Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Edge defends environmental despoilation of U2 tour... sort of

Last week, we had the unedifying spectacle of U2 trying to explain why their hypocritical tax position wasn't hypocritical - it seemed to boil down to "you wouldn't understand".

This week, The Edge is trying to tell us why hauling a massive stage around the planet, and dragging trucks up and down narrow lanes, isn't actually bad for the planet:

"I think anybody that's touring is going to have a carbon footprint."

Well, yes. Anyone who does anything is going to have a carbon footprint, The Edge.

The problem is that yours is totally out of proportion.
"I think it's probably unfair to single out rock 'n' roll."

Given that - in case you've forgotten - your boss is always banging on about fighting injustice, it's probably very, very fair indeed to single out your band and compare what you do with what you preach. And nobody is singling out rock and roll, you twit. You're not being asked to account for formula one's footprint because you're not racing motor cars.

And, lest we forget: your environmental impact is enormous, and doesn't need to be because you don't need to have a bloody massive claw-thing, do you?
"There's many other things that are in the same category but as it happens we have a programme to offset whatever carbon footprint we have."

The rich man's response - I'll shit in your kitchen and then pay for you to buy some paper towels to clean it up - isn't really cutting it, Mr Edge. There's such a thing as setting an example and not doing the damage in the first place. And offsetting doesn't work all that well; nor does planting trees really help overmuch.

And it's not just carbon - you're generating other waste at the same time. And then there's the massive lorries chuntering through those small Irish roads. Do you have an answer for that, The Edge?
"I think that's probably about as realistic as you can be right now," The Edge told BBC 6 Music.

"We'd love to have some alternative to big trucks bringing the stuff around but there just isn't one."

Playing somewhere where the delivery of the staging doesn't create so much disruption? Concentrating on building a show which requires a lot less staging to be brought in? Spending a bit more money on doing it in a more sympathetic way? Putting some thought into the way your tour works, rather than just sticking out a basic "ooh, what can you do, though" response when someone points out how mucky you are? Just a few ideas, The Edge.

The XX weekend - Basic Space

We've had the remix, now here's the original of Basic Space:

There isn't, as yet, a lot of The XX available to watch online...

[Part of XX weekend]

Drummerobit: Rashied Ali

A heart attack has claimed the life of Rashied Ali.

Ali - "the free drummer's free drummer" - is best known for his work with John Coltrane during the 1960s. He'd been a casual multiinstrumentalist during his childhood, but had started to concentrate on drums while in the army. Making his way through R&B and rock acts, it was with jazz that he really found his niche. Eventually, he would replace Elvin Jones as Coltrane's lead drummer, playing on 1967's Interstellar Space. It was to be Coltrane's last work.

Ali continued to play, alongside running Ali's, a club designed to showcase the best in free-drumming which enjoyed a run of success in the decade up to 1979. He worked with a number of different acts of varying distances avant of the garde, finally conceding to a titular act of vanity in 2003 when he formed the Rashied Ali Quintet.

Ali died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 76.

RIAA not prepared to waiver in Thomas damages

To be fair, the RIAA companies could hardly turn round now and say that, actually, nearly two million dollars in damages for sharing unlicensed music is a frankly absurd level of damages, and so it's unsurprising they're having to stick to their morally dubious beliefs and rejected Jammie Thomas-Rasset's appeal to have the jury award reduced to a less absurd figure:

[T]he labels say that the award, which represents $80,000 for each of the 24 works on which the labels sought damages (among about 1,700 in Thomas-Rasset's KaZaA shared folder), survives the more deferential standard set forth in St. Louis, I.M. & S. Ry. Co. v. Williams, 251 U.S. 63 (1919), under which an award must be upheld unless it is "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable."

Although eighty grand for each instance of filesharing would seem to not just tick the "severe, oppressive and disproportioned" boxes, but also award house points and write 'good job' in big red letters next to them.

There is a grudging sign that not everyone in the RIAA companies is just plain evil, though, as they do offer to consider a remittur:
However, the labels say they will only do so if the reduced award adequately reflects the "infringement of a significant number of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings ... as well as the substantial damage caused to Plaintiffs and their businesses by Defendant’s actions." And they will not accept a remittitur based on a reduction in the award on constitutional grounds.

Except, of course, the labels haven't been able to demonstrate serious damage to their businesses - either by filesharing generally, or Thomas' specific file-sharing - except to point to circumstantial evidence.

So, the RIAA line is effectively "we'll only come to terms if we still get a massive wedge, and nobody suggests the law allowing us to demand stupid money is broken beyond belief."

Their confidence is in part buoyed by the disappointing number of copyright fundamentalists who have been welcomed into Obama's White House. Earlier this week, the Department of Justice indicated it was comfortable with the two million dollar fine. Change?

Whatever happened to Zoe Griffin? U2

Since she departed from the Sunday Mirror, you might have been wondering what's been up with Zoe Griffin, showbiz Zoe out the the Zoe Showbiz column.

You'll be thrilled to hear that - just like Doonesbury's most dull character, Rick Redfern - she's launched a blog to carry the quality journalism that used to appear in the newspaper. There's a helpful 'who am I' panel at the side, which I believe replicates the post-it note that Zoe carries with her at all times to remind her who she is:

I am the UK’s coolest party girl. I only go to the best parties and I am at the heart of the action when I’m there.

I don’t get starstruck by celebrities because I’ve met all of the biggest stars already.

The Baftas? The Brits? The MOBOs? MTV Awards? Fashion Week? Been there and done that several times.

I go out to have fun, dress up, sip a glass of Champagne and report back to tell everyone else what it’s really like in the VIP crowd.

Oh, dear. Still, she'll probably put down the sound of a nation laughing as being because they're just jealous.

Today, Zoe reports back on U2 at Wembley:
All, I can say is if you weren’t at the U2 gig at Wembley stadium last night then why the hell not?

