Posts Tagged ‘Geffen Records’

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John Kilzer, a singer and songwriter from Tennessee whose music career spanned 30 years and who became a pastor after undergoing drug recovery, has died. Kilzer’s death was disclosed Tuesday by St. John’s United Methodist Church in Memphis, where he served as an associate pastor for recovery ministries. A cause of death was not disclosed. The church said in a statement that it was a sudden death.

Throughout his life, Kilzer struggled with his drinking, often courting trouble with the law. It was after an arrest in the early ‘90s that he began his path toward finding sobriety and his religious faith.

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Kilzer was born in 1957. An All-American high school basketball player, Kilzer came to the City as a highly touted shooting guard for the basketball team Memphis State University in 1975, playing four years for the Tigers.

He eventually became an English teacher at his alma mater, and later began a new life as a musician — in part inspired by a chance dorm room encounter with Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, the famed Hi Records guitarist and songwriter. Hodges had come across Kilzer messing around with a guitar, took an instant liking to him and became his mentor. “If he hadn’t walked in the room that night, I wouldn’t be a songwriter,” Kilzer has said.

Kilzer’s musical career took off in the late 1980s, when he was signed to the Geffen label, releasing a pair of roots-rock records for the company, including his 1988 debut, “Memory in the Making,” I bought this album on vinyl in 1988 when it was originally released and subsequently on CD a number of years later. John Kilzer possesses one of the world’s finest voices, not only does he have a natural ‘gravel over honey’ tone he is one of the finest singers you will ever hear in terms of his ability to effortlessly ‘tell his story’. He communicates emotion in every song that does everything from make you want to get up and dance to conversely breaking your heart. Lyrically Kilzer’s songwriting is incredibly diverse, every song feels natural, thought provoking, beautiful and real, he is an incredibly clever songwriter who never strays into being crass or pseudo intellectual. There are so many poignant moments on this album which hasn’t aged in almost 30 years, the next album In 1991’s “Busman’s Holiday.” including Kilzer song the minor rock radio hit “Red Blue Jeans” — brought him exposure on MTV and television shows like “Melrose Place.”  Roseanne Cash, Trace Adkins and Maria Muldaur are among artists who recorded his songs.

John Kilzer should have been a star, possibily mentioned in the same breath as Tom Petty and especially Bryan Adams. I have loved this album since I first clapped ears on it in the late 80’s , the years have not diminshed the quality of the songwriting and the playing. The obvious reference point is Bryan Adams circa Reckless but you can pick out influence of blue collar rockers like John Mellancamp in some of that fine songs and guitar playing.

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David Coverdale’s successful run with Whitesnake produced a legitimate string of twelve studio albums. Of those, Slide It In (1984), its 8-million units followup, the self-titled Whitesnake(1987), and Slip Of The Tongue (1989) were the most fan-explored classics.

Following up the splendid Saints & Sinners album was no easy task, but 1984’s Slide It In turned out to be an even greater triumph for David Coverdale’s Whitesnake. From the boisterous machismo of “Spit It Out” and “All or Nothing” to the resigned despair of “Gambler” and “Standing in the Shadow,” and the embarrassingly silly title track, everything seems to click. For hit singles, look no further than the twin guitar attack of “Guilty of Love” and the sheer poetry and emotion of “Love Ain’t No Stranger,” one of the decade’s greatest power ballads, bar none. Not to be outdone, “Slow an’ Easy” is a masterpiece of sexual tension and the kind of power-blues which no one does as well as Whitesnake. On a quirky historical note, Coverdale fired most of the band soon after the album’s release, replacing them with younger, prettier faces with which to better conquer America. For that purpose, Geffen Records even released a re-recorded version of Slide It In with flashy soloing from new guitarist John Sykes, sparking an ongoing debate as to which version is better.

On March 22nd, Rhino Records will reissue “Slide It In” as a 35th Anniversary Edition complete with a brand new 2019 remaster represented in an expansive 6CD/DVD Ultimate Edition, as well as a 2CD Deluxe Edition with both US and UK mixes, with a selection of bonus tracks, and a single CD (US Mix) for the album only, along with a 2LP vinyl edition.

The 6CD/DVD Ultimate Edition will provide both the US and UK mixes of the album along with unreleased live and studio recordings. The DVD will include promo videos, concert footage, and an interview with David Coverdale. The bonus CDs will include unreleased versions of every song on the original album, monitor mixes, and brand new 35th anniversary remixes. One of the six CDs will include 30 bonus tracks of demos and early mixes of Slide It In. One of the CDs will include an entire 1984 Glasgow concert performance and will include a few live Sweden performance tracks with Jon Lord’s final show with the band. This 6CD/DVD Box will include a 60-page hardbound book filled with photos, essays, notes, and credits.

