R 'N' R 3-Dot: Flamboyant Motown Exec Fired

Following weeks of industry speculation, PolyGram dropped the axe on Motown chairman Andre Harrell. Two years ago the former Uptown Records head was lured to PolyGram-owned Motown in a bid to revitalize the once-formative soul label that discovered such artists as Stevie Wonder, the Supremes and Michael Jackson. The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Harrell, who was given a reported $30 million, five-year deal, with $20 million paid on signing, was fired following lackluster sales and lavish spending on self-promotion and office renovations. PolyGram bought Motown six years ago for $300 million and executives later brought Harrell in hoping that he would revive Motown much as he had MCA, where he oversaw the launching of Mary J. Blige, Jodeci and the hottest producer/artist in R&B, Bad Boy boss Sean "Puffy" Combs. Despite Harrell's pledge to bring Motown into the '90s, the label's market share decreased sharply during his tenure, with the only successful act on the roster, Boyz II Men, not releasing an album during his watch. "By comparison," the Times reported, "Harrell's protege Combs and his Bertelsmann-affiliated Bad Boy Entertainment sold more current albums in the last two weeks than Harrell did during his entire tenure at Motown." Harrell's replacement has not been named and, for now, Motown will answer to Mercury Records president (soon-to-be-named chairman) Danny Goldberg, who told Addicted To Noise Thursday that he had "no comment" on the Harrell firing... [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

Tranquility Bass Debuts On Stage

Tranquility Bass will make its first landing on Aug. 28 at Chicago's Double Door night club. The hippie electronica act, named for multi-instrumentalist Mike Kandel, whose full-length debut, Let the Freak Flag Fly contained the back-to-nature sounds of '60s psychedelia crashing into '90s dance floor culture, has never performed live before. Kandel will be backed-up by a band comprised of members of the Chicago bands Isotope, Squishy and Out of Order, with two drummers, two guitarists, a bassist, keyboardist, percussionist and two back-up singers. Local DJ collective Atmospheric Audiochair will open the show. TB will launch a national tour in the fall... [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

New Electronica Compilation Out

Make room on your shelf for yet another electronica greatest hits compilation. Following on the already-late heels of MTV's AMP compilation and other catch-ups such as Plastic, the printed voice of electronica, URB magazine has teamed up with PolyGram to release Urbal Beats, a 16-track compilation of what the kids are currently digging. Several of the songs, including The Chemical Brothers' "Block Rockin' Beats," Future Sound of London's "We Have Explosive" and Underworld's "Born Slippy," and a half-dozen others have appeared on more than a dozen compilations, while some of the tracks have yet to be compiled-to-death. The album also contains tracks from Prodigy, DJ Icey, Rabbit in the Moon, Wink, Keoki, Orbital, Goldie and Portishead's golden oldie "Sour Times"... [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

Germany Targets neo-Nazi Skinhead Music

German authorities staged a nationwide crackdown this week on distributors who deal in neo-Nazi recordings by skinhead bands. Reuters reports that police seized hundreds of CDs, several personal computers, order forms, a machine gun and neo-Nazi paraphernalia this Wednesday in a raid that targeted 16 distribution centers. A statement from the government investigation office explained, "This operation had the aim of combating the increasing supply of recordings with extreme right-wing or xenophobic content. On the one hand, the lyrics express blatant racism and extreme right-wing thinking, which has the effect of stimulating violence. At the same time, big profits can be made from these products"... [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

Rhino Buys Catalog With Mayfield Classics

Rhino Records has purchased the Curtom Classics, Inc. catalog which includes the master recordings by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, as well as tracks from his R&B group, The Impressions and performances by lesser-known Curtom artists such as Linda Clifford, Leroy Hutson, Natural Four, Fred Wesley, Ava Cherry and The Notations. The Mayfield masters include work from his 10 solo albums recorded between 1972 and 1990, including his Grammy-nominated "Superfly," the theme song to the 1972 blaxploitation classic of the same name and the track "Freddie's Dead" covered by Fishbone on their 1988 album, Truth and Soul. Mayfield, who was paralyzed in 1990 when a lighting rig stuck him and damaged his spine, released a solo album last year entitled New World Order. [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

QUOTE (UNQUOTE) "I don't know if I ever really said that. I think my point was that there are no universally acknowledged women guitar heroes. That's a fact. But it could happen. And I believe that it will happen. I would gladly fill that role." -- Juliana Hatfield, responding to reports that quoted her as saying women aren't capable of playing guitar as well as men. [Saturday, Aug. 9, 1997, 9 a.m.]

(ATN staff compiled this report.)