"Valleys of Neptune" is a revelation for the ears
Eddie Kramer understands fans might be suspicious when “new” Jimi Hendrix recordings are released. After the guitarist’s death in 1970 all sorts of things were released, some unfinished, some overdubbed by musicians Hendrix never met, some simply sub-par that should have stayed in the vault. Bootleggers completed the picture by leaking and selling anything they could get their hands on. Even the “new” unreleased title song, “Valleys of Neptune,” has been long available on the black market (though not this version, a professionally mixed combo of two takes a year apart that sound incredible).
The studio album “Valleys of Neptune” is in stores March 9, and is also streaming on MSN. Besides unreleased tracks, including two instrumentals, it has loose, jamming reworkings of Hendrix classics like “Stone Free,” “Fire” and “Red House.”
“I think the fans are going to love this – Jimi at his most relaxed,” said Kramer, who produced and mixed the album. “These are versions of these songs that nobody has ever heard, certainly not in this way. They sound fresh; it sounds like it was recorded yesterday.”
Kramer took a few minutes to talk about the newly found tape and what Hendrix was like to work with in the studio.
Sparklehorse singer/songwriter commits suicide
"It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today. We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There's a heaven and there's a star for you."
Mark Linkous, a singer and songwriter whose music, released under the name Sparklehorse, was renowned in indie-rock and alt-country circles for its haunted, allusive themes and fragile beauty, committed suicide on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. He was 47.
He shot himself in the heart in an alley outside a friend’s home, said his manager, Shelby Meade. Lt. Greg Hoskins of the Knoxville Police Department confirmed that the police responded to a call at 1:20 p.m., and that Mr. Linkous was pronounced dead at the scene. According to his family, Mr. Linkous owned the gun that he used.
On four Sparklehorse albums, released between 1995 and 2006, and in numerous collaborations, Mr. Linkous developed a style that sent sunny, Beatles-esque melodies through a filter of crackling, damaged folk-rock, and his songs were filled with entropic imagery. “Everything that’s made is made to decay,” he sang in a whispery tenor on Sparklehorse’s debut album, “Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot” (Capitol).
Frederick Mark Linkous was born in Arlington, Va., in 1962 to a family with roots in the coal-mining country of southwestern Virginia. After graduating from high school he moved to New York City and started the band the Dancing Hoods, which relocated to Los Angeles in pursuit of mainstream rock success. But disillusioned with the music business, Mr. Linkous returned to Virginia and reinvented his sound as Sparklehorse, a name that he applied to himself as well as his band.
“We were trying so hard to get signed, and I just quit and came back home and just gave up on all those aspirations of being a rock star,” he said in an interview in 1999. “That’s when I started making good music.”
Although Sparklehorse’s music never had wide commercial success, it found respect among critics and other musicians. Rolling Stone called its 1999 album, “Good Morning Spider,” a “homemade tour de force of psychedelic Appalachian folk slop,” and the third Sparklehorse record, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” released in 2001, had guest appearances by Tom Waits and PJ Harvey.
While on tour in 1996, Mr. Linkous collapsed in a hotel room after taking Valium and antidepressants. He briefly went into cardiac arrest before being revived, and he sustained injuries to his legs that put him in a wheelchair for six months. His legs never fully recovered their strength. His convalescence inspired “St. Mary,” a song on his second album named after the hospital where he recuperated. “Come on boys,” he sings, “please let me taste the clean air in my lungs.”
Mr. Linkous was also in demand as a producer, working with the singer Daniel Johnston and the Swedish singer (and member of the Cardigans) Nina Persson, among others. He collaborated with Danger Mouse and the director David Lynch on “Dark Night of the Soul,” an album and photo book whose scheduled release last year was delayed by legal entanglements; last week Danger Mouse announced that those problems had been worked out and that the album would be released soon.
