Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chris TT weekend: Drink Beer

From Blissfields 2005, something for those of you about to head out on a Saturday night:

[Part of the Chris TT weekend]

Gothobit: Gidget Gein

Gidget Gein, former bassist with Marilyn Manson's band, has died from an apparent heroin overdose.

Gein had been an early member of Manson's The Spooky Kids and arguably brought more of his style to the Manson look than Brian Warner. However, the former Bradley Anne Stewart also had a serious drug problem. After an overdose, the supposedly fearless Manson capitulated to management and record company demands and sent a FedEx dismissal letter to his former friend.

His next step was to form The Dali Gaggers, who built a following on the New York glumcore scene, but never broke through into the lunchbox-eyeliner market in the way his former band did.

Gein returned to Florida, picking up work dealing with dead bodies for the coroner's office, and using the experience of unexpected death at close quarters to drive further projects - most notably his Gollywood art work, which he started to exhibit in LA after a move in 2004.

According to LA Weekly, he was about to record a new solo album with former Janes Addiction producer Dave Jerden.

Chris TT weekend: The English Earth

This is part-travelogue, actually, as it's recorded live in the Joshua Tree National Park, California:

[Part of the Chris TT weekend]

Doug Morris: Suing may or may not work - who knows?

I'm not sure what it is about Billboard's interview with Doug Morris that they think is so astonishing that no less than three separate people there sent out an email to tell me about it, but it does get beyond the level of a snoozesome Dennis Norden-Looks Familiar style memoir towards the end. Morris is asked if the RIAA lawsuits were a good idea:

It was an act to try and publicize that this is stealing and this is wrong. That's one way to look at it. Did it work? I don't know. Maybe it stopped some people from stealing, maybe it didn't . . . Did they deserve to get caught? Probably. People don't like policemen. I understand that. And maybe they're right.

Morris is the most senior person at one of the four companies that controls the RIAA cartel. And asked about a campaign that has seen his industry's public standing tank, that has ruined people financially, led thousands of others to worry, wasted swathes of law-enforcement and court time, and burned through millions of dollars, he can't do better in justification than a shrug and doesn't even know if it was worth doing in the first place.

It's almost like there wasn't any planning at the outset of the scheme, isn't it? Like there was no thought given to how the industry could tell if the lives wrecked and money spent were being done to any good effect; the schmoozing of lawmakers and retaining of lawyers was entered into without any study done to establish a baseline of behaviour they hoped to change, or any targets to measure their success against. Effectively, Morris has revealed the lawsuits to be a serious campaign entered into without any actual reasoning behind them.

As if realising that he's starting to sound ridiculous, Morris rallies into some sort of worn-out justification:
But when you see all the stores close and you lose half your employees and you can't sign bands to record them because people are stealing, we do things to try and stop it. You have a lot of people who think that things should be free. I don't know how they think we should produce it for free, but there's a lot of people who aren't logical.

The stores were closing "because people were stealing", and not because people were shopping online - apparently that's a given, is it, Doug? It isn't because people shifted their entertainment spending to DVDs, or because the record industry stopped making music that interested most of the market and instead targeted itself squarely at a preteen consumer? It's the stealing, is it?

And is Morris being deliberately foolish when he suggests that people want music to be "produced" for free? Surely he's not so far out of touch that he doesn't understand the difference between 'free at the point of delivery' and actually making stuff for free? If he really thinks that is what the debate over digital content is about - that producers should become charities - the Universal group should really be having talks with headhunters and passing the hat around to buy Morris a nice retirement gift.

The other possibility would be that he thinks we're all bloody idiots who can't spot when someone tries to pull some sleight of hand. And if Morris really does treat the customers of his industry with that sort of contempt... well, let's just buy the retirement card anyway, shall we?

Bill Werde, who writes the piece, then goes about as far in a public declaration of love as you can manage without having some sort of official present for the solemnization. 'Doug', says Bill, did it hurt when my old friends were mean to you?
The lawsuits have been rough from a PR standpoint, in terms of developing a real hubris from a certain subset in the blogosphere and magazines like Wired. I felt, and many others I spoke with felt that Wired-a magazine I once wrote for, by the way-took some cheap shots in a November 2007 article that you were interviewed for. How did you feel about that piece?

Oh, those beastly bloggers calling you out for suing grandmothers and single parents without any money. Doug, did it upset you? Do you need a hug, Doug?
They can write whatever they want. I think they see things differently than I do. My job is to protect artists, the people that work here, the copyrights . . . they have a feeling that I stop technology by trying to stop companies from infringing on our products-that we stopped the growth of all these companies because we don't like the use of our product without a license. I think that's their point of view. I have no problem with their point of view. I thought the magazine was funny because it's supposed to be a professional magazine but then they try to ridicule people to make a point.

But that's not the point, Doug - nobody thinks you're stopping technology. That's the whole point - you, the RIAA, haven't stopped anything. What frustrates people is that you're so slow to react to the possibilities of technology, any chance of a safe, legal service vanishes because while you're so busy trying to protect your investment in previous technology, the vacuum is filled with unlicensed services. Then you wail that the services are unlicensed, and try to close them down. By the time you close them down, the users have moved on to something else. Sure, the lawsuits were bitchy, heavy-handed and hateful, but really what irks people is that nobody in charge at any of the labels has given any indication of understanding how quickly technology is changing or any willingness to match the pace.

And, ultimately, the losers are those very people you maintain you are trying to protect - the artists, your staff, your precious copyrights. If people hold you up to ridicule, it's because you are ridiculous.

No, really ridiculous - Morris then starts to trumpet his company's hiring record as somehow justifying the rotten digital strategy:
Meanwhile, what have they [his critics] done? We're running the most dominant company that there ever has been in the industry. We're trying to do it in a way where we're really respectful to people, where the people in this company are treated great, where they're paid properly, where women are working in key positions in the company, where two of our chairpeople are people of color. Our greatest asset in our company is our people.

That Morris thinks employing women and non-whites is so extraordinary Universal deserve praise for not being sexist or racist is laughable in itself - presumably there are plans to invest a plaque declaring 'Gays welcome' to go outside the offices. That he thinks this means anything in the context of the company's approach to digital music - or, indeed, why policies that every company should have in place would be a point of distinction - is just bemusing.

And then Morris apparently slips:
I never listen to people.

There you might have an explanation for how the RIAA has managed to turn perceptions of the companies who bring us our music from 'benign uncle' to 'angry smiting gods'. The head of a massive company, a company which supposedly feels that people are its greatest asset, proudly proclaiming he doesn't listen to people.

Sure, he means 'people who believe something other than I do'. But the point is the same. The man at the top has a conviction he's right, and doesn't want to hear anything else. It's always like that on ships that are heading for the reefs.

Chris TT weekend: Preaching to the converted

This from the launch day of Phoenix FM, in Brentwood, Essex:

[Part of the Chris TT weekend]

Armitage on the prowl

Poet-turned-rockstar-turned-back-to-dayjob Simon Armitage is having three launches - three - for his new book of poetry, The Not Dead, based on his work for Channel 4's Remembrance Day programme last year.

The launches are in a range of locations at a mixture of prices:

Tuesday 11 November
7pm, The Showroom, Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1
Tickets £5.50/£4 (cons) from The Showroom - Tel. 0114 275 7727

Wednesday 12 November
7.45pm, Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
Tickets are £10. Box Office: 0871 663 2586

Thursday 13 November
6.30pm, Free to students and the public.
Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, Rosamond Street West, Off Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6LL

Katy Perry attempts to draw our attention to Katy Perry

There's nothing to say that god-fearing, right-living evangelicals Mary Hudson and Keith Hudson didn't lead an exciting life before meeting up with Jesus, but Katy Perry's claims for her parents seem a little extreme.

Mummy, says Katy, dated Jimi Hendrix, while her dad was chums with Timothy Leary. Close chums, apparently.

Katy tells Blender:

'In terms of wild youth, they put me to shame.'

Well, yes, given that you're in your mid-20s and so didn't actually have a wild youth, spending it in gospel choirs, they probably do.

And since writing a song about kissing someone of the same gender is about as wild as thinking about having strawberry and chocolate sauce on your ice-cream, they probably are still more wild than you are.

[Thanks to Mike E for the tip]

Gosh darn it, dontcha wish your boyfriend was hot like me?

