Friday, July 12, 2013

The Manics against the fascists

It doesn't seem to be any heightened sense of irony, and just plain-old ignorance, that led to the English Defence League using the Manics' If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next to promote one of their hatey-hate rumble marches.

Someone clearly didn't get as far as the "then I can shoot fascists" line when they came up with idea.

the NME claims at first that the Manics are taking "legal action" as a result, although further down the article the "legal action" starts to sound a bit watery:

A spokesperson for the Manics told NME that the band were "horrified" that their track was being used in the promo and that the label requested the video was taken down immediately.
Which is action, but hardly the full force of the law.

Terrible marketing stunt turned into terrible marketing press release

There was a thing earlier in the week about how Durex were supposedly marketing Daft Punk themed Get Lucky condoms.

It turns out they're not, but like a drunk man hopefully filling his pockets from the Johnny machine in the bogs, Durex are hoping they can capitalise on a promise. Can you spot the moment when their email to MTV News turns from factual correction into jolly-marketing message?

We are aware of reports that Durex has launched Daft Punk branded condoms following their hit single 'Get Lucky,' " he said. "There is no Durex promotion or partnership with Daft Punk in the U.S. or any other markets and Durex is not posting free packs to the world's top DJs as suggested. However, we do hope that by using Durex condoms, music-lovers will continue to make sweet music together and have great sex!"
They might have just got away with it if they'd stopped after "make sweet music together", but you can just picture the room when that statement was hammered together...

- Do you think people will understand what we mean by 'make sweet music'?
- Yeah, Dave, I think they will
- Are you sure? It might be a bit subtle.
- It's not subtle, Dave. It'll be fine
- But what if people don't know what condoms are for?
- Look, Dave, you might have spent the first six weeks on this account thinking we were selling tiny sandwich bags, but most people will get it
- I think we really need to make it clear we want people to have sex with our condoms on
- Dave...
- No, seriously. We don't want to get sued if people take it literally, and put our condoms on their flutes and whistles and the lubricant destroys their instruments. Let's just add 'by doing sex into the condoms peniswise' to make it clear
- Dave, this is like the time you wanted us to rebrand as Durex Penis Covers. It's not necessary
- I'm not going to sign this off until you amend it
- Okay, Dave...

Bookmarks: Rap

Excellent work by Businessweek, which has produced a graph comapring rap star's claims about their wealth with how much they actually have:

Nicki Minaj
"I'm in Saint Tropez on a big boat, go my way to make a billi like a big goat"
Song: Up In Flames, 2013
2012 earnings: $15.5 million

Embed and breakfast man: Placebo

Let's come back up to date. Here's the new Placebo single.

I think the kindest thing to say is that at least Brian's rhyming dictionary is up-to-date, isn't it?

Face '83: Grandmaster Melle Mel

This is the spiritual heir to Gudbuy T'Jane - a song which had a 180 degree turn done from its original direction. To be honest, a song about cocaine being a good thing would have been a tricky sell, even in 1983, so probably a wise move to make it an anti-drug anthem. Or, perhaps, a suggestion that if you're going to get involved with drugs, carrying kilos of the stuff in order to avoid jail.

Let's give the point to The Face, to make the final scores:

Recordings that have stood the test of time and thus vindicated The Face's ability to spot a good thing:
Recordings which history has undermined and should at least cause The Face to blush:

That's not a bad strike rate for the Face, really. In 1983, at least, they knew what they were doing.

Up to a point.

This concludes The Face's best recordings of 1983. Thank you for watching.

Face '83: The Gap Band

GAP was an acronym. Who knew, eh? They were originally the Greenwood, Archer & Pine Street Band, which is a horrible, horrible name for a group. Seriously.

This is pretty good, and went on to be sampled and sampled and sampled again:

It's been so sampled it's almost a storecupboard staple more than a record.

And it somehow survived Andy Cole's cover version.

Yes, footballer Andy Cole.

Do you want to see what he did?

