Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012: VVN Music

Looking back, 2012 has been a pretty great year for music. We've had some truly innovative and artistic albums from artists of all ages and, for the first time in many years, we would have to say the modern artists have lead the way.

Yes, this site is about celebrating the lives and music of the veteran artists of music, but we have the chance to review albums from all eras of artists and, when we hear something outstanding, it's important to expose the music to the world.

As always, we don't really want to call this the "Best" of the year as there are tens of thousands of albums released and we only have the chance to really hear a fraction of them. That's why we prefer to call this a list of our favorite albums of the year, the works that moved us, got us singing along and/or made us sit and listen in wonder at the great craftsmanship.
  1. The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More That Ropes Will Ever Do - Fiona Apple - The album that had it all, deep, moving lyrics, quirky arrangements and a wide variety of genres, proving that Apple may not be prolific but, when she does release an album, she makes every second count.

  2. Grand Hotel - The Explorers Club - The greatest album of sixties music not during that decade, this group understands everything that made the music great and have managed to create an album of all new music that you would swear you heard in your youth.

  3. Halcyon - Ellie Goulding - Goulding has managed to mature from a pop chanteuse to a writer of deep lyrics and performer in a mature style in the span of just one album, one of the biggest (and most pleasant) surprises of the year.

  4. Some Nights - fun. - Anthemic, hook-filled music featuring the amazing voice of Nate Reuss, their huge hits are joined seven (eight if you include the bonus track) more songs that are just as infectious. 

  5. That's Why God Made the Radio Beach Boys - The album that everyone thought was impossible, a well-written, well-crafted and perfectly-performed work by the men we never thought would get along well enough to ever commit it to tape.

  6. Boys and Girls - Alabama Shakes - Give Britney Howard the award for the most amazing new voice in music as she belts through the group's wonderful synthesis of rock and Stax-style R&B.

  7. Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran - Jamey Johnson - The best country album of the year, this tribute to the great songwriter Hank Cochran includes many of his biggest hits as sung by Johnson and such greats as George Strait, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello and Bobby Bare.

  8. The Bright Side - Meiko - Commercial, thoroughly enjoyable album from a voice you've heard on dozen's of TV shows but never knew. 

  9. Wrecking Ball Bruce Springsteen - This one has moved up the list from mid-year as each listen has shown new layers and the real greatness of the album, one dedicated to righting many of the wrongs at this point in history in America.

  10. Someday - Susanna Hoffs - Hoffs was born about forty years too late as her true sole lives in the music of the 60's that she loves. Like Explorers Club, this album would fit as well in the summer of 1966 as it does today.

  11. + - Ed Sheeran - One of the outstanding new singer-songwriters out of England, Sheeran has a gorgeous voice and a way of writing accessible music that should keep him in the public eye for many years to come. 

  12. Americana - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - It so easily could have been a total farce, but Young and Crazy Horse managed to resurrect some of America's greatest songs in quirky new arrangements that made us here them with more understanding then ever before. 

  13. Little Broken Hearts - Norah Jones - Working with DangerMouse may have been one of the most daring things this darling of piano pop ever tried and it was, for the most part, a triumph, creating a whole new dimension to Jones' music without completely removing her laid back style.

  14. Live at Carnegie Hall - Caetano Veloso & David Byrne - Who would have thought that a Brazilian singer with Bossa Nova stylings and one of America's quirkiest, most endearing artists would ever be able to blend their styles and cover each other's music so beautifully.

  15. My Valentine - Paul McCartney - Absolutely not the vanity project that some expected, Paul McCartney's foray into the music of his youth (and before) made for one of the nicest listening albums of the year, from the brilliance of the songs to the perfectly restrained singing by Paul to the wonderful arrangements by Diana Krall.

  16. Love This Giant - David Byrne and St. Vincent - What can we say? This has been a great year artistically for David Byrne as he once again joins with another artist, in this case Annie Clark, in a strange but infectious mix of rhythms, horns and quirky vocals.

  17. Bodyparts - Dragonette - When is the music world going to finally give this great electro-pop group their due? Best known for their collaboration with Martin Solveig on Hello, Bodyparts (their third album) is another infectious group of songs that are as fun as they are danceable. 

  18. Slipstream - Bonnie Raitt - Raitt returns to form, sounding her best since the days of Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw after a number of years of middling material. Here, she mixes it up well, style wise and sounds like she has been reinvigorated after taking seven years off.

  19. Red - Taylor Swift - One of the surprises of the year, Swift continues in her self-biographical mode but the addition of songwriting partners and moves into a much larger variety of genres (calling it a country album is really stretching it) makes this one of the more interesting albums of the year.

  20. Any Given Day - Emily Hurd - A late entry into the year's offerings, Any Given Day showcases the singer's sultry, bluesy voice. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chart Watch Britain: Almost Every Album By a Veteran Artist Drops; Neil Diamond Stays in the Top Ten


In the week after the holidays, it was straight down for every album by a veteran artist except two.

