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We catch a glimpse of Larry Solters, in a Brooklyn cap and seemingly snoozing, on the Dodger Stadium giant screen. When we ring him up on the cell, he insists he was BlackBerrying someone… Listen, dude. There is no text-messaging in baseball, OK?
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TRAKIN CARE OF BUSINESS: HIGH HOLIDAY SPECIAL
1. John Mayer, Continuum (Aware/Columbia):
Seems like Mayer got all his axe-slinging muso leanings out on the blues-based Try! because this time around, he and the rest of that album’s supple trio—his co-producers, bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan, supplemented with, among others, guitarists Ben Harper and Charlie Hunter and bassist Willie Weeks—create a pocket that fits like a well-worn glove. “Waiting on the World to Change” fuses the generational political questioning of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” with the sensual tilt of “Sexual Healing,” all accompanied by a fat Motown beat, while Mayer channels the uplift of Sam Cooke on the closing “I’m Gonna Find Another You.” He puts his slow groove on in “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You),” the pulse supplied by jazz horn player Roy Hargrove’s subliminal trumpet, while a studio version of Try!’s “Gravity” strips the song down to its essence with a soulful Mayer plaint: “It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees,” followed by a tasty solo that has the languid lucidity of late-period Clapton, seguing into a slow-building gospel chorus. “The Heart of Life” has the spiritual optimism of George Harrison’s solo work, delivered with the nursery rhyme simplicity of “Blackbird,” a pep talk to himself he repeats in “Vultures,” vowing in a seductive falsetto, “Then I’ll come through like I do/When the world keeps testing me, testing me, testing me.” “Stop This Train” has the autobiographical whimsy of Paul Simon, as Mayer confesses, “So scared of getting older/I’m only good at being young.” “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and “Dreaming with a Broken Heart” are both about romantic betrayal, delivered in a voice as silky smooth as Van Morrison’s on “Moondance.” For his cover of Hendrix’s “Bold as Love,” Mayer spotlights the song’s soulful vocal mannerisms and psychedelic lyrics even more than he does Jimi’s guitar licks. The cocky, erudite and opinionated performer knows he has talent and isn’t afraid to show it. “I’m not together but I’m getting there,” he sings on the self-medicating “In Repair.” His cheeky personality may sometimes be hard to take, but John Mayer’s music goes down real easy. —Roy Trakin

2.
Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah (Universal Motown): A crazed cross between the Bee Gees, Elton John, ABBA, Queen, Deee-Lite and Leo Sayer at his most helium-pitched, this campy quintet came together in New York, and while they remain a cult act here in the States, in the U.K., Ireland and Europe they are superstars, with a string of #1 singles and a bunch of industry awards. The chart-topping British hit, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” from their sophomore album, is a collaboration with Elton and comes off like the answer song to Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” but it’s the tongue-in-chic “She’s My Man” that sounds the most like Captain Fantastic, with its refrain, “She’s my man/And we got all the balls we need”. Led by primary songwriters Jake Shears (aka Jason Sellards) and producer Babydaddy (Scott Hoffman) with “Mistress of Ceremonies” focal point Ana Mantronic (Ana Lynch), the band is an unabashed product of downtown New Yawk gay dance club culture. That said, its sensibility is way too ironic and pop-centric to ever make it in their homeland, particularly the English music hall whimsy of “Intermission,” featuring Elton again on piano, along with a classic Van Dyke Parks string arrangement. “Lights” could’ve fit comfortably onto Saturday Night Fever, and “Land of a Thousand Words” is a self-conscious attempt at the kind of ballad Elton probably wishes he still had the vocal range to tackle. Ana’s cheeky lead vocals on “Kiss You Off” and “Ooh” recall such dance-punk influences as Debbie Harry and Annie Lennox, with verses like “Kiss you off for a custom shine/Pissed yours truly off this time.” The disco-funky “Paul McCartney” sounds more like Prince than the beloved Beatle, but it's just as catchy and danceable, while the shimmering psychedelia of “The Other Side” cops fellow Fab Four member George Harrison’s “The world goes on with or without me,” with more than a passing resemblance to Duran Duran, another of the band’s sonic touchstones. Between the jaunty Macca “Lady Madonna” anglopop of “Might Tell You Tonight” and the anthemic rave-up finale “Everybody Wants the Same Thing,” the Scissors pay tribute to their adopted U.K. home: “Love is what I want/Love is what I give/Right here’s where I’m finding it/That’s how I’m gonna live.” America’s loss is the mother country’s gain. —RT

