Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blobby Blobby Blobby: That's the sound of the Daily Mail

(It's a slight stretch, but Mr. Blobby did have a couple of novelty hits and so just scrapes in under the remit...)

The Daily Mail takes time out of demanding that Stephen Gately's corpse be used as a deadly warning to gays to stop it, in order to revist Blobbyland, discovering that Noel Edmond's playground now lies in tatters.

Somewhat oddly, the Mail insists that the place has been destroyed by "ravers" (dictates of space in the article apparently left out the explanation that, following his 1989 Tory conference speech, Douglas Hurd had all the acid-house ravers fired so far into space they landed 20 years in the future.)

Still, it might all sound fun, but won't someone think of the children? Oh, hang about, someone has:

Mr Blobby fan Chris Bryant, 25, said he had visited the theme park in 1998 with his parents.

He said: 'I remember it being really good fun. It was amazing wandering round Mr Blobby's house, and it's a shame it's now been completely wrecked.

'The ravers should have more respect for Mr Blobby. He was a hero to a lot of kids and the thought of them taking drugs and having all-night raves in his house is completely disrespectful.'

I would have assumed that Chris was merely taking the piss out of the Mail, had he not revealed that he visited Blobbyland when he was a teenager. That detail alone must, surely, mean he's serious?

Good news, Chris: any "kids" who Blobby was a hero to would have been kids in the early 90s, so by now, they'll probably have more pressing worries, like sexually transmitted diseases or mortgage arrears to be worrying about. Although if they had had a hero who did little more than fall over a lot, perhaps not.

To be fair, Blobby did have one other talent, of managing to make Noel Edmonds not the most annoying person on the Noel Edmonds Programme That Isn't The One That The Guy Died On. Perhaps the druggies should respect Blobby for that, if nothing else.

Diddy's show-off stunt more expensive than he planned

P Diddy wanted to show off how ridiculously well-rewarded he is for... whatever it is he does, exactly, and so threw money into the audience.

Awkwardly, he also managed to fling a mutton-headedly expensive ring into the crowd as well. It was worth USD20,000 - and we can tell from how freaked out Diddy was, exactly how much cash he really has to fling about.

Diddy locked the doors of the venue (which would be illegal) and launched into searching all the audience seeking the ring back. Let's hope there's no unlawful imprisonment lawsuits launched off the back of that, or Diddy might discover the loss of a twenty grand ring is the least of the debits.

Having failed to find the ring, Diddy is now trying to claim that he isn't bothered:

"A lot of people askin[g] about a ring I lost. Yes I did. And that's ok. I lose things too. You win some you lose some. My loss is anothers gain." Diddy wrote on his Twitter -

"Its ok to lose things because it makes you appreciate what you still have! I didn't like that ring any way! Lol lol let's goooooo!"

Diddy continued: Yeah. Ugly old ring. Huh, I'm glad I lost it, what with it being such a horrible ring I chose to wear it when on stage for my show doing whatever it is I do - like I was wearing pants that don't fit any more and a shirt my aunt gave me for Christmas that I don't like. Yeah, I was only locking people in the building and frisking them because the ring is so rubbish, I was afraid the finder might show it to people and say "this is Diddy's ring" and they'd think I only had rings like that. Yeah, that'd be it. Or it's cursed. That's it... it's got a pirate curse on it, from a pirate, that the wearer will find himself in court on unlawful imprisonment class action charges. Thats... why... I wanted it back... to save people... from... aw, shit.

This week just gone

Cate LeBon - Me Oh My

download Me Oh My

Hidden Cameras - Origin: Orphan

download Origin: Orphan

Editors - In This Light & On This Evening

download In This Light

Echo & The Bunnymen - The Fountain

download The Fountain

Flaming Lips - Embryonic

download Embryonic

The Dame - Space Oddity 40th Anniversary Edition

download Space Oddity

Thurston Moore & Michael Lavine - Grunge

It's what he would have wanted

This may well be the height of good taste, and we're just not realising it:

Dannii Minogue Tweets about how she cried during Ronan Keating's eulogy

Turn it down, Madonna

It's no fun living upstairs from Madonna, it turns out. Her upstairs neighbour, being a New Yorker, is resorting to legal action rather than merely banging on the floor with a broom handle:

Karen George, of Manhattan, lives above Madonna in a building on Central Park.

