Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lou Reed & Metallica join forces; Peter, Paul and Mary celebrate the holidays; Michael W. Smith goes instrumental

Fans of Lou Reed, Metallica, Michael W. Smith, and Peter, Paul and Mary will all find truly-anticipated releases on the way this fall. Here are some highlights of the latest releases to land in my inbox.


In what is sure to be one of the most talked-about alliances of the year, New York king of avant-rock Lou Reed has teamed up with best-selling hard rock band Metallica to record a brand-new album, entitled Lulu, which will be released by Warner Bros. Records on November 1st, 2011. The album was co-produced by Reed, Metallica, Hal Willner who has produced albums for Reed, Marianne Faithfull, and Laurie Anderson, among others and Greg Fidelman. Fidelman also mixed the record.

The idea for these two giants of modern music to work together was born after the 25th anniversary Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame concerts in New York City in October 2009. Metallica -singer/guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Rob Trujillo - played with Reed on Velvet Underground classics "Sweet Jane" and "White Light/White Heat." "We knew from then that we were made for each other," Reed says.

After that triumphant performance, Reed suggested they all make a record together. At first they planned to record an album of Reed's older material, what Ulrich describes as "some of Lou's lost jewels - songs that he felt he'd like to give a second spin, and we could do whatever it is we do to some of those songs." That idea "hung in the air for a couple of months." Then, a week or two before that session was to begin, "Lou called up and said, 'Listen, I have this other idea.'"

That idea was to record a series of songs Reed had written for American avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson and German theater group the Berliner Ensemble's production of the Lulu Plays, which premiered in Aprilat the Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, founded by Bertolt Brecht. The songs are inspired by German expressionist Frank Wedekind's early 20th century plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box, and were a rewrite of Edgar Allan Poe's, The Raven, which emerged as a graphic novel on Fantagraphics Press.

"We were very interested in working with Lou," says Hetfield. "I had these giant question marks: What's it going to be like? What's going to happen? So it was great when he sent us the lyrics for the Lulu body of work. It was something we could sink our teeth into. I could take off my singer and lyricist hat and concentrate on the music part. These were very potent lyrics, with a soundscape behind them for atmosphere. Lars and I sat there with an acoustic and let this blank canvas take us where it needed to go. It was a great gift, to be asked to stamp 'TALLICA on it. And that's what we did."

"We had to bring Lulu to life in a sophisticated way, using rock," Reed says. "And the hardest power rock you could come up with would have to be Metallica. They live on that planet. We played together, and I knew it: dream come true. This is the best thing I ever did. And I did it with the best group I could possibly find. By definition, everybody involved was honest. This has come into the world pure. We pushed as far as we possibly could within the realms of reality."

"It's definitely not a Metallica album, or a Lou Reed album," adds Hammett. "It's something else. It's a new animal, a hybrid."

About Lou Reed: The king of New York avant-rock, Lou Reed made innovative, iconoclastic music with the profoundly influential The Velvet Underground before "Walk On The Wild Side" gave him 1972's most unlikely pop hit. He reacted to this development with admirable perversity; releasing a stream of diverse and challenging solo albums, from the macabre, monumental Berlin to the subtle, seductive Coney Island Baby, from the wallpaper-peeling Metal Machine Music (Cash Box review: no stars) to the punk pivot Street Hassle. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1996. Recent years have seen his always-present literary bent come increasingly to the fore on works like New York, Magic And Loss, and The Raven.

About Metallica: Formed in Los Angeles in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield, Metallica have become one of the most influential and commercially successful rock bands in history, having sold 100 million albums worldwide and playing to millions of fans the world over. They have scored several multi-platinum albums, including 1991's Metallica (commonly referred to as "The Black Album"), which is the best selling album in history of Soundscan scanning almost 15.7 million albums in the United States alone. Their latest album, Death Magnetic, was certified platinum just six weeks after it debuted atop the Billboard Top 200 Album chart in October 2008. Metallica have also garnered numerous awards and accolades, including nine Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, and multiple MTV Video Music Awards, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.

Peter, Paul and Mary's 'Holiday Concert' in stores on Oct. 18, 2011

The Family Favorite Finally Debuts on DVD

'Holiday Concert' features performances of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and other classic holiday songs plus the Hits “Puff, The Magic Dragon” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”

What began in 1981 as a benefit for the New York Choral Society has now become a decades-long holiday music tradition. Peter, Paul and Mary’s legendary Holiday Concert makes its DVD debut October 18, 2011 from Shout! Factory. Long anticipated by fans, the concert was only available on VHS and is currently out of print.

