ESO Podcast, Week of March 18: RRHOF presenters, Glastonbury and “Bohemian Rhapsody II?”

The Class of 2019 induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is getting closer and closer: The ceremony itself will take place Friday night, March 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Presenters for this year’s class were announced earlier this week; it’s an excellent lineup that just might also have some hints about what the 2020 ballot will look like. Here’s the class again followed by the presenter: 

Stevie Nicks – Harry Styles 

The Cure – Trent Reznor

Roxy Music – Simon LeBon and John Taylor of Duran Duran

Def Leppard – Brian May 

Janet Jackson – Janelle Monae 

Radiohead – David Byrne 

The Zombies – Susannah Hoffs of the Bangles 

HBO’s edited telecast of the ceremony will air on Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m., and if you’re in Cleveland anytime soon you can check out the Class of 2020 exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Some of these newly minted Hall of Famers will be taking the stage at Glastonbury later this year, which is back after a hiatus in 2018. Headliners will be the Cure, the Killers and Stormzy; also set to play are Janet Jackson, Janelle Monae, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, Mavis Staples, Wu-Tang Clan and tons and tons more. The fest sold out in October but canceled tickets go on sale April 28 at glastonburyfestivals.co.uk.  

In other news, Missy Elliot will be the first female hip-hop artist to receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee School of Music at its May commencement; she joins Justin Timberlake and Alec Lacamoire, who is the music director of “Hamilton.”  

And video director Rudi Dolezal, who directed several videos and film projects for Queen as well as Falco and others, says that a sequel to “Bohemian Rhapsody” is being discussed “within the Queen family.” So far, I haven’t seen a denial on Brian May’s social media feeds, but I sure hope one is forthcoming. As much as I love the guys, there’s just no reason for this to happen other than greed. Guys, you already tweaked the hell out of the timeline to make the story arc for this movie; you can’t play it both ways. Just say no. 

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ESO Podcast, March 11: RIP Keith Flint, New Stray Cats, Pete Townshend novel (with more to come)

Starting with a farewell to Keith Flint of the Prodigy, who passed away last week at the age of 49.  A story that sticks with me from this past week is that he owned and ran a pub called The Leather Bottle in Pleshey, Essex in the UK, and as part of his landlord duties he would top off the fire. There was always someone who had to make a Firestarter joke, and when it happened he’d point at the swear box he kept over the fireplace and make them pay a quid. 

The Stray Cats are back: they’re marking their 40thanniversary with their first new record in 26 years, titled “40,” and a world tour. 

The album was recorded last year in Nashville with producer Peter Collins, who’s worked with a Who’s Who of popular music over the past 50 years – everyone from Air Supply to Alice Cooper to Rush to Queensryche to the Indigo Girls. The album was recorded with the band playing together live in one room for a looser, old school feel.

The first single, “Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)” is available with pre-orders of the record. It will also be included on an exclusive 12” picture disc along with  “When Nothing’s Going Right” and “Rock It Off” for RSD on April 13th. An exclusive colored vinyl edition of the song will also be released on May 24th.

The Cats will then head out on tour on June 21 starting in Europe with a way-too-short U.S. leg in August. Hopefully they’ll add some more dates here.

Pete Townshend will publish his debut novel on November 5 entitled “Age of Anxiety.” It’s the first fruits of a “magnum opus” he’s been working on for the past decade; a combination of novel, opera and art installation. Because this is how you work when you’re Pete Townshend. He says the music is almost completely composed and an announcement about the art installation will be made at some point. The novel  is “an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity” and “captures the craziness of the music business and deals with mythic and operatic themes including a maze, divine madness and long-lost children. Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.”

Of course, the Who will be releasing a new album and will be on the road this year on the Moving On! Tour. 

ESO Podcast, February 26: RIP Peter Tork, Mark Hollis

Once again, a farewell: Goodbye to Peter Tork. He’ll always be remembered as the sweet and simple bass player for the Monkees, but in real life he was a musician in the Greenwich Village folk scene long before the Monkees were ever conceived of, who played with and lived in Laurel Canyon with Stephen Stills and played on recordings by George Harrison was an articulate analyst of the Monkees, their history and their place in the larger scheme of things. He passed due to complications of adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of head and neck cancer, which he had been fighting for more than 10 years. Tork was 77 years old. 

