‘Appy Days: The Mick Box Column (No. 24)
This week Mick celebrates Steely Dan, gets interviewed for a heavy metal documentary, reflects on record sales, comments on how mobile phones can be a medical aid, goes to the cinema, wonders about getting drug users to work – and gets nervous about Tottenham Hotspur…
One of my all time favourite live CDs is Steely Dan Alive In America, recorded during their 1993-1994 tours. I have been a fan since their first CD Can’t Buy a Thrill. They enjoyed two Top 10 hits with singles taken from this album titled Do It Again and Reeling In The Years. I remember doing a TV show in Sydney, Australia with Uriah Heep, called Hey Hey It’s Saturday, which was a hugely popular show over there, and the famed guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter was on the same show playing Reeling In The Years. It has a fabulous solo, and I really enjoyed seeing him play.
Walter Becker (bass) and Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards) have been the core members of Steely Dan and they created a sophisticated, distinctive sound with accessible melodic hooks, complex harmonies and time signatures. Their second album, Countdown To Ecstasy, released in 1973, was a critical hit, but it failed to generate a hit single. However on their third album, titled Pretzel Logic, released in the spring of 1974, they returned to the singles charts with the massive hit single Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. In 1975 they recorded Katy Lied and in 1976 The Royal Scam. But in 1977, when they recorded the album Aja, their sound became more polished and jazzy, and this reached the Top Five within three weeks of its release, becoming one of the first albums to gain platinum status.
In 1980 they released Gaucho and during the summer of 1981 Becker and Fagen announced they were parting ways. They both went on to record solo albums. I would highly recommend Alive In America and it deserves a place in anyone’s CD collection.
Interesting to read in The Times newspaper some statistics regarding the record industry. In 1977 the global music industry was worth $45 billion, and it’s now worth $20 billion. Quite a significant drop there. However 150 million singles were sold last year, which is up from 115 million in 2008. 129 million albums were sold in the UK last year which is actually down from 134 million. The UK record industry generated revenue from albums and singles of £1.06 billion, of which singles generated £13 million. Interestingly, 70 percent of all music consumed in the USA, France, Germany and the UK came through digital channels. Most revenues from digital platforms in those countries accounted for only 35 percent of industry revenues.
The BPI claim that music piracy will cost the industry £1.2 billion between 2008 and 2012. The number of regular illegal file shares in the UK is 7.3 million. There is no doubt that the record industry is in serious trouble, but the likes of EMI are optimistic about their future despite troublesome debts. Chief Executive Elio Leoni-Sceti said that he accepted that the issues around debt are not easy, but he was confident that the label would cope. He said the EMI are a leaner, fitter organisation now, and that they have removed bureaucracy and left their baggage behind. He also said that they have got better at listening to both the consumers and their artists. On a personal note, I hope that he is right, as EMI Publishing have the publishing rights for every song I have written. Doh!
Love the article about the mobile phone now being the doctor in your pocket. Smartphones will soon be diagnosing illness, as well as advising on cures. Soon mobile apps can even provide life saving home treatment for millions.
There are already over 2,000 health related apps on offer. You can test your hearing, how to resuscitate someone, you can track your diabetes glucose results, carbohydrate intake and insulin doses. Electronic scales can upload your weight on to your mobile, and an app can advise you what to eat that day. As you can imagine many corporations are racing to be a part of the mobile health revolution. Still, the amount of times I forget to charge my battery, or leave the phone somewhere like in my car, I guess I could be in real trouble here! As reported, I guess we are all in danger of becoming ‘iPho-chondriacs’.
Well, my football team, Spurs, are hanging on to the fourth spot in the Premier League, with a 2-1 win over Everton (Bah! – Everton Fan Ed.). Pavlyuchenko scored, and so did Modric, whose goal was stupendous. He said it was one of the best he had ever scored. He is such a great player and is involved in everything out there on the pitch. He is super-inventive and a hard worker. He is fast becoming one of my favourites. I sure hope Pavlyuchenko keeps banging them in too. He is playing with confidence and is on fire at the moment.
I did a really cool interview this week in London with Banger Films from Toronto Canada, with Sam Dunn. This is the company that did the recent Iron Maiden film: Flight 666, and the soon-to-be released Rush documentary, in which I am interviewed as well. They have also filmed the award-winning Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and Global Metal. The interview I did is for a new TV series on the history of heavy metal directed and produced by Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn, called Metal Evolution. This will air on VH1 Classic in the USA and will be released on other TV networks and DVD around the world. It will be the ultimate exploration of the vast, multi-generational phenomenon that is heavy metal music and will serve as the definitive visual document for generations to come.
The series features the acclaimed Heavy Metal Family Tree originally shown in Headbanger’s Journey and Season One will present episodes on the pre-history of metal, early metal, power metal, shock rock, hair metal, thrash metal, grunge and nu metal. Using the family tree as his road map, the series will follow metalhead turned anthropologist Sam Dunn around the world as he explores the history, myths and complexities of metal. If Headbanger’s Journey served as an introduction to this controversial music, then Metal Evolution is the Master’s programme. My part in this programme is how hard or heavy rock evolved into heavy metal. It was a good interview and most enjoyable.
I was reading England national football manager Fabio Capello’s comments in The Times yesterday, before the international match against Egypt. He says that football players’ scandals are a result of them getting too much money too young. No kidding! They get £100,000 a week whether they play well, badly, indifferently, score in their own goal or are off for weeks with injury. Where is the incentive in that?! Surely somewhere down the line, clubs have to put a performance-related payment in place. Still it is not bad work if you can get it, eh?!
