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HAIRCUT 100: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with guitarist GRAHAM JONES!

 

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HAIRCUT 100 Revisited

Haircut 100’s debut album Pelican West remains one of the truly great albums of the ‘80s. Inspired by everything from Jazz and Latin music to ‘60s Pop and Post-Punk, the 1982 album was a breath of fresh air at a time when pretentious ‘Popstar’ posing was more important than making music. From Bob Sargents warm and crisp production and singer/guitarist Nick Heyward’s Pop smarts, to the inventive horn arrangements, Pelican West was an album inspired by many styles embedded in the past, yet sounded modern and fresh. The band’s ability to embrace their influences while also creating their own unique sound is what makes Pelican West a timeless album. It is not rooted to a particular time period, so you can still play it thirty four years later without feeling that the album has dated itself. You can’t say that about other career-defining albums from this time period including The Human League’s Dare, Culture Club’s Colour By Numbers, Duran Duran’s Rio or any number of so-called New Wave classics.

Initially lumped in with the British Jazz Funk movement, Haircut 100 were a true musical phenomenon formed by Heyward and bassist Les Nemes. Guitarist Graham Jones completed the original trio. The band grew into a sextet with the addition of percussionist Marc Fox, drummer Blair Cunningham and horn player Phil Smith. The band’s first three singles – “Favorite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),” “Love Plus One,” and “Fantastic Day” – became radio hits all over the world, and even earned airplay on the then-still-fresh MTV. To many, this fresh and seemingly wholesome band came out of nowhere and became a sensation. They may have been treated like teen idols in the UK, but other countries – including the U.S. – focused on the music. The album itself was filled to the brim with great songs, many of which could have easily been a hit had they been released as singles (I’m looking at you in particular, “Lemon Firebrigade”!). When the band released the Pop-tastic post-album single “Nobody’s Fool,” it was obvious that Heyward’s songwriting skills were still top notch.

However, the band’s massive success proved to be their downfall. Faced with the enormous pressure of writing a follow-up album, Heyward quit the band in the midst of recording sessions. Nick pursued a solo career (the lushly-produced North Of A Miracle contained a few of the songs the band had been working on prior to his departure) while the rest of the band soldiered on. By the time the sorely overlooked and quite wonderful second Haircut 100 album Paint And Paint was released, the band was down to a quartet (Cunningham had also left the band). The band quietly broke up a short time later. Though they have reunited in some form or another over the last decade for live shows, no new recordings have emerged.

Now, with the release of the Deluxe 2CD Edition of Pelican West – featuring additional non-album tracks and remixes – being reissued on Cherry Pop, Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with H100 guitarist Graham Jones and send him off a few questions in hopes of discovering more about this classic album…

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PET SHOP BOYS: Spaz reviews the album SUPER!

   Super, the 13th studio album by British duo Pet Shop Boys, is a prime example of why the Electronic/Dance act will never be part of a nostalgic ‘80s package tour – they are too busy moving into the future to live in the past. When they scored their first big hit 31 years ago with “West End Girls,” PSB were a delicious mixture of smarmy Pop and then-modern Electronica. Vocalist Neil Tennant’s deadpan (and slightly campy) vocals and Chris Lowe’s melodic, percolating Euro/Electropop backdrop made for some exciting records back in the day, earning them worldwide success and hits in every corner of the world.  By the ‘90s, their star had faded a bit in the U.S. although they still released innovative and exciting albums that were snapped up by audiences In vastly different time zones than the States. Thankfully, PSB have continued to make fresh, forward-thinking records over the years. They’ve kept on top of Dance and Electronic music trends and have embraced them wholeheartedly.  You’ll still find elements of their ‘80s and ‘90s sound on Super but you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re looking for “West End Girls 2016” because Neil and Chris have moved on.

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STEVE FORBERT: Romeo’s Tunes

 

Stephen SPAZ Schnee takes a stroll through some of the singer/songwriter’s best catalog releases