Mr. Linkous had recently completed most of the work for a new Sparklehorse album and was in the process of moving to Knoxville and setting up a studio to complete the record, said Ms. Meade, his manager.
His survivors include his wife, Teresa Linkous; his mother, Gloria Hughes Thacker; his father, Frederick Linkous, and stepmother, Leta; and three brothers, Matt, Paul and Daniel Linkous.
This weekend, we learned the sad news that Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkoushad taken his own life. The New York Times reports that Linkous shot himself in the heart in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was 47.
Over the course of his career, Linkous toured and collaborated with a lots of musicians, and he made admirers of many more. As the news of his death circulated, many of those artists took to the internet, Twitter especially, to air out their feelings for Linkous. Below, we've rounded up some of those reactions.
Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood: "I was very sad to hear the news that MarkLinkous has died. He and his band toured with us in Europe, at the start of OK Computer, and they were great every night. His first two records were very important to me, and I carried his music from the tour into my life, and my friends' lives too. He was softly spoken, with an Old South courtesy I hadn't heard before: he introduced me to Daniel Johnston's music, and the West Virginian writing ofPinckney Benedict. Mark wrote and played some beautiful music, and we’re lucky to have it. Rest in Peace."
Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla: "Rest in peace, Mark Linkous. I always hoped that someday you would treat you good too. You shared so much."
Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd: "R.I.P. Mark Linkous. You were a kind soul...Mark Linkous toured with us in 2003. Every night he and I would share a quiet moment with a shot of whiskey and a few laughs. A nice memory."
Futureheads frontman Ross Millard: "R: RIP Mark Linkous - 'It's a Wonderful Life' is one hell of a song - Linkous was one hell of a visionary."
Metric: "Don't care about the Oscars. Thinking only of our latest loss too soon, Mark Linkous."
Califone: "goodbye mark l., we will miss you badly"
Bizarre Rube Goldberg-style video launches the latest single
It was four years ago that OK Go broke out with its quirky choreographed treadmill video for "Here It Goes Again," which brought the Chicago band's music the attention it deserved.
How do you top that? Just click and watch. As far as I can tell no studio or digital trickery is used, just plain crazy genius in the video for "This Too Shall Pass."
Carly Simon denies David Geffen the subject of You're So Vain
Rarely in recent popular culture has there been a more fevered debate about the identity of a person being addressed in a hit song. It is now 38 years since the release of Carly Simon’s barbed classic You’re So Vain, about some man who is tasteless enough to have eyes only for the mirror while in her company. Heaven knows there was a gallery of suspects composed of the men she had dated — Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, James Taylor, Cat Stevens and other peacocks. Only this week another candidate appeared in the frame — the record executive David Geffen who allegedly upset her by favouring her great contemporary Joni Mitchell.
In London for the week, Simon shakes her head and says: “No”. This is one of the most emphatic statements she has ever made on the subject. Jagger, then? They were lovers before she met and married her male musical counterpart James Taylor. Jagger features as a backing vocalist on her original recording. But no. “I would never have written a song about him and then asked him to sing on it.”
Beatty then. “Aw, come on.” By which she means that’s enough questions. Yet the guessing game — call it the Vanity Affair — has gained a dynamic of its own over the decades. She accepts that she has fuelled it with her seeming reticence. “If only those people put their minds to figuring out something else,” she says “like where Osama bin Laden is hiding out.”
We are about to leave the subject when she says that Ben, her 33-year-old son with Taylor and himself a musician, has planted a clue in her recent recording of You’re So Vain, one of the tracks on her new album Never Been Gone, which is a collection of some splendidly reworked compositions. I can’t quite believe what I’m hearing. The whole silly, compulsive game has become pop’s version of Kit Williams’s Masquerade, the book that 30 years ago set off a treasure hunt for a jewelled gold hare buried somewhere in England.
She explains: “If you listen, you sort of do hear ‘David’. But that’s not the fully fledged code. In other words you have to listen to it backwards and then do other technical tricks. It’s something that only Ben knows how to do.”
