Fixing things with Busted Stuff
By Bill Ramsey
Instead of calling it Busted Stuff, maybe Dave Matthews should have called his band’s new album Fixing Things.
RCA, the band’s label, attempted to make Matthews its own John Cougar, fumbling for a hit single when, after more than half a dozen multi-platinum studio and live albums, RCA could have left the man and the band to do their jam (and incredibly profitable) thing. As John Mellencamp– the artist formerly known as John Cougar– once sang after shedding the Cougar moniker, Matthews never wanted to be no pop singer.
But the label wanted a star. And Matthews fit the bill– a down-to-earth boy next door.
Problem was, Matthews and his band– derided in the rock press but beloved by a massive, cult-like following– had already made millions for his label without compromising his music. Was Everyday a musical mishap?
On the plus side, Everday yielded the hits and heavy video exposure his label sought– not to mention a Grammy nomination. On the other hand, it rankled hardcore fans to the point of apoplexy.
Even while band-members such as drummer Carter Beauford grumbled, Dave refused to apologize. He was, as his 2001 Rolling Stone cover story admits, rather vulnerable, depressed, and drinking heavily.
The new album, DMB’s sixth studio effort for RCA, falls just short of reincarnation, and but certainly makes restitution to those who found Everyday an asterisk– if not a total departure– from the DMB catalog. And there are already rumblings of rejoicing from the faithful. According to nancies.org, about half of the 12,000 members of the influential fansite polled believed that Busted Stuff will be the best DMB album yet.
The result is Busted Stuff, due in mid-July. The first single is the newly penned “Where Are You Going?” which reached radio on May 15, and is also on the soundtrack of the new Adam Sandler movie, Mr. Deeds, set for a June 28 release.
So the Lillywhite album– known alternately as The Summer So Far and The Lillywhite Sessions– has refused to die. The group performed so many of those songs in its long tour last year (and thousands of bootleg copies made their way onto the internet) that they have become sing-along standards. Here’s how Busted Stuff breaks down track-by-track:
“Busted Stuff” (reputedly written after Matthews’ father-in-law’s death)
“Where Are You Going?” (the new single)
“You Never Know”
“Grace Is Gone”
“Kit Kat Jam”
“Digging a Ditch”
“Big Eyed Fish”
If reaction so far is any indication (some of the tracks have already hit the ‘net), Matthews has grounded himself firmly as DMB— not DM.
From Rolling Stone
According to Matthews, the new versions of songs are "truer to the spirit" of the band. "This time we felt that we were doing the songs justice," he was quoted. "As they were, the sweetness of melancholy was missing, and they had a burdensome quality that was suffocating. When they first got out on the web, it was like walking into a gallery and there's a crowd of people standing around looking at an unfinished painting and judging you for it. "
On the band’s 13th stop on its latest tour in Cleveland, yours truly just happened to find himself almost within sweat-dripping distance of the band at the Gund Arena.
The 20,000-plus seats of this basketball stadium might not strike many as intimate, but the venue is quite a bit smaller than the arena-size stadiums of the last few DMB summer tours. Manager Coran Capshaw said last year that "more intimate" stadiums were the wave of the DMB future.
A slight softening in ticket sales? Or an effort to get closer to the fans? Whatever the reason, smaller venues certainly help make the Dave Matthews “experience” an event.
Regardless of the critical venom spewed by such veteran critics as Jim DeRogatis (of the Chicago Sun Times), this tour has most rock writers falling for DMB all over again.
Since launching the tour on April 4 at D.C.’s MCI Center, DMB has received rave reviews wherever the “rock star” in wrinkled chinos has landed. Granted, DMB knows its fan turf well, but there’s no mistaking that the band isn’t “busting stuff” but mending fences and making new fans along the way.
• The video for “Where Are You Going?” was filmed in April in New York City, and could be in rotation by the time this column appears. Director Chuck McBride, who shot “Everyday” in Charlottesville and New York, was again behind the camera for DMB.
• According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, there are now 800,000 members of the “Warehouse,” the official DMB fan club (they call it an “association”), generating more than $2 million in revenue. "We don't comment on that."
• You know you've hit the big time when you're parodied on Saturday Night Live. On May 18, Dave was caricatured as a contestant– along with Bjork and Sean Connery– on an ersatz Jeopardy.