ATN's Music News of the World: Avengers and Green Day
GREEN DAY LEADER & FORMER AVENGER RECORD SONG In preparation for entering the studio in March to begin work on a new album, Green Day have been writing material. And band leader Billy Joe Armstrong has co-written and produced a song, "The Angel and the Jerk," with former Avengers' leader Penelope Houston. The San Francisco-based Avengers were an important first wave punk combo known for their killer song, "We Are the One"; they performed on the bill at the Sex Pistols final, pre-break-up concert in San Francisco in Jan of 1978. Houston and Armstrong wrote "The Angel and the Jerk" at Armstrong's home studio. A source who has head a demo of the song with Armstrong singing described it as "a blazing punk-pop anthem that sounds like a meeting of the Buzzcocks and the Ramones at Green Day's rehearsal studio." For the actual recording, Armstrong assembled a rhythm section comprised of musician friends and played guitar. All concerned had such a good time in the studio that they also recorded a version of the Avengers' song "Corpus Christi," and an older Houston song titled "New Day." Armstrong and Houston are putting the final touches on the recordings this week. "The Angel and the Jerk" is expected to show up on a film soundtrack later this year.SUGAR HILL RECORDS, GODMOTHER OF CREATION Addicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: For some hip-hop fans, "old school" means they've heard Cypress Hill's first record, but for true old-schoolers (those brought up on a steady diet of Sugar Hill 12 inches), names like Super Wolf, Spoonie Gee and Grandmaster Melle Mel will bring back fond memories of the days before rap was big business and the only "battles" fought were over microphone supremacy at Sunday park jams. The pioneering rap label, an Englewood, NJ ma and pa operation called Sugar Hill Records, finally gets its due with the 56-song, five-disc box set, The Sugar Hill Records Story which was released Feb. 4. The lavish set, which comes in a powder blue box whose cover is designed to look like a Sugar Hill 12", complete with the familiar candy-cane-colored swirl and cityscape backdrop, also contains a bonus 12" vinyl remix of the song considered by many to be one of the greatest raps of all time, Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message." The bonus vinyl packs the original seven minute version, an A Cappella mix, an instrumental and a new '97 Dungeon Mix that adds a sinister beat to the classic raps-to-riches story. With 20 years to look back on, it seems safe to say that Sugar Hill, which burst out of the box in 1979 with the still-groundbreaking "Rapper's Delight," (featured here in both the uncut 14 minute version and the remixed seven minute edit) revolutionized the way audiences heard rap. Taking the street jam off the street and out of underground clubs and onto 12" vinyl, where everybody from budding MC's to suburban teens could groove to now-classics like the Funky 4+1's "That's the Joint," (later sampled by the Beastie Boys) or Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "New York New York" (recently sampled by Snoop Doggy Dog and the Dogg Pound), Sugar Hill helped sow the seeds for what has become a multi-million dollar industry. If James Brown is the Godfather of sampling, then Sugar Hill is the Godmother of Creation. Everyone from Public Enemy to "Puff Daddy" Combs (whose new single employs a Sugar Hill sample) have been inspired by the awesome Sugar Hill sound, much of which was created by a crack in-house band that laid the foundation for the funky grooves that ran under classics like "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," "The Message," "Beat Street," "White Lines (Don't Do It)," and the TreacherousThree's cover of Allen Toussaint's "Yes We Can-Can." And while many of the Sugar Hill songs themselves relied on then-familiar breakbeats from disco records (which many of the early DJ's valued only for their beats), such as "Rapper's Delight," which sampled the groove from the hot 1979 Chic disco single "Good Times," Sugar Hill co-founder Joe Robinson, Jr. says (in the booklet that accompanies the set) the favor has been returned a hundred-fold. "Man, I get so many requests for samples. We are among the most-sampled record companies in America. And I'm happy that Sugar Hill is part of some of today's popular music," he says, adding, "Our sound has managed to stay fresh because when it was created we stuck to certain rules of music, and this adherence to these basic rules has allowed us to reach another generation."What's most amazing about this set is how often you'll find yourself saying, "oh man, that's where they got that groove," and you will say it a lot. So, the next time you think your favorite rapper is serving up a dope beat, or laying down an ultra-catchy rhyme, check the source, because you might just find some Sugar.Return Of The Rentals Addicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: Given the hassles Weezer had with the title of their latest album, we can only hope that band member Matt Sharp doesn't decide to call the next Rentals record Brinks. One-man band Sharp has finished recording the second record by his New Wave-lovin' keyboard side-project and, following the end of the Weezer tour (after which enigmatic singer Rivers Cuomo reportedly fled back to the safe confines of academia), flew back to London this week for a month and a half of overdubbng and mixing on the self-produced effort, which is tentatively scheduled for a late July release. Although, as usual, Sharp is creating the project all by himself, a source hinted that Blur's Damon Albarn might add some vocals to a few of the 14 songs Sharp recorded in London last October. The source also said the Rentals "will tour for sure this summer," cryptically adding that the band would be in the opening slot for a "major group, if their album comes out on time." PRODIGY TO TOUR U. S.Addicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: Prodigy, currently the hottest band in technoland, who, contrary