Saturday, August 06, 2011

Welcome back, Koppelman?

Throwing his hat into the EMI-purchasing ring (or rather, hurling a hat underwritten by Apollo Global Management) is Charles Koppelman, who was - at one time - CEO of EMI.

Bringing together someone from the olden days and private equity? What could possibly go wrong.

There are a surprising number of people interested in the label. You suspect it's not so much the opportunity to release whatever Robbie Williams might turn in a couple of years hence that's the attraction.

Experimentalobit: Conrad Schnitzler

Conrad Schnitzler, a leading light of krautrock and electronic music has died.

Schnitzler, who was an early member of Tangerine Dream, passing on to Kluster and Eruption before moving on to a long and varied catalogue of solo work also worked under the name Conard Von Berlin.

His work spans the best part of 45 years and nearly 100 albums; he was working up until the last week of his life.

Recently, he'd been working on the Global Living project, which saw him send packets of his hair to nine locations around the planet, in order to have his DNA stake out a place in sites that he loved.

Conrad Schnitzler died from stomach cancer on Thursday. He was 74.

Is that really much of a tribute?

How great will the sort-of official Michael Jackson tribute concert in Cardiff be, exactly?

They've pulled in Craig David for it:

The R&B singer said he was "honoured" to be booked for the gig, which is scheduled to take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on October 8.

Writing on his official Facebook page, David said:

I am honoured to announce I will be performing alongside some of the world's greatest artists at the Michael Jackson tribute concert.
That suggests either they've worked a long way down the list of dream bookings, or else one of the ice cream concessions has got its staffing sorted.

The tribute gig in Cardiff will celebrate Michael Jackson's strong links with South Wales, remembering his three-year stint doing the HTV weather forecast and that one time he heard an off-colour joke about Shirley Bassey.

Alexisonfire goes out

Alexisonfire have wound up after a decade. There's a statement from George Pettit:

Almost a year ago Dallas informed us that he would be leaving after we finished our Old Crows/Young Cardinals tour cycle. Trying to balance his life between touring with us and at the same time quelling the success of City And Colour was a task too difficult to continue managing. He informed us he wanted to focus his efforts on City And Colour.
The rest of us discussed the future of the band. After much deliberation we decided to continue and attempt the difficult task of replacing Dallas, but time got the best of us.Over the last six months we all dealt with a litany of personal issues, which pulled us further and further from Alexisonfire.

In addition to that, Wade was recently asked to join another band and he felt it was an opportunity he would like to pursue.

Replacing one guitar/singer/writer was something we thought was possible, but replacing two would run the serious risk of perverting the legacy of what we had achieved. So we all took a good hard swallow and decided to end it so it would never get old and ugly.

Was the break-up amicable? Not really. Was it necessary? Probably. Regardless, the members of the this band are my family, and I wish them nothing but good fortune.
There's a suggestion that there might be one last tour of Canada to say goodbye.

I wonder if they'll sell on their rather fine domain.

Gordon in the morning: Any old carp will do

Gordon Smart ripping content off other magazines in return for printing a shot of the cover is nothing new. But this has got to be the first time he's used Total Carp in that way.

Dappy. Dappy likes dragging fish out of the water on little hooks, in case you're wondering.

Friday, August 05, 2011

John Lydon doesn't trust the National Trust

The National Trust must be delighted with John Lydon's loud complaining about not having had his 'permission' sought for inclusion of a Sex Pistols track on their odd punk collection:

"I would like to be able to trust the National Trust but from this point forward I can't. I was very proud to collaborate with The National Trust back in 2003 and voice a radio advert for them.

"No-one however has even spoken to myself or my management or had a conversation with myself or my management about this album. Never Mind The.... Permission."

He added: "Thievery as I have always thought seems to come from very high places. Whatever happened to the art of conversation?

"As of yet, I am still not sure what the game is in all this. I love my England, my honest England. My heart is true, but this particular situation seems deeply sneaky and we are waiting to be supplied with information on this chain of events, and the answer better be good."
Now, I don't know for sure, but I'm prepared to assume that the National Trust has all the permissions it needs in place - and that doesn't extend to having to ask a performer for an OK before putting a track owned by someone else onto a compilation.

