Author Archives: Alan Cross

RIP The Monkees’ Davy Jones

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

When a couple of filmmakers saw the Beatles' Hard Day's Night, they had an idea.  Why not put together a pop band featuring cute and quirky members who could also star in a TV show?  The result was The Monkees, one of the first manufactured rock bands.  They were quite literally made for TV.

Don Kirschner, the head of Screen Gems (studio home of Bewitched, The Jetsons, Gidget, I Dream of Jeanie, The Flintstones and dozens more), oversaw the casting sessions.  One of the guys he picked from the crowd of hopefuls was an actor from Manchester named David Thomas Jones.

Things That Happened in Music on February 29

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Every four years, we have to work an extra day just so we can make sure our calendar doesn't spin out of control with the solar system. This makes February 29th a rather special day historically. With only one such date occurring every four years, it makes for some interesting trivia.

1772: Gioachino Rossini, composer of The Barber of Seville, was born. Thanks to him, we have one of the greatest Bugs Bunny cartoons of all time.

1920: Albert James Freed was born. He'd later become famous as Alan Freed, the DJ that gave us the phrase "rock and roll."

1968: The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album wins four Grammy awards: Album of the Year, Best Cover, Best Engineered Album and Best Recorded Album.

1972: John Lennon's immigration visa expired marking the beginning of a three-and-a-half year fight to stay in the US.

Saul Williams, the hip-artist, is born. He turns 10 today. Think about it.

Weekly Music Sales Report: 29 February 2012

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

With Grammy hype over, the furor over Whitney dying down and a generally like release date, it's no surprise that music sales took a bit of a dump over the last seven days.  

But although overall sales are down 20% over the previous week, things are still pacing a full 5% ahead of 2011.  CDs continue to take a hit (-7% from last year) while digital album sales (+35%) and digital track sales (+31%) are up.

Guess what's at #1 again in Canada?  Yeah, it's Adele, who sold another 28,000 units of 21 in the last seven days.  If you're counting, this is 1.11 million total in Canada and her 31st non-consecutive week in the top spot.  And if that weren't enough, 19 sits at #5.

Whitney Houston continues to do much better then she did when she was alive.  Her greatest hits album leapt 27-3, selling 8,000 copies, which is an increase of 263% over last week.  And this is interesting:  all sales came from physical copies.

Top 10 Soundtracks for Bad Movies

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

[A nice list contributed by Brent Chittenden.  I like lists.  Got any?--AC]

With all the fuss about the Oscars this past weekend (for the record, the only time in the past 12 years I’ve watched the Oscars was while in the Emergency Room after I had mysteriously passed out. I got to see a good ton of James Franco’s mug while have 8 staples smacked into my skull. The staples hurt less), I got to thinking about films and soundtracks and came to a revelation on how many bad films are out there with pretty solid soundtracks.

So for your amusement, discussion and argument purposes, here’s the Top Ten Awesome Soundtracks To Bad Movies.

10) Singles

I’m a big fan of Cameron Crowe’s film work, but Singles is kind of a mess of a movie. It feels really unpolished and when you watch it, it’s almost like they needed another 6 months of pre-production to work on the script. The soundtrack, however, is filled with the best of the best of grunge with a little Paul Westerberg thrown in for good measure.  The only Seattle act missing is Nirvana but it does feature Alice in Chains, Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam (who have cameo’s in the film) and even Mother Love Bone. The soundtrack is a good snapshot of the scene... too bad the movie wasn’t.

Was Elvis’ Manager Actually a Killer on the Lam?

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

There are plenty of stories, myths and legends about Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, but here's one I'd never heard before:  he was a actually a killer on the run from the law.  (Apologies to hardcore fans of the King if this is old news; I've never been much of a student of Elvis.)

Paul forwarded me this article from

So far as the wider world knew, the Colonel was Thomas Andrew Parker, born in Huntingdon, West Virginia, some time shortly after 1900. He had toured with carnivals, worked with elephants and managed a palm-reading booth before finding his feet in the early 1950s as a music promoter. Had anyone taken the trouble to inquire, however, they would have discovered that there was no record of the birth of any Thomas Parker in Huntingdon.

Turning Brainwaves into Music

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

When I was a kid, I suffered from crippling migraines.  It got to the point where my parents insisted I get an EEG just to see if there was a tumour or something growing in there.

I was fascinated by the squiggly line read-outs generated by the EEG machine.  "What's that?" I asked. "Brainwaves," said the doctor, "It's a way of looking at what your brain does.  In a way, this captures what your brain is doing when you're thinking."

Fast-forward to today and a Tokyo musician named Masaki Batoh.  He's figured out a way to translate his EEG readings--his brainwaves--into music.  He calls the contraption he puts on his head a BPM Machine, which he considers to be a musical instrument.

Free Pre-Release Album Streams from Rdio

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

If you're looking for something to listen to whilst at work today, here are three albums that you can preview courtesy Rdio.

Xiu Xiu/Always:  A little art rock ahead ahead of the band's tour with Dirty Beaches, Father Murphy and/or the most awesome Yamantaka//Sonic Titan this spring.

The Mullet

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

The mullet, perhaps the most rock’n’roll of all hairstyles, is also the most abused.  You what I mean: short on

New Book: “10 Truths About Making It in Music”

February 29th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

There are many, many books written about how to make it in the music business, but I've been drawn to this one because of its easy-to-understand bluntness.

10 Truths About Making It in Music by Ben Brown features not just his analysis but advice from actual artists like OK Go, Anthrax, Dire Straits and 30 Seconds to Mars.  And it's a totally free ebook!

First, he goes through "five things that are assured" about the business today.


  1. There’s more music than ever before and it’s mostly being discovered and consumed online.
  2. The next generation of music listeners won’t expect to have to pay for downloads.
  3. People will always watch live music.
  4. Your fan base will always be your most important asset.
  5. But they will expect more content, at their convenience, with your interaction.
The ten chapters, each based on a quote from an artist, go like this:

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