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G.H. Harding

BRUCE GOWERS RIP – When MTV was unleashed on an unsuspecting music industry August 1, 1981, it brought about a new definition of an old word: video director. Up till then, video directors were usually in-house individuals and did in-house promotional movies that were called ‘house organs” or “industrials”  – I kid you not!

But after MTV got rolling names like Russell Mulcahy; Jim Yukich; Bob Giraldi; Mark Pellington; Mark Romanek and Bruce Gowers, became industry names. All these guys did just exceptional work and in some circles, became even more popular than the bands and artists they did videos for.
Giraldi’s directing of  “Beat It” was certainly among the finest and even secured him an on-screen appearance in McCartney’s video with Jackson “Say, Say, Say.”
Gowers passed last week in LA. Born in Scotland,  he was a true innovator, his work was consistently brilliant. He did that tremendous black-and-white video of Queen performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” as well as videos for Rod Stewart; Huey Lewis; Prince; Supertramp; The Tubes; Rush; Journey; The Rolling Stones; 10CC; Ambrosia; Bee Gees; John Mellencamp; Britney Spears; Justin Timberlake and Chaka Khan.
He also worked with Elton John, The Pretenders, Santana, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon, Christopher Cross, Genesis and Fleetwood Mac during his career; and he also directed comedy-programs for Jerry Seinfeld; Eddie Murphy; Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

From the BBC: Drummer Roger Taylor once said Gowers’ visuals helped to create “the first video to be used as a really successful promotional tool”. The epic song is the third best-selling single of all-time in the UK, having topped the UK charts for nine weeks in 1975 and gone back to number one in 1991 following the death of singer Freddie Mercury.

The defining video of its age only took about three hours to shoot and cost just £3,500 to make. It was the first music video to be aired on Top of the Pops and led to many more being filmed, setting the standard for artists who followed.

Gowers, who once revealed he had received $590 for the job, told the Dailu Mail in 2018: “It changed the way music was perceived; everyone was doing videos and bands were seeing their sales and chart positions rise if their videos were good.”

Huge loss.

The National

THE NATIONAL – (Via Rock Cellar) Revered indie rock outfit The National will release its ninth studio album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, on April 28 via 4AD.

Officially announced on Wednesday, the news came with the premiere of a song called “Tropic Morning News.” While the song’s energy feels upbeat, such a tempo belies its undercurrent of darkness, thanks to the lyrics of vocalist Matt Berninger:

Partly recorded live in Hamburg, the song merges its mercurial textures and kinetic rhythms with a lush yet subtle grandeur achieved through Bryce Dessner’s work with the London Contemporary Orchestra. “When Matt came in with that song in the depths of his depression, it felt like a turning point for us,” says Aaron Dessner. “It’s almost Dylan-esque in its lyrics and it’s so much fun to play; everything suddenly felt like it was coming alive again.”

Co-written with Berninger’s wife Carin Besser, “Tropic Morning News” takes its title from a phrase Besser invented to describe the regrettably routine practice of doomscrolling. “The idea of referring to the darkness of the news in such a light way unlocked something in me,” says Berninger. “It became a song about having a hard time expressing yourself, and trying to connect with someone when the noise of the world is drowning out any potential for conversation.”

Here’s the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdU0qwZKLfU

Elsewhere on the album, The National is joined by special guests including Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens and Phoebe Bridgers — making the new record an indie all-star ensemble, of sorts.

The track listing:

Once Upon A Poolside (feat. Sufjan Stevens)EucalyptusNew Order T-ShirtThis Isn’t Helping (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)Tropic Morning NewsAlienThe Alcott (feat. Taylor Swift)Grease In Your HairIce MachinesYour Mind Is Not Your Friend (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)Send For Me

SHORT TAKES — Saw a post where after a back operation, singer/songwriter Randy Newman can’t sing, or tour. Get well. He’s a certified national resource. Get well soon …

Mark Scheerer and Budd Mishkin

New York broadcasting veteran Budd Mishkin celebrated the publication of The Zeitgeist Beat, a memoir by Mark Scheerer (ex-CNN, ABC News, NY Times) at Polpette 71 Tuesday night. See accompanying photo – Scheerer on the left; Mishkin on the right …

