Tag Archives: Reunion

T.G.I.F. – Ten Wishes for 2010 Comebacks

 

Happy New Year! Many of us look upon January 1st as a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start a new plan. For others, it’s an opportunity and a challenge to make a mark in life, to have a sense of purpose and accomplish a goal. And for pop culture freaks, it’s a chance to wonder what the year ahead has in store, as every year brings us some wonderful surprises, whether a great album or a new TV show. Who will occupy our thoughts in 2010? Certainly there will be some new breakout artists, but as always, some blasts from the past will knock us for a loop as well. 

All too often we take our cultural heroes for granted, expecting them to continually churn out yet another book or album or screenplay at the same pinnacle of quality. If they hibernate or quit, we pine that they walked away too early. Yet if they start to slip, we pounce upon them for overstaying their welcome and selling out. But our culture seems preoccupied with success and redemption, so we seem to be especially cognizant of those who recapture some past glory, especially if the road since then was paved with difficulty. 

I used to be among the camp that wanted to leave well enough alone – don’t tarnish a reputation with a comeback, but walk off on top and disappear into legend. With very few exceptions, no one does that voluntarily; it’s usually an untimely death that cements a legend. James Dean might have made as many horrible film choices as Robert DeNiro had he lived into his sixties. Had Elvis died while in the service, he’d still be larger than life, only not literally. But instead we usually witness a fall from grace – Willie Mays playing center for the Mets, Dick Clark still counting down New Year’s Eve. 

But after seeing Mott The Hoople reform in 2009, after watching Jim McCarty and Johnny Badanjek rocking like they were teenagers again, after having Dana Gould and Steven Wright release hilarious new albums years after I thought they were done with it all, I’ve jumped ship. Life is short – give me all I can handle. Not everyone will succeed, but I can swallow the moments of ineptitude for a calculated risk that there will be moments of pure magic that otherwise never would have happened. 

So with that caveat in mind, here are ten reunions, revivals and/or comebacks I’d like to see this year…a few of which might actually happen! 

Risk and Reward

The Faces – A test run happened late this year where Ian McLagan, Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones finally gave up on Rod Stewart‘s false promises and played a gig without him. If only they would have done this while Ronnie Lane was still alive, but throw in Glen Matlock on bass and someone like Sulo of The Diamond Dogs on vocals and this could be magic. 

Arrested Development – Maybe line-for-line the funniest television comedy ever, and it’s a crime that something that great couldn’t find a strong audience let alone a network exec with a spine who would have kept it on the air for the sake of art. (Yeah, right) Rumors about a movie continue to swirl – please get it done before it’s too late! 

RockpileBilly Bremner is playing music in Europe, Nick Lowe is still great but sedate, and…well, where the hell is Dave Edmunds, anyway? Technically they only made one album although all those Lowe and Edmunds records were really Rockpile albums in disguise. Seconds of Pleasure turns thirty this year – how about a sequel? 

Eric RobertsMickey Rourke was right – if someone would just give Eric Roberts a chance, I think he’d knock the ball out of the park. After all these years tolerating his sister’s horrible movies, I think Hollywood owes me a film where Roberts has a great role to sink his teeth into. Tarantino, you listening? 

The Kinks – Come on, guys, even The Zombies have managed to get back together. Dave is recovering but back out on the stage, and Ray’s work over the past couple of years has been among his best. There’s an entire generation who hasn’t seen the band live on stage. Please guys…one for the road

Mel Brooks – I know he’s having great success reviving old hits on Broadway, and I know he’s in his eighties. But he’s still one of the quickest, sharpest wits around and perhaps five years after losing the great Anne Bancroft he will dig deep for one more devastating comedy film. 

The J. Geils Band – Peter Wolf still has the chops, and lord knows we need a band that doesn’t take itself so seriously. A kickass band with a guy who knew what being a front man was all about, their party atmosphere the antithesis to indie shoegazing. 