Neil Diamond stays in the top ten with his Very Best of Neil Diamond, which drop 5 to 9.


All told,  eight albums by veteran artists dropped out of the top 100 while, of the 14 albums left, 12 dropped. Only Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits (79 to 77) and Queen's Greatest Hits (85 to 82) went up.

Chart of January 5, 2013 

Top 100 Albums

TW LW Title Artist
1 1 Our Version of Events Emile Sande
2 2 Right Place Right Time Olly Murs
3 6 Unapologetic Rihanna
4 3 Christmas Michael Buble
5 4 Unorthodox Jukebox Bruno Mars
9 5 Very Best of Neil Diamond Neil Diamond
12 8 Merry Christmas Baby Rod Stewart
19 13 Grrr! Rolling Stones
36 21 The Golden Age of Song Jools Holland and His R&B Orchestra
40 28 The Abbey Road Sessions Kylie Minogue
43 24 Celebration Day Led Zeppelin
44 26 The War of the Worlds: New Generation Jeff Wayne
51 31 Storyteller: The Complete Anthology Rod Stewart
56 32 Mythology Bee Gees
71 52 Live at River Plate AC/DC
74 58 I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston Whitney Houston
77 79 Greatest Hits Simon & Garfunkel
82 85 Greatest Hits Queen
94 59 American Soul Mick Hucknall
    Dropped Out:  
X 68 The Ultimate Collection Michael Crawford
X 77 Some Guys Have All the Luck Rod Stewart
X 79 Songs From the Movies and More Daniel O'Donnell
X 82 The Jazz Age Bryan Ferry Orchestra
X 87 Greatest Hits Bon Jovi
X 93 Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da Madness
X 96 Private Investigations: The Best of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler
X 99 Gold: Greatest Hits ABBA

Tops on the other British Charts (#1 Followed by top veteran artist):
Chart Number 1 Top Veteran
Singles Impossible - James Arthur 32. Fairytale of New York - Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl
R&B Albums Unapologetic - Rihanna 16. I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston
R&B Singles Scream and Shout - Featuring Britney Spears None
Country Albums Need You Now - Lady Antebellum 12. Ashes and Roses - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Country Compilation Albums Ring of Fire: The Legend of Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash 01. Ring of Fire: The Legend of Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash
Rock Albums The 2nd Law - Muse  02. Celebration Day - Led Zeppelin
Rock Singles Back in Black - AC/DC 01. Back in Black - AC/DC
Dance Singles Don't You Worry Child - Swedish House Mafia and John Martin None
Catalog Albums Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons 13. The War of the Worlds - Jeff Wayne
Catalog Singles Fairytale of New York - Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl 01. Fairytale of New York - Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl

Kate Bush and Stella McCartney Among Those Named on the Queen's New Year's Honours List

Kate Bush and Stella McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney, have been named on the Queen's New Year’s Honours list.

Kate Bush has received the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to music. “I feel deeply honoured to be in this list. I’m really delighted. Thanks to everyone,” she said in a statement.

Stella McCartney, the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney, received the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her work in fashion design. Her father’s first royal honour was in 1965 when the four Beatles received the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent order of the British Empire). John Lennon returned his medal in 1969 as a protest of the Vietnam War.

Other awarded included actors Adrian Lester and Ewen MacGregor, comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd and violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Reggae's Lloyd Charmers Dies at 66

Lloyd Charmers, one of reggae's most important stars, passed away on Thursday from a massive heart attack while driving his car in London.

Charmers was born in Kingston, Jamaica and was born in 1946.

His first band was The Sweet Charmers with friend Roy Wilson at age 15. In 1966 he joined The Flames and contributed to songs like Rock Steady and Duke of Earl.

Next came time with Keith ‘Slim’ Smith and Martin and Jimmy Riley in The Uniques and a string of UK hits for the Tramp label.

In 1969 he started his own record label Splash and became a producer.

Charmers recorded the song Birth Control which proceeded to get an x-rating and was banned from airplay but was revived years later by The Specials on their 1979 hit Too Much Too Young.

Lloyd Charmers died on December 27, 2012. Prior to his heart attack he had shown no signs of ill-health. He was rushed to Homerton Hospital in East London but pronounced dead on arrival.

A complete obituary to Lloyd Charmers can be found here in the Trojan Records website.

Preview: Solitude Standing: Live at the Barbican - Suzanne Vega

Artist: Suzanne Vega
Title: Solitude Standing: Live at the Barbican
Release Date: February 18, 2013
Label: Concerts Live
Format(s): CD, DD

Suzanne Vega celebrated the 25th anniversary of her album Solitude Standing with a live concert at London's Barbican on October 16, 2012. The live recording was originally available through the Concerts Live site, but will now be given a general release in Europe on February 18.

The concert is broken into two halves. The first is the anniversary performance of Solitude Standing in its entirety. The second half was performances of some of Vega's best known music from the other albums released throughout her career.

At this time, there are no announcements of a U.S. release; however, the album should be available through Amazon as an import.

