Rapper Kanye West's blurt-out on Friday night's telethon is still reverberating.
But one thing's for sure: His new album, "Late Registration," was already set to debut at No. 1 today on the charts. He's thought to have sold upward of a whopping 900,000 copies in his opening week.
I'm told that West was serious, by the way, when he uttered those now famous words: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
He didn't just blurt it out anxiously. It was intentional.
The word is that West has revved up friends like Jamie Foxx, who does his Ray Charles impression on West's new album. This may not be the end of their take on how race is perceived in the music business.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with West, one thing's for sure: He's determined to make his name one way or another.
The big question will be how the Grammys receive "Late Registration," an album that's landed him on the cover of Time magazine. How will the awards judges handle all the samples and guest appearances?
West's big hit single, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," is completely based on Shirley Bassey singing "Diamonds Are Forever." The song was written by James Bond composer John Barry.
The rest of "Late Registration," while very entertaining, contains almost no original compositions.
Ironically, singer Brandy makes an appearance on one track, even though she was dumped from the new collection of Ray Charles "duets."
The producers evidently didn't think she was hip enough to remain with Charles on record. Now she's on the No. 1 album in the country.
There are plenty of other collaborators on "Late Registration" since West, you know, like Sean "Diddy" Combs and other rap entrepreneurs, does not actually sing.
Because of this, the multi-talented John Legend makes not one, but two appearances as a guest vocalist. In those cases, Legend was hired to perform by West. So too were back-up singers Tony Williams and Keyshia Cole, as was Maroon 5's Adam Levine.
But wow — look at the sampled singers. Besides Bassey, there's Bill Withers (a track of his called "Roses" is included), as well as the KayGees, Etta James on "My Funny Valentine," Orange Krush's 1982 recording called "Action" and Natalie Cole from a Michael Masser/Gerry Goffin song called "Someone That I Used to Love."
Gil Scott-Heron, a legendary performer about whom West's fans probably know zilch, is an integral part of "Late Registration" on his sampled "Home Is Where the Hatred Is." There's also an appearance by Hank Crawford on "Drive Slow."
Will all these people be listed as Grammy nominees when the time comes? If there are winners, will they all be included? That's something I'd like to see.
"Late Registration" is fun to listen to, but in many ways it's a con job. It's a clip job, too.
Try to imagine Marvin Gaye not composing all of "What's Going On?" but splicing together other people's music and recordings over which he'd chant his musings. He would have been laughed out of the business.
But times have changed. We have Alicia Keys, Anthony Hamilton, Legend and just a few R&B performers who can actually create music. The rest has to be a clever construction.
Maybe that's why West's comments on Friday night felt so jarring. As he made his unscripted remarks about race, he was sporting his usual Ralph Lauren Polo ensemble. These would be the same clothes worn by President Bush's Kennebunkport relatives as they gaped at their television sets.
West is no N.W.A. or Chuck D. A lot of signals got crossed on Friday night. But the one that didn't is the most important: Today, "Late Registration" is No. 1, no matter how it was put together or who did it.
Sir Bob Geldof is announcing today that the "Live 8" DVDs will come out on Nov. 8.
The four-disc set includes all of the big performances from London, Philadelphia and Edinburgh. Separate discs from the Paris, Berlin, Rome and Toronto shows will also be available.
That means the DVDs feature Sting, U2, Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Madonna, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, The Who and the entire set of five Pink Floyd performances.
Live 8 was a huge achievement. But since it was not a charity fundraiser, where will the proceeds from these sales go?
According to a press release, "EMI and the Live 8 organization have agreed that a generous royalty from sales of the Live 8 DVD will go to the Band Aid Trust for the relief of hunger and poverty in Africa."
"A generous royalty"? Not "all royalties"? That should be interesting. I'd like to be in the accounting office at EMI and at Buzzacott, Band Aid's chartered accountant, when they figure that out.
The goal of Band Aid is listed with British Charitable Trusts as "to relieve hunger and poverty in Ethiopia and the surrounding area." Will the money go there?
