Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bluesobit: Coco Robicheaux

Coco Robicheaux, the "hoodoo bluesman", has suffered a fatal heart attack.

Robicheaux was born into a military family, but came to settle in Louisiana as a teenager; the army nearly pulled him back in during Vietnam but an irregular heartbeat spared him action. His life would stretch any attempt at a quick obituary - moving across the country; an impostor committing violent crimes in his name forcing him to live in semi-hiding; odd-jobs and cash-in-hand gigs before a big break: Mighty Sam McClain covered one of his songs, leading to a record deal and an album, Spiritland, in 1994. (Coco had recorded some tracks back in the 1960s, but never anything had amounted to much.) More albums were to follow, and he would be a regular on the New Orleans live and festival scene. He even got a cameo in Treme.

Robicheaux suggested his talent came from spirits from somewhere beyond:

"It's like an all-star soul revue rather than a gong show. If I sing a phrase with a certain feeling, I know it's not because this cat's in me, but he's standing right next to me. I don't want to hear voices. When I was in my 20s I would do all that stuff. Now I have a strong idea of my own identity."
Coco was taken ill at the Apple Barrel, the inn where he would often hold impromptu performances. He was 64.

PMS under threat

Venerable Radio Merseyside music show PMS (né The Late World Noise, etc) is on the block as part of the current round of cuts forced on the BBC by a vindictive Tory government. They're looking for messages of support, and I think they thoroughly deserve them.

Discobit: Andrea True

Andrea True, of Connection fame, has died.

Born Andrea Truden, she changed her name to True when she joined the porn industry. She'd been finding it hard making a living as a mainstream actress, but worried that her mother would be upset seeing the family name used in the adult entertainment industry.

Her porn career included the sequel to Deep Throat, but she was salvaged from that business by an advertising job in Jamaica and the birth of disco. The money from one funded her debut in the second, and she self-funded this:

More More More was a massive hit on both sides of Atlantic and beyond - Andy Kershaw once remembered being pestered to DJ at a club in Zimbabwe only to discover the box was full of Andrea True Connection records, rather than the local music he had been hoping for. The canny use of a title which is perfect for simple-minded advertisers has meant that the cash has been rolling in from it ever since.

The More, More, More album would offer up other, slightly less classic singles - like this one:

But effectively, that was it for Andrea's chart music career. She should worry though; her one shrewd record, hitting on-trend, set her up for the rest of her life.

Andrea True died on November 7th; the cause of her death has not been made public.

Belgian festival organisation faces closure

Intro is a great organisation - every year, it takes hundreds of people with disabilities to festivals all over Belgium.

Or it has up until now. The Belgian government has tried to shift responsibility for funding Intro from the finance ministry to the culture ministry. The culture ministry can't afford to pay for the whole program from its own budget, and so - unless something happens to change minds in Brussels - people who need a bit of a helping hand to get round festival sites will wind up missing out.

[via SideLine]

Gordon in the morning: Hospital visits

Pneumonia is obviously serious. The Sun runs a piece which does its best to stick to the request from George Michael's publicist:

The singer's publicist Connie Filippello said: "George Michael is ill with pneumonia and any other speculation regarding his illness is unfounded and untrue."
And, to be fair to the three journalists tasked to write the story:
STEPHEN MOYES and NEIL SYSON in Austria and EMMA LITTLE, Health Editor
they don't actually speculate that it's anything other than pneumonia. But they speculate a lot about what treatment he might be getting, and Sun Doctor Carol Cooper is wheeled in to speculate on the prognosis.

However, the Sun doesn't even need to nudge and wink. The readers know there's only one possible reason a gay man would be in hospital, right?

Not wishing to draw parallels here but didn't Freddie Mercury make an announcement similar to this in 1992? Brilliant musical talent but dodgy choice of recreational pastime.
For someone not wishing to draw a parallel, you do seem to have somehow drawn one, jagucat.

Surprising to hear "being gay" described as a "recreational pastime", by the way. Maybe Kirstie Allsopp will be seen doing it competitively in a county show before the end of her current crafting series.

