The recent development in Haiti would appear that more than 200,000 have been killed due to the earthquake in Haiti. I write this because it is all the more imperative why I write this article.
Over the years I have sat and listened to countless R.E.M. bootlegs. Countless moments where Michael Stipe would tell the audience that as they were leaving to visit the booths that were set up on the way out of the venue. These “Booths” were set up as a means for the public to become proactive and be informed.
Now, I never thought that the band did this to improve their shtick among fans. It was never a public relations gesture, a moment where you could just say, ‘Wow, those guys in R.E.M. are awesome because they support such great things as the environment, old buildings, progressive causes. Hot, damn, I think I will go and buy their album.”
To be honest they genuinely care about the issues they support and by putting their name around a project they are supporting that cause as well. Of course they are quite aware that having a fanbase they can promote those causes, both directly and indirectly.
As fans, we should not just blindly support causes cause Michael Stipe says to. But I do not think that the cause is the issue here. The question has never been about not giving money to Haiti but rather ruining a song.
Independent Lens on PBS recently broadcast a nice program about ‘Copyright Criminals, Can You Own a Sound’.
What is your opinion of music that is sampled? Before you answer that, I want you to listen to this. It’s the first part of the ‘Grey Album’ by DJ Dangermouse, a mash up of Jay-Z and the Beatles.
Independent Lens on PBS had a good episode on “Copyright Criminals” dealing with the sampling issues in hip hop, and other genres. Sampling is simply the idea of using a borrowed sound or recording and using it in a different recording, as in the example above.
What the ethical question of course the program revolves around is the legal aspect of taking that recording and using it in a different recording. Who owns that sample, which might only be a second or two.
That could be the only explanation for having this little ad make its way to the television.
I am not sure that there is a hardline policy that bands should follow when allowing their music to be used in advertisements. In some cases, I would argue that the properly placed song with the perfect product is alright, such as the use of U2's ‘Vertigo’ to promote the Ipod.
‘Bad’ is a different story. The song, as told by Bono on countless live shows, related to heroin addiction. So for it to be offered in such a fashion makes me want to counter with “WTF”. Does Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have a drug problem that we were not aware of?
While the lyrics might not suggest that the song is about Heroin, the fact that Bono has provided that nugget of detail to U2 fans everywhere, you would have to wonder who in the U2 camp dropped the ball on this one. Or are they so hard up for money they will try to attract NASCAR Dads with this promo.
What bugs me is that the song turned from being one of my favorite U2 songs to one that bleeds of cynicism now.
For those that are not aware, Simon Cowell, of American Idol (and other reality entertainment show) fame has arranged to have R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts to be covered by a slew of all-star musicians and acts.
In reading the reaction on Murmurs left me pretty sick to my stomach. It’s very difficult to pick out a winner from all the reactions from fans.
“Everybody Hurts may well be murdered by Cowell's ego”
“On a purely selfish note, this will probably bring REM a lot of exposure to a new generation of music buyers.”
“I'm very torn about this... do the ends justify the means??”
“I cannot help but think that the 'Stars' who have signed up for this are also doing it for their own egos.”
Of course there is plenty of reaction to the actual singers that are performing on this which I have chosen not to add.
R.E.M., for all it’s said and done is a progressive act that for the last, what will almost be 30 years, has supported either publicly or not so much social causes both with their own money and to raise awareness for those causes. Putting their support behind a cause like this is noble and should not be taken any other way.
We have begun a new year and as I stare at photos of the lead singer known as Stipe, I am noticing that we have another thing in common and that is that we both have beards. His has a fair amount of gray in his; mine is still brown-black saving the gray for my temples. He is balding, I need a haircut. He’s wearing glasses. Mine are in a case somewhere. He is 50. I am 37. We both know the lyrics to Driver 8.
However, the staring is just staring and not any ‘longing’. Staring at him and then a white screen wondering what I am going to write about next.
It is not just any new year but the beginning of another decade (although not technically but that is for another site).
Of course if you have been reading this site in the recent past you would admit that things have been pretty quiet around here. If I was Johnny Rotten I might say, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
Honestly, I do too although I am not sure you can just sit to write. I do not get paid to be a fan, the home office is not on speed dial; I do not get backstage tickets, no free albums, no gimmes or anything, but rather when I do this it’s my little place.