to numerous press reports, have not been signed to Madonna's Maverick label, but rather have signed a licensing deal with the label for the U.S. only, will hit the U.S. for a mini-promotional tour in April. The band, who are still signed to XL/Mute/Beggars Banquet, will release their still-untitled, eagerly anticipated, new album in late May or early June, according to a source. And, although no line-up has been confirmed yet, the source said the band will quite likely headline a few dates of the revamped-for-'97 Organic Festival. The promotional tour will bring the "Firestarter" band to four or five major U.S. cities around the time their next single, "Breathe," has likely reached critical mass. The new Prodigy record will contain a collaboration with Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills and will again be a self-produced effort. Backing vocals from Republica singer Saffron, who shared the bill with the band on the recently aired MTV "Fashionably Loud" event, will also reportedly contribute vocals to a cover of L7's "Fuel My Fire" expected to appear on the new album.Bad Religion Live Album Out NowAddicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: You'll have to search forit, but in early March hard-core Bad Religion fans should truck down to their local indie store and try to dig up an import of Tested, a 27-tracklive album from the hard-working SoCal punk group. Although the album, which was released a few weeks ago in Australia and isslated for European release this month, won't be released officially by thegroup's label, Atlantic, in the U.S., several thousand import-only copies willbe released in late March.The single CD, double LP was recorded over 60 shows in Europe and the U.S. in 1996 and contains three previously unreleased tracks: "Tested," "Reciprocal" and "Dream of Unity." The band did all the mixing themselvesat singer Greg Graffin's Ithaca, New York studio and a source who's heardit says tracks like "Thousand More Fools," "Operation Rescue," "Generator"and "Part 3" sound like "vintage Bad Religion." The band will go on an Australian tour, to be followed by a European tour this summer and some possible U.S. dates in late summer.Classic Velvet Underground Album Due Soon Addicted To Noise reissues analyst P.R. Flack reports: The Velvet Underground, who over the past quarter century have gone from being one of the most reviled bands in all of rock to one of the most revered, get the royal treatment again on Feb. 18. That's the day Rhino Records will release Loaded (Fully Loaded Edition) a re-vamped, two-disc set of the band's final studio release with Lou Reed at the helm. This, after the band got the really royal treatment on the 1995 five-disc set, Peel Slowly and See. The first CD of the Loaded set features the entire original Loaded album, including the "hits" "Sweet Jane" and "Rock and Roll," plus previously unreleased outtakes and alternate mixes of "I'm Sticking With You," "Rock and Roll" and "Head Held High."The second disk has over an hour of bonus music from the Loaded sessions, including an entire alternate version of the album and early versions of "Sweet Jane," "Cool It Down," "Head Held High," "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'." Plus previously unissued alternate mixes and demos of songs like "Ocean," "Satellite of Love," "I Love You," "Who Loves the Sun" and "I Found a Reason."ALBUM OF THE WEEK: PAVEMENT'S BRIGHTEN THE CORNERS Addicted To Noise Tokyo correspondent Brian Kushnir reports: One of the cool things about living in Japan is that occasionally new music comes out here before it is available in other parts of the world. Such is the case with the excellent new Pavement album, Brighten The Corners, their fourth, which was released here on January 8th. It will be released in the U.S. on Feb. 11.Brighten The Corners was recorded by Mitch Easter (who is best known for his work behind the boards of R.E.M.'s legendary Murmur) and Bryce Goggin. It is Pavement's most focused, mature album; production on all of the songs, from the opening "Stereo," which is instantly hummable, through the closing ballad "Fin," is excellent, yet the group has managed to retain the lo-fi sensibilities (read, weirdness) that instantly identify this as a Pavement album. This is a well-crafted album of aesthetically satisfying (in other words, fly) Pavement pop songs. The album alternates between mid-tempo rockers with bone-crunching choruses and ballads which build to climactic guitar-driven jam climaxes. There are musical name-checks throughout: "Date With IKEA" could be mistaken for a new Tom Petty or Byrds song; "Embassy Row" has some Troggs-inspired background vocals, to give just two examples. There are all kinds of interesting sounds happening on Brighten the Corners: a flute carrying the melody and a compressed, ethereal drum break in "Transport is Arranged;" a harpsichord introduction to the Beatlesque "We Are Underused;" and all manner of percussion, including congas, claves and maracas, throughout the album.Brighten The Corners is also the first Pavement album with a lyric sheet (and the songs here are generally more serious than past Pavement records -- houses on shady lanes, new cars, weddings, communicating in relationships...), which means that fans will no longer have to debate exactly what it was the band were singing; fans will be able to prove without a doubt that in "Stereo," Steve Malkmus sings: "What about the voice of Geddy Lee,"How did it get so high?"I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy" And in "Type Slowly:""One of us is a cigar stand,"And one of us is a lovely blue incandescent guillotine "The edge of creation is blurred and blushed "Not a lot of room to grow inside this leather terrarium" The Japanese version of Brighten The Corners contains two bonus tracks: "Wanna Mess You Around," which is a straight-ahead hilarious hard-core thrash (the chorus is a refrain of "I Wanna Fuck Around"); and "No Tan Lines," which features a vaguely Latin rhythm, sitar-like guitar, and a Beach Boys-like bridge. Well done.