Saturday, August 23, 2008

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: 15, 14, 13

15. The Wedding Present - I'm Not Always So Stupid
Twenty years on - more or less - here's Gedge playing the song in a metal box in Derbyshire, July 2008

Buy: Live 1987

14. The Fall - Cab It Up
From the ballet I Am Kurious Oranj - and flagged by YouTube as requiring care for under 18s

Buy: I Am Kurious Oranj

13. Morrissey - Suedehead
Live on Later... With Jools Holland in 1992

Buy: Live In Dallas DVD

[Part of 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Reading festival aflame

Now, there's a tradition stood on its head: the fires usually don't happen until the last night of the Reading Festival, but this year the fire has got underway on day two. Nineteen cars caught alight in the car park this evening; the fire service say the cause will "be investigated".

Mass spontaneous auto combustion is being ruled out.

Metallica admit new single sounds rubbish

It was, perhaps, only to be expected: Metallica might have embraced digital downloads to promote the new album, but not to any great quality:


"My name is Benjamin. I work in fan support for Mission: Metallica.

"I am sorry for the bulk e-mail, but we've heard from quite a few of you regarding the sound quality on the single release of 'The Day That Never Comes'.

"The source of the problem, as you might imagine, goes all the way back to the creation of the track from master — but this is not how it will sound on the album.

"We've identified the source of the problem to prevent it in any subsequent singles released in advance of September 12.

"If we can have another one put together and sent out prior to that date, there may be a higher-quality release of 'The Day That Never Comes' made available, but I can't guarantee it at this time."

I love that "as you might imagine" chucked in there. The strange thing, of course, is that the fault on the track - loud distortion and clipping - appeared on the version released through iTunes and to radio. Since everyone who heard it noticed, the conclusion has to be that nobody involved with Metallica could be bothered to listen to thing all the way through, or, indeed, wanted to.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: The twenties

As we clamber down the chart, a couple of morsels from the 1988 festive fifty:

25. Billy Bragg - Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
Live on the Henry Rollins Show in 2007

Buy: Must I Paint You A Picture?

22. Morrissey - Late Night Maudlin Street
Live at the Summer Sonic 2002

Buy: Viva Hate

21. Robert Lloyd And The New Four Seasons - Something Nice
Not, perhaps, the official video

Buy: Me And My Mouth (although it is fifty quid)

19. Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot

Buy: Me And My Mouth

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

More delight from the spam inbox

That's one Damon's not won before you, Noel...

The harsh face of reality

If you know that Max Clifford is the voice of reason, you can probably guess the sentence has to end "... in a conversation with Sharon Osbourne, at least."

The pair were on a panel at the Guardian's Edinburgh Television Festival debating reality TV, which was most notable for the way the pair were desperate to simultaneously destroy each other's arguments, while not offending their friends and paymasters:

"You know there's a line where people say you can't polish a turd," Osbourne said. "This is the man that polishes turds."

In a heated exchange, Osbourne added that she wasn't referring to Simon Cowell, who Clifford represents and who she famously clashed with on The X Factor, but instead meant his reality TV stars.

When Clifford said he advised his clients not to go on reality shows, Osbourne replied: "If you earn some portion of your living from these people going on these shows bearing their souls, don't knock them."

Osbourne also tried to correct the impression that she quit the X Factor over money (an impression created when Cowell said at the launch of the new series that she quit over demands for more money):
"The X Factor was the best experience of my life, I adored the show as it had done so much for me, but I quit because it was just time for me to go," she said.

"I was talking to a network in America about doing a show with my family and I couldn't do both," she added.

Although Simon Cowell manages to do X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent and American Idol all at the same time. Even Piers Morgan manages to slime across shows on both sides of the Atlantic - Britain's and America's as well as the misleadingly titled Celebrity Apprentice.

Mark Frith was also on the panel, and to thank him for coming the Guardian finds space for one of his comments:
Former Heat magazine editor Mark Frith, also a panelist, said he had decided to leave the title as the world of celebrity had become "too dark" for him.

"I couldn't look at any more Amy Winehouse pictures with cuts on her arms and put them into an entertaining form," he added.

Frith spun this "oh celebrity has become so dark" line in his diaries, too - but why was he comfortable with running stories laughing at Leslie Ash and pointing fingers of fun at celebrities his magazine suggested might be suffering eating disorders, and all of a sudden decided it was too much? Isn't it surprising that you can run week after week of paparazzi coverage of Britney's breakdown - which, at the very least, wasn't exactly helped by the 24 hour coverage - and then to start tutting about how terrible it all is after you've left the job to pursue other projects? If you shit on the carpet, don't complain about the smell.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: The thirties

Picking up, quite quickly, some of the tracks that made the lower reaches of the Fifty:

39. Pixies - River Euphrates
Live, Brixton, 26th June 1991

Buy: Surfer Rosa / Come On Pilgrim

35. Stump - Charlton Heston

Buy: Stump Box Set

31. Mudhoney - Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More
Live in Chester, Cheshire, 1989

Buy: Superfuzz Big Muff

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Gordon in the morning: Doesn't know his Star Wars

Chewbacca. The one thing that you know about wookies - even if you've only had a passing interest in Star Wars - is that they're big and shaggy.

So why would Gordon think a brown knitted jacket would resemble a wookie pelt? It's like suggesting that James Bond drinks cider, or that Lord of the Rings was underwritten. Pop culture 101, surely?

Embed and breakfast man: 1988's Festive Fifty

Of course, the countdown won't actually have very much suspense in it, as you could nip off and look up the tracks anywhere, but to celebrate the long weekend, we're heading back twenty years to explore the Festive Fifty, John Peel's annual end-of-year listener's poll. We'll bring you the top fifteen in its entirety (the odd cut-off being because number 16 is the first we can't find on YouTube) but, before we get there, here's some bubbling under:

50. Public Enemy - Night Of The Living Bassheads

Buy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

47. Darling Buds - Shame On You
Playing live in 1989

Buy: Pop Said

43. Mega City 4 - Miles Apart
From the tribute gig for Wiz, 2007

Buy: Inspiringly Titled

41 Loop - Collision

Buy: Wolf Flow: The Peel Sessions

The chart will build over the weekend
50 Public Enemy - Night Of The Living Bassheads
49 Wedding Present - Don't Laugh
48 Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck
47 Darling Buds - Shame On You
46 The Primitives - Crash
45 Pixies - Bone Machine
44 New Order - Fine Time
43 Mega City 4 - Miles Apart
42 The Flatmates - Shimmer
41 Loop - Collision
40 The Fall - Guest Informant

39 Pixies - River Euphrates
38 McCarthy - Should The Bible Be Banned?
37 Shalawambe - Samora Machel
36 The Fall - Jerusalem
35 Stump - Charlton Heston
34 Pooh Sticks - On Tape
33 James - What For
32 Spit - Road Pizza
31 Mudhoney - Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More
30 Pixies - Where Is My Mind

29 Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket
28 Overlord X - 14 Days In May
27 The Fall - Kurious Oranj
26 Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers
25 Billy Bragg - The Great Leap Forwards
24 The Fall - Big New Prinz
23 Morrissey - Disappointed
22 Morrissey - Late Night, Maudlin Street
21 Robert Lloyd and the New Four Seasons - Something Nice
20 Sugarcubes - Deus

19 Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot
18 House of Love - Love In A Car
17 My Bloody Valentine - Feed Me With Your Kiss
16 The Fall - Bremen Nacht

15 The Wedding Present - I'm Not Always So Stupid
14 The Fall - Cab It Up
13 Morrissey - Suedehead

12 Morrissey - Every Day Is Like Sunday
11 Inspiral Carpets - Keep The Circle Around
10 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Mercy Seat

9 House Of Love - Christine
8 The Wedding Present - Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now
7 Pixies - Gigantic
6 My Bloody Valentine - You Made Me Realise
5 Dinosaur Jr - Freak Scene
4 The Wedding Present - Take Me
3 The Jesus And Mary Chain - Sidewalking
2 The Wedding Present - Nobody's Twisting Your Arm
1 The House Of Love - Destroy The Heart

Would you like to meet young Blonde singles?

Putting a slight dent in the collectors market, The Long Blondes have rounded up their early 7" singles and are releasing them on a single record (or a single-click-to-buy-from-the-download-store-collection if you'd rather.)

Unlike Michael Jackson, they didn't poll people on the tracklist and have just bunged everything on there.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kerrang Awards: You've all done very well

Last night, at a venue that clearly couldn't be too fussy about dress code, the Kerrang Awards 2008 were given out.

