Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gordon in the morning: Supermassiveblackhole

Sean Hamilton from Gordon's team files a story about Matt Bellamy dating Kate Hudson. So far, so meh.

But the headline?

It Muse Be Love

In what way, in what world, does 'muse' sound a bit like 'must'? Apart from the 'm' at the very start?

Bloody hell, you shouldn't have to explain to The Sun how puns are supposed to work.

Embed and breakfast man: The Go-Betweens

This weekend, let's spend some time delving into the Go-Betweens back catalogue, shall we?

Oh, go on.

Much supported by the Record Mirror and Snipe, the music fanzine which morphed into When Saturday Comes, the Go-Betweens were part of what felt like a very minor Australian invasion at the time. Which would have been early-ish on in the 1980s. (See, young people, it wasn't all outsize phones and Richard Branson launching airlines...)

Built around Robert Forster and Grant McLennan's songwriting partnership, you could argue that they were two bands, or a single band with two hearts. Or a multi-headed single beast. In fact, people spent quite a bit arguing that. Smudge even got a song out of the idea that two men had different approaches and produced a noticeably different style of result:

They've picked up some interesting honours in the years since they split, since they reunited in 2000, and especially since Grant McLennan's way-too-early death from a heart attack back in 2006. Cattle And Cane was voted one of the 30 best songs ever by the Australasian Performing Rights Assocation; there's a bridge named after the band in Brisbane. Oh, and 24 used Forster-McLennan as a company name during series four.

Let's go Go-Betweens, then.

To kick off, here's Lee Remick - a tribute to the much-pecked actress which was the first single in 1978. This version is a later revisiting of the tune:

Bellavista Terrace: The Best Of
Liberty Belle & The Black Diamond Express

Go-Betweens GOTOs
Lovingly constructed fan site
Last FM

More to come across the weekend
Cattle And Cane live
The House Jack Kerouac Built
Right Here

NME Radio scales back

IPC Media has decided to more-or-less pull the plug entirely on NME Radio, dumping all but a web presence and dropping the digital radio and TV transmissions.

Oh, and DX Media, who have run the network since it started, have been shown the door.

The plans for taking NME Radio web-only, by the way, don't really sound like NME Radio is going to be NME Radio any more:

NME publishing director Paul Cheal says: "We have enjoyed a great working relationship with DX Media and we would like to thank them for all the excellent work that has gone into NME Radio.

"Meanwhile, we will continue to develop ways in which NME's audience can engage with both audio and content utilising our in-house studio facilities whilst maintaining an online music service via our award-winning music website"

That 'meanwhile' was, very much, 'there's lots of other music on the site'.

You have to wonder if anyone had even suggested this was a possibility to Krissi Murison a couple of months ago when she suggested NME Radio would be taking up the slack if the BBC killed 6Music:
She supports the survival of BBC 6 Music but points out that NME Radio is its rival. "All the things that people are lamenting about 6 Music are actually happening downstairs here in our basement with NME Radio. NME Radio can fill the gap that people believe is going to be there with the demise of 6 Music."

Well, at least 6Music is still there to fill the gap caused by the demise of NME Radio.

[Thanks to been given a CBE.

I've not got a problem with people adopting other citizenships, and I've no particular beef with Nash. But if we are going to spend a silly fortune on giving people silly medals, surely we should do it with some sort of sense of logic. If it's worth doing, isn't it worth doing it properly?

John Cale - who has accepted an OBE - is at least properly Welsh. Simon Armitage, off of the Mark Radcliffe programme and poetry, has gotten a CBE. And Catherine Zeta Jones, the pop star - one week with David Essex at number 38 - has been given something, presumably to recognise the good work she's done helping the elderly over the last few years.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pixies: I am a banned Andalousian

So, last week, the Pixies decided they'd rather not play that festival in Tel Aviv.

The Israelis were surprisingly upset:

“I am full of both sorrow and pain,” wrote [promoter] Shuki Weiss, “in light in light of the fact that our repeated attempts to present quality acts and festivals in Israel have increasingly been falling victim to what I can only describe as a form of cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide.”

You'd think coming from a country which has been the victim all-too-often of actual terrorism, you might think twice before throwing the word round like that. Apart from anything, 'not being able to see Kim Deal on stage' might seem a small thing to put on a par with 'having your face blown off on a subway train'.

Still, Weiss was upset, so perhaps the kindest thing to do is accept that she was caught in the heat of the moment. It'd be unfair to hold her lazy and offensive use of "terrorist" against her.

After all, it's not like anyone is going to be so thick as to actually interpret 'canceling a gig' as if it was an actual terrorist act, right? You'd have to be...

Sorry, what was that you Canadian was saying?
The Canadian government announced that it is putting the alternative rock band The Pixies on its list of “terrorist organizations” after the group cancelled its upcoming trip to Israel in the wake of the Gaza Flotilla affair.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told reporters today, “Terrorism anywhere and in any form, whether it be physical, moral, verbal, mental or cultural is abhorrent to this government.”

