“YOU CAN TRAIN the audience to behave the way you want them to,” country music singer Aaron Tippin asserts. “If you want them to go crazy, you go crazy on stage. Most performers think they feed off of the audience, it’s actually the other way around.”
Tippin’s rapid-fire delivery and refusal to wear a cowboy hat puts him at odds with popular conceptions of country artists. The singer is also an avid bodybuilder, looking more like an ad for Gold’s Gym than a poster boy for the local cafe serving biscuits and gravy.
Tippin will also admit to having a steady girlfriend, rather than two-stepping around the question like many of his single singing brethren.
These differences have apparently helped the former corporate pilot in his quest to mine Music City gold. Tippin’s first two RCA albums have sold well, with his sophomore effort eclipsing his debut, in defiance of the usual sophomore jinx syndrome, and passing the platinum mark.
Tippin is set to launch his third disc, “Call of the Wild.” The disc’s first single has been out for three weeks and is experiencing double-digit chart and radio station add jumps. The album officially hits the street Aug. 3.
Tippin switched producers for his new disc, substituting Scott Hendricks (Restless Heart, Alan Jackson) for Emery Gordy Jr., who helmed his first two efforts. “When I hear Scott’s stuff on the radio it just hits me in the face. It has an edge, an electricity,” Tippin said.
Hollywood has begun to call Tippin, but it keeps getting a busy signal. The beefy singer says he doesn’t have any acting aspirations and admits to losing a part to fellow country singer Collin Raye.
But there is one man who could perhaps change his mind: country music fan and fellow fitness buff Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“If Arnold offers me something, maybe I’ll take it,” Tippin joked in a really bad Austrian accent.
IN THE SO-CALLED Year of the Woman, there are a lot of contenders to pick from as the next leader in pop music. One artist making a strong claim for the mantle is Mammoth/Atlantic recording artist Julianna Hatfield. The former leader of underground whiz-kids the Blake Babies has just released her second solo CD, “Become What You Are,” an aptly titled collection of new tracks.
Fractured and raw, without the pretty jangle that has characterized her previous solo and band recordings, “Become What You Are” places Hatfield in an odd netherworld. “I’m not quite a riot grrrl, I’m not really pop, I’m sort of in-between,” says Hatfield. Like her fellow traveler, Polly Jean Harvey (who fronts the band PJ Harvey), Hatfield is somewhere in the middle, and the comparison is telling. Like Harvey, Hatfield fronts a trio and bangs out a tough blend in her new ensemble.
Standout tracks include the story-like “Dame With a Rod,” the oblique “President Garfield,” and “Feelin’ Massachusetts,” a tribute to Hatfield’s former home.
“I had to get out of Boston,” Hatfield said. “I felt like I was becoming a local legend or something.” Hatfield has no permanent base, and for now is happy with that. “It’s that kind of freedom that’s given me a real edge, a desire to move on,” Hatfield said. “After my band broke up, I thought I was gonna have a nervous breakdown. Like, what do I do next?”
Apparently she recovered; Hatfield will tour in support of “Become” in the fall.
LONDON RECORDShas ambitious long-range plans for its Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music) project, which seeks to resurrect neglected music by composers who were persecuted by the Third Reich. John Mauceri, conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and German conductor Lother Zagrosek will be splitting the recording assignments.
The release of two operas — Ernst Krenek’s “Jonny Spielt Auf” under Zagrosek and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s “Das Wunder der Heliane” under Mauceri, both world-premiere recordings — kicked off the series in April. Future releases will contain unknown or little-known works by Berthold Goldschmidt, Viktor Ullmann, Franz Schreker and Franz Waxman.
The series also will include works that have already had multiple recordings, such as Paul Hindemith’s “Die Harmonie der Welt.”
According to Mauceri, Entartete Musik is an expansion of London’s 5-year-old Kurt Weill series, which had been bogged down by disagreements between the label and the Kurt Weill Foundation. Steve Winn, VP of London Records, added that any future Weill releases will probably come out under the Entartete Musik logo, since Weill was one of the composers under fire by the Nazis.
Mauceri believes that this series will unlock a treasure chest of music that has been ignored for decades, whether thrown out by Hitler or denigrated by subsequent waves of fashion.
Despite Nazi efforts to eradicate music the regime despised, much has survived. “Korngold’s music had to be smuggled out piece by piece in between the pages of Beethoven scores,” Mauceri said.
London has a tentative release plan for Entartete Musik stretching through early 1996, and Mauceri says that he has projects booked through the year 2000.
However, Mauceri added that the series is meant to be open-ended, and eventually London may record works that were banned by other countries besides Nazi Germany.
FANS OF FRISCO-based rap artists Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Beat writer William Burroughs should watch for a September release of a collaboration between the seemingly disparate camps on Island Records.
The as-yet untitled album smashes generational barriers as it spotlights the 79-year-old Burroughs reading from “Naked Lunch” and other writings, backed by DHH’s cutting-edge marriage of hip-hop and industrial music.
Hal Willner (who produced Burroughs’ 1990 Island release, “Dead City Radio”) handled similar chores on the album with DHH’s Michael Franti and Rono Tse. Willner, a friend of Burroughs, and known for bridging musical worlds in his tributes to Charles Mingus, Kurt Weill and Disney films, seemed the likely candidate to produce. He and the Heroes first put together a 12-minute demo featuring prerecorded tapes of Burroughs reading from his “Words of Advice to Young People” and other writings, matched with an assortment of beats and samples supplied by Franti and Tse.
They then played the demo for Burroughs, who liked what he heard and agreed to do more.
Willner has always been impressed with Burroughs’ ear for all kinds of music. “He’s always been ahead of his time in music,” Willner said, referring to Burroughs’ cutting-edge musical efforts in the ’50s and ’60s using tape loops.
Highlights of the album include an extended version of “Junkie’s Christmas.” A 12-inch dance single culled from the album is also in the works.