Stop The Presses!

Oct. 27-Nov.3: Jacksons In Action, Zep Un-Ledded, And AC/DC Back In The Black

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

Well, it was a big week in Jackson Family concert news, starting with a confirmation by Jermaine Jackson that, yes, a Jackson 5 comeback tour and album were in the works. Jermaine told the Australian Associated Press this week that all the original group members--including Michael Jackson--were working on new material and an upcoming reunion tour. "This has been a long time coming, for the Jackson family to get back together," he said. He also claimed that little sister Janet Jackson would be the opening act on all the Jackson 5 tour dates (what, no LaToya???). However, considering that Jermaine's latest forays in showbiz have been spots on the reality shows Gone Country 2 (on which he lost out to Sebastian Bach) and Celebrity Big Brother U.K., we questioned his credibility as a source here.

And as it turned out, only a day after Jermaine's bombshell, Michael issued a statement that he would in fact NOT be participating in this reunion after all. "My brothers and sisters have my full love and support, and we've certainly shared many great experiences, but at this time I have no plans to record or tour with them," he wrote. "I am now in the studio developing new and exciting projects that I look forward to sharing with my fans in concert soon."

Oh, if only Tito Jackson had announced this J5 reunion news instead of Jermaine. Then we would have known it was true. We trust Tito.

However, we hope for Janet's sake that this Jackson 5 (or, more accurately, Jackson 4) reunion happens anyway--because gawd knows she'd probably have better luck as her big brothers' warmup act than she's been having on her own headlining tour. Her "Rock Witchu" tour--her first concert trek in seven years--has been plagued with problems since it kicked off, or more like limped off, last month. She's parted ways with her latest record label, Island Def Jam; reportedly split with her longtime boyfriend, Jermaine Dupri; received many bad reviews for her live performances; had to cancel several dates due to a "mystery illness" that turned out to be vertigo; and, according to gossip, has generated such low ticket sales that that may have been the real reason for those show cancellations.

And this week, Janet's unlucky streak continued. For her Detroit show on Tuesday at what one journalist described as a "largely empty arena," Janet was forced to drop an S&M-themed "Discipline" segment from her revue due to local decency laws.

(This was good news for the few Detroit-area fans who'd actually purchased tickets and didn't want the concert cancelled entirely, but probably bad news for any male fans in the front row who were hoping to be the one Janet invited onstage for her "Discipline" rope routine.) Given Janet's controversial past with the Super Bowl and the FCC, she was probably wise not to take any chances and obey Michigan laws in this instance.

So that crisis was averted , but the "Rock Witchu" tour suffered an even greater setback this week when Janet lost her opening act: LL Cool J. Yes, the ladies love cool James, but apparently LL doesn't love not-so-cool Janet. The rapper's publicity firm announced that he dropped out due to "unnamed scheduling conflicts," but according to rumors this decision had more to do with the emotional conflict he felt playing to near-empty venues night after night. Don't call it a comeback, indeed.

Anyway, while we continue to get all giddy about this possible Jackson 5 comeback, there was another reunion-tour announcement this week that we weren't all that thrilled about: Led Zeppelin. Why are we not completely over-the-top excited about the prospect of an international Zep tour, you ask? Oh, only because one little member will be sitting this trek out: Robert Plant. Yes, you read that right. The lead singer. How can the song remain the same without ROBERT FRICKIN' PLANT? We think it's all fine and good that Robert wants to continue making music with country chanteuse Alison Krauss, more power to him--however, if that's the case, then Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones simply cannot hit the road without him and bill themselves as "Led Zeppelin." We have to wholeheartedly agree with former Led Zep promoter Harvey Goldsmith, who told the press this week: "If they're going out with another singer, it's not exactly Led Zeppelin...I'm not sure what the point is, because they don't need to do it."

However, JPJ defiantly told the BBC this week, "We want to do it. It's sounding great and we want to get and get out there. It's got to be right. There's no point in just finding another Robert." So now John and Jimmy are apparently searching for a new frontman to fill Plant's mighty big boots. May we suggest...LL Cool J? After all, that guy seems to have free time and a blank concert calendar all of a sudden, and he's certainly not "another Robert." Plus, we can only imagine the mind-blowing awesomeness of a "Going To California"/"Goin' Back To Cali" live mashup! (By the way, these last couple sentences are meant to be a JOKE, Zep fans, so send your hatemail elsewhere; That's Really Week is on your side here.)

Happily, one veteran rock act really did make a legitimate comeback this week: AC/DC. The schoolboy-suited Aussie rockers truly brought the thunder from Down Under with their first album in eight years, Black Ice, which entered the Billboard 200 at #1 with whopping sales of 784,000. Black Ice thus became the second-biggest debut of the year, after Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III; had a bigger first week than Coldplay's huge unit-shifter Viva La Vida; debuted higher than the High School Musical 3 soundtrack, which stalled at #2; and made the biggest debut ever by a mainstream hard-rock album. And since AC/DC's album is sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, it certainly put that chain store back in black, profit-wise.

Speaking of album sales, the big sales story last year was when Kanye West's Graduation and 50 Cent's Curtis were released on the same day. Fiddy promised to retire if Kanye outsold him--a promise he quickly broke once Kanye did just that. But now, as both rappers prepare to go head-to-head again in December, when their new albums are released only a week apart, a kindler and gentler 50 has changed his tune. Fiddy told the press this week that his feud with Mr. West is over, even going so far as to praise his onetime rival. "There's no comparisons in us as artists. It's the yin and the yang. It's almost the opposite," he explained, even adding that he "can't wait" to hear Kanye's upcoming release, 808's And Heartbreak. But what about 50 fans? Can they not wait to hear 50's new album--or will its title, Before I Self Destruct, prove to be unfortunately prophetic for this fallen hip-hopper? We'll just have to wait and tally those new Kanye-vs.-Fiddy December sales figures later...

And finally, we'll end this column on another Jackson-centric note. Jacko's wacko, werewolfy "Thriller" video celebrates its big 25th anniversary this year, with fans all over the world staging re-enactments of the video's iconic, zombie-rific, red-leather-jacketed, yellow-contacted-lensed graveyard dance. So we'll keep your Halloween weekend going by screening the original, howlingly good video here. After all, no mere mortal can resist the evil of the "Thriller"!:

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:

1) Zep With No Pep - Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have plans for a Led Zeppelin tour...without Robert Plant.

2) The Jackson 5: Want Them Back? - Jermaine Jackson insists a reunion with his brothers is in the works.

3) AC/DC Back In The Black - The rockers' first album in eight years sets sales records.

4) Plumbing New Depths...In Taste - McCain mascot Joe The Plumber is embarking on a singing career.

5) Don't Call It A Comeback - LL Cool J drops off Janet Jackson's underselling tour.

6) Fiddy Acts Pretty - 50 Cent shows his sweet side and calls off the feud with Kanye.

7) Phil Spector's Trial Is A Real Trip - Testimony is temporarily halted after a juror falls and breaks his foot in the court parking lot.

8) The Thrill's Not Gone - On its 25th anniversary, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video is celebrated by Halloween revelers around the world.

9) While My Guitar (Hero) Gently Weeps - The Beatles are getting their own video game.

10) Amy Winehouse Rushed To Hospital, Again - Actually, does this even qualify as "news" anymore?

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