Radiohead’s dazzling set underlined how this band has taken the traditional structure of most rock music and turned it inside out, while still somehow making it compelling in a totally forward-thinking manner.


There’s No Such Thing as Global Warming. The President Is Always Right. The Music Business Is Doing Fine. What Holocaust?
Radiohead @the Greek Theater, L.A.: Quietly and unassumingly, these Oxford lads have risen to the level of world-class live act, with this latest non-album tour spotlighting new material from a still-unrecorded release that as yet has no label home. By veering in a left-field direction, Thom Yorke and company have grabbed the high ground of a passionately committed fan base that follows their every move on the Internet, as these paranoid, pre-apocalyptic times seem to have caught up with the band. This 24-song, two-hour-plus show was positively mesmerizing, with new songs like “15 Step,” “Arpeggi” and the elegiac “All I Need” fitting seamlessly into chestnuts like the opening “You and Whose Army?,” “National Anthem,” “2+2=5,” “Paranoid Android” and “Everything in Its Right Place.” Guitarist Jonny Greenwood is one of only a half-dozen axemen in rock, alongside the likes of The Edge, Jack White, John Frusciante and Coldplay’s Jon Buckman, who can carve out their own chunks of melodic soundscape, with the sturdy rhythm section of bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway creating the tribal template that anchors the sonic explorations to terra firma. Yorke even seemed more forthcoming than ever, only betraying his crankiness when audience members called out for “Creep,” but the dazzling show underlined how this band has taken the traditional structure of most rock music and turned it inside out, while still somehow making it compelling in a totally forward-thinking manner. If rock has any future as a musical form, you can bet these guys will be at the forefront of its development...and it couldn’t be in better hands at the moment. —Roy Trakin

2. Barney Hoskyns, Hotel California (John Wiley & Sons): A good companion to Michael Walker’s Laurel Canyon, which it frequently overlaps, veteran U.K. rock critic Hoskyns brings a keen sense of history to the project, concentrating on the rise and fall of the musical and business sides of the counterculture as opposed to the former’s sense of socio-politics and geography as psychology. Of course, neither tome offers definitive proof as to whether the first meeting of Crosby, Stills & Nash took place in the canyon home of Cass Elliott or Joni Mitchell. Reminiscent of Fred Goodman’s Mansion on the Hill, Hotel California traces how the initial idealistic artistic impulse quickly became grasping capitalist commerce, with particular emphasis on how Lou Adler’s Ode label gave way to Mo and Lenny’s Warner/Reprise stable of house eccentrics like Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks and, finally, the Geffen-Roberts axis, which truly put the over-the-counter into alt culture. Hoskyns also puts the spotlight on the music of lesser-known, sometimes tragic, artists like Judee Sill, Ned Doheny, David Blue and the ByrdsGene Clark, each of whom created memorable work, but never achieved the fame or fortune of many of their peers. Nothing really revolutionary, just an evocation of a time and place that helped define a generation, and the inevitable fragmentation that foreshadows our own current music biz in crisis. —RT

3. The Devil Wears Prada: This is one chick flick, based on the Lauren Weisberger best-seller, that is clicking with a male audience mainly because both sexes can relate to a boss from hell, performed with plenty of panache (and tongue firmly in cheek) by Meryl Streep, proving to be as adept at comedy as she is at foreign accents with a turn as the haughty fashion magazine editor reportedly based on Vogue’s legendary bitch goddess Anna Wintour. Anne Hathaway, unconvincing as a “dowdy” serious journo wannabe ugly duckling forced to endure untold humiliations in her fresh-out-of-college first job, comes into her own as a lissome swan after donning a Marc Jacobs handbag and some Jimmy Choo shoes to embrace her inner fashionista....no small task when you’re up against the imperiously scene-stealing Streep. Likewise, Stanley Tucci’s long-suffering, out-of-the-closet aide-de-camp is both amusing and poignant as he walks the line between pomposity and servitude, but for the most part, the movie’s satire doesn’t really have much bite. In fact, the narrative seems to defend fashion's importance as self-expression of the highest form, and the script’s machinations can be seen a mile away, particularly a lame subplot with Entourage’s Adrian Grenier as Hathaway’s whiny boyfriend who objects to how the job is taking over her life. Ironically, in a world where Streep’s round-the-clock demands have become common-place, the complaints seem to border on quaint, and the denouement wraps things up a little too neatly in a bow. And if the Paris scenes seem to come right out of a Sex and the City epsidode, it’s no surprise, given the fact HBO vet David Frankel’s direction is geared for the small screen. —RT

