Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quincy Jones: Dupe?

Quincy Jones is continuing to help the Chinese out arranging their Olympic Games ceremonies, because erm, he isn't going to pull out:

"It's not my intention to withdraw from the Olympics," he was to say in his speech. "I care too much about Darfur and China and if I can stay in the game with others like us, I feel we can make a difference."

Jones hopes to have a role in assembling an ad-hoc committee to "go to Khartoum to sit down and try to get something done," he said. "The whole world has got to start taking responsibility for each other. With communication, you can no longer afford the luxury of thinking of national kinds of issues. Everything that's done anywhere is a world issue, and together there's lots of things we can do that nobody can do alone."

China can become "a hero in the eyes of the world" by sending United Nations African peace enforcers to the Darfur region, stopping arms imports to the area and calling on Khartoum to force the Janajaweed militia to cease its attacks on civilians, Jones said.

So, arranging the Olympics, which is China's attempt to present itself as a modern, friendly, kinda-democratic place, is the right thing to do because "business as usual" is the right message to send?

Does Jones really not see that his continued support for the regime - and the assistance he's giving to their massive sport-themed marketing push this summer - is far, far more valuable than some vague plan about sending an "ad-hoc committee" to see that "something must be done"? Unless Jones has a secret clause in his contract forcing China to address its terrible record, all he's doing is propping up Beijing. Oh, and he's not even going to bother about Tibet at all:
Jones said he is less focused on China's role in Tibetan violence because it "is a difficult one to solve in three months. There's so much history behind it. But Sudan is happening every day. We're talking about babies dying in Darfur, so that one has got me personally."

So, not even bothered about the violent crushing of dissent in Tibet because, ooh, it's a tricky one. Let's not go there, then.

Brian McFadden: Where's the respect?

Poor Brian McFadden is upset that, in Australia, he's known for his girlfriend:

"It can be a little frustrating at times," McFadden revealed. "I did something last night where they introduced me as Delta Goodrem's boyfriend Brian McFadden. It would be nice to have the tag: Brian McFadden, musician and singer. And Delta Goodrem's partner."

Well, yes. But you're probably a little better at being Delta's boyfriend than a musician and singer. Don't discount that as a talent.

So, with his new album out, there's a chance for Brian to show that he isn't just a boyfriend of someone more famous. To strike out. To stop riding on coat tails.
The album sleeve for Set In Stone sees Brian open his heart to Goodrem, who he has been dating since 2004.

He writes: "Delta, my angel. There are no words that could truly describe how much you mean to me or how much I love you. Since you came into my life, the world feels like a better place to be. Thank you for helping me find my vision to be the artist I can be.

"This album would never have happened if there were no you. Every word that leaves my lips is inspired by your greatness. I still can't take my eyes off of you. I love you."

Or perhaps he could just have the album credited to "Delta Goodrem's current boyfriend".

Chef sues Sting

No, not the one who sued Sting and Trude because they sacked her for getting pregnant, this is a different chef entirely, who claims he "wrote" a couple of Police songs.:

The 48-year-old claims he helped write the songs because, wait for it…. he once told Sting about a former girlfriend who was called Roxanne and was a prostitute, and he also told him about how he once wrote a message to his mum and put it in a bottle.

Sting is dismissive of the value of these claims, saying that the chef - a Mr. Deedoodoodeedeedoodoodaa - had serious problems. "It's hard to see how he could have had these conversations as he had personal space issues. He would always be saying "don't stand, don't stand so close to me..." Oh... shit, forget I said that..."

The "Ultimate Honour"

We're surprised to hear from Gigwise that Joy Divison are to get "the ultimate honour".

They're being used to try and push the Zune.

There's going to be a special edition of the music player which has redefined the darker corners of Best Buys up and down the US which, somehow, is going to be a Joy Division version. Because, of course, there's nothing like flogging consumer electronics to make the best use of Ian Curtis' corpse.

Nothing is more important than adoption

Madonna is clearly taking the adoption of David Banda very seriously. Obviously not so seriously that she wanted to live in Malawi to qualify for the usual permission to adopt a child. And, it turns out, not if it gets in the way of promoting the new album.

Darkness at 3AM: A whole new low

really does appear in today's Mirror:

Soap stars Tom Hudson and Lucy Evans are turning Weatherfield into Corriewood with their new dazzling smiles. The pair, who play Paul and Lauren, had their teeth whitened at Manchester's Transform and now boast shiny gnashers.

They could just replace Clemmie and Thingy with a script that would publish press releases straight to the paper. Clearly there's no need for a consideration of editorial values.

Gordon in the morning: Innocent victims

It's not much, but Gordon tries gamely to make a story out of Pixie Geldof leaving a shop with a dress she hasn't paid for.

Rich people like Pixie don't shop in stores where alarms go off when you carry stock out; it's probably why those who do pay end up paying such ridiculous prices for their trousers.

Peaches, apparently, had confused the dress with a scarf:

[S]he then returned with her tail between her legs, explaining she had picked the dress up by mistake because it was the same colour as her scarf.

When she brought the dress back the next day it had the label ripped out. But to make up for the misunderstanding, generous Peaches decided to keep it and paid up.

Presumably the label was ripped out as she sought to discover how her scarf had somehow turned into a dress.

Oddly, Gordon runs a series of pictures of Madonna's children because, erm, they went for a meal.

We're not quite sure how that fits with the Press Complaints Commission code of practice rule 6.v:
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.

I'm sure we're just missing the justification here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Glastonbury: Dizzee Rascal is surprised

Despite the weeks of Michael Eavis running up to the announcement of Jay-Z as a Glastonbury headline by dropping huge hints that it wasn't going to be wall-to-wall Kings Of Leon, Dizzee Rsacal was surprised:

"It's amazing to me man, as a fan that's just like wow," he added. "I never saw that coming and I could never picture Jay-Z at Glastonbury but it's all good."

It's not just that Rascal is now slightly humped to find that his position as highest-rapper-on-the-bill has been lost which makes Mr. Rascal wonder if the choice is right:
He told 1Xtra: "I don't know if Jay-Z has got that cross over element. Kanye West or Eminem, they've both got that. Jay-Z is a bit of a funny one."

We love the way that Rascal - Britain's foremost rapper - still talks about other rap musicians as if he was working on stock control out the back of Woolworths.

A small glimpse of the Future

From the lovely Futureheads comes this, a previewy glimpse of Broke up Time. It's a sample from their Youth-produced album due at the end of May, This Is Not The World.

Cyrus advance: Here comes the next one

With Hannah Montana now, like, so oooooold, and her human host Miley Cyrus now trying to re-establish control of her body, where will the world find its inoffensively offensive preteen safetydance thrills?

Meet Miranda Cosgrove. She's known to American kids as iCarly, on Nickelodeon. Now, she's releasing an album.

Well, half an album:

The remaining 10 tracks -- all by such teen-friendly Sony artists as Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne -- were chosen to represent "songs that would appear on Carly's iPod," Sony Music Label Group chairman Rob Stringer said.

This is a brilliant approach to making a record - when you get bored, just drag a bunch of stuff from iTunes into your 'newalbum' folder and you're set.

Don't say you haven't been warned.

The changing of the Sony BMG guard: Clive Davis steps down

Sony BMG has announced that Clive Davis is stepping down as head of BMG and will no longer be in day-to-day charge at RCA.

He's being replaced by Barry Weiss, who until now has been in charge at Zomba and is known for never knowingly spending two bucks when he can get the job done for one.

Of course, no executive ever really disappears, and Sony BMG have found a role by which Clive Davis can continue to draw a salary in a new, vaguely-defined "creative post", which is in no way a forumla for chucking him some money in return for his stepping aside quietly and with no repeat of the balls-up the company made in 2000 when it tried to get shot of him.

It's going to be frustrating for Weiss, trying to trim costs at the label at the same time as the company has to find funds to pay their Denny Crane in his new job.

Britney pays legal bills

Not actually, Britney, of course: she's still unable to control her own financial affairs. But her current conservators, her Dad and Andrew Wallet, have been ordered by a court to pay at least USD375,000 worth of legal bills. It's expected that Spears might still have a few quid left after this. Or at least her Dad and Mr. Wallett will.

Organobit: Danny Federici

The man who played organ and accordion for Bruce Springsteen, Danny Federici, has died.

Danny started playing the accordion at the age of seven, encouraged by a mother who would book him out for parties playing classical and polka tunes. Federici would recall later that:

“I had ‘Danny’ written on my accordion in rhinestones. It was really a corny existence for awhile there. Thank god for rock & roll.”

Rock arrived for Danny in the form of the British Invasion - and, while many of his age group were taking up guitars, Danny decided to put his squeeze box on one side in favour of keyboards. It was a good choice - he joined Child, a band in which his mate Vinnie Lopez was a drummer, and so was behind the right keyboards at the right time when Child took on a new singer, Bruce Springsteen, and started to morph into the E Street Band.