Nicole Scherzinger has extended the hand of friendship to the toast of the mob, Sarah Palin. She's even suggested that the Pussycat Dolls might pal around with Palin - why, she could even get a try out for the band:

"She seems like a headstrong woman, a tough chick. And she's hot."

Funnily enough, those were the same qualities that led to the Republicans adopting her as the vice presidential candidate, although obviously the Pussycat Dolls tend to run better background checks before formally adopting a member.

James P - who brought this to our attention - points out this is US politic's very own "Margaret Thatcher was the first Spice Girl" moment. He concludes:
Oh, and she can see TaTu from her house too.

Chris TT weekend: We Are The King Of England

The grammar-fit inducing single from Chris TT's Capital album:

[Part of Chris TT weekend]

The fallen, phantom 750,000

At a time like this, when the doughty custodians of public money turn out to have not grasped that high rates of interest go hand-in-hand with increased risk, and ITN has sent someone up into the loft to see if they still have that UK Job Losses Map they used to track Thatcher cutting a swathe through British manufacturing, any threat to the economy has to be taken seriously.

Like, for example, the oft-quoted figure of 750,000 jobs that are lost in the US to piracy. Any threat to a quarter of a million incomes has to be taken seriously, right?

Only it turns out - after ARs Technica do a bit of digging - that this figure has no basis whatsoever; like a Wikipedia entry referencing an article which was based on the Wikipedia entry in the first place, it is supported merely by reference unto itself, perhaps sparked by a finger-in-the-air estimate made by Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge. That would be Reagan's Commerce Secretary. He was talking in 1986. Oh, and 750,000 was a top-end, on a range he proposed that stretched from 130,000. Take the lower estimate, and you've successfully re-employed 620,000 people. Job creation really is that easy.

Likewise, the USD200-250 billion dollars that is sucked from the economy? That appears to have come from a 1993 edition of Forbes, and referred to all counterfeit products. Oh, and that was worldwide. And when Napster wasn't really much of a threat. It's a bit like Sarah Palin using back numbers of Punch to try and create a foreign policy position.

It's possible, of course, that the damage to the economy might be harsher than these white-bearded old numbers suggest - the entertainment industry's reluctance to think about the numbers could, humorously, be actually making its case less compelling. We don't know. More importantly, though, neither do they - and they're calling for changes in the law on the basis of made-up numbers.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Gordon in the morning: It makes you yearn for a Ricky Hatton story

Come on, Gordon, even you must feel slightly hollow that your job writing for a national newspaper involves trying to turn 'woman wears top' into a news story. Even you.

Embed and breakfast man: Chris TT

Celebrating an excellent live session on Marc Riley's 6Music show this week, here's a minicelebration of Chris TT's music.

Chris - who also moonlights as an arts writer for the Morning Star - has been releasing music for almost a decade now; his name is not a homage to motorcycle racing but a contraction of the stage name that his grandfather adopted when he was kicked out of the family for following an acting career.

Let's start with Blissfields, 2008, and a performance of Sellotape:

Chris TT on the web
Chris TT's Blognostic blog
Official site
Last FM
NME Microsite

Capital - released in March this year
9 Red Songs
London Is Sinking
Eminem Is Gay - ultra-rare seminal single

More videos to follow
We Are The King Of England
Preaching To The Converted live at the opening of Phoenix FM
The English Earth live in the Joshua Tree National Park
Drink Beer

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lets Notwist again. Again.

The Notwist - whose comeback we previously mentioned under the Lets Notwist again headline - have got a massive US and Canada tour lined up to set out on:

FRI 10/10 - Lee's Place - Toronto, ON
SAT 10/11 - Le National - Montreal, PQ
SUN 10/12 - Roxy Theater - Boston, MA
MON 10/13 - Webster Hall New York, NY
TUE 10/14 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
WED 10/15 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
THU 10/16 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
FRI 10/17 - Logan Square Auditorium - Chicago, IL
SAT 10/18 - Turner Hall - Milwaukee, WI
MON 10/20 - Bluebird - Denver, CO
TUE 10/21 - In the Venue - Salt Lake City, UT
WED 10/22 - Neumo's - Seattle, WA
FRI 10/24 - Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
SAT 10/25 - Berbati's Pan - Portland, OR
MON 10/27 - Bimbo's - San Francisco, CA
WED 10/29 - Henry Fonda Theater - Los Angeles, CA

And their lovely press team have made available an mp3 from the new album, The Devil You + Me, Boneless. (Boneless is also the new single, but this is the album version.) Download Boneless for free.

Janet Jackson: fit and working again

Worry no longer: Janet Jackson is over whatever it was that was wrong with her and is back in action. LiveNation has statementised on her behalf:

“Janet, who has been under her doctor’s care and recuperating over the last week, is excited about getting back on the road and again being able to share with her fans what she feels is one of her best stage shows ever."

Yes. It's that feeling that this one of - not the best, but one of - her best ever stage shows that is making Janet especially excited. Every time she thinks of how the stage set is somewhere in the top three of her sets, she has to swallow hard and count to ten to help her keep breathing.

Time not looking for anyone to buy the NME

Anne Moore, the head of Time Inc's magazines business - sorry, I mean, content business - has spoken to The Times about her long-term strategy for the company. It doesn't, it seems, involve flogging off UK consumers magazine business IPC:

Home to NME and Country Life, IPC had faced question marks about its creativity in recent years – and there was talk that Time might be prepared to sell.

“Where did you hear that from? I know, wishful thinking from bankers hoping for a mandate,” she says, praising Sylvia Auton, the boss of IPC. “We are very pleased – three out of her last four launches have been hits – and that’s why we’ve given her more responsibility,” which, it turns out, is running Southern lifestyle titles out of Birmingham, Alabama.

It's not as if anyone would be willingly flogging assets right now anyway - where would you find a buyer for the company when all the stockbrokers are queuing up to have their photos taken with their heads in their hands?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

The New York Times visits Wayne Coyne at home:

The vacant lots on either side of the main house belong to him as well. In Flaming Lips circles, the ever-expanding property is known simply as the compound.

“It’s our firewall,” Mr. Coyne said, standing under a pecan tree in the fenced-in courtyard surrounded by the houses. “It staves off the crack dealers.

The world's most expensive download store?

Nectar - Green Shield Stamps without the need to lick anything (unless you want to) - has launched a downloads store where you can redeem your points for tunes.

Now, obviously, you don't have to collect points and redeem them, and when you get the points you could see it as a bonus gift rather than something you're actually paying for, but at 30 tunes in return for 5,500 points, you're looking at getting a song every time you spend £91.60.

They are giving away a free Dido song, though. Sorry, I made that sound like it was sweetening the deal, didn't I?

Tickets, please. Please, please, please.

Martin over at Currybetdotnet attempts to buy Depeche Mode tickets from the lovely people at Ticketmaster. It's not a happy experience; it makes you wonder if anyone at Ticketmaster has ever tried to buy things online, never mind from their own store.

On a related note, in the current edition of the BBC's in-house magazine Ariel, an enraged member of staff asks how come SeeTickets was charging not just a £2.50 booking fee, but also a £4.80 "transaction fee" on top of Oasis Electric Proms tickets - the £4.80 to cover "secure delivery" of tickets that, erm, you had to pick up from the venue.

The Official Response from Lorna Clarke, the director of the Electric Proms, stresses how important it was to make sure the tickets didn't end up being sold on eBay or anything (even although the security measures mean that legitimate purchasers are punished by having to jump through hoops to see the event they've paid for) before announcing a "partial" refund.

This misses the broader point about why the gig-goers are being charged at all a separate fee to cover the costs of security for the tickets - it seems to be an odd notion that to avoid people being ripped off and made to pay inflated prices, you, erm, inflate the price but hide it from the headline charge. Why not go the whole hog and slap an extra ten quid 'support band fee' on the transaction?

WalMart relents; keeps DRM machine pulsing

Oh, poor WalMart, hoping to save a couple of dollars by switching off their DRM servers, even although it meant their customers would suddenly find their legally-purchased music collection was broken.

The trouble is, of course, the internet is full of meddling kids, and so after being made to look crooked, now WalMart is having to back down:

Based on feedback from our customers, we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time. What this means to you is that our existing service continues and there is no action required on your part. Our customer service team will continue to assist with DRM issues for protected windows media audio (WMA) files purchased from

While our customer support team is available to assist you with any issues, we continue to recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you insure access to them from any personal computer at any time in the future.

