Archive for September, 2008

‘I’m not going on tour with Led Zeppelin,’ says Robert Plant

September 29, 2008

 

Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant has formally denied rumours that he is planning to tour with the legendary band next year. And he has warned fans not to purchase tickets online for any such event because they will be buying bogus tickets.

 

“It’s both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward,” said Plant, who is currently touring the USA with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss on the last leg of their Raising Sand tour.

 

“I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects,” he added.

 

Plant has been reluctant to consider other projects during his fruitful collaboration with Alison Krauss. In a statement today, he insisted he has no intention of going on the road with anyone for at least two years after finishing the Raising Sand tour on October 5, 2008.

 

Krauss and Plant have been on the road in North America and Europe since last April. Plant joined Krauss for a benefit concert in Oklahoma City on September 19 for victims of Hurricane Ike.

 

On September 9, Sh-Boom! Magazine reported Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page as saying that if there were to be a tour, it would have to wait until Plant had finished his Raising Sand tour with Krauss. “If you’re going to do a reunion,” said Page, “you need four members.”

 

Rumours of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour and album have been rife since December 2007, when the band reformed with Jason Bonham for a concert at London’s O2 Arena. The show was a one-off in honour of Atlantic Records’ late founder Ahmet Ertegun, who helped launch the group in 1968. As soon as the concert was announced, millions of fans around the world rushed to buy the 20,000 available tickets.

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Vote for your favourite Motown hit and help choose tracks for a new ‘Motown 50’ album

September 24, 2008

 

Universal Music is mounting an online survey to find out UK music fans’ favourite Motown tracks.

 

The 50 most popular songs will be included on Motown 50 – a special 50th Anniversary compilation CD – which will be released in the UK on December 1, 2008.

 

Sh-Boom! readers can try to get their favourite Motown songs onto the Motown 50 album by visiting: www.pollthepeople.com/motown50 – a special site set up by online polling community Poll the People.

 

You’ll be able to select your five favourite Motown songs from the database and place your vote.

 

Universal plans to release similar local versions of the compilation album in other countries, claiming this consumer-generated content approach is designed to “reflect each country’s favourite songs and celebrate the enduring popularity of Motown across the planet.”

 

Motown will celebrate its half-century on 12 January, 2009. Universal says celebrations are being lined up throughout the whole of next year under the banner: Motown 50 – Today, Tomorrow, Forever.

 

Berry Gordy Jr. founded the label as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, with a loan of $800 from his family. The company was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in 1960.

 

Vocal group The Matadors were the first act to be signed to Tamla by Gordy. They went on to find fame after changing their name to The Miracles.

 

By the mid-1960s, the groundbreaking Motown Sound had spread worldwide. And the label’s distinctive sound still resonates today – 180 Number 1 singles later – with Motown hits continuing to appear in TV commercials, TV shows and movies.

Sex Pistols’ John Lydon to become the face of British butter

September 19, 2008

 

Back in 1976, Johnny Rotten sang about being “an antichrist” and “an anarchist” and expressed the youthful anger that many of today’s fiftysomethings felt about the British establishment in the late 1970s.

 

Today, he’s telling us to spread British butter on our toast, just like the gentry…

 

In a surprise announcement, former Sex Pistol John Lydon has been unveiled as the “new face” of Dairy Crest’s Country Life butter. He will star in a new television advertising campaign for the brand this autumn.

 

In the TV commercial, the 52-year-old punk icon apparently replaces his trademark torn jeans and ripped t-shirt with a country squire outfit – complete with tweed suit, plus fours, yellow waistcoat and riding boots.

 

“We don’t think enough people know Country Life is the only major British butter brand and John gets the message through loud and clear,” a spokesperson for Dairy Crest told marketing web site http://www.mad.co.uk.

 

“He is seen as a great British icon. His independent views are part of his consumer appeal and his tongue-in-cheek sense of humour shines through in our TV advertising,” the spokesperson added.

