Saturday, October 11, 2003

Q AWARDS: THE RESPONSE: While the awards themselves were what you might expect, the responses of the Record Label Executives attending them (presumably on work time) are quite eye opening. Polydor's Jim Chancellor writes to the Record of the Day magazine to ask, erm, "Where was the grub?" - showing an sharp eye for the priorities of the evening. Clearly times must be hard at the label if their staff are worrying about having to fork out for their own dinner on the way home. Mark Collen - the senior Vice President of Global Marketing at EMI - also sat right down to write to RotD, to whine that "the artist community was more respectful in attendance than perhaps Q treated them in return - some out of place comments that would have been better at the Brat Awards." In other words: How dare they mock us - we did them a favour by turning up, didn't we? From a major figure in an industry which sues its customers, from a company whose idea of marketing is that Sleeping Wiht Ghosts style sell the suckers the same shit twice concept, complaints of a 'where's the respect' nature sit a trifle uneasy.

In the same edition of the magazine, Paul Smernicki has taken time out of managing Press & Artistic Development for Polydor (is the development of its artists such a low priority there that the chap responsible for it has to top up his job with extra press duties?) to defend the way music journalists are now frogmarched in to listen to albums for review in the offices rather than getting advance copies to sell down the Camden record and tape exchange ("review in the comfort of their own homes over a period of many listens.") The issues around this subject are, he says, just as frustrating for them as they are for the journalists, but, you know - sometimes promo copies have been leaked onto Kazaa, and occasionaly found for sale in shops. (It's true, actually, that one of the most ignored instructions is the 'Review Purposes Only. Not for retail sale' label that any good haul at a second hand stall will wear plenty of times over. Paul won't name names, but he has them, and says they'd surprise us. Respectable music journalists are doing this. And while not everyone's bad, "the potential fallout of just one abuse of trust for an artist and record company could be, and has been, so catastrophic that it's a risk deemed unacceptable." Wooooah... hold up there... awkward, maybe; embarrassing, certainly - but "catastrophic"? Has a potential number one album ever been kept out the Top Ten by a music journalist's unthinking swapping it for beer and a packet of pork scratchings? Would there be an instance of a label being brought to its knees by an unfortunate release of a new single onto the P2P network? Has there bollocks. "Our New Media Department estimate that Songs For The Deaf lost 30,000 sales as a direct result of it appearing online pre-release." Well, yes, we can see how that might be the case - certainly giving people the chance to hear what a hoary old bunch of grey vests that album was may have put some people off, but let's just poke that contention with a sharp stick for a moment. There's no way of knowing how they came up with the 30,000 figure - we're sure it wasn't just plucked out of thin air - but even if the figure was scientifically created by scientists using slide rules, how on earth could anyone sit there with a straight face and say "These sales were lost because the album was online before the release date; had the album not got onto the P2P networks until the day of release, then those 30,000 people would have gone off and bought the album in a shop instead. They wouldn't have waited until one of them had, and then waited to download it off him. Oh no."

But Paul doesn't want us to think any of this is his fault, oh no - "these security directives never come from PRs themselves, but are policies directed at board level. There's little point moaning down the phone at Philipa, age 18, from thingumy PR." So, as well as being a condescening snot to people who work - generally for very little pay - at the sharp end of the music sausage, he's also suggesting, clearly, that gripes be directed straight to board members. Music journalists of the world: there is your mission.

ANOTHER TEST SET UP TO FAIL: New Media Age magazine is reporting that Mercury records are going to offer the Texas album as a download as an 'experiment' - you'll be able to download the whole thing and burn it onto your own CD. You can see the advantages of it for the label - much lower distribution costs, no need to store piles of albums anywhere, no over-pressings (c'mon, we all know why it's cheaper for them, yeah?). So how much are they charging for the album? GBP14.99. It's like a restaurant charging you more for corkage than if you bought the bottle of wine there. So: venal, money grubbing, twisters - why do the record labels wonder why their attempts to appeal to downloader's better natures have been laughed at?

CLICKS ON TOUR: We had an inkling that, after the virtual booktour, it wouldn't be long before a band did a virtual tour of websites - Janes Addiction seem to be the first. Hmm. Maybe some band and some blogs might like to get together together to create the first virtual tour of toilets?

CHICKS ON TOUR: Chicks on Speed will tour at us all... those dates in full:
Mon 3rd Nov LONDON Islington Academy
Tue 4th Nov MANCHESTER Club Suicide
Wed 5th Nov OXFORD Zodiac
Thu 6th Nov SHEFFIELD Fuzz Club
Fri 7th Nov GLASGOW Arches
Sun 9th Nov BELFAST Menagerie Bar
Tue 11th Nov DUBLIN Whelans
Wed 12th Nov CORK Triskel Arts Centre
[Snaffled from the folks at Playlouder]

AND THEY DON'T HAVE CHRIS MOYLES AT BREAKFAST: Earlier this week, we got an email from Jana Komankova, who does a show on Radio One in Prague. By an extraordinary coincidence, Radio One is the only radio station in the entire Czech republic whose studios I have ever been to - a very long time ago, but I have been there nevertheless. At the time, I was highly jealous of their playlist, and if anything in the intervening period it's got better and better. You can listen online, and ponder how if they can do it in Prague, why it's apparently impossible for a station quite this good to exist in Britain. Jana does Saturdays 8-10pm CET, and we commend it strongly to you.

SOMETIMES SILENCE IS THE BEST RESPONSE: If Dylan, Springsteen and especially Bono really want to pay tribute to johnny cash, they best thing they could do would be to NOT stand up on a stage and murder his songs.

