The twin pillars of the music business are talent and hype. Although talent gets all the respect, it's hype-an art that bears no relation to taste, trends or the truthÏthat's made the music business what it is. Make no mistake, hype is not easy. Press releases and other printed materials generated by record labels work on the same principle as supermarket tabloids or trash TV: Take the merest scrap of truth-usually the act's name spelled correctly-and embellish until it reads like a cross between Hollywood Babylon and Lives of the Great Composers. Often the act helps out with quotes that pad a five-paragraph release into four impressive pages. The only rule: The worse the act, the bolder the hype. Going too far is nearly impossible. So is profundity. Not that profundity and rock 'n' roll will never mix, but, as Chuck Berry might have said, it's a hell of a stretch. It's high time Sun Tracks paid a twisted homage to this neglected folk art. At the risk of invoking the malevolent ghost of Bobbi Flekman (This Is Spinal Tap's hostess-with-the-mostess), here is a sampling of hype gems from the crop of 1991:
SURE-AND WE'LL TELL ALL THE FANS ABOUT IT JUST AS SOON AS THEY SOBER UP®MDNM¯ Poison's music is about heart, soul, anger, love, compassion-and that stuff overrides the idea of just getting drunk and getting laid" (Capitol cover sheet).
HOW ABOUT, THEY CHECKED ADVANCE TICKET SALES"? The Motorhead tour was canceled because the dog ate their homework! No, wait, it was canceled because they missed their bus. No, I know-it was because there was a problem with their visas! No, that's what delayed their last U.S. tour. Um, I'll get it, just give me a minute. Because the train was stuck in between stations? How about the airports are fogged in? Gimme a chance, I'll come up with something. Illness!!! Yeah, that's it, illness. No, huh? Well, let's see...they didn't get the message?! They forgot. They didn't know what day it was..." (Hot Shot press release).
WELL, IT'S NOT SECRETARIAT'S BLOODLINES `The Meat Puppets meet Lynyrd Skynyrd' is how Tim Neilsen of Drivin' and Cryin' (a longtime supporter of the band and producer of one track on the album) describes them" (Rykodisc bio of Barking Tribe).
THIS IS WHY PEOPLE LIVE IN THE PAST `This was the future of pop. It was opera. It was fabulous.'-San Francisco Examiner" (EMI press release on Pet Shop Boys).
MEET THE BEETLES Fuckin' A...if you cannot dig Why Do Birds Sing? then you may consider yourself an empty shell of a human; empty except for your surface, like a water beetle who died in the previous winter's freeze and now finds its dry, hollow remains exposed in the summer sun...all the vital juices long gone... the thin black shell remains perfectly articulated, but only cosmetic" (Slash/Reprise press release on Violent Femmes).
...BUT, DONNY, YOU CAN ALWAYS RETIRE
`Racing can be a lot like singing,' Donny Osmond suggested between practice laps at a car track. `You can go flat in both'" (Capitol newsletter).
RATIONAL THINKERS NEED NOT APPLY, EITHER Trans is the word-trans-generic, transcendent, trance-inducing, transcendental, transfiguring. Space rock/acid dub/cosmic house-all of these and none of them apply" (Sire cover sheet on Primal Scream).
GEE, OFFICER STANISLAVSKI...
Somebody asked me, `Where did you get your acting experience?' And I said it was probably standing in front of a cop in the middle of the night with a flashlight in my face: `No officer, oh no, no no, officer...'" (Ice-T, from Sire cover sheet).
YO MAMA! I have a sticker on my record that says `Parental Guidance Is Suggested.' In my book, parental guidance is always suggested. If you need a sticker to tell you that you need to guide your child, you're a dumb fuckin' parent anyhow" (Ice-T, from Sire cover sheet).
...HAREBRAINED ANALOGIES AND CONVOLUTED PROSE, AN OVERHEATED EPISTLE FROM THE TURBID CESSPOOL OF COMMERCE...
A twisted embryo of melody and metal delivered through a shotgun blast of demented time signatures and intangible rhetoric. ... Landscapes of paranoid rhythms confront a mutated symbiosis of Brian Wilson and Godzilla, unleashing the darker side of prose and poetry. A dream within a nightmare..." (Onslot bio of Dead Surf Kiss). YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
The message, put simply, is to live free, think free, love free, dance free, free yourself to succeed" (Morgan Creek press release on Voice Farm). IN A SLOPPY ROCK 'N' ROLL BAND, PROBABLY
If I didn't have Freddie Mercury's words and lyrics to hold onto as a kid, I don't know where I'd be" (Guns n' Roses' Axl Rose, from a Levine/Schneider press release).
YOU DON'T SAY If music is a language, Skin Chamber is where words fail and the extremes of abjection, trauma and atrocity rush in" (Roadrunner press release).
WORSE THAN DIRTY FELT ON THE BACCARAT TABLES, EVEN The arrival of cable in Monaco-known to its French neighbors as `Le Rocher' or `The Rock'-is very much an environmental issue for Prince Rainier. He regards cable broadcasting technology as a more aesthetic alternative to a skyline of antennae" (MTV press release).
THAT'S EASY FOR HIM TO SAY I know it sounds as if it's the simplest thing to do, to be repetitive and simplistic, but it really does become very wearing" (Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb, from a Geffen cover sheet).
WE FIND THAT HARD TO SWALLOW Nymphs' singer Inger Lorre opened her mouth to reveal two dozen moshing maggots in her band's debut music video. ... For the scene, the maggots were placed on a rose petal to, as [production manager Skot] Bright puts
it, `make it more palatable for Inger.' The shot required four or five takes. `It was important to see them squirm,' says Bright.
`I've had worse things in my mouth,' stated Inger" (Geffen press release).
WELL, AT LEAST SOMEBODY IS Ô`The path of least resistance doesn't always lead to the best in life,' says Victoria Wilson-James [of Soul II Soul]. `Now I'm down-to-earth, weighted-I'm not affected by the glam and glitz. The thing I'm concerned with is my art'" (Epic press release).
...YOU MEAN THEY'RE NOT?
Many people feel that record companies are staffed by cold, heartless, mean and greedy `suits' who care only about selling records, making big bucks and asking for favors" (Def American gift letter).
DOES THIS MAKE HIM A RAMONE CATHOLIC? With these outstanding projects, [Phil] Ramone, hailed...as one of the world's top record producers, is sure to affirm his revered status as the music industry's `Pope of Pop'" (Jensen Communications press release).
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NOT TO MENTION WHAT CHARO IS TO VEGAS What the Sex Pistols were to Britain, Slayer is to America" (Ana at Def American, April 23, 1991).
WHAT'S OXYMORON" IN SPANISH? Publicizing its hunky, Latin rap sensation, Atlantic Records issued a press release headlined, IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS WITH GERARDO."
DIDN'T YOU FORGET ANDRES SEGOVIA? Yet, this country singer is also a guitar virtuoso-placed in the same company as guitar greats Al DiMeola, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Lonnie Mack" (Toolies Country press release on Steve Wariner).
HEY, MAYBE THEY JUST READ THIS ARTICLE! This shit sounds like every other accolade-laden, bone-stroking, bullcrap bio that's ever spewed from the typewriter of a weary record label publicist. This will not do...not now, not for the Crue" (Elektra cover sheet on Motley Crue).