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HITS Daily Double
CRITICS CHOICE
THE HOLIDAYS ARE HEATING UP AT UMe
11/17/17
Pictured having a traumatic flashback to a HITS visit about 18 years ago (l-r): Jeff Timmons of 98°, UMe President & CEO Bruce Resnikoff, UMe EVP Marketing & Product Development Jane Ventom, Nick Lachey of 98°, Justin Jeffre of 98°, Manager David Britz of WORKS, Manager Steve Bilchik of fac-ul-ty, Drew Lachey of 98°Gearing up for their Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performance, 98° took a break from their Holiday concert tour to spread some cheer with the good people at Universal Music Group. The Pop icons performed some of their classic standards in addition to tunes from their latest offering, Let It Snow, with UMe for an intimate crowd of 200 staffers. Single "Season of Love," has already worked its way to #3 on the charts. Meanwhile, in addition to performing the parade, the boys are set to appear on GMA, Kelly & Ryan, Home and Family, The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration and Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration—both of which will air on ABC. You'll find all the details on 98°'s holiday goings-on right here.
FLEETWOOD MAC EXPANDED
11/16/17
A week before Fleetwood Mac is honored as the MusiCares People of the Year in New York, Rhino will release a deluxe edition of the first album to feature the lineup with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac, the 1975 album that we fans of the band called Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac back in the day, gets the expanded treatment on 1/19. The set that gave us "Landslide," "Say You Love Me," and "Rhiannon" has been expanded to include early versions of the tracks, live recordings and a DVD with a 5.1 surround mix and a 24/96 stereo version. The Deluxe version is a 3CD/DVD/LP 12” x 12” package with rare photos plus in-depth liner notes written by David Wild. Both the deluxe and expanded editions feature a newly remastered version of the original album along with single mixes for "Over My Head," "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me." The live performances come from 1976 shows and include songs recorded by previous incarnations of the band, "Oh Well," "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)" and "Hypnotized" among them.
Q&A: ROD ARGENT REFLECTS
ON THE ZOMBIES' ODESSEY
11/15/17
By Phil Gallo Right thinking Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters have already checked the box next to The Zombies, nominated alongside The Cars, Eurythmics, Radiohead, Moody Blues, The Meters and 13 others. It’s their second consecutive year on a ballot, their third overall. The Zombies, formed in 1958 and led by keyboardist Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone, are among the very few acts with an influential landmark album from the 1960s who have not had their name called come induction day. Among their testifying fans are Tom Petty, R.E.M., Beck, Pavement, Spoon, Belle & Sebastian … the list is endless. Unlike most bands in the hall, not to mention rock history, The Zombies had one their biggest hits after they broke up and moved onto other ventures, some musical, some not. Only in the last dozen years, have the principals been active in laying claim to their legacy. Much of that legacy is wrapped in that landmark album, Odessey and Oracle. The four living original members of the quintet that signed with Decca in 1964—Argent, Blunstone, bassist-songwriter Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy—celebrated the chamber-psychedelic classic’s 50th anniversary by playing it in full across the U.S. in more than two dozen cities earlier this year. The current edition of the band continues into next year with more touring. . Argent, the Zombies keyboardist who wrote their hits “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” willingly and graciously answered our questions that ping-ponged around six decades of Zombies history. HITS: When you went in to record Odessey and Oracle, what did you do differently from the previous dozens of singles you had recorded? ROD ARGENT: It was in the air that we were going to split up, a purely commercial decision. We got on well with each other, but the guys who weren’t writing weren’t making any money. Chris and I were earning a decent amount of money because we had hits around the world—and honest publishers, which we’re thankful for. We were every frustrated with the production of our previous singles; we weren’t getting out of the songs what we heard in our heads. We said we have to produce it ourselves so we can get our own ideas onto tape. CBS gave us a small amount of money to record at Abbey Road and we walked in as The Beatles were walking out, having just produced Sgt. Pepper’s. For the first time in a long time, Chris and I each played our songs the way we wanted to hear them—it was a very personal document. Our approach was honest; we weren’t copying anything else that was around. HITS: How and when did you and Chris decide which songs would make the final cut? RA: We had