Had Lydon actually been a proper punk, rather than the plaything of a major label, he might have cause to be upset. But he's got about as much grounds here as a guy from Bernard Matthews complaining that the turkey he raised has ended up for sale in Sainsbury's.

But oh: Lydon has played his part to perfection - moaning and wailing and making a fuss, for all the world like a punk version of those guys who dress up as soldiers and pretend to fight on other National Trust lawns. The Trust really need to build a kids' theme day round this historical re-enactment.

Gordon in the morning: The child in focus

Does nobody police the Press Complaints Commission code of practice any more? Has the rotten performance of Buscombe And Her Editor Chums been so dispiriting they've even stopped pretending they're keeping an eye on thing?

For why else would Gordon be running a picture of Elton John and David Furnish's kid, which is there for no reason other than his parents being famous?

Oh, there's a horrible joke, too. The child is wearing a lifejacket, and the Bizarre team have come up with this headline:

Don’t let the son go drown on me, Elton
It's a great pun. It's just, being based around the idea of a small child dying, it might be a bit off-colour for a "family" newspaper.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Society in meltdown, part two: Avril Lavigne fixed

Who knew that Avril Lavigne was still doing that ploddy cover of Coldplay's Fix You as part of her live set?

Last night, someone appears to have had enough and rushed the stage as she was about to plod into it.

The New York Daily News has this as
What's amusing about the video is the way that Lavigne sticks the microphone high in the air, as if that, at all costs, must be preserved.

Society in meltdown, part one: Beyonce and the egg thrower

These are the signs of the end of the days: An uninvited eggthrower at a Beyonce video shoot. TMZ reports:

Some loudmouthed dumbass was arrested near the set of Beyonce's new music video in NJ this week -- after screaming at the crew and allegedly THROWING AN EGG at a police officer.

According to law enforcement, police had already booted the rowdy 23-year-old male TWICE for sneaking onto the set -- after he shouted, "I can be a better dancer!" But all bets were off when the kid came back a third time ... and allegedly hurled an egg at an officer.
You've got to love the capping up of THROWING AN EGG, as if this is a new level of devilry heretoforward unknown.

The more important question - related to how it sounds like New Jersey cops were providing security at a music video shoot - has floated by TMZ.

Punk preservation society

A tweet from @TheMichaelMoran with a link to something in the iTunes store:

Nevermind the Dovecotes - The Punk Collection (National Trust Music)
Yes, that's a National Trust collection of punk singles. Not just the cartoon punks like The Sex Pistols, either. There's GBH, and Discharge, and even Bingo Master's Break Out.

Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised - 1970s UK punk long since moved from being a snarl in the face of the establishment to being a part of the tourist industry. Matt Belgrano postcards and those kids on Westminster Bridge who dress up like they're part of a Clash re-enactment society for the delight of holidaymakers with cameras were merely the first signs, and perhaps the surprise is that it's taken so long for the National Trust to catch up.

It surely can only be a matter of months before you're invited to Washington Old Hall for a summer evening of gobbing and warm lager.

After all, the Trust has already embraced Dennis The Menace wholeheartedly, and he's always been a bigger threat to the men in suits than ever John Lydon managed to be.

Gordon in the morning: Toe point

Gordon thinks that the remarkable thing about this photo of Bono is that he has "girlie" red nail polish on his toes.

Seriously, Gordon? You think nail polish is somehow girlie? That attitude is more outdated than the belief that people like Bono.

The really interesting thing, surely, is at the other end:

Bono is capable of wearing sunglasses that aren't irritating. A breakthrough!

Embed and breakfast man: Bob Mould

KarlT0 tweets that Bob Mould has done a great cover version for the Onion's AV Club.

Albeit one which suggests Mould struggles with the idea of a cover version.

[Buy Copper Blue]

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Copyright reform: What's in it for you?

