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The Best New Oldies Albums of 2014 (Robert Fontenot)
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ZZ Top will help kick off a new series on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." The Texas trio will team up with Weezer for the show's first "Mash Up Mondays" performance. The bands -- which Kimmel has dubbed Wee-Z Top -- will make their collaborative appearance on February 2nd. Other musical pairings for the late-night talk show include Haim [[ hime ]] and Morris Day and the Time on February 9th, and Aloe Blacc with Blackstreet on the 16th. The final "Mash Up Mondays" duo has yet to be revealed. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
Tom Petty is describing the similarities between his hit "I Won't Back Down" and Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" as "a musical accident -- no more, no less." Earlier this week, news broke that Petty and Smith had reached an out-of-court agreement to give the rocker a writing credit and royalties for "Stay With Me." Petty released a statement on his site Thursday, clarifying that he has "never had any hard feelings toward Sam" and that "the word lawsuit was never even said" in their meetings with the young Brit's people, who he called "very understanding." As for the similarities in the songs, Petty writes that "all [his] years of songwriting have shown [him] that these things can happen" and he wishes Sam "all the best for his ongoing career."
Sam re-posted the statement to his Instagram page for his followers as well. The 22-year-old is going into the upcoming Grammy Awards with six nominations, including Record and Song of the Year for "Stay With Me."
Ringo Starr will be sending out his "Postcards from Paradise" in a couple of months. That's the name of the former Beatle's latest solo album, which is slated to arrive March 31st. "Postcards from Paradise" will be made up of eleven original songs, including the first one Ringo wrote with his All-Starr Band, "Island in the Sun." The album also features a host of guest stars, including Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton, and more. Starr explains that if he's recording and a fellow musician stops in to say hello, they're going to end up on the record. Meanwhile, Ringo is also scheduled to embark on a tour of North and South America, starting February 13th in Bossier City, Louisiana.
Brian Wilson is spilling the beans on his next album. The Beach Boy's latest solo effort, "No Pier Pressure," is due out April 7th, and will come with a number of special guests. Included in the list of featured artists are Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine and David Marks, indie pop duo She and Him, country singer Kacey Musgraves, fun. frontman Nate Ruess, and more. Wilson says he recruited current artists for this project because he wanted to "finally become hip with his kids."
Steve Hackett says Genesis' new documentary is proof that the band's classic lineup will probably never be able to reunite as equals. "Sum of the Parts" was released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this month, and Hackett tells ABC News it offers fans "an idea of the priorities that come across." He says he got on board with the documentary because he thought it would focus on all five members' work equally. But instead he says the film was "heavily butchered in the cutting room" to focus mainly on the hit-making run of Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford. Hackett says that makes a Genesis reunion "extremely unlikely," but he adds that his door is still open to the idea of playing with his former bandmates if they all by some chance agree to get together again. In the meantime, Hackett is set to release a new solo album, "Wolflight," on April 7th. He's also scheduled to bring his Genesis Extended tour to South America in March.
Prolific poet and songwriter Rod McKuen has died. McKuen's friend and producer Jim Pierson tells the "Los Angeles Times" McKuen passed away Thursday at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills after a bout with pneumonia. He was 81. The Oakland, California-born artist enjoyed much commercial success in the 1960s and 1970s. He famously reworked Jacques Brel's song "Le Moribond" into the English-language version of "Seasons in the Sun," which was later covered by, among others, Canadian singer Terry Jacks and the Kingston Trio. Frank Sinatra even covered an album of McKuen songs in 1969 called "A Man Alone."
McKuen earned an Oscar nomination for his song "Jean" for the 1969 movie "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," and for the music he contributed to the animated feature "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." His published works include more than 36 collections of poems and essays. Pierson says McKuen had recently been hospitalized before his passing Thursday.
Sly Stone is finally getting paid. TheWrap.com says the former Sly and the Family Stone frontman received a five-million-dollar judgment Tuesday, resolving part of his lawsuit against his former manager Gerald Goldstein, Goldstein's company Even St. Productions, and attorney Glenn Stone. Sly testified that he filed his suit five years ago in an effort to receive royalties he was owed, because he "couldn't get any money." He also said had no knowledge of getting any payments from 1989 through 2009, and had millions due to him.
