Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Rolling Stone Magazine readers' Top 25 Albums of 2007"

For what it's worth, below is the Top 25 Albums of 2007 list as rated by readers of Rolling Stone Magazine. - Ace:)

1. Radiohead"In Rainbows"
2. Arcade Fire"Neon Bible"
3. Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky"
4. White Stripes"Icky Thump"
5. Bruce Springsteen"Magic"
6. Nine Inch Nails"Year Zero"
7. The Shins"Wincing The Night Away"
8. Spoon"Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
9. Kings of Leon"Because of the Times"
10. Kanye West"Graduation"
11. Queens of the Stone Age"Era Vulgaris"
12. Foo Fighters - "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace"
13. LCD Soundsystem"Sound of Silver"
14. Ryan Adams"Easy Tiger"
15. Arctic Monkeys"Favourite Worst Nightmare"
16. The National"Boxer"
17. M.I.A. - "Kala"
18. Amy Winehouse"Back To Black"
19. Smashing Pumpkins"Zeitgeist"
20. Modest Mouse"We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank"
21. Eddie Vedder"Into the Wild Soundtrack"
22. Rilo Kiley"Under the Blacklight"
23. Bright Eyes"Cassadaga"
24. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss"Raising Sand"
25. Paul McCartney"Memory Almost Full"

"Marvin Gaye's divorce album to be reissued"

Marvin Gaye's maligned 1978 album "Here, My Dear," which chronicled his divorce from Anna Gordy, will be reissued on January 15 with a bonus disc of reworked material.

Disc one of the Motown project includes a remastered version of the original double album and a new mix of the "Dream of a Lifetime" track "Ain't It Funny (How Things Turn Around)" by bass player Bootsy Collins. The second disc offers a resequencing of "Here, My Dear" comprised of Gaye's demo vocals and unused instrumental tracks from the period.

The artists and producers who crafted the disc 2 material were asked to not use overdubs and only work with the original multi-track tapes. The Roots' ?uestlove tackled "Sparrow," while Prince Paul was behind the boards for a new "Everybody Needs Love." Other contributors include Mocean Worker, Easy Mo Bee, Leon Ware and Salaam Remi.

Upon its release during the disco era, "Here, My Dear" was criticized for its uncommercial sound and intensely personal lyrics. Its lone hit was "A Funky Space Reincarnation," which reached No. 23 on Billboard's Black Singles tally. It was recently used in a Dior perfume TV commercial with actress Charlize Theron.

The album was first issued on CD in April 1994, with liner notes from his biographer David Ritz. It entered Billboard's R&B Catalog albums chart at No. 1. Ritz wrote that Gaye was convinced that Motown would never push an album critical of the sister of company founder Berry Gordy, Jr., and did all he could to alienate the label, never giving it a chance to promote the album properly. It soon went out of print.


"Glow-in-the-dark Cats!"


Jinju, South Korea

No, these are not lolcats who eated your glow sticks.

According to scientists in South Korea, the animal on the right is among the first cats cloned to have red fluorescence protein (RFP) genes. The one on the left is an unaltered kitty seen under ultraviolet light.

"Glowing" RFP genes are scientific tools used by researchers to mark changes made in an organism's genome. A team led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, says it created the cats in the hopes of using altered felines to develop treatments for genetic human diseases.

Earlier this year an international team of scientists mapped the first "rough draft" of the domestic cat genome, noting at the time that the genetic similarities between cats and people make the common feline a good model for medical studies.

"Paul Rodgers New Year's Eve Concert to be Webcast"

Legendary singer Paul Rodgers' New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) performance at the El Dorado Casino in Reno, Nevada will be webcast live via The Equilibrium Project beginning at approximately 9:30 p.m.

With a soulful, bluesy swagger, the multi-talented Rodgers not only belts out his songs, but he also plays piano and guitar. The rock 'n' roll chart topping Rodgers will ring in 2008 with some of his most memorable soulful hits including "All Right Now", "Feel Like Making Love" and "Can't Get Enough".

Not only will his show include an array of his classic rock hits, but Rodgers comes with a fresh sound including some of the latest hits off of his newest CD/DVD release, "Live In Glasgow". Recorded in October 2006 on his sold-out UK tour, "Live In Glasgow" showcases Rodgers with a voice and sound that is stronger than ever. Fans will get a taste of some of Rodgers' newest songs including "Warboys (A Prayer For Peace)" and "Far Distant Shore" to go along with his popular hits.
visit Equilibrium's site at

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Photo of the Day #2: 12/14/07"

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words... I'll let this one speak for itself! - Ace:)

"Christmas Card arrives 93 years late"

OBERLIN, Kan. (AP) - A postcard featuring a color drawing of Santa Claus and a young girl was mailed in 1914, but its journey was slower than Christmas. It just arrived in northwest Kansas.

The Christmas card was dated Dec. 23, 1914, and mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, apparently from her cousins in Alma, Neb.

It's a mystery where it spent most of the last century, Oberlin Postmaster Steve Schultz said. "It's surprising that it never got thrown away," he said. "How someone found it, I don't know."

Ethel Martin is deceased, but Schultz said the post office wanted to get the card to a relative.

That's how the 93-year-old relic ended up with Bernice Martin, Ethel's sister-in-law. She said she believed the card had been found somewhere in Illinois.

"That's all we know," she said. "But it is kind of curious. We'd like to know how it got down there."

The card was placed inside another envelope with modern postage for the trip to Oberlin - the one-cent postage of the early 20th century wouldn't have covered it, Martin said.

"We don't know much about it," she said. "But wherever they kept it, it was in perfect shape."

"Nebraska: Vinyl resurgence brings Backtrack Records back - storefront"

from - by Jeremy Buckley

It didn't exactly involve the cover of a Rolling Stone.

But when Jeff Loos, owner of Backtrack Records, 1549 N. Cotner Blvd., got a call from the magazine asking for his top-selling albums for the week ending Nov. 7, he wasn't sure what to think.

A few weeks later, an issue included Loos' top 10 sellers in the chart listings in the back of the magazine.

"I was shocked," Loos said. "I thought it was a prank call. I guess they randomly picked the city of Lincoln and found my store on the Internet."

The list included newer albums from classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, showcasing exactly the selection Loos is focusing on with the store.

He originally opened Backtrack in 1988 but moved to Internet-only sales at the end of 1999 when the vinyl industry was stagnant.

During his years as an Internet retailer, Loos amassed thousands upon thousands of records and compiled quite the database for customers to peruse around the world.

Early this year, Loos recognized a recent resurgence in the popularity of vinyl and began driving the streets of Lincoln, looking for potential storefronts available for rent.

After finding the North Cotner location (one block north of 66th and Holdrege streets) was to his liking, Loos began to move his inventory - currently at 15,000 - on site.

