Saturday, January 09, 2010
There hasn't been a Human League album since the start of the century, but that's about to change: They've signed to Wall Of Sound, and have an album, and a press release, to celebrate:
Said Philip Oakey, “Emerging from a decade in which everyone seems to have spent their time looking backwards we are delighted to have the opportunity to march forwards once again and attempt to produce new and exciting music in a new and exciting partnership.
After a break from recording of very nearly eight years we can’t think of a better situation than working with Wall Of Sound in our ambition to make the best recordings of our career and to further extend the audience for, and the possibilities of, original electronic popular music.”
Not too much detail on what to expect, and given the nine year stretch since the last one, I wouldn't use the past as a guide, either. But whatever, it'll be worth the wait.
Wouldn't it be lovely to have something new from Heaven 17 this year, too?
Sam Davis - better known as Eric Shark - has died.
Davis was one of the founder members of Deaf School, considered by the Boswell of Liverpool music Paul Du Noyer to be as important as The Beatles, having been the primordial soup from which Mersey music rebuilt itself after having been Beatled to death.
The band could also be seen as a prototype Hear'Say, too - they won a Melody Maker organised contest with a prize of a contract with WEA at the end of it. They were, perhaps a little too far ahead of the loop - they'd formed two years before The Sex Pistols made it to Manchester, which you're meant to believe was the point where punk came to the North West - and never quite turned into household names. The groups dissolved in 1978, with Bette Bright going off to be Bette Bright, Clive Langer heading off to become a super-producer, and Davis opening a shop.
There were to be two revivals - 1988 saw a new album, Second Coming, recording at a live gathering of the originals; A 2006 reunion has led to a series of occasional shows.
Sam Davis was 59; beset with health problems for a long time, he had been on an lung transplant waiting list. He played his last gig with Deaf School, in September, with an oxygen mask close to hand.
I suppose that - in context - the overbearing presence of mobile phone companies and the cancellation of the trains heading towards the county might be minor quibbles when it comes to music festivals. Organisers of Festival Au Desert have had to shift the venue closer to Timbuktu to make it safer from terrorists.
Not safe enough for the French, though, who've advised their nationals not to attend. Balancing out the risk, though, is that U2 aren't playing. You've got like those odds, right?
There's something of a temptation to just rerun all the Christmas Day 2008 videos in one go here. I'll resist. But this was great:
It's Lovers Ought To, which can be found nustling with other tracks on Rumpus.
[Part of Decade Null: 2008]
"Myspace has become a website where bands can spam eachother" - Zen Zenith
(also via @PictureAtlantic
Admittedly, they're right about Biffy Clyro having a stupid name, but:
The Scottish band, who are named after a Welsh astronaut who attempted to become one of the first men on the moon, believe their "stupid" moniker has made them try harder to do well.
At no point, Contact Music, when you were entering that into the content management system, did you think how unlikely that might sound?
There's a reason why Nigel Lythgoe's role tends to be backstage rather than upfront on the various variations of the same programme that he churns out. He looks like Frank Skinner's Lutheran brother and has the screen presence of that bloke who does the cowboy builders show on daytime TV.
Say what you like about Simon Cowell - and do feel free to - but at least he looks like he belongs on the programme he helms. Lythgoe always comes across like there's been a government-inspired job exchange programme, and somewhere off the M40 there's a regional sales conference being hosted by Boyd Hilton.
Which brings us to where we are today: A bunch of piss-weak stories about Lythgoe trying to turn him from a slightly creepy, misplaced presence on BBC One's Have A Bit Of A Dance programme into some sort of showbiz powerhouse. Quite shamefully, BBC News is at it, turning 'man says he might offer another man a job, but he doesn't really think the other man will be interested anyway' into this:
Nigel Lythgoe to contact Jonathan Ross about US TV work
Gordon has a more basic attempt to try and shake the impression that he's a man in search of a clipboard and torchpen:
MODEL JERRY HALL is dating TV talent show villain "Nasty" NIGEL LYTHGOE, The Sun can reveal.
The Texan beauty's former lovers include rock icons BRYAN FERRY and MICK JAGGER.
Perhaps, but that doesn't then make Lythgoe a bit like Mick Jagger. I'm seeing this as bit more like the promotional work she used to do for Bovril.
Friday, January 08, 2010
There are a few people who, despite our hard-wired atheism, we'd still be quite prepared to get involved with worshipping. Especially if it involved rudeness and touching. Charlotte Hatherley, clearly, has such god-potential. Rounding off our skip through some of 2007's gems, taken from The Deep Blue, here's Charlotte doing Behave. Plus - bonuses, bonuses - you get summer as well.
[Part of Decade Null 2007]
For Lady GaGa, vanity fashion and perfume lines aren't going to satisfy her. Oh, no, she needs to spread her probably-real-swans'-wings wide and so she's doing something with Polaroid:
“I am so proud to announce my new partnership with Polaroid as the creative director and inventor of specialty projects,” said Lady Gaga.
