<p>Fleetwood Mac's &quot;Rumours&quot;</p>

Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours"

Credit: Warner Bros. Records

Looking back on Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' more than 35 years later

A new deluxe set drills deep on the classic album

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” came out in 1977, before the internet and tabloid TV.  Instead, all we had to do was listen to the lyrics to get all the drama.  The album, which celebrates its 35th anniversary  (one year late) with today’s release of a four-CD deluxe edition, chronicled the break-ups of three relationships: singer Stevie Nicks and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham were splitting after seven years together, keyboardist/singer Christine McVie and hubby/bassist John McVie had just divorced. Drummer Mick Fleetwood’s marriage to wife Jenny, who was not in the band, was unraveling, in part because she was having an affair with his best friend.

To be sure there were break-up albums before theirs: Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” comes to mind, and ones after, Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel Of Love,” but no album has ever been quite so public a bloodletting as the life drains out of the various relationships.

The quintet took a year to record “Rumours” in Sausalito, Calif. at the Record Plant. While they were in the studio, their self-titled 10th album (and the first to feature Buckingham and Nicks) was gaining traction and was a clear sign that moving from the blues-based sound of the previous efforts to a pop-oriented sound was the right move commercially. That was only confirmed with "Rumours," which spent 31 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Most of the songs for “Rumours” were written was done on the spot, with the songwriters bringing their not-so-fully fleshed ideas into the studio for the others to noodle on.  Often, as in the case of “Second Hand News,” Buckingham withheld revealing the lyrics until the last moment since he knew they weren’t likely to go down well with Nicks.

I got a copy of the deluxe set a few weeks ago and for the first time in years listened to the  “Rumours,” as it was originally released 36 years ago, from start to finish.

How does it hold up? Remarkably well. It’s like visiting an old friend. The songs easily move into the next and weave everyone’s stories together.  Even more fascinating is revisiting how the couples are talking to each other through the songs.  For example on “The Chain,” (the one song co-written by all five) Buckingham sings, “And if you don’t love me now/You will never love me again/I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain.”   On “Oh Daddy,” which Christine McVie wrote from Jenny’s perspective, she laments “Why are you right when I’m so wrong/I’m so weak but you’re so strong.” On “You Make Loving Fun,” Christine McVie is singing about her new love, the band’s lighting director (much to John’s dismay).Despite all the cocaine and alcohol that fueled the sessions, or maybe because of them, the overall effect is a voyeuristic look at three break-ups that are raw and complex, and despite their specificity, have a universal appeal for anyone who has found him or herself similarly entangled. The raw immediacy of the tracks still remains.

All the songs individually have held up as well, especially “Second Hand News,” “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “I Don’t Want To Know.” The quintet created music that was not of the day —there’s no ‘70s equivalent of a dubstep drop or a hint of electroclash. Instead the production still sounds fresh and clean and not dated.  Buckingham’s guitar playing is crisp, with John McVie and Fleetwood Mac’s rhythm section propulsive when need be and totally in retreat when a gentler touch is demanded.

Of course, the big mistake with “Rumours,” one due to time limitations on the vinyl and internecine fighting, is that Nicks’ delicate, searing “Silver Springs” was left off the album. That was corrected in 2001 on a DVD-Audio version and subsequent pressings have included “Silver Springs.”

The other three discs are fun, but not essential unless you're a big fan.  Disc 2 includes live versions of much of the album from 1977, as well as other hits, including “Rhiannon” and “Monday Morning.” The other two discs feature outtakes, alternate versions of songs, and demos from the recording sessions, including two songs that didn’t make the album, “Planets of the Universe” and a lovely duet, “Doesn’t Anything Last.”  The last disc, originally issued in 2004, also includes rough takes and outtakes. It's very fun an instructive to hear how the songs morphed and were constructed. For example, the demo of "The Chain" is slow and acoustic, but no less haunting.

A super-expanded version also contains “The Rosebud Film,” a 1977 doc looking at the making of “Rumours” and the original album on vinyl.

The current band, which does not include Christine McVie, will start a tour April 4 in Columbus, Ohio.

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<p>&quot;Painting the way I feel today. Focus on what matters!&quot;</p>

"Painting the way I feel today. Focus on what matters!"

Credit: Chris Brow/Instagram

Hey Chris Brown, come down off that cross

A few thoughts on the pop star's most recent dust-up

He’s kidding, right? That was my first thought when I saw Chris Brown’s Instagram from yesterday.

