Saturday, October 31, 2020

'Goodbye, Goodbye' for Oingo Boingo (Halloween Night 1995 remembered)

Twenty-five years ago  October 31, 1995  I attended the final Oingo Boingo show at the Universal Amphitheatre and reviewed it for The Orange County Register. Here is my review as it appeared a quarter of a century ago! Robert Kinsler

The cover artwork for Oingo Boingo's commercial recording
of their final performance 25 years ago today.

'Goodbye, Goodbye' for Oingo Boingo

Review: The famed Los Angeles alternative group calls it quits, but only after rocking the Halloween-night capacity audience for more than 3 1/2 hours.

By Robert Kinsler.
Special to the Register.

Capatain Kirk, Dracula and Elvis were there. So were any number of monsters, ghouls, space aliens and the costumed like - and that was just in the audience of the Universal Amphitheatre on Tuesday as a sellout crowd came to say goodbye to Oingo Boingo.

The Halloween-night farewell to Danny Elfman's crazy, alternative muscial creation - the last of a four-night Southern California run - came to an end with a 3-hour, 40-minute finale that covered every phase of the 17-year-old band.

Like a marathon, the final show was at times smooth and other times in danger of falling down; but in the end both boingo and its faithful legion of fans could look back at a run that was often adventurous and always fun.

Early in the show, and as an introduction to the song "Gratitude," Elfman said, We're not here to be sad. We're here to celebrate 17 years together. Thanks for being with us here tonight."

There were no tears. For most of the night, Oingo Boingo ripped through fast and - at times punkish - material to the delight of those in the mosh pit and at their seats. Lighting and visual effects added to the festive, Halloween atmosphere but didn't detract from the real show being played onstage.

Because the Oct. 31 show marked the bands's last, and perhaps because the concert was being filmed and taped for commercial release, Elfman and his always-solid band weren't afraid to take a casual approach to the party.

When Oingo Boingo went into its 25-minute acoustic segment, things began with a slow and thoughtful performance of "We Close Our Eyes." However, at the end of the song. Elfman said, "That sounded slow to me. I want to do it again." and they did, only faster.

Danny Elfman rocking with Oingo Boingo on
October 31, 1995.

There were other treats; an upbeat version of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" and a super-hyper version of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me." They illustrated that Elfman and company were always up to a challenge, able to take other artists' material and make it - well- Boingo.

No Oingo Boingo show - especially the final one - would be complete with the favorites, including a 10-song encore featuring "Grey Matter," "Dead Man's Party," "Violent Love" and "Only a Lad" Which, Elfman reminded the audience, was the first song recorded by the group).

It was a nearly hoarse but energized Elfman (barefoot and shirtless by the time the encore rolled around) who introduced the band's final song after.

"I said I cannot do it, and we didn't rehearse it." Elfman said.

Oingo Boingo then sped into the appropriately titled "Goodbye, Goodbye," (a song not included in other farewell tour dates), with even the aisles of the Universal Amphitheatre reduced to nothing but mosh pits and dance floors as the celebration ended with a flourish.

The final chapter of the band was written as Elfman went up to each of his mates - lastly guitarist Steve Bartek and hugged them. The band members then went to the front of the stage and thanked the audience with their own applause.

- Danny Elfman – Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion, composition
- Steve Bartek – Lead guitar, backing vocals, horn arrangements, percussion, accordion
- Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez – Drums, percussion
- Sam “Sluggo” Phipps – Tenor & soprano saxophones, clarinet, percussion, backing vocals
- Leon Schneiderman – Baritone & alto saxophones, percussion, backing vocals
- Dale Turner – Trumpet, trombone, percussion, guitar, backing vocals
- Bruce Fowler – Trombone
- John Avila – Bass guitar, bass synthesizer, percussion, accordion, backing vocals
- Warren Fitzgerald – Guitar
- Doug Lacy – Accordion, percussion

