POP BEAT : RERUN TV-SHOW THEMES CHANNELED INTO ALBUM
“This is our folk culture, our shared musical past,” says budding record entrepreneur Steven Gottlieb, rising to the defense of his pet musical genre. “And folk music, the music that grabs hold of the people on a grass-roots level, has always had a difficult time becoming accepted.”
The record sleeve that the long-haired, 28-year-old New Yorker is brandishing isn’t an old acoustic blues album, but a dance re-mix of “The Jetsons” theme--and the genre that he insists hasn’t received its historical due is that of the TV-show theme.
Whether the masses share his concern for historical preservation or not, hundreds of thousands already have purchased the collection of 65 of the tunes that Gottlieb has put together--making “Television’s Greatest Hits” the first self-distributed album to break onto Billboard’s top 100 album chart.
The double-LP would seem to be the quintessential sound track for a game of Trivial Pursuit, but Gottlieb gets peeved when cynics suggest that its appeal is strictly for nostalgia-stricken baby boomers.
“It’s music , and I think that it’s as unfair to call this record a novelty or nostalgia product as it is to call a package of Art Tatum a nostalgia record and a novelty. Just because people like to listen to jazz from the ‘50s doesn’t make it nostalgia.”
Gottlieb doesn’t deny that much of the music on his LP is kitsch. But he’s not willing to let that relegate it to a lower rung on the aesthetic ladder.
“There is a whole tradition in the visual arts, going back to the turn of the century, of commercial imagery being incorporated in fine arts,” he said. “Visual kitsch people understand, but there isn’t a tradition of that in music. In some way what we did with the record is what Andy Warhol did by putting the Campbell soup can on canvas.
“All of a sudden we’ve taken something that people have taken for granted and made it brand new. I think the experience people have when they listen to this music, if they’re familiar with the themes, is one of revelation, of realizing that they never listened to the music on television. They never realized that ‘The Munsters’ had a really great bass line, and that the guitar in ‘Get Smart’ is really hip.”
The collection’s owners may not be hearing the original bass and guitar, though. Gottlieb said he ended up hiring a producer and session musicians to re-record about half of the 65 songs. In some cases, tapes of the original recordings had been lost or destroyed, while in others, he deemed the original versions too short or too disjointed. Vintage renditions that were used often required extensive editing and electronic enhancement.
Purists might complain, but Gottlieb has offered a prize to anyone who can identify all of the remakes. No one has claimed it so far, he said.
SOUNDING THE ALARM: Free daytime concerts are a common occurrence at UCLA, but this afternoon’s appearance by the Alarm should draw a bigger audience than usual--about 20,000 fans in person and millions more via satellite, hopes sponsoring IRS Records. MTV will broadcast an hour’s worth of Alarm nationwide beginning at 3 p.m.; 13 other nations will get to see it live or by tape delay, and a large radio syndication network will air an audio version in about two weeks.
If you think that’s the end of the tie-ins, you probably weren’t tagged as a potential marketing director on your high school vocational test. A home videocassette of the concert, to be called “Spirit of ’86,” will be made available for sale in about three weeks. And a video clip to accompany the group’s “Absolute Reality” single will be culled from the concert.
“It’s a pretty big undertaking,” said IRS representative Cary Baker, adding that the label is handling everything from building the stage to hiring security for the grounds around the Janss Steps site. “We’re even using words we’ve never used around here, like insurance .”
Fans wanting to be ensured a decent view are advised to show up well before 1:30 p.m., when local boys the Long Ryders--who will not be part of the telecast--open the festivities.
LIVE ACTION: Belinda Carlisle will be at the Roxy on May 15 and 16 for her first local shows since the breakup of the Go-Go’s. Tickets go on sale Monday. . . . Green on Red headline the Roxy on April 24 and 25, while the Replacements return there May 1. . . . the Jerry Garcia Electric Band are set for the Wiltern Theatre on May 24. Tickets go on sale Monday. . . . Emmylou Harris will be at the Crazy Horse in Santa Ana on April 28 and 29 and at the Universal Amphitheatre (with Dwight Yoakam) on May 18. Tickets for the amphitheater show go on sale Sunday. . . . The Kingston Trio with Bob Shane and the Limeliters will be at the amphitheater on May 25. . . . the Rave-Ups return to the Palomino on next Saturday. . . . Erasure, featuring Vince Clark from Yaz, makes its local debut May 7 at the Palace.