Back in 2008 there was a campaign to try and get the song into the charts, which Cole was not entirely thrilled about:

"I was a great deal younger when I made Outstanding and I can categorically say it will represent my one and only attempt to make an impression in the world of music," Cole told the Nottingham Evening Post.
But can we hold a later cover version against The Gap Band?

Not really.

The Face 24; history 20.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Steve Arrington

The list has this down as 'Steve Arrington - I', but it's actually Steve Arrington's Hall Of Fame, Volume One.


Arrington had been a member of Slave, and this was his first solo effort. Here's a taste of what it was like: the track Speak With Your Body:

Arrington was about to discover Jesus, release an album with a bona-fide international hit (Feels So Real), quit music, became a minister, got praised as the first guy to balance secular soul with gospel music, and win a Grammy kinda-sorta.

All of that, though, was in the future. This wasn't the future. And looking from the future, this doesn't seem all that. The Face 23; history 20.

More-or-less as I write this, Arrington is in a studio somewhere prepping this album for re-release.

Face '83: Monyaka

Oh come on: the band not only namecheck themselves, they SPELL OUT THEIR NAME. That's pretty needy.

You can kind of understand them milking their moment centre stage, though - Monyaka were the go-to backing band for over a decade in Jamaica. They probably didn't realise that stepping forward would lead them to being over-enthusiastically adopted by Radio One and then just as quickly dropped.

Here's a handy rule of thumb: if something can be watered down enough to sit comfortably on Steve Wright In The Afternoon, it might as well not have happened.

The Face 23; History 19

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: SOS Band

You know what this needs?

More Lindy Layton.

The SOS Band - and this track in particular - are pivotal in music history as, having taken a quick break from touring with Prince, Jam and Lewis finished their production work just in time to get snowed in by a blizzard. Their 'not being able to travel through impenetrable weather conditions' lead to Prince firing them from The Time. Freed from The Time, freed up time for them to concentrate on production, and that had positive effects for everyone.

They'd go on to produce fifteen cracking US number ones, and a Mariah Carey one.

Well chosen, The Face.

The Face 23; History 18.

Glitter is falling from the ceiling. Fireworks are shooting off. The Face now cannot be beaten by history. The Face wins. But how wide will the margin be?

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: New Edition

One last push, and we can forget we ever eased the lid off the box marked 'Face best-of 1983'. If you've remained aloof so far, the general idea was I'd post a load of videos from 1983 and try and slap a veneer of science over judging if the records The Face magazine thought would be historic markers for the year actually were as timeless as they'd hoped.

At the moment, The Face has scored 22 good choices; the harsh judgement of history has won 17 rounds.

Next up is New Edition:

New Edition, famously, launched the careers of Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Cyrus Vance, Andrew Bridger MP, The Backstreet Boys and that bloke with the head like an egg off this year's Apprentice.

What's really scary about this band is not that they were so young, nor that they were so obviously the first serious attempt to clone and update the Jackson Five model, but that by the time of Candy Girl, they'd been going for five years already.

Five years.

After their first tour, following this massive hit, the boys made $1.87 each.

To be fair, their management did cut them a cheque for this amount - they didn't just get a letter telling them they'd receive a payment once their earnings had reached $25 - but it's all a bit disgusting.

This track, then, isn't young people having fun. It's kids being ripped off.

The Face 22; History 18.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Gordon in the morning: Little Mix, big money

Gordon has got ever so excited at Little Mix's earnings. He starts off with the headline that they've banked over a million, but then the detail makes this a little less exciting:

In the financial year ending December 2012, the girls made £1.2million.
Gordon smacks his lips expecting more:
That’s before all of the income from their UK tour and album royalties would have come in, so they’re looking at another decent whack in the next 12 months.
Perhaps, although who knows how much the cost of all that help for the album was?

So, let's just focus on the money for the year to December, shall we?

£1.2million you say? That's not bad... except...
After their expenses — lots of hairspray — they netted a profit of £464,893
So as people, they actually only earned less than half a million.

Still, that's good, isn't it?
That’s almost £200,000 more than the US President earns a year.
That's true - Obama takes home about £265,000. Depending on exchange rates, of course, and remembering that he lives at the place he works which makes a mockery of the concept of "take home pay".