To offer a thin piece of hope, I've not been able to find any news agency reporting this move, so let's hope it's all an attempt at wit that has got out of hand.
Another supporter of the move was Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas), who said in an interview, “If the Pixies want to boycott Israel, then Canada is at war with the Pixies.”

Asked if he was familiar with the Pixies’ music, Kent replied that this was not germane to his decision. “I’m not familiar with [Hizbollah leader] Nasrallah’s sermons but I know a terrorist when I see one.”

Although, by his own admission, Kent hasn't seen the Pixies.

If Kent does have this amazing ability to tell who is a terrorist just by looking at them, why don't they have him in airports? You could save a fortune in scanners and security.

If this story is true, does Doolittle now constitutes 'terrorist materials' if you go north of the Great Lakes?

UPDATE: Yes, it turns out it was an attempt at wit on the part of Professor Larry Haiven, who wrote the piece. Kieran's Review spoke to him:
It was a joke, but uh, it was close enough to what’s true, that is somewhat believable.

What wasn't funny, though: the Israeli quote isn't fabricated.

Thom Yorke sees grim times ahead for majors

Thom Yorke is advising young folk to steer clear of deals with big labels, reports Tim Ross in the London Evening Standard:

Yorke, 41, who made his fortune from six albums recorded with EMI, has told talented young musicians to make it on their own without the help of massive recording contracts.

He offers the pessimistic advice in a rare interview for a new school textbook in which he is asked what advice he would give teenagers who wanted to make a difference with their music.

Yorke claims the mainstream music industry is dying and that this will be “no great loss to the world” before telling aspiring musicians not to tie themselves to the “sinking ship”.

Yorke suggests it will be “only a matter of time — months rather than years — before the music business establishment completely folds”. After recording six albums with EMI, Radiohead split acrimoniously from the label when they failed to agree new terms.

Bit confused as to why Ross feels this is "pessimistic advice" - he seems to be assuming that signing your work and life and kidneys over to a badly-organised corporation which will screw you when times are good and can't work out how to operate when times are bad is a positive good.

Saying there are ways that don't involve you having to file receipts with an office in LA sounds like optimistic advice to me.

Pete Doherty: Isn't enough we're destroying their coast without sending the US him as well

Pete Doherty had been rumoured to be schmooz-playing at party to launch Corduroy Magazine in New York.

The Department Of Homeland Security had other ideas, though, and didn't even let him into the country.

He was lucky they didn't use him to block the hole in the Gulf.

When the BBC is dead, this is the sort of thing we'll have to look forward to

From Radio Today:

Mercia mid-morning jock John Dalziel is taking a unique approach at supporting England in the World Cup.

The presenter will legally change his name to the name of the England manager Fabio Capello today following a vote from listeners to the Orion Media station.

It's a surprise people prefer BBC local radio, isn't it?

Mojo awards happen again

So, I was about to say 'there's usually little interesting in the Mojo awards, but giving a prize to Duane Eddy will, at least, make the ghost of John Peel smile' and then I noticed Mojo believes the song of the year was Fire by Kasabian and I lost the will to type.

Winners in full:

:: Mojo Breakthrough Act – The Low Anthem

:: Mojo Vision Award – Oil City Confidential (film about Dr Feelgood, directed by Julien Temple)

:: Mojo Medal – Daniel Miller (Mute Records)

:: Mojo Maverick Award – Hawkwind

:: Mojo Best Live Act – Midlake

:: Mojo Compilation of The Year – Amorphous Androgynous

:: Mojo Merit – Devo

:: Mojo Classic Album Award – The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses

:: Mojo Catalogue Release Of The Year – The Beatles (for last year's remastered albums)

:: Mojo Roots Award – Kate And Anna McGarrigle

:: Mojo Hero Award – Marc Almond

:: Mojo Classic Songwriter Award – Roy Wood

:: Mojo Best Album – Richard Hawley, Truelove's Gutter

:: Mojo Outstanding Contribution To Music – Sigur Ros

:: Mojo Les Paul Award – Richard Thompson

:: Mojo Inspiration Award – Teardrop Explodes

:: Mojo Lifetime Achievement Award – Jean-Michel Jarre

:: Mojo Song of the Year – Kasabian, Fire

:: Mojo Icon Award – Duane Eddy

:: Mojo Hall Of Fame – Jimmy Page

Deeper and the Downs: Brighton says sorry to the Quo

Brighton and Hove council thought it would be nice to have a bit of gentle fun in the job advert for a strategic director position:

The ad men went so far as to state "Status Quo fans need not apply."

The council forgot that Status Quo don't actually have a sense of humour. Or perspective.
Quo's publicist Simon Porter says, "This is a direct insult to the capabilities of millions of Quo fans, many of whom are probably totally overqualified for these jobs."