Because you don't like U2? Because you're not prepared to pay the preposterous ticket price to see a band some twenty years South of their best? Because you've got tickets for one of the other nights? Because you had something better to do? Because you sent Zoe Griffin to be at the centre of things on your behalf? Or simply because you heard Zoe Griffin was going to be there?

Anyway, Zoe shows her skill in conjuring a scene with just a few words:
And what an entrance - the stage looked like an aliens space ship billowing smoke. Haven’t seen a gig this elaborate in ages.

Lesser writers might have just said space ship; those with subeditors might have said alien's spaceship. But not Zoe - she doesn't want to leave her readers in any doubt that the spaceship from which U2 emerged was not of this planet. In case you thought it was just a crappy sputnik or something.

That's pretty much it for the review - I'm not quite sure this tells me what it would have been like to have been in that VIP crowd of 80,000 people, but there are some photos. With captions. Oh, what captions:
Bono starts off rocking

The Edge manages to rock in a beanie hat

Given that wearing a beanie hat is his trademark, and rocking is - for want of a better word - his job when he's not running building project - is that entirely surprising?

Still. Bono was rocking. The Edge, he too was rocking. What of the others?
Adam Clayton checks he's still rocking - he was!

Adam Clayton was rocking as well? That's lucky.

And the other one?
Larry Mullen Jr controls the background

Not rocking, then? Actually, what does "controls the background" mean? (It's a photo of him drumming, unsurprisingly enough.) Is it just Zoe didn't have anyone to ask what the funny things he was sitting behind were? Or was he actually controlling the backgrounds, having abandoned percussion for making sure the curtains rise and fall properly?

Sadly, Zoe doesn't tell us.

Bob Dylan: Mickey Mouse gets hassled like this the whole time, too

At first, there's a charm about the story that New Jersey police didn't recognise Bob Dylan when they stopped him:

The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.

"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.

"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.

"I'm on tour," the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show.

The cops took Dylan back to the venue, where staff vouched for him. (Although they must have been so tempted to go "nope... never seen this guy before, officer". I know I would have done.)

So, a little charming footnote. Except... all Dylan was doing was wandering round the neighbourhood. Why would that even require police intervention, much less proving who you are?

The XX weekend - Basic Space [Pariah Remix]

A spot of the old do it yourself video making now, with Toadvine's homebrew video for the Pariah Remix of The XX's Basic Space:

[Part of The XX Weekend]

Eurovision not quite such knockabout fun in Azerbaijan

You've got to hand it to the Azerbaijan government - their telephone voting scandals put Ant and Dec cramming ill-gotten gains into ITV's pockets in the shade. Turns out voting for Armenia didn't just cost 25p plus your standard network rate. There was another price to pay:

Rovshan Nasirli, a young Eurovision fan living in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, says he was summoned this week to the country’s National Security Ministry — to explain why he had voted for Armenia during this year’s competition in May.

“They wanted an explanation for why I voted for Armenia. They said it was a matter of national security,” Nasirli said. “They were trying to put psychological pressure on me, saying things like, ‘You have no sense of ethnic pride. How come you voted for Armenia?’ They made me write out an explanation, and then they let me go.”

It appears that Armenians who voted in the opposite direction - of whom there were substantially more - didn't get strong-armed.

Luton love music, hate racism tomorrow

Tomorrow, Luton is having a festival of pointing and laughing at the BNP and their ilk. Midday in St George's Square. Bands playing include Swan Collective, Lee Knell, Pearl Handled Revolver, Inspired Balance, Arrows Audio, Vish Beatz, UK Alliance, Harmony, Prince Malachi, Wired, Sean Devlin, Kid Charlemagne, Son of Man, Daniel Conway, Michael Green, Laura May, Jonny Fever and Personal Justice.

Embed and breakfast man: The XX weekend

Not to be confused with the XX Teens, or X, come to that, this is South London's XX, who won enthusiastic support from Jude Rogers in yesterday's Guardian. Their debut album arrives on Monday, but why a couple of days before deciding if the idea of Interpol being licked by Liz Fraser is a concept you wish to embrace? (It is, by the way.)

This is the video for Crystalised:

XX etc...
The XX MySpace
Official site

If you visit the official site, by the way, you can swap your email address for a free download
The XX - debut album
The XX - debut album in mp3 format

More videos to come
Basic Space [Pariah Remix]
Basic Space - basic edition

Gordon in the morning: Easy come, easy go

Even though he seems to be working like some sort of outsourced publicity engine for JLS, Gordon seems to struggle to really treat 'two idiots spend money they don't really have' as the lead story he's made it:

JOBLESS figures may be soaring for under-25s all over the UK.

But boyband JLS are not fearing the dole queue or watching the pennies - judging by their astonishing £6,612.50 blowout on Thursday night.

If you set aside the decision to run the story at all, Gordon actually makes quite a decent fist of trying to run the story in a way that Simon Cowell would have wanted - "ooooo! look! money!" - while remembering that, actually, it just makes them look like a pair of idiots who are going to really regret doing that in a couple of years:
Call me old-fashioned, but they should be investing it in bricks and mortar.

That's what Limahl from Eighties pop phenomenon Kajagoogoo would tell them, from his dressing room at Butlins in Minehead...

But ultimately, running the story - with a photo of the receipt - only gives the story the publicity it doesn't deserve. Not until the 'where are they now' follow-up in six years when it gets referenced in the 'then' part of the sentence ending "... now working in a shoe-shop."

Elsewhere, Lily Allen has been chiding Smart:
The singer has been on Twitter pointing out that SAM COOPER is not a painter and decorator, as I revealed last week - he is in fact a builder.

Why would you be so proud at having "revealed" something that, erm, wasn't true, Gordon? (Besides the obvious, that it's what you do for a living, I mean?).

Friends shouldn't let George Michael drive... at all, really

What is it with George Michael and cars? He's just spent five hours sitting down with Thames Valley Police following a crash on the A34:

The 46-year-old was held on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink or drugs but released after five hours.

He was taken to Loddon Valley police station near Reading following the incident in the early hours of Friday.

A Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said the singer was later released without charge.