Madonna

More Madonna: Very interesting that when news of Madonna’s Celebration tour in August hit the media this week, most media outlets only showed video from the songstress’ “Lucky Star,” “Borderline” and ” Holiday.” “Needless to say, three of her early signature hits,.Nothing from Madame X or even “Live To Tell.”Again, I hope she has some new material to perform …

Ashley Suppa

Wunderkind Ashley Suppa tonight at 54 Below with Michael Lee Lee Brown from Dear Evan Hansen … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Billboard’s Joe Lynch at Smith in Nomad, NYC … Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge ELO fan. Pretty factually correct article on them from  Medium. Check it out: https://rocknheavy.net/elo-a-band-a-project-or-a-concept-b42892a310a… Is it really the 50th anniversary of the Pink Floyd-landmark album Dark Side of the Moon ? Quite hard to fathom I’d say On this week’s The View, Dolly Parton said her forthcoming “rock” album would feature Stevie Nicks; Paul McCartney; John Fogarty and maybe Mick Jagger. She also said that the record was provisionally titled Rock Star. Personally, I’d love to hear her team up with Sir Mick on her “Jolene.” That’s just a great, great song …

Micky Dolenz and Harry Nilsson

And, HAPPY BDAY Harry Nilsson and Dina Pitenis!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Melissa Davis; Anthony Noto; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Deb Caponetta; Angela Tarantino; Michael Fuchs; Ahmet Ertegun; Bobby Shaw; Vito Bruno; Vinny Rich; Alex Salzman; Rick Schlegelmilch; Peter Shendell; Barry Fisch; Eppy; Celine Cormack; Bobby Bank; Al Roker; Jeff Zuker; and BELLA!

G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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G.H. Harding

TRUMAN’S SWANS — I only know Ryan Murphy by reputation. He’s been the flavor-of-Hollywood for quite some time now; yet a devil-may-care attitude persists in his CV. I loved his Nip/Tuck which just defied expectations on every level; terrific acting from Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon, and just the wildest plots I’ve ever seen.

From there Hollywood started throwing money at him left and right; American Horror Story and Hollywood (with Jim Parsons) followed. Also, the anthology series-Feud which began with the “feud” between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and was succinctly thrilling.

Now, Feud is chronicling Truman Capote and his “feud” with his Swans; featuring mainly a terrific performance by Noami Watts as Babe Paley. Calista Flockhart; a devilish-Diane Lane and Chloe Sevigny are also there as the other swans. Director Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy) directed several episodes and it is, without a doubt, the best thing Murphy has done and I’ve seen in quote some time.

One episode is entirely shot in black-and-white, a risky-gamble for anyone … but, it pays off handsomely.

Tom Hollander as Capote is simply off the charts and is, I believe, one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.As a young writer, there were two writers I was absolutely captivated with: Dominick Dunne and Capote. Dunne I met and he was everything I hoped him to be, Capote, never. The Swans is a long, long story and I urge you to look further into it. Capote, truly self-destructive, became an appendage of them all and they all told him everything, some of which he wrote about is Esquire (La Cote Basqu”-1965) exposing their innermost secrets and thereby severing the relationship.

Just a brilliant, brilliant series, Murphy’s crowning touch.

Sanford Townsend Band

SHORT TAKES — In my final few weeks working from home, I finally dialed up ROKU’s Yacht Rock station after initially being somewhat repelled by the term. Turns out, it really means soft rock and I’ve heard everything from Hall & Oates to the Sanford Townsend Band (big favorite) and lots of Steve Winwood; Eagles; Al Stewart; and Chicago.

