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Hear Alternate Version of "Stairway to Heaven" Featured on Deluxe "Led Zeppelin IV" Reissues


Atlantic Records/Swan SongThe entire alternate version of Led Zeppelin's classic anthem "Stairway to Heaven" that will be included on the bonus disc of the upcoming deluxe reissues of the group's 1971 album, Led Zeppelin IV, has made its way online.  The track was mixed by guitarist/producer Jimmy Page during a 1971 visit to the Los Angeles studio Sunset Sound Recorders, although he eventually decided to abandon that version after he returned to London to complete work on the album.

Among the differences heard in the Sunset Sound mix are more prominent guitars, subdued drums and additional echo in some sections.

"It's always interesting to hear stuff that you know really well and hear it differently, but the same," says bassist John Paul Jones in an interview with Rolling Stone.  "It does give a different perspective on it.  You hear different things.  I did read somewhere that the end of 'Stairway to Heaven' contained one of the best rock bass parts ever recorded.  Unfortunately it comes underneath one of the greatest rock guitars so...But 'Stairway' is a favorite still.  It's just got everything that we are about."

Adds Page, "The Sunset Sound mix of 'Stairway to Heaven' was actually mixed at Sunset Sound in L.A. in advance of the version that everybody knows.  I think it's a really good embodiment of everything that's on there.  It's a guitar mix, really."

In addition to the alternate "Stairway," the companion audio disc included with the Led Zeppelin IV deluxe reissues features alternate mixes to the original album's seven other songs.  The remastered reissues of Led Zeppelin IV and its follow-up, 1973's Houses of the Holy, will be released this Tuesday, October 28.

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Bob Seger Set for CMT "Crossroads" Special with Country Star Jason Aldean


Clay Patrick McBrideIt's a busy time for Bob Seger.  The 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer saw his new album, Ride On, debut at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, he's kicking off a new tour November 19 and now comes word that he'll be teaming up with country star Jason Aldean for an installment of the CMT television series Crossroads, premiering on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The pair will film the special next week, just outside of Nashville.

Crossroads teams popular country artists with stars from the worlds of rock and pop, trading vocals on each other's big hits.  Seger's episode airs November 28 at 10 p.m. ET.

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Former Dr. Feelgood Guitarist Wilko Johnson Says He's Cancer-Free


Lawrence WatsonAfter undergoing a procedure to have a tumor removed earlier this year, former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson says he is now cancer-free.

Commenting on the procedure to the BBC, the 67-year-old musician says the tumor weighed more than six pounds and that "they got it all. They cured me."

Johnson was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2012. He says that at the time he was convinced he would die from the disease. Now, he says, "I'm spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on."

Johnson -- who released a collaborative album with The Who's Roger Daltrey earlier this year, Going Back Home -- spoke with the BBC Wednesday in London at the Q Awards, where he accepted the Icon Award.

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Ides of March/Ex-Survivor Member Jim Peterik Shares Cool Stories from His New Memoir, "Through the Eye of the Tiger"


BenBella BooksJim Peterik has found success as a member of two popular rock bands, The Ides of March and Survivor, and also is responsible for co-writing memorable songs for a number of other well-known music acts.  The 64-year-old musician shares a variety of fascinating, amusing and touching stories from throughout his life and his nearly half-century music career in his recently published autobiography, Through the Eye of the Tiger.

Peterik recently chatted with ABC News Radio and singled out a few of the many highlights he included in the book.

The memoir begins with the singer/songwriter recalling receiving "the phone call that changed my life," when Sylvester Stallone rang him up to see if he wanted to write a theme song for his then-upcoming Rocky sequel, 1982's Rocky III.  Stallone initially left a message on Peterik's answering, and Jim admitted that he thought someone was pranking him at first.  When he did get in touch with the Hollywood star, he told Peterik he liked Survivor and was hoping the band could come up with tune that would appeal to "the kids, something with a pulse."

Peterik teamed up with his Survivor band mate Frankie Sullivan and the song they came up with was, of course, "Eye of the Tiger."

Jim told ABC News Radio that the song's title and theme came directly from the movie.  Stallone had allowed Peterik and Sullivan to view a rough cut of the film, and while watching it, he noted, "that's when we got the thread of the underdog rising up…and Burgess Meredith's character saying, 'Rocky, you gotta get back the eye of the tiger.  You're losing it.'"

