Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Good For The Jews" Keep The Passover Sprit Alive At 92Y Tribeca

For New Yorkers who just don't want the fun and frivolity of the Passover holiday to end, you are in luck. Good For The Jews, an irreverent group comprised of Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin, will be performing on April 18 at the 92Y Tribeca, the downtown version of the Upper East Side's 92nd Street Y, located at 200 Hudson Street.

Tannenbaum recently appeared on The Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford as an "expert" on the Easter and Passover holidays. Given the slight inaccuracies contained in "They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived, Let's Eat)," you have to wonder if anyone at ABC had heard the song before booking him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The Bird" Mark Fidrych (1954-2009)

For those of us old enough to remember why this cover wasn't a novelty.

A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird
B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
A-well-a don't you know about the bird?
Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Dead Greensboro Show Download on Archives

The Dead performed nearly a 4 hour set in Greensboro last night. The set list included them kicking off the show with an appropriate choice of "The Music Never Stopped" and closed out the show with an encore of "Samson and Delilah."

The night was filled with fan favorites "Shakedown Street", "Truckin'", "New Potato Caboose" and "Touch of Grey." Fans warmly welcomed Warren Haynes who stepped in on guitar for an irreplaceable Jerry Garcia. On the archives.org forum, NCStephen reports "Warren [paid] much respect and attention to Jerry's lead parts, and we could tell right from the first notes. Instead of warren playing his slide all night he started out with incredible wah wah lead jams in the first few tunes then kicked it into full gear with fresh clean and crisp leads."

If you didn't make it out you can enjoy much of it right here (click the play arrow below and hit pause for a few seconds to let it buffer) - enjoy!

Vienna Teng Tour Dates, New Record and Video

Vienna Teng (subject of a recent Washington Post feature) is back out on tour in support of her new record Inland Territory.

Paste Magazine
describes the record as "a retro-minded release anchored in the legacy of Tori Amos [and] Sarah McLachlan." Not bad company!

For Inland Territory, Vienna once again teams up with Alex Wong for production and songwriting support. You can see this tandem in action here in this newly released video for "1 BD/BA" (One Bedroom / One Bath):



Vienna is playing tonight in Pittsburgh at Club Cafe Live before heading to Ann Arbor, Michigan for two nights at the Ark. You can get a complete list of Vienna's tour dates on her website.

The Decemberists: The Hazards Of Love

By: David Schultz

Love it or hate it, we are all responsible for The Hazards Of Love. Colin Meloy had a large hand in its creation and will probably get all the credit but we all shoulder some responsibility. In heaping scores of lavish praise upon Meloy’s fanciful fairy tales replete with drownings, murders and imagery ripped from a Jane Austen novel, The Hazards Of Love is the album we’ve all goaded Meloy and The Decemberists into making. The Decemberists' latest may not be for everyone. Full of the conceit, confidence and hubris inherent in every concept album, The Hazards Of Love is one of the more challenging and most satisfying releases to come around in years.

The Decemberists have created a rock opera in every sense of the word. In creating a fractured fairy tale that combines the fantasy of a Narnia Chronicle with the fatalism of a Shakespearian tragedy, Meloy tells the tale of a swan named Margaret and her star-crossed lover, a shape shifting faun of adopted royal heritage. Far from a straight narrative (or as linear a tale as the rock opera construct lends itself to), Meloy engages in a little Lost-style back story reveal and employs a ghostly children’s chorus to provide a fitting fin de siècle for the self-obsessed villain.

Always a playful wordsmith, Meloy runs a gamut of intricate wordplay, pretentious affectations and the occasional head-scratcher of a phrase (what exactly is a corn crake crow?). Nobody writes a song about drowning like Meloy and “The Hazards Of Love 4 (The Drowned),” the emotional tearjerker that closes the album and concludes the story, may well be the crowning achievement of the bespectacled songwriter’s fascination with watery deaths. Unifying the album’s seventeen songs into a coherent narrative, Meloy weaves concisely descriptive images and musical themes throughout Hazards, employing recurrences of “The Wanting Comes In Waves” and the four variations of “The Hazards Of Love” to heighten the dramatic effect. Aiding in the storytelling, Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond brings a sweetness and naïveté to the heroine Margaret and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond gives voice to the treacherous Queen Mother’s feelings of scorn and betrayal.

