Dancing About Architecture

Ely Come, Ely Go

"There have been rumblings, but MCA has not contacted Joe at all," said Joe Ely publicist Lance Cowan of rampant rumors that after 20 years, Ely's on-again, off-again (but mostly on-again) career with MCA Records was coming to an end. "I would be very surprised [if such a decision had been made], especially since [MCA President] Tony Brown is such a big fan of Joe's." Brown had even made statements at a SXSW panel this year to the effect that the label would never drop Ely, but unfortunately, the realities of business don't always match up to the rhetoric, and MCA confirmed to the Chronicle this week that Ely's prophetically titled Twistin' in the Wind would indeed be his last for the label, issuing an official statement that, "There is nothing further we can do with Joe at this time." It should be pointed out that MCA's attitude towards Ely's dismissal is perhaps not as cold as their statement might seem to indicate, with representatives saying that they had been unable to contact the local figurehead musician since he had been out on the road. It was further implied that the decision had a great deal to do with changes at the label involving business deals with Polygram and Seagram's, which Cowan says has also led to George Jones' contract being dropped by the label. Now, with Butch Hancock a self-proclaimed indie operation and Jimmie Dale Gilmore apparently still trying to decide whether to go that route and put out his own albums, Ely's recent turn of events might just facilitate that Flatlanders reunion they talked about early this year when they recorded a track for The Horse Whisperer soundtrack and followed it up with a David Letterman Late Show gig.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

It's name change time for the Damnations - and pronto! Given that there are a number of bands claiming that moniker, or a variation thereof, the local sister act had precious little time to ponder their choices: decide on a new name, or delay the release of their upcoming album from mid-October until after Christmas. "We have, um, a day to come up with another name," said Deborah Boone early Tuesday afternoon, and a bit later guitarist Rob Bernard added that the band was going to go out and get drunk and come up with a name that night. One nom de combo that had previously been discussed was "The Sloughters," the name of a famous white trash feudin' family from their home county (I don't know, it sounds like the name of a William Faulkner novel to me), but that choice was nixed, in part, because the Boone sisters' mom didn't want any association with those people. It's tough coming up with the perfect name right off the bat, so I wasn't surprised to get the call from the band's manager, Stubb's booker/co-owner Charles Attal, who revealed the band's new sobriquet: The Molly Brigade. What does it mean? "I don't know," says Attal. "I just work here."

To tell the truth, we here at the Chronicle are far from convinced that come next week's issue we won't be announcing another new name for the Damnations. After all, the Fastball gang had officially decided to go with the name Starchy, but friends manged to talk them out of it at the last minute. A name is an important thing, folks, maybe a lot more important than a short-term delay of an album release. Just think about it; There's not a chance in a million I'd be announcing this week that Starchy's album had gone platinum.

Refrigerated 'Magnets

Eric Johnson is back! In fact, he's over 20 years back, with two frozen-in-time albums from the Seventies finally seeing national release. The long-awaited Electromagnets re-release from Rhino Records is finally coming out next Tuesday, with a new cover and bonus live tracks tagged onto the original set, and the band will sign autographs at Waterloo Records that afternoon at 5pm, no less! The on-sale date for the previously unreleased Seven Worlds, Johnson's first solo album that was recorded 20 years ago remains uncertain, however. Label Ark 21 (Wayne Hancock, Pat MacDonald) has sent out biographical materials and advance cassettes, and are still working towards a tentative release date of September 22. Fans may think they picked up the wrong album at first, as Seven Worlds opens with Johnson's original versions of "Zap" and "Emerald Eyes" from Tones, but don't worry, the rest of the songs have been in the cryonics chamber for two decades, just waiting for you.

Another "World"

It's a "Discoball World" for David Garza, and different angles keep reflecting. First off, the song was grabbed from his last indie release and popped onto his major label debut, and now there's a brand-spanking new "clean vocal" remix that's exciting some radio programmers out there. You can thank VH1 for that, since the execs there wanted to play the Artist Formerly Known As Dah-Veed's video for the song, but apparently felt that the effects-laden vocals on the original version just wouldn't fit well between Celine Dion and Jewel (gosh darn it). A quick Craig Ross remix did the trick, though, since the actual lyrics, tempo, etc. remained unchanged and fit the clip just dandy. Radio's new affection for the song is just icing; it looks like Atlantic has decided to support Garza's album for the long haul. Then again, that's what they said about Kacy Crowley too.