 
     Ah,  Steve Forbert…  38 years ago, he was lauded as ‘the new Dylan‘… which was a ludicrous tag to shackle anyone with.  First off, there had already been roughly 314 ‘new  Dylans’ since the old Dylan released his debut album in 1962.  While a few of them (Donovan in particular) had achieved a certain level of success, the others were swept aside when the next  ‘new Dylan’ came along.  It seemed that every singer/songwriter who played  an acoustic guitar and blew into a harmonica was destined to be labeled as the  next ‘new Dylan’.  And how many guitar-led bands were saddled with ‘the  new Beatles’ tag over the years?  Even the Bay City Rollers were once  called ‘the new Beatles’ but we all knew that they were really ‘the new 1910 Fruitgum Company’!
      As for Steve Forbert, he deserved to be called ‘the new Forbert’ and left to his own devices.  Judging by his recorded output, he was (and  is) an extremely gifted and unique artist who unfortunately spent the first  part of his career trying to shake the ‘new Dylan’ tag and move on. It wasn’t  his fault that misguided critics decided to slap a label on him but thankfully, he moved beyond that and has forged a successful career – his 2015 album Compromised is proof that he hasn’t lost any of his charm. Ever since he released his debut album, Alive On Arrival, in 1978, he has managed to release a series of albums that sound like no one else. His songs come from the heart.  Whether he is singing from experience or writing from another person’s perspective, he continues to hit the nail on the head each time. He still travels the Folk road that he began his journey on so many years ago, but he has no problem injecting Rock, Soul, Pop, Latin, Bluegrass and Zydeco into his songs. His music is now referred to as Americana but that’s just another attempt to label him.  If you need a simple description, I suppose American IS appropriate but there is so much more to him than one word can describe.
     While he continues to record and tour, his most commercially successful period was when he was signed to Nemperor/Sony in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He released four albums (and recorded a fifth) for the label before he moved on. He’s recorded for several labels since leaving Nemperor some 30 years ago yet the majority of his output remains just as riveting as the albums recorded during his so-called ‘heyday’.  Thankfully, he also releases exclusive titles through his own Rolling Tide Records imprint, which has been a great output for rare recordings and reissues. Now that a handful of those titles are now available via retail outlets, I thought it would be a perfect time to tell you about some of them…

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PRINCE: 1958-2016

PRINCE ROGERS NELSON
1958 – 2016


Nothing Compares 2 U
 

“Pop Life….

It seems that the cosmic stardust has finally settled on the golden age of Rock and Roll with the passing of its two brightest lights in only a matter of weeks..two complete originals yet sharing in retrospect an amazing amount of similarities….both were obviously trail blazers but it goes much further than that.

They were both incredibly prolific workaholics who kept us all guessing..both initially paid their dues and struggled artistically to find the hit formula,finally breaking through with futuristic concept albums in Ziggy and 1999..both flirted with sexual imagery and the reinvention of image…as they did musically switching between genres but at the same time creating their own sound….both heavily supported and nurtured fellow artists in writing and producing career saving music…not forgetting that they were gifted with the most amazing vocal ranges. The only main difference was that Prince was the consummate one man band….he could, and did it all…and he really COULD dance!…Bowie was a true cutting edge original, but also an amazing collaborator.

Bowie ruled the 70’s…Prince took over in the 80’s.

What a legacy they left us with.”

Jerry T. Jones (One The Juggler/Glamweazel)

GEORGE MARTIN: 1926-2016

 

“Every morning, after I wipe the sleep from my eyes, I  turn on my computer, check the overnight email, answer messages on Facebook, and take a gander at the Pure Pop Radio server to see if any gremlins have mucked up the works.This morning I woke up to the news that George Martin, whose generosity, creativity, and influence shaped the world of popular music in so many ways, has passed. Had he not been Ray Cathode, made game-changing comedy records, met  and worked with four lads from Liverpool and, literally and figuratively,  changed the world, and been such a genuinely human soul, the world as we know it would be a very different place.Today, I am taking all of this in and tomorrow…tomorrow, I will resume work on Pure Pop Radio. Today is a day to celebrate the memory of the true fifth Beatle, without whom so many ideas through the years would have blossomed as altogether different flowers.

 

Goodbye, George Martin. Safe passage.”

 

Alan Haber (www.purepopradio.com)

 

 

“Sir George Martin was just as much a part of the Beatles’ sound as their classic songs. Without George there to guide those four young Liverpudlian musicians, The Beatles would have been a different beast. They still would have been a force, but would they have changed the course of music without George’s guidance? Would they matter as much today without George’s production and arranging talents? Would they have survived even a year as a successful recording combo without George saying ‘yes’ to their ideas when everyone else would have said ‘no’? The answer to those questions is NO. George Martin made it happen. It is cliché to call George Martin the ‘fifth Beatle’ but it is true.
And to think that he did so many other remarkable productions outside of the Beatles’ records – from the silliness of The Goons and Peter Sellers to the winsome Soft Rock of America then on to the smooth Synthpop of Ultravox.. and many, many other artists. George Martin most certainly left his mark. We throw the word ‘legend’ around like a swear word these days, but when it comes down to it, ‘legend’ is the perfect description of the life and work of Sir George Martin.

 

 Goodnight, Sir George.”