to record quite quickly so we prepared everything assiduously beforehand. We would put down a song in three hours and there would be an hour left in the session and if anybody had an idea on something to try on a song, we’d do it. Like on “Changes.” I told Chris “I can hear a counter melody there” and he’d say, “I like it. Put it on.” We felt like kids in a sweet shop. It was a mix of being totally prepared and having some space for spontaneous ideas we could put down quickly. HITS: At the point at which you decided to perform Odessey and Oracle live, you and Colin had been working together for about 15 years. What made you want to do the album in full in England in 2007 and then what drove the decision to take it to the U.S. for a 50th anni tour? RA: Chris came along and, even though he hadn’t played for years, said, “Why don’t we do it?” He said let me practice up and we’ll give it a go. Colin and I weren’t sure it was going to work. We had to have a piano run-through to see if it would work and the extraordinary thing was Chris was note perfect. Colin and I weren’t properly prepared and struggling to keep up. It was supposed to be one night at Shepherd’s Bush Empire then turned into three nights. HITS: Musically what was the challenge? RA: The challenges were knowing that we had to do all the supplemental parts, the harmonies, the overdubs. We had to rely on Darian Sahanaja from Brian Wilson’s band to know the mellotron parts that I originally played because I was playing piano. We had to makes sure that we had everything working. It worked like a dream. HITS: When you and Colin started working together in 2000, you were careful to not say “we’re the Zombies.” That seemed to evolve pretty quickly. What changed? RA: Absolutely. When we started out [in 2000], I said to Colin, “if we’re going to do anything live I really don’t want to be a nostalgia band.” I didn’t think we should do more than two or three Zombies songs. We came to realize that there were many old, early Zombies songs that we had never played on stage. Certainly, we had never done anything from Odessey and Oracle. We started to get excited about rediscovering some of those things. Because we weren’t doing it to make a buck—we did it because it felt like a blast to play together again—we became more comfortable taking on The Zombies mantra. Then we felt like we were flying The Zombies flag for the other guys, too. When we started to release albums [As Far as I Can See in 2004; Breathe Out, Breathe In in 2011; Still Got That Hunger in 2015], we were knocked out by how these quite young audiences would accept our new material. It was very important to us to retain that creative energy and write and record and get the buzz of playing new things for the first time. We came to accept the name more because we were getting closer to what The Zombies originally were. HITS: Considering that you’ve been adding to your discography regularly over the last 13 years, I think casual fans would be shocked when they realize you only made two proper albums in the U.K. in the ‘60s and, secondly, that you were much more popular outside England than at home. RA: We were only professionally together for three years and we only had one major hit in the U.K., “She’s Not There.” Instead of putting out a follow-up that was something we all loved, the record company put out “Leave Me Be.” We hated the way that record turned out—it’s never been a hit anywhere. So it dies and it meant it started to kill our career. They released “Tell Her No” in America, it was Top 10, but in the U.K. we had a dismal flop. Another reason was our manager—he didn’t particularly like rock & roll. He was an old star manager and he didn’t manage anything about image for a start. We had one photo session right at the beginning of our career. We had only just left school and the interviewer writing the press release asked us “what have you been doing?” and we said, “we haven’t done anything—we just left school.” So he asks “OK, how many O levels and A levels?” We listed a few, nothing special. They wanted to hang things on that; I can’t imagine a less hip thing to hang your career on. They took the photos and they were awful, image wise. Compared to someone like [Brian] Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham The Who had great management, people who understood rock & roll. I feel that was a big reason why, in the U.K., our career was spiked. HITS: And now they line up for your shows. RA: When we did the Shepherd’s Bush show, our manager at the time kept coming up to us saying, “you know who’s in the queue? Paul Weller’s waiting in the rain. There are members of Snow Patrol. Robert Plant’s here. We had to tell him to stop. And there are a lot of young indie bands that come to see us. One of my favorite new bands that Darian introduced me to it The Lemon Twigs, which I absolutely love. To my amazement, I heard that recently they said onstage “the rock gods, The Zombies” and I thought “that’s unbelievable.” It’s so nice to hear all of that. Balloting for the Rock Hall class of 2018 continues through 12/5. Fans can vote here.