"Lately, people anywhere from college-aged to older adults are buying newer record players with USB ports installed," Loos said. "Then they can transfer the records to their hard drives to burn onto CDs. Vinyl is really holding its own."

Loos is still offering his wares on the Internet, noting a recent sale of a Jethro Tull boxed set to someone at an embassy in Estonia and another sale to a doctor in Russia. He sells LPs, 45s, DVDs, CDs, posters and cassettes out of the store.

Most of his purchases come from labels that specialize in vinyl, such as Rhino Records. He'll also consider used records as long as they're in pretty good condition.

"Quality is really important when it comes to records," Loos said. "They're analog, so the sound is much warmer than CDs, which are digital, but they have to be in good shape."

Loos said he's seeing a lot of people come back to the shop who were customers from the late 1990s. He's run a couple television commercials and plans to run some in the future, budget permitting. But Loos thinks a lot of his newer customers have sought him out.

"We're basically a vintage record shop," he said. "But there's stuff college kids are going to like. We've got stuff from bands like the Ramones and Madonna to Country, Rock, Jazz and The Blues."

Liz Hitt, a local musician with the Terminals, said she's been going to Backtrack since the '90s and was even able to buy some records after he went online.

"Even when he had records just at his house, I'd buy some from him there," Hitt said. "He's always had a great selection of '60s rock.

"He had a stack a foot-and-a-half long just of the 'Thriller' album."

"Photo of the Day: 12/14/07"

Here's a nifty image I found whilst surfing the net. It was on a wall at last year's WFMU Record Show in NJ. Best described as 'The United States of Records' I'd imagine.

For those who have no clue what WFMU is, here's a brief description from their site

"WFMU-FM is a non-commercial, freeform radio station broadcasting at 91.1 Mhz FM in Jersey City, NJ, right across the Hudson from lower Manhattan. We were formerly on the campus of Upsala College, in East Orange, NJ, but relocated in 1998, having procured our independence in 1994 from the college. We have a relay station, WXHD, 90.1 Mhz FM, broadcasting in the Hudson Valley, Lower Catskills, Western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania."

If you've never heard the station, you MUST! Visit their site and check out their show archive and/or listen to their shows as they stream in real time. - Ace:)

"Vintage Vinyl is still vital"

from - by Bob Considine

WOODBRIDGE, NJ — You have heard so much about the decline of the music industry that it's beginning to sound like, well, a broken record.

And you wouldn't need an honorary degree from the School of Rock to figure that all of those iTunes downloads and those low-priced CDs from low-selection retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have resulted in the fade out of many independent record stores.

Yet, at Vintage Vinyl, the song remains the same.

You can hear it when you walk in. You can actually see it in your hands and take it to the register. And you can read it when you take it home.

And while there is less of a music-buying public committed to complete music consumption, those who still want that CD, LP, book or magazine are still congregating to "that strip mall off Route 1 that has the "Records' sign on it."

"One of the things I have going for me is the people who still have an interest in buying physical music are coming here," said owner Rob Roth.

"These are definitely trying times for anyone still selling "the physical product' because the record companies are in transition. But I'm fortunate that I still have a customer base that is interested in a music experience that goes beyond downloading."

Big-box retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy sell about 50 percent of the nation's music today, but trends indicate those outlets are going to greatly diminish their product offerings in 2008 because so many people are downloading.

With more than 180,000 titles in his 10,000-square-foot store, Roth knows he can't replace his space with flat-screen televisions, home cleaning products or Chia pets to keep afloat.

So Vintage Vinyl is embracing some newer technologies and increasing in-store appearances to maintain the coda, without fading out.

"The whole industry isn't even a record industry anymore," Roth said. "Hopefully, we cater to people who are serious about music and realize the greatest of listening to something other than a download."

The history of Vintage Vinyl can be traced back to 1979, when Roth opened up a 200-square-foot store in Irvington.

He expanded the business to its current — and much larger — location on Route 1 in 1984, with a third store in Ocean Township enjoying a run from 1987 to 1995.

Eddie Trunk, then living in Madison, was an impressionable 15-year-old when Vintage Vinyl first opened in Irvington. So it was there for the formative years of one of the nation's most renowned heavy metal and hard rock disc jockeys.

"Vintage Vinyl is very near and dear to my heart," said Trunk, currently radio host of his own music shows on Q104.3 FM and XM satellite radio and frequent TV contributor to VH1 Classic and the MSG Network.

"It was the place to go to get records and get things you couldn't get at regular stores, whether it was important singles or picture discs," he added. "And I would make a point every two weeks to go in and buy (British rock magazine) Kerrang! That was the coolest rock magazine you could get at the time.

"I remember it vividly. They had a pile of old records in the front window and you never know what was going to be behind that wall. For me, it was like walking into a record store in another country."

With 25 years in the music business and his own high profile, Trunk can get what rare music items he wants on his own. But he still often re-routes his plans to "make a stop" at Vintage Vinyl when driving through Central Jersey.

There are ways in which a declining music business has helped Vintage Vinyl, in that artists must make greater efforts to get out and sell their music.

And, for some, that means making live appearances or coming in for autograph signings.

With a long line of local bands and a steady stream of more established acts like Ozzy Osbourne, Cheap Trick, Sebastian Bach, Queensryche, My Chemical Romance and a host of E Street Band members visiting, Roth struck a deal with YeboTV to have these in-store appearances streamed live on the Internet. They're also archived on And if you look closely, you can see remote cameras in the store's ceiling back by the stage for those very shows. And Roth, 51, gets his jollies with his own camera work or even mixing the sound.

"The sound here is great and the bands always tell me that," he says proudly.

Roth said his business can increase "50 percent" on an "in-store" day. Vintage Vinyl, like many indie record stores, has its entire product line itemized and available online.

And from the what's-old-is-what's-new department, it's appears vinyl albums are making a nice little comeback.

At the end of October, vinyl albums had scanned 766,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's about 22.5 percent more than the 612,000 units scanned last year at that time.

Consumers are also investing in new turntables that can convert vinyl songs into digital MP3s.

"The LP will outlast the CD, in my opinion," Roth said. "I think you're finding some younger music fans finding that vinyl sounds better and it's a unique item you can get emotionally attached to."

Roth admits the same attachment to his business. From the obvious to obscure has always been Vintage Vinyl's motto, and he and his staff work to not make it obsolete. There is always the bottom line and Roth jokes in this day and age, "flat is the new up."

And given the choice of having a few more stores around like his in a good climate or being one of the last men standing in a bad one, he'd take the former.

"I think the record companies reacted quite poorly to the age of digital," he said. "Basically, they ignored it at first and then they realized that's the only way to go. It's almost like they did a 180 degree turn.