She said in a lawsuit filed Friday against the building's co-op board that the Material Girl is using her apartment as a rehearsal studio, forcing neighbors to endure "blaring music, stomping and shaking walls," for up to three hours each day.

George complained about "unreasonably high-decibel, amplified music" and vibrations pouring through walls, ceilings and radiators.

The complaint doesn't say if Madonna is playing her own music. If she is - especially if it's late-period - forget the lawsuit, Ms George, and head straight for the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

Streaming: How I Became The Bomb

Can't wait for How I Became The Bomb's Deadly Art album? The whole thing is streaming - official and licensed - online right this very moment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where is Beatles house?

A swift response from Flo Clucas on her proposal for a Beatles walk and news of Ringo's house:

Sorry, but the Beatles tourism brief is not with me. The proposal is a personal one, rather than a poirtfolio matter.
However, I will find out about Ringo's house for you. It is some 5 years since I was responsible for the housing portfolio. I will ask the Executive Director what the Museum's situation is, as the fit out for the new building has not yet taken place.

Thanks to Flo for the quick response.

Wavves reorganise tour dates

After canceling their European tour following what their press team coyly describe as "for reasons that have been well documented" (a drug-addled nightmare of a Primavera performance, in less coy terms), the UK dates have just been reorganised:

Tuesday 17 November – BRIGHTON - Audio
Wednesday 18 November – OXFORD - Jericho Tavern
Thursday 19 November – BRISTOL - Thekla
Friday 20 November – NOTTINGHAM - Social
Saturday 21 November – LIVERPOOL - Korova
Sunday 22 November – GLASGOW - Captains Rest
Monday 23 November – NEWCASTLE - Head of Steam
Tuesday 24 November – LEEDS - University Bar
Wednesday 25 November – MANCHESTER - Deaf Institute
Thursday 26 November – LONDON - 93 Feet East

This is what it won't be like (fingers crossed):

Daily Mail uses Gately's death for a spot of lazy queerbashing

Jan Moir has attempted to explain why her vicious little homophobic article for the Daily Mail wasn't a vicious little homophobic article:

"Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately. This was never my intention. Stephen, as I pointed out in the article was a charming and sweet man who entertained millions.

"However, the point of my column-which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read - was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions. That was all. Yes, anyone can die at anytime of anything. However, it seems unlikely to me that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately's death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death. At the very least, it could have exacerbated an underlying medical condition.

"The entire matter of his sudden death seemed to have been handled with undue haste when lessons could have been learned. On this subject, one very important point. When I wrote that 'he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine', I was referring to the drugs and the casual invitation extended to a stranger. Not to the fact of his homosexuality. In writing that 'it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships' I was suggesting that civil partnerships - the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting - have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.

"In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones."

Ah, so it's not that she wrote a hompohibic piece with bigoted undertones - it's that people used the internet to react to it.

And you're right, Moir, there was no way your piece had bigoted undertones. Or, if there were, they were drowned out by the bigoted overtones. Roy Greenslade preemptively took Moir's defence to pieces, while Charlie Brooker finishes the job:
Incredibly, yes. Moir genuinely believes the coroner got it wrong: "Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one."

At this point, I dare to challenge the renowned international forensic pathologist Jan Moir, because I personally know of two other men (one in his 20s, one in his early 30s), who died in precisely this way. According to the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (, "Twelve apparently fit and healthy young people die in the UK from undiagnosed heart conditions" every single week. That's a lot of broken teacups, eh Jan?

Ah, but unless Cardiac Risk tells us if they're gay or not, surely that's a meaningless statistic, Charlie?
Marks And Spencer have pulled their advertising

Switching channels: TMF is dead, viva Viva

MTV is dumping its Freeview-centric channel TMF (or The Music Factory as nobody ever called it) and rebranding it as Viva:

The channel, aimed at 16-34 year olds, comprises of a mix of content from the US, including The Hills and Two and a Half Men, as well as established music programming.

Heather Jones, executive VP of content, creative, music and comedy at MTV Networks, says: “Viva is not simply a new-look TMF but instead a completely new channel. TMF has, for a long time been about more than simply music so it deserves an identity that reflects its output.”

Not just dodgy rap videos, but hoary old reruns of painfully unfunny sitcoms and faux-reality too.

Still, brave of MTV to choose Viva as its new name - the title doesn't actually have an auspicious history in the UK. Those of you with longer memories might recall short-lived London radio station aimed at women of the same name. Still, they didn't have Two And A Half Men to fall back on.

