Saturday, September 28, 2002

Maybe record executives should read some papers

You have to worry about the experts in charge of the UK music industry - the plumetting share of UK music in global sales suggests they don't know much about music; their current behaviour makes it clear nobody at the BPI has a clue about the worlds of industry, either. Their initial demands that EasyInternet Cafes (part of the Stelios-Easyjet empire) pay a million pounds to make good the "losses" incurred by customers who may - may have burnt downloaded music onto a CD while on their premises was laughable, outrageous, and rightly ridiculed.

But now they've tried to take Easy to court in a bid to force them to keep details of further negotations secret. Do these people ever read the finance pages? Or even the adverts? Have they not seen that it's part of Easy's business ethos to appeal over the heads of lawyers straight to the people - so, disputes with BA tend to get fought as much in quarter page adverts and on the side of planes as in back rooms? And that trying to bully the orange-bedecked empire is always going to wind up blowing up in your face in a series of elaborately-orchestrated publicity stunts?

If the BPI had been less greedy, they might have avoided the whole parading of their demands through the press at all. As it is... well, if I was holding shares in a record label, I'd be asking questions of my boards as to who is exactly coming up with these increasingly ridiculous strategies.

Meanwhile, in today's Guardian letters page, an executive from Chrysalis condemns the paper for repeating the "myth" that there is a fair use exemption in the copyright act allowing people to copy their own records for their own use. She's half right - the Act says fair use is for private research, review or reporting.

But that misses the point that there's no exemption for the making of a back-up copy simply because that's actually covered by the licence under which you buy the record or CD in the first place - you're buying the recording, the sound, not the plastic disc, to use as you see fit for your own personal realm. Fair use exemptions are designed to cover the circulation of reproductions, not the making of a reproduction. Since we assume that Catherine Bell knows this, we presume she's trying to pull a fast one.

Friday, September 27, 2002

A FEW YEARS AGO: The NME had a cover featuring Bowie and Brett Anderson, with the headline "One day, son, all this will be yours."
This week, Suede's positivity entered the charts at 16. Bowie's Everyone says Hi went in at 20.
Not, actually, that this means Suede will be on tonight's Pops - Bowie will be, though. It occurs to us that Chris Cowey is in no place to moan about the shit state of the chart when he has more respoonsibility for what's played on TOTP than any other producer in its history, since he doesn't use the strict chart-position formula, and as such has a bigger opportunity to shape what appears in that chart.

YOUR LICENCE FEE AT WORK. UNLESS YOU'RE AMERICAN: There's been some muttering that the BBC Online presence hasn't really done very much that it couldn't have done with Ceefax, and we'd guess that collective is a step towards trying to right that wrong. Basically, it's a bit like the H2G2 site (also now kept within the peaty loins of BBCi), only with a sharper eye on credibility. OK, it's a glorified bulletin board, but it has clips and sounds and has potential to be an interesting web destination - currently offering Polyphonic Spree stuff alongside clips from Brotherhood of the Wolf...

GOOD GOODARD (JUNIOR): If there's ever been claims that its not who you know, but who you're descended from, look no further than Kiss' new hope - the son of Alvin Stardust. The only redeeming feature is that "the son of Alvin Stardust" sounds pleasingly like a Half Man, Half Biscuit song title.

Listen to your father

MediaGuardian is reporting thay Feargal Sharkey has been put in charge of all Northern Ireland radio regulation - which is an encouraging sign; considering that so much British radio is given over to the broadcasting of popular music, the more people who can actually distinguish rock from indie from dance in decision-making positions in the regulators, the better.
Course, his mam won't be happy - "why can't you work in television like your cousin?..."

I GOT YOU BY THE BALLS FOR THE CENTURY, BABE: The copyright furore is about more than just the right of some university students to avoid buying the new Eminem album. (And, no matter what Google tells you, this site does not host downloads of Holly Vallance's new single Down Boy, in MP3, video or - especially - Windows Media, thank you.) The problem is, the debate about what copyright is for, and what it can do, often gets lost in a whole host of silly nonesense about Chinese pirate copies of Matrix II, and kids downloading a thousand Phil Collins tunes before bedtime. Thanks to rocktober, then, for pointing us to this considered piece on the Sonny Bono copyright act, balancing out what would be lost without it (grandchildren living off other people's royalties) with what it would have stopped in the past (for example, Disney - prime movers of the new law - would never have been able to make Snow White or Cinderella). Worthwhile and thoughtful.

THE LICK CHART: I'm not about this - see, if I was Justin Timberlake, and I'd licked one of the most famous, if unseen, places on the planet, I don't think I'd need to be bribed into announcing it. And if I was Britney, I think I'd be less than pleased that our intimacy was blown away for thirty spins of a single on an obscure New York radio station. In fact, I'd be getting My People to leak the phrase "at least he was able to stick his tongue out a couple of inches" to the press right now. But if I was the radio station, I'd be pretty pissed off I'm lumbered with playing the track nearly three dozen times, and never even got to find out what flavour...

Career, um, Suicide?

Pitchfork are reporting that Suicide are on the point of releasing a lumbering comeback album, which is worrying. Sure, it doesn't have to be a pile of poop, and not every reactivated punk turns in a performance that smacks more of bottom line than headthrills (we've always been happy with the Buzzcocks now, and when Kurt dragged the Raincoats out of retirement it added to their ouevre rather than damaged their reputation) but we hope they'll look at those pictures of a pissy, beer-soaked Johnny Rotten and think again. There's a dignity in back catalogue that doesn't often survive Clear Channel friendly reunion tours.