Surely Michael could afford a taxi, if not a proper chauffeur? I'm sure Leonard could spare Thomas for a few hours every now and then.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Julian Cope

Incendiary mag go for walk with Julian Cope. And to plan an attack on parliament, unite the masses and consider religion and power:

Our culture is a really rich culture, full of people who are incredibly singular. But it’s hard to unite singular people because they’re all so obstinate and on their own trip. So what I figured I need to do is to pick people who are confident enough to be on their own trip but who recognise that in separation there is a weakening. We need to bring people together who even in their obstinate singular-ism recognise that there are other singular people who are useful to hang out with.

The Sonic Boom Six tour dates

Coming soon - very soon - are these dates from the Sonic Boom Six:


Twittergem: Calvin Harris

Hang on, Calvin Harris is off again:

Imagine you just spent 2 years of your life making a record. on your own. every single day, long hours, working to get it sounding right
11 minutes ago from web

imagine the buzz of making something that you love, and after 2 years you finally have something you can't wait for other people to hear
9 minutes ago from web

then imagine that cd landing on the desk of "snide rich persons kid" or "pathetic london scene-FACE"
7 minutes ago from web

then them skipping through the tracks in their lunch break, and saying "well its calvin harris isn't it? 2 stars, he's a dick head"
7 minutes ago from web

I'm telling you now that it doesn't feel good
6 minutes ago from web

but, how is it that i've been playing these songs to 20,000 people at festivals this summer, and it's gone off every single time
5 minutes ago from web

BECAUSE OF THE FUCKING RICH PEOPLES KIDS there are people who will like the album who wont get the album because they saw a shit review
5 minutes ago from web

And i can't ignore it, sorry, but it does affect me, + it is hurtful, + i know that it's exactly what i wanted it to be, and i'm proud of it
2 minutes ago from web

I'm a little lost as to why, if Harris holds reviewers in such low esteem and has a following who enjoys his work so much, that he's bothered by what they say.

It's Alexis Petridis' review in the Guardian Film & Music which Harris has gone out of his way to draw attention to.

We're just waiting for Harris to tweet that his girlfriend is fuming and that he only reads the gig guide.

Falls can be serious when you're Steve Tyler's age

That tumble that Steve Tyler took off the stage during an Aerosmith gig last week looks to be more serious than anyone might have thought: the band have just pulled the rest of their tour.

There's a statement:

"Due to injuries Steven Tyler sustained last week when he fell from the stage during a concert in Sturgis, South Dakota, doctors have advised the lead singer to take the time to properly recuperate from the accident that resulted in a broken shoulder and stitches to his head."

Tyler is being asked to wear one of those big red buttons which hang round your neck from now on. Just in case.

Magnus Uggla withdraws from Spotify

Swedish musician Magnus Uggla wasn't entirely impressed with the money he was making from Spotify. He asked his label, Sony, about it; they told him it was all to the good and to keep faith with the service.

They, erm, somehow forgot to mention to him that Sony were a shareholder in Spotify:

Uggla was as surprised as most people when he learned last week that the major labels, including Sony, all have a stake in Spotify. A mere 30,000 kroner ($4,000) investment bought the company 5.8% of the service now valued at around 1.8 billion kroner ($251m).

Referring to the valuation, Uggla questions how this company can do so well – and comes to the conclusion that it’s at the artist’s expense. He says that Sony Music, after “suing the shit out of The Pirate Bay” is acting just like them by not paying the artists.

“I would rather be raped by Pirate Bay than by Hasse Breitholtz and Sony Music and will remove all of my songs from Spotify pending an honest service,” he says.

But Magnus, surely you know that the major labels only do what they do for the artists?

Twittergem: Calvin Harris

All is not rosy in the world of @calvinharris:

3 minutes ago from web

2 minutes ago from web

half a minute ago from web

Is 'having to give good reviews to the children of someone you had sex with thirty years earlier' now part of dating etiquette? Blimey.

Hang on, he's not done yet:
3 minutes ago from web

2 minutes ago from web

Michael Jackson: The Daily Telegraph doesn't get out much

The once mighty Daily Telegraph is over-excited by the news it has to share this morning:

A rare new biography of Michael Jackson by publishers Opus that the star hoped would be the "definitive book about his life" is to go ahead following a legal battle.

Rare? A rare biography?

I suppose it is going to be taking a place on a nearly empty shelf - after all, there's only Michael Jackson - Legend, Hero, Icon: A Tribute to the King of Pop by James Aldis. And Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness by J.Randy Taraborrelli. Oh, and Michael Jackson: Life of a Legend by Michael Heatley. Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson by Ian Halperin, Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones, Michael Jackson: Legend 1958-2009 by Chas Newkey-Burden and Michael Jackson: The Unauthorised Biography by Michael Heatley, too, of course. And, perhaps, The Michael Jackson Treasures: Celebrating the King of Pop in Photos and Memorabilia by Jason King, Michael Jackson - King of Pop: 1958 - 2009 by Emily Herbert, In the Studio with Michael Jackson by Bruce Swedien, Michael Jackson: The Visual Documentary by Adrian Grant, Michael Jackson, King of Pop by Wey-Yuih Loh, Michael Jackson: Before He Was King by Todd Gray, The Trials of Michael Jackson by Lynton Guest, Michael Jackson: For The Record by Chris Cadman and Craig Halstead and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider's Story of the King of Pop by Bob Jones and Stacey Brown aside, there's hardly even been a work considering the man's life. I wonder why it's taken so long.

Gordon in the morning: Poking

One day, Murdochs Rupert and James believe people will be reaching in their pocket to pay for Gordon Smart's work. It'll be interesting to see how much cash there is to be made from copying messages between Blake Fielder-Civil and Amy Winehouse off Facebook.

Incidentally, we're told that "Blake [is] at his remote Yorkshire rehab centre." Doesn't he go to one in Sheffield? It's hardly the Arizona desert, is it?