"Eye of the Tiger" became a #1 hit and went on to sell millions of copies.

Peterik also recounted the story behind "Vehicle," the first and biggest hit he had with The Ides of March, a band he and some high school buddies formed when they were just teenagers.

He got the idea for the song's title from an ex-girlfriend who, after they broke up, would ask him to drive her around to various places.

"I figured, well, at least I could be close to her, right?  Even if I didn't, you know, score, as they say," he explained to ABC News Radio.  "So, I kept driving her places and pretty soon I realized that she was kind of using me as her vehicle, you know?"

The song wound up becoming a #2 hit in 1970, which must have impressed the ex-girlfriend, who Peterik ended up marrying.  They've now been together for more than 40 years.

One of the more outlandish anecdotes Peterik shares is the time The Ides of March opened for Led Zeppelin and was invited to a party in Robert Plant's hotel suite afterward.

"Robert Plant opens the door in his little bikini briefs and his little silk robe…and] past him we see an orgy," Jim recalled.  "And there was every kind of drug in the world being ingested, groupies doing a pillow fight, things I can't even talk about happening in the bathtub with [drummer John Bonham]."

As it turned out, the wild party didn't appeal to Peterik and his band mates.  As he explained, they politely excused themselves and "went 'cross the street to Dunkin' Donuts and we ordered milk and doughnuts, and we were back in our comfort zone and very happy guys."

Peter has been promoting Through the Eye of the Tiger with a series of book-store appearances and storytellers-style solo performances.  He has a few of the latter gigs scheduled in the coming month, and he also has a number of concerts with The Ides of March. You can check out his full itinerary at JimPeterik.com.

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High-Quality Vinyl Versions of Cream's Classic Albums Collected in New Box Set


Universal Music EnterprisesA new vinyl box set featuring all of Cream's studio and live albums released during the 1960s and early '70s will hit stores on November 24. 

Cream: 1966–1972 includes six albums in all: the British power trio's 1966 debut, Fresh Cream; 1967's Disraeli Gears; the 1968 chart-topping double LP, Wheels of Fire; the band's 1969 swan song, Goodbye; and two archival live discs issued after the group's breakup, 1970's Live Cream and 1972's Live Cream Volume II.

Featuring the impressive lineup of singer/guitarist Eric Clapton, singer/bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, Cream created a vastly influential body of work during its short life by combining elements of the blues, jazz and rock with experimental psychedelic sounds.  Among the virtuosic supergroup's many well-known songs are "Strange Brew," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," "White Room" and "Badge," as well as memorable covers of the classic blues tunes "I'm So Glad," "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Crossroads."

All of the discs featured in the box set are pressed on 180-gram vinyl, and come housed in sleeves exactly replicating the albums' original artwork.

Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and took part in two series of 2005 reunion concerts, at London's Royal Albert Hall and New York City's Madison Square Garden.

Here is the track list for the Cream: 1966–1972 box set:

LP 1: Fresh Cream
"N.S.U."
"Sleepy Time Time"
"Dreaming"
"Sweet Wine"
"Spoonful"
"Cat's Squirrel"
"Four Until Late"
"Rollin' and Tumblin'"
"I'm So Glad"
"Toad"

LP 2: Disraeli Gears
"Strange Brew"
"Sunshine of Your Love"
"World of Pain"
"Dance the Night Away"
"Blue Condition"
"Tales of Brave Ulysses"
"SWLABR"
"We're Going Wrong"
"Outside Woman Blues"
"Take It Back"
"Mother's Lament"

LP 3: Wheels of Fire
Disc 1
"White Room"
"Sitting on Top of the World"
"Passing the Time"
"As You Said"
"Pressed Rat and Warthog"
"Politician"
"Those Were the Days"
"Born Under a Bad Sign"
"Deserted Cities of the Heart"
Disc 2
"Crossroads" (Live at the Fillmore)
"Spoonful" (Live at the Fillmore)
"Traintime" (Live at the Fillmore)
"Toad" (Live at the Fillmore)

LP 4: Goodbye
"I'm So Glad"
"Politician"
"Sitting on Top of the World"
"Badge"
"Doing That Scrapyard Thing"
"What a Bringdown"