The late Marvin Gaye's family isn't happy the jury won't be allowed to directly compare Marvin's "Got To Give It Up" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." HollywoodReporter.com says the judge has granted Thicke and Pharrell Williams' motion to bar Marvin's song from being played in court. They made their request after the judge ruled that Marvin's relatives didn't adequately prove they owned the copyright to the sound recording, only the sheet music to the song. The Gaye family attorney Richard Busch says he's surprised by the decision, and knows of "no similar case where this has occurred." He adds that he and his clients "do not believe that a truly fair trial can take place if the jury cannot hear and compare both songs."
But Thicke and Williams' lawyer Howard King says "a truly fair trial requires only a comparison of the compositions, not the sound recording." He has previously suggested playing "Got To Give It Up" on a keyboard in court, so jurors will be able to hear what Marvin wrote. Their case is scheduled to go to court on February 10th.
Kinks guitarist Dave Davies is clarifying a few things about his relationship with his son. Last week Davies' friend and collaborator John Carpenter talked to "Billboard" about a project he was working on with Daniel Davies, and referred to him as, quote, "my godson, the kid I raised." Now Davies tells "Billboard" it's an exaggeration to say Carpenter raised his son, explaining that the director really just "stepped in to help during a difficult period." Davies says Daniel lived with Carpenter during a period in his adolescence while "things were sorted out" following Dave's split with Daniel's mother. But Davies says he continued to provide child support, and doesn't want to be portrayed as someone who neglected his son. Davies adds that he has a "strong father and son relationship" with Daniel, while Daniel and Carpenter "maintain a healthy bond" as well.
Marianne Faithfull, "Give My Love to London."
Marianne is the kind of survivor Mick Jagger should have been: she bends where her Sixties boyfriend breaks, using her tribulations as fuel even when (especially when?) she brings them on herself. It's the reason she can hold a song down emotionally even as her voice fades, her sheer status as the grand dame of broken souls giving her the authority to declaim the emotional horrors of the world, both in her own words and in others'. So it seems only natural that what may be her finest hour comes just after Faithfull, one of rock's most famous ex-junkies, begun fighting off the effects of a broken hip without the use of painkillers. Her fellow dark realists are here, with Nick Cave, Roger Waters, and Steve Earle all contributing, but she can also tear the meat out of songs as seemingly facile as the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love" and Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well." London's greatest triumph, however, may be its sonic canvas, Spectorian in its worldly moments and deathly quiet in its personal ones, perfectly delineating the overlap of her obsessions: folk, polite British pop, roots rock, and European cabaret.
Robert Plant, "Lullaby and...the Ceaseless Roar."
Lots of Zeppelin fans assume that Robert Plant's latest and most dramatic swerve away from hard rock stems from the fact that, at age 66, he simply can't replicate his old banshee howl, but with every passing year, it becomes clear why he keeps turning down all those possible Zep reunions: he's simply not interested in the style anymore. Making an entire late-period career out of the atmospherics that used to hold his old band together seems like building a house out of grout, but in fact it's more freeing than ever, and it leads the former lemon squeezer to go on a musical archaeology dig, looking for the common ancestry between European folk, American blues, and Middle Eastern everything. His latest is perhaps the first to avoid rock trends entirely, and like his Alison Krauss duets, it allows him to perfect the secret weapon he brought when getting the Led out: not the sound of his voice, which still sounds fine in a croon, but the painterly impressionism of his musical worldview.
Ian McLagan, "United States."