"I would prefer it if there were more stores like mine, this way (the record companies) would market their acts for it and help our business," he added. "But they've made an unfair playing field where it's basically impossible to open a new record store."

"Indie filmmakers can score Moby freebies"

Dance musician Moby has launched a Web site that gives his music away -- to the right people, of course.

He is licensing his music for free via to help out indie and student filmmakers.

"I was a philosophy major and I had a minor in film," he says. "Ever since then, I've had a lot of friends in the world of independent and nonprofit film production. Their recurring complaint is that it's really difficult to license music for movies that have no budgets, so I thought I would start this Web site which very simply provides free music to nonprofit indie films."

The site offers 70 unreleased pieces of music. Moby says the music is "specifically designed" to be in films and would not be of interest to the general consumer. It also has been another creative outlet for him.

"I'm having fun and writing specific incidental pieces of music," he says. "I also have tons of music that I've made over the years that is more atmospheric or instrumental that would never find its way onto a record. So, selfishly, it's a way for me to find a home for music that otherwise would never get listened to."

Moby's double-platinum 1999 release "Play" is known as one of the most licensed albums ever. In hindsight, he admits to over-licensing.

"I probably should have been a little smarter in restricting some of the licenses," he says. "A lot of the people who criticized me for over-licensing 'Play' are now working in the licensing divisions of record companies. I think, if anything, I was a victim of doing too much too soon. Now everybody in the music business is desperate to license music.

"As record sales dwindle, the record labels will license anything and everything," he adds. "You have to make the right choices."

Moby will release his next album, "Last Night" (Mute/EMI), on March 11.

source - Reuters/Hollywood Reporter via

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Gwen Stefani starts college fund for wildfire victims"

from - by Natalie Finn

Gwen Stefani has a burning need to help out.

The pop star is setting up a college fund for victims of the recent San Diego wildfires, which in October destroyed more than 1,700 homes and killed 10 people in California's second-largest city.

The Gwen Stefani After-the-Fires Scholarship will be available to graduating high school seniors and college students whose families either lost their homes or source of income in the blazes that raged across the Southland for nearly a week, fueled by the legendarily destructive Santa Ana winds.

"When I heard about the devastation of the fires, at first I felt I should cancel my show out of respect. But then it occurred to me there might be a more useful solution," Stefani said in an Oct. 29 radio interview, after which she donated $166,000 in proceeds from the show in question to the San Diego Foundation relief fund, which will administer the Sweet Escape chanteuse's contribution.

Calling the city a "second home," the Orange County native said, "San Diego has always been so supportive of me throughout my entire career."

Among the other SoCal luminaries who stepped up during the fires were Linkin Park, which teamed with nonprofit Unite the United to organize a celebrity-memento eBay auction to benefit both human fire victims and the environment, and the star-studded Hollywood United FC soccer team, which staged an exhibition game against
David Beckham
and the L.A. Galaxy.

"Mitchell Report releases list of Steroid-using Baseball Players"

Below is a list of the Steroid-using Major League Baseball Players released today in The Mitchell Report.

If it's up to me, none of them get into The Hall of Fame. - Ace:)

Allen, Chad
Ankiel, Rick
Bell, David
Bell, Mike
Bennett Jr., Gary
Bonds, Barry
Brown, Kevin
Byrd, Paul
Cabrera, Alex
Caminiti , Ken
Carreon, Mark
Christiansen, Jason
Clark, Howie
Clemens, Roger
Conseco, Jose
Cust, Jack
Donnels, Chris
Donnelly, Brendan
Dykstra , Len
Franco, Matt
Franklin, Ryan
Gagne, Eric
Giambi, Jason
Giambi, Jeremy
Gibbons, Jay
Glaus, Troy
Gonzalez, Juan
Grimsley, Jason
Guillen, Jose
Hairston Jr., Jerry
Herges, Matt
Hiatt, Phil
Hill, Glenallen
Holmes, Darren
Hundley, Todd
Jorgernson, Ryan
Justice, David

Knoblauch, Chuck
Laker, Tim
Lansing, Mike
Lo Duca, Paul
Logan, Exavier
Manzanillo, Josias
Matthews, Jr. Gary
McKay, Cody
Mercker, Kent
McGwire, Mark
Miadich, Bart
Naulty, Daniel
Neagle, Denny
Morris, Hal
Palmeiro, Rafael
Parque, Jim
Pettitte, Andy
Pratt, Todd
Randolph, Stephen
Rocker, John
Riggs, Adam
Rios, Armando
Roberts, Brian
Santangelo, F.P.
Santiago , Benito
Schoenweis, Scott
Segui, David
Sheffield, Gary
Sosa, Sammy
Stanton, Mike
Tejada, Miguel
Valdez, Ismael
Vaughn, Mo
Velarde, Randy
Villone, Ron
Vina, Fernando
White, Rondell
Willaims, Jeff
Williams, Matt
Williams, Todd
Woodard, Steve
Young, Kevin
Zaun, Gregg

*image © Ace Lounge

"Inventor powers Christmas tree with eel"

from Reuters

Tree in Japan is drawing tourists from all over the country

TOKYO - Not even a blackout could put a damper on festivities at one Japanese aquarium where an electric eel is being used to light up its Christmas tree.

Two aluminum panels inside the eel's tank work as electrodes to catch its power. Cables attached to the panels supply the lights on the nearby tree with electricity.

Inventor Kazuhiko Minawa said it took him more than a month to devise a system that would effectively harness eel power.

"If we could gather all electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree," Minawa told Reuters Television.

Eels are widely eaten in Japan, especially in the summer, when their vitamin-rich flesh is seen as a way to regain stamina sapped by the heat.

The tree, which will stay illuminated until Christmas, is proving a popular attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.

"I would love to have an eel like this at home. This is very nature-friendly," said visitor Harumi Yayoi.

"Madonna, Mellencamp Newest to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame"

from the AP - by Joe Milicia

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Material Girl is about to become a Hall of Famer. The ever-evolving Madonna was announced as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee on Thursday along with John Mellencamp, The Ventures, Leonard Cohen and The Dave Clark Five.

A panel of 600 industry figures selected the five acts to be inducted at the annual ceremony, to be held March 10 in New York.

"The 2008 inductees are trailblazers — all unique and influential in their genres," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman said in a statement. "From poetry to pop, these five acts demonstrate the rich diversity of rock and roll itself."

To be eligible, artists must have issued a first single or album at least 25 years before nomination.

Madonna Louise Ciccone signed with Sire Records in 1982 and became one of MTV's first stars two years later with "Like A Virgin." She has constantly altered her image and appearance ever since, showing staying power that few '80s stars could muster.

