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The new Asia album, appropriately named Gravitas, is nearly complete and is planned for a spring release. The band is working in two studios to wrap up vocals and drums. This will be the first album with guitarist Sam Coulson, along with original members Geoff Downes, Carl Palmer, and John Wetton.

The new Boston album Life, Love & Hope features 8 new songs, all with the pristine analog production and layered guitars that Boston is known for. The album took 10 years to record and is ready for release this week.

IPad and Xbox were the hottest Black Friday items in their respective categories.

PC sales continue to decline as more computing work is taken up by tablets, phones, and servers. Some in the computer hardware business, though, are predicting a slower decline, perhaps even a bottom, in 2014.

Bah & the Humbugs are preparing one new song, which focuses on the hectic pace of preparations in the days leading up to Christmas. Meanwhile, the band’s podcast was ranked #9 in the Stitcher list of Top Christmas Podcasts.



Fleetwood Mac’s tour of New Zealand and Australia is canceled so that bassist John McVie can undergo cancer treatment.

Metallica will play a concert at Carlini Station in Antarctica on December 8 as part of a promotional tour sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero. It is nearly summer in Antarctica, and the station is located on an island at only 62° south latitude, so it may be warm enough to stage a normal rock concert. Carlini Station has a summer population of only 60, but there are other research stations and an actual Chilean village on the island that might be able to supply an audience for the concert.

Death: Lou Reed, a musician whose got his start as the main songwriter for The Velvet Underground.



Four producers worked on tracks for the new Paul McCartney album New. The original idea, Paul explained, was to try out several producers and pick one to finish the album with, but then it seemed better to proceed with all five producers. The release is coming up at mid-month.

Rick Springfield will be criss-crossing the eastern United States in December with a “Stripped Down” solo tour of acoustic performances and, he promises, storytelling. The tour starts November 24 with a sold-out show in Chicago.

The release of iOS 7 for Apple iPhone and other devices was the largest Internet event ever, clogging network traffic for hours and slowing many places on the net as much as a week later. As estimated 64 percent of iOS users have upgraded to iOS 7 in the first two weeks of release.

Tarja Turunen’s new album, released a week ago, is steady and adventurous. Colours in the Dark is based on a strong Gothic theme about undermining one’s own efforts, and is held together with a consistent symphonic metal sound. The vocals are still operatic, but smoother with perhaps a little less layering to create a sound that may draw in more rock fans. It is a long album, with four of the ten tracks clocking in over 7 minutes.

Death: Ray Dolby, audio engineer and inventor of Dolby noise reduction and Dolby Surround.


Elton John, The Diving Board

The spare, at times painfully low-budget sound of this album won’t interest most fans, but it at least proves that the 1970s rock hero is sincere about his new parlor piano act. There is no band on The Diving Board, and Elton does not want to be heard or seen as a rock star. Other instruments, when they are heard at all, are strictly in a supporting role, supporting the piano, that is. The exception is “Home Again,” picked as a single and given a grand orchestral production that suits its story, but even that is a piano performance at heart.

All this works better than one might expect. It was a shock to fans when Elton got most of his classic band back together only to send them packing mid-song on his last album, The Captain and the Kid, to finish the album bashing away at the electronic piano keys in an abandoned studio. But that was a decade ago, and Elton is a more artful player now, skilled enough to pull off a few piano etudes included as interstitials on the new album.

Skill and fame, though, are not enough to get the world’s attention — nor are the voice, sound, and songs similar enough to Elton’s piano-heavy early hits to draw comparisons. Still, this album is good enough to be seen not as a footnote to legendary rock career, but as a tentative step toward launching a new career, essentially a new artist pursuing a small-format musical approach that is the opposite of the pop charts. One doubts that the artist would be willing to spend five years in non-stop touring of nightclubs and theaters to establish his new act, but if he were to do so, The Diving Board proves that Elton John does the parlor piano thing well enough to make it work.



