WITH THE GOAL of making solar energy hip again, Dave Wakeling and Kate Karam created Greenpeace Records, receiving a $ 300,000 advance from Hollywood Records , and built a solar generator from scratch to record the new label’s first album , “Alternative NRG.”
Given Sun Records’ place in rock history, it seems an appropriate advancement.
“We went to our friends in the music industry and the recording studios to get the necessary technical requirements and then went to the solar industry to see how it could be done,” said Wakeling, longtime alternative music artist of the bands English Beat and General Public. “We wanted something that provided enough power yet wouldn’t blow up somebody’s recording truck.”
“We looked at alternative energy and a way to make it new,” Karam said. “Unfortunately, alternative energy has a bad rap with a failed, ’70s Carter administrative connotation to it, when in fact solar and wind power provide electricity for millions of homes in the U.S. now.”
The final bill for the generator was $ 80,000.
Their final stops were with friends R.E.M. and U2 to ask for their participation. “They thought it was incredible and said that they would love to do it,” says Wakeling. The album’s roster then expanded to include Midnight Oil, L7, James, Soundgarden, Brian May, UB40, Annie Lennox, P.M. Dawn, the Soup Dragons, EMF, Sonic Youth, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, the Jesus & Mary Chain and others.
Even the record’s packaging underwent strict scrutiny. The result was a package made from completely recycled, mostly post-consumer waste materials, printed with vegetable-based ink without using chlorine bleach or plastic.
“Alternative NRG” was released Feb. 1, and all proceeds will benefit Greenpeace Intl.
THE FEB. 1 RCA soundtrack album release for the Universal film “Reality Bites” (which debuted Friday at the Sundance Film Festival) features a dozen MTV-friendly songs that would be at home on any college or KROQ-style playlist.
Given the film’s twentysomethings-coping-in-the-’90s theme, and first-time director Ben Stiller’s edged satirical sense regarding fringe music, it’s keenly appropriate that the filmmakers fine-tuned their attentions to alternative sounds to give “Reality” its bite.
Particularly toothy inclusions are new songs by World Party (“When You Come Back to Me”), the Posies (“Going, Going, Gone”), Me Phi Me (“Revival”), Big Mountain (giving a reggae touch to Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way”), Lisa Loeb (“Stay”), Dinosaur Jr. (“Turnip Farm”) and a new take on the ’80s hit “Tempted” by Squeeze.
“I didn’t think of the soundtrack as separate from the film,” said Stiller. “I just concentrated on what was right for the film, then I saw that the soundtrack developed into its own entity.”
Source music contributions come from Lenny Kravitz, Crowded House (current Capitol hit “Locked Out”), Juliana Hatfield, the Indians and the omnipresent U2. Rounding out the CD are a pair of cuts with camp appeal: The Knack’s “My Sharona” remixed by Red Hot Chili Peppers producer Dave Jerden, and “I’m Nuthin” sung by co-star Ethan Hawke.
The soundtrack was compiled and supervised by Ron Fair, senior VP, West Coast A&R, for RCA Records and independent music supervisor Karen Rachtman in conjunction with Stiller and the film’s executive producer, Stacey Sher of Jersey Films.
RCA’s marketing efforts are particularly far-reaching, with five singles, three videoclips and a proposed second disc in the works. First up is the single release of Juliana Hatfield’s “Spin the Bottle” with a Stiller-directed video already at MTV.
It will be worked concurrently with “Locked Out”; Kravitz’s “Spinning Around Over You”; the Knack’s “My Sharona,” shipping to AOR on 7-inch vinyl backed with the Squeeze track; and Big Mountain’s “Baby …” at CHR, urban, alternative, club and adult contemporary.
“We’ve also recorded ‘Baby’ in Spanish,” Fair said. “It’s probably going to be the first Spanish reggae hit that Frampton ever had.”
ROYCE HALL, the symbol of UCLA for more than 60 years, has been closed indefinitely to public programming due to structural damage caused by the Northridge earthquake Jan. 17.
Most of the concerts on the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts schedule have been moved to the Wadsworth Theater on the grounds of the Veterans Administration in West L.A.
However, a number of scheduled performances have been canceled outright, as have some upcoming Los Angeles Philharmonic recording sessions.
This includes April 1-2, when Pinchas Zukerman, Zubin Mehta and the Phil were to record Brahms’ Violin Concerto for BMG Classics. Also up in the air are May 9 -10 Royce sessions in which Yefim Bronfman, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the orchestra were scheduled to tape Bartok’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 for Sony Classical.
L.A. SEEN: Raygun Magazine threw a one-year anniversary party for itself at Hollywood’s poshest “dive” bar, Cosmo’s. Heralded for city blocks around the club by a proliferation of vintage Valiants and Falcons parked in the area, the bar was packed with stripe-shirted and knitcapped funk-grunge twentysomethings, swigging Bohemia beer, munching on food catered by Atlas Bar & Grill and listening to blaring techno.
Geffen artists That Dog played a short set on the tiny stage and was ogled by the likes of the Beastie Boys, KROQ’s Rodney Bingenheimer, members of the Muffs, Glue, I’m Not Jesus, Moon Zappa and former porn queen Traci Lords. Inside Cosmo’s, the rustic decor features bare bricks, which looked awfully solid in light of the recent earthquake.
WOMEN IN CHARGE: A bevy of female solo artists and groups fronted by women are converging on the Top 40 charts. They include:
Swedish sensation Ace of Base, fronted by two female singers, boasts the most-requested and second most-played single in the country with “The Gift.”
French Canadian songstress Celine Dion is enjoying one of her biggest hits with “The Power of Love.” It’s the fifth most-played and the fourth most-requested single according to radio trade magazine Network Forty.
Rap trio Salt-N-Pepa are following up their smash hit, “Shoop,” with a collaboration with En Vogue on “Whatta Man.”
Two other female-fronted acts, singer Toni Braxton and the Irish band Cranberries, have just peaked from top-five showings, while female quartet Eternal has one of the fastest-rising hits with “Stay.”