From rosaries and bare midriffs to cone-shaped bras, Madonna's reinvention of herself has been as prolific as her chart dominance, which included seven No. 1 hits and three No. 1 albums in the '80s alone.

The actress and fashion icon created plenty of controversy along the way, drawing the ire of religious leaders in 2006 for a scene of Madonna on a mirrored cross and wearing a crown of thorns as part of her worldwide "Confessions" tour.

Mellencamp, the Indiana native with the ever-changing name, hit the scene as John Cougar in the early '80s with "Jack and Diane" and "Hurts So Good." He later became John Cougar Mellencamp — and the voice of America's heartland — with hits like "Pink Houses" and "Small Town" before finally settling into his given name, John Mellencamp.

Cohen went from acclaimed poet in Canada to a folk rock icon with "Suzanne" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag" in the late 1960s, making him a big part of the singer-songwriter movement.

The Ventures defined instrumental guitar rock in the '60s with surfer anthems like "Walk Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O," and The Dave Clark Five were one of the most successful British invasion bands with the iconic "Glad All Over."

The Rock Hall will also honor Little Walter in its sideman category for helping establish the modern blues harmonica on recordings with legends like Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley.

Producers Gamble & Huff will be honored in the non-performer category. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label, which had artists that included the O'Jays, McFadden & Whitehead, and Lou Rawls, featured powerful rhythm sections with a disco beat.

They won a Grammy for best R&B song on Simply Red's cover of the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

"Warner Bros. Records gives $2.5 million from sales of Instant Karma Cd to Amnesty International"

CD of 20+ John Lennon Songs Recorded by Green Day, U2, R.E.M., Christina Aguilera, Jack Johnson, Flaming Lips, and More .

BURBANK, CA - December 13 -- Warner Bros. Records presented Amnesty International with a check today for $2.5 million, proceeds raised from the sales of Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur. The double album features more than 20 John Lennon songs recorded by today's best-selling artists and is supporting Amnesty International's campaign to end the violence in Darfur.

The Instant Karma album of Lennon cover songs, released by Warner Bros. Records on June 12, 2007, was made possible thanks to the generosity of Yoko Ono, who granted Amnesty International the right to record the Lennon songs on the album and donated all music-publishing royalties to the project. The album is part of AI's global music activism project "Make Some Noise," which aims to harness the power of Lennon's solo songbook to inspire a new generation of activists to stand up for human rights.

The album sparked several hit singles, including Green Day's rendition of "Working Class Hero," R.E.M.'s recording of "#9 Dream," and Los Lonely Boys' cover of "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night." Green Day and U2 each received Grammy® Award nominations in the "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" Category. U2 was nominated for the title song, "Instant Karma."

The Instant Karma album has inspired close to 100,000 activists worldwide to take action to end the violence in Darfur, the world's worst human rights and humanitarian crisis, Amnesty International said. In addition, AI, the world's largest grassroots human rights organization, has generated more than 500,000 signatures on a global petition calling on President Bush to press for an urgent timetable for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur by early 2008.

Tom Whalley, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Records, said: "On behalf of Warner Bros. Records, I am proud to present the money raised from the sales of Instant Karma to Amnesty International. Their work is crucial to raising awareness of the human rights catastrophes occurring in Darfur and around the world, and we are thrilled to be able to support their campaign. I would also like to personally thank the artists who contributed their time and talents, and the staff of both Amnesty International and Warner Bros. Records for their hard work, all of which enabled us to make this project a success."

Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA, said: "John Lennon's music and his legacy as an activist continue to inspire human rights advocacy. Now, his music is encouraging tens of thousands of young people to get involved and add their voices to the cause of stopping the horrific violence in Darfur. We are grateful to Yoko Ono and to Warner Bros. Records for supporting our campaign to end widespread human rights violations in Darfur."

Jeff Ayeroff, producer of the album and former vice chair of Warner Bros. Records, said: "To me, John Lennon was the most eloquent artist whose message of pain, love and peace were a comfort in troubling times and a light in the darkness. Through Yoko Ono's generosity and good deeds, his message endures. All Amnesty International and Warner Bros. Records are saying is: 'give peace a chance.'"

Amnesty International, which was among the first organizations to highlight the Darfur crisis, is devoting the proceeds to activism and lobbying with governments and international bodies on Darfur. Currently, the organization is pressing for speedy deployment of the 26,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force, the funds and equipment to support the mission, and the arrest of Sudanese officials indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Since 2003, government-backed militia have killed hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed thousands of villages and left millions of refugees struggling for survival in relief camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

For more information about Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, please visit For information about Amnesty International USA, visit

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Interview: Jason Bonham on Bonzo"

I recently stumbled onto this video on The 'Chube. It's Jason Bonham speaking about his childhood, and growing up the son of The Beast - John Henry Bonham, the late Led Zeppelin drummer. Enjoy. - Ace:)

"Jay-Z's American Gangster goes 'Godfather' with DJ Skee's help"

from - By Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez

Skee combined Hov's acappella tracks with 'Godfather' soundtrack.

Remember the frenzy in the mixtape circuit and on the Internet when Jay-Z released an acappella version of his 2003 "retirement" LP, The Black Album? A plethora of DJs, including Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse, had a field day taking Hov's beatless rhymes and pairing them with new original tracks or famous instrumentals by other artists.

Well, Jigga has done it again, this time with his latest release, American Gangster. The first big-name DJ to jump on it is Los Angeles' DJ Skee, who's made a name for himself in the underground by making mixtapes with the Game. Skee's new street album marries Jay's American Gangster with the biggest gangster movie of all time, "The Godfather." Yes, Skee and his producers have taken music from the film and reworked it as new soundscapes for Jay-Z's narrative lyrics. The American Godfather will be available online beginning Friday.

"It almost instantly clicked," Skee told MTV News about the idea for the mash-up. "I almost didn't want to do it because I didn't want to do something so cliché. I was like, 'Wait, I already had "The Godfather" musical score.' I listen to it because it has so many ill melodies and breakdowns and emotions. It's crazy the way it's put together. And I thought we could sample it like crazy. And I thought, still, should we do it? But everyone thought the idea was dope and I had nothing to lose, and it came out dope."

Skee had some help along the way. The DJ birthed the idea three weeks ago when Def Jam announced it would be releasing the acappella tracks as an alternate LP, American Gangster Acappella, which dropped earlier this month. But he really only buckled down 10 days ago to get it done. Producers Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell (Dru Hill, Mos Def), THX, Ervin "EP" Pope, Rome and Tommy Gunnz manned the boards on several of the tracks, including one of the standouts, Hov's "Say Hello," which Campbell mixed with a popular waltz from "The Godfather." Skee's partner DJ Reflex also assisted in putting some of the tracks together.