"YOU FUCKING BLACK BITCH, I AM GOING TO DO YOU": Day two of the Cheryl Tweedy trial has seen evidence from the club's security staff. Doorman Philip White was called to the toilets where, it's alleged the Girls Aloud tempceleb was leathering the crap out of an attendant. He told the court: "I saw Miss Tweedy right hook the toilet attendant and her glasses came flying off." Mr White said Tweedy screamed: "You fucking black bitch, I am going to do you." He picked her up and took her to the other end of the toilets where he tried to calm her down. "She was trying to get out of my grip," said Mr White. "We have been told to be more gentle with females because of some of the allegations you get but she was very strong, a very strong young lady. Mr White told the court that eventually another security guard came into the toilet and led Mrs Amogbokpa away. However he said when the toilet attendant tried to return to the lavatory to retrieve her money from the pot beside the display of sweets and lollies, Tweedy began struggling and shouting again. He said he took Tweedy to the club’s VIP area in an attempt to defuse the row. "I sat her down on the leather chair at the end of the VIP area under the plasma screen. Her friend came up and as we were trying to calm her down she was saying ’get that fucking black bitch up here and I will finish the job, get that jigaboo up here and I will sort her out'."

Tweedy's barrister suggested that the nightclub's staff had added the elements of racism to the story they told police in order to make the story juicier for the Sunday Mirror. Tweedy has denied the charges of racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm and the alternative charge of assault occasioning actually bodily harm. The case was adjourned until Tuesday.

MORE ETHICS: James from hotbuttereddeath is the latest to add his views on the Sleeping Wiht Ghosts issue:

Regarding the morality of downloading music: of *course* it isn't something you should be doing, not really. If you like a given artist, you really should send some money their way by buying their product rather than downloading it illegally. To be honest I have no great problems downloading whatever the hell I like, but at least I do realise I'm doing something morally wrong. I make an exception, however, in the following two cases:

1) Where the record company or artist has permitted a given recording to go out of print. No money is being made from these recordings anyway, therefore I have no compunction about downloading such things.

2) When the album is a copy-controlled CD. I've written on my website that I view copy-controlling as an act of hostility towards the consumer, and as far as I'm concerned, any artist that allows their album to be released with copy-control is complicit in this act of hostility. Consequently, they're fair game and, again, I have no compunction about downloading such things.

Now, downloading stuff that's been rereleased like this... I don't know, it probably depends. If it's a rerelease of something old (e.g. the most recent round of Elvis Costello) with new or rare tracks, that's one thing. But if the album is still in print and only came out a few months ago and they're already whacking it back out with additional tracks, that's another thing, being a cynical marketing and repackaging exercise trying to screw more money out of you. It's not an act of overt hostility like copy-control, but it's still a bit of a con. In which case I reckon you should express your resistance to this cynicism by downloading the extra stuff.

On the subject of copy-control, the original release of "Sleeping With Ghosts" was copy-controlled. Do you know if this new version is CCed as well? Because if it is then it's definitely up for grabs. I'd prefer to buy the thing (I refused to buy it when I discovered it had been CCed), but I'll only buy it if it's released without interference.

Which is, of course, a whole heap of sense. In fact, I'd probably go a little bit further than suggesting it's cynical marketing - it smacks of absolute contempt for the consumer; almost laughing at the stupid little fans who'll buy the album once, and then buy it again a whole six months later. It's of a piece with someone who treats their girlfriend like shit, but knows she'll keep coming back for more. As for if SWG+ is CCed - I'd imagine so, but I'm not lashing out for it again. Anyone know?

WE OFFER: 'DUBBYA DUBBYA DUBBYA - OUT OUT OUT', TO THE TRADITIONAL TUNE: So, today is Bands Against Bush international day of action, with things planned all over the place for today as part of the ongoing campaign to use music to oppose, well, everything Bush stands for. If there's a fault with the campaign, it's probably all there in the mission statement, which is basically "We're using music to fight Bush because we're against his policies" at the head of a long screed about being how inclusive they are and everything. Yeah, it's great including everyone of any colour, shag-taste or genitals, but - what the hell is that doing on the front page? If you're using the structures of music, learn the lessons of music - keep it punchy and simple. It goes without saying that you're a wonderful, inclusive group. But that's not your mission.

Having said which, if you can get past the smell of endless steering committees and making sure that everyone feels part of the struggle, anything that gets people off their asses and thinking about exactly what having a Bush in the White House means has to be a good thing.

Friday, October 10, 2003

THE STING AND QUEEN: Somebody seems to think he's a bit of an institution, judging by Sting's words as he accepted a CBE::

"I didn't ever imagine that when I set off from Newcastle with a guitar and a bag of songs that I would end up here at Buckingham Palace. It's a landmark for me - an acceptance of my work in the world, because I do feel I represent Great Britain in the world.

Oh, god, no wonder so many countries hate us, then - I'd always thought we could work through being the place that crushed a third of the globe into its empire, our image as place of warm beer, bad food and bald, tattooed men smashing things; I even thought in time we could rise above being a nation where Ian Duncan Smith can perform a risible conference speech stood on the end of a catwalk, looking for all the world like there's been a terrible slip-up and the Over 60's Cabaret night has somehow booked a toothpaste salesman instead of a Neil Diamond tribute act, and people still talk about the vague possibility he might end up running the country with a straight face. But if the country is represented overseas by the pompous, self-referring, jazz-as-a-punishment of Sting, we might as well ring up Belguim and ask if they want to buy us up as a job lot. Hang on, Sting hasn't finished:

"I'd be surprised if she (the Queen) knows my music," he said. "I know Charles listens to it - but there's always hope."

We're republicans round our way, but even we'd draw the line at forcing the poor old girl to sit through any of Sting's solo work. And what makes Sting so sure that Charles listens to it? There's thousands of other plausible explanations for why the Prince of Wales always looks like he's passing a kidney stone, it doesn't have to be that he's just had Sacred Love on in the car.