Elsewhere in Gordon's kingdom, someone watched Gary Barlow on Loose Women yesterday:
X FACTOR judge Gary Barlow insists he never intended to take over Simon Cowell's "Mr Nasty" character.
Poor Gary; after years of being thought a nice-but-dull bloke, he's now trying to get that image back. Trouble is, however much Barlow might now try to pretend it never happened, it's impossible to forget that the publicity for the start of the current X Factor run did, erm, pitch him as taking over Cowell's role:
The Radio Times interview pitched a man who was relishing being disliked:
Gary Barlow is happy to play the hard man. Unpopular, me? Bring it on, he says. The day we meet The Sun has reported that The X Factor audience booed him and an elderly X Factor contestant felt humiliated when he rifled through her bag.

“Oh I’ve upset a lot of people, most of all the audiences, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve spent 20 years being cheered and screamed after, but being booed is actually quite addictive.”
He grins. The truth is that however hard he tries to antagonise, the audience appears to love him.
Now, maybe he never wanted to be that person, but he certainly was happy to go along with the marketing that cast him in that role.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DigitalSpy makes you an offer you can safely ignore

Watch The Wanted playing Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Wii.
I suppose at least they're not singing.

Westlife linger, don't they? Like pneumonia.

Nicky Byrne has given an interview marking the end of Westlife:

It's a miracle and a blessing that we lasted 14 years.
Which goes to prove the old saying: five people's miracles is everybody else's nightmare.

Chris Martin overestimates himself again

Chris Martin reckons he knows his place:

Frontman Chris Martin told the crowd during the band's [Mencap Little Noise Sessions at St John-At-Hackney church] set: "We had to settle on being shit Radiohead. We're called that sometimes, you know."
Oh, Chris, the only time you're called a shit Radiohead is when people are being kind. Obviously, not very kind, then they'd say you're an underskilled Elbow; but generally, the idea of comparing Coldplay to Radiohead is a bit like looking at a calculator and assuming it's some sort of broken iPad.

Eurovision: Grant application

ContactMusic is reporting on a winner for a job that isn't actually available:

The 'Strictly Come Dancing' star - who left the ballroom competition last weekend - is the frontrunner to present the BBC's coverage of the annual singing competition next year, taking over duties from Graham Norton.
Now, as far as I know, Norton hasn't given up the Eurovision job, which suggests that there's no race for Grant to be "frontrunner" in.

And even if there was a race, would Grant be a frontrunner? How likely a choice would a man with no real track record for presenting live television be, to anchor three hours of prime-time Saturday television single-handed?

I'm not an astrologer, but I don't think you need to know your Venus rising from your retrograde Saturn to make a prediction on this one.

Remembering Poly; helping a charity

Remixes. Posthumous singles. Charity singles. Competitions to remix tracks. Any and/or all of those things can result in horrible wrongs, so it's heartening to see it done well: Poly Styrene's No Rockefeller, remixed by competition winners Wass n Burls, raising money for the UNCHR's Somali campaign.

Gordon in the morning: Courtney makes an offer

Yikes - has Courtney Love really told that woman off the annoying Marks And Spencer advert that she can do a Nirvana song? Gordon's Lucy Connolly says so:

X Factor Janet Devlin’s Nirvana go-ahead
Except then he admits that the story is really "Courtney does @tweet":
WILD rocker Courtney Love has come up with a plan to help Janet Devlin win The X Factor – by letting her sing a Nirvana track.

The widow of the grunge band's frontman Kurt Cobain — whose ancestors are from the same part of County Tyrone as flame-haired Janet — tweeted Simon Cowell yesterday to suggest the idea.

The Hole singer posted: "@SimonCowell you want some Nirvana songs? @JanetJealousy is from same town as Kurt? I have the perfect idea for that, call me babe."
I'd have thought that basing a news story on a tweet from Courtney would be like pitching a tent on Brighton beach - uncomfortable to begin with and certain to be washed out to sea before the night was out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What the pop papers say: Cool getting colder

Every year, about this time, elderly relatives will send out greetings cards to remind people that they're still alive. In much the same way, the NME releases its otherwise pointless Cool List in order to send out a few press releases to let the wider world know that the title still exists.