Except, of course, there's only one president of America, and there are four Little Mixers.

So that works out as £116,000 each, or about half a US President.

That's still not bad - although about forty grand less than MP Andrew Bridger makes when you add his second job and his MP salary, and Andrew Bridger says that's not enough.

And, as Gordon's "source" points out, they've worked bloody hard for that cash:
A source said: “The girls have barely had any time off since they won The X Factor. They got straight into the studio, then their tour, then were thrown into trying to crack America."
The band might want to look into who that source is, though, as they might have been dumped in it with HMRC:
“Given the girls have almost no expenses — they are always working, they get most of their clothes free and things such as bottle service in nightclubs are gratis — a lot of the income into that business will be saved up.”
Really? Because remember what Gordon said earlier:
After their expenses — lots of hairspray — they netted a profit of £464,893
Interesting that a band which has very few expenses managed to claim three quarters of a million difference between net and gross. Little Mix might want to find out who represents Vodafone.

Nick Cave wrote a sequel to Gladiator

If you were going to come up with a sequel to a popular Hollywood hit movie, would you put in a call to Nick Cave?

No, we wouldn't, either. But Russell Crowe is not like us, and thought Cave would be the man for the job. Despite it being Nick Cave, and his character being dead.

Cave came up with a plot. Or possibly lost one. Hard to say:

"So, he goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there's this one god, there's this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers.

I wanted to call it Christ Killer," Cave continues. "And in the end you find out that the main guy was his son, so he has to kill his son and he was tricked by the gods. He becomes this eternal warrior and it ends with this 20 minute war scene which follows all the wars in history, right up to Vietnam and all that sort of stuff and it was wild."
It's hard to believe this movie was never made, isn't it?

It's a pity they didn't give the new Star Wars trilogy to Nick.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Filmmakerobit: Toshi Seeger

Toshi Seeger, archivist, organiser and film-maker, has died.

For many years, Toshi programmed the Great Hudson River Revival festival, booking folk artists who had yet to break.

There's a wonderful story on Persimmon Tree by Sue Leonard about the time she met Toshi and her husband, Pete Seeger:

Toshi also shot films, folklore research films. At one point she went to Huntsville, Texas, where she produced a film of the prisoners chopping trees and singing their songs. The film, “Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison,”can be found online in the Library of Congress archives. When Pete’s career became all-consuming, her projects were “bookshelved”.

This “bookshelving” prompted Sue to ask, “How did you keep from losing your identity being married to Pete?”

“I didn’t. My girl children taught me not to lose so much.”
Toshi Seeger was 91; she died July 9th.

Face '83: The Packman

So, a quick leap over the Ike & Tina Turner reissue, and a grudging 'yeah, I guess' to Thriller - you couldn't review 1983 without mentioning it and... if you skip the weaker tracks... I suppose that's one in The Face's favour.

Back at the start of this adventure I was puzzled by the presence of The Pacman on this list, and a helpful comment suggested this might be the song I was looking for:

Whether this is the song The Face intended or not, it's hard to see how 'pretending to be PacMan' would ever create a song that stood up to the test of time. And if it was this song...

... well. It's a miracle The Face even had the confidence to publish again.

The Face 22; history 17.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Fab Five Freddy

We've come across Fab Five Freddy earlier, when he was pinching Phase Two's role in Wild Style.

Now he's up in his own right:

So, how great is this track? Let us count the ways: it's based on a dirty French film. It doesn't have an a-side and b-side, but male and female versions. Freddy went on to present Yo! MTV Raps, but was just about able to carry off the toe-curling name.

The Face 21; history 16.

[Part of The Face's best recordings 1983]

Face '83: Indeep

We've already, for sake of... well, brevity isn't the right word as, boy, this feature is dragging on, but let's say brevity... for the sake of brevity we've decided to skip reissues from the list, so go home Derek Martin, you're safe.

This bring us to Indeep's Last Night A DJ Saved My Life.

As an aside, whoever put this onto YouTube manages to claim that this is the "official video" despite not only being clearly from Top Of The Pops, but being clearly from Top Of The Pops with a sodding UK Gold logo burned into it.