In case you missed it, Brown, that paragon of all this is virtuous in this world, posted a painting of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross yesterday alongside the words, “Painting the way I feel today.  Focus on what matters.”

Doesn’t he mean “focus on what martyrs” because we’ve never seen an artist with such a persecution complex and a complete inability to grasp the role he has played in his own ongoing conflicts.

Apparently, he’s feeling a little misunderstood due to his latest dust-up. Yeah, the one where he and Frank Ocean got into a tiff over a parking spot at Westlake Recording Studios on Sunday in Los Angeles. While the facts are blurry, it appears that push came to shove and Brown left the scene before police could question him.

Instead of painting or comparing himself to Jesus, maybe Brown needs to climb down off that cross and go talk to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department, who wants to question him about the incident.  (Sheriff department spokesman Steve Whitmore says that Ocean wants to press charges and told The Los Angeles Times that Brown is “a named suspect in a battery report”). 

Or maybe, just maybe, he needs to have a long time out to figure out why the public just won’t give him a break and realize he’s not such a bad guy. C’mon, people! It’s been four years since he tried to meld Rihanna’s head with a car door and she’s not only forgiven him, they’re seemingly off in their own little twisted loveland again and they tweet and Instagram a near-constant stream of selfies together to prove it.

After every incident—whether it’s throwing a chair after a “Good Morning America” interview doesn’t go the way he’d planned (in that Robin Roberts deigned to ask other than fluff questions) or he and Drake are in a fight in a club or he makes gay slurs he later has to apologize for—the now inevitable and predictable pattern follows. Somehow, Brown makes himself out to be the victim: He’s misunderstood, he didn’t throw the first punch, he was insulted, he’s already apologized, he’s a target because he’s famous, he’s young... what more do we want from him?

What we want from him is some sign that for more than five minutes he can act like an adult. Yes, being a pop star keeps one in perpetual adolescence...and keeps one surrounded by people on the payroll whose main, if not only, job is to constantly reassure the artist the he is right, everyone else is wrong and is just jealous.

If Brown so badly wants to compare himself to Christ, maybe he should think about turning the other cheek.

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<p>My Morning Jacket</p>

My Morning Jacket

Credit: AP Photo/Vince Bucci

Listen: My Morning Jacket and Brandi Carlile pay homage to John Denver

Train, Dave Matthews and Lucinda Williams also on tribute album

On April 2, ATO will release “The Music Is You: A Tribute To John Denver.”

Dave Matthews, My Morning Jacket, Train, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Josh Ritter are among the artists paying homage to the folky musician, who died in 1997 in a plane accident.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Frank Ocean</p>

Frank Ocean

Grammy Awards 2013: Handicapping the Best New Artist race

Frank Ocean and fun. lead a strong field

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards are Feb. 10 and this year there will be some hotly contested races. Unlike last year when Adele was the presumptive (and actual) winner in many categories, there are few clear frontrunners.

As we lead up to the ceremony, we’ll take a different category every day and evaluate the nominees. Today, we look at Best New Artist.

Best New Artist nominees:

Alabama Shakes
Fun.
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Frank Ocean


WHO’S MISSING: First off, let’s look at who’s not here: While the field is strong, leaving out One Direction seems like a major oversight. Though she hasn’t had the same success here as she has in the U.K., Emeli Sande was also a strong contender and while she’s looking a little like a one-hit wonder right now, Carly Rae Jepsen had the pop culture hit of the year with “Call Me Maybe.”

THE PLAYERS: Instead, based on Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers, it’s clear the Grammy voters leaned toward authentic, roots-oriented rock. Both groups are known for their rambunctious, free-flowing live shows and reliance on acoustic instruments as much as for their radio hits: The Shakes with “Hold On,” and the Lumineers with the seemingly omnipresent “Ho Hey.” Both look like solid bets for artists who will have good, long careers regardless of radio support.

Neither fun. nor Frank Ocean are roots-oriented, but they represent a new standard bearer for the Grammys: Fun.’s brand of pop is commercial and wildly successful, but is also well-crafted, intelligent, well-sung and well-played. R&B artist Ocean, whose “Channel Orange” topped many best-of lists for 2012 (including mine) was a fresh voice that arrived fully formed.  

Hunter Hayes may be unknown outside of his country base, but he’s a budding star within the format and Nashville’s collective voting power helped seal his nomination over some more likely pop contenders.

THE ODDS:
This is a race between fun. and Ocean. In addition to best new artist, fun. ran the board: receiving nominations in the other three general categories: record, song and album of the year. Only a handful of artists, such as Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, and Christopher Cross have ever achieved that feat. Ocean almost scored as well, landing album and record of the year nods (both artists also have nominations in other fields).