So, who won what?

Best International Newcomer: Black Tide
Best British Newcomer: Slaves To Gravity

The future is looking rubbish, then.

Kerrang Icon Award: Trivium

Icon? Icon?

Best Video: Coheed And Cambria - Feathers

This is, perhaps, the most obscure collection of awards handed out this year. This is what happens when your readership retreats to its hardcore...

Best Single: 30 Seconds To Mars - The Kill

... well, up until a point

Best Album: Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold

They picked up this award from Cristina Scabbia, which is a bit like asking Michael Phelps to give out a ten metres swimming certificate.

Best Live Band: Machine Head

Enter Shikari won this last year. Much good it did them.

Classic Songwriter: Def Leppard

Ah, yes: "I suppose a rock's out the question". It's not a Kerrang award they should be getting, surely that sort of songwriter deserves the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square?

Spirit Of Independence: Dillinger Escape Plan

We have no idea what this award is meant to be rewarding them for. Is it that they paid for their own tickets?

Best British Band: Bullet For My Valentine

You can tell they're classy, as Jo Whiley voiceovers their ads.

Best International Band: 30 Seconds To Mars

That'll show EMI...

Hall of Fame: Rage Against The Machine

Happily being inducted into an award promoted by an international media conglomerate...

Inspiration: Metallica

Well, yes: they certainly inspired the RIAA a hell of a lot...

Sixteen, nervous and shy - and yours for $250

Thanks to MTV, there's been a push on parents to splash some serious money on their kids' sixteenth birthdays. To make it memorable, on the basis, presumably, that by the time their eighteenth comes round they won't be able to remember any celebration they take part in.

But how can you fund that sort of extravagance? Billy Ray Cyrus has had an idea - get the guests to fund the event. An email from James P explains:

It's been a while since the last Miley Cyrus story, so I thought I should send you this: Her 16th birthday is coming up, and she wants all her fans to celebrate with her. Well, all her fans with a spare $250 knocking around, anyway.

Apparently her parents, much like every other parent on the planet, have glared at that unshiftable stain in the living-room carpet, remembered the unpleasant discovery at the back of the airing cupboard two weeks after the last birthday party, and decided it might be better to hire out a venue this year, so that someone else can deal with the clear-up. Disneyland, to be precise.

"The Disneyland event will be called Miley's Sweet 16 - Share the Celebration and tickets that go on sale on 30 August are expected to sell fast", it says here.

That's 'Share the Celebration', using the word 'share' in its less well-known sense, 'Pay $250 to attend'. I'm not sure what $250 gets you beyond entrance to the venue (bit of cake wrapped in kitchen-roll which pulls off all the icing? Access to a bottle of Thunderbird?), or whether a second tier of tickets will go on sale for $100 which permit you to spend the whole event sitting sobbing in the kitchen. Maybe they'll knock off another $50 if you claim you're a mate of Miley's brother and wave a four-pack of Skol at the door. I'll keep an eye out...

Two things, of course: first - how cynical would you have to be to turn one of the milestones in your child's life into a money making event?

And secondly: Disneyland? For a sixteen year old? Seriously? What are you planning for her 18th, Billy? Chuck E Cheese and a clown?

The comeback

Everyone describes Gary Glitter as "disgraced ex-pop star", which seems a little unfair, as one of the few things about him that isn't disgraceful is his pop stardom. That, at least, he did pretty well.

Now, if you want to talk about someone who disgraced pop music suddenly coming back: well, Dido has decided she doesn't want to be known as Whatever happened to Dido? anymore and has a new album lined up. There's been no album from her for five years, and barely a murmur since she turned up at Live8.

X Factor contestant surprised at being on television

It is, of course, pretty cheap of the X Factor producers to try and exploit the Bridgend suicide cluster as a way of adding drama to their sideshow. Having said that, the reaction of Alexandra Davies, the 'girl from suicide town' is a bit surprising, too:

"I would much rather be known for the talent than the girl that comes from the suicide town. I didn't know I was going to be on television and didn't think I would be on as much as I was."

Leaving aside the question of how much you thought you'd be on if you didn't think it was going to be on at all, what did she think she was doing at the X factor auditioning if she didn't think she'd be on the television? What did she think the cameras were doing pointing at her? Did she just think that they weren't cameras - perhaps she figured that Simon Cowell has invented a kind of talent-sniffing robot with a giant eye?

Let's face it, if you know the X Factor well enough to want to go on it, you must have a pretty good idea that the early rounds are nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with how much you can cry on camera.

Doors slammed on Doors' appeal

The legal rumblings over the use of The Doors as a name for ex-Doors Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger when they toured with Ian Astbury have almost played themselves out: The Californian High Court have refused to hear the pair's appeal against a five million dollar judgement in favour of John Densmore, Jim Morrison's and Pamela Courson's parents.

The problem was with the use of the name and the logo:

"You can't call yourselves The Doors because you can't have The Doors without Jim Morrison," Densmore's attorney S. Jerome Mandel said.

Although, to be honest, you might wonder how Densmore is able to take action on behalf of the Doors when he doesn't have Jim Morrison either.

Something to listen to: XX Teens

While we're filling your ears: This week's Guardian Music Weekly features both the Wave Pictures and the XX Teens.

Something to listen to: Magnetic Fields

Over on You Ain't No Picasso, there's a chance to enjoy the recent Magnetic Fields gig at Cadogan Hall.

If only Noel had done his Amy Winehouse material at the festival

Dave - which is the name that UK TV G2 is living under as part of a witness protection programme - has been at the Edinburgh Festival in order to present an award for "the funniest joke of the festival". Surely Dave should be presenting an award for the funniest joke of last year's festival, but then present it again, and again, and again?

It's gone with a topical gag about Amy Winehouse. This might seem odd, as you might think that a topical joke will date very, very quickly indeed and it would be pointless to try and preserve it for posterity. But if you do think that, then, clearly, you're not in Dave's target audience.

Zoe Lyons' gag was this:

"I can't believe Amy Winehouse self-harms. She's so irritating she must be able to find someone to do it for her.

If that was the best joke told at the whole of Edinburgh, you have to feel sorry for people who bought tickets to other shows. They must be feeling as distraught as a Chinese company taking delivery of six thousand Liu Xiang: Champion tshirts.

Actually, it clearly wasn't the best joke at the festival, as Lyons' gag when she picked up the award was better:
"I am absolutely delighted to have won the award. I know self-harming is not funny but it's just a joke, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it."

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

See me, hear me, feel me

Just when you think all the possible music metrics have been exhausted, along comes fleshmap [NSFW], a visual depiction of mentions of body parts in various genres.

Tits, we learn, are mentioned in 0.47% of electronica lyrics; alt-rock songs have roughly a one in 2000 chance of mentioning dick and over ten per cent of R&B songs mention eyes. Gospel is very low on rude parts (unless you have a knee fetish) and we'd guess the 0.62% of lyrics which mention "ass" are actually talking donkeys.

How did Mel C celebrate the end of the fraught Spice Girls tour?

Congratulations to Mel C, who has just announced her pregnancy.

With all the Spices now having entered parenthood, the chilling prospect of a Lil'Spices tour in 2018 edges ever closer.

Daltrey: Against forced retirement

Roger Daltrey has called for an end to mandatory retirement at the age of 65. He is, you'll note, 64:

"It's criminal that people are being retired before they are ready to go.

"Many have so much to give but they never get the chance."

It's a good point. People who've been around for a long time are often belittled and treated as if they're in the way. It's almost like people have built their careers on singing about how they'd rather die than get old, isn't it?

Gordon in the morning: You leave my Noelie alone, you nasty man

It is, perhaps, no surprise that Gordon Smart sides with Noel Gallagher in the ongoing Jay-Z-Noel Gallagher spat. Jay-Z has made Noel a target on a track on the new album. Gordon is not impressed:

I WISH JAY-Z would stop banging on about his war of words with NOEL GALLAGHER.

At least Smart is wise enough to not pretend it's a battle of wits.
The Jiggaman is clearly intent on fanning the flames of ill feeling.

Gordon, of course, can't stand to see conflict and ill-feeling. You'll recall how he went out his way earlier this year to try and heal the rift between Cheryl and Ashley Cole, for example.

Incidentally, seeing Gordon use the name "Jiggaman" is spectacularly uncomfortable, isn't it? It's like Prince Charles calling people "my homies".
After Noel questioned the wisdom of having a hip hopper top the bill at Glasto, former drug dealer Jay-Z started his controversial headline show with a poorly sung cover of the Manc titans’ 1995 anthem.