We appreciate your support and patience as we work to provide the best service possible to you. As we move forward with our 100% MP3 store, we'll continue to update you with key decisions regarding our service and your account via email.

Thank you for using Walmart MP3 Music Downloads.

The Walmart Digital Music Team

That noise? Oh, that would be the sound of Sam Walton's ghost typing through gritted teeth.

Current highest bidder: BoJo, London

At last, a bus that only winners will be able to take, as it's up for auction on eBay: the Spice World bus used in the movie of the same name.

Yes, it could be yours, if you outbid everyone else and assuming you have money still. Most of the insides have been ripped out, so there's nothing going on upstairs. Which, of course, you might feel would be an apt description of someone bidding thousands for a clapped-out old bus that only has a massive Union Flag paintjob to link it to its former life as a star awkward vehicle for some stars' awkward vehicle.

[via PopJustice]

Ofcom runs around like Alistair Darling

Channel 4's decision to kill off its DAB plans have led to an echoing cry of "Nooooooooooo" from the South Bank of the Thames; Ofcom is rushing to organise an emergency plan to rescue DAB. Currently the plan consists of a flipchart with 'sell to Icelandic bank?' crossed through.

Absolute lawsuit

Nobody, I think, will be surprised that Absolut Vodka's parent company is suing the radio station which used to be Virgin. The drinks company insists with a straight face that it really believes that its customers might get confused between an alcoholic beverage and a tepid radio network, which might sound unlikely. But if you drink enough vodka, it could well be possible.

If it had been us, I'd have spoken to V&S Vin&Sprit before getting the signwriters in.

Turning off the radio: Channel 4 axes radio plans

Even the most generous of observers had started to doubt that all of Channel 4's wide-ranging radio plans would ever get much off the drawing board, but it's still something of a shock that they've pulled the entire project.

Yes, even the E4 Radio which had, up until now, still been forging ahead to go on air in Spring next year.

The Channel 4 chief executive, Andy Duncan, who was previously a big champion of Channel 4's radio ambitions, said: "We've taken this decision very reluctantly.

"We've pursued our radio plans in good faith and continue to believe DAB has a strong future and that we could make a return from radio in the medium term.

"Frustratingly, our plans have been overtaken by a drastic recent downturn in our revenues and we will have to forgo this future profit stream.

"We can no longer afford the short-term investment necessary given that we are having to cut so deeply across all parts of the organisation."

There might be something political in this - Channel 4 has been sniffing round getting cash from the public purse in one form or another, and it would have been hard to justify why they should get a slice of licence fee cash while pouring millions into a non-core project.

Effectively, though, this is the start of that DAB radio by your bedside becoming obsolete: with only the BBC showing any interest in investing in DAB, unless there's a miraculous change in the economic climate, the future of digital radio is now looking more and more as part of the internet.

Bob Shennan must be slightly less than thrilled, having quit running Five Live to take on the job at the head of Channel 4 Radio last year. Gone, and not a second transmitted.

Play: downloads without the DRM

British people waiting for Amazon to get its finger out and start offering mp3s for sale have, at least, got an alternative: have just launched a store doing DRM-free downloads of stuff from across the majors.

The offering is impressively wide; the pricing is all to cock, though - Dig Out Your Soul, the whole album, is £4.99; Kings Of Leon's latest is £6.95 while OMD's Greatest Hits is £6.99. I can just about understand why stores and labels might want differential pricing - it's a rubbish idea, but at least understandable. What I can't see is how any system could come to the conclusion that one album is worth precisely four pence more than another. The individual track pricing is similarly complex - a Pink track is five pence cheaper than one by Antony and The Johnsons.

Still, it's a good effort. If only Play did affiliate marketing, they might be able to turn their first mover advantage into a firm proposition.

[Thanks to Michael M for the tip]

Cold War win

RCRDLBL are giving away - for nothing, which is still marginally more than the net worth of Iceland - an mp3 of Cold War Kid's Bullies Always Win.

Gordon in the morning: Oh, Ricky, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind

It's hard to believe that Gordon Smart has found yet another story for his cutting edge gossipy story page involving Ricky Hatton - and this one involves a photo with Hatton's face covered in cold, dripping gunk and loving every minute of it.

Hatton is apparently being added to Louis Tussauds Hall of Fame in Blackpool, and was having his moulds made. Yes, yes, this is Gordon Smart running a story about a provincial waxworks adding a minor sports star to their uncannily wax-like models in 2008. Could Smart have found a non-story about an any more faded entertainment icon that would be of even less interest to his young audience?

PLAYBOY supremo HUGH HEFNER has lined up 19-year-old twin beauties to replace his “number one girlfriend”.

Oh, yes.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chinese Democracy a cause for thanksgiving?

There have been many false dawns, but this time it looks like it could, at long last, be about to happen: serious sources are suggesting that Best Buy will have Chinese Democracy exclusively on its shelves in time for Thanksgiving Week in the US.

Just in time for everyone to get a free Dr Peppers for Christmas.

Leona Lewis: No to Al Fayed

A gentle ripple of applause for Leona Lewis: she turned down the offer of opening the Harrods summer sale because of their fur coats. The fee probably wasn't the million pounds the Mail has quoted, but even so, it's pretty inspiring to see someone sticking to their principles.

Mixed luck for Lil'types

Lil Kim has fallen out with her new record label, even before managing to record one album for them. Actually, it's the not recording an album that has got her into trouble - Brookland Media is suing for USD2.5million on account of her not delivering an album. Kim wants to rework her contract; her people suggest that suing is the label's way of pressurising her into sticking with the original deal.

Of course, neither side is particularly sympathetic, so let's instead spare a thought for the innocent victim: Atlantic, who won't be getting the two hundred grand from Brookland they were promised for releasing Kim from her deal with them. Not for now, any way.

Meanwhile, Lil' Wayne celebrated his birthday with a gift of a million dollars in a briefcase, that would seem to be a little tactless in the current economic climate were it not obviously a crappy stunt to try and make people interested in him. He probably wrapped it himself, too.

Jacques Brel Day: Amsterdam

The player for that duet wasn't quite working, so here, instead, is Brel doing Amsterdam:

[Part of 30th anniversary of the death of Jacques Brel]

iTunes still miles ahead in digital music world

Another twelve months of launches of iTunes killing services in, and how is iTunes looking?

Pretty good actually. Tempo have just delivered their latest survey of consumer awareness of the digital market and while Amazon and Rhapsody have both grown a little in terms of awareness and people choosing them as the 'best' service, iTunes has also continued to grow and the prevailing wisdom of twelve months ago - that other services are fighting over small slices of second-place pie - seems just as solid today.

The 'some other' choice [pdf] as best service (excluding those three, Yahoo, Napster, WalMart and Napster) has declined over twelve months from 20% to just 9%, suggesting that small services are suffering if not an absolute decline, then at least an ability to keep pace with the big names.

The have you ever heard of... [pdf] question has some interesting results, too. Naturally, iTunes is out in front here, but Napster retains a second place position in both aided and unprompted recall and is the only brand other than Apple's to make it into double-digit unaided memory. That, presumably, is what Best Buy was paying for.

Zune is struggling - without someone saying 'have you heard of Zune', only 1% of respondents thought of it when asked about online music stores - amusingly, exactly the same proportion of respondents who offered MSN when asked. CBS might be slightly worried to discover that Last FM has fixed itself in nobody's minds at all, and even with coaxing only 6% of the survey went "oh, yeah, Last FM."

Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, will be stroking his white cat with glee - MySpace might only have got one out of a hundred people thinking of it as a music destination - but when prompted, the brand recognition shot up to 63%. Third place.

The battle for that second place pie is getting interesting - although obviously in this context the eventual winner will be whoever pours enough money into marketing.

No mention of spiralfrog, oddly.

Osbourne's variety show already unravelling

The cat-giving-birth-to-snakes event that is the planned Osbournes US TV variety show is starting to suffer from spasms as bad as those induced in observers by the very idea.

The Writers Guild Of America has instructed members to not deliver any scripts for the programme, claiming that the producers Freemantle are trying to underpay.