Sting's still going on: "I'm a little bemused and excited. I was quite nervous. I've never met the Queen before. It's a little bit like a dream."

Yeah, we bet the Queen kept going "Is this really happening?", too.

Sting recalled his childhood on Tyneside where his father was a milkman, saying: "My father worked every day, except Christmas Day, until he died and gave me a sense of hard work. I still have that work ethic.

How does one actually give someone a "sense of hard work", exactly? And does Sting really suggest that his life is any way comparable with that of a chap lugging crates 364 days a year? After all, if you strip out the many 'Best of The Police' releases, we make it he's released five albums in the last decade - a production rate of, at a rough average, six seconds of music every day. And he doesn't have to go round to collect the money every Friday evening.

We lived in one of the streets that led down to the shipyard at Wallsend and I saw the Queen Mother once when I was very little and was convinced she smiled at me."

Erm... weren't you a punk, young Sting?

PUNK'S NOT DEAD: The posthumous Joe Strummer album has been launched with a big party.

CORRECTION - PUNK DEAD, SPINNING IN GRAVE: "Guests at the party included actor Keith Allen, comic actor Paul Kaye, actress/designer Sadie Frost and her former husband, ex-Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp. Members of reggae band UB40 also attended." Let's at least be thankful there was no Beatles, no Elvis and no Rolling Stones there.

VENUES UNDER THREAT: This sad email is currently doing the rounds:

I am writing to you because of your generous support of the Picket venue and your continuing commitment to the city and people of Liverpool. The Management Committee of the Peoples Centre in Liverpool has decided to sell its Hardman Street building. This could mean the closure of the Picket venue, the Pinball Wizard recording studio and the cessation of the Dry Bar gigs for people under 18.
On a personal level, I am devastated by the possibility. As a Liverpudlian I am equally concerned about the impact the loss of these cultural facilities and events will have upon the City.
The Picket has existed for 20 years, putting on gigs for local bands, providing recording facilities and advice for new bands, and benefit concerts for a wide range of community organisations. It is difficult for me to accept that just as we have received the accolade 'European Capital of Culture' and the City appears to be striding forward, our cultural facilities cannot be sustained.
For further information please go to contains a page titled 'Milestones' that highlights some of the gigs, events and developments that have taken place at the venue.
I have also attached some details of how the Picket and its staff supported Liverpool's bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008. I honestly believe the Picket and its associated activities have made a great contribution to this City's cultural life, enhancing Liverpool's music industry and improving opportunities for local musicians. I am urgently exploring options to help rescue the venue and studio and therefore have approached many people in all walks of life, who have offered their support.

Now, we have some issues with the Picket ourselves - if you look at its save the picket website, you'll get a taste of how it seems happy to take the credit for anything musically-related that's happened in the city in the last thirty years, although really for the last five years the 'Picket clique' hasn't really done very much of national note (I'll bet the Zanzibar are raising an eyebrow at the liberal sprinkling of Bandwagon acts on their milestones page), but it is a nice venue, and it deserves to be saved. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise - it might be a chance for the venue to start again and focus itself as a proper music venue rather than the slightly worthy community centre with a backline its become in the past few years.

"WRONG BAND, MATE": We awake to an inobx containing a review of Cinerama in Cambridge last Tuesday, from Karl:

Four years ago Cinerama were playing a gig in Harlow to about 20 people. Admittedly, that wasn't the typical size of the audience, but it wasn't entirely unexpected. In those days, shouts for Wedding Present songs were greeted with a scowl and numerous "Wrong band, mate" comments. Fast-forward four years, and they're in a pub in Cambridge, full of thirty-something ex-indie kids and students.

In the intervening years, Cinerama have slowly metamorphosed (back) into The Wedding Present... no more keyboards or flutes: Just two guitars, bass and drums. There are far more people at their concerts these days; possibly because they avoid most of their own albums, and play some old-time crowd-pleasers. The biggest cheer of the night was for Kennedy, a song David Gedge admits he "never really liked much", and the crowd barely moved until a back-to-back Dalliance and Dare.

At least five new songs were played, and there were more Wedding Present songs than ever before. The new songs are, well, not too different to the old songs: Quiet, loud, quiet, very fucking loud. You know what you're getting, but then I guess you always did.

Of course, Cinerama themselves are hardly a new band any more (three 'proper' albums, two compilations, two Peel Sessions albums and two live albums!), but they've ditched their legacy in favour of Gedge's own. I still don't know whether that's good or bad, but it makes for an entertaining night.

The last song of the night was the new single, 'Don't Touch That Dial', a song Gedge said should be number one in this year's Festive Fifty. I reckon he deserves it, if not for the quality of the song then at least for keeping us entertained over the last 18 years.

Karl - I tried to send you an email thanking you for this but it bounced back due to some sort of issue at your ISP... so I shall thank you publicly, instead. Thank you.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

ALTHOUGH YOU COULD ARGUE 'WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?': We're delighted that it turns out even Limp Bizkit's fans draw the line somewhere, bringing legal action against Fred Durst and mates for a sloppy show in Chicago. We're looking forward to Fred's defence.

KAREN OH... MY BACK: Karen O falls off stage and has to go to hsopital due to backpain. Sfunny, we always thought that was how Bobby gillespie would go...

COURT CIRCULAR: The trial of Cheryl Tweedy has begun at Kingston Crown Court. The court was told that Tweedy "punched a female lavatory attendant over a handful of lollipops and swore at her, calling her a black bitch." While the prosecution was quick to warn the jury that her being part of Girls Aloud shouldn't sway their judgement of her - in either direction - they continued: "Having said that, the prosecution allege that part of the reason this offence occurred is no doubt because the defendant had allowed her recent success to go to her head that night, causing her to behave this way to a woman working as a lavatory attendant."

