RIP: Alex Chilton of Big Star

RIP: Alex Chilton of Big Star

From Rolling Stone:

Alex Chilton, singer and guitarist of Big Star, one of the most influential rock groups to emerge from the early 1970s, has passed away at the age of 59. Chilton reportedly suffered a heart attack today in New Orleans, just days before Big Star were scheduled to perform at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Chilton had been complaining about his health earlier in the day, and was eventually taken to a New Orleans hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Big Star drummer Jody Stephens confirmed Chilton’s passing, Memphis’ Commercial Appeal reports. “Alex passed away a couple of hours ago,” Stephens said. “I don’t have a lot of particulars, but they kind of suspect that it was a heart attack.”

• Alex Chilton:
• Big Star:

[Photo: Philippe Brizard]

UK anti-piracy bill passed by upper chamber; bill might be rushed through to avoid scrutiny

Yesterday, March 16, the British Parliament’s Upper Chamber passed an anti-piracy bill. Known as the Digital Economy Bill, the legislation imposes a three-strikes system on online pirates with possible suspension of internet access for persistent offenders. The House of Lords (kind of like the Senate, except members get appointed rather than elected) managed to scrap an unpopular clause in the bill that would have given “government ministers wide-ranging powers to amend copyright law to deal with any future piracy threat from new technology.”

The bill will now go to the House of Commons (the actual elected bit!) for their final consideration. However, the government is considering whether to introduce a clause that “could result in Web sites with any copyright-infringing material being blocked.” This drew howls of protest from Google, Yahoo, and Facebook.

The problem for the British government is that it only has a few weeks before it will need to call a general election. During this time, Parliament is dissolved and any bills that are going through Parliament are abolished. Consequently, the government is desperate to get its Digital Economy Bill enacted before it has to call the election. This means it is considering ways of avoiding as much parliamentary (read: democratic) scrutiny as possible to get the pirate-bashing bill through. Sigh.

Michael Jackson, former Simpsons voice actor, lands $250 million recording deal

Michael Jackson, best known as the voice of Leon Kompowski on TV’s The Simpsons, has finally parlayed his limited success as a voice actor into a full-blown relationship with the American Recording Industry. According to his estate, the recently deceased Jackson also dabbled in music from time to time, recording what he himself often referred to as “hypnogogic pop” songs straight to VHS tape (VHS tape being the most hi-fi technology available at the time) in his home studio just outside of Tecumseh, Oklahoma. Luckily for Jackson and his family, this strain of hazy-sounding glo-fi pop-rock has just come into fashion, allowing the actor’s family to score an unprecedented contract with Sony Music Entertainment potentially worth up to $250 million, the biggest recording deal in history! (Not bad for a man who had to turn to brick-laying in the late 90s after a fizzled voice-over career and disastrous first marriage to Annie Wood, host of the wildly popular TV game show Bzzz!.)

The record-setting recording deal stipulates that ten projects based around Jackson’s washed-out, beach-party tracks will be released over the next seven years. The two-cassette album that accompanied his early independent film foray This Is It is the first of the ten, and various business moguls and industry insiders that I most assuredly interviewed for this story have speculated that the other nine projects may include an album of never-before-released Jackson recordings (to come out November 2010), a DVD compilation of his homemade music videos, and even a re-release of his first-ever scripted acting gig, 1979’s Off The Wall, a low-budget buddy comedy that co-starred Charles Nelson Reilly. Sony has even been granted access to Jackson’s entire back catalog, which means we could be hearing many of his soon-to-be-classic songs in movies, TV commercials, TubroGraphx-16 video games, ice-dancing routines, and more! Wow. Only in America, people. Only in America…

• Michael Jackson:

Talibam! tour Europe… maybe

The avant-jazz spazzers known as Talibam! are getting way outta control. On top of this so-called European tour I’m informing you of, the band has a whole slew of upcoming cross-continental tours and releases. So much in fact, that I’m not quite sure what is factual and what is not. Seriously, according to the band, they have somewhere around a dozen releases scheduled for production within the next few months, about four European tours, some sort of multimedia theatrical holiday event titled Talibam’s Holiday Spectacular, and a whole mish-mosh of random nuggets of randomness. According to the band:

RELEASES 2010: The Peeesseye and Talibam! collaborative album has been released on Invada records from Bristol England (CD) and on Smeraldina-Rima (2xLP with gatefold). A Talibam! 7” vinyl with 2 pumpin’ hot singles will soon be available. A Talibam! / NE TRAVAILLEZ JAMAIS split 7” vinyl will soon be available from a diy label in the south of Italy called Musica per ORgani Cald. We are also working on a multi-media holiday theatrical event entitled Talibam!’s Holiday Spectacular, a reggae album in collaberation with multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Wilms entitled “The Sanifarian Equipage”, a collaborative album with trombonist Sam Kulik entitled “Talibam! Goes To Bed With Sam Kulik And Wakes Up And Discovers Atlantis”, a collaborative album with woodwinder Jon Irabagon entitled “Talibam! Hard Vibe Trio”, a rap album entitled “Puff Up The Volume”, a collaborative record of unknown content entitled “Spermarang”, a country album, a duo album about zombie’s entitled “Corpse Riot”, a collaborative space-cake album entitled “Oops, I Took Peyote…”, and many other gems.

Yeah… so regardless of all that, here’s what I’m fairly certain is actually taking place:

The band will be touring Europe this month (March).

03.17.10 - Berne, Switzerland - Dampfzentrale w/ Shining
03.18.10 - Dornbirn, Austria - TIK
03.19.10 - Linz, Austria - Pkapu
03.20.10 - Freising, Germany - Lindenkeller w/ Attwenger
03.21.10 - Vienna, Austria - Rhiz
03.22.10 - TBA
03.24.10 - Dresden, Germany - Groove Station w/ Don Vito
03.25.10 - Poznan, Poland - Dragon
03.26.10 - Warsaw, Poland - Powiekszenie
03.27.10 - Krakow, Poland - PRE
03.28.10 - Wroclaw, Poland - OPT

• Talibam!:

[Photo: Aurelio Laloni]

Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music comes back to vinyl to annoy a whole new generation of fans

Metal Machine Music is a truly interesting listen and, of course, a record with its fare share of controversy. Some people love it and credit it as the earliest roots of noise rock and industrial, while some people hate it and count it as the one, albeit massive, blemish on Lou Reed’s musical career. However, a record like Metal Machine Music surely merits at least one listen so that the variety of opinions can be understood fully. And you might as well listen to it if you ever want to hear the majesty of “feedback forever.”

Love it or hate it, Metal Machine Music is coming back to vinyl (and audio DVD and Blu-ray). The remastered album, which is actually the finally-back-in-print quadrophonic vinyl edition (which is just mumbo-jumbo to let you know that it sounds real fucking good) is set for release on April 19 (in the UK) but is available for purchase on Lou’s personal website.

Oh! I almost forgot, if you live in Europe you can watch Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Trio throughout next month.

• Lou Reed:

Björk and Michel Gondry collaborate on “scientific musical” (just what the world needs: another “scientific musical”)

What happens when two incredible artists come together? Björk and Lars von Trier made Dancer in the Dark; Lars von Trier and Charlotte Gainsbourg made Antichrist; Charlotte Gainsbourg and Michel Gondry made The Science of Sleep; and Michel Gondry and Björk made over half a dozen amazing music videos. This latter collaboration is still apparently going too, as in a recent interview by The Playlist during SXSW, Gondry dropped a few details about a super-secret film project with Björk.

Michel Gondry seems to be spreading himself thin these days, between promotion for A Thorn in the Heart (debuting in early April in NY), post-production for The Green Hornet, work on the animated film Megalomania, development of Return of the Ice Kids, and hopefully imminent preparation for The We & the I… it’s exhausting to keep up. This new collaboration with Björk is no less impressive than his ass-kicking list. “A sort of scientific musical,” Gondry described it. “[It’s a movie], but maybe more for museums. Like a 40 minute IMAX project in 3D.”

According to Pitchfork, Björk’s publicist could not officially confirm the venture, but the collaboration was also mentioned way back in February. Plus, the idea sounds just crazy enough to work… after all, The Knife’s Darwin-inspired opera turned out all right.