David Simon – The man gave us two of the finest television shows in history – Homicide and The Wire. Both scripted dramas were far more real than any of that reality TV crap that we drown in today. Save us, David. 

Tonio K. – I think I wish this every year. Not sure if he’s flying well under my radar or just involved in other projects (like assembling a blues compilation) but it’s been over a decade since Gadfly Records released his reissues and almost twenty since an album of new material. America needs all the cynics it can get.

Robert KleinGeorge Carlin might have been the one to make the most of the opportunity, but it was Robert Klein who helped put HBO on the map with his comedy specials. Whip-smart and multi-talented, I can’t believe that the events of the past several years haven’t inspired him to create a new hour of material. We need you, sir. 

"You start something this time, we all get a half-life, go figure it out on your own..."

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Mott The Hoople: Live (vicariously!)

Mott reunion

For those fortunate  enough to be going to see the reunited Mott The Hoople (yeah, I’m jealous Rog!) I will be living vicariously through you. It’s on the wrong side of The Big Pond for me, and as much as I would love to be there, the timing is just…off.

But if there are others among you suffering the same fate as mine, this announcement from the Ian Hunter list should make your day:

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YOUR EXCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITY TO PRE-ORDER THE LIVE CD OF THE REUNION GIG OF THE YEAR!

October 1st sees the live return of one of the best loved Rock & Roll bands of all time: Mott The Hoople. It has been 40 years since this highly influential band formed in 1969, and over 35 years since the original line-up has played together. It is with great pleasure that Concert Live announces that they are recording the band at the Hammersmith Apollo on the 1st October to create an instant CD for fans to take home straight after the show.

This limited edition live CD is the ONLY recording of the Mott The Hoople reunion show. Presented in bespoke artwork, this is an exclusive 3 CD set featuring songs from their classic albums, Mott The Hoople, All The Young Dudes, Mott and many more. Concert Live will be recording the band’s show on the 1st October, selling this live CD directly at this show and at the following 4 dates the band are playing at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Pre-order this live CD for collection at concert or to be posted to you directly after the show. Order now to avoid disappointment!
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Life just got a little sweeter this morning.

Best wishes go out to Dale Griffin (Buffin) who will be at all the shows, but health issues may prevent him from playing full sets. Fear notMott fan and Pretenders legend Martin Chambers will be on hand to pinch-hit as needed. October is really going to be Rocktober this year.

Official Mott The Hoople site

Fan-based Hunter/Mott site – great stuff!

My original Mott Reunion essay

Mott Reunion Blogspot – longtime fan living a dream.

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Blast From The Past: Rod Stewart

Not Forever Young

Not Forever Young

 

When I realized that The Faces finally really broke up, I was devastated. The Kinks and The Faces were (are) my favorite bands, and during Ray Davies’ Preservation rock opera era in the early 1970s, the boozy raucous songs from Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane clearly took the lead. Even more amazing was that every year, The Faces would release and album and so would Rod Stewart, and in those days the material on both was largely interchangeable. But soon enough, the lure of solo fame and the huge dollars waiting in the American market led Rod in a different direction. Where before he might have been saving his better songs for the solo projects, it was all a moot point now. First Lane quit in disgust after watching the band he started being referred to as Rod’s backup group once too often, then Wood succumbed to the umpteenth invitation to join the Rolling Stones, and it all ended with a whimper, not a bang. It just…dissolved. Ironically, although Stewart had the most critical success, Wood, Lane and Ian McLagan all released solo albums that were probably better records overall; had they been able to continue to pool that talent one can only imagine the heights they might have reached.

Then one night in February 1993, Stewart performed a set recorded for MTV Unplugged and brought along his partner in crime, Ronnie Wood. The show and the subsequent album were a hit (hitting #2 on Billboard and spawning four singles) and seemed to re-energize the perception of Stewart as a serious singer, songwriter and interpreter. Unplugged and Seated drew heavily on his early years (a logical choice when Woody was sharing the stage) and although lesser solo hits like “Hot Legs” and “Tonight’s The Night” were included, the arrangements were stripped down and improved. Stewart had always chosen cover material well, and the performances of Van Morrison‘s “Have I Told You Lately” and Tom Waits‘ “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda)” are especially strong here. In the coming years Stewart would write less and less and record sets of rock covers (When We Were The New Boys and Still The Same) as well as a career-changing move with the Great American Songbook series.