So... has this stood the test of time? Or does the "away goes trouble down the drain" followed by the sound of a toilet flushing reveal that what The Face has done here is to pick a novelty record for its best recordings of the year?

You'll recall that we discussed InDeep earlier this year, and in particular the way that toilet flush was considered good enough to get its own track on the album.

Oh, The Face. History has the benefit of hindsight, but you should have spotted this one coming.

The Face 20; history 16.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Cabaret Voltaire

The next item on our list of selections from The Face's 1983 best recordings list is Labour Of Love by UB40.

I suppose it could be worse - the magazine might have selected Level 42's Standing In The Light.

But even so... snicker.

The Face 19; history 15.

Come on, The Face. You need to come up with something pretty good now.

Ooh, alright then. That'll do.

Oddly, this was a double-a side with The Crackdown, although The Crackdown didn't make it onto the seven inch version of the single. Experimental times.

The Face 20; history 15.

[Part of The Face's best recordings 1983]

Steve Grand comes out; NME promotes idea that "that shit is wrong"

You know, if you're going to come out, and you're a country musician, you might as well really come out.

Steve Grand's done it by releasing this:

... and then saying 'oh, and that's autobiographical'.

It's just a bit grim that it's 2013, and an out country (as opposed to alt country) artist is a rarity. provided some context:

Before country musician Steve Grand uploaded “All-American Boy” to YouTube, the most prominent Google search result for “gay country song” was a link to Yahoo! Answers. Three years ago, “Gex” asked, “Is their any gay country song?” to which “ihatebho” replied, “Another song dealing with homosexuality: Ain’t Going Down On Brokeback Mountain by Willie Nelson,” which, yes, is a real song, with the refrain “That sh*t ain’t right.”
I'm sorry, Willie Nelson did what? (He even works in a gag about bumming, like he's seven years old.)

Even more surprisingly, the NME is hosting the video. Yes, that's the NME with a page dedicated to a song which says that homosexuality is wrong.

Obviously, it's been somehow auto-generated and the paper tartly disclaims any responsibility:
DISCLAIMER: The video content provided on this page is generated by YouTube and consequently features user-generated content. While we do our best to stop offensive material appearing, NME.COM cannot be held responsible for all of the material that may be displayed on this page. If you object to any video, please visit the YouTube Abuse and Policy Centre
- but, frankly, that's not good enough. What actions have the NME taken that it feels is "doing our best"? And why on earth should someone complain to YouTube because the NME has embedded something homophobic on it's site?

Randy Travis is unwell

Randy Travis isn't doing too well:

"Mr. Randy Travis is out of surgery and in critical condition," the hospital website announced Wednesday night.

The stroke is "a complication of his congestive heart failure" for which he is being treated at The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano in Texas, Kirt Webster said.

"We will have updates as they become available," Webster said. "His family and friends here with him at the hospital request your prayers and support.
Word of his setback came just hours after his doctors said Travis had "stabilized and he has shown signs of improvement."

Jay-Z and Robert DeNiro are still in high school, apparently

Jay-Z and Robert DeNiro have had a falling-out. Apparently, it's a respect thing.


The actor allegedly confronted Jay Z about the incident during Leonardo DiCaprio's birthday party in the Big Apple last November (12), with a source telling the New York Post at the time, "Bob wasn't in any mood to make polite conversation. He told Jay that if somebody calls you six times, you call them back. It doesn't matter who you are, that is just rude."
Now, I know this makes them sound like they're fifteen year-old girls, but there's also more than an element of 'aftermath of a terrible date' to this whole affair.

I wonder if DeNiro would have been more forgiving after just five blankings. Perhaps it's when you need to start a second hand to keep track of these terrible, terrible snubs that it has gone too far.

You know what could only serve to make this more pathetic? If Jay-Z reacted by suggesting that maybe Bobby did something he shouldn't, only he doesn't want to talk about it:
He explained, "It doesn't matter who you are, everybody has to be respectful and everybody has to be a human being, you know? No one's above (manners)... We're all human beings and we all have to be respectful to one another and that's just standard. That's how I carry on with anybody."
Perhaps DeNiro was terribly rude for calling back six times when it was obvious that Jay-Z was busy with something else. Or perhaps DeNiro scoffed at Jay-Z's plan for prom theme. We may never know.

