Lady Gaga

PETER GABRIEL --- I first became of U. K.-wunderkind Peter Gabriel when he fronted the Brit-group Genesis in the 70's. The group's signature song at the time, “Watcher Of The Skies” was a progressive-radio staple back then, along with their songs “I Know What I Like” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.” The group, featuring Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, and, a bearded, younger-than-ever Phil Collins, were a truly visionary group and they received a lion's welcome when they headed Stateside. In viewing some of their works via You Tube, I marveled yet again at how Gabriel would often dress up as the characters depicted in the songs and really put together quite the visual show. In fact, I am quite sure Lady Gaga was also a fan as some of her recent stage persona's are I believe directly linked to Gabriel. Genesis eventually split with Gabriel; Collins replaced him on vocals and the group received even more kudos and worldwide attention. Truth to be, Collins not only sounded like Gabriel, but was quite the character himself and succeeded in bringing even more fame and attention to the band. Some of their Collins-sung-songs, like “Home By The Sea,” “Land of Confusion” and, “Turn It On Again” were huge-radio hits in the 80's. Genesis was one of the huge bands of that era too … no question. Gabriel recorded a series of terrific solo albums; his first four were all named Peter Gabriel, which proved somewhat daunting for the retailers, but nonetheless began building even more a mystique about the artist. “Sledgehammer” was massive radio hit for him, along with a truly inspired video, and he was suddenly a pop-radio-idol. Subsequent hits like “Digging In The Dirt” and “Steam” followed. He toured extensively throughout the 80's and 90's; started his own record label, Real World Records, and, began an organization known as WOMAD in 1980. World of Music and Dance grew out of the artist's fascination with the burgeoning sound of world music. His later albums thoroughly explored the very best sound and vision aspects of music. He's recorded with a top-flight array of artists and writers; including Kate Bush; Daniel Lanois; the Blind Boys of Alabama; Trent Renzor; Paula Cole; John Giblin; Stewart Copeland, Phil Collins Natalie Merchant; Robbie Robertson; Ane Brun; Manu Katche; Jim Kerr; and Tom Robinson, among others. His stage shows became legend; one tour in particular had him diving into the crowd, back first, and each and every time he was caught by his frenzied fans. He continued to toy with theatrical aspects of his shows with stellar results. I mention all this, because I recently re-visited his DVD-set of his Growing Up Live tour from 2003 and was just struck by how original and innovative this artist has always been … and, still is. With a crackerjack band (Tony Levin; David Rhoades; Richard Evans), and, featuring his daughter Melanie on backup vocals, each and every song had essentially a whole show built around it. On his song “Downside Up,” he and Melanie perform the song …while singing upside down! And, though you might scoff at the mere notion of that, he pulls it off brilliantly. Each of the 17-tracks on the set are simply outstanding. His songs “In Your Eyes,” “Red Rain,” “Mercy Street,” "Sky Blue” and “Here Comes The Flood” are all text-book examples of perfection. Full disclosure: I actually met Gabriel years ago at one of the first-ever Prince's Trust concerts and founds his totally captivating. One of those fellows who is so far ahead … it bordered on being tad scary. Peter Gabriel = perfection.


GLAM IT, DAMMIT --- In the golden olden days, writers like myself were often presented a new recording from hopefully, soon-to-be major new artists. JG Edwards' PR-man just provided us a full CD of his new, debut album called Glam. One listening immediately convinced us that this young man could be one of the most significant artists of the year with the right direction and push. The album is a successful pastiche of pop music from the 80's and 90's. We immediately referenced back to a record from a young man by the name of Emitt Rhodes who released his own solo album back in the early 70's, and was dubbed as the one man Beatles. His record, on Dunhill/ABC Records (remember them?) was nothing short of extraordinary. Edwards' disc immediately reminded us of the best of pop-wizard Todd Rundgren and, interestingly enough, The Monkees. Certainly not bad influences for anyone. These days, with most of the popular artists not writing their own material, there's a dearth of artists looking for viable, pop product. Also, witness the recent release from Owl City featuring “Fireflies.” Owl City is essentially writer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Young. Look no further, as Edwards material is spot-on superb. Of the ten tracks, we loved “Stephanie, Baby” and “She's Better Than Video.” According to his PR-man, “JG is looking for either the right publishing situation or record deal. he can definitely nail it” The music is just sensationally approachable and delightful. When this hits … check it out.


Elton John

BLUNT FORCE --- After the worldwide staggering success of his “You're Beautiful,” many wondered how James Blunt would ever follow up that degree of success. Actually, he followed that with another beautiful album called All the Lost Souls, which to me was a rather candid look at the success that came to him so quickly and how he handled it. Its sales were not as stellar as his debut, but in many ways, it was a logical and rather stellar follow up. I remember first seeing him at one of the WPLJ Up Close and Personal Shows and found him to be an utter delight. Quite funny, candid and what a show! His new album Some Kind of Trouble came out last month (he was at NYC's Beacon last night) and after several times listening, I am tremendously hooked. Let's face it; the man's got a wonderful voice; interesting, lyrical, and his lyrics and music are great … and, he lives in Ibiza to boot. “I've been on a bit of a roller coaster,” says Blunt. Two albums, two world tours, and 18 million records later … I'll say he certainly was. The first single off the album “Stay The Night” is great and we also loved “I'll Be Your Man” and especially the track “Heart Of Gold” which reminded us of Elton. His last album was rather chilling in certain segments; very, well totally blunt and candid. The second album for any relevant artist is always a tricky proposition; you got to prove the first one wasn't a fluke, while coming up with something new. That's why they call it the sophomore jinx! Also a favorite off the new release is “Best Laid Plans” which should please all the “Beautiful” fans. Don't count him out; Blunt is beautiful!


Steven Speilberg

HORSE SENSE --- Last night we went to see WarHorse at Lincoln Center. Surely by now you've seen he rather dark, foreboding, and, rather intense-looking commercials about the play; no less than Steven Speilberg has a movie coming shortly based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo about the travails of Billy Narracott (Matt Doyle) and his relationship with his horse Joey. Yes, I know it sounds somewhat surreal, but over the course of two-acts, it's really a rather well put together and compelling story, set against the First World War aka The Great War and The War To End All Wars. The puppetry of the horses are nothing short of staggering and though I was reminded me of Julie Taymor and The Lion King, this clearly takes it to the next level. In the second act, when two horses actually battle together … it takes your breath away. I must admit I found more than a few moments from other plays and other movies … but, I loved the staging and presentation on the minuscule stage at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. It will prove most interesting to see how Spielberg pulls this together onscreen; although, as he has done with ET and Empire of the Sun. Also standout in the cast was Boris McGiver as Billy's father. We've enjoyed him in everything from Third Watch to 30 Rock. Just stellar! We briefly saw our old friend Donald Berman from The View (with Joy Behar!) there. He enjoyed the show as well. Worth checking out for sure!


BACHMAN BACK --- Anyone out there remember the group Bachman Turner Overdrive Bachman from the 70's? Well, the driving force behind that aggregation,Randy Bachman, has a new album out called B&T. He was also in the terrific band The Guess Who, who hit with songs like "These Eyes" and"American Woman" (with the luscious vocals of Burton Cummings!). We're going to try to unearth a copy of the new release (you know how record companies and many-PR people are these days) and let you know. Rock on!

Photos By: Walter McBride/Leon/Scott Harrison/Retna


Some Other Guy said…
No pic of Peter Gabriel? JOT