Early in the morning of December 17, 2013, three all but unannounced digital-only compilations were quietly released. So quietly, in fact, that at first there were concerns that they might only be available for a few hours, which caused a rush on downloads that strained the servers at iTunes and Amazon. Why all the sudden hubbub? Because these compilations consisted of ultra-rare and mostly previously unreleased (even in bootleg circles) recordings made in 1963 by The Beatles, Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, and the collective geniuses at Motown Records.
The reason they came out in the waning days of 2013 is down to the vagaries of copyright law. A recent change in European copyright law extends the copyright period of recordings from 50 to 70 years, but only if the recordings in question are commercially released; otherwise, copyright expires 50 years after the songs were recorded. In other words, these songs would have gone into the public domain yesterday morning if they hadn't been commercially released: now the copyrights are good until the end of 2083.
The reason for the digital-only, unheralded releases is that the material in question is really aimed at the most hardcore fans: there's nothing particularly revelatory on any of the sets in terms of fantastic buried gems. That said, each has its own fascinations. The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 starts off with early studio run-throughs of familiar songs which are mostly of interest to hardcore studio nerds listening for lyrical changes or different instrumental riffs. But the bulk of the 59-track (!!!) set consists of live BBC sessions that capture the band at their most infectious and energetic.
The 22-track anthology of early Brian Wilson productions, The Big Beat 1963, finds the mercurial genius right at the point where he's learning how to command the recording studio; by 1964, this will result in deathless pop classics like "The Warmth of the Sun" and "I Get Around." But while these experiments with The Beach Boys, The Honeys (a vocal trio featuring Brian's girlfriend Marilyn Rovell), and others have their moments, they're mostly juvenilia, throwbacks to the '50s rock that inspired Wilson rather than portents to the gorgeously complex pop symphonies he was about to start writing.
The 52-track Motown 1963 Unreleased follows up on five different collections of 1962 rarities that came out in late 2012, including separate discs of unreleased jazz and gospel sessions. Unlike the rough and ready demos and outtakes on the Beatles and Wilson collections, the fabled Motown assembly line created these finished radio-ready mixes that for various reasons didn't make Berry Gordy's final cut. To be fair, Marvin Gaye's "Talking 'Bout the Limbo" would have done his career no favors, and songs like R. Dean Taylor's abashed-stalker anthem "Respectable Distance Away" even now sound too weird to get within sniffing distance of the charts. But they all sound amazing in that classic early-Motown style.
As the years go on, look for these download-only fan releases to officially become A Thing. Capitol Records already seems to be surprised at how well The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 has done: even retailing at a hefty $39.99, the set sold over 7000 copies its first week, making it onto the Billboard album charts at #172. Not bad for an album that's basically just a legal maneuver. To real Beatles diehards, this means only one thing: in 2017, Capitol will release the fabled "Carnival of Light," a legendary 14-minute psychedelic experiment that has long been the holy grail of Beatles collectors.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The veteran style icon fell ill at a Paris, France airport shortly before he was due to board a flight to Greece, and was taken by ambulance to the city's American Hospital.
Doctors told the 87 year old he had suffered a minor "vasovagal episode", a fall in blood pressure which can lead to unconsciousness.
Cardin was discharged later that night. The designer was hospitalised in May (09) with similar symptoms, linked to his high blood pressure.
Top Story: Playboy Models Undress for Musicians
It seems Grammy-winning rapper Nelly has managed to get a coterie of Playboy models to take off all their clothes. Nelly is one of several musicians picked to photograph the models in the buff for Playboy magazine's April issue, The Associated Press reports. The rapper's new shutterbug skills were recorded for the home video and DVD Playboy's Hip-Hop & Rock, released Tuesday. Other musicians participated, too, including Ja Rule, Xzibit, DMX, Bret Michaels, Tommy Lee, Korn's Jonathan Davis and Disturbed's David Draiman. According to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the guest photographers "took the work very seriously." Draiman, who photographed model Gina Patrone, said the shoot was easy for both of them, even though he had little experience as a photographer. "They gave me an idiot-proof camera that was basically point-and-shoot," he said.
MTV Hosts "T3" Party in Cannes
MTV and Sony will host a party at this year's Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the out-of-competition screening of Warner Bros.'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Reuters reports. According to MTV Europe, T3 stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes, along with director Jonathan Mostow, will attend the shindig at Pierre Cardin's private villa, Le Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace), on May 17. The film is set for release July 2.