THE RETURN OF HARD CORE
11/13/17
Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean's debut solo album, Hard Core, is now available digitally for the first time. That's right folks; you can find it on Spotify and Apple Music, as well as iTunes, Google Play and more.This is undoubtedly an exhilarating set, as evidenced by the album's first single, "Sword & Stone," which was written by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Desmond Child, and was originally intended for KISS' Crazy Nights album. Fun fact: track "Under the Gun" even features a Jon Bon Jovi harmonica solo.Keep in mind that the digital drop of Hard Core—originally released in 1989 via Columbia Records—serves as a precursor to long-awaited new material, which Dean has been working on and is nearly ready to introduce to the world.Celebratory head-banging is encouraged.
A SOLO HEARTBREAKER
11/13/17
By Phil Gallo Benmont Tench is the first Heartbreaker to return to performing since the death of Tom Petty, appearing solo at Largo in L.A. in October and Iridium last week in New York. He’s not supporting anything in particular —he had a solo album come out three years ago, You Should Be So Lucky on Blue Note, and he has plenty of new material—and the show was as much about Tench’s here and now as it was the music that got him interested in rock & roll five decades ago. At the second of two sold-out solo concerts at Iridium, the pianist covered songs that exposed his affinity for ‘50s, blues, gospel and early Southern rock & roll, styles that sat on a back burner while he was providing support to Petty for 40 years. He opened with a familiar Temptations hit, “I Wish it Would Rain,” and covered Chuck Berry (“Roll Over Beethoven”), dipped into obscurities from Bob Dylan (“Shot of Love”) and Barry Mann-Cynthia Weill (“Shape of Things to Come” from Wild in the Streets), and evoked Professor Longhair, Jerry Lee Lewis and Randy Newman elsewhere. His originals provided a calm contrast. He’s an emotional writer, his lyrics and melodies tug at the heart without venturing into melancholy or maudlin territory and one of his best, a tune he wrote years ago that Carlene Carter covered, “Unbreakable Heart,” encapsulated so much of his writing. Tench never mentioned Petty by name, and his stories were often about the creative process—his muses seems to strike him most often while driving on the west side of Los Angeles and in the vicinity of Central Park. The evening’s finale, the ballad “You Can Still Change Your Mind” introduced as being “written by my two favorite songwriters,” Petty and Mike Campbell, was as heartwarming as it was heartbreaking.
THE BODYGUARD EXTENDS LEGACY WITH 25TH ANNIVERSARY UPDATE
11/6/17
In honor of the 25th Anniversary of The Bodyguard —the iconic movie and soundtrack, which became the first album to sell more than a million copies in a single week, won the Grammy for Album of the Year and has since sold upwards of 45m copies—will be celebrated with an exclusive new re-release. Whitney Houston- I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard will drop on 11/17- exactly 25 years after its original release on 11/17/1992. Coming via Legacy Recordings (in cooperation with The Estate of Whitney E. Houston), the album features 14 tracks, with highlights including new versions of songs like “I Will Always Love You” and “I’m Every Woman,” two covers that Houston turned into massive global hits. It’s poised to be an essential new Whitney collection, armed with never-before-released live recordings from Houston’s The Bodyguard Tour (1993-1995), such as her stirring A Capella version of “Jesus Loves Me.” Also celebrating the occasion was Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which served as a major location backdrop in the film. The hotel hosted a VIP Listening Party on 11/4, where Legacy Recordings presented the Estate with a new official 18X Platinum RIAA certification for The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album and 3X Platinum Digital Single RIAA certification for Whitney’s historic interpretation of “I Will Always Love You.” From L-R: Tara Bruh, VP of Business & Legal Affairs, CMG; Will McKinney, Marketing Manager, Legacy Recordings; Gary Michael Houston, nephew of Whitney; Donna Houston, The Estate Of Whitney E. Houston; Rayah Houston, niece of Whitney; Pat Houston, The Estate Of Whitney E. Houston; Sheldra Khahaifa, SVP, Finance & CFO, CMG; Gretchen Brennison, Director of Content Development, Legacy Recordings; Jeff James, Director of A&R, Legacy Recordings and host Rickey Minor, Whitney’s longtime Music Director.)