Erm... if they're overqualified for the jobs, then they shouldn't bother applying, should they?

Anyway, Brighton and Hove have responded by rolling their eyes and carrying on.

Oh, sorry, no: they've issued a fawning apology:
A statement from the council's CEO John Bardell reads, "I'm sorry if any offence has been caused by our advert slogan 'Status Quo fans need not apply' - none was intended.

"I accept that it was a little insensitive. My wife did say when she saw it that it might upset Quo fans. I hoped it would make us stand out from the crowd and would get people interested. Clearly she was right."

The one piece of soothing balm is that it's hugely unlikely any Status Quo fan would have even had the advert read out to them.

Christina Aguilera talks about depression

Actually, she doesn't. She seems to be talking about not being happy all the time:

She explains, "I do battle with depression. It's something that is always right below the surface. And it's almost seductive to go to a place of sadness and darkness... I'm truly thankful for the darkest times in my life.

"I definitely don't choose the safe way of living or expressing myself but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Confusing 'sadness' and 'depression' is a bit like muddling up 'burlesque' and 'dancing around with no skirt on'.

Gordon in the morning: Oh my god

Gordon Smart with P Diddy

Diddy told me the album was about a new genre called "train music" and had a "love concept".

Not to be confused with the concept of making love like a train.

Hack Job meets Puff Daddy. I'm going to boil my head until the pain goes away.

Jackson libel case to be heard without a jury

The court of appeal have upheld a judge's decision to do without a jury in the libel case being fought between Channel 4 and Matthew Fiddes, former bodyguard to Michael Jackson.

The likely costs was one reason, but:

The judge also based his ruling on the fact that the case would involve viewing sections of television footage and detailed examination of documents.

It also raised important issues about what was or was not acceptable editorial practice in a TV broadcast presented as factual which, he said, would best be dealt with in a reasoned judgment which could be made public and appealed.

Oh, yes. Membersof the public might find television difficult to cope with - the pictures, they move! What wizardry is this! - and a High Court judge is clearly much better equipped than other people who don't work in television to understand editorial practice.

Why don't they just dispense with the lawyers and witnesses as well? Surely a wise old judge doesn't need them, either, eh?

Commercial radio supports making BBC worse

It's perhaps no surprise that commercial radio has an opinion about the future of the BBC, and that its vision involves effectively getting rid of the bits that people like.

The Radio Centre - the trades group for ad-supported radio - even have ideas about 6Music, which it wants closed just for the hell of it. They don't even bother to put it in the press release, but it does turn up in the Guardian report:

Radio Centre supports the closure of 6 Music and generally welcomes the BBC's aim of refocusing its radio services, but said the station's distinctive "John Peel legacy" programmes should be broadcast on Radio 1 and Radio 2.

So, there's nothing wrong with the programme, it admits that it offers something distinctive, but thinks it should be closed anyway.

It's not clear why the Radio Centre thinks this would help commercial radio. Perhaps a few of the 6Music audience will drift off to NME Radio or XFM, but they're really unsatisfying alternatives - dodgems instead of a rollercoaster. Closing 6Music won't shift audiences back to radio with adverts; it'd be excellent news for Spotify and Last FM instead.

They do have a second plan:
Value Partners [who carried out a report of helpful ideas] suggests that, as an alternative, 6 Music could be privatised.

There's always a consultant lurking with rubbish ideas, isn't there? One of the reasons that the BBC is using to justify closing 6Music is that it's relatively expensive for a pop station. So how would that work in the commercial sector?

Another part of the network's proposition is the access to the BBC archive - if 6Music went private, it either wouldn't be able to pull that content in, or it would have to do it on an equal footing with other commercial organisations. That might be a good idea, but would cost 6 some of its USP at a time when it would badly need it.

Still, closing 6Music would be on the Radio Centre's wish list, with programming shunted to Radios 1 and 2. This must be at the heart of a thought-through series of suggestions, right?
[T]he Radio Centre, said Radio 1 should focus on teenagers and the under-25s, who are less desirable to advertisers, while Radio 2 should shift its lower age limit up from 40-plus to 45-plus over three years.

Bless their little hearts, the Radio Centre really believe that it's possible to make a couple of tweaks to a playlist here, a late-night line-up there, and you can make the average audience age shift by a year and eight months over the course of fifty-two weeks.

No wonder commercial radio is so dire in the UK if it believes that sort of thing is possible. It simply doesn't understand that people's musical tastes stopped having any direct correlation to the music they listen to sometime around the end of the 1980s. "Two extra Vampire Weekend tracks in drive time a week, and everybody over 60 will switch off."

Let's pretend you could be that precise about twiddling, though, and accept that Radio 1 has a younger audience than 6Music, which in turn has a younger audience than Radio 2.