3. I Trust You to Kill Me (Motion Picture Group), Rocco DeLuca & the Burden, I Trust You to Kill Me (Ironworks Music): There have been some fine rockumentaries over the last few years, but Manu Boyer’s I Trust You to Kill Me, featuring newcomers Rocco De Luca & the Burden, is one of the best at conveying the often-thankless, sometimes-rewarding saga of touring on your own as a relatively unknown band. The key to the film is the presence of 24’s Kiefer Sutherland, founder of the group’s Ironworks label, and a tireless, inveterate supporter of the group, who allows the cameras to capture him in his very un-Jack Bauer-like role as hapless tour manager for the outfit’s trek to clubs in London, Dublin, Reykjavik and Berlin. Whether chain-smoking, losing his wallet and cellphone, giving out free tickets in the streets to amazed passers-by or drunkenly jumping into a Christmas tree in a hotel lobby, Sutherland gives a self-portrait of the patron as a starry-eyed music fan, convinced his charges will conquer the world, one show at a time. It’s a gutsy, vulnerable performance that reflects his undying belief in the power of rock & roll, and a tribute to the commitment that takes place for bands all over the world by their supporters. And the musical interludes by the young man who strums a dobro and sings like a 67-year-old black man from the Mississippi Delta make for some great accompaniment to the often-wacky reality. It adds a depth and context to his long-in-the-works debut effort (produced by Jude Cole) that is rare for a first-time artist, who manages to emerge full-blown with a distinct sound and, yes, vision all his own. —RT

4. San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium: Compared to other sporting events, baseball is a bargain. Imagine being able to sit in the right field pavilion with the real fans for just $8, which we paid apiece for two tickets to support AIDS research. Arriving early on a Friday night for a crucial series between bitter division rivals the Pods and the Dodge-men, we settled into our outfield seats to watch some batting practice and chase balls rattling around in the empty stands. We watch the ballpark fill up as in speeded-up stop-motion, hunker down with a $7.75 California Pizza Kitchen take-out and get ready for a splendid pitching duel between wily vets Greg Maddux, who takes a no-hitter into the seventh, and barrel-chested David Wells, who matches him zero for zero, with a slight two-run hiccup in the fifth. It’s a pretty diverse scene in what used to be called the bleachers, what with incipient waves, the guy in the Lucha Libre wresting mask and the poor gal who ventured into the stands with a Padre cap, which she had to remove after a hearty round of booing from a lynch mob out of a Fritz Lang movie, as the cops began to gather. Gotta say one thing about Dodger Stadium: It is still one of the great ballparks, looking a lot better at 43 then the comparable Shea Stadium, which is headed for the wrecking ball after next year. The weather is perfect, and the dulcet tones of Vin Scully hang in the air, as we catch a glimpse of none other than Larry Solters in a Brooklyn cap on the giant screen, seemingly snoozing. When we ring him up on the cell, he insists he was BlackBerrying someone… Listen, dude. There is no text-messaging in baseball, OK? By the way, the Dodgers won 3-1, sending everyone home happy. I’m only sorry I turned off the TV the following Monday in the ninth inning with San Diego up 9-5. Guess I was too busy celebrating the Mets’ division-clinching—RT

5. Ella Rouge (Moby Dick Music): ABBA principal Benny Andersson’s son Ludwig is the singer/songwriter-frontman for this Swedish sextet, and he has a thirst for American pop culture (with references to Breakfast at Tiffany’s in “Holly Golightly,” New York flavor in “Manhattan,” West Coast decadence in “L.A. Dogs”) and British classic glam-rock (the Ziggy-played-guitar autobiographical “ElDorado High,” where he sings: “So Louie was a young gun, famous ABBA-man son/Everywhere he went fortune came along/But this Obi Wan/Was to be undone.” With rugged blonde rockstar looks, Ludwig’s musical tastes run a lot harder to the left and right than his famous father, but he still shows a family predilection for soaring melodies and intricate arrangements. Now, for their cover of “Dancing Queen.” —RT