VERSATILE VAN THE STANDARDS MAN
11/6/17
Less than three months after releasing an album dominated by blues covers, Van Morrison is turning his attention to standards for his 38th studio album, Versatile. Sony Legacy will release the collection on 12/1. Morrison interprets the Gershwins, Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh, Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn, and Cole Porter in addition to penning six originals. Van recorded the album in Ireland and Hollywood. Two tracks have been released: "Makin' Whopee" and "I Get a Kick Out of You." The track list:“Broken Record” (Van Morrison)“A Foggy Day” (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin)“Let”s Get Lost” (Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh)“Bye Bye Blackbird” (Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon)“Skye Boat Song” (Traditional. Arranged by Van Morrison)“Take It Easy Baby” (Van Morrison)“Makin” Whoopee” (Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn)"I Get a Kick Out of You" (Cole Porter)“I Forgot That Love Existed” (Van Morrison)“Unchained Melody” (Alex North and Hy Zaret)“Start All Over Again” (Van Morrison)“Only A Dream” (Van Morrison)“Affirmation” featuring Sir James Galway (Van Morrison)“The Party”s Over” (Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne)“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (George Cory and Douglass Cross)“They Can”t Take That Away from Me” (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin)
P!NK BRINGS THE TRAUMA TO
APPLE MUSIC
10/27/17
P!nk debuted a new concert film, Beautiful Trauma: Live on Apple Music this week, showcasing music from her brand new album Beautiful Trauma with an empowering set of songs from the Ace Theatre stage in downtown Los Angeles. Before an adoring throng of super-fans, the superstar took the stage wearing a quirky ensemble of jeans underneath a jeans skirt, with a gold bomber jacket and her hair styled in that enduring Pink-Pompadour, while rocking some gold hoops with her real name, “Alecia,” woven into the centers. She immediately tore into a rousing performance of her smash “Fuckin Perfect,” before settling in to chat with the audience. “Tonight might get weird,” she promised the crowd, before joking about forgetting the words to her own songs. “It’s probably gonna happen,” she mused, before kicking into a flawless rendition of the newest single “What about Us.” Next came album tracks like “Whatever You Want,” “Revenge” (that she said she wrote in part because, “I really want a rap Grammy,”) and “Beautiful Trauma.” “I wrote that song with Jack Antonoff,” she noted afterward about the title song, “and he’s awesome, he’s a lovable human.” The set also included “Barbies” (“Do you guys love Julia Michaels as much as I do? I wrote this with her”) and “For Now,” an acoustic version of her smash “Who Knew,” and a mash-up of her rousing 2008 track “Funhouse” with No Doubt’s “I’m Just A Girl.” She closed the show with “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” a song she originally wrote for the 2015 movie Suffragette about the early feminist movement, but in the end decided that, “the film shouldn’t have a pop song anywhere near it, so I talked the director out of using it.” Classic P!nk. “Obviously I’m a feminist,” she added, “but I never would have attacked that subject quite like this had it not been for a movie to inspire me so I’m really grateful to that film.” P!nk keeps it real, in her lyrics and the casual banter to her fans in between songs, which proved to be a challenge for the Apple Music censors, since her always-colorful language was on full display. It was repeatedly and notably muted by the squeaky-clean dictate of profanity on the streaming platform. But one thing is clear about P!nk as a performer, few can match her range and vibrancy when it comes to the raw power of her voice live, and she demonstrated that ability in spades with this Apple Music piece.
ARCADE FIRE AT THE FORUM:
THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER
10/24/17
By Bud Scoppa Apart from the snazzy high-tech staging and the integrated electronics, the 2017 iteration of Arcade Fire, which rolled into the Forum Friday (10/20), is remarkably similar to the band that made its L.A. debut 13 years ago on the cramped stage of the Troubadour. True, those years of heavy roadwork have served to streamline the interaction of the band—expanded to a nine-piece for the Infinite Content tour—but the ecstatic presentation, almost tribal in its organic power, is thrillingly intact. Bandleader Win Butler remains a towering presence, physically and theatrically, standing atop a monitor with mic held aloft like the Statue of Liberty or roaming through the crowd. Brother Will, with twins on the way, is still a whirling dervish, cheerleading, pounding one of the keyboards sitting on the perimeter of the square stage or banging on a tambourine. Win’s wife, Régine Chassagne, is all over the place as well, switching between keys, lead vocals on “Sprawl II” and the new “Electric Blue”—on which she shows off her Debbie Harry-inspired dance moves—and a second drum kit adjacent to that of Jeremy Gara on the revolving riser in the middle of the theater-in-the-round setup. Also intact is the ongoing sense that things could spin out of control at any moment, a fundamental aspect of Arcade Fire’s shambolic charm. While the 23-song performance included nearly all of the band’s latest album, Everything Now, the setlist thoughtfully shuffled through Arcade Fire’s discography, with five selections from 2010’s The Suburbs satisfyingly appearing one after the other in midset, and four anthems from 2004’s career-establishing Funeral strategically placed, from “Rebellion (Lies)” in the third slot to the ever-rousing “Wake Up” the last of the three encore selections. “Reflektor/Afterlife” from 2014’s Reflektor was presented as a seamless extended dance party powered by programmed beats, drums and hand percussion, while Neon Bible was represented by “No Cars Go” and the title song. The impassioned crowd greeted the intro to each number like a visit from an old friend, and it appeared that all those present had made a pact to remain standing for the entire two hours. Afterward in the Forum Club, an extended-family reunion was informally co-hosted Win and Will’s parents, Ned and Liza Rey, who’d flown to L.A. from their home on the Maine coast for the week. The gathering had a multi-generational showbiz feel; Liza’s dad was big-band leader and pedal steel innovator Alvino Rey, the patriarch of the King Family and the husband of Luise King Rey, one of the six singing King Sisters, whose offspring turned out in force for the occasion. Those on hand with family ties—members of the interconnected Cole, Conkling, Larsen, Thomas and Driggs clans—don’t think of Arcade Fire as a high-profile alternative band but as the continuation of a family tradition and a source of great pride. As Will pointed in Josh Eellsdefinitive 2014 Rolling Stone feature, "It's kind of part of our heritage. The family band." Arcade Fire Setlist The Forum, Inglewood, CA, USA 2017, Infinite Content More Arcade Fire setlists iPhone photo by Peggy Scoppa
WELCOME, 'MATS
10/23/17
The Replacements For Sale, the live Rhino release capturing a blazing, brutal 1986 performance by Paul Westerberg and mates at Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J., debuted at #52 on the most recent album chart. That's five places higher than 1989's Can't Hardly Wait, giving Sale the 'Mats' best chart bow ever. Big ups to Rhino's Jason Reynolds, who will celebrate by shooting an entire bottle of Jim Beam and performing ad hoc covers of songs he's heard maybe twice.
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