Track List:

Disc One
  • Tom’s Diner
  • Luka
  • Ironbound / Fancy Poultry
  • In The Eye
  • Night Vision
  • Solitude Standing
  • Calypso
  • Language
  • Gypsy
  • Wooden Horse / Caspar Hauser’s Song
Disc Two
  • Marlene On The Wall
  • Left Of Center
  • Tombstone
  • Blood Makes Noise
  • The Queen And The Soldier
  • Some Journey
  • Tom’s Diner (Reprise)
  • Caramel
  • In Liverpool
  • Rosemary

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Emmylou Harris Investigated for October Hit and Run

On October 1, Emmylou Harris was driving a rental car on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles when she allegedly bumped another car on the road and kept driving without stopping to exchange information or report the accident.

The California Highway Patrol became involved after the driver of the other car reported the incident and the investigation has finally been completed and sent to the Los Angeles district attorney who will decide whether to file charges on Harris.

TMZ talked with Harris' attorney who said that the singer had a "minor traffic accident" and "unintentionally rubbed bumpers with another vehicle." The lawyer also called it a "garden-variety accident that happens everyday on the 405"; however, he failed to mention that not stopping for such an accident is crime.

PETA U.K. Names Brian May Person of the Year

Queen's Brian May can add the title of PETA U.K.'s Person of the Year to his long list of accomplishments. He is being recognized by the group for his list of accomplishments and his efforts to stop the government from killing tens of thousands of badgers in the British countryside.

His group, Save Me, formed Team Badger alongside PETA and other animal protection groups to combat the ill-conceived plan to slaughter Britain's badgers ' a plan that May accurately called "scientifically unsound" and "monstrous".

May passionately spoke out against the plan through social media, on TV, and the radio and in newspapers, saying, "I think the human race has a very bad way of dealing with the rest of the creatures on this planet .. [T]hey put no value at all on a badger which is a wonderful, sentient being".

May has explained his passion for defending Britain's wildlife: "I suppose I've lived a crazy life, and watching wildlife brings back a sense of tranquillity. When I'm gone, people will no doubt remember me for Queen, but I would much rather be remembered for attempting to change the way we treat our fellow creatures". A long-time vegan advocate, May shares his Surrey home with a wildlife sanctuary, where he helps to rehabilitate injured badgers, hedgehogs, owls and other animals.

"In his fight to save Britain's badgers, Brian May never backed down: he spread his message of compassion for animals through everything he said, wrote and even wore until the world sat up and paid attention", says PETA's Mimi Bekhechi. "His tenacity and boldness are an inspiration to kind people everywhere."

PETA UK's Person of the Year Award is given each year to those who embody kindness and determination as they effect positive change for animals. Previous recipients include Morrissey (2011), Pamela Anderson (2010) and Sir Roger Moore (2009).

Watch: Official Video for Adam Ant's Cool Zombie

Adam Ant is back for the first time in 18 years on January 22 with the album Adam Ant is the Blueblack Husser in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter.

According to Ant's YouTube page, the video depicts the story of Adam's return to London after having lived in Tennessee. The video was produced by Ant and Adam Ross and was shot in one day at Hoxton Hall, a Victorian music hall, in Shoreditch, East London, England.

Lita Ford Points to Joan Jett as the Holdup For a Runaways Reunion

Lita Ford did a lot of work over the summer to bring the original members of the Runaways back together, including a dinner with Joan Jett, the first time the two had talked in three decades.

Ford talked to about her plans for 2013 including the possibility for that reunion:
"I can't get a yes or no out of Joan. So I've kind of thrown in the towel. It's now or never. I would love it, but for some reason, I don't know why, it's Joan's camp. The ball is in her camp. It's up to them."
Even if it doesn't come together, Ford will have a very busy year with the publication of her autobiography, Living Like a Runaway, a live album and a tour.
"We've got the Monsters of Rock Cruise ( - that's going to be pretty awesome. That's March, and it's through the Bahamas. And then we're going to be playing in Scandinavia in the summer of 2013, and the US."
To read the whole interview, including Lita's encounter with Led Zeppelin, go to Bravewords.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: The Life of Riley (Soundtrack) - B.B. King

by Andy Snipper

I simply cannot stress how much the sound of B.B. King has been there at the heart of all my history with Blues. I have strayed – John Lee Hooker, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Green, all heroes – but simply cuing up The Thrill Is Gone or Every Day I Have The Blues serves to remind me why I started listening to this music in the first place.

The movie that this is the soundtrack for is immense and charts far more than the history of a Blues musician. King was there all through the hardest times and the he has an intimate understanding of what the Blues is all about. A track like Nobody Love Me But My Mother could sound maudlin until you get the kicker – “but she could be jivin’ too” – now you get a sight of the Blues!

