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die4From the press release:

Celebrated journalist, TV personality, and award-winning author Touré investigates one of the most enigmatic and fascinating figures in contemporary American culture: PRINCE

Drawing on new research and enlivened by Touré’s unique pop-cultural fluency, “I Would Die 4 U” relies on surprising and in-depth interviews with Prince’s band members, former girlfriends, musicologists, and even Bible scholars to deconstruct the artist’s life and work.

Prince’s baby boomer status allowed him to play a wise older brother to the latchkey kids of generation X.  Defying traditional categories of race, gender, and sexuality, he nonetheless presents a very traditional conception of religion and God in his music.  He was an MTV megastar and a religious evangelist, using images of sex and profanity to invite us into a musical conversation about the healing power of God.  By demystifying the man and his music, “I Would Die 4 U” shows us how Prince defined a generation.

Prince deconstruction?  Musicologists and Bible scholars?  I’ve been waiting to talk to Touré all my life…

By the dawn of the 80s, punk rock was dead and a leaner, more muscular sound known as hardcore had commandeered the underground. On the West Coast, hardcore pioneers like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Social Distortion and The Minutemen unleashed rage-fueled anthems that bypassed the cheek of punk and went straight for the jugular.

Chronicling every show, rumor and police raid was We Got Power, a fanzine founded by a pair of first generation hardcore freaks and best friends, Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz. The epitome of DIY publishing, We Got Power seethed with unchecked passion, snark and attitude, and three decades later, their humble periodical now stands as one of the most vivid and enduring documents of Los Angeles in the Reagan era.

With the November release of Adler’s Back from the Dead, former Guns N’ Roses timekeeper and notorious reality TV underdog Steven Adler has transcended the milieu of improbable comebacks and released one of the finest rock albums of 2012. At the year’s outset, few would have registered surprise that a member of the classic Guns lineup would record one of 2012′s most bracing releases; it’s just that nobody would have bet on Steven.

The thing about superstitions is that usually there is some anecdotal evidence, however tenuous, to bear them out. Take, for instance, the myth that misfortune visits in groups of three. Laugh if you will, but for Oakland’s Machine Head—arguably the biggest underground metal band in the world—a trio of recent mishaps suggests there just might be something to that old wives’ tale.

November 15, 2012

The one-story building sinks back into the row of small businesses along San Diego’s Adams Avenue, all but imperceptible to passersby. At some point, perhaps those jaunty 70s, when they couldn’t make concrete and tinted windows fast enough for the architects of the day, this business likely contained a cozy neighborhood bank, although the rushing torrents of commerce have long run dry. The sign above the front door now reads “Gerson Institute.”

Inside, the walls are spangled with colorful tapestries accented by warm, low lighting. There is not a deposit slip in the entire joint, although one couldn’t swing a celery stalk without hitting a book about holistic medicine on one of the clunky desks scattered about the lobby.

Ten Surprising People Associated with KISS

Bob Dylan

Back in 1992, Simmons arranged to spend time with Dylan and work on some material, namely so he could say, “I worked with Bob Dylan.” Simmons took what was done and later created a song he initially titled “Laughing When I Want to Cry.” When working on his 2004 solo album, Asshole, he brought in the song for possible recording. It was reworked into “Waiting for the Morning Light” for the album.

Lou Reed

Another famous singer-songwriter, who had first won notice in the band the Velvet Underground. Bob Ezrin produced Reed’s controversial Berlin album in 1973 and was asked to help throw around some ideas during the recording of Music from “The Elder.” Reed came up with the title for “A World Without Heroes” and worked a bit on the song. Supposedly there is also video of Reed in the studio singing the song. Reed also co-wrote “Mr. Blackwell” with Simmons for the album as well as some additional lyrics to be used if there was to be a second album in the series. Speaking of Reed . . . .

Formed in those halcyon, hard-rocking 80s, Armored Saint wasted little time carving their mark into the arm of the L.A metal scene. Built atop heavy riffs, ambitious songwriting and gritty, soulful vocals, Armored Saint battled through the death of guitarist and founding member Dave Prichard, the unpredictable and ever-changing tastes of the music scene, being dropped from a major label and ever-eluding the critical acclaim that their body of work so richly deserved. Yet in the face of one punishing challenge after another, Armored Saint has defiantly soldiered on, recording multiple albums, cultivating a loyal fan base and converting their three decades of making music into one of west coast rock’s most enduring legacies.

