Robert Pattinson as The Batman Image credit: @Mattreevesla/Warner Bros
BILLE’S BOND OUT — Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die” James Bond theme song is here. The atmospheric track is being released two months before the final Daniel Craig 007 thriller hits theaters. Honestly, I like it a lot. Shades of Shirley Bassey and Adele abound. Hans Zimmer nicely rounds out the strings and orchestrations; the combo of the two’s talent is rather superb.
Eilish, who just appeared on the Oscars and recently won a bunch of Grammy Awards, is 18 and hot stuff in pop music. The Bond-producers hope having her sing the theme song will light a fire under kids her age and get them into theaters come April. If nothing else, the kids who never heard of Bond will come aboard.
Eilish joins a long line of stars who’ve had successes– Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, Sheena Easton, Carly Simon– with Bond themes, and failures– Alicia Keys, Sam Smith, Madonna among them. Its a great platform for sure and I think they’ve scored a major victory here; along the lines of Adele. Bravo!
HUEY & I — Huey Lewis revealed the two biggest regrets he had in the 80’s: rejecting a large sponsorship deal and refusing to record a song Bob Dylan sent him.
The singer was looking back on his career at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles earlier this week, in an interview hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and reported by Billboard.
Lewis recalled that, after Pepsi signed a $50 million deal with Michael Jackson in 1986, the company’s biggest rival contacted him. “Coca-Cola asked to have a meeting [so] we flew to Atlanta,” Lewis said. “They offered us millions of dollars [to use] ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’ in a commercial. I said no. Stupid.”
He and Dylan met during the recording of the charity single “We Are the World” in 1985. Lewis said he sang a line in the song that was originally meant for Prince, who didn’t show up. Later, Dylan sent Lewis a song and suggested he should use it. But he rejected the idea. “I should have cut it,” Lewis admitted. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Lewis – whose future in music is uncertain now that a hearing condition has forced him to give up performing for the foreseeable future – also told how his father had approved of his music career but urged caution. “He told me to keep playing the harmonica,” he recalled. “He said, ‘They can’t take that away from you. This Huey Lewis and the News shit could be here today, gone tomorrow.”
The first time he heard himself on the radio, he said, was when the group’s breakthrough hit, “Do You Believe in Love,” was released in 1982. Knowing that KFRC in San Francisco was going to play it between 2 and 6PM one day, “we gathered the whole band and watched the radio. They played it pretty early, and two things struck me.” The first was, due to airplay compression, the song “sounded like someone else.” The second: “It sounded like a hit.”
Still, I wouldn’t feel too bad for Huey, his “Power of Love” was used in Robert Zemeckis’ BackTo The Future; and he’s still collecting royalties today … many royalties!Weather, which could be Huey Lewis and the News’ final album, was released Friday.
ATCO AWAY — Atlantic is reactivating its storied ATCO Records under veteran label executive Pete Ganbarg.
Ganbarg will serve as ATCO’s president and will retain his role as president of A&R for Atlantic Records.
Discussions to relaunch the dormant label started about a year ago, says Ganbarg, who is best known for his work with acts like Twenty-One Pilots, as well as the Hamilton and The Greatest Showman soundtracks. He won a Grammy as co-producer on the Dear Evan Hansen original cast album and signed the show’s star, Ben Platt, to Atlantic. Among the other acts he signed or shepherded recordings through at the Atlantic Group include Christina Perri, Halestorm and Theory of a Deadman.
Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald “have been so great about supporting our creative vision that when we were talking about the future, the idea came up that—in addition to everything that we’re going to continue to do on the Atlantic side, A&R wise— my role is going to expand to help revitalize this legendary imprint,” Ganbarg says.
In a joint statement, Greenwald and Kallman said, “Since joining the Atlantic team 12 years ago, Pete’s been a driving force in our mission to deliver best-in-class music unbounded by genre. He’s signed and developed amazing artists and leads the best A&R team in the business. We’re thrilled to be relaunching the storied ATCO label with Pete’s expert ears and taste. This gives him an opportunity to put his personal stamp on a selective group of signings, while at the same time giving us an exciting new home for future artists. We can’t wait to see what Pete has in store for the new ATCO.”
The original ATCO, an abbreviation of Atlantic Corporation, started as a division of Atlantic Records in 1955. Among its key artists were Bobby Darrin, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Pete Townshend, Donny Hathaway, Roxy Music, Otis Redding, Genesis, Pantera and even the Beatles for one single, “Ain’t She Sweet.” The label merged with EastWest Records in 1991 and the ATCO name was eventually dropped. Rhino Entertainment briefly relaunched the imprint in 2006 with releases from Scarlett Johansson, Keith Sweat, Queensryche and The New York Dolls before it went dormant again.