Tweedy denies racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The case continues.

CLEARLY HELPS IF YOU'RE BLIND TO START WITH: For reasons we're not sure we want to understand, this bloke decided to make a bust of Lionel Ritchie, like the one in the Hello video; hampered only by his inability to sculpt, he made a thing so scary it would freak out anyone who's seen Close Encounters. [This from, of course.]

Has anyone else ever tried to recreate a pop video? Tales and sightings welcome, especially if they're like Peaches or early Duran.

TRICK OR TREAT?: Charlie Brown, of course, only ever got rocks on Halloween. But this year, it's rock for all, as October 31st is the date chosen for launching a new campaign against the labels who sue filesharers. The first night plan is for people to hold raves (or 'discos') in which all the music has been found on the Internet; then to swear off buying anything on any label which supports the RIAA's actions. Seems fair to us - after all, they'll only spend your money on suing you.

NEW NAPSTER - NOW NAFFER: Look, look, at what the RIAA thinks downloads should be like - clunky, won't play on your current player, you can't swap 'em or gift them to friends - Napster's back, and this time James Hetfield won't be losing any sleep.

WELL, I NEVER: What's incredible about's coverage of Andrew from Phixx coming out is not so much that 'Boyband star gay' is treated as a shock, but the paragraph which starts "Kinlochan is not the first pop star to come out..." Really? There are others, are there? Blimey. Gay pop stars. Who'd have thought?

AND WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SHOOTING YOUR MOUTH OFF: In a country where gun crime is out of control (this is America we're talking about, not Liverpool, by the way), you might wonder at The wife of the governor of Maryland saying she'd shoot Britney Spears "given the chance." Kendel Ehrlich apparently thinks that Britney is a bad role model for young people; presumably because she hasn't ever released a record about shooting people. What makes this worse is that Ehrlich decided to open her stupids at a conference designed to help prevent domestic violence. Yeah, she'd shoot Britney. But she'd probably get herself in the foot as well.

MORRISSEY, YOUR REVENGE COULD BE NEAR: Come with us, if you will writes Frank Muir* back to the early days of Morrissey's solo career. You might recall that his debut album featured a track called Margaret On The Guillotone, which suggested that decent, right-thinking folks would be happy to see the then Prime Minister having her head separated from her shoulders by a cold steel blade. For his trouble, at least one Tory MP called for him to be tried for treason - after all, threatening the Prime Minister's life is a serious business.

Now, bearing how seriously the Tories took that, what do we think they'll be doing about the chap who appeared on the TV last night saying that he'd like to shoot the current Prime Minister? Surely, if Morrissey's daydream about slicing off Thatcher's head should be investigated by the police, the Conservative Party would insist on similar actions against any threat to the serving Head of Her Majesty's government? And yet, the calls for Iain Duncan Smith (for it was he) to be charged with treason have yet to reach our ears. Funny, that.

* - Not really.

FUTURE HOLDING ON LINE THREE: Looks like the record companies may have a better time of the mobile phone download system - it's all being done under proper licences and there's some of their nifty copy-protection software built in. So, they're being greedy and look set to charge GBP1.50 per track - which is overpriced and, frankly, will only encourage others to find ways to share the music they've already bought over the phones. A single track of music should not cost more in digital form than it does on a real, plastic, stored and distributed and pressed disc.

WHAT DO PRETTY BOYS DO?: Top-class line-up for Wolverhampton Grand's Peter Pan panto this Christmas. Broke God-bothering double glazing salesmen Cannon and Ball; Tony 'No Adam Chance' Adams and Jane 'Too Long At the Motel' Rossington from Crossroads, and... Lee Brennan. From 911.
[inevitable, but neccesary punchline-]
Where's my career, boys and girls?
It's behind you...

MANSON AND MATHS: We're delighted that Shirley Manson has been confirmed as MTV Europe music presenter, but we'd have to take issue with the claim of "a potential audience of a billion people." While we suppose if everyone in Europe with a DSAT box could invite those without around, does that really make it a potential audience? If the rest of the world happened to drop by for tea on the evening of the event - something just as likely - there could be an audience of six billion. Why not claim that?

Also, don't be alarmed by the headline on the piece, which says 'Dido and Pink to perform at MTV awards' - it's not together. Please.

WE'VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: There's been quite a response to our question about the morality of downloading the tracks from the 'new' Placebo album, having already bought it before it sprouted the extra CD:

Tony B was first out the blocks:

Not 100% sure about the rights & wrongs of Kazaa-ing the extra tracks from the Placebo album. You could always buy the new version and offset the cost by selling the old version, but I agree that the company is taking the piss as they know full well that a real fan won't wait a year for the "enhanced" version to come out, but that's "marketing" for you...

Mind you, I have some other issues with the downloading debate (such as it is.) Like if I already own a record on vinyl, why shouldn't I be allowed to download it? After all, as the industry is always trying to tell us, it's the intellectual property that we're buying, not the media... and for that matter, why has there never been an upgrade path for music? Why haven't I ever been able to take my vinyl copy of (say) "Abbey Road" into a record shop (or mail it somewhere) and upgrade it to CD for £3 (or whatever.) The music business has thrived for years on selling us all the same music 4 or 5 times on different formats telling us it was the media that counted, and now all they can do is pout when the public takes charge... "chickens coming home to roost" or something like that.

Yes, I'm a sad old wanker with a vinyl collection, but you see my point...

