MUSIC NEWS OF THE WORLD: Lollapalooza recap

LOLLAPALOOZA '96 CONSIDEREDAddicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: Lollapalooza organizer Mark Geiger has two words for all the doubters of the House That Perry Built (And Moved Out Of): "Fuck you." With the tour now safely behind him, Geiger said he feels confident that the organizers made their point, and then some, this year. "I think we got our point across that whatever alternative music was is not and has not been exciting for a long time." Which is why, Geiger said, for this past year's tour, the Lolla folks decided to move past the standard definition of "alternative" and mounted a show that excited them, critics be damned. Geiger said the organizers took a real risk in asking such a non-traditional Lolla act as Metallica to headline the show. He added that this year's edition was a financial success. "Any given year we're a reflection of how good or bad the music scene is," said Geiger. "Right now it's not great. The scene is full of imitative bands. People put it on us like we're making the music, but we're not and we don't want to go down imitative paths and last year was no different from this year; we were thinking the same things. There weren't any things happening within the commercial alternative zone that we cared about, so we went with bands that we liked and thought were doing something interesting."One of the things Geiger says he's quite pleased about a recent Rolling Stone article where the author posited that he didn't know when "alternative" died, but that maybe it was when Metallica headlined Lollapalooza. "I couldn't ask for a better endorsement of what we do," says Geiger, laughing. "I thought the line-up went off well, even though I was personally more excited about what was going on on the side stages than the main stage. To be honest, I was a little blown away by how good Metallica was." Geiger says, as in past years, the Lolla organizers had less to do with who played the main stage than the headlining bands. And what of the charges that there weren't enough women, minorities, or non-guitar acts on the main stage this year. "Sometimes it's not perfect because we do involve the artists in the booking selection and they want to tour with their friends," Geiger said. "They're not thinking about the heat that Lolla's going to get."In the end, Geiger says, there's nothing he would have done differently, although there was a noticeable hole in his own heart with his friend Farrell gone. "Even when Perry was here, he wasn't always here, and his involvement has changed from year to year, but I really value his input," said Geiger. "He just didn't get what we were trying to do with Metallica and he was focused on ENIT this year. I personally noticed his absence, but not in terms of the execution of the tour. I miss his ideas and personality, I think he's really very insightful and a great person to have around." Although he couldn't elaborate on where their risk-taking might take them next year, Geiger expected that whatever they do, it will get a reaction.FRANK ZAPPA'S LATHER FINALLY RELEASEDAddicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: It might be a stretch to call Lather (pronounced leather) Frank Zappa's Smile, but after almost 20 years in the vaults, it is certainly a release Zappaphiles have been waiting a long time for. The three-disc set has lingered so long because legal hassles with Zappa's label at the time, Warner Bros., prevented the original from being released in 1977. According to Rycodisc (which is releasing the album), Warner refused to release the four-LP box set, and furthermore, blocked Zappa from releasing it on another label, forcing him to break the material up and reformat it into separate albums that would fulfill his contractual obligations. When Zappa later alleged that the label hadn't paid him for the albums, a series of lawsuits and court cases were set in motion, culminating with Zappa taking to the air in December of 1977 to play the entire set on Pasadena's KROQ and instructing listeners to tape the show for their own archives. DJ Zappa said at the time, "This is Frank Zappa as your bogus temporary disc jockey making it possible for you to run your little cassette machine and tape an album which is perhaps never going to be available to the public at large." Set for release on September 24, the three-disc set is a mix of live rock performances, orchestral works, musique concrete, jazz compositions, guitar improvisations, sci-fi musicals, cartoon soundtracks and rare works that compile unreleased tracks, unreleased versions and alternate mixes from four released albums (Zappa in New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites) and an additional 20-minute composition that brings the whole thing up to three full hours of fresh Zappa meat.DIGGING UP THE (FISHBONE) YARDAddicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: Fishbone (heads) will have a lot to cheer about come September 24. That's when Fishbone 101-Nuttasaurusmeg, Fossil Fuelin' The Fonkay, a two-disc retrospective will be released. The first disc is crammed with 18 greatest hits (which, in the case of the virtually hitless Fishbone is a relative term) like "Party At Ground Zero," "Lyin' Ass Bitch," "Freddie's Dead," "Ma and Pa" and "Everyday Sunshine." The real revelation, though, is on the second disc, another 18-song collection, this one of outtakes, demos and b-sides that contains some of the best stuff the band has never put on wax. Song eleven, "What Have I Done" is a simmering reggae tune with a P-Funk-like guitar solo and a dub beat that neatly encapsulates the bands' various influences. "What Have I Done" also represents the tail-end of the eleven-song suite of previously unavailable demos that kick off the second disc, many of which are looser (if that's possible) and more playful than their recorded counterparts. What's most amazing is that the demos, recorded when the band were still in their teens, and which originally landed them a deal with Columbia Records, show an amazing maturity and realized sound for such a young band. The second disc also contains a vinyl-only version of "Skankin' to the Beat," an unreleased edit of "?