According to a BBC report last December when the DVDs for the original Live Aid concert were issued, Band Aid Trust has disbursed $144 million since 1985 to famine-relief projects across Africa.
The projects are chosen by the trustees, who include Geldof, Midge Ure (his partner in Band Aid and leader of the great Scottish group Ultravox) and producer Harvey Goldsmith.
And the rest of it? At the London show, it was generally thought that Bill Gates had donated much of the money to make the show happen. There were also corporate sponsors involved.
And where will the royalties from the songs themselves go? This would be separate from royalties from discs sold. Will the writers of the performed songs donate the publishing royalties to charity, and if so, which one?
Look for a bit of a mess here as a lot of questions are asked and few are answered.
There's a good line at the beginning of Paul McCartney's new album: "There's a line between recklessness and courage." Kanye West might want to sample that on his next album.
McCartney's new album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," comes out next week. It was sent around to reviewers under the name "Pete Mitchell" because of piracy fears. The press CD is also watermarked and not playable in a computer.
Of course, what Capitol Records doesn't realize is that McCartney's fans are too old to know how to pirate anything. But that's all right. It lends a little drama to the proceedings.
McCartney has nothing to prove at this point in his career. His place in rock history, or just history, is secure. And even if you hated Wings, it's hard to argue that "McCartney," "Ram," "Band on the Run," "Tug of War," "Flowers in the Dirt," "Flaming Pie" and his "Paul is Live" album aren't all, to one degree or another, the best of the post-classic-rock era.
Add to those some juicy one-off singles like "Another Day" and "Daytime Nighttime Suffering," and there isn't any musician living or dead who wouldn't be jealous of McCartney the tunesmith.
With that, here is "Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard," an awkwardly titled album of songs that should not be performed in stadiums.
"Chaos" is really a sketchbook by a great writer who can do anything and is not good at editing his own material. Most of it soars; some of it sours. But mostly, "Chaos" — musically if not always lyrically — is a miniature tour de force.
The "Chaos" songs are intimate. Except for the terrific lead-off single, "Fine Line," and the interesting "Promise to You Girl," they are sumptuous ballads. Nearly all the instruments are played by McCartney; he's a one-man band, and that suits the material.
Unlike his longtime rivals, the Rolling Stones, McCartney doesn't seem to care whether his new album is taken as an event. The Stones' "A Bigger Bang,"which came out today, is certainly intended that way.
"Chaos" just seems to be McCartney's latest release. He likes to issue new music on a regular basis. Whether or not it's a big deal seems not to have been the point for a long time now. "Flaming Pie" was great. Its successor, "Driving Rain," was spotty. No matter.
"Chaos" has some beautiful songs, and lovely vocals. It also has its oddities.
"Riding to Vanity Fair," McCartney says in his notes, is not about anyone specific. But it's a bitter rebuke to a friend who betrayed the singer. It's a naked, raw stab, too, and a little disarming. No "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" here.
As on all McCartney collections, the great songs outweigh the iffy ones. I particularly like "Too Much Rain," "At the Mercy," "A Certain Softness" and "This Never Happened Before."
McCartney says in his notes that Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" inspired "Too Much Rain." However he got there, I'm just glad he did. It's lovely.
"This Never Happened Before," which he kind of shrugs off as romantic, is the kind of song that would be covered by pop singers in the past.
For the read-between-the-lines types, there are some references to both Paul's late wife Linda and his wife, Heather.
"How Kind Of You" seems to address well-wishers who want to help him through his mourning.
"Promise to You" is more obvious — "Looking through the backyard of my life/Time to sweep the fallen leaves away."
It also has a musical quote from "Abbey Road." Other Beatle quotes are hidden in plain sight in "English Tea" and "Jenny Wren."
So, maybe it's old school or fuddy-duddy to remain interested in the work of a 63-year-old man, but there it is. "Chaos" is an original and important piece of work that will last some time after other "constructions" fall apart.