Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The return of Nitzer Ebb includes career box set, tour

Nitzer Ebb 1982-2010: The Box Set will be available on Oct. 5 via Pylon Records. This new career-spanning retrospective marks the first time that all five of the band’s albums for Geffen/Mute have been collected together.

It features expanded double black vinyl of each album (10 vinyl LPs in all), with several bonus tracks and hard to find 12” mixes - all carefully curated and remastered by Pylon Records.

The original artwork has also been expanded into gatefold sleeves, with embossing and spot UV finish. It contains a large size booklet with liner notes by the band's co-founders Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris, along with unseen photos, flyers and artwork, detailing their entire career in chronological order from Essex to Los Angeles. These albums have been out-of-print since the early '90s and have never been reissued prior to this.

The two-piece box is made of hard board stock, wrapped with leather paper and the UV design is hot foiled stamped. The box also has accommodated extra space inside for their first self-released album, Basic Pain Procedure, from 1983 and their last release, Industrial Complex, from 2010, to complete the collection by the fans, as these titles have been in print in recent years.

There will be a limited colored vinyl edition of the box, which will also include a re-press of the band's debut album, Basic Pain Procedure, available only from the Pylon Records website for a short period of time. The Industrial Complex vinyl has been in print in the last several years on colored vinyl, and easily attainable on many online and fine record stores around the world.

McCarthy and Harris return to reunite Nitzer Ebb after taking a hiatus in 2010. The band has announced that they’ll be performing next summer at Amphi Festival, Cologne, Germany on July 20, 2019. Joining them onstage will be original founding members David Gooday and Simon Granger. This will be the first time these members have performed live together since 1987. Additional dates featuring this expanded lineup will be announced in the coming months.

11 LP Colored Vinyl Set (available only through the Pylon Records website)
Click here to pre-order


Limited Edition Gatefold Embossed Sleeve, containing two Red Translucent Colored Vinyl LPs, with five bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Join In The Chant,” “Let Your Body Learn” and rare instrumental version of “Murderous.”
[This limited edition color vinyl is exclusive to the Nitzer Ebb box set, which is available only through the Pylon Records website. There will also be a black vinyl version of the box set, available through your favorite distributors.]

Side 1
1.Fitness To Purpose
2.Warsaw Ghetto
3.Violent Playground

Side 2
1.Smear Body
2.Join In The Chant
4.Let Your Body Learn

Side 3
1.Let Beauty Loose
2.Into The Large Air
3.Murderous (Instrumental) – Bonus
4.Fitness to Purpose (Mix Two) – Bonus

Side 4
1.Join In The Chant (Burn! 12” Mix) – Bonus
2.Let Your Body Learn (12” Mix) – Bonus
3.Join In The Chant (Metal Mix) – Bonus

Limited Edition Gatefold Embossed, UV Sleeve, containing two Clear Vinyl Discs, with six bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Control I’m Here,” “ Shame,” “Hearts & Minds” and a band favorite “Backlash.”
[This limited edition color vinyl is exclusive to the Nitzer Ebb box set, which is available only through the Pylon Records website. There will also be a black vinyl version of the box set, available through your favorite distributors.]

Side 1
1.Hearts and Minds
2.For Fun
3.Control I’m Here

Side 2
1.Blood Money
4.Without Belief

Side 3
1.Control I’m Here (Command Control Confront Mix) – Bonus
2.Shame (Mix no 2 William Orbit) – Bonus
3.K.I.A. (PK Mix) – Bonus

Side 4
1.Captivate (William Orbit Mix) – Bonus
2.Hearts & Minds (Mix Subsonic) – Bonus
3.Backlash (William Orbit Mix) – Bonus

Limited Edition Gatefold UV Sleeve, containing two Orange Colored Vinyl LPs, with five bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Lightning Man,“ Fun To Be Had” and “Getting Closer.”
[This limited edition color vinyl is exclusive to the Nitzer Ebb box set, which is available only through the Pylon Records website. There will also be a black vinyl version of the box set, available through your favorite distributors.]

Side 1
1.Getting Closer
2.Nobody Knows
3.One Mans Burden
4.All Over
5.My Heart

Side 2
1.Lightning Man
3.Hold On
4.Fun To Be Had

Side 3
1.Lightning Man (The Industry Vs. The Ebb Remix) – Bonus
2.Fun To Be Had (Long Mix George Clinton) – Bonus
3.Getting Closer (The Kitchen Mix) – Bonus

Side 4
1.Fun To Be Had (Dust Brothers Master Mix) – Bonus
2.Lightning Man (RSW Mix) – Bonus
3.Getting Closer (The Trance Mix) – Bonus

Limited Edition Gatefold Spot UV Foil Sleeve, containing one Green and one Red Colored Vinyl LPs, with seven bonus tracks, including the highly acclaimed “AS IS” EP along with remixes by Vince Clarke, Barry Adamson and Flood.
[This limited edition color vinyl is exclusive to the Nitzer Ebb box set, which is available only through the Pylon Records website. There will also be a black vinyl version of the box set, available through your favorite distributors.]

Side 1
2.Lakeside Drive
3.I Give To You
4.Sugar Sweet

Side 2
4.Trigger Happy

Side 3
1.Family Man (Jaz Coleman Mix) –Bonus
2.Come Alive (Alan Wilder Mix) – Bonus
3.Lovesick (Flood Mix) - Bonus
4.Higher (Barry Adamson Mix) – Bonus

Side 4
1.Ascend (Vince Clarke Anonymous Mix) – Bonus
2.I Give To You (Pestilence Mix) – Bonus
3.Godhead (Remix) - Bonus

Limited Edition Gatefold Spot UV Foil Sleeve, containing two Yellow Colored Vinyl LPs, with five Bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Kick it” and “I Thought.”
[This limited edition color vinyl is exclusive to the Nitzer Ebb box set, which is available only through the Pylon Records website. There will also be a black vinyl version of the box set, available through your favorite distributors.]

