PBS: Sounds Good To Us
Already boasting the best live music program on network TV (well, the only live music program) in Austin City Limits, PBS gets more musical in April as the series, Independent Lens, showcases three interesting documentaries about three very different sonic wonders. On Tuesday, the program features A Lion's Trail, about the life of the song "Mbube," written by an illiterate Zulu musician who received practically no compensation for his work, despite its massive, enduring African success (it was also the inspiration for the Pop classic, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"). On April 12, Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photographs of Milt Hinton, about the work of the legendary Jazz bassist, airs. Rounding out the series is the network television debut of the celebrated Ramones biography, End of the Century, which will be shown on April 26. Let's Rock Again, a short film about Clash singer/guitarist Joe Strummer's life will be shown with the Ramones doc.
Paul Hester, onetime drummer for AltRock pioneers Split Enz and global hit-makers Crowded House, killed himself March 25. The 46-year-old reportedly took his dogs for a walk and never returned; his body was found in a park near his home in Melbourne, Australia. Reports say Hester, who leaves behind a wife and two young daughters, was found hanging from a tree. On March 22, Rod Price, guitarist and founding member of British Classic Rock stars Foghat, died from head trauma suffered after falling down some stairs. Besides his work with the "Slow Ride" rockers, Hester, lauded for his slide guitar work, in particular, also worked with Blues legends like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker.
Have They Not Heard "Polka Your Eyes Out"?
U2's recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility got us thinking about all the amazing, influential artists not yet in the Hall. Not that U2 didn't deserve to go in (Bruce Springsteen's poignant induction speech convinced us it was a good move), but, as gentlemen, Bono and Co. should be holding the door open for Iggy Pop, KISS, Black Sabbath, Patti Smith and The Sex Pistols to go in first. Shit, The Lovin' Spoonful is in the Hall. We're not alone in our frustration. In fact, there's a cult of music lovers who want to "Make the Rock Hall Weird." The Cleveland-based campaign was put into motion by fans of the Mozart of song parodies, "Weird Al" Yankovic. The week of the recent induction ceremonies, the group hosted a special screening of Al's film UHF (which got a "special edition" DVD release following a similar letter writing campaign) to call attention to their cause. The Web site dohtem.com/al lays out the whole intricate, global crusade to get the punny musician his due. We're sold. We say take James Taylor out if overcrowding is an issue.
Time for a Flavorvention?
Seems Public Enemy fans aren't the only ones wondering what the hell the group's hype-man Flavor Flav is doing on the exploitive, unwatchable VH-1 show, Strange Love. In a long rant on Public Enemy's Web site, frontman Chuck D says the makers of the "reality" show (that show is about as real as Flav's teeth) are guilty of "Flavploitation" by dragging his children into the fray. He also seems none too happy about the impact Flav's antics might have on PE's empowering image and legacy. "I spent the greater part of last year trying to get 'Son Of A Bush' out of office on national TV and radio," D writes, "and as expected, it was the Surreal Life that got their attention, like Fruit Loops compared to Wheaties." D is being usurped from his usual radio show gig on Air America by none other than Jerry Springer starting this Friday, but he is planning an hour-long Sunday night show for the liberal network called "Bring the Noise," which he says is in the rapid-fire style of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."