"We're taking one good gangster movie and switching it with the greatest one of all time," Skee explained. "But the production is like an album. We went in real studios and did a bunch of joints, and it turned out crazy.

"I wanted to make it like a real movie," he added, referring to the project's YouTube trailer. "When you hear the intro, [there are] different skits in between, scenes from 'The Godfather' playing between the songs. I wanted to make it like a mixtape because I like mixing and DJing and doing some stuff. But this is so good, I did a couple transitions, but you can pop it in and you can play it all the way straight through. This isn't even like a mixtape. This is gonna be one of the best albums of the year."

"Pee-Wee's big return? Paul Reubens discusses plans for 2 Pee-Wee films"

from - by Josh Horowitz

'I feel like the time is really ripe right now,' actor says of bringing his perennial man-child out of retirement.

"Being Pee-wee Herman is a good conversation starter," Paul Reubens said in a mellow deadpan about the comic creation that defined his career.

Two decades after you could say, "I know you are, but what am I?" to just about anyone and get a knowing laugh in return, Reubens still can't escape the character — nor does he really want to. In fact, it's quite the contrary, Reubens said in a rare interview last week with MTV News, as he outlined his plans for Pee-wee's future adventures.

Reubens seemed almost embarrassed at the impact of the character today. "I keep meeting people who come up to me and say they just turned their kids on to it. I get mail that just says, 'Pee Wee Herman, Hollywood.' It's like 'Miracle on 34th Street,' " he marveled.

It's been nearly 20 years since Pee-wee appeared in a feature film all his own. No one could have guessed that 1988's "Big Top Pee-wee" would be the cinematic swan song for Reubens' baby — not after the character had taken the country by storm, thanks to the groundbreaking children's show "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and the instantly quotable 1985 film "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" from a rookie director by the name of Tim Burton. Of course, life — in the form of a notorious 1991 arrest in an adult theater — had other plans.

Now, if Reubens has his way, we may be on the cusp of the return of Pee-wee in the form of two feature films starring the wide-eyed perennial man-child. "I feel like the time is really ripe right now," Reubens said. "A lot of the kids who grew up with the show are young adults. The college kids are middle-aged adults. I feel like I have enough of a built-in audience to make back an investment."

Reubens said he has two Pee-wee scripts ready to go. One is an extension of the famed TV show, "Pee-wee's Playhouse," only this story would take Pee-wee and his friends outside the house for the first time. "We never really went out into what we call puppet land," Reubens recalled of the show. "And this [film] takes place out of the playhouse. I think there are one or two scenes in the playhouse in the beginning. Basically it's all in a fantasy land," he said. "It's like a 'Wizard of Oz,' H.R. Pufnstuf epic adventure story." Reubens added that the story would bring back all of the original characters from the playhouse — live-action and puppets alike.

But can the 55-year-old Reubens realistically don Pee-wee's red bow tie again? The actor said he remains confident, especially after his first appearance in character in 15 years at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards. Despite asking himself, "What in the hell are you doing?" as he stood backstage in costume, Reubens said the character "came right back" to him. Still, Reubens said he had a backup plan nonetheless for the Pee-wee movies should he not be up for the part. "My second option is to have Johnny Depp play Pee-wee," he said. Pie-in-the-sky casting or a realistic plan, Reubens insisted that he's even spoken to Depp about it, saying that the actor told him, "Let me think about it."

The other Pee-wee film, which Reubens called "the dark Pee Wee movie," is "not really very dark" and certainly not intended to be an R-rated film. "It's basically the story of Pee-wee Herman becoming famous as a singer," he explained. "He has a hit single and gets brought out to Hollywood to make musical movies, kind of like they did with Elvis. It all kind of goes downhill from there for Pee-wee. He turns into a monster. He does everything wrong and becomes a big jerk." Though he described it as a movie "about fame," Reubens insisted, "It's not autobiographical."

But there would be a wealth of autobiographical material for Reubens to draw upon. Forget the "Lindsay goes to rehab" and "Britney's back in court" headlines the public eats up today. Back in July 1991, it was Reubens who, for a time, was the most famous man in America. It was then that the performer was arrested in a Sarasota, Florida, adult theater, caught masturbating in public. The incident effectively retired the Pee-wee character then and there. The media frenzy surrounding Reubens was relentless.

Just weeks later, he made his first public appearance, in character no less, at MTV's Video Music Awards, memorably asking the audience, "Heard any good jokes lately?" Today, he recalls his nerves backstage. "I was just hoping I wasn't going to get booed. I had no idea what the reaction would be. I was optimistic, but what was going through my mind was, 'I hope they like me.' "

Reubens hasn't exactly been starved for work since Pee-wee's disappearance. His feature-film roles in "Mystery Men" and "Batman Returns" have given way to scene-stealing guest-star turns in TV shows like "30 Rock" and "Pushing Daisies." His second appearance on the latter show as olfactory expert Oscar Vibenius airs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Reubens said his focus remains on the big-screen Pee-wee adventures. Though he said he hasn't been trying "super hard" to get them greenlit, he said, "I feel like in the New Year, I'll switch into a higher gear and see if I can move [them] forward." Unsure who to ask to direct the films, Reubens admitted he's talked to "Big Adventure" director Burton. "I have talked to Tim about one of them about a year ago. But Tim is booked. I think he would be interested in it, but he's really busy."

Still, the search will continue and Reubens remains optimistic. "I think it's really just a question of the right person coming along. I've had opportunities to do [the films] with people who didn't feel like the right people. It just takes one person."

"Wal-Mart yanks pink 'Credit Card' Panties off racks"


Suggestive pink Santa panties targeting young girls are being removed from Wal-Mart stores after parents objected to the offensive undergarments.

The panties, which were sold in the juniors department, seemed to suggest that girls don't need money, they just need a sugar daddy — in this case Santa Claus.

The hipster briefs — carrying the slogan "Who needs credit cards ..." on the front and "When you have Santa" on the derriere — caused an uproar among parents, who called for the $2.96 drawers to be pulled off the racks.

"We have directed our stores to remove this merchandise from our shelves," Linda Brown Blakely, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, told Wednesday.

The undergarments had caused a stir on some blogs prior to Wednesday's announcement. Scarlett, a reader of, alerted the blog to the holiday-inspired undies, which she found on a rack in the juniors department of a Wal-Mart in Cary, N.C.

"There's nothing quite like telling adolescent girls that they don't need to worry about finances since they have their very own moneypot between their legs," Jessica Valenti, the executive editor of, wrote on the panty blog post.

Scarlett was so incensed by the message on the front of the panties, she didn't even see the Santa kicker in the rear, she wrote on the blog.

"I still think that the entire thing is messed up. This isn't just a cute T-shirt that says 'Just ask Santa,'" she wrote. "This is a pair of panties. Exactly how nice to Santa would the girl have to be in order to get stuff?"

