“I’M THE SOLE stockholder, the CEO, the man. Me and my manager are the owners of this thing.”So says Ice-T, aka Tracy Marrow, on the subject of his new label, Rhyme Syndicate. The vanity imprint, distributed through Priority Records, issues “Home Invasion” tomorrow, Ice-T’s first release since parting ways with Warner Bros. in the wake of the “Cop Killer” controversy. The chairman of the board, though professing no ill will toward his former address, now claims the independent distribution route is the only way to go. “Knowing what I know now, I’d never sign with a major again,” he said. “But when you get started, all you know are the big corporations, and the way they get your records out to the people.” “Home Invasion,” allegedly nixed by Warner Bros. after they heard the masters , is unremitting fury from beginning to end. With favorite target the Los Angeles Police Dept. in his sights throughout, Ice-T never lets up for a minute on the rage. Other objects of his seemingly bottomless ire include hard rappers gone pop (“They know who they are. Let them try to sleep at night after they sell out. And where will they be in five years after they cop out? Nowhere.”), racists, and treacherous women. The endless biliousness, as well as the stream of profanity that accompanies every track, was probably the reason for Ice-T’s falling out with Warners, although the rapper has “no hard feelings toward Warner Records at all.” “Warner Bros. was the last corporation willing to fight censorship and back free speech, but Time Warner and the media left them high and dry,” he claimed. Still, with a royalty rate estimated at $ 7 per compact disc (“I don’t like to talk about money, man.”), Ice-T isn’t complaining. He’s also not telling who he intends to sign to his new label, although a record by his rock band side project Body Count is on tap. Nor does he disclose the sources of the samples on his new one. “We didn’t really use anything you can make out,” he claimed. “I didn’t want to loop James Brown or P-Funk this time, because it would be like covering those songs, and I’d rather do my own looping. Besides, if they can figure out the samples, they can charge me for them, know what I’m saying?” ALTHOUGH DWIGHT Yoakam is about to release his sixth album, his attentions are focused on his legit stage debut in the lead role of the Peter Fonda-directed “Southern Rapture,” which premieres April 2 at the MET Theater in Los Angeles. Yoakam’s Reprise disc, “This Time,” is set for release tomorrow. A tour — the singer’s first in several years — will follow. A performance by Yoakam during WEA’s product presentation seminar at the recent National Assn. of Record Merchandisers convention was met with large numbers of attendees heading for the exits. Perhaps it was because the performance came at the end of the 90-minute presentation. Others speculated the mass exodus was engendered by Yoakam turning his back on the house to do, as one observer described it, “his tush thing,” when he points his guitar skyward while assuming an Elvis-like stance. (Yoakam was last on the charts with his recording of “Suspicious Minds”– a signature song for Elvis — for the “Honeymoon in Vegas” soundtrack). Yoakam said he was convinced by Fonda and co-star Sally Kirkland that doing the play was an opportunity he should seize. “I didn’t feel I was going to have the time to do this and focus,” Yoakam said after his performance at NARM. “But Peter and Sally convinced me I shouldn’t pass this up.” The disc’s first single, “Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” was among the trio of songs Yoakam performed for the industryites at NARM. “You have good crowds, and there’s the other types,” Yoakam diplomatically said when asked his reaction to the dwindling audience at his set. “I try not to dwell on such things.” CHICAGO BLUES MASTER Buddy Guy is joined on his sophomore Silvertone Records disc “Feels Like Rain” by such notables as Paul Rodgers, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall and Travis Tritt, the latter joining Guy on a duet of John Fogerty’s “Change in the Weather.” “I had trouble feeling that song,” Guy said, “until Travis joined in, and man , did he make it work.” The song’s crossover feel should score some radio play, a prospect that clearly excites Guy. “It would be nice to get a whole new group of fans to appreciate (me) and John Lee (Hooker) and B.B’s (King’s) work,” Guy said. “And I’m not the inventor, like those guys are, I’m just a copier, so if radio plays me, they should play the masters also.” The disc’s title track will be the first single. Guy’s visibility this year may reach a career high. The axman recently impressed attendees during a live performance at the National Assn. of Record Merchandisers confab in Orlando, Fla., and is among the Who’s Who of blues, playing duets with King on the upcoming MCA release “B.B. King’s Blues Summit.” Guy will play more than 200 dates this year, including a show at the Roxy Thursday. “YOU TAKE A CHILD out of the womb and you slap it,” American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel said. “If you’re too delicate with something, it never really exists.” That’s the way Eitzel decribed the approach he and his bandmates — guitarist Vudi, bassist Dan Pearson, drummer Tim Mooney, steel guitarist/keyboardist Bruce Kaplan — took to making their sixth record. The band’s major label debut, “Mercury,” is scheduled for release through Reprise/Warner Bros. tomorrow. Eitzel said the band feared treating its music too preciously, so they hired producer Mitchell Froom (Los Lobos, Crowded House, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega) who would, figuratively speaking, slap them around a little. “Mitchell was the first producer we interviewed who said, ‘You have a problem ,’ so we picked him,” Eitzel said. American Music Club earned vast critical praise for its 1991 release “Everclear” on L.A.-based indie label Alias Records, who picked them up after contractual problems with Frontier Records. Rolling Stone called “Everclear” one of 1991′s five best albums and honored Eitzel as best songwriter. That kind of critical success (which nonetheless added up to weak sales of about 22,000 units) scared Eitzel, who calls his publishing company “I Failed in Life Music.” His insecurity is enough to send him running from the stage during a show, sometimes not to return. “The last time I did that was at the Whisky,” he recalled. “It was wall-to-wall record industry people. That’s a really hard crowd to play for because they’re not even looking at you, they’re looking around to see what the reactions of the people around them are.” For “Mercury,” Eitzel admitted he’s writing better than ever, although he added that he still hates the sound of his own voice. His songs, mostly ballads laid on a foundation of rock/folk, are rollercoaster rides of emotion. BMG CLASSICS launched its long-awaited RCA Victor Living Stereo reissue series earlier this month, the newest entry in the crowded mid-priced classical CD market. The Living Stereo slogan adorned RCA Victor’s pioneering stereo LPs from their public debut in 1958 until 1963. Reissue producer John Pfeiffer, who also produced many of the original sessions, told a recent press gathering that the Living Stereo CD series would cover RCA Victor classical recordings dating from 1954 to about 1965. When asked if the series would thus include some of the sonically controversial Dynagroove issues of 1963-65, Pfeiffer said they would be considered if both performance and sound quality were judged to be “great.” Living Stereo LPs have a strong cult following among audiophiles for their smooth, warm sonics. Original pressings that bear the distinctive red-orange label with the “His Master’s Voice” painting on a brown background — known to collectors as “shaded dogs”– often fetch $ 50 and up in the used record market. The first 10 Living Stereo releases from RCA Victor’s vaults feature such starry names as Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubinstein, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leontyne Price, Fritz Reiner, Charles Munch and Arthur Fiedler. A budget-priced sampler CD was released in February, and the open-ended series is expected to contain some 50 titles by the end of 1994. BMG’s new venture comes nearly 2 1/2 years after Philips’ highly successful launch of Mercury Living Presence, another collectible label from the ’50s and ‘ 60s. Like Philips, BMG is using the vintage, newly refurbished tube equipment on which the original tapes were recorded in the remastering process. BMG is also reproducing the original cover art on the booklets and a not-quite-literal facsimile of the original “shaded dog” label on the CDs.
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