VAXXED: An EXCLUSIVE interview with producer DEL BIGTREE!

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE:

     First things first: regardless of what you may have read elsewhere, VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE is not an anti-vaccination film. However, it is a very important documentary that does raise some interesting and often alarming facts about the relationship between the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine and autism. While this subject may not be new to older readers, there is a new generation of young parents who are completely unaware that this was even an issue in the recent past. And why don’t they know? The answer to that question can be found in VAXXED, one of the most controversial and misunderstood documentaries in recent memory.
Before discussing the focus of VAXXED, let’s go back a few years. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, was falsely accused of starting the anti-vax movement when he – and eleven other authors – published an article in UK medical journal The Lancet. The article, which linked autism with the MMR vaccine (and not ALL vaccines), caused outrage and panic in equal measures. For reasons more complicated than I can go into (Google it!), The Lancet eventually retracted the feature, ten of the twelve authors retracted their support of the article, and Wakefield was eventually barred from practicing medicine in the UK. Flash forward to 2013 when biologist Dr. Brian Hooker received a call from Dr. William Thompson, a Senior Scientist at the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC). Thompson, as it turns out, led the CDC’s 2004 study on the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. According to Thompson, the CDC omitted crucial data in their final report that revealed a “causal relationship” between the vaccine and autism. Hooker then reached out to Andrew Wakefield and the seeds of VAXXED were planted.
VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE is a fascinating film from beginning to end. Directed by Wakefield and produced by Emmy-winning producer (THE DOCTORS) and medical journalist Del Bigtree, the film focuses on William Thompson’s astonishing revelations about the truth behind the CDC’s findings. Thompson does not appear in the film, although his voice and the documents he turned over as evidence do, and these documents are quite startling.
The passion, belief, concern and love that went into making VAXXED is evident in every frame. However, writing about this film doesn’t do it justice. Although a documentary, VAXXED plays out like a political thriller and the viewer is left with many questions by the time the film ends. That may leave an audience angry and confused after watching a film of fiction, but for a documentary like VAXXED, it leaves the viewer with a different perspective…and the desire to see changes made. For Bigtree, Wakefield and all of those involved with this film, that is the type of reaction they are looking for. Intrigued now? Well, you SHOULD be.
Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with the film’s producer, Del Bigtree, and discuss the film’s goals, the controversy surrounding it and more…

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THE FLESHTONES: Exclusive Q&A with Peter Zaremba!

Hide The Beer, THE FLESHTONES Are Here: 

In 1976, a group of friends came together somewhere in New York to play primitive Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired by the sweaty, edgy underground Garage Rock scene of the ‘60s. They called themselves The Fleshtones and by 1980, they were signed to IRS Records. Their debut EP, UP-FRONT, introduced their musical mayhem to a young audience eager to feel the flames of true Rock ‘n’ Roll burning in their soul. The Fleshtones were instantly embraced by music fans and critics as the ultimate Garage Rock outfit – unpretentious, fun-loving and party-pleasing. Led by guitarist Keith Streng and vocalist Peter Zaremba, the band’s subsequent albums for IRS were the audio equivalent of the best frat parties you ever attended – sometimes unhinged but always memorable and entertaining. With their popularity rising and a few albums in their back pocket, frontman Zaremba was chosen in ‘84 to host THE CUTTING EDGE, an influential alternative music show that aired once a month on MTV until 1987.

By the latter part of the ‘80s, The Fleshtones had left IRS but were still a popular live band. Releasing a series of indie albums over the years and constant touring kept the band busy and their fanbase happy. With a line-up that has been stable for the last twenty six years – Streng, Zaremba, drummer Bill Hilhizer (since 1980) and bassist Ken Fox (since 1990) – The Fleshtones have released a series of albums that are still rooted in Garage Rock madness. However, the quartet are not merely one-trick ponies – they’ve expanded upon their sweaty Rock ‘n’ Roll foundation and dabbled in Soul, Pop, Psyche and whatever else floats their boat. This is most evident on their 2016 platter, THE BAND DRINKS FOR FREE. Normally, a band that is celebrating their 40th Anniversary would already be on automatic pilot and putting out the same album over and over. The Fleshtones, on the other hand, are actually better songwriters now than ever – the hooks may not always snag you on first listen but by the third spin, you’ll be singing along…probably with a beer in one hand and fist pumping the air with the other. With ten originals (written by Zaremba, Streng and Fox) and two cover versions, The Fleshtones have created a hook-filled fiesta for the senses. They may not possess the drug-fueled youthful energy of yore, but that doesn’t mean that they no longer have the passion – THE BAND DRINKS FOR FREE is proof that getting older doesn’t mean your albums have to start sucking. Let the party continue on…

Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to toss a few questions over to Peter Zaremba, who graciously took time out to respond.