And let's not forget that the Record Labels were muttering darkly about Amazon's second-hand record business a while ago, so they'd presumably not be that thrilled if I attempted to offset my loss by selling the original SWG. What also makes it unfair is that the value of the first, non-double version of the album has now plumetted - so I'm not going to make anything to cover the loss as it is. Your point about upgrades is a good one - as is the intellectual property point (surely, there'd be nothing wrong with you downloading tracks from an album you own on vinyl and burning it to CD?) - but, somehow, the record companies seemed to not realise that.

Next up, Alan C:

My hunch tells me that a band/label cannot make any moral case for artificially creating scarcity, simultaneously exploiting our fond feelings towards the concept of The Album, and trying and trick us into paying UKP15 for nine songs and another UKP15, ESPECIALLY for a further one or two, but also for anything where new material is shackled to old. (I've bought those '2 Great Albums In One' reissues even when I've already got one, and given the one I have to a friend. By record company logic, I should have sold it them.)

My hunch goes on to add that if you're loyal to the band, and have bought at least a couple of singles here and there (i.e. playing a fairer game) solely for the b-sides, then you've given all you can be expected to give. Out-of-print b-sides are CERTAINLY fair game. (I waited years for a copy of the Pogues' "Muirshin Dirkin", bought everything I could and it never appeared. That mp3 I cry no tears over.) In those cases, there's no way of rewarding the band. In the cases you mention, you could give the band some money, but EVERYONE involved knows FULL WELL you're paying for something you don't want in order to get the stuff you do.

If the White Stripes released all their outtakes, but you had to buy an actual elephant to get them, I'd download/rip them in a trice -- and I don't see that the Placebo case differs from that ONE JOT.

Seriously, they've abused the age-old understanding between artist and hungry dumb fan. So stuff 'em.

In any case, if the band/label/marketing people had an ounce of nous, they'd package up any new product inventively, such that there would be less incentive to go behind their backs. Maybe Marketing should start using that as their benchmark of whether a rerelease is likely to drive fans to Kazaa: would I feel like a complete sap if I paid for this?

The thing is, had Placebo released the 'extra' CD as a standalone title at, say, a tenner, they'd have sold loads more than doing it as a strap-on to SWG - it would have seemed like a gift rather than a con and everyone would have been happy. Instead, the marketing guys have come up with a route that just leaves everyone feeling a little bit dirty, a little bit used, and not in a wake-up-and-brian-molko-has-stained-your-mother's-nightie way.

Darren Hodgson steps up to the plate:

An argument was made in The Guardian for why not to see Star Wars Episode Whatever - because it's bound to be rereleased as a "Special Director's Cut" somewhere down the line with 0:59 of "previously unseen" footage - so why pay now to watch the admittedly inferior version?!

If there WAS any justice in the world, you ought to be able to get a refund on your original purchase because logically, you can say the record company has KNOWINGLY SOLD YOU SUBSTANDARD GOODS.

Being a Bob Dylan fan with 26 of his albums on CD - bought after having several of them on vinyl too - this is something that really pisses me off, now Sony has just rereleased the whole lot as this "SACD" gimmick - well give me my money back for the shoddy product you already sold me then!

Failing the refund, how about a one-for-one trade-in then?

(Pipe dreams, pipe dreams....!)

Sorry for the rant, but this is one thing that really pisses me off - in short, you've got the MORAL right to download all the new tracks, and if I had my way, you'd have the legal right too.

(Ahhhh, I feel better now!)

It does make you wonder why they haven't thought of the trade-in route... obviously, they could save some face by charging a token couple of quid; they could even do it through a specific chain so that people would be got into record shops... it could work out quite well for them...

And finally, for now: Pierre:

Some very nice bands make the bonus tracs available to download on their website. Most don't though. And that's a shame.

Personnally I've never bought again a record I already owned. But I did a few times bought a record when it was reissued. So it's an effective marketing tool. I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation to download the extra tracks though. The problem really arises when it's a bonus DVD which is offered, as those are fastidious to download.

But those marketing guys are even more devilish than that, because for the last 2 years there have been an increased number of "limited edition" CD issued, alongside the standard album, at the time of release with some bonus (a DVD, a second CD...), then when time comes for the re-release, there will probably be another bonus. I don't have any examples right now, but I'm sure it'll become standard practice.


There was, of course, that terrible limited edition of Blur's 13 which came out at the same time as the standard release - we were hoping it would contain slightly more listenable versions of the songs, but it didn't. What the labels have also been doing is merely slapping a "special edition" sticker on the new releases; Read My Lips from Sophie Ellis Bextor; Wonderland by The Charlatans, for example - and no matter how we looked, we couldn't see anything special about them - also sharp practice, you'd have to say.

Thanks for all the responses so far - we're still waiting for someone to tell us that it's wrong, dammit (we like that sort of thing, it makes us feel like we're living in Oliver Letwin's shed). If you want to join the debate, drop us an email

X-INXS: Well, at least this one just dropped off a polite note and collected his belongings, we guess, but INXS have lost their lead singer - and they haven't even got as far as releasing an album with him. Apparently the ones who were left when Michael Hutchence gave himself the ultimate hard-on had been working with a bloke called Jon Steven, but now they're splitting up with him over - hey - musical differences.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Goth-flavoured edition
"Everyone tells me this is a phase, but it's not," pouts Goth-from-Northampton Anne-Marie. "I know how unhappy I'd be if I dressed normally." Like the girl on BBCi Humberside who talked about her goth fashion, and who didn't seem to realise what she was actually saying when she complained "It's hard to be individual when everyone is dressing like this", AnneMarie doesn't seem to think there's anything strange in being featured in a Times Magazine [Saturday] fashion spread while protesting "I'm rebelling against fashion." No, sweetness, you're just shopping from a rack at the back of Top Shop. The clincher? Her parents love the way she dresses, because they used to be Goths themselves. What exactly are you rebelling against, then?