TEN: Ping Pong Bitches Top Ten of the moment, cited in a rather fine Phinweb interview:
Firestarter - Prodigy
J'taime... moi non plus - Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
I Love Rock'N'Roll - Joan Jett
Flashlight - P-Funk
French Kiss - Li'l Louis
Ms Jackson -Outkast
Up Middle Finger - Oxide & Neutrino
Cheree - Suicide
Bad Boy for Life - P Diddy
Baby One More Time - Britney Spears

TV TIMES: Further to a thing on pearls that are his eyes about Sigur Ros turning up on CSI, I know the main thought I was meant to take away from the show about Christopher Ecclestone discovering his real parents had learning difficulties [Flesh and Blood, BBC2] was "blimey, he sang Teenage Fanclub's The Concept to his baby", but that - other than 'can you imagine the shock the parents must have had to discover their kid had an unnaturally large ego?' - was pretty much the thing that stuck the most.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

The labels should worry about file-sharing

Kazaza? The RIAA and the BPI should worry. There's a much bigger threat to their bottom line, and its not the kids swapping a few Linkin Park tracks amongst themselves. It's the new Simply Red album.
Because Simply Red have cut out the record label. Totally. Since they're loaded, they figured they didn't need a label to put up the cash to record their new collection. They bought in the services they needed, chose the people they wanted, and ran the whole show themselves. This is in a totally different league from the likes of Dodgy getting fans to lash in for a new album - the bands of the Simply Red size are the struts on which the record companies build their business; they're the groups whose success the labels are hoping they can recreate when they put out the new material, the ones who supposedly deliver the profits. If they walk away from them, taking their customers with them, then there isn't much future for the big labels at all, is there? If you've got EMI shares, I'd flog them now...

Britney? Not you, too

So, Britney is going to appear as the, um, face of the RIAA in a "hey, kids, don't steal" series of commercials. Didn't her career get kick-started by the record company making free copies of stuff available and getting it circulated on the web? Apparently she's going to explain that downloading music is "like going to the record store and stealing a CD" - erm, no it isn't, actually; if you take a CD, you're removing the item and permanently stopping other people from possessing it; the fact it's been shipped and stored and manufactured means that that specific CD has had a unit cost attached to it. Downloading a track doesn't stop the track from being available to others; there are no unit costs associated with the downloading of CDs. So it's not like stealing a CD at all, little Britney. The likes of Eminem, Elton John and Madonna are all joining in a campaign about how poor artists are going to starve as a result of file-sharing, which is heart-rending; I might send Elton a thirty-five pence postal order so that he can eat tomorrow, you know.

NEW MUSIC WE LIKE: The Flir are from San Deigo and remind us quite a lot of Slowdive, and from their website we think they'll know that we mean that as a testament of love rather than a complaint. Like the sort of things you'd watch Snub TV for, or Lush in a big hot bath...

WHAT ABOUT A SKULL AND CROSSBONES AND... HANG ON: The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) have spent thirty minutes with a box of crayolas and come up with this:

(Try here if that doesn't show up. Anyone guess what it is? Nope, not PacMan - Cannibal Edition. Nor is it a symbol designed to be displayed on CDs of artists forced into an abortion by their management. In fact, it's the new international symbol to show that theCD-shaped thing in the CD case isn't actually a CD at all, but a copy-protected bastardisation that, chances are, won't play on the equipment you want it to. It's kind of the equivalent of "Parental Advisory", only with "Consumer Advisory:This CD doesn't actually work properly" on it instead.
Anyone fancy scampering down to Tower with a collection of "Also available on BearShare" stickers?
FOOTNOTE: This appeared on No Rock yesterday, but we were having trouble and took it down to see if it was this post's fault... so the stuff that follows is fresh...

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: It's a day late, but we got stuck edition:
Given away free in tescos (and that much would actually suffice as a review) it's the debut of Closer. Designed to provide an older counterpoint to Heat in much the same way that Sneak is a younger version, Closer is pretty much the HRT Heat, meaning a lot of shitty paparazi shots without the sark - Closer to the Star's views of themselves, then - and the odd Chat-style 'real life story.' They cover the Celebrity slim-a-thon that is Fit Club - notable for Rik Waller being described both as "morbidly obese" and "a waste of space" (a waste of a lot of space?), but doesn't ask why when it's ordinary proles, the show is Fat Club, but when it's minor celebs, it's Fit Club. Ian MacCaskill is, apparently, obese now - which shows the perils of retirement...

Another one of which would be reading the Daily Mail, which (we picked it up free in a Little Chef, alright) lamented the state of the UK charts in two pages of tutting. Strangely, while echoing Top of the Pops boss Chris Cowey's lament that the charts are rubbish now, the Mail's idea of a golden age seems to be something a bit more pre-Hailey. Funnily enough, my parents used to take the Daily Mail and I remember about twenty years ago the then-TV critic of the Mail Herbert Kretzmer wrote an almost identical piece. Kretzmer took Janet Jackson to task for the lines "I never asked for more than I deserved/And that's the truth/You seem to think you're god's gift to this earth/I'm telling you no way", which he derided as rubbish, without revealing that he was the man who wrote the racist pap that is Goodness Gracious Me. When your back catalogue has "It goes boom-de-de-boom-de-de-boom-boom-boom/well, goodness, gracious me" and "bangers and mash/minestrone/bangers and mash/macaroni" in it, you might think twice before slagging other people's work off. (Hmmm, pop papers chooses two decade old article as its focus - up to date, eh?). The 2002 version reckons that while you could once chart British Society through its charts, you can't nowadays - although we personally reckon that Atomic Kitten and the So Solids look more like the faces we see on the street than we'd assume the public school pastyness of 1973's chart gods were...