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THE TURTLES: Spaz reviews the reissues on Manifesto Records

The Turtles scored a handful of hits in the ‘60s – songs that are still played on oldies stations nearly fifty years later – yet they seldom receive the credit they deserve. As I prepared to write this review, I just could not figure out why they aren’t held in higher esteem by the public at large. Sure, us music guys love them to death but why do they get overlooked when people talk about the great bands from the ‘60s? I mean, come on, folks! “Happy Together” is an absolute classic and now that you’ve read that two word song title, that song’s chorus is bouncing around inside your head, isn’t it? If not, you need to stop what you’re doing and allow that song to careen down your cranial caverns and make you feel good all over before you continue reading…

To be fair, The Turtles do get some recognition but just not as much as they deserve. There seems to be two different tiers when people think about the most influential ‘60s Rock bands – the first is the Beatles/Beach Boys/Rolling Stones/Kinks/Who tier while the second tier consists of ‘everybody else’. And as you know, that second tier is definitely crowded: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and many others are up on top of that level, enjoying constant reappraisal and critical attention. However, buried amongst those fighting for a chance to breathe are The Monkees, Herman’s Hermits, Dave Clark Five, The Four Seasons and especially The Turtles.

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LINDSEY STIRLING’s Brave Enough is available NOW!

LINDSEY STIRLING

BRAVE ENOUGH

8.19.16

This highly anticipated release features a number of high profile collaborations including Christina Perri, Dan + Shay, ZZ Ward, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Rivers Cuomo, Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist Lecray, and critically acclaimed electronic musicians/producers Zedd and Robert DeLong.

Blending electronic music with a diverse number of musical genres that include pop, country, rap, alternative and rock, BRAVE ENOUGH displays Stirling’s impressive ability to push her own musical boundaries while continuing to embrace her own unique signature sound.

Lindsey Stirling is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, singer and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her eponymous YouTube channel, which she created in 2007.

Stirling performs a variety of music styles, from classical to pop and rock to electronic dance music. Aside from original work, her discography contains covers of songs by other musicians and various soundtracks. Her music video, “Crystallize” finished as the eighth-most watched video of 2012, and her cover version of “Radioactive” with Pentatonix won Response of the Year in the first YouTube Music Awards in 2013. Stirling achieved one million singles sold worldwide by August 2014. As of July 2016, her Lindseystomp YouTube channel exceeded 8 million subscribers and over a billion total views.

Stirling has been named in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 In Music: The Class Of 2015. Forbes notes her quarter-finalist position on America’s Got Talent season five in 2010, a No. 2 position on the Billboard 200 for her second album Shatter Me in 2014, and her 8 million subscribers on YouTube.

Stirling’s debut album was nominated for the 2014 Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Albums. Stirling’s second album Shatter Me won the 2015 Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Album. Both albums are now certified GOLD

FISCHER-Z: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with JOHN WATTS!

John Watts is one of those rare gems in the music business – a singer/songwriter who continues to reinvent himself with each release and yet manages to retain his unique musical vision. Like any good art, his past releases still ‘feel’ contemporary even though they were created at another moment in time. Best of all, his musical output has continued to reach new heights with each album – he’s never released a bad full-length in a nearly forty year career. Whether he is operating under his own name or the Fischer-Z moniker, John Watts is undeniably the most under-rated artist to emerge from the Post-Punk/New Wave era of the late ‘70s.

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THE ARCHIES: Spaz reviews SUGAR SUGAR: THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION box!

Gather ‘round, my friends and let me introduce you to the absolute best cure for your blues: sugar. Well, “Sugar Sugar” to be more precise.

Yes, one spin of The Archies’ mega-hit “Sugar Sugar” can wipe away any negative vibe that is inhabiting your universe. Even if you aren’t a fan of ‘60s Bubblegum, you’ve probably heard this gloriously happy tune many times since it was released in 1969. Figuratively (and perhaps literally) the missing link between The Monkees and The Partridge Family, this slice of Pop love has been played millions of times all around the world, used in advertising and has been both praised and ridiculed by music fans everywhere. The fact that you still remember it today – regardless of your personal feelings – is testament to the power that “Sugar Sugar” has had on the listener.

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CHRIS COLLINGWOOD: An EXCLUSIVE interview with the LOOK PARK/FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE frontman!

