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RIC OCASEK,
1944-2019
Bandleader, producer, A&R exec—an extraordinary career (9/16a)
RIHANNA FOLLOWS PLATT TO SONY/ATV
Loyalty in action (9/16a)
TAYLOR SWIFT JOINS THE VOICE AS MEGA MENTOR
Tay knows how to pick her spots. (9/16a)
BEYONCÉ ROARS IN PRIME TIME
So does Bey. (9/16a)
PTX UNWRAPS XMAS BEST OF, TOUR
Fa-la-la-la-la...cha-ching (9/16a)
MORE RAINMAKERS
The players who made it happen.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE LEAKS?
Even funnier in French.
RIHANNA'S ETA
And about $50m in funding.
THE BUNDLE BUNGLE
When will the rules change?
Critics' Choice
FRAMPTON'S FINE FAREWELL
9/16/19

By Phil Gallo

Shredding and reminiscing his way through a 50-year career that has largely been centered on guitar-playing prowess, Peter Frampton bid adieu to New York Friday as his farewell tour hit Madison Square Garden. It was a rousing two-hour-plus performance, long on guitar solos and stories about bandmates, incidents in Manhattan, and moments in a life that he recognized with a consistent tone of humility.

“I’m verklempt,” he said after wrapping “Lying,” his third song in the 17-song set. He truly seemed overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response.

Saying goodbye on this Farewell Tour—he’s suffering from the progressive muscle disorder Inclusion Body Myositis—Frampton is able to perform at the highest possible level before the disease robs him of any playing abilities. As great as he sounds vocally, this is very much a celebration of Frampton the Guitarist, the blues-oriented, harder edged rocker whose musical world exploded and for a good while softened with the intense success of Frampton Comes Alive in 1976.

“Something Happening,” one of five songs everyone knows from Frampton Comes Alive, opens the show; he reaches back for Humble Pie—“I Don’t Need No Doctor” was written at the Garden during a soundcheck, he says—and celebrates his more recent triumphs—the Grammy-winning Fingerprints and his recent blues chart-topper All Blues.

His show, which stops at The Forum in L.A. on 10/5, features blues classics and gems from George Harrison and Soundgarden; intense duels with his second guitarist, Adam Lester, and keyboardist Rob Arthur; and fond recollections of one musician after another, Hank Marvin to Steve Miller to Chris Cornell. (A slide show had plenty of photos with Peter and David Bowie but there was no musical tip of the cap to his lifelong friend).     

It’s a spectacular final statement from Frampton and the disease is clearly not winning: His voice, his smile, his demeanor—all are still as charming as ever.

 

ILLUMINATING BRUCE'S STARS
9/13/19

By Phil Gallo

Over the last decade, Bruce Springsteen has taken control of his legacy via a memoir, Broadway show, focused tours, box sets and interviews with the mainstream press that find him delving into the “why?” of his art deeper than ever before.

Western Stars, his 19th and most recent album, appeared to be a diversion. Here is, for the first time, Springsteen in a full orchestral setting playing music inspired by records from the ’60s and ’70s that he and his E Street buddies may well have scoffed at when they were new. The shorthand for the album was “an homage to Jimmy Webb and the Southern California soft rock of the late ’60s and early ’70s.” That angle missed the lyrical side, an omission Springsteen and Thom Zimny’s film Western Stars works to clarify.

The pic premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, and Warner Bros. will release it theatrically on 10/25. To attract an audience beyond diehards, they’ll need to emphasize the film’s spoken elements over the music.

As directors, first-timer Springsteen and his longtime filmmaking partner Zimny have made a film like none of the other Springsteen films. Where Springsteen on Broadway was a tight, extreme closeup, Western Stars is an expansive view of an individual within multiple communities. It complements Springsteen’s assertion about the two sides of American life rubbing up against one another every day—individual freedom and communal life. Western Stars wears that ethos like a badge of honor.

At its core Western Stars is a concert film—the 13 tracks from the album—along with a cover of a Glen Campbell song that Webb didn’t write— performed in a barn on Springsteen’s New Jersey ranch. Viewed in a screening room, the orchestra sounds more vibrant and three-dimensional than on the record, the banjo bites more intensely and Springsteen’s percussive guitar strums pound with added urgency. The performances are sharp and well-recorded.

The attraction, here, though—and this is where it connects with Springsteen’s continued career summarization—is in the interstitials where Bruce not only explains the ideas behind the songs, but also the philosophies and learned truths about life that went into each lyric.

It boils down to aging. Here he is, turning 70 this month, and he’s looking back at what it took for him to make marriage and fatherhood work, where he made mistakes in how he treated others and other flaws in his character. The people who populate the Western Stars songs are older too—the fading star of Western movies, the hitchhiker, train passengers and drivers looking for a different tomorrow.

He even talks about metaphors, frustrated, for example, that cars don’t represent freedom and forward progress the way they did when “Thunder Road” was written. In our current political state, he suggests, we’re no longer moving forward. “A lot of the time we’re just moving,” he says.

Springsteen has said he won’t tour this album, but the film just makes you want to see him with a four-piece and an orchestra of a couple dozen musicians playing Western Stars’ better songs, a few cuts from The Rising, “Streets of Philadelphia” and perhaps a few early songs that would lend themselves to this type of setting. It would sell out easily.  

    

Springsteen has said he won’t tour this album, but the film just makes you want to see him with a four-piece and an orchestra of a couple dozen musicians playing Western Stars’ better songs, a few cuts from The Rising, “Streets of Philadelphia” and perhaps a few early songs that would lend themselves to this type of setting. It would sell out easily.

 

  

"LIVE" ONES
7/29/19

Australian Consul General Chelsey Martin joined a bevy of industry players for a sneak preview of LIVE BABY LIVE, a film capturing INXS’s now-legendary Wembley Stadium concert. The DOC was mixed in Dolby ATMOS by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios and restored in 4K; look for it to drop later this year, with “LATELY,” a previously unreleased audio track from the concert, serving as a single. Seen suppressing the urge to request a vegemite sandwich are (l-r) UMPG Prexy, North America Evan LambergPetrol Records Chairman Chris Murphy, UMG EVP Marketing Andrew Kronfeld, Martin and UMe President/CEO Bruce Resnikoff.