The Radio Centre want to take out 6, and pass some of its programming to Radio 1 and some to Radio 2.

So Radio 1 will pick up programming currently being listened to by an audience a bit older than its current median, and Radio 2 will add programming that attracts a slightly younger crowd. And that will make the Radio Centre happy.

Except, of course, the Radio Centre want Radio 1's audience to get younger, and Radio 2's to get older. So it will also make the Radio Centre unhappy.

But, hey, the fact that the organisation is just farting out contradictory suggestions doesn't mean that none of its thinking has been worked through, right?
Radio Centre also said that the BBC, as the wealthiest partner, should shoulder all the costs of completing the building digital radio transmission network – the national DAB multiplex and local and regional DAB services – to bring coverage to 98% of the country. If agreed this could be completed by 2013, at a cost of around £100m-£150m, said Andrew Harrison, Radio Centre chief executive.

Now, you can see the attraction - BBC pumps more and more cash into the dying DAB format to ensure that by 2013 everyone can access six slightly-different variants of Heart FM no matter where they live, BBC has less to spend on making programmes.

It must sound great to the Radio Centre, who realised their orignal proposal, that the BBC just throw cash off the roof the Broadcasting House, might even look odd to people who don't pay much attention.

Let's believe this is genuine, though, and the Radio Centre really want a strong DAB network in the UK by 2013 (or six or seven years too late). Why? Commercial Radio has shown bugger-all interest in creating new services for DAB, pleading poverty.

And, at the same time, it's applauding the closure of 6Music, which is one of the few reasons anyone has right now for buying a DAB radio. If the Radio Centre really want music fans to shift to digital radio, can't it see there's a case for having a radio station you can't get on FM already up and broadcasting, to drive take-up while the commercial sector waits to come up with an idea for what it might do on DAB and how it might fund it?

If this was a GCSE project, the Radio Centre would be looking at retakes. If this sort of sloppy thinking is what goes on when they're deciding what to put on air, that - rather than the BBC's licence-funding - might explain why people choose not to listen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Downloadable: Tony Halliday

Chatelaine, the waited-like-Sleeping-Beauty-for project from Toni Halliday releases an album on Monday. And, look at this:

- give her your email, she'll give you a free sample.

More about it all on the official site.

Gordon in the morning: Ouch

So, you have a really blurry picture of Billie Piper smoking a fag. That's one to skip, right?

Ah, but what if you could come up with a witty headline?

Billie prefers a cig to a pipe-r

You know what? Even if you can't think of anything worth saying, why not stick it in the paper anyway. It's not like anyone will see, right?

Here's a little something to take the taste away:

1998 Smash Hits Poll Winner's Party, that was.

What the pop papers say: 50 lamest ideas for an issue

The NME has been having, if not a golden age, at least a run of shiny chrome lately. Sure, you still get ones where it's Kasabian chuntering about football, but that's balanced by some lovely coverage of The Drums. There have been more nice things said about the Field Mice in the last month than ever there was when they were a going concern.

There was a weakness with The Drums edition, though: apparently concerned that simply interviewing a band might not be an idea, it came wrapped in a 'special issue' bit of blather about how America has lots of bands. Or it might have been 'Bands named after instruments' special. But it was themed.

The idea of a themed issue can work, but not if every bloody week there's a theme. And this week, we get a stinker of theme. It's another one of those pointless lists that have been bedeviling the NME for over a decade, but this week's sets the bar lower than ever before.

The 50 Most Fearless People In Music

By a lucky coincidence, the most fearless person in music turns out to be Kele Okereke, who is the big interview this week.

Most fearless people? Seriously? What does that mean? With Kele at the top, it turns out that the measure of lack of fear is 'making a dancey record after having made some guitary records'. If that's the true measure, then surely Bobby Gillespie would have to be braver than Kele for the sheer distance leaped by Primal Scream from I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have to Loaded?

The rest of the list clearly was come up with by throwing darts at a list of anyone who's ever made a record with more to it than The Archies. To adapt an old saw, NME use these lists as a drunk use lamposts - more for support than illumination.

Number 35, by the way, is The Population Of Greenland. So this is actually, the 56,377 Most Fearless People In Music. If everyone in Greenland counts as people in music.

Elsewhere this issue, this Shockwaves advert appears for what feels like the 600th week running:

Isn't that the sort of one-note 'use this product and women with big tits will be yours for the taking' clunker of an promo that more-or-less died of shame in the 1980s? I was surprised the NME ran it in the first place - hell, I was surprised any advertising agency would have come up with it in the first place - but can't believe it keeps going in, week after week.

Obviously, Shockwaves underwrites the NME awards so perhaps nobody wants to upset them, but really: this ad treats the female side of the NME readership with contempt and the male side with a different sort of contempt. It's ugly both creatively and socially. Is this how the paper sees the people it wants to buy it?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Noel Gallagher: Anything off for cash?