Which reminds us, of course, to Guardian Women's response to Ms Dynamite winning the Mercury - praising that her victory and tracksuits set a "good example" to girls that you don't need to bare your belly to be a star. Maybe if they'd googled on images of Ms Dynamite and counted the navels on display, they wouldn't have been so quick to reach this conclusion; maybe if they'd spent time with teenage girls who wear trackies by day, they'd have noticed that at night they tend to Kitten-up; Ms Dynamite is merely Everyday Girl in Daywear as surely as Natasha and Liz are girls in their nightclothes. Besides, why should we be so quick to applaud someone who dresses on stage as if they couldn't give a shit? It's possible to dress neatly without looking like the back row from the Windmill Theatre - do we really need Pop Stars, of all people - the ones who have a birthright to glitter and shimmer - to look like they've tumbled onto stage out the back door of McDonalds?...

For those of you who cut out and keep these things - mounted on a piece of card cut from the back of a Sugar Puffs box, we'd imagine - and like completeness, last week's nme had Oasis on the front. And, having not been near a computer since the Friday before, for us it was like old times - genuinely exciting, refreshing, hearing news we'd not already been piloting through the web for the previous week. Of course, the people at IPC might not find the news that the NME only neads to smash the internet to pieces to become a vital, thriving concern again very encouraging, but we do wonder if the big NTL fire could have been set as a result of a Kings Reach Tower focus group?...

But this week's nme is another matter. We knew that the game was up for the Melody maker the first time it came with a sheet of stickers. It wasn't so much the fact of the stickers - although they did signal an abandonment of any claims to seriousness - but the way in between the band logos and pictures there were stickers with "amusing" catchphrases and "funny" slogans that were only ever used by the Melody Maker...
We mention this now because this week's nme comes with stickers. And it has ones that say "You cock" and so on. Sigh. We really might be in endgame...

news: why is "London is great; it's got loads of gigs" being treated as news when it's pretty much the usual nme message anyway?; nme hints that The Streets blew the mercury when Mike Skinner said he wouldn't show up, as not having the winner there would make for bad TV (last year, of course, the rumour was the prize was given to Polly Harvey because she was stuck in a post-Pentagon(e) Washington and her inability to turn up was good headline); Zane Lowe now the favourite to take over the ridiculously gaunt one's slot at the Evening Session amidst questions over Dave Pearce's future at Radio One; Courtney love did a days worth of programming at MTV2 in the states - presumably wall-to-wall Pearl Jam and Wedding Present; Apparently Escapology is supposed to "revive slow UK album sales" - not wanting to rain on Robbie's parade, but album sales in the Uk are three per cent up on their level this time last year, and so not really in need of saving; Morrissey punched a fan "accidently" when he ran on stage at his UK comeback gigs - always did like a spot of boxing, didn't he? But can you imagine the shame of having to admit "You should see the other guy - he's a gladioli waving guy with thining hair"?; Marilyn Manson's paintings have gone on display - we can't imagine why, they're even more shit than McCartney's; Graham Cxon has had a pop at Fatboy Slim, saying that he's consulted his lawyers - let it go, now, Graham, let it go; there's a fourteen minute Beatles tune which is going to come out at long last - Noel says he'll listen to the first couple of minutes certainly, but Liam probably won't be able to concetrate that long - although, apparently, Oasis are now working with Status Quo, which befits their status as The New Donkeys of Pop slightly more - they've also commented that "My Opinion means nothing" about Iraq - no, Noel, even your dumbass views count in a democracy; Fisherspooner "rarely play live because their gigs are hugely expensive to produce" reckons the nme - well, compared with the two men and a dog likely to go and see them at the Fake Lomax and Bristol Old Fire Station, yeah. We're delighted to see they're on at the aptly named Old Fruit Market in Glasgow, though; John Lydon shouted "you're a turd" at someone who threw beer at the Pistols as they haul their sad car crash carcass round the US; from the paper which brought you "Who is Elvis", it's "Who the hell is Jeff Beck?" - presumably because there's no sticker for him...

Dave Grohl burns ten tracks on a CD - Cat Power, Slayer, Pixies...

The latest nme useless is gimmick is "text us if you see a star", thereby making the lamest part of Popbitch into a feature - we recommend you use 07752 146472 only for finest spottings of the Grumbleweeds and the bloke who used to be Crossroads...

On bands - Radio 4 (not to be confused wirth the nightclub or the station of the same name); martinit Henry Rifles (not to be confused with new wave of pig fuckers, apparently)...

"Maybe I'm a fucking miserablist, but there's no bands that mean anything to me - none of the 'the' bands... i don't even know if I particularly like rock music" - not the words of someone at Radio One, but Mark Greaney from JJ72...

"Fans send us pots of jam. And there's the ones who go on about monkeys" says Ben Cooper Temple Clause...

The Polyphonic Spree are "driven by a righteous devoition to spread their musical word; the good angels on the opposite shoulder of pop to the So Solid Crew" reckons Mark Beaumont, and he may never have said a truer word. Even if it does make them sound more Ned Flanders than they actually are...

lps: the datsuns - the datsuns ("paved with a whole lot of fun", 8); busted - busted ("kelly jones will hate it", 8); supergrass - life on other planets ("worth it - for now", 7); suede - a new morning ("old fans will love them for it", 7); his name is alive - last night ("as intense as great sex" - then how come it only gets 8?); the future & the human league - the golden hour of the future ("you have to doubt if even Phil's mum will be listening", 3)...

sotw is the liberines - up the bracket ("chas&dave loving") and not hoggboy - upside down ("No name by numbers") or garbage - shut your mouth ("irrelevant suits them well")...

live: the music in dublin and belfast ("the best band since Oasis in '94" says a fan); the eighties matchbox b-line disaster in camden ("best new band in Britain today"); datsuns in camden ("swot up on them")

and, finally: in the small ads, someone called sheena tries to trace a bloke called Ju who she appears to have allowed to shoot his juice into her at a festival. "We should do it again soon" she says. Sheena, even if he is called Ju, he's not going to have believed you were called Sheena, is he? Maybe you should try Jim Wirth instead.