So if I played the track backwards would I have a chance of hearing the man’s name? “No. Only if you were terribly clever and you knew things about compression and other things you have to do.”
She gives me another clue: the sound to listen out for — she makes a sort of hissing noise — is in the guitar solo in the middle. I draw a blank. The solo comes and goes with a barely discernible noise like the one she has just made. Nothing that remotely says “Kris Kristofferson” or “Jack Nicholson”.
“We only did it to see if we could,” she says. “And it wasn’t supposed to get out that we were doing it.” So how did it get out? “I don’t know. I know that I told somebody there was a clue in the middle. This person called me up and said: ‘I hear “David” ’. And I said: ‘ I don’t want to get too far into figuring out who it was.’ ”
Now she poses her own question. “Have you ever thought that maybe it’s about somebody I shouldn’t have been messing about with? A long time ago I could have lied and said it’s Geffen. I’m kind of sorry I didn’t ... but I’m a game player and I love mystery.”
She reportedly did divulge the secret for $50,000 (£34,000) at a charity auction in 2003 on the condition that the winner, a television executive named Dick Ebersol, did not reveal it. “Yes, I did tell him,” she says. “Much to my surprise and chagrin he had six friends that came over with him and I told them too. I said: ‘If you ever tell anyone else, I’ll just say I lied to you.’ ”
Why did Ebersol bring the six friends? “Because he’s a jerk. I mean, I like Dick a lot, but he should have asked.” I say I think I would have been tempted to kick him out, and she says that he did give her that option. So that’s seven people who know. “Oh, there are more than that. Ben knows. And [Ben’s sister] Sally. My brother knows and, little shit that he is, he went into a computer store and was trying to make a deal to get his computer fixed fast in return for saying who You're So Vain is about.”
It’s easy to see why men wanted her. She had the figure of a model, the voice of something far more earthbound than an angel and a vast, face-devouring smile of guileless generosity. She was New York Jewish liberal posh, the daughter of Richard L. Simon, the co-founder of the Simon and Schuster publishing house. She was clever and funny. She had low self-esteem before the term was coined. She thought she was the ugly one of the three sisters. She also had something akin to stage fright, although she chooses to call it the fear of performance itself, a terror that went on bleeding into other areas of her life for ages. She stuttered from the age of 5. It made men even madder for her.
She kept on seeing her father in the ones she fancied and found herself courting rejection. Her “rather puritan Victorian” mother told her she should be in love with every man she slept with. The result was that she really thought she was in love with them. Her youth coincided with that gilded but bruising time when it was considered almost bad manners not to sleep with someone on a first date. It was the historical window between the arrival of the Pill and the terror of Aids, and she clambered through it with the rest. Hers was an altogether heartbreaking package, and one of the regular breakages was hers.
I was at school with a boy who later had a relationship with her. That was in the late 1960s. There are no words to describe the mix of envy and admiration experienced by his friends. Just before meeting Simon I spoke to him for the first time in nearly 40 years — the previous occasion must have been around the timeYou’re So Vain was everywhere. It wasn’t him, was it? “Oh no,” he laughed, before saying that he had a wonderful three months with her. She looks surprised and delighted when his name comes up, and asks to be remembered to him.
Later she was engaged to another Englishman, William Donaldson, the satirist responsible for the The Henry Root Letters, a collection of his correspondence that pricked the vanities of the rich and famous by asking them for outlandish favours. He described Simon as “the answer to any sane man’s prayers: funny, quick, erotic, extravagantly talented”.
It was James Taylor who married her. The dark-eyed and plangent singer was in some ways the male counterpart to her and her self-disclosing songs. He was also a drug addict. His habit caused havoc and they separated in the early 1980s. Was he one of the ones she fell for because she saw her father in him? “Probably ... our emotional intercourse is very weighted on both sides. Weighted enough on his side that he won’t talk to me.”