Mind you, why would you bother paying a decent writer a decent wage to write words that are just going to end up being mangled by Ozzy or Kelly anyway? Freemantle might as well just buy a box of flashcards, shuffle them up and use those as prompts.

Oasis plan stupidly large gig

Oasis are planning an enormous home-town gig for next Summer - which, I suspect, will come after Gallagher has started to say that the next album will be the one where they get their spark back.

He's not saying where, mind, to the NME's excitement:

Gallagher hinted that the band were set to play the show at an unusual location.

"If I gave you 500 guesses you'd never guess where it would be," he said.

Where do you think Oasis' homecoming show will take place? Where would you like it to take place? Sign in to MyNME and leave a comment in the box below.

It's going to be Old Trafford, isn't it? Not so much unusual as uncomfortable.

Or maybe it isn't. Oh, Noel, you tease us so with your mystery magic games... what a pity I'm going to be washing my hair the night you play...

Tom needs some help: MySpace music falls over

You know what we - and by 'we' I mean 'Americans' rather than actual 'us' - need at this time of crisis? Music, sweet, sweet, flowing music, soothing our worries and washing away our fears. How lucky the Americans can turn to MySpace Music - not us, we're elsewhere in the world and god forbid you make entertainment available to those who want to be entertained rather than just market segments.

Aah, MySpace music... hold on, though: what's this?

"We are making some minor changes to this section so please bear with us until we can get it back online."

It turns out that 'minor change' the MySpace team are working on is, erm, turning it from being a site that has suffered a catastrophic crash into one that is up and running again.

Jacques Brel day: Rosa

Who knew that there ever was Jacques Brel in colour? This dates from 1962:

[Part of the 30th Anniversary of the death of Jacques Brel]

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Hannah Pool's Question Time in the Guardian can be a bit hit-or-miss, but we have to applaud today's edition with Tim Westwood, which is like a pure, distilled essence of Westwood, and manages to pull off the difficult trick of a Westwood piece, of capturing a man who doesn't really mind being a figure of fun to the wider nation because of the love he gets from an audience he's passionate about:

I'm in the entertainment game. If you come to a Westwood party, you want some energy, you want some excitement, you want me to tear it down. Now, I couldn't invite you to a Westwood party and just be sitting here chillin', kicking it back with some serious issues. You're not coming out for that. You're coming out for entertainment, you want to get your drink on, get your party on, meet girls, meet guys, whatever. But if I was screaming into your mic now, that's not going to work because we're talking about some real things here, this is talking seriously now - it's time to put your serious face on, not your game face - but it's still me.

Jacques Brel Day: Les Vieux

Recorded live in 1964:

[Part of 30th anniversary of the death of Jacques Brel]

Gordon in the morning: The Boxer

Who knew that Gordon would try and drag a second day of coverage out of meeting Ricky Hatton at the Oasis Liverpool gig? Oh... you'd guessed, had you?

Even the people employed to make Gordon's stuff look seem less-than-inspired by some guff about how Ricky and Noel will share a small bus on a trip to Mexico (and how much would Gordo love a bunk on that charabanc, eh?). There's a half-arsed attempt to mock up how the brothers Gallagher and Hatton might look if they were in a Mariachi band, and then... they're reduced to sticking in a library photo of a bottle of beer. With the caption:

Wish you were beer? ... lads' road trip

Hatton, apparently, is going to be the new Michael Parkinson:
I met him afterwards as he left for an early-ish night as his gruelling training regime has kicked in.

He also has his own chat show, on a digital channel in the pipeline.

He said: “I want Noel on it. I’ve got great guests sorted already. It will be a laugh.”

I think that Gordon missed out a comma. Unless they're really going to just make Hatton present on a channel in an actual pipeline. And I'm sure that Hatton didn't mean that quote to read as 'I've already got great guests sorted, but I want Noel on as well'. Almost certain.

Noel, meanwhile, is going to put on his bikini and walk around the ring carrying a card reading 'ROUND ONE' or something:
Noel said: “I’m going to carry a belt into the ring for Ricky.

“He told me to hang it over my shoulder but I’ll be holding it up over my head, marching.

“We’re going to do a road trip to the Oasis gig in Mexico after. It’ll be a proper smash-up.”

It's like that bloke that Noel loves used to sing, isn't it? Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love is all you need... love... love...

Thirty years on: Jacques Brel

Thirty years ago today, a too-short lifetime of smoking caught up with Jacques Brel.

Probably his most famous song would be Ne Me Quitte Pas:

Brel briefing
Belgian website
Last FM
Alastair Campbell - yes, really - on Brel

40 Chansons
Ne Me Quitte Pas
The Olympia 61 & 64

More Brel throughout the day
Les Vieux

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Iowa owie for My Morning Jacket

Hey, Jim James - have you recently had an accident in the workplace that wasn't your fault; perhaps slipping on the stage at the University Of Iowa? Has this resulted in the abandonment of the gig, and serious pain? Then ClaimsThatYouEndUpPayingForThroughIncreasedInsurance Direct can help you. Perhaps. Call us now on 0800 - Owowow...

Land of the free, up to a point

The delicately balanced nature of the US media - or, if you believe Fox, the slavish devotion to those dangerously left-wing Democrats on the part of the main networks - seems to have been ruffled a little by the attempts of Randy Randall from No Age to wear an Obama tshirt on Craig Ferguson's late-night talk show. Randy explains:

After the rehearsals, the people from CBS said I couldn't wear the shirt. I threatened to walk off the set and not do the show. They would not budge. They said that it was because they had to give equal time. I told them to put up a Mccain t-shirt, or anything else they wanted, but they wouldn't do anything. Dean and I talked and we came to the conclusion that it was better to do the show and make a statement on national TV than just walk away. So I turned the shirt inside out and wrote free healthcare on it.

Funny thing is, this would have been understandable if it had been Britain - you could, at a stretch, argue that one side's t-shirt without a balance would be a violation of electoral law - but in America, the similar rule, the Fairness Doctrine was abolished about twenty years ago. Otherwise Fox News would implode, wouldn't it?

Still, well done Randy for making such a brave stand of, erm, not walking out the show but telling everyone about it afterwards.

Damned truth

It's not a reunion as such - they got back together in 1993, officially - but they've not made a record since 2001 so it kind of is. So, Who's Gone Paranoid is a soon-to-be-delivered album from The Damned.

EMI go it alone

Back half a decade or so, there was a brief period of interest on the part of the labels in plans which would see them build their own download stores. The idea being that people so love Sony or Universal so much, they'd be happy to just stick to that brand's artists. There was even a half-hearted attempt to start building the idea of label-as-brand, with some CD commercials preceded by a label identifier.

The idea died out because the labels suddenly realised there was a reason they didn't all have their own branded shops on high streets selling just their stuff: people (generally) don't care about the label, they want to be able to get all their music in one place. The same logic applies to online stores, and the ideas were shelved.

Clearly, though, the plans weren't burned, as one of EMI's hapless new team has apparently decided it's the answer to all their problems/ The FT reports:

The digital project, which began this year, will offer audio and video content. Users will be able to buy music and download it. There will also be unique content and elements of the site will be free. EMI declined to comment further about its plans.

The record label wants to position as a “learning lab” where people can discover new music as part of a broader digital strategy.

Learning lab seems to be a direct lift from EMI's own in-house terminology - I suppose at least they didn't go with "re-education camp".

At a guess, I'd say that the limited success of Hulu, NBC and Fox's walled garden for their US TV programmes, has probably convinced someone that the idea has legs; but the difference in scale between keeping a few TV shows off YouTube and blocking EMI's catalogue from the dark areas of the net, while licensing it to be used by retail sites, should have been enough to convince them that the idea is little more than a way of burning cash to no good end.

And who's going to turn to a record label to discover new music? It's like looking for a twelve-step programme from a brewery.

McCain annoys another band

We know the McCain-McCheese ticket is struggling to connect with anyone much beyond the hardcore Republican vote, but surely even they must have some sort of musician amongst them? Only time after time, McCain's people are getting annoyed letters from acts whose music they've used.

Latest to object to being linked to the downward spiral are the Foo Fighters:

“It’s frustrating and infuriating that someone who claims to speak for the American people would repeatedly show such little respect for creativity and intellectual property. The saddest thing about this is that ‘My Hero’ was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential,” the Foo Fighters said in a statement. “To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song. We hope that the McCain campaign will do the right thing and stop using our song — and start asking artists’ permission in general!