A TOP TEN FOR CENTURY 21: BigChampagne are the kings of Peer To Peer market research, measuring, recording, watching, and producing a top ten of stuff zinging the most from computer to computer. It's pretty interesting stuff, and if Chris Cowey really wanted a chart for TOTP which reflects what people like, maybe he should consider using this instead?

YOU DON'T NEED US: This is what the useful blog drone had to say about The Forthcoming tour of Britain by Pink:
"Im a bit nervous to see if i can go through the summer :-( Im going to see if i can take a shower. Im going to go see the mexican in a little while. Seriously guys im going to go f that tree if yall dont get me a woman. "

DON'T BE A SPAMBAND: We tend to berate acts we catch in the act of spamming, but do we offer alternative suggestions? No, of course we don't; we're not your bloody mothers. But a group - who do sound a bit rubbish - asked Slashdot for advice on how to turn themselves into an online phenomenononon, and people responded with lots of advice. But please note, the guy who suggested spamming was being ironic, m'kay? We came across this through soundspy, who offer a few tips of their own.

TWANG TWANG TWANG: Westlife sign 'GBP20million record deal'? Yeah, and our cat's made it to the shortlist for Fame Academy.

PREPARING FOR RE-ENTRY INTO SOCIETY: Atomic Kitten get experience working in shops

HANK WILLIAMS ROBBED: His grave has been turned over - police are said to be interviewing Ryan Adams

HERE COMES PINK: Hurrah! She'll tell us what to do...
Manchester Apollo - November 5
Birmingham Academy - November 11
London Brixton Academy - November 12
Hmmm... wonder what she'll be doing between the fifth and the eleventh? Besides trying to out-run us...

POPBITCH TWANG: While we have no doubt that they're putting the finishing touches to a robo-band of Atomic Kittenalikes, would any label decide to call them Syrens when, um, there's already another band with the same wackily mispelled name? Could we suggest Circe's Piggies instead?

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: Since when was teenage girl has bit too much to drink a news story? And since the Sun caught on that it was nearly "two years to the day" since Fifi's mother Paula died, wouldn't it have been kinder to consign this non-story to the spike?
Talking of the Sun, they're also claiming that the Appleton debut album is being put back because of the furore over the Abortion Book. Hmmm, of course Polydor wouldn't want to be seen to be "cashin-in" from the publicity, would it? But isn't it a bit more likely that the first single sold so few it's been decided not to let the album get swamped in the Christmas rush?

THE CURSE OF WILSON: Also from Undercover, it looks like Brian Wilson (out the Beach Boys) may not be touring Australia as soon as was planned, since his promoter's being investigated for fraud. Confusingly, they're suggesting that Wilson may have to pay back his advance as a result.

HIS HEART IS GOOD: His kidneys, not so, as Undercover is reporting that Walrus of Love Barry White is in need of a new kidney.
Which seems as good a point as any to point out that anybody in the UK who wants to offer bits of their bodies up for raffle in the event of their going to meet Ian Curtis can do so with a temporary donor card which can be downloaded here. Even if your kidneys don't end up purifying the pee of one of the soul greats, it's still worth doing. Don't put it off any longer.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

ABOUT TIME TOO: Yeah Yeah Yeahs finally announce details of new single. At this rate, it'll be a new album by 2007...

SHOWBIZ IN ACTION: Two stories from ananova's music front page, as they originally appeared, one straight after the other:
Justin Timberlake to record anti drink-driving advert
Justin Timberlake is to team up with American anti-drink driving campaign group Recording Artists, Actors & Athletes Against Drunk Driving.
10:17 Wednesday 25th September 2002
Lance Bass to play Nose Picker
NSync's Lance Bass is to appear in a new musical film called Nose Pickers From Outer Space.
09:23 Wednesday 25th September 2002

Spot the Jason Orange.


COINCIDENCE MAKES ME HER BITCH: I had been going to visit vain, selfish & lazy since it was recommended by , but then discovering that we score highly when people are searching for "Mariah Carey's tits", I idly clicked to see what other sources of information are offered for this request, and discovered a link to V,S&L there, too. So, if Mariah's overexposed bossom tells me to check it out too, I do it. What else could I do? And - hey - it's pretty good, too.

COURT NEWS: Yoko Ono brings legal action against former assistant she accuses, amongst other things, of dressing up in Lennon's clothes. We'd imagine Noel and Liam are watching the door nervously right now, then.

WIGWAM BAM: A Liverpool concert pumping out noise that might make people feel sick? No, it's not the Farm getting back together*, but a 'silent' gig at the Metropolitan Cathedral, where they'll be playing some of the music so low down the scale as to be felt, rather than heard. There was a thing on this on Today a little bit ago, and they were saying that there's some feeling amongst scientists that this sub-noise might be what causes people to "feel" the presence of ghosts, which is interesting. And we're sure we read somewhere a few years ago that "they" (presumably the American military-Industrial complex) were trying to develop a crowd control weapon on the same basis - apparently Iraq would be able to make one of these within six months if they got access to Barry White through a third party.
"We don't want people vomiting" announces the concert organiser. So, at least nicer than a Slipknot gig, then.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

YOU'VE GOT FOETUS ON YOUR PR CIRCUIT: Who knows what the truth of the Williams-Appleton baby saga is? (I can hear you murmuring 'who cares', you, at the back.) The fact that the story and various flavours of claim and counter claim shimmer and disappear from view smacks of a journalistic world treading very carefully round the law. Apparently, Williams is upset by Nicole Appleton telling all about her getting rid of the foetus they'd fertilised together. Or, depending on who else you believe, he sent her wishes and told her she was being brave. Whatever, it makes your head go varoom - we've seen before rockstars fannying about using babies for publicity, but this has got to be an all-time low: we're with Christopher Reeve on the use of stem cells in research; but abortions for PR? Can we just not?

