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04/19/2007


Music News: Chess, Grace Jones, Gossip, New Order, Mika, Moby

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Guestblogger MODERN TONIC

The editors of Modern Tonic present a weekly music update here on Towleroad. The rest of the week, they scan the pop-culture landscape for movie, TV, book and Web recommendations in their daily email.

Road MUSIC NEWS:

Created by Tim Rice and the BBoys from ABBA (Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson), Chess is one strange shape-shifter of a theatrical production. Since its 1984 concept album debut Chess-Cover— featuring Murray Head’s worldwide smash “One Night in Bangkok” and "I Know Him So Well," later covered by Whitney Houston and her mom — the show’s gotten more facelifts than Joan Rivers. Opening to mixed reviews, the original 1986 London production ran for three years. The 1988 New York production — entirely reconceived — closed after two months. Subsequent stagings have mixed-and-matched the plotlines.

But there has long been a rabid following of fans, many of whom declare Rice’s bastard stepchild to be one of the greatest pop-rock musicals of all time. Maybe it’s the Machiavellian Cold War plotline. Or maybe it’s the sweeping, non-stop ABBA-esque melodies. Whatever it is, you can see and hear it as it was meant to be in the new Chess in Concert, (out today on DVD and as a single- or double-CD; also airing tomorrow on PBS) which Rice calls the “official version” of the show, recorded live over two nights at London's Royal Albert Hall last May, and featuring an ace cast of Josh Groban (pictured above), Adam Pascal (Rent) and Idina Menzel (Wicked). Do we smell a Broadway revival? A boy can dream.

Road Hurricane warning: Grace Jones — in no danger of becoming the hardest working woman in show-bizGraceJ  — is planning two U.S. shows in support of her latest album. July 27 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and July 30 at New York’s more intimate Hammerstein Ballroom.

Road Stream Gossip's new album Music For Men (out digitally June 23, on CD October 6) in its entirety.

Road Members of New Order (Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Phil Cunningham), joined by Blur's Alex James, have formed a new band, Bad Lieutenant. They have already completed work on their first album.

Road "It's a big, huge-sounding pop record that sonically references big records from the 80s or 90s": An extensive interview with Mika, whose debut album sold 6 million copies worldwide, touches on his forthcoming follow-up album as well as his childhood and adolescence, fame and, vaguely, his sexuality and past relationships. 

Road Moby, whose new album Wait For Me is out June 30, talks about his distaste for his seminal album, Play

Road Listen like thieves: An international scam involving a group of criminals who created music, sold it on Amazon and iTunes, and then bought $750,000 worth of it themselves using 1,500 stolen credit cards has ended with nine arrests. The "sales" of the music online resulted in the group pocketing $300,000 in royalties paid out by the music services.

LauraRoad TODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

Twenty-one-year-old Dubliner Laura Izibor is here to change the landscape of Irish soul for good with her  modern mesh of '70s soul and '00s hip-hop on Let the Truth Be Told, her expressive debut.

Miss Kittin — the French electro-clash artist — sees her debut collaboration with turntablist The Hacker, First Album, re-released today with one additional 2001 track, "The Beach." "Party in My Head" — from Two, their recent follow-up joint effort  — gets a remix workout from the Paris-based Thieves Like Us. DOWNLOAD IT HERE FOR FREE.

Our favorite Canadian crooner filmed his December ’08 MSG gig last year for release on the CD/DVD combo-pack Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden.

New releases also from: Spinal Tap — Back from the Dead; Trevor Horn and Friends — Slaves to the Rhythm (concert DVD); The Legends — Over and Over; Jonas Brothers — Lines, Vines and Trying Times.

Road MUSIC VIDEOS AND CLIPS:

PALOMA FAITH — “Stone Cold Sober”
This lively Spanish-English burlesque dancer/singer/actress (who appears in Heath Ledger’s final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) is a red-hot harlot in a hoop skirt on her debut video. Single out today in the U.K., album there in the fall.

AQUA — “Back to the 80s”
The Barbie-loving Danes offer up a cheese-fest of awful 80’s-ness that’s so pungent it could just turn them into a two-hit wonder. From their "Greatest Hits" out this week in Europe (no U.S./U.K. release date announced yet).

LE KID — “Mercy Mercy”
The second sing-along single from these pop-crazy Swedes features the whitest people ever at a lakeside party in 50’s swimwear.

KID BRITISH — “Our House Is Dadless”
More than just sampling, these multi-ethnic Manchester rappers re-boot Madness’ jubilant hit with industrial grit for the new millennium.



Music News: Diane Birch, Tiga, Island Records, Sade, Mariah Carey, John & Yoko

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Guestblogger MODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic is a free daily email of eclectic pop-culture recommendations from a gay perspective. The editors of Modern Tonic present a weekly music update here on Towleroad.

Road NEW ARTISTS TO WATCH AND FREE DOWNLOADS:
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DIANE BIRCH: It's a proud, straight line from Carole King to Joni Mitchell to Fiona Apple to this Michigan-born singer-songwriter. In other words, she's the real deal, with her debut album, Bible Belt (out June 2), ready to prove it. An exclusive free download of the lead single, “Nothing But A Miracle,” is here.

TIGA: After winning a Juno (the Canadian Grammy) for his debut Sexor, the Montreal DJ/producer comes back hard for his second spin around the dance floor with Ciao! (out today). Download the Green Velvet remix of current single “Shoes” here.  