I guess technically I could have also listed this under the New Album header, since it is a newly released CD/DVD combination, and the audio version of the show does include two songs (“Gasoline Alley” and “Forever Young”) not included in the original album release. The audio sounds great, of course – a warm but full core band of multiple guitars, mandolins, banjos and keyboards propelled by solid rhythm from drummer David Palmer and bass player Carmine Rojas. Several songs benefit from the addition of three soulful background singers and/or a small orchestra, the presence of whom keep Stewart comically pinned to a three foot radius on stage. There are times when he looks like he’s about to launch out of his chair, while the more pensive songs allowed him to simply sit and get caught up in the moment. The space limitation brought the focus squarely upon his personality and his voice instead of the flamboyance that he had gotten used to as an arena rock act, and it must have felt like the old days in more ways than one.

I’m thrilled to finally have a DVD version of this brilliant performance to enjoy again and again, the warmth and camaraderie between Wood and Stewart is palpable, a genuine bond we haven’t reaped the rewards of for so many years. Besides being excellent songwriting, collaborators, they simply bring the best out in each other; Wood is fine as a Rolling Stone, but he was majestic in The Faces. When he’s onstage, the camera wisely focuses in on the two-shot, and it’s obvious we are watching two friends who have probably run the gamut of emotions with each other but are truly savoring the moment. Wood doesn’t always flash – Jeff Golub frequently plays the lead lines while Woody plays rhythm – but it’s a real treat to watch him energize the room during “Maggie May”, “Mandolin Wind” and especially “Stay With Me”. When they leave the set, arm in arm, headed for the pub (and no, they weren’t kidding) how I would have loved to tag along for when the real fun probably started…

The show itself appears to be the original broadcast performance, complete with fade-outs at what would have been the commercial breaks. This also means that it’s still an edit from the actual show, so in addition to missing “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Highgate Shuffle” (included on the CD) we don’t see “It’s All Over Now”, “The Killing of Georgie”, “I Was Only Joking” and “Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller”, which never aired. Rhino‘s package, as usual, is attractive and contains solid liner notes from one of my favorite writers, Bud Scoppa, a man who was there the first time around. Video is decent quality and probably as good as can be expected from a sixteen year old taping, but there are no extras – no commentary, no retrospective interviews, no rehearsal footage. Perhaps none exists, or perhaps this Collector’s Edition will someday be eclipsed by the Expanded Collector’s Director’s Cut. (I kid.)

 

Had Them a Real Good Time

Had Them a Real Good Time

I don’t know how I feel about the long-rumored Faces reunion. Not having Ronnie Lane there to celebrate would be hard to swallow, and if the guys got together and play “Debris” and “Glad and Sorry” and “Ooh La La” without him it would be bittersweet. Ian McLagan has been keeping Ronnie alive from the stage at his every gig by featuring several of his songs, and Kenney Jones has quietly continued to make certain that the legacy of both The Small Faces and The Faces is rescued from legal and managerial madness. No matter what kind of arrangements would have to be made between the four surviving members (read: what Stewart’s manager would insist upon), I can’t see Wood or Jones or Mac participating unless Ronnie’s legacy got its due. But one can’t help wonder how things might have been different had The Faces been able to pull it off in 1993, when Ronnie would have been able to benefit spiritually and financially, let alone a few years earlier, when he might have been able to participate even in limited fashion. Rod Stewart might have surrounded himself with more technically proficient musicians over the years, but the results never exuded that pure soulful joy since he made his Atlantic Crossing. But more on The Faces another time, and at greater length, which they deserve.