4. One-Man Band: This Pixar short, now playing before Cars, has more humanity, laughs and emotional detail in its five minutes than the accompanying feature has in its entire length, telling its irresistible story of a little girl forced to make a choice between two competing one-man musical groups in an Italian piazza for her patronage in the form of a single, shiny gold coin. The musical sequences, staged as a series of “can you top this?” face-offs, are remarkable in their intricacy, prompting thoughts of “how did they do that?” The finely sketched faces and subtle body language here merely confirm how the headlights and grills of Cars’ automotive characters fail to convey the intimacy and full range of human expression. —RT

5. Vernon Reid & Masque, Other True Self (Favored Nations Entertainment): A one-time rock critic, founder of the Black Rock Coalition and Living Colour guitarist, Reid’s masterful fretwork crosses over any number of stylistic boundaries, from the dubwise reggae of “Flatbush and Church Revisted” and the African lilt of “Prof. Bebey” to the propulsive prog-rock of his cover of Radiohead’s “National Anthem.” Like Robert Fripp, Reid makes the guitar sound anything but like itself on his version of Tony Williams Lifetime’s “Wild Life,” in which he pays a nod to the original solo by Allan Holdsworth, and also puts a distinctive imprint on Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” The only shame is that this envelope-pushing sound, equal parts jazz, rock, blues and world music, is now merely a niche in a business that elevates the banal and buries the brilliant. I can remember when even the popular music biz mainstream had room for a group as adventurous as a Mahavishnu Orchestra. These days, the best a true groundbreaker like Reid can hope for is preaching to the converted, which seems a damn shame given his remarkable virtuosity. —RT

6. World Cup Soccer: For those who just don’t get it, just think of the sport everyone else in the universe except us calls football as instant sudden death from the outset. Don’t know the stats, but I’m willing to bet almost 90% of Cup matches are decided by the team that scores first. Those who doubt this so-called “beautiful game” can be compelling should’ve watched the amazing Italy-Germany match, won by the Italians with two overtime goals less than a minute before the anticlimactic penalty kicks would’ve had to decide it. This weekend’s Italy-France finale represents the end of the road for French star Zinedine Zidane, the balding veteran who plows through lines of defense without losing his balance or control of the ball. The Italians seem to boast an endless supply of young strikers, ready to come off the bench and relentlessly snipe at the goal until finding the room to put one in the corner of the net, and I’d have to say, based on what I’ve seen, they should be the favorites. And just think, the beleaguered U.S. booters actually tied ’em in the preliminary round and even had the eventual finalists on the ropes playing one man down. Of course, until America fields a squad that can compete with the world’s elite, expect the stateside public to remain apathetic, but soccer at its best remains an amazing chess match in which one small mistake can lead to disaster, a fitting metaphor for the tremulous times in which we live. —RT

7. Gorillaz, Demon Days Live (at Manchester) (Virgin Records DVD): One of only two live shows put on by Damon Albarn and company (the other was at the Apollo Theater in Harlem), this DVD concert captures the impressive size and scope of the venture, complete with several of the guest stars from the album, including De La Soul on the massive hit “Feels Good Inc.,” Happy MondaysShaun Ryder, trying to grab a cigarette from his jacket while singing “Dare” and U.K. hip-hop artist Roots Manuva, along with a massive gospel choir and a string orchestra. Think “Up With People” crossed with the Polyphonic Spree. The performance recreates the entire album from start to finish, including Dennis Hopper’s recorded spoken-word narration on “Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head” as well as a pair of songs not on the disc, “Hong Kong,” sporting a haunting zither solo by Chinese performer Zeng Zhen, and “Latin Simone,” a posthumous video collaboration with the late, great Cuban musician Ibrahim Ferrer on a track from the group’s first CD. For a so-called cartoon band, this impressive project comes alive with flesh-and-blood performers, as Albarn literally remains in the shadows until the end, taking a well-deserved bow as mastermind of one of the more unlikely cross-cultural, worldwide musical success stories of recent times. —RT