“The Haus of Gaga has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion/technology/photography innovation – blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era – and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand.
Lifestyle, music, art, fashion: I am so excited to extend myself behind the scenes as a designer, and to as my father puts it — finally, have a real job.”
The second paragraph of GaGa's sentence makes no sense whatsoever. Polaroid, who know something of their own iconic history, you'd have thought have struggled to bring together instant cameras and the digital era, and so it's unclear what hope GaGa has. Indeed, things are so grim at Polaroid they're, erm, reduced to stunts like this.
Naturally, Polaroid are trying to make it sound like this isn't simply slapping a fmaous name and a picture of a woman wearing a bra made from spoons on the box:
Lady Gaga “will be involved in everything from concept to product design to marketing”, Polaroid is aiming for a Christmas 2010 launch of a line of Lady Gaga-branded products.
Products? Plural? That she'll be involved in "everything" with? She's going to be spreading herself very thinly, isn't she?
According to KTLA, who claim they head it from someone working on the case, that Conrad Murray will be prosecuted for his role in Michael Jackson's death. A case built on negligence is being worked up in order to support charges of manslaughter. Murray has repeatedly denied that he'd done anything wrong, and, we suspect, will continue to do so.
While poking about in the Creation movie story, I came across this recent Piotr Fijalkowski, leader of Adorable and Polak and currently working with Terry Bickers, late of House Of Love and Levitation. Retrophobic asks how he feels about the stuff he wrote back when he was young:
I feel I've got stronger as a lyricist as the years have gone on, so occassionally some of the ealry lyrics make me wince, plus the songs were written mch more from a young man's perspective, which isn't quite how I see the world now, but overall they're ok. I see where I was coming from - it's just not how I see things these days. The songs were written very much from the point of view of a young man just setting out on life, full of confidence and hope... I'm a lot older now!
If they're still casting about for someone to play Meg Matthews, it looks like Miley Cyrus might have some availability in line: Disney is going to be shuttering Hannah Montana after the current series.
Presumably because Cyrus is getting too old to be credible for the target audience, rather than because it really wants to choke off the series that launched a million crappy pink products being shipped in from China.
"It's always a shame when a star gets too old for the franchise" sighed an unnamed Disney executive. "Thank God we castrated the Jonas Brothers when we had the chance."
After the success of a couple of films mining Factory Records' history, it's perhaps inevitable that a Creation film would follow.
And, arguably, the Creation story is even better than the Factory one - even if there's a risk of the finished product being more Oasis and Sony than cramming Legend singles under your bed and Elevation.
The Guardian's excited about it, and already buying into the myth:
When an unsigned Noel Gallagher took the train from Manchester to meet the bosses of Creation records in 1993, he had little idea what to expect.
Really? Despite sharing rehearsal space with one of McGee's mates?
Upside Down - so at least there's going to be some Mary Chain in it - is due out this Spring. Heidi Berry is available for the Original Soundtrack.
With a terse statement that raises more questions than it answers, Morrissey has dispensed with his current management:
Following consultation with my lawyers, I wish it to be known that I have terminated with immediate effect my association with Front Line Management (Irving Azoff, Andy Gould and Lil Gary), who no longer have any rights to issue any statements on my behalf. I would also like to stress that I have no association with accountants appointed by Front Line, namely London & Co.
It's like a minor East European nation, isn't it?
Oh, and if Satan said throw yourself under a bus, would you do that, too, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Oh, you would, as that's the nature of hearing voices from Satan? Oh.
This is off Some Loud Thunder.
[Part of Decade Null 2007]
More from No Rock on clap your hands say yeah
Music Week has launched an iPhone app, inviting you to tap into its music industry reporting wherever you happen to be. And how much does it want for this?
Well, that's a little heavy - a tenner for a single newspaper app, but it is working in a specialist sector, and times are hard, and I guess ten pounds is just about fair... what? What's that you're saying, Gordon Macmillan?
The £9.99 price gives readers access to the music trade title's content for 30 days. Then it is time to renew.
One hundred and twenty pounds a year?
Sure, they're writing for people working in an industry which is desperate to believe that the price of what they sell online should go up, rather than down, but even hardened music executives might spot that this is chronically overpriced.
The Spectator is pushing it, but at least they only try to shake you down for £2.39. Maybe - in the same way record companies have forgotten they don't need to charge for pressing, distribution and warehousing with online deals - Music Week has forgotten to pass the savings in newsprint and ink and vans and retail mark-up onto the consumer.
It's not just schools and gas-burning companies struggling in the big freeze - Gordon's supply of having anything to say is running dangerously low. Even the most desperate of would-be starlets are wearing longer skirts and proper coats in this weather.
Like a man sent for bread and finding a choice of Cream Crackers or Mr Kiplings Christmas Slices, Gordon is hoping that what he's got will do:
AT FIRST glance I wondered if this was LADY GAGA wearing yet another crazy outfit.
Then Star Wars baddie Darth Vader sprang to mind.
Yes, Gordon is running with this:
Woman wears hat and scarf in cold weather shock.