Road MUSIC NEWS:

Road Never mind Madonna, the hippest 50-year-old around is...Island Records. Chris Blackwell’s indie-before-there-was-indie, founded in Jamaica, has giIsland-lifeven us decades of rock and roll classics. Among the artists on the astonishingly long list of talent the label fostered: U2, The B-52s, Grace Jones, Pulp, Keane, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Tom Tom Club, PJ Harvey, The Feeling, Paul Weller, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Sugababes, Roxy Music, Mika...and the list goes on.

Being children of Kingston, they know how to throw a party. For their anniversary, a series of remasters, box-sets, anthologies,  and a book of essays about the label - along with a London Soho art exhibition and a series of U.K. live shows - release this month and throughout 2009. Out now in the U.K.: three 3-disc box-sets culled by genre — folk, reggae, and one celebrating the "pink label" years — with historical luminaries like Nick Drake, Black Uhuru, and Jethro Tull; and an overview on June 1: Island Life: 50 Years of Island Life.

Road Sade (also 50 years old!) has announced that she will be releasing a brand new album on November 24 - her first in nine years.

Road Mariah Carey announced her end-of-year album title last week: Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. But there’s nothing imperfect – or Glitter-y – about her warts-and-all role in the upcoming Sundance sensation, Precious (opening in November; previously titled Push).

Road Today marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's famous "bed-in" for peace in Montreal. The city's Museum of Fine Arts is currently showing a Yoko-sanctioned exhibition to mark the event. 

Road MUSIC VIDEOS:

ROYKSOPP FEAT. ROBYN: “The Girl and the Robot”
Norwegian synth duo engage Swedish pop star in freaky robot love song (from the album Junior, out now) just in time for Terminator Salvation and Transformers 2!

JUST JACK: “Doctor Doctor”
Dance M.C. is an awkward, straight U.K. version of Neil Patrick Harris in supermarket romance with hot blonde shopper! From new album All Night Cinema (out June 29 in the U.K.).

FREEMASONS FTRG. SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR: “Heartbreak Make Me a Dancer”
Dance/production duo and London diva channel Pet Shop Boys on this disco anthem from Freemasons' forthcoming Shakedown 2 (out June 29 in the U.K.).

GRACE JONES: "Slave to the Rhythm"
And how about some old school S&M from Island Records’ resident dominatrix? Our retro clip of the week is this classic video.


Road TODAY’S NEW RELEASES:

Island/Def Jam presents the first of a hot remix series, Just Dance, featuring Mariah Carey, The Killers, Duffy and more.
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Mandy Moore — that’s Mrs. Ryan Adams, alt-geeks – continues her reinvention with the folksy Amanda Leigh.

Hot from their Saturday Night Live pre-release appearance, French rock-and-dance freaks Phoenix put out Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

From Brooklyn with love and harmonies to spare, the indefinable Grizzly Bear release Veckatimest.

Can the clammy and glammy dark-lord Marilyn Manson bring his career back from the undead? The High End of Low drops today.

New releases also from: Diana Krall — Live in Rio (DVD & Blu-ray); Michelle Shocked — Soul of My Soul; Julian Marley — Awake; Electrik Red — How to Be a Lady, Vol. 1.


Grace Jones: My Portraits Watch Me from the Walls

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Grace Jones covers the current cover of V magazine in a photo shoot by Jean-Paul Goude.

Still a visual icon after all these years, Jones talks to London's Telegraph about her home and the many portraits by famous (gay) artists that hang there.

Says Jones: "It’s like a museum. My Warhols — the ones he did of me, a series of small hamburgers, and photographs and Polaroids, because we spent so much time together. Keith Haring, Mapplethorpes, a lot of Jean-Paul [Basquiat]. They all follow you around the room, like eyes."

No doubt she has one of those delicious chocolate busts at home too.

Previously
Grace Jones: a Mass-Produced Self-Portrait in Chocolate [tr]
Jonesing for a Record in Wales [tr]

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Grace Jones: a Mass-Produced Self-Portrait in Chocolate

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Grace Jones does quality control on her persona.

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The cover of Hurricane and the album's accompanying photography, shot by Jonathan De Villiers, was art directed by Tom Hingston Studios at a chocolate factory in the UK. CR Blog shows the entire process.

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Said Hingston to the CR: "The original idea was to produce a set of images of Grace being mass-produced but with her being in control of the actual process. The crux of the idea is that she has ownership of her identity. We looked at a range of manufacturing processes, from car makers to pottery factories, but there was something about her being made of chocolate that had [the right] connotations."

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Adds Hingston: "It takes about 20 minutes for each mould to set, and for the head there are just two small holes for the nostrils. But Grace was up for it and her participation was key to the idea. Of course, we were working with someone who’s used to being the muse or subject of such an unusual process."

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More photos of the process at CR Blog.


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #382

ARKANSAS GAY ADOPTION BAN: Bill Clinton has been speaking out against Arkansas Initiated Act 1, the ban on unmarried couple adoption and foster parenting, while on the campaign trail. This is Arkansas Families First's commercial encouraging voters to vote no on Act 1.

EDUARDO VERASTEGUI: The Mexican-American film star has been campaigning for the anti-gay bigots of Yes on 8.

GRACE JONES: The legend appeared on the UK's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross last week. Part two is here.

I WILL: Faces of the Democratic National Convention.

Check out our previous guides to the Tube here.


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #215

GRACE JONES: "The Little Drummer Boy" from Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) following a brief intro.

GUITAR HERO MASTER: Andrew Sullivan has an interesting excerpt of a recent throwdown at Best Buy.

JOHN MCCAIN: Huckabee ain't the only candidate who can use a cross.

DEER GETS REVENGE: Looks like this was uploaded to The Tube a while back, but I thought that watching this deer kick the crap out of a hunter was probably more entertaining than another presidential campaign video.

Check out our previous guides to the Tube here


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