8. Up, Up and Away (YouTube.com): A video remnant from the late-‘80s record business boom which seems a hundred years ago, featuring an impossibly young label executive we all know well, demanding a built-in sauna for his office from a hapless human resources type. It’s obviously staged, but still amusing as an early example of “reality” programmming. Does anyone know who the “other” guy is in this scenario? Check it out here and fill us in. —RT

9. New York Dolls, “Dance Like a Monkey” (RoadRunner Records): A track from the band’s soon-to-be-released new album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, its first studio effort in more than 30 years, which comes out July 25. A Bo Diddley-style rocker that recalls their classic “Stranded in the Jungle,” David Johansen leans into it exhibiting exactly the right amount of irreverent playfulness that underscores the band’s allegiance to the verities of rock delivered with a winking post-mod sensibility that’s aged like a fine wine. Check out a stream of the tune here. —RT

10. Gripe of the Week: Even though I’m a 20-year SoCal resident, I’ve yet to succumb to the charms of the beach. I love driving down PCH on a sunny day as much as the next guy, but when it comes to actually pitching an umbrella and hauling a towel to the oceanfront, you can count me out. Coupla weeks ago, we traveled to Zuma for a picnic Subway lunch with my daughter’s high school volleyball team, where I made the mistake of not heeding my wife’s admonitions to put on sun screen, mainly because I didn’t want to get sand on me, thinking the overcast day would prevent my pale white skin from getting burnt. Well, in between chasing after an umbrella that kept getting blown by the wind, I developed a fine crimson shade from the knees down, at which point I finally lathered on some lotion, but too late to do any good. Two weeks later, I’m still peeling from the top of my feet, which look like a pair of lobsters. Just call me a Beached Boy. —RT

I found out Thursday that my old friend and mentor Paul Nelson—the best rock critic I’ve ever read, bar none—died last week in his Upper West Side apartment. This is hitting me hard, despite (or more likely because of) the fact that I hadn't seen him in 18 years and spoke with him just once since then, in 2003—a call in which he sounded exactly the same as 30 years earlier, despite the things he was telling me. A notorious night owl, he’d return to his apartment after a shift at a nearby video store and work until dawn on a screenplay, in longhand (odd for this perfectionist typist), which he had no intention of showing to anyone, he said. He also told me the only artist he had any remaining interest in listening to was bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, indicating that this onetime founder/editor of the prototypical folkzine The Little Sandy Review, the first to call attention to fellow Minnesotan Bobby Zimmerman, had come full circle. What a shame, I thought, that he was receding into a private world when he still had so much to say.

Along with legitimizing me as a rockcrit and label geek by taking me under his wing, getting me in Stone and hooking me up with a gig at Mercury Records, where I worked alongside him, Paul also showed me how to look and listen more deeply than I ever had before, and how to articulate what I found there. It wasn’t just records; he also introduced me to filmmakers from Truffaut and Godard to Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, film critic Andrew Sarris and novelists like his beloved Ross Macdonald and Raymond Chandler. Paul spoke as eloquently as he wrote, in a manner fellow veteran Dave McGee described earlier today in his own remembrance as “logical, impassioned, understated, and exuding great dignity, poise and class.”

Paul had a form of aesthetic X-ray vision that enabled him to unfailingly penetrate to the heart of the matter, his embrace of Dylan plugging in at Newport merely being the most famous example. (By sheer coincidence, I watched that segment of No Direction Home just last night and said to Peggy, "What a smart guy he was," my use of past tense simply reflecting the sense that he'd stopped using his rarefied gift prematurely.) I remember going to the Mercer Arts Center with Paul in early '72 to see the New York Dolls for the first time. Thinking they were a cartoon band of non-players, I bailed after the first set, then got a call from him after the second gently but strongly suggesting I give them another chance. He was right, of course. He signed the band and together we worked with them, my initiation into “artist relations.”

It was most likely for Paul’s sake that Rod Stewart told me in his midtown hotel room that he aspired to emulate the career of Dylan, selling a few hundred-thousand copies of each album to a loyal following. Then there was an unforgettable weekend in Boston capped by a Faces show at the Boston Gardens we watched from behind the speaker stacks. Paul loved Rod, and Jackson Browne, and he tried really hard to sign a young Bruce Springsteen, which now prompts me to wonder, for the very first time, what if he had?

