Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nobody comes between me and my Michael Buble tickets

Up in Dundee, Agnes Neish came home to find a burglar going through her stuff.

She told him to drop the stuff, he scarpered. Police caught him; she got her things back.

The Courier records her joy:

She has now been reunited with her possessions, including her [Michael Buble] tickets and is looking forward to seeing the singer in London next week.

She said: “Of all the things he stole I was most upset that he took my tickets and I am delighted I got them back.”
The paper pitches this thus:
Dundee pensioner tackles burglar to save her Michael Buble tickets
That's a great headline, although the facts of the story mean the headline would be more honestly:
Dundee pensioner shouts at burglar to save possessions, presumably unaware of what he might have taken at this point; scaring him off but eventually gets Michael Buble tickets back
But why let the facts, etc etc?

Glastonbury 2013: We're reconstructing a faux pas

Glastonbury 2013: Dinosaur Jr

Very much enjoyed Dinosaur Jr last night on the Press Red stream.

Until July 29th, 2013 you can watch the set on iPlayer.

Possibly more resilient will be this track, from the BBC's YouTube presence, of Watch The Corners:

Glastonbury 2013: How did Beady Eye do?

Yesterday, as if the story of Wayne Rooney turning up with a box of Tesco Vodka and a Pot Noodle wasn't enough to convince you that Glastonbury isn't officially dead, Beady Eye turned up to "open" the festival.

Except they were over on the Other Stage, so it wasn't really opening anything. As initiations go, it's on a par with 'first person to buy a blanket at Joe Bananas'.

You'd have to conclude that what happened here was that the appropriate slot for Liam and his Rest Of Oasis to play would have been so far down the bill that this "surprise" opening slot was a compromise that soothed Gallagher's ego without having to move more successful or interesting groups off the stage later.

But what did people think?

Tim Jonze for the Guardian particularly liked the covers of Oasis songs:

Beady Eye tracks such as The Roller are, it has to be said, shown up by the former bands' glories, but closing track Bring the Light matches their peaks for sheer verve at least.

The NME report was, erm, surprisingly factual:
Playing a set heavy on material from their latest album 'BE', they began with 'Flick Of The Finger', one of a few songs to employ trumpets and saxophones in an effort to recreate the album's psychedelic sound.
I'm presuming that sentence didn't require someone to solve a CAPTCHA before publishing it.

The Guernsey Press And Star captured Gallagher as he twisted about, trying to reconcile the last eight years he's spent boring on about how the Festival was terrible with turning up to start things on one of the secondary stages. Why, Liam declares, he hasn't changed. It must be Glastonbury that's changed:
Liam said the festival had got better, crediting the organisers for its success. “It’s Michael Eavis, isn’t it, and the family who run it,” he said. “They put a lot of work into it.”
If only they'd been involved in 2004, eh, Liam?

Gordon in the morning: Glastonbury 2013

If you have sides, say farewell to them now.

Gordon's doing a meme:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Glastonbury 1993: Mega City Four

This is lifted from a now-out-of-print Greenpeace benefit album...

[You can buy copies of In A Field Of Their Own still...

or donate direct to Greenpeace]

[Part of Glastonbury 1993]

Glastonbury 1993: The Lemonheads

Remember when you couldn't open your front door without finding Evan Dando on your doorstep, offering to do a couple of acoustic tracks? Some councils had to create special teams to deal with that challenge.

Off a free covermount.

[Part of Glastonbury 1993]

[Buy: Come On Feel The Lemonheads]

Glastonbury 1993: Belly

Apparently filmed by MTV. Twenty years ago was a very different place...

[Buy: Belly - Star]
[Part of Glastonbury 1993]

Glastonbury 1993: The Orb

Actually filmed. On the NME stage. (Younger readers: the NME was the name of the makeshift paper blankets that used to be handed out as people arrived on site. Traditionally, people would burn them on camp fires before the first day of the event was over.)

[Buy: Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld]

[Part of Glastonbury 1993]

Glastonbury 1993: Suede

Let's take a quick journey back through - ulp - twenty years, and dip our beaks into Glastonbury 1993. From an age when it wasn't all filmed and streamed...

First up, here's Suede doing Moving, over a backdrop of a photo of people:

Try also:
The Orb
Mega City Four

[Buy: Suede - Suede]

Glastonbury 2013: Weather update

I swear these two tweets were right next to each other, from seconds ago:

Thank God for Twitter, otherwise those of us not in Pilton would have no idea whether it's raining there or not.

