Tag Archives: Clive Davis

R.I.P. Steve Popovich

In the 70s and 8os, when record companies warred against each other like lumbering dinosaurs, there were some real unsavory characters in the business. I’ve met and worked with quite a few of them, and to say I counted my fingers after a handshake is putting it mildly.

But among the stories of the ridiculously rich and powerful were the occasional feel-good stories of when David beat Goliath. Of course these days, that happens daily – the major label stranglehold on music is all but dead.

But when little Cleveland International Records started up, they could have never imagined that they would stumble across one of the most monumental albums of the rock era, especially after most of the supposedly smarter majors passed on it.

Steve Popovich had the career I thought I wanted a the time, a VP of a major label in his twenties with the ability to sign artists and help share them with the world. Any of us who are fans of music have our truckload of underappreciated musicians and writers and singers who would surely be megastars if only given the break. Working under Clive Davis at Columbia Records and then A&R with Ron Alexexburg at their sister label Epic, he was able to help launch or maximize the careers of artists like Cheap Trick, Brice Springsteen, Mott The Hoople, Johnny Winter, Southside Johnny and many of my favorites.

When he struck out to form Cleveland International Records, he used his old school local promotion skills to work an odd and obtuse album called Bat Out Of Hell month after month, slowly building an expanding regional base until radio finally fanned the spark into a flame. I was working in a record store at the time, and I remember how often labels would get all excited about a new record only to ignore it three months later if it didn’t catch on. Popovich believed in the record, believed in Meat Loaf, believed in Jim Steinman. He followed his gut instincts, and the rest is history.

He also gave us Ellen Foley’s majestic Night Out, and when Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson wanted assistance post-Mott, it was Steve they turned to for direction. He had the reputation as a man who would invest in the artist in ways far beyond financial.

Steve Popovich passed away today at the age of 69.

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Filed under Editorials, Music

Do It Again

It’s only appropriate to follow a Kinks reunion post with a Kinks film-related post, since the Oscars are taking place this evening. (By the way, how did I miss Alex Chilton in that list of collaborators on the album-in-progress? Holy shit!) The film Do It Again isn’t in the running this year, but with several prominent film festival appearances this Spring, who knows what will happen next year?

Boston Globe reporter and die-hard Kinks fan (are there any other kind?) Geoff Edgers took his frustration about the Kinks dormancy a step further and made a documentary film about trying to reunite the band. Obviously he didn’t succeed (at least by the time the documentary was edited) but this film is about the journey, not the result. Do It Again features his encounters with members of The Kinks as well as Sting, Zooey Deschanel, Clive Davis, Peter Buck, Paul Weller and Robyn Hitchcock, among others.

* Watch a promo video about the film.

* Read the review in Variety.

Geoff made this film on a…wait for itLow Budget. Which means that without a major studio or even Harvey Weinstein picking up dinner checks, this is coming out of his pocket. Like any artist in the era of cuts in arts funding, Geoff is taking advantage of what available means of financing remain to help defray the cost. Enter Kickstarter, a site that allows artists to set up a funding website, track pledges and offer updates and rewards to the backers. Edgers has set up a very modest goal to be able to participate in the film festivals, and as of today he is almost halfway there.

Click for the Do It Again Kickstarter site.

So far it’s a still man and a dream. But as stated yesterday, perhaps Ray and Dave will Give The People What They Want and we’ll all experience Better Things. For now, I’m helping Geoff out with a little Word Of Mouth. And if you have a few bucks, maybe consider helping Geoff out…because Money Talks.

And Ray, regarding the film and the reunion rumors…may I please use your own lyrics to plead my case? The clock is ticking…

The days go by and you wish you were a different guy,
Different friends and a new set of clothes.
You make alterations and affect a new pose,
A new house, a new car, a new job, a new nose.
But it’s superficial and it’s only skin deep,
Because the voices in your head keep shouting in your sleep.
Get back, get back.

Back where you started, here we go round again,
Back where you started, come on do it again.

Back where you started, here we go round again,
Day after day I get up and I say, do it again.
Do it again.
Day after day I get up and I say, come on do it again.

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Filed under Film/TV, Reviews