LP 5: Live Cream
"N.S.U."
"Sleepy Time Time"
"Lawdy Mama"
"Sweet Wine"
"Rollin' and Tumblin'"

LP 6: Live Cream Volume II
"Deserted Cities of the Heart"
"White Room"
"Politician"
"Tales of Brave Ulysses"
"Sunshine of Your Love
"Steppin' Out"

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Report: John Mellencamp and Meg Ryan Are a Couple Again


Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/FilmMagicJust two months after reports emerged that John Mellencamp had split up with longtime girlfriend Meg Ryan, comes word that sparks are flying between the two stars again.  A source close to the singer/songwriter tells People, "They are back together and it's brand new…They're really happy about it."

The latest news follows reports that the couple was spotted contentedly walking around New York City's Soho district together last week.

In addition, Mellencamp hinted in an interview last month on NBC's Today show that he hadn't given up on the relationship.

"She's an angel sent to me, and I'm very happy," he said during his appearance.  "And, you know, nothing's over 'til it's over."

Another source close to Mellencamp suggested to People that conflicts over the long distance between the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's Indiana home and New York, where the actress is based, were partly responsible for the tensions between the couple.

"There were disagreements over style of life and logistical problems which clouded their relationship," the source maintains.  "But there is no doubt that he cares for her a great deal."

The insider adds, "They are a great couple.  All their friends were hoping it would work out."

People magazine first reported that Mellencamp and Ryan were dating in January of 2011.

John recently released his 22nd studio album, Plain Spoken, and he'll launch a major North American tour in support of the record that begins on January 21, 2015, in South Bend, Indiana.

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Sting Talks Tantric Sex in Advance Clip for "Inside the Actors Studio"


Tony Behar/NBCUSting is not only a singer and songwriter, he's also an occasional actor, having appeared in quite a few movies over the years.  But during his appearance this Thursday night on the series Inside the Actors Studio, he ended up having to talk to host James Lipton, not about his craft, but about his sex life.

Specifically, Lipton asked Sting about his infamous quote regarding "Tantric sex," in which he and his wife Trudie Styler allegedly had eight-hour lovemaking sessions.  Sting has since backpedaled, saying the whole thing was a joke, but in an advance clip from the episode, Lipton still insists he explain the audience of young people just what he meant.

"If we had seven hours, I would demonstrate," Sting said, to huge laughs and cheers.  "Maybe not. But there is some truth to it.  The idea of tantric sex is a spiritual act. I don't know any purer and better way of expressing a love for another individual than sharing that wonderful, I call it, 'sacrament.' I would stand by it.  Not seven hours, but the idea."

He then quipped, "Seven hours includes movie and dinner," getting another round of laughs.

Sting's appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, which airs Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo, is mostly focused on the opening of his first Broadway musical The Last Ship.  He wrote the music for the show, which is based on his own childhood growing up in a shipbuilding town in the north of England.

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Bob Seger Scores Highest-Ever Albums Chart Debut with "Ride Out"; U2 Bows at #9


Capitol RecordsBob Seger is riding high on the Billboard 200 this week with his new album, Ride Out, which pulled in at #3 on the tally after selling 59,000 copies.  This marks the 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's highest debut ever on the albums chart, bettering that of his previous studio effort, 2006's Face the Promise, which bowed at #4.

The last time Seger had an album as high as #3 on the Billboard 200 was back in 1986, with Like a Rock.  The Michigan rocker's best chart showing ever was with Against the Wind, which topped the tally for six weeks in 1980.

Farther down on the Billboard 200, U2's latest, Songs of Innocence, landed at #9 after sales of 28,000 during its first week of commercial availability. This is U2's first album since the release of 1987's The Joshua Tree not to debut in at least the top three. 

Songs of Innocence's relatively poor chart showing, of course, was expected, because U2 made the album available as an automatic free download to iTunes customers last month.  Apple estimates that about 81 million users listened to the album worldwide, while 26 million downloaded the collection.  To make the commercial edition of album more appealing, it included bonus tracks that aren't featured on the free version.

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Flea Says New Red Hot Chili Peppers Album Will Be "Super Danceable" and "Introspective"


Image Courtesy of Clara BalzaryRed Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea has a pretty good idea of what the band's new album will sound like.