Sugababes: Google, you've got to let go

Matt W emails to point out that, if you Google the Sugababes, the official site's metadata seems to be coming from some other, happier, time and place:

As Matt points out:

"The official website of the female pop group (consisting of Keisha, Mutya and Heidi)"

So, not only is it out of date in terms of Keisha, but also, Mutya's in there too. Four years after she left, no less!

You'd have to bet on Mutya being the only one who could do decent HTML coding.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buju meets some gays; manages to not shoot them

In an ongoing bid to try and rebuild his international career after people noticed what he was actually singing, Buju Banton has had a meeting with gay people in the US. Banton's planned US tour had been suffering under the weight of calls for a boycott, and this was an attempt to try and offset that.

Michael Petrelis was one of those taking part in the awkward meeting. He got a taste of why Buju is struggling to balance messages to his Jamaican fanbase with the need to not have protests outside his US concerts:

As I expected once it became public knowledge that I was part of a crew of gay advocates that meet with a homo-hating Jamaican singer, I received messages from straight Jamaicans claiming to be Jesus-loving Christians, who then proceeded to condemn me for daring to call for the singer to say these three words in a public forum in Kingston: Love gay people.

It's going to be virtually impossible to get Buju to say that. And even if you can, there's still his fanbase to deal with. I'm not sure there's much to be gained in an awkward photo-op between the two sides, for either side.

Madonna consumes more young flesh

It's not surprising that Madonna is hanging on to Lady GaGa's knickers; for the last half-decade or so Madge has desperately rushed round to stand next to any female artist doing well in the US in a bid to try and (a) suggest she invented her and (b) try and eat some of their young glands:

"I think Lady Gaga is great," Madge says in the new issue of Rolling Stone. "When we saw her, I actually felt a kind of recognition. I thought, 'She's got something.' There's something quirky about her. She's fearless and funny, and when she spoke to the audience, she sounded intelligent and clever. She's unique."

Unique, Madonna? Surely she reminds you of... oooh, somebody:
"I can see myself in Lady Gaga," Madge continued. "In the early part of my career, for sure. When I saw her, she didn't have a lot of money for her production, she's got holes in her fishnets, and there's mistakes everywhere. It was kind of a mess, but I can see that she's got that It factor. It's nice to see that at a raw stage."

She's unique! Just like me!

Downloadable: Dragonette & Richard X

Just ahead of the digital release of new single Fixin' To Thrill on October 27th, Dragonette are making good use of the life left in the current single, Pick Up The Phone, by getting Richard X to remix it and sharing it for free with everyone.

Licking the back of Bobby Gillespie's head

I'm surprised the Royal Mail are even bothering to release a series of classic album stamps, because obviously the kids will just download them and put their own glue on the back.

Still, it's quite fitting that Paul Cannell - whose Screamadelica cover is one of the chosen titles - will have his art given a national platform. On the other hand, anyone sends me a letter with Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head in the top right corner will find it being returned unopened.

Leona Lewis: Getting the story

Congratulations to the Daily Mirror - talk about being in the right place at the right time; they were down at Waterstone's signing where Leona Lewis got attacked by a man.

Here's the video:

Oh. Like Lizzie Archer that time the marrow exploded, it looks like the Mirror team decided that nothing interesting was going to happen, and left early. Imagine, Sly Bailey, how much cash footage of the incident might have generated...

Hannah says come to Estonia

Estonia. The very name conjurs magic, doesn't it? Estonia and its brave Estonian citizenry, and...

Okay. I'll be honest. I don't know much about modern Estonia. If only there was some way of discovering more about the Baltic state that was combined with some unthreatening Europop.

Hang about... what's this press release?

With Estonia slowly emerging as one of the UK’s most popular away breaks for families, Estonian pop star Hannah is launching a unique initiative to broaden awareness of the beautiful Baltic state amongst children and families in the UK. The aim is to use pop music to educate the British public via a tour of UK schools about all aspects of Estonia including tourism, technology and produce. This unique initiative is supported by the Estonian Embassy and Enterprise Estonia in London.

Who wouldn't want a pop star popping in to your class room to offer a few words on Estonian produce?

Actually, I'd hope this could be turned into a cultural exchange - can we send Frankie from the Saturdays to Eastern Europe with a selection of East Anglian produce and a powerpoint pulled together by BAe?

