Look at that date. I can't let this pass without finding some trinity to match to this date. Let's go over to Pete Namlook's FAX label for an update. Getting 2003 off to a great start Namlook, whose FAX label is currently enjoying its ten year anniversary, is offering three new sub-label releases. While the label is ostensibly an avenue for Namlook to distribute his own eclectic future jazz, space exploration, ethnic ambient, and granular minimalism, FAX has also been the wellspring for some of the most highly collectible ambient music of the 1990s. It doesn't hurt that the label's output has been top notch for a long time. However, in the past few years the sub-label has all but disappeared.
The "PS" sub-label was the arena of FAX where artists other than Namlook were given the spotlight and 2003 looks to be the year where this strata of FAX output returns. Three records have been released so far, and one of them is the third part of a trilogy started a while back. Wolfram Spyra, whose Sferics record came out so long ago that the only mention of it ever in these pages is that it topped my Best of the Rest list for 1998 (way back in our first issue), has finally delivered his round-up of ambience and atmospherics and, frankly, I couldn't be more excited. What's it sound like, you ask? Patience, patience. When I'm done being greedy and keeping it to myself, I'll share it with you all. Or you could just nip out and get yourself a copy. FAX CDs are only released in editions of 2000 copies, after all, and eBay prices for the out of print ones are getting very, very silly.
Hendrix Gets New Digs
Jimi Hendrix is getting a new roof. Actually, he's getting a new plot of land as well. The remains of the fiery and inventive guitar player have been recently moved to a new granite and marble memorial in the Greenwood Memorial Park and Cemetary in Seattle, Washington. Hendrix, who previously had only been marked with a simple headstone that read "Forever in Our Hearts - James M. Jimi Hendrix 1942-1970," will be laid closer to his departed family members: his father Al Hendrix, who passed away last April; Ayako "June" Hendrix, Al's wife; and the cremated remains of Nora Hendrix, Jimi's grandmother.
The memorial is located in the southwest corner of the cemetary, approachable by a circular drive, and will be recognizable for its "rainbow" marble trim. The granite dome, which is almost 30 feet tall will stand over the graves as well as a life-size bronze statue of Hendrix which is being made in Italy. Experience Hendrix LLC, the family run company which owns and manages the rights to the rock star's music and image declined to comment on the cost of the memorial.
And, frankly, who cares how much it cost? The family is entitled to a little extravagance. Al Hendrix sued the family's legal advisor in 1993, charging that his son's legacy had been mismanaged. The lawsuit effectively blocked sale of those rights to MCA Records which had been offering a number rumored to have between $50 and $75 million. In July, 1995, Al won the lawsuit and was awarded an unspecified sum of back royalties as well as the rights to all future royalties. So if the family wants Jimi to be next to his father, mother, and grandmother, who are we to say anything? If they wanted to erect a speaker system which would play Jimi's music 24/7 from the gravesite, more power to them. They own the rights to their boy's music, so why not?
Fortunately, calmer heads than mine have decided on a cupola and life-sized statue. The neighbors are probably happy, and pilgrims to the rock star's gravesite will be able to stand beneath the dome and kiss the sky...er, marble.
And There's the Door: 21st Century Style
John Densmore, original drummer of the Doors, is suing former band members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger, charging that a tour which has been organized by the two men is a breach of contract and trademark infringement. How so? Well, partly because I have to use the "original" to describe his part in the band now.
Manzarek and Krieger have begun preparations to perform the music of the Doors under the name Doors: 21st Century, and have brought Steward Copeland (drummer for the Police and, more recently, soundtrack designer) and Ian Astbury (phallic rock god of the Cult) in to replace Densmore and deceased singer Jim Morrison. An advertisement announcing the new group and tour was released in the Los Angeles Times recently and featured a design nearly identical to the Doors' first album cover. Densmore is arguing that the new band is not making clear enough distinction with the original band, thereby lending the impression that "he was not, and is not, an integral part of the Doors." Further confusing the issue is the fact that the URL http://www.21stcenturydoors.com resolves to the official website of the Doors.