Actually, there is one amusing element of Smart's piece:
But guess Who's That Girl? Yep, it's GUY RITCHIE's ex MADONNA.
Perhaps Gordon assumes that the rest of the world arranges their celebrity starmap in the same way he does, with Guy Ritchie at the middle, but does he seriously think there's anyone who needs a prompt as to who Madonna is? Much less, anyone who would be going "Madonna...? The name is familiar but... oh, she's the woman who used to be married to Guy Ritchie"?
Thursday, January 07, 2010
What happened to them, then? "Wine then bed then more then again" would clearly take you over your units for the week, but presumably CSS haven't crashed into the gutter? CSS-derived Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above:
[Part of Decade Null 2006]
It's very easy to write off everything ITV does as being a cheap rip-off of ideas the BBC has already tried. Except for when it's Simon Cowell being Mickie Most. Still, it's not like they're going to try and clone Maestro, the celebrities-being-classical-musicians show, are they?
Oh, yes they are:
Can eight singers from the world of pop transform their voices and master the art of opera? Find out as we join hosts Myleene Klass and Alan Titchmarsh for ITV’s sensational new singing show, Pop Star To Opera Star.
It's even got Alex James on it, off of Maestro.
Hang about: didn't they say "eight singers"? Sure, he did a smattering of vocal bits for Blur, but he's hardly a singer, is he?
Who else is turning up for this?
It's not like it's going to be the longest journey from her usual style to opera, is it? Nice to see her doing some work, though.
There has to be a Nolan on all ITV programmes. It's mandated by Ofcom. The idea is, if you see a Nolan's face, you'll know what channel you're watching.
I suppose this is because she was ineligible for Soapstar Superstar. Or maybe it's a way of squeezing extra bang from the Corrie buck. Like when that bloke who plays Kirk was on Mr & Mrs. Expect to see Norris being interviewed by Piers Morgan soon.
Yes, who used to be in McFly. He now looks like a man who has aged thirty years in the last ten. Perhaps it's the horror of knowing that people just want to see a photo of his cock.
Talking of 'people who exist mostly so that the internet can discus their penis', it's the return of Darius.
Yes, it is the same Darius - he's taken his mother's maiden name. Nobody quite seems sure why - The Sun suggested it was because "Hollywood is going Scots crazy" on account of, erm, Gerard Butler doing well. But given the same Sun piece has Dane...Campbell's agent admitting that they don't know why he's changed his name, that seems unlikely. And given that Campbell is doing this sort of thing, it's not like he's really pushing for a lead in the next Bond movie, is it?
Oh, Lord. Still, seeing as he was doing Come Dine With Me over Christmas, this might constitute a comeback.
She's in The Saturdays and, according to the list in front of me, will be one of the Sugababes during the autumn.
[Big thanks to @NerysX for the link]
And you talk of your great lost acts. The speed things move at these days, we're probably only a few months from bands springing up namechecking The Long Blondes as their inspiration. If illness hadn't cut them short, what might they have done? Someone To Drive You Home was outstanding, and this was the most outstanding moment of all:
[Part of Decade Null 2006]
Despite his claim that he was over in the 90s, Luke Haines has had a pretty good decade this side of the Millennium Dome, too. Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop was one of our favourite records of 2006, and still sounds good. Even done live. Leeds United at the Borderline:
[Part of Decade Null 2006]
Surely the problem with Beyonce taking two million dollars to play a private gig for Hannibal Gadaffi (son of the more infamous Muammar) is less that she's playing a date for Libya - only three people in the world still believe that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was responsible for the Lockerbie bomb - but more about how grasping it looks.
Seriously, Beyonce, you're really up for sale like that? Doesn't the shine rub off stars when they behave like they're taxi cabs or showbiz tat for sale on eBay?
It turns out that two million doesn't even guarantee total exclusivity - a bit of the date has turned up on YouTube. Do you suppose that Beyonce's skintight PVC outfit was part of the deal?
Given that his newspaper churns out article after article about teenage mothers, can Gordon really be as shocked by what he read about Cheryl Cole in Glamour magazine as he seems?:
GIRLS ALOUD beauty CHERYL COLE has revealed she first had sex when she was just 15.
The Geordie lass - who is married to Chelsea ace ASHLEY COLE - made the shock revelation in a new interview with Glamour magazine.
Seriously, Gordon? You're shocked by that? Jesus, someone needs to get out more.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
That was an odd decade for her, wasn't it? From kids TV star to whatever it is she does now, most of it supported through sitting in her pants for FHM, with a couple of cracking pop singles in the middle. No, really. I Said Never Again But Here We Are. Have you forgotten how great this is?
[Part of Decade Null 2005]
Jose F. Vallejos is a taxpayer in Los Angeles. He was less than delighted to discover that his city was being left to pick up the tab for policing the Michael Jackson memorial.
So he's suing Jackson's estate to have the costs returned to the public purse.
Imagine if the UK Taxpayer's Alliance did useful things like that, instead of spending their time trying to get tax relief on their activities.