Poorly sung? Really, Gordon? And what's with the "former drug dealer"? Given that - ahem - the "Manc titans" recorded a song which opened with the lines "all your dreams are made when you're chained to the mirror and the razorblade" it's a bit ill-advised to try and protect Noelie by suggesting that his nemesis might have got muddled up in drugs in the past.
Jockin’ Jay-Z is the first single to be lifted off the rapper’s forthcoming album The Blueprint 3.

“Jockin” means to insult.

Thanks for the helpful explanation, Gordon. Is "the Blueprint" some kind of devious streetslang, too?

Gordon has one last push:
The collection hits shops this autumn, around the time Noel and co return with the album Dig Out Your Soul.

Jay’s last CD, American Gangster, hardly set the charts alight.

I wonder which of the new ones will be better received by UK fans?

Gordon works for the Sun, it's no surprise he considers large sales to be equivalent to being morally in the right.
Well, phonelines were jammed when tickets for Oasis’s UK tour went on sale this week.

But make up your own mind.

Click here to buy music and videos from Oasis

That could, of course, be considered to be leading the witness.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

IFPI Hong Kong implodes

The Hong Kong branch of the IFPI - the international wing of the RIAA - has suddenly collapsed like a yeti going down an escalator. All four international majors have quit with plans to establish a local group to dance to their whims.

If there's no sense in Sony Hong Kong being part of an international body, what sense is there in Sony UK being part of the same group?

The nature of the fudge it's creating has been captured by Music 2dot0:

Our sources have clarified that the pull out is contained within the Hong Kong market only and the major labels’ international membership with the IFPI will continue while the IFPI’s satellite office in China will still represent the majors but in due course, it is expected that the majors will reel in China too.

Clear, huh?

Fall Out Boy release virus; lose control of it

Every sci-fi fan knows that if you think you can control the release of a virus, you're going to be very much mistaken. Pete Wentz, we have to conclude, isn't a sci-fi fan.

He (or, rather, the marketing team) had constructed a large-but-ultimately meaningless viral campaign for the next Fall Out Boy album. The virus, though, has been mutated by equally-uninspiring band Copeland, who set up a website with a typo URL to promote their next record, too.

Trouble is, Fall Out Boy fans don't take too kindly to people pointing out their deodorant-pushing hero might be less than perfect. Copeland, though, are denying they did anything malicious and reckon that Wentz would have done it if his people had had the idea:

"But, like I said, this wasn't done maliciously. And everything I've heard about Pete is that he's a marketing kind of guy; he's the king of making people talk and ruffling feathers, so he would've done the same thing if he could have. So if Fall Out Boy fans are mad about this whole thing, well, all I can say is that Pete would've done the same thing."

And Wentz? MTV asked him how he felt about his marketing campaign being hijacked. He was cross, but not at the hijacking:
"To me, this is not a marketing campaign. It is a way to cause excitement about your art and have people earn it and understand it. The campaign we began is not ultimately a record release or an announcement of a tour," he wrote in an e-mail. " '60---' [the name he's given the endeavor] has always been a project of a different nature. I don't believe the full campaign has begun, and I also believe people are taking over the ship in a truly viral way. It doesn't hurt anyone, and hopefully it tells the story of the project better and makes it more appreciated."

It's "not a marketing campaign", then. In the same way those calls carrying out a survey asking "if you could have your windows replaced for free how many would you have done" isn't a marketing campaign, either.

And another replacement for Muxtape appears...

It really is like Medusa, isn't it? The RIAA chops off one head, and about three dozen others spring up in its place. Take, for example, Mixwit, which combines all the things Muxtape did with a Twitter-like interface. And a customisable picture of a compact cassette.

[Thanks to Michael M]

I know you should never look too closely at spam

But you have to wonder exactly what goes through their minds sometimes: What training does one do to become lesbian? And is there a possibility of it becoming an Olympic sport?

Aha. As I write this, I get another - "Zac Effron buys Britney Spears' farts".

Iceland? Maybe if it's a special occasion: Katona's bankrupt

If it wasn't such a tragedy, it would be amusing. Kerry Katona was declared bankrupt today after the HMRC failed to receive her last payment of back taxes. The amusing part?

She was not in court to hear her representative, Luke Harris, ask the registrar to put the matter back again.

Mr Harris said funds were available but cheques had not been cleared in time, but said as soon as the money was ready it would be brought to court and handed over.

Yes, she actually tried the "I'm waiting for funds to clear - could you lend me a fiver until tomorrow? Actually, best make it a tenner..." technique. It's not clear if Mr. Harris theatrically patted his pockets before muttering about how his wallet was definitely there when he left the house.
[W]hen called back just before 1300 BST, Mr Harris said he was "not in a position to assist further".

Although there's a chap down his club who owes him fifty, and if you could lend him another ten for the taxi down, he'll be able to pay you in full.

Lock, stock and barrel and Waterman

Given that Pete Waterman has done some incredible pop-related things, it's surprising that he still also feels the need to cast a Jimmy Saville style net of invention over things he was only tangentially involved with. For example, in today's Guardian, he claims ownership of black and white checks, pork pie hats, and amusing hitch-hiking cameos in videos:

[E]verybody forgets I have done some quite ground-breaking music. I managed the Specials, started that whole 2 Tone movement, but I don't worry about it.

And, it's true - up to a point - he did manage the Specials for a while. But did he "start" the whole movement? The exhaustive website describes his involvement with the Specials as "mercifully brief" and quotes him as saying:
Terry Hall taught me an important lesson as a record producer; Terry can't sing. But what he does have is an unusual voice and the public love an unusual voice.

In other words, The Specials' debt to Waterman is perhaps less than Waterman's to the Specials.

Apparently, Cliff has problems with Waterman being on his CV:
Cliff Richard once told me that he has defended working with me more than he's defended his belief in God.

That could be, though, because although Christianity has caused war, carnage, suffering and pain; division, distrust and disgust; and demanded faith at the point of a sword and upon pain of an eternal damnation, Christianity has never, yet, been responsible for the career of Sonia.

[Thanks to James M for the link]

Jackson attempts to get into the closet

You'd have thought that, if you were most famous for having a "wardrobe malfunction", you might not be the best person to head up a clothing brand. Janet Jackson is going to give it a try, though, flogging sexy undies.

She's calling her pants and bras line The Pleasure Principle, after one of her hits. There are currently no plans in place for a range of chastity belts called Let's Wait A While.

Morrissey talking about music

Sometimes, you have to admit, it would be wonderful if Morrissey restricted himself to talking about music rather than business or the accents he hears in Kensington. Because when he talks about music, you could almost forgive him anything:

"When music happens to you and grabs you and jumps on top of you you don’t realize that it will stay with you forever. You think you’ll outgrow everything. But with music, with artists, you actually fall in love. You fall in love with that moment...and you fall in love with them. You may push these things aside for 10 or 15 years, but you go back to them."

Although, he could add, sometimes you find you just have to move on.

Napster cuts prices

A sign that Napster is starting to struggle: it's offering a price cut in the face of falling subscriber numbers. PaidContent reports:

When Napster’s (NSDQ: NAPS) Q308 subscription numbers are released, remember the mid-August sale promotion offering 6 months for $70 instead of the usual $127—a discount of more than 45 percent—complete with 50 downloads of MP3s that can be kept.

While it's great that Napster's offer finally seems to register that people would really much prefer to have something to keep forever in return for their cash, isn't it going to just point out that most of the music you pay for vanishes if you mention that "I'm also gonna give you fifty mp3s all for your very own, forever..."?

Perhaps someone needs to mention lip-synching

It's not entirely fair, but someone has posted what they claim to be Britney Spears' live microphone stream from one of her Vegas gigs. It's not pretty.

Gordon in the morning: Chop, chop, busy, busy, work, work, bang, bang

Strap yourself in, as Gordon reports Coldplay are going warp factor:

Coldplay to rush release new album

Quick, everybody! Down to Waitrose to queue! A new Coldplay album!

Just how quick will this album be, Gordon? Will it be in time for Christmas?
COLDPLAY are plotting a surprise album which could appear little more than a year after Viva La Vida conquered the planet.

Oh. So "little more than a year". Let's say fourteen months, then.

Gordon, if you think an album every fourteen months is rushing, I'd hate to see how you cope with deadlines. But then "Coldplay adopting the sort of annual album-tour-album pattern common in the music industry" isn't quite as exciting, is it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gedge takes along the Earlimart

More 'maybe it's time to go and live in the US' fodder: Earlimart have been confirmed as support for the Wedding Present's US and Canada dates. Which are these:

September 18 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
September 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
September 21 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
September 23 – Eugene, OR @ John Henrys
September 24 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
September 25 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
September 26 – Vancouver, Canada @ Media Club

'Space discoveries

Another surprising comeback: Bailterspace have been quiet for the last few years but are now back - or at least they are in the States.