The music on this soundtrack serves as rather more than a ‘best of’ but it does give you all the different sounds of Blues Boy King from his raw Blues to the cabaret and soulful songs like To Know You Is To Love You and chucks in some of the great live material from the Regal theatre – his Live At The Regal Theatre is generally reckoned to be THE essential album for any aspiring Blues player to have in his collection and I cannot disagree.

If this was a ‘best of ... ‘ then I could pick holes in the running order but it is a soundtrack and follows the movie in playing order so it doesn’t fail on that.

You do get a wonderful feeling of the depth of the man’s music here as well as the incredible guitar playing – he picks with all the soul in the world and on a track such as 3 O’Clock Blues he captures you from the off without any of the histrionics of Freddie or Albert King (no relations) – just perfectly played and totally encapsulating the feel of that time of the night. Catfish Blues (Fishing After Me) has a real bounce and as his voice bellows out the lines you can imagine the prideful bull calling his women to his side and proclaiming his mastery over the littler catfish.

The soundtrack is worth owning as a great example of the career one of the greats and as a fabulous album in iots own right but get the movie as well to really get to the heart and history of the man.

Robert Zemeckis Ends Quest to Remake Yellow Submarine

There's some good news as we reach the end of 2012. Director Robert Zemeckis has decided not to do a remake of the Beatles Yellow Submarine.

The Back To The Future director had planned to remake The Beatles’ animated classic but told Total Film “it’s probably better not to be remade”.

Zemeckis was originally going to remake the movie with Disney but they pulled out of the project in 2011. He then had the rights to take the movie to other studios but has now dropped the project completely.

The original movie was restored for DVD this year.

Robert Zemeckis and The Beatles company Apple Corps were planning on using new technology to remake Yellow Submarine with the same animations used in Zemeckis’ Beowulf: A Christmas Carol.

16 Beatles songs were selected for the new movie soundtrack and actors Cary Elwes, Dean Lennox Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz and Adam Campbell were chosen to play the Fab 4.

Chart Watch America: 121212 Debuts at 9; Veteran Artists Top Digital, Hard Rock, Jazz and Reggae Albums; Adult Contemporary and Jazz Songs

For possibly the last week, Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby is the biggest selling album by a veteran artist in the U.S., dropping from only 5 to 6.

Debuting high is the concert album taken from the 121212 benefit concert with artists like Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Roger Waters and Bon Jovi. It opens at 9 on the Albums and 3 on the Rock Albums. It is also the only album by a veteran artist(s) to debut this week.

As Christmas albums start to drop off the charts, some perennials return from the Beatles (1, Abbey Road), Led Zeppelin (Mothership) and Willie Nelson (Super Hits).

Veteran artists currently top the Digital Albums (121212), Adult Contemporary Songs (Rod Stewart), Hard Rock Albums (Led Zeppelin), Jazz Albums (Tony Bennett), Jazz Songs (Bob James) and Reggae (Bob Marley & the Wailers) charts.

Veteran Artist Index for
January 5, 2013:
-316 (-11.9%)
High: 3863
(w/o 6/30/12)
Low: 1724
(w/o 10/20/12)

The Veteran Artist Index tracks the impact of albums by veteran artists on the Billboard Top 200. Any album that is by or, in the case of soundtracks and various artists albums, has a majority of track by artists who have been recording for 25 years or more is included in the index. Points are awarded on a reverse basis with a number 1 album receiving 200 points and a number 200 album receiving 1 point.

The top selling album/track by a veteran artist is marked in red. New entries by veteran artists are marked with an N and shown in blue. Reentries are marked with an R and are shown in green.

Chart Date January 5, 2013


Top 200 Albums
TW LW Title Artist
1 1 Red Taylor Swift
2 N Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head T.I.
3 2 Unorthodox Jukebox Bruno Mars
4 4 Take Me Home One Direction
5 3 Christmas Michael Buble
6 5 Merry Christmas, Baby Rod Stewart
9 N 12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief Various Artists
20 22 Celebration Day Led Zeppelin
50 50 Grrr! Rolling Stones
65 53 A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack Vince Guaraldi Trio
87 89 Music From Another Dimension Aerosmith
88 65 It's Christmas Time Elvis Presley
99 88 I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston Whitney Houston
102 96 King Animal Soundgarden
107 76 Christmas Symphony Mannheim Steamroller With Members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
111 90 Viva Duets Tony Bennett
117 R 1 Beatles
118 110 This Christmas John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
129 103 James Taylor at Christmas James Taylor
134 140 The Legend of Johnny Cash Johnny Cash
138 R 2112 Rush
142 151 Under the Mistletoe Various Artists (Starbucks Exclusive)
148 156 Psychedelic Pill Neil Young & Crazy Horse
153 114 Christmas Portrait Carpenters
156 106 The Christmas Song Nat King Cole
160 102 Best of Temptations Christmas Temptations
163 125 White Christmas Bing Crosby
169 R Tempest Bob Dylan
172 R Abbey Road Beatles
175 192 Release Me Barbra Streisand
176 178 Live at River Plate AC/DC
184 R Super Hits Willie Nelson
185 183 Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits Creedence Clearwater Revival Featuring John Fogerty
186 R Bad: 25 Michael Jackson
187 126 Once Upon a Christmas Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
188 R Mothership Led Zeppelin
192 195 Time Out Dave Brubeck Quartet
198 120 One Wish: The Holiday Album Whitney Houston
199 153 Chipmunks Christmas Alvin & the Chipmunks
Dropped Out:
X 136 Christmas Classics Bing Crosby
X 149 Christmas Celebration Mannheim Steamroller
X 157 Elvis Christmas Elvis Presley
X 165 The Best of Bing Crosby: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection Bing Crosby
X 176 The Classic Christmas Album Kenny G
X 180 Holiday Collection Kenny G
X 181 Christmas Spirit Richard Marx
X 185 The Classic Christmas Album Elvis Presley
X 191 A Christmas Album Barbra Streisand
X 194 The Classic Christmas Album Luther Vandross
X 199 Christmas: 25th Anniversary Mannheim Steamroller
X 200 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Burl Ives