Gennaro Castaldo has already enjoyed himself with the story of the Manics album sleeve, taking the opportunity to sniff at supermarkets selling music. Now, with the Manics coming second in some sort of limited poll for 'best album cover of 2009', he's able to have another go:
HMV’s pop guru Gennaro Castaldo said: “It shows that when someone tries to ban something that you attract even more interest.
“That has happened throughout entertainment history; just think of the Sex Pistols and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It’s good that despite their attempts to block this album it’s done so well.”
That's the South Wales Echo dubbing Castaldo "pop guru", by the way.
I'm not sure that comparing 'not having your record in some shops' is quite on a par with having Mike Read condemn you live on the Breakfast Show; nor, indeed, that coming second (to Muse) in a year-end poll is quite on a par with actual success, but it's to HMV's credit that they kept the record on their shelves.
There's a wonderful extract from a Vampire Weekend profile in the New Yorker being shared by Kempa.com. For some reason, Vampire Weekend are interviewing Tom DeLonge. He turns up with a camera crew in tow, too - making a "Blinkumenary", he explains. Then he starts to pitch some mashed-up social networking music company he seems to be running:
“I term it an ‘operating system,’” DeLonge said. “You could sell music, you could sell movies, you could sell advance tickets, you could do advertising, you could do automated V.I.P. parties. We’re gonna be putting in live auctions, e-commerce.” He continued, “We’re doing it with the White Stripes.”
DeLonge [...] talked about video blogging: “Do you want to do normal blogs – or do you want to do it in the dark and have lasers going and make it look like you’re from space? And not call it a blog, call it a space cam?”
[Massive thanks to Michael M for spotting this]
Yes, they helped represent 2000 as well. It's only to our regret and shame they don't stand for every year. A true tale of suicide in San Francisco, Jumpers, lifted from 2005's The Woods.
[Part of Decade Null: 2005]
She wasn't a recluse. She wasn't a hermit. She just wasn't popping into the bloody Ivy every ten minutes. Kate Bush returned with the flawed-but-beautifully so Aerial, from which EMI could only be arsed to release one single. Then she went back home, where she's quite happy.
[Part of Decade Null 2005]
Perhaps 2005 wasn't all that bad. It did bring us The White Rose Movement, and Kick. Alsatian was the lead single, and here it is, all doused with sweat and jumping, live in Exeter:
[Part of Decade Null: 2005]
The lovely Slow Down Tallahassee are interviewed by All That Ever Mattered on the occasion of a new album:
Nicola: Yes we finished recording our second album just before Xmas. It just needs mastering now, and then it's ready to go. And I suppose we need artwork too. I think it's an improvement on the first album. The arrangements are occasionally more complex and/or adventurous, and the vocal melodies are stronger I think. There are still a couple of 2 minute pop blasts included though. Lyrically Richard and I wanted to expand on the characters we wrote about in the first album. To finish telling their stories, because we found them so compelling. This album is shorter too. Only 12 songs this time.
It's not all about videos from the past, you know - thanks to The Audio Perv, here's Vampire Weekend off last night's David Letterman Show With David Letterman:
Whoever would have thought:
GUTTED Olly Murs hasn't heard from Robbie Williams since The X Factor finished.
Runner-up Olly, who sang with Robbie live on the show, has tried to contact the star twice.
Olly said: "I'm a bit disappointed Robbie hasn't been in touch.
"I texted him to say Happy New Year and congratulations on getting engaged but heard nothing back."
In other news, Hilda and Reg Snipton are gutted that Derek Batey has never sent them a Christmas card, despite having seemed quite friendly when they met on the set of Mr & Mrs in 1974. "He said he would keep in touch, but after that - nothing."
In other news, Harvard Dubois is gutted that Avril Lavigne has failed to respond to his offers of marriage. "I'm really upset. She looked at me through the TV in a way that made it clear she was hot for me" complained Mr Dubois, as he was pulled, naked and carrying a spear, from Ms Lavigne's wheeliebins.
Gordon does have a pretty interesting story, though, if it's true: Lady GaGa is managing to lose money on every date she plays:
A source said: "The gigs are losing money hand over fist because they've spent a fortune on pricey costumes, technical equipment and elaborate set designs. She spent £500,000 on one stage alone. But Lady GaGa gets what Lady GaGa wants. Her wardrobe is huge and she wants to shock - and that costs serious money."
Really? Shocking costs serious money? I think someone is confusing 'showing off' with 'shocking' there.
Given that touring is where modern mainstream acts are supposed to make their money, that might be a bit of a problem right there.
Halfway through the decade, and I think by now everyone was already looking forward to the end of it. Still, at least we had Forward Russia to help us through. This is Twelve, included on Give Me A Wall:
[Part of Decade Null 2005]
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
You can't really do the last decade and totally ignore the Libertines, can you? So let's not paint Pete Doherty out of history entirely. From The Libertines self-titled
debut album, Carl Barat does a solo reading of Can't Stand Me Now for Rolling Stone.
Okay, we're painting Doherty out a little.
