Okay now, a fresh reissue from Elvis Presley isn't necessarily news - BMG has done such a fine and thorough job of exploiting the King's back catalog and the tapes in their vault, one imagines that there will still be new releases hitting the streets when the man's grandchildren are putting out their first lame pop records.
Still, San Antonio has a particular reason to note the arrival of Close Up (BMG Heritage), a four-disc collection of recordings that haven't been reissued yet: Disc four is a 55-minute, 1972 live set recorded at SA's Convention Center. Elvis' first appearance in town since 1956, it's a good example of the artist's Las Vegas act, in which he rambles casually through old faves like "Heartbreak Hotel" and pulls off covers like "Funny How Time Slips Away." Judging from the screeching women in the background, the show was enthusiastically received; so if the other three discs of movie soundtrack cuts, Nashville tracks, and alternate versions of classic singles isn't enough to sell local music lovers, there's always the possibility that you know somebody in the audience.
Speaking of news flashes that aren't exactly shocking revelations: Rock and roll has been reborn in New York City! No, really - there are all these cool new bands there who sound a lot like the groups who made NYC cool in the late '70s and early '80s. There's one that wants to be Television, one that reminds you of Blondie, and if vintage Manhattan music ain't enough for ya, there's even The Rapture, whose frontman is a dead ringer for The Cure's Robert Smith.
All snark aside, the various artists compilation Yes New York (Wolfgang Morden) is welcome even if it arrives a year or so after the initial shock of the rock renaissance wore off. After all, everyone now knows the Strokes and Interpol (who are represented here, the former with an unreleased live version of "New York City Cops"), but many haven't yet heard Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (one of NYC's hottest acts, whose "Ballad of a Sin Eater" sounds a lot like a Railroad Jerk tune), or may not have made the connection between this scene and the relativeld well known Le Tigre. More importantly, few 'round these parts will have encountered the retrograde joys of The Rogers Sisters' "Zero Point" or The Fever's "Ladyfingers," and any listener should be impressed with the collection's cohesive flow from one angular bit of postpunk to another.
Lastly, the overdue arrival of a nationwide Do Not Call list has me filled with patriotic joy. (If you haven't heard, the government now allows you to register your phone number on a list that will prevent most telemarketers from calling you - see www.donotcall.gov for details.) I'd still prefer to see telemarketers roasted on spits in front of city hall, but this will do for now - and the news will surely be good exposure for comedian Tom Mabe, whose A Wake-Up Call For Telemarketers (Megaforce) is due to be released next month.
Most of the tracks on the disc are real-life recordings of Mabe screwing with the minds of insurance salesmen, long-distance pitchmeisters, and so on. On the opening track, for example, he asks an insurance agent for a quote on a $57,000 policy on his wife's life. "I gotta pay off a couple of cars ... I got some old credit card debt," he explains, and says he wants to insure her so he can "take care of" his unfaithful spouse. The agent, you may not be surprised to hear, actually tries to sell him a policy.
Much of the record is your typical Jerky Boys kind of stuff, but one long gag makes it a wicked delight: Mabe found a hotel housing a telemarketing convention and spent one night waking individuals at three and four o'clock in the morning, offering them low-cost prescription sleeping pills and cut-rate long distance service. Strangely, those who specialize in annoying people for a living were not amused. The good news about loopholes in the new Do Not Call law is, this stunt will still be legal when it goes into effect this fall. •
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