Winehouse is pretending to be a cat in the messages - why she's chosen the persona of an animal which is known for throwing up all over the carpet and scratching those who care for it is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Gordon catches up with the Nic Cester being sick story, with this teaser:

Aussie rockers’ ambulance rider

JET asked for an 999 crew on standby at club night as lead singer Nic Cester had a bug

A 999 crew "on standby"? Do you want to think about that, Gordon? I suppose, technically, paramedic emergency response teams are perpetually on stanby for all of - #welovethenhs - but how would you persuade a team to hang around outside a nightclub on the off-chance that a musician might fall over, exactly?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zune: Where's the life, there's hope

There's still hope for the Zune brand... no, really, apparently a new chip will change the game for the never-released-outside-North-America Microsoft iPod:

Graphics chip giant Nvidia has announced that the next iteration of the Vole's player, the Zune HD, will be armed with a dual-core Tegra processor.

Based on blueprints from Brit chip shop ARM, one of the two processor cores will take care of the operating system, and graphics duties will be taken over by an Nvidia Geforce GPU.

Yes. That's what people say when they find themselves in the dark corner of the electronics shop, looking at the forlorn, working-example-free Zune stand: "if only it had a dual processor, that would really sweeten the deal for me."

The problem for Zune is not performance of the equipment - those who own one speak highly of what it does - but is one of making a product which really manages to shift the perception that it's a me-too poor person's iPod from the people who make your office computer. That's got nothing to do with the chipset. Which is a pity for Microsoft, as a chipset can be easily replaced.

Folding magazines: Misery all round

So, this is how the Conor McNicholas era at the NME ends - not with a bang, but with a hacking cough and a death rattle.

When Conor took over the magazine in June 2002, circulation stood at 70,456. Today's ABC figures put the number of copies sold at 40,948. To be fair, though, there is still a weekly magazine being put out, and that in itself is something of an achievement.

Elsewhere in the music magazine sector, not only is NME behind Kerrang but - as that title's circulation falls - Kerrang has dropped behind Metal Hammer.

Q is still the most-purchased music title, but having lost 11.5% of its readers over the last twelve months, while Mojo has "only" misplaced 8.1% means that Q's lead over its stablemate is down to just 2,450 copies.

Guitarobit: Les Paul

Les Paul - the man, not the guitar - has died at the age of 94.

Starting out with big bands in the 1940s, it was Bing Crosby who inspired his approach while Django Reinhardt influenced his style.

Although best known for the guitar which bears his name, Paul's real gift to modern music was multitracking - cooked up using a tape machine gifted by Bing. It allowed him to play most of the tracks and his then wife Mary Ford to sing most of the vocals on the hits they had together.

It took Gibson a long time to accept Paul's designs for a solid body guitar, and even when they did take him up it was as a me-too product to compete with Fender.

Although Les Paul went into semi-retirement in the 1960s, he was actually still playing live until recently. Troubled by arthritis, Paul had to develop his style to cope: something he did successfully, as he explained to CNN:

"If you only have two fingers [to work with], you have to think, how will you play that chord? So you think of how to replace that chord with several notes, and it gives the illusion of sounding like a chord."

Les Paul died earlier today from the complications of severe pneumonia.

Folding magazines: Vibe "saved"

Vibe magazine has been supposedly been saved.


InterMedia Partners have purchased the brand, and plan to relaunch it through the creation of a "Vibe lifestyle network", reports

There are vague plans that there will also be a quarterly magazine somewhere down the line, but it all sounds a bit like the online "resurrection" of Woolworths from where I'm sitting.

The Beatles: Now a bit like Sonic The Hedgehog

The appearance of The Beatles on Rock Band - uniting the world's most over-rated band with one of the most perplexing toys - is about to unleash its hypewave over us, starting with a massive chunk of Wired reporting on the process of turning The Beatles songs into games:

At the end of the video presentation, the two surviving flesh-and-blood band members, Ringo Starr, 69, and Paul McCartney, 67, take the stage for a surprise appearance. Standing side by side, the pair look slightly befuddled by the moment. For these been-there, done-that rockers, flogging a videogame is a first. "We love the game, it's fantastic," McCartney says. "Who would've ever thought we'd end up as androids?" No one, perhaps, except a few ambitious executives at MTV.

The constant suggestion is that The Beatles doing anything related to commerce is unusual - ooh, you persuaded The Beatles to make even more money; how cunning. It does, though, fly in the face of the evidence of Beatles tea towels and shoelaces that shows that the question is never about the idea of a deal, just a debate over how much cash we're talking about.

Still, at least the MTV team who made the game really understand The Beatles, don't they?
[A]lthough Martin and Rigopulos had figured out how to marry the Beatles' music to the Rock Band format, the developers still had a long way to go. The original Rock Band let players assume the role of a generic rocker and gradually gain experience and a bigger repertoire, thus accessing more fans, cooler clothes, bigger venues, a larger entourage, and all the other accoutrements of rock-and-roll stardom. "Right away, we realized this wouldn't work for the Beatles," Rigopulos says. "They had all that stuff—fans, money, stardom—almost from the beginning.

Eh? Right from the beginning? Well, I suppose if you ignore the bit between 1957 and the back end of 1962, they did.

Still, at least there is something realistic in the game's make-up: it's been buggered about by Yoko Ono:
By spring, the Harmonix crew had completed a rough build of the entire game. Yoko Ono, whose involvement up to then had been minimal, decided to fly to Boston to provide her own distinct brand of input. "She gave the designers hell," DeGooyer says.

"She's an artist," Rigopulos adds, "so she was very concerned with the look of the game. She really held our feet to the fire." Ono made specific suggestions, like proposing that the game's final scene—the Beatles' infamous rooftop concert on the Apple Corps building in Knightsbridge — look windier.

Her criticism sent Harmonix scurrying to improve the graphics. At that point, the E3 conference and the game's debut was just three months away. "We were like, oh, gee. Thanks," Rigopulos says. "It would have been nice to know that six months ago, but yes, thank you very much."

They did hold fast in the face of her proposals that the digital version of John Lennon should actually quit the digital version of the band and instead make songs about how it's terrible having money from the top of a massive pile of money.