[Part of Decade Null 2004]
[UPDATE: Thanks to Danbut for pointing out that I'd totally forgotten the existence of Up The Bracket]
I've already covered the highlight of Bono's latest op-ed piece for the New York Times, wherein he suggests that we should make like the Chinese government to protect his income. But, at the suggestion of James M, it's worth exploring his piece further:
IF we have overindulged in anything these past several days, it is neither holiday ham nor American football;
You're Bono. Why would you be having a traditional American Christmas?
it is Top 10 lists.
Still, Bono is always happy to add to another unwanted layer to an over-supply:
And so, in the spirit of rock star excess, I offer yet another.
Did Bono mention that he's Bono, out of the band U2, by the way?
Still, surely Bono is going to put a whole new crazy spin on the top ten list, right?
The main difference, if it matters, is that this list looks forward, not backward.
See? You weren't expecting that. A top ten of new things. Why hasn't anyone else thought of that? Eh?
Still, to be fair, Bono has come up with a new way of doing things - rather than basing his list on ten members of a single category, he's just done a random list:
So here, then, are 10 ideas that might make the next 10 years more interesting, healthy or civil.
They're not things that are going to happen. They're not even things that Bono is suggesting are desirable. Just things that might make things "interesting, healthy or civil". One of which is giving private corporations domain over the internet.
God help us, what are the other nine?
Return of the Automobile as a Sexual Object
No, no, he doesn't mean putting your wee-wee in the exhaust pipe; Bono wants cars to become glorious, alluring objects again. He wants Obama to bring together a style panel to make cars much, much more sexy and delicious.
I've checked, this is the same Bono who is keen for us to protect the planet. Somehow he's going to do this by making us all want to have brand-new personal cars.
An Equal Right to Pollute (and the Polluter-Pays Principle)
Bono does admit that he's only a "mild green" as he praises the idea that pollution should be a thing you can buy and sell permits for. He seems excited by the idea that Western corporations could effectively buy, say, Ethiopia's share of pollution:
By this accounting, your average Ethiopian can sell her underpolluting ways (people in Ethiopia emit about 0.1 ton of carbon a year) to the average American (about 20 tons a year) and use the proceeds to deal with the effects of climate change (like drought), educate her kids and send them to university. (Trust in capitalism — we’ll find a way.)
Yes, capitalism will work. You or I might offer a demurring observation that capitalism has had a good few hundred years and managed to get "your average Ethiopian" in a position where she hasn't got the wherewithal to educate her kids, and how someone who is under-educated is actually going to sell her polluting rights to a family in Boise. That this system would end up with a bunch of middlemen getting rich, and the world still trundling to disaster, and the poor still poor is obvious to anyone who has ever been alive. But it would allow Bono to spew carbon dioxide out next time U2 goes on tour and pretend it doesn't matter, so you can see why it appeals.
A Person (Dr. William Li) and a Word (Angiogenesis)
There's nothing particularly new about the research into angiogensis and links to cancer, but it does fit the 'healthy' remit Bono promised.
Matter Doesn’t Matter
Something about teleportation, crediting it to God. God likes Star Trek, apparently. Because, erm, a scientist is working on teleportation. In a way that he says has nothing to do with Star Trek.
Matter Doesn’t Matter
Hey, why don't we all get together and have an arts event in the Middle East? Then we'll see some peace breaking out, right?
In Ireland, at the height of the “Troubles,” it was said that the only solution for rabid sectarianism was to let 1,000 punk-rock bands bloom: music helped create a free space for dialogue (of a high-volume variety).
That's right. Who can forget the Northern Ireland Peace Process starting when Spiggo from The Quoits lent Brango from Butter Churn Incident a plectrum? Thank god they kept the politicians away, right?
So no politicians allowed. Artists only.
Well, that would at least spare the Middle East Bono turning up. How would you police this? What if you were a sculptor who also held a council seat? Could you visit?
People Power and the Upside-Down Pyramid
Here, Bono gets excited about the power of new technology to allow people to organise:
Increasingly, the masses are sitting at the top, and their weight, via cellphones, the Web and the civil society and democracy these technologies can promote, is being felt by those who have traditionally held power.
Yes, like the Chinese Government, right? Of whom, Bono had just a few paragraphs earlier, been pointing out were able to use new technology to police dissent.
Taking the Fight to Rotavirus
Yeah, you'd have to give him this one.
Viva la (Nonviolent) Revolución
Isn't this the same as the people power one?
The World Cup Kicks Off the African Decade
Wasn't the last decade the African decade? And if Bono is such an expert on African affairs, shouldn't he understand that suggesting that a football event in South Africa is somehow going to have an effect on, ooh, let's say "your average Ethiopian". But then, a grand gesture aimed at helping multinationals sell things and entertain the rich disguised as a positive good for everyone in Africa - it's pretty much a perfect Bono event, isn't it?
Of course, there's double standards. A middle market artist does an album of covers, and it's a lazy stop gap. If someone with a shred of credibility turns in an record full of other people's songs, we applaud and gurgle with delight.