- Marc Mann – Keyboards, samples 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Sights and Sounds: Neil Young, AC/DC, Gary Clark Jr., Royal Blood

 Happy Friday! Going into the Halloween weekend, lots of cool news to share...Robert Kinsler

October 30, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA)  Neil Young and Reprise Records are pleased to announce the 50th Anniversary Edition of Young’s classic record After the Gold Rush, which will arrive on CD/Digital on December 11. The deluxe vinyl box set will follow on March 19. Originally released September 19, 1970, After the Gold Rush is cemented in the annals of music history—the album has often been rightly recognized as one of the finest ever made. The collection combined Young’s poetic lyricism and wistful melodies, driven by both dreamy folk arrangements and ferocious rock ‘n’ roll, and in the decades since has been certified double platinum in both the U.S. and the U.K. 

The 50th Anniversary Edition vinyl box set features a variant of the artwork, originally created by Neil’s long-time art director Gary Burden, made in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning artist Jenice Heo. The set also includes a 7” single in a picture sleeve with two versions of album outtake “Wonderin’.” Side A, originally included in The Archives Vol. 1: 1963-1972, was recorded in Topanga, California, in March 1970, and Side B is a previously unreleased version recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood in August 1969. A litho print of the album’s front cover is exclusively included in this vinyl box set. The CD format of the 50th Anniversary Edition includes the new artwork and both versions of “Wonderin’.”  Click here to pre-order CD and here to pre-order vinyl and receive and instant download of ““Wonderin’.”

The timelessness and influence of After the Gold Rush is difficult to overstate. From the iconic LP cover—a solarized image by photographer Joel Bernstein of Young walking in New York against a brick backdrop—to the long-running legacies of songs like the incendiary “Southern Man” and the melancholy “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” the album has felt vital in each of the five decades since its release. In fact, its title track, with Young’s time-traveling and apocalyptic visions of California, places it firmly in the here and now. Young’s re-working of the song’s lyrics for live performances over the years casts that fact in a chilling clarity: “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 21st century.” This 50th Anniversary Edition is both a celebration for longtime fans, and a chance for new ears to take in its continued relevance. 

After the Gold Rush 50th Anniversary Edition tracklist
1. Tell Me Why
2. After the Gold Rush
3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
4. Southern Man
5. Till the Morning Comes
6. Oh, Lonesome me
7. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
8. Birds
9. When You Dance I Can Really Love
10. I Believe In You
11. Cripple Creek Ferry
12. [Break]
13. Wonderin’
14. Wonderin’ (previously unreleased version)


AC/DC are one of the most influential rock bands in history with over 200 million albums sold worldwide and 71.5 million albums sold in the U.S. alone. The double-diamond Back in Black stands out as “bestselling album by any band ever” and “third bestselling album by any artist” with global sales of 50 million and counting. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame® in 2003. The band also garnered their first GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Hard Rock Performance” for “War Machine” during 2010. They continue to sell out stadiums on multiple continents, sell millions of albums annually, and generate streams in the billions. AC/DC return with POWER UP in 2020.

October 30, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA) – Four time Grammy Award-winner Gary Clark Jr. has collaborated on a new track written by and produced by multiple Grammy and two time Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Babel”) and co-written by Clark with lyrics by legendary songwriter Paul Williams titled, “Valley Of Last Resort.” The track is featured in Hunter S. Thompson documentary, Freak Power: The Ballot Or The Bomb, released on Amazon and AppleTV.  Clark contributes some stunning vocals and electrifying guitar with Santaollala on vocals and playing multiple instruments including his trademark ronroco, which is available today via all DSP’s. Click here to stream “Valley Of Last Resort,” and here to view and share the visual.
The documentary captures Thompson’s searing and impactful 1970 campaign for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. FREAK POWER: The Ballot or the Bomb is co-directed by Daniel Joseph Watkins and Ajax Phillips, and produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin (“Thelma and Louise,” “The Breadwinner”) and Angus Wall (editor, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Social Network”). Click here for further information.
“Valley of Last Resort” was inspired by the fact that 50 years later we are unfortunately confronted by similar issues as the civil unrest and protests in our country have been on the rise. This song is a delicately arranged testament to Clark’s ability to fluidly interpret diverse musical styles and textures working alongside Santaolalla and Williams. Clark and Santaolalla first met at Eric Clapton’s 2019 Crossroads Guitar Festival in September 2019, and this is another stunning collaboration after GCJ’s critically acclaimed triple-Grammy winning album, THIS LAND. His follow-up to THIS LAND is expected in 2021.