Still, the fans will surely be falling over each other in order to get what they believe is the finest body of recorded work from the finest band which ever lived, in order to see how much better it would have been if they'd played bass and Larry's girl from over the road was on drums instead.

Darkness at 3AM: It's the Google-eyes

Oh, the 3AM Girls are excited this morning:

We knew that U2 were big - but now they're visible from SPACE!

The amazing giant claw that is the centrepiece to their 360 tour party is so huge Google Earth can pick it up as it moves around the world with Bono and the boys.

I don't want to really blow their minds, but you can see the table on our patio on Google Earth, should you wish to.

Gordon in the morning: Waiting at the gates for health updates

The nation holds its collective breath as news reaches Gordon that Kasabian are unwell:

KASABIAN have been rocked by a swine flu outbreak on tour.

Swine flu, eh?
Speaking from his Sydney hotel room, SERGE PIZZORNO said: "We're all sick as dogs, man. It's pretty terrible. It's a bit of a virus that we picked up in Japan."

So is it swine flu or "a bit of a virus"?

Gordon;s insistence that it's swine flu seems purely there to set up what I think is meant to be a punchline of some sort:
When the Rolling Stones were on tour during their pomp, they often came down with something similar - line flu.

I don't know what makes my head hurt more - the weak drug pun, or the desperate attempt to try and force Tom Meighan having the snuffles in to some sort of debauched rock history frame.

Elsewhere in Gordon's pages today: man catches bus.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jim Kerr: I won't forget about you

Having admitted that, effectively, he made Simple Minds in the states, Jim Kerr has offered a few words on the death of John Hughes:

“When we perform ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ on the forthcoming tour, we’ll be thinking about John Hughes and how his enthusiasm for the sound of Simple Minds made us go the extra mile when we recorded it back in 1984. Everyone was hell bent on making a classic piece of pop rock, but little did we know the kind of longevity the film would have on generations to come. The Breakfast Club helped us kick the door down, and once there, no one could ever lock us out or tell us again what it felt like to be No.1 in America.”

Is it just me or does that end a little bit oddly? "Now we've been number one, nobody can tell us what it feels like"? But you could, couldn't you? "It feels totally different now, you know, as there's a sense of underwhelming disappointment, Mr. Kerr."

Polka News Network: Crossover polks

The Grammys might want to put polka in a corner, but polka won't be sidelined. Oh no, not while there's polka fusion. Polka-Pink Floyd fusion, to be precise.

Yes, the band is called Polka Floyd. They're from Toledo. And they sound like this:

Lemonheads coming into your arms - or at least near them

Evan Dando is going to be doing a little tour of bigger venues next month.

Those dates:

Glasgow ABC - September 10
Dublin Academy - 11
Belfast Speakeasy/Mandela Hall - 12
Manchester Academy 2 - 13
Birmingham Irish Centre - 15
London Leicester Square Theatre - 16
London Forum - 19

Skunk Anansie: Why we're back

Why have Skunk Anansie reformed?

You could ask Newsbeat why they're back, as the band have explained it's fan pressure:

"My Dog," laughs bass player Cass when asked about whose idea it was to come back together. "He kept telling me and I had to persuade these people that I wasn't mad."

In fact, it was they say fan pressure that led them back into each other's lives.
Skunk Anansie Lead singer Skin will put her solo career on hold

"They've been on our case for years for us to do this," says lead singer Skin.

"The whole thing has been led by MySpace and the revolution of our fans," adds guitarist Ace.

Why, yes. Fan pressure. What can you do in the face of that? As Newsbeat explains:
What the reunion does mean is that all other plans are shelved including Skin's solo career ("I've got an electronic project that's just going to have to wait"), Ace's guitar tutoring and Mark Richardson's stint drumming with Brit band Feeder.

Skin's solo career. Yes. Wikipedia tracks the course of that:

* "Trashed" (June 2003) - UK #30
* "Faithfulness" (September 2003) - UK #64
* "Lost / Getting Away With It" (2003) Double A-side
* "Alone In My Room" (November 2005) (Download only)
* "Just Let The Sun" (March 2006) UK Indie Chart #27
* "Purple" (Limited release in The Netherlands and download)
* "Nothing But" (Promotional release in Italy only)
* "Tear Down These Houses" (January 2008) (Italian release only)

It's not exactly going to have taken many phone calls to put the freeze on limited-Italian-release-only type projects, is it?

American Head Charge: At least you won't have to pretend to be surprised when they reunite

I have to be honest, I wasn't aware American Head Charge were still a going concern. Nor did Cameron Heacock, apparently:

A statement from bassist Chad Hanks reads, "We've been ready and waiting for input from Cameron for almost two years; we've written and recorded two albums worth of material in that time.

"At this point, he no longer gives being in this band any sort of top priority, which is so sad, seeing as how he has such an amazing and unique voice; I couldn't wait to hear it on these songs. However, we’re looking forward to some new blood; a young, hungry soul that doesn't sound like anyone else and is ready to work his ass off."

Yes, the band are going to continue, if they can find someone else to do the singing.

Leaking: you're doing it wrong

An email plops into our inbox:

first Dead Man's Bones leaked track

Hey- here is the first leaked song from Dead Man's Bones called "My Body's a Zombie For You". The record comes Oct 6 on Anti.


Feel free to post/share

If you've got your PR team sending the track out by email, it's not actually a leak, is it?

Lady Gaga: She will eat your children or something

You'd really hope it was a joke, but Vigilant Citizen - and the suggestion that Lady GaGa is an "Illuminati Puppet" seems to be in earnest.

Apparently, she's the victim of mind control and ohmygodshecoversuponeeyeallthetime:

You only need to look at a couple of Lady Gaga pictures or videos to notice that she is constantly hiding one of her eyes. Most people will simply interpret this as ”a cool thing to do” or a “fashion statement”. Those who have passed the 101 of Illuminati symbolism know that the All-Seeing Eye is probably its most recognizable symbol. The gesture of hiding one eye, usually the left one, goes way back in occult orders.