Side 1
1.Cherry Blossom
2.Hear Me Say
3.Kick It
4.I Thought

Side 2
1.Flood Water
2.Border Talk
3.In Decline
4.Living Out Of A Bag

Side 3
2.Our Own World
3.Friend (Brittle Mix) - Bonus
4.Beats Me – Bonus

Side 4
1.Kick It (Adrian Sherwood Compulsion Edit) -- Bonus
2.Kick It (Popular Music Mix) -- Bonus
3.I Thought (Final Sin) -- Bonus

The following one-time Splatter Colored Vinyl LP is exclusive to the colored box set only available online through the Pylon Records website. It will not be available as part of the black vinyl version of the box set available through your favorite distributors.

Double Red/Clear/White Splatter Vinyl LP (2012 Master)

Side 1
1.Faded Smiles
3.The Home

Side 2
1.The Passage
2.The Book
4.Trust Ran In Colours

Boy George & Culture Club news

The band finally has another release date for its much-delayed reunion album. I've heard a couple of the new songs during concert reviews I've done in recent years (see elsewhere on this blog) and was impressed. Get the lowdown below...

Boy George and Culture Club have released their brand new single “Let Somebody Love You”­.

It was produced by Future Cut and written by the original line up of Boy George, Roy Hay, Michael Craig, Jon Moss and Ritchie Stevens. The single unveiling precedes the news that the band will be releasing new album Life on Oct. 26. The album artwork was shot exclusively by Rankin.

Since their inception in 1981 Culture Club have sold more than 150 million records worldwide, recognized as a Grammy Award winning UK institution with a stream of classic hits including; “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Church Of The Poison Mind,” “Victims,” “It’s A Miracle” and “The War Song.”

As the first multi-racial band with an openly gay front man, Culture Club set many records and established themselves as icons of British musical history and popular culture. The band reunited in 2014 and embarked on two worldwide sell-out tours over the following two years.

Looking ahead, 2018 marks a new era for Boy George and Culture Club, releasing their first new music in nearly 21 years alongside commencing on a global tour throughout the Summer, before bringing the ‘The Life Tour’ to the UK in November.

The Life Tour: starring Boy George & Culture Club features Belinda Carlisle, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and The B-52's on selected dates. Check local listings for details.  

“We put together an amazing show that is going to be filled with hits and fabulous memories” says Boy George.

Track listing:

1. God & Love
2. Bad Blood
3. Human Zoo
4. Let Somebody Love You
5. What Does Sorry Mean
6. Runaway Train
7. Resting Bitch Face
8. Different Man
9. Oil & Water
10. More Than Silence
11. Life

Tour dates:

August 3 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony Summer Stage
August 4 Atlantic City, NJ Tropicana
August 5 Mashantucket, CT Foxwoods
August 8 Northfield, OH Hard Rock Live
August 9 Milwaukee, WI Riverside Theatre
August 10 Springfield, IL Illinois State Fair
August 11 Council Bluffs, IA Harrah’s
August 24 Toronto, ON Sony Centre
August 25 Montreal, QC Strangers at Night
August 26 Quebec City, QC Centre Videotron
August 28 Lewistown, NY Artpark
August 30 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
August 31 Chicago, IL Ravinia Festival
September 1 Chicago, IL Ravinia Festival
September 3 St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fair
September 5 Kettering, OH Fraze Pavilion
September 6 St. Louis, MO Fox Theatre
September 7 Kansas City, OH Starlight Theatre
September 8 Denver, CO Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre
September 11 Jacksonville, OR Britt Pavilion
September 13 Puyallup, WA Washington State Fair
September 14 Kennewick, WA Toyota Center
September 15 Portland, OR Theatre of the Clouds
September 16 Murphys, CA Ironstone Amphitheatre
September 18 Saratoga, CA The Mountain Winery
September 19 Saratoga, CA The Mountain Winery
September 21 Salt Lake City, UT Maverik Center
September 22 Reno, NV Reno Event Center
September 23 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl
September 25 San Diego, CA Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
September 27 Albuquerque, NM Sandia Casino
September 28 Cabazon, CA Morongo
September 29 Las Vegas, NV Downtown Las Vegas Event Center
September 30 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Resort
October 3 Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre
October 5 Fresno, CA The Big Fresno Fair
October 6 Temecula, CA Pechanga Resort & Casino
October 7 Sahuarita, AZ Desert Diamond Casino
November 9 Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
November 10 Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
November 11 Bournemouth International Centre
November 13 Brighton Brighton Centre
November 14 London SSE Arena, Wembley
November 16 Birmingham Arena
November 17 Newcastle Metro Arena
November 18 Manchester Arena
November 20 Hull Venue
November 22 Glasgow SSE Hydro
November 23 Leeds First Direct Arena
November 25 Dublin 3Arena
November 27 Antwerp Lotto Arena
November 28 Amsterdam Afas Live
December 1 Monte Carlo Opera Garnier
December 2 Paris Palais Garnier
December 4 Cologne Palladium
December 5 Berlin Verti Music Hall

For tickets:

Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi, Morgan Wallen concert review: Los Angeles

photo: George A. Paul
Luke Bryan has won several awards over the past decade. But his achievement on Saturday night – becoming the first country music artist to headline Dodger Stadium – ranks right up there with the rest.

That was evident throughout Bryan’s entertaining two-hour set, where he expressed how much it meant to perform on the hallowed ballfield.

The Los Angeles tour stop was among a dozen stadium shows around the country in support of last year’s “What Makes You Country” album, which debuted at No. 1 and spawned two country airplay chart topping singles.

A few minutes before the current Georgia superstar appeared, people shot t-shirts out of air cannons – just like at a Dodgers game. Then multi-colored lasers beamed across the sold-out venue, Michael Carter did a metal-styled guitar riff, smoke plumes shot up and Bryan suddenly emerged from underneath the stage to start “Country Girl (Shake it for Me).”