SHOEGAZING: Shakira is proud to be the new face (and, presumably, tits -albeit small and humble - and ass) of Reebok. "We're meant to be together" simpers Shakira. We wonder if she stopped for a moment before signing her mutli-million dollar deal to wonder why Indonesian labour activist Dita Sari refused to take part in Reebok's Winter Olympics PR glitz. There may be a clue in that Dita was offered only USD50,000 to lend her name to the brand.

NOW, THIS SEEMS A BIT MORE LIKE IT: Yahoo are reporting that Warners and Rio have linked up to make "one thousand album's worth" of stuff available as a buck-a-shot downloads. A la carte, via Rio partners like rather than in a confusing, bundled deal through a separate site - this could actually be the first major download scheme that is designed to work rather than being built to fail. We'll wait to see the system in full, though - Yahoo's promise of acts including "Green Day, Enya and Sugar Ray" is hardly giving us the honey-pot-happys right now, and "starting at 99 cents" is slightly ominous - ninety nine cents still seeming a little on the high side (these are old tracks, this is meant to be fighting "free" downloads, three tracks for £1-99 is standard price in the UK) - and it may not be available in the New Home of the Internet, Europe. But there are always glitches.

FAIR SHARES: It's not as new as the New York Times seems to think (Dodgy did the same thing a year or two) but another band, Grey Eye Glances, have got the cash to release a record by passing the hat round and selling shares. It's an interesting approach to producing music - rather than getting bankrolled by a label, you draw down the cash from fans and 'angels'. It's a system that's worked pretty well for theatre and indie movies; it's kind of curious that it doesn't happen more often in music.

COSTINGS: The BPI have welcomed the report from the Office of Fair Trading - a dossier, if you will - that says, you know, CDs aren't really all that more expensive in the UK than they are in Europe. The BPI furnish the BBC with figures that 'prove' CDs have become cheaper - the average price now being £10.65 as against £11.22, which is something to be mildly pleased about - although why the record companies would claim credit for a situation largely brought about by the Permanent 3 for 2 offers in the highstreet and downward pressure on prices from Internet retailers we're not sure; still, at this rate, in a couple of years the false price leap engineered by the labels when CDs came in may finally be corrected.
But anyway - although the differentials have shrunk between Britain and Europe, that's not really the main point, is it? Prices between Europe and America are still grossly out of whack. Take, for just one example, that there Pink album. In germany, offers it at EUR14.99, while in the UK asks slightly less, GBP9-99. However, customers in America can buy the thing for USD13-49, the equivalent of GBP8-66 or EUR13.74. So, yes, good that the disparity in the EU has started to be addressed, but if all it means is everyone this side of Greenland is being overcharged by the same amount, you'll forgive me for not applauding, won't you?

MORE CHILD PRODIGY NEWS: The BBC is reporting that James Brown is being sued for royalties by his daughters - apparently unconcerned that one of them was only three at the time when one of the songs was written. Well, I spose if Atomic Kitten think they're capable of writing a tune, why not a three year old girl?

POP PHILOSOPHY: Loved this from tiny mixtapes: When the Second Single Fails - managing to hook together Thomas Dolby and that irritating woman who did the video with the piano floating about. Hurrah.

... but she doesn't like to talk about it

A GREATER RUSH: So, Brett Anderson reckons the new Suede album is the first that he's created without a body full of drugs, and it pretty much shows, as well. The new single Positivity does sound different to old Suede - cleaner, fresher, purer - in fact, it sounded like the sun shining for the first time on an old Suede song. In the same way that Pulp's We Love Life was a discovery of nature, it's clear that Suede's A New Morning is going to be their stop and look around album; their discovery that daytime isn't something that comes between the nights, but the part that joins it all up.

STRANGE SEARCH TERMS: A warm welcome to whoever discovered us with a Google on "Gay sex videos No Sighing fee."

TRIBUTE TO NOTHING: Phil Jupitus, in his contribution to the Hats off to the late Kirsty MacColl fest, chooses to play A New England and Days. So, that's showing her full range as a songwriter, then.
UPDATE: Then back announced with the observation that at the concert last night "one of the things that really emerged was her talent as a songwriter."

Monday, September 23, 2002

HURRAH!: We thought that whoever was behind the large and unpleasant Atomic Kitten poster flyposted a few yards from the-cruelly ousted Andy McCluskey's studios was pushing it; nemesis has struck in the form of Pink, who regular No Rock readers will know has been officially our favourite pure-pop-star for quite a while now. She's knocked the Kittens off number one in the UK with Just Like A Pill, a song which as-yet unborn smiley girls will undoubtably remake in a clueless fashion in 2017. But for now: Viva Pink.