Hitting submit on an R.E.M. post is knowing that somewhere out there, a bot is looking for it and wants to respond with a Viagra advertisement and that I find pretty humerous that I am probably talking to more “Code” than anything.
If there is any good reason to give money to a legitimate media source, NPR should be your choice. On top of being impressive on the news circuit, currently they are also streaming, R.E.M. Live At The Olympia.
For the past 15 years or so, R.E.M.'s willingness to dig deep in their catalog could be aptly compared to being shackled to your bed while your partner tortures you...sexually of course. Their live setlists often feature the songs at the shows you don't attend and jealousy persists when they talk about their former lovers (setlists of prior years). Of course, if the band chose to perform such an act it would result in premature ejaculation on your part which would offer no satisfaction to the band. In this release, the shackles are removed and we are graced with an amazing release.
As I have been listening to this album, I am finding very little wrong with it so far. The small errors in the performances give the album some heart, reminding listeners that in the early days, R.E.M. was not about precision but reckless abandon, while the "Whirling Dervish" Michael Stipe would parade onstage. While Stipe is not the W. Dervish that he once was, the band does give listeners a glimpse into soundtracks of the misfits of Generation X. Sure, they are not the band from 1983, but the songs are not treated as some prepackaged tchotchke from China. They do not sound overly rehearsed but very fresh and unique.
Let's just say that before Michael Stipe and R.E.M. formed, he felt a need to ask Vanessa Briscoe Hay, her permission to start up a band. This was probably in part due to Michael's being uber shy and secondly, his admiration for this fellow Athenian band.
Pylon has achieved cult status amongst music fans and this rerelease is a must. Chomp is now available both on CD as well as digitally. It is also the album that 'Crazy', a song that R.E.M. covered ended up appearing on. Check out Athensmusic.net to purchase or you can also get it at Itunes.
If you live in the Chicago area you are aware that autumn seems to be starting early this year. I remember two years ago that the Chicago Marathon was run in 90 degree temps. It felt like Summer, at one point having to have it cut short because of the dangerous temperatures. This year, you can smell the crisp cool air as a prelude to the winter months.
Michael Stipe to Produce Barry Manilow Movie
Part of me wants to run for cover and the other part of me actually has to appreciate it considering that I grew up in a household where my mother played Barry Manilow all the time. His songbook is etched in my memory as part of the 70’s, along with the Six Million Dollar Man, CHIPs, All in the Family, and as far as music is concerned, Dolly Parton and Saturday Night Fever come to mind. Stipe and Single Cell will be looking into developing a movie based on the music of Barry Manilow.
And possibly with a ‘Love Actually’ feel to it, it could work out. Stay tuned.
CIAO My Shining Star – The Songs of Mark Mulcahy
Sometimes I appreciate the tribute to music of the lesser known stars. A U2 “Tribute” record is surely not going to have anyone respect or admire or educate a band about U2. Now there might be small thought that it would be nice to have “Lemon” as a polka song but all in all, tribute albums work much better pitting famous artists and their lesser known icons.
What are you talking about?
The Minus 5 came out with another new album this year?
Well actually they did, sorta. For those that are going to the Baseball Project/Minus 5/Steve Wynn IV shows, there is a cover CD that is being sold at the concession area containing 17 covers done by the Minus 5. This CD according to Scott is not going to be sold in stores, over the internet, at your local grocery store, etc., so unless you are at a show you will NOT be able to acquire this.
‘Butcher Covered’ feels equal parts ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ and ‘In Rock’; an eclectic mix of a few hits such as a deconstructed version of Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘That Smell’, and some Minus 5 favorites including The Modern Lover’s ‘Government Center’. The CD offers a glimpse into some of the bands that have inspired Scott McCaughey and I would imagine Peter Buck over the years, a wide array of talents stretching all the way from the 60s till today.
As I write this brief review, one of the challenges has been to attempt to figure out what songs are actually on the CD. Due to a grand total of 0 liner notes, the song titles, performers, etc. are in many cases left up to the imagination of the listener. In some respects that is a good thing because the songs feel more than just a cover version but rather a Minus 5 original.