The very really possibility that it's a lazy trademark gesture that she hopes nobody will notice has been ripped off iD apparently need not detain us.

Still, at least there's some good news:
While masses of young people imitate Gaga’s brain-dead persona, the subversive symbolism surrounding her art still reaches the fan’s subconscious. She is not the Antichrist though (last I’ve heard), she is simply one of the many pop stars sending out similar messages to the public.

Phew! She's not the Antichrist. That's reassuring to know.

[Ta to cassettes won't listen]

Gordon in the morning: Welcome to the cheap seats

Can this story really be true?

IT sounds like the worst piece of theatre ever thought of but AMY WINEHOUSE: The Musical may be coming to a stage near you.

No, of course it isn't true. What Gordon is reporting as if it was a fully-formed idea seems to be little more than whimsy on the part of Winehouse's brother:
The star's brother Alex reckons an all-singing, all-dancing production based on the singer's life would be a fantastic way to celebrate her chart comeback.

He says: "Amy is much better. I think one day there could be a musical of Amy's life.

"You just don't ever know how far things can go these days - look at all this talk of a JADE GOODY musical."

One day, Gordon is going to be sitting near a hungry celebrity, and we're going to see a story yelling "Robert Palmer is intending to eat an entire horse" within hours.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bono's Spider show hangs by a thread

The Bono and Edge scored Spiderman musical is on hold due to a "cash-flow crisis":

A statement on Sunday from the publicists for Hello Entertainment, one of the producers of “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark,” said work had been suspended on the musical because of “an unexpected cash flow problem.” The statement went on to say: “The plans necessary for this correction are in hand now, and it is expected that activities, including work in the theater, will resume within the immediate future and with no material impact upon the planned production schedule.”

That's an odd sort of immediate future - one which is immediate, but apparently unforeseeable.

Q has a slippery definition of the word "exclusive"

Here's some exciting news (if you can pretend to be excited by U2 for a minute) as Q trumpets an exclusive:

Q Radio will exclusively broadcast U2's entire show from Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium on the night of Thursday, 20 August.

Exclusive, huh? That's quite a coup, a small digital network like Q signing up those rights.

But... hang on a moment, what's this announcement from the Big City network?
The Bauer Radio network has secured the live broadcast rights to U2's latest tour, planning to air the band's Sheffield concert across its 20-station Big City network and three of its national digital stations.
The Big City network programme director, Steve King, said the concert would be the "biggest commercial radio event of 2009".

"U2 are very appropriate for the Big City network - they are straight down the middle of our audience, particularly the more recent material from their last album and the one before that," he said. "There aren't many artists you can do this with – U2, Take That, possibly Robbie Williams."

You would have thought that since Big City and Q are both Bauer stations, the trumpeting of "exclusive" on something that isn't could have been avoided.

To be fair, though, Big City stations won't quite be broadcasting the whole thing:
Longer pieces between songs would be taken out, King said, because they were not so relevant to a radio audience.

Presumably, though, Q will still leave those bits in, exclusively covering the bits that are meaningless on radio.

Disney not exactly endorsing latest Hannah Montana outing

Miley Cyrus' time as an employee of Disney is clearly now in its final stages, after Cyrus' pole dance at the Teen Choice awards.

Disney doesn't actually say "she is so gounded" but...:

According to, a spokesperson for the network said in a statement: "Disney Channel won't be commenting on that performance, although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience — kids 6-14 — and consistent with what our brand values are."

So, in other words, not like Miley Cyrus in a tiny top and skimpy shorts writhing on a pole, oh no.

Cyrus, for her part, has attempted to explain why her show wasn't supposed to look like late-night entertainment backstage at a Gary Glitter concert:
Before she took the stage at the show, Cyrus spoke to MTV News about the performance, saying she wanted the whole thing to be a spoof on growing up in Tennessee, adding that "it's about my roots."

"[My] performance tonight is funny, but I wanted it to be about [something more]," she said. "I'm like, 'This is to represent where I am from. I'm so proud of it.' All the girls trying to be Hollywood and stuff with their big glasses, me shooing them away."

As far as we can tell from Wikipedia and other sources, Cyrus didn't actually grow up in a Ukranian brothel, in Tennessee or elsewhere. Perhaps it looks different when viewed through, um, the big glasses of Hollywood. Perhaps.

Dylan gigs cancelled due to risk of the sun

Who knew? Holding outdoor gigs in Arizona during August could put people at the risk of health problems from the sun? Bob Dylan's gigs have been pulled as the thermometer hits 110. Fahrenheit, admittedly, but that's still weather you don't want to be outdoors in.

Radio without controls

Ah, design. When it's great, it enhances our lives and our world. When it's rubbish... well, you wind up with a radio without buttons being pushed as a leap forward:

Developed by Cambridge Consultants and Armour Group PLC, it is due to hit UK shelves in time for Christmas.

Rachel Harker, Business Development Manager for Cambridge Consultants, said: ''We realised that digital radios are difficult to use and you have to be quite techno-savvy to use them.

''We thought wouldn't it be great to have a radio that anyone from a child to your granny could use.

''The Q2 Cube is designed for everyone, not just 'gadgety' people. It's really quite simple.''

Given that current digital radios are quite like ordinary radios, it's not entirely clear where the demand for something less confusing comes from, but let's say there is. How does it work?
With no buttons, knobs or display, you switch to one of four pre-programmed digital radio stations by turning the cube onto the appropriate side.

The stations are selected via an online account on your home computer, and then wirelessly streamed to the cube anywhere in the house.

Users can change the volume of the speaker on the front panel simply by tilting the cube forwards or back.

So it's really simple to use, providing you can handle the bit where you set up the channels originally on your PC and are able to get your wifi, PC and radio to all speak to each other. Which is the bit that usually makes IP radio difficult. Oh, and if you decide you want to listen to something other than one of the four stations, you have to hike back to your computer to make the change. That's really simple, right there, then.