[NOT] A MUSICAL TOUR OF THE KINGDOM: It was really when i found myself wondering if Timmy Mallett's novelty cover of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini would be enough to observe that he told the [Brighton] Argus about hitting Thatcher on the head with his Mallet, and how, since he'd been on Top of the Pops as well it was too many dreams come true for one man, that we realised our plan to take the musical pulse of the nation, as reflected through random local papers purchased as we toured about, was going to come to nothing.
It had started well enough - The Manchester Evening News slobbering over Oasis' return to Manchester; they gave over two pages of a Saturday edition to Noel being rude to Gary Neville (signing the footballers guitar with the sort of wit Oscar Wilde would have collaborated with Hale and Pace for) and local residents living in fear of the Old Trafford gig; then the Brighton And Hove Leader offered up the news that the Normstock ghost had been "laid to rest" by the peaceful passing of a film event on Brighton Beach (because, yes, an old movie on a windy night in september is almost an exact re-creation of a heavily promoted dance night at the height of the summer, isn't it?). But then The West Sussex Gazette sniffily even refused to mention that the "pop band" who'd been making crop circles was the Levellers, although towards the end of the same edition they did manage to get quite excited by the prospect of a Joe Jackson gig. And the further we went from the bigger towns, the more poor the coverage of music - local or national - became.
Which strikes us as a shame - if papers like the Banbury Guardian and the Cotswold Journal can find room for in-depth reports on bridge matches and small fires in local sheds, can't they make a little bit of space to write about people making music in their areas? One of the fears of local papers is that they face an ever-dwindling readership, and yet while there are clearly things happening in their patch - I mean, Oxfordshire, for crying out loud - they don't bother to give space to one thing that might encourage a younger audience to start to turn to their pages. When music does pop up in these papers, its either in the form of am dram productions of Me and My Girl, or else a small-as-you-please concert listings (band name, one-word description - "punk"), or, if you're really lucky, a small preview of an dinsoaur act passing quite close-by (Liverpool's Merseymart is especially guilty of this, usually filling up its quota of 200 words or so with something about a band about to play Manchester.)
We can't believe that the whole of the Cotswolds is now mined-out and no new exciting bands are living there, and that if people will happily file reports of minor football fixtures they can't find a couple of people who'd be happy to file music reviews. Maybe it's asking a bit much for papers which claim to exist to reflect civic pride to seek out young people doing something for themselves, something to be proud of, with the same fervour that they bring to unmasking teenaged vandals.

SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER: Could the Boy George lamenting how rubbish, novelty-obsessed and money-grubbing the music industry is these days be in any way related to the person who's allowed them to market this all singing Chameleon telephone?

IT'S BACK: In what we think might be the first instance of a show turning into an entire channel, The Chart Show - that Saturday morning indulgence cruelly axed to make way for the jabberings of Ant and Dec and the Cat Deeley woman - has returned. In the form of an entire channel. It's pretty much a round-the-clock version of what you might remember, only with the Indie chart on more often than once every three weeks. Video Vault, fairly rubbish screen facts, "Still to come" and New Releases. Plus, it's doing Jazz charts and other stuff like that, which makes it probably the most (possibly the only) eclectic music station on the air. Channel 458 for Sky Digital viewers.
Who might get even more choice soon - plans for a Pay Per View service from BSkyB got shelved a couple of weeks back (uber-man Trevor Dann lamenting that the labels wouldn't give him decent enough music early enough to make it worth his while), but today's MediaGuardian is reporting that Sky is now planning three own-brand music stations to come soon - Tony Ball of BSB citing how quickly EMAP's stations have built a following at the expense of MTV to "prove" the gap in the market. Which is as maybe, but the EMAP stations went clearly for areas that MTV hadn't attempted to exploit; it's still too early to say, but it looks as if the more or less on the run creation of "me too" products (MTV Dance and Base against Kiss; MTV2's rebirth as Kerrang-ish) has won share back without much effort for the lords of Camden Lock. Sky might have to come up with something pretty special if it's not to be left as a shabby rival.

SWITCHED ON: Watching the ill-advised Busted video for What I Go To School For again, we're struck by the similarity between one of the dirty schoolboys and a young Paul Whitehouse. Enduring image, innit, stalkers for jailbait? Meanwhile, further watching of Round, Round has thrown up a reason why they may have chosen to edit in so much from the Guru - because Heidi ex-Atomic Kitten can't lyp-synch to save her life. Thank god the Sugababes write - ahem - so much of their own material, because clearly she can't mime someone else's words in any way effectively.

DOG-GONE: Sometimes, designers make you feel ashamed for the whole concept of trying to make things look nice. Apparently, some bright spark has decided that HMV stores are "too confusing" visually (that would account for the hordes of customers laying with their feet in the air, mouths frothing, then) and has overhauled the look of the places, in the process axing Nipper. Yup, after nearly a century of peering into the gramophone, the little dog has been thrown away. Of course, in the long run this doesn't really matter very much - after all, it's just a logo - but it still serves as a pretty good depiction of the problem with most British design - a contempt for the past, and a refusal to accept that some things have stood the test of time and as such might demand a little more respectful treatment from a teenager who can barely recall a time before Illustrator 9 was released.