Clad in tight blue jeans and a white t-shirt, Bryan played up his sex symbol image at every turn with some hip shaking. Several songs featured mini firework displays synched to key lyrics. During “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” the singer traded his black hat for a Dodgers one and drew loud cheers. When Bryan traversed the extended T-shaped walkway, he also tried a variety of different fan-contributed hats on for size.

The setlist was pretty much wall-to-wall No. 1 hits, which led to loud singalongs from the rowdy crowd. After hearing “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” many fans probably took the title to heart.

Keeping the party-minded atmosphere of “This is How We Roll” (the 2014 Florida Georgia Line team-up) going, Bryan opened a large cooler during “All My Friends Say” and tossed out beers. A robust “Someone Else Calling You Baby” led straight into “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” and he sang dramatically on the latter tune.

“Thanks for changing my life. Tonight means so much to me,” said the current "American Idol" judge, before downing a tequila shot in honor of his birthday earlier this month and grabbing an acoustic guitar for earnest standout “Most People Are Good.” Latest single “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” was vibrant and its lyric “we set July on fire” could have easily applied to this concert.

Couples got romantic and slow danced during the syncopated, piano-led sexuality of “Strip it Down,” where Bryan showed off his rarely-displayed vocal prowess. There were humorous shout outs to school teachers, nurses and in a good-natured poke at LA - plastic surgeons - prior to “Crash My Party.”

The acoustic take on Billy Currington’s ’06 hit “Good Directions” (which Bryan co-wrote), a sizzling full-band rendition of Alabama’s “Mountain Music” and the ballad “Drink a Beer” (a heartfelt tribute to departed loved ones) were among the evening’s other highlights.  

photo: George A. Paul
Sam Hunt’s powerful 55-minute set drew a hearty response from the get-go. It kicked off with frantic latest single “Downtown’s Dead” and the freshly shorn singer rarely diffused the momentum.

“Leave the Night On” was infectious. Hunt delivered “Ex to See” with venomous intensity. “Take Your Time” benefitted from added U2-styled textures and “We Are Tonight” (another Currington hit; this one co-penned by Hunt) was a full-bodied rocker.

Yet the true shining moment came when Hunt and the musicians huddled together under large lamps and did an acoustic-leaning ode to the artist’s early days in Nashville.

An old Johnny Cash TV show clip prefaced their covers by Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and others. Despite losing his voice amid an exciting “House Party,” Hunt recovered enough to provide a dramatic delivery on “Gonna Make You Miss Me” and have fun aplenty during slinky closer “Body Like a Back Road.”         

Earlier, Jon Pardi’s memorable 45-minute performance nearly one-upped Bryan. Concentrating on 2016’s gold-certified “California Sunrise,” the Sacramento-area native and reigning CMA New Artist of the Year (pictured below) easily shifted between acoustic and electric guitars (including eye-catching aqua and Golden State flag models).

photo: George A. Paul
Everything was impressive, namely a hard-charging “Paycheck,” the harmony-rich “Heartache on the Dance Floor,” fiddle-infused new single “Night Shift,” a sensual “All Time High” and John Mellencamp-leaning album title track. Pardi really got down to business on closing favorite “Dirt on My Boots.”

Newcomer Morgan Wallen has written for A Thousand Horses, recently put out a debut album (“If I Know Me”) and enjoyed a No. 1 charter featuring Florida Georgia Line (“Up Down”).

He got the party started for early arrivals with a serviceable 25-minute set. The heavily-accented Tennessee country singer excelled most during a humorous “Happy Hour,” the spirited aforementioned hit and cover medley where Wallen proved his mettle amid snatches of Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon songs.

A version of my review originally appeared at

The Living End goes inside the 'Wunderbar'

Always good news to hear that one of my favorite past interview subjects has new material coming...

Rise Records and Australia’s The Living End – Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Andy Strachan – have announced a new studio album titled Wunderbar (pre-order).

Out on Sept. 28, it features the first single “Don’t Lose It." Stream on Spotify HERE and check out the music video featuring a mock American Idol talent search starring an array of Australian celebrities on YouTube HERE.

Wunderbar, The Living End’s eighth studio release, came together faster than any album the band has ever made. After deciding to write and record a new album in September 2017, the band booked recording and pre-production sessions in Berlin, Germany, for January 2018, giving them four months to write an entire record.

“We had limited time to write,” recalls Cheney. “We were freaked out by it at first but it turned into a good thing because it meant full steam ahead.” 

Living in a space with no heating, Cheney, Owen and Strachan felt the brunt of Berlin’s icy winters. But if the band hadn’t been pulled out of their comfort zone, there’s no way they would have been able to put together a record like Wunderbar.

“Berlin’s such an amazing place,” Owen said. “There’s no better place in the world for rock and roll bands to make dirty, gritty rock and roll music.” Decamping to the city where icons like Iggy and Bowie and Eno was a huge inspiration for the band, and helped tap into the same punk spirit that initially made them so famous.

“Otherside” is a tale of jealousy and ambition. “The grass is always greener,” says Strachan of the track. “But sometimes you have to stop to look at what you have. You soon realize that things could be much worse.”

Then there's “D.E.A.T.H.,” Wunderbar’s most political song. “After having lived in the States for almost seven years, I felt sympathetic towards them,” Cheney says. “It’s become a bit of a laughing stock. The Cadillac broke down.” “D.E.A.T.H.” has backing vocals from Die Toten Hosen, Germany’s biggest rock band. 

Track listing:

Don’t Lose It
Not Like The Other Boys
Death of The American Dream
Drop The Needle
Love Won’t Wait
Proton Pill
Too Young To Die
Wake Up The Vampires
Rat In A Trap

The Killers career vinyl box set available now

Somehow this announcement slipped past me. Brandon's appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers yesterday was a reminder. Read below for details...

Last month, Island/UMe released all seven of The Killers' albums in one complete box set for the first time titled The Killers Career Vinyl Box.

It is available at retail outlets in an across-the-board 180-gram black vinyl configuration, in addition to a limited-edition 180-gram clear vinyl version. A slip mat featuring the “K” from the band’s logo and inspired by the vintage lights of the Las Vegas strip completes both packages.