"It's super danceable, funky s**t and some real introspective, pretty stuff," he tells Rolling Stone.  "It feels good, man, and it's fun to play it."

When the Chili Peppers recorded their last album, 2011's I'm with You, they had just hired a new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer.  Now, after going through a period of adjustment, Flea says the band feels much more comfortable.

"We had a new guitar player and it was a real feeling-out process with each other," Flea maintains.  "We didn't want to play gigs with him until we'd made a new record.  This time, it feels a lot better than the last one."

According to the bassist, the Peppers have written upward of 30 new songs, though he thinks that most of them won't appear on the next album.  "We always write way more than we put on a record," Flea says.  "We always write a lot-lot."

As for a street date for the new album, Flea is hoping for a 2015 release.  "I would hope that in a year from now, we have a record out and we're on a world tour," he says.

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Listen to Yusuf/Cat Stevens' New Album Online Now, Vinyl Version of Record to Be Released Next Month


Legacy RecordingsYusuf, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, will release his first new studio in five years, Tell 'Em I'm Gone, on Tuesday, October 27.  However, fans who head over to Amazon.com through this coming Monday can hear the record streaming in its entirety.

Meanwhile, a special 180-gram vinyl edition of Tell 'Em I'm Gone will be released on November 24.  The disc will be packaged in a gatefold sleeve and will feature a download card allowing access to an MP3 version of the album.  In addition, first pressings of the LP will feature alternate cover art -- a hand-drawn cartoonish depiction of Yusuf created by acclaimed illustrator William Stout.

Tell 'Em I'm Gone features 10 songs: five Yusuf originals and five cover tunes.  Among the latter are versions of Edgar Winter's "Dying to Live," Procol Harum's "The Devil Came from Kansas" and the popular standard "You Are My Sunshine."  A number of guest artists contributed to the project, including veteran folk-rocker Richard Thompson, blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite, alt-country singer-songwriter Bonnie "Prince" Billy and journeyman indie-rock guitarist Matt Sweeney.  Yusuf co-produced the album with Rick Rubin.

Yusuf will support Tell 'Em I'm Gone with a brief European tour in November followed by a similarly short North American trek running from a December 1 show in Toronto through a December 14 concert in Los Angeles.

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Deluxe Reissue of KISS' 1977 "Love Gun" Album Arriving Next Tuesday


Universal Music EnterprisesA deluxe remastered edition of KISS' sixth studio album, 1977's Love Gun, will be released this Tuesday, October 27, in conjunction with the band's 40th anniversary celebrations.  The expanded two-CD collection will include a bonus disc containing a variety of previously unreleased live and demo recordings, as well as a 1977 interview with singer/bassist Gene Simmons.

Released in June of '77, Love Gun peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and includes the hit single "Christine Sixteen," which reached #25 on the  Hot 100 chart.  The record also features the Ace Frehley showcase "Shock Me" and "Then She Kissed Me," a gender-switching rendition of the 1963 Crystals hit "Then He Kissed Me."  The album has sold more than 4 million copies in the U.S. to date.

The bonus CD includes a variety of demos from the Love Gun sessions, as well as live versions of the title track, "Christine Sixteen" and "Shock Me" from a December '77 concert in Landover, Maryland.  The deluxe package includes new liner notes penned by Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott.

KISS will wind down its 40th anniversary tour next month with its first-ever Las Vegas residency, a nine-show engagement at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.  The KISS Rocks Vegas dates are scheduled for November 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 19, 22 and 23.

Here is the complete track list for the deluxe reissue of Love Gun:

CD One: Original Album
"I Stole Your Love"
"Christine Sixteen"
"Got Love for Sale"
"Shock Me"
"Tomorrow and Tonight"
"Love Gun"
"Hooligan"
"Almost Human"
"Plaster Caster"
"Then She Kissed Me"

CD Two: Demos, Interview & Live
"Much Too Soon" (Demo)*
"Plaster Caster" (Demo)*
"Reputation" (Demo)
"Love Gun" (Teaching Demo)*
"Love Gun" (Demo)*
Gene Simmons Interview (1977)*
"Tomorrow and Tonight" (Demo)*
"I Know Who You Are" (Demo)*
"Love Gun" (Live 1977)*
"Christine Sixteen" (Live 1977)*
"Shock Me" (Live 1977)*

* = Previously Unreleased.