Also: Mark Hollis, founder and former front man of Talk Talk, passed away Monday at the age of 64 from a short illness. In their first few years, the band had a string of synth-pop hits, including “Talk Talk” from their first album, “The Party’s Over,” and the title track from “It’s My Life,” which was a also a hit for No Doubt in 2003. They then switched stylistic gears for 1985’s “The Colour of Spring,” adopting an art-rock style influenced by Roxy Music. The followup, “Spirit of Eden,” was a commercial disaster that prompted their label, EMI, to sue and ultimately drop them, but it stands today as a cornerstone of post-rock, of which Radiohead’s Philip Selway said, “it redefines how you listen to music.” Hollis retired from music in 1998 to devote his time to his family, but he leaves his philosophy of music as something worth thinking about: “You have to give it all your attention. You should never listen to music as background music. Ever.”

Another classic rock icon is saying farewell to performing: Peter Frampton has been diagnosed with the inflammatory muscle disease Inclusion-Body Myositis and will be on the road for his farewell tour of the U.S. this summer. He’s also recording as much as possible right now, before the disease progresses. If he’s able, he hopes to tour Europe on a more limited basis next spring. He says, “Right now, it’s progressing but I’m still at the top of my game. We decided to do a farewell tour now since I don’t want to go out and not be able to play well. If I’m going to do a farewell tour, I want to play good. I want to rock it. I know that this tour, I will be able to do everything I did last year and the year before. That’s the most important thing to me. I want to go out screaming as opposed to, “He can’t play anymore.” 

Kate Bush will release a four-disc rarities collection on March 8; it includes 25 rare tracks and nine covers. Among the latter is Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” and two Elton John songs (“Rocket Man” and “Candle in the Wind,” and Gershwin’s “The Man I Love.” She shared her video for the former Elton track, which she also directed. And as you might expect from Kate, it’s a little bit off the beaten path. 

On Friday, March 29, Stevie Nicks will become the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, and on that day she will release a career-spanning retrospective titled “Stand Back 1981-2017,” which will include hits, rarities and live tracks from her solo career along with a few Fleetwood Mac songs. It will be available as an 18-track CD or digital edition and a 50-track, 3-CD set. A six-LP vinyl collection will follow on June 28. A 10-inch vinyl disc of rare tracks from the “Bella Donna” and “Wild Heart” albums will be part of this year’s Record Store Day.

Annie Lennox will unveil an exhibition of her personal memorabilia, including belongings and items from her career on May 25 entitled “Now I Let You Go…” at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, MA. It will include hundreds of personal items in a site-specific installation consisting of an earthen berm stretching across two gallery spaces.

Lennox gives some background to the exhibit’s premise on the museum’s website: “The artefacts contained within the earthen mound — partially buried – partially excavated – have all played a part in my life.I have had a special connection to each item presented – a connection that has been hard to relinquish. In time, we will all disappear from this earth.This is our destiny.What will we leave behind? Who will remember us – and for how long?The mound is a glorious metaphor for the ultimate conclusion of all material manifestations.”

The exhibit will kick off with a special benefit event, ““An Afternoon of Conversation and Song with Annie Lennox,” with a reception and a special charity event to benefit The Annie Lennox Foundation’s philanthropic work, and MASS MoCA’s Fund for New Music, in support of emerging and mid-career musicians. Tickets for the special benefit, are on sale at www.massmoca.org/annie-lennox.

ESO Podcast, February 19: Heart Reunites, Go-Go’s to Showtime

Heart’s two-and-a-half year hiatus is coming to an end; the Wilson sisters have announced their Love Alive tour is scheduled to begin on July 9 in St. Louis and featuring Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Sheryl Crow and Brandi Carlile as special guests and Elle King and Lucie Silvis as openers. 

Both sisters say that the break has rejuvenated them; Nancy Wilson says that by 2016, when the band went on hiatus, she was feeling burned out but working with her other band, Roadcase Royale recharged her batteries. Of course, the break was precipitated by an ugly family incident when Ann’s husband was arrested on charges of assaulting Nancy’s teenage sons in a backstage dispute. – something they say is in the past. If you’re cynical, you think that money had something to do with it, and it did help get the ball rolling, but that’s a good thing: Ann had said last September that she’d like to restart the band, and a huge offer was made last fall that kind of jump-started talks between the two, so…win-win.

It’s looking like it’s the right time for this tour for a lot of reasons. Female artists are beginning to flex their muscle and experience a higher profile in the industry, and Nancy Wilson says, “I think this year is a good year to show the collective impact of some powerful women in music. We would usually steer clear of the female-centric concept, but in the light of current events it seems like the right statement at the right time.” 

Also: Late this year, Showtime will premiere a documentary about the first all-female act to write and perform on a No. 1 album: The Go-Go’s. 