Photo Credit: Dean Martindale

October 30, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA) – Today, Royal Blood unveils their first ever official remix, which sees the international DJ and producer Purple Disco Machine putting his own inimitable spin on their current hit single “Trouble’s Coming,” the Brighton, U.K. rock duo’s first new music in three years. Listen here and watch the accompanying visual here.

Inspired by its tight, insistent grooves, the renowned remix maestro plays up those elements to reinvent “Trouble’s Coming” as a slick, modern disco smash. From the stirring soul of the opening female backing vocals to the gleaming mirrorball synths, Purple Disco Machine’s inspired mix switches the track’s atmosphere without losing the essence of what made the original so memorable.

Purple Disco Machine – real name Tino Piontek – has, in the words of Mixmag, forged a reputation as “a hard-hitting one-man disco army.” Commanding over 7 million monthly listeners at Spotify, his in-demand remix skills have resulted in inventive twists on tracks from artists as diverse as Dua Lipa, Foals and Diplo. His nu-disco flair also stands out in his own tracks, ranging from his breakthrough “My House” (one of Beatport’s all-time biggest sellers) to “Devil In Me” and his recent single “Hypnotized”. He’s now preparing for the release of his forthcoming second album.

The original version of ‘Trouble’s Coming’ is already approaching 6 million streams, earning  the cover of ROCK THISSpotify’s flagship global rock playlist while breaking the Top 20 at the Alternative and Active Rock formats in the US. In the U.K., the track debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record and hit Radio 1’s A-list. The media has immediately embraced the return of Royal Blood:

“We don’t have anywhere to strut our stuff these days but if we did, we’d be out there stomping around to this delicious new release from Royal Blood. ‘Trouble’s Coming’ is cloaked in a menacing glamour. Trouble may be coming but when it sounds this good, who’s complaining?” – E!  

“Royal Blood bring big riffs to the dance floor on ‘Troubles Coming.’ The British duo injects a bit of dancefloor energy into their hard rock sound on their new song. Headbang-worthy bass and drum attack.” – Rolling Stone

The track’s profile was boosted by the release of its official video, which was directed by Dir. LX, best known for his work with U.K. rap and grime icons such as DaveBugzy Malone and Kojo Funds.

Royal Blood: Mike Kerr (vocals, bass, keys, piano) and Ben Thatcher (drums)

Follow Royal Blood:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Composer Danny Elfman signs to ANTI- / Epitaph; watch Eye-Popping New Video for "Happy"

Big news for lovers of Danny Elfman and all things Halloween!




“And for the first time since I don’t remember when, I felt just like my old bony self again and I, Jack, the Pumpkin King, that’s right, I am the Pumpkin King!” - Jack Skellington, sung by Danny Elfman, in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

“Die, die we all pass away / But don't wear a frown 'cause it's really okay / And you might try and hide / And you might try and pray / But we all end up the remains of the day” – Bonejangles, sung by Danny Elfman, in ‘Corpse Bride’

"I originally wrote “Happy” to perform at Coachella 2020. It was written to be an absurd anti-pop song, designed to begin as a very simple pop tune that degrades into something more subversive. The cynical nature of the lyrics echo how I feel about living in a semi-dystopian world turned upside down." – Danny Elfman

“I always enjoyed Halloween because it was a night to let loose, to become something or someone else,” said renowned film composer Danny Elfman, known for his eccentric and macabre collaborations with director Tim Burton. “[Halloween is] a night to celebrate the dead, and ghosts and monsters of all variety. A night for mutants, zombies, vampires, misfits, and miscreants to celebrate themselves and each other. And, aligned with the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, a night to celebrate departed spirits… and for me, a night to laugh in death’s face (and feel safe doing so).”