Federici's organ would thus wind up driving Born In The USA and Born To Run, and Danny would spend forty years backing Bruce. But if polka and classical were his initiation, and rock his fortune, it was jazz that would be his life-long love. In 1997, he released Flemington, a solo jazz album and, in 2004, self-released Sweet. V2 eventually picked the record up and gave it a formal release as Out Of A Dream.

For the past three years, Danny had been battling melanoma, a battle he lost yesterday. Bruce Springsteen led the tributes, cancelling his weekend gigs and posting a message on his website:
"Danny and I worked together for 40 years - he was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician. I loved him very much...we grew up together."

A Danny Federici Melanoma Fund is being established in his memory.

Darkness at 3AM: The Mighty Tosh

We're still trying to work out exactly what the 3AM Girls' coverage of man-goes-to-nightclub story is meant to mean:

Booshman Noel Fielding makes a Mighty effort to let us know how famous he is. The comic not only donned a zany cape but got rock 'n' roll buddy Courtney Love to accompany him to The Groucho and Soho House.

Are they suggesting that Fielding was using Courtney Love as some sort of costume jewelery? And hasn't Fielding worn a cape since... well, probably not to school, but we wouldn't be surprised.

But then the 3AM Girls are desperate to believe:
We've seen him singing. Who can forget Amarillo?

You might find that when you watched Peter Kay in the Amarillo video, you weren't watching a man singing, just opening and closing his mouth.

But it turns out that this isn't a piece about Peter Kay at all:
On closer inspection, it turns out to be K.D. Lang - playing the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia last night.

We're sure the homophobic undertinge was accidental.

Gordon in the morning: Madonna will dance for coins

Gordon crunches the numbers on Madonna's upcoming Dubai gigs, and discovers that if you divide an unsubstantiated payrate by an estimated length of concert, she'll be earning an eye-catching but completely spurious £83,333 a minute. We love the way Gordo is accurate to the pound level, despite the numbers he'd making being made-up.

And, while we have no doubt that Madonna will be well rewarded for her visits to the United Arab Emirates, would Gordon be confusing the money paid to stage the concert in total with the cash Madonna will be taking to one of her many homes?

Nice to see that The Sun - still, as I understand it, edited by Rebekah Wade, she of the campaign to rid the nation of paedophiles (and any paediatricians who got caught in the cross-fire, and blokes who were just a little weird but probably up to something) - manages to find room to run slobbering pieces by Gordon over photos of Geri Halliwell dressed as a schoolgirl ("to act out a few fantas. . . I mean sketches") and photos of Angelina Jolie when she was a schoolgirl ("she took part in the racy swimsuit shoot with photographer SEAN McCALL. Looking very fresh-faced, Angelina wore a range of skimpy outfits including a bikini and one-piece bathing suit.")

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Exene scene

Some good news: Exene Cervenka has signed a deal for a new album with Bloodshot Records; Rob Miller of Bloodshot is giddy with delight:

It would not be an overstatement to suggest we would not exist if it were not for our deep and longstanding love of Exene's bands X and the Knitters. Life is good when your heroes, and inadvertent mentors, turn out to be really, really cool off the stage and, through the twists and turns and reverberations of our lives, we get to work together."

Of course, it's not only small labels that get that glow - we understand that there are some tax-specialists accountants that Guy Hands has been thrilled to get the opportunity to work alongside at EMI.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

A while back, in what we always assumed was a bid to prove that it's better to irritate and be remembered than entertain and be forgotten, John Frieda hair product adverts would finish with two hairstyles screeching in more-or-less harmony. They've stopped doing that now, but the two hairstyles are still going.

It seems that having been on the very end of a commercial gave them a taste for, if not fame, then a slightly glitzier form of obscurity, and Brit and Alex are now striking out to be proper pop stars.

But, hey, they're serious about their music. They've not just come down in the last America's Got Talent auditions:

We grew up listening to everyone from Michael Jackson to Prince to Aretha Franklin

As wide a range as that, eh? It's only a shame they didn't go really wild and listen to a bit of Stevie Wonder as well.

They're friends of Lulu - no, that's not a euphemism:
"It's amazing that she's remained so normal after so many years in the business, and that's inspiring for us. She's still a very nice person so she's a great role model for us to look up to."

Well, yes. Although somehow, we suspect that being normal isn't something that you find very difficult.

Apparently they "cringe" when they think about the advert:

Can't think why.

We'll try not to let this spoil our summer

James Morrison has decided he's got no choice but to cancel his summer gigging plans. I know, we were disappointed, too.

He's just too busy, says DigitalSpy:

James Morrison has cancelled all his summer gigs to focus on finding a producer for his second album.

It's going to take him all summer to just find a producer? Where's he looking - the source of the Limpopo?

It's not like he couldn't just ring up and book a producer, is it? I mean, obviously, if he mentions his name the guy is going to be like "oh, sorry, James, yeah, I'm producing all summer, booked right up. Sorry", but he could put on a silly voice and pretend to be someone else. Actually, maybe that explains the first album.

Christian charity

MediaGuardian has audio from this morning's Christian O'Connell show where Virgin's breakfast show attempted to punch above its weight when last night's Apprentice firee Simon was late for the interview slot.

We imagine that O'Connell imagined that getting his producer to tell Simon on air he was too late before talking to the show's PR - also on the Mic - was meant to be in some way amusing; trouble is, it backfired terribly.

Had it been one of the more smug Apprentice contestants, closing down the interview might have been funny. But as Simon is incredibly popular, and his reaction to being told he wouldn't be was a good-natured "fair enough, thank you anyway", it just made O'Connell and his team seem incredibly mean spirited.

The berating of press woman Emma, though, was even worse: petulant, self-important bullying:

"We haven't got time now Emma, you've missed your slot. This is Christian live on air. We arranged to do it at five past eight. I've been plugging this show for years. It's late, it's shabby, and Heart are getting it before me. No way. It's over."

If you're going to try and throw your weight about, Christian, you might want to check the your own heft first - the weasly "I've been plugging this show for years" is the sort of line deserving of a boardroom put-down. Where do you really think The Apprentice would be without the endorsement of Virgin's breakfast show? Probably still in the place it's in now, don't you think?

Still, we're sure Heart will be delighted to know they can have a couple of extra minutes with next week's firee.

The Kooks: Have they ever heard themselves?

Kierkegaard, it was, who observed that "a man may accomplish many feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge and still have no understanding of himself", so perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on Luke Pritchard, a man who clearly has no understanding of himself or his band at all.

The Kooks are playing some gigs in the US, and Luke feels the hand of history on his shoulder:

"I'm a romantic ya know," coos the crooner, "and it's quite a romatic thing to come over from England like the Beatles or Stones and have that relationship with America and bring our music over there."

Obviously, the Kooks have travelled across from England, and, yes, The Beatles and the Stones did do the same, but we'd suggest that - unless we've missed scenes of screaming teenagers greeting them at the airports - there are few parallels beyond that.

But Luke hasn't finished. You might think they're stage school mass-market pop, but - oh, no, no:
"Playing live and playing on the record are two different things," he says. "When we play live we are not trying to re-create the record. We are more like a punk band when we play live, so you can expect absolute anarchy from the stage."

Again, let's be fair - when he says they're more like a punk band live, there's absolutely no way they could be any less like a punk band than their bland, please-like-me, lets-not-rock-the-boat records; but "absolute anarchy"? From The Kooks?

PluggedIn goes live

So, PluggedIn has launched its Public Beta version - presumably, they're keeping the unique selling point back for the full launch. Because it sounds like, well, everything else:

Filter the noise. Hear the music.
Join today and personalize your experience! is a place to get the hottest music videos, photos, blogs, news, recommendations and more, from artists that matter most to you - in one place. You can:

* Save the stuff you like, create playlists and share them.
* Promote your taste in music and meet other music fans.
* Get recommendations based on the music you like.

We love the implication about "filtering the noise" as if the internet is so difficult to navigate that hip-hop fans spend their time mournfully downloading the Oliver soundtrack while fans of folk can only ever discover Napalm Death tracks when they go onto YouTube. Your proposition is poor if you're having to pretend you're solving a problem that doesn't exist.

And while community features are fun, aren't the public starting to tire of sites which launch like that map in Blackadder ("could you just fill it in as you go along, please?") - there's loads of sites that will tell you what other songs are a bit like the songs you're currently listening to, numerous places on the web to watch videos and make a list of bands that you like. Why come and do it all over again on PluggedIn?

Sure, they've got licensed videos, but only 10,000 - the cupboard is so bare, one of the "hottest music videos" they're promoting on their homepage, on launch day, is Eminem's Lose Yourself, which while not quite of pensionable age is at least old enough to stay up past midnight and buy beer without being asked for ID.

Will Smith and his Overbrook backers have put two million into the project, which at least is money they can afford to lose.

He means "not enought Take That"

Gary Barlow doesn't like American radio because it doesn't play enough Take That ("doesn't stimulate him"):

"The radio plays records too much in America. It's monotonous."