Glastonbury 2013: Sunderland

There's been a fundamental change in Glastonbury reportage this year. In place of the usual comparison - that the festival site is now the biggest town that side of Bristol - the BBC news reports are focusing on how the site is the size of Sunderland.

For American readers, you'll need to adjust your recipe on the basis of 'roughly the population of Salt Lake City'.

Glastonbury 2013: Throwing Stones

Are The Rolling Stones too old to play Glastonbury?

Of course not. What a stupid question.

Or, rather, what an interesting question to focus on rather than the surely more important one about if they're too far past their creative peak; or too ill-fitting, as a stadium dinosaur in what used to be a smarter festival than that; or too tax-exiley for a gathering that used to have a heart.

But, instead, let's focus on if they're too old. What do you think, Keith Richards?

They have an average age of 69 with some saying they are too old to play.

"I'd say, 'What do you know about it? You've never tried it'," laughs the band's guitarist Keith Richards.

"It's good for your health to play rock'n'roll in a clean living band like The Rolling Stones. You should try it. It's better than church."
Very droll. I suspect Brian Jones might raise an objection to that thesis, but having been dead for four decades he probably won't.

There is a weird sense hanging over the booking, like it's been driven by a desire to complete a line on a bingo card rather than any artistic reasons. Richards seems to confirm this:
"It just never occurred. Many times it has been on the list of tours and stuff and for one reason or another it never coincided," explains Keith Richards in an exclusive interview with Newsbeat ahead of Glastonbury.

"[It's] like a black hole in space or something but in we go this time.

"I'm looking forward to it because it is an iconic gig and it's an iconic band and finally the two meet at last.

"In a way it's kind of weird that at last we've made it to Glastonbury. It's like building Stonehenge right?"
It's a crossover event. But it feels more like the Dukes Of Hazzard/Alice crossover rather than, say, the Cybermen taking on the Borg.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Devobit: Alan Myers

Alan Myers, Devo's "human metronome", has died.

Myers was the third, and perhaps most supreme, of Devo's drummers, joining in time for Jocko Homo and bailing before the band soundtracked that Toni Basil horror movie, Slaughterhouse Rock. His departure came as the band started to embrace more and more technology in their act; the decision to pre-program a lot of the percussion into a Fairlight was point where he decided enough was enough.

After Devo, he played with various acts in Los Angeles, including regular slots for his Skyline Electric band in galleries around the city.

Talking to Reuters in 2010, Myers said he felt out of the loop from the on-going versions of Devo, and wasn't interested in returing.

Alan Myers died from brain cancer on June 24th. He was 58.

Who is the smartest person in rock?

It's almost cruel to share the name of the company which has spent its money pulling together a poll to discover the "most stylish rockstar".

Almost, but not quite. Jesus, Stuarts of London... really? At no point did you see the way the votes were going and think 'let's quietly kill this, or lie and say, I don't know, Kele from Bloc Party or something'.

Noel Gallagher won.

Let's look at Noel when he's dressed up, shall we?

Noel, there, with that guy who was in the Chilcot Enquiry. Yeah, that's stylish.

Noel beat Liam Gallagher - yes, the next-most-stylish rock star is a bloke who wears fussy parkas and Lennon specs. Third place was Alex Turner.

This could also, you appreciate, a list of pop stars that the people who run a London trouser shop might have heard of. Best to approach it on that basis.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More gloom for The Sun

Also casting a shadow over the celebratory polishing of the new brass name plate at News UK: Matthew Knowles is suing The Sun over claims the paper made in an interview it ran with him back in March.

Knowles has issued a statement:

"My daughters and my family mean the world to me. The barrage of repeated falsehoods spawned by the British Sun's defamatory article has been exhausting and personally damaging to me.

"No matter how many papers it sells or web hits it generates, The Sun, like any newspaper, needs to maintain a basic level of journalistic integrity. The Sun crossed the line when it went after my family. The Sun needs to be held responsible for its lies in a court of law. This happens too often to too many people, and it is simply unfair."
Good luck with trying to get the Sun to maintain journalistic integrity, Matthew. Why, James Murdoch was paid to do that, and never managed it.

Gordon in the morning: Not in my rebranded name

In a bid to try and distance himself from his own company, Rupert Murdoch is to change the name of News International to News UK.

It's a fresh start. Making it clear that whatever you think about the company that was prepared to hack into a dead child's phone in the search of a story, it's a totally different place. Gone is the callous behemoth who would try and exploit a child's tragedy for a few extra sales.

It's a new dawn. It's a new day.

So, News UK, what have you got for us to illustrate how your company is a different place?

