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Archive for the ‘Artist Update’ Category

by Ray Waddell, Billboard.com

There will be those that believe a millionaire rock star singing about poor people & hard work, as Bruce Springsteen so passionately does on his powerful new album “Wrecking Ball,” to be the height of hypocrisy. But to do so would be both shortsighted & uninformed. First, as a pedigreed Jersey shore rat raised in economically depressed Freehold, N.J., Springsteen knows a thing or two about economic frustration. And, secondly, anyone who has seen Springsteen perform at any one of thousands of shows over the past 40 years, with or without his E Street Band, is well aware that he packs his lunch pail every night & welcomes overtime.

“Wrecking Ball,” Springsteen’s 17th studio album, finds the artist exploring familiar working class territory, but with a vigor and fearlessness not seen since 2002’s equally-inspired “The Rising.” Produced by Springsteen with Ron Aniello, the characters that populate most of the album’s 11 tracks are generally having a pretty tough go of it, to say the least. While sometimes not above contemplating crime & murder, as with the anti-heroes in 1980’s thematically similar “Nebraska” would have opted, the protagonists of “Wrecking Ball” more often just want to put in an honest day’s work. With its gritty portrayal of the danger at hand when lives are lived on the edge of collapse, “Wrecking Ball” does indeed recall “Nebraska,” though the newer record is far more complex musically & more pointed in its observations.

There is a pervasive element of desperation in “Wrecking Ball,” but nobody here is giving up. “Hold tight to your anger,” Springsteen snarls on the title cut. The characters here seek self-respect & purpose, & they maintain their pride if not always their identity. “Stand back, son, & let a man work” Springsteen advises in the pounding “Shackled And Drawn,” & the inability to do so provides the backdrop for the album’s primary struggle. Bankers & other vaguely-defined power brokers draw ire, & the tender ballad “Jack Of All Trades” becomes decidedly less tender as the song draws to a close, with the singer expressing an unnerving willingness to “shoot the b_____ds on sight.”

This is Springsteen with his work boots on, & the music on “Wrecking Ball” follows suit, alternating between loud, percussive, Seeger Sessions-on-steroids romps & steely, subdued dirges, with detours in a wide range of directions. The sound blends contemporary production with familiar Springsteen-esque guitars & drums, while varied influences including gospel, blues, country & even rap surface throughout, often in unexpected ways.

More than anything, “Wrecking Ball” is a record with heart. Worth noting in the liners is the artist’s poignant tribute to his longtime band mate Clarence Clemons, the beloved E Street Band sax man who died last year. This should be considered Springsteen’s definitive take on the Big Man’s legacy, proclaimed here as “Too f____n’ big to die.”

Click here for a track-by-track take on “Wrecking Ball”.

Posted by Gene
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It’s not a global tour that’ll take two years to finish, but Huey Lewis & The News will be making about a dozen stops across the United States this summer:

March 4th: Orlando, Florida at the WMMO Downtown Concert Series

May 18th: Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Foellinger Theater
May 20th: Prior Lake, Minnesota at the Mystic Lake Casino
May 22nd & 23rd: Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Northern Lights Theater @ Potawatomi Casino

July 4th: Blue Ash, Ohio at Red, White & Blue Ash

August 24th: Henderson, Nevada at the Green Valley Ranch Resort
August 26th: Salt Lake City, Utah at the Red Butte Garden / University of Utah
August 27th: Ivins, Utah at the Tuacahn Amphitheater

September 12th: Spokane, Washington at the Spokane County Interstate Fair
September 15th: Goldendale, Washington at the Maryhill Winery
September 16th: Woodinville, Washington at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Posted by Gene
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Kenny Rogers (“Lady”, “Islands In The Stream”, “I Don’t Need You”) has decided that three years of attempting to negotiate with his record label for royalties due him for digital sales is enough, and is taking Capitol Records to court.

In another perfect example of record labels biting the hand that feeds them, Rogers’ lawsuit claims that under his contract, he is owed 50 percent of net royalties for the licensing of his master recordings to third-parties like iTunes and Verizon Wireless.

Mr. Rogers says that Capitol Records owes him more than $400,000, accusing the label of incorrectly counting downloads as “sales” instead of as “licenses,” which pay a higher rate.

The suit says Capitol, an EMI division, also owes him at least $2,518.77 for record club sales & $10,880.18 in video costs, as well as unknown amounts from settlements in industry lawsuits against file-sharing services like Napster, Kazaa and Grokster.

Rogers is far from the first artist to accuse his record label of collecting royalties “in the name of the artists” and then not actually paying any of it to the artist: Cheap Trick, Whitesnake, and the estate of Rick James have all also gone after their labels in court.

In the lawsuit filed last week on Monday the 13th, Rogers is asking for restitution as well as compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees & interest.

I, for one, hope he gets every penny he is asking for… and that the record labels don’t pass the expense on to us, their music-purchasing public.

Posted by Gene
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