6. www.mlb.com: You gotta love Major League Baseball’s live online audio broadcasts for every team. An entire season set me back $14.95 to tune in on my Mets’ hometown WFAN announcers, which proved to be a bargain that paid me back 162 times. Sitting at my desk, all I had to do was click on the Gameday play-by-play re-creation, which enabled me to follow every pitch of the Amazins’ end-to-end division title run. It sure beats calling Sportsphone every five minutes, like we used to do in the pre-Internet days. And while the video streams offered for a bit more aren’t quite state-of-the-art—too much buffering and frozen frames for that—it’s only a matter of time before that’s available, and then it’s game on. I, for one, can’t wait. —RT

7. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC): Like his previous TV efforts, Sports Night and West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s latest is a comedy-drama centered in a high-pressured workplace, in this case a weekly Saturday Night Live-styled variety show trying to live up to its past reputation. The problem I have with all of Sorkin’s shows arises again here, and that’s the completely artificial nature of the banter that passes for real-life dialogue  but sounds very written. The series gets off to a promising start ,as Lorne Michaels stand-in Judd Hirsch halts the show with an on-camera rant about the mediocrity of television that obviously channels the late Peter Finch’s spiel in Network. The problem is, Sorkin proceeds to show several local news broadcasters making the same reference—lest the audience is too young to remember, or merely to stroke those who do—then follows up with Amanda Peet’s Faye Dunaway-styled ambitious network executive not afraid to use her sexuality to get her way, remarking, “Well, at least they mentioned Paddy Chayefsky.” It’s all a little too good to be true, though the sheer charisma of likeable leads Steven Weber, Matthew Perry, D.L. Hughley and West Wing vet Bradley Whitford, the only one who seems to have a dark side, helps liven things up. Let’s put it this way, though. It’s no Larry Sanders Show. And I haven’t even begun to kvetch about the completely unbelievable relationship between Sarah Paulson’s born-again crooner and Perry’s staunch anti-fundamentalist. Now let’s see if Lorne’s authorized 30 Rock is any more convincing. — RT

8. www.starcelebs.com: An incredible variety of free websites featuring celebrity nudes, including shots of Hilary Duff’s crotch, Katie Holmes’ breasts and Mischa Barton’s butt in the style popularized by forerunner Mr. Skin, the absolute leader in the field and a useful tool for telling you to the minute and second when celebrity nudity takes place in each film and DVD. If naked stars is your thing, by all means check it out. And who wouldn’t want to see Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Connelly and Nicole Kidman in the buff? God bless the Internet. What did we ever do without it? —RT

9. Blender’s Rock Star Wars: The Ultimate Tournament: The cheeky mag’s October issue sports an NCAA basketball-like seed of 64 of the greatest acts of all time, bracketed together in four distinct categories—Words, Riffs, Grooves and Tunes, with a month-by-month playoff to produce an overall winner. Some of the first round match-ups include James Brown (1) vs. Britney Spears (16) in Grooves; Madonna (5) vs. the Beach Boys (12) in Tunes; Bob Dylan (1) vs. Tupac (16) in Words and Led Zeppelin (2) vs. The White Stripes (15) in Riffs. You get the idea. May the best band win.
RT

10. Guest Gripe of the Week: Not everybody’s mourning the loss of the Village Voice’s venerable Dean of American Rock Critics Robert Christgau. Here’s an alternate take from industry gadfly Jimi Lalumia of Good Times: Calling him “the bane of my existence for years, ” the acerbic writer opines: “His old school method of lecturing readers with 10-syllable words and pompous pronouncements has obviously outlived its usefulness to the new breed of music fans.” Ouch. Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down. I mean, I’ll agree that Christgau could be pompous, and I basically launched my career at the old Soho Weekly News by trying to be a plain-speaking alternative to his pantheon approach, but his obsessive nature will certainly be missed at the Voice, though I’m sure he’ll re-emerge somewhere…even if it’s just online. After all, the pioneering alternative weekly survived without film critic Andrew Sarris, who now toils for the recently sold New York Observer. Old critics don’t die; they just end up sunk by their own syntax. —RT

CALENDAR
Friday, Sept. 22nd
11:00am-10:00pm
L.A. County Fair @ The Fairplex in Pomona: You don’t wanna miss the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich or the deep-fried Twinkie, but it might be a good idea to bring a barf bag, just in case.

4:30pm
Moby w/John Digweed @ Central Park Rumsey Playfield, N.Y.