New albums coming soon: Cher, Elton John, Miley Cyrus. Also, Chicago is inching toward the release of a new single, a song called “America” written by trumpet player Lee Loughnane, perhaps to be followed by a few more singles.

Tom Scholz continues work on a new Boston album. The tentative final mixes of April had band members talking about a possible summer release, but on further review, the mixes were not so final after all.

Heart’s Heartbreaker Tour is certified Storm Ready. This weather service certification recognizes large-venue outdoor events, including rock tours, that are exceptionally well prepared to respond to extreme weather conditions.



Heart is out on a Led Zeppelin-themed tour. Heart has always been known for killer versions of Zeppelin tunes, but they turn it up louder on the “Heartbreaker” tour, which also features Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.

The new album Queensryche by the sidemen contingent of the band will disappoint fans, even those who understand why the album was rushed. Rather than attempt to duplicate the Queensryche sound, the album is a version of 1980s hair metal, but more programmed than played and disguised with a bizarrely muffled FM radio-style treatment. A court order last year divided the Queensryche name temporarily among two bands, and the other band, which features Queensryche’s singer, also had a rushed and disappointing album release.



Billy Sherwood is producing new albums by William Shatner and former Missing Persons singer Dale Bozzio.

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but says he is responding well to treatment and does not expect to take any break from his work.

A new documentary focuses on Aerosmith’s 2011 tour. The tour had more than its share of discord among band members, along with troubles related to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, yet ultimately saved the band, according to lead singer Steven Tyler. The movie is primarily the work of the band’s touring videographer Casey Patrick Tebo.

A new Neil Diamond charity single to benefit Boston after the bombing of that city’s marathon is ready for release tomorrow. The song is “The Freedom Song,” and will benefit Boston One Fund and The Wounded Warriors Project. Diamond happened to be in Boston a few days after the Baston Marathon attack for an intermission performance (of his song “Sweet Caroline”) at a Boston Red Sox baseball game. During that visit, he says he was inspired by the city’s defiant response to the attack, and that led him to write the new song on his return home.



Asia is set to begin recording a new album with the title Valkyrie with new guitarist Sam Coulson, following an appearance at Sweden Rock Festival.

The rumored new album by four current members of Thin Lizzy was instead released under the new name Black Star Riders, “because this band has to stand on its own,” according to guitarist Scott Gorham. The album All Hell Breaks Loose nevertheless sounds essentially the same as the current Thin Lizzy lineup and very much in keeping with the classic Thin Lizzy sound.

Death: Ray Manzarek, keyboard player for the Doors.



A new Chicago album looks back over 40 years of music. The album The Nashville Sessions consists of re-recordings by the current band of some of its best-known songs, especially from 1970–1975. The new versions, recorded in 2009, are so true to the originals that the average listener may not hear anything new, but fans will notice the changes. The sound is cleaner, reflecting four decades of advances in recording technology. The mixes are more of a close-up, in-the-room experience than any of Chicago’s regular studio albums. Last but not least, most of the songs have new singers. Still, the overall effect is that of hearing familiar songs from years past.

Also looking back to the 1970s is Paul McCartney, with a long-delayed concert film of Wings at the peak of that band’s career. The film will be in cinemas starting this month, and a reissue of the live album Wings Over America is planned for summer.

Engineer Alan Parsons is one of the featured guest singers on a new progressive rock album being produced by Billy Sherwood. Sherwood says he will return the favor by appearing in several of Parsons’ concert dates this summer.

Coming in June: the second album from Beady Eye, called BE. The advance single is “Second Bite of the Apple.”

Deaths: Roger Ebert, Chicago-based movie critic. Andy Johns, engineer and producer, noted for his work on rock records since the 1960s. Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of DiVinyls.



The Breeders are getting ready to release a 20th anniversary edition of their 1993 album Last Splash, abbreviated as LSXX, and to mark the occasion, the reunited original band are preparing for their biggest tour ever. The band warmed up with a March 29 show in New York, but the tour proper starts with a May 3 appearance in Pittsburgh.