Paris Jackson was ‘sent suicidal by strict gran’
Cousin Tanay reveals her rows with her Jehovah's Witness grandmother Katherine

Never mind, Rupert. Perhaps leave it a week and see if News Europe works.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Glastonbury 2013: pulled from Worthing screen

News from the Evening Argus:

Worthing's answer to Glastonbury...
Hang about, what now? Worthing has an answer to Glastonbury?

It turns out that this 'answer' consists of showing bits of Glastonbury on a big screen, which isn't so much an answer as a capitulation. But they were going to charge - yes, to watch television on a beach - so they had learned something from Cashtonbury.

Now, though, it's not going to happen:
Worthing's answer to Glastonbury has been cancelled at the 11th hour due to safety fears.
Attempts to find a solution - cutting the number of marks from 500 to 350, trying to persuade the council to let them create an extra exit by taking down a fence panel - have foundered.

The good news, though, is that people from Worthing can still watch Glastonbury on televisions all over the place this weekend. Just not out of doors.

Gordon in the morning: Looking grim for Obama

As if Michelle Obama's graceless handling of a heckler wasn't bad enough, her stock has now fallen lower with transmission of an episode of The Wanted's 'reality' show in which she... appears.

Now, there's outreach, and there's outreach; but 'appearing as an extra in a second-string reality show' (and offering up the White House as a set) is going way too far.

Michelle, Michelle: before taking up an offer, always ask yourself 'is this effectively just Dog The Bounty Hunter but with singing?'

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bono: Mainly doing good for Bono, big business

You know what I'd hate to be? I'd hate to be one of those people who have spent much of the last decade giving Bono the benefit of the doubt.

Because those doubts are starting to pile up now.

First, last week there was George Monbiot, asking what the hell was Bono's One campaign doing endorsing the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

This "Alliance" means, for example, that farmers in Mozambique who use free seed, saved from the last year's harvest, become outlaws; the better to enforce Monsanto's seeds onto the developing world.

Why, no, insists ONE: this is a good thing:

Seed policy reforms pursued by new alliance countries are designed to make the local seed market flourish and enable smallholder farmers to access the same types of improved seeds that raise yields and income levels, which more productive farmers take for granted elsewhere in the world.
Well, yes. Forcing people to buy seed is good news for the seed market, and without a market there wouldn't be a place for smallholders to purchase seeds from Monsanto, with all the claimed benefits of Monsant... hang about, aren't you meant to be a charity promoting the development of Africa, rather than a corporation selling seed to the continent?

Monbiot's piece was inspired, in part, by the publication of The Frontman, a filleting of Bono's role as "one who has become an unwitting symbol of a complacent wealthy Western elite".

And the third scoop? He's done an interview with Focus On The Family, the Colorado-based far-right Jesus fundamentalists.

What sort of people is it Bono is hanging out with?

An organisation that wants transgender people to be banned from using public toilets.

They're - shall we say - gay hostile.

They're selling camouflage trucker caps with little crosses on them.

They're desperate to stop government from being able to object to having to fund sectarian organisations.

So why is Bono helping them out by sprinkling a little of his stardust?

Surely, this is the point where people have to stop making excuses for him, right?

Unbelievably, his fanbase are trying to spin this, too:
It may appear that Focus on the Family is using Bono. But I think the case could be made that Bono using them. He's long talked about how the churches need to wake up to what their scriptures are telling them: help the poor. By doing this interview, he can leverage support from a huge and influential group, Evangelical America. Bono is both a believer and a good salesman. Thanks for sharing!
"No, no; he isn't burning down the orphanage; he's merely ensuring that the petrol soaked-rags aren't around to cause problems any more. You've got to trust the man..."

Venuewatch: Royal Function Rooms

Grim times in Rochester, as Medway Council seems to be issuing noise abatement notices the way some other councils give out leaflets featuring councillor's faces.

The Royal Function Rooms is the latest to get a 'shut up' order:

The orders instruct venues not to play "live and loud amplified music" to avoid a £20,000 fine or having amps confiscated.

But music promoters say just one angry neighbour can hold an entire venue to ransom as the orders do not say how loud is too loud.
The pub owners points out that when it was built, there were no neigbours, so everyone who lives nearby is living in a house whose builders have chosen to construct near a pub; you'd think they'd make allowances.

Journobit: Chet Flippo

Chet Flippo, the man who put the country into Rolling Stone, has died.