I'm struggling a little to work out how a tourist venue would "slowly emerge as one of the most popular away breaks" - is there, perhaps, a mysterious gap in the top ten list which scientists are starting to suspect might be filled by Estonia?
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital was recently named European City of Culture 2011. To further enhance the country’s image as a holiday destination and hub of technological innovation, Estonia’s big musical star, Hannah, will be embarking on a series of educational initiatives combining the promotion of her single with talks about everything Estonia has to offer.

There might be a suspicion that things are so tight in Estonia, Hannah can only afford to tour elsewhere if the government underwrites the costs, and in return she has to do these lectures. It could be worse, though - they could have decided to send over a civil servant more able to talk fluently about Estonian agriculture, getting them put on a bikini and run through a couple of sub-Sabrina numbers instead.
Estonia has an enviable reputation as one of Europe’s most beautiful countries with fairytale nature, historic cobbled cities and some of the EU’s most dynamic and innovative economies. The country is now emerging as one of the UK’s most popular away breaks for families and as the face and voice of Estonia, Hannah will be meeting British school children and sharing her passion for her home country.

Is it okay for someone to pop into school to do a bit of advertising? Sure, she's selling Estonia - but if she can go in to do that, isn't a principle established? Would Mel B then be able to visit the local comprehensive and push cosmetics, crotchless panties and rampant rabbits?
"To represent such a small but amazingly beautiful country is an honour for me,” says Hannah. “I carry the country with me wherever I am and Estonia is a mystical place."

Mystical? Are you sure? Mysterious, perhaps, but mystical is quite a claim. Tell me more of its transcendence...
...It’s a great country for finding some quiet time...

= not a great deal going on
...and you can walk through our historical medieval capital...

The implication being that there's not very much public transport
...and pop into our small shops.

She's making it sound a little bit like Devizes.
You can also discover the most amazing restaurants and spend hours enjoying the fabulous food

In other words, the service is slow and it takes quite a time to chew through the national dishes.
...or you can just leave the capital behind...

Are you saying that once you're outside the capital, there will be no more chances to go into small shops or restaurants?
...and find out into the countryside which also has so much to offer. Undiscovered forests, filled with berries and mushrooms...

How do you know they're filled with stuff if they're undiscovered?
...miles and miles of scenic beaches and beautiful small islands with some of the world’s best health-spas mean there's always plenty to do in Estonia and Estonian’s [sic] have a wonderfully natural and organic way of living.

Unlike, say, Norway or Cheltenham, where the lifeforms are inorganic.
Estonia is simply beautiful!”

You know what? It really is. We never got Estonians pimping their country when I was at school - just dour theatrics against nuclear power. But I'm not sure she's going to find today's kids really likely to go home and pester their parents to visit the country where you can see mushrooms growing wild.

Bye-bye, A-Ha

No, no, apparently this is the first time A-Ha have split; those five A-Ha less years in the mid-1990s were only a hiatus. Although given that most bands who split these days tend to reform in less than five years, it's hard to see how you'd tell the difference between a band on hiatus and a split-up band. Perhaps they still pop in to turn the lights on and off in the rehearsal room if they're only on hiatus.

But now, we must get used to living without A-Ha, as they're officially off:

"We've literally lived the ultimate boy's adventure tale," the group said in a statement.

Literally? I'm thinking this would mean they've fought Nazis and lions in the jungle with a NO GIRLZ sign stapled to their backs.

Still, don't worry: they're not about to wade into the sea and never return:
"We are retiring as a band, not as individuals," the band reassured fans in their statement.

So... lots of so-so solo records, then?
The trio added that the split would allow them to pursue "other meaningful aspects of life, be it humanitarian work, politics, or whatever else."

Ah, the choices Morten Harket faces - "shall I go into politics? Shall I build a house for the humanity? Or... maybe... whatever else. Ooh... it's raining. Whatever else today, then. What time is Homes Under The Hammer on?"

Mind you, although they've started to say goodbye, it's going to be one of those long ones:
The group have announced they will mount a farewell tour before disbanding. Only the final date, in Oslo on 4 December 2010, has so far been confirmed.