A group effort, The Hazards Of Love gets by on more than Meloy’s creativity and wit. Drummer John Moen and bassist Nate Query transition many of the songs, helping transform the many pieces into a grand suite with smooth and deft tempo changes. Although the acoustic guitars dips a little too far into Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive” playbook on “Margaret In Captivity,” Meloy and Chris Funk’s exquisite guitar work invoke the bucolic forest environs in “The Hazards Of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle The Thistles Undone),” devotion in the face of hopeless obstacles in “Annan Water” and the urgent rush of blood through the heart of the dastardly in “The Abduction Of Margaret.” When you factor in Jenny Conlee’s deliciously heavy prog-rock organ passages and the judicious sprinkling of harpsichord, mandolin and a Nashville-style pedal steel that appears at the end of “Isn't It A Lovely Night,” The Hazards Of Love pulls off the task of making the most indulgent aspect of the Seventies seem remarkably vital and alive.

The Wall inspires great introspection, Tommy gets the fists pumping and A Passion Play simply baffles, The Hazards Of Love is a near-literary achievement. For packing an understated emotional punch and engendering sympathy for its main characters over the course of a one hour album, Meloy deserves serious praise. Prog-rock indulgences and bizarre story lines aside, Meloy and The Decemberists have put together a momentous album.

The Raising Of The Dead

Last night, The Dead kicked off a month long U.S. tour at the Greensboro Coliseum. Outside of their three free appetite-whetting performances in New York City and an appearance on yapfest known as The View, the North Carolina show is their first non-Obama fundraising show since 2004. No longer Grateful out of respect to Jerry Garcia, this incarnation of The Dead includes surviving members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart as well as ubiquitous guitarist Warren Haynes and Ratdog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti.

Coinciding with the return of The Dead, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times has an interesting article that looks at the reconsideration being given to various periods of The Grateful Dead's career that has resulted from the widespread proliferation of high-quality recordings that have emerged over the last few years.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Phantom Keys: "Shut Up Johnny" b/w "Don't Want To Be Free"

By: Rinjo Njori

Who the f*^k is Marky Las Vegas? Well, lead singer of The Phantom Keys, of course. Marky and the rest of the Phantom Keys hail from Spain and like millions of bands before them and hopefully after them they aspire to write songs that get the girls dancing and the boys singing along. They would like to "not" put themselves in any one category, R&B, punk, mod, etc. but they definitely have a sound. These two tracks put them in good company with The Crawdaddys and The Fleshtones. Stylistically, they resemble the former rather than the latter. These two tracks would not be out of place on Crawdaddy Express and the opening lyrics on the B-side aren't that different from those on the The Fleshtones' Take a Good Look. "Don't Want to Be Free" stands out the most of the two tracks. Marky Las Vegas really controls the "call and response" chorus. Manu and Roi (no surnames) throw in a modern guitar trick or two but clearly are aiming for that mid-60s sound. "Shut Up Johnny" gets the whole band in on the vocals breaking only for a little Chuck Berry lead guitar and some blues harp. Overall, a great listen and a great party record. The Phantom Keys aren't looking to reinvent the genre but hey seem ready to add a track or two along the way.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Horrors: "Sea Within A Sea"

By: Rinjo Njori

In 2005, The Horrors exploded out of the UK with goth-drenched garage rock that was less bluesy than The Cramps but more stylish than most garage rock bands. Most of their success stateside was owed to the ghosts of The Ramones and Screaming Lord Sutch with "Sheena Was A Parasite," their goth punk homage to the seminal New Yorkers coming across as disjointed and energetic, owing more to post-punk than garage rock but clearly relying on energy like its distant cousins. At the other end of the spectrum, on their cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack the Ripper," the low end thump couldn't disguise the straight ahead delivery of the garage rock classic. What unified both these songs was their ability to fuse the goth rock elements of Bauhaus and The Cure with Hammond organ heavy garage rock.