 

With the Sex Pistols’ 2008 tour dates between June and September billed as ‘The Combine Harvester Tour’ – and now Lydon’s endorsement of Country Life butter – it looks like the punk legend is becoming increasingly rustic in his middle age.

What next? A role in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers?

Legendary Motown songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield dies at 68

September 18, 2008

 

Soul legend Norman Whitfield – writer and producer of classic Motown songs such as ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ – has died at the age of 68 after a lengthy battle with diabetes.


He was one of Motown’s most successful and influential songwriters and producers and wrote some of soul music’s greatest hits for acts like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye.

 

In a statement, Motown great Smokey Robinson hailed Whitfield as “one of the most prolific songwriters and record producers of our time. He will live forever through his great music.”

 

Born in New York’s Harlem district, Whitfield started his songwriting career in the early 1960s after his family moved to Detroit. The ambitious 19-year-old began hanging around Berry Gordy’s Hitsville USA offices until he was eventually given a chance to work for the growing Motown label in 1962.

 

After joining the label’s production team, Whitfield went on to become one of the driving forces of the Motown sound. He took over from Smokey Robinson as The Temptations’ record producer and, over the following decade, worked with virtually every major artist on the label – including Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight and The Pips, and many others.


Often teaming up with lyricist Barrett Strong, he co-wrote and produced classic Motown hits like ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’,
‘I Can’t Get Next to You’, ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Ball of Confusion’, ‘Just My Imagination’, the Edwin Starr hit ‘War’, and, in 1972, the Grammy-winning ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’.

 

Whitfield also helped to pioneer and popularise the late-1960s sub-genre of psychedelic soul.

 

He left Motown in 1973 to form his own record label and enjoyed success with disco soul band Rose Royce – winning his second Grammy in 1976 for Best Original TV or Motion Picture Score for the movie Car Wash.

 

Whitfield returned to Motown in the early 1980s to produce the Temptations’ Sail Away album.

 

Sadly, he spent much of the last 20 years of his life battling health and legal problems – although one of the highlights of his later years was his induction into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2004.

Pink Floyd founder Richard Wright dies at 65

September 16, 2008

 

Pink Floyd keyboard player and founder member Richard Wright has died at the age of 65.

 

A Pink Floyd spokesman said Wright died at his UK home on Monday, September 15, 2008 after a short battle with cancer.

 

In a statement, David Gilmour said: “No one can replace Richard Wright. He was my musical partner and my friend. In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick’s enormous input was frequently forgotten.

 

“He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound. After all, without ‘Us and Them’ and ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’, both of which he wrote, what would The Dark Side Of The Moon have been? Without his quiet touch the album Wish You Were Here would not quite have worked.

 

“Like Rick, I don’t find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously.”

 

Destined to become one of the pioneers of synthesizer-based rock, Richard ‘Rick’ Wright met future Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason at college in 1964 when they were studying architecture. He later joined their band Sigma 6 which, in 1965, became The Pink Floyd Sound.

 

In 1967, Wright appeared on the group’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, alongside lead guitarist Syd Barrett, bassist Roger Waters and drummer Nick Mason.

 

Wright wrote and sang some of the band’s most influential songs – including ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ and ‘Us And Them’ from Pink Floyd’s legendary 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon, which has sold over 40 million copies worldwide and remained in the album chart for a record 14 years.

 

Although Wright performed as a vocalist on many of the band’s early songs, the self-taught keyboardist later took full advantage of the many instruments he played and concentrated on experimental compositions.

 

His interest in sonic experimentation and synthesizer-based rock came to the fore on Pink Floyd’s double LP Ummagumma in 1969. One of the albums was live, while the second LP featured solo compositions from each member of the group.

 

Wright took advantage of his half of a vinyl LP side to compose what he called “real music” – a move that paved the way for the innovative sounds on the band’s masterpiece albums The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here.

 

After releasing a solo record in 1978, he quit Pink Floyd in 1981 following a bust-up with Roger Waters. He formed his own band, Zee, but later rejoined Pink Floyd – after Waters had left – in time for their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. After that, he continued performing and recording with Nick Mason and singer and guitarist David Gilmour under the name Pink Floyd.