 

Stephen SPAZ Schnee (Discussions Magazine)
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Anthrax’s FOR ALL KINGS Makes Top Ten Debut On Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart!

Multi-Grammy  nominee Anthrax have blasted into Billboard’s Top 10 with their 11th studio album, For All Kings, bowing at #9-bullet on the Top  200 Albums Chart and selling 34,000 units.  This debut eclipses the #12  debut made by the band’s 2011 Grammy-nominated, critically-acclaimed Worship Music.

The album also topped the Hard Rock Albums chart in both  the U.S. and Canada with its #1 debuts, and landed at #5 and #7 respectively on  the U.S. and Canada’s Top Current Albums charts.  Additionally, For  All Kings debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, #2 on  the Independent Albums chart, #4 Physical Albums, and #5 Vinyl Albums chart.

“We share this Top 10 victory with all of our  fans,” said the band’s Charlie Benante.  “Heavy metal is alive  and well.”

Since For All Kings was released  Friday, February 26, it has held the #1  position on both the iTunes Heavy Metal Albums sales chart and Amazon’s Best  Sellers in Metal chart.  In addition, the album’s first single,  “Breathing Lightning,” debuted last week in the Top 40 on both the
Mediabase Active Rock Chart and on BDS.

 

 

Press has also been an enormous champion of For  All Kings:  “The album is thrash perfection…”    “…a near flawless album…5 out of 5 stars…”   “…one of Anthrax’s best CDs of all time, a sparkling  triumph…” “…a surefire album-of-the-year contender…”

For All Kings is the band’s 11th studio  album, was produced by Jay Ruston, and is their first album since 1990’s Persistence  of Time to be written specifically for Joey Belladonna’s soaring vocals, an integral part of Anthrax’s classic signature sound. And the album IS  classic Anthrax, with the band’s metal thrash roots clearly front-and-center,  and lyrics that tackle topics such as the struggle to grow up and be  responsible, having blind faith and selling your soul, how the way you  live your life affects everyone around you, and murder and martyrdom rooted in  an ideology.

“Thank you so much to everyone who loves the record  we made,” added Anthrax’s Scott Ian.  “The response to For  All Kings has been fantastic, seriously, thank you all so much.”

Anthrax is currently on tour in South America with Iron  Maiden and will return to the U.S. for a series of festival dates in the  Spring.
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MAJOR LAZER take their ‘Mission’ to Cuba!

AMPED’s very own MAJOR LAZER were the first major American group to perform in Cuba “since the U.S. eased relations with the Caribbean’s largest island.” This news caps off a successful 12 month period that saw Major Lazer’s “Lean On” become Spotify’s most streamed song of all time!

You can read about this ‘major’ event HERE.

Check out a short clip of the crowed courtesy of the trio’s Facebook page!

Looks like Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire are living up to the title of their 2015 album, Peace Is The Mission!

 

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AFI side project BLAQK AUDIO to release MATERIAL on April 15!

Blaqk Audio, the electronic side endeavor of AFI’s Jade Puget and Davey Havok debuting August 14 in the form of the debut album CexCells actually had its genesis some five or six years ago even further back if one considers the duo’s shared love for the electronic music of the 1980s. Mixed by Dave Bascombe (Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Suede), CexCells expands upon and fully indulges the dark electronic textures that have influenced and pervaded the duo’s work for years. The results range from evocation of prime era Depeche Mode and early Ministry (“Stiff Kittens,” “Where Would You Like Them Left?,” “Bitter For Sweet”) to four on the floor club-friendly fare (“On A Friday,” “Snuff on Digital”-the latter being the first song written for the project, dating back to 2001-2002) to vulnerable balladry (“Wake Up, Open the Door and Escape to the Sea,” “The Fear of Being Found”)- all suffused with the common threads of Havok’s signature dark vocal and lyrical stylings and Puget’s epic, emotional arrangements.

TRACK LISTING:

Waiting To Be Told

First To Love

Ceremonial (Burst Into Stars)

Anointed

To Be Alone

Black at the Center

Curious Friends

Graphic Violence

I’m A Mess

Material

You Will Hate Me

TOUR

May 04 San Diego, CA House of Blues

May 05 Santa Ana, CA Observatory

May 06 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour

May 07 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades

May 10 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge

May 11 Seattle,WA Croc

May 13 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue

May 14 Denver, CO Bluebird

May 16 Saint Paul, MN Turf Club

May 17 Chicago,IL Bottom Lounge

May 18 Toronto,ON Mod Club

May 20 Cambridge, MA Sinclair

May 21 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall

May 22 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom

June 4 Mountain View, CA Live 105 BFD