[via @drivelcast]

Feargal Sharkey pins his hopes on all-you-can-eat

UK Music - the group which represents the bits of people working in music who choose to be represented by it, and nobody else - has issued a report which... well, you know what it will show. People download music and don't pay for it.

It turns out Sharkey's people are now throwing their weight behind all-you-can-eat pricing - presumably because they imagine that the major labels can slice a subsidy off the internet service providers without any really noticing.

The survey finds that a majority of respondents use file-sharing:

Feargal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of UK Music, is phlegmatic about young people's behaviour.

"Have they got the message that there is a thing called copyright and there is a philosophy of copyright? Yup. They get it. They just don't care," he says.

"What they're quite clearly trying to explain to us at the minute is that we can get it for free and we're not going to get caught."

Well, not quite, Feargal. What you and the RIAA still are having trouble grasping (once again) is that people respect there's copyright in music; it's just that they perceive the market value of individual song files to be zero, or nearly zero. Until you come to terms with that, you're not going to be able to develop a strategy for making money in the new world. (All you can eat, by the way, is not a strategy.)

That's what I'm talking about

Clearly, HMV have money to burn, as they're investing in those weird advertising screens that Alan Sugar is making his "lucky" Apprentices work on.

Indeed, it was Lee McQueen who "brokered" the deal between HMV and Amscreen. Rumours that the screens will be used to flash up the thoughts of Gennaro Castaldo as soon as they occur could not be confirmed at this time.

Xfm tries to get it right; gets it wrong

Actually, we're being unfair. Johnny Borrell presenting a programme on Xfm isn't wrong for the station. Indeed, set against the confused attempts by a mainstream station to try and give itself a veneer of the supposed alternative station in Global's not-very-diverse radio portfolio, putting Borrell on is a radical move. That's what makes it so heartbreaking.

"Xfm are the only station who would let me play Buju Banton next to Allen Ginsberg within the same show. It's going to be one hour each night of the songs they don't play on the radio," said Borrell.

He's right, you know. Of course, any number of radio stations - Radio 1, 2, 3 and 6; NME Radio probably - would have shows with that sort of playlist. But none in their right mind would take Borrell on to play them, for fear of becoming the butt of gags.

Not Xfm, mind, who seem to genuinely believe that Borrell is veiwed as one part Andy Kershaw to two parts Richey Manic:
Paul Jackson, group programme director of Xfm, alongside sister Global Radio stations 95.8 Capital FM and the Hit Music Network, said Borrell was a "creative genius and a great storyteller".

He added: "We've always loved Razorlight at Xfm and we're looking forward to seeing what Johnny does with the show and which tracks he chooses."

Well, at least there's going to be one listener. And Johnny will probably get his mum to tape it for him to listen to when he gets home.

Jet become unwitting Placebo tribute act

After Brian Molko's collapse on stage the other night, Nic Cester has followed suit:

Aussie Rocker Nic Cester from JET collapsed tonight on stage at Q The Music Club Live At Hard Rock Café as part of the worldwide promotional tour for the band's upcoming CD, SHAKA ROCK.

The singer had been unwell all day but insisted on coming to the gig and not letting fans down. JET took to the stage at 8pm GMT and performed "Rip It Up" and She's A Genius" before Nic passed out.

Nic got up on his feet and jokingly told the audience he had Swine Flu before collapsing for a second time.

Nic was walked off stage by the band's tour management leaving Cam, Chris and Mark to soldier on to perform 3 more songs - "Holiday," "Beat On Repeat" And "Get What You Need."

Nic was rushed to University College Hospital in Euston, London, UK in an ambulance and is being treated for symptoms of gastroenteritis, acute vomiting and dehydration. The singer will be held overnight for monitoring.

I'm not sure playing an overprice tourist cafe is quite the gig it's worth putting your health at risk for, but I suppose you have to admire his commitment to ensuring the show must go on. Even if you'd perhaps rather it hadn't.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Folkobit: Mike Seeger

Mike Seeger, doomed forever to be thought of as the less-famous half-brother of Pete, has died.

Less famous, but no less significant, though: Seeger's career as a folk archivist and musician stretched across six decades. He was a key figure in the 1950s folk revival - mainly but not exclusively through the New Lost City Ramblers. In 2007, his work helped Robert Plant and Alison Krauss to a Grammy.

Seeger suffered from multiple myeloma. He died on Friday.

This is him in 2007, performing Cumberland Gap at a festival in Wintergreen:

Let's hope they don't give him a Placebo

Brian Molko collapsed during last night's Osaka gig. There's a statement:

We would firstly like to thank you for all your kind words and messages of support regarding Brian’s health after fainting at the show in Osaka, Japan, yesterday.

It is always incredibly disappointing when a show cannot take place for any reason, particularly on this occasion due to Brian being unwell, as we have looked forward for such a long time to these shows in Japan!

We have undertaken a gruelling and intensive schedule over the last few months and the last couple of weeks alone played 5 countries in 9 days. Brian picked up a virus which coupled with jet lag and exhaustion caused his collapse on stage. Thanks to prompt and professional care Brian is recovering well.

We would like to extend our grateful thanks and sincere apologies to the fans who made a huge effort travelling to see us in Osaka, especially after long queue’s in the heavy rain. We would also like to extend many thanks and apologies to the promoters, Creative Man, at Summer Sonic for all their help and understanding under difficult circumstances.

We are all the more devastated after such an amazing show in Tokyo on Saturday where the crowd was incredible. We were so excited to be back in Japan after a few years away and we were reminded what a very special place Japan is to us.

Thank you all for your ongoing support and we hope to make it up to you with new dates in Japan very soon. We love your country and can’t wait to come back.

A virus, you say? *cough* *swineflu* *cough*.

Although, of course, I'm not a doctor. Apparently even if you cut the diploma off the Wheaties box neatly, it still doesn't count.

[Thanks, @dillpickle]

Final Fantasy sign to Domino

More good news: Final Fantasy - near enough to an Arcade Fire spin-off as to make not much difference for our purposes here - have signed to Domino. Owen Pallett is promising an album early next year as a result.

