||Sunday, January 27, 2002
Rolling Stones Obsessives May Finally Get Satisfaction
By STEVE HOCHMAN
Satisfaction has long eluded Rolling Stones fans when it's come to definitive, career-spanning hits collections and access to the wealth of unreleased material in the group's vaults.
Releases of vintage work from the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Who and others have enhanced the public legacies of legendary acts. But not the Stones.
Who wouldn't be intrigued by a collection of the band's '60s appearances on BBC radio shows? Or unheard sessions from a 1964 visit to Chicago's famed Chess studios? Or such notorious curiosities as "Claudine Longet," the 1979 snipe at the singer who shot her lover, skier Spider Sabich?
All these items have been only rumors, except to the most diligent bootleg collectors.
But at least some of that seems set to change in conjunction with the Stones' 40th anniversary celebrations this year, to be marked by a fall concert tour.
For years, any such discussions have been hamstrung by the fact that the Stones' catalog is controlled by two entities. Everything from the group's 1962 London beginnings through 1970's "Beggars Banquet" and live "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out" is owned by ABKCO, the company headed by the band's late-'60s manager, Allen Klein. Everything from 1971's "Sticky Fingers" on, though, is controlled by the Stones themselves in conjunction with Virgin Records. In the past, the two camps were unable or unwilling to coordinate their efforts.
Although representatives of the Stones, Virgin and Klein would not talk on the record about plans, it appears steps have been taken to overcome the hurdles, and plans are being made for several potential projects.
Foremost is a definitive collection of the band's best-known songs, along the lines of the Beatles' "1," a phenomenal success after its 2000 release. The biggest questions with this, sources involved with the project say, is whether it would be one disc or two, and what balance to have among selections from the band's various eras. The bulk of the biggest Stones singles came in the '60s and early '70s.
"If they're going to follow the Beatles' formula for success, then one CD should be it to keep the price attractive," says Pete Howard, publisher and editor of the CD collectors monthly ICE. "However, Pink Floyd has done well with a double-CD package now. And the Beatles had just six or seven years of material to include, while the Stones have four decades--though they haven't had many hits in the last couple of decades."
More tantalizing to the most serious fans, though, is the wealth of unreleased material.
A set of notes has been made by Virgin researchers highlighting material available for either package in the mode of the Beatles' three-volume "Anthology" series or as bonus tracks for reissues of original albums. The notes also cover material from a never-released live album of the band's 1972 tour to complete recordings of shows at the El Mocambo club in Toronto (four songs of which appear on the "Love You Live" album).
The '60s vaults, as cataloged on various obsessive fan Web sites, are even richer. In addition to the BBC tapes, there are such intriguing recordings as "Pay Your Dues," a 1968 track featuring music for what would become "Street Fighting Man" but with lyrics about a Native American chief, and a 1966 tribute to actress Brigitte Bardot.
CUTTING EDGE: A planned teaming of Jay-Z with Fatboy Slim probably won't work out for the "Blade 2" soundtrack, a project pairing top rap acts with star electronica producers and DJs. But executive producer Happy Walters--who did similar concepts with the rap-rock teamings for "Judgment Night" and hard rock and techno acts for "Spawn"--has instead hooked up Fatboy on a song with Eve.
The track will join others pairing Mystikal and Moby, Redman and the Gorillaz, Ice Cube and Paul Oakenfold, Mos Def and Massive Attack, and Cypress Hill and Roni Size, among others, on the album due March 26, with the movie premiering March 29. Eve, Mos Def and the Roots will be among the album's representatives performing previews of the project at a party hosted by basketball player Rasheed Wallace during NBA All-Star weekend starting Feb. 8 in Philadelphia, with a formal launch event planned for the electronica-oriented Winter Music Conference in Miami, which starts March 23.
CRIME FIGHTERS: The folks behind the Fox network's "America's Most Wanted" have gone to a surprising source in search of new theme music--the duo They Might Be Giants, known primarily for snappy alt-pop and obliquely intellectual lyrics, most prominently applied in recent years to the Grammy-nominated theme song of Fox's comedy "Malcolm in the Middle."
Bill Glasser, post-production supervisor for "America's Most Wanted," says TMBG was not brought in to do anything novel or flip, but to create a theme instrumental that's stirring and memorable in the tradition of the themes from "Peter Gunn" and "Dragnet," with modern twists.
"What we're looking for is something catchy and powerful, and they have a wide range of dynamic musicianship," Glasser says. "We wanted a theme song that would make the criminals shake in their boots, ring fear in the hearts of evil-doers around the world."
Co-Giant John Flansburgh believes he and his partner, John Linnell, are up to the task, having in recent years created news-related music cues for "Nightline" as well as Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," in addition to several jobs for Disney projects and a current series of Diet Dr. Pepper commercials for television.
"One thing about They Might Be Giants as a band is we're versatile and people feel if they have a tough assignment we can dig in to pull it off," Flansburgh says.
"'America's Most Wanted' is a very singular show. It's not Jack Webb, not a shoot-'em-up cop show. They've caught a lot of criminals. We're happy to be doing our part."
SMALL FACES: Mark Eitzel has three albums in the works--one of new songs due in the fall, and two side turns. On the tentatively titled "Mark Eitzel Singes the Sentimental Hits of the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s," the normally downcast singer tackles such hopeful material as the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You," Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More" and Anne Murray's "Snowbird," in addition to Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me." Even odder, Eitzel accepted an invitation to fly to Athens and record some of his old American Music Club songs with a traditional Greek rembetika-style band. Titled "The Ugly American," it will be released in the fall by Greek label Hitchyke....
Although they haven't made a group album in more than 30 years, Texas troubadour trio the Flatlanders--Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore--have just signed a multi-album deal with New West Records. The three are finishing the first new collection, due in April.
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Steve Hochman is a regular contributor to Calendar.