 

Wright was reunited with Waters onstage in July 2005 when the members of Pink Floyd set aside their differences to perform at the Live 8 charity concert in London.

 

Fellow founding member Syd Barrett died of pancreatic cancer in July 2006.

ZZ Top mark 25th anniversary of ‘Eliminator’ with special Collector’s Edition

September 12, 2008

 

ZZ Top are celebrating the anniversary of their landmark 1983 album Eliminator with the release of a special Collector’s Edition which features a re-mastered version of the album’s original pressing. This includes the rare album mix of ‘Legs’ which was later replaced with a single version edited for radio.

 

The new CD/DVD package also features seven bonus tracks and previously unreleased live performances of songs from Eliminator. Rare live tracks include ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, ‘TV Dinners’ and ‘Got Me Under Pressure’ (all recorded at Castle Donnington, England) and ‘I Got The Six’ (recorded at The Marquee Club, London). Also included are the single version and 12″ dance remix of ‘Legs’.

 

The deluxe packaging also features rare photos and extensive liner notes.

 

The ZZ Top trio of Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard broke new ground in 1983 when they released Eliminator as their eighth studio album. They created a completely new sound by combining the pulsating synthesizers of New Wave with four-to-the-floor disco beats and the band’s traditional Texan boogie blues.

 

Eliminator went on to become one of the biggest albums of the 1980s and has sold more than 10 million copies in the US alone over the past 25 years.

 

Eliminator also helped to mark the dawning of the MTV age with a series of smash hit singles which resulted in some of the decade’s most memorable music videos. The Collector’s Edition DVD includes the iconic videos for ‘Legs’, ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’’ and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ – each of which starred the band’s trademark cherry-red 1933 Ford coupe hot rod (with the customised ‘ZZ’ stripe down the side), and a trio of leggy supermodels.

 

ZZ Top are expected to start recording a new album with producer Rick Rubin later this year. According to some reports, though, the band intend to return to the style of their classic 1973 hit ‘La Grange’, rather than the pop-friendly Eliminator sound of the 1980s.

 

Bassist Dusty Hill recently admitted that it’s difficult to explain why the original members of ZZ Top are still together after nearly 40 years. “We just really enjoy playing together,” he said. “Being a three piece, maybe it’s easier. You only have two other guys, musically, and everything else to contend with and work with.”

 

He added: “The three of us were brought up – even though we didn’t know each other in our early lives – on the same type of music, same type of environment. There’s a lot of sameness there. We’re like three peas in a pod.”

Sir Cliff Richard slams sound quality of downloads

September 9, 2008

 

While more and more over-50s are starting to get the hang of downloading music tracks from online retailers such as iTunes, Sir Cliff Richard says he’ll never be one of them.

 

He complains that the sound quality of downloaded music is inferior to the “unbeatable” sound from CDs.

 

It’s very hard to beat a CD,” he told the BBC News website. “I like putting six CDs in the machine and playing them for two or three days.”

 

The 67-year-old pop legend also revealed that his favourite format is the 12″ vinyl album because, he said, you can read the sleeve “without getting a magnifying glass.”

 

Sir Cliff is hoping to top the UK singles chart again this weekend with his latest single ‘Thank You For a Lifetime’. If he manages to reach the top spot, it will be his fifteenth Number One.

 

Most significantly, though, he’ll become the first artist ever to score Number One hits across six decades.

 

However, Sir Cliff admitted that achieving a Number One hit in 2008 “did not have the same cachet” as topping the chart with ‘Living Doll’ in 1959 – at the start of his career.

 

“In those days, when you released a single, it was potentially a million-seller,” he told the BBC. “That’s completely out of the question now, because people just don’t buy singles.”

 

Many of Sir Cliff’s loyal fans are still buying singles though. Some are reportedly buying up hundreds of copies of his new CD single in an attempt to make sure it gets to Number One.

