Pop fans know Clifford Carter as James Taylor's longtime keyboardist and they've probably heard him on records by Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and Roseanne Cash. Yet he's also worked with such jazz heavyweights as Yusef Lateef, Hank Crawford, George Benson, Eddie Palmieri, Herbie Mann and Don Cherry. Which is the real Carter?
Edwin McCain may be best known for his 1997 smash "I'll Be," but his fans are quick to point out there's more to the South Carolina singer/songwriter than such delicate ballads. McCain's latest Lava/Atlantic release proves their point: Messenger is an eclectic collection that leaps from immaculately crafted acoustic numbers to full-bore rock anthems.
Patrick Leonard's resume fills page after page. In small print! Small print that includes names like Madonna, Elton John, Jewel, Enrique Iglesias, Bryan Adams, Jody Watley, the Black Crowes, k.d. lang and . . . well, we'd better stop there, or we'll fill this page simply reprinting the list. The scary part is, the resume is divided into two sections: artists Leonard has produced and those he's written songs for. Both sections are equally impressive.
There are drummers, and there are drummers' drummers. But is there such a thing as a drummers' drummer's drummer? If so, Manu Katché is one. The player of choice for Peter Gabriel, Sting and many others, brings to each project an unparalleled blend of intelligence, intensity and groove. He spoke with us recently from his home in Paris.
Music Row tunesmiths have recently been sharing a hot tip: any writer who publishes with BMI can book free time at the company's Nashville songwriting studios. "Songwriters are always looking for someplace to write," says BMI Nashville Vice President Roger Sovine. "A lot of these people have their own songwriting setups at home, but they like collaborating here because it's such an in-between, neutral spot. Our two songwriting rooms are booked solid."
The terms "guitar synth" and "heavy rock" seldom appear together. In fact, it's even unusual to see the words "guitar" and "synth" back to back these days.
Alan Parsons would be a recording legend if his only accomplishments had been to engineer such classic rock albums as the Beatles' Abbey Road and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. But after proving himself as an engineer and producer, Parsons dared the unprecedented: creating a pop act based not on star power or conventional songwriting, but on the epic visions of a brilliant producer/engineer.
While bandleader Billy Corgan deservedly gets much credit for the Smashing Pumpkins' progressive-pop innovation, you can't overlook the contributions of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Chamberlin, who played on the Pumpkins' first three albums, rejoined the group for their fifth effort, Machina/The Machines of God. A recent chat proves that Jimmy remains one of rock drumming's true independent thinkers.
For SHeDAISY, success came at the best of times and the worst of times. Their debut disc arrived last year just when the industry was of a mind to get behind a new female pop-country trio. The good news: The Whole SHeBANG sold over a million copies. The not-so-good news: After a decade of dues-paying, SHeDAISY had to endure endless comparisons to another new female pop-country trio.
Drummer/producer Ahmir Thompson is a living link between the digital science of modern hip-hop and the flesh-and-blood textures of vintage R&B. He co-founded the Roots, universally hailed as one of the most sonically inventive hip-hop acts. Meanwhile, his collaborations with such artists as D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Common have reasserted the importance of realtime playing in a style dominated by sampling and programming.