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Katy Perry – Teenage Dream – debuts at number one on Billboard

Billboard announced this week that Katy Perry‘s latest album, Teenage Dream is debuting at the top of the album charts with sales of 192,000 in its first week of release. who are all these tone-deaf people buying up this crap??? 192,000 copies??? There are tons of talented singer/songwriters that would kill to sell even a quarter of that. Well, congrats, Katy for duping the mainstream record-buying public into buying your album!

OK, OK, Katy’s not really the one to blame. She just simply wants to be this generation’s Madonna. The problem stems from the whole pop-industry machine that cranks out mind-numbing ear-candy that can easily be marketed to young, impressionable kids. Yeah, I know, it’s been the same ol’ story for decades. But come on, now that the industry has the convenience of Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune, they can basically take any pretty face and mold them into the next pop sensation.

Just look at the assembly line production team that’s behind Perry’s Teenage Dream. The long list includes Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Stargate and Tricky Stewart. And all the uninspired songwriting was done by committee. There’s nothing unique or original about these songs at all. The tunes were all prefabricated, interchangeable and all modeled after proven formulas. The songs seem sterile and feel like they were concocted in a lab – carefully extracting bits from Ke$ha, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Black Eye Peas, Pink and even good ol’ Evanescence.

And don’t get me started on “Peacock”. I’m no prude but still, I wouldn’t want my kids listening/singing-along to that filth. geez. doesn’t she know that a good portion of her audience are 13 and 14 year old girls? and who came up with the sequencing of the tracks? I think the producers simply relied on their iPod to shuffle the tracks randomly with no thought put into it because the flip-flopping between light/humorous tracks with the more sincere/serious material is just plain awkward and distracting.

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Paul McCartney – Band on the Run – 2010 remastered reissue

I’m not sure if you heard it or not but back in early November, there was a huge collectivesigh of relief from Paul McCartney fans the world over. That was when fans finally got the chance to hear the newly remastered Band on the Run CD. Yes, it’s the first of Concord Music Group‘s career-spanning reissue campaign and we’ve all been keeping our fingers crossed hoping that this record company won’t screw it up. You may remember my initial post concerning the reissue campaign back in April expressing my hopes that they’d take special care during the remastering of these albums. Well, I’m happy to report that Concord/MPL did the album justice. The new 2010 reissue of Band On the Run sounds phenomenal. No worries of “brickwalling” or “no-noising” here. In fact, it’s probably the best sounding version of all the past reissues of the album including the highly regarded DCC reissue. Of course, opinions will differ depending on personal preferences but there’s no denying that this reissue is a vast improvement over the 1993 “no-noised” EMI version.

In addition to the great remastering job, Concord thankfully included some bonus material. The 2CD/DVD set features a 9-track bonus CD plus a DVD of the unreleased “One Hand Clapping” special. A special collector’s edition includes a third CD (the audio documentary from the 25th anniversary edition) and a beautiful 120-page book of photos by Linda McCartney and Clive Arrowsmith. And it doesn’t stop there. Concord is also making available a 2-disc 180 gram vinyl set for audiophiles. I’ve listened to the Band on the Run album off and on ever since junior high so needless to say I’m very familiar with the material. But even so, the sound quality and the details that come alive in songs like “Bluebird” and “Mamunia” result in an almost brand new listening experience. Plus, “One Hand Clapping” footage is neat to see. It’s essentially the band playing live in the studio with McCartney full of enthusiasm. As a fan, it’s a blast to see the man perform at this stage in his career (in the early to mid-70′s). His live vocal performances are effortless and he seems very eager to prove himself as an artist out from under the Beatles’ shadow. It’s too bad the video quality of the “One Hand Clapping” special wasn’t spruced up to today’s standards. But as “archival footage” from the mid-70′s, it’ll do.

I’m still not certain if Concord/MPL will be doing the “deluxe” treatment on every album in McCartney’s catalog but it sure would be nice if they do. There’s probably enough material (B-sides, alternate mixes, re-mixes, unreleased tracks, etc.) to fill up multiple discs for every release. But I guess Concord will be making the decision on those future “deluxe treatments” based on how well “Band on the Run” does in the marketplace. So, Macca fans, do your duty and order more copies of the Band on the Run reissue for holiday stocking stuffers for all your family & friends! Let’s encourage Concord to do the right thing and invest in the extra care and attention to McCartney’s back catalog.