For Ganbarg, his relationship to the label is personal. “As we expand our footprint at theAtlantic Group, I couldn’t think of any other logo or label that made more sense for me to run than ATCO,” he says. “One of my earliest musical memories was my dad’s favorite song of all time was Bobby Darrin’s ‘Artificial Flowers,’ which was on ATCO. My dad grew up with legendary producer Tom Dowd, who ended up producing Layla, for Derek and the Dominos, which was on ATCO. That was my brother’s favorite song. Then, when I was in high school, I was a DJ and one of the songs I played frequently was Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart,’ also on ATCO.”
Asked to define an ATCO act, Ganbarg calls on the label’s vaunted history. “It’s something that I want to be able to shut my eyes and envision somebody talking about in five, 10, 15, 20 years the way I’m talking about ‘Layla’ or ‘Artificial Flowers,’” he says. “What I love about ATCO is it really just stood for best in class, it wasn’t really genre specific. My goal for ATCOis to have these releases fit alongside the historical ATCO releases.”
As far as his new duties, Ganbarg is raring to go. “I just want people to know this is in addition to [what I’m doing at Atlantic], not instead of,” he says. “ATCO is open for business. Let’s sign some stuff.”
A friend of mine, based in Florida, ran into some management fellow who claimed to have worked for AC/DC and said the music business was dead. It ain’t! In addition to recently-activated Arista Records (with John Boulos) I hear of three more labels to be started up later this year.
SHORT TAKES — Here’s the video for Debbie Gibson’s current club-hit “Girls Night Out.” It’s pure Deb-80’s all over again. The video is nice, nothing like the brilliant Jim Yukich ones of yesteryear, but totally enjoyable. When word broke that a new Deb single was coming, there was quite the discussion over whether it’d be tried-and-true Deb, or something Billie Eilish-ly. We love it
Bassist Carol Kaye, of The Wrecking Crew, is the subject of a brilliant article in the online site Please Kill Me. Besides the zillions of records she played on, her tales of what is was like back then, make it a must-read. Check it out: https://pleasekillme.com/carol-kaye/?fbclid=IwAR1X4q_iCUgWfL2zSbKS74bRJ1fPh4m0Ct79ZqZ_UOhtf9qrR7buUviOuDU… Months after its release, Kersti Long’s Stronger Than You Think I Am debut album on Van Dean’s Broadway Records, is a hit on two West Coast based stations:102.3 KKDJ in Fresno and KKNH -classic rock. Certainly deserving. We hear she is back in the studio prepping her second release … Hopper lives. On Friday, Netflix released a teaser for the next season of their Stranger Things, which revealed Hopper is on the gulag in Russia. The season finale last year, presented an explosion in which Hopper was presumed missing; but, clearly was sent through a time portal … to Russia. Absolutely sensational show. I don’t think there was any question the character would be back …
We watched the new Robbie Robertson documentary Once Were Brothers and can say with certainty it is one of the best rock docs ever! Exemplary, with contributions from the late Levon Helm and Rick Danko. Jann Wenner, Bruce Springsteen, Ronnie Hawkins and Eric Clapton are interviewed as well, but Robertson’s answers and stories just totally compelling. If you’re a fan of Robbie’s, or of The Band … this is a must-see flick. Particularly interesting to me were Robertson’s recollections about the first time they toured with Dylan. A brilliant piece of work …
Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam is at My Father’s Place this Friday, February 21; their Long Island debut … Buddy Blanch and his Romeo Delight outfit -the #1 Van Halen Tribute Band – will be in Indiana at The Rising Star Casino on February 22.
Here’s Buddy with Micky Dolenz … The Harvey Weinstein NY-trial is over. Closing arguments done. Which way will it go? Here’s an interesting comment from one reader via Deadline: Alot of reasonable doubt and not any evidence beyond testimony to really support the prosecutors; while another: Defense attorneys can be quite scummy, but, sorry folks, she made a LOT of great points. As I’ve said, I’ve known Harvey and brother Bob, so my perception is not totally objective. As his lead attorney said, he made a lot of bad choices. Harvey still faces a trial in LA too, so, whatever happens in NY doesn’t mean it’s over. Face it, The Crying Game, Shakespeare In Love, Pulp Fiction … the guy had a talent. Stay tuned … And, finally, Robert Pattinson as The Batman … the new Batman. Take a look at what almost broke the Internet last week. As a meg-fan of the Bob Kane/Bill finger comic: It looks good. Here you go:https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/what-batman-screen-test-reveals-robert-pattinsons-suit-1279453
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Randy Alexander; Jeremy Long; Van Dean; Jane Blunkell; John Billings; Heather Moore; Vinny Rich; Eppy; Dan Kellachan; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Barry Zelman; Lauren Rosenthal; Kent Kotal; and, CHIP!