There is something a bit surprising in the choice of Azealia Banks as their number one - given that the paper these days is so very, very white with its alternating Liam/Noel covers throughout the year, it's surprising to see a black artist on the cover of the magazine. Although she's not given the whole cover, of course. Presumably she's just a little too cool to be given the whole front page. And clearly, way, way, too cool for the NME to build a spalsh feature around without shoring her up with the rest of the list - Jarvis and Kasabian and Lana Del Ray and Noel.

There's also a fool list, in which the Insane Clown Posse and Ricky Gervais are ridiculed for domestic violence and mong jokes respectively. Which is good, except it makes the presence of Tyler The Creator on the Cool List even more puzzling. Gervais is ordered to "sort it out" while the sexist, homophobic Tyler is "cool" because he's "genuinely" a "troller deluxe". The paper even includes his suggestion that Tegan and Sara needed some "hard dick" as part of the citation for his appearance in the cool list.

Really, NME? The little chart you provide underneath which suggests this might have dented his cool a bit (and not for what he said, but for having been called on it by Tegan and Sara) doesn't offset that you're lauding someone because they spit out sexist, homophobic shit. And then say it's great that he genuinely believes it.

The exact methodology to decide what's "cool" is a mystery, but surely there could be some sort of human intervention to stop the NME telling its remaining readers that telling gay women they just need to have sex with a man is a cool thing to do?

Gordon in the morning: Filling out

George Michael has cancelled some European dates, as he's got pneumonia. Not that that's bothering Gordon, mind. He's got a bigger story:

George was also embarrassed when photos taken by fans during his one London concert showed him with a sagging belly. There was no sign of his paunch in the official snaps.
Just in case you've missed his subtle point, he prints a picture of the young Michael wearing his tight white swimming trunks. Yes, you remember. Oh, yes...

... uh, sorry... where were we? Ah, yes. Smart runs a big photo of the small trunks with this caption:
Young gun ... George Michael looking slim during Wham's heyday in the '80s
Yes, Gordon. It was thirty years ago. Of course he'd be a bit slimmer then.

Still, given his metabolism slowing down seems to worry you so much, Gord, keep your fingers crossed: pneumonia can cause weight loss. Perhaps you'll get your slimline George back in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gordon in the morning: A £20k do-it-yourself job

I've got to say; if I'd paid twenty thousand quid for Boy George to sing me a song - whether for charity or not - ...

To show his gratitude, George passed Kate [Moss] the mic so she could sing along.
... I'd not expect to have to sing the bloody song myself.

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Indie tapes

It might be a while since you last saw your copy of Something's Burning In Paradise, or had a chance to admire Boon & Quantick's Noddy cartoon from the inlay card on NME's collect-and-send-for Indie City tapes. PressPlayAndRecord could very well be your friend.

[There is not enough thanks to offer up to @blowsmyskirtup]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Noel breaks America if you squint

Gordon is excited for chum Noel Gallagher who is big in America, don't you know?:

NOEL Gallagher, legal nonsense aside, is on a pretty special run at the moment.

The Yanks are raving about his solo shows and he has already flogged 85,000 tickets for dates next year.
Oh, really?

Here are the dates he's playing in the US, with the size of the venues:

Washington Warner Theatre - 1800
Columbus LC Theater - 2827
Detroit Royal Oak - 2300
Chicago Riviera - 2500
Milwaukee Pabst - 1,345
Indianapolis Egyptian Room - 2000
Atlanta Tabernacle - 2600

I make that about 15,000 if all the venues sell out. Now, you could probably find the extra 70,000 tickets if you fold in the European and Australian tour, but Smart is attempting to give the impression that the 85,000 tickets are somehow American. Certainly, that's how his subs appear to have read it:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gore & Clarke back together again

Thirty years after Vince Clarke quit Depeche Mode, he's working again with Martin Gore:

Gore explained that Clarke emailed him about the idea "out of the blue". He said: "Out of the blue I got an email from Vince just saying, 'I'm interested in making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?'
First fruits are an EP, Spock, next week; there'll be a full album in 2013. Then something else round the middle of the century.