For a while I was a junior version of Paul—every day we'd walk down Sixth Ave. to 46th St. in our Frye boots, go into La Strada, order the veal picante and two Cokes each from Pepe the waiter and smoke Sherman's browns on the walk back to 110 W. 57th St. The version of me that I eventually came up with wouldn't have been possible without the shaping of my sensibility Paul so generously performed. I’ll always treasure his love and insight.
—Bud Scoppa

Friday, July 7th
Pink: Toyota Concert Series on Today @ Rockefeller Center.

The Beach Boys @ Bryant Park:
Good Morning America concert series


Orange County Fair @ Orange County Fair and Exposition Center, Costa Mesa: The annual event has the traditional categories covered, but it offers much more in terms of entertainment: This year, the fairground's CBB arena hosts the Orange Crush demolition derby, motocross competitions, local alternative bands and several nights of rodeo.

Vans Warped Tour @ The Fairplex in Pomona:
This year's tour features punk legends like Buzzcocks, the Germs (minus Darby Crash, of course)and NOFX, along with contempo acts like AFI, Senses Fail, Alkaline Trio, Less Than Jake, Say Anything and Thursday. Rivetheads can throw goat to Helmet and Motion City Soundtrack, among many others. But the must-see band this year has to be Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, featuring the totally hot, fortysomething singer/guitarist, who likes to perform in leather pants and bikini top. Yow!

Yellowcard @ Summerfest, Milwaukee


Giants vs. Dodgers: The second of four games with the hated rivals from the Bay.

Linda Ronstadt @ Gibson Amphitheatre
Armored Saint w/Death Angel and Flotsam & Jetsam @ House of Blues on Sunset

Saturday, July 8th

Giants @ Dodgers

“Save Ride On Chatsworth”
A Benefit for the Ride On Organization Sat. July 8th
A benefit will be held at the Ride On Chatsworth Ranch on Saturday, July 8th. to raise money for the acquisition of a permanent San FernandoValley site. Ride On's Chatsworth facility is located at 21126 Chatsworth St (at DeSoto) and the festivities kick off at 6PM. Tickets are $30 each or $50 per couple - reservations are required. (Tickets purchased day of event are slightly higher). There will be dinner and activities for all to enjoy! For more info, visit www.rideon.org or call Pat or Sharon at 818-700-2971.
Founded in 1994, Ride On teaches horseback riding to children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. This non-for-profit corporation serves over 170 riders each week at its 2 facilities. Starting from no riders, no volunteers and no money, Ride On has grown to give over 5,000 lessons to children and adults with physical and mental disabilities each year. This year’s benefit is to raise money and awareness to help reach our goal of $100,000 towards the acquisition of a permanent home. All proceeds will go to keep this facility open to help aid others in the future.

Dave Matthews Band @ Fenway Park

OK Go @ Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL

Slightly Stupid w/Capitol Eye & OPM @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim

Sunday, July 9th

Giants @ Dodgers: Concluding game so come out and support the blue crew before the All-Star break.

Say Anything @ Plaza of Nations - Vancouver, BC

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgaard, Jack Davenport
Captain Jack owes a blood debt to the legendary Davy Jones, captain of the dreaded Flying Dutchman. He threatens to curse Jack to an afterlife of eternal servitude and damnation if he can't settle up. Soon-to-be-married Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann join Jack on a quest to find the Dead Man's Chest, which may contain a treasure that Jones will accept as payment.
Thoughts: I have been waiting for this movie for awhile now, and think its going to be a big hit at the box office, the only bummer, is the early reviews have not been kind. Oh well, I am still seeing it and so will the rest of America.

A Scanner Darkly
Winona Ryder, Robert Downey, Woody Harrelson, Keanu Reeves, Rory Cochrane
In the near future, America has lost the war on drugs. Undercover Orange County cop Bob Arctor is assigned to spy on several of his addict buddies using his unique identity-masking skills. But when he ingests too much of the drug Substance D, his personality splits in two, compromising his investigation and his relationship with his friends.
Thoughts: This movie looks very bizarre, but I would be surprised if it is a sleeper. I think this one could be really good.

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.
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.
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.