New track from ex-Mercury Rev singer David Baker

I’ll admit, I never got into Mercury Rev when David Baker was fronting the band. It was only after he left, and the band started sounding more like The Flaming Lips, that I found them listenable. Baker went on to form Shady after his Mercury Rev departure (I think I picked up Shady’s 1994 release, World, out of a dollar bin making it a very good candidate for a Plucked from the $1 bin feature). Baker also produced one of my favorite albums from the ’90s, Comet’s Chandelier Musings (seriously, buy a very cheap copy on Amazon).

Baker’s got a new band, Variety Lights, and will be releasing Central Flow on June 12.

DOWNLOAD: “Silent Too Long”

The sad case of Quiet Riot

In 2008, a year after Quiet Riot singer Kevin DuBrow died from a cocaine overdose, drummer Frankie Banali issued a statement saying, “My friendship, love and respect for Kevin DuBrow as well as my personal love and affection for Kevin’s mother and his family makes it inconceivable for me to ever entertain any ovation to reform or to continue Quiet Riot. Kevin was too important to go on without him. It would also be a disrespect to the fans who have supported Quiet Riot for nearly 25 years.”

In 2010, Banali announced he was putting together a new version of Quiet Riot with bassist Chuck Wright (an off-and-on member of QR since 1982), guitarist Alex Grossi (served a 3-year stint with QR, 2004-2007) and singer Mark Huff (formerly of a Van Hagar cover band).

This wouldn’t be the first time an ’80s metal band toured with one original member and it won’t be the last, but calling this band Quiet Riot didn’t feel right. If anything, it should be called Frankie Banali’s Quiet Riot just so fans are clear that this is really just a tribute band.

In January, Banali sacked Huff just as he was getting ready to undergo brain surgery. The full story isn’t out there yet but I’m sure it’ll be an interesting one. Banali has brought in Keith St. John (ex-Montrose, Medicine Wheel, Burning Rain) to honor previously-made touring commitments.

Rumors abound that Quiet Riot will be part of the “Rock Never Stops 2012” tour package (also to feature Dokken, Y&T, Firehouse and Trixter). And while they undoubtedly will play a “greatest hits” set (the hits they did have were HUGE hits in the hard rock world but there weren’t really all that many of them), you could hire 4 guys off the street, give them a month to learn the songs, and they’d sound just as original as the band that is calling themselves Quiet Riot.

It seems like now is the time for Banali to retire the name and move on rather than continue to soil the legacy of a band that had the first heavy metal single on Billboard’s Top 100 singles chart (“Cum on Feel the Noise” in 1983).

The Promise Ring reunion underway

Friday night, The Promise Ring performed a sold-out reunion gig (first in seven years) in Milwaukee. Whether or not a full-scale reunion tour will take place remains to be seen but there are a small (very small) handful of 2012 dates already planned – NJ and NYC (May 19, May 20), San Francisco (September

Check out the show reviews at RollingStone.com and ThirdCoast Digest.

Related: The AV Club presents an oral history of The Promise Ring including interviews with band members, publicists, booking agents, etc. The band is very upfront and honest – Davey Von Bohlen even admits that the band members didn’t get along in the early days. And, just for fun, here’s an interview I did with the band in 1999. Still a good read (in my humble opinion) 13 years later.

Watch Jessie Baylin (and friends) on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Watching Jessie Baylin perform “Hurry Hurry” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was sort of like watching Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” video for the first time on MTV in 1987. What? WHAT? Yeah, see, I remember watching that video and being like, “Wait, is that Rudy Sarzo playing bass? Wait, is that Vivian Campbell playing guitar? Tommy Aldridge on drums? Huh? Supergroup? No way, Adrian Vandenberg on lead guitar?”

Last night, Jessie’s band consisted of The Watson Twins and 3 members of Everest. Of course, unlike that first viewing of “Still of the Night”, I was tipped off via Everest’s Facebook page that they’d be backing Jessie. But, still, very cool to see people from a band you know and love serving as window dressing for another musician.

Jessie is currently on tour. Everest will be releasing their third album in June.

Related: Watch my interview with Everest on Donewaiting.com and see them perform 3 songs in an exclusive video session.