This delighted gurgle is at the news that Nada Surf are about to release If I Had A Hi-Fi. They work through stuff by The Moody Blues, Depeche Mode and Arthur Russell. Of course it'll be interesting. It should even be better than that.
Willie Mitchell has died. Although a gifted musician - he took up the trumpet at the age of eight - his main contribution of music history was as a producer and label owner.
Mitchell started his production work for House Of Blues; he moved to Hi records to both record and producer. Eventually, he took over Hi Records; his empire would the Royal Studio in Memphis. The Royal is still a going concern - Marti Pellow was there recently, but it's also used by legendary musicians, too.
Willie Mitchell suffered a heart attack before Christmas; he died earlier today in Memphis. He was 81.
To be fair, I haven't tasted Alex James' cheese, but even so, I feel confident in asserting that Graham Coxon wins the 'who had the best post-Blur experience'.
Yes, really. Put down that copy of the Good, The Bad And The Queen, you're not making a point, you're just embarrassing yourself.
From Happiness In Magazines, this is Freakin' Out:
I'm aware, by the way, that 'Freakin' Out' and 'appearing on Jools Holland's show in front of an audience consisting, probably, of Stella McCartney and Trigger from Only Fools And Horses' has a degree of internal contradiction contained within.
[Part of Decade Null: 2004]
Angel-theming corsetry and strings outfit Rasputina sashayed out a not-quite-concept album in 2004. Loosely grouped around 'experiences of Southern women', Frustration Plantation dripped with sex and drugs. And the parents were the worst. Mother Was An Opium Smoker:
[Part of Decade Null 2004]
Much, much more than just Jack White's punch bag, and probably less irritating by a country mile. 2004 saw the release of The Von Bondies' Pawn Shoppe Heart. While I'm sure the band don't welcome comparisons with The White Stripes, it seems unfair they were still looking to break through at SXSW two years ago, from whence this version of Been Swank comes:
[Part of Decade Null: 2004]
Drowned In Sound have an exclusive on a Joris Voorn remix of Hot Chip's One Night Stand for you to enjoy. (Actually, given they're using Soundcloud and it's an embeddable player, it's not exclusive at all, really, but it's fair to listen through DiS, isn't it?)
Want to see reviewers getting reviewed? Try Ripfork:
Ok, I’m guessing you’re talking about a performance of some sort here. But why you needed to wank out such a confusing opening paragraph filled to the brim with hyphens, commas, and impenetrable adjectives is beyond me. If you write “ghostly,” you don’t need to follow it with “barely-there.” All tar is thick and viscous. That’s what tar is.
…on a final note…Oh my god. When will dudes of a certain age and a certain weight stop calling it a “feminine voice” sung by a female vocalist? It’s a woman’s voice
[Thanks to Michael M for the tip]
One of the great things about the internet is that it has Amanda Palmer on it. It's six years now since the Dresden Dolls debut, The Dresden Dolls, and you can never tire of hearing this, Girl Anachronism:
[Part of Decade Null: 2004]
Here's news of a surprising comeback from Gordon Smart:
JAMELIA has been off the scene for a few years but now 50 CENT wants to sign her to his G-Unit label.
Really? That sounds a bit unlikely.
The New York rapper turned music mogul met the Brummie singer while in London last October for the premiere of his thriller flick Dead Man Running.
This, then, seems less like an announcement of a comeback, more like something that would have run in TheLondonPaper back before Murdoch couldn't afford to run it any more:
You: ridiculous baseball cap and too much jewelery. Me: Cheap dress and desperate look. I shouted at you over the barrier that I made music too; you nodded with a slightly glassy-eyed look. Let's meet soon to discuss my new album!
Coming tomorrow: Sinitta signs with Jay-Z.
Monday, January 04, 2010
The Guardian fills its third leader space with praise for Lily Allen. She's like a role model, in her rejection of those tiresome, flesh-flashing pop tarts:
Lacking a strong singing voice like Amy Winehouse, she relies instead on gently humorous, even cutting lyrics. With themes centring around family and messy break-ups, Allen's topics verge on the dark, but she treads lightly. "I'll take my clothes off and it'll be shameless, 'cos everyone knows that's how you get famous," she sings in The Fear.
Perhaps the Guardian might want to celebrate by buying a copy of her calendar:
Oh. Or, maybe not. "I'll take my bra off, have bits of tit showing/ 'cos everyone knows that how you keep sales growing", perhaps?
Kiss FM, which won a licence for London back in the past by promising dance music instead of chart music, has cut its already-pathetic specialist programming back to just an hour a night, between midnight and one.
Not encouraging, but sadly not suprising.
If you're generous, you'd call it liberalisation, anyway. It's more correcting some of their gung-ho legislation; the idea being that indoor, evening gigs with less than 100 people attending would be exempt from needing a license.
Let's hope they expedite this, and it doesn't get lost when parliament prorogues.
Electric Version, for those of you keeping score, was the 79th best album released between 2000 and 2010, according to Rolling Stone.