He means, I suspect, that they play the same record too often, rather than what he actually said, which would imply he switches on the radio and exclaims "I can't believe it - they're playing a record again. Why can't they just tap things together if they have to broadcast sounds?"

Unthank you

In today's Telegraph, there's an interview with the wonderful Rachel Unthank promoting what the paper calls their "latest album" The Bairns. Obviously, it is the latest album, although since it came out in August last year it's not quite as new as the paper might suggest.

You'd have thought the Telegraph would have been able to understand the value of folk music from a nationhood point of view if not out of sympathy for the citizenry, but even this paper struggles to get past the idea that folk music is a chore:

While there's no doubt that the band have given English folk music a shot in the arm, many argue that the real national folk music comes from artists such as Ian Dury and the Kinks, and that conventional folk music is an anachronism. Why sing about knights and maidens when you could be singing about people in call centres?

"Partly it's about respect for previous generations, keeping their stories alive," says McNally. Unthank says: "If you made a piece of art or wrote a book in 1900, you could see it in a museum or read the book. That's what we are doing with songs.

"Not that folk music is a museum thing - you can use modern sensibilities to communicate a timeless story. And most of the stories we sing are about love and loss and death and things that never change."

Still, the interview's heart is in the right place and it's nice to see the Winterset getting the attention they deserve.

Darkness at 3AM: Facing up to Norman Cook

They really do have trouble making 3AM work online, don't they? They've had a bit of a shuffle around again this morning, but it still doesn't quite work - some of the stories now have teasers, but others are still just a linked headline - Linds Lured, anyone?

The column marks the 25th anniversary of Mixmag with, erm, an anecdote:

Fatboy Slim certainly won't forget the day his head was on the front cover - superimposed on another man's buff body. An insider said: "His missus Zoe's gay mates all thought he was gay... He looked so fit!"

What sort of quote is that? It implies that Zoe Ball has gay friends but Norman Cook doesn't, for a start. Or perhaps it just means that only Zoe's gay friends are incapable of spotting a playful bit of photoshopping. And why would a gay man assume a person is gay because he's had his face photoshopped onto someone else's body? Do the 3AM Girls really think there are gay men who are that dim?

Gordon in the morning: The difference between wit and crudity

Gordon claims that Pearl Spam and Gavin Rossdale's kid "model" Daisy Lowe is dating Mark Ronson. Clearly, he's got a problem as this is his big story for that day, and "Ronson dating Lowe" is all he's got. Trouble is, he's had to spin a three word story into 500-odd words - so desperate to fill the piece, not only does he mention Powder but even finds space to mention Institute, Rossdale's barely-functioning vanity project.

Let's assume that it's just the desperation of trying to fill a page from nothing that accounts for the awful headline:

Pushing up Daisy

We know Gordon isn't writing for the Church Times, but even by his standards that stands out as a spectacularly crass and crude piece of work.

In fact, it's starting to look like Smart is struggling to find anything to fill his acres of space with. Woman you've never heard of wears tight t-shirt, anybody? Even Gordon acknowledges that he's struggling with the "celebrity" value of this piece of celebrity gossip:
US GIRL group DANITY KANE are fairly unknown over here.


Is there a but?
member AUBERY O'DAY is doing her best to change that by wearing this see-through top.

The top, it's worth noting, isn't actually see-through at all, but you can - if you're about thirteen years old and have nothing better to do - make out the shape of her nipple through it when a photo is taken in bright light.

Hmmm. Photos of breasts of anonymous young women. You could buy Nuts if you really wanted that, couldn't you?

It's also worth pointing out that, far from trying to make Danity Kane "known over here" by wearing clothes, O'Day was actually turning up for an interview with MTV in America. Is it really plausible that she thought "let's see if I can get in the British papers by accidentally showing the shape of a nipple?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Thirty five dollars. According to PaidContent, that's what Nokia is going to give Universal in return for every one of its customers having unlimited access to the Universal library.

The labels have been keen to shift to this sort of deal for ages - oh, the joy of money upfront - but when you look at that figure, you have to wonder if they've really thought 'all you can eat' through: selling everything for the sort of figure they could get for a couple of albums a few years back. Is that really going to sustain the major's investments in future acts, keep shareholders happy, pay subs to RIAA and their lawyers, and still put money in the management's pocketbooks?

Having spent the best part of a decade pouring cash into trying to stop people from stealing their product, they're now giving it away.

Sadly, they didn't call the rollercoaster the Love Is Like A Rollercoaster rollercoaster

How do you test a theme park? Presumably by inviting in some people for go on the rides who it wouldn't be too upsetting if they discovered missing safety rails or loose bolts.

Somehow, they've managed to find some people to do this testing for the ill-conceived Hard Rock Theme Park. They're calling it a Sound Check, because it's a phrase that has something to do with music but doesn't really make sense being applied to tests on rollercoasters, in much the same way that the theme of the park has something to do with music but not in any way that makes sense.

The park is happy with how it went, but not going into too much detail:

Park officials would not say exactly how many people came, citing competitive reasons.

Competitive reasons? What, is there a giant swing-boat with Black Sabbath logos painted on the side down the street, ready to compete with the Led Zeppelin rollercoaster?

GM drops TI

Getting busted for waggling his guns about has proved expensive for TI: GM have decided that they really don't want to be associated with him. In total, TI reckons his crimes have cost him somewhere in the region of twelve million dollars.

Which means he's made an expensive mistake. And that he used to be totally over-valued.

Holding out for Celebrity Gladiators: Bez goes bust again

Having cleared his last bankruptcy by winning Celebrity Big Brother, Bez is now back to square one: he's bankrupt again.

Apparently the Insolvency Register lists him as "journalist and musician", which seems to be wrong. Twice.

Kate Nash: Supreme or chicken supreme?

Plucked from something she did for Virgin Radio, this is either an act of unspeakable desecration or a loving tribute. Kate Nash covers the Supremes:

[via The Music Slut]

Gerard Way appeals for calm

There have been a few incidents reported across South America recently of people being attacked by groups supposedly because they had an "emo" look. Which is a serious business - the kicking to death of a Goth by a bunch of murderous bastards here in the UK shows how this sort of thing can get out of control.

However, we're not quite sure the best response is for Gerard Way to appeal to people's better natures, as he did at a Mexico gig:

I want to say something today before we continue. Recently we’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about some violence here in your country having to do with kids who want to wear black t-shirts…or some kind of bullshit - stuff like that,” Way told the crowd.

“We don’t want to see any fucking violence. We came here for one reason, and that’s to be at the fucking rock show.”

Wonderful sentiments, although an emo singer telling an emo audience at an emo gig that he doesn't want to see any anti-emo violence might just fall into the 'preaching to the converted' category.

I'm not entirely sure, either, that telling off an audience of Mexicans for the actions of a small group of their compatriots is fair. For example, in America in February a fifteen year-old boy was shot and killed by a classmate because of his sexuality, and as far as we can tell no Mexicans felt they should lecture Way on "some homophobic stuff in his country", did they?

It's a shame about Ray

DigitalSpy reheats a story from this morning's Daily Star which claims some poor kid somewhere is going to be named after a Hoosiers song.

Before you call social services, let's just look at the facts:

Lead singer Irwin Sparkes also received an offer to be godfather to the autograph-hunter's twins while holidaying in Mallorca, according to the Daily Star.

A source said: "Irwin was approached by a guy in Mallorca who asked for his autograph, they chatted for a bit then went their separate ways.

"An hour later he came back with his pregnant girlfriend. He asked Irwin to be godfather to his unborn twins and promised they'd name one Ray if they had a boy."

So, for a start, this is from a "source" - what possible grounds could there be for not revealing who fed this story to the papers? Is it such a terrible secret that the Star had to hear it at midnight in an underground car park? Did Dawn Neesom herself spot a plant pot on a balcony in town, alerting her to a potential leak of such magnitude?

But let's assume that this "source" exists and that the story is genuine: it hangs on the supposition that there was someone in Mallorca who recognised Irwin Sparkes, and was then so thrilled to get an autograph that - for some reason - an hour later he offered him the naming rights to one of his kids. And godfathership. And yet he said he'd name the kid Ray after one of the songs, and not Irwin, after Irwin?

We're not saying it didn't happen. But we're surprised that even the Daily Star felt that it was worth sharing. Filling the pages must be challenging now they're trying hard not to lie about the McCanns anymore.

Greed, locks strangle US mobile music market

Another victory for the RIAA: As more and more phones and mobile devices become capable of playing back music, the industry has a chance to make a little money before the iPhone-style model of the proper internet on mobile devices becomes the norm and makes the walled-garden obsolete.

But what are they doing? managing to strangle the market at birth. Only 14% of Americans surveyed by Jupiter research want to buy music on their phones; the rest are put off by high prices and complicated DRM rules.

Shabby Showaddywaddy showbills slapped

Malcolm Allured, one of Showaddywaddy back when, has been fined after flyers for his nightclub turned up on lampposts all over Derbyshire.