O'Connell Apologizes for Stereotypes
Actor Jerry O'Connell, who stars in the comedy Kangaroo Jack, is visiting Down Under this week to stave off negative press about the film's stereotypes of Australians, the AP reports. "I don't want to say it generalizes and stereotypes, but yes [veteran Australian actor] Bill Hunter does get drunk in every scene and yes, it does take us an hour to walk from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs," he said, referring to towns that are 370 miles apart. "It's a little silly but it's a fun romp," he said, adding that the main purpose of his promotional visit is damage control.
"Malcolm" Back for Fifth Season
Fox has picked up Malcolm in the Middle for a fifth season, keeping the dysfunctional family sitcom in primetime through the 2003-2004 TV season, Variety reports. The network consistently dominates Malcolm's timeslot among adults 18-49 and recently moved the show to the tentpole Sunday 9 p.m. time slot after years of following The Simpsons. The show, which stars Jane Kaczmarek, Bryan Cranston and Frankie Muniz, will premiere in off-net syndication this fall.
Celebs Sue Fry's Electronics
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington filed lawsuits Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Fry's Electronics for allegedly using their images in newspaper advertisements without permission, the AP reports. The celebs say the ads, which ran in the Los Angeles Times and other major newspapers, could diminish their "hard-earned and well-deserved reputations as major motion picture stars and risks the potential for overexposure." Each actor is seeking $10 million in damages.
Pam Anderson Lettuce-Wrapped
Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has donned a lettuce-leaf bikini to persuade overweight Brits to become vegetarian. The BBC reports that Anderson launched the national campaign in Liverpool, which was recently named as one of the five "fattest" cities in the UK. The billboard poster, commissioned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, will go up across Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton, the other four "fat" cities.
Dangerfield Recovering From Surgery
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was in stable condition Wednesday as he recovered in an intensive care unit from a 12-hour arterial brain surgery to improve his blood flow for an upcoming heart valve replacement, the AP reports. Dangerfield, 81, remained heavily sedated and was expected to remain hospitalized for up to 10 days. His surgery took about four hours longer than expected, but his publicist, Kevin Sasaki, said Dangerfield was recovering on schedule. His heart valve surgery is planned about three weeks after he is released from the hospital.
Dr. Laura's Mother Not Murdered
Radio advice guru Dr. Laura Schlessinger's estranged mother, whose badly decomposed body was found in her Beverly Hills home in December, died of natural causes, Reuters reports. Police initially suspected foul play in Yolanda Schlessinger's death, but Los Angeles Coroner's officials said Wednesday that an autopsy and investigation revealed she had died of natural causes. Schlessinger, 77, had been dead for two months or more before her body was found. Police found her body after neighbors called them, concerned because they had not seen her in weeks and because her bird had stopped singing.
Role Call: Sullivan Tapped for "Barbershop 2," Newcomer Helms "Birdie" Update
Director Kevin Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) will helm MGM's Barbershop 2, which is set for a summer start in Chicago. Sullivan replaces Tim Story, who directed the first installment and was on board for the sequel but later dropped out in favor of the DreamWorks comedy Date School ... Recent University of Southern California grad Jon M. Chu will direct a remake of the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie for Columbia Pictures and Red Wagon Prods. Although a script hasn't been written, Chu, 23, has turned in a treatment for his vision of the film--expected to be a more urban, hip-hop take than the original and aimed at younger moviegoers.
Gone too soon, too fast.
The fact that the R&B singer Aaliyah has died is still hard to accept not only by her family and friends, but also by her fans.
As funeral services are being planned for Aaliyah on Friday in Manhattan, fans are rushing to stores to purchase copies of her album for memory's sake. According to SoundScan, sales from her third self-titled album have increased by 41 percent since the day of her death.
Aaliyah's boyfriend, Roc-a-Fella records co-CEO Damon Dash, who reportedly hasn't gotten out of bed since he heard of the fatal accident, told Sonicnet.com on Thursday that the loss was "heartbreaking."
"She was the best person I ever knew. I never met a person like her in my life," Dash said as his voice broke with emotion. The pair had planned to marry "as soon as she had time," he said.
But what will the music industry do to keep the singer's memory alive?
According to video director Hype Williams, the ideal move would be to release the video for her song "Rock the Boat" as a tribute to the star. Williams directed Aaliyah in the video filmed at the Bahamas days prior to her death.
"I know there's a lot of pain involved, but that's all the more reason people would appreciate what we've done as a group," Williams said on Thursday.