December 2010? That's not splitting up - most of the bands schlepping about at the moment dream of being able to book dates in December 2010. It's a little cruel when you've got acts like Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong hoping they can make it through to Friday teatime for A-Ha to be announcing a split fourteen months in the future, isn't it?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - The June Brides

Back when I was still in the target audience readership of the NME, indie pop stars would have their lack-of-music-based income underwritten by the then-generous dole. Nowadays, it seems the government supports indie gods by offering them civil service jobs later in the process. Fire Escape Talking catches up with Phil Wilson, June Brides and Customs tax-advisor:

You were advising on tax policy for Customs and Amelia Fletcher is now Senior Director of Mergers at the OfT. Is there a danger of indiepop taking over the civil service or is the civil service an attractive option for indiepop stars?Ex-indiepop people only have a few options - teaching, the civil service or destitution! The rest of the June Brides are either teachers (Big Jon is a deputy headmaster at a girls' school) or in the civil service. Who else is gonna take us on?! There were 3 indiepop stars in an office of over 1000 - so no great danger, as yet, of an indiepop takeover ;-)

[Thanks to RobF]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Go on a Beatles ramble

An email from James M points out that those who suggest that Liverpool has little to offer beyond an endless regurgitation of its past should eat their words: Why, they're about to promote some new, young talent:

A BEATLES trail through Liverpool, taking in some of the most iconic locations connected to the Fab Four, is to be debated by city leaders.

What would you call such an invention?
Ideas for the trail – dubbed ‘The Long and Winding Road’ after the Let It Be track – include plotting the fateful route taken from the NEMS record store in Whitechapel to the Cavern on Mathew Street.

Really? That's going to be a bit of a stretch, given how the city council have allowed the city to be knocked about over the last fifty years.

Who's behind the idea, then? It turns out to be an old friend of No Rock And Roll Fun:
The motion was put forward by deputy city leader Cllr Flo Clucas and is to be debated at the meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

Flo, of course, can see the upside in cherishing The Beatles' heritage:
While in the run up to the Capital of Culture year, some were keen to stress that Liverpool has more to offer than just the Beatles, Cllr Clucas said she believed there was more to be made of Liverpool’s Beatles history.

She added: “From my point of view, firstly, the Beatles are big business, whatever you think about their music – which I happen to love.

Look at the classic performers, like Elvis, and Graceland, his home in Memphis – their home towns exploit it to the full.”

Exactly, Flo. Spot on.

You should have a word with your colleagues, though - if memory serves, one of the takes a totally opposing view - even encouraging the demolition of those very iconic landmarks which attract visitors in their hundreds, like Ringo Starr's first home:
Flo Clucas, executive member for housing, said: "Ringo Starr lived in the Madryn Street house for about three months before he moved to Admiral Grove, where he lived for about 20 years.

"John Lennon and Paul McCartney's childhood homes were preserved because they spent a significant part of their lives in them.

"The house on Madryn Street has no historical significance."

Of course, Flo did change her mind when people noticed what she was doing, and - to be fair - Ringo's house was standing in the way of a project to demolish perfectly serviceable Victorian homes to free up land for developers to build upon. Clucas then announced that the house would be saved for a grateful nation - although she wasn't very keen on sharing any of the details when we asked about them; eventually she told us it wasn't part of her remit any more and never replied when we asked her who was looking after the bricks.

Still, now she's back as chief Beatles champion on the city council, presumably she'll be able to help us out. We've dropped her a note to find out what happened to Ringo's house.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Copyright

Thanks to James P for the tip-off about Ars Technica's piece on 100 years of the content industry calling for technology to be stopped before it ruins their business. Take, for example, John Philip Sousa, pointing at the recorder-music machines which surely would... well, kill us all:

"From the days when the mathematical and mechanical were paramount in music, the struggle has been bitter and incessant for the sway of the emotional and the soulful," he wrote. "And now in this the twentieth century come these talking and playing machines and offer again to reduce the expression of music to a mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks, cylinders, and all manner of revolving things which are as like real art as the marble statue of Eve is like her beautiful living breathing daughters."

In fact, things were so bad that amateur music-making was threatened, something that could lead indirectly to the rampant sissification of the entire country. "Under such conditions," Sousa believed, "the tide of amateurism cannot but recede until there will be left only the mechanical device and the professional executant. Singing will no longer be a fine accomplishment; vocal exercises so important a factor in the curriculum of physical culture will be out of vogue. Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?"