Although I would have liked a complete, full-featured release of the show, Unplugged and Seated is a set to be treasured as is, a wonderful reminder of just how good Rod Stewart can be when he puts his heart and soul into it. On that night in February 1993, he definitely did.

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Hot Tickets: More Mott and BeatleMania

Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good

 

Mott The Hoople announce the final dates of their HMV Hammersmith Apollo residency. The original two nights (October 2nd & 3rd) sold out in a weekend, and the first additional night (October1st) has now sold out as well. So due to high levels of public demand, Mott The Hoople have added two final shows at the Apollo on October 5th and 6th.

UK classic rock station Planet Rock has an exclusive seven day pre-sale for the two new Mott The Hoople dates at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo. This will be your best chance to get the best tickets available for the two new shows on October 5th and 6th . The pre-sale starts today and will run for 7 days. Click HERE.

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Also on sale today are tickets to see The Twotles* next month at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are teaming up to headline a benefit concert on April 4 for the David Lynch Foundation. Other performers joining the two superstars include Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder, Moby and Bettye LaVette. Tickets go on sale 11am EDT today through Ticketmaster. (Vedder has to be just thrilled about that!)

The David Lynch Foundation provides funds to teach students how to meditate so they can “change their world from within.” Yes, that David Lynch. Like me, you might find it a bit ironic that a man whose movies are among the most dense and confusing ever made is the founder of an organization to help children think more clearly, but it’s a serious and worthy endeavor.

(* it was so much more fun referring to surviving Beatles as The Threetles when George was alive.)

 

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Reunion Fever Strikes Again

Thanks to my buddy Siege for this tip…Looks like one of the hardest working bands in rock’n’roll is getting back together again for at least one night; although depending upon the results, who knows what happens next? If it’s anything like the 1999 reunion (which the article below omits, but trust me, it rocked), it might snap the earbuds out of the wandering masses and show them what they missed out on with all those years of shoegazing.

I saw the J. Geils Band so often in the 70s that I thought there was a law stating they had to be the middle act at any concert held in the War Memorial. They never disappointed, and Peter Wolf (one of the greatest front men, ever) made it his personal mission to get the last person in the last row as involved as the maniacs being crushed into the front of the stage. Mosh pit? How about dance floor? If they’re opening a new venue you know it’s wired, so hopefully there will be a live CD/DVD to slot alongside Full HouseBlow Your Face Out and Showtime.

Long before they were MTV’s (temporary) darlings, they earned their stripes on stage.  Hell, they could even rock you in the morning!

First they looked at the purse...

First they looked at the purse...

(The Boston Globe, January 29, 2009) It’s safe to say that tickets to see the J. Geils Band on stage at the House of Blues Feb. 19 will be hard to come by. The show, which has been rumored for a while but was only nailed down yesterday, should be a suitable spectacle to open Live Nation’s new Lansdowne Street concert venue. Since breaking up in 1985, J. Geils has not made a habit of re-forming. In 2006, Peter Wolf, Seth Justman, Jay Geils, Magic Dick, Danny Klein, and Stephen Jo Bladd jammed at Klein’s 60th birthday party at Scullers, playing a short set that included “Homework,” “Looking for a Love,” and “Give It to Me.” The band, minus Bladd, also killed at an ’05 fund-raiser for the Cam Neely Foundation, playing revved-up versions of “Ain’t Nothin’ but a House Party,” “Must of Got Lost,” “Centerfold,” and “Love Stinks.” But the band’s been silent since, with Wolf concentrating on his solo career. (The singer’s latest CD is done and due out this year.) Promoter Don Law says he wasn’t sure how the enigmatic frontman would respond, but figured it was worth asking. “We made them an offer, sure, but it’s more than money,” said Law, reached yesterday in LA. “These guys love this kind of venue and are tied into the history of the blues. This just makes perfect sense.” The show will be officially announced in a few days, and then tickets – all 2,400 of them – will go on sale. “We’re thrilled Peter took this seriously,” said Law. “We’ve tried before without success.”