The album “Nevermind” turned Nirvana from unknowns to the biggest musical act in the world and positioned frontman Kurt Cobain as the face of grunge. Although a sensational album, it’s follow-up record “In Utero” that cemented Nirvana’s legacy. Unhappy with the over polished production of Nevermind and concerned with accusations of selling out, Cobain ditched producer Butch Vig for Steve Albini and set about recording an album capturing the harsh, punk influenced sound of their debut Bleach.

In a detailed four-page proposal to the band, Albini laid down his ground rules, the most shocking being his refusal to accept royalties. “I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth,” he wrote. “There’s no way I would ever take that much money. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.” He suggested Pachyderm Studios for its isolation in the woods, claiming that recording in a city would cause distractions. He also banned visits from Geffen Records staff members, whom he called “front office bullet heads.”

Albini believed in working fast without over-thinking, so the band cut the album in just two weeks. “If a record takes more than a week to make, somebody’s fucking up,” he wrote in the proposal. The speed at which they recorded, combined with the raw, visceral sound and minimal production, differed greatly from Nevermind, an album that was incredibly clean and streamlined.

In the February 1993, Nirvana made their way to the secluded Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, to begin work on their third album. The last time they had stepped foot in a studio, they were a little known Seattle band that had just left Sub Pop for David Geffen’s DGC. Now, with a multiplatinum album that knocked Michael Jackson off the charts and turned them into one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, they were under immense pressure to follow it up.

“In Utero” achieved this in spades. Draining opener “Serve The Servants” (“Teenage angst has paid off well”), thrash influenced “Very Ape” and cascading hit single” Heart-Shaped Box” were raw sounding tracks exemplifying Cobain’s want of an abrasive sounding record. “Dumb” and the moving finale of “All Apologies” offered lighter moments amongst the chaos, and although Cobain claimed the lyrical content of the album impersonal, it’s hard not to draw parallels between In Utero’s themes and Cobain’s life at that time. It’s 41 minutes of raw, uncompromising rock that was unlike anything else in the pop landscape. Cobain, disenchanted by his overwhelming fame and the widespread media coverage of his personal life, was ready to vent.

Cobain’s bleak worldview was on full display. Many of the songs are best remembered for their gut-wrenching, stripped-back acoustic renditions on MTV Unplugged, but In Utero is treasured among hardcore fans as Nirvana in their purest form. The original title was “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”.
“Nothing more than a joke,” Cobain told Rolling Stone. The line, which first appeared in Cobain’s journals in mid-1992, became the working title for the follow-up to Nevermind. “I’m thought of as this pissy, complaining, freaked-out schizophrenic who wants to kill himself all the time. And I thought it was a funny title. But I knew the majority of people wouldn’t understand it.”. Fearing the title would result in the same legal trouble Judas Priest faced three years prior when two fans shot themselves, Krist Novoselic urged Cobain to rethink it. The other working title wasVerse, Chorus, Verse, but Cobain finally settled on In Utero, which he took from a poem of Courtney Love’s.

Nirvana

Cobain had one goal in mind: to bring the band back to their punk-rock roots. Their millions of new fans may have reveredNevermind, but Cobain thought it sounded “candy-ass” and way too commercial. So he recruited esteemed engineer Steve Albini (who had recorded Pixies, the Breeders, the Jesus Lizard and other Cobain faves) and headed for the woods in rural Minnesota

Cobain wrote “Rape Me” to dramatically condemn rape and emphasize his support for women, but the song sparked immediate controversy. “Over the last few years, people have had such a hard time understanding what our message is, what we’re trying to convey, that I just decided to be as bold as possible,” he told Rolling Stone. A huge supporter of the riot grrrl movement and a fan of bands with female members like the Breeders and the Raincoats, Cobain wanted In Utero to pave the way for more female artists. “Maybe it will inspire women to pick up guitars and start bands,” Cobain said in 1993. “Because it’s the only future in rock ‘n’ roll.”

Wal-Mart and Kmart refused to carry “In Utero” because of the song “Rape Me” and the graphic imagery on the back cover.
Cobain agreed to change the title of “Rape Me” to “Waif Me,” while the back cover was softened to comply with the demands. “When I was a kid, I could only go to Wal-Mart,” he told his manager Danny Goldberg. “I want the kids to be able to get this record.” 

Understandably, “Rape Me” caused other issues for the band, most notably at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards when network executives told the band that if they played the song they’d immediately cut to commercial. Feeling challenged, Cobain played a bit of the song when they walked out and then went directly into a blazing rendition of “Lithium.” 

