<p>Kenny Chesney's &quot;Life on a Rock&quot;</p>

Kenny Chesney's "Life on a Rock"

Album Review: Kenny Chesney's 'Life on A Rock'

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Genial, easy-going album hits just the right notes

Kenny Chesney has always had one foot planted as surely  in the Caribbean as in Nashville. On “Life On A Rock,” out today, he’s steeped in that casual, relaxed feel that the island sand and surf bring.

Instead of party anthems (he’s given us plenty of those already), the songs on “Life On A Rock” sound like they came about during those hours in the day that lend themselves to quiet reflection, whether they be at sunrise or sundown, or “It’s That Time Of Day,” as Chesney sings. The songs on “Life On a Rock” are about what happens between life’s big moments.

The album opens with first single, “Pirate Flag,” a chugging, derivative tune that sounds  a little too much like Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance"about trading the city life for life on a boat and an island. It’s the one and only remotely rocking song on the pleasing 10-tune set.

The other nine tunes are just like the island’s inhabitants: these songs are in no hurry to get anywhere and are more than willing to go with the flow. Watches and schedules are for losers when you’re living in paradise.

The album is, for the most part, quiet and reflective in a way that Chesney has often hinted at on certain songs on past albums, but has never devoted a full album to such thoughts.  They aren’t always deep thoughts, to be sure, but the songs on “Life On A Rock” are so thoroughly laid back and  easy going that you’ll feel your blood pressure drop just by listening to them. However, that’s not to stay they ramble. It’s quite the opposite. Most of the tracks here feel concise, many of them bolstered by beautiful guitar work. “Lindy” offers a portrait of everyone’s favorite beach bum, who’s never leaving the Island. Willie Nelson joins Chesney on the lilting “Coconut Tree,” a song about being “high in a coconut tree.” Take it however you want to, folks.  The Wailers join in on reggae tune “Spread The Love.” The autobiographical "When I See This Bar" has a Mellencamp, rootsy feel.

the album ends with “Happy On The Hey Now (A Song for Kristi),” a lovely, spare goodbye to a departed friend who loved dancing on the bow of the boat. It’s a moving elegy that anyone who has lost a loved one, even landlubbers, can appreciate. The same stands for the rest of the album.

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<p>Iggy and the Stooges</p>

Iggy and the Stooges

Credit: David Raccuglia

Exclusive: The Stooges' producer James Williamson on Iggy Pop's new album

The Stooges were 'completely unsuccessful'

When guitarist James Williamson left Iggy and the Stooges in the mid-70s, he never thought he’d reunite with charismatic front man Iggy Pop and drummer Scott Asheton, but following bassist/guitarist Ron Asheton’s death in 2009, Iggy called Williamson and asked him to rejoin the band. “They were fresh out of Stooges,” Williamson grimly jokes.

Post-Stooges, Williamson, who called Iggy “Ig,” had become an electrical engineer and was Sony’s VP of Technology Standards. Though he initially declined the offer, he eventually said yes and has been touring with the Stooges again since the fall of 2009.

Williamson produced Iggy & The Stooges’  “Ready To Die,” out today, which reunites the same line-up (minus Ron Asheton, of course, and with Mike Watt on bass), as Iggy and the Stooges’ 1973 proto-punk masterpiece, the  David Bowie-mixed “Raw Power.”

Williamson talked to HitFix about recording with the band for the first time in decades, what it takes to produce Iggy Pop, and what it’s like to be on stage with the band.

Is there any way you could have imagined that you would be making a new Stooges record in 2013?


No, no idea.I had given up on The Stooges by the time we broke up [in] ’75. Ig and I did a demo album [in 1977] called “Kill City” after the band broke up.  I produced “New Values” for him a couple of years later and, after all that, when I gave up the music business, I just considered the whole thing to be completely unsuccessful. You know nobody liked us, nobody wanted to buy our records and nobody wanted us to play for them, so it was like,  “Well, OK, what should I do when I grow up?”

Was Ron Asheton’s death the catalyst for getting back together? How long had it been since you and Iggy had spoken?

After “New Values,” he did an album called “Soldier” [in 1980] and I produced about a third of that record. Then we had a huge falling out over a set of issues as people frequently do making albums and that was it. We didn’t talk for at least 20-25 years after that and, mostly at that point, it was just kind of like publishing issues and things where  you needed to touch base with the other person, but we weren’t chatting or anything like that. It was kind of a little bit out-of-the-blue kind of thing. I think both of us were very careful about the relationship going forward because neither one of us has another 25 years to go without talking to each other, so we won’t pick any fights.

Were you surprised when he called you?