Amongst its many delights, Testament to Youth in Verse, here being belted out at Summer Camp 2008:
[Part of Decade Null 2003]
Even Iggy admitted that his Swiftcover adverts were awful - "embarrassing" was his actual word, I think - but they're still happy to throw cash at him, so he's making new adverts which appear to rip off Frank Sidebottom quite badly:
Swiftcover.com's marketing director Tina Shortle said he was still keen to work with the company on their 2010 campaign.
"Iggy loved the fact that last year's campaign stirred up a lot of emotion, so this year we've played on the controversy with even more irreverent humour," she said. "The introduction of 'Little Iggy' allowed Iggy to play against type and become the chilled-out, golf-playing rock star whilst 'Little Iggy' causes havoc."
You know he does. He really does.
A rare type of copyright infringement case is brewing in the US: Eddie Vedder and Universal are being sued by Gordon Peterson after Vedder recorded a version of Peterson's Hard Sun.
Peterson is unhappy that Vedder changed the words without permission, and wants all the profits from the track, which appeared in Sean Penn's Into The Wild.
Some artists, three-nights-at-a-venue is a residency. For the current iteration of Pete Doherty, it's more like wearing out your welcome in advance. Still, for those who still are interested, three nights at the Rhythm Factory in London.
Yes, yes, even by 2003 you weren't supposed to like them any more. But how can you resist? This - extra track alert - was only on some versions of Sleeping With Ghosts, the sort of shit-pulling that does the band no favours at keeping their fans on side. Corking track, though:
[Part of Decade Null: 2003]
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Lhasa - the Canadian-based Mexican-American singer-songwriter - has died, it has been announced.
Born Lhasa de Sela, she started her career singing in bars of Montreal from her late teens. Her work combined Spanish, Mexican, American and French influences (she spent a lot of her time in France). Debut album La Llorona was released in 1998 and attracted a mixture of praise and awards (Juno Best Global Artist and a Quebec Felix Award, amongst others).
She spent some time touring as a member of a family circus-cum-caberet group before releasing a second album, The Living Road. She also found time to guest on a Tindersticks track, Sometimes It Hurts on Waiting For The Moon.
Her last album, Lhasa, was released last year - "charming in many ways" concluded The Independent.
Lhasa was just 37; she had been ill with breast cancer.
It's Monday. You're back at work. You're tired of 2000s nostalgia.
Well, tough. If you're just joining us, this is a ten-day romp through some tracks from the years of the last decade that were pretty good, but stand a good chance of having been missed out of other reviews of the last ten years.
The promos for Chicks On Speed's We Don't Play Guitars is only available un-embeddable, thanks to Citibank's dogs-on-twine over at Terra Firma. So here's a live mash-up version featuring COS and, oh, loads of other people:
[Part of Decade Null: 2003]
The mild diversion of Van Morrison's baby-that-never was has suddenly become more interesting. You'll have read elsewhere the announcement that Van had become a father again, only for the story to be denied as a malicious posting on his website. Why, said Van, I've never even heard of this Gigi Lee, who's supposed to be the mother.
It turns out, though, that not only does Van know Lee, but she was his tour manager. Oh, and a director of 14 Morrison-related companies.
Now, Morrison's lawyers - ah, they're involved now - have admitted he was "incorrect" when he claimed he'd never heard of Lee. Either Van's memory is fading surprisingly fast, or he's going to have people going through his bins for the next few months.
It's not going to end well for anyone involved, is it?
Like a large swathe of the world, Bizarre returns to the daily grind today, with Gordon running a non-story about the Beckham kids, complete with large photo. Does it contravene the PCC rules, or is there some other justification for the piece than the fame of the childrens' parents?
VICTORIA BECKHAM tries to go incognito under a trilby - while son BROOKLYN proclaims his name on his tracksuit bottoms.
No justification at all, then.
Back to the daily grind.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Back in 2002, it was still possible for songs by French people to appear in the Top 10. This was Alize's Moi Loita, which took two years to make it across the Channel. Apologies if it made your compuuter networks upset.
[Part of Decade Null: 2002]
If you approach this with the understanding that Xfm believes there are only four songs that have ever been written which exceed Sex On Fire in terms of quality, you'll perhaps not be surprised to discover that they believe The Killers' Mr Brightside to be, definitively, the very best song ever.
Actually, that's not as surprising as Ian Brown's FEAR coming in at number 11. That's not even the eleventh best song with a video featuring a bicycle being ridden backwards in it.
One of the few bands to bother making records which sounded like anyone had noticed the century had changed. And still making them, in-between bouts of sending individual members around the planet to DJ to crowds. From Light & Magic, Ladytron perform Seventeen:
[Part of Decade Null: 2002]
Sat somwhere between Queen Latifah and Lady Sovereign is Princess Superstar. Or was she the female early-period Beastie Boys? We never really got a chance to work it out. Here, as her star was burning itself out, is the single video remix or something from Bad Babysitter:
[Part of Decade Null 2002]
Bono is calling for the internet to be much, much more tightly controlled. Because, you know, we need to protect the creatives, you know:
"The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files," the lead singer of the band U2 wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times.