According to Williams, clips from the footage showed Aaliyah on the beach with her back towards the ocean, dressed in a red top and wearing dangling hoop earrings, as she sang slightly suggestive lyrics to the song.
A spokesperson for Blackground Records said it was too soon to say what would become of the footage.
Metallica loves a lawsuit
...Or at least that's what it seems, after the hard-rock band finds they getting involved in lawsuit after lawsuit.
Their latest case occurred last week, when the band found that MHT Luxury Alloys in Torrance, Calif.., introduced a wheel called Metallica. The band has asked the automobile company to recall all Metallica products from its customers and to either make a settlement or face a lawsuit, MTV.com reported.
"My boss is 48 years old and doesn't know much about the music industry," MHT sales manager Steve Anderson told MTV.com. "The wheels were metal, so he called them 'Metallica,' that's all there is to it."
Anderson added that his company is likely to comply with Metallica's demands.
According to Metallica's lawyer, Jill Pietrini, the band gets involved in more than 10 copyright infringement cases per year. But rest easy, Metallica usually resolves them without going to court.
This is not the first time the rock band has taken action against companies that use their name without permission.
In January 1999, the group sued Victoria Secret for producing Metallica lip pencils; West Mill, a tuxedo-manufacturing license of Pierre Cardin that used their name in advertisements; and Cosmar, a nail file manufacturer that embossed file sleeves with their name printed on them.
In December 2000, the band also sued French perfume maker Guerlain and department stores Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for selling a Metallica perfume.
"I'm not sure why [companies] think they can get away with it," Pietrini told MTV.com. "Anyone who does a trademark search would come up with the Metallica name and see how much we protect the trademark."
I don't know about you, but when I put on my Metallica lipstick every morning, the song "Enter Sandman" is not the first thing that comes to mind.
McLean stays sober...and counting
"I'm celebrating 51 days sober today," Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean said to the 14,000 fans that came to see the Backstreet Boys perform at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Aug. 24. This would be the first time the boy band would resume their Black and Blue tour after McLean left a Los Angeles rehab center where he was treated for alcoholism, depression and anxiety.
"I just wanted to say I wish I could go out and hug each and every one of you," McLean said, choking up. "Thank you for letting me go through what I needed to go through to get myself better."
With McLean back, the Backstreet Boys are also preparing to release a compilation of their greatest hits due Oct. 23 entitled Chapter One, BSB member Kevin Richarson told Sonicnet.com on Wednesday.
"We're gonna put out something that means the end of a chapter in our lives and the beginning of another," Richardson said.
The group's heartthrob, Nick Carter, wants to make clear that this is not a greatest hits album because "once you put out the greatest hits, everybody's like, 'That's it, they're gone," he said.
Eminem stops performance for injured fans
While many Americans pass judgement on Eminem's controversial, yet intriguing work, Scottish fans can't get enough of him.
Around 45 people were injured on Saturday after the rapper took the stage at the Gig on the Green concert in Glasgow, Scotland. Eminem was 15 minutes into his set when he was asked to stop performing and was forced to take a 30-minute break, pleading with the crowd to stop surging, MTV reported.
In a statement, a police spokesman told CNN, "A number of people were removed from the crowd and after it was deemed safe Eminem came back on stage. No one was seriously injured; thankfully, they are all walking wounded."
Eleven people were treated at local hospitals and released, while others were treated at tents around the outdoor concert. "Eminem and his band did all they could to help the situation and we are grateful for his support," the spokesman said.
In related news, Eminem's animated cartoon series, The Slim Shady Show, which have been airing online at SlimShadyWorld.com, will be released on DVD and VHS on Nov. 6, Sonicnet.com reported.
Around 70 minutes of previously webcasted episodes, showcases behind the scene footage, disses "Pristina Gaguilera," and includes an interview with Eminem.
'N Sync goes 5x platinum
'N Sync's album Celebrity was certified five times platinum by the Recording Association of America (RIIA) on Aug. 22, exactly 30 days after its release, Billboard reported.
The album sold 1.88 million units in its debut week, followed by their previous No Strings Attached, which sold 2.4 million units last March.
However, Celebrity didn't stay at the top of the charts for very long, as it was bumped down when the seventh volume in the hit compilation series NOW! 7 hit the stores climbed to No.1 on The Billboard 200 charts for the last three weeks.
The NOW! 7 album series stands strong at No. 1, followed by the fourth and sixth volumes in the series, which have also rocketed to the top of the charts in previous years.