The balance of the American charts are after the cut.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Queensryche's Randy Gane Suffers Heart Attack

Queensryche (Gane, middle back)
Randy Gane, the keyboard player for the version of Queensryche headed by Geoff Tate, suffered a heart attack on December 26. His condition is currently unknown.

53-year old Gane is part of Geoff Tate’s new version of Queensryche. Singer Tate was fired from the band in June, 2012. He claimed he was wrongfully terminated from the group and filed a lawsuit. The judge then decided that both Tate and Queensyche could use the name. In September, Tate formed his own version of Queensryche with Randy Gane on keyboards, who he had played with in Myth in the early 80s.

Tate announced, “With this new project, with these new people, it’s a whole new scene. There are new ideas, different musical backgrounds and a whole new set of parameters. Everyone has ideas you haven’t heard before, and everyone is throwing them against the wall and suddenly … the music has a whole new life”.

Tate’s Queensryche is planning to perform the Operation: Mindcrime album on tour from April 2013 to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the album.

Fontella Bass (1940 - 2012)

Soul singer Fontella Bass, who scored a major hit in the middle of the British invasion with Rescue Me, passed away on Wednesday at a St. Louis hospice where she was being treated for a heart attack suffered three weeks ago. She was 72.

St. Louis was Bass' home town where she proved to be a musical prodigy, playing piano for her grandmother's performances at five and singing in the church choir at six. Her mother, gospel singer Martha Bass, had her touring with her at the age of nine throughout the south and southwest.

By her mid-teens, Bass had taken up singing secular music, eventually becoming a regular at the Showboat Club in Chain of Rocks, MO. While playing with the Leon Claxton carnival show, she was heard by Little Milton and his bandleader Oliver Sain who hired her to play piano for the band and, in time, a vocal spot in their shows.

When Milton and Sain split, Bass went with Sain's group where she stayed for two years before signing with Chess Records where she was paired with Bobby McClure for a series of duets, including Don't Mess Up a Good Thing (1965/#5 R&B/#33 Pop).

Later in 1965, she went into the studio as a solo artist and recorded Rescue Me which soared to the top of the R&B chart and reached number 4 on the Hot 100, giving Chess Records their first million seller in almost a decade. She followed with Recovery (1966/#13 R&B/#37 Pop) and a few more minor hits before leaving Chess in 1967 over a royalty dispute over the songwriting credits for Rescue Me.

The dispute soured her prospects in the music business so she and her husband moved to Paris in 1969 where she recorded two albums with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Additional attempts to break back into the business failed and she retired in 1972 to raise her family.

In 1990, she came out of retirement to record a gospel album with members of her family and continued to occassionally record as a guest with artists like the World Saxophone Quartet and The Cinematic Orchestra. She also saw a revival of her original sound through the PBS oldies specials.

Starting six years ago, Bass started having a series of strokes which led to the recent heart attack.

Bass is survived by her four children.

Mike Scaccia of Ministry and Rigor Mortis Died From Heart Attack; Memorial Scheduled

The official coroner's report has been issued on the death of Mike Scaccia of the bands Ministry and Rigor Mortis. Scaccia collapsed on stage Saturday night while playing in Fort Worth, TX.

The guitarist had just asked for the strobe lights to be turned off when he passed out. Some in the crowd reported him shaking, leading some to believe that he had a seizure due to the lights but the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled that Scaccia died from a heart attack. The report noted that he had been suffering from heart disease and that the death was from natural causes.

The memorial for Scaccia has been scheduled for Sunday, December 30 at 3:00 PM at the Aristide Event Center, 570 North Walnut Creek Drive, Mansfield, TX.

A fundraising campaign has also been started for Scaccia's family by his Rigor Mortis bandmate Bruce Corbitt. "I've been giving the blessings to start an online Fundraiser for Mike Scaccia's Wife Jenny and their Kids. So I will be posting the link for that soon. Also, there will possibly be a Scaccia Tribute/Benefit Show put together for them to honor Mike and also raise money to help them. It could be as soon as this coming weekend."