Not bad actually. Guess I really am old … Micky Dolenz does an interview with NPR’s Lillian Galvez today and BreakfastWith The Beatles’ Chris Carter on March 31 before his show at LA’s Troubadour on April 5 … The Rascals people Got To Be Free tour at the Patchogue Theater on April 26; Keswick Theater on April 27; and SONY Hall in NYC on May 17 …

James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy movie has been re-named Superman; and has cast Wendell Pierce (The Wire; Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) as Perry White. And remember, Rachel Brosnahan is Lois Lane! … Keith Richards singing Lou Reed’s immortal classic “I’m Waiting For The Man” is so excellent. Take a look: https://variety.com/2024/music/news/keith-richards-covers-waiting-for-the-man-lou-reed-tribute-1235927738/

Lou Reed

The track appears on a Lou Reed tribute album that also features Angel Olsen, Lucinda Williams, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rufus Wainwright, Rickie Lee Jones, Rosanne Cash and others. It arrives April 19 — with a special Record Store Day edition arriving the following day — on Seattle’s indie Light in the Attic Records (which was chosen by the late artist’s estate to handle his reissues and got a Grammy nomination for the “Words & Music: May, 1965” album). Booklet features liner notes by compilation producer & former Lou Reed publicist Bill Bentley, featuring photos by Mick Rock and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Said Richards: “To me, Lou stood out. The real deal! Something important to American music and to ALL MUSIC! I miss him and his dog” …

Micky Dolenz and Chris Carter

SIGHTING: Micky Dolenz and Alison Martino at the Catalina Jazz Club watching Jimmy Webb … And, we watched the awesome Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction and loved it until the end. It’s almost as if writer/director Cord Jefferson couldn’t figure the right ending, so he portrayed three. Pretty weird for sure, but a staggeringly excellent performance by Wright, Erika Anderson and Sterling K. Brown.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Nancy Jeffries; George Michael; Helene Blue; Monica Lynch; Thomas Silverman; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Alexa Blake; Joe Bonadonna; Andrew Sandoval; Race Taylor; Scott Shannon; Dan Ingram; Bruce Morrow; Wolfman Jack; William Schill; Ed Steinberg; Chris Carter; and CHIP!

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YOUNG’S 12 — (via Ultimate Classic Rock) Since he began making records in the 60’s, Neil Young has seldom let a year or two pass between albums. Even as the last LP by Buffalo Springfield was being prepped for release, the Canadian singer-songwriter was making his self-titled solo debut, which came out just a few months later.

Young has never been reluctant to follow his creative muse, even if he’s in the middle of another project. More than one time during his career he’s shelved a project just to move on to something else. Sometimes – as in the case of Homegrown and Chrome Dreams – those records would be released at a later (sometimes much later) date; in other instances, we’re still waiting.

All this productivity and activity can lead to periods of inconsistency, as you’ll see in the below list of the 12 Worst Neil Young Albums. One era in particular stands out: the ’80s (spoiler: Six successive albums during the decade make the list). But LPs from the ’60s, ’70s, ’90s and the ’00s are here, too.When you’re as prolific as Young, they can’t all be After the Gold Rush and Harvest. Even when the records didn’t reach his usual standards, most of them still found new ways to continue on the restless path he started in the mid-’60s. From synth-pop and traditional country to ’50 rock ‘n’ roll and horn-spotted soul, Young’s instincts rarely took him to expected destinations.

Are You Passionate?’ (2002)

Young’s 24th album was supposed to be another Crazy Horse collaboration, Toast, which didn’t get released until 2022. Instead, he pivoted to a record with Booker T. & the MG’s that was billed as a soul album and included Young’s response to 9/11, “Let’s Roll.” One of the shelved Crazy Horse tracks is included, and it concludes with a nine-minute jam. Scant direction and thin songs sink Are You Passionate?

‘Peace Trail’ (2016)

Young’s 36th studio LP was sandwiched between a live album with Promise of the Real and a solo archival release recorded in 1976. Both are preferable to this quickly assembled record made with drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Paul Bushnell. Its political points are similar to the ones he’d been supporting since the ’60s, but now with a technological lean (there’s even some Auto-Tune on a track). Instantly disposable.

‘Storytone’ (2014)

The second of two albums released by Young in 2014 (the first was the solo acoustic A Letter Home), Storytone featured big band and orchestral backings to songs inspired by a new romance with actress Daryl Hannah. Forgettable and uncertain – swing and classical don’t mix all that well – the album arrived during a period of prolific activity. An equally unmemorable stripped-down version of the album was released at the same time.