The first thing he did was inform me about Ronnie’s death. I’d heard that through another channel so I wasn’t surprised by that, but it was nice of him to give me the courtesy of the call. Then kind of from there, we continued to have some on-and off-talks and part of it was the idea would I consider playing again? We had long discussions about that. I really hadn’t in my wildest dreams thought I would do that, even if asked and so at first it just didn’t feel right, but the longer I thought about it, it kind of was one of those things where they were fresh out of Stooges, so it was like I was the last guy walking and I think Ig knew that I could do it. It was just a matter of giving me a chance to do it.

What’s the key to producing Iggy Pop?


(laughs)  That’s a trade secret. No, you just gotta be patient and Iggy is actually a pro, in a way. I mean, he’s made a lot of albums, he knows what works for him and what doesn’t work for him and I guess I learned in “Soldier” to try to be a little more flexible with him and to basically let him be the boss of his vocals. I’m very respectful of his ideas about his vocals. That said, I also want to make sure we got the best sound we could out of him so I put what I consider to be the best vocal mic around; it’s a Brauner VM1, So I made sure we used that on almost everything and the rest was up to him. He stepped up and did his vocals.

You write the music for this album and then Iggy puts on the lyrics. Is that the same way you've always written?

Yeah, it is. I don’t know what it is between us that makes this all work but it’s always been that way and so I’ve often said that  it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to be in another band because the thing is that I write kind of crazy music and there’s almost nobody that I know of who can make sense out of it as far as the song goes, but that particular individual can. 

What did you think when you heard “DDs," a lecherous salute to breasts?


(laughs)  I tell you, what can you say about that? That’s the, I don’t know, the primeval core of every teenage boy, right?  Talk about striking a chord. I mean, it’s a song that everybody can either object to or rally behind. We’re wondering if there’s a certain type of movie or maybe in a Playtex ad where this could wind up.

Iggy’s talking about the poor economy on “Job” or the lack of gun control or the ghosts in the band on “The Departed,” and then in comes this song.

It’s true, it’s true. You hit on the thing that I like the most about the lyrics on the album: Basically he’s critiquing social issues on this album and that’s kind of what we were doing on “Raw Power.”  “Search and Destroy” is all about the Vietnam War, so here we are again in 2013 and he’s got gun control, immigration, he’s involved in all sorts of topical issues.

What did you think when The Stooges reunited in 2003 without you?


There’s lots of little side stories to all this and one of the big ones is that when Ig and I reformed the Stooges after breaking up in 1971, we hadn’t intended to reform the Stooges at all. We went over to London and we were going to start a new band, but we couldn’t find anyone over there that we liked to play with, so we called the Asheton Brothers, so we moved Ronnie over to bass.

David Bowie, who mixed “Raw Power,”  was mad that you brought them over, right?

I think not Bowie so much, but Bowie’s management [which had begun managing Iggy]  always had the view of Iggy being the pop star so they were pissed even for him to bring me over there. When we multiplied it by bringing the Asheton brothers over, they didn’t think that was going to work.

But the point of the story is, they moved Ronnie to bass and he never really got over that, he never really liked it. He always wanted to be the guitar player. So you asked about 2003. I was just thinking, that is fantastic because not only do these guys get to play again, but Ronnie gets to play guitar again, so that’s what he always wanted to do. He was vindicated by all that as well.

You joined the band again in 2009. What is it like for you to be on stage with Iggy again?


Ah, it’s fun. It’s always been unpredictable. This is not an act. We’re kind of improvising on the run. We have a set that we do, of course, and the musicians are playing the numbers, but he’ll basically do anything to get over with the audience. I think there’s probably no other man or human alive that can even imagine doing some of the things that he’ll do. Being up there with him is really cool, but you gotta pay attention because first of all everything’s going fast and furious. If you lose concentration you’re screwed. Secondly he throws those mike stands all over the place and so occasionally, you might need to get out of the way pretty quick. I’ve actually been hit by one once, but luckily it was deflected off my guitar.

It must be really gratifying to see how “Raw Power” is now considered a classic. Everyone from Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain to The Smiths’ Johnny Marr embraced it as a seminal proto-punk album.

It’s been amazing. I usually joke that we always thought it was going to be a really successful album and it was... it just took a really long time (laughs). It’s a huge vindication for all of us. Finally getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a lot of people snicker at that, but we don’t. It’s industry recognition, which is something we never had, so coming back around and actually doing this new album, you know, it just feels like we kind of have come full circle and now we’re kind of doing victory laps at this age, but we’re still doing stuff that we like and it still sounds like us.