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Mott The Hoople update:

Due to exceptional public demand, Mott The Hoople has added a third night at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday, October 1st. Tickets will not go on sale to the general public on the Ticketmaster site until Monday February 2nd.

But you Mott fans are not the “general public”, are you? Hint…get to www.mottthehoople.com ASAP.

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All The (Not So) Young Dudes

 “Just thought you’d like to know the Mott the Hoople reunion IS going to take place on October 2nd & 3rd, 2009 at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London. It will be the original members – Mick, Pete, Phally, Buff and me. They’ve asked our esteemed webmaster, Justin, to formulate a Mott the Hoople site which should be up and running in the near future. Why are we doing it? I can’t speak for the others, but I’m doing it just to see what it’s like. Short of war, death, famine etc. …it’s ON.”  – Ian Hunter

 

The Golden Age of Mott The Hoople

The Golden Age of Mott The Hoople

Oh. My. God.

Short of the long-rumored Kinks and Faces reunions, this might be right at the top of my list. And it’s not like Hunter hasn’t carved out a brilliant solo career; his two most recent albums are just about the best music he’s ever recorded – I rated both of them best in their respective years. His studio players and touring bands are top notch. But the subtle injection of Mick Ralphs into Ian’s musical life over the past few years probably stoked some old fires, and here we are ready to roll away the stone all over again. I’m okay with that!

You can keep track of the information (and enjoy some great interaction) with Ian at his website until the Mott site is up and running.

Here are my reviews of RANT and SHRUNKEN HEADS (from Pop Culture Press and Bucketfull of Brains, respectively)…

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Ian Hunter

Rant (Fuel 2000)

www.fuel2000.com

 “Now I know what ageism means – you gotta try a little harder”, sings sixty-one year old Ian Hunter, who might just have released the best album of his career. The opening track “Still Love Rock And Roll” is a rocker of anthem-like proportions, weaned from the soul of Mott the Hoople’s “All The Way From Memphis”. And much like the title implies, Hunter pulls no punches with his lyrics. He tears into England’s demise with “Ripoff” and “Death of a Nation”, while “Morons” and “Wash Us Away” are eerily appropriate after the attack on America. Yet Hunter is still vulnerable enough to knock out excellent love songs like “Knees Of My Heart” and “No One” that can stand alongside the classic “Irene Wilde”. The band is tight, the singer is inspired, and the result is the best record of 2001.

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 Ian Hunter

Shrunken Heads (Yep Roc)

www.yeproc.com

The rhythm confidently swaggers, the velvet-and-sand vocals don’t start, they swing into place. Instruments fall in line, each lifting the song up a notch higher in strength and volume. And if “Words (Big Mouth)” wasn’t strong enough already, the sly minor-chord bridge (think Crowded House) is capped by Keef-esque guitar licks. And folks, that’s just the first song. Jeff Tweedy pulls up a chair alongside a crack band featuring James Mastro, Steve Holley, Graham Maby and Andy York, who follows Mick Ralphs and Mick Ronson as the perfect foil for Ian’s sound. What results is an album as dynamic as it is socially acute. The mid-section of the album (“Brainwashed”, “Shrunken Heads”, “Soul of America” and “How’s Your House”) skewer global politics, apathy and the endless contest between the UK and US to see who can mess it up worse. The latter, along with “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young” also boast some of the greasiest guitar since John Hiatt’s “Things Called Love”.

But Hunter has always had a way with the mid-tempo heart tugger, and there are two here that can stand proudly alongside “Irene Wilde”. An older, maybe wiser Hunter looks backwards on “When The World Was Young”, which features one of his strongest recorded vocal performances. But it’s the sparse, soul-baring naked pain of “Read ’em and Weep” that made my jaw drop. Do sixty-plus rockers still write with that much passion? Apparently so.

 Many people foolishly wrote Ian Hunter off after the Ronson era drew to a close. He’s made a few good records since then, but the recent 1-2 punch of Rant and Shrunken Heads might be the apex of his career…so far. See you in the “Best of 2007” list, Mr. Hunter. Brilliant.

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