Indeed, Elfman maniacally laughs in death’s face on his new single “Happy”, the first solo music he has released since 1984, and his macabre sense of humor is still very present in the canvas of today’s chaotic dysfunctional landscape. Elfman’s face distorts both with disgust and glee in the song’s unnerving new video; watch it HERE.

Coming out just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, the dark, intensely turbulent track showcases the unease we all feel today, not only amidst the holiday’s ghosts and goblins but within a global pandemic and extraordinarily divisive times.

“Halloween has always been my Big Night,” Elfman explains. “As a child there was no competition. Coincidently, in my earlier band Oingo Boingo, our Halloween shows became special events and our biggest shows of the year. And double coincidently The Nightmare Before Christmas also became a special live Concert Halloween event, which became more successful than I’d ever dreamed possible. This really meant a lot to me as the character of Jack Skellington, who I related to quite closely, has for many years been a very special part of my life.”

The song’s vocals, guitars and synths are provided by Elfman, drums by Josh Freese (The Vandals, Nine Inch Nails), guitar by Nili Brosh (Dethklok), bass by Stu Brooks (Dub Trio) and additional synth design by Randall Dunn.

Connect with all things Danny Elfman via the links below!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Sights and Sounds: Bright Blue Gorilla, Joe Bonamassa, Gorillaz, Sharon Jones, Don McLean, Little Richard

With the holiday season suddenly here, the parade of wonderful and special year-end releases is already in full swing. This column features a number of wonderful titles ranging from the latest original film from Bright Blue Gorilla and stellar studio albums from Joe Bonamassa and Gorillaz to exciting covers collections from Don McLean and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings as well as several must-have reissues featuring rock 'n' roll founding father Little Richard.

Bright Blue Gorilla
Title: 36 Husbands (Bright Blue Gorilla)
You might like if you enjoy: Bright Blue Gorilla, the Monkees TV show, 
Tell me more: "36 Husbands" is a delightfully zany film loaded with the kind of fun thrills and charm that recall classics ranging from Richard Lester's "Help!" and Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride" to Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men In Tights." A musical adventure comedy written and directed by Michael Glover and produced by Robyn Rosenkrantz  who together comprise the acclaimed musical duo and film making team from Southern California  the story centers around three dynamic women who work to thwart World War III. Of course a cast of crazy characters are featured along the way including a slew of adoring husbands and dastardly villains. Why are all the spies and bad guys (and gals) tuning into the "Bright Blue Gorilla" TV show? No spoilers here - you'll need to watch "36 Husbands" to find out why. A note, "36 Husbands" is a fun-filled romp suitable for all ages. Shot at truly exotic locations in Australia, Berlin, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Paris and Los Angeles, the film is bolstered by Bright Blue Gorilla's amazing music making magic.

The official poster for "36 Husbands."

A note, "36 Husbands" is a fun-filled romp suitable for all ages. "36 Husbands" and all of Bright Blue Gorilla's other movies have been featured on Netflix and are currently available worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, Time Warner and other platforms. A full-length soundtrack featuring all the film's inviting instrumental music and genre-aplenty original songs (including the cool "Love Potion Number 36," melodic "Radiation Song," enthralling "Hold Me" and Americana folk rocker "Labor of Love"). 