‘Old Ways’ (1985)

Young’s country album Old Ways was first proposed after 1983’s Trans, the synth-based LP he delivered to Geffen. The label balked and insisted on a rock album instead; they got the 1950s throwback Everybody’s Rockin’. Young returned to his country album in 1985, enlisting Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and fiddle and pedal steel musicians. Another unremarkable genre detour during Young’s most dour decade.

‘Everybody’s Rockin” (1983)

Young’s second Geffen LP was as baffling as the first. But where Trans moved forward, Everybody’s Rockin’ was a throwback to 1950s rockabilly, complete with a retro look (pompadour, face-dominating sideburns) and name (Neil and the Shocking Pinks). Four songs were covers; an original (“Wonderin'”) dated to 1970. It runs less than 25 minutes. Geffen soon sued Young for making deliberately uncommercial records.

‘Landing on Water’ (1986)

Three genre-specific albums left Young at odds with Geffen Records in the mid-’80s to the point where the label sued him for making records that didn’t sound like Neil Young records. Landing on Water was his return (albeit once again stitched together from years-old sessions) to fuss-free rock music. Good luck finding a memorable song, though. Even Young has referred to Landing on Water as a “piece of crap.”

‘Broken Arrow’ (1996)

After 1989’s career-reviving Freedom, Neil Young had an admirable run in the first half of the ’90s. Then Broken Arrow arrived. Shaken by the death of longtime producer David Briggs, Young and Crazy Horse falteringly recorded the LP over a month, often with no guidance or direction (the first three songs each run more than seven minutes and are little more than aimless jams). An unsteady new era was around the corner.

‘This Note’s for You’ (1988)

After a contentious five-album run with Geffen, Young returned to Reprise for his 16th LP. But he still wasn’t ready to discard the ’80s explorations that marked the decade. The flimsy This Note’s for You, co-credited to the Bluenotes (a horn-based group with other ties to Young’s past), dipped into jump blues music while adhering to a slim conceptual thread about commercialism. At least it contained a minor hit in the title track.

‘Life’ (1987)

Neil Young made five albums with Geffen in the ’80s, none of them particularly good. But at least most of them have some sort of identifiable tag: synth-pop, rockabilly, country. Life has nothing to single it out. Mostly recorded live with overdubs added later, the Crazy Horse collaboration ended Young’s controversial relationship with Geffen on a sour, but expected, note. Maybe the most easily dismissed LP in his entire catalog.

‘Trans’ (1982)

After more than two dozen years with Reprise Records, Neil Young jumped to the flourishing Geffen label for his 12th album. Nobody expected his first record under the new contract to be a futuristic new-wave LP made with synths and a vocoder altering Young’s voice – especially the label. Young has said he made Trans to communicate with his son, who had cerebral palsy. A year later Geffen filed a lawsuit.

‘American Stars ‘n Bars’ (1977)

Neil Young’s catalog is scattered with albums stitched together from various session sources. For his eighth LP, he collected nine songs recorded over a two-and-a-half-year period, starting in 1974. The results were mixed. The stripped-back country rock made with Crazy Horse on Side One has little connection to the plugged-in fury of “Like a Hurricane,” a mid-decade highlight, and the solo acoustic “Will to Love.” Aimless.

‘Neil Young’ (1968)

Young’s solo debut isn’t terrible, it’s just a letdown after the buzz he generated with Buffalo Springfield. Only a handful of songs (including “The Loner,” fleshed out onstage over the years) make an impression; the rest finds the still-growing singer-songwriter tentatively stepping away from his former band while occasionally tethered to their era-identified folk rock. Better things were to come.

SHORT TAKES — On Wednesday’s Today Show, Carson Daly revealed his first concert ever was Ziggy Marley. And as he and a friend took their seats, it seemed to Daly as if smoke rose from the stage. Daly’s friend said it was happy smoke

Leah McSweeney

I never heard of Leah McSweeney (another Bravo Housewife), but Tuesday she filed a lawsuit against Andy Cohen. More lurid details for sure. Is Andy this year’s Harvey? I’ll tell you, between Cohen, Puffy and the gals … it’s a huge, huge mess and heads will definitely roll at NBC/Comcast. Stay tuned … Yankee-Bernie Williams is at the Carlyle?