Given that most of the proposed changes to copyright law focus on making it easier for multinational companies to farm copyrights, there has to be some sort of sweetener in there for the ornery folks like you and me.

So it is with the amplification of a couple of points from the Hargreaves report. These are the hearty breakfasts before we get hauled off to the gibbet.

First up, Vince Cable is promising to legalise ripping content.

No, no, hold up a minute before planning your Liberation Day parades.

That this is being treated like an act of generosity, when really it's just clearing up an anomaly. It's like dropping the law about not being allowed to use a sledge and pretending that you're setting free a thousand tobogganists, rather than just bringing the law in line with accepted practice.

Even the most enthusiastic supporters of the change can't really seem to point to any major change in what will happen after it's enacted than "that bloke who advertises those multi-CD-player things in Private Eye won't have to word his ads quite so delicately any more."

The second, more substantial change is allowing a right of parody, which is long overdue.

It does mean, though, that the skills of people like Phil Pope and Mitch Benn in producing close-but-not-identical musical parodies will be swept away as we can all just sing "poopy poopy poo" over the top of Strangers In The Night instead.

So, less of this sort thing:

And this sort of thing:

(You wonder how much use Spitting Image got out of the Cyndi Lauper doll.)

Gordon in the morning: I was Uday's double

Somewhat awkwardly - and presumably pulled in as it's connected to a film - Gordon's showbiz column finds space this morning, between Hannah Waterman's baby and a picture of Cameron Diaz, for a story about the horror of being Uday Hussein's double.

Even more surprisingly, while happy to host a bit about a man suffering the physical and mental scars of having been forced to stand-in for the son of a dictator, Smart doesn't have much love for the story about Paul Daniels being hospitalised by a pizza-tossing Sooty, which is relegated to a sidebar.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Kings Of Leon try to make bad show vanish from web

Talking of the Kings Of Leon, the band's Vector Management are issuing DMCA takedowns to force YouTube to remove footage of Caleb's meltdown.

It's not entirely clear where the copyright justification for this is - it's not music; you could, I suppose, argue that his behaviour was a performance and the performance would be covered by some sort of copyright.

It does, however, make it look like the management are trying to bully away any evidence of how terrible the band were. Surely not?

Drunktank: Kings Of Leon v Amy Winehouse

An interesting, but not entirely fully-formed, post by Everett True on Collapse Board compares the way the media covered Amy Winehouse's Belgrade Show and the Kings Of Leon in Texas.

I'm not sure there's a direct comparison to be made here:

Winehouse's gig was one she tried to do, but failed; Caleb didn't even try to play.
Winehouse appears to have been put up to play the gig when she wasn't ready; there doesn't seem to have been the same pressure put on Followill to turn up. Winehouse was, pretty clearly, known to have a serious illness; Followill we simply don't know about.

True's gripe is that Winehouse appears to be chastised by The Guardian for the quality of her performance, while the Kings Of Leon are given a "tee-hee, rock and roll" write-up.

To be fair, though, the Winehouse piece was a straight news report, written in part by agency reporters, while the Kings Of Leon piece is more of a blog entry from the website, so it's not really a straight comparison.

Everett seems to be assuming that The Guardian was somehow punishing Winehouse for her (unladylike) behaviour while celebrating that (blokey) drunkeness of the Kings Of Leon. I'm not so sure, though.

We know that Winehouse was booed, and even without the benefit of hindsight, her inability to make it through the set was pretty worrying. Surely True isn't suggesting that it lent itself to a jokey write-up?

It might be that Caleb is also seriously ill, and perhaps we should all be resisting the temptation to giggle at the idea of a member of the Kings Of Leon being so sick of the band he makes himself sick to get out of their gigs. But True has a laugh at how bad the group is in his complaint about double standards, so it's clear he's not calling for their drunken melt-down to be treated more sympathetically, either.

Which leaves the question... what does he actually think should have been done differently?

Lady GaGa shocked into silence by Winehouse death; unfortunately not for long enough

The death of Amy Winehouse was, literally, unspeakably awful for Lady GaGa. Or so she claims:

Lady Gaga has revealed she was so devastated by Amy Winehouse’s death she couldn’t speak for 48 hours.