Joe Bonamassa
Title: Royal Tea (J&R Adventures)
You might like if you enjoy: Walter Trout, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa
Tell me more: Joe Bonamassa's latest album Royal Tea is his strongest album to date, a compelling tour de force that showcases the New York native's amazing guitar work and commanding vocals served up with a full plate of killer original songs. Recorded at legendary Abbey Road Studios in January 2020 and produced by Kevin Shirley, Royal Tea thrills as a potent mixture of British blues and Bonamassa's own fusion of various strains of blues across 10 incredible cuts that serve as an immediate reminder why nothing beats the magic of a cohesive album. Bonamassa's guitar work continues to astound; what's more the infectious riffs and jaw-dropping solos always come in the service of absorbing song craft. "Royal Tea" is obvious nod to British blues rock but tagged with Bonamassa's spellbinding fretwork and backing gospel vocals. "A Conversation With Alice" mines '70s greats ranging from Bad Company and The Who to Steely Dan while still sounding fully like a Bonamassa track. The moody "Beyond The Silence"  featuring the talents of keyboardist Reese Wynans  is as beautiful as it is haunting. The heavy "Lookout Man!" shatters any stereotypes about blues being relegated to the past with Bonamassa and his musical mates equaling the might of any of their hard rock and punk contemporaries. Crank this one up. Information:

Title: Song Machine: Season OneStrange Timez (Warner Bros./Parlophone)
You might like if you enjoy: Damon Albarn, Gorillaz, Beck
Tell me more: What do Beck, Elton John, Peter Hook, St. Vincent and The Cure's Robert Smith have in common? They join among the large cast of musical notables who guest on tracks  also known as "episodes" – across the ambitious Gorillaz album Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timez. The 7th album from the planet's most celebrated virtual band (featuring non-virtual singer/musician-producer Damon Albarn, artist Jamie Hewlett and producer-percussionist Remi Kabaka Jr.), the two-disc deluxe edition of the album features an additional five tracks beyond the standard release's dozen episodes and is worth exploring. Things blastoff with Robert Smith beaming in from a far-off corner of the sonic universe for the the synth-pop sortie "Strange Timez." Beck follows on the funk-flavored "The Valley of the Pagans." Peter Hook's signature bass playing adds New Order-styled dance floor urgency to the propulsive "Aries," a cut that simultaneously swirls around and immerses the listener in reflective bliss. Equally infectious is the driving "Désolé," featuring Albarn's melancholy vocals and Ivory Coast native Fatoumata Diawara's amazing soprano in a perfect creative union. Elton John (featured on "The Pink Phantom") hasn't sounded this relevant since his full-length collaboration with Leon Russell in 2010 (The Union). The deluxe edition of Strange Timez comes to a rousing finale with "How Far?"; that poignant episode features the late afrobeat ace Tony Allen (who also drummed in Albarn's The Good, The Bad & The Queen; Allen sadly passed away in April 2020).

The masterful mix of genres artfully blended together and several dozen A-list artists who join Gorillaz on what is the troupe's best album since 2010's Plastic Beach make for a compelling journey to be sure. 
Gorillaz has announced plans to host a digital event "Song Machine Live" on Dec. 12 and 13, 2020. Additionally, Gorillaz has released a 120-page "Almanac" book to celebrate their 20-year history. Wouldn't it be great to see this "Strange Timez" staged live at Coachella when the festival returns? Information:

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Titles: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) (Daptone Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Dusty Springfield, Gladys Knight, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Tell me more: When Sharon Jones passed away on Nov. 8, 2016 after a long battle fighting pancreatic cancer, it didn't put an end to the 60-year-old soul singer's musical legacy. Just listen to the newly-released Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings collection Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In), a batch of 13 covers – including five never-before-heard recordings – that honor the originals and cast a greater appreciation on Jones' ability to conquer any soul or funk cut in sight. Things kick off with a wonderfully faithful take on the Stevie Wonder hit "Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours," but she even reaches greater heights via potent reworkings of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" and the Kenny Rogers’ First Edition hit "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" – this specific recording the very first done at the Daptone House of Soul studio in 2002) – as well as an inspired take on the Raynard Miner and Carl William Smith song "Rescue Me." Jones' versions of Gladys Knight's "Giving Up" and Bob Marley's "It Hurts To Be Alone" are especially poignant showcases for Jones' vocal powers. As is noted in the press notes published in connection with this release, many of the recordings were tracked on their own, but others were commissioned for possible use in commercials, films and TV shows. The aforementioned "Rescue Me" as well as Jones' interpretation of the Musique disco fave "In the Bush" were outtakes for 2014's "The Wolf of Wall Street" soundtrack. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In) also includes tracks that were recorded for tributes to Dusty Springfield, The Marvelettes, Shuggie Otis and Prince (her take on "Take Me With U" is wonderfully funky). Information:

Don McLean
Title: Still Playin' Favorites (Time Life)
You might like if you enjoy: Don McLean, Mel Tillis, Glen Campbell
Tell me more: Don McLean delivers a heartfelt tribute to many of his influences on Still Playin' Favorites, a worthy 14-track follow-up to his classic 1973 collection "Playin' Favorites." Whether delving into traditional country (Johnny Cash's "Doggone Lonesome," a spry take on Percy Mayfield's "Hide Nor Hair"), Americana roots rock (Hoyt Axton's "Greenback Dollar," the Amos E. Byrd-Billy Jones getup "Got the Bull By the Horns"), blues (a reworking of the 1959 hit "I Ain't Never," amped up reading of Jenny Lou Carson's "The Keys to the Kingdom"), rockabilly (a rootsy take on the Elvis Presley favorite "Little Sister," a buoyant version of Clyde Moody's "Six White Horses") or folk (the tender "She Used To Love Me A Lot"), McLean hits the mark with affecting versions bolstered by his distinctive baritone vocals. Information:

Little Richard
Title: The Second Coming; Lifetime Friend (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Little Richard, Prince, Sly Stone
Tell me more: Omnivore Recordings is a treasure, continuing to issue expanded and remastered lost classics from under-the-radar and well-known heroes. Look no further than the Los Angeles label's expanded reissues of Little Richard's 1970s and '80s albums; 1972's The Second Coming and 1986's Lifetime Friend arrived on Oct. 23 and were well worth the wait. The Second Coming commences with a celebration of Little Richard's rip-it-up '50s rock sound but bolstered by '70s production techniques; "Mockingbird Sally" features the artist pounding on the piano and searing vocals to match. He conjures up that pioneering approach later on "Rockin' Rockin' Boogie" and "Thomasine." Elsewhere, he explores funk (the freewheeling "Second Line" and "Nuki Suki"), '70s rock ("It Ain't What You Do, It's the Way How You Do It"), New Orleans R&B ("The Saints") and other styles via his signature sound. It doesn't hurt that producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell used a number of studio musicians from the '50s as well as many top session players of the early '70s including to cut the album at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. This reissue features the original album release, two single edits from the period, and several tracks from the 1971 film "S" (starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn) that were composed by Quincy Jones.

Following the release of his 1984 autobiography "The Quasar of Rock and Roll," Little Richard decided to come out of retirement and recorded Lifetime Friend, an LP which would ultimately serve as his final studio album of all new original material. Recorded in London and backed by a surefire cast including Billy Preston, guitarist Travis Wammack, bassist Jesse Boyce and drummer James Stroud, the album blends Richard's distinctive rock sound with spiritual lyrics. Listening to "Great Gosh A'Mighty" is to be again reminded how Richard's rousing style ultimately inspired a talented parade of artists to come ranging from the Beatles and Prince to Vintage Trouble. The album's standout track listing also includes the soulful "Operator" (single and extended edits of the cut are included as bonus tracks), gospel-tinged "Somebody's Comin'," catchy '80s-mining rocker "Destruction," New Wave 'n' soul delight "I Found My Way," the beautiful "One Ray of Sunshine" and explosive "Big House Reunion."

Packaging for both new Little Richard titles feature historical photographs, ephemera and a new essay from Bill Dahl. Information:

Robert Kinsler