I haven’t heard his music, but this reminds me of Knick-Earl Monroe years back introducing his Pretty Pearl Records. I honestly don’t even remember the artists, but the project came and went pretty quick … Debbie Gibson on the 80’s Cruise with Wang Chung; Escape Club; English Beat; Soft Cell; Air Supply; Ray Parker; Animotion; and Tommy Tutone. Check it out here: https://the80scruise.com/lineup/

Richard Lewis photo by Stephen Sorokoff

So sad about Richard Lewis. He used to be a very, very frequent companion to me back in the day at Lorelei on West 58th street. He was always so funny and sweet. A true companion for the naughty 90’s. He’ll be much missed …

Kjersti Long

Zach Martin interviews 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long on his NEW HD radio today …  Felix Cavaliere and The Rascals at the Patchogue Theater on April 26 and SONY Hall on May 17th … Happy BDay Zach Lloyd; Mitch Ryder; Roy Trakin; and Judy Libow!

Debbie Gibson

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Jacqueline Boyd; Nancy Harrison; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jim Kerr; Debbie Gibson; Heather Moore; Roger Friedman; Mark Bego; Melinda Newman; Joe Lynch; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Amanda Naylor; Tolouse Bean; Howard Jones; Mark Alpert; Donald Johnson Kyla Nicole; Angela Tarantino;n Barry Fisch; and SADIE!

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G.H. Harding

THE NEW OUTLAWS — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Willie Nelson has announced the lineup and dates for his 2024 Outlaw Music Festival Tour.

In addition to headlining sets by the 90-year-old country legend and recent Rock & roll Hall of Fame inductee, this year’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour will include performances by Bob Dylan each day throughout its 25-date run.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will also play on select dates, alternating appearances with John Mellencamp.

Nelson’s Outlaw Tour debuted in 2016 and has since featured Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison, Chris Stapleton, Neil Young and ZZ Top.

“This year’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour promises to be the biggest and best yet with this lineup of legendary artists,” Nelson said in a press statement announcing the shows. “I am thrilled to get back on the road again with my family and friends playing the music we love for the fans we love.”

Brittney Spencer, Celisse and Southern Avenue will also perform at this year’s Outlaw Music Tour Festival. Billy Strings will join the tour for one concert at Washington’s The Gorge. You can see the tour’s complete run dates and lineups below.

General public ticket sales start on March 1 at 10 a.m. local time. Citi card members have access to presale tickets starting Tuesday at 10 a.m. local time until Thursday at 10 p.m. local time. More information can be found at the tour’s website.

SHORT TAKES — Boy, that Andy Cohen news sure disappeared quickly. I guess Brandi Glanville’s lawyers were right when they said NBC/COMCAST was making too much money from Cohen, to dismiss him. Sure, Andy apologized, but that was it …

Joe Manganiello is hosting the new Deal Or No Deal Island. With one of the worst haircuts, I’ve ever seen, he was on Monday’s Today Show -3rd hour- with Jenna and Hoda assisting him. There were so many rules in the intro, I was immediately thrown. All these game shows seem to be the thing these days – cheap to produce; easy to write; and B and C actors are certainly available …

Jenny Boyd

Jenny Boyd – sister to Patti and married twice to Mick Fleetwood – has a new autobiography out, Jennifer Juniper. Here’s a great piece from Spin on it: https://www.spin.com/2024/02/60s-muse-turned-psychologist-jenny-boyd-explores-rocks-greatest-icons/