It’s almost too close to call this year. If only music critics were voting, Ocean would be the clear winner. Both acts have had great years and show tremendous promise, the question will come down to whether fun’s greater dominance at pop radio will get them more votes. It’s the first year in many that I’ve wished for a tie.

WINNER: Frank Ocean

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Justin Bieber's heart breaks over Selena Gomez in new song 'Nothing Like Us'

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Readers
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Piano track leads 'Believe Acoustic' album

Justin Bieber spills pieces of his broken heart in his new song, “Nothing Like Us.”

The piano ballad, featured on “Believe Acoustic,”  is an anguished tale of his break-up with Selena Gomez.

The spare track, which Billboard.com premiered today, features a subdued Bieber plaintively telling Gomez,  “I wish I could give you what you deserve because nothing can ever, ever replace you... you know there’s no one I can relate to/you know we won’t find a love that’s so true.”

He later sings, “I gave you everything/everything I had to give/Girl, why would you push me away?” It’s a raw, simple song delivered at points in a near whisper by Bieber as he goes through the five stages of grief over their parting.

While Bieber seems to blame the break-up on Gomez, asking her “was it worth it,” he finally comes to the acceptance stage, resigned to the fact that they are truly over: “That is the past now/we didn’t last now.”

[More after the jump...]

Bieber told Billboard he wrote the song while staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. “They have a piano in the room. I sat down and it was something that came out and I recorded it on my iPhone. Then I went to the studio and I really recorded it and sang it better.”

He added “I want people to hear what’s coming from my heart, and this is definitely the most that I’ve been sharing what I’m actually feeling.”

While the song doesn’t have the bite of Justin Timberlake's  “Cry Me A River,” which Gomez performed at a Unicef benefit on Jan. 19, it does have the authentic ring of a young man dealing with heartache. “Believe Acoustic” comes out Jan. 29 and featues acoustic versions of songs from “Believe,” as well as a few new tracks in addition to “Nothing Like Us.”

Bieber, who has more than 33 million followers on Twitter,  will host and perform on “Saturday Night Live” on Feb. 9.

What do you think of “Nothing Like Us?”

 

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<p>Norah Jones</p>

Norah Jones

Norah Jones to perform Oscar-nominated song during 85th Academy Awards

Grammy winner will sing 'Everybody Needs A Best Friend'

Add Norah Jones to the list of pop singers performing at Feb. 24’s Academy Awards.

Jones will sing “Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” the theme song to “Ted,” the comedy directed by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane. The tune, written by MacFarlane and Walter Murphy, is nominated for best original song, alongside “Before My Time” (“Chasing Ice”), “Pi’s Lullaby” (“Life of Pi”), “Suddenly” (“Les Miserables”)  and “Skyfall” (“Skyfall”)

Adele, who co-wrote and performs “Skyfall” has already been announced as a performer.

Jones recently released “Little Broken Hearts Remix EP,”  a digital EP of seven songs from “Little Broken Hearts” re-envisioned by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Jose Padilla, and Peter, Bjorn & John.  Jones also put out “Covers,” a 10-song compilation of songs made famous by artists such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Wilco, reinterpreted by Jones over the first decade of her career. The set is available exclusively at Target.

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Chris Brown and Frank Ocean fight at Los Angeles recording studio

Chris Brown and Frank Ocean fight at Los Angeles recording studio

Both sides dispute who threw the first punch

Chris Brown and Frank Ocean got into a brawl at a Los Angeles recording studio on Sunday night.

TMZ first reported the fight around 9 p.m., saying that both artists were at Westlake Studios. When Brown went to leave, a source told TMZ that Ocean and his entourage blocked Brown from leaving. “We’re told Chris went to shake Frank’s hand...and that’s when one of Frank’s people attacked Chris,” TMZ reported. “Sources connected with Chris say one of Chris’s friends jumped in front and hit Frank’s friend." Brown sources also told TMZ that Ocean then "came at" Brown and the two started fighting.

Police arrived at the scene, but Brown had already departed. According to TMZ, no arrests have been made and no one has pressed charges.

Shortly after the altercation, Ocean tweeted, “got jumped by chris and a couple guys. lol. I only wish everest was there,” then adding, “cut my finger now I can’t play w two hands at the grammys.” Everest, according to Ocean's tumblr, is his dog.

Brown has not tweeted since Jan. 25.