For the rest of us, we'll have to make do with the YouTubes:

RIAA: "We killed Muxtape, and we're darn proud of it"

Ars Technica is reporting that the RIAA is cheerfully admitting that it forced the closure of Muxtape, citing "the sound of people enjoying music" as its reason. Oh, alright, then:

"For the past several months, we have communicated concerns to Muxtape on behalf of our members," the spokesperson told Ars. "Muxtape has not yet obtained authorization from our member companies to host or stream copies of their sound recordings."

And is the RIAA trying to find a solution to the problem of killing off yet another initiative that was introducing people to new music?

Not really, no:
The RIAA says it has been in communication with the site over the past several months over the getting the "illegal content" taken down. In order to get the RIAA's official blessing, Muxtape would likely have to sign a licensing agreement and begin paying royalties à la and Pandora. An agreement would dissipate the legal gray cloud hanging over Muxtape, but the royalty burden may well prove onerous, as industry stalwarts like Pandora are considering closing up shop due to the high royalty rates demanded by rightsholders.

So many people will go elsewhere; others will just listen to a little less music. Nobody wins.

Slipknot slip, not playing Reading

Slipknot have pulled out of Reading/Leeds, after realising that it's 2008. Sorry, that should be after Joey broke his ankle:

To Our Fans:
It is with huge regret and disappointment that we have been forced to cancel our imminent festival appearances at Leeds and Reading. The other night, Joey Jordison broke his ankle and doctors have advised Joey to stay off his leg for 4-6 weeks to prevent further injury or permanent and more serious damage.

We know you will be hugely disappointed and so are we. Cancelling shows is never an easy decision and we apologize to all our fans, friends and family for not being there to throw down with you.


Presumably their family, though, aren't going to be quite as disappointed? Unless they only have access rights during festival season?

Wiltshire Police: fear of music

Bucks Fizz won acclaim in Europe with the instruction that you gotta speed it up, then you've gotta slow it down.

Luckily, they didn't try to pull that in Wiltshire, as it was the speeding up and slowing down which led a panicked Wiltshire Police to force magistrates to ban Babyshambles from Moonfest:

Police were afraid security was not strong enough to contain the 5,000 set to attend.

They feared the band's tendency to "speed up and then slow down the music" could create a "whirlpool effect" and spark disorder.

A whirlpool effect? Sucking in everything for miles around? You can see why they want to stop that from happening.

It's not, stress the Wiltshire Force, that they're against fun:
Superintendent Paul Williams, of Wiltshire Police, said the application had come following Doherty's solo performance at London's Royal Albert Hall which was marred by crowd trouble.

He said: "It is very unusual for the Royal Albert Hall to have to request police assistance, which on that occasion they did.

"He (Doherty) just whipped up the crowd and there was disorder.

"We are not killjoys and we help organisers with many events throughout the year and some are much larger than this one."

Not, of course, that they have these dangerous whirlpools.
Chief Superintendent Julian Kirby added: "We carried out an analysis of what Pete Doherty and his band does.

"What he does as part of his routine is to gee up the crowd. They speed up and then slow down the music and create a whirlpool effect in the crowd.

"They (the crowd) all get geed up and then they start fighting."

Geeing up the crowd, eh? Clearly, if you want to play Wiltshire, you should avoid making any sort of excitement within the crowd.

Perhaps answering their own question

The Times website conjoins two stories, with a question that might look upwards for the answer "because you see what happens when they dont..."

For those who are keeping up, Glitter has now been turned away from Hong Kong.

The IOC might want to put their fingers in their ears again

The International Olympics Committee - whose response to questions about if China is really opening up like it promised when it was given the Olympics is, pretty much, to stare out the window and hum until the question goes away - might want to ignore this, too: having heard that athletes were downloading pro-Tibet songs from iTunes, the new, cuddly, open-to-question Chinese government, erm, blocked iTunes:

On Monday, expatriate iTunes users living in China began experiencing technical problems with their previously unfettered access.

That was the same day the US-based Campaign for Tibet organisation claimed on its website that "over 40 Olympic athletes in North America, Europe and even Beijing" had downloaded the album.

Apple's customer forums contain numerous examples where users have complained about experiencing these technical problems.

But, hey... did you see the fireworks? Did you? Have you seen the swimming? LOOK AT THE SWIMMING. JUST LOOK AT THE SWIMMING.

We're given to understand that the Chinese authorities have yet to bother with blocking the Zune Store.

Everett True upsets an entire country

I used to carry a massive grudge against Everett True, on the basis of a review of The Charlottes he wrote for Melody Maker that I considered had unfairly slighted the band. It was several years later that I found a clipping of the offending review, only to discover that rather than being the cruel trashing I'd recalled, it was just a mild rebuke.

I suppose I'm lucky that this was in the pre-internet era, otherwise I might have instantly sent him an ill-considered vituperative email.

Now Everett has managed to upset not just the fans of The Charlottes, but the much larger category of 'everyone in Australia'. He wrote a blog for The Guardian's music website where he pointed out that not every Australian band brings honour upon their homelands, and has, for his efforts, been rewarded with being turned into some sort of hate figure. Line-by-line denunciations in The Age; burning of True in effigy on Ramsay Street; the revelation that his real name is Mr. T. Legend, that sort of thing:

The Courier-Mail story ran the following day, on page seven (just behind the ubiquitous Olympics), with an accompanying editorial from the paper's music critic - disrespectfully, it was given more prominence than the story of Isaac Hayes dying. It was also posted on the internet, alongside similar stories in the Courier-Mail's sister papers in Perth, Melbourne, West Australia...and, most particularly, on Courier-Mail's parent site.

The Charlottes didn't last much beyond True's judgement. If we were Australia, we'd be worried.

Dick and gone

That difficult jump to not-kids-TV anymore is still proving difficult for Dick And Dom, who are even as we speak tidying things up at their Radio One desks. They've been axed in the latest round of weekend changes, which sees Nick Grimshaw being promoted to take over breakfasts and Nihal moves to weekend afternoons.

While we're on this: what's with the drip, drip of the new schedule over a series of weeks? Couldn't they have just decided everything in advance and then announced it in one big burst? It's not like there's so much going on the media would have been uncertain how to proceed ("should we lead on Nick Grimshaw's new show, or is Dave Pearce heading off to new pastures the key element?") Are we to expect a new weekday schedule to slowly reveal itself over the next two months?

Noteworthy: while in the last schedule change, the Radio One departees offered positive-sounding quotes to the BBC Press Office, neither Dick nor Dom seemed to be available for comment.

Money for old stope

Could there be value in that stuff which you'd normally be shucking off to landfill? If there's a vague celebrity conenction, you could be quids in. A company called Marquee Capital is looking to create an investment opportunity in high-grade celebrity memorabilia, with a strong focus on Madonna.

It'll take anything with a value - Gary Glitter's old teaspoons, Richard from the Verve's uncollected dry cleaning - but mainly, yes, it's suggesting you invest your pension scheme in stuff Madonna has touched. Why?:

* Continued Popularity, Appeal and Diverse Fan Base – she has successfully been able to continuously reinvent herself, ensuring longevity in an otherwise ruthless industry
* Achievements and Success – she is the most successful female music artist of all time and continues to flourish
* Diversity – she is not only a renowned singer/song writer, but Madonna has authored 5 children’s books, won a Golden Globe award for her role in Evita and more recently, designed a range of clothing for the retail chain H&M
* Supply / Demand Imbalance – the demand for genuine Madonna memorabilia outstrips the supply available; genuine Madonna memorabilia rarely come up in auctions – when they do become available, the increase in bidding activity drives the values up

The "otherwise ruthless industry" bit is interesting, suggesting that she has a kind of Daniel In The Lion's Den aspect to her.

Still: it makes sense, doesn't it? Madonna stuff will probably continue to grow in value, at least for the next few years (although long-term, we'd still suggest bricks and mortar would be less risky.)

So, the rest of the people whose discarded stuff is being invested in are equally top-notch, then?

Well, except Goldie Hawn, perhaps. And I'm not sure I'd want to gamble my plans for a comfortable old age on a part-share in Latoya Jackson's used leather trousers.