Patti Boyd-Harrison

Not to be outdone, sister Patti Boyd-Harrison has an exhibit with Christie’s in London. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHBWT_HKDJ8 … Markos Papadatos has a great new interview with John Oates in Digital Journal, but strangely, nothing about his ongoing dispute with Daryl Hall. Methinks it was more of a PR-move to quickly extinguish any and all reference to it, as it just dragged their legacy (Hall & Oates) down … way down. Take a read: https://www.digitaljournal.com/entertainment/john-oates-talks-about-his-new-music-and-his-tour/article?fbclid=IwAR0T42cxA0lJtXRJZ0db1D0mNakjsjVUJYmerGNzTMXdPNotaHrmuPoPmFI … One more trailer for Kevin Costner’s epic Horizon. Pundit Roger Friedman quipped the Indians don’t look too happy in this one. To be honest, I see much of Yellowstone in the trailer. And, Danny Huston who was in the series is in the movie too. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYsReoZMj1k … As of this writing, subway crime in NYC up 22% from this time last year! Reminds me of the 70’s here these days … Big, big layoffs at both Atlantic and Warner’s. The later about 600 employees. To me, they got rid of all the people who knew exactly what to do and when to do it. Sad for sure … SIGHTINGS: PR-pasha David Salidor at Brooklyn’s Table 87

Mike Scott

And, one of the greatest forgotten about bands is Mike Scott and The Waterboys. Just tremendous and timeless music. Check this article out from The Guardian:https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/27/how-we-made-waterboys-the-whole-of-the-moon-mike-scott… RIP McCanna “Mac” Anthony Sinise.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Gene Cornish; Steve Walter; Jane Blunkell; Markos Papadatos; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Anthony Noto; Anthony Pomes; Kent & Laura Denmark; James Edstrom; Alec Baldwin; Lee Jeske; Andrew Tobin; Jewel Smithee; David and Delia Jones; and ZIGGY!

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GORDON OH GORDON — (from The Guardian) In the 1960’s and 70’s, no serious rock fan viewed the drummer Jim Gordon with anything but awe. By the 80’s, none of them viewed him with anything but contempt, a 180-degree turn that led to his virtual erasure from the culture. Even four decades later, when the veteran music journalist Joel Selvin first tried to sell publishers on a book meant to tell Gordon’s story with nuance and depth, they balked. “They would debate it for months and then say, ‘Nope, can’t do it,’” Selvin said. “It was almost impossible for them because of what he had done.”

In 1983, he entered his mother’s house and began to attack her with a hammer, crashing it into her skull four times before grabbing a knife and stabbing her repeatedly, the final time with such force it pinned her to the floor. Soon after her resulting death, Gordon was arrested, charged and convicted of murder, and spent the next four decades in prison, before dying this past March at 77. Over the years, several prominent articles have been published that tried to trace the outlines of Gordon’s story, ascribing his heinous act to an diagnosed case of schizophrenia that forced him to hear voices and experience hallucinations. Yet only in Selvin’s new book, Drums & Demons, does the reader get a feel for the full horror of his disease and the mess it made of his mind. “In one of his hallucinations, he thought he was in a jail cell that was on fire,” Selvin said. “To me, that was a metaphor for Jim’s whole life. For him, life was a jail cell that was always on fire.”

Despite the chaos that created, both for Gordon, and increasingly, for those around him, Selvin aimed to tell his story with empathy. Only after the drummer’s death was, he able to finally convince a publisher to go along. “The guy got so little compassion,” he said. “I wanted readers to know just how impossible Jim’s life was and how brave he was in battling the disease.”

At the same time, the author meant to “restore Jim’s peerless legacy. Who has done more to put his mark on our music than Jim Gordon?” Selvin said. “What a playlist he was on!”

Just tracing the surface of Gordon’s contributions reveals more than 100 classic songs powered by his invention and finesse. In his early studio work, he appeared on an entire chart’s worth of pop hits, by acts like the Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, the Byrds and Glen Campbell. By the 70’s, he became a key member of pivotal rock bands, including Delaney & Bonnie, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Derek and the Dominos and Traffic. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley of California, Gordon became entranced by the power of the beat from childhood. He played in bands by puberty and, by 17, helped flesh out demos for the publishing arm of Liberty Records. That same year, he joined the Everly Brothers on a tour of England and, afterwards, became part of the storied Wrecking Crew, a loose collection of studio musicians who played on a dizzying range of 60’s hits. “Back then, there were loads of great studio drummers,” said Lenny Waronker, a legendary producer and record executive whose career started in the same west coast studio milieu of the 60’s. “Jim was able to plow through that. All the other musicians were amazed by him.”

