Monday, June 2, 2008

Taking The Big Leak In Stride.

I remember way back in 1990, when under some rather devious circumstances on Kyle and My part, we ended up with a copy of Public Enemy's FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET. Sure, we loved the band and had a copy of the TERRORDOME cassingle, and was all caught up in the controversy concerning Chuck D. telling the Rabbis to get off of the rag, and comparing himself to Jesus being Crucified; but Hell, we had been hearing that from Bono for several years... Now we had some HOT property; a highly anticipated new release in our hands a week before the actual release date, and we felt pretty good about it. There was something about knowing that we were hearing this before anyone else that added to the Mind-Blowingly knocked out experience of listening to what has become one of the Essential HIP HOP Masterpieces of ALL TIME.

Fast forward to present day, and LEAKS are commonplace. Rarely do you find an anticipated release that ISN"T already on the internet available for download. While it may be initially annoying and frustrating to the artist, I don't believe it really deters from the sales of the product. true fans will run to the stores that Tuesday to pick up the CD or Vinyl anyways because they are fans. They want the artwork and lyrics. They want to hold the product in their hands, and eventually file it with the other albums in their collection. They can't wait to pay the money to see them live, and even some fanatics will pay to obtain the singles with rare or live songs tacked on to complete the collection. Consumers want to know what they are buying, and are just excited, thats all...
PRINCE recently played an amazing set at Coachella where he brought out Morris Day and Jerome Benton from THE TIME for a couple of songs. He has become very well known for his choice of cover songs (anybody remember his FOO FIGHTERS tune from the Super Bowl last year in the pouring rain?) and this year he didn't disappoint; he whipped out a Sarah McLaughlin song and Come Together by The Beatles. What made everyone drop their joints and I-Phones and shit their collective pants however was his version of RADIOHEAD'S CREEP- complete with a ripping-assed solo like how only he can do it. There were a lucky few of us who were unlucky enough to not be at Coachella that caught the performance on YOU TUBE. Amazing. Unfortunately for us, The Purple One and his massive team of Purple Lawyers blocked the video from being shown. Now not even Thom Yorke himself could see a legend covering one of his own songs!!! Admitting he was slightly confused, he demanded that Prince retract the embargo so that he and the rest of Radiohead's fans could enjoy a song that was stolen from him. Personally, I hope that Yoko Ono burns his ass in court for STEALING a song off a dead Beatle. It's an ironic thing when you try to plug a leak it seems; you end up looking like an ASSHOLE to the people who put you on your pedestal of wealth and fame; YOUR FANS.

Speaking of leaks, I just heard the new MY MORNING JACKET album called EVIL URGES, which will be released in June. You may have seen them on SNL last night performing "I'm Amazed" and the title song. I am lucky to have seen them live, because they are much better in concert than on record in my opinion. The new record is no exception. While "Z", from 2005 seemed like they were inching toward U2 territory (REDNECK RADIOHEAD?) it was an improvement from sounding like Neil Young (Their first releases.). There are songs from EVIL URGES that are annoyingly similar to PRINCE or BECK from the MIDNIGHT VULTURES era. Falsetto Central. Don't get me wrong; I love the new songs, and will be buying it, but in the meantime if you are a fan I recommend you get online and try it out. (Elbows- or google it.)

Now for a different kind of leak....

prince covers CREEP @ Coachella 2008

The Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg.

The year was 1981, and The Clash were on a roll, but already some cracks were appearing in the verneer. Tensions in the band were beginning to wear the band down as well as drummer Topper Headon's 100 pound a day heroin habit. The good news was that even though their three album set SANDINISTA! was greeted with mixed reviews, they had finally broke wide open in the U.S. after a triumphant series of sold out shows at Bonds Theater in NYC (which resulted in Beatlemania type riots) and with release of THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN single, which dominated R&B airwaves earlier that Summer. Their time in New York allowed them to fully embrace the influence of the newly emerging hip hop culture, and as a result they quickly recorded and released "This Is Radio Clash" with a video for MTV chock full of footage from the Bonds shows, and from a Don Letts super 8 film titled THE CLASH ON BROADWAY chronicling the band's new found liason with Rap. The beginning of the decade was severely prolific and hectic for them; with five albums and nine singles already in the can, as well as what became a somewhat overbearing tour schedule.

So what did they do? They started another record of course, settling into Hendrix's Electric Ladyland Studios to lay backing tracks, and to relish in their hipness to the Manhattan Mass of Celebrity. They were also becoming fascinated, like much of America, with all things Vietnam after the release of such films as Apocalypse Now, Coming Home, and The Boys In Company C; and the release of the Michael Herr memoir DISPATCHES. Still riding on the massive influence of New York, they rarely rested; soon building up a batch of songs that promised to be yet another multi-sided release like their previous two albums. The working Title was THE RAT PATROL FROM FORT BRAGG.

The Clash then went on a short tour of Japan and southeast Asia where they were met with even more riots and positive fan response. They donned their now famous military regalia and mohawks, and returned to London to mix down the double album. The band was divided about the length of the songs, with guitarist Mick being the only one who was into the lengthy dance mixes, while the others were beginning to feel the record would end up being panned for being as bloated as SANDINISTA! Glyn Johns; who was already legendary for paring The Beatles GET BACK and The Who's LIFEHOUSE sessions down to single disc offerings (Let It Be and Who's Next) was brought in to clean up the mess. Songs were chopped in half, edited, and in some cases excluded all together. The result was what most people now know as COMBAT ROCK, an album that broke them wide open in the states and elsewhere. Soon Mick and Topper both would be sacked, and the band as we knew it would be effectively over.

Its a shame that the sessions were whittled away into what became a single record; because while The Beatles and The Who sessions really were bloated messes, THE RAT PATROL sessions were what is now looked back on as quite coherent and groundbreaking. With Joe Strummer's death, there is no possibility of a reunion of course, and with numerous compilations flooding the market; it would be wonderful if Mick Jones reasserted control of these neglected mixes and re-released this set perhaps as a DELUXE EDITION. I can't think of any other album that deserves it more.