"Sea Within A Sea", from their upcoming album Primary Colours, marks a shift in sound by the band; they embrace their gothic elements and sacrifice all parts of their sound that relied on garage rock. Faris Badwan's vocals are the most obvious change: the Johnny Rotten-style vocals from Strange Hours have been replaced with disaffected, droning delivery. To be fair, the closest comparison would be to the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division with hints of Bauhaus' Daniel Ash. Joshua Third (formerly known as Von Grimm) has clearly taken a lesson or two since the first album. The guitar doesn't propel this song but intertwines with the Spider Webb's recently adopted synth. If the wash of Hammond organ on the first album grabbed your attention you will be sorely disappointed. In its place is the very 80s synth. Like Joshua Third, Spider Webb clearly has become a better musician. and this benefits the overall sound of The Horrors.



With the dramatic shift in sound it would be easy to write the band off as musical chameleons. Whereas, a band like The Killers shed their inner Duran Duran to adopt the rough and ready sound of Bruce Springsteen, The Horrors have simply embraced their strengths. They clearly earn the attention of the listener over the seven minute plus run time. If Primary Colours is as consistent as "Sea Within a Sea," then The Horrors might be able to match the hype. You can get this single for the price of your e-mail @ The Horrors.





Monday, April 06, 2009

Ray LaMontagne: Tower Theater

Review and photo by Jim McCoy

Ray LaMontagne rolled into the Philadelphia area for the second time in support of his third full-length album, the solid and eclectic Gossip in the Grain. As usual, LaMontagne delivered an impassioned performance throughout that left his growing legion of fans heading for the exits with smiles on their collective faces.

Backed by bass, drums, and the multi-talented Eric Haywood on electric and pedal steel, LaMontagne effortlessly switched gears between rockers such as "You Are the Best Thing" and "Three More Days" to the electric blues and country-tinged numbers "Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's a Shame)" and "Hey Me, Hey Mama" to aching ballads like "Let It Be Me," "Shelter" and "Jolene."

LaMontagne's musical currency is soul measured by the ton, and nowhere was this more evident as when the band left the stage to allow LaMontagne to perform "Burn" as a solo act. When a man can silence a crowd of over 3,000 with just his voice and a guitar, he is entering rarified air usually reserved for the likes of legendary performers such as Jackson Browne and Jerry Garcia. As LaMontagne continues his ascent up the musical mountain, his soulful, scratchy voice, poignant lyrics, and memorable songs will provide many more such moments.

You can find Ray LaMontagne tour dates here.

Mumford & Sons: Pastoral Vibes The Mercury Lounge

By: David Schultz

This is one of the articles that was a casualty of our unintentional hiatus.

Fronting a new wave of British folk musicians that includes Laura Marling and Noah & The Whale, Mumford & Sons have plucked, picked and emoted their way out of the Thames Valley on the strength of two superb EPs, Lend Me Your Eyes and Live Your Ground. Relying on backwoods acoustic grit, Marcus Mumford and his Mumford & Sons four man cabal enliven the often-stuffy world of British folk pop with warm four-part harmonies and pastoral melodies. On their way out to Austin for the annual SXSW Festival, Mumford & Sons pulled over for a pit stop in New York City, packing the Mercury Lounge for a Monday night show.

Lined up across the stage, Mumford & Sons put themselves up front before the audience: Ted Dwayne working hard on the standup bass, Winston Marshall gliding along on the dobro and Marcus Mumford moving from lilting and rolling riffs to quaint-Grizzly Bear style preciseness. Mumford & Sons threaten to infringe on the same quirky yet appealing territory claimed by the Dave Matthews Band. The comparison becomes more pronounced when Mumford’s voice takes on the same sustained, somewhat strangled mewl as Matthews. Intertwined with the softly strident acoustic rock, Mumford’s voice eventually pacified and drew in an initially talkative crowd.

Mumford & Sons has a ways to go before they can assume the self-possessed grandeur of their Virginia-based kindred spirits. The band is still in that genuine awkward stage where they haven’t found their comfort level with their stage banter. Marshall made a game effort at incorporating some of Billy Gibbons’ Z.Z. Top shtick into his act (otherwise known as the hometown “cheap pop”) but hasn’t acquired enough show-biz sheen to truly pull it off. His dry introduction of the band as “George, Paul, Ringo and John” struck the right balance of ease and humor, even if it did get good-natured groans from his band mates. After riding a roller coaster of deftly plucked folk and mountain rock, Mumford moved to the drums and they ultimately cut loose, wailing away with the abandon and fury of the artiest punk rocker trying to pop eardrums at the long gone CBGB.