 

Even if Sir Cliff fails to top the charts again, it’s unlikely that his existing landmark achievement – scoring number one hits across five decades – will be beaten by any other artist. After all, these days many artists don’t even last five years, let alone five decades.

Led Zeppelin ‘not recording’ says Jimmy Page

September 9, 2008

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Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has denied growing rumours that the legendary band are back in the studio recording material for their first all-new album since 1979’s In Through the Out Door. He insists talk of a new album is just “speculation”.

 

Drummer Jason Bonham – son of original member John Bonham who died in 1980 –recently revealed that he had been “jamming in the studio” with Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones. But Page is adamant that reports about the band working on new material are completely untrue.

 

“We’re not actually really recording,” said Page, who will be 65 in January. “We played at the O2. That was our reunion. It’s true John Paul Jones, myself and Jason had a little sort of jam. But it’s nothing as monumental as what people are speculating and projecting.”

 

Page also insisted that if there were to be a world tour, it would have to wait until frontman Robert Plant finishes his highly successful Raising Sand tour with bluegrass star Alison Krauss(as reported in Sh-Boom! Magazine – July 15, 2008).

 

“If you’re going to do a reunion,” said Page, “you need four members.”

 

Rumours of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour and album have been rife since December 2007, when the band reformed with Jason Bonham for a concert at London’s O2 Arena. The show was a one-off in honour of Atlantic Records’ late founder Ahmet Ertegun, who helped launch the group in 1968. As soon as the concert was announced, millions of fans around the world rushed to buy the 20,000 available tickets.

 

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‘Mamma Mia!’ becomes 16th longest running show in Broadway history

September 7, 2008

 

The international hit musical Mamma Mia! became the sixteenth longest running show in Broadway history when it played its 2,845th performance in New York on September 5, 2008.

 

As the production’s film adaptation continues to wow film fans around the world, the stage version overtook the record-breaking run of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly to claim the 16th spot on the New York theatre hit list.

 

The production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre almost seven years ago.

 

There are currently nine productions of Mamma Mia! running around the world and the musical has already been seen by an estimated 32 million people worldwide.

 

Mamma Mia! cleverly uses the hit songs of ABBA to tell the story of Sophie Sheridan, a young girl who hopes to discover the identity of her father. On the eve of her wedding, she brings three men from her mother Donna’s past back to the Greek island they visited over two decades ago.

 

The show features music and lyrics by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, a book by Catherine Johnson, direction by Phyllida Lloyd and choreography by Anthony Van Laast.

 

Mamma Mia! and the music of ABBA recently scored a ‘triple whammy’ when the film soundtrack, the original cast recording, and the ABBA Gold compilation all topped the charts in their respective categories.

Status Quo announce new UK tour and album – and first-ever Christmas single!

September 6, 2008

 

Status Quo fans are in for a real treat this winter. As well as hitting the road later this month for another UK tour, Quo plan to release their first-ever Christmas record and a unique ‘greatest hits’ collection – titled Pictures: 40 Years of Hits – which will span their entire 45-year chart career.

 

Pictures: 40 Years of Hits will be released in the UK on November 3, 2008 in a variety of formats – including a deluxe 4CD+book ‘EarBook’, a 3CD set which includes a DVD and rare tracks, and a 2CD album. It will also be available on vinyl and in digital form, including USB.

 

Status Quo also plan to release ‘It’s Christmas Time’ – the band’s first-ever Christmas record … and, amazingly, their 75th UK single!

 

The ‘EarBook’ version of Pictures: 40 Years of Hits will comprise a lavish 4CD collection and a full-colour 120-page Art book. It will include remastered versions of all of the original radio edits of Quo’s singles in one package for the first time.

 

The band will also kick off a UK winter tour in Newcastle on Saturday, September 27. Described as “a Quo tour like none before”, the show is said to feature a new one-off set list packed with hits to mark the occasion – as well as state-of-the-art stage backdrops designed to evoke classic Quo moments from the past 45 years.

 

Tickets for the Pictures: 40 Years of Hits tour are on sale from 0844 576 5483 or www.livenation.co.uk.


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