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<p>LL Cool J's Authentic</p>

LL Cool J's Authentic

Album Review: LL Cool's 'Authentic' shows rapper's true colors

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Eddie Van Halen, Brad Paisley and Chuck D help bring the noise

In the last few years, LL Cool J has gained fame around the world as Special Agent Sam Hanna on the hit TV show “NCIS: Los Angeles,” as well as host of the Grammy Awards, but now he’s back to his roots with the rapper’s first album in five years, out April 30.

While the title is “Authentic,” it could just as easily be called “LL Cool J and Friends,” given how many guests he has stop by. The album plays like an aural variety show as different artists ranging from Snoop Dogg to Eddie Van Halen, Seal, and Brad Paisley drop by on various tracks with varying results. The one constant is that LL Cool J sounds like he’s having the time of his life, whether he’s spitting rhythms on in-your-face tracks or seducing the ladies with a number of love songs on the set.

If there’s any doubt that LL Cool J may have gone soft since 2008’s “Exit 13,” he lays any such notion to rest with aggressive opener “Bath Salt,” which serves also as a salute to Salt N Pepa. That aggression plays out well on a number of other tracks, including the genre-busting “Whaddup,” featuring Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Blink-182’s Travis Barker, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and Z-Trip (Enjoy the Beastie Boy-sounding homage in the middle).

As “Whaddup” and heavy tracks such as “We’re The Greatest,” featuring Eddie Van Halen and Barker,  rap and rock have a natural alliance here (although on the latter, his line about wondering why the Pope resigned is a bit of clunker in an otherwise compelling track).

He also embraces alternative music on “Not Leaving Here Tonight” featuring Fitz & the Tantrums. Fitz’s pop smoothness plays nicely against LL Cool J’s gruff vocals and Eddie Van Halen’s tasty guitar solo (even if you’ll swear it’s Enrique Iglesias singing here).

But LL Cool J doesn’t stand for Ladies Love Cool J for nothing and he is eager to show his romantic powers on so-smooth-you’ll-melt tracks like “Between The Sheetz” featuring Mickey Shiloh. He and R&B legend Charlie Wilson get a serious groove going on “New Love,” and his old-school jam “Something About You” featuring Earth Wind & Fire; Wilson, and Melanie Thornton could make you blush.

Unlike their well-meaning, if ham fisted, collaboration on Paisley’s “Accidental Racist,” their duet here,  “Live For You,”  works much better and Paisley stretches vocally in a way that renders him almost unrecognizable.

Is this cutting edge? Not in the slightest, but that’s not the purpose here. Instead, LL Cool J has made an album that, —as odd as it may sound to call it this—is Adult Contemporary Rap meant to appeal to fans who have grown up with LL Cool J and are happy to have him back. They want his sure-fire raps, but are happy to wrap the rap around gentler melodies. While this may strike some as a little defanged, it never feels like he’s pushing too hard.

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Which 'Great Gatsby' track is better: Sia or Beyonce and Andre 3000?

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Check out Sia's new song for the impressive tracklist

More full tracks from “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack appeared over the weekend: Beyonce and Andre 300’s remake of Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” and Sia’s original “Kill And Run.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>George Jones</p>

George Jones

Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP

Music Power Rankings: George Jones, Justin Bieber and Michael Buble

Fall Out Boy and Psy also make this week's list.

1. George Jones One of the greatest singers who ever lived, who recorded one of the greatest songs of all time, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,”  takes The Grand Tour to the sky.

2. Neil Diamond:
After “Sweet Caroline” sales soar following his appearance at a Boston Red Sox game, Diamond donates all the royalties to the One Fund Boston. Good times never felt so good.

3. Fall Out Boy: Following a five-year hiatus, Fall Out Boy returns with “Save Rock & Roll,” which bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Why stop with just saving rock and roll?

4. Will.I.Am: He accidentally steals a song for his new album, “#willpower.”   Oops.

5. Psy: “Gentleman” soars into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, making the S. Korean rapper a two-hit wonder.

6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The rap pair becomes the first group since The Blackeyed Peas to score the No. 2 and No. 3 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.  Think how high they could go if they had lady lumps.

7. Justin Bieber: His road woes continue as Swedish police find pot and a stun gun on his tour bus. It sounds like someone needs a time out.

8. Amy Winehouse: As word of her new documentary comes out, her father declares in no uncertain terms that he is not a fan of Beyonce and Andre 3000’s cover of “Back To Black.” Did you really expect him to be?

9. Michael Buble: As Mother’s Day approaches, buyers come out in droves around the globe to purchase the crooner’s latest, “To Be Loved.”  Just think how it would sell if Warner Bros. had packaged it with a pair of mom jeans?