"Cliteater - finish recording new album"


CLITEATER have posted the following update:

"We finished the recordings of "Scream Bloody Clit". The masterpiece will be mixed by Morris himself and on december the 29th we're gonna master it! Prepare for some deathgrinding goregroove rock madness!!!! This saturday we will play with our buddies from LEGION OF THE DAMNED at Tinus in Helden, Holland. This wil be our last gig for 2007. For more gigs watch our site."

* I have absolutely no clue who, or what Cliteater is - however I DO know that this is 'effing hysterical! A 'masterpiece' indeed! - Ace:)

"Lock of John Lennon's hair sells for £24,000"

from - by Sean Michaels

A book enclosing a lock of John Lennon's hair has been sold at auction for £24,000.

It was part of a lot of items owned by Betty Glasow, former hairdresser to the Beatles, Steve McQueen, Michael Caine and other stars; Lennon gave her a lock and a copy of A Spaniard in the Works as a thank you for her help on the films A Hard Day's Night and Help!

The inscription in the book reads: "To Betty, Lots of Love and Hair, John Lennon."

A little less witty is another item on the auction block, a photo of fellow Beatle George Harrison autographed "George (Dandruff) Harrison". Oh, to be a hairdresser for the rich and famous.

The sale, held at the Gorringes auction house in Worthing, far exceeded expectations. Lennon's hair had only been expected to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000. By our rough calculations, this would put the value of an entire mop-top at around two million pounds.

According to Goringes director Nick Muston, "[Glasow] feels that rather than these things being stuck in a drawer with nobody enjoying them, real enthusiasts [could] get their hands on these things." He conveniently leaves out the bits where Glasow rakes in several thousand pounds and creepy Lennon hair "enthusiasts" get their hands on some Fab Four DNA.

"Retro tech channels old-school cool"

from - by Jim Kavanagh
(CNN) -- The latest technology is cool, but sometimes it's hip to be square. For every advance in technology, there seems to be a corresponding reach back to an earlier era. 

Melisa Correia, 10, is reflected in a screen as she plays Space Invaders at a 2006 exhibit of video games in London.

People are buying old-school video games like "Centipede" and "Space Invaders," '70s-style Polaroid cameras and old-fangled vinyl records played on turntables.

Reinier Evers, the Netherlands-based founder of, is reluctant to call the phenomenon a trend.

"All generations will at [some] point in time have their 'nostalgia' moments, temporarily rejecting the new, even though they often can't live without the new anymore," he said via e-mail from Tokyo, Japan.

"None of the generations for whom the 'new' is the only thing they know ever lust after these older gadgets," he said. "Ever met anyone who gave up their CD player, their cell phone, their online access for more than a day?"

Perhaps not, but author and fellow trend observer Sally Horchow says the old and the new are not mutually exclusive.

"People are finding that while the Internet, e-mail, messaging, etc. help bring people together -- you communicate with a lot more people than you would have before -- a lot of people are doing that to the exclusion of real, face-to-face interaction and real, meaningful communication," she said. "So things like letter-writing and even phone calls, which are sometimes somewhat obsolete at this point, are becoming a kind of throwback but are used because they are more personal."

She noted with amusement that people use e-mail to make appointments to chat on the phone.

"Getting together in person is so retro," she said with a laugh. "Meeting for coffee is retro chic."

Horchow -- who with her father, Roger Horchow, wrote "The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections" (St. Martin's Press) -- disagrees with Evers' dismissal of the phenomenon as mere nostalgia.

"If someone is young and wasn't around when 'Pac-Man' was played, then it isn't nostalgia," she said. "They're just embracing it because it's cool and different."

She'll get no argument from Dave Ignizio, who owns Square Records, a vinyl-record shop in the hip Highland Square district of Akron, Ohio.

"We get a lot of younger kids that come in here and buy the older records, get a lot of classic rock and stuff," he said. "It's an affordable way for them to build up a good library of the standard rock records."

Ignizio describes 15-year-olds coming to his shop and "walking out with a big stack of vinyl for the price of three CDs."

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl LP sales grew slightly as a percentage of music sales from 2000 to 2006 even as overall music sales dropped to $12 billion from $14 billion.

And it's not just the classics. Such hip-hop heavyweights as Jay-Z, Linkin Park and Nas are pushing out new vinyl at a record clip, so to speak.

Independent labels producing punk, metal and other "outsider" music prefer the vinyl format as a kind of rebellion, Ignizio said. Fans of those genres defiantly tell the world, "We're just still gonna buy records, I don't care what everyone else is doing," he said.

And then there are the snobs and collectors who frequent Scott Neuman's shop at

"There is still a contingent out there that feels that vinyl sounds better, that analog is better than digital," Neuman said.

And they're willing to put their money where their tastes are. One of his site's sponsors advertises a laser turntable "that will get every little nuance out of an analog record that's out there," he said.

Neuman doesn't own one, though. "Just don't want to spend $12,000 for a turntable."

There's a certain cachet to being an analog soul in a digital world, Horchow said.

"There's a sense of old-school kind of charm and etiquette about deciding that you're going to be somebody who hand-writes letters to people in the same way that if you're a person who listens to record albums there's a kind of respect as a music aficionado because of your grasp of the classic. There's something about respect gained for recognizing all these things that are retro."

And, she said, it's just cool not to follow the herd.

"Stuff you can't get anywhere, you can't get anymore, has always been in," she said.

"Doing or having things that other people don't have -- whether it's something personalized or something that is customized or not available anymore, obsolete -- is always the uber-cool that there is."

* image by me - Ace:)

"WCBS-FM (NYC) installs Technics 1210 Turntable in-studio"

WCBS-FM (101.1) has gone high tech-low tech by installing a Technics model 1210 turntable in the studio for a new feature, "Turntable Tuesday."

Every Tuesday, once an hour, the revived oldies station spins actual vinyl records.

"We thought that if Bruce Springsteen can put out his latest effort, 'Magic,' on vinyl one week earlier than CD, then we should have some fun with the two entire walls of albums and 45s at our studios," said program director Brian Thomas.

So far, the station has played such rarely heard ditties as "Little Latin Lupe Lou" by the Righteous Brothers, "I'm a Man" (the 45 version) by Chicago, "Undun" by the Guess Who and "Somebody's Been Sleeping" by 100 Proof (Aged in Soul).