Here's a slice of Flippo's Dolly Parton coverstory from 1980, the point where Parton was about to add film star to her already packed cv:

One of the lesser noticed of twelve children in a poor Tennessee family, Dolly began planning her escape to the world of money and glamour as soon as she heard about it. The minute she was out of high school, she was on a Greyhound bus to Nashville to try to be a country star. But girl singers – that's what they called them then – in country music were rare and generally regarded as so much flesh. Parton used her iron will, her incredibly seductive and powerful voice, her ability to write songs and her self-confidence and ambition to knock down the brick walls that stood between her and her goals. She also played up her beauty and her hourglass figure. She started to make secret lists of the fairy-tale futures she sought. She is a fiercely positive thinker, and her private lists worked like voodoo. Nashville never knew what hit it. She became a country star.

Still, Nashville wasn't enough, so she plotted her superstar map and left Nashville for Los Angeles and full blown pop management. Her husband, Carl Dean, a seldom-seen Nashville contractor, approved, and she set out to become superfamous. She deliberately made the kind of pop music she thought would gain her both a new audience and the power to do whatever she wanted. She thinks the strategy is working.
After his time at Rolling Stone, Flippo wrote books, taught journalism and then wound up as editorial director of CMT. But you can take the man out of music journalism, but... well, he still was writing a weekly column, Nashville Skyline, for the CMT website.

His last column appeared earlier this month, and aptly for a man best known writing which helped country crossover, he ended with some thoughts on the new Nashville crossovers:
There's also the war between modern radio country -- also being called old rock masquerading as country -- and more traditional artists and then, of course, there's also hick-hop music. You'll see plenty of all of that on display this week.

And there was also the sight of both Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift performing recently onstage with the Rolling Stones. That gives a whole new definition to crossover country.

But then there was also the recently-taped CMT Crossroads with Jack White hosting Willie Nelson as his Third Man Records studio downtown, with Leon Russell, Norah Jones, Neil Young and others, with music ranging all across the country music spectrum.

Then we have the spectacle of Natalie Maines -- remember her? -- declaring "war on Nashville" in the pages of Rolling Stone. Apparently, Maines' war consists of angrily stamping her foot and saying, "Oh, fie!"
Chet Flippo had been ill for some time. He died June 19th, in Nashville, at the age of 69.

The Wanted: Nearly a great loss to the World's art

It turns out the world came just moments away from losing the reality series about The Wanted (title: One Direction Are Too Grand To Do It, So Here's The Wanted).

Nathan Sykes, who plays Nathan Sykes in the series, nearly quit:

He tells Britain's Daily Star, "I was really, really close to quitting and going home at one point. It was just too much. Everywhere I looked there was a camera, and I wasn't sure if I could deal with it. I was ill and shut away in my room and just wanted to leave. I got really, really homesick."
Luckily, he was pulled through by medical care and compassion a watertight contract, a bucket of money and the realisation that they'd have just shrugged and parachuted Chico or somebody in for the rest of the series ("medical care and compassionate management support") pulled him through, and the series - Hey Hey We're The Wasted. Wanted. Whatever - was saved for a delighted world to enjoy. Or, at least, for a delighted world's parents to find stacked, unwatched, on Sky+ in a year and quietly delete.

Winehouse revisited

Further to yesterday's post about how The Observer presented the Amy Winehouse story...

I didn't see the print edition until quite late yesterday. In print, the interview has the same standfirst as online. But there's a crucial difference.

Even if you didn't read the main paper - which had a (sensitively written) news story about the bulimia claim - before you got to the magazine, the anatomy of the magazine meant any reader arriving at the page would have come to the "what really killed her" line through a different path. In that context, it felt less jarring.

It doesn't make the way the online piece is displayed all right, but it's reassuring to know this looks like an awkward side-effect of trying to publish something physically and digitally at the same time. Should have been picked up, though.

Gordon in the morning: Stones v Peppers

I suppose it's not unheard of for Rolling Stones "security" to get out of hand, but even so: throwing Alexis Kiedis to the ground because they confused him with a fan seems a bit extreme.

Kiedis is fifty, which makes him about a decade too young to be a Stones fan, surely?

More seriously, even if he had been a fan rather than a Red Hot Chili Pepper, what had he done that justified being bundled to the floor? Does anyone who comes within twenty paces of Jagger get beaten up pre-emptively?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Amy Winehouse and the journalistic hook

The Observer Magazine has a lovely interview with Amy Winehouse's brother, Alex, today.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but while the piece by Elizabeth Day is nicely handled, the sell feels a little misjudged.