Gordon’s role on those storied sessions extended way beyond the simple task of keeping time. “He wasn’t just a backbeat guy,” Selvin said. “He was a fully musical drummer who embedded his playing into the core of the composition.”

For instance: in the 70’s hit, Grazing in the Grass, by the Friends of Distinction, Gordon’s drum elaborated the song. “Even though there was a chart in which every note was written out for him, he added a Latin boogaloo feel that exploded the whole record,” Selvin said.

The fills and intonations he added to Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain contoured the melody and directed the listener’s ear to the record’s subtler touches. “Jim orchestrated that entire song from the drum stool,” Selvin said. In Maria Muldaur’s number one smash Midnight at the Oasis, he added a key samba groove, while in Steely Dan’s Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, the tricky beat he devised deepened the song’s debt to jazz. In doing so, “Jim became an important part of the hit-making process,” Selvin said.

Mark Lindsay, frontman of the hit group Paul Revere & the Raiders, immediately noticed Gordon’s gift after he was hired to drum on their song The Great Airplane Strike. “He was doing this polyrhythmic thing with a kick, a snare and a high hat, accented by tom-toms,” Lindsay said. “He changed the song up so much that I wound up rewriting half of my lyrics to fit was he was doing! Jim became the conductor of the track.”

Waronker recognized the same level of creativity on Sundown, a song he produced for Gordon Lightfoot that became a number one hit. “His drum part made the song move in its own way,” he said. “It’s a specific rhythm that Jimmy picked up from Gordon’s guitar. It became one of the most important parts of the song.”

In the 70’s, Gordon expanded his range to work with rock’n’roll’s most cutting-edge bands on the road. “When you listen to his live work with Mad Dogs & Englishmen or Derek and the Dominos, he’s unleashed,” Selvin said. “The ideas just flow from him.”

At the same time, the voices that were roiling inside his head began to find disturbing external expression. In an infamous incident on the Mad Dogs tour, he hauled off and punched his then girlfriend, the singer Rita Coolidge, in the head. “Here was a guy who was noted for being gentle, smiling and laid back,” Selvin said. “But that was just the mask he wore.”

Some people were already beginning to see through it. “[The singer] Claudia Lennear said she always wondered about that smile,” Selvin said. “It was too simple. She felt he was hiding behind it.”

“Jim had such genius,” Lindsay said, “but I sensed there might be something lurking behind the curtain.”

To Selvin, Gordon’s talent can’t be separated from his torment. “The level of intuition that Jim displayed

in his playing requires a certain electro-chemical makeup,” he said. “His highly personal style had to come from the same place in the brain that produced his schizophrenia.”

At the same time, the focus and power involved in playing drums gave Gordon a refuge from the cyclone of thoughts whipping through his head. “The combination of the resonance of the drums and the rhythmic entertainment of the groove produces a hypnotic feeling that can lift you out,” Selvin said. “Nothing calms a schizophrenic faster than a Walkman and a pair of headphones. For Jim, the drums provided a place where the voices couldn’t follow.”

Strangely enough, the herculean amount of recreational drugs Gordon took at the time also had a calming effect. “You would think that the massive amounts of cocaine he did would make things worse,” Selvin said. “But I talked to psychiatrists who said that it would normalize his dopamine levels. He was doing blow to feel normal.”

Similarly, the crazy rock’n’roll lifestyle of the 70’s, which Gordon exemplified, served as a cover for his increasingly aberrant actions. “The rock scene of the time was nearly indistinguishable from psychotic behavior,” Selvin said with a rueful laugh. “Jim just blended into the background.”

It helped that, at the time, he was still soaring creatively. In 1973, Gordon devised a pair of drum patterns that proved crucial to the development of two separate genres. His work on the Hues Corporation’s smash Rock the Boat, with its high-hat syncopations and danceable beat, helped patent the rhythms of disco. Similarly, his extended break on the song Apache, paired with the congas of King Errisson, became a foundational pattern in hip-hop that was later sampled ad infinitum. “When Kool Herc found Jim’s long drum break on Apache, he discovered that he could make it bound from one turntable to another forever,” Selvin said. “He was driving crowds nuts with that sound.”