"The audience loves it. Some listeners actually feel that the sound is better despite hearing a few snaps, crackles and pops," said Thomas. "It has been a lot of fun to hear our talent describe the album covers and hear them cue up the records on the air."
** The above story is from 2 months ago, I just got hip to it tonight while driving home from shopping. They played the extended version of Wham!'s "Last Christmas" off of a vinyl LP - complete with the pops, and surface noise. Before the song was played the DJ explained their "Turntable Tuesday" shtick. GREAT STUFF! - Ace;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"History Channel: Tom Brokaw's 1968"

After seeing the TV ads on The History Channel for "1968" I decided to DVR it... I played it back last night, and I must say I enjoyed it. Here's the synopsis from

In 1968, the fury and violence of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago propelled us toward a tipping point in politics. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, America suffered its bloodiest year in Vietnam and drugs seduced us. Yet idealism--and hope--flourished. Explore the significance of that turbulent year and the way it continues to affect the American landscape. Tom Brokaw offers his perspective on the era and shares the rich personal odysseys of some of the people who lived through that chaotic time, along with the stories of younger people now experiencing its aftershocks. Includes archival footage and interviews with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who was talking to King when he was assassinated and rushed to his side to try to staunch the wound; Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who wrestled RFKs' assassin to the ground; and Arlo Guthrie, best known for his song "Alice's Restaurant.

The documentary runs a bit over 90 minutes. Solid stuff for sure. Drop by History Channel's site for air times. I see that the DVD is also available in their 'store'. Check out the trailer below, courtesy of the fine folks over @ - Ace:)

"Happy Birthday MOS DEF"

Happy 33rd Birthday to Dante Terrell Smith aka The Mighty MOS DEF - born December 11th, 1973.

Brooklyn stand up! - Ace:)

"100 million pennies displayed in NYC"

NEW YORK (AP) - One hundred million pennies for your thoughts on the latest display in Rockefeller Center. New York first lady Silda Wall Spitzer joined hundreds of public school children on Monday to unveil a mass of $1 million in pennies collected for charity. The display, called the Penny Harvest Field, includes an estimated 100 million pennies - plus a few nickels, dimes and quarters that slipped in by mistake.

The exhibit, 30 feet by 165 feet, as long as a city block, is the culmination of the nonprofit organization Common Cents' 17th annual Penny Harvest, a national educational program designed to teach children about their value as contributors to society. Hundreds of thousands of city students from more than 800 schools spent the weeks between Oct. 22 and Thanksgiving going door to door and collecting the pennies, which will be donated to organizations of their choice for causes such as protecting the environment and helping the elderly.

The exhibit was designed by architect James Polshek and will be on display in Rockefeller Center, near the famous Christmas tree, through the end of the year.

Common Cents:

"Led Zeppelin reunion: Golden ticket"

Above is a photo of an actual ticket for the jam of the century. Viva Led Zeppelin! - Ace:)

photo source: Cate Gillon, Getty Images

"Quiet Riot singer died of overdose"

from (AP)

The death last month of Kevin Dubrow, lead singer for the 1980s heavy metal band Quiet Riot, has been ruled an accidental cocaine overdose. Clark County coroner spokeswoman Samantha Charles confirmed the cause Monday after toxicology results were received Monday.

Dubrow was found dead Nov. 25 at his Las Vegas home. He was 52.

Quiet Riot was perhaps best known for its 1983 cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize." The song, featuring Dubrow's powerful, gravelly voice, appeared on the band's album "Metal Health" — which was the first by a metal band to reach No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

DuBrow recorded a solo album in 2004, "In for the Kill," and the band's last studio CD, "Rehab," came out in October 2006.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Led Zeppelin rides again: Reunion setlist & details"

from - by Kurt Orzeck

Band performed 16 songs — including 'Stairway to Heaven,' 'Black Dog' and 'Rock and Roll' — at legendary show.

In what will likely go down as one of the biggest reunion shows of all time, Led Zeppelin reportedly thrilled fans with 16 classic songs, including one they had never played live before, at London's O2 arena, reports.

It was the first full concert performance by the group — which consists of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and recent addition Jason Bonham (son of deceased drummer John Bonham) — since 1980. The concert acted as a memorial for late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who helped launch Led Zeppelin's career and passed away late last year.

The principal Zep set list was reportedly as follows: "Good Times, Bad Times," "Ramble On," "Black Dog," "In My Time of Dying," "For Your Life," "Trampled Underfoot," "Nobody's Fault but Mine," "No Quarter," "Since I've Been Lovin' You," "Dazed and Confused," "Stairway to Heaven," "The Song Remains the Same," "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Kashmir." According to the site, the group then treated the crowd to a two-song encore: "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock and Roll." The band had never played "For Your Life" before.

"They're starting to look tired now but that riff is still big enough to fill the 02," a person who reportedly attended the show said, according to, during the band's performance of "Kashmir." Once they came back and broke out "Whole Lotta Love," the crowd went "ballistic," the source said.

The show also reportedly featured performances by Foreigner, as well as former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who was joined by his Rhythm Kings, as well as Paolo Nutini and Paul Rodgers. Net proceeds from the concert will go to the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, which provides scholarships for children.

photo courtesy of getty images

"Solved: Mystery of the iconic Led Zeppelin album cover and its golden-haired children"

from - by rick hewitt

Led Zeppelin's surreal cover for their Houses Of The Holy album, featuring golden-haired children crawling across an apocalyptic landscape, is one of the most iconic images in rock history.

But while the sleeve design is familiar across the globe, what no one knows is that the young boy who appears in the photo montage is now a well-known television presenter.

Stefan Gates, of BBC2's Cooking In The Danger Zone, was just five when he and sister Sam were innocently snapped in the nude for the shoot on the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Model behaviour: Stefan and Sam posed for knitting patterns and appeared in TV dramas, including Poldark

His role is revealed as Led Zeppelin prepare for their historic reunion concert at London's O2 arena tomorrow night – which has seen one million fans battle for 20,000 tickets.

Stefan, 40, has travelled to some of the world's most dangerous regions fronting his show. But the photoshoot over ten rainy days in County Antrim remains prominent in his mind.

He had followed Sam, now 42, into child modelling after she was spotted by a talent scout. They posed together for knitwear patterns and appeared separately in commercials and TV dramas, including Poldark.

Stefan said: "We only got a few quid for the modelling and the chance to travel to places we had never been before.

"Our family wasn't well off, we certainly couldn't afford holidays, so it worked out great for us.

"For the Zeppelin cover we went to Ireland during the Troubles. I remember arriving at the airport and seeing all these people with guns.

"We stayed in this little guest house near the Giant's Causeway and to capture the so-called magic light of dawn and dusk we'd shoot first thing in the morning and at night.

Naked ambition: Stefan and Sam Gates on the album's cover, crawling over the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. Several multiple-exposure shots give the impression of lots of children

"I've heard people saying they put wigs on several children. But there was only me and my sister and that's our real hair.

"I used to love being naked when I was that age so I didn't mind. I'd whip off my clothes at the drop of a hat and run around having a great time, so I was in my element.