Finally, the following has been posted to the Rigor Mortis Facebook page:
If anyone would like to send a card or flowers to Jenny Scaccia or the Scaccia family, please send them to:

Mansfield Funeral Home
1556 Heritage Parkway
Mansfield, TX 76063

Preview: Electric - Richard Thompson

Artist: Richard Thompson
Title: Electric
Release Date: February 11, 2012 (U.K.), TBD (U.S.)
Label: Proper Music
Format(s): CD, 2-CD, Vinyl, DD

Declared by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time and considered one of the UK's most outstanding songwriters, musician Richard Thompson returns with a brand new, guitar driven record titled Electric for Proper Records on Monday, February 11th.

Richard's Electric Trio will be taking to the road for a major UK tour on Wednesday February 20th and will tour the USA starting in March.

Recipient of a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Mojo's Les Paul Award and curator of the prestigious Meltdown Festival at the Southbank in 2010, Thompson was most recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting by the Americana Music Association.

Thompson says of his fellow trio members: "Michael Jerome has been with me for about 12 years. He's actually from Texas; he is a great musician, able to respond to anything that's put in front of him. Taras Prodaniuk worked a lot with Dwight Yoakam, and more recently with Lucinda Williams. His roots may be in country music, but he's another extremely gifted and versatile musician."

Track List:
  • Stony Ground
  • Salford Sunday
  • Sally B
  • Stuck on the Treadmill
  • My Enemy
  • Good Things Happen To Bad People
  • Where's Home?
  • Another Small Thing In her Favour
  • Straight and Narrow
  • The Snow Goose
  • Saving The Good Stuff For You
Deluxe Version - Disc 2
  • Will You Dance, Charlie Boy
  • I Found A Stray
  • The Rival
  • The Tic-Tac Man
  • Auldie Riggs
  • Auldie Riggs Dance
  • So Ben Mi Ch'a Bon Tempo

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

R.I.P. Mothers of Inventions Co-Founder Ray Collins

Collins, 2011 (photo by Peter Barwick)
Ray Collins, who co-founded the Mothers of Invention, passed away on Monday in Pomona, CA at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. He had been admitted to the hospital on December 18 after a massive heart attack and was taken off life support on Saturday. He was 76.

Collins got his start singing his his high school choir and in a number of Los Angeles area doo wop groups starting in the late-50's, normally singing high falsetto. In 1964, Collins, Jimmy Carl Black, David Coronado, Ray Hunt and Roy Estrada formed the Soul Giants, a lineup that would only last until Ray and the group's guitarist, Hunt, got into a fight. Frank Zappa was asked to join in the guitarist's place and the group was eventually renamed the Mothers of Invention.

Collins was out in front of the Mothers, with Zappa, during their early years, including the albums Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. He left in early 1967 but returned for another year from September 1967 to August 1968 for the recording of Cruising With Ruben and the Jets. While not a regular member of the group in later years, he did occasionally contribute to their projects through the mid-70's. He would later say that he wanted to make more serious music and Zappa spent too much time on satire. 

For the rest of his life, Collins worked in a variety of jobs from taxi driver to dishwasher. He was living out of his van for the last eight years of his life.

Black Sabbath Album Finished; Tour Coming

After 35 years, it looks like we will soon be getting a new Black Sabbath album with Ozzy Osbourne.

At his official website, Tony Iommi has updated fans stating:
What a year! Certainly not the one I was expecting.

Thanks to you all for your massive help and support, it was very encouraging. I’m still working on the album and managed to play three shows, not bad given the news a year ago. I’m looking forward to next year, seeing what you think of the record and touring as much as we’re able.
Ozzy’s last album with Black Sabbath was Never Say Die in 1978. The relatively unsuccessful album only reached no. 69 in the USA. The album featured the original Black Sabbath line-up with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass and Bill Ward on drums.

The album contains A Hard Road, the only Black Sabbath song where all four members share vocals and the only song on which Tony Iommi has ever sung.

Since Never Say Die, the only new music from the original Black Sabbath line-up were the two studio songs Psycho Man and Selling My Soul included on the 2002 live album Reunion.

Never Say Die will remain the last album with the original line-up. While drummer Bill Ward was originally part of this current reunion, he elected to withdraw from the album and tour after a dispute with Sharon Osbourne.

Black Sabbath will begin their 2013 tour in Auckland, New Zealand on April 20.

My Bloody Valentine Readying First Album in 21 Years

Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine have announced that the band has finished mastering the material for a new EP, their first release of new material since 1991's Loveless.

Shields told NME that "I think with this record, people who like us will immediately connect with something. Based on the very, very few people who’ve heard stuff – some engineers, the band, and that’s about it – some people think it’s stranger than Loveless. I don’t. I feel like it really frees us up, and in the bigger picture it’s 100 per cent necessary."

