James Alex of Beach Slang
Photos courtesy of Rachel Snyder
Quarantine Diaries: Beach Slang's James Alex Is Making Mixtapes & Watching "Yellow Submarine" With His Kids
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, Philadelphia-based rocker James Alex of Beach Slang shares his Quarantine Diary in a special format: What he's doing vs. What he WOULD be doing were it not for isolation.
[10:07 a.m.] What I'm Doing: Waking up, in my bed, to [my son] Oliver bellyflopping on my ribs.
[10:07 a.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Waking up, in a hotel bed, stinking of booze, with a half-eaten pizza next to me.
[12:23 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Butchering Beatles songs on the piano with [my sons] Oliver and Asher.
[12:23 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Waking back up in a hotel bed, stinking of booze, with a completely eaten pizza next to me
[2:05 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Playing full-family, full-contact beachball soccer in the backyard.
[2:05 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Hair-of-the-dogging at Cheer Up Charlies.
[4:14 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Scraping last tour's blood off my guitar. I really need to get on with guitar maintenance.
[4:14 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Wobbling down Red River to see friends' shows and batting my lashes at their drink tickets.
[6:47 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Getting the goons ready for bed—which means watching "Yellow Submarine"—which really means re-watching the "When I’m 64" scene at least three times then acting out the "Nowhere Man" scene at least twice. After that, very promptly, Ollie volunteers everyone for sleep.
[6:47 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Loading into Barracuda for the SXSW Official Showcase. "One foot in the door, the other foot in the gutter," you know?
[8:12 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Sweating and grunting during my heavy bag workout. Look, in another life, I’m Sugar Ray Leonard or Marvin Hagler. In this one, I’ll take whatever the good-shape gods give me.
[8:12 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Strangling my guitar, spitting beer, shrieking into a microphone and falling in love.
[10:01 p.m.] What I'm Doing: Rehearsing songs for an online show I’m doing next weekend. I’m trying to rip out the distance that comes with that kind of thing.
[10:01 p.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Piling my friends together and crashing Adrian's place.
[12:15 a.m.] What I'm Doing: Working on my next mixtape. I’m doing a weekly series during this quarantine mess. And, yeah, I know, but I just can’t come around to calling them playlists.
[12:15 a.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Being Charlie’s responsibility.
[2:03 a.m.] What I'm Doing: Falling asleep while watching an AC/DC documentary.
[2:03 a.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Talking about watching an AC/DC documentary when I get back to my hotel room.
[4:08 a.m.] What I'm Doing: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
[4:08 a.m.] What I Would Be Doing: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
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We Will, We Will Shock You
A collection of shocking album covers that might make you look twice (or look away)
As the baby boomer-fueled market moved from singles to albums in the '60s and '70s, artists began using LP covers as a means to create bold visual statements, occasionally using nudity, sexual imagery or striking graphics. Sometimes the purpose was to create art for the ages, while other times it was to push boundaries. Either way, the most controversial covers were often banned or altered by record companies for fear of public or retail outrage. One of the most famous cases of censorship was one of the first — the Beatles' "butcher" cover for 1966's Yesterday And Today, which featured a grinning Fab Four covered in raw meat and plastic baby doll parts. (The cover was reportedly an anti-Vietnam war commentary by the group.) Capitol Records issued a new cover with a less-shocking photo after the original caused an uproar. In the '70s and '80s, German rock band the Scorpions made a series of albums with disturbing sexual imagery, including 1976's notorious (and quickly banned) Virgin Killer featuring a nude young girl. The cover was replaced by a conventional band portrait.
While shocking album covers do still exist, they have occurred with less frequency since the '90s as CDs, which de-emphasized cover art, replaced LPs and pop culture grew more permissive. Now, as album sales shift from physical to digital, the age of shock album covers is starting to seem like a bygone era. Here are a few other album covers that shocked us, and might shock you too.
Moby Grape, 1967
Shocking fact: Drummer Don Stevenson's (center) middle finger was airbrushed out on later pressings.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Electric Ladyland, 1968
Shocking fact: The British release featured a bevy of naked women on the cover.
John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, 1968
Shocking fact: Distributors covered the explicit content — nude front and back portraits of Lennon and Ono — in brown paper. Even today, full frontal nudity remains objectionable for many.
The Rolling Stones
Beggars Banquet, 1968
Shocking fact: The band's U.S. and UK labels originally rejected the cover featuring a toilet and graffiti-covered bathroom wall. Today, the cover seems remarkably tame.
Blind Faith, 1969
Shocking fact: The original cover featured a young nude girl holding a small plane. The replacement cover featured a shot of the band.
Diamond Dogs, 1974
Shocking fact: The cover illustration of Bowie as a (noticeably male) dog had the offending organs edited out.
Shocking fact: The sexually suggestive cover features Playboy Playmate Ester Cordet swallowing honey from a spoon.
Nothing's Shocking, 1988
Shocking fact: An ironic twist to the list. This artsy cover depicts a realistic sculpture, created by frontman Perry Farrell, featuring nude conjoined twins with hair afire.
Back To The S***!, 1989
Shocking fact: The take-no-prisoners soul singer poses on a toilet seat with one shoe off while grimacing. Often called the worst album cover ever.
The Black Crowes
Shocking fact: Original cover featured an American flag-printed G-string showing pubic hair.
Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images
John Tavener Dies
GRAMMY-winning classical composer dies at 69
GRAMMY-winning classical composer John Tavener died Nov. 12 at his home in England. A cause of death was not revealed. He was 69. A native of London, Tavener was trained in piano and organ as a young adult, and subsequently studied composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. He burst onto the public scene with the help of the Beatles, who released his album The Whale via their Apple Records label in 1970. The following year Apple released Tavener's Celtic Requiem. Much of Tavener's later work was inspired by his spiritual journey, including his conversion to Orthodox Christianity and his collaboration with Mother Thekla, a Russian immigrant and nun with whom he composed "Song For Athene" in 1993, which was performed at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. Tavener earned the lone GRAMMY of his career in 2002 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Tavener: Lamentations And Praises, a collaboration with San Francisco-based all-male classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer. "John Tavener was a prolific and eclectic composer whose work reached beyond the bounds of classical music," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "He strived to create compositions that were noble, magnificent and inspirational."
Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images
Paul McCartney At Frank Erwin Center
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Lynne Margolis
Though Paul McCartney may be 70 in chronological years, we need a new unit of measurement to describe the McCartneys, Mick Jaggers, John Fogertys, and Bruce Springsteens of the world. We should call it rock and roll years, because rock is certainly what's keeping these GRAMMY winners (and women such as Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson) vital and exciting to watch well into their so-called "golden years."
On May 22 at Austin's Frank Erwin Center, McCartney reaffirmed this truth: Rock and roll keeps you young. In two hours and 45 minutes, he and his band delivered 36 hits and favorites from his Beatles, Wings and solo eras (38 if we count the Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End"; he also slipped in a bit of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."
With his usual good humor, McCartney told stories, dropped a few clever punch lines and even gave the occasional hip shake and soft-shoe shuffle — though he wore Cuban-heeled Beatle boots below his black jeans and cropped pink jacket. When he removed the jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, he joked, "That's the big wardrobe change of the evening."
But the sold-out audience of more than 12,000 didn't come to see fancy outfits and elaborate sets; they came to hear the biggest living icon in pop music history, and perhaps revisit fond moments of their own histories through the musical touchstones he created. The savvy McCartney, in his first-ever performance in Austin, didn't disappoint.
For the most part, he faithfully reproduced beloved versions of hits such as "Eight Days A Week," "Paperback Writer," "Lady Madonna," "Another Day," "Band On The Run," and "Live And Let Die," which brought one big special effects moment during the show — jets of fire and showers of sparks so intense the heat could be felt 15 rows back on the floor.
Nostalgic Beatles montages, artful geometrics and audience shots popped up on massive screens behind him as he switched between various guitars, his Hofner bass and two pianos. He performed several Beatles songs he'd never done live, including "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," "Your Mother Should Know," and "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
Only "My Valentine" was performed from his 2012 GRAMMY-winning album Kisses On The Bottom. But with a catalog that includes some of the most beautiful songs ever written, he knew what mattered: gems such as "And I Love Her," "Blackbird," "All My Loving," and "Maybe I'm Amazed," the latter written for his late wife, Linda. Flubbing the opening, McCartney joked, "It proves we're live!"
Perhaps the most touching moments were his homages to fellow Beatles — the ukulele-plucked "Something" (written by George Harrison) and a song he wrote for John Lennon, "Here Today." Noting he wished he had conveyed its sentiment to Lennon before it was too late, he added afterward, "The next time you want to say something to someone, just say it." He was answered by a shout of, "I love you, Paul!"
Even if he'd only performed the songs delivered in his second encore — a still-astonishingly beautiful "Yesterday," a rocking "Helter Skelter" and the timeless Abbey Road medley — he still would have earned that love.
To catch Paul McCartney in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Eight Days A Week"
"All My Loving"
"Listen To What The Man Said"
"Let Me Roll It"/"Foxy Lady" (Jimi Hendrix cover)
"Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five"
"The Long And Winding Road"
"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"I've Just Seen A Face"
"We Can Work It Out"
"And I Love Her"
"Your Mother Should Know"
"All Together Now"
"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
"Band On The Run"
"Back In The U.S.S.R."
"Let It Be"
"Live And Let Die"
"Hi, Hi, Hi"
"Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End"
(Austin-based journalist Lynne Margolis currently contributes to American Songwriter, NPR-affiliate KUTX-FM's "Texas Music Matters," regional and local magazines, including Lone Star Music and Austin Monthly, and newspapers nationwide. She has previously contributed to the Christian Science Monitor (for which she was the "go-to" writer for Beatles stories), Rollingstone.com and Paste magazine. A contributing editor to the encyclopedia, The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen From A To E To Z, she also writes bios for new and established artists.)
Photo: Brian Stukes/Getty Images
Jay-Z And Meek Mill's REFORM Donates Surgical Masks To Vulnerable Prison Population
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread
The organization said it donated 50,000 masks to New York City's Rikers Island Correctional Facility, 40,000 masks to the Tennessee Department of Correction and 5,000 to Mississippi State Penitentiary. Spin reports that an additional 2,500 masks were sent to a Rikers medical facility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread.
"Incarcerated/detained persons live, work, eat, study, and recreate within congregate environments, heightening the potential for COVID-19 to spread once introduced," according to the CDC. Other vulnerabilities include the fact that incarcerated people, for the most part, can't leave and, depending on the size of the facility, space for someone to medically isolate could be limited.
"We need to protect vulnerable people behind bars & GET THEM OUT!" REFORM said in a tweet. The organization sees this as a threat to public health and said on its website that it is working with experts and advocates "to develop a set of common-sense recommendations that would make us all SAFER."
They also announced on Twitter that they helped the South Carolina Department of Corrections locate 36,000 masks for their population.