And lastly, we talked about Aerosmith on the podcast a couple of weeks ago, and a new book is out entitled “Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song That Changed American Music Forever” by Geoff Edgers that looks at the track hat brought hip-hop to the mainstream.

ESO Podcast, February 5: Peter Jackson Re-cut of “Let It Be”

January 30 was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ legendary final concert on the London rooftop of Apple records. The footage we know of that event is part of 55 hours of 16mm video and 140 hours of audio shot by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg during the recording of “Let It Be.” The documentary that resulted was only released on Laserdisc and VHS and is now out of print.

But director Peter Jackson is now on board with a long-rumored new documentary using that footage that he describes as “…fascinating…funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate.” It’s expected to be released next year to coincide with the 50thanniversary of the album’s release and is being made with the full cooperation of McCartney, Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. 

As per the wishes of Paul and Ringo, the new documentary will present a more upbeat picture of those sessions, which the original film presented as tense and dramatic, an image that’s lasted ever since. Jackson says “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth.” Among the many hours of outtakes is footage of the band jamming on cover tunes and a few originals that didn’t come out until “Abbey Road” and some of the post-Beatle solo albums. 

The release will be followed at a still-to-be-announced date by the re-release of the original version. 

ESO Podcast, Week of January 21: Chris Cornell Remembered, Bryan Ferry on tour, and “Africa” in Africa…Forever.

From the ESO Network podcast, week of January 21:

“I Am the Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell” took place January 16th at the Forum in L.A. and it’s already being called the concert event of the year.  “Star studded” is kind of a cliché, but this show truly was, with Jimmy Kimmel hosting and members of  Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Melvins, Audioslave, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Ryan Adams. Guest vocalists included Miley Cyrus, Fiona Apple, Chris Stapleton, Miguel and Adam Levine.  The celebrity guest list was diverse, with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, Courtney Cox and many others.

Highlights of the five-hour event included Black Hole Sun sung by Brandi Carlile with Peter Frampton in guitar. Miley Cyrus got cheers for her version of Say Hello 2 Heaven and Adam Levine did likewise for “Seasons.” Proceeds from the evening benefited the EBMRF (Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation).

Bryan Ferry, part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 with Roxy Music, is going on a North American solo tour this summer that will showcase that band’s iconic 1982 album Avalon as well the singer’s own solo work and Roxy Music hits.  It starts July 30th at Toronto’s Sony Centre and runs through September 5th in Vancouver.

And now “Africa” will play in Africa, forever. An artist named Max Siedentopf has set up a solar-powered sound installation in the Namibian desert called “Toto Forever.” You can check it out at totoforever.com. Six white blocks support six speakers and a solar-powered MP3 player that contains only that song. It’s all powered by solar batteries that theoretically will run forever. Unless Mother Nature takes revenge.

“[I] wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit ‘Africa’ in Africa,” the 27-year-old artist told the BBC. “Some [Namibians] love it and some say it’s probably the worst sound installation ever. I think that’s a great compliment.”




ESO Podcast: Ryan Adams and A Rush Reunion

Tie-in for the ESO podcast for the week of January 14, 2019:

Ryan Adams didn’t release an album in 2018 but he’s making up for it: he’s teased no less than three albums for 2019, and the title and cover art are all ready for the first one, called Big Colors and due April 19 with 15 tracks – the first single’s called “Doylestown Girl” and it was released last week for airplay by Pennsylvania radio stations only. A second song, called “Manchester,” has just followed. The second album will be called Wednesdays; it has 17 tracks including collaborations with Jason Isbell, Emmylou Harris and Benmont Tench III.

Sleater-Kinney has announced their next album will drop in 2019 and is being produced by St. Vincent.

If you’re a Rush fan, you’ll want to head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland on Saturday January 19 for Rush Fan Day, with a new exhibit of Lee’s basses from the collection he’s put together over 40-plus years, a Hall of Fame Series interview with Lee hosted by Alex Lifeson at noon, a book signing with Lee at 1 p.m., and a rebroadcast of Rush’s Hall of Fame Induction.

The event focuses on Geddy Lee’s new book, entitled “Geddy Lee’s Big Book of Beautiful Bass.” It’s a 408-page coffee table book that looks at Lee’s collection and also features interviews from other musicians, including Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, U2’s Adam Clayton, Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Primus’ Les Claypool and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and includes a graphic timeline of the bass guitar.

Tickets to the event are $125 for the general public and include admission to the Museum and all exhibits including the Lee bass collection, the Lee interview and exclusive signing, a commemorative credential and a copy of the book, which retails for $75. See, all worth going to Cleveland in January.