"My sister was older so she was probably a bit more self-conscious."

The cover art was the brainchild of Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson of legendary album-sleeve designers Hipgnosis. They took several multiple-exposure shots of Stefan and Sam to create the image of more children clambering over the rocks.

There is endless debate among rock fans over the significance of the image.

Powell has claimed he was inspired by the science-fiction book Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke, in which children climb off the end of the world.

Stefan – who lives in North London with wife Georgia and daughters Daisy, four, and Poppy, two – is sceptical of all the theories about the artwork's meaning, including Powell's.

You've come a long way baby: Stefan Gates, who now presents Cooking In The Danger Zone, says the Led Zeppelin photo-shoot made him seek out more adventurous experiences

He said: "In a lot of cases with graphical design work it's an evolving process and they think up the explanation later. I personally have no idea what it means.

There's something about it though that is disturbing and haunting, perhaps more so because I am in it."

Although a fan of Led Zeppelin, Stefan confesses he has never listened to Houses Of The Holy, which was released in 1973.

"It carries too much significance for me," he said. "A part of me wants to go out to the Giant's Causeway with a big pair of speakers, strip naked and play it just to see if I have some kind of great epiphany."

Sam moved to Cape Town, South Africa, four years ago with husband Andrew Hamilton Barr and they have a daughter, Tallulah.

The screenwriter, who also features on the inside sleeve as the child being sacrificed at the top of a mountain, said: "I remember the shoot really clearly, mainly because it was freezing cold and rained the whole time.

Still on the rocks: Sam, who now lives in Cape Town with her husband and daughter Tallulah

"We were naked in a lot of the modelling shoots we did, nothing was thought of it back then. You probably couldn't get away with that now."

Stefan has just finished filming the third series of Cooking In The Danger Zone, which included a visit to Palestine.

He believes shooting the album cover 35 years ago has subconsciously played a huge role in his life.

He said: "Although it's just my naked behind you can see, perhaps being a part of something like that at a young age made me seek out more ambitious and adventurous experiences."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Flashback: December 1984"


Former Wham! manager Simon Napier-Bell recalls the making of 'Last Christmas', George Michael's festive masterpiece

Christmas 1984 was a wonderful time for Wham!. The previous Christmas had been truly awful - the group had been in dispute with CBS, their career at a halt, unable to release records, massive lawyers' bills and no money to pay them. But in one year everything had turned around. They'd signed a new deal, got a huge advance, seen 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go', 'Careless Whisper' and their new album go to the top of the charts, and had their first No.1 in America.

In October George disappeared into the studios to record a Christmas song. It seemed an ucky thing to attempt but George was the master of tackling 'uck'. On and on he went and just couldn't get it right. Then, finally, his daily pout gave way to smiles - he'd created another pop masterpiece. And he'd also conquered the 'uck' factor - not by making a Christmas record that avoided sentimentality, but by making one so sentimental that even the most unsentimental person found themselves swept up in it.

Half-nostalgic, half-joyful, it seemed to allude to much that was familiar. Wasn't that the rhythm of Kool and the Gang's 'Joanna'? The chord sequence of 'Mr Postman'? The melody from Peaches and Herb's 'Reunited'? A perfect example of what great pop should be - instantly captivating.

George and Andrew decided to do a show in the same vein - Christmas Eve at Wembley Arena, the place decorated like Regent Street. The show ended with 'Last Christmas'; glitter balls revolving, snow flakes falling, George and Andrew dressed as Father Christmas. The sort of thing I normally loathed, but I was as caught up in it as the rest of the audience. That was George's genius; he could do with songs and shows what he found much harder to do by himself - make everyone love him. The after-show party was even better. Elton planted a kiss on George's lips in front of all, and Princess Di did much the same, though more discreetly.

In other news

Hollywood thrills

Frankie Goes To Hollywood score their third No. 1 of the year with 'The Power of Love' on I December, following 'Relax' and 'Two Tribes'. The group are the first band since fellow Scousers Gerry and the Pacemakers to have a UK No 1 with their first three singles.

Band on the run

On 15 December, 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' by Band Aid goes to No. 1. The charity single, masterminded by Bob Geldof and featuring an all-star line-up, becomes the then biggest-selling UK single of all time, with more than three and a half million sales.

Def Jam

On New Year's Eve, Def Leppard dummer Rick Allen crashes his Corvette Stingray on the A57 outside Sheffield. Allen loses his left arm in the accident. Remarkably, he later continues playing one-handed on a specially adapted drum kit.

"8th graders learn about the music biz"

from - By Colneth Smiley Jr.

While most eighth-graders are just hanging out after school or avoiding weekend trouble, 14-year-old Ibrahim Wanu and his classmates are laying down music tracks in the studio and building business plans to market their new hip-hop/rock CD and collaborative project, "Citizen Schools General Eclectic Volume IV: The Recipe."

"When you hear about an after-school program you think it's corny, and friends will think it's a waste of time" said Wanu, who sacrifices his free time and Saturdays at the Citizen School's Summit Business program behind the John D. O'Bryant School in Roxbury. "But I'm learning business aspects of selling music and the power of a dollar."

From the chalkboard to the boardroom, students of the school's Eighth Grade Academy are taking lessons on business planning and development into the real world. With a dozen curriculum courses to choose from, including programs in political awareness, video-gamecreation, architecture, jewelry making and understanding climate change, theAcademy is an intensive program that prepares middle school students for high school and beyond.

"We give these kids exposure to such a wide variety of experiences, careers and opportunities that are right in their back yards," said Julia Sommer, the academy's director.

"The theme of our program is the idea of forming a bridge to the future. The students work on leadership skills, oral presentation skills, communication skills and learn how to present themselves professionally," Sommer added. "Everybody loves music, and we teach the students basic business concepts, like how to pool together resources, build a business plan, calculate break-even points and, finally, execute their plan," said Ben Maitland-Lewis, executive director of Sidehatch Entertainment Group, who's mentored the Citizen School students throughout the music CD project.

The students' CD will be presented to executives at Summit Partnership and in an effort to sell the hip-hop/rock album to raise money for the Citizen School Alumni Scholarship.

Tracks from the CD will be available on iTunes next month and can be purchased online through

"You can express yourself through the apprenticeship," said Cevon "DC" Edwards, an eighth-grader from Community Charter School of Cambridge involved in the CD project. "Being able to call something your own is the best part," he added. Cevon came up with "The Recipe" concept in the CD's title, an acronym that stands for "Remember Everyone Can Initiate Positive Education."

Wanu also dreams big and has aspirations of joining the business world. "Just put effort in everything you do and anything is possible. At the end of the day, when you got a better shot at a good education, you're gonna come out with the upper hand."

Photo by Mark Garfinkel