Marling on tour

Hurrah - some Laura Marling tour dates:

Glasgow Arts School (01 November)
Leeds Brudenell (02)
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (04)
Portsmouth Wedgewood (05)
Bristol Trinity Arts Centre (07)
Manchester Club Academy (08)
Birmingham Glee Club (09)
London Scala (11)

Expect this sort of thing, then:

(Recorded live at the Paradiso; there's also a second part on the YouTube.

Darkness at 3AM: Up for the cup

The 3AM team have wandered onto the Olympics beat:

Gwyneth Paltrow inspired Chinese athletes with cupping

Well, that would explain the tight shorts they're wearing this year.

Oh, hang on: not that sort of cupping:
The actress seems to have inspired the Chinese athletes at the Beijing Olympics with her love of cupping - an alternative form of acupuncture.

Four years ago Gwynnie caused a stir when she stepped out with bright indentations on her back caused by the treatment.

We're told: "Cupping has become really popular with Chinese runners.

"Gwyneth was its most famous fan and it now seems sport has sat up and taken notice."

Yes. The Chinese have copied acupuncture from Gwyneth Paltrow. That makes perfect sense.

Slip-knot our fault

It's grimly amusing the way that bands who base their image on murder and death and fear and misery suddenly start backtracking when they suddenly get linked to actual murder and death. It happened with Marilyn Manson over Columbine; now, Slipknot are desperately trying to disassociate themselves from a murder in South Africa where the lad who stabbed four people with a sword while wearing a "Slipknot" mask:

Yesterday, a representative of the label representing Slipknot told The Times the band had no comment.

Declining to provide her name, the woman at Roadrunner Records said: “We’ve had no confirmation that it was, in fact, a Slipknot mask. The band is not going to respond.”

It's odd that they have so much to say about mayhem normally, but come over queasy when it's suddenly all real.

It's too simplistic to 'blame' music for people's behaviour, but if you don't want to find yourself being asked awkward questions about stabbings, perhaps you shouldn't dress up a serial killers and throw entrails about in the first place? If you're serious about shining a light into the darkest areas of the human psyche, why do you squeal and go into hiding when it gets reflected back?

Saxobit: LeRoi Moore

The saxophonist LeRoi Moore, a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, has died.

Born Gary Lee Moore in North Carolina, LeRoi was a classically-trained musician who had command of a wide range of instruments: bass, baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones; and the flute, bass clarinet and wooden penny whistle. He was working as a jazz musician in Charlottesville when approached by Dave Matthews to form a band in 1991; LeRoi's contribution went further than just providing performances, as he also arranged the band's music from Matthews' ideas.

Moore suffered an accident on an ATV on his farm in June; although he had appeared to be on the road to recovery he went back into hospital in mid-July and, according to the Dave Matthews Band website, had recently returned to LA to undergo physical rehabilitation.

Moore was 46. As part of the DMB, he had shared in a 1997 Grammy for best song, So Much To Say.

Gordon in the morning: Me and Mr McGee

Today, as happens from time to time, Gordon has a cracking story. Not, perhaps, so cracking that it justifies the 300-odd days a year when he doesn't, but it's only fair enough to applaud today's mind-warping story about Bob Geldof hearing the news that Peaches was getting married.

What makes it such a strange tale is who he was with:

Sir Bob dealt with the news in a way few would have predicted – through the medium of dance. The Live Aid legend hit the dancefloor on holiday in Majorca after a few sangrias.

Not only that, his dance partner was the man who discovered OASIS, godfather of cool ALAN McGEE. And the choice of music? Er, High School Musical. Shameful.

A source said: “Sir Bob took the call from Peaches on a holiday with Alan."

Alan McGee? On a package tour with Bob Geldof? The same Alan McGee who was poking fun at Kevin Shields for his nostalgic cabaret?

And, the story is topped with a cracking headline, too:
Dancing on the beaches getting over Peaches

Fair enough. That's worth reading. Let's hope it's the start of a golden era of Alan McGee related gossips.

The secret diary of Mark Frith

Another dip into the sound of selves being justified as we open up Mark Frith's Heat editing diary:

The front page of today's Mirror shows Kate Moss appearing to snort cocaine at a recording session with her boyfriend Pete Doherty.

Yes, it's a good story, but surprising? I don't think so. Heat won't be running anything on it. Our readers are not interested in this horrible couple.

The Heat audience are surprisingly specific, aren't they?

Mikey and Gracey from Big Brother? Pull up a chair. Peter Andre and Jordan? We're all agog. Paris Hilton? What have you got? Kate Moss and Pete Doherty? God, do you think we're interested in them? What must you think of us?

It's not like they're interested in gossip about famous people or anything.

Glitter shines on public policy

Just now, on Today, James Naughtie challenged Jacqui Smith over the timing of the Home Office announcement of plans for tighter restrictions on international travel for people convicted of sexual offences against children. Isn't this, he wondered, merely a knee-jerk style reaction to the release of Gary Glitter.

"Cases like this" replied the Home Secretary "highlight the questions we should be asking."

That would be a "yes", then.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bossanovaobit: Dorival Caymmi

Dorival Caymmi, Brazilian music pioneer, has died. The 94 year-old enjoyed a six-decade career, helping create and shape the bossa nova sound during the 1930s and 40s.

Like a surprising number of musical greats, Caymmi's first plan was to try and find work as a journalist, thereby reversing the claim that music journalists are just frustrated musicians. The long-term strategy - of eventually becoming a lawyer - was abandoned as he quickly became successful in music. He was helped a great deal by his work being picked up by Carmen Miranda.

Caymmi's last recorded work came four years ago; he died on Saturday following multiple organ failure.

Record labels more obsolete than earlier today

One of the great things about record labels, though, is that they provide a vital physical infrastructure. Sure, anyone can publish online but getting a record into a shop? That's quite a big deal. There'll always be room for labels, as it's not like anyone is going to make releasing physical product as simple as putting stuff online, is it?

Oh. That's what Discmakers are claiming they're going to do:

Disc Makers has launched Elite Artist Services, a new imprint that will make it even easier for established artists to strike out on their own. Disc Makers, one of the industry's most popular CD and DVD manufacturers, has said that the Elite service will provide the infrastructure necessary for artists to manufacture, market and distribute their CDs and downloads without the help of major label. Elite will even offer graphic design, packaging, mastering, warehouse storage and merchandise for their clients. The service will also offer download sales through the artists' website, iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody.

Doubtless the RIAA are desperately looking for some evidence of how this could be sued out of existence. Let's hope we get a similar service in the UK.

After Muxtape? Cross the tracks

Well done, the RIAA! Closing Muxtape was an act of genius. That'll stop people enjoying themselves at your expense.

Oh... hang on, it won't, will it? Apparently everyone's simply decamping to 8Tracks instead. Oops.

Oh no! Walkman walks online

From the ever-growing lever arch file in which I shove stories about "leaks" of stuff online that clearly are the first stage of a marketing campaign orchestrated by a naive PR company - it's got a picture of Paris Hilton stuck on the front, since you ask: Sony has somehow allowed photos of the new Walkman range to slide onto the internet.

Obviously, we're only judging on looks, but it seems like the design brief was "come up with something for people who think the Zune is too stylish..."

The struggle for Sony is that they seem to be wedded to the Walkman brand name - even although it means nothing to anyone younger than Cliff Richard; and for those of us old enough to remember what Walkman was can't hear the name without picturing a tape player. Calling your mp3 player the Walkman would have been like calling the original walkman a stereogram or something.

Folkobit: Ronnie Drew

As has been pointed out in the comments, we've fallen behind by not providing an obituary for Ronnie Drew sooner.

Born in 1934, Drew fled Ireland as a teenager - or, rather, he fled the prospect of being locked into a dull job for the length of his life. He arrived in Spain, where in-between waiting jobs, he learned to play flamenco guitar and speak some "arsewards" Spanish; on his return home, he tried acting but settled on music as a career in the late 1950s.

Drew is one of those rare creatures in popular music, a singer who dropped his name from the title of his band rather than adding it in. He founded the band which would go on to be known as the Dubliners as The Ronnie Drew Group in 1962; the change of name was inspired by the James Joyce book. Alongside John Sheahan Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly and Ciarán Bourke, Drew would become a member of the definitive Irish folk group and - besides a touring-bored five year hiatus from 1974 - he'd remain in the group until 1996.

Following his final split with the Dubliners, Drew recorded a number of solo and collaborative works, but in recent years his time was taken up more and more by the results of his failing health - he'd become wracked with cancer of the throat. Earlier this year, a supergroup of his admirers recorded a tribute-cum-benefit single The Ballad Of Ronnie Drew. Amongst those taking part were Bono, Joe Elliot, Christy Moore and Sinead O'Connor. It's a measure of the affection for the man in his home country that the single bounded to the top of the Irish chart.