The Judas singer appeared on The View chat show, which aired in the U.S. earlier today.
Blimey. To be that upset, GaGa must really have known Winehouse really well.
Even though she never met the Back To Black singer.
Lady Gaga then went on to explain how a lesson should be learnt from the death of the singer, who she described as ‘the most lovely and nice and kind woman’.
She was so lovely and nice and kind that GaGa knows she was lovely and nice and kind despite, erm, never having met her. Not even once.
She told the ladies of the ABC panel: ‘I think the most unfortunate thing about it all is the way that the media spins things, like we can learn from Amy's death.'
Perhaps one of those lessons might be for people not to talk about stars like they knew them if they don't really know them. For a start.

George Clinton: Shooting "near", not "at"

Although some reports are making it sound like there was a shooting during a George Clinton gig in Ohio, it actually looks like there was a shooting in the park after the gig finished.

One eyewitness, David, tells 19 Action News the shootings happened "right after the fireworks... that's when the action started...heard four shots. The police were here within two minutes, because they were already here."
Yes, if you're already somewhere, a two minute response time is probably slower than you'd expect.

Embed and breakfast man: Tune-Yards

You know who was on Jimmy Fallon's programme last night? Oh, yes...

[Buy: WhoKill]
[You might also like The Tune-yards weekend from a while back]

Ed Miliband copies EMI's big idea

You'll recall Charles Allen, who was brought in to EMI by Guy Hands. Hands was trying to prop up a hideously-confused, failing institution which - although much beloved, was struggling to find support or a role in the modern world.

Ed Miliband's just brought Allen in to do for The Labour Party what he did for EMI.

I'm not sure that this story is doomed to end with Citibank taking over The Labour Party and selling it to the highest bidder, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Gordon in the morning: Noel Gallagher has a daughter, you know

More coverage of the release of the unwanted Noel Gallagher solo material this morning, with Gordon listening to the radio as Noel talks about his band's name:

Noel told XFM's brilliant new breakfast host Danny Wallace: "I'm a fan of birds in the sense of the ones with two legs, two arms. Girls. The other birds are vermin.

"What are they for? The only ones that are any good are the ones that don't fly because you can eat them."
Apart from the retrofitted 1950s sexism, there's something surprising in the way that Noel seems to classify birds as table fowl by whether they fly or not. So presumably he'd eat penguins and eagles with broken wings, while rejecting pheasant and... but... I suspect I'm overthinking this... Noel's Kentucky Fried Penguins... near the penguin enclosure... what's that over there?...

Monday, August 01, 2011

Amy Winehouse: The Betty Ford of our generation?

If Mitch Winehouse does pull off his still-fag-packet-back plans to open a rehab place in Amy's memory, there will be something odd about the royalties from Rehab flowing into partly funding rehab.

Arguably, the finest rehab that money could buy didn't do much good for Amy in the end, which would make her a strange figurehead for drying-out clinics.

But it's not unprecedented for someone famous for not being on the wagon to become a beacon for sobriety: Betty Ford managed to turn her name from being a byword for liking a drink into being a brand of addiciton-free living. It might be nice if, in ten years time, people heard "Amy Winehouse" and thought of mended lives, rather than one big wasted one.

Mitch is looking for the government to put up some of the cash, so it's possible it won't ever happen. Notably, the coalition couldn't be arsed to put up a spokesperson to talk about Winehouse's plans on Channel 4 News this evening. But the cost of sorting people's problems with drugs and booze out is a fraction of the price of letting them drag on. Let's hope Mitch's determination and Cameron's love of a photo-op come together for a result.

Never mind the quality, feel the Strokes

It would make sense that Albert Hammond Jr is designing suits for Ryan Gosling, wouldn't it? I mean, there's no way that Albert Hammond Jr should be concentrating a bit more on the day job instead of drawing some suit designs, as, clearly, The Strokes can take care of themselves.