Starting off the collection is The Killers’ three-times-platinum June 2004 debut album, Hot Fuss featuring hit debut single “Mr. Brightside,” plus “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Somebody Told Me.”

2006’s Sam’s Town, was produced by Flood (New Order, U2), Alan Moulder (NIN, Foo Fighters), and The Killers, and it includes the singles “When You Were Young” and “Read My Mind.”

Coming a year later, Sawdust, consists of B-sides, covers, remixes, and other rarities, including the band’s cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay,” a live favorite, and “Tranquilize,” the latter with Lou Reed.

In 2008 came Day & Age, the band’s fourth studio album, produced by Stuart Price (Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys) and The Killers, and it includes the singles “Human” and “Spaceman.”

Live From The Royal Albert Hall is a 2LP and exclusive to the Career Vinyl Box. Originally released in November 2009 as a live DVD, this double album came from two July 2009 gigs at the storied London venue.

September 2012 saw The Killers’ put forth their million-selling sixth album, Battle Born, which was named after their own recording studio as well as for a phrase that appears on the Nevada state flag. Battle Born contains “Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb.”

The Killers’ most recent studio effort, last year's Island release Wonderful Wonderful, saw the band once again debuting at the apex of the album charts in both the U.S., the UK and Australia. Wonderful Wonderful also carries the distinction of being the band’s fifth consecutive UK chart-topper overall, and it’s buttressed by “The Man” and “Run For Cover.”

Friday, July 27, 2018

Retro Futura 2018 concert review feat. ABC, Belinda Carlisle, Modern English, Tony Lewis, Limahl, Annabella: Costa Mesa, Calif.

The Retro Futura tour returned to the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Thursday night, offering concertgoers a fun blast from the Eighties past. One of the best things about the annual summer jaunt is that it often lures recording artists back onstage after a long absence in America.

That was the case in 2014, when Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey and China Crisis were on the bill and last year when I saw Paul Young at the same venue. This time around, Tony Lewis, the former lead singer for The Outfield, is making his first U.S. live appearances in more than a decade; Limahl of Kajagoogoo also hasn’t set foot on our shores in quite a while.

photo: Miguel Vasconcellos/OC Fair+Event Center
ABC headlined the Orange County Fair show. Martin Fry (pictured right) and his current five-piece band opened their sleek 40-minute set with zippy favorite “How to Be A Millionaire.” A grand newer tune, “Viva Love” (off 2016’s The Lexicon of Love II), fit in nicely with older material like the blazing sax-fueled hit “Poison Arrow” and “The Night You Murdered Love.”

The horn work on the latter drew a rousing response. Fry’s comment about “children of the ‘90s” being in the audience was puzzling at an ‘80s-centric show. But the debonair singer’s recollection about wearing that famous gold lame suit and his belief that the world is still being a romantic place before a luxurious “All of My Heart” were fitting.

Even with guitarist Matt Backer helping out, there were times when Fry could’ve used more backing vocal assistance (especially "The Look of Love"). ABC’s top 10 pop singles, like the Motown nod “When Smokey Sings” and a smooth “Be Near Me” were well received by the few thousand people who hadn’t gone back into the fair for more deep-fried delicacies.

Belinda Carlisle was exuberance personified and a clear standout during Retro Futura. She made the most of her allotted 45-minute stage time with both solo and Go-Go’s hits. Carlisle just did three sold-out shows with the gals earlier this month at the Hollywood Bowl. Here, the singer was in fine voice, backed by an all-male band.

photo: Miguel Vasconcellos/OC Fair+Event Center
Beginning with a giddy “Mad About You,” Carlisle constantly smiled, danced around and shook a tambourine. It was interesting for astute Go-Go’s fans like me to compare subtle sonic differences when these other musicians played “Head Over Heels” or “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

“Who remembers the ‘80s? I don’t,” said Carlisle, before “I Get Weak.” Then she went into a scintillating “Circle in the Sand” and belted out one part. After “Leave a Light On,” the singer briefly talked about forming the Go-Go’s, initially wanting to be the drummer and how when they’d play O.C. clubs, there would be a rivalry between the beach and Hollywood punk rockers. “Vacation” boasted a different rock thrust. Concertgoers went wild over that, “Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” Then an extended version of Carlisle chart-topper “Heaven is a Place on Earth” began with a relaxed intro before moving into a rockier dynamic.

Modern English, a holdover from the 2017 tour, was excellent as always – despite many people in the crowd annoyingly tossing various bouncing balls around. A couple of them landed onstage, singer Robbie Grey kicked one away and playfully said, “I don’t believe the USA were in the World Cup, were they? We got to the semi-final.”

The British band got their half-hour set off to a vibrant start with the insanely catchy alt-pop of “Ink and Paper” (it really should’ve been a hit in ’86) and chiming guitar-led “Someone’s Calling.” The alluring “Moonbeam,” from highly recommended 2016 album Take Me to the Trees was memorable. A woman seated next to me asked if I knew any of these songs and I replied, “yes.” She and others finally took notice when Modern English went into best-known song “I Melt with You.” The musicians concluded by steadily increasing the tempo until it almost sounded like a hard rock tune.

photo: Miguel Vasconcellos/OC Fair+Event Center
Tony Lewis of The Outfield made his solo recording bow Out of the Darkness last month. The impressive album saw the British musician produce and play a bulk of the instruments, while his wife Carol contributed lyrics.

In the credits, Lewis touchingly pays tribute to his former Outfield bandmate John Spinks, who died of cancer four years ago. On winsome pop/rock tunes like “Here and Now,” “All Alone” and “Melt the Ice,” Lewis retains the harmonic sensibility that made me rush out to buy Outfield cassettes when they first arrived all those years ago.

Playing fretless bass in Costa Mesa, Lewis’ solid 20-minute set included a clutch of memorable Outfield hits that went top 20 at AOR radio: “Say It Isn’t So,” “All the Love in the World” and “Since You’ve Been Gone.” Although the chatty crowd was shamefully inattentive at times, they brought an energetic vibe to a rocking “Your Love,” which has been licensed for usage on many commercials, films and TV shows.