Noel Gallagher might have left Oasis behind him, but he's still obsessed with how GRATE and LADDISH he was. Ah, people never used to trust them:

The guitarist [tells the NME] that they had to fork out the cash because they had previously been banned from Abbey Road studios, where they made the album.

"We decided to go back to Abbey Road, after being kicked out during the [1997 album] 'Be Here Now' sessions for being a bit wild," he said. "They let us back in, but we had to pay in cash. If they threw us out we lost all the money."

Really? Abbey Road made Oasis pay a cash deposit up front? Oasis? EMI couldn't have just written a proper contract to cover such eventuality? Does anyone really think Gallagher had to count out tenners at the start of the session?

Kurious Oranj weekend: Last Nacht

Well, not quite Last Nacht. The track that wound up I Am Kurious Oranj - and thus ends our canter through the record - was effectively just a reworking of Bremen Nacht. Let's go back to the source, shall we?

And... alright, just before we go, a last visit to the Curious Orange:

[Part of Kurious Oranj weekend]

Bassobit: Marvin Isley

Marvin Isley, the youngest of the Isley Brothers, died on Sunday.

He'd taken up the bass for the group in 1973, joining the then 19 year-old family business. Although he might not have been in the early line-up, he was there for this:

He quit in 1984, for a family schism group Isley-Jasper-Isley; the brothers returned to the fold in 1991. Just in time for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction, in fact.

Marvin had left the band in 1996, when complications from his diabetes led to a departure from live performance.

Marvin Isley was 56. He had been unwell for some time.

Gordon in the morning: Cable news

Steel yourself before embarking on Gordon's queasy 'it's what he would have wanted' piece on the death of Stuart Cable this morning:

TRAGIC STUART CABLE died after a huge drinking binge - in an eerie copy of his AC/DC idol's fate.
The former STEREOPHONICS drummer had been on a bender lasting THREE WEEKS to mark his 40th birthday, pals revealed yesterday.

And he apparently choked to death on his vomit - exactly as his hellraising hero BON SCOTT did 30 years ago.

Who wouldn't want to die in exactly the same way as their hero, right?

To make it even more ghoulish, the AC/DC tribute band who played at Cable's birthday are dragged in to plump the idea that this was some sort of Twilight Zone tribute death:
Last night shocked Bons Balls drummer KEV SMITH said: "It was a brilliant gig. Stuart was fantastic fun. He got up and drummed with us, which was amazing.

"He idolised Bon Scott, who was his absolute hero. Stuart said he was Scott's reincarnation - that they could have been twins.

"For him to have choked to death, just as Scott did - well, it sends a shiver down my spine. It's spooky."

Isn't a young man dying in a horrible way enough? Do we really need to try and find a wacky, Fortean Times 'angle'?

If Gordon really wanted to write something about Cable's death, perhaps he could try coming up with something which squares his own encouragement of people to over-indulge - the infamous Caner Of The Year prize and the fawning over those who photographed falling over - with the actual consequences of where that can lead. But that might be a bit too based in reality.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lily Allen discovers music industry promotional event designed to promote music industry

Lily Allen can barely bring herself to look at her Brit Award, as someone seems to have told her that the winners aren't really decided by fairies making wishes:

"The Brit Awards is a TV show and a record company executive makes deals with ITV and the producers about who wins what award in exchange for performance time," she said. "I got one last week and it just meant absolutely nothing to me, to be honest. It just became a non-award."

ITV - who haven't been found guilty of ripping off their audiences for, ooh, a couple of years now - and the BPI were shocked at such claims that the prizes might be handed out to people for turning up:
A spokesman for the Brits explained that more than 1,000 people voted for the awards, with the results monitored by the Electoral Reform Services. "This process makes it 100 percent transparent and completely democratic," he said.

I'm not sure a election with such a small, selected electorate is in any way "completely democratic", nor an election which doesn't publish details of votes obtained can call itself "100 percent transparent".

Still, it's all overseen by the Electoral Reform Society. It's not like their spokespeople were turned into flapping-mouthed floundercakes when a recent proper election went to buggery in a ballot box, and then admitted that actually all they can really do is observe and tut.

Allen didn't offer any evidence to support her claims, although Lily Allen winning the best anything in a vote of experts would suggest there's something very wrong with the system.

Kurious Oranj weekend: Cab It Up

We're getting near the end now, with one of the strongest tracks from the album. And, look, this time it's actual footage of the ballet.

[Part of the Kurious Oranj weekend]

Lebanese activists call for Placebo ban

Placebo's decision to press ahead with a gig in Israel shortly after the IDF had shot some people in the head for trying to take aid to Gaza has caused a bit of upset in Lebanon.