Mumford & Co. previewed “The Cave And The Open Sea” and “But My Heart Told My Head,” two ethereal, moody songs that, at the time, remained unreleased. The two songs come out today as part of a double A-side single.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

(Pride) In the Name of Love

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Allman Brothers Band: Beacon Residency 2009; You Can Go Home Again

By: David Schultz

If Sergio Leone were to make The Good, The Bad & The Ugly in modern times, Eli Wallach would tell Clint Eastwood that there are two types of people in this world: those who know that The Allman Brothers Band residency is a sacred event and those who are too ignorant to know better. After a year hiatus – the 2008 run of shows were postponed and ultimately canceled when Gregg Allman’s treatment for Hepatitis C left him physically unable to perform – the venerable Allman Brothers Band returned refreshed and reinvigorated to the newly renovated Beacon Theater.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the formation of the band as well as the 20th anniversary of their first Beacon residency, this year’s set of fifteen shows over a three week span was dedicated to the memory of founding member Duane Allman. As with most years, the Allmans' invasion of the Beacon sounded a testosterone laden siren call. Women who were looking for slightly overweight, highly intoxicated men in their forties or fifties with fading hairlines, vintage tie-dyes and a love of proper classic rock could have rummaged the Beacon’s aisles like a sale at Filene’s Basement. While the residency attracted its fair share of female guests, the shows were likely the only ones in recent memory where the women could waltz by a bathroom line of nearly a hundred guys and walk right into a nearly vacant ladies room.

Throughout the three week run, the Allmans mixed in a healthy smattering of blues based standards, their own and others, to amaze the discerning listener but mixed enough of their better known songs to satisfy the less-studied Allman Brothers fan. Right from the outset it became clear that Gregg Allman had returned to the stage in fine form, his vocals stronger and more sustained than in past years and his playing more focused and inspired. Overshadowing the elder Allman as well as the rest of the band, Derek Trucks’ presence on stage no longer needs to be qualified by facts like “miraculous guitar prodigy” or “Butch’s nephew.” Trucks has matured and developed into a force of nature and in trading licks at the Beacon with the likes of Eric Clapton, Trey Anastasio and Buddy Guy, edged his way onto the mantle of this generation’s preeminent guitarists. At every show, Trucks and Warren Haynes played off each other so compatibly that it hardly mattered what song they were playing, they crafted something new and entertaining at every turn. In fact, the only new song offered over the three weeks was an Trucks/Haynes instrumental that may or not be entitled “Orpheo.” On opening night, the two slipped snippets of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and “Third Stone From The Sun” into their solos and the whole band took to riffing on The Grateful Dead’s “The Other One” with extraordinary frequency.

Duane Allman’s “Little Martha,” the only Allmans song solely authored by the Skydog, served as another of the residency’s recurrent themes. Haynes and Trucks opened the entire run with an acoustic rendition of the tune and the guitarists and bassist Oteil Burbridge would continually weave Allman’s lilting melody into most night’s set list. In addition to Trucks’ emergence, Burbridge finding his true comfort zone within the band was another of the residency’s finer developments. Since joining the band in the late 90s as Allen Woody’s replacement, Burbridge has brought a jazzy influence into the Allmans camp. Playing with ebullience, Burbridge wound some intricate bass lines around a rotating cast of All Star guitarists. His bass and drums segments still prove less than enthralling but when he doesn’t have to front the band, Burbridge works wonders.

The powerful delivery of the trifecta of drummers, original members Jaimoe and Butch Trucks and percussionist Marc Quinones, remains potent. Trucks does the majority of the heavy lifting, playing with the energy of someone half his age while Quinones, with his wide variety of percussion, adds the little flourishes and flutters that aren’t always noticeable yet their absence would be devastating. Livelier than in years past, Jaimoe still works at a steadier, more deliberate pace from the other two, providing old school, R&B drum fills to complement the heavy onslaught.