Twenty-four hours later, The Sunday Times Style supplement is getting excited by rock - "Fashion and music are an item again; and it's pure sex" pants the cover feature. This isn't a report on Atomic Kitten's new clothing line: MK News, the freesheet, seems to have got an exclusive on this - apparently the new AK clothes are "gothic"; good news for Ann Marie, then. Although by 'gothic' they mean black with silver lettering. No, Style is in a froth because of bands dressing like popstars again. So, they tell you how YOU can get the Darkness look (erm... didn't NME have this a few weeks ago?); or dress like Peaches ("you can get most of it in Claire's Accessories"), The Raveonettes ("plain yet very chic") or The White Stripes, who are the "hippest of the hip."

There's no mention of how you can look like NME coverstars Kings of Leon, though - maybe mindful of that athlete from the 70s suing the 118118 people, the Sunday Times was afraid of a lawsuit.

The Big Picture News Story Thing is given over to Jet - they really are determined to try and make us be in any way interested of them, aren't they? Sadly, this attempt to show us what cards they are (they - oh, dammit, here I go again - rubbed the 'N' off the Kings of Leon's dressing room sign... I'd like to apologise if your trousers need dry cleaning after you've enjoyed that gag...) means that a truly harrowing, sum-it-up shot of Courtney (Blanche Dubois) peering desperately out a window is relegated to a smaller slot elsewhere.

Is it just us, or are NME and MTV2 getting really cosy these days? There's a gentle plug for the Gonzo tour, the NME/MTV2 chart, of course, and the MTV2 birthday bash is hailed as the Gig of the Year - albeit it wiht a question mark, of course.

Coldplay have made a behind the scenes video which they'll inflict on us soon. An insider says "they wanted to show what life on the road is like for a band like Coldplay. It takes you places you wouldn't normally go." This reminds us of the offer McDonalds is currently making to let people go into the kitchens - just because something is usually out of sight doesn't make it, well, outtasight. Bands touring are, by and large, caught in a really dull, repetitive cycle of plodding from town to town. It's rare for this routine to be in any way interesting when the band involved has perosnality and vigour. Watching Chris Martin soundcheck and - god help us - choosing items from the rider makes us actually think we'd rather see Calendar Girls instead. Yes, really.

Matthew Jay's death gets a fitting amount of coverage, although some might comment that it's a pity it took falling to his death to get him back in the nme.

the Distillers do the CD thingy - choosing Pixies, Devo and Wire.

This week, it's peter versus peter, as Robinson takes on Brame. Yes you do, the vaguely indie one out of Fame Academy. His former colleague Alex is in the current Sneak, by the way, which promises on the front page "Alex's sexy surprise" - which turns out to be her surprise at seeing someone holding a poster which read 'Alex is Sex'. Back at the NME, PR demolishes PB, but Brame does offer a fitting explanation for what a boy like him was doing in a show like that - comparing it to the other sort of shit jobs you have to do while you're on the toilet circuit. And given the choice between working as a stooge on The Kieltey and Park show and slooshing out the toilets at Burger King, we'd... no, we'd still get the rubber gloves, actually.

Razorlight's Johnny wears a tshirt which says "I hate the new Rock Revolution"; doing this in the pages of the NME is like going into a Catholic Church with a placard reading "I support the Society of Saint Pius X" - while it's rudeness might upset your hosts, it's a pointless railing about something that nobody outside has ever heard of.

Kings of Leon would rather be monkeys than robots, and a confusing misprint has them claiming they were on the "same lake" as Johnny Cash.

The two ex-Sleepy Jacksons are trying to take USD20,000 each off Luke Steele - we can't quite believe there's that much cash swooshing in from their work.

DMX spends an interview behaving like a spoilt kid in a toyshop. I mean, he is in a toyshop during it, as well.

"The more tightly English people embrace their culture, the stranger Americans think they are" warn Hot Hot Heat, as the play alongside Duran and The Cure.

Drummer Posters! Meg White! Um... Karen Carpenter... um...

Thursday really is a shit name for a band, isn't it? I can't quite get over it. But then their graps of words isn't very strong at all - Geoff claims that he returns from tours feeling "secular." Are you sure, Geoff? Not merely a little non-conformist?

cooper temple clause - Islington - "it feels good to walk among them", 7
kinesis - King Tuts - "their balls have dropped", 8
the cramps - astoria - "like an alternate reality Happy Days juke box", 9
the rapture - concorde2 - 'swaggering euphoric nihilism", 8

funeral for a friend - casually dressed and deep in conversation - "our heroes are ordinary", 8
travis - 12 memories - "crass, if truth be told", 6

sotw - 50 Cent - PIMP - "streets"
oddly, Luther Vandross is described as being "back fighting his full weight"... erm... or maybe his label have just stuck a single out from an album he recorded before he fell ill?

Jet (them again) love The Faces. Probably because they came from an era when Love Thy Neighbour was on the telly.

And finally: Marilyn Manson. God of headfuck. Mayor of Nightmares. A challenge to your straight-heads. His tour advert is in the paper. And he's being promoted in this bid to mess with our heads by... Clear Channel. Like, totally endorsed by George Bush's Yes-Man radio outfit. Ooooh. I'm quaking already.

I COLLECT, I REJECT: Prime piece of pop stuff on offer on ebay at the moment - Andy Rourke's bass, as used on all the Smiths singles. At the moment, the bids sit at about one and a half thousand pounds, which hasn't even got up to the reserve yet. We're not David Dickinson, but we'd doubt if anyone who liked the Smiths that much would have been unmedicated for long enough to earn that sort of cash.