Which is unfortunate, as they're meant to be playing Lebanon tomorrow. Not if Samah Idriss has his way, though:

'You are not welcome in Lebanon,' Lebanese writer and editor Samah Idriss said at a news conference jointly held by five non-governmental organisations on the eve of the concert in Beirut.

'The band must choose either to play in Lebanon or to play in a state that continuously violates rights,' Mr Idriss said on behalf of the groups, which include the Campaign to Boycott Israeli Supporters in Lebanon and the Campaign for the Lebanese Boycott of Zionism.

Hang about: it's one thing to worry about Placebo playing Israel, but if they're going to have to choose between not playing Lebanon or not playing states which show a bit of a disregard for people's rights, that's going to limit the number of tour dates they can look forward to. Most of the Americas, pretty much all of Europe and Africa, and more or less Australasia as a whole would be out.

Still, these are dangerous times, but surely Brian Molko is a communicator skilled enough to defuse the situation and show that Placebo take these things seriously:
rian Molko announced his 'endorsement' of Israel in an interview. The interviewer then asked if it was important to have Israel's endorsement these days, to which Molko quipped: 'Yeah, if you want to go sailing.' Molko's comment showed Placebo 'ignored the massacre last week against the Freedom Flotilla and went even further, announcing their support for Israel,' Rana al-Masri, one of the activists spearheading the boycott campaign, told AFP.

Possibly not the best time for the trademark quips, Brian.

The focus of the protests is that Tel Aviv festival, which we'd been led to believe Placebo wouldn't be playing. But apparently did.

Kurious Oranj weekend: Bad News Girl

Another one where you can safely look away from the screen during the music:

[Part of Kurious Oranj weekend]

Universal grab the Olympics

Seb Coe always said the Olympics was more about throwing, jumping and running up the National Debt; there was going to be this wonderful stage to showcase British creativity.

Which makes it somewhat surprising the music side of things has been given to an American company, Universal.

They're already getting a bit above themselves:

Universal Music says it hasn't ruled out Amy Winehouse opening the London Olympics in 2012.

Has anyone explained to them that the Olympics isn't a promotional spot? Or, rather, that it's not meant to look like one.

Should Universal be dictating who plays at the opening ceremony? And surely the lottery-dipping Olympians organising the sports days haven't just painted themselves into a corner where they can only use Universal artists, have they? Because that would be a rotten idea.

Gordon in the morning: Take a little of that

There's a photo on the front page of Bizarre online this morning, showing Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams embracing with the headline:

Shame it's not all five

It turns out this is a reference to the Take That reunion and not fingers.

Yes, after years of being gurning-me-worship free, slowly Take That are being recontaminated, as Gordon explains:
ROBBIE WILLIAMS and GARY BARLOW are heading back to the top of the charts with a new single, Shame.

It is, isn't it? A terrible shame.

Oh, hang on. That's what it's called.
The collaboration was written especially for Robbie's new album, In And Out Of Consciousness - The Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010, which is out on October 11.

I might have mentioned before how much I hate the 'new' track on a 'greatest hits' album, with the built-in assumption that the new track will tramp to the top of the charts, but in this case it's telling that Williams has fallen so far, so fast, they're needing to dust his best of with a little bit of Take That to make it palatable.

Still, as with every Williams release, Bizarre has fallen into the role of pretending that Williams is still the Angels Williams rather than the bloke who made Rudebox and... what was the last one called again?
The Soccer Aid match on Sunday - won by the Rest Of The World team which included MICHAEL SHEEN and WOODY HARRELSON - was an interesting barometer of Robbie's popularity at the moment.

When his name was called out 70,000 people gave the biggest cheer of the night.

Wow. A bigger cheer than that bloke from Cheers. Can you imagine?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Drummerobit: Stuart Cable

Stuart Cable always had the air of a nice bloke who made the best of his opportunities. Having been a founder member of The Stereophonics, the subsequent dumping by his erstwhile friends might have bred bitterness in many - I think I'd have been bitter, for a start - but Cable just sought out new opportunities.

He picked up bits and pieces of presenting work - the punningly titled Cable TV for BBC Wales came before he was kicked out the band, and was one of the sores which led to his departure. His radio programmes for Radio Wales proved more durable, but he left to join the short-lived Cardiff variant of XFM when that launched. Stuart had recently returned to the BBC.

He had drummed on, as well: Stone Gods as a fill-in, and Killing For Company, who'd picked up a date opening for The Who.

There was also an autobiography, Demons and Cocktails - My Life with the Stereophonics, where he admitted having been hitting it heavily during his Stereophonics days.

Kelly Jones, true to form, managed to include a slightly sour reference to Cable's problems in what otherwise might have been a warm remembrance of his old mate when talking to the BBC:

“Me and Stuart have been speaking for the last five years. I mean we played together at our sound engineer’s wedding.

“The split was done and we all held our hands up about who was responsible. Stuart would probably be the first to admit what happened in the split."

