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Premature Admiration/Ticketmaster Strikes Again/Fabulous Trivia/Schmitsville

Absolutely Fabulous/Pet Shop Boys get charitable

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Premature Admiration

"It's the best problem to have," admits Minty Fresh Records capo Jim Powers, but it's a problem all the same. Six weeks before the release of their debut album, Veruca Salt are getting airplay (for their single "Seether") on some of the biggest modern rock stations in the country: LA's venerable KROQ, Chicago's Q101, and other outlets in Seattle, New Jersey, and Boston. The label is gratified by the attention, but worried. "We'd like a lot of airplay when the record comes out, rather than a lot now and then trailing off when the record is in the stores," says Powers. The Chicago band, led by Nina Gordon and Louise Post, has also scored a dizzying amount of press attention: it's had its photo in the New York Times, been dubbed "a terrifically promising young rock band" in an otherwise fairly insipid story on coed rock bands in Time; and garnered a "band to watch" minifeature in Rolling Stone. England loves them too: the hook-filled, guitar-laden "Seether" was dubbed single of the week in New Musical Express and has hit number one on Melody Maker's indie single charts. The album, American Thighs, Minty Fresh's first full-length product, was produced by Brad Wood at Wicker Park's Idful Studios and is set for release September 27.

Ticketmaster Strikes Again

Pearl Jam has filed another complaint with the Justice Department, this time accusing the Rolling Stones of receiving kickbacks from Ticketmaster. The original complaint, alleging a conspiracy on the part of Ticketmaster and some concert promoters to scotch the band's planned summer tour, kick-started the most interesting current controversy in the music industry. The new memorandum claims the Stones, a has-been band from the 60s currently on an American tour, are splitting a $5-per-ticket service charge with the agency. If true--last week's Billboard story didn't have comment from the Stones organization or Ticketmaster--the report reinforces the impression that the agency and certain bands are using the service's myriad fees as a massive slush fund. The new complaint reportedly refutes much of Ticketmaster head Fred Rosen's rather farfetched congressional testimony last month. Another House subcommittee was scheduled to hear witnesses on the matter August 9.

Fabulous Trivia

Among the curiosities of the fabulous Absolutely Fabulous, the scabrous British TV series now showing on the cable channel Comedy Central, is the theme song: a few bars of "This Wheel's on Fire," the mournful and mysterious Dylan-Danko song from The Basement Tapes. The BBC's Joe Kennedy says the song's supposed to evoke a "Sonny and Cher type feel," underlining the early-70s kitsch that fuels the cultural outlook of the show's two main characters, Edina and Patsy. (Edina is played by Jennifer Saunders, of the British comedy duo French and Saunders; she also writes the episodes.) The show is a blistering look at a certain species of human detritus from the 60s, as the pair, who have vaguely executive positions on the fringes of the fashion world, blast through sex partners, drugs, and alcohol with an admixture of supercilious boomer 'tude; among the most powerful of the show's several running conceits is the nature of the relationship between the spoiled and incorrigible Edina and her stern and maternal daughter, Saffron.

Comedy Central also occasionally airs a hysterical video by the Pet Shop Boys that shows them gamboling with Saunders and the show's other star, Joanna Lumley. Kennedy says the band, who're fans of the show, broke their long-standing refusal to do charity records for this song, called "Absolutely Fabulous" and credited to a fictional band called Absolutely Fabulous; its earnings go to Comic Relief. The song went top-ten in the UK last month. After a couple weeks of nightly showings, Absolutely Fabulous is now on a regular weekly schedule: 7:30 PM Mondays, with repeats on Saturday afternoons and Sunday nights; some French and Saunders sketches fill out the hour. Show junkies will want to know that only 12 episodes exist. Six more are on the way, but that, Saunders has said, will be it.

Schmitsville

Liz Phair is slated for the cover of an upcoming Rolling Stone.... Donny Osmond saw the Jesus Lizard at Lounge Ax last weekend--and even helped a body-surfing David Yow pass over the crowd....Who cares about the 40 new minutes of concert footage in Michael Wadleigh's documentary Woodstock? What's important is (a) a fully remixed sound track and (b) the opportunity to see it on the Music Box's big screen. It shows nightly at 8 through Thursday... Blackout Records, 3729 N. Southport, celebrates its second anniversary with a free show Saturday afternoon. The Coctails play at 3 PM, M.O.T.O. at 4:30, and Number One Cup at 6. Call 296-0744 for details....If you get the Reader early, you might still catch Material Issue's Jim Ellison and Mike Zelenko spinning records at Delilah's, 2771 N. Lincoln, Thursday the 11th after 10 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steven D. Arazmus.

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