Sonic Youth swing by Gossip Girl

So, it turns out this isn't some idea which turned out to be a joke. Sonic Youth really are doing Gossip Girl:

Coming next week: Mudhoney play The Dollhouse, while Tad knock out an impromptu set in the background of Mad Men.

[Thanks to Chris S]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Downloadable: Little Boots

Yes, yes, it's RCRDLBL again: a free copy of Little Boots' Earthquake, all remade by Treasure Fingers).

It's also a good excuse to mention Little Boots teaming up with Bugged Out for a night of lovelies in Shoreditch. Happily, they admit the name (Boots Camp) came before the plans for the night, but it doesn't sound like it's going to be a Partridge Amongst The Pigeons affair. 65-71 Scrutton St, on November 14th.

Q wins an award

Congratulations to Q and Love for winning a Maggie award each for magazine covers.

Showing the way that magazine design has become increasingly inventive over the years since just lobbing a half-naked woman on the front, Love won the fashion title for its naked Beth Ditto cover while Q took the overall prize for, erm, a half-naked Lily Allen.

Judging panel chairman Jim Bilton, a magazine industry veteran and managing partner of Wessenden Marketing, said: "A stunning image, strong cover lines with clear typography and an excellent 'greatest' list prominently highlighted all adds up to a winning cover creatively and commercially, producing one of the highest copy sales of the year.

"Lily wasn't a core artist for the Q readership and had heavy media coverage at the time. The solution – add panthers and a creative photo shoot – produced a truly memorable result which is our favourite cover this year."

The artist isn't really someone who Q readers want to read about so we got her to take her top off and all of a sudden, she's interesting to them.

Beatles industry reports sighting of some fools still with money; plots separation operation

As if the disappointing sales of the CDs and the underwhelming performance of the computer game wasn't enough, the Beatles industry intends to carry on churning out overwrought, unnecessary stuff:

The Beatles Box Of Vision® is the deluxe companion to the newly re-mastered Beatles CDs, and will be available as the ultimate Beatles gift in the UK and Europe this Christmas from www.[a website].com and www.[a website].com, plus select retailers.

"Select retailers" - I suspect self-selecting, as most, surely, would have declined this package:
Officially licensed by The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd., the stunning collection, previously only available in North America, includes the following Beatles’ collectible content: The first book in the box is the LP Sized Album Artwork Book includes 200 pages of the Beatles’ LP artwork – the first time all the Beatles’ UK and US album artwork has been collected together in one LP sized book. The Album Artwork book includes front and back covers, gatefolds, inserts and the complete LP booklets from Magical Mystery Tour and many more.

The second book, ‘The Catalography’, is an extensive, all-new, full-colour guide jam-packed with photos, text and track-listings providing the first-ever side-by-side presentation of the U.K. albums and their U.S. counterparts.

The third book is entitled the ‘The Box of Vision Storage Book’ – a highly collectible, unique and stylish way for Beatles fans to organize and display all 32 discs of The Beatles’ core catalog. Beatles fans will have the opportunity to insert CDs and booklets from their existing Beatles collections or the recently released digitally re-mastered versions.

So, it's a book you put the CDs in (or, rather, "have the opportunity" to put the CDs in), and then stick the booklets and artwork in, alongside another book which collects all the artwork and booklets in it.
Ideal for fans, collectors and Christmas gift giving, all three Beatles books are housed in an elegant black, linen-covered box with silver embossed Beatles logos and faux Beatles LP spines.

I love the way "Christmas gift giving" implies that this box is the sort of thing you could give to someone who falls neither into 'fans' or 'collectors' nevertheless.

Michael Jackson posthumous career as much a mess as prehumous one

Good lord, it was hard to imagine that the management of Michael Jackson's career could have got worse once he was taken out the equation, but it's happened.

That new Michael Jackson song? It turns out it's nearly twenty years old, was originally recorded by a totally different artist and- oh, yes - Paul Anka says the tapes were stolen from his studio and had already been returned once:

Anka said that Jackson returned the tapes after he threatened the star with legal action, but, he claimed, Jackson made a copy and used the track with his voice from I Never Heard, re-titling it This Is It.

I Never Heard was eventually released in 1991 after Anka placed it with an unknown singer named Safire.

Hours after Anka made his claim on the showbusiness website TMZ, administrators for Jackson's estate made him a 50 per cent partner in the publishing rights to the song.

Remember, everybody: stealing music is wrong, unless it's the music industry doing the stealing, when we can always cut a deal.