Allured apologised and suggested that "subcontractors" had been responsible for the error. It's a shit business.

Pirates prepare to sue IFPI for loss of immoral earnings

The IFPI's bid to close down Pirate Bay hasn't just failed - on the back of the publicity of the blocking, they actually helped inflate Pirate Bay's visits - but could prove to be even more embarrassing.

Tele2, the Danish ISP who had been forced to block the site are currently fighting in the courts to be allowed to lift the block. If they're successful, Pirate Bay intends to seek damages from the IFPI. Pirate Bay say they'll seek a reasonable amount - a sly dig at the IFPI/RIAA's inflated legal demands.

Burrows on his own

Andy Burrows, who is still a full member of Razorlight with every bit as many privileges as any other member of Razorlight1, is dipping his toe in the water with a solo side project.

Yes, yes, a solo drummer. It might seem funny, but everyone laughed when Phil Collins said he was going solo. They didn't laugh for long.2

1 - apart from Johnny Borrell, of course.
2 - with apologies to Bob Monkhouse

Serialis-aaah-tion: Mark E Smith's book - 3

More extracts from the Guardian's extracts from Mark E Smith's book:

It turns out I'm related to her. I should have realised. She had the same nose as me, the Smith nose.

Addiction resumes - for just one hit

Yeah, yeah, we know: You're only coming back to it for one time, you're strong, you can just get a taste and not need to develop a full habit again. Just one. For old time's sake. You're strong, you've stopped before, and stopped for a long time. A little one isn't going to turn into a full-on comeback, is it?

Janes Addiction confirm their 'one-off' reunion for the NME US Awards show.

Darkness at 3AM: Ripped from the headlines

The 3AM Column's continued inability to write a decent online headline is getting quite serious now, although the story under this:

French TV studio

is about James Blunt playing the Hoosiers at an impromptu kickaround, so actually is even duller than the headline. Yes, they even give the score, so if you don't want your soul to atrophy, look away now:

Gordon in the morning: A moral lag

Gordon Smarthands over the main slot on Bizarre this morning to bring us news from the Scrubs, where "prison inmates" tell him Pete Doherty is buying heroin - on credit, apparently, so someone's managed to avoid the credit crunch - and there's pictures, too, to back it up.

Well, actually, not quite to back it up - what "crime reporter" Anthony France is running is photos of Pete staring into space (or, possibly, listening to someone) and, erm, cleaning his teeth.

It's sad to hear that he might be using heroin again, although the only source seems to be this "other inmate" who clearly doesn't like Doherty and has an agenda as poorly hidden as a camel in saddlebag:

Prison officers are said to treat Doherty like a superstar – and tramp from other wings to get his autograph.

The inmate said: “He usually signs his name next to a scribbled smiley face with a trilby.”

There's a couple of things missing from the story - first, given that both Gordon Smart and his ambitious number two Pete Samson have been insisting that Doherty needed to go to jail otherwise it would "send the wrong message" that drugs are okay, since the paper is now saying that he's up to his eyes in heroin inside, you'd have thought one or other of them might have penned a short piece suggesting they might have been wrong that sending a drug addict to a jail full of drugs might be a way to deal with addiction problems.

More curiously, the Sun - which usually gets all exercised about prisoners being allowed to get away with stuff - doesn't seem to be that bothered that a camera has been floating inside the prison, and doesn't indicate if the person who took the pictures was rewarded with Rupert Murdoch's money for breaking prison rules. Or do breaches of prison security suddenly cease to be important when they deliver scoops for Gordon Smart's column?

Gordon, meanwhile, was constructing a humorous gag: Under the headline
Is Chez set to go it alone?

he reports not - as you might have thought - on splitting loverat lovesplit thesunrevealed Ashley Cole, but Cheryl lining up a possible solo career. Do you see what he did there?

Having painted the writing on the wall for Girls Aloud, Gordon suffers - can it be - a moment of self-doubt:
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we are going to find out sooner rather than later.

Maybe you're wrong, Gordon? Never. Or rather: Possibly, but you can just rewrite or delete any awkward stories that show you in the wrong and carry on as normal, can't

Back to drugged-up stars now, and Universal are meant to have told Amy Winehouse that if she doesn't clean up her act, they'll never release another of her album and, thus, never release her from her contract.

It could be true, although surely even someone working for a major label would understand that such a threat would take only a quick ten minutes with a solicitor and some European legislation to break out of?

Gordon attempts some, um, commentary:
Universal’s stance suggests this could be the last album of her deal. Otherwise they would be churning something out to capitalise on her fame. And while it’s commendable they are taking a tough stand, I think Universal need Amy more than she needs them.

Well, up to a point. They don't really need a loose-cannon who doesn't turn up to recording sessions, promotional events and who spends more time in the papers for her drug-taking than music-making; indeed, they might take the view that any further investment in Winehouse is merely going to eat into the profits made by her career to date.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Capital of Culture Update: Council tax underwrites McCartney's gig

More misery for the people of Liverpool: their council has just signed off a £1.7million commitment to underwriting costs of Paul McCartney's Anfield gig this summer.

Yes, that's right: council tax payers in Knotty Ash and Huyton are going to dig into their pockets to guarantee Paul McCartney's show goes ahead. The BBC has seen a report revealing the details:

The report states: "The alternative of not agreeing to these arrangements is likely to result in the concert being cancelled with significant reputational loss to both the Culture Company Board and the City Council."

We love the idea the Company Board and City Council feel they have sort of reputation left to lose after the Mathew Street disaster and subsequent attempts to avoid blame, much less reputations they think it's worth risking the best part of two million quid to protect. Two million quid of other people's money.

And will the city make it back?
All 25,000 tickets for the event were sold in a ballot last year. A further 11,000 may now be made available.

The extra tickets, which are subject to licence, would generate an extra £200,000 for the concert budget.

So, 11,000 tickets would bring in £200,000, which suggests that the original tickets would have raised about half a million quid. Since the gig is going to cost £1.7million to put on, we're assuming that with a budget like that, it must be being organised as one of the tasks for this year's run of The Apprentice.

Dev Hynes falls off Crawl

Get well soon, Dev Hynes: a tooth infection has now spread through his body, leading to Lightspeed Champion pulling the Camden Crawl date. Dev blogged about the ickyness:

"I got taken to hospital in Switzerland as I couldn't walk. We all thought it was torn ligaments in both my ankles... but it turned out an infection that had started in my tooth had slowly spread throughout my body and made its way down to my ankles, rendering them useless except for the art of excruciating pain."

He's going home to rub Sensodyne into his ankles, or something.

Kling Klang klarify Kraftwerk klash

Last week, Kling Klang;s management responded to Kraftwerk's attempts to ban their name. This week, Kling Klang's management have had to issue a statement detailing their charges' disquiet at the statement they issued on their behalf last week:

“They have decided to issue this statement as they felt that some members from their management failed completely to represent correctly their ideas about the entire matter. And blaming them for a misrepresentation that sprung from an ill informed employee is not right.”

The band continue:

“In Cologne on Sunday 6th April the UK band Kling Klang were issued with a document by representatives of Messrs. Ralf Hutter & Florian Schneider of the German band Kraftwerk. The document is an order to cease and desist using the name "Kling Klang" as the name of the group. Since Messrs. Hutter & Schneider own the single-word trademark "Klingklang" (the name of Kraftwerk's studio, and publishing/merchandising companies), they feel that use of the two-word term "Kling Klang" as a band name is an infringement of their trademark rights.

“The UK band Kling Klang arrived at the name by way of an onomatopoeic reference to a guitar improvisation of binary structure, and were under the impression that "klang" is a German word for sound, with "kling klang" meaning "bell-sound" (similar to "ding dong" in English). The term appears to be in popular usage in more than one language, including Swedish, and the band in no way thought they would be infringing upon the trademark rights of Messrs. Hutter and Schneider in utilizing this term as a name for the group.

“Kling Klang holds Kraftwerk in the highest esteem as musicians and hope to resolve this matter quickly and amicably.”

Lets hope everyone involved has signed this one, otherwise they're going to have to do another clarification in another seven days.

Amazon not an iTunes killer after all

There's an interesting statistic in the NPD Report into the US digital music market: While Amazon's download store is growing quickly, it's not doing so at the expense of iTunes: only 10% of their customers had previously used the Apple store.

Ticketmaster's imaginary friends

It looks like Ticketmaster have been caught making up made-up friends on Facebook to make its spamprofile seem more popular. It makes me feel almost sorry for Ticketmaster, sat on its own in the sandpit chattering quietly to itself.

It's not known if Ticketmaster's imaginary chums are let off paying the booking fee when they buy tickets for gigs.

