Billboard Bits: Steely Dan, Pet Shop Boys, Elvis
News on Steely Dan, Pet Shop Boys, Elvis PresleySteely Dan principals Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have recently spent time recording material which may comprise the follow-up to 2000's Grammy album of the year, "Two Against Nature." A posting on the group's official Web site reads, "after taking time off to write a slew of new tunes, Becker and Fagen have started to record some of them in New York City and elsewhere. Will this result in a new Steely Dan album? Hard to say; scholars of Steely history know that not every studio sojourn sees the light of the marketplace."
Speaking to Billboard backstage at the 2000 Grammys, Fagen said any new music wouldn't likely be influenced by any modern tunes. "I haven't listened to the radio for, like, 30 years," he admitted. "I still listen to the same jazz records I listened to in high school, basically."
"Two Against Nature" was Steely Dan's first album since 1980's "Gaucho." It debuted at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 in March 2000 and has sold just shy of 1 million copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan.
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Veteran dance pop act Pet Shop Boys have completed a new studio album, due to be released in the spring in the U.K. via Parlophone. The group will preview material from the set during a brief U.K. university concert tour that kicks off Feb. 8 at Bristol University. The six-date trek will culminate with an already sold-out Valentine's Day headlining performance at London's Astoria during U.K. music weekly NME's Carling Shows series in celebration of the paper's 50th anniversary.
"We're really proud of these new songs and can't wait to play them in, what are for us, different venues," Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe said in a statement posted on the group's official Web site. The as-yet-untitled album features former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr playing on eight of the set's 10 tracks, but he will not appear during the tour due to "other commitments," according to the statement.
The album's U.K. release will be preceded by the single "Home and Dry" in March. A video for the track was directed by Turner Prize (photography) winner Wolfgang Tillmans, and will be shown for 10 days beginning Jan. 15 at the Inside Space art gallery within London's Selfridges department store.
Information on a U.S. release for the set was not available at deadline. The Pet Shop Boys' last studio set, 1999's "Nightlife," was released stateside by the now defunct London/Sire label, and debuted at No. 84 on The Billboard 200.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
Memphis' Graceland will kick off 2002 with a slate of activities to celebrate what would have been Elvis Presley's 67th birthday on Jan. 8, as well as a year long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the late star's death.
Among the activities is a Jan. 5 gospel brunch at Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant on the city's famed Beale St., special evening tours of the Graceland estate, a chance to meet the Jordanaires (Elvis' long-time male backing vocal group), the annual Jan. 8 birthday celebration on the front lawn of the mansion, and a dance party later that night at the Memphis Marriott East.
The annual Elvis Week in August will include a special 25th anniversary concert at the Pyramid Arena, along with a fashion show, a presentation of the King's latest gold and platinum sales honors, and a candlelight vigil at Elvis' gravesite.
For more information, visit elvis.com.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.