10. Record Store Day:
The annual event drove vinyl sales to a historic high of a combined 244,000 copies, the highest one-week tally since SoundScan starting counting sales in 1991. If we can add three more zeros then we’ll be talking sales to get excited about.

 

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<p>Michael Buble performs at the Juno Awards</p>

Michael Buble performs at the Juno Awards

Credit: Liam Richards/AP

Michael Buble croons his way to the top of the Billboard 200

Where does Phoenix come in?

Fans are showing plenty of love to Michael Buble’s “To Be Loved” as the crooner’s latest album will handily top the Billboard 200 next week with sales between 150,000-170,000.  That tally is close to double the amount for Fantasia’s “Side Effects Of You,” which will come in at No. 2 with up to 95,000 copies.

They are joined in the Top 10 by two other likely debuts: Phoenix’s “Bankrupt” at No. 4 (45,000-50,000) and Rob Zombie’s “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” at No. 8 (27,000-32,000).

Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” remains in the top 3 at No. 3, while this week’s No. 1, Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock And Roll” falls to No. 5.

Kid Cudi’s “Indicud” likely falls 2-6, while Blake Shelton’s “Based On A True Story” will be at No. 7, according to Hits Daily Double.

Rounding out the Top 10 will be Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Heist” at No 9 and Lil Wayne’s  “I Am Not A Human Being II” at No. 10. 
 

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<p>The Wanted</p>

The Wanted

Listen: The Wanted's 'Walks Like Rihanna'

Snippet praises Rihanna's walk

As promised yesterday, The Wanted has released a snippet of the British band’s new single, “Walks Like Rihanna” and the Dr. Luke-producer tune is  pretty much exactly what you would expect: a uber-pop ditty with the chorus “She can’t sing/she can’t dance/but who cares/she walks like Rihanna.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne</p>

Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne

Credit: AP Photo

Black Sabbath slates full North American tour

Outing kicks off following release of new album

Originally slated to play only four dates, Black Sabbath has expanded its 2013 North American tour to 20 shows, starting July 25 in Houston.

The tour will follow the release of Black Sabbath’s Rick Rubin-produced new album, “13,” out June 11, featuring the song “God Is Dead,” which was released last week. The album is the first to feature lead singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978’s “Never Say Die.?

The band, which also includes Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, kicked off its 2013 world tour April 20 in Auckland, New Zealand.


7/25 Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (on sale May 4th)
7/27 Austin, TX – Frank Erwin Center (on sale May 4th)
7/29 Tampa, FL – Live Nation Amphitheatre (on sale May 11th)
7/31 W. Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre (on sale May 4th)
8/2 Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live (on sale May 10th)
8/4 Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
8/6 Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre (on sale May 4th)
8/8 Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena (on sale May 4th)
8/10 Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center (on sale May 4th)
8/12 Boston, MA – Comcast Center
8/14 Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
8/16 Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (on sale May 4th)
8/18 Indianapolis, IN – Klipsch Music Center (on sale May 4th)
8/22 Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena (on sale May 4th)
8/24 Seattle, WA – Gorge Amphitheatre
8/26 San Francisco, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View (on sale May 4th)
8/28 Irvine, CA – – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
8/30 Phoenix, AZ – US Airways Center
9/1 Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena
9/3 Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Sports Arena

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<p>The Wanted</p>

The Wanted

The Wanted's new single, 'Walks Like Rihanna' premieres Friday

How does she walk, exactly?

How does Rihanna walk exactly? We’ll find out more if the rumors are correct that The Wanted’s new single is called “Walks Like Rihanna" (We're also seeing it listed as "She Walks Like Rihanna").

That’s the word in the Twitterverse today, and according to gossip site sugarscape. Apparently, the British lads, who are filming their own reality show for E!,  have already shot a video for the tune, whose high-brow lyrics include “She can’t sing/She can’t dance/But who cares/She walks like Rihanna,” according to Idolator. I guess that answers the question of whether she moves like Jagger.

Idolator took it one step further, deciding to poke fun at the notion by coming up with 10 other potential song titles using famous divas, including “She Twerks Like Miley,” and “She Falls Asleep Judging ‘The X Factor’ like Britney.”

Regardless, it looks like we won’t have to wait that long to find out. The Wanted is releasing the new single on Friday morning...or a new single, regardless of whether it's called "She Walks Like Rihanna,"  In the meantime, the members of The Wanted and One Direction can carry on their feud.

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Listen: Beyonce premieres new 'Sun' song in H&M ad

Listen: Beyonce premieres new 'Sun' song in H&M ad

Will we get a new album or just new commercials?

Maybe Beyonce won’t actually release a new album after all, she’ll just introduce each new song via its placement in a commercial.

[More after the jump...]

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