Clad in a powder blue suit, Limahl’s pleasant 20-minute performance included lightweight Kajagoogoo numbers like “Ooh to Be Ah,” “Hang on Now,” as well as his own charming “Neverending Story,” from the same-titled 1984 children’s movie. Joking about how he had big hair in the ‘80s and used tons of hair spray, Limahl unfurled a picture of himself back then. Closer “Too Shy” fared best.

Annabella of Bow Wow Wow did an erratic 20-minute set for early arrivals. The first of three acts on the bill backed by the merely adequate Retro Futura house band, she sometimes sang with her back to the crowd. Bow Wow Wow had some success in U.S. dance clubs, college and modern rock radio during the early ‘80s. Instead of using her time wisely and solely focusing on those tunes, she opted for lesser known ones such as “Aphrodisiac” and a so-slow-it-was-nearly-undetectable “The Man Mountain.”

Still, Annabella gleefully worked both sides of the stage, twirled around, shook fans’ hands and managed engaging renditions of the tribal surf-styled “Do You Wanna Hold Me” (featuring the OC-adjacent lyric “I’ve been to California/Where Mickey Mouse is such a demon”) and “I Want Candy.”

Remaining tour dates:

July 28 The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
July 29 Anselmo Valencia Tore Amphitheatre, Tucson, AZ
Aug 1 Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
Aug 3 Hard Rock Live, Northfield, OH
Aug 4 Kewadin Casino Resort, St. Ignace, MI

Thanks to Jennie O'Hagan at the OC Fair & Event Center and Miguel Vasconcellos for the photos. Find more of Miguel's work at

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue: The lost interview, July 1993

Columbia Records
This past spring marked the 25th Anniversary of Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, the fourth album from Deacon Blue.

At the time, the Scottish pop band was best known for its sophomore studio release When the World Knows Your Name, which spawned five top 40 singles in the U.K., including the biggest one, “Real Gone Kid,” and was certified for sales over 1 million copies there.

For Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, the sextet led by Ricky Ross enlisted the Perfecto production/mixing team of Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold, who’d previously worked with Happy Mondays, The Cure and U2. The results found the band often going in a more dance-inspired rock direction and it notched another four top 40 hits ("Your Town," "Will We Be Lovers," "Only Tender Love," "Hang Your Head") at home.

In America, Deacon Blue drew critical acclaim (from the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere) for the excellent 1987 debut Raintown and did a few brief tours. I managed to catch a couple memorable live appearances at the Roxy and Whisky in West Hollywood in late 1989.

Before the band was set to appear at the New Music Seminar in New York City in July 1993, I had a quick phone interview with Ross as he was being driven to a promotional event. Unfortunately, my article got cut from the publication I was writing for at the last minute. For #ThrowbackThursday, I decided to revisit that lost chat and post it here.

Q: What prompted the sudden stylistic shift on the latest album?
A: We just needed to do something new. There was a definite feeling that we should bring in fresh faces in terms of producers. I suppose that was indicative that there would be a change in the sound. In the past, we’d done a lot of things we wouldn’t normally do.

Q: By working with Steve and Paul, you’ve really taken a more dance-oriented approach.
A: It wasn’t intentional on our part. Some people thought we were gonna make a House record. They were either quite disappointed or pleased that we didn’t.

Q: The way you used rhythm loops on “Last Night I Dreamed of Henry Thomas” reminded me of what you did on “Closing Time” from Fellow Hoodlums.
A: [For “Closing Time”], Sly Stone was the more traditional way of sampling something. “Henry Thomas” [used] a more creative atmosphere for the track.

Q: Deacon Blue contributed the song “Christmas and Glasgow” to The Tree and the Bird and the Fish and the Bell: Glasgow Songs by Glasgow Artists, a 1991 benefit album for the Oscar Marzaroli Trust and you’ve used the Scottish photographer’s photos on your albums. Are you still involved with the Trust?
A: I have to write something for a book of his photographs that is coming out. We’ve raised enough money to make sure the work itself was intact and stayed cataloged.

Q: You’ve been involved in other benefit projects in recent years. Do you think musicians are still a big help at getting the word out regarding various charities and causes?
A: Many people want to raise money for things that music is not the right vehicle for. But if something’s realistic, it can be done imaginatively and be good fun to do as well.

Q: Has getting married to fellow band member Lorraine McIntosh and becoming a father affected your lyrics?
A: It’s been a huge influence on this album, definitely.

Q: Does the persistent lack of Deacon Blue radio airplay in the U.S. bother you?
A: I’d be very surprised if we caught on here, to be honest.

Q: Do you think your fans have accepted Lorraine’s role in the band as something more prominent than a backing singer?
A: It’s just the same as she’s always done, really. In the beginning, I think she wanted what I wanted – to be a backing singer and that’s the role she played. And she’s been pretty good at it. I don’t like the idea of co-lead vocalists, because that’s not what we do, you know?

Q: During your current shows, are you still performing covers like “True Love Ways” and “Unchained Melody”?
A: I’m afraid we’ve gone downhill since then. We’re doing Kylie Minogue songs now [half serious].

Q: Since the band’s name was inspired by the Steely Dan song, I wondered if you plan to see their reunion tour.
A: Honestly, I’m not a great fan of going to gigs. I think they should just leave things as they were.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Psychedelic Furs, X, The Fixx concert review: Costa Mesa, Calif.

photo: Miguel Vasconcellos/OC Fair
“These are crazy days, aren’t they? You need to clear an empty space inside your head,” said Cy Curnin of The Fixx, before performing the haunting 1983 hit “Saved by Zero” at a packed Pacific Amphitheatre on Thursday.

It was good advice. Watching this strong triple bill of 1970s and ‘80s alternative rock provided an opportunity to temporarily forget politics - at least until X played “The New World” and Psychedelic Furs delved into “President Gas.”