[Thanks to Mike E and Michael M]

MySpace allows Edwyn Collins to share his own music

After the publicity started to stir around MySpace's refusal to allow Edwyn Collins to give away his own music, things have changed. Grace Maxwell has posted an update:

After 30 odd fruitless emails, A Girl Like You is now available in full on the myspace player! So, todays lesson is simple:


The whole sad world runs scared of bad publicity, especially from a righteous source like Edwyn Collins.

Warner Music Group has no connection with Edwyn whatsoever and yet they are still corporately arrogant enough to steal Edwyn's copyright and God knows what else from others. A guy from myspace advised me to treat their copyright department with kid gloves if I wanted a result. It didn't work. If the shoe was on the other foot they'd have been down on us like a ton of bricks. The next time a major tries to take ANYONE to court for copyright infringment, I'm volunteering my services as a witness for the defense. What's sauce for the goose....

So, a happy ending. Although the record companies flogging the tracks they don't own is still outstanding...

[Thanks to Francis for sharing the update in comments]

Monday, October 12, 2009

After Miley, the deluge: Courtney quits Twitter

As if the disappearance of Miley Cyrus wasn't enough for Twitter to cope with, now both Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain have wiped their accounts, too.

It seems that it's after Frances had a go at Ali Lohan via Tweets:

According to, Frances blasted Lohan after seeing her get VIP treatment at Fashion Week in Paris, writing, "(You're) not entitled to anything simply because your sister has a recognizable name. Your idea of fame isn't fame. It's infamy. You want to be famous? Work your ass off and make decisions that could potentially catapult your career into a lasting one."

So, one piece of fair comment from the daughter, and it's Twitter switched off. Whereas Courtney spends months flinging out half-mad, borderline libels and that seems to be alright...

Music from the Sky

Sky - the broadband services part of the tentacle-heavy business - has finally issued a press release explaining about its new stream-download cocktail music service which combines the direct-purchase of iTunes with the streaming of Spotify in one only slightly confusing package:

Sky Songs offers users unlimited streaming, plus download-to-own tracks and albums from £6.49 a month. Customers can also purchase additional music on a per-track or per-album basis from 65p and £6.49 respectively.

There are two subscription options available:

* pay £6.49 and download either a £6.49 album or 10 songs, and receive unlimited access to listen to over four million songs online for one month; or
* pay £7.99 and download either a £7.99 album or 15 songs, and receive unlimited access to listen to over four million songs online for one month.

It's not clear if you're on the £7.99 deal and download an album which costs £7.99 but only has 12 songs on it, if you can then download another three songs or if that's it, or if you could download the 12 songs individually and then still download another three. Or who would pay an extra one fifty a month on the off-chance that they might want to buy a slightly more expensive album every month. Or... well, it's all pretty confusing.

The download seems to be there to sweeten the deal and answer the "wouldn't I just listen to Spotify for free" question - right now, targeting what seems to be a very small sector of the market who are looking to subscribe rather than just ride out the adverts. It's an interesting idea, but doesn't seem to outstrip Spotify's premium offering.

Chocolate getting on the Apple: The iTunes bar

The suspicion was that iTunes much-ballyhooed new packaged-album format was little more than a sop to the record labels and their belief that the idea of throwing together seven or eight songs of mixed abilities is a sales proposition.

It looks like that might be the case, as when indie label owner Brian McKinney tried to bring his Chocolate Lab catalogue to the format, he got a response with shrift so short, it was immeasurable:

I contacted the digital distribution manager at my label's distributor. He had a conference call with an iTunes rep and asked how we go about putting an LP together. He was told that LPs aren't being offered to indies and that there are only about 12 LPs being offered right now. They also said that iTunes charges a $10,000 production fee for them as well. So that pretty much edges out the indie market completely.

In other words, by dinging the labels ten grand a time, Apple has merely invented a way to tax record label's beliefs in the album package.

This looks more and more like the results of a brainstorm which tried to answer the question "how can we look like we're doing our bit, but keeping the doomed-to-fail vibe at the heart of the plan?"

Everyone loves the new Michael Jackson single

Death has conferred on Michael Jackson many things his reputation had kept him away from for a long time - respectful press coverage, kind words and now: an actual single release.

Yes - now unencumbered by the need to worry about quality control and assured of a big sale - Jackson is back to sticking out records, with This Is It getting passed out to radio, and slathering all over the internet as a result.