Subpop turns 20

It's hard to believe - okay, it isn't hard, but it's depressing and makes me feel ancient and so I choose to try and dress it up in a carapace of deniability - that SubPop has reached 20. They're having a party to celebrate:

The SP20 Festival is happening July 12 & 13 at Marymoor Park just outside of Seattle in Redmond, WA. In addition to reunited bands, acts currently on the label's roster, and everything in between, the festival will also host a half-pipe featuring both Nike and Girl + Chocolate sponsored skaters. While the full day-by-day line-up will be announced in the coming months, the festival will include:

Beachwood Sparks / Comets on Fire / Fleet Foxes / Flight of the Conchords / The Fluid / Foals / Grand Archives / Green River / The Helio Sequence / Iron & Wine / Kinski / Low / Mudhoney / No Age / Pissed Jeans / Red Red Meat / The Ruby Suns / Seaweed / Wolf Parade, and more to be announced. For artist images and bios please visit:

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit a variety of charities chosen by both Sub Pop and each act performing.

It's quite a line-up, however you measure it. Good news if you're in Washington State, or flexible travel arrangements.

Orange Prize admits: Lily wasn't up to the job

During the unveiling of the Orange Prize longlist, organisers mumbled that, yes Lily Allen had been quietly dropped as a judge, and the ill-health was a cover story.

Although this would seem to suggest those whose eyebrows were raised when Allen was first named as a judge might have had their eyebrows in the right place, the usually sensible Kirsty Lang insisted those who thought that judging a serious book award was probably going to stretch Lily were wrong. Even though, erm, they appear to have been right:

Kirsty Lang, chairman of this year’s panel, insisted that Allen had been a good choice of judge, and that critics who had been disparaging of her were “being snobby and elitist”.

“Life got in the way,” she told The Times. “She lost a baby, her boyfriend left her and she was launching a new television show. She was under a hell of a lot of pressure. She found the pressure of judging a major book prize on top of everything else too much.”

The singer had taken part in drawing up the longlist “by phone”, she added. “She reads, she writes her own songs. She’s a wordsmith.”

There's no reason why a singer can't judge a literary prize, and it is fair enough that the pressures of her personal life would have been unpredictable, but isn't it a little patronising to suggest that her life made it too difficult for her to actually read the books and attend the meetings she'd signed up for? Is Lang suggesting that the other judges live lives of uncomplicated leisure? Is stringing together a few half-hours of YouTube videos for BBC Three really comparable with, say, presenting Front Row?

Serialis-aaah-tion: Mark E Smith's book - 2

Continuing our serialised extract of The Guardian's serialised extracts from Mark E Smith's autobiography:

He'd stand outside Strangeways and recruit ex-prisoners, get them making lathes and pipes.

Emily Eavis defends Jay-Z

Emily Eavis rushes into print in today's Independent to defend the Jay-Z booking and, thereby, not have to deal with any of the more pressing complaints about the festival and its organisation. Indeed, it appears there aren't any problems at all:

Some of the claims have been wild. First, we were blown away by selling 100,000 tickets on the first day of sale, especially given that it was a snowy Sunday in April.

Oh, yes. The light snows of early April. We remember how many people woke up and weren't able to get across their living rooms to log on to their PCs that day.

Citing it being a Sunday in April to explain ticket sales is absurd enough - who chose the day to put the tickets on sale in the first place? - but to then try and suggest that the weather had an influence is just insulting. Why not mention the Zimbabwean election as well?

And if selling 100,000 blew you away, then how come you had to scrabble round for a scheme to reopen registrations? If you really were expecting to have a quarter of the tickets left unsold on the day, how come there wasn't a system already in place to cope with the undersell?

Still, Emily isn't here to deal with such matters, she's talking about Jay-Z:
The main misconception, however, has been the suggestion that signing Jay-Z was all about trying to capture a different audience for the festival, an attempt to move it away from its more "traditional" supporters. That is just not the case.

Why, then where can such a misconception have come from? Perhaps from the sort of interviews where Emily's Dad said that the headline booking was designed to bring in a new, younger audience:
we’ve got a Saturday night headliner that’s going to attract the young people. We’re breaking the tradition of having the big name, Anglo-Saxon, white, rock’n’roll superstar types that we normally get. We’re breaking from that tradition for the first time and we’re having a black artist from New York. That’s going to go a treat and hopefully pull in the young people.
I can see its going to be very, very different and kids and late-teens will love it to bits. That’s what they enjoy rather than the bands that I always considered to be the leaders in the field.
I’m sure its going to be a mega attraction and the fact we’re doing something new, like the ticket system, shows we’re not afraid to change things in order to be bold and to be full of ambition and I’ve been doing that for 38 years."

So, Jay-Z was a big attraction, very different from the usual Glastonbury headliners and intended to bring in a younger, new audience. According to Michael, anyway.

Emily has some stronger arguments, not least when looking at the source of some of the complaints about having a black man headlining on the Pyramid stage:
And there is also an interesting undercurrent in the suggestion that a black, US hip-hop artist shouldn't be playing in front of what many perceive to be a white, middle-class audience. I'm not sure what to call it, at least not in public, but this is something that causes me some disquiet.

Why Emily won't come out and call racism for what it is is possibly more disturbing than the racism itself - if we flinch from being honest about it, we do nobody any favours - but trying to recast the entire shambles of this year's festival as being down to knee-jerk conservatism on the part of the press won't wash. After all, nobody's that thrilled by Kings Of Leon or The Verve and their best before 1999 schtick, either. Perhaps it's racists and beardists and north-bashers all acting in harmony.

Writing an article for the Independent which totally contradicts your father's interview from a couple of months ago, while trying to spin the sales disaster as good for a cold day just makes the whole festival look like it thinks the public are idiots. Does nobody at Worthy Farm ever admit they made a mistake?

Travis Barker settles down

The lawsuit between Travis Barker and Rockstar energy drinks is over. Barker made a fuss last year when he found his face was being used to promote the sickly drink - he hadn't endorsed the product, and isn't a rockstar.

Now, both sides have settled for a secret amount. It's possible that Rockstar have made Barker recompense them for lost earning following the use of his face in advertising; we just don't know.

Little Ferry up before the beak

Otis Ferry, son of Bryan, is in trouble again: he's been charged with common assault and robbery following an incident when he clashed with a hunt protester last year.

It's going to be the word "common" which hurts the most.

Favourite fallen Idolator

Popular internet-carried music snark site Idolator is having a man run up some 'under new management' signs with the news that Gawker media has downsized them off to be part of Buzznet.

They've openly posted about the change on the site, quoting Gawker's Nick Deenton on the reasons for flogging this, Wonkette and Gridskipper:

* IDOLATOR is going to Buzznet, a music-focused web and social
network. Buzznet recently acquired Idolator's chief rival, Stereogum,
and received a big investment from Universal Music Group.

Why these three sites? To be blunt: they each had their editorial
successes; but someone else will have better luck selling the
advertising than we did.

Music audiences are fragmented across genres; Maura's Idolator gave
Stereogum a good run, but a group with a whole array of music sites
will command more attention from record labels than we could.

So, Stereogum and Idolator are now brothers under the yoke of Buzznet, and Universal have got a slice of the action.

If Universal hope they might find less snark being aimed in their direction, though, they might find themselves disappointed - the post on the new owners is tagged "i, for one, welcome our new major label overlords".

The great I Like Trains robbery

In their own words, here is a story of robbery in Italy:

Fake policemen managed to steal an entire night's gig takings from iLiKETRAiNS in Italy last week.

The raid happened in Piacenza around 2am last Sunday, 13th April, where the band were pulled over by an unmarked police car.

"Two 'police officers' in full uniform with badges said they were doing a routine check," according to the band's manager, Dominic Brownlow,“and then asked if they could see any cash they may have earned at the gig as there were counterfeit notes in the area.

"As soon as they saw the money-bag, they grabbed it and ran into the waiting car.”
"We were pulled over by two guys flashing a police badge at three in the morning on an Italian motorway,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Martin. “One of them came to the window with a gun in his holster, yelling in aggressive Italian. He asked to see our passports and if we had guns or drugs.

"The whole crew was searched and in the ensuing confusion they ran off with the night's takings. It was a very slick operation and sickening to lose so much cash.”
The got away with? €3,000, about £2,500.

"No-one was hurt but pride was damaged. The police have known about the trick for ages and have never caught them.”

It's not clear if the fake police only target bands, or if they pull the stunt on all sorts of people - there'd be a tale for A Place In The Sun.

Tesco attempt to send iTunes the way of International Stores

Tesco has announced - inevitably - its desire to be the latest in a long line of iTunes Music Store killers. Despite having actually been selling downloads since 2004 without anyone in Cupertino getting too upset.

The new Tesco download store is going to be different, say Tesco:

Graham Harris, the Tesco commercial director, said: "We wanted to create an exciting and easy-to-use entertainment shop that Tesco customers of all ages and technical ability can use and trust.

"We're starting out with a comprehensive music offering, but customers can expect downloadable TV and films as well as games to buy very soon."

"Exciting and easy-to-use", eh? We're not sure about exciting - you click on a button, your bank account lightens slightly, a file downloads to your PC. Yes, whiteknuckle stuff indeed.