Butgoshdarnsucks, Foo Fighters, dontcha think that Sarah Palin and her snowboard hobby writing-off family are just like that common man, huh? Winkity-wink-wink?

Beep Seals turn curator

The Beep Seals are going to do their own festival at Manchester's Deaf Institute. Called Beepf, unsurprisingly, you can even befriend the event on MySpace:

the result of Manchester's leading punctual band The Beep Seals badgering all their friends into putting on possibly the most brilliantest all day festival ever. Taking place inside The Deaf Institute over two rooms, acts so far confirmed for Beepfest are:

Jim Noir
Magic Arm
The Answering Machine
Ten Bears
The Junipers
John Stammers
The Beep Seals
The Soundcarriers
The Maladies Of Belafontaine

In the basement will be acoustic sets, readings and comedy courtesy of 'No Point In Not Being Friends'. And it's a tenner!

It's October 18th.

Linkin Park park China

Chester Bennington has done his back in - probably trying to dance like a teenager. As a result, they're no longer going to play dates in China and Taiwan. The Chinese people have issued a formal statement to the effect that they're not that disappointed.

Play. Watch. Buy?

Google's big question - how to make money out of YouTube - has just coughed up a new answer: 'buy this on Amazon or iTunes' buttons alongside the video.

Just as YouTube users can share, favorite, comment on, and respond to videos quickly and easily, now users can click-to-buy products -- like songs, books, and movies -- related to the content they're watching on the site. We're getting started by embedding iTunes and links on videos from companies like EMI Music, and providing product links to the newly released video game Spore(TM) on videos from Electronic Arts.

Do your buttocks also involuntarily clench whenever you see someone acknowledge a trademark in the middle of prose?

I might be slightly confused but I'm not quite sure where the links to Spore are going to sit, or if they're just going be random - 'hey, you're looking at something on a screen. You know what else involves looking at something on a screen? Spore (TRADEMARK!!!)'
Initially, this is an America-only roll-out (it's always an America-only roll-out) and there's a hope that it might persuade some of the more take-down hungry copyright cats to lighten up a litte:
And those partners who use our content identification and management system can also enable these links on user-generated content, by using Content ID to claim videos and choose to leave them up on the site.

The new question, of course, is how far will people bother to buy a track when they can watch the video anytime for free?

What the NME should be more like

I'm happy to poke a stick in the side of the NME when it's required, so credit where credit's due: Gavin Haynes piece on South Africa's indie music scene, and the extra bits online, is refreshing and welcome. It's a pity that it feels out of step with the magazine's general Kings Of Oasis drift, and while Wire would almost certainly have made the same trip and come up with a different soundtrack, that's not actually a bad thing.

Seattle now

It's a while since Seattle music was the toast of the world, with bands like Incredible Force Of Junior and that one with the t-shirts. What's going on there now? To celebrate Reverbfest, the Seattle Weekly offers 64 answers in the shape of free mp3s from the bands taking part.

Paul McCartney takes on McDonalds

One of the nicer branches of McDonalds is the one opposite Liverpool's Albert Dock. It was one of the first in the UK to try and go for an ambiance that didn't rely on wipe-clean, primary colours and even attempted to make a nod to its surroundings, albeit in the most kneejerk, 'here are pictures of The Beatles because this is Liverpool' fashion.

Oh... hang on a moment: McDonalds. Beatles. Isn't one of the Beatles a bit anti-meat? There's going to be trouble:

"What sort of morons do MCDonald's think Beatles fans are?
"It's ridiculous and insulting to use images to peddle hamburgers. Fans should boycott McDonald's - and not just in Liverpool."

So... McCartney wants people to boycott McDonalds not because they serve beefburgers, but because one of the hundreds of thousands of branches has a photograph of him on the wall?

McCartney doesn't think that Beatles fans are morons, and yet he seems convinced they'll see a black and white photo of him and his band from the 1960s and somehow think that this is an endorsement from McCartney. Curious.

Gordon in the morning: Gordon hearts Oasis

So, Noel Gallagher is back on his feet, Oasis are back in the country, and Gordon Smart is in his very heaven:

IN the words of LIAM GALLAGHER: “Fuck the credit crunch”.

You might think that it's slightly easier for a multimillionaire to take such a blasé attitude to global financial meltdown than, say, someone struggling to keep a roof over their head or looking at their job being wiped out, but to be fair: you're not going to look to Oasis to show any understanding of the world we live in. Or anything that's happened since 1973.

Hilariously, the band were introduced by Ricky Hatton, in what appears to be an attempt to try and make everyone forget that the band are more like Weebles than the lads they used to be. Hatton growled, much to Gordon's delight:
The boxer bowled up before the set and said: “It’s an honour for me to introduce these boys on stage.

“They are the best band in Britain, the biggest band in the world and I’m proud to call them friends.

“And you can forget trying to come on stage, like in Canada, or you’ll have me to fucking deal with.”

Biggest band in the world? Really? Bigger than Radiohead, Coldplay, The Jonas Brothers, The Pussycat Dolls or String Cheese Incident? Blimey, getting your head punched for a living has a clear effect on your judgment, doesn't it?

Gordon, though, is clearly thrilled at having a chat with a man whose professional life involves taking his shirt off and getting sweaty with another bloke.

Still, let's just let Gordon enjoy the gig, and not go looking for homoerotic overtones, shall we?
Noel broke his ribs when he was pushed off the stage by a nutter at a festival in Toronto last month.

And Liam, using a barrage of expletives, told how he’d love to get hold of the idiot, cut his manhood off and eat it.

"You have challenged and beaten my leader. I'm going to eat your cock. As, you know, a punishment."

So, how did Robbie William's former drummer fit in?
It was like watching THE WHO’s KEITH MOON.

Gordon, naturally, saw Keith Moon drum many times, until Moon's life was cut cruelly short two years before Smart was born.

Still, in the interests of balance, Smart isn't going to end to some sort of fanzinesque complete overstatement, is it?
Ten out of ten doesn’t do it justice.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shop Assistants evening: 2/2

Completing a mini-evening, here's the Shop Assistants' Safety Net:

[The other video can be found here]

Andrew Loog Oldham still eating out on the Verve story

Yes, yes, we know it's hilarious how you managed to turn a cleared sample into a non-cleared sample and made a fortune out of The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony, Andrew Loog Oldham. But that was over ten years ago, and you hadn't really done anything much for ages before that. Is that why you still have to tell and retell the tale this deep into the following century?

Will Anything Happen again?

Cherry Red - who, let's face it, would probably get National Lottery funding if they put the care they bring to looking after indie heritage into any other artform - are about to re-release The Shop Assistant's mighty Will Anything Happen?

In a mini celebration, here's the first of two posts featuring the album's highlights. I Don't Want To Be Friends With You:

[Enjoy Safety Net as well]


Weezer get in touch, via their press team, to announce they've broken lots and lots of records:

Weezer and friends gathered to play the song together and break Guinness World Records during the shooting of the video. Guinness World Records official, Stuart Claxton, was in attendance to monitor and certify these record attempts during the day long shoot in Los Angeles, where new records were set for Largest Game of Dodgeball, Most People in a Custard Pie Fight, Most People Riding on a Skateboard, Largest Air Guitar Ensemble, and Longest Guitar Hero World Tour Marathon. (See below for more details on these records.) The band's Pat Wilson is also shown in the video playing the World's Smallest Drum Kit in a Video...a record the band is petitioning to get in the book as an official record.

Norris McWhirter writes Well, Roy, there's not actually a record for the most desperate attempt to make up for a lack of musical ideas, so it's hard to say if this IS a world record or not, but I suspect they're masturbating communists so it's not like anyone should look up to them, is it?

Back: Ali

We're delighted to hear that Kelli Ali - one-time Sneaker Pimp - has returned from travels which have lasted four years or so and is about to release some new music - a single, What To Do, on November 10th; then an album, Rocking Horse, at the back end of November. From the track we've heard, it's sounding somewhere close to an Eighteenth Century Kate Bush in the mountains.

Oasis head for number one

Having managed to limp to number three in the singles chart, Oasis will have their dignity restored when the album chart is compiled this week, with reports of just under 90,000 sales for the record on the first day.