WHO'S BIG AND CLEVER NOW?: Chris Martin out of Coldplay is asking for the malicious damage charge against him to be dropped on the grounds that he's famous. Somehow, Chris seems a little bit worried at the prospect of a five year prison sentence in an Australian jail - he remembers what happened to Pixie - and so he's hoping the police will reconsider. This all over when he alledgedly had a little paddy and smashed in a photographer's window with a rock. We tend to agree that five years seems a lot for such an act, but on the other hand, if it puts back the recording schedule for the next album to 2009, we're happy to see justice get done.

MONKEY BUSINESS: The People at PETA are worried by the new Robbie Williams video, which features a chimp. They don't think it's fair that a creature which is, to all intents and purposes, almost a human being should be forced to go through degrading acts - even though its what he's been trained to do, and he appears to be enjoying it, clearly it's all just an attempt to win love and rewards by pleasing people by repeating mind-numbing actions he oviously doesn't understand. And they're also worried about the chimp too.

We'd just like to thank Western Union for helping us telegraph that puncline in so early on in proceedings.

WHY ANGER MANAGEMENT SUCKS: The New U2 album is 'fuelled by The Edge's anger', says Bono - apparently unconcerned that one of his oldest friends and longest suffering ("serving") colleagues is sickened by Mr. Vox's snuggling up to George Bush and various others bringers of bad. Bono cackles that it's lead to a great album. We wish that instead of using his guitar to work out his frustrations on music, The Edge had used his guitar to work out his frustrations on the soft-top of Bono's head. Bono reckons the only reason U2 release albums now is because he desperately craves attention ("the albums are monsters") - which is true; listening to a couple of minutes of Old, Rich man wailing is quite, quite monstorous to our ears.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

WHILE WE WAIT FOR MARIAH'S BOOK: NBC's Dateline turns in a pretty nifty guide to how mad, precisely, is Whitney Houston.

TALK ABOUT BEING SCREWED: Apparently, Chris Moyles was the only choice to replace Sara Cox at Breakfast on Radio One, according to Andy Parfitt (Cox is going to take over Moyles' drivetime slot - the runaround comes after Christmas). We think that it's meant to sound like a ringing endorsement of Chris Moyles; rather, we think it's a bit of an indictment of the station that they couldn't find anyone else. Still, at least its not Christian O'Connell. Johnny Vaughan must be think it's his birthday.

CHRISTMAS ON MARS: Good and bad news from the Flaming Lips camp - first, Christmas on Mars, the Lips' Eraserhead-meets-Oz flick is getting a release before, um, Christmas and presumably not only on Mars; second, and on the downside, they're the latest band to pull the crappy 're-release the album a few months later with extra gubbins on it' trick, with another Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, this time coming with a bonus DVD. Is the record industry really trying to kill first week sales stone dead? Because who'd bother buying a new album when they're making a habit of ramping up the goodies after half a year has passed?

Which actually leads us on to a moral question - answers on an email, please. To take the Placebo album as a recent example - we bought that when it came out; paid list price or something close to it. Now, after a few months, it's retailing for less money, and it has a bonus album of cover versions with it. Would it be wrong of us to download those extra tracks from, say, Kazaagoogoo, bearing in mind we'd already bought the album it came with? And shouldn't the record company be forced to announce at time of release that it intends to release a better version in a few short weeks?

BONO NO-NO KO'ED The FCC has let Bono off with a chiding for foul language on live American TV. The self-important Irishman's language was deemed to be "crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities." Which seems to suggest that you can safely call Bono a fucking cunt on US TV, but you can't offer to fuck him up the shitter. We hope that's cleared that one up.

OSBORED: So, who's post-docusoap career is shown to be most on the skids by the Ozzy and Kelly to duet on Sharon's show story?

Kelly, whose musical career now relies totally on Daddy? (Yeah, Sanctuary signed her up for her album, but we suspect this has more to do with an interest in the Sabbath back catalogue than any real desire to inflict 'I'm Nearly Famous' or whatever it is on us).

Sharon, whose show is so pisspoor the only guests she can manage to drag on are her own family?

Jack, who manages to be shut out totally of the deal (we picture him stood at security waving maracas angrily saying "I am one of the family... no, really...")

Or Ozzy, who is now so much a performing bear we hear animal rights groups are getting up petitions to have him released back into the wild?

Meanwhile, Birmingham have refused to give Ozzy the freedom of the city of Birmingham, saying that he's just not a good role model. Added to which, he'd be almost certain to lose the keys to the city, and he wouldn't be able to operate the traffic lights.

DOWN, BUT NOT, APPARENTLY, OUT: So, the Hell on Earth euthanasia freakshow was a big nothing, just a blizzard of error messages. This piece from the Gateway tries to put another side - that it's the suicidee's choice, and if he wants to go out at a gig by his favourite band, then why not? Which is fair enough, but you wonder where the blizzard of press releases comes in to death with dignity bit.

Of course, we think they just pulled when (Siegfired &) Roy trumped them.

GOOD NEWS: Andy Summers rules a Police reunion 'unlikely' - he says "Sting has gone to another place." We understand the 'other place' Andy refers to as being a place known as "still having a career, albeit one that's a bit like being the male Annie Lennox."

SPREEFREE: For those of you who like that sort of thing, Art of are hosting a free Polyphonic Spree download right now - something to listen to while filling out those Scientology surveys.

HEADLINES THAT DON'T STAND UP: World awaits Mariah's life story - although, to be honest, we'd be kind of interested if they weren't going to get a ghostwriter in. If they let Mariah write it in her special own words, I do think I'd buy a copy.

Of course, she hasn't even sold the thing to a publisher yet - and the mere fact they're trying to go public with the negotiations suggests there aren't many people in the publishing world that keen for another volume of Geri Halliwell-style memoir-lite.