Tracking Rushworth's

I guess being able to claim that you sold Paul McCartney his first guitar would, for most shops, be more than enough of a claim to fame, but Rushworths Music House in Liverpool has many more tales to tell. In fact, so many, that the University of Liverpool are embarking on a three-year project to gather a history of the company, from early days building organs until it closed at the start of this century.

They're looking for any memories from customers, staff or fans of the store; the email address is

Gordon in the morning: The embrace of death

Filed as an "exclusive" by Caroline McGuire, a tale of Lady visting Amy Winehouse's house to 'pay respects':

A source said: "She went in disguise and kept things low key."
That's probably wise; otherwise it would have appeared in the papers.

To be fair to GaGa, the scant information the Sun has (the story is padded out with adverts for the rushed-out posthumous album) suggests that GaGa did want to keep the visit private, and did nearly succeed.

From the recently dead to the still alive, and Richard White's piece on Robin Gibb. If the tabloids are horrible when someone's dead, how much worse are they when they think somebody is about to die. One thing I'm sure family and friends of Robin Gibb could do without is having the Sun crying fake tears about his condition outside the hospital doors.

The only saving grace is that with Leveson sitting, even Murdoch's papers are unlikely to repeat the ghoulish crashing of the death of Russell Harty. You'd hope.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bookmarks: Internet stuff - Tim Gudgin

As part of his last day reading out the football scores, Tim Gudgin remembers the time he shared the job with Mark E Smith:

Several fans have appeared alongside him, reading the results on the BBC's interactive service, most memorably and singularly, the Fall's Mark E Smith. "He knew the teams because he was keen on soccer," Gudgin says. "It was an idiosyncratic performance, partly because he'd had more than a little alcohol beforehand. I think we just about got away with it."

Bull And Gate weekend: The Wave Pictures

Now let's shuttle forward twenty-five years to round about right now. Art alert time as The Wave Pictures come in black and white:

[Buy: Beer In The Breakers]
[Part of Bull and Gate weekend]

Bull And Gate weekend: Brigandage

Here's something of a curiosity: The first part of one of Brigandage's last-ever gigs at the Bull And Gate from 1986.

Why did they split? Many reasons, including this:

As soon as said friend [and manager] buys a white leather jacket run for the hills – soon they will be talking to other record meeja types wearing similar types of offensive leather apparel.

[More on Brigandage here]
[Part of Bull And Gate weekend]

Bull And Gate Weekend: We Are Scientists

Here's another thing that would be the lesser without the Bull And Gate: the Camden Crawl. The annual clatter-about-Camden multivenue gig thing has long been anchored, in part, by the B&G. Here's We Are Scientists from this year's Crawl:

[Buy: Brain Thrust Mastery]
[Part of Bull And Gate weekend]

Bull And Gate Weekend: Belakiss

Despite being docked ten points for being named after a serial killer (the Manson fine), it's undeniable that Belakiss know how to fill the Club Fandango stage. This is from February this year:

[Part of Bull And Gate weekend]

This week just gone

Last year's news - the stories from 2010 that have been most-read across 2011:

1. The Daily Mail thinks Katy Perry is fat
2. NME Awards shortlist
3. Torry retires from The Donnas
4. The music of 2010
5. Bono's manager wants to save the music industry
6. NME's worst list yet - the most fearless people in music
7. Sun subs fail to rise to Matt Bellamy dating Kate Hudson story
8. Valete: Musical deaths in 2010
9. Gerard Way goes pink
10. Key events of 2010

These were the interesting releases:

Los Campesinos - Hello Sadness

Download Hello Sadness

Screaming Trees - Last Words

Download Last Words

Tegan And Sara - Get Along

Download Get Along

Future Of The Left - Polymers Are Forever

Download Polymers Are Forever

Liz Green - O, Devotion

Download O, Devotion

The Fall - Ersatz GB

Download Ersatz GB

Kate Rusby - While Mortals Sleep

Download While Mortals Sleep

REM - Part Heart...

Download Live At The BBC