All three members received credit on “Scentless Apprentice,” an extreme rarity for the group since Cobain normally wrote the songs himselfThe raging “Scentless Apprentice,” inspired by Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel Perfume, is the only track on the studio album co-written by Cobain, Novoselic and Grohl. (On Nevermind, they shared credit on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and its B side “Aneurysm.”) “Scentless Apprentice” was recorded in just one take. “Nobody said, ‘We should do it again,’” Grohl said “Because that was the fucking take.”

Cobain wrote out a detailed vision for the “Heart-Shaped Box” video with William Burroughs as the star. “William and I sitting across from one another at a table (black and white),” he wrote. “Lots of blinding sun from the windows behind us holding hands staring into each other’s eyes.”

By the time he approached Burroughs, he had decided to cast him as an elderly Jesus, even offering to conceal his identity. “I realize that stories in the press regarding my drug use may make you think that this request comes from a desire to parallel our lives,” he wrote in a letter. “Let me assure you that this is not the case.” Though Burroughs declined the offer, Cobain finally got to meet his beat hero at his home in Kansas that fall. 

After Cobain met Courtney Love in 1990, Love gave Dave Grohl a heart-shaped box to give to Cobain. She filled it with items that matched Cobain’s taste — a porcelain doll, dried roses and other tokens — and sprayed some of her perfume on it. As Cobain and Love’s romance blossomed, the item became a symbol of their love. It was also the one item in their home they had in common.

 

“Pennyroyal Tea” was one of Nirvana’s first songs to showcase the soft-loud-soft formula they became famous for. It was first written and recorded on a four-track with Dave Grohl in Cobain’s house in Olympia, Washington. It went through several permutations before its release on In Utero, including instrumental takes recorded by Jack Endino in 1992. “Pennyroyal Tea” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” were debuted live the same night, at the O.K. Hotel in Seattle in 1991. “Pennyroyal Tea” was slated to be the third single for In Utero,but was cancelled after Cobain’s suicide in 1994.
After Cobain’s death, the label decided to recall copies of the single, which had a B side of “I Hate Myself and Want to Die,” and destroy them. But copies had already been sent overseas and somewhere between 200 and 400 of them reached the fan community.

One summer day in 2012, Veruca Salt’s vocalist-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post sat downstairs in Gordon’s basement in Los Angeles and sang together for the first time since the two ended their friendship and musical partnership 14 years prior. “It was sublime. Our voices hadn’t changed. We just locked right in and it was heaven,” Gordon says. Gordon and Post’s reunion eventually led to the pair reforming Veruca Salt with their original bandmates: Gordon’s brother, drummer Jim Shapiro, and bassist Steve Lack. This year, the quartet have been in the studio with Brad Wood (who produced their gold-selling debut album, American Thighs) recording new music.

Veruca Salt formed in Chicago in 1991, when Post and Gordon were introduced by a mutual friend. In 1993 Veruca Salt played its first gig and soon released the “Seether” single on local label Minty Fresh. A major-label bidding war erupted and the band signed to Geffen Records. They toured with alt-rock royalty Hole and released an album, “American Thighs”, which eventually sold a million copies worldwide. They scored features in Spin and Rolling Stone, recorded an EP, Blow It Out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt, performed at the UK’s prestigious Glastonbury Festival and appeared on Saturday Night Live.

Veruca Salt broke up in early 1998 when Gordon suddenly left the band. Though she and Post aren’t eager to give exact details about what led to the breakup, they will say that ultimately a lack of coping skills led to their implosion. “We understand that people want to know the gory details,” Gordon says. “It was drugs and cheating and all that junk, and the two of us not talking about what was really going on. If it were Mick and Keith or something, Louise and I would have just had an old-fashioned fistfight and gotten back to work.”

In 2012, Gordon read that Mazzy Star had reunited. “I emailed Louise and said, ‘Hey, Mazzy Star are playing Coachella, shouldn’t we?’ And she said, ‘Maybe we should start with coffee.’” Post had been in touch with Lack over the years and broached the subject with him. Shapiro, too, was on board, and in August, the four original members sat down together for the first time. Meanwhile, Veruca Salt had been contacted by Minty Fresh about releasing a 20th-anniversary edition of American Thighs, which first appeared in September 1994. “It was very timely,” Post says. “And we thought, ‘What if we were to release something new, too?’

The new songs pick up where Veruca Salt left off 14 years ago, with their sing-along hooks, melodic pop smarts, thundering sonic aggression, reference-packed wordplay, and angelic harmonies still intact. “It’s miraculous to have this brand-new, beautiful chapter,” Post says. “We never saw it coming, and yet, here we are. To be able to reconnect and play with these dear friends of mine who are like my family . . . it’s such a gift. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Everything is where it’s supposed to be.”