Although anxious in the face of death, he drew comfort from his philosophy of life, as recorded in the Irish Times:

"The way I looked at it was that you can't always wait for the green man to cross the road. Sometimes you have to go when it's red - to get to the other side."

Drew - who died on the 16th - was buried today in Greystones, County Wicklow. 3,000 mourners attended, overfilling not just the small church but also the official overspill area in the village hall.

Here is a YouTube clip of one of the dozens of collaborations Ronnie recorded during his career both with and after his Dubliners years: with Christy Moore on RTE's Late Late Show in 1987, singing Black Velvet Band:

And, from much, much earlier - this is the Ronnie Drew Band before they changed their name to The Dubliners, on a programme called Ballad Sheet. This is The Leaving Of Liverpool:

Leto: Don't look at my dirty pants

Poor Jared Leto. It's clear that his band have been hit with the lawsuit from Virgin as a reminder across all EMI artists that there are new rules in place, and Guy Hands is not Guy Handsoutmoneywillynilly.

Even so, that's no comfort for Jared, who must now battle the forces of Virgin and fight for truth. To the MySpace, Jared:

We had been signed to our record contract for 9 years. Basically, under California law, where we live and signed our deal, one cannot be bound to a contract for more than 7 years. This is widely known by all the record companies and has been for years. In fact, so aware of it are they that they desperately try to make deals outside of California whenever possible. It is a law that protects people from lengthy, unfair, career-spanning contracts. This law also gave us the legal right to explore other possible opportunities.

He has right on his side!
Yes we have been sued by EMI. But NOT for failing to deliver music or for 'quitting'. We have been sued by the corporation quite simply because roughly 45 days ago we exercised our legal right to terminate our old, out of date contract, which, according to the law is null and void.

We terminated for a number of reasons, which we won't go into here (we'd rather not air any dirty laundry) but basically our representatives could not get EMI to agree to make a fair and reasonable deal.

He's not going to air dirty laundry, but can he just stress that it's EMI being unfair and unreasonable? Not to go public with it, especially how UNFAIR and ROTTEN EMI are.
If you think the fact that we have sold in excess of 2 million records and have never been paid a penny is pretty unbelievable, well, so do we. And the fact that EMI informed us that not only aren't they going to pay us AT ALL but that we are still 1.4 million dollars in debt to them is even crazier. That the next record we make will be used to pay off that old supposed debt just makes you start wondering what is going on. Shouldn't a record company be able to turn a profit from selling that many records? Or, at the very least, break even? We think so.

Leto was 26 and had worked in Hollywood for a good few years when he signed the deal - sure, anyone can get screwed by a label; but if Leto can't get a decent deal, then what hope does a small band have?
That, and other issues, like the new regime at EMI firing most of the people we know and love, wanting to place advertisements on our website, EMI owning 100 percent of the masters of our record...forever, and basically having a revolving door of regimes at the company made it easy to not want to continue as is.

I may be being unfair to Leto here, but I'm not sure I heard a single murmur from him before about the new EMI regime until they started to sue him?
FYI Virgin/EMI was not required to make this lawsuit public or to list such an egregiously and stupendously large amount of mullah. In fact, they were not required to set any price even close to this. We did not want to take this public, but we felt it best to explain our point of view to you, our
friends and fans, in hope that you can better understand our point of view.

This laundry, which we won't wash in public, we didn't want to be here washing this stuff. Leto seems to be accepting here, in passing, that Virgin did have a right to list some sort of demand for cash. And how did Leto expect them to issue legal proceedings without it being public? In some magical Harry Potter style invisible courtroom?
We would always do our best to avoid a fight, but sometimes it's important to stand up for what you believe in. We hope that by doing what's right we can help to change things for the better, for ourselves and possibly others.

Cry God For Jared, Mars and the ones who aren't Jared Leto in the band! We must stand up for what's right, albeit in this case it's breaking a contract with a record label.

It's interesting to note, though, that despite EMI treating the band so badly, they're still advertising the albums for sale on their MySpace. That's awfully good-natured of them.

Still, it can't be long now before victory is theirs. They have appealed to their fans, through MySpace, and the complex niceties of Californian contract law, surely, won't be lost on them...
♥Britt-nee♥ [sm] [echelon] happy b-day joe!

oh my gosh! 30 million!!! dude, thats freakin crazy! and what the heck is a regime? you said it like 3 times and i was like what is that? haha. i know ur probably not even gonna read this but i just wanted to see if you would tell me what it is.

switch to warner bros. they are better.
Blue Hippo[wootoow]

that is most definitely a lot of money.....thats stupid......well at least you aren't quiting so that is awesome though......wootoow

It might not be much, but Guy Hands hasn't even got people wootoowing for him.

The secret diary of Mark Frith

Time, once again, to open the diary of Mark Frith. This time, we find Mark publishing stickers mocking a severely disabled child, despite - as he cheerfully admits - his colleagues having told him they didn't think it was a good idea.

Mark attempts to set up his justification early. In an entry which predates his sticker calamity, he mentions that Jordan did an interview about her kid:

While most celebrities are protective of their children, it's in Jordan's interest to be public about them.

You see? It's her, she put them in the public domain. Her! Her! HER!

Frith explains what he means by "in her interest" - "she makes a fortune out of posing with them" - but does he mean that otherwise nobody would write about her? That's clearly not true, as his magazine never finds reasons to ignore a Jordan story if it can.

He then points out that Jordan can sometimes see that aspects of Harvey's behaviour can be amusing:
She makes a fortune from posing with them and in our interview she speaks a lot about him - particularly his food intake and weight.

It can't be easy for her but she's very funny about it. 'Sometimes I ask: "Do you love Mummy?" He says: "No." Then I say: "Do you love cake?" He instantly says: "Yes." '

So, there's his justification set up. Forward, now, to November:
The stickers are due at the printers when one of my team interjects.

'Some of us have a real problem with the Harvey one. People will take offence and we shouldn't do it.'

'No one will take offence. Everyone knows Jordan is always joking about the amount he eats. Leave it in. It'll be fine.'

So, Mark doesn't actually see there's a difference between a mother saying of her own child "he says the funniest things sometimes; he said he loves cake" and a commercial magazine giving its readers stickers that say "Harvey wants to eat me." Frith even attempts to say the sticker is "a reference to the interviews she gives the Press about her son's ravenous food intake" rather than a reference to the child being quite large for his age.

Forward another couple of weeks, and Frith is starting to have slight - only slight - doubts:
The new issue is back from the printers. There's still disquiet about the Harvey sticker and, seeing it in the middle of the magazine, I'm starting to worry. It feels all wrong.

But isn't the editor's job to twig this sort of "all wrongness" in the first place?

You'll note he doesn't say it is wrong - just that it feels all wrong. He also doesn't say sorry:
There has been a lot of criticism about the Harvey sticker - from the media and readers.

I seek advice and am told I must write a letter to Jordan, and have a statement prepared for any media outlet that wants a comment.

He "seeks advice"; he's told to "write a letter". No word of contrition yet.
Today's Times has a piece on Jordangate under the headline: The Lowest Point In British Journalism.

In 1989, The Times' sister newspaper, The Sun, ran an article about the Hillsborough football disaster and alleged that Liverpool fans had picked the pockets of victims and urinated on police officers as they tended to the dying and injured.

The Sun had to admit that none of the allegations were true. They apologised, yet even now there are large sections of Liverpool where newsagents still refuse to stock it.

But, according to The Times, our sticker was worse than that.

A big mistake? Undoubtedly. A misjudgment on my part? Guilty as charged. The lowest point in British journalism? I don't think so. Still, the pressure on me is mounting.

So, it's a "misjudgement" - at least he goes that far - and then lumbers into another misjudgement by trying to justify his actions by comparing them to something one of his critic's sister papers did twenty years ago.

And, yes, the Sun's Hillsborough coverage was shocking. But, on the other hand, you published - as a giveaway - a sticker for readers to decorate their belongings with which featured a jibe at a disabled child.

You're right, of course, Frith, the Times was wrong to say it was the lowest point in British journalism. But only because this isn't journalism, it's just turning people into freakshows.

Yesterday, we heard how Frith justified his cruelty towards Leslie Ash when she was at a low point in her life by suggesting it's what his readers would be doing anyway. You'd have thought if he really believed in that as an excuse, he'd be deploying it here, too, wouldn't you? It's almost as if he knows in his heart that there are just some things you might hear on the streets that shouldn't be given the dignity of print - even the spurious dignity of Heat - but can't quite bring himself to admit it.

