Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sights and Sounds: The Zombies, Sting, The Afghan Whigs

The Zombies performing selection from 'Odessey & Oracle'
at the Saban Theatre in Southern California on Oct. 24, 2015.
Photo credit: Robert Kinsler
In 2015, singer Colin Blunstone and keyboardist-singer Rod Argent reunited with fellow surviving Zombies members Hugh Grundy (drums) and Chris White (bass, vocals) for full performances of their classic 1968 album Odessey & Oracle (check out my review of the October 2015 tour date in Beverly Hills, CA). Now comes word the legendary band will do it again for a 2017 North American tour; this news is bittersweet since the Zombies say this will be the final-ever Odessey & Oracle shows. As was the case when I caught the band at the Saban Theatre on Oct. 24, 2015, the four original band members will be joined by current members Jim Rodford (bass), Tom Toomey (guitar) and Steve Rodford (drums), who play in Blunstone and Argent's current version of the band.

There will also be an Odessey & Oracle coffee table book set to be published by BMG in March 2017. For more information on all things Zombies, visit http://www.thezombiesmusic.com/.

16-Time GRAMMY® winner Sting is set to appear at The GRAMMY Museum®  inside the Clive Davis Theater at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 for a conversation about his new album 57th & 9th. He will also give a special acoustic performance at the event. All proceeds will benefit the music education  initiatives of the GRAMMY Museum.

Presented by American Express, the evening will be moderated by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. The discussion will feature a discussion surrounding Sting's forthcoming  solo album, 57th & 9th, to be released Nov. 11 on A&M/Interscope Records (available now for pre-order at all digital retailers). The discussion will be followed by an intimate acoustic performance.

His first rock/pop project in over a decade, 57th & 9th represents a wide range of Sting’s musical and songwriting styles, from the ferocious, Road Warrior-style imagery of "Petrol Head," to the anthemic, "50,000" and the raucous, guitar-driven first single, "I Can’t Stop Thinking About You." The album was recorded with Sting's long-time collaborators Dominic Miller (guitar) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and includes contributions from drummer Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Guns 'N Roses) and guitarist Lyle Workman, with backing vocals by the San Antonio-based Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros. Produced by Martin Kierszenbaum, the album takes its title from the Manhattan street corner that Sting crossed each day as he walked into the studios in Hell's Kitchen where the recordings were done. Sting notes that if there’s a theme in the lyrics of 57th & 9th, it’s the idea of travel and motion, most apparent in "Inshallah" and the autobiographical "Heading South On The Great North Road."

"It's about searching and traveling, the road, that pull of the unknown." Sting says. "On this album, we ended up with something that's energetic and noisy, but also thoughtful."

On Sept. 30 Sting also released The Studio Collection, a solo career-spanning vinyl box set on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl that features all of Sting's seminal A&M solo studio albums brought together for the first time.

An Evening With Sting will begin at 8 p.m. in the Museum’s Clive Davis Theater. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $125. American Express pre-sale begins Thursday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. PST. Sting.com Fan Club members can also purchase pre-sale tickets beginning Thursday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. PST (visit www.sting.com for details). General on sale begins Saturday, Oct. 22 at noon PST. Tickets can be purchased at AXS.com and all proceeds will benefit the education initiatives of the GRAMMY Museum.

In 1996, The Afghan Whigs were fresh off the worldwide success of Gentlemen.  They had toured the world, graced magazine covers, television performances, major festivals, the works.  However, their follow up album would not be Gentlemen II. It would be a pivot and a full public display of the growth and maturity of Greg Dulli’s songwriting.
Black Love turns 20 this year, and Rhino Records along with Mute Records in the UK are celebrating with a special edition that will be available for Record Store Day Black FridayBlack Love (20th Anniversary Edition) will be released on November 25 as a double-CD ($19.98) and a triple-LP ($49.98) exclusively at indie record stores and digitally on the same day. Both include a newly remastered version of the original 11-track album, plus nine previously unreleased recordings, including demos, outtakes and studio jams.  
Released in the spring of 1996, Black Love was the Afghan Whigs’ fifth studio album overall. The music was inspired by lead singer Greg Dulli’s idea to make a film noir movie. Although the film was never made, it did help inform the album’s dark tone and fuel songs like the singles “Honky’s Ladder” and “Going To Town.” The album opener, “Crime Scene Part One” was inspired by the screenplay for “The Million Dollar Hotel,” while “Blame, Etc.” reflected on the troubled life of Temptations singer David Ruffin.
Black Love (20th Anniversary Edition) includes nine previously unreleased recordings. Among the standouts are acoustic versions of “Going To Town” called: “Go To Town” and “Crime Scene Part Two.” Also included is a demo for “Faded,” which closed the original album, as well as a solo piano cover of the New Order classic “Regret.” The unreleased material also highlights the band’s creative process with “Mick Taylor Jam” and “Wynton Kelly Jam.”
Billboard Magazine’s 1996 review of Black Love stated: “A romantic with a capital R, Afghan Whigs’ auteur Greg Dulli strives for high drama above all. With ’94’s Gentlemen, he and the Whigs produced an essay on the masochism of masculinity that explored characters and emotions with uncommon depth while still rocking intensely. Black Love is even more of an epic, with Dulli painting a gripping urban tableaux of temptation and trouble. Like the Stones on “Sticky Fingers,” the Whigs fuel their ambitions with the fire of great black music, fashioning rock’n’roll of symphonic sweep and elemental passion. An indelible work from a great band.”
Fans can look forward to new music from The Afghan Whigs in 2017. The band is currently in the studio finishing their eighth studio album, and the group’s first since 2014’s Top 40 album Do To The Beast.  The forthcoming album will be released by Sub Pop Records.

Black Love (20TH Anniversary Edition)
Track Listing:
Disc One: Original Album Remastered
  1. “Crime Scene Part One”
  2. “My Enemy”
  3. “Double Day”
  4. “Blame, Etc.”
  5. “Step Into The Light”
  6. “Going To Town”
  7. “Honky’s Ladder”
  8. “Night By Candlelight”
  9. “Bulletproof”
  10. “Summer’s Kiss”
  11. “Faded”
Disc Two: The Demos
  1. “Go To Town” – Acoustic Version/Mix*
  2. “Leaving Town” – Mix 1.0*
  3. “Faded” – Demo*
  4. “Regret”*
  5. “Crime Scene Part II” – Mix 1.1 with Scratch Vocals*
  6. “Mick Taylor Jam”*
  7. “Wynton Kelly Jam”*
  8. “I Often Think Of You”*
  9. “Staring Across The Water”*
* previously unreleased

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