More Neil Young

Neil Young's new album, "Living With War," was completed in 9 days and should be released very soon. Howie Klein, who has an excellent political blog, had the chance to hear the record yesterday and declared it "beyond belief. I mean it's so great I was jumping out of my skin." He couldn't say much more than that due to an NDA. He added this, however:

Every song is about… you know what (and who). Musically it is so powerful and emotionally it's even more powerful that that!! Many tears while I sat alone with the headset on. Since I already mentioned "Let's Impeach the President," I'll just say a few things about that. It's this great rocker that ends as a gospel song and reads like an indictment. I mean Neil sounds like he's been reading Daily KOS or FireLakeDog! Someone's gotta get this to Henry Waxman! Neil even lays out some evidence in the form of Bush running his mouth on tape.

Will this go down as Neil's greatest album ever? It will be a contender musically. And the impact lyrically could be profound. I'll talk more about that when my period of musical purdah is up next week. If you're walking down the street and someone comes up to you and offers you the opportunity to hear just one song, ask him to play "Flags of Freedom." (Have kleenex handy.)

Here are the lyrics to the title track:

I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart everyday
I'm living with war right now

And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again
And when the night falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again

I'm living with war in my heart
I'm living with war in my heart and my mind
I'm living with war right now

Don't take no todal wave
Don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun
To show how the west was won
But when the curtain falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

In the crowded streets
In the big hotels
In the mosques and the doors of the old museum
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
Try to remember peace

The rocket's red glare
Bombs bursting in air
Give proof through the night,
That Our flag is still there

I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart everyday
I'm living with wat right now.

Got Gnarls Barkley?

A few things coming out of the U.K. lately indicate that online music is the future.  Of course, there's the Beatle announcement, but more interesting is the surprise success of Gnarls Barkley, who achieved a Number One hit through download sales alone:

“Recent successes from Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and the Arctic Monkeys show how digital can be complementary to physical,” said Jamieson. “The lesson of history is that new technology expands the market for music and that is why record companies are so enthusiastically embracing the new digital formats.”

The Monkeys broke out via lots of downloads, the Gorillaz aren't even a physical band (although they recently played live in NYC).  With all of this in mind, I'm glad iTunes is holding firm to their pricing model.

Protestin’ in the Free World

More proof, if any were needed, of Bush’s similarities to Nixon. Neil Young has written, not a song, but AN ENTIRE ALBUM about the Bush Crime Family’s malfeasance:

SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson, referring to Young’s indelible 1970 protest song “Ohio,” said, “Neil, we need a new song.” Young must have taken these words to heart, because he’s just finished writing and recording—out of the blue—a new album called Life in War, according to filmmaker and Young confidant Jonathan Demme, who describes it as “a brilliant electric assault on Bush and the war in Iraq.” The linchpin track, “Impeach the President,” features an edited-together Bush rap set to a 100-voice chorus chanting “flip”/”flop.” The album, with Young on Old Black, Rick Rosas on bass and Chad Cromwell on drums, took three days to finish. No word on when Reprise will release the album, but the Demme-directed concert film Heart of Gold arrives June 13 on DVD.

All You Need is Cash – Beatles Downloads Coming

According to numerous sources, an effort is underway to remaster the entire Beatles catalog and ultimately make is available for digital download, though it’s doubtful iTunes will be allowed to sell the songs:

Neil Aspinall, a former Beatles road manager and managing director of Apple Corps, was a witness in the company’s trademark lawsuit against Apple Computer (APPL).

He said that the company was digitally remastering the entire Beatles catalogue, which would pave the way for selling the songs online.

“I think it would be wrong to offer downloads of the old masters when I am making new masters,” he said in a written statement submitted to the High Court in London earlier this month.

“It would be better to wait and try to do them both simultaneously so that you then get the publicity of the new masters and the downloading, rather than just doing it ad hoc.”

A spokeswoman for Apple Corps confirmed Aspinall’s statement, and said that the company is preparing to make the Beatles catalogue available through online music services.

A funny twist to all this: It turns out Sir Paul McCartney recently gave video iPods to his tour crew, and betrayed some curiousity about a notorious mash-up of Jay-Z’s Black Album and the Beatles’ White Album:

Though the remix was subjected to a cease and desist order by EMI, the move did win Danger Mouse one interested potential fan – Paul McCartney, who listened to the album in his car.

“McCartney remains really interested in what’s going on in the creative world,” the source explained, “He likes to know what’s going on.”

This interest in modern music culture also led McCartney to take UK DJ, remixer and musician The Freelance Hellraiser (Roy Kerr) along with him on his tour.

Kerr won fame with a mash-up called “A Stroke of Genius”, which combined an instrumental edit of The Strokes’ track “Hard To Explain” with Christina Aguilera’s pop hit “Genie in A Bottle”.

The DJ was given unique access to McCartney’s own tracks in order to create remixes to play to the audience before each show.

New Beatles?

I’m a bit dubious about how fresh these so-called “new Beatles” tracks will sound. With three separate double CDs of outtakes already in circulation, not to mention countless bootlegs, what’s left that hasn’t been heard?

The Beatles are set to release an album of new material this summer to coincide with a show taking place in Las Vegas, featuring the fab four.

Producers of the live show reportedly have access to over 200 hours of recorded material from the band, which will be used to create the new album.

Neil Aspinall (Head of Apple Corps) explains “It involves the creation, by the re-mixing and re-mastering of the Beatles’ recorded performances, of completely new music, which will be featured in the show, and which should lead to the release of the show album”.

Surviving band members Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and producer Sir George Martin are all involved with the project.

Knopfler and “Em” Harris – Promising duo plans CD, Tour

The David Gilmour tour didn't stop in New England, but Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris will hit Boston this summer in support of their album, "All the Road Running," due to hit stores April 25.

Knopfler is an underrated guitar master who should be canonized with the likes of Clapton, Beck and the horribly overrated Page (it feels trite to use the last-name-only designation in his case). Harris has quietly cast her shadow over much of the last century's important music, beginning with her work with Gram Parsons, and continuing with the amazing Hot Band, the lineup of which reads like a who's who of genre-bending country music.

It's fitting that their new CD took over 7 years to come together. The languid, soothing music both of them make is timeless.

Check out this British write-up for all the details.

Paste Magazine – What A Value!

I buy Paste Magazine every month just for the broad spectrum of music it covers; the writers are first-rate too.  But the free discs are alone worth the $7.95 cover price.  Usually, there's a CD and a DVD, as is the case this month, chock full of new releases.  

The April/May offering is especially tasty, with songs from Americana supergroup the Little Willies (featuring a bouncy Norah Jones piano solo), Teddy Thompson, a more than capable heir to father Richard Thompson's musical throne, jam alchemists Umphrey McGee's, and many more.  

That's just the CD – The DVD has vintage clips from Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.  For cutting edge fans, there's the Arcade Fire, the Decembrists (would someone please explain what the hell "chamber pop" means?) and Eels.  There's also John Cale, Beth Orton and the hauntingly beautiful Sia.

All tallied up, there's 22 songs on the CD and 26 DVD clips, plus some short films, movie trailers and a couple of specials (including one featuring Rosanne Cash, one of my all-time favorites).

That, dear readers, is a bargain.