EDDIE MURPHY realizes the world isn’t holding its breath waiting for his new Motown album. And that’s just the way he wants it.
Murphy’s third album, “Love’s Alright,” arrives in stores tomorrow. The actor/singer draws on his film experience when talking about its propects.
“I don’t want music to turn into what the movies have turned into, where the onus is on me to make it a blockbuster/big box office/who’s hot and who’s not,” Murphy said. “Because the other records weren’t well-received, people will expect this to suck and may not even listen to it. But some people won’t be expecting anything and then when they hear it, it might surprise them.”
“Love’s Alright” is the product of Murphy’s musical experiments at his Bubble Hill mansion recording studio in Englewood, N.J.
The state-of-the-art facility was a high-tech toy that “grew more and more elaborate,” he said.
After leaving Columbia Records following the release of two albums, Murphy said he “just wanted to do some music. We weren’t trying to make a hit record, we were just cutting music. That’s what’s cool about it. When I listen to this record, I can feel it’s carefree, not trying to be anything. It just kind of happened.”
Murphy claims his first two records, 1985’s “How Could It Be” and 1989’s “So Happy,” weren’t products of his own artistic muse. “I knew that I wanted to express myself, but I wasn’t writing my own stuff, wasn’t involved in the production,” he said.
“I thought, ‘The stuff I write isn’t like the guys on the radio, so I better go get the guys on the radio.’ That’s why the music didn’t gel; I wasn’t behind it.”
Murphy, who has been playing piano for eight years, had the connections to make his latest project more than a casual outing. “I met a lot of friends, being in the movie business,” he said.
Those friends included Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Garth Brooks, to name some of the dozens of guest stars on the album, many of whom appear on the track “The Yeah Song.” Profits from the tune will go to the Murphy-formed Yeah Foundation, which aids various charitable organizations concerned with social reform.
Motown’s promotion game plan sees Murphy embarking on a European, strictly music jaunt (possibly opening for Bon Jovi in a unique pairing of Jersey acts) toward the end of the summer, and then heading back to the states for a music/comedy combo tour.
Murphy’s road band includes musical director/bassist Larry Graham, lead guitarist Ernie Isley, and, at least in Europe, Herbie Hancock on keyboards.
“I’ll do like four songs, then an hour of stand-up, then bring the band back, ” Murphy said.
The proposed dates will also mark Murphy’s first stand-up shows in six years.
“I’m curious to see what my stage shows are like,” he said, noting that the art of stand-up has gone downhill in the interim.
“There’s a bunch (of comedians) that are good, a lot that (aren’t),” he said. “It’s like they watched ‘Delirious’ and ‘Raw’ and (listened to) the Richard Pryor ‘Wanted’ album and then took all the curse shit and made routines around them.”
ADAM ANT WASN’T exactly shocked to fill three nights at the 860-seat Henry Fonda Theatre (his show there this Saturday allegedly sold out in four minutes), but he was pleasantly surprised. It was the rest of the industry that was stunned.
Is this the advent of ’80s nostalgia? Sort of, says Ant; it’s more likely that people have a soft spot for the music they grew up with.
“If Roxy Music got together tomorrow, I’d want a ticket,” Ant said.
“My fans — all those kids the industry turned their noses up at, the teenyboppers — well, those kids are 25 now, and they’re the editors of magazines. They’re looking closely at the generation of music I come from. The biggest act in Britain right now is Madness.”
Ant, 38, has been essentially retired from rock ‘n’ roll for the last six years, concentrating on acting. But he recently brought Miles Copeland in as co-manager, completed a new record and put together a band for a tour that is growing like kudzu.
(He’s hoping for a summer release of the disc, currently in legal limbo at his last label, MCA.)
“It was 18 dates as of this morning,” he said a few days ago. “I was just going to do L.A., then the West Coast — but people see you selling tickets, they want to get you in.” Now, the jaunt has extended as far as New York’s Orpheum Theatre.
From 1977 to 1985, Adam and the Ants typified the flamboyant British dance music that dominated early MTV. They sold 15 million albums for Epic, and topped the charts with singles “Goody Two Shoes,””Desperate But Not Serious” and “Stand and Deliver.” Now, Ant is guest-starring on “Northern Exposure” and Nine Inch Nails are covering his song “Physical.”
The shows will be 70% oldies, Ant said, because he doesn’t kid himself that the fans are coming to hear the new stuff, even if it is produced by Bernard Edwards and Larry Blackmon.
Nor does he believe he should be playing the same venues he last played: 6, 000-seaters like the Greek and the Universal Amphitheatre.
“I don’t read trade papers, but you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know what’s happening. There are bands out there who were playing stadiums a year ago that are doing theaters now. Realistically, keep it small.”
Ant will be joined onstage by longtime collaborator Marco Pirroni, drummer Dave Ruffy (formerly of the Ruffs), guitarist Boz Boorer (Morrisey) and bassist Bruce Witkin (Love Implosion).
Ant essentially considers himself a neophyte actor, living and working in L.A. with the rest of the struggling horde. His upcoming films include “The Reluctant Vampire,””Eyes of a Stranger” and a cameo in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Action Hero.”
“IT’S NO CINDERELLA story, just a positive response to the record,” Freedy Johnston said, talking about the acclaim for his second album, “Can You Fly,” released last April on independent Bar/None Records.
Despite his fairy-tale disclaimer, Johnston did reach for the glass slipper with the new record.
Needing an additional $ 10,000 to complete “Can You Fly,” Johnston sold the house and land willed to him by his grandfather.
So far, his gamble appears to be paying off.
Although sales of the indie release are not spectacular, the critical praise for the album has led Johnston close to a deal with Elektra Records. The fans are turning out for his live shows.
Johnston grew up in Kinsley, Kan., listening to country music and fantasizing about making it as a singer.
Despite those fantasies, he was too shy to push himself, leaving it to friends to shop his demo. He went with the first record company that bit, Hoboken, N.J.-based Bar/None, a label that has developed a reputation as a spawning ground for offbeat singer/songwriters, including They Might Be Giants.
Many critics have likened Johnston to Neil Young in his deft handling of both ballads and rockers. His voice is nasal and sometimes discordant, but his clean-cut, boy-next-door persona couldn’t be more different than Young’s.
Johnston plays Friday at the Palomino, the next night at Jabberjaw.