The live concert features a symphony orchestra and a 200-voice chorus performing a mixture of the group’s iconic folk classics such as “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” Christmas and Hanukkah songs and carols as well as traditional spirituals and holiday songs. A longtime holiday family favorite, the DVD is a must have for fans of the trio and DVD collectors alike. Fans can now pre-order the DVD on Amazon.com.

The annual PBS special became a holiday ritual for families throughout North America who faithfully watched the show. Highlights of The Holiday Concert DVD include performances by children from Mary’s elementary school accompanying the trio on “Light One Candle” as well as Peter’s Hanukkah song written especially for this show. Renowned conductor emeritus Robert DeCormier of the New York Choral Society, makes an appearance, sharing the stage with the trio as his former student, Mary Travers, sings gloriously with Paul and Peter, completing a remarkable musical circle.

Peter, Paul and Mary are undoubtedly, one of the most cherished musical ensembles of all time and The Holiday Concert DVD showcases the warmth and universal reach of their music.

Peter, Paul and Mary’s 25th Anniversary Concert Program Listing:

1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

2. A Soalin’

3. I Wonder As I Wander

4. O Come O Come Emmanuel

5. The Magi

6. Children Go Where I Send Thee

7. Twas The Night Before Christmas

8. The Friendly Beasts

9. Hayo, Haya

10. Light One Candle

11. Weave Me The Sunshine

12. Marvelous Toy

13. The Cherry Tree Carol

14. Puff, The Magic Dragon

15. Blowin’ In The Wind

16. This Land Is Your Land

17. O Come All Ye Faithful

18. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

19. Silent Night

20. Hallelujah Chorus

21. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Smith’s 23rd Career Studio Album Available Nov. 22, 2011

One of contemporary Christian music’s most enduring and beloved artists, Michael W. Smith presents the highly anticipated instrumental follow-up to his 2000 RIAA Gold-selling album, Freedom. Titled Glory, the project, Smith’s 23rd career record, will be available at national retail outlets on Nov. 22, 2011.

Recorded with a 65-piece orchestra at London’s prestigious AIR Studios (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Peter Gabriel, Pirates of the Caribbean, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”), Glory was arranged by Smith’s longtime friend David Hamilton and features a moving collection of original music. Included on the album, produced by Smith, are “Glory – The Overture,” “The Patriot,” “Heroes,” “Whitaker’s Wonder,” “Redemption,” “Atonement,” “The Romance,” “The Tribute” and a larger-than-life symphonic version of “Agnus Dei.”

Smith comments, “I’ve said many times that Freedom is my favorite record, so I’m very excited to be releasing my second instrumental record. I think the people that enjoyed Freedom will love this one; and I actually think some of the unique musical twists this project is taking will open it up to a whole new audience as well.”

On the inspiration for Glory, Smith notes, “When I work with an orchestra I feel like I’m in my element. I often think of the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ and the famous quote by the film’s hero Eric Liddell. He says, ‘when I run I feel His pleasure.’ This statement encompasses my experience when I work on instrumental music. When I’m able to see sweeping melodies and epic, cinematic songs come to fruition, it’s like I am offering a prayer to our Father in Heaven.”

Glory will be released via MWS Group and distributed by Provident Distribution/Sony Music.
Standby for additional on Smith’s forthcoming fall and winter tours. For a list of current tour dates, visit: www.michaelwsmith.com.

About Michael W. Smith
Throughout his 29-year career as a recording artist, Michael W. Smith has amassed an impressive catalog of achievements. His prior 22 albums have garnered multiple honors including an American Music Award, three GRAMMY ® Awards (from 13 nominations), 44 GMA Dove Awards and 33 No. 1 radio hits. In addition, he holds 16 Gold, 7 Platinum and 2 Double-Platinum albums for career sales of 15 million. Wonder, Smith’s 22nd career album, released Sept. 28, 2010. Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2009, Smith has scored film projects, written 12 books and been featured by media outlets including “Hannity,” NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Larry King Live,” “FOX & Friends,” The Associated Press, Billboard, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and more.

Constantly giving back to the community, one of Smith’s current projects is Rocketown – a nightclub for teens in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. – which serves as a safe place for young people to enjoy music and for artists to be discovered. He and wife of 30 years, Debbie, are the proud parents of five children.

For more information on Michael W. Smith please visit: www.michaelwsmith.com or www.facebook.com/michaelwsmithofficial.

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