Gordon in the morning: in which our work is done for us

Sara Cox has already read Gordon's column this morning, and chosen a bit:

Having to choose between looking at a stranger's flaccid cock or the Kings Of Leon.

The stranger's flaccid cock will be headlining the second stage at Glastonbury this year.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Face '83: Booker Newberry III

Hip-hop seems to be getting a bit of a cold shoulder when viewed with some perspective, but to be fair to The Face, they were sat in London trying to weigh what was happening in New York. They knew enough to know that this stuff was changing music - and their judgement there should be applauded - but didn't quite know enough to get what was worth saving for history.

A quick leap over the you-don't-need-these-embedded here for Power, Corruption and Lies from New Order and The The's Soul Mining, both albums, and both wise and sage choices - The Face 18; history 14.

This brings us to Booker Newberry III. The question we need to ask here: is this great, or is this Radio One Roadshow style soul?

Even Gary Davies couldn't destroy that. Even if he danced to it. Even if he danced to it wearing shorts.

(Newberry seems to have vanished off the face of the earth shortly after this. Anyone know what happened to him?)

The Face 19; history 14.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Phase Two

Not the barely-noticed attempt by ITV to create a challenger to Top Of The Pops - that was still a couple of years off - this The Roxy was the nightclub in New York where hip-hop was first formulated.

Phase II was actually a graffiti artist, Lonny Wood, who would paint on stage while nascent hip-hoppers did their nascent hip-hopping.

Although Mr Two nearly got a role in Wild Style - eventually Fab 5 Freddie took the part - his greatest claim to fame was a namecheck in a KRS-One song. (Fab 5 Freddie, of course, managed to get a namecheck in Rapture, which means he bested Two again.)

I think "of historical interest only" sums up this track, and that means history isn't interested.

The Face 16; history 14.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Tom Browne

Better known for Funkin' For Jamaica, by the time Tom Browne came to make Rockin' Radio, he'd already peaked. The good folk at Arista Records were still happy to splash some money around on his work, though, so Browne had been able to call on the assistance of Maurice Starr for this.

It was, perhaps, unfortunate that Starr was busily inventing New Edition at the same time.

The Face 16; history 13

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: C-Bank

Welcome back to the slow trudge through The Face's 1983 best recordings, in an attempt to weigh the judgement of The Face and its team of style-attuned writers against the harsher, 20/20 judgement of history.

1983. The year Carrie Underwood was born, and the year C-Bank teamed up with Eleanore Mills to make this, Get Wet:

There's not much to this, is there? There were shedloads of this sort thing about at the time. Sure, C-Bank might have been Arthur Baker's workmate John Robie, and around the same time C-Bank produced One More Shot, which would eventually get reworked to provide New Order with the mighty Shellshock.

That detail lifts this above 'dancey also-ran' as an act. But it can't lift the track from not being very interesting. The Face 16; History 12.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Morrissey pulls another batch of dates

Oh, Morrissey. Every time he sets a date and books a tour, he falls unwell. Now, severe food poisoning has put a ding in his South American tour:

“Due to severe food poisoning suffered by the artist and of the accompanying equipment in Lima, Latin concerts scheduled for July and August will be postponed for the next months. The new dates will be communicated shortly. Morrissey and his team have been in Lima, Peru, from July 1. The artist was very excited about the upcoming shows and are very disappointed to have to postpone the dates.”
The whole team was hit with the food poisoning.

Try not to think of the little toilets in those tour buses. It won't make your breakfast taste better.

Gordon in the morning: In which Gordon has trouble understanding a competition aimed at teenage girls

You - yes, YOU - could have "a date" with Harry Styles and Liam Payne. If you win it.

Gordon has all the details, although apparently hasn't read through them:

ONE DIRECTION are taking part in a charity auction that is bound to inspire a bidding frenzy.