"Perhaps movie moguls will succeed where musicians and their moguls have failed so far, and rally America to defend the most creative economy in the world, where music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly four percent of gross domestic product," Bono said.
Not that it really matters, but if you measure "most creative economy" by the share of GDP, America isn't the most creative economy. If you take Bono's figure of "just under 4 per cent", that puts it behind, just at random, Brazil - where the figure is over six percent; Uruguay, six per cent; and Mexico and Jamiaca, both well over four per cent. [source: Caricom.org]. Indeed, the global figure for the Creative Industries is seven per cent of GDP. So America is quite a laggard. I don't think it really matters, though, beyond proving that Bono, once again, doesn't really know anything that he's honking on about and the New York Times has given a platform to someone happy to build an argument on made-up fact.
Still, Bono's call for copyright control being imposed on the internet itself is worth a bit of a consideration. What sort of model does he see as being called for?
The singer pointed out that the US effort to stop child pornography and China's effort to suppress online dissent indicate that it is "perfectly possible to track" Internet content.
Right. Let's get this straight. Bono, the champion of the underdog (self-appointed), thinks that the risk of the odd person watching Mall Cop or an episode of House without paying for it should be treated as a crime on a par with raping a child and putting the footage online; he believes that the crime of not slipping a couple of cents to Guy Ritchie if you stream Holmes on your laptop calls for the entertainment industry multinationals to be handed powers to make them like the Chinese Government.
And people still pretend that Bono is on our side.
Much as we love Mel C, she's not being entirely honest about how sexual the Spice Girls were in her Telegraph interview:
With instant success and the growth of Girl Power, however, came the responsibility of becoming role models for millions of young girls. "It was something we took seriously," she says. "It's hilarious because we were criticised for being provocative or wearing revealing clothes a decade ago. Just look at girl bands now – they're so sexual. We were tame by comparison."
Yes, you'd never see The Pussycat Dolls dressing like that, right?
Still, you have to forgive her:
"It is rare to launch a solo career that is successful after years in a band," Chisholm concedes. "So it's been brilliant that I've been able to keep writing and performing my own songs and that the public love them. But acting? That took me out of my comfort zone. And, ah, we won't mention Spice World…"
It's hard to imagine Geri or Beckham making an unscripted Spice World jibe.
Is it really that rare to launch a solo career after being in a band, though? Timberlake? Williams? Ure? Estefan? Bunton?
Okay. Maybe not Bunton.
2002's England, Half-English offered evidence that there was still fire in Billy Bragg's belly, mixed amongst songs about bathing babies and working through American folk song libraries. Take Down The Union Jack:
[Part of Decade Null: 2002]
Ah, our old friends QTrax are at it again. Their form, you'll recall, is for making sweeping announcements and then quickly winding backwards when those plans are compared with the real world.
Now, they've got to the stage where they announce press conferences only to pull them at the last minute. They were going to make a big announcement on Christmas Eve. Only they had to pull it because, erm, everyone turned into The Master. Or something. Hypebot reports:
Apparently only one person is capable of speaking for the company or honoring its commitments and he was...ill. "Yes, it is true that we intended having a Press Conference today," said a post on the Qtrax blog. "And it’s also true, that in the last week, our CEO, became ill with a generally non-life-threatening but quite painful ailment - kidney stones. And it is also true he was admitted to hospital & thankfully is leaving today. So we’ve decided to cancel the conference".
Well, yes, kidney stones are pretty painful. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable if I'd invested in a company where only one guy knows what's happening well enough to be able to deliver an explanation to the public of what the plans are. What if - rather than kidney stones - he'd been hit by a bus?
Anyway, QTrax are happy to announce they're now going to launch in January. Wisely, they don't say which January.
I've never quite understood why Tany Donnelly isn't, you know, at least worshipped as some sort of demi-God. Has she ever appeared on a duff album? Certainly, 2002's Beautysleep was near-perfect. Look, here's The Night You Saved My Life to prove my point:
[Part of Decade Null: 2002]
"LA told me, you'll be a pop star, all you have to change is everything you are". I've always liked Pink. Proper pop star. Although not so good when she's in love, unfortunately. Anyone who doesn't have a least one track from Missundaztood that they love probably doesn't really like music.
Don't Let Me Get Me, filling Wembley in 2006:
[Part of Decade Null: 2002]
Over the period between Christmas Eve and New Years Day, this is what people were most interested in. Not all cocks and tits:
1. You can't actually watch the R Kelly sex video online, you know
2. There are no photos of McFly's cocks, either
3. RIP: James Owen Sullivan
4. Buju Banton banged up by Uncle Sam
5. RIP: Vic Chesnutt
6. NME Awards 2009
7. Lily Allen swaps her shirts under the ocean
8. Robbie Williams' first love
9. BRMB sack DJ for not playing the Queens' Speech
10. Soundgarden reunite
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