"American Idol" contestant David Cook’s album, "Analog Heart," is completely gone from Amazon.com’s MP3 library.
I told you on Tuesday that after we discovered it was the No. 1 downloaded album on Amazon’s service, "American Idol" had it partially pulled. The cover and a listing for it still remained. But as of Tuesday night, "Analog Heart" is gone like it never existed.
But one other current contestant still has an album that can be bought or downloaded. Carly Smithson, nee Hennessy, made a much-loved CD in 2001 for Geffen Records. Called "Ultimate High," Smithson/Hennessy’s CD was produced by the New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander. (I’ve never understood what happened to this guy, but that’s another story.)
"Ultimate High" still is listed under Carly Hennessy, so it’s only No. 127 on the Amazon downloader.
But the story of "Ultimate High" was a memorable one in the record business. Geffen/MCA sunk $2.2 million into Carly, signed her to a six-album contract and the whole thing imploded. "Ultimate High" sold only 400 copies, and Hennessy was dropped by the label and sent back into obscurity at age 17. The story was covered by many outlets, including the Wall Street Journal.
So how is it that Carly Smithson (her married name) is competing on "American Idol"? Good question. I suppose the reasoning is, she’s started from scratch. Weirder still: She’s Irish. She’s not American. Doesn’t that make her "Irish Idol"? Not that I’m begrudging Smithson anything. She’s a damn fine singer, she’s suffered, paid her dues and deserves a career. But what an odd route she’s taken.
Of course, the punch line is that if someone at Universal Music woke up, they could start promoting "Ultimate High" the way they did Amy Winehouse. It’s that good.
Michael Jackson may have made his three best albums with Quincy Jones, but the former King of Pop was nowhere to be seen Tuesday night at the ASCAP Tribute to the legendary producer in New York.
Instead, that part of Jones’ extraordinary career was covered by singer Siedah Garrett, who performed the hit she co-wrote with Glen Ballard for Jackson’s "Bad" album and which Jones produced: "Man in the Mirror." She got a standing ovation. Insiders told me that it was easier simply not to contact Jackson than get involved with his notorious mishegos.
The tribute to "Q" — he’s the only person in the biz who is known by one letter — was one of those wonderful warm nights that recalls the heyday of what used to be a great business.
For example, just in the audience there were Bebe Winans; Sire Records founder Seymour Stein; famed Blondie and Go-Go’s producer Richard Gottehrer; Russ Titelman (he produced classic records by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, Phoebe Snow); legendary Bacharach lyricist Hal David; and Marilyn and Alan Bergman, who wrote, among other things, "The Way We Were" with Marvin Hamlisch.
Did I mention the great Johnny Mandel, Elvis Presley producer Mike Moran (and wife, Linda, head of the Songwriters Hall of Fame) and opera star Kathleen Battle?
These were just the people who watched (Whoopi Goldberg came by, too, and so did "Bella" star Eduardo Verastegui) as ASCAP’s Karen Sherry (with Greg Phillinganes) produced a series of show-stoppers from Valerie Simpson and Nik Ashford; Roberta Flack; Patti Austin; James Ingram; Al Jarreau; Gloria Estefan; Savion Glover and the cast of "Stomp"; Tevin Campbell; Tamia; Take 6; and honest-to-God legends such as James Moody and Clark Terry.
Tony Bennett waited patiently through cocktails and dinner, through many performances, before just ambling up on stage and knocking out "Maybe This Time" as if he were a gunslinger who’d come in, gotten the job done neat and wanted to get home in good time. Amazing.
Did you know that Quincy produced Lesley Gore’s classic pop hits "It’s My Party" and "You Don’t Own Me" when she was 16 — she belted out both songs on Tuesday night like time had stood still — and that he first heard Patti Austin sing when she was 4 and was introduced to her by Dinah Washington? The under-appreciated R&B star nearly stole the show with her longtime duet partner, James Ingram, on "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"
Of course, Q, who turned 75 last month, sported what seemed to be a sheared mink sportcoat and looked as spectacular as ever. His six-decade career never could be reviewed in one night — I mean, he once was Frank Sinatra’s orchestrator and arranger — and even the man himself was overwhelmed when he finally got to the stage. He reminisced about many of the performers, saying he’d worked with them "before there was electricity."
Jones did allude to several things we didn’t know, such as Gloria Estefan’s penchant for telling dirty jokes (she wouldn’t tell us any later). He did tell one shaggy dog story from the early '80s about going on a Saatchi yacht and being forced into cross-dressing with MTV co-creator Bob Pittman and Madonna’s original producer, Jellybean Benitez (he’s the guy she omitted from her speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
"Page Six in the New York Post got wind of it and said we looked more like the O’Jays than the Supremes," Quincy laughed. He refused to tell a story about Tony Bennett, however. "Tony would die if I told you," he said.
You could have a lot of hits or you could have really just one that so defined a genre and moment, that was so well-performed it transcended the generations. Such is the case for Mississippi-born Al Wilson, who died on Tuesday at age 68.
His one monster hit was "Show & Tell" in 1974, a gorgeously sung romantic mid-tempo ballad that was so good radio could not stop playing it all that year. Since then, "Show & Tell" came to define what was the end of the soul era, sort of the crowning achievement of crooners like Lou Rawls and Jerry Butler.
If you don’t know the record, check it out. I didn’t know Wilson, but people who did really admired him. He had one other hit, "The Snake," which was more of a novelty record, and plenty of tracks on his albums seem like lost gems now. But "Show & Tell" — "just a game we play" — will live on for the ages. …
We’ve gotten so used to having our material ripped off lately that thanks are in order to those who’ve tossed us some humbling credit. The great Liz Smith, to whom this column owes endless debts, was kind enough on Tuesday to mention our Oprah/Eckhart Tolle story with admiration. And in Wednesday’s New York Times, Michael Cieply takes note of our "Valkyrie" coverage. Not bad! ...
More on Jason Beghe’s exit from Scientology on Thursday. ...