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Pearl Jam Surprises Fans by Playing "Yield" Album in Full at Milwaukee Concert


Image Courtesy of Danny ClinchAt their concert Monday night in Milwaukee, Peal Jam played their 1998 album Yield from beginning to end.  The band gave no prior indication that they would perform the album in full; however, according to the official Pearl Jam message board, they walked out to the one-minute song "Red Dot," which is the eighth track on Yield.

Peal Jam tweeted a photo of the set list as proof that they did perform Yield in full.

The Yield recreation started with the fifth song on the set list.  The band then proceeded to play the record in its entirety, skipping only the aforementioned "Red Dot."  "Hummus," the hidden track on Yield, served as Pearl Jam's walk-off music.

In addition to the Yield surprise, Pearl Jam also played a cover of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" to celebrate the rocker's 64th birthday and a rendition of The Who's classic "Baba O'Riley" with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.  Nielsen also joined The Foo Fighters for a couple of that band's performances last week on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Over the weekend, Pearl Jam played their 1996 album No Code in full during their show in Moline, Illinois.  The next stop on the band's schedule is Denver on Wednesay.  Perhaps they will continue the trend and play 2000's Binaural in its entirety for that show.

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The Who Postpones First Two European Dates on 50th Anniversary Tour


Image Courtesy of The WhoThe Who originally had been scheduled to launch their 50th anniversary tour with a November 26 concert in Dublin, Ireland, but the band has postponed that show and a gig that was to have been held two days later in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The reason given for rescheduling both events is "unforeseen logistical changes."  The Dublin concert, which will take place at the 3Arena -- formerly called the O2 -- now is scheduled for June 23, 2015, while the Belfast show at the Odyssey Arena will happen June 21.

Meanwhile, last month The Who added a November 23 performance in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi to its itinerary, and that concert now apparently will serve as the kickoff to the band's "Who Hits 50!" trek.  Following that show, the British rock legends will launch a series of U.K. dates running from a November 30 concert in Glasgow through a December 17-18 stand in London.

The Dublin and Belfast dates will take place in between the two 2015 North American tour legs The Who announced recently.  You can check out the band's full tour schedule at TheWho.com.

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Eric Clapton to Celebrate 70th Birthday with Series of Concerts at Royal Albert Hall


Image Courtesy of Guitar CenterEric Clapton is set to commemorate his 70th birthday in a big way next year.  The guitar legend, who will reach the big 7-0 on March 30, 2015, has scheduled a four-concert engagement at London's famed Royal Albert Hall that will be held on May 14, 15, 17 and 18.

The shows also will mark the 50th anniversary of Clapton's first performance at the venue, which took place on December 7, 1964, while he was a member of The Yardbirds.  The band was part of the lineup of the BBC television program Top Beat Show.

Clapton will be accompanied at his birthday concerts by his current touring group, which includes keyboardists Paul Carrack and Chris Stainton, drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Nathan East and backing singers Sharon White and Michelle John.  The shows are the first Slowhand has scheduled since his 2014 itinerary wound down with a June 28 gig in Poland.

Eric has said in multiple interviews that he's is considering retiring from touring once he turns 70, but he's yet to announce any official plans with regard to quitting the road.

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Beatles, Neil Young, Metallica Part of Record Store Day "Black Friday" Vinyl Release Lineup


RecordStoreDay.comThe full lineup of releases for Record Store Day's 2014 "Black Friday" event has been announced, and lovers of vinyl and classic rock will have quite a list from which to choose.  Among the newly-revealed discs that will be available are releases from The Beatles, Neil Young, Genesis, The Grateful Dead, Metallica, and The Ramones.

The Beatles' offering will be a replica of their 1964 U.K. EP Long Tall Sally, a seven-inch disc with mono sound featuring the Little Richard-penned title track and three other tunes.

Young will issue a limited-edition box set called Official Release Series Discs 5-8 that gathers together 180-gram vinyl versions of four of his early albums -- 1973's Time Fades Away, 1974's On the Beach, and 1975's Tonight's the Night and Zuma.  The collection originally had been slated for release as part of last April's Record Store Day initiative, but was postponed.

Genesis will release a vinyl version of their 1969 debut album, From Genesis to Revelation, which hasn't been available in the format since 1974.

