On Music; In fall, music writer’s fancy turns to New York

THIS WEEK, On Music travels to New York, the other city in America, according to most Los Angeles residents, returning to our roots to discover the simple peasant joys of real pizza, bagels, authentic Chinese (not remodeled Thai) food and hairy-chested drinking establishments, the type that are dark, dingy and have grizzled Irish guys with hair in their ears behind the stick.

Gathering a few of our industry chums, we repaired to such a place to talk about a few things going ’round the biz this week.


  • I know the post-coital afterglow of EMI Music’s purchase of Sparrow Communications might make some industryites go overboard, but does anybody really believe gospel music will become the next big thing? You can bet that mainstream acceptance of the genre will be contingent on an extreme watering-down of its message.

  • Is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe Sinead O’Connor knew that tearing up a picture of the Pope on national television would be worth several million in album sales?

  • Can’t wait to read the forthcoming books by former L.A. Times reporter Bill Knoedelseder on the MCA/Morris Levy/Sal Pisello cutout deals and the Fred Goodman book on the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Early scuttlebutt on Knoedelseder’s book–working title, “Better Than Gold”–says Irving Azoff has a key role; Goodman’s book reportedly will feature Bruce Springsteen manager Jon Landau and David Geffen as its mainstays, although the reclusive Landau is said to be lobbying hard for a way out.

  • The Concrete Foundations Forum last week produced less grumbling than the 1991 edition, but the show sponsors can’t be overjoyed by the universal ho-hum that constituted most industryites’ reaction. My suggestion for a great convention: Just line up a bar, a few bands, a schmooze room, and call it “Music Industry Convention ’92.” The show motto: “All the business–none of the obligations.”

  • Why is it that no one ever believes the Recording Industry Assn. of America annual midyear numbers? As Russ Solomon said in Billboard regarding the alleged 6.69% increase: “Everyone should be dancing in the streets. So why are they all crying the blues?” Either tons of records are being sold through the mail order clubs, or the numbersjust aren’t right.

  • Best unofficial industry party of the year is the annual Holdship clan backyard barbecue, which took place late last month in the Hollywood Hills. Among the guests: Dwight Twilley, Tommy Stinson of the Replacements, Susan Cowsill, Vicki Peterson of the Bangles, assorted writers, publicists and local musicians, all gathered for the kind of event most of us cut our eyeteeth on in the ‘burbs.

  • Haven’t heard a good layoff rumor in weeks. Does that mean all the major bloodletting is done for this year, and that attrition and lack of hiring will take care of the rest?

  • Are all those rumors true concerning two top exex from an East Coast-based major distributor? Are these two guys really at each other’s throats, leading some to speculate that only one man will emerge from this playing-for-keeps battle?

  • So what’s the real story–is Ozzy Osbourne actually playing his final show as a solo artist early next month at Pacific Amphitheatre? Or will he take a year off and then resume his career, as about 400 other artists who claimed to be playing their last show have done?

  • If I had told you a few years ago that the new Nine Inch Nails album would bow in the Top 10, what would you have said? Or that a balding country music star would account for 20% of a major distributor’s sales?

Set ’em up again, Joe. Maybe we’ll come up with the answers.

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