A Michelle Shocked tour ended abruptly after the alt-folk singer went off on a 20-minute rant at a show in San Francisco. It was an on-stage meltdown so ugly that the audience eventually headed for the exits. The venue stepped in to stop that show, and as word got around, all the other planned shows in the tour were canceled over the next couple of days. Shocked has had little to say since that fiasco, but showed up in disguise outside a canceled show last weekend to try to engage with fans.

Billy Corgan says he has begun writing songs for a new Smashing Pumpkins album.

Queensryche singer Geoff Tate has assembled replacement musicians, after splitting from the previous band last year, and has a new Queensryche album recorded, but early previews of a few songs were withdrawn after complaints about the sound. Producer Billy Sherwood says he has been hired to “fix” the album, which, at a minimum, will involve remixing it. He will have to work quickly, as a release date of April 23 has already been set.

Deaths: Peter Banks, founding guitarist of Yes. Phil Ramone, prolific record producer who won Grammys for his work with Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and many more.



Yes may not have a new album to promote, but it is doing something new on its new tour by playing three of its 1970s albums in their entirety. The resulting two-hour concert is nothing new for the band, which has always had a hard time deciding which of its many songs to include in its live set. But the band has never played any complete album live, let alone three. This will also be Yes’s first full-length tour with its new lead singer, Jon Davison.

David Bowie surprised the world by announcing a new studio album after a decade off. The Next Day has a more grounded sound than his last few, with a greater emphasis on piano chords. The forthcoming album is streaming on iTunes for a limited time.

Lady Gaga had to cancel tour dates after surgery for a torn hip.

Security experts have urged computer users to avoid using Java on network-connected computers because of two newly discovered security flaws. The flaws are so fundamental to the technology of Java that effective fixes are not expected this year, if ever. Java is used mostly as a plug-in for web browsers, and it can be disabled in the browser with browser preference settings. Java is not connected with JavaScript, despite the similarity of names. Separately, a unit of the Chinese military has been identified as the likely source of many of the large-scale cyberattacks of recent years. The unit seems to be trying to obtain advance information on Western financial decisions, mainly by breaking into email servers.

Reader’s Digest, once the largest-circulation small-format magazine in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy again. A bankruptcy in 2010 put the magazine in the hands of creditors and private equity, but the new owners were unable to overcome the magazine’s debts, of nearly half a billion dollars.



If it is February again, then it must be February Album Writing Month, in which songwriters try to write 14 new songs over the course of the shortest month of the year. Last year, participants collectively wrote 11,000 new songs. This year, the web site has been revamped to make it mobile-friendly.


Howe Leaves Asia, Will Focus on Yes, Steve Howe Trio

Guitarist Steve Howe has left Asia, he and the band announced today. In a statement, Howe said that he needed more time to focus on work with his other two bands, Yes and the Steve Howe Trio. Yes is currently preparing for a tour in which it will perform three complete albums.

Asia’s new guitarist is the relatively unknown guitar virtuoso Sam Coulson. The new band’s first show will be a June festival appearance. Asia is also set to begin tracking a new studio album, Valkyrie, this year.



Once one of the leading U.S. news magazines, Newsweek is no more, its last print issue appearing on newsstands one week ago. The brand lives on as a feature in The Daily Beast, which will attempt to keep the Newsweek subscriber base somewhat intact with a paid weekly online-only magazine.

Apple’s iOS touch-screen operating system had more New Year’s Day glitches this year, including phones that failed to return from silent mode as scheduled this morning.

Irving Azoff has resigned his position as chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and sold his stake in the company to its largest shareholder, Liberty Media Corporation. Azoff said he found working for a public company “smothering.”

The first Hobbit movie has proved to be a blockbuster, if not on the same level as Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has grossed more than $84 million in its first few days in U.S. theaters.

Deaths: Ravi Shankar, sitar player and organizer of the Concert for Bangladesh. Phil Gellis, Long Island musical actor.

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