The Grateful Dead's Record Store Day contribution will be a two-LP live album capturing performances from the second set of a show the band played in Houston on November 18, 1972.  Among the songs on the disc are "Bertha," "Jack Straw," "Deal," "Sugar Magnolia," and a marathon 25-minute rendition of "Playing in the Band."

Metallica will release the 12-inch "Lords of Summer" single, featuring a studio and live version of the new song's "first pass."

The Ramones' Record Store Day release is a disc named Morrissey Curates The Ramones.  As the title suggests, the album is a compilation featuring songs by the punk pioneers chosen personally by the former Smiths frontman.

Other exclusive vinyl releases that will be available in conjunction with the 2014 Record Store Day "Black Friday" event include discs from Bon Jovi, The Doors, Chrissie Hynde, Iron Butterfly, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Judas Priest, Ronnie James Dio, and The Velvet Underground.  You can view the entire release lineup at RecordStoreDay.com.

The Record Store Day "Black Friday" celebration will be held on November 28 in independent record stores throughout the U.S.

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Billy Joel Reveals Why He (Probably) Won't Make Another Album Ever Again


Courtesy: Library of CongressWhile Billy Joel continues to pack fans into New York's Madison Square Garden every month -- as part of his ongoing residency there -- fans are still hoping that he might one day decide to make a new album.  But in a new interview with The New Yorker, Joel says that's not likely to happen.  "I've had my say," he explains.

"Some people think it's because I'm lazy or I'm just being contrary," the Piano Man tells the magazine, explaining why he hasn't put out an album of original pop songs since 1993's River of Dreams.  "But no, I think it's just -- I've had my say.  If I put out an album now, it would probably sell pretty well, because of who I am, but that's no reason to do it.  I'd want it to be good."

He adds, "I've seen artists on that treadmill, putting out albums year after year, and the albums get worse and worse, less and less interesting, and it's, like, 'Maybe you should stop.'"  In addition, Billy thinks actually recording a new album would just be too much of a hassle.

"I'm not crazy about going into a recording studio and doing that kind of life again, or taking on another project where there's other people involved -- arrangers and orchestrators and conductors and producers," he tells The New Yorker.  "I don't want to deal with it...You have to have a certain amount of ambition to want to do all that.  Joel adds, "And I look back at the guy who was the recording artist, this Billy Joel guy, and I think, Who the f**k was that guy?  He was very ambitious, very driven, and I don't feel like that anymore."

And then there's the personal aspect of it.  Billy says he doesn't want to write songs, only to have people pick them apart for clues to his personal life.

"I had gone through this celebrity craziness with Christie [Brinkley], and the divorce," he says, talking about the time of River of Dreams and its aftermath.  "I felt like there was a proctoscope up my butt. Everybody interrogating, analyzing -- everything I wrote was fraught with meanings -- and I said, 'Wait a minute, I don't want to rip myself open and let everyone see everything.'  It was no longer comfortable.  'Enough! I gave you enough!'"

Still, Joel tells The New Yorker that he's been working on a series of "tone poems" called The Scrimshaw Pieces, which are meant to tell the history of Long Island.  However, he has no plans to release that music any time soon.  In fact, he hasn't actually recorded a lot of it, and says he's even on the verge of forgetting some of it.

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"Baker Street" Sax Player Raphael Ravenscroft Passes Away


Rob Verhorst/RedfernsRaphael Ravenscroft, the man responsible for the recognizable saxophone solo in the 1978 Gerry Rafferty hit "Baker Street," died on Sunday at the age of 60.  Western Morning News reports that the musician is believed to have suffered a heart attack and passed away at a hospital near his home in Exeter, U.K.

According to BBC News, Ravenscroft is said to have been paid for his work on "Baker Street" with a 27-pound check, which bounced, while the late Rafferty is said to have made 80,000 pounds a year in royalties from the tune.  The tune peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Ravenscroft went on to contribute his sax talents to a wide variety of artists, including Marvin Gaye, Robert Plant, Pink Floyd, Bonnie Tyler and America.

In a BBC interview in 2011, Raphael said he got irritated when he heard "Baker Street" because he thought that the song was "out of tune."  After Rafferty died in January of that year, Ravenscroft teamed up with the Grammy-winning vocal group Tenebrae to record a tribute to the musician called "Forgiveness."