Might as well just drop the testicles into a vice and start spinning the gears. It certainly presents a less painful alternative to releasing a sophomore follow-up to a mega-successful debut. Call it the “sophomore jinx,” or call it “the hot, blistering envy of your critics,” but second albums carry a far higher degree of difficulty than any other album in a band’s career. The bottom of rock and roll’s dark, abandoned well is littered with the bones of bands who frittered their careers away chasing the success of a massive debut. If the second album tanks, the band’s legacy is reduced to a trivia question under the “One Hit Wonders” category; but if the band pulls off a compelling, groundbreaking follow-up, then someday they might just have a date in Cleveland.

If you can recall the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, then you have a crystalline picture of the present state of the music industry: absolute carnage on all fronts. Record labels have begun suing people for illegally downloading new albums, while paradoxically, more and more bands, such as Green Day, are streaming their new albums for free. Technology has leveled the playing field, allowing anyone with a MacBook to release an album, and the price of gas continues to push more and more up-and-coming bands off the road because they can no longer justify driving a hundred miles to split $50 four ways. It seems like nobody’s making a living anymore, except the lawyers and maybe the toothpaste companies buying ads on American Idol.

An artist would have to be plumb crazy to walk away from a well-oiled support team and try to enter this fray alone. Right?

One of the runaway cable hits in recent years has been VH1′s That Metal Show, a production cobbled together with the barest of bones, featuring three regular guys from Jersey (host Eddie Trunk and comedians Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine), sitting around and talking about hard rock and heavy metal. Were it not for the the guys’ unmitigated passion for metal, their profane sincerity and the massive, eye-watering doses of ball-busting (they are from Jersey, after all), the show might have never left the ground. The trio’s lack of pretense and utter likeability however, have inspired the show’s evolution from a late-night placeholder to a bona fide cultural epicenter for hard rock and heavy metal fans across the globe.

Drummer Vinny Appice first established a formidable reputation by playing with the likes of John Lennon and Rick Derringer, although he is best known for his hard-hitting contributions to Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio. Two years ago, when shoulder surgery sidelined him from playing, Vinny found himself in his home studio, idly playing with a series of drum tracks that he had recorded for downloads. He wondered if these tracks couldn’t form the backbones of fully-formed songs and so, as guys like Vinny Appice are wont to do, he put out a few calls.

Enter guitarist Mark Zavon.

Read Part I here.  Part II there.

JMB:  KISS and Mötley Crüe are touring together this year, when’s the last time you went to a show?

CK:  I’ve seen KISS tons of times, the Crüe maybe a handful.  They really vary in quality.  Some shows Vince doesn’t seem very interested to be there.  I saw one show where Tommy was clearly trying to illustrate how unhappy he was to be forced to tour.  KISS always play hard and they always deliver.  I’ve never seen a bad KISS show.

In Part I we discussed KISS’ Love Gun Tour as first man on the moon, Paul Stanley’s sackfuls of cash, Frankenstein Dynasty, and psychoanalysis and personality theory as it pertains to the downfall/saving grace of Coca-Cola KISS.  Read it here.

How is it that an artist can sell over fifty million records and yet creatively, have nothing to lose?

Guitarist and songwriter Mark Tremonti has achieved incontrovertible commercial success with his bands Creed and Alter Bridge, although for reasons far too complex and speculative for this piece, the former band remain perennially tied to the whipping post of the music industry despite towering album sales and multitudinous awards. Alter Bridge, formed in the wake of Creed’s success, have enjoyed a much warmer welcome from fans and critics, but their commercial performance is nowhere near that of Creed.

With his new self-titled solo project, Mark carries on his back both the suffocating expectations of current fans and the unwavering prejudice of Creed’s detractors. Capitulating to neither, Mark’s blistering solo debut is already one of the most buzzed-about albums of the summer. Sometimes having nothing to lose is right where you want to be.

What do you mean, you’ve never heard of “thrash-folk?”

No, I’m not talking about a tribe of mud people who live in the woods of West Virginia; I’m referring to a brash and unstoppable force called River City Extension, who are, as you read this very sentence, unleashing one of the freshest sounds of the summer, shaking booties and destroying genre classifications along the way.  While their sound brazenly defies traditional classification,  if we must, let’s mix equal parts folk, Americana, and punk.  With such an eclectic brew, the question is fully begged: is it possible for a band without a clear genre to gain a following, especially in a time when labels are everything?