NEW SITE REVIEW: And, welcome to a new step-up, as we filch one of Alex's bsn reviews for the first time... Sleater-Kinney:
Becky is absolutely right; disgust is an easier emotion to convey than love, thrill, astonishment. I'll try my best.
The Sleater-Kinney show changed from the El Rey (due, according to Weeza, to a collapsed ceiling) to the Highlands club at the new Hollywood & Highlands complex. It‚s a LuxoPosh mall-type complex on the border of West Hollywood, hemmed by the Walk of Starall fiberglass and art deco balconies and -obnoxiously trendy Japanese restaurants and boutiques that you need an appointment to shop in. There are apartments built over the stores; the whole places was built in mind of bringing back mixed use ˆ residential zones on top of commercial ones because this city is spreading like a syphilis culture and we‚re running out of space. The place is very baroque and irritating - giant statues and friezes of Ganesh, Shiva, Osiris and Isis and Horus overlooking the main intersection, because you know we are oh-so high-minded and cosmopolitan yes we are (listen, architects, city planners, brainless trend-mongers who design these things: diversity *happens*. You can't manufacture it. A multicultural society grows up by itself, if you let it; building pretentious homages to the local gods along the walls of an antiseptic upper-class mega-mall is like razing the rainforest and filling it in with plastic ficus. We are one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world - wonderful things could happen here if you‚d quit trying to give our metropolis the cultural equivalent of breast implants). The club is on the fourth floor, which is
unusual - I've been to above-ground discos, but never a live club; you'd think the weight of the stage, the merch table, the bar, the equipment, and a moshing-pogoing-pounding crowd would be a hazard, especially in a place as seismically capricious as this. Indeed, during the show I could feel the floor bouncing and flexing underneath us. But obviously it didn't crash through and kill me ‚cos - check it out.
The Quails went on with a Rice-a-Roni joke (they hail from my hometown and Becky's currenttown) and two guys began an awkward and short-lived chant about the San Francisco treat. Los Quails are a perky indie power pop grrrl-lite trio featuring two girls and a guy; they all sing, including the drummer (singing while drumming is a feat that never fails to delight me) and their female singer-guitarist has a vibrato not unlike Corin Tucker's, only peppier and not as deep or rich. The Quails‚ tunes are energetic and fleshy and cute; they were talkative and should have been able to establish a better rapport with the crowd, but most of us, for some reason, weren't having it. I danced around the outskirts of the audience, trying to get something going, but only a few people followed suit. I defer to The Gossip's excellent analysis of situations such as this:"No thanks to the squares who don't dance - Yr boring!" The Quails were bouncy and engaging and get a big thumbs-up from me.
Next up was Shannon Wright. A singer-guitarist-pianist from Florida, she's got a voice like Fiona Apple in a torture chamber and a stage presence like Linda Blair in a mental ward. She whispers and screams and moans and flails and spins and belts and crashes and pounds and stomps and thrashes; her music is melodic, dark, raw ˆ she reminds me of a punk-rock Portishead, with strong shades of Tori Amos. Moody, angry, desperate, surreal. She threw herself around the stage, wailed like a police siren, and at some point left her mic in favor of leaning into the audience and screaming directly at us with her jaw jutting out and her eyes squeezed shut. She held strained and broken notes impossibly long, fading out like a dying wind-up doll. Her set ended abruptly when she sang her last lyric and stomped offstage, knocking over her microphone with the neck of her guitar in a final, styptic clang. Much of the audience seemed put off by her, particulatly the men. She made my heart beat faster and my body shake.
You know how a good show can be a blur, so I won't give a play-by play; SleaterhyphenKinney arrived and rocked our socks the fuck off. Corin's voice was gold; bold, heartbreaking, half-polished and half-raw, wrapping fingers around my heart and slipping them between my legs. You wonder how she doesn't deflate like a ruptured balloon at the end of every song; she seems to throw every atom inside her into each note. Her voice has a sharp delicious bite onstage that isn‚t as apparent on their albums. Carrie has brought back her slo-mo kung fu, and was all over the stage she had a much more active presence here than at the last show I saw. They played for about an hour and a half, including the encore; the crowd twitched and flailed and danced and jumped and screamed and sang. Their encore included a cover of Promiseland by Bruce Springsteen in which Janet played harmonica. Afterwards, she said she saw a guy in the audience who sang along with every word. The floor felt like it was going to break under us; it bent in time with the pit. It was like standing on a trampoline while everyone around you is jumping; I was literally thrown an inch into the air every time it crested. Step Aside has supplanted Dance Song ‚97 as their bouncy set-ender,and brought us to a boil before the lights went up. The show was astonishing. I get retrospective butterflies thinking every time a piece of it accidentally replays in my head. My body still aches.
I'm more in love than ever.
So that's that.

BAMBOO TWO: Becky does Interpol:
I got to the Interpol show late, missing the first band. I opened the club door to a wave of heat and the smell of people pressed tightly together. I passed a woman trying to talk her way in and got my stamp. Say what you will about online fees (lord knows I have) but they do guarantee entry into sold out shows. The second band was just starting up as I worked my way forward and staked out my spot. I took a look around and man, it's like I was drowning in the sheer coolness of these people. Black frame glasses? Check. Ironic T-shirts? Check. Dyed black hair? Check. These were the scenesters, here to check out the latest buzz. The people who frequent Popscene and the illegal smoking bars. You know the people I mean.
Anyway. The second band was fairly similar in sound to Interpol, but without that thing. That thing ˆ be it the look, the hooks, the words ˆ that makes a band truly distinctive. It didn't help that the sound was kind of muddy. I couldn't make out a word the singer said and the music was distorted. Bad equipment? I don't know. It's rare that Bottom of the Hill has any technical difficulties, so maybe so. I can't tell you their name because I couldn't understand when they announced it. But it might have started with an E.
Sweaty Scratching Guy next to me was singing along with them and knew all the words so I considered asking him what their name was, but then he scratched his armpit. Not one of those I'm just adjusting my T-shirt, might as well take care of this itch real quick‚ scratches. No, we‚re talking under the sleeve, fingernails and all. So sorry. I didn‚t get their name. I was too busy being grossed out.
After they finished up a bunch of people went to the bar, so I moved up a little more and found myself next to Bob 'Bitch Tits' Paulson. Only with a mullet. And a beer belly. Nice guy, though. Seemed really into the band. Oh yeah, the band... The singer, Paul, looks barely old enough to have his braces off yet he opens his mouth and this incredible world weary, intense, Ian Curtis voice comes out. (Is saying "intense, Ian Curtis" redundant?) His right hand blurred as he closed his eyes and sang. I took my cue from him and closed my eyes too. I let the bass resonate right behind my breastbone and had to put my hand over my heart to keep it inside. Intense isn't the word. I forgot all the cool kids around me and got lost.
*This* is why I go to shows. None of the boys up onstage in their button down shirts and ties said much
more than "Thanks" or "Can I get more guitar in the monitor?" But they didn't need to. They only played a little over an hour, encore included, but I didn't feel cheated.
And I didn't even notice the parking ticket on my windshield until I got home.