Ravenscroft's daughter, Scarlett Raven, said of her dad, "He touched your soul and made you want to better yourself.  I think he was very proud of 'Baker Street' and that it made people feel good."

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The Smashing Pumpkins Release New Song, "Being Beige"


Credit: Martha's MusicThe Smashing Pumpkins' new song, "Being Beige," might not have the most exciting title, but Billy Corgan makes up for that with a big, evocative chorus.

The track is the first to appear from The Pumpkins' upcoming album, Monuments to an Elegy.  It starts with a minimalist approach before Corgan launches into the chorus accompanied by the full band -- featuring Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee -- as he sings the line, "The world's on fire" over and over again.

"People always ask me to explain songs, and honestly I can't," Corgan tells Rolling Stone of "Being Beige."  "But if there's honesty in this lyric, it's that there's something amiss in our cosmos. Yet still, we must love."

Monuments to an Elegy will be released on December 9.  It is the first of two planned upcoming albums from The Smashing Pumpkins, the other being Day for Night, which is due out in 2015.

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Ringo Starr Named Spokesperson for Skechers


Image Courtesy of Rob ShanahanRingo Starr has been named the latest spokesperson for Skechers.

The legendary drummer will endorse Skechers Relaxed Fit footwear in a campaign that will launch next spring with a new TV commercial.  

Skechers notes that until now, the Relaxed Fit footwear ads have focused on pro athletes. It says, "[W]e can’t wait for everyone to see how Ringo’s charm and cool charisma makes him the perfect ambassador for Relaxed Fit."

 

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Bob Seger Talks New Album, "Ride Out"; Discusses Possibility of Retiring from the Road


Capitol RecordsLast week, Bob Seger released his first new studio album in more than eight years, Ride Out.  The 10-track collection is made up mostly of tunes penned by the Michigan rocker, but also features four covers, including songs by John Hiatt, Steve Earle and Australian singer/songwriter Kacey Chambers.

It's not the norm for Seger to include so many non-originals on one of his albums, but the 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells ABC News Radio that each of the covers on Ride Out is one that he wished he'd written himself.  One of these, Hiatt's "Detroit Made," even was chosen as the record's lead single.

Seger says of the tune, an homage to the Detroit auto industry, "I just loved the subject matter, 'cause, you know, I'm [from] Michigan...we all love cars 'cause of…Detroit, and everybody loves their classic cars.  And I said, 'This is a natural.'"

Bob got to road test "Detroit Made" during his last tour, and even used the song to open about half of those concerts, noting that "it really went over good" live.

Meanwhile, the second single from Ride Out is romantic ballad titled "You Take Me In," which he wrote for his wife.  Seger tells ABC News Radio that he'd penned the song about three years ago but hadn't played it for his spouse until about three months back, when his label sent him a test pressing of Ride Out.  Bob recalls that he put the tune on while he and his wife were driving together in their car.

"[I]t starts up and she says, 'What's this?'  I said, 'This is your song," he says, laughing.  "So about halfway through, she reaches for the glove box, gets the tissues out.  So, it was a great moment."

Another song from Ride Out that been receiving a lot of media attention is "It's Your World," which focuses on the various environmental problems that we're facing on the planet.

Seger tells ABC News Radio, "I read every environmental article I see and [the tune is] like a summing up of all those things."

He adds, "I guess when you get older, you worry about your kids' future...I'm not going to be around nearly as long as they are and, and you just worry about the mess we're going to leave them."

Seger kicks off the first of two confirmed North American tour legs in support of Ride Out with a November 19 show in Saginaw, Michigan.  There's been some speculation that the trek could be Bob's last, but the veteran rocker says that even if he does decide to quit the road, he doesn't like the idea of officially labeling an outing a "farewell tour."

"I wouldn't want to announce it out," he explains.  "It'd be the saddest tour in the world, you know, if it was our last tour.  So I just really kind of take it tour by tour."

That being said, Seger points out that when his 2015 tour leg winds down around April, he will evaluate how he's feeling with regard to doing future shows.

"I think the determining factor of when I retire will be my voice," he notes.  "If I feel it's starting to slip, if I feel I can't really sing well enough anymore, I'll be the first one out the door."

Visit BobSeger.com to check out a list all of Seger's upcoming concerts.

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