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Daft Punk signs with Columbia Records for spring album

Daft Punk signs with Columbia Records for spring album

New set will be first studio release since 2007s 'Human After All'

Chic’s Nile Rodgers hinted a few weeks ago that he was working with Daft Punk, but now it’s looks for certain that new music is coming this spring from the French electronic music duo.

The twosome, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bengalter, have signed to Columbia Records, departing from their previous home, Virgin.   The pair’s fourth collection will be its first studio release since 2007’s “Human After All,” according to NME.

Daft Punk, who were hotly rumored to be headlining Coachella, until the pair said they were definitely not touring in 2013, most recently worked on the soundtrack for “Tron: Legacy” in 2010.

In addition to Rodgers, Daft Punk is also reported to be working with Chilly Gonzales and Animal Collective’s Panda Bear on the new album.
 

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Music Power Rankings: Beyonce tops Justins Bieber and Timberlake

Madonna and Adele make this week's list too

1. Beyonce: She gets more attention than President Obama for allegedly lip-syncing  “The Star-Spangled Banner” at his second Inauguration. The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are already plotting ways to get the attention back for the Super Bowl.

2. Justin Timberlake: The original Justin dresses up in a “Suit & Tie” and the world welcomes him back. The first single from his new album “The 20/20 Experience.” sets a record at pop radio and soars 84-4 on the Billboard Hot 100. He’s bringing sexy back. Can he bring the record industry back too?

3. Coachella: The line-up for the 2013 festival includes such veteran acts as  a reunited Stone Roses, Blur and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. That Coachella! And here’s to all the darling hipsters who think the Indio, Calif. festival is so cutting edge.

4. Justin Bieber: The Prince of Pop, as his label is trying to label him, is truly the King of Twitter. This week he surpassed Lady Gaga as the most-followed person on Twitter with more than 33.33 million followers. Think about what that says about us...

5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis:  The rapping duo takes “Thrift Shop” to No. 1 for their first Billboard Hot 100 hit. We have a hunch they won’t have to bargain hunting anymore.

6. Adele: The British superstar confirms that she will perform her James Bond theme, “Skyfall,” at the Academy Awards. If her acceptance speech is half as amusing as speech at the Golden Globes, just let her talk, forget about her singing.

7. The Flaming Lips:
We know it’s a sign of the times, but it feels like they went a little overboard by writing “Sun Blows Up Today” specifically for a Hyundai ad that will air during the Super Bowl. Now if it were for the Kia Hamsters, that would be a totally different thing.
 

8.Madonna: With final 2012 figures finally in, Madge’s  “MDNA” tour tallies a staggering gross of $305,158,363. The outing registers at No. 10 on Billboard’s list of all time top tours. Who needs record sales when you have ticket sales like that?

9. A$AP Rocky: He scores his first No. 1 album with “Long.Live.A$AP.” He’s talented, for sure, but is it okay that his biz partner’s nickname, A$AP Yams, makes us giggle every time?

10. WNSH: New York City finally gets a country radio station again for the first time since 1996. NYC was already the No. 1 market for country album sales in the U.S. Imagine what will happen now?

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<p>The Lumineers</p>

The Lumineers

Credit: AP

Gary Allan and the Lumineers dominate next week's Billboard 200

Light release week makes for few debuts

The Lumineers will see a nice bump in their sales following the  “Ho Hey” group’s Jan. 19 appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” but it won’t be enough for them to knock Gary Allan out of the top spot.

The longtime country singer scores his first No. 1 Billboard 200 album next week with “Set You Free.” The title is set to sell up to 100,000, handily giving it the lead over The Lumineers’ self-titled set, which will sell up to 60,000.

The soundtrack to “Pitch Perfect” continues to soar following the comedy’s release on DVD. It will be at No. 3 with up to 45,000 copies sold, according to Hits Daily Double.

In addition to Allan, the only new entry in the Top 10 will likely be the ?“2013 Grammy Nominees” album at No. 5 with sales of up to 40,000. However, that title, this week’s No. 1, A$AP Rocky’s “Long.Live.A$AP”; the “Grammy Nominees,” Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Kidz Bop 23” are all in a tight race for the No. 4 spot with each targeted to sell between 35,000-40,000, so it’s too close to call the No. 4-7 spots.

Taylor Swift’s “Red” and the “Les Miserables” soundtrack are also locked in a tie for No. 8 with both aiming for between 30,000-35,000 copies. Coming in at No. 10 will likely be Mumford & Sons’ “Babel.”

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