THE BAMBOO REVIEW: While we've been off looking at collections of lace bobbins, bsn people have been keeping up their end in the going to music stakes. First (or, last, if you read from the top) is Becky Bamboo at the Wilco movies:
so yesterday was the last day they were showing "I am trying to break your heart" the documentary about Wilco and the making of YHF. I ran over after babysitting and barely made it.
most of the movie concerns the recording process..and, oh, the irony. every time jay bennett said something about the closeness of the band and their collaboration.. every line from their manager about how the album is a classic, the label's gonna love it, it's gonna take them to the next level... it was almost too much. cos, of course, wilco delivers the album and is subsequently dropped. jay is asked to leave the band. there is this uncomfortable scene where they are rehearsing 'jesus, etc' and after a take with both jay and jeff on guitars, jeff tells him that he thinks the two guitar attack is "obsolete" and the next take has jay on piano. ouch.
but then comes, not my feature film debut (that would be honeymoon in vegas), but my second appearance as an extra. I'm in the audience shots of the fillmore show at the end of the movie. every time they'd cut to the audience, I'd spot Yuen (who was standing right in front of me) and then I'd try to find me, but before I could it would cut away. but I know I'm there, right behind her. I'm gonna have to wait till I get the dvd and can use the pause button though.
I loved the shots of jeff with his family - the sequence where he's sitting on the tour bus with one of his sons and the son taps out a drum pattern on his legs and asks his dad to guess which song it is is the most adorable thing I've ever seen. once he guesses it right, it segues into the song being performed. great editing there. I also *loved* that they showed whole songs being performed. I almost clapped after each one.

SEE WHAT THAT KITTEN COVER HAS REDUCED DEBS TO?: As if the news that they're trying to pump another hour out of the long-laughter-dried well that is Ab Fab, they've managed to cajole Debbie Harry in for a spot of guilt-by-association. Can the Iggy Pop guest slot on Vicar of Dibley be that far off now?
Actually, probably not, since Robbie Williams is cropping up in what sounds like the best [nb: in case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic] Anglo-american police sitcom since that one about the bloke from Scotland Yard who was sent to work with an American force - Something of the Yard, was it? Pausing a while only to wonder why a british star has to fly from LA to Hertfordshire to appear in an American show, can we also draw your attention to the "bidding for a part in the new Star Wars movie" bit in the report. We're not totally against the idea, but only if he appears as Jar Jar's bitch.

CONTENTS NOT INCLUDED: "Stars" to auction bras for charity, reports ananova. Of course, it's all in a good cause, and will allow stalkers a day or two off from hanging round Kylie's local dry cleaners hoping to get lucky, but it's just a pity Meg White couldn't get involved.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: The Sunday Times rightly described Elvis Costello as one of this nation's greatest artists, and delighted their readership by giving away a free CD of the great man. But why, then, did the advert celebrating this event choose to soundtrack itself with the snoozesome sounds of the Stereophonics rather than a spot of Elvis C? Like trying to drum up attendance at the Louvre by giving out postcards with Jordan on them, surely?
Talking of ads... we know its not the first commercial he's done, but are we the only people surprised at seeing Jarvis hanging from a lamp-post in the new BT Broadband advert? (We should point out Jarvis Cocker isn't replicating Benito Mussolini's last act, but actually dangling from the standard.) Since he's notoriously careful about where he puts his feet, we're wondering if he signed up to promote the wonders of big-pipe downloads as a way of waggling his arse at the major labels - Pulp now without a deal, and the good people at former home Vivendi-Universal known to be less than keen on the delights of unfettered high-speed access?

BACK IN SUEDE?: So, even as 6Music reports that John Squire has said he'd quite like a reunion of the Stone Roses "before he dies" (not that unsurprising, what with the boys all getting together to choose tracks on yet-another 'best of' the Roses - how many times has that bloody album been trotted out in a slightly different form now?), is reporting (i.e. "has read in the Daily Record") that Bernard Butler is more than happy to bury the hatchet with Brett Anderson. Blimey, it's going to be Oasis and Blur touring together by Christmas at this rate.
Actually, that sounds depressingly plausible, doesn't it?

RUMOUR IS AROUND THE WORLD BEFORE TRUTH HAS GOT ITS BOOTS ON: It's always hard enough to separate fact and fiction online, but its even harder when you've not been near the web for over a week. So, someone asks me if its true that Damon has approached Justine Frischmann to replace Graham Coxon in Blur, and I can only sit open jawed and muse vapidly. Damon trying to turn Blur into the All Star JJ72? It could be true, but... who knows? Or, indeed, by now, cares?

Sunday, September 22, 2002

STRANGELY QUIET: Oddly, the large press coverage given to Fatboy Slim's Brighton Beach party failed to be repeated for the inquest into the death of the 26 year old who died - accidentally, according to the coroner. Lots of alcohol, lots of drugs - not because of lots of people, as the original reports suggested.
UPDATE: So we were catching up with Minor Fall, Major Lift and discovered that the whole debacle will come out on DVD - nice piece of reporting by Billboard, who manage to get Norm's label name wrong (although Fatboy on Slant rather than Skint appeals to us) and suggests that Normstock II (or was it Fatstock?) was responsible for the near-collapse of Brighton's public transport system. Um, no, that would be twenty years of privatisation policies, actually...

YOU GET BACK, YOU UNPACK, AND YOU'RE FEELING GOOD: then someone goes and posts the reason why Suede and Oasis never release albums at the same time, and you need a whole new holiday.