The band has only released two full length albums, 1988's Isn't Anything and 1991's Loveless, but were very active in putting out two mini albums and seven EP's between 1985 and 1991. After their last release, they signed with Island Records but never delivered a complete album. Shields, in his words, went "crazy" while the other members of the group went their separate ways.

My Bloody Valentine reunited in 2007 and have since played a number of festivals along with other dates, leading to the interview with NME and the announcement on the band's Facebook page saying "On 21-12-12 we finished mastering the new album!"

The release date is unknown but the band has said in the past that they will self-release on their website, so it could be almost anytime.

Best of 2012: Spinner Songs, Pitchfork Tracks, CMT Americana Albums, Rolling Stone Reader's Poll

A few publications have been straggling in with their top tracks and albums lists for 2012 so here is a wrap up from Spinner, Pitchfork, CMT and Rolling Stones Readers.

At Spinner, Leonard Cohen is the highest placing veteran at number 11 with Going Home from his album Old Ideas. Also making the list are soul survivor Lee Fields, Neil Young and Crazy Horse with their 16-minute epic Walk Like a Giant, and the quirky lead single from St. Vincent and David Byrne's album Love That Giant.

Spinner's Top 50 Tracks of 2012
  • 01. The House That Heaven Built - Japandroids
  • 02. Super Rich Kids - Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt
  • 03. Every Single Night - Fiona Apple
  • 04. Oblivion - Grimes
  • 05. How Long Have You Known - DIIV
  • 06. How Long - Alabama Shakes
  • 07. I Will Wait - Mumford and Sons
  • 08. Climax - Usher
  • 09. All I Can - Sharon Van Etten
  • 10. Fuck Your Stuff - P.O.S.
  • 11. Going Home - Leonard Cohen
  • 28. Faithful Man - Lee Fields
  • 40. Walk Like a Giant - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  • 47. Who - St. Vincent and David Byrne
To see the complete list with commentary, go to Spinner's site.

It seems that Pitchfork doesn't think too much of artists who have been recording more than about 10 to 15 years as only one such act, Philip Glass, made their Top 100 and it was a Beck Remix at that.

Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of 2012
  • 01. Oblivion - Grimes
  • 02. Pyramids - Frank Ocean
  • 03. Climax - Usher
  • 04. Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe - Kendrick Lamar
  • 05. The House That Heaven Built - Japandroids
  • 06. Laura - Bat For Lashes
  • 07. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards - Tame Impala
  • 08. Myth - Beach House
  • 09. Werewolf - Fiona Apple
  • 10. Jasmine - Jai Paul
  • 62. 73 - 78 (Beck Remix) - Philip Glass
The complete list with commentary is at Pitchfork's site.

On the other hand, CMT has picked a few classic veterans for their list of the ten top American albums of the year, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Wanda Jackson and Bonnie Raitt.

In CMT's case, they don't rank their list.

CMT's Top 10 Americana Albums of the Year
  • The Carpenter - Avett Brothers
  • Papertown - Balsam Range
  • Last Call! - Liam Fitzgerald and the Rainieros
  • Live From Alabama - Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
  • Unfinished Business - Wanda Jackson
  • Tender is the Night - Old Man Leudecke
  • Slipstream - Bonnie Raitt
  • Beneath Some Lucky Star - Bill Staines
  • Goodbye Normal Street - Turnpike Troubadours
  • Foggy Mountain Special: A Tribute to Earl Scruggs - Ron Block, J.D. Crowe & Tony Trischka
Finally, Rolling Stone asked their readers to pick their favorite songs of 2012. While they seem to have a real affinity for Jack White and the Black Keys (both have two in the top ten) they were the first to give any love to the new track, Doom and Gloom, from the Rolling Stones' album Grrr! 

Rolling Stone Reader's Top 10 Songs of 2012
  • 01. Miss Atomic Bomb - Killers
  • 02. Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye Featuring Kimbra
  • 03. Doom and Gloom - Rolling Stones
  • 04. Sixteen Saltines - Jack White
  • 05. Gold on the Ceiling - Black Keys
  • 06. We Take Care of Our Own - Bruce Springsteen
  • 07. Freedom at 21 - Jack White
  • 08. Some Nights - fun.
  • 09. Little Black Submarines - Black Keys
  • 10. Madness - Muse

Squeeze at 40

Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze have told Absolute Radio's Pete Mitchell that they "feel like a new band" as they approach 40 years in the music business, and that after getting back together almost ten years after they split up, they're "...getting on much better now than we were at any point in the last 20 years I think."

They also admitted that they became 'complacent' and 'fell out of love' of performing live, saying: :I think that what happened long term to Squeeze, is I think we became complacent, that's what I think happened to us. It's really slow and you don't see it happening. It's like, well, some sort of fungus that slowly develops. You know, and we'd sort of roll out our Christmas tour in the '90s every year and it'd be a bit same old same old. I think now, when I look back on it, and we tried to give it a kick up the arse and it sort of worked and then we died."