Let's not put that into the context of being about 40,000 shy of Leona Lewis' first day sale, as that might be considered rude. Or that even Coldplay managed 125,000 with Viva La Diva Locomotive thingy.

And, you know, it would be equally rude to point out that Be Here Now sold 420,000 copies in its first twenty-four hours. It's not that Oasis have misplaced most of their hardcore support; it's probably that the true fans are waiting for the SACD release. Or maybe the SlotDisk.

Unlikely opening lines to music stories of our time: Number one in a series

From PopMatters:

With the respect Maroon 5 is given within the pop music industry, it’s hard to believe the band has produced only two albums.

Respect? Maroon 5? The closest, surely, Maroon 5 get to respect is when giggling small children take care to make sure the spunking cock that they've drawn on Adam Levine's back looks well defined and has a fair level of pubic hair included.

MTV Europe Music Awards: An apology

I might have given the impression during a post on No Rock And Roll Fun last Thursday that I somehow doubted the word of the spokesperson for the MTV Europe awards when he applauded the success of Rick Astley in the best act ever category.

"Rick's fans have obviously decided that he deserves recognition as a pop icon and no doubt they are determined to make sure he wins on the night," said the award show's producer Richard Godfrey.

I should like to apologise for the suggestion that, perhaps, MTV was having its leg pulled and trying to put a brave face on matters.

Indeed, the discovery of the automated voting program online and the amusing confession by the Los Angeles Times that they voted 961 times for Rick makes it clear that, in fact, Godfrey was right and it's nothing more than genuine Rick Astley fans building machines to ensure that he wins his deserved recognition. In no way has a badly-thought-out voting system left MTV with a choice of either clambering down with egg on its face and barring Rick's votes, or waiting until the evening of the vote and presenting the prize to Astley.

Band doesn't reunite shock

Amongst all the bands who - with varying degrees of welcome - reconstituted in the last few years, there are few hold-outs. Dire Straits is one. Mark Knopfler is saving us all, says bassist John Illsley:

"I think we've definitely got one more tour left in us, and probably another record too," Illsley said. "[But] he's [Knopfler] doing different kinds of music now.

"He's doing incredibly well as a solo artist, so hats off to him. He's having a perfectly good time doing what he's doing."

Or maybe - like the rest of us - Knopfler feels if he never has to hear Walk Of Life again, he might just die a happy man.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

The Guardian Music Blog's Tony Naylor bleeps a lament for the death of minimal techno:

People are bored. There is plainly a desire for change. In recent weeks, you might have smiled knowingly at Matias Aguayo's Minimal, which rails, as much as you ever can do via the medium of fruity mutant funk, against music that has, "no groove, no balls".

Liverpool Echo gets overexcited by the MTV Awards

The appearance of the MTV Awards in Liverpool - or project 'see? the cultural year was a success all along, and the money we paid to MTV was worth every penny' - is causing something akin to giddiness in the Liverpool media. Any non-story is good enough to print. Like this one:

City salon prepares to pamper MTV stars

Oct 7 2008 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo

A LIVERPOOL beauty salon is preparing to pamper performers for this year’s MTV Europe Music Awards.

And so what preparations are in place? Have they built a special Beyonce zone? Are they ordering in extra quantities of whatever it might take to make it possible to look directly at Kid Rock?

Erm, not quite:
Celebrity haunt APT is in talks with the event’s organisers ahead of the November 6 event at the ECHO arena.

If it succeeds in sealing an exclusive deal, the Hanover Street health and wellness centre could even close its doors to the general public so stars and their entourages have private use of its facilities.

So they're not actually preparing, they're in talks about possibly being used in some way. Let's not even wonder who would expect Beyonce to use a hairdresser's in the city centre, what with her lucrative L'Oreal contract to protect and more make-up staff than I've got flying monkeys; let's just wonder why the Echo is running this story at all?

It'd barely be news if the salon had got an agreement in place, but when it's still a possibility rather than a fact it seems even more insane to run it. In a newspaper. Perhaps Keiths in Lark Lane should see how much coverage the Echo gives it if it announces that they've been kicking round the idea of offering Pink a two-for-one deal on the haloumi and house red.

Still, the paper probably just likes to do everything it can to support and build the Liverpool economy. Up to the point when it closes its printing plant in the city and relocates the formerly 'scouse and proud' title to a print shop in Oldham.

Yodelobit: Ruedi Rymann

The family of Ruedi Rymann, yodeler, have announced his death at the age of 75. Although primarily a farmer and cheesemaker, Rymann was a hero in Switzerland after his recording of Dr Schacher Seppli became popular on Swiss Radio.

Rymann was a Swiss yodeler; unlike other Alpine nations, the Swiss don't use the "eee" sound when they yodel.

3AM Girls: "Freaky - the stuff I type appears in a former newspaper"

The 3AM Girls break into their putting words down on paper about Q Awards session to run a photo of an unbuttoned shirt:

Ok, so Orlando Bloom wasn't at the Q Awards... but we couldn't resist this shot of the Pirate of the Caribbean exposing his naval base.

The 31-year-old hunk unbuttoned his shirt in Hollywood to show off his new tattoo of the sun.

We're not sure about it but having the tatt done probably seemed a bright idea at the time.

"Exposing his naval base"? Pirates don't have navies, do they? And if they did, they wouldn't have a naval base, which might advertise their existence. And navels don't have bases, they're all base. But even that misfiring gag works better than the "sun tattoo/bright idea" one.

Where's the respect for 10CC?

Up to a point, you could understand 10CC feeling a little peeved at being oft-forgotten when lists of the Most Bestest British Bands get drawn up. Not, though, as peeved as Graham Gouldman, mind:

"I'm not happy with our place in pop hierarchy. I think it should be more recognised.

"I was reading an old music magazine's article, Important Records From the Seventies, and we never seem to get mentioned in those things.

"It's always Bowie and Queen and that gets on my nerves a bit."

Perhaps if you'd made Ziggy Stardust and Heroes rather than Dreadlock Holiday, Graham, you might find yourself a little higher up those lists.

Still, here's a spot of glory for you, Mr. G. I'm Not In Love is a cracking song; this performance is from Pebble Mill At One:

Gordon in the morning: Gordon goes to the Q awards

Gordon doesn't want us to get the wrong impression: He's quite the man about town:

I’VE been to some pretty lively awards ceremonies...

Oh yes, he's seen people supping Asti Martini from dirty glasses, seen Johnny Borrell perform with a shirt on. Gordon thought he was unshockable. But:
but none as weird as yesterday’s Q Awards.

Oooh! Did Bauer decide to spring for a full-on black mass? Did strange half-human, half-shrimp like creatures swim through the air, distributing advertising material for the Kings of Leon album? Was Noel Gallagher talking backwards?

Worse than that, apparently:
Q Awards freak show

A freak show! Really? It's not just that Grace Jones turned up, is it?
Eighties dance diva GRACE JONES came close to stealing his crown as the biggest headcase of the night.

She was dressed like the Emperor from Star Wars and made about as much sense as Chewbacca on Class A drugs.

"dressed like the emperor" seems to mean "wore a face mask" - crazy, crazy times. And is Gordon suggesting that he could actually understand a Wookie who wasn't on drugs? "Come on Chewie, you're making no sense; I never should have let you have that tab..."
She compared herself to Lazarus in a speech so odd it had the crowd hiding behind their chairs.

I'm not quite sure why someone who has had some time away from the spotlight suggesting that she's been resurrected is quite so confusing to Gordon. Maybe he was sat there nudging his companions and whispering "she thinks she's a Boo Radleys song."

So, a woman in a mask who makes a bible reference - it's not that freaky. Hardly on a par with the days when Bedlam would be a tourist stop-off.

But there's more.
Ageing star MEAT LOAF’s truly cringe-worthy acceptance speech at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel left the crowd utterly bewildered.

Goodness, the audience spent a lot of time being confused and bewildered. It must have been like watching a spy movie with your grandparents - "what are they doing now? why are the saying that? which one is that?"
Meat’s people put the curious behaviour down to an eye injury and vertigo and whisked him off to hospital. He was still there last night.

So, he spent the night in hospital, which suggests that he was unwell. Is it entirely fair to call a bloke who needs hospital treatment a freak?

Apparently so. But Gordon's got more:
Eighties legend ADAM ANT,who has previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, said: “It’s good to be standing here. In fact, it’s just good to be standing anywhere.