FALLING RATINGS LEAD TO INTRODUCTION OF NEW CAST MEMBERS: We wouldn't normally bother with The Osbournes have rats story, except for the wonderful, measured response the multi-millionaire family had when discovering the rodent on their property. They sent jack out with a paintball gun. Eh? It's a disease carrying animal, not a member of middle management in need of some team building before pitching for the Frisco Burger account.

Course, it all proves how far ozzy has lost his edge. In the old days he'd have been out there, chewing the head within five minutes.

MY, HOW YOU DO SURPRISE ME: Thanks, Fred Durst for clearing up that he's not dating Halle Berry - although the denial wasn't really needed, since we could see for ourselves that she wasn't dead, hell hadn't frozen over and the boy from next door hadn't walked on the moon. What is going on in Fred's head that he thinks he needs to rush out a statement anyway? Maybe he thinks that Limp Bizkit - sorry, limpbizkit fans are too thick to work out that when Halle kisses him in the video, she's acting. And being paid tonnes of money. And probably had five men standing by with super strength power hoses to scrub her clean, clean, clean. Actually, what was going on in Halle Berry's head to make her take such a role, anyway? We're guessing that if she'd won the bet, Jennifer Lopez would be getting fucked up the ass by marilyn manson even as we speak.

THE MOST POINTLESS PETITION IN THE WORLD: How many people would have to sign a petition to Virgin Records and The Spice Girls to make an official statement about the group's future before they would?

Here's a suggestion: it's not going to happen. And that's probably just as well.

Monday, October 06, 2003

MESSIAH AND HIGHERS: So, now it's Travis taking on the might of the Catholic Church, one of those battles you really always hoped you'd never have to choose which side to be on. Talking to a Scotish paper, Fran Healy says " "I have massive problems with the Catholic church. I was brought up a Catholic and went to a Catholic school and it's the whole idea of them teaching you how to feel rather than teaching you how to learn, or teaching you to be a normal person. There is a lot of fear in it. In school as well, I've really a big problem with education as well." Is that just us, or does that make no sense at all? Catholic Schools give lessons in 'how to feel?' Would this be the same Catholic Church that tells its more devout followers that you shouldn't listen to what your feelings tell you is right? Believe me, I've got my doubts about the wisdom of religious bodies being allowed to run educational establishments but it's not the teaching of 'how to feel' that drives them. The pity is that clearly Fran has got something important that he wants to say - we suspect it's 'I was fucked up by the Catholic Church when I was a kid' (although we have a little bit of trouble picturing the young chap who wrote U-16 Girls and bounded about the stage grinning like a loon as actually having just been freed from a repressive and archaic school system - leastways, not one that he had noticed at the time). It's a pity, though, because it really exposes a serious flaw he suffers from - a flaw that is fatal in a songwriter - he can't string two words together to even tell his life.

If you want more proof, this is part of the lyric from the song he's written about how bad the pope is and everything:

In the church one day you will get hurt
In the school the teacher's such a fool
And if they would ever come round here
They would ever come
Blame it on my style
Take a pill
Don't tell me how to feel."
Don't rehearse, this is the last verse
In the hearse, going through your purse.

Let's not even try to dignify this doggerel by fretting over the content - the teachers are fools? But if they're so simple, what use would they be in preparing young people for a role as an underdog in a religion? - let's simply ask: eh? It makes Coldplay look like Proust, doesn't it; especially that rehearse/verse/hearse/purse bit - he could also have used 'curse', 'worse' and 'terse', of course. But what's really frustrating is this is going to be hailed as the work of a brave, clear-eyed genius rather than a twatty poem from someone who's desperately trying to recast his past to give him an excuse for the sixth-form misery he decided to embrace in his mid-20s.

A PROMISE KEPT: Some loser from one of those pop shows in a band called - unbelievably - Phixx is "keeping a promise he made" when he left school by taking his new band there to play a music 'gig' (or rock concert). We're curious as to what, exactly, the promise was - "I'll show you, teachers - I'll come back with my bunch of failed game show contestants and force you to pretend to be happy that we're wasting a vital afternoon of education making your pupils sit through our turgid boyband schtick" seems a bit specific. Mind you, No Rock's school's most famous alumnus is Jordan, and as far as we know she's yet to return and do her act at the end of assembly, either.

YOU WERE WORKING AS AN ANDROID IN AN UNDERWIRED BRA/ WHEN I MET YOU: remember the 80s is reporting that The Human League are going to be doing the theme tune for the new Doctor Who - as unlikely as Eddie Izzard being the new Doctor, we'd have thought - might happen, but nothing inked yet.

CRAIG DAVID IS THE NEW KEN CLARKE: Now, we don't have a problem with cigarette advertising ourselves - we really don't think those shit Marlboro ads would have turned anyone on to the wonders of tobaccy; and the idea that thirteen year olds would have been lead astray by Lambert & Butler's Lamber and his Butler campaign is laughable. But what we find incredible is that Craig David was unable to grasp that going to Malaysia to flog cigarettes would end up all over his face. It's the clumsyness, not the act itself...

SAVE THE TREES: if Coldplay really wanted to save the trees, rather than insisting they use recycled paper for the DVD packaging, they could have done a lot more by cutting out the plastic packaging and dumping the pointless 'double pack' (everything on the two CDs would have fitted quite happily onto one).

ROBABLY NOT A GOOD TIME, DELTA: We're wondering if, before she announced that she's canning her manager, Delta Goodrem had actually absorbed the finer points of the Holly Valance court case, where she was described as an 'unerliable witness' by the judge (the legal equivalent of pointing and going 'liar, liar, pants on fire') as he handed over a large chunk of earnings to her erstwhjile manager, Brad-from-Neighbours.

Talking of former Neighbours stars, do you suppose Beyonce knows who her co-star in those hair-dye ads actually is?