As one of the prizes, HARRY STYLES and LIAM PAYNE will be giving away a joint date to help raise money for cancer charity Trekstock.
Err... except the charity sale isn't an auction, so it won't be "inspiring a bidding frenzy". In fact, Gordon seems to realise this later on:
Even small donations will be entered in the draw but you’ve got to be over 13 to get involved.
We've seen the Mail and the Mail On Sunday subtly rubbishing each other's stories; this, surely, is the first time ever an article's second half gently rubbishes the first half.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Face '83: 23 Skidoo

They called it a coup. The track sampled from Apocalypse Now; it would go on to be sampled by The Chemical Brothers in its turn. Oh, and they pulled in Aswad's horn section. In fact, if 23 Skidoo had bothered to stick out a seven-inch version, they might even have had a hit with this.

So were the Face right to applaud this?

Yes. Indeed, they chose it as a recording of the year despite the official release not even coming until February 1984.

The Face 16; History 11.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Mann Parrish

Hip Hop Be Bop (Don't Stop) got more releases than a member of The Timpson family; eventually it settled for a place in history by appearing on the Shaun Of The Dead soundtrack.

Mann was still a way off from doing Male Stripper, and since without that track, this track would probably have sunk into half-forgotten disregard.

I think history is starting to overhaul the Face's judgement.

The Face 15; History 11.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Newcleus

I suppose there's some kudos in having a song called "The Wikki-Wikki song" at a time when Jimmy Wales had yet to unfurl his first 'donate now' banner, but...

Oh, lord, make it stop.

The very definition of acceptable in the 80s. For about five minutes.

The Face 15; History 10.

[Part of The Face's best 1983 recordings]

Face '83: Nile Rodgers

Another full-album, this time from Nile Rodgers. This was the first outing he made under his own name, and you can see why the Face wanted to be impressed by Adventures In The Land Of The Good Groove.

Here's the title track:

Hmmm. Smash Hits gave it ten out of ten, and David Bowie was enthusiastic. But it was called Adventures In The Land Of The Good Groove.

In order to weigh up this one, let's call an expert witness. Niles himself talks about the record in his autobiography, and... well, he doesn't endorse the Smash Hits ten stars:

"I knew it was a flop right away. I'd been so afraid of being labelled a disco musician that I was too tentative about the album's direction. And the songs weren't hooky enough. Over all, I wasn't clear philosophically or sure what I was trying to say."
If it's not good enough for Niles, it's not good enough for us.

The Face 15; History 10

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Tom Waits

And we're back, as we may be for every day of the rest of our lives, as we slowly work through The Face's favourite records of 1983, to decide if their choices were wise, or if history has had the last laugh.

Look, you could at least pretend to be interested.

The next choice from the list is Swordfishtrombones. The whole album. Which is a win for the face, if only because this track inspired one of the great online pseudonyms of our times:

Face 15; history 9.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Yasiin Bey experiences force-feeding as Gitmo protest

The US government are currently force-feeding prisoners, during Ramadan, at a sort-of prison they're supposedly trying to close down.

In an attempt to try and show what that force-feeding means, Yasiin Bey - who used to work as Mos Def - has had a go at being on the wrong end of the process. It's not pretty.

Lauryn Hill goes away

So, with the million in unpaid taxes finally catching up with her, Lauryn Hill has started her prison sentence:

Hill reported to federal prison in Danbury, said Ed Ross, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons. Inmates at the minimum security prison live in open dormitory-style living quarters and are expected to work jobs such as maintenance, food service or landscaping.
Landscaping? If they've got all their inmates landscaping, the prison grounds must look like Schloss Linderhof.

Nitro scooped up onto Bicycle

I'm not sure it's entirely "punk" to be doing company take-overs, but Bicycle Music Company has acquired Nitro, adding The Offspring and The Damned catalogue to an already hefty collection of everything from Phil Ochs to Tone Loc.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Face '83: Shannon

So, we're considering reissues outwith the scope of this project (thank god for that, eh, otherwise it'd drag on for what feels like forever); and I think we're all familiar enough with Little Red Corvette to let that through on the nod (Face 14; History 9).

