Nov. 30, and then on all DSPs Dec. 13, with the 12” release following on Dec. 20.



Spock - Album version

Spock - Edit Select Remix

Spock - Regis Remix

Spock - DVS1 Voyage Home Remix

Spock - XOQ Remix