By late in 1973, however, Gordon’s beat, and sanity, were beginning to seriously waver. He viciously attacked his wife Renee Armand, cracking several ribs in the process, ending their marriage. His work with the would-be country-rock super group Souther-Hilman-Furay Band grew so erratic they had to sack him. While he managed to keep it together in the studio for a few more years, by 1978 Gordon proved too unreliable to be employed.

In a reporting coup, Selvin acquired research that helped fill in Gordon’s inner life during that pivotal time. He found two women who, in the late 80’s, had gained the drummer’s cooperation for a book that never got off the ground. The notes they took gave Selvin access to jail house interviews with Gordon along with his medical records and related court documents. (Selvin sent several written requests to interview Gordon himself but they went answered.) Regardless, the research he acquired from the women allowed him to put the reader deep inside the musician’s roiling mind.

The voices Gordon heard shamed him so deeply, he rarely told anyone about them, which contributed to him never getting a proper diagnosis. His mother, one of his closest witnesses, believed that drinking and drugs were his problem rather than a symptom of something far more corrosive. While Gordon began to imagine that many people were torturing him at the time, the main voice in his head was his mother’s. “Because Jim’s father was a practicing alcoholic, his mother became the sub rosa leader of the household,” Selvin said. “That’s why she became the major figure in this panoply of voices hectoring him.”

As a result, it was her voice that he felt the most urgent need to silence. Once details of the subsequent murder came out, some observers who knew Gordon in his high functioning days were floored. “When I knew him, he was a tremendously nice person,” Waronker said. “He was the all-American boy.”

Selvin’s book describes what led up to the murder in granular detail, but he doesn’t write much about Gordon’s subsequent decades in prison because, he said, he found it undramatic. Often keeping to himself, Gordon became a virtual zombie due to the anti-psychotic drugs the prison pumped him with. Rare as Gordon’s particular case was, one key reason Selvin said he wrote his book was to let readers know how common various forms of schizophrenia are. “To me, the single most astonishing fact of the research I did was that schizophrenia affects one in 100 people,” he said. “Let that sink in: Multiple sclerosis affects one in 10,000! We see these people out in the street, hearing voices all the time. Their world is totally frightening. And I have nothing but compassion for them. Unfortunately, society doesn’t.”

The other key reason Selvin wrote Drums & Demons, he said, was to restore Jim Gordon to the popular music world. “He’s gone,” he said, “and he needs to come back.”

Drums & Demons: The Tragic Journey of Jim Gordon is out on 27 February.

SHORT TAKES —New bio on the Bee Gees by music-wiz Bob Stanley. The group, one of my all-time favorites, were huge, but in many ways never got the respect they deserved. Many people don’t realize that Robert Stigwood, who masterminded them to the top, used to work for Brian Epstein.I’m eagerly waiting for this one. From Pegasus BooksWe watched Anatomy of a Fall and loved it. Its long, but fascinating and intense. A French legal drama, directed by Justine Triet from a screenplay she co-wrote with Arthur Harari. A great cast, especially Milo Machado-Graner, as the boy Daniel …

I watched the opening SNL monologue, with host Shane Gillis -who was fired from the cast for some racial slurs-. A sort of Adam Sandler-wanna be, I didn’t find him funny in the least. He actually reminded me of a low-rent Louis C.K. -remember him?

Lorne Michaels

I don’t know why Lorne Michaels would even want him back, except for some splashy ink – which wasn’t terribly kind. This appears to be Michael’s next-to-last year on the show and he’s clearly choosing to go out quietly. No more gas in the engine I fear …

AppleTV+ has a new show Constellation with Noomi Rapace. Stunningly done; reminds me of Gravity from a few years back … And, Happy Bday Paul Undersinger and George Harrison!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — William Schill; Anthony Noto; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Derek Taylor; Charles Comer; Howard Bloom; Mark Bego; Phil Goldstein; Tropique Records; Marsha Stern; Beth Wernick; Marion Perkins; Les Schwartz; Liz Rosenberg; Bob Merlis; Obi Steinman; Andrew Sandoval; Warren Lawrence; Jodi Ritzen; Jeremy Long; and CHIP!

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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