You might have seen the promotional tweet:

Or, possibly, read the standfirst:
As an exhibition opens about her family life, Amy Winehouse's brother Alex talks in his first major interview about the girl who became a superstar – and reveals what he thinks really killed her
This focus on "what he thinks really killed her" is both grisly and disingenuous. As a way of attracting attention to the piece, it might work - A killer unmasked! A challenge to the coroner? - but in effect it distorts what Alex was trying to say, and depicts an important and personal observation into a false promise of a CSI plot twist.

Maybe I should say 'spoilers' here:
"She suffered from bulimia very badly. That's not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… Absolutely terrible."

What does he mean by that? "I think that it left her weaker and more susceptible. Had she not had an eating disorder, she would have been physically stronger."
I wouldn't suggest that The Observer have added something that wasn't in Alex's words, but by stripping them from the context and using them as a hook, they've not really represented them that fairly. Something important and subtle has been lost for the sake of a grab.

Glastonbury 2013: Kill the badgers

Here's something cheery to think of as you see all the environmental pledges scattered across the Glastonbury site: Michael Eavis wants to kill badgers.

He supports the Tory coalition's badger cull:

"As a dairy farmer I am not on the side of the badger," he told the Guardian, in his first public comments on the controversy over badgers' role in causing bovine TB in cattle. "They've also uprooted all the orchids, and killed or eaten all the hedgehogs. They're still treated like a protected species, but they're actually quite a damaging animal."
Eaten all the hedgehogs, eh?
Hugh Warwick, a hedgehog ecologist, said that Eavis was mistaken in believing that badgers were responsible for the loss of hedgehogs in the countryside.

"Hedgehogs and badgers have coexisted for millennia. When there is plenty of food for both, these animals can live together," said Warwick. "The reason we're seeing a decline in hedgehogs cannot be wholly blamed on badgers although badgers have some part to play in it."

Badgers and hedgehogs compete for the same food – worms – but when food is scarce, badgers will turn on hedgehogs. Hedgehogs do suffer if badger populations reach a certain density but they are also rapidly declining in areas where there are no badgers.

And badgers uprooting orchids? Perhaps they do - although the government's cost-benefit analysis of a badger cull repeatedly makes clear that sending people into habitats to cull badgers actually puts orchids at risk through having flat-footed gun-wranglers trampling across the landscape.

And as the EU discovered last year, the main culprit in the spread of TB amongst cattle is dairy farmers being sloppy about following guidelines:
Cattle in England must be regularly tested for TB, and those found to have the disease must be quickly isolated and then removed. But the EC report, based on inspections made in September 2011, found numerous "shortcomings", including missed targets on both the rapid removal of cattle with TB and the follow-up of missed tests, and "weaknesses in cleaning and disinfection at farm, vehicle, market and slaughterhouse levels, exacerbated by lack of adequate supervision". All these problems increase the risk of TB spreading between cattle.

The EC gave the UK €23m in 2011 for bovine TB control measures. Its inspectors found that the removal of cattle with TB was below the target of 90% in 10 days, and that in the first half of 2011 more than 1,000 cattle had not been removed after 30 days. They found that there were 3,300 overdue TB tests as of May 2011 and that "many" calf passports – used to track movements – were incomplete. They also found that only 56% disease report forms had been completed on time, with the authorities blaming lack of resources. Funding cuts were cited as the reason for the failure of local authorities to update central databases systematically.

The EC report stated: "Local authority surveys provided evidence that some cattle farmers may have been illegally swapping cattle ear tags, ie retaining TB-positive animals in their herds and sending less productive animals to slaughter in their place." There are 8.5 million cattle in Great Britain on 81,000 holdings, with 2.4m movements a year. In 2011, about 7% of herds were under restriction due to TB and 26,000 cattle were destroyed.
It should be stressed that, nevertheless, nobody is suggesting a cull of dairy farmers.

This week just gone

Most-read stories this week from across the site:

1. Liam Gallagher rates Emeli Sande
2. KT Tunstall knows why people think she's gay
3. Beady Eye wonder if they might be better off playing some Oasis tracks
4. Kim Deal quits the Pixies
5. HMV moves flagship store to reflect reduced circumstances
6. You can take the H from the Steps, but you can't take the H From Steps from the H
7. One line hipster observation
8. How are the Beady Eye album sales going?
9. Ozzy Osbourne didn't watch any of The Osbournes
10. Kelly Osbourne convinced that Lady GaGa is having a feud with her

These were this week's interesting releases:

Tuung - Turbines

Download Turbines

Julian Cope - Revolutionary Suicide

Electric Soft Parade - Idiots

Download Idiots

Sigur Rós - Kveikur

Download Kveikur

Smith's - Cheese Flavoured Moments