“I can’t wait for the COLDPLAY royalties to come pouring in for the inspiration my outfits gave them.”

So Adam Ant is considered part of a freak show because he's had a mental illness? Gordon sounds slightly disappointed that Ant didn't run around in his underpants putting fruit on his head:
The man I thought most likely to be off the rails actually made the most coherent speech.

But it's not just the, erm, freaks that Gordon was bothered about:
What qualifies KIMBERLY STEWART to present an award to Coldplay

Yeah, where's her certificate from the University Of Making A Mumbling Speech? Has she even been to 'reading the word Coldplay off an envelope' summer school?

Perhaps, Gordon, the organisers thought she was qualified because she is known; perhaps she is known because your column reports on her doings as if she was famous. It's a bit like Frankenstein complaining about all these re-animated corpse monsters running about.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Something to listen to: Aimee Mann

The ever-delightful Daytrotter Sessions have just had a visit - and, thus, four exclusive performances from Aimee Mann.

Kills reunited with their bus

At least it didn't turn out to be Pete Doherty: The Kills' tour bus disappeared, apparently with the driver still behind the wheel, after a Los Angeles gig. The bus - and all the equipment - has been found; the driver is still unaccounted for.

Q Awards rearrange words 'Coldplay' 'gongs' 'scoop' into a report

The 2008 Q Awards have been dished out in some sort of event; we've hard refreshed the BBC News coverage to ensure we weren't looking at a cached report from 2007. Or 2006. Or 2005.

Coldplay were the mildly big winners - two prizes - while Keane won one. Which is funny, because 'one Q award' is a bit like 'two Q awards' only not quite as good.

Duffy - who seems to have been around since Prisoner Cell Block H was on the telly - won the breakthrough, though she's apparently not as good as the Last Shadow Puppets, who were judged the totally-different Best New Act.

To be honest, we're not sure if you asked Q what the difference between Q Idol, Q icon, Q inspiration, Q Legend and Q Outstanding Contribution is, they'd be able to tell you. At least classic song makes some sort of distinction, but it was given to Meat Loaf for Bat Out Of Hell. He turned up with an injured eye, which perhaps means that Jim Steinman was fighting him for the right to the title.

Those all-the-same-prize-with-different-names winners in order: Grace Jones, Alan Ant, the Cocteau Twins, Glen Campbell and Dave Gilmour.

The Kaiser Chiefs off of Channel Five television picked up the best live act title, which probably was for the same bloody set they were playing two years ago.

Which one was Posh Kaiser again?

The Kaiser Chiefs are allowing themselves to help market one of Channel Five's digital networks, because they're young and hip and, you know, cutting edge.

This does remind me of something... didn't another young, thrusting band help with the branding of Channel 5?

Of course, Channel 5 isn't so bothered about credibility any more.

Is your festival hall-full or half-empty?

Michael Eavis is looking on the bright side, flagging the decision to start selling Glastonbury tickets in autumn as a success. The festival spokesperson trills:

[John] Shearlaw said he had not expected the tickets to sell out so far in advance.

"That would have been extraordinary, without a line-up and eight months before the event," he said.

"You can look at it from both sides because if they had all sold out, there would have been eight months of turning people away.

"We are very calm about it - it's a vote of confidence."

Oh, yes - how businesses hate the idea of being so popular they've sold out and have to turn people away. Just ask the CBI, they'll tell you that the more warehouses a company has of unshifted stock, the better things are. If only they'd sold no tickets at all, that would have been perfect, as nobody would need to worry about finding the tickets had sold out.

Cliff fans target Oasis

Cliff Richard's fans are humping at Oasis, claiming they've stolen Sir Cliff's ideas.

"Its true" said a spokesperson. "Cliff was a grumpy old man complaining that there was not the proper respect for him ages ago - now Noel's come and done that. Swaggering about as if the charts owed you a position? Our man was doing that in the 1990s. And let's not forget that the tired reworking of Beatles songs - with ever diminishing returns - is little more than what Cliff did to Elvis four decades ago."

"That's right" agreed another spokesperson. "Cliff was letting Tony Blair take holidays on his private island ages before Noel was turning up at the Brits to endorse Blair."

"No... actually, Gallagher did that one first, I think" countered the first spokesperson. "But not as well. Gallagher only fawned; Cliff gave away a holiday."

"Oh. Yes. But making an embarrassing bid to try and prove your artistic virility by releasing a single and expecting it to go to number one, only for it to not make it... that was Cliff's idea."

"And relying on an aging fanbase who think that by buying the same act whose music they bought when they were young, they'll somehow fight against getting older... that wasn't an Oasis idea. That was pure Mr. Sir Cliff, that was."

There's some muttering that one of the new Oasis songs sounds like Devil Woman, also.

Andy Burnham wants them to bring back Top Of The Pops

TV isn't doing enough to help new acts, reckons the government. Or at least that's what culture secretary Andy Burnham thinks:

Andy Burnham said: "We need a programme like Top of the Pops again.

"This was a great thing that was always putting a great mix of new music before the public."

Mr Burnham, speaking at music industry conference In the City in Manchester, said great acts that emerged 20 years ago may not get the same chance today.

Broadcasters must "promote and champion new music in this country, rather than having just very safe options on prime-time TV", he told executives.

Although, of course, we did have a programme exactly like Top of the Pops just a couple of years ago and they took it off because nobody was watching it.

Burnham then recalled watching Tony Wilson on the Granada Reports:
Mr Burnham said he recalled seeing Wilson, who died last year, promoting new bands at the end of his regional news programme.

"Today, people perhaps have more power over their own destiny, but getting heard over the bottom rung of noise is much harder than it was 15 or 20 years ago when people were being chucked onto Granada Reports at the end of the news," he said.

"It seems to me to be a more difficult place to be.

"Perhaps what was always surprising about music, and some of the music that came out of this city, was that they could go national because of the way things were.

"Whereas I do worry very much that if we retreat into that comfort zone, that tried and tested model, they just won't break through in the same way."

Actually, of course, Granada's great strength came not in the slots on Reports, but in the longer-form programmes featuring regional bands that the company would throw out late at night: the So It Goes, the Other Side Of Midnights - even the Pennis Pops Outs. It's arguable that The Stone Roses and New Order owe more to the cross-subsidisation allowed by making Corrie than just from coming from the right place, full stop.

Mr Burnham might like to count up exactly how many programmes are being made like that by the modern ITV his government have allowed to develop; he might also ponder if slots for local bands on teatime news are going to become easier to come by, or harder to come by, when Ofcom lets ITV turn local news into 'somethings that have happened in a 500 mile radius'. You know, something he could actually do something about rather than making weak calls for the return of a show which had been allowed to wither in a multichannel world.

Shouldn't the culture secretary have been looking ahead, anyway? If, say, games are going to become an important new space for promotion of new bands, isn't that where Burnham should be focusing his efforts, rather than calling for Jimmy Saville to come out of retirement?

Cave parties

The shift of All Tomorrow's Parties from being a quirky idea into a sort of V festival with a fanzine stand continues, as it rolls out an Australian leg. It's being curated by Nick Cave; the line-up of bands is impressive. But it all feels like it's turning into a template.

Gordon in the morning: We've had lots of letters

Mitch Winehouse, Gordon gravely informs us, has a difficult conundrum this morning:

AMY WINEHOUSE’s husband BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL has sent a vile and abusive letter to her dad MITCH.

The six-page poison pen note from prison is packed with violent threats and abuse aimed at the cabbie.

Really? It seems a little strange that this would have come from prison, but carry on.
The letter is now in the hands of the police and solicitors as Mitch weighs up a difficult conundrum — press charges and risk his relationship with Amy or let the waste of space off the hook again.

It's not clear how a letter can be in two very different sets of hands at once; nor, indeed, how Winehouse would have thought that the choice about charges would be his after giving the letter to the police - whether he pressed charges or not, surely - if Smart's descriptions of the letter are true - there'd be more than enough for the cops to move with without Winehouse pressing charges?

And wouldn't Amy be just as - more - upset if the whole sorry saga ended up in the pages of the popular prints, with or without a police investigation? Oh.

And how much truth is there in this tale? There's nothing to substantiate it beyond an odd quote from a "close pal" of Mitch's:
“I could hear Mitch physically shaking when he phoned to tell me about the letter."