It's true that Jones wasn't being unfair, but when someone's just died perhaps it might be better to use the moment to reflect on your own failings, rather than those of the deceased?

Stuart Cable was 40; no cause of death has yet been confirmed.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: On the ball

The football hasn't even started yet, and already it has gone too far. We're faced with Corden and Rascal battling with Williams and Brand for chart supremacy in a battle which, for empty bellowing, makes a Christmas chart race look like the latter stages of a Booker Prize judging session. Gennaro Castaldo has even had to get involved, with HMV's game-of-two-halfs observing:

: "The pop pairings of Dizzee and Corden and Robbie and Brand each have a genuine chance with their respective releases this summer.

“Both are half-decent songs, and they can also expect huge exposure for their singles given their equally massive media profiles.”

What more endorsement for the products available on sale at his stores than the observation that we're seeing two sort-of-okayish songs struggle to claim the crown. Or rather, a stupid white-and-red wig.

Kurious Oranj weekend: Van Plague?

I thought I knew this album backwards, but I'd totally forgotten this track ever existed. For completeness, then:

[Part of Kurious Oranj weekend]

Breaking News: Stuart Cable found dead

BBC and Spinner are reporting that Stuart Cable, former Stereophonics drummer turned (briefly) TV presenter, has been found dead at his home.

Gordon in the morning: A load of old Cobbles

It looks like senior News Corp management have been in town for a meeting with Sun staff:

Actually, this was Gordon's visit to a 50th Anniversary thing for Coronation Street, which sounds like it was pulled together by Peter Barlow after a night on the sauce:

Adidas Originals threw a street party with the cast of Corrie - including ANTONY COTTON and CRAIG CHARLES - to mark the milestone anniversary.

NEW ORDER and JOY DIVISION legend BERNARD SUMNER played a gig with his new band BAD LIEUTENANT on a stage at the end of the most famous street in soapland.

There was even, for no good reason, a videotaped greeting from Snoop Dogg:
"What up dog. It's your boy big Snoop Dogg saying happy 50th anniversary to Coronation Street and all my peoples in Manchester UK gettin' in there doin' it big.

"You know how we do it - Adidas, big Snoop Dogg, we're coming together. Wish I could be there with y'all but you know I gotta bounce ball and get in there real quick like, so I just wanna congratulate y'all for all the success of the many years of doin' what y'all do.

"Snoop Dogg is on the Adidas team. Coronation Street, happy 50th anniversary, big Snoop Dogg live and direct."

Clearly, Snoop's 'will record any old shit for training shoes' program is still in full swing. You'd have thought that someone might have given him something to say that might have created the impression he had half a clue what he was talking about - "I'd like to be with you but I'm at a funeral do at the Flying Horse", perhaps?

Maybe he was too busy recording a greeting for whoever else the nice woman from Adidas told him to.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Kurious Oranj weekend: Yes O Yes

By the way, we're following the vinyl tracklisting for our trawl through the Kurious Oranj album - the CD and cassette release both had different listings, and the CD featured alternate versions of the songs. But given that we're not always featuring the studio recordings, that doesn't seem to matter over much.

For example, this version of Yes O Yes is, it says here, "live in Edinburgh":

[Part of the Kurious Oranj weekend]

What's the Damage

There's talk that Damage are doing a comeback.

Yes, of course you do: Damage.

A video montage on their revamped website states, "This summer one group will re-unite for the first time in six years - they are Damage."

Even ContactMusic were reduced to describing them as 'that band that had Emma Bunton's boyfriend in it'.

There's even going to be an album, which shows a lot of spirit if not very much in the way of realism.

Some things are best kept behind a paywall

Or, perhaps, behind a wall with no way of making it through at all. Ozzy Osbourne is offering medical advice to paying readers of The Sunday Times.

Pixies dump Israel following storming of flotilla

Given that Israel seems to enjoy being condemned, as it fuels the sense of hard-done-bys in the world's most Emo nation, the news that the Pixies and Placebo have pulled out of next week's Tel Aviv festival probably won't have much effect.

The Pixies haven't even confirmed that they've made a political decision, instead:

blaming "events beyond our control"

Given that most events in the Middle East seem to be beyond anyone's control, that's probably fair enough.

Interesting, though, that the bands were happy to accept the bookings at a time when Israel was still blockading Gaza, destroying the local economy and throwing hundreds of thousands into extreme poverty.

Kurious Oranj weekend: CD Win Fall 2080 AD

This one spun the wheels of Google video search a little, so much so that it couldn't even find this sound-only version in its own YouTubey vaults:

[Part of the Kurious Oranj weekend]

Belinda Carlise not even sure her feet were placed on Earth during 1980s

Naturally, the Daily Mail isn't interested in Belinda Carlisle's coke binges for their own sake, oh no. It's because she's an inspiring story:

Belinda Carlisle tells how she turned her life round after three-day hotel drug binge

Although, that said, the Mail does have to go into some of the prurient details, just so, you know, you can tell how much she had to struggle:
'I had gone to London for business, but spent three straight days locked in my hotel room, doing cocaine,' she writes.