LookPark_LookPark_COVER

LOOK POP:

An EXCLUSIVE interview with CHRIS COLLINGWOOD

When an artist attempts to alter their musical direction in even the slightest way, the final results are scrutinized by critics and hardcore fans alike. One of the few bands that were able to expand their artistic vision without losing their fan base was The Beatles. Since then, very few artists have been able to mature and grow without being lambasted on the internet by fans who felt betrayed by their beloved musical idols. Remember when Bob Dylan went electric in late 1965? One man yelled “Judas!” and the world spun off its axis. By the way, Dylan’s career recovered quite nicely, thank you! Even The Stranglers, one of the UK’s most popular Punk bands, was skewered once they became a bona-fide Pop/Rock outfit by the middle of the ‘80s. It would seem that their fan base wanted them to remain the scruffy, crabby crew they grew to loathe a decade before. So, what is an artist to do? Stay the same and lose fans because they don’t alter the formula, or alter the formula and lose fans because they didn’t stay the same? Chris Collingwood, he of Fountains Of Wayne (“Stacy’s Mom”) fame, has decided to do both – but with his new project, Look Park, he’s not in any danger of losing fans. At all.

Although it has been five years since Fountains Of Wayne released their last album, 2011’s SKY FULL OF HOLES, Collingwood has been working hard on mixing up his proven songwriting ‘formula’ and approaching the songs in new and more intimate ways. FOW bandmate Adam Schesinger has been busy with various projects, including the fab new Monkees album, but Chris has surprisingly kept a very low profile. One of the few times we’ve heard from him since 2011 was when he covered The Dream Academy’s “Life In A Northern Town” for the excellent ‘80s ‘tribute’ album HERE COMES THE REIGN AGAIN released in 2014. All the while, he has been working on new material and finally went into the studio with producer Mitchell Froom and recorded the most excellent LOOK PARK album. This ‘debut’ album is a collection of well-crafted songs that retain the melodic charm of FOW but takes Chris in new and exciting directions. One of producer Froom’s earliest claims to fame was his work with Crowded House, and Look Park travels a similar musical path as those albums from the Kiwi band led by Neil Finn. The album is filled with great melodic hooks, yes, but the album is warm and intimate. These are songs you fall in love with, and like true love, the album only gets better with time. The production is lush yet intimate and Collingwood approaches each track with a tenderness that was not as apparent as on his work with FOW. “Stars Of New York,” “Breezy,” “Minor Is The Lonely Key,” “You Can Come Round If You Want To,” and “Crash That Piano” are absolutely lovely without being maudlin or too mellow (not that either of those are bad things). Surprisingly, there is very little electric guitar on the album – acoustic guitar, piano and mellotron create an atmosphere that is inviting and melancholic. In essence, LOOK PARK is a beautiful piece of work. It is Pop and it is powerful – it’s just not Power Pop. Don’t fear, FOW fans, Chris has delivered the goods and they are glorious.

Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat to Chris Collingwood about the making of the LOOK PARK album and much more…

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Alliance Entertainment Holding Corporation acquires ANconnect retail music business

AllianceLogo

In a transaction closed on July 8, 2016, Alliance Entertainment Holding Corporation (“AEC”) has acquired from ANconnect, LLC (“ANC”) the ANC retail music assets and business, which includes vendor managed inventory accounts of Walmart and Best Buy.

AEC, the largest wholesale distributor of physical home entertainment audio, video and software in the United States and best-in-class distribution solutions, provides a high level of service in various disciplines including: mass merchant retail and wholesale distribution, consumer direct services, vendor managed inventory systems and independent music store fulfillment.

The transaction brings an expanded assortment of products to ANC customers, which includes product lines of CD, Vinyl, DVD, Blu-ray and electronic products from AEC’s current 480,000 in stock SKU base.

Many ANC employees will join the AEC team as part of the transition. In addition, physical product merchandising services for stores will continue to be provided by Anderson Merchandisers through a long term merchandising service contract, signed as part of the closing.

Following a short transitional period, distribution will operate from AEC’s Shepherdsville, KY 660,000 sq. ft. warehouse to realize expected synergies.

“ANC sells and merchandises some of the finest retailers in the United States, through brick and mortar and direct to customer websites” said Jeff Walker, CEO of AEC. “This transaction provides AEC with additional growth opportunity to continue servicing these retailers with a wide variety of product offerings and at the same time keep the high level of merchandising service Anderson provides, resulting in a winning solution for our new customers.”

Charlie Anderson, Chairman of both ANC and Anderson Merchandisers, said, “In a rapidly consolidating industry, this transaction for ANC results in the best possible outcome for our associates, as well as our customers. At Anderson Merchandisers, our close association with time sensitive entertainment product has presented the company with a unique growth opportunity for broad based brand representation in a dynamic industry.”

Alliance Entertainment Holding Corporation

AEC is the largest wholesale distributor of physical home entertainment audio and video software in the United States, selling to mass merchant retail brick and mortar stores, internet retailers, independent store owners and vendor managed services.

About ANconnect, LLC

ANconnect, LLC is a member of the Anderson Companies, and has led entertainment category success across North America. Anderson Merchandisers, LLC is an independent operating unit within Anderson Companies, and is a leading diversified retail services company across North America. Anderson Merchandisers will continue to perform in-store marketing and merchandising services for Alliance Entertainment

 

MICHAEL SCHENKER: An EXCLUSIVE Interview!