Mixed Notes

Who's the Austin-based drummer whose signature beat is stuck in everybody's head nowadays? That would be one Hunt Sales, whose opening jungle beat on Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" has been flooding the airwaves thanks to constant airing of a particular Mitsubishi ad. Though he doesn't have a songwriting credit on "Lust," the prominence of his drums in the commercial led me to ask Sales if he was seeing any cash from the deal. "Fuck, no," was his hardly unexpected reply. "James Brown, I mean Iggy, gets all of that!" Sales is hoping the exposure of his handiwork will help him in his current endeavors to net some producing jobs. He's also hoping to see some progress as the result of management connections made recently through Rey Washam, another Austin drummer who's currently doing some business with new Geffen band Phantom Planet...

More club changes: Mike Flannery of the American Psycho Band has taken over booking at Emo's as of the last couple of weeks...

A fax from TVT Records tells us that the release date for Vallejo's Beautiful Life (featuring guest DJ Hurricane of Beastie Boys fame) is set for October 6. The Chronicle music staff is currently drawing lots to determine who will review it...

This reminds me, the Politics department drew the short straw this week on the matter of continuing coverage of the Austin Music Network situation. Check out "Naked City" for the scoop...

Supplies of El Flaco's el pee (see "Record Reviews") are "already halfway out," says Fume Records' John Riedie, so you better get 'em while you can. Same goes for seeing the band live, as the Friday gig at Stubb's is definitely the last before the band members split for at least a year...

Meeting of the week goes to Flava Flav and The Enigma running into each other after Public Enemy's show at Stubb's last week. After a bystander pointed out the heavily-tattooed Jim Rose Circus Sideshow legend, Flav stood in awe of the Enigma's fine set of horns and jigsaw puzzle tats, repeatedly crying out, "Is that your skin? Is that your skin!" In general, many agreed that the real show by Public Enemy was not the short set on stage, but the long time they spent hanging out on Sixth Street talking with entertainment district visitors and violating the "no open containers" statute...

Don't ignore your squeezebox: Saturday and Sunday mark this year's Accordion Kings festival in Round Rock at Old Settler's Park. There'll be Walter Mouton & the Scott Playboys, Santiago Jiminez, Jr. and workshops (I wouldn't wanna be near the "beginners" area)...

We hear that advance CDs of the much-delayed Junior Brown album are making the rounds...

Bummer time for the Texana Dames, who had most of their equipment stolen at the beginning of this month. Those familiar with the Dames' stuff keep an eye out and/or see the ad on page 53...

More sad news: not one but two of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys have passed away since the beginning of the month. Guitarist Eldon Shamblin died on August 5 at age 82, and relatively young bassist Bobby McBay followed last Sunday at the age of 60... Hugh Hefner is still alive, however, and another hot review for Texan Don Walser sees print this month courtesy of Hef's Playboy magazine. Summing up Walser and his Down at the Sky-Vue Drive-In album, Playboy advises that Walser's gift is "a voice with the perspective of age and wisdom ...

the antidote for alienation, irony, and commercialism." Since Playboy's van will be cruising through Austin August 20-22 looking to collect Playmates for the next millennium, you girls know what the magazine is looking for: "Turn-ons: age, wisdom. Turn-offs: alienation, irony, commercialism"...

Say goodbye to Bedhead (again). The former Trance Syndicate faves issued a press release saying that since the five band members are now scattered among three different states, none of them believes they "could have gone through the process required to make another good record"...

20/20 have been in Austin rehearsing for a string of big festival dates and plan to play a couple of low-key dates here next week to warm up before they leave...

Expect the definitive Stevie Ray Vaughan box set to appear within a few months, though no store date has yet been set in stone. Those involved with the project (including liner notes author Margaret Moser) are working towards a goal of mid-November release, but the key to the completion of the project lies with the currently touring Jimmie Vaughan, who has the final say on what cuts will be included on the multi-disc set...

Outpost Recordings is releasing Whiskeytown's hard-to-find Faithless Street album with new artwork and bonus tracks. The reissue will contain a total of 21 tracks, including four outtakes from the original album sessions and five demos produced by Chris Stamey from 1996. Meanwhile, ever-controversial front man Ryan White has tongues a-wagging with rumors of more lineup changes and the like. One thing we know for sure is that he has parted ways with local Jackknife Enterprises, who say they have no idea what the reason is behind the split...

- Contributors: Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser

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More Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
Dancing About Architecture
The last installment of "Dancing About Architecture."

Ken Lieck, Jan. 3, 2003

So Long, Slug
So Long, Slug

Ken Lieck, Dec. 20, 2002


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