Noel: Oasis like no Oasis you've ever heard before

With a new Oasis album lumbering into view, it's surely time for Noel Gallagher to tell us that this time round, instead of the lumpenlennonisms of the last albums, this is going to be a whole different beast.

Yes, it's time:

"It's not Britpop, let's put it that way. It's not our usual thing," he explained. "It's just really exciting, three of the tracks have got two drummers on, me and Zak [Starkey] playing drums. Some of it sounds a bit glam. There's no pop singles on it. I'd be amazed if anything else gets on the radio past the first single."

Two drummers, you say? Like Rialto, then?

We love Noel's suggestion that something "a bit glam" might make it hard for Oasis to get airplay. Ooh! Careful there.

Still, you've got to almost feel sorry for a man who makes a fuss in 2008 because he's just now made an album that might not stick to a Britpop template. But will there be any tunes you can hum? Or bellow along to down the pub? Will there be songs to bash out on the joanna down the Bull and Bush? On the old pianer... anna...

The UK building industry theme-time radio hour

Somewhat oddly, Tim Wheeler (not the one out of Ash) has tried to explain the current state of the UK property market by, erm, quoting Bob Dylan:

Tim Wheeler, chief executive of Brixton, turned to Bob Dylan on Tuesday to help explain the outlook for the UK property market.

Mr Wheeler said the opening lines of the American songwriter’s All Along the Watchtower “seem to capture the beleaguered mindset of the UK commercial real estate market”.

The song, more famously recorded by Jimi Hendrix, says of land that none “know what any of it is worth”.
Mr Wheeler said that the fundamental problem was how to assess property values when “there is no real depth of buyers and sellers”. Referring to the lines in the song, “there must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief,” he said “if the ‘thieves’ are the funded or equity based opportunist buyers and the ‘jokers’ are the owners who won’t sell, there is ‘no way’ out of this impasse – yet.”

Wheeler's head actually exploded when he attempted to find a line in the song that could be used to illustrate the idea that by not committing to a stamp duty holiday, Alistair Darling has made the problem worse.

The secret diary of Mark Frith

Hard though it may be to believe, the Mail is running a third day of Mark Frith's diaries.

Mark is opening his Christmas cards:

No matter how well things are going, there are Ricky Gervais's Christmas cards to put you in your place.

Last year it was: 'Dear people in charge of fame. Merry Xmas. PS: I have a picture of a celebrity with a pimple. If you magnify it, you could fill a couple of pages. Do I get any money?'

This year he's gone for: 'To all Heat readers, May you find happiness and something better to do with your time in the New Year. Love, Ricky Gervais.'

This is, actually, one of the most fascinating things I've read - Ricky Gervais, desperately trying to distance himself from the whole celebrity merry-go-round, but not so far he's not going to not send Heat a Christmas card; the editor of Heat, knowing that the card is an uncomfortable attempt to simultaneously embrace and yet keep dignity , suggesting that the messages undercut him, but still using them to bolster how important he is.

Muxtape nixed

Muxtape had been giving people a new, interesting way of interacting with music - taking it as something more than just a vast, undifferentiated sludge of tracks and creating something careful and crafted, on a par with the mixtapes of the past.

It was only a matter of time before the RIAA blundered in. The site is currently closed, although there is a hopeful message on the Muxtape blog:

No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned.

Beta users of Muxtape For Bands: you are unaffected by this outage.

For the moment, though, the front of Muxtape reads:
Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.

Gordon in the morning: Barry Norman makes his own pickled onions

Now, it could be that Guy Ritchie's new film RocknRolla is a brilliant movie. But the decision to give first sight to the soft-landing of the easily-impressed Gordon Smart doesn't bode well.

Of course, Smart - delighted to have been asked to see it - gives it a great big gush:

GUY RITCHIE’s brilliant new gangster movie RocknRolla is about to hit our cinemas.

And on Friday night I had the pleasure of being one of the first to see it.

I spent the evening in the company of a millionaire Russian, some Cockney gangsters, a sexy, corrupt accountant, a charming Scottish thug and some junkies.

No, no - not the Showbiz Squad. In the movie, you see.
If that wasn’t enough for a decent night out, Guy had a beer with me to toast his latest movie.

Why, you might wonder, that odd construction of the sentence of "to toast his latest movie"? Simply to stack up the headline:
Rolla toaster

Gordon attempts to explain what he's so excited about. Not hanging out with the man who sometimes has sex with Madonna, oh no. It's the film:
Russians buying up top London property with their deep pockets is Guy’s latest interest.

A serious worry for Guy - if the Russians start buying up property, what will be left for his wife to hoover up?
One of the best things is that the film has a To Be Continued ending, so a cast of criminals are ready to be unleashed again.

Apparently Guy has "sketched out" plans for a pair of sequels - which sounds more detailed than the finished plot of Snatch.

Elsewhere, it's almost as if Smart has started parodying himself. Yesterday, you'll recall, he was praising Noel Gallagher for enjoying a takeaway. Today, he's having a go at Kanye West for appearing to have enjoyed a takeaway:
KANYE WEST is opening a chain of burger joints in Chicago and, judging by this snap of the rapper in Hawaii, he’s been testing the menu.

The long-lens, utterly pointless snap, barely shows a belly at all. I suppose the kindest thing you can say is that it's equitable of Gordon to pay as much attention to half-naked men as he does to half-naked women:
His rap rival 50 CENT goes out of his way to show off his six-pack. This’ll be why Kanye doesn’t.

Or perhaps a little more attention.

New Bloc Party album gets closer

The third Bloc Party album - that legendarily difficult third album - is about to be live. It's called Intimacy, and while you have to wait until the back end of October if you want a physical copy, it's being sold from from Thursday.

Yes. This Thursday.

That's quite a gap between download and physical release, you'll have noted. If you pre-order a physical CD through the official site, you get a comped digital version - so, effectively, you've got the chance to have both sort-of simultaneously. In it's way, this is every bit as interesting as the In Rainbows experiment.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The secret diary of Mark Frith

Pull on your rubber gloves, and let's rummage once again in the diary of former Heat editor Mark Frith.

Mark decides to make a stand for press freedom:

Today we've run our Leslie Ash piece with a sidebar entitled: What Does She Look Like? - featuring pictures of a Canary Rockfish, Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars, Jack Nicholson as The Joker and Janice from The Muppets.

I read the piece through three times before it went off - are we being just a little too cruel? In the end I decided that we had to go with it because it is completely in sync with what our readers will be thinking.

In offices, colleges and front rooms right now, people are discussing this picture - and they're not being kind.

Aha! That's alright then. It's okay to be snide about the picture, because people will be looking at the picture and being snide about it. What's the Eminem defence? "'cause I'm only givin' you things you joke about with your friends inside your living room"?

Of course, Frith doesn't stop to think why people are talking about the picture in the first place - because the media published it for people to be snide about in the first place.

And even if people are being snide, does Frith have to join in?

Apart from exposing the howling lack of human feeling that sits in the place where his mother must have hoped a soul would have formed, what the hell is the point of a magazine which merely lists the cruel jokes its readers would have already made?

Candie Payne on Boing Boing TV

Candie Payne - brother of Howie, and part of the tangled tentacles of bands who turn up on Marc Riley's essential 6Music show - breaks new ground by popping up on Boing Boing TV:

She grew up in the neighbourhood where Scrabble was invented, you know.

Hang on

In about four or five minutes, Gallows will be flicking some sort of over-elaborate switch to bring a free download of their new track on the MySpace.

Mel B plans for old age

There are no flies on Mel B - she knows her looks will fade, and demand for her singing might prove to be fickle. So she's come up with a foolproof investment plan to protect her in old age:

"I have about five houses over there because I'm investing in property."

Yes, she's investing in the US property market. Because you can't go wrong with bricks and... say, why have all these people put their furniture out on the side of the street?

Manda Rin is back

Today on iTunes (next week on a record), Manda Rin has kicked off her solo career with DNA, first track off My DNA.

This is what it sounds like:

Allen blames Terra Firma for album delay

While The Sun was insisting that Lily Allen's team didn't want to go head-to-head with Katy Perry, Lily Allen herself is laying the blame for the non-appearance of the follow up to Alright, Still on the new management at EMI:

Writing on her blog, the singer said her album had "been finished for a while now" and admitted she did not "really know what's going on with it".