The Psychedelic Furs recently had a high-profile slot at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival in London. The British post-punk band, which like X, formed in 1977, is working on its first new studio album since ’91.

In Costa Mesa, the six-piece group emerged to a David Bowie instrumental and launched the solid 65-minute set with a frenzied “Dumb Waiters.” Sandpaper-voiced front man Richard Butler spat the lyrics out rapid-fire style as Mars Williams went wild on saxophone.

A gracious Butler, 62, frequently worked both sides of the stage with ease, shook fans’ hands and did theatrical gestures as he sang, often with arms outstretched. On “Highwire Days,” Butler pretended to walk off balance (his voice was decent; I’ve seen past gigs where it was cringeworthy).

Deep album cuts received a polite crowd reaction. Once the Psych Furs arrived at old KROQ fave “The Ghost in You” and Amanda Kramer played the luxurious opening keyboard intro, fans cheered loudly. The same was true for the majestic uplift of 1987 hit “Heartbreak Beat.” Fast, barbed-wire rocker “Mr. Jones” and a dreamy “Love My Way” were standouts (the latter gained newfound attention last year after being featured in the Oscar-winning drama “Call Me By Your Name”).

Many concertgoers streamed out early. They missed two popular Psych Furs classics: the romantic New Wave of “Heaven” and jaunty signature rave up “Pretty in Pink,” an energetic closer.

“It’s nice to be back in Orange County; we have a lot of friends here,” said X co-lead singer Exene Cervenka, clad in a black leather jacket. A large segment of the audience was obviously here to see X and the influential SoCal punk band didn’t disappoint.

The tight 55-minute set started with a rollicking “Beyond and Back.” Although Billy Zoom played electric guitar while seated (as opposed to standing in the trademark legs spread stance before battling cancer in recent years), his blazing licks were still amazing. 

Singer/bassist John Doe and Exene’s vocal interplay proved fiery as ever, especially during “In This House That I Call Home,” the tribal “Hungry Wolf” and always hard-hitting “Los Angeles” (which drove fans wild). The 1982 cover of Jerry Lee Lewis popularized “Breathless” was exhilarating.

Easing up on the intensity, Craig Packham of The Palominos joined on acoustic guitar for the more laid-back “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes.” Then he switched to drums as D.J. Bonebrake played vibraphone and Zoom did sax during “Come Back to Me.” That configuration continued for the jazzy feel of “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”; Doe and Exene’s spoken vocal interplay added to the tension. X closed with their feisty take on The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.”

The Fixx is doing its most successful album, “Reach the Beach,” on a headlining tour (which arrives at The Coach House on Sunday). The Brits also have two new studio albums (one of originals; another one, cover material) ready for release in the future.

Curnin solicited plenty of singalong action during an impressive Pac Amp set filled with Eighties rock radio hits such as ominous opener “Red Skies,” the dense, slinky groove of “Deeper and Deeper” and “Stand or Fall.” Guitarist Jamie West Oram excelled on the chugging “One Things Leads to Another.” An extended “Secret Separation” saw Curnin insert a bit of “Better Be Good to Me” (a nod to his bandmate’s studio work with Tina Turner) to finish the too-brief, half hour performance.

My review originally appeared in the OC Register.

The Fixx, The Relatives concert review: San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

photo: George A. Paul
On Sunday night, The Fixx played one of the most riveting concerts I’ve seen all year.

The veteran British new wave band recently embarked on an album-themed tour for the first time to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of its most successful album, Reach the Beach.

Longtime Fixx enthusiasts should be thrilled to discover that there are two new studio albums (one of originals; another one, cover material) ready for release in the future.

Arriving in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. for a sold-out show, The Fixx emerged onstage wearing nautical-themed attire. Then the classic five-man lineup began doing Beach tracks in reverse running order.

Guitarist Jamie West-Oram punctuated the moody, hypnotic “Outside” with insistent stabs on a guitar sporting a Beach cover-painted pick guard. The venue’s screens on each side of the stage projected intriguing images, ranging from buzzwords and old newspaper clips to waves crashing onto a beach and news footage of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Singer Cy Curnin introduced the funky “Liner” by comparing concertgoers’ food and drink on the long Coach House tables to that of an ocean liner buffet. Rupert Greenall provided lush synth sounds for the title track and Curnin gave it a dramatic vocal delivery. “Opinions” was captivating, while an extended version of hit single “Saved by Zero” received a rousing response. The frontman’s between song banter was as thought-provoking as the songs themselves.

After the mysterious pull of “The Sign of Fire,” The Fixx concluded the 50-minute first set with a supercharged “One Thing Leads to Another,” containing plenty of dramatic Curnin gestures.

Back for an hour-long second set in changed clothes, the group offered up strong versions of several U.S. modern and mainstream rock radio hits: “Stand or Fall,” “Are We Ourselves?” (Curnin and Oram humorously mocked selfie culture), an intense “Deeper and Deeper,” still-relevant “Driven Out” (the vocalist played electric guitar and dedicated the song to Mother Earth), an intense “Deeper and Deeper” and electrifying main set closer “Red Skies,” that prompted several fans to dance around. The chugging “Less Cities, More Moving People” was also impressive.

photo: George A. Paul
Come encore time, the musicians returned with another pair of Fixx classics. Curnin said, “The Coach House never fails; this is what I call a party” before the eerie “Built for the Future.”

He admitted “at the ripe old age of 60, I’ve realized that love conquers all” and went into “Secret Separation.” All told, an excellent show from start to finish.

The Relatives started the evening’s proceedings with an impressive 45-minute set. Hailing from Orange, Calif., the power pop band formed in 1999. Since then, it has shared a stage with several top names in alternative rock, including Dramarama, Soul Asylum, Gin Blossoms, Stan Ridgway, Peter Case, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, The Smithereens and others.

Tilted World, The Relatives’ third and latest album on Slipped Disc Records, was among the best O.C. releases of 2015.

In Orange County, the band – now a four-piece with Mike Hamilton (Smithereens) on guitar and vocals – opened the impressive 45-minute set with a brawny take on The Plimsouls’ 1980 tune “How Long Will it Take?”