This year, those who didn’t get into the shows weren’t frozen out of the excitement. Spearheaded by Butch Trucks, Moogis, a cutting edge streaming video service centered on bringing the live concert experience to people’s laptops, brought all fifteen shows to the Web on an on-demand basis. Using the ABB’s fan forum as a sampling group, the Moogis Webcasts were a huge success with the Peachheads praising the service in between such pithy and insightful comments like “Derek nailed that,” “Warren is on tonight” and “Kid Rock sucks.”

By dedicating the residency to the memory of Duane Allman, the Allmans inspired extra scrutiny and serious prognostication as to the potential guests. In light of the focus on the Skydog, appearances by Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Bramlett, John Hammond and Jerry Jemmott and Bernard Purdie of the King Curtis Band weren’t entirely unexpected with Clapton’s sit-in for two shows mid-run marking the Friends-Of-Duane high point. Bearing less of a relationship to the famed founding member, but fun nonetheless, Kid Rock, Robert Randolph, Bruce Willis and Sheryl Crow all graced the Beacon stage at varying points in time.

On opening night, Taj Mahal brought his girth and bluesy growl for runs through “Leavin’ Trunk” and “44 Blues” and with images of the blues greats of yesteryear being shown behind them, as has become the custom for the song, Mahal fronted a bar-brawling version of “Statesboro Blues.” The first night’s second set belonged to beloved drummer Levon Helm, who travelled down from Woodstock with Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams and Brian Mitchell. Kicking off the set with “Opheila,” “I Shall Be Released” and “The Weight,” Helm and his Midnight Ramble regulars recreated the communal feel of his upstate get togethers.

Later on during the first week, Buddy Guy brought his age-defying energy to the stage for “The Sky Is Crying” and “You Don’t Love Me.” However, for “Southbound,” Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell, fresh off Phish’s reunion shows in Hampton, Virginia, brought the house down simply by walking on the stage. For the second set, Anastasio and McConnell returned for lengthy renditions of “I Know You Rider” and “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” with the Allmans continuing in their absence with elongated versions of ‘Dreams” and ‘Jessica.”

With such a focus on the each night’s guests, the March 26th show, which marked the actual 40th anniversary of the band’s formation, stood out for their absence. As the fans that had been diligently monitoring each night’s shows, either through set lists or their online Moogis broadcasts, made clear, no other guest but estranged founding guitarist Dickey Betts would suffice. Instead of subjecting any guest to a round of “were they worthy?” the ABB paid tribute to Duane Allman by playing the two studio albums released during his lifetime: offering The Allman Brothers Band as Set 1 and Idlewild South as Set 2. In going back to the early days, Allman sang more in one night than on multiple nights combined, his voice strong and fresh yet with an aged and wizened quality that only served to enhance the bombast of “Whipping Post” and the subtleties of “Trouble No More” and “Leave My Blues At Home.”

Despite visits from Paul Riddle of the Marshall Tucker Band and The [Grateful] Dead’s Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, the shows from the last weekend reportedly lost some of the steam that had made the prior thirteen nights an enriching experience. Nodding to the next generation of Allmans, Gregg’s son Devon joined in for “Midnight Rider” and Berry Oakley, Jr. lent his bass for “One Way Out” and “Southbound.” Over the course of 15 shows in a three week span, the Allman Brothers Band engaged in a little rock and roll revivalism that went beyond reawakening interest in the Southern rock stalwarts back catalog. By showcasing the blues as a vital and living entity, the Allmans recharged and enlivened interest in the whole genre. If you managed to attend more than one show and not feel the need to acquire some old blues recordings, you weren’t paying close enough attention.

Wolfmother Wants Your Phone Number

By: Rinjo Njori

In the summer of 2008, Wolfmother suffered a loss of 2/3 of their lineup. Most artists would pack it in and move on; not Andrew Stockdale, who borrowed a page from the Billy Corgan Band rule book and soldiered on with the band as Wolfmother. With Chris Ross and Myles Heskett moving on, Stockdale decided to discard the power trio format in favor of the traditional four man format. As the sole original member and frontman, Stockdale is taking very little risk. His riffs, vocals and afro were the group's unofficial trademarks. After a year of hard work, Stockdale has released the band's first new music since 2005's Wolfmother. However, there is a price for that new music (until someone uploads the track onto a file sharing site): your mobile or your enemies mobile phone number.