Membranes forming up again

The comebacks which delight are often, it seems, centered on All Tomorrow's Parties, and this one adds to that strike rate: The Membranes are getting back together at the behest of My Bloody Valentine. This is the Nightmare Before Christmas one.

John Robb is, naturally, verbose in his excitement:

Like King Arthur's knights buried beneath the soil of Merrie Englande we are ready to be called on in the country's hour of peril. We were called. And we will play.

It's not clear where they were during the time of Gareth Gates, but better late than never, eh?

Steve Lammo to go

Steve Lamacq's last fingerhold on the Radio One schedule has been pried away, as his In New Music We Trust slot has been axed as part of an overhaul of specialist music programming on the network.

Because these things are always circular, his programme is going in order to make room for hour-long music documentaries. The same hour-long music documentaries which were originally dropped when Lamacq Live was brought in a few years back.

There's also another returning format, as a new version of Roundtable comes to Tuesdays:

Tuesdays (9.00-10.00pm) sees Nihal hosting a four-way battle of wits and fury as a journalist, a musician and a DJ discuss the qualities (or lack of) of the biggest records, films and games released that week in Radio 1's new review programme.

This back-to-the-Bannister era of programming - Huw Stephens is even turning up with something that's a bit like Out On Blue Six - is being pitched as a way of connecting with the yoof (and, presumably, trying to head off the calls for privatisation):
Andy Parfitt, Controller, Radio 1, adds: "Taken together with our recent revamp of the core daytime schedule, this represents one of the most significant shake-ups of the whole schedule in recent times and will help us focus on a new generation of Radio 1 listeners."

Hmm. It all sounds a little hotch-potchy, and swapping Annie Mac with Pete Tong and giving Tim Westwood his own programme again hardly seems to be quite as earth-shattering as Parfitt would suggest.

Those other new programmes in full:
* Annie Nightingale moves from Saturdays (5.00-7.00am) to Fridays (2.00-4.00am)
* Rob da Bank moves from Mondays (2.00-4.00am) to Saturdays (5.00-7.00am)
* Mary-Anne Hobbs moves from Tuesdays (2.00-4.00am) to Thursdays (2.00-4.00am)
* Gilles Peterson moves from Thursdays (2.00-4.00am) to Tuesdays (2.00-4.00am)
* 1Xtra's Mixtape on Sunday from 3.00-5.00am will be presented by Seani B (as a result of Mistajam moving to the new 11.00pm-1.00am show)

Rob DaBank's excellenty programme now effectively filling in the early breakfast slot on a Saturday? Is that going to work?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Even if the music industry won't learn from their mistakes, someone is

Chris Ahearn, President, Media at Thomson Reuters, has been watching and learning:

Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.

A better approach is to have a general agreement among community members to treat others’ content, business and ideas with the same respect you would want them to treat yours…

Perhaps EMI should think about approaching him?

[via John Naughton]

John Hughes weekend: Sixteen Candles... three

Don't worry, there isn't going to be a track for every one of the candles, but you can't let a chance to post Altered Images slide by, can you?

Altered Images - Happy Birthday Plus

[Part of the John Hughes weekend]

John Hughes weekend: Sixteen Candles... two

Also from the soundtrack, the supreme song-about-wanking:

The Vapors - New Clear Days

[part of The John Hughes weekend]

John Hughes weekend: Sixteen Candles

Taking the memorial John Hughes feature into the soundtrack of Sixteen Candles - the key work, surely?

First up, here's Nick Heyward from 2008 doing Whistle Down The Wind:

Nick Heyward: Very Best Of...
Sixteen Candles DVD

[Part of the John Hughes weekend]

Mark Lester to Paris Jackson: Consider yerself one of us

Tucked in the tawdry unfolding tragedy of the Jackson fallout, as Mark Lester chooses the News of the World to announce his suspicion that Paris is his kid, is this:

"It's been a secret for so long," said Mark. "In 1996 Michael asked me if I would give him my sperm and I said yes. It was a gift to him, no money was paid, it was something I was honoured to do. He wanted children so badly."

That sort of request has the ability to get very awkward very quickly:

- Can I have your sperm? Yes? That so... mffff... I meant in this jar, Mark. I meant in the jar... God, it makes your eyes sting, doesn't it?

The appearance of this paternity claim, naturally, is what Michael would have wanted:
"I'm the Godparent to them and Michael was Godparent to all my four kids. Our two families spent a lot of time together, and had a lot fun together. Now I'm not able to have any communication with the children. My repeated phone calls aren't returned and emails go unanswered.

"This isn't what Michael would have wanted. I feel I have to come forward, as my only way of saying, 'Please don't shut me out!'"

Yes, having constructed an elaborate ruse and pretended for a decade that the children were his, Jackson would so have been thrilled to see the story falling apart in the pages of a British tabloid newspaper.

This week just gone

The ten most-read pieces published in July were:

1. 3AM pinch Little Boots' tweets, make up the rest
2. Panic At The Disco split in two
3. Janes Addiction want copyright on all images
4. RIP: Gordon Waller
5. Charles Moore, licence fee evader, lands rest of us with massive libel bill
6. Alison Mosshart's jeans up for grabs
7. Taylor Horn claims racism after her paperwork is wrong
8. Graham Coxon hospitalised before T in the Park
9. George Sampson slags off Warrington, like he comes from Halton or something
10. RIP: James Klass

These were the interesting releases:

Cinerama - Cinerama Holiday

download Cinerama Holiday

Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

download Minimum Maximum

MSTRKRFT - Fist Of God

download Fist Of God

Nanci Griffith - Blue Roses From The Moon

download From A Distance: The Best Of

Frankmusik - Complete Me

download Complete Me

The Twang - Jewelery Corner

download Jeweley Corner

Modest Mouse - No-one's First And You're Next

download Everywhere And His Nasty Parlour Tricks

Various - Ze30 [Alan Vega, Suicide, Kid Creole...]