(Modern Industry)" and three tracks from a Christmas EP, "Slick Nick, You Devil You," "Iration," and "Just Call me Scrooge." Fittingly, the second disc ends with a loose g-funk space jam called "Goose," purportedly the last song the band recorded for Columbia, cut live in the studio.ALBUM OF THE WEEK: EELSAddicted To Noise staff writer Gil Kaufman reports: I'm going to borrow a trick from the English music press and climb out on a limb to declare that the new album by the Eels, Beautiful Freak, ranks among the best debuts this year, hell, this decade, Jesus, maybe even this century. Well, this year, at any rate. Fronted by enigmatic E, the trio whip up some gloriously upbeat but bummed-out pop songs, so immediately catchy, so instantly memorable, you might just find yourself wandering around the house humming "before I sputter out," the self-defeating hook to the first single, "Novocaine For the Soul," while re-arranging your mother's ashes (I did, except for the ashes part). "Life is good, and I feel great/ Cuz mother says I was a great mistake," also from "Novocaine," is typical fodder for this twelve-song cycle about the virtues and pitfalls of being different, unwanted, yes, of being a beautiful freak. The trio came together in 1995 after E met bandmates Butch and Tommy (no last names please) at an L.A. club and the three found they shared a similar musical sensibility and experimental verve. E had already done the play-and-sing everything thing on his own two solo albums, 1992's A Man Called (e) and 1993's Broken Toy Shop, two lush, keyboard-heavy doses of pure pop sunshine about sad boys and well-meaning losers that served as a working out process for the gems on the Eels debut. Once the band agreed on a sound and spent some time gigging around L.A.. They ran into Dust Brother Michael Simpson, who was, by then, doing A&R work for the fledgling DreamWorks label, and an instant rapport was formed...Simpson, in fact, co-produced Beautiful Freak and helped arrange the myriad of unidentifiable samples and sound collages that float underneath E's lyrics. While many of the songs subsist on a lean diet of metronomic beats and woozy keyboards, it is E's lyrics about his lovable losers that tug at your cynical heartstrings. There's the crushed three-strikes -- you're out mope of "Rags to Rags," the raspy-voiced beautiful freak of the title song and the home alone freak of "Not Ready Yet," who spends his days steeling himself for the scary trip to the outside world, given voice near the end of the song by a mellow feedback squall on a freaky ocean of distorted vocals and chaotic sounds. Other songs continue the exploration of how the outside world seems from a nervous inner space, like the lethargic, trip-hop-like series of urban nightmare scenarios: drive-by shootings, crazy neighbors, teen mothers and kids selling crack, in "Susan's House," lightened by a sweet piano-driven chorus ("Goin' over to Susan's house, she's gonna make it right") which interjects some levity into an otherwise slow-moving, claustrophobic day.And the freaks keep coming. "My Beloved Monster" plinks along on a tinkly guitar as it tells the tale of a shy boy and his imaginary friend, who fits into his "raincoat that has four arms," and about whom he quietly boasts, "She will always be the only thing/ That comes between me and the awful sting/ That comes from living in a world that's so damn mean." Glazed with some cartoony guitar freak-outs, it's a demented two-minute kids song you'd probably never let your own kid listen to. "Guest List" is a lament about being in the in-crowd, powered by a mechanical beat and a wheezing harmonica that sounds like one of the less beautiful people whining to a doorman to let them in, because, "everybody needs to be somebody." In the end, though, E is still bummed out, he still feels like an outsider, and as the sampled bit that opens the final song, a beautiful falsetto ballad about childlike love, "Manchild," says, "I'm not having any fun," which sort of sums it all up, doesn't it? Yeah, sure, the eels are a bummer, but their bummers are always laced with a small ray of musical and lyrical hope and the more you listen to Beautiful Freak the more you realize you are, or maybe were, one.OFF-THE-(ATN) WIRE: Sonic Youth will record the soundtrack to director Richard Linklater's next project, which is a film of Eric Bogosian's play, SubUrbia...The ride for the Oxford, England drone band Ride, is over. According to sources at the band's former label, Elektra, the group decided to call it quits after the release of what was to be their swan-song, Tarantula in March of this year, citing, you guessed it, "musical differences."...Pavement have nearly completed work on their next album, with was recorded in the South with Mitch Easter producing (Easter produced R.E.M.'s first two albums). Easter is now producing Helium...The MTV Music Awards were, for the most part, a real snoozefest this year...Wal-Mart won't carry the upcoming Sheryl Crow album because it includes a line suggesting that the discount chain sells guns to minors (they don't)...Tupac Shakur was seriously inured when an unidentified gunman shot him in Las Vegas the night of Saturday, Sept. 7th...

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