Gordon in the morning: Up on the roof

Bless him, Gordon tries to make band playing gig on roof sound like it's exciting and different.

It's the Red Hot Chili Peppers doing it this time. Gordon struggles to come up with some jokes:

Locals below were chuffed to get a Flea-bie. Well, ticket prices can be sky high...
You see? Because they were on the roof. Although when you're on the roof, the ticket prices aren't. Gordon's joke needs fixing.

Locals below were chuffed to get a Flea-bie. Because while the band are sky-high, at least the ticket prices weren't.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What the pop papers say: We [Heart] Pop

Before it launched, I suggested the pink colorscheme and promise of "boys uncensored" would probably make new pop monthly We[heart]Pop an unlikely purchase for any stray boys; the issue comes with some really cheap make-up, too, as if to ram the point home that this is pop, for girls, unlike football, which is for boys. Unless there's a mini-Nicky-Wire demographic they've identified, too. Ooh, I hope there is.

So the title has a manifesto, of sorts - "don't bore us, get to the chorus", which dates back to Berry Gordy. But even if it's being used as a reference to the Roxette greatest hits from a decade and a half ago, it's still a rare suggestion that pop might be in any way older than five minutes or so. Which is fine, in a pop magazine - a world where the name "Cher" can appear, by itself, on the cover and the readership know to expect Lloyd and not Bono.

Inside, it's a little unsure of its tone; there's a few touches will feel a bit like an attempt to capture some of the "love of pop expressed through smirking" that Smash Hits made its own:
But it's very hard to get that sort of thing right - if you try to pull it off and fail, you don't come across like Smash Hits, you come across like you're Number One. So far, because it's done without confidence, We[heart]Pop is about 75% Snabber
to 25% Black Type.

When it's not trying to be Smash Hits, there's a nasty overtone of Heat to the title:
Really? In a magazine for young teens?

There's a couple of good bits, though - a nice "which Lady GaGa are you" flowchart, and a section called "We've Got Issues" which this time asks if pop videos are too rude.

It's a nice idea, rendered slightly pointless by most pop stars saying "hyuk hyuk, they're not rude enough, nyuk nyuk". And, oddly, Patrick Wolf pops up, a bit like seeing Frankie Saturdays turning up in The Economist.

Patrick, if you're wondering, is just worried that pop videos these days are like commercials.

Maybe he's not so far out of place after all.
So it's not a bad magazine. It doesn't love pop, but it's quite fond of popstars, and it does have the gumption to ask One Direction if, given we've already got JLS and The Wanted, the world really needs them.

That's it's real problem, though: JLS. The Wanted. One Direction. Cher Lloyd. It's not that the pop magazines got smaller, it's just the pop stars have become so flat the idea of a musician like the girl or boy next door sounds edgy. There's a Rihanna interview, which has the potential for a bit more interest, but the chat is conducted in trembling awe of its subject.

With record company money pumped into the title, We[heart]Pop is never going to drag the big names into the real world. Even if it hadn't had funding from Universal, it would need a bit of time to build the audience large enough to have a healthy, honest relationship with the pop it says it loves. And - sorry - I don't think it's going to be around long enough to get to that point.

Spotify claim to be "concerned" by their own tracking service

Turns out Spotify (along with Hulu and others) have been using an especially nasty piece of tracking software to keep tabs on their customers. Wired reported:

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded — even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions.

The service, called KISSmetrics, is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from — and the company says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics.
Yes, more comprehensive because it stuck an undeletable file on your computer, rendering your ability to opt out of tracking invalid.

Spotify issued this in response to the original story:
Spotify, another KISSmetrics customer named in the report, said that it was concerned by the story:

“We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” a spokeswoman said by e-mail. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of KISSmetrics whilst the situation is investigated."
The question, surely, is why Spotify didn't investigate how KISSMetrics worked before baking it into its product and distributing it across all its customers. The Spotify response is a bit like a baker muttering "we're surprised to discover adding Acme Arsenic to our cakes and cookies is killing people, we'll stop doing that for the time being to look into it."

Slightly confused...