Not only is this absolutely perfect, but The Face picked it as one of the best songs in 1983 almost as soon as it was minted, and for that, they deserve our respect.

Face 15; history 9.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983, to which we shall return, again, until we get through the list. It's just your time you're wasting.]

Face '83: The Style Council

When this video first appeared, Number One screengrabbed the arse out of it, running a 'Warning: Ear fondling' splash on the contents page.

It was about as close as you could get to homoeroticism without feigning an interest in novels where people drink tea back then.

Of course, fans of his previous band never warmed to the whole Style Council project - but then Merton Parkas fans knew what they liked, and were slow to change. That Weller guy is in it, too.

I'm minded to award the point for this round to The Face, but history is objecting. History's fans are on their feet, chanting "cappuccino kid" over and over again.

A slim victory for The Face, I think. Face 13; history 9.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Malcolm McLaren again

Oh, god. Having already thrown its elegantly-typographed weight behind the whole Duck Rock album, The Face then decides to single out, erm, the single Soweto:

Even at the time, this seemed like a bad idea. To be generous, it was three years before Paul Simon made a higher-profile attempt to convince South African musicians they really needed a pasty-faced bloke bellowing over the top to make their work listenable.

Jon Savage loves the track - he was writing in 2010, as well, which you thought would have at least afforded him a spot of perspective.

It's hard to see this as anything other than a miserable holiday in somebody else's cheap labour. Face 12; History 8.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Gwen Guthrie

So time to take another quick dip into The Face's best recordings of 1983, in a bid to decide if The Face, or the cruel hand of history, is a better judge of music.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Face is 11-7 up on its calls so far, as we pick up Gwen Guthrie's Portrait album.

This was three years before Guthrie's statuesque Ain't Nothing Going On But The Rent, so it was a strong early call from The Face.

Guthrie died in 1999, and surely is due some sort of critical revival by now.

Face 12; history 7.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Katy Perry settles her bad hair deal

Katy Perry has come to an agreement with GHD after she was convinced they'd "verbally extended" her contract as face of their hair products (spokescalp?), and they were equally convinced they hadn't.

Perry had been looking for two million dollars; it's not clear if she's getting any cash, but GHD would probably view that anything they have to pay out is worth the ability to issue perhaps the cattiest statement in legal history:

But the company disputed the agreement ever took place and insisted it wanted to cut ties with Perry as soon as its original deal expired because its research suggested she is no longer as popular in Europe as she once was.
Don't you think she looks tired

Gordon in the morning: Gallagher rumbles on

Good news for Gordon - so far, it looks like Dan Wootton hasn't been given any more days of the week to be in charge of showbiz.

This means Gordon can turn again to that battle of wits, or portions thereof, between Liam Gallagher and Robbie Williams.

About six years after Williams had the last word, Liam has come up with a response.

You might recall Williams suggested that Liam think about adding choruses to his song. Sadly, Liam's not going to take that lying down:

“We didn’t make a record to satisfy some requirements, this was our project. Robbie Williams said the record’s good but the songs have no chorus. I’d rather shoot myself in the balls than follow his advice."
Just the balls, mind.

The idea that Beady Eye sprang from some sort of project, almost deconstructionist in its scope, to satisfy no requirements is a surprise. You'd have expected something a little more astonishing if that really was the case, but maybe it's like when you first let rescue birds out a cage, and they just hang around where they know because they don't know how to roam free.

Sorry, Liam, you were saying?
“I do not listen to other music, so I don’t get my inspiration from anybody else, but maybe I should buy an iPod.”
An iPod. Bless. Maybe he'll look into buying a fax machine and getting Ceefax too.

But Liam, your claim that you don't listen to other music is a lie, and not even an interesting one, given how you were praising Emeli Sande the other day.
Meanwhile, Beady Eye have been asked to change the cover of their record because it has nipples on it.

Liam pretends to be anything other than delighted that anyone has even noticed he's got a record out:
Liam said: “Everyone has nipples, they could have put tape on it if they had to.”
... after all, it's not like any shop is going to have many copies; it'