You could hear a man shaking down a phoneline? Really? How does that work, exactly?

Even Gordon seems to lose faith in the tale by the end, suddenly switching to discuss how, erm, Sharleen Spiteri's daughter likes Amy Winehouse. For some reason. Perhaps there's going to be a run of 'what pop music the children of 1990s stars likes'. If there's a lot of space to be filled, anyway.

And there is a lot of space. There's no other explanation for this sort of thing:
Alesha turns flirty

Or rather "thirty". Do you see what he... oh, you did?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mariah Carey helps out at Pizza Hut

Just had a spot of lunch in Pizza Hut, and noticed that, currently, they're raising money for a world food charity. If you don't object to them putting five pence on your bill, they give you a special code to download a Mariah Carey tune as a thank you.

This caught out eye, though - it's the signature of Mariah Carey, "Ambassador of World Hunger". If she's the ambassador for hunger, does that make her one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?

PJ Harvey weekend: Grow Grow Grow

From a "pseudo-intellectual" show on French TV, September 2007:

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

Did I just hear that correctly?

The Times is giving away albums every day this week - including The Jesus And Mary Chain. It's meant to be a promotion built around the records that every collection should have - although, surely, if a Times reader has no Mary Chain in their collection it could be because the right-wing press didn't exactly embrace the band during their first flush of fame.

PJ Harvey weekend: Taut

With former Chesterfield John Parish, in the Later With Jools studio, from 1996:

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

Bidding for Katherine Jenkins

You'd have thought even the Mail On Sunday would know that a story about "record chiefs in multi-million pound bidding wars" are usually all cod.

Even more so when the artist is from the less-cash-rich classical market. But the paper is convinced that Universal and Warners are talking in the mulit-millions to secure her services.

The readers of the paper might wonder what the magical extra that Jenkins offers is, that so much money might be flung at her. Why is she famous?

Luckily, the paper can explain that quite simply:

She shot to fame after she was featured on a Mail on Sunday CD

Nothing to do with all those years training, or the TV appearances. It's because she cropped up on a freebie with a Sunday paper.

Still, how thrilling for the paper to have created its very own superstar. They must be very proud.

Not so proud that they know how to spell her name, but proud nevertheless.

Parky fills the hours

Did you happen to catch Michael Parkinson on Jonathan Ross at the start of the weekend? Somehow claiming that he'd given up his ITV chat show because he was tired of it - despite having been moaning on elsewhere that Michael Grade had canned it because it was too expensive? Still banging on about the BBC shifting him for Match Of The Day? Fawning over Ross and his interviewing technique, hoping nobody would remind him of his constant griping about the current state of the chat show?

If you've still not had enough of Parky shoved down your craw, you'll be delighted to hear that he's sticking out a series of albums. Because he's a proper journalist, you see, and not a celebrity, so he's following in the footsteps of the Charles Wheeler Presents The Hardline series from Def Jam a couple of years back.

There is, of course, a press release written in tones that make the Gospels sound uncommitted:

With a multi-award winning career as a broadcaster, Parkinson is renowned as one of the music industry's most influential figures. His series of album releases commences with the November 3rd release of 'My Life in Music', a compilation of the music that has provided the soundtrack to his life, remembers the extraordinary people he's met and celebrates the styles of music and performers he is most passionate about.

Is he really renowned as "one of the music industry's most influential figures"? Isn't that just a bit of old tosh dreamed up a couple of years back to try and boost the idea that appearing in the middle of the night on an ITV chat show while the world watched the football on the other side was some sort of a way to boost a career other than Parkinson's?
'My Life in Music' will be released on Reprise Records, the label founded by the man Parkinson calls his "greatest entertainer", the legendary Frank Sinatra, as well as home to one of his favourite contemporary artists Michael Bublé. The album's 40 tracks, hand picked by Parkinson, feature the crème de la crème of jazz and classical songs from some of the most respected artists including Bublé, Nat King Cole, Paul Simon, Elton John and of course Frank Sinatra. The Sinatra tracks are a particular coup as they are not usually licensed for compilations.

Interesting that "one of the music industry's most influential figures" has chosen to stick up a load of acts that, erm, got going quite nicely without his help. And, of course, Michael Buble who probably did get a boost from appearing on Parky shortly before disappearing again.

Still, good work on getting Sinatra onboard - after all, they only very occasionally allow his tracks to appear on compilations. They have to be of the quality of Classic Crooners Selection, for example.

And this is the first in a series. Michael, you're spoiling us.

PJ Harvey weekend: Broken Homes

The comments complain about the addition of a choir, but judge for yourselves: Tricky and PJ Harvey on Late Night With Letterman, knocking out Broken Homes:

[Part of PJ Harvey weekend]

Dropping off the end of Pipettes

Rose Dougall - who was in the Pipettes up until April - is now busily launching her post-polkadot-phase band. She's gone solo, and her first single, Another Version Of Pop Song, is out at the start of December.

Meanwhile, though, you can sample what she's got to offer with a couple of live appearances:

8th October - Old Queen's Head, London
13th October - Brudinell Workings Men Club, Leeds (with British Sea Power)

Or just drift by her MySpace.

Festive Fifty 2008

Voting has opened on Dandelion Radio for the 2008 Festive Fifty. It's your votes that count.

PJ Harvey weekend: Henry Lee

Back now to Channel 4's short-lived minimalist show The White Room, and a 'surprise' appearance by Polly to help out Nick Cave with Henry Lee:

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

Zoe says the Scientologists are coming for Amy

Showbiz Zoe is worrying over the struggle for Amy Wnehouse's mortal soul, claiming "a pal" has been telling everyone that Amy Winehouse has been getting calls from the cult.

Presumably they're thinking that Amy is so addled she might just fall for the whole 'give us your money, stop talking to your family and we'll tell you about the volcanos and h-bombs and all that gubbins that L Ron made up to win his bet' shtick.

If it is true, though, should Zoe have not followed it through by asking the "church" if it's acceptable to go round preying on the weak and vulnerable?

Rav Singh and the Sugababes

Rav Singh might think that getting the Sugababes to guest-edit his column shows off how famous his chums are; it does rather leave the impression, though, that anyone could do what he does.

The other problem of having the people you're meant to be writing about actually doing the editing is that it draws the sting of the column more than a little. If you're a waspish horsefly hovering over the world of showbiz reporting on the secrets that the stars want hidden, how do you do that when the stars are hovering over you?

So the insights are hardly earth-shattering:

One of the tracks, No Can Do, has already got the thumbs up from their boyfriends. “We performed it for them last night and it went down well,” said Heidi. “They want it to be a single so we may release it.”

Heidi bought her mum a flat in Liverpool. She told me: “It’s just nice to give something back to the people who’ve supported us.”

Hold the front page.
The girls were also keen to scotch rumours of fights and that they are about to split.

“It’s simply not true,” says Amelle. “We all get on. There was one story that I was arguing with the girls at a fashion show recently and it was completely made up.

“So on the record, we are NOT splitting up and we are NOT fighting. End of.”

Point made—and with new single Girls about to hit the shelves, the Babes couldn’t be stronger.

Wow. Rav's such a great gossip columnist, it's like he's got the inside track to every PR company in the country.

Of course, this too-cosy relationship happens all the time, but normally you're left to read between the lines of, say, Gordon's fawning over the Gallaghers to discern it. How brave of Rav to actually run photos of his editorial being made to dance to a management company's line.

PJ Harvey weekend: Down By The Water

Continuing the PJ celebration, this is from her concert in Moscow on June 5th this year. Big Fish, Little Fish...

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

This week just gone

The ten most-read obituaries so far this year have been:

1. Joaquin Tavares
2. Jason Rae
3. John Stewart
4. Nick Sanderson
5. Alex McCulloch
6. Ola Brunkert
7. Leroi Moore
8. Jeff Healey
9. Arcani Crosswords
10. Evan Farrell

These were suggested new releases:

Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight

Ani Di Franco - Red Letter Year

Hot Puppies - Blue Hands

Euros Childs - Cheer Gone

New Order - Movement Collector's Edition

OMD - Messages Greatest hits package

John Law - The Ghost In The Oak

Henry Priestman - The Chronicles Of Modern Life

Leonard Bernstein - 90 Years Of... box set