"The record industry is a very political place at the moment," Allen wrote on her website.

"Lots of people have been fired or have taken redundancy recently as the company [EMI] was taken over.

"Many of these people were people assigned to my projects and now I don't quite know what's going on.

"I'm sure everyone will find their feet soon enough and I'll be able to put the album out soon."

Hmm. Despite this, EMI did manage to get Coldplay's record out. Could they be holding Allen back in a bid to shore up the performance in the next financial year?

"This is just another attempt to destablise our regime..."

Rumours that Chris DeBurgh has been given permission to play a gig in Tehran have been angrily, angrily denied by the Iranian authorities. The BBC reports:

It had been reported in December that the Irish singer would perform with Iranian pop group Arian.

But IRNA reported that the Music Office of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had not received a request for the show, nor issued a permit.

In Iran, official permission is required to stage a concert.

We're given to understand the Iranian spokesperson then added "and you can tell the same thing to bloody Chris Rea, too..."

The secret diary of Mark Frith

Let us dip again into Mark Frith's diary, an insight into what life is really like deciding how much you should pay for a photo of someone from Big Brother in a bikini. Mark gets a call to step in front of the cameras:

Today, I filmed the 'celebrity' edition of The Weakest Link. Which is odd, given that I'm not remotely famous.

When I signed up to do this, the people on it alongside me were pretty impressive: Jarvis Cocker, Mo Mowlam and members of the So Solid Crew. By the time I arrived the line-up had become me, Edwina Currie, one of Bucks Fizz, the bloke who runs marathons in silly outfits for charity and Terry Christian, the TV presenter.

This is curious - given that Frith is editing the nation's celebrity magazine, surely he'd know that when researchers are trying to lure people on the telly, they tell them who else is doing it - but always, always, reading from the dream list drawn up during the official brain storm ("Archbishop Tutu! Gordon Ramsay! Kelvin McKenzie!") rather than the shorter list of those who've said yes (That bloke off the thing about hairdressing... the TV editor of the Daily Post... Bobby Ball, if Tommy still refuses to do Celebrity Donkey Punch...). Surely, though, even he must have realised that if they're reduced to ringing the bloke who edits Heat, they've pretty much run out of celebrity options and are starting to think about reworking it as an ITV Regional Weather forecasters Special instead?

Mark does go on - and beats Edwina Currie in the final round. He lists how much he won for his charity but, oddly, doesn't mention the name of the charity - which, you would have thought, would have made sense to have dropped in if it was a cause close to his heart.

Mark is so self-effacing about his lowly status throughout. And yet he dismisses the great Bernie Clifton as "the bloke who runs marathons in silly outfits for charity".

Peaches is "a bit sad"

Kelly Osbourne finally gets the chance to shake her head at the younger generation:

Kelly Osbourne has suggested Peaches Geldof's marriage to Max Drummey could have been just a PR stunt.

'If it was done for attention, it's a bit sad,' the 23-year-old told Virgin Radio.

'I did stuff like that when I was 19 as well, like get a tattoo because it pissed my mum off. It's just a big cry for help.'

Yes, given that before Sharon Osbourne tried to turn herself in Oprah Winfrey, she worked as a manager for a heavy rock band, the thought of a tattoo must have been so shocking for her.

It's good to see that Kelly - who is employed by both the BBC and The Sun to offer advice to youngsters in turmoil - reacts to someone issuing what she defines as a cry for help by dismissing them as "a bit sad". God help anyone who rings the Sunday Surgery having taken an overdose unless they really mean it, eh.

Actually, it's also interesting to see that Kelly thinks getting her tattoo is on a par with getting married. Admittedly, both carry the overhead of unpleasant injections into your body, but at least Peaches chose a way that can be removed with a quick annulment rather than the need for laser surgery further down the line.

Kelly is rightly annoyed by people who try to draw attention to themselves, of course. It stops people giving attention to her and her fabulous opinions:
Speaking at the Virgin Mobile V Festival she also called X Factor judge Dannii Minogue 'a woman that doesn't like anyone that's younger and prettier than her'
Well, that's Dannii's falling-out with Sharon Osbourne explained, then.

Manson hooks up with Durst's ex

Wes Borland, who for a long time provided some sort of back-up to Fred Durst, has signed on to play for Marilyn Manson's cabaret Goth experience. Oddly, he's not having to change his name to KateMoss Brady or anything. Manson's statement:

"We have a new guitar player that's gonna play for the first time tomorrow. It's the first time we'll play onstage [together]. His name is Wes Borland, and he used to be in a really terrible band that he left because he felt that it was a destructive force in art, and he has his own band, Black Light Burns, but now he is in Marilyn Manson. We don't know how permanent that is, but starting tomorrow will be the first step."

I don't know if it's just me, but this makes it sound less like Manson really wanted Borland on board, more he just wanted Fred to see the pair of them out and about together.

Fred Durst is currently seeing if he can get the number of that guy who said Mazza spent all his money on nazi skeletons or whatever.

The secret diary of Mark Frith

The Daily Mail is running extracts from Mark Frith's diaries this week. Frith was the editor of Heat - which we think means he tossed the coin every issue to decide if it was going to be a "Look - they're fat" issue, or a "Scary thin celebs" edition.

Of course, "got up, went in, drew a circle around a sweat patch on Lindsay Lohan's shirt, suggested 'ewwww' caption" isn't going to keep the Mail readers interested, so instead we get Mark's response to September 11th. People hurling themselves to certain death? The largest attack on US soil? The prospect of a generation of fear and war? Why, it makes you think:

Our critics are saying that everything's changed - that there's a new seriousness in the air and that celebrity culture is dead. Perhaps they're right.

But then I watch as female customers come and go. Without exception, they walk past the papers and pick up Heat or OK or Now.

Not much about these women seems to have changed. Although I'm sure they're shocked by what has happened, their concerns are clearly still the same: Will they get to work on time? Will their money last until their next pay packet?

And now more than ever they need entertainment, a diversion from the horrors of the latest news bulletin. They want something frivolous, something to lose themselves in, something glamorous.

What do they want, Mark?
They want celebrities.

The celebrities will save us! They'll make everything all right! If only Bush had thought of that, eh - instead of eventually coming out of hiding to announce war on Osama Bin Laden, he should have just got Paris Hilton to snog Britney Spears. America would have been back on an even keel by teatime.

Note, too, that Frith insists every single woman was buying a celeb magazine - he doesn't recall what men were buying; probably something about locomotives or woodworking. Maybe they were buying the newspapers. But the little ladies, love them, they needed some shots of Rod Stewart, to save their pretty little heads from all the big thoughts in the news.

Gordon in the morning: Taking nothing, and making nothing out of it

Here's a photo of Victoria Beckham wearing a brick-covered dress. It's not news.

And yet Gordon has to say something about it, as without a reason for the picture to be there, it'd be pointless.

What can Gordon come up with?

LIFE in orange-rich California is clearly rubbing off on VICTORIA BECKHAM.

The Spice Girl arrived at the airport in Los Angeles yesterday looking cracking in this bright dress covered with strawberry hearts.

Yes. She lives in a State where they grow oranges in some place, so that's why she's wearing an ugly dress.

The prospect of ongoing fawning over Oasis until the tour is filling me full of delight, as I'm sure you can imagine. Today: Noel Gallagher has some chips:
[S]eeing OASIS star NOEL GALLAGHER picking up fish and chips to take back to his London home for dinner on Saturday night is so refreshing.

I reckon old enemy ROBBIE WILLIAMS could learn a lot from Noel about how to handle fame.

Because No-el is so love-ly... To be fair to Robbie Williams, though, if he had been photographed carrying two portions of fried food through the streets, the headline wouldn't have been "isn't it refreshing how normal he is", it would have been "Porky Robbie Scoffs Double Chips."

Smart seems to be on a mission to churn through every possible weak Lily Allen pun. Today it's:
Thrilly Allen

... which is, at least, a step forward from Yawny Allen.

Allen has been photographed in the street again with her nipples on view - not, of course, that she's doing it deliberately to get into the papers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pandora - not even much hope left, either

The music industry will be delighted with itself today; it's greedy attempt to push up rates for web broadcasting has almost completed the total destruction of the legal channel in the US. Pandora is about the throw in the towel:

"We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."
Westergren, seemingly wearied by the constant haggling over the issue, signaled that Pandora's investors may also be impatient for an end.

"We're funded by venture capital," he said. "They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken. So if it doesn't feel like its headed towards a solution, we're done."

It's not entirely clear how the music industry believes throttling a new way of reaching customers is in its best interests.