Easy to use, though?
Tesco Digital will offer 3.3m music tracks when it launches next month, with 1.6m in MP3 format. It plans for all of the site's music to be compatible with iPods and other MP3 players by the end of the year.

So, files are currently in two different formats, and some are currently compatible with iPods and some aren't, but those that aren't should be changed by Christmas, but it's not clear if you buy a non iPod friendly version you'll be able to upgrade for free or if you should wait. Oh, yes:
A Tesco spokeswoman said the downloads would be "competitively priced" but would vary depending on the track.

And all different prices, too. Tesco customers of little technical skill are going to have a breeze, aren't they?

Still, given that it can be hard to eat if you boycott one of the nation's nastiest firms (just yesterday there was more misery for their Allerton neighbours), it's great to have a way to avoid Tesco online.

Serialis-aaah-tion: Mark E Smith's book

The Guardian is serialising Mark E Smith's Renegade this week. We're going to serialise the serialisation:

"We remember Japanese prison camp. You don't fool us, you pop star."

Today, we'd probably get investigated by the social services.

Bryan Ferry laments

There's a splendid meeting between the Telegraph and Bryan Ferry, which keeps circling last year's "admiration for the aesthetic achievements of the Third Reich" comments. Ferry is, understandably, upset at having been reported as admiring the Nazis, but seems reluctant to broaden the debate out into a wider question of if you can really separate the aesthetic from the politics. Indeed, he actually turns it into a grumble about - yes - political correctness having gone mad. He'd bypassed the question earlier on in his chat with Nigel Farndale, but then returned to it when Farndale mentioned Roxy Music's album artwork, and the tendency to have sexy lady covers:

Yes,' he says, 'it's remarkable how liberated the climate was then. There is much more political correctness around today. What you can and cannot say. As I discovered last year. In a way it was much freer in those days. You could speak your mind. You certainly wouldn't have got told off for talking about Albert Speer's buildings in the 1970s.'

But if a band tried the Country Life cover today, it wouldn't be "political correctness" that would get them attacked - it'd be the sexist use of semi-naked women to sell albums. Likewise, although some of the stories on Ferry's Speer comments did boil the story down beyond any reason, he wasn't "told off" for "talking about Albert peer's buildings", people were reacting to his praising of what was a Nazi aesthetic. It's easy to wail "oh, they said I loved the Nazis" rather than debating the extent to which the art was crucial to the state; to mumble that you've been silenced by "political correctness" when you've chosen to close down the debate yourself is, at best, weak. And a not a little self-pitying.

Darknesss at 3AM: Try not to close your eyes and picture it

No, seriously: don't close your eyes and picture Mariah Carey:

"I rather fancy Prince Charles. He is suave, educated and is a great role model."

Yes, a great role model. Somehow, he managed to drag himself up from nothing to be what he is today, a man hanging around waiting for his mother to die before he gets a job; shunning the woman he loved to marry for status only to dump the mother of his children after playing around behind her back for the entire length of their marriage. Brilliant role model. If he'd ever punched a guy in the head round the back of a pool hall, he'd be perfect.

The 3AM Girls reveal that Mariah does have a back-up plan if Prince Charles proves to be unavailable, though:
She also admitted liking Pop Idol star Darius Danesh

Blimey. Talk about shopping at both ends of the counter.

The 3AMies also have, erm, that Noel Gallagher on hip-hop story that was all over everywhere else 24 hours ago. Perhaps they see themselves as some sort of newspaper gossip column of record?

Gordon in the morning: One for the ladies

Do you remember Gordon launching a "league for overpaid footie stars who wear crap clobber"? No, us neither, and it's funny that such a snappy title for such a fascinating idea would have somehow failed to fix itself into our consciousness.

We're going to find it hard to forget Gordon picking the subject up today, though, as the lead story in Bizarre is given over to a long discussion of Andriy Shevchenko's underwear. It's fair to say Gordon spends a lot of time thinking about what Andriy has in his shorts:

Chafe-chenko wears a thong
wearing a pair of PETER STRINGFELLOW-style undercrackers
the Ukrainian striker was spotted on a posh golf course bending over to reveal a little black thong
a group of golfers on a nearby tee spotted the suspicious G-string
A thong on a golf course is a rare sight
wear women’s underwear
gentlemen’s thongs
the same trick on his panties
like a thong

Clearly, Gordon has thought about this a lot. Almost as if he's somehow unable to get the thong out of his head:
my computer wizards have mocked up how Andriy might look sporting one while in action for the Blues.

And there's nothing wrong with asking an artist to draw a picture of a sportsman wearing a thong if you've got a strong story like, erm, golfing rivals claiming they think they might have just spotted the top of a g-string peeking out of his trousers. Hey, Gordon, did you ever wonder what Sid from Skins would look like in a bikini brief?

Meanwhile, Gordon has decided that "Kylie's latest bid to crack the US" (crack, again?) has failed, although we're not sure a couple of songs on Dancing With The Stars quite constitutes the full push for American hearts and minds; I'm guessing Kylie might have expected it to be a little more work than that.

And can anyone spot what's unusual about Gordon's story about Winehouse this morning?
Meanwhile, it emerged Amy could appear at this year’s Glastonbury festival – controversial headline choice JAY-Z wants the Rehab singer to perform with him.

Yes, of course: that would be the Jay-Z who, in two lead stories last week, Gordon swore was pulling out of Glastonbury because he'd got the hump with being blamed for poor ticket sales. So he's lining up Amy to play with him in a set which isn't going to happen, is he, Smart?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Funkobit: Syke Dyke

Robert Michael Reed has died. Under his stage name, Syke Dyke, Reed was a founding member of Trouble Funk.

Between 1977 and 1994, Trouble Funk carved a whole subgenre of funk - go-go - for themselves. Although hits like Pump Me Up and Drop The Bomb defined their niche, the band's reputation was really forged through unlikely collaborations - remixing Julian Cope's World Shut Your Mouth, or sharing stages with punk acts like Minor Threat.

Reed was 50; the cause of death is believed to be pancreatic cancer.

Wentz: Pregnancy stories "a witch hunt"

It's reassuring to discover that, for now, there's not to be a new generation of Simspons, as Pete Wentz denies that he and Ashlee are expecting the pitter-patter of tiny emo-pop feet:

"There is a witch hunt for people to be pregnant whenever they get engaged in Hollywood," he wrote. "This is all news to me. I can't wait for the story about how I'm really in a gay relationship and this is all just a cover. ... I mean really, this is crazy. ... I mean we're engaged, that's true, and happy about it."

We're not sure he means "a witch hunt"; he probably means that there's innuendo, but then it's not like his job would require him to be able to use language confidently, is it?

A day for the stores

This Saturday, in the US, is Record Store Day. The remaining-but-essential independent music chains will gather together to celebrate their contribution to the US' culture and, possibly, to ride round abandoned parking lots outside old Tower Record branches giggling.

Ironically, Google have done their bit (having spent a few years being part of the challenge facing the stores) by opening up a special YouTube Channel which includes, for some reason, The Kooks.

The quick grey Foxx slips out a live new album

Recorded on last year's tour, John Foxx is just about to knock out a live album. Effectively, it's a live reworking of the Metamatic album. This one's called A New Kind Of Man.


NME has got some more news about the Interpol/Swervedriver side project: Sam Fogarino and Adam Franklin's Magnetic Morning are about to release a debut five-track ep in the US, also called Magnetic Morning.

Goodnight, Hong Kong: EMI retreats from Asia

Music2.0 is reporting that shape is being given to EMI's plans in the Asian market, and that shape is a lot smaller than the current shape.

EMI will, it's claimed, close a slew of offices in the region and is looking for a partner to take care of its Asian catalogue business. "Take care of" as in doing all the work.

This needn't be such a rotten idea - after all, the Asian markets are totally different to the UK & US, and the Western Labels have suffered badly by not being quick enough to react to the changes in the way people are listening to music now. You think they've been slow in Essex and Oregon? They look like the Red Arrows on fast forward compared with their moves in Shanghai and Singapore. Tying up with a local partner who understands how things work is probably a shrewd move.

Except EMI is apparently considering giving its catalogue to Warners to look after, like some sort of leaking bucket being passed between the Chuckle Brothers.

Listening online

It's based only on American operations, but there's an interesting statistic tucked into JP Morgan's report on web radio audiences [pdf]: increasingly, offline stations' share of online listening is growing: 45%, roughly, of all online radio listening is done at a site owned by a terrestrial broadcaster. Good news, GCap Global: maybe those brands are worth something after all...

Lupe has had enough

Frankly, when I heard the news, I wasn't that surprised:

"Have you heard? Lupe's getting out of the business."

"Well", I said, "he's had a fair try at it, but he's never really made it through to one of the all-time-greats. He's always been more a Captain Ric than a Captain Crunch."

"What are you talking about?"

"Loopy, the Kellogg's Honey Nut Loops Bee. Kelloggs Honey Nut Loops, let's loop together..."