On a totally different note I read that in the UK, there was a Government project to get heavy drug users into work. Now I am afraid this has failure written all over it in my book. There was a cost of £12,000 for every addict that was given a job. Fewer than one in 10 heroin and crack addicts who signed up for the £13million Government scheme were able to hold down employment. A Member of Parliament was reported to say that progress had been slow and expensive. No surprise there, then!
Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard set himself the insane challenge of running 43 marathons in seven weeks. That is a distance of 1,100 miles. The 47-year-old comedian did this for the charity Sports Relief. What a fantastic achievement: he is a shining example to us all, and it was truly a feet of endurance! Sorry, I could not resist it!
I was shocked to read that extra-small condoms for 12-year-olds are going on sale in Switzerland. The condom is called a Hotshot (nice name) and has been produced after government research showed 12-14 year old boys did not use protection when having sex. I am sorry, but at that age it should just be for peeing out of. What has happened to the moral fibre of our society? Anyone agree?
I have been playing the Nice CD Five Bridges which is really cool! The Nice consisted of keyboard player Keith Emerson, bassist/vocalist Lee Jackson, drummer Brian Davison and guitarist David O’List. The Five Bridges suite, commissioned for the Newcastle Arts Festival, was premiered with a full orchestra conducted by Joseph Eger on October 10, 1969 (the recorded version is from October 17 at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall). The title refers to the city’s five bridges spanning the River Tyne (two more have since been built). This CD also has their second single where they created an arrangement of the Leonard Bernstein song America. Emerson described it as the first ever instrumental protest song.
On stage the performances were bold and violent, with Emerson incorporating feedback and distortion. He manhandled his Hammond L-100 organ, wrestling it and attacking it with daggers (which he used to hold down keys and sustain notes). Nice were bathed in controversy when Emerson burned an American flag on stage during a performance of America.
I needed a bit of a musical livener one day this week, so I put on Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell. Pantera is an American heavy metal band from Arlignton, Texas, formed by the Abbott brothers, Vinnie Paul (drums) and Dimebag Darrell (guitar), then known as Diamond Darrell, in 1981. Completing the line-up was bassist Rex Brown and vocalist Phil Anselmo. The line-up was together for 16 years, but in the year 2001, the band broke up. Sadly in 2004, Dimebag was shot and killed on stage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, by a mentally ill gunman, named Nathan Gale, while performing with Vinnie and his new band, Damageplan. He is sadly missed in the guitar world for sure. Cowboys From Hell is full of energy, and soon gets your blood pumping.
A weird no-frills flight snack cost a man a ton of money. The man flying on Ryanair Airlines from Krakow Poland to the East Midlands, UK, purchased on board the aircraft a scratch card and won £8,930 (10,000 euros). He was told that he would have to collect his winnings directly from the company that runs the competition as it was a large sum and he promptly ate the ticket, thereby ruling out any chance of claiming the prize. He must have drunk his duty free on the flight to have been that stupid.
This Friday night on BBC TV, channel BBC4, there was a veritable feast of music programmes on heavy metal. I was one of the people being interviewed on the main programme, Heavy Metal Britannia, but unfortunately I was out that evening with my wife Sheila having dinner and seeing a film. However, I have recorded it as it was on Sky TV, and I will watch it later. By all accounts from the texts I received it was a good programme. The film we saw was called Chloe, and it was based on Anne Fontaine’s 2003 French film Nathalie. It is about a middle-aged doctor Catherine (Julianne Moore) who becomes suspicious of an affair, when her husband David (Liam Neeson) repeatedly comes home late with shoddy explanations. Unable to prove it, she hires escort Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him, and then report back to her what happens. As the deception goes on, and Catherine realises the mistake she has made, Chloe becomes more entangled in her life than she had ever imagined. This film will not win any awards, and lasts for 90 minutes, but it is more than watchable mostly due to the lovely Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried.
In the FA Cup Spurs drew 0-0 with Fulham, so there will be a re-match. Pavlyuchenko’s fire was not burning so bright in this game. Still, at least we are in with a chance to progress to the next round!
This is interesting, as lip-reading on mobile phones is to become a possibility, and put an end to noisy phone calls. This technology could see an end to the bane of many commuters – like people talking loudly on their mobile phones. The kit for this is still very much in the prototype stage, but the device could allow people to conduct silent phone conversations. The technology measures the tiny electrical signals produced by muscles used when someone speaks, and then the device can record these pulses, even when a person does not audibly utter any words. It can then use them to generate synthesised speech. The software translates the signals into text, which can then be spoken by a synthesiser. This could also help people who have lost their voice due to illness or accident, or to take it a step further than that, you can speak in your mother tongue, and the text could be translated into another language. Technology is surely travelling faster than the speed of light.
A big thanks goes to Pierre Schultz, who was the highest bidder for our Wake The Sleeper double bass drum skins, in my Shirt Off My Back Cancer Charity auction. His support is much appreciated.
That’s it for this week, and hopefully I will see you again next week for the next instalment!
Tags: Amanda Seyfried, Brian Davison, Damageplan, David O'List, Dimebag Darrell, Donald Fagen, Eddie Izzard, Iron Maiden, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, Julianne Moore, Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson, Leonard Bernstein, Liam Neeson, Mick Box, Pantera, Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown, Rush, Sam Dunn, Scott McFadyen, Steely Dan, The Nice, Uriah Heep, Vinnie Paul, Walter Decker