Chris also revealed that he lost his recording studio when he split from his partner, saying: "I got the mine and she got the gold as they say in country music."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Could the Beatles or Mick Jagger Replace Charles Darwin on British £10 Bill

Although they are just two out of 150 names that the British public have suggested to replace Charles Darwin on the new British Series F £10 notes, there is a slight chance the faces of the Beatles or Mick Jagger might be sitting in a U.K. cash drawer in the near future.

Those two classic British artists, along with modern singer Robbie Williams, have made the longlist of candidates for the new bill. Their competition, though, is very stiff with the likes of Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Princess Diana and the late Queen Mother. Also on the list are people like David Beckham, Steven Hawking, John Cleese, Sir David Attenborough and composer Benjamin Britain.

The person getting the most support, with an on-line petition that has been signed by 25,000, is World War II codebreaker Alan Turing who may be better known for the criminal prosecution during the 50's for being homosexual.

No word on when a final decision may be made. The full list can be seen at the Bank of England site.

Monday, December 24, 2012

George Martin To Be Honored By U.K. Producers Guild

Sir George Martin will receive the Award for Outstanding Contribution to U.K. Music from the Music Producers Guild at their annual ceremony, February 7, at the Cafe de Paris in London.

Martin's career has spanned six decades, most notably producing the music of the Beatles, working on thirty number one hits and work that has sold over a billion copies.

Steve Levine, chairman of the Music Producers Guild, said "The Outstanding Contribution Award acknowledges those who have made a significant contribution over a long period of time to the success of the UK music recording industry, so we are thrilled that Sir George Martin has agreed to accept the Music Producers Guild’s highest honour. Many record producers around the world owe George a huge debt of gratitude, not just for his inspired production techniques, but also for his efforts to ensure that all producers rightfully receive a royalty for their work.”

Fran Nevrkla, Chairman of PPL, added “I am truly delighted about Sir George's Special Award, particularly from his own community of his fellow studio producers which PPL is honoured to sponsor. Sir George is a unique and hugely talented, successful individual who is universally admired and respected worldwide. He is also one of the nicest human beings and an example to us all. We at PPL offer him our profound thanks together with congratulations and compliments on his extraordinary contribution to British music over so many decades."

Along with his work for the Beatles, Martin also produced such hits as Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey), Little Children (Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas), Ferry Cross the Mercy (Gerry & the Pacemakers) and Tin Man, Lonely People and Sister Golden Hair (all America).

Preview: On the Verge - Fabulous Thunderbirds

Artist: Fabulous Thunderbirds
Title: On the Verge
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Label: Severn Records
Format(s): CD, DD

We'll be honest, this one showed up on Amazon recently and there is very little known about the release. The Fabulous Thunderbirds signed with Severn Records almost a year ago and will release their first album on the label on March 19.

According to the write-up at Amazon:
Making their Severn Records debut, the Fabulous Thunderbirds mark a new beginning with On the Verge, a departure for the blues rockers as they explore their soulful side. Front front man Kim Wilson notes, ''we're defining our own genre.'' With On the Verge the T-Birds have crafted a fresh sound, one that's sure to satisfy diehard fans while bringing new blood into the fold of the band's faithful legion.
We'll have more on the album when the information is released.

Track List:
  • I Want To Believe
  • Lovin' Time
  • Too Much Water
  • Hold Me
  • Runnin' From The Blues
  • Do You Know Who I Am?
  • Got To Bring It With You
  • That's The Way We Roll
  • Diamonds Won't Kiss You Back
  • Lonely Highway

Soul Sister #1, Marva Whitney, Dies at 68

Marva Whitney, who James Brown called Soul Sister #1, passed away on Sunday at the age of 68.

Tributes and messages of sympathy are spreading across social media networks and music forums today, as it was announced on Marva Whitney’s official Facebook page that she had died overnight.

“We’re saddened to inform you that Soulsister #1 Marva Whitney passed away last night. She left us with a legacy that will shine forever. Please keep her family in your prayers.”

Hugely repected by funk devotees as one of the rawest, brassiest divas of all time, Marva sang regularly with James Brown, accompanying him on his late-’60s tour of Vietnam, as well as performing her own set as part of the James Brown Revue in 1967.

In 1969, Whitney made her first solo recordings for King, Brown’s label at the time. She scored a Top 20 hit on the R&B charts with It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To), which was a rewrite of the Isley Brothers hit, and the follow-up, Things Got to Get Better (Get Together) just missed the R&B Top 20. Much of Whitney’s work has been sampled in hip hop tracks, most notably Unwind Yourself.

In December 2009, Marva collapsed on stage in front of thousands of fans at the Falls Festival in Lorne, Australia, while performing with The Transatlantics. Taken to Geelong Hospital and diagnosed with a stroke, she made a recovery and was performing again in 2010.

No details have been officially released regarding her death, although her Wikipedia page has cited complications of pneumonia.

Northside Records, who already planned to host a local tribute to James Brown (who died on Christmas night six years ago) at the Espy in Melbourne tomorrow night have confirmed that Marva Whitney will be also honoured at the event.