"No, you idiot. Not Loopy, Lupe. L-U-P-E. Lupe Fiasco. He's had enough of the music industry and plans to quit next year."

"Oh. So there's no need for Crackle out of Snap, Crackle and Pop to put in a CV?"

"Not unless they're wanting to become a rapper, no."

"Pity. Crackle's been keen to launch a solo career ever since Coco The Monkey started dating both of the Bisto kids."

"No, this has nothing to do with cereal mascots. This is huge - Lupe Fiasco. Quitting music."

"Is he really quitting, though? Or is this like Jay-Z or Eminem, where they run out of things to say in interviews because, frankly, their lives get a little too comfy, and a little too dull, and threatening retirement is the only thing they can think of it liven matters up?"

"Hang about... yes, he does seem to have rather a full list of planned collaborations down for a man about to hang up his earphones. So he's probably not serious about it, no."


"So, then... has Crackle thought of sounding out PopTarts?"

Wogan's worst fears realised: Eurovision is the cosa nostra

Oh, that's all we need: As if Terry Wogan wasn't paranoid enough without Ani Lorak, this year's Ukranian entrant into Eurovision, cheerfully admitting that the votes are based on fraternal ties rather than quality of music:

As the interview progressed, talk fell on the subject of the infamous voting system and how countries tended to vote for their neighbours. Her reply was short and sweet: "How can you not vote for family?"

Of course, it's not all bad - after all, without the family votes from Ireland, Britain would normally be looking at a final score somewhere between nul and the minuses.

Lorak is Ukraine's answer to Geri Halliwell, having had a role as UN ambassador for HIV AIDS:
"Having previously been unaware of the problem of HIV and AIDS in the Ukraine I took on the task with honour. After all, if a person with HIV smiles at you, there is no reason to fire them from their job... Serving as an ambassador has taught me so much," she said.

I might be slightly alarmist, but if you're choosing someone to be ambassador for HIV awareness, wouldn't it be better to start with someone who already knows that Aids doesn't get spread by smiling, or is a justifiable reason for firing someone?

Damon Albarn: 18th most important

While Noel Gallagher is complaining about the young folks' music taking over Glastonbury and deciding it's wrong to go to go to gigs by boat (despite having once bought Mike Oldfield's old yacht), his former nemesis Damon Albarn is being lauded by the Telegraph as the 18th most important person in British Culture.

Without ever having played Knebworth, you'll note.

Gallagher doesn't make it on the list - no, really - even although by the end they're so desperate to fill the slots they're flinging on Helena Bonham-Carter, although surely if she were that powerful all images of her in Planet of the Apes would have been removed from the internet?

Overall, the person who dictates our culture the most is, surprisingly, not an IPC sub-editor, but Nicholas Hynter at the National Theatre. It's not clear if his importance was decided before or after he agreed to give a lengthy interview to the Sunday Telegraph.

With Andrew Lloyd-Webber at five and Simon Cowell at six, the highest-placed popular music-related presence is still Damon Albarn at 18.

Celebrate the quality of Daily Mail journalism

Yesterday the world woke up to the news that Britney Spears' car had nudged a car into the one in front. No damage, nobody hurt.

How does the Mail report this?

Pop wreck Britney Spears crashes AGAIN, causing a THREE car pile-up

"A three car pile-up" in which none of the cars get so much as a scrath. It truly is a miracle.

Darkness at 3AM: Readers who liked this, also liked that

A thin morning over at the Daily Mirror, where the £AM Girls try to get an entire column out of a mis-delivered parcel. Alexa Chung apparently ordered a couple of books from Amazon which went to her neighbour "by mistake"; the neighbour opened the package "accidentally", and then - again, we imagine, through a series of wacky coincidences, the neighbour found themselves telling the Daily Mirror what was in the package. Who Moved My Cheese, apparently, which the Mirror calls a self-help book but we've always thought was a business title. There was also a book on controlling your Inner Anger, leading the 3AMies to conclude:

we reckon Alexa Chung is a bit of a control freak...

Although if you're buying self-help books designed to help you cope, doesn't that suggest that you're not actually a control freak - at least yet?

Talking of control, someone needs to take control of the Mirror website. The long period of publishing extended captions for pictures that only appear in the paper seems to be over. Now things are worse. Take this piece, for example:
It's not hard to see what's put the spring back in Pink's step. The singer is jumping for joy on a Malibu beach with her mystery new fella.

In an itsy-bitsy polka-dot bikini, she's obviously over her split with hubby Carey Hart. Pink swapped numbers with her new beau at a Hollywood club and that obviously got the party started...

Given that the text only exists to try and suggest the photos of a half- naked Pink are there for news reasons, and not just because they're nice to look at, it's somewhat surprising that online readers find the "story" illustrated by, erm, a photo of Pink in a leather jacket and boots.

Gordon in the morning: Lily in a hat

Don't the Sun have a sudoku or something they can run instead of this sort of thing?:

The singer larked around with her headwear in London this weekend – changing from safari hat to Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker.

Yes, it's Lily Allen, trying on a hat. Gordon's got photos and everything.

That nobody can quite understand why this is being reported is shown by the odd headline:
Lily: I am batty for a h-a-t-t-y


We don't know if Gordon can do shorthand, no, since you ask.

Meanwhile, Gordon is still fretting over if Ashley Cole and Cheryl Tweedy are doing it again yet. According to Smart, Cole is going to try and get Cheryl in the mood with a holiday:
To try to tempt her abroad to sort out their problems, he has also offered to take her to a secret mansion he owns in Saint-Tropez as an alternative.

A secret mansion, eh? One that presumably only Ashley and Gordon know about.

If you were trying to convince your wife you weren't misbehaving behind her back, wouldn't suddenly revealing a secret mansion be the last thing you'd want to do?

We presume Gordon means "mansion" rather than "secret mansion".
They could have more privacy there if Cheryl is embarrassed about being seen at a romantic resort with her cheating hubby.

Yes. Assuming, of course, she doesn't have a problem with the secret trip being splashed all over the cheap prints before she even gets to hear about it.

Gordon suggests that this is a "real-life" version of ITV's Celebrity Love Island - which you'd think would be warning enough for Cole, what with how that limped on in pain for two years before falling to pieces.

Is there any truth to Gordon's claims that Pete Doherty is getting kid-gloves treatment in Wormwood Scrubs, and that the rest of the jail has got the hump with this latterday Grouty? The latter half, probably, by the time the b-wing boys get their copy of the Sun this morning.

Not that he's conservative or anything

Well, Showbiz Zoe's strong Oasis story turns out to have a flaw: Noel Gallagher reckons Oasis won't play the Millennium Dome:

"We'll never play the O2. We went there to see Led Zeppelin and to be honest the gig was fantastic, but it was the most soul destroying venue I've ever been to.

"And much to our manager and agent's disappointment we came back and said we would never play there.

"So it means we are going to have to do 640 nights at Earl's Court, I would have thought.

"It's too Americanised for me, and it's too far away. Any gig you can get to by boat that hasn't got a beach is wrong."

Thank god his clunking band never played the Bristol Thekla. His head might have imploded.

It's good that Oasis care enough about their fans to avoid making the venues they play soul-destroying, though - if you've stuck with Oasis this long, you can't have much of a soul left and what remains must surely be protected at all costs.

Noel has also brought his experience to the question of why Glasto didn't sell out this year. Noel should be something of an expert on what's stinking the place up, having made the entire place reek in 2004 with a set so poor it made him scrap an entire album. Noel's diagnosis?
"If it ain't broke don't fix it.

"If you start to break it then people aren't going to go. I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance.

"Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night you go 'Kylie Minogue?'

"I don't know about it. But I'm not having hip hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong."

It might perhaps be unfair to wonder if Noel is using "hip-hop" and "guitar music" as, ooh, euphemisms for something else entirely, but why does this remind us so of that woman off last week's Apprentice having a strop because the team wasn't making "English food"?

And while there might not have been a hip-hop headliner before, Glastonbury has always had a tradition of doing more than the bands who hang out in the perpetual Beatles tribute stage of Noel's mind; and even if there had never been a black artist in Somerset before, surely that's a problem for what bills itself as a "performing arts festival" rather than simply the Camden Crawl relocated to farmyards. It's like Noel... has some sort of... well... some sort of mental road block... blocking off new...
... possibilities... for... going...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lord, Help The Poor And Needy

It's a lovely sentiment - and, indeed, a sentiment which Chan Marshall sings on the new Cat Power album.

The trouble is, though, she's not actually doing her part to help the poor and needy on this one - the album credits the song to the public domain, but it actually is still in copyright, and should be earning money for Jessie Mae Hemphill's estate.

Matador Records are putting the error right, although it seems their consciences needed some prodding by SF Weekly:

[Matador's Chris] Lombardi said he was aware of the letter and insisted the label had been in touch with [publisher David] Evans. But just twelve hours earlier, Evans told SF Weekly he hadn't heard from Matador. When SF Weekly pointed out this discrepancy to Lombardi, he paused awkwardly. "Really?" he responded after a few moments. "Well, that's weird."