It's not a bad record for a dead guy. Although... checking the paperwork, it turns out that he wasn't actually dead when he did his bits.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Downloadable: The Manic Street Preachers

Also from RCRDLBL, This Joke Sport Severed. It is, though, a remix by Patrick Wolf, which doesn't feel entirely comfortable - a bit like getting Rolf Harris to add a trademark touch or two to the Seagram Murals. Still, it's free, so make your own mind up.

Downloadable: The Crystal Method

A quick grab of stuff from RCRDLBL now - first up, The Crystal Method featuring Emily Haines. It's Come Back Clean, specifically the Kaskade Radio Edit.

Embed and breakfast man: Enter Shikari

And now, from Norwich, it's... well, not quite Nicholas Parsons:

That'd be your Enter Shikari, doing a promotional business for Zzzonked. It just frightened me when it started playing in a tab I wasn't looking at. And you can't say fairer than that.

Susan Boyle launches the perfect gift for an elderly female relative you can't be arsed to put any thought into shopping for

Susan Boyle - yes, you do, she was the one who wasn't quite as good as those people who did the tribute to Street Dance II: Electric Boogaloo - has been busy preparing her album, ready to launch it into the all-important 'thoughtless Christmas gift lobbed into the trolley while doing a Tesco shop' market.

Sony Music are pretty bloody excited about it, as they're hoping to sell a lot of albums and it's not like they're an arthouse, is it?

Even so, the Columbia Records release is quite brief:

Susan Boyle will make her highly anticipated album debut with 'I Dreamed A Dream' out on Columbia November 24 and once again, defy preconceptions.

Really? She's not really defied any preconceptions yet - unless you believed that Simon Cowell hadn't really heard her sing and somehow still believed that the quality of your singing voice is related to how sexually attractive you look; and that seems unlikely, what with him having worked with Robson And Jerome.

This time, the "preconception" she's going after is, it appears, the one that says that not even her management would be hackneyed enough to chuck in a couple of pop covers to try and broaden her appeal a little wider:
Produced by Steve Mac, 'I Dreamed A Dream' features her signature songs, "I Dreamed A Dream" and "Cry Me A River." The album also includes a haunting rendition of Rolling Stones' “Wild Horses,” Madonna's "You’ll See," The Monkees' ‘Daydream Believer,’ and “Who I Was Born To Be,” an original recording written specially for Susan.

Is there anything uplifting for all of us to take away?
Susan enthused: "It was my greatest ambition to release an album and I have finally achieved it. There is happiness out there for everyone who dares to dream."

... and large piles of Susan Boyle albums for £7-99 for everyone who doesn't.

Obit: Stephen Gately

Sure, I despise Boyzone, and their bland, soul-sapping music. But nobody would wish a cruelly early death on them, like the one which has claimed the life of Stephen Gately at 33.

Details of his death are sketchy at the moment - apparently it's not suspicious, and he died in Majorica (which is probably all we need to know, although it's likely we'll be force fed more).

Gately joined Boyzone at point of manufacture in 1993, sticking with them through the decommissioning in 2000. He'd issued his unsurprising coming out announcement just before the band split - too late to avoid the appearance of having kept his sexuality quiet for the sake of business.

His post-Boyzone career was fairly predictable: A slightly disappointing run of solo singles; a turning of attention to the musical theatre; pantomime and the inevitable reunion. In 2007, he sealed his position as a musical Oblomov by appearing on ITV in one of their celebrity game shows - the ice-skating one.

Nevertheless, he was well-loved by his colleagues, and popular amongst those who enjoy the sort of thing he did. And nobody should die at 33.

This week just gone

Holiday-lite edition:

The Leisure Society - Sleeper/A Product of The Ego Drain

download Sleeper

Cerys Matthews - Don't Look Down

download Don't Look Down

The Raveonettes - In And Out Of Control

download In And Out Of Control

Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown

The Twilight Sad - Forget The Night Ahead

download I Became A Prostitute

Idlewild - Post-Electric Blues

download Post-Electric Blues

Pere Ubu - Datapanik In Year Zero

download Dub Housing

Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More

download Sigh No More

Air - Love2

download Love2

Brandi Carlilie - Give Up The Ghost

download Give Up The Ghost

The Slits - Trapped Animal

download Trapped Animal