Lead guitarist David Ramirez did a tasty solo during “Is it Wrong,” the first of four selections from Tilted World, and received a hearty crowd response. The highly melodic “Beauty and Pain” featured passionate vocals by bassist Jason Arthur. Some chunky guitars and the stop/start rhythm on an insanely catchy “It’s Too Late” was a standout.

photo courtesy: Bruce Kilgour
Arthur dedicated their solid cover of The Smithereens’ “Behind the Wall of Sleep” to singer Pat DiNizio, who died last December. Ramirez really shined here. “21 Miles to Barstow” gave The Relatives a chance to show a somewhat harder-edged side reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult. Another fine Plimsouls cover, the college/alt-rock radio hit “A Million Miles Away,” capped off the performance. I'd definitely recommend checking out a local Relatives show if you have the chance.

Upcoming SoCal concerts:
The Fixx at The Rose in Pasadena on July 26.
The Relatives at The Fifth in Anaheim on Aug. 26.

More information:

Monday, July 23, 2018

Rod Stewart preps new album for September

Rod Stewart will release his 30th studio album – “Blood Red Roses” – Sept. 28 via Republic Records. It comes as a 13-track standard and 16-track deluxe from digital retailers and is available for pre order now and includes an instant download of the album’s lead single "Didn’t I.”

Preorder “Blood Red Roses” HERE now.

“Blood Red Roses” includes 13 originals and three covers. It was co-produced by Rod’s long-term collaborator Kevin Savigar. “Didn’t I” is about the damage drugs can do from a parents’ point of view. This new album, his first in three years, follows international bestsellers “Another Country” (2015) and “Time” (2013) and will be released nearly 50 years to the date of when he signed his very first solo recording contract.

‘I always think I make albums for a few friends and this record has that intimacy,’ Rod Stewart said. ‘Sincerity and honesty go a long way in life and the same is true in song-writing.’

Track listing:

1. Look In Her eyes
2. Hole In My Heart
3. Farewell
4. Didn’t I
5. Blood Red Roses
6. Grace
7. Give Me Love
8. Rest Of My Life
9. Rollin' & Tumblin'
10. Julia
11. Honey Gold
12. Vegas Shuffle
13. Cold Old London

Deluxe Bonus Tracks:

1. Who Designed The Snowflake
2. It Was A Very Good Year
3. I Don't Want To Get Married

Pre order packages are available now HERE.
For more information, visit

St. Lucia band news

Brooklyn electronic/pop band St. Lucia will release its forthcoming third album Hyperion on  Sept. 21 via Columbia Records.

Produced by Rob Kirwan (U2, Depeche Mode) and mixed by Dave Sardy (LCD Soundsystem, Oasis), Hyperion is available for pre-order HERE. The album features lead single “Walking Away.” See full track listing below and listen to “Walking Away” HERE.

Jean-Philip Grobler says of the song: “Damn, ‘Walking Away’ has been in the works for a really long time. I wrote it with Nicky [Paul] and Ross [Clark] from the band before we even started recording our last album Matter, and we actually played it a handful of times on our last tour almost 3 years ago. The song came together super quickly and what you hear in this final version is about 60% the original demo-- we just had to replace the Daft Punk loop we wrote on top of with something else, so that took about 4 years. So here it is, our funky beast.”

St. Lucia will embark on a headline tour across North America in support of the release of Hyperion this September. Tickets are on sale now, see full routing below.

Hyperion is the follow-up to St. Lucia’s 2016 album Matter.

Track listing:

A Brighter Love
Paradise Is Waiting
Walking Away
China Shop
Last Dance
Full Moon Rising
Next to You
You Should Know Better

Tour dates:

09/21 New York, NY Pier 17 (SOLD OUT)
09/22 New York, NY Pier 17
10/02 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall *
10/03 Chicago, IL Concord Music Hall *
10/04 Madison, WI Barrymore Theatre *
10/05 Minneapolis, MN Music Hall Minneapolis*
10/08 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre ^
10/09 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom ^
10/10 Seattle, WA The Showbox ^
10/12 Sonoma, CA Old Redwood Barn ^
10/13 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades ^
10/14 San Francisco, CA August Hall ^ (SOLD OUT)
10/15 San Francisco, CA August Hall ^ (JUST ADDED)
10/17 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park ^
10/19 Los Angeles, CA The Novo ^
10/20 Anaheim, CA House of Blues ^
10/21 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom #
10/23 Denver, CO Ogden Theater #
10/25 Oklahoma City, OK Jones Assembly #
10/26 Dallas, TX Canton Hall #
10/27 Austin, TX Scoot Inn
10/28 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall #
10/30 Nashville, TN The Cowan #
10/31 Atlanta, GA Center Stage #
11/02 Charlotte, NC The Underground #
11/03 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre
11/05 Washington D.C. 9:30 Club #
11/07 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts (TLA) #
11/09 Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall +
11/10 Asbury Park, NJ Asbury Lanes #
11/11 New Haven, CT Toad's Place #
11/12 Boston, MA Royale #

* with Now, Now
^ with The Night Game
# with Arkells
+ with Honors

Graham Coxon of Blur schedules solo tour

photo: Denholm Hewlett
Graham Coxon, guitarist and founding member of Blur as well as solo artist, including the recent score to the acclaimed cult hit Netflix series The End of the F***ing World, has confirmed his first ever series of one-man shows in North America.

The tour will consist of 10 intimate dates starting in September. Graham will perform all shows completely solo, playing material spanning his eight solo records and his debut as a soundtrack/score composer, the aforementioned The End of the F***ing World.

Prior to the Canada and U.S. shows, Graham will appear at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in the UK on Sept. 17. For information on that show, go to:

While he made his name as guitar player for Blur, Graham has also played saxophone and drums on many Blur tracks. He composed 1997's "You're So Great," as well as much of the band's 1999 hit single "Coffee & TV," which he also sang. More recently, Graham produced (alongside Stephen Street) Blur's 2015 album The Magic Whip, which debuted at #1 in the UK album chart.