 
ATTACK OF  THE MAD AXEMAN:
 
An EXCLUSIVE interview 
with 
MICHAEL SCHENKER
    There’s a reason why German guitarist Michael Schenker is considered a music  legend. He carved out a successful career as a hard rock pioneer with German  rockers Scorpions (1969-’73 and  ’78-’79) and British heavy rock band UFO  (1973-’78) as well as his own projects The  Michael Schenker Group and McAuley-Schenker Group throughout the ‘80s and beyond. His manic playing, songwriting skills  and knack for creating extremely memorable riffs has earned him legions of  devoted fans all over the world. And let’s face it – Michael Schenker is the  only guitarist that has ever made the Gibson Flying V guitar look cool. Many  have tried but only Schenker has succeeded. And now, with his latest project Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, he  is proving once again that he still has plenty of fire, skill and energy. Even  though he has been a professional musician for nearly fifty years, he has never  lost his mojo.
    Schenker’s first claim to fame was joining his  older brother Rudolph’s band Scorpions in 1969. He and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band at the same  time, although at fifteen, Michael was the youngest member of Scorpions by a  handful of years. He also just happened to be a unique guitarist and gifted  songwriter. He honed his skills with Scorpions for four years before leaving  the band and joining British rockers UFO. With UFO, Schenker became an
international sensation, steering the band away from their early Space Rock  leanings towards an edgy Hard Rock sound. UFO became a force to be reckoned  with, but by the end of 1978, he left the band. And to think he was barely into  his twenties at this point. Schenker rejoined Scorpions right after leaving UFO,  but soon realized he wanted to focus on his own thing. So he left – again – the  following year. The Michael Schenker Group was his next project, although he  moved away from the commercial sounds of his previous bands and embraced his  experimental side. For the next thirty years, he focused on various other  projects including a brief reunion with UFO, the McCauley-Schenker Group and  other endeavors. By 2008, he was ready to embrace his illustrious Hard Rock past and formed Temple Of Rock. The band has had several line-up changes over  the years but the most recent – and best – features Schenker joined by former  Scorpions members Herman “ze German” Rarebell (drums) and Francis Bucholz  (bass) plus guitarist/keyboardist Wayne  Findlay and powerhouse vocalist Doogie  White (Tank/La Paz/Rainbow/etc.). While on tour for their excellent 2015  sophomore studio album, Spirit On A Mission, the band was  approached about recording their live show using a new technology called 3D  Listening. The results can now be heard with the release of On A  Mission: Live In Madrid. On this release, you can practically ‘feel’  the atmosphere of the venue even on the normal stereo mix of this recording.  There’s even a version of the release that, with the correct audio equipment,  will make it seem as if you are there in the audience enjoying Michael and the  boys giving it their all on stage. The material during this scorching  performance spans Schenker’s entire career including Scorpions, UFO and, of  course, Temple Of Rock.
   Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat  with Michael Schenker as he prepared to embark on a series Michael Schenker Fest  shows, which feature appearances from three original vocalists he has worked  with over the years – Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet

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THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: A virtual round-table discussion about the VINYL EXPERIENCE

     The resurgence of vinyl’s popularity has brought an excitement back to the music industry. The love and passion from vinyl collectors has never waned; however, there is a new generation that is fascinated and energized by the format. The amount of record stores that closed their doors in the ‘90s and ‘00s is staggering, yet there are more new record stores opening up and operating today than just a handful of years ago. Music fans are now bonding over their vinyl purchases again, and some bands are releasing albums and singles strictly on vinyl (and we have Record Store Day to thank for much of that).  So, where does it go from here?  Instead of waxing poetic and offering one man’s opinion, I decided to invite a few other folks to offer their thoughts on vinyl-related subjects. A special thanks to those that took the time to get involved in this virtual roundtable!

Guest panelists:

  • HENRY PRIESTMAN (singer-songwriter/Yachts, The Christians, solo)
  • THOM ZIMNY (filmmaker/Wings For Wheels, The Promise, etc.)
  • KURT REIL (singer, songwriter, producer/The Gripweeds)
  • ZEEK WEEKLING (aka BOB BURGER: singer, songwriter/The Weeklings)
  • BILL KOPP (music journalist/Musocscribe, numerous liner notes)
  • LANNIE FLOWERS (singer-songwriter/The Pengwins, solo)
  • MICHAEL SIMMONS (singer, songwriter, producer/Sparklejets UK, The Yorktown Lads, etc.)
  • DAVE RAYBURN (singer-songwriter/podcast host)
  • PETER JACHIMIAK (Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies at the School of Media, University of South Wales)
  • GARY FITCH (vinyl enthusiast)
  • TIMOTHY BISHOP (podcast host)

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