Does she still feel for him? “Oh yes.” Still love him? She hesitates. “Yes.” Hard drugs were the wrecker? “They were. I think he wanted out of the marriage for a time, as did I. I also think he made himself unattractive so I would be turned off him.” It sounds as though he nearly succeeded. “He did succeed for a while. I didn’t feel for him, except that I became very jealous of the girlfriend he was involved with.”
Nine years ago Taylor married for the third time and has twin boys of 8. Simon also remarried in 1987 and divorced three years ago. This husband was a salesman and writer, and gay. “I only found out six years ago,” she says. “We’re now best friends and he lives with a doctor.” She has also found love, with a surgeon called Richard Koehler. He, she says, is the first partner she did not feel was going to reject her. “It’s wonderful and he adores me,” she beams. So he should, I say. “I know. And they all should.” Perhaps they all did. “Maybe.” And no regrets? “No. I chose pain too. Being married to a gay man made me feel unattractive again.”
The songs on Never Been Gone have stood up well, like their author. The lyrics, she says, were “so innocent of age and experience when I composed them back when”. There is common ground between her and the Wainwright family: great American musical couples full of loving and leaving and the breeding of musical children. But while the Wainwrights — Loudon, Rufus, Martha and the rest — tend to name names, Carly Simon is more cryptic. Sometimes it is literally beyond deciphering. Frustrating but fun.
Issues statement to hiphop website
Revered rapper Guru released a statement to AllHipHop.com today (March 3) as he recovers from surgery after suffering a heart attack over the weekend.
Guru, born Keith Elam, was briefly comatose due to the heart attack. Doctors successfully operated on the 43-year-old MC on Tuesday (March 2).
"I am doing fine and I am recovering! I'm weak though,” Guru told AllHipHop.com in a statement today. “Solar is the only person who has the accurate info on my situation. Any info from anybody else is false! I appreciate your well wishes and all the love!"
Guru and his family are asking for privacy as he recovers and stressed for fans to continue to send prayers, thoughts and love.
His partner Solar echoed Guru’s comments about the need for privacy but told fans the outlook is positive for the rapper.
Additionally, only Solar will have access to Guru and accurate information regarding the status of his health.
"Guru is resting and doing well after his surgery,” Solar told AllHipHop.com. “The doctors say that he will fully recover from his illness. We thank everyone who send prayers our way and we appreciate the outpouring of love from around the world!”
A look back at KISS' high-school stunt, new Gorillaz and quad
KISS - musical geniuses if you like them, cynical marketers if you don't. Either way, you've got to admire the 1975 stunt where they attended a high-school homecoming in Cadillac, Michigan. Great story.
Quad is back. Largely a failed format back in the '70s and '80s, fans have rediscovered it and the music industry has finally figured it out. Chicago's first album, "Chicago Transit Authority," is being released in its original quad mix, which works perfectly with today's home theaters.
Jello Biafra and his band, the Dead Kennedys, were relentless in their attacks on California Gov. Jerry Brown back in the day. Brown is now running for governor again, and Biafra admits it - "I was wrong."
The new Gorillaz album, "Plastic Beach," is now streaming online in its entirety.
Finally, what do George Thorogood and Alison Krauss have in common? Careers launched by Rounder Records, which turns 40 years old. Just take a look at those adorable youngsters.
The new box set is overflowing with music
You don’t want to mess with Monkees fans. I once made the mistake of lumping in the TV-created band with other “fake” artists such as The Archies and Josie & the Pussycats. The wrath came fast and furious, including feedback from some big names in music, saying I was an idiot. Monkees fans can be just as passionate as Beatles fans.
Which is one reason Rhino Records is doing such a loving set of releases of their music. A milestone recently arrived, “The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees,” filled with classic tracks such as “Daydream Believer” in an elaborate package that even the most nitpicky fan will have a hard time faulting.