'I went on the biggest binge of my life, which is saying something considering I had used, boozed, and abused for 30 years.

'When I looked at my eyes in the mirror, I didn't see anyone looking back at me. The lights were out. I was gone.

'It scared me - yet I didn't stop until I had an extraordinarily frightening out-of-body experience where I saw myself overdosing and being found dead in the hotel room.

'I saw the whole thing happen, and I knew that if I kept doing coke, I was going to die.'

The Daily Mail readership, of course, will appreciate this story about how one woman was able to overcome the emptiness of her life, get herself back on course, and live to tell the tale. Right, Lois in Newcastle?
Who cares? She's been a has-been druggie for years! She's shown herself up to be a total hypocrite and liar. When she promoted her records (flops) years ago she went on and on about how she USED to be a druggie in the Go-Gos (yeah, they were rubbish too) and she was so happy with her family etc. Now it seems she was a druggie all along and now needs a few quid and is flogging her life story which is as tired, jaded and predictable as her 'career'.

Naturally, the opinion of someone who thinks the Go-Gos were rubbish can be safely discarded.

C Kent, from Krypton - hey, that's craziness right there for you - is angry that she didn't take enough drugs:
COME ON! a three day binge and you think your going to die. Think Keith Richards, Denis Hopper, I rest my case Drama Queen!
Stop using, oh poor me I took drugs & booze please feel sorry for me, to sell your book, you just scratched at the surface babe.

"Hello? I'd like to return this My Drugs Hell memoir, as it doesn't have enough drugs in it. Do you have something where someone claws their own face off while they're under the influence?"

There's no fooling John Whittamore from the East Midlands:
so what,are we really interested,I notice a book

Well done, John: you've noticed that a piece where the Mail has liberally lifted chunks from someone's newly published book is related to a newly published book. And yet if he went round calling himself detective, it'd be him that was in the wrong.

Francis in Newcastle can't believe the Mail, of all people, are colluding with foreign types coming round here, taking our misery memoir jobs:
Sad story. Never heard of her and don't know who she is/was, but hope she's OK. Couldn't the Daily Mail find a story about a British person battling with drug addiction? Why focus on unknown Americans all the time?

And from the seaside, CJ has a major beef:
Rock star? "Heaven is a Place on Earth" is a schmaltzy, striaight-edged pop song if ever there was one.

Pop star, not rock star. Not punk.

Remember, musicians: you'll always be classified forever according to the only song that CJ has heard you do. In that sense, Belinda has provided a valuable warning to us all.

Having a sleepover with Michael Jackson

If you were going to spend a third of a billion dollars building a hotel and museum that celebrated Michael Jackson, wouldn't you check first that you could use the name?

Joe Jackson and Rudy Clay, the father of Michael and the mayor of Gary, are ploughing on with their plans, despite warning from the Estate they can't use his name.

It could make for an interesting museum - "here's the shoes worn by a certain gentleman, and over there is a photo of Bill Clinton meeting the man who this museum remembers."

Kurious Oranj weekend: Wrong Place, Right Time

Hello, if you're just joining us after spending yesterday outside picking wasps out of your Pepsi, this weekend we're wading through The Fall's 1988 collaboration with Michael Clark I Am Kurious Oranj.

Yesterday, we learnt that the Dutch sent missionary girls to foreign states, and invented birth control. Today, we pick up the ballet action from Wrong Place, Right Time:

[Part of the Kurious Oranj weekend]

This week just gone

The ten most-read pieces this week:

1. Tipper Gore's family concern comes to an end
2. McFly naked - yes, still, after all this time
3. R Kelly video should be seen by the court
4. Liveblog: Eurovision 2010
5. AC-DC refuse to come to iTunes
6. Cheryl Cole's impossible hair advert is fine, say ASA
7. Leona Lewis falls down a hole
8. Downloadable: The Drums
9. Downloadable: Hot Hot Heat
10. Axl Rose goes to the lawyers

Last week, we had these interesting releases:

The School - Loveless Unbeliever

Operator Please - Gloves

Download Gloves

The Miserable Rich - Of Flight And Fury

Download Of Flight And Fury

Tift Merritt - See You On The Moon

Download See You On The Moon

Kristin Hersh - Cats And Mice

Download Live At Noe Valley

Teenage Fanclub - Shadows

Download Shadows

Carole King & James Taylor - Live At The Troubadour

Download Carole King At Carnegie Hall

The Television Personalities - A Memory Is Better Than Nothing

Download A Memory...

The Mary Onettes - The Mary Onettes

Download The Mary Onettes

The Divine Comedy - Bang Goes The Knighthood

Download Bang Goes The Knighthood