7:00pm-12:00am
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party @ The Magic Kingdom in Orlando

8:00pm
Robin Trower @ House of Blues on Sunset

Saturday, Sept. 23rd
3:00pm
KROQ’s Inland Invasion @ Hyundai Pavillion at Glen Helen: Headlining the show will be none other than Guns N’ Roses…assuming they show up, of course. Also on the bill are Muse, Papa Roach, Avenged Sevenfold, Rise Against, Buckcherry and other band's you've heard of.

6:00pm
Plain White T's @ Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN

7:00pm
Eighteen Visions @ Emo's, Austin

7:30pm
Peter Frampton @ House of Blues, Chicago.

8:00pm
Kelis @ House of Blues in San Diego.

G. Love w/Marc Broussard @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim

Sunday, Sept. 24th
1:10pm
Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers @ Chavez Ravine (Prime Ticket): Come support the Blue Crew in there last home game of the regular season and, depending on whether they can get it together over the last 10 games, the last home game of the year.

4:00pm
The Cheetah Girls @ Dodge Theatre, Phoenix.

6:30pm
Flaming Lips @ Hammerstein Ballroom, N.Y.

8:00pm
Staind and Hinder @ Baton Rouge River Center, Baton Rouge, LA

JE-C’S NEW MOVIE RUNDOWN
All the King’s Men
Starring:
Sean Penn, Jude Law, Patricia Clarkson, Kate Winslet, Kathy Baker, Talia Balsam
Synopsis:
Louisiana governor Willie Stark wins his office by appealing to the common man—and playing dirty politics. But as he gains more and more power, Stark slowly becomes corrupted by the system he sought to change.
Thoughts: The word of mouth has been good on this one; maybe we have one of our first really good films of the year…although I still think nothing can top V for Vendetta.

Jet Li’s Fearless
Starring:
Jet Li
Synopsis:
Jet Li (who else?) stars in this biopic as Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia, who founded the Jin Wu Sports Federation and rose to become the top fighter in early 20th-century China.
Thoughts:
Not only am I gonna see this movie cause it is Jet Li’s last martial arts film (or so he says), but I can’t wait to see it because it actually looks like it could be really good.

Other Movies opening this weekend:
Flyboys
Science of Sleep
:
This one could be really good, but its only opening in limited release right now.
Jackass: Number Two:
This will probably be a big movie, but I just don’t care enough to put it in my main section.

HOT NEW MUSIC TO CHECK OUT:
I just got the Lupe Fiasco CD, and if you are a hip-hop fan, this is a must-have—a nearly flawless debut for the Chicago-based rapper. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as soon as I popped the disc in the car, I found myself hypnotized.

JE-C’S TOP MOVIES OF THE YEAR SO FAR
V for Vendetta:
This is my favorite movie of the year so far, for many reasons. It's more than just a comic book adapted for the big screen; it’s a movie that makes a big political statement that we can all relate to these days. Definitely a movie that was slept on, and I advise everyone to check it out if you haven't yet.
World Trade Center: Another important movie that I urge people to see. I was in tears, and although a lot of it is hard to watch, it’s quite an astonishing story.
The Illusionist: Giamatti and Norton are truly awesome.
X-Men III: The Last Stand: If this is the last one, it certainly satisfied my appetite. It had it all, including some incredible action sequences.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Simply awesome!!! Johnny Depp is brilliant, Bill Nighy is creepy, Keira Knightley is sexy and it has great special effects and nonstop action.
Mission Impossible III: OK, people are getting sick and tired of Tom Cruise, but if you can just get past him, this movie is actually really good. A lot of people are missing out because they’re so turned off by the star’s off-screen antics.
An Inconvenient Truth: The most important movie of the year…A MUST-SEE!!!
Nacho Libre: The funniest movie of the year. Jack Black rocks.
The Devil Wears Prada: This movie is making my list because Meryl Streep was truly brilliant, and if you haven’t seen it, or are on the edge about seeing it, go for her performance, if nothing else.

 

NEAR TRUTHS:
THE CAKE AND
THE CANDLES
Marketshare machers. (10/27a)
KENDRICK INKS WITH UMPG
Lamar enters the House of Jody. (10/27a)
YTD MARKETSHARE: AND THE WINNER IS...
It's a lock. (10/27a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, PART 8,761: SURGERY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/27a)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Vote. Do it now. (10/27a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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