Shortly after the Weekly interviewed Lombardi for this article, Matador contacted Evans and Mathus, Evans confirms.

It does seem to be a genuine mistake rather than a deliberate attempt to diddle anybody; what's more interesting is the way the case illustrates the difficulties in tracing copyright in music that existed outside the disc-and-sheet-music mainstream. A knock-on effect of copyright extension could, at least, have the unintended positive consequence of extending earning potential for people who really could use the money but - sadly - the chances of them even earning the money they're entitled to now seem slim enough as it is.

Forward Russia weekend: Nine

Back to October 2006, as Forward Russia take the stage in LA to deliver Nine:

[Part of Forward Russia weekend]

Success! Virgin Megastores grow

Here's a story that might take you by surprise: Virgin Megastores are doing quite nicely, thank you. Of course, they're now only found in the US, and much of the growth - sales 11.5% up year-on-year for 2007 - is going to be down not so much to the rude health of Virgin as the closure of Tower in December 2006. You might even wonder if, with the loss of their main competitor, the sales rise is a little disappointing.

And the sales rises are being driven by fashion, DVDs and computer games - the latter nearly doubling in value over the year.

Nevertheless: a music shop that is feeling confident in the current market. Even if the music is now tucked away in the corner. Good news.

System of a beam-me-Down

Serj from System Of A Down has an idea for saving the planet:

"We could reduce our need to travel if we could project ourselves into concerts. It's not like the audience can touch me, anyway."

The technology does exist to allow SOAD to appear virtually on a stage - it's called television - but until someone invents away for festival audiences to transmit bottles-filled-with-urine into contact with the stage from a distance of miles, the band are still going to have to turn up.

Matchbox 20's confused buffalo stance

Well done to Matchbox 20, for cancelling a gig at a rodeo because of the animal welfare issues:

"We ask that (fans) please understand that it would be impossible for us to put ourselves in the position of making money from what we believe to be the mistreatment of animals."

Well done, Rob Thomas. Although what we don't quite understand is when, exactly, you twigged that a gig at Cheyenne Frontier Days ("the World's biggest rodeo") would involve making money off hurting animals. Still, well done for doing the right thing eventually.

Oddly, Matchbox 20 are still down to play the North Dakota State Fair this year. (We're not sure how North Dakota gets to have a state fair, as it's only half a state, but we can't pretend to understand these things.)

Cutting out the middlemen

There was something nasty for everybody with the body-spray funded Fall Out Boy video that was circulating a few months back. For most people, the sight of a man handing over his artistic credibility for a few quid and a case of Axe deodorant was almost heartbreakingly pathetic. But for the men of Unilever, there was much to regret - like having to rely on a third party to push their product.

Procter and Gamble have learned from Unilever's mistake. They're launching a record label in order to promote sweat-mask in a can, Tag. Yes, you heard that correctly: they're launching a record label.

It must be tricky for EMI, trying to convince Citigroup they're a good bet for a multi-million investment, when soap companies are setting up rival labels out of their marketing budgets. It'd be like trying to sell badly-made plastic kazoos when The Dandy or Topper used to give away one for free every other week.

Winehouse quietly dropped by the Met

There's some confusion in the Mail's report on Amy Winehouse no longing being on the bill for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala. At one point, it's suggested that her label felt she was no longer up to it; but then a source from the museum is quoted:

A spokesman for the gala night confirmed Amy would not be appearing and told me: "She was asked if she would be interested, and she was considered, but then we moved on from her."

Which makes it sound like Universal is trying to take responsibility for a turning down an invitation which had never actually been confirmed.

The Mail also trots out the "she's a recluse" line:
The singer, who has turned into a recluse in recent weeks, is suffering a skin complaint that could be related to her drug abuse.

Even if it wasn't coming at the same time as stories about her partying, "not going out for a bit" doesn't make you a recluse.

Forward Russia weekend: New album as work in progress

As we ready ourselves for the release of Life Processes, here's a YouTube video from about six months ago, showing the album as a work-in-progress:

[Part of Forward Russia weekend]

Hard-Fi "apparently still going"

We were wondering what had happened to Hard-Fi the other day. Not for long, admittedly, but it was a genuine thought nevertheless. So it's with some surprise that we discover they've popped up in Nashville being helped out by Mick Jones' Carbon/Silicon outfit.

Mick Jones explained his presence:

"It's a west London thing, they're good boys."

Okay. He tried to explain his presence.

Skye falls in: Festival pulled

The Isle of Skye Festival has been axed after three years; it's reckoned organisers lost half a million quid last year when audiences were half of those expected.

Although some suppliers from the 2007 festival are still waiting for their money, organisers are plotting a comeback:

John Gilbertson, director of the festival, said: "Our intention at present is to start a phoenix company which will allow us to hopefully stage the event again in 2009.

"This will enable us to raise funds which we will put towards paying off existing creditors. We take our responsibilities seriously and this is currently our principal priority."

Hmm. Having managed to lose half a million last year, we'd have wondered if "setting up another festival which will pay for itself and for last year's" is perhaps the best business plan to be pursuing.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

A couple of strong pieces on the New York Times today. First, John Pareles travels to Munich to meet Portishead:

Meanwhile, although Ms. Gibbons’s lyrics are wounded public confessions, she is so painfully shy that she dodges interviews. The refrain of the album’s closing song, “Threads,” is “I’m always so unsure.” (In a brief hello at the Munich sound check, she fretted that she might forget lyrics during the concert.)

Then the paper reviews a history of Clear Channel Communications, Right Of The Dial:
But when Alec Foege, a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Spin and Playboy, set out to write the definitive history of a company that possesses more radio stations than any other, he decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

“I was not out to do a hatchet job,” he writes in the preface to “Right of the Dial,” “but rather to get to the bottom of a company that I suspected had gotten a raw deal as its bad publicity had snowballed.”

The reader need wait only three paragraphs before Foege renders his final verdict: “Having spent a lot of time talking to some of the company’s most prominent critics, as well as some of its most devout supporters, I have concluded that Clear Channel is indeed to blame for much of what it has been accused of.”

Britney Spears has a small bump

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Britney Spears' minor traffic accident - she was in stop-and-go traffic, and was going when she should have been stopping - is not just that CNN thought it worth reporting but that Spears is apparently still in possession of a driving licence.

Forward Russia weekend: Thirteen

More from Forward Russia: Thirteen live in Liverpool, from February 2007:

[Part of Forward Russia weekend]

Beckham's trousers dropped

Trouble for Victoria Beckham's overpriced jeans business, with stores starting to drop the range. Not because they've suddenly started feeling awkward about charging the price of a good meal for four for a pair of denims, but because Victoria hasn't been doing her bit for the range:

The owner of Los Angeles boutique Kitson is quoted as telling Life & Style: “We’ve asked her PR people many times for her to appear [to promote the range], but she’s too busy, they say.”

“A celebrity line is no different from an album or a tour. It has to be promoted to sell, and Victoria’s not doing that.”

Mind you, having seen how well her heavily-promoted solo records do, we'd have thought not having her pop up to push the trousers would have been a positive good.

Showbiz with Zoe scoops the lot

It's actually a pretty good story from Zoe Showbiz today, that Oasis are being courted for residency at the Millennium Dome. We just struggle with some of the detail - fifteen million quid? Really?

And there's this, too:

A band insider says: "The dates will be a real special event - and the first major rock residency at the O2.

"There have been lots of pop acts there - the Spice Girls and Prince. And Led Zeppelin did one date. But no band has yet set up camp there for a whole run.

"They are lining up 10 dates some time in the autumn at the Dome before taking on the rest of the world."

Prince a "pop act"?

While the idea of Oasis safely tucked away in Greenwich is a pleasing one, we're not sure we can quite take the idea of the Dome being remade as part of the band's self-propagating mythology - the only good thing about Robbie Williams at Knebworth was that it meant the Gallaghers couldn't drone on about their smaller event any more.

Amy Winehouse's open house

Rav Singh - who, clearly, is hoping that Amy Winehouse has no reputation she'd be seeking to save through legal action - reports on a Winehouse party, trying to make the claim 'Winehouse does drugs' to have some sort of shock value:

WASTED AMY WINEHOUSE snorted cocaine at a party last week with Sir BOB GELDOF'S teen daughter PIXIE just a few feet away.

I can reveal that the troubled singer sneaked off to the toilet to snort line after line—leaving guests in no doubt that she's still hooked on drugs.

The news that Pixie, 17, was in the next room to crack addict Amy is bound to make dad Bob hit the roof.

Rav can't quite pin down where the party took place - sometimes the piece makes references to "at her Camden home", but then also writes the article as if it was in some other place. It's not exactly a good basis for a story when the writer can't even pin down where the things which happened are supposed to have happened.

And surely it'd be slightly hypocritical of Geldof to worry about his daughter being "in the next room" to Winehouse more than her apparent carousing in general?