Graham has released eight solo albums:

The Sky is Too High (1998), The Golden D (2000), Crow Sit On Blood Tree (2001), The Kiss Of Morning (2002), Happiness In Magazines (2004), Love Travels At Illegal Speeds (2006), The Spinning Top (2009) and A+E (2012).

Tickets can be purchased at starting Friday, July 27th.

North American Solo Tour:

WED 9/19 Toronto, ON - Mod Club
THU 9/20 Detroit, MI - El Club
FRI 9/21 Chicago, IL - Park West
SUN 9/23 Washington DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
MON 9/24 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
TUE 9/25 Brooklyn, NY - Elsewhere
WED 9/26 Boston, MA Middle East - Downstairs
THU 9/27 Philadelphia, PA - Foundry
SUN 9/30 San Francisco, CA - August Hall
MON 10/01 Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Steve Wynn+The Dream Syndicate, Matthew Sweet set fall tour; Wynn's 'Kerosene Man,' 'Dazzling Display' reissues out now

The Dream Syndicate (featuring founding member Steve Wynn, pictured center) and Matthew Sweet join together for a brief West Coast run of live dates in October.

This co-billed tour will find the musicians alternating the headlining slot each night. Sweet's current guitarist, Jason Victor, joins his classic rhythm section of Ric Menck (drums) and Paul Chastain (bass); he'll also be filling the guitar position for The Dream Syndicate. 

Both acts were based in Los Angeles in their respective heydays. Sweet is best known for his alt-rock hits "Girlfriend, "Sick of Myself" and "I've Been Waiting." 

Influential '80s psychedelic pop rockers The Dream Syndicate became critical and fan favorites immediately with their debut full-length alternative rock album, The Days of Wine and Roses. Last year, Wynn put out How Did I Find Myself Here with the current lineup. He records and tours as a solo artist and with his other band, The Baseball Project.

Sweet's latest effort is Tomorrow's Daughter. He is releasing deluxe, two-LP vinyl editions of his classic albums Girlfriend, Altered Beast/Son Of Altered Beast and 100% Fun, each with extensive new liner notes, available for pre-order now.

A special Black Friday Record Store Day LP, Wicked System of Things, is set for release on Nov. 23 (Record Store Day).

Sweet said, "This feels like a really good time for me, and I feel lucky and grateful to still be doing what I love to do.

"When I meet young people and they ask for advice about a career in music, I always say, 'Do music because it's what you love to do, and because you'd do it no matter what happens,'" he concluded. "I've tried to keep that attitude about it, because that's always worked for me. I just try to keep doing my thing and keep believing."

U.S. Tour dates: 

10/16 - Portland @ Wonder Ballroom
10/17 - Seattle @ The Neptune
10/19 - San Francisco @ The Fillmore
10/20 - Sacramento @ Harlow's
10/21 - Los Angeles @ The Fonda
10/22 - Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up*
*Sweet only / 
East Coast dates TBA

In related news, Omnivore Recordings reissued a pair of mighty fine Wynn albums this past spring. His successful, critically-acclaimed 1990 solo debut Kerosene Man featured contributions by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, D.J. Bonebrake of X, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde (an old friend that also appeared on the last two Dream Syndicate releases), among others.  

Wynn recruited Joe Chiccarelli because he admired the producer's previous work with Stan Ridgway. Then, as the Los Angeles singer/guitarist explains in the new CD's liner notes, he sifted through some old songs that didn't fit with Dream Syndicate, like “Carolyn,” which dated back to 1983. The jangly delight of a single eventually got play on MTV.

Kerosene Man was the first time Wynn had the chance to utilize string arrangements and he reveled in using violins, cellos, not to mention vibes, baritone sax and more.

"We wanted to create a big sound, an orchestral feeling that would serve the song and my voice above everything," he writes. The lush, melancholic "Tears Won't Help" made the Billboard Modern Rock chart top 10. 

From the rollicking title track - driven by Robert Lloyd's barrelhouse piano and Robert Mache's sly slide guitar work - and the compelling duet with Napolitano on "Conspiracy of the Heart" to the sinister "Something to Remember Me By" and the aforementioned singles, there are plenty of gems on the album. At the time of the original release, I wasn't familiar with Dream Syndicate, but when Rhino Records sent me an advance copy, I was immediately hooked. 

Full lyrics and credits are included on the new remastered and expanded reissue. The half dozen bonus live tracks from 1990 were recorded in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles (on much-revered public radio station KCRW) and previously only available on a rare promo LP. There's a manic take on John Fogerty's "Graveyard Train" and a hypnotizing organ-led cover of Bob Dylan's "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar."

Two years later, Wynn followed it up with Dazzling DisplayChiccarelli returned to the fold, along with players in Wynn's touring band. Inspired by French pop music of the 1960s, Dusty Springfield, The Hollies and The Turtles, he had assistance in the studio from the latter's Flo & Eddie, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, The Bangles' Vicki Peterson, Napolitano and John Wesley Harding. 

Crafted during the height of grunge rock, Dazzling Display mixed effervescent alt-pop ("Tuesday," "Dandy in Disguise," "Close Your Eyes") with moody numbers (the title track, "Halo," the looped rhythm of Napolitano duet "Bonnie and Clyde"), rockers ("405," "Drag") to fine effect. "Drag" hit the top 30 at Modern Rock radio and the video got on MTV, while “Tuesday” became a hit in other countries. Unfortunately, the album wasn't embraced as much as its predecessor. 

I finally caught Wynn in concert for the first time in 1992 at Bogart's in Long Beach, Calif. and recall an energetic set where all the songs came across strongly. 

The remastered and expanded version of Dazzling Display includes Wynn's liner notes recollections, lyrics, full credits and 1990-93 live radio sessions done in America, Holland and Amsterdam, comprising Sonic Youth, Paul Simon, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan covers and two Wynn compositions. Both reissues are highly recommended.