Before the Wolfmother-spam text-messages kick in, the new music continues what Wolfmother started roughly 5 years ago. "Back Round" retains the "Black Sabbath meets Cream in a bar with Soundgarden vibe" that made their eponymous debut sound refreshing despite the obviously retro music. Musically, the song compares favorably to "Woman." The riffs are heavy and feel a whole lot like Black Sabbath's Vol. 4. with Stockdale still in fine command of his siren like vocals. The only campy part is the vocal bridge that sounds less like Stockdale's and more like Tim Curry's Dr. Frank N Furter.

Since this is presumably only 1/10th (or so) of the forthcoming album it's safe to say that Stockdale still has the power. Will he stick with this heavy formula or is there some more Cream left in sludge? If nothing else, Stockdale provided enough to lay claim to the Wolfmother name. Now he has to live up to the hype. You can get the track for a limited time on their website: Wolfmother.com.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Michael Jackson Sells Out 50 Shows

As staggering as it is to believe, Michael Jackson is still an extraordinary draw. The demand for tickets to his "This Is It" run of shows at the O2 Arena in London has been so high that the original 10 night schedule has expanded to 50 shows - which all sold out within hours. To put this in perspective, the Allman Brothers current residency at the Beacon Theater is only 15 nights and the previous record for this type of sellout was Prince's 21 night run at the O2 in 2007.

Unlike most true residencies, it is improbable that Jackson will change the setlists each night or that the performance on night 1 will differ greatly from night 50. This seems more akin to a "Michael Jackson On Broadway" extravaganza than it does to a true rock and roll event. If rumors of Jackson's financial condition have some basis in truth, this couldn't have happened at a better time and could also answer the question of "Why now?" It is estimated that Jackson will make anywhere from $50 million to $100 million for his efforts.

The Jackson shows have also shone a harsh light of the deplorable dealings that result in tickets appearing on the secondary market. Remember when we just called these people what they were: ticket scalpers. The Wall Street Journal recently outed the practice of artists setting aside prime seats for resale on the "secondary market" and it appears Jackson and his promoter AEG Live cut a deal with Viagogo to do just that for the O2 shows. Rather than sell to the public, Viagogo turned around and sold the prime seats to other brokers, creating a tertiary market . . . and pissing of AEG Live in the process. With Viagogo, not AEG Live/Jackson, getting the benefits of the even larger markup, it's not surprising that injunctions have resulted.

As for the potential quality of the shows, allow the skeptic in me to come through: Jackson hasn't been on tour since the mid-to-late Nineties and his stage appearances over the last decade have been sporadic; by all accounts, the 50-year-old singer is pretty frail and all boasting in "Bad" to the contrary, Jackson was never that hale and hearty of a fellow to begin with. Jackson is undoubtedly and icon but his personal life, transparent excuses for questionable behavior and general lunacy have also made him a punchline. Based upon the success of the O2 run, which will end in February of 2010, he will have firmly entrenched himself as one or the other.

Universal Thwarts Eminem's Production Company; World Keeps On Spinning

While Earvolution was on an involuntary hiatus, a Los Angeles jury decided in favor of Universal Music Group on claims brought by FBT Productions that would have drastically altered the amount of royalties earned from online sales. FBT, Eminem's production company, attempted to couch the standard agreement for online dissemination of music and ring tones through iTunes and other downloading sites as third-partying licensing deals, which would require a near 50/50 split of royalties. Standing in for the establishment, Universal maintained that the online deals are simply ones for distribution and that the customary royalty arrangements still apply.

The actual amount of royalties in controversy was just shy of two million dollars but had FBT succeeded and prevailed on the inevitable appeal, the effect of the precedent on the music industry would have been seismic in proportion. It was a fair gambit on FBT's part but the facts seemed to be on Universal's side. Rather than dealing a blow to the major labels, the status quo will be maintained.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!