Who would have thought that the former (Small) Faces pianist/organist would age more gracefully than his old lead singer? It doesn't have the emotional depth of his last album, 2008's Never Say Never, which found him facing the tragedy of losing his wife om a car crash, but that's fitting: released just a few months before his death, Ian McLagan's unexpected farewell is an appropriately low-key, bare-bones affair, just his electric and acoustic pianos, a pickup band, and ten unassuming songs that last less than half an hour all together. But this is Ian, and his shaggy dog love songs have the old magic, the kind of bluesy pub-rock that suggests he made peace with the world before he left it. The occasional boogie-woogie inflections practically call out for Rod the Mod, but the smart and simple popcraft also makes this Paul McCartney's least presumptuous record in decades. A class way to go out.
Stevie Nicks, “24 Karat Gold (Songs from the Vault)”
When Fleetwood Mac's mystic spirit says "from the vault," she's only partially hyperbolizing: all but one of these songs (15 on the deluxe edition!) are newly-recorded demos of songs left off of Mac and Stevie solo albums, one of them dating all the way back to 1969. For most artists, this would mean a hit-or-miss, stylistically confusing collection, but it turns out Nicks has been keeping her realist side on a leash all these years so that she can fit in her witchy woman musings. The result is her most emotionally vulnerable yet defiant album since her solo debut, 1981's Bella Donna, and perhaps ever. To that end, producer Dave Stewart gives her the Petty Lite production of that album, calling in pros like Waddy Wachtel and Benmont Tench -- only the title cut sounds like a Rumours bonus track, and aside from the paper thin rock out "I Don't Care" and the Vanessa Carlton cover, everything here would impress even a casual Stevie fan. Nothing stuns like "Edge of Seventeen" or wails like "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," but if you prefer the prickly, earthbound Nicks of "Dreams" and "Stand Back," this is the album you've been waiting for.
Neil Diamond, "Melody Road"Despite his undeniable talents as a songwriter, the "Jewish Elvis" has always been an entertainer first and foremost. Why else would he have been blessed with that voice? Rick Rubin's very rubinesque recent reboot of Neil Diamond's essence helped clear away several decades of cultural glop to reveal what his hardcore fans could always hear, but Neil was meant to play on a big emotional stage, and so now that Capitol's taken him on after 40 years, they've assigned producer Don Was to recapture the glory of his greatest years on Uni. If you're not sure what that entails, you'll find out soon enough -- the first few songs on Melody Road call to mind "Cracklin' Rosie," "Song Sung Blue," and "I Am... I Said," and while the arrangements are necessarily a little more subtle than the early '70s would ever allow, for about an hour it sounds like the old Neil is back on the radio again, perhaps more countrypolitan than we remember ("Forever in Blue Jeans" also threatens to break out a lot) but still in fine voice. We missed you, buddy.
Jerry Lee Lewis, “Rock and Roll Time”
The Killer's umpteenth comeback isn't nearly as exciting a trip through his past as his recent autobiography, but it stands out from his recent releases anyway -- despite the title and the cover, this isn't the Sun Records hellraiser fighting his way back to the top but the '60s Jerry, disgraced yet defiant, the Smash Records country crooner exploring the various details of his surprisingly complex personality. (Recording at Sun with guests at an absolute minimum helps this aesthetic a lot.) Rock and roll has long absorbed any lessons Jerry Lee had to offer it, musically and stylistically, and so when he leans into the crowdpleasers, both his and others', he merely sounds like a survivor. The country ballads, on the other hand, are unapologetic and deadly serious, as they used to be after everybody wrote Lewis off. Maybe that's why he wanted to remind everyone he could not only rock, but still be free.
Bob Seger, “Ride Out.”
It's hard to know what exactly is up with Bob Seger. His first new album in eight years is likely to be his last, and it's half covers to boot, yet reports are that he's got dozens and dozens of good songs in the vault. And while he sounds, at 70, perfectly able to make you believe that rock and roll never forgets, he may be forgetting rock and roll; he recorded this one in Nashville, and the country influence bleeds over into the borrowed songs, from John Hiatt to Kasey Chambers to Steve Earle to Wilco. Yet Ride Out captures a restless Seger, and as a transitional album it's often fascinating, an attempt to leave the Silver Bullet sound behind once and for all. What is a bar band leader, even a ferocious and insightful one, without a bar band? Hopefully we get one more chance to find out.