... by what nature is this OK memorial cash-in "official"?

Noel Gallagher looks to the future

It's difficult to remember that there was once a time when Noel Gallagher's opinions were so dull, I'd routinely find my attention being dragged towards thinking about lemurs whenever I attempted to write about them. A long-ago world, that was.

Let's see what Noel has to say today about his exciting solo career with Noel Gallagher And The Fly Strike Birds:

"There's a lot of work involved in this and I'm a lazy ****. But I think I'll be alright."
Work, you say? Really... work... tell us...
"I'd got to start again from scratch. I'm not a frontman, now I have to be the guy up the front giving it all the jazz hands."
Well... you don't have to do it... do... you?
"I've been in a band with a great frontman, and I was a great guitarist and backing vocalist who chirped in with the odd funny quip. It was perfect. This is just a major pain in the bollocks. But I'm getting used to the idea."
Funny quip? I don't remember any funny quips... must try and remember... when was... Noel... funny... on a swing... eating fruit...

Lady GaGa tries way too hard, again

More and more, I'm coming to the realisation that Lady GaGa is just a singing version of Julie from Corrie: full of positivity, really well-meaning, so, so keen to help. But oh, trying way, way too hard:

Gay icon Lady Gaga has vowed to become ordained as a minister in a bid to marry her queer friends, it has been revealed.
Apparently her "yoga instructor" "wants" GaGa to officiate at her wedding. Because what bride wouldn't want her day to be all about the celebrant, right?

The Kings Of... hold on...

This is probably not the show Kings Of Leon fans were expecting:

[Caleb] Followill warned audience members at a gig in Dallas that he was "about to fall down", before slinking backstage to "vomit" and "drink a beer".

"My voice is completely 100 percent wrong," Caleb can be heard saying in footage posted online. "I'm sorry... Do you know what? I'm going to drink some beer and I'm going to drink some tequila and I'm going to have a good time, and for the record I'm not drunk... I'm just f**king hot."
To be fair, if you're up for a Friday night out in Dallas you're probably used to this sort of thing.

The venue - presumably after sending someone with a mop, and someone else to move the precious things out of his way - decided to call for a reschedule:
Kings of Leon regretfully announce the postponement of tonight's show at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Caleb Followill suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration during last night's Dallas performance causing his vocal chords to seize.

The concert has been rescheduled for Sept. 22 at The Pavilion. Tickets for the original date will be honored at this show. If you are unable to attend the new date, refunds are available at point of purchase. Kings of Leon apologizes to their fans for the inconvenience.
I'm not sure "inconvenience" is quite the word.

But still, at least we're all holding the line that he wasn't drunk off his face, but just "dehydrated", right? I'll bet Jared Followill is full of sympathy for his brother. The NME has seen his Twitter feed:
I love our fans so much. I know you guys aren't stupid. I can't lie. There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade.
Of course, if one of the band said that the claims Caleb was unwell were untrue, people who'd shelled out to get to the gig might expect more than a replacement ticket for their trouble - babysitting fees, transport costs, and so on. Wouldn't you?

This week just gone

The most-read July stories - a lot of Rogers - were:

1. Roger Daltrey confuses U2 with socialists
2. Morrissey decides Norweigan slaughter a good time to mention how bad KFC is
3. RIP: Amy Winehouse
4. You can't use Too Drunk To Fuck to sell beer
5. Phil Collins admits he doesn't like music
6. Roger Taylor takes on Murdoch
7. Roger Daltrey joins the immigration debate
8. What The Pop Papers Say: Getting the Amy edition right
9. Gordon Smart ignores the 'private funeral please' request
10. Why Amy Winehouse was like a plumber, according to HuffPo

These were interesting last week, although it's a fallow period for releases:

Peter Murphy - Should The World Fail To Fall Apart

Download Should The World...

Rufus Wainwright - House Of Rufus 19 disc box set

Download Songs For Lulu

Various - Story Of Blue Beat 1960

Mickey Newbury - An American Trilogy

Download An American Trilogy

Lots of Macaroni And Cheese