Densmore had planned to be part of the new band and tour, but health complications (an enduring case of tinnitus has persisted since a TV special two years ago) and philosophical differences about the structure of the new band caused him to reconsider. Shortly thereafter, a quote from Manzarek in regards to an initial concert done by the new lineup lend him to believe that he had been publicly fired from the band.
Hence the lawsuit. The complaint states that the group had agreed to make joint business decisions and share all future revenues and that this new band, Doors: 21st Century, is in violation of that agreement. Doors: 21st Century is also performing without the consent of the estates of Jim Morrison and his widow, Pam Courson.
So, kids, if the band does come to town, this might be your only chance to see the 1990s reincarnation of Jim Morrison do his best Lizard King impression. I know at least one gal, born the same year that Morrison died, who will be in the front row.
Tragic Nightclub Fire
And, if you are going to be attending a show, please be careful out there. A fire broke out during a Great White show in a West Warwick, Rhode Island night club on February 20th. At the time of publication, the subsequent inferno had claimed the lives of 98 people and injured almost twice that number. The fire was started from a pyrotechnic display during the band's first song and quickly filled The Station nightclub with flames and smoke. Among those who perished in the blaze was Great White guitarist, Ty Longley.
A grand jury has been convened to determine what exactly went wrong that evening. A statement from the band says that they were given permission to use pyrotechnics during their show, and the club has had displays of this kind in the past. Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, owners of The Station nightclub, have denied giving the band permission to use fireworks during show. Legal experts and fire investigators have said that either or both of the sides of the discussion could be indicted for involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. Jack Russell, lead singer for Great White, has asked for immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony about the events of that evening.
Giant sparklers on the stage appeared to have ignited the all-purpose foam which ringed the stage. The foam had been installed in 2000, following complaints from the neighbors about noise levels from the club. The foam, purchased from the American Foam Corporation, was an egg-crate packing foam -- cheap, highly flammable and, as some experts have said, burns like gasoline, emits a dense, toxic smoke and isn't suitable for use as acoustic insulation. Additionally, the club did not have a sprinkler system installed.
It is a terrible tragedy and our deepest condolences and sympathies go out to the friends and families of the people who perished in this accident. The home site for West Warwick, Rhode Island has a very comprehensive list of services and contact information for those who wish to donate or contribute in any way to the aftermath of this event.
If Only Marilyn Manson Would Give These People a Visit
I won't even give you a URL for this site because I don't want to give them the satisfaction of getting a redirect from eP, but what saddens me even further is the vultures out there who will use events such as The Station nightclub fire as an opportunity to push their own deluded and misguided agendas. The headline of the front page reads: "The Great White Fire -- The Bitter Fruit of the Rock Lifestyle." The site in question has the words "rock," "tragedy," and ".com" in its URL.
If I had won the lottery like I was supposed to have last week, I would be spending some of that cash to fly Marilyn Manson out to these folks' living rooms so that Mr. Manson could deliver on his recent promise. While discussing his new record, The Golden Age of the Grotesque, Manson told MTV, "I need to come back and remind people that I have a gigantic brick tied to my shoe and I am going to kick you in the balls really hard. And then I am going to kiss you and look really good while I do it." Please do, and start with these retards.
Brick House of Blood
Rob Zombie's long delayed directorial debut, House of 1,000 Corpses, which has been finished for over a year and has had some trouble finding a distributor with enough testicular fortitude to release the film, will finally be reaching theaters this April. Attached to the film will be a remake of the Commodores classic, "Brick House," with production work by Zombie and new vocal done by Lionel Ritchie. That's right. Lionel Ritchie, know for his soft AOR classic like "Say You, Say Me" and a raft of other songs that I can't even be bothered to remember right now, was approached by Zombie during the mixing of "Brick House 2003" and, after some moments of trepidation from both men, got right down to business. Ritchie reports that, while the track had certainly been altered from its original sound, there was still something missing from the mix. Ritchie tells Rolling Stone that he felt compelled to fix a certain nagging problem with the updated sound. "Give me a microphone man," he relates, "you can't have 'Brick House' without some howse in it. You're not saying howwwse right."
Dub Side of the Moon
Easy Star Records has just released a dub version of Pink Floyd's seminal Dark Side of the Moon. Titled, naturally, Dub Side of the Moon, the record has been three years in the making and features a number of luminaries from the New York reggae scene such as top dancehall veteran Frankie Paul, Wailers singer Gary "Nesta" Pine, harmony trio The Meditations, Brooklyn pacesetter Dr. Israel, in addition to some instrumental work by the likes of Gil-Scott Heron, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, The Soul Providers, The Daktaris, Roots Combination, King Chango, and Tru Mystic Sound System. From Easy Star's own press release on the album: "Dub Side of the Moon is an ambitious experiment in reggae rhythms and trip-hop sounds and a remarkably elemental complement to the original. As producers and instrumentalists, Michael G. and Ticklah were careful to match the spoken interludes, sound effects, and timing of Pink Floyd's original, while still twisting the music into a completely fresh new vision." Which translates to: the cash register is out, having been replaced by the sound of a lighter and a well-packed bong.
Not to be outdone, EMI/Capitol will be releasing a 30th anniversary edition of the Pink Floyd masterpiece in March. The updated version has been remixed in 5.1 Surround Sound and will be available in the dual-layer hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) format. Dark Side of the Moon was released on Released March 24, 1973, and has sold well more than 15 million copies in the United States and holds the record for longest consecutive streak on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart at 741 weeks (14.25 years).
Hell Freezes Over: I'm in Agreement with George Michael
In a recent interview on the BBC Hardtalk program, George Michael had some stern words about the credibility of modern musicians. Boy band Blue has stated that they're interested in putting together a single with a number of their contemporaries to protest the war on Iraq. Michael's response was: "I'm begging, I'm hoping that there will not be a Band Aid 2 because the reality is that very, very few people in the industry now that you're hearing on the radio make their money from their own hearts and minds. They make their money from singing the words of others, and so therefore the weight of something called Band Aid 2 would be incredibly slight."
Michael, who just released an anti-war "statement" of his own with a cover of Don McLean's "The Grave," had a new single last year, "Shoot the Dog," where he strayed into the realm of political commentary when he portrayed British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a poodle who was getting a serious tummy rubbing from US President George Bush. "This is the most political thing I've ever done and it's a massive and totally unnecessary risk for me," Michael told the UK's Daily Mirror shortly before the video's release last August. "'Shoot the Dog' is intended as a piece of political satire, no more no less, and I hope that it will make people laugh and dance, and then think a little, that's all." Audiences apparently did neither. The single did poorly on the charts and disappeared quickly.
Quote of the Month
Fred Rogers, "Mr. Rogers" to thousands of children over the last 30-plus years, recently succumbed to stomach cancer. He was 74. From 1968 until 2000 Rogers was the host of the PBS series, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, a children's show where he would, through stories and songs and a healthy dose of make believe, teach children to care themselves and each other. Rogers would begin each show with his well known ritual of putting on a red cardigan sweater and a pair of sneakers as he sang "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."
"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility," Rogers said in an 1994 interview. "It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."
A Requiem of Silence for Those Who Have Left Us
John Cage's piece "As Slow as Possible" is being performed in a church in Halberstadt, Germany. Known for its ancient organs, Halberstadt is the site of a 639-year attempt to perform Cage's piece literally. "As Slow as Possible" is actually a 20-minute piece for piano, but after a few years of earnest discussion between theologians, musicologists, philosophers, composers and organists it was determined that if you wanted to consider how long you could sustain a piece "as slow as possible," the answer would be: the lifetime of the instrument. The organ which is being used for the performance celebrated its 639th birthday in 2000. It will now spend the next 639 years of its life performing Cage's piece.
For the last 17 months the bellows of the organ have been inflating in preparation for the first three notes. They were played on February 5th at about 1700 GMT. Actually, they're still being played. The first three notes are scheduled to last three and a half years.
Three notes. Three and a half years. All this reported to you on the third day of the third month. I'm on the third successive listen of Star of Ash's Iter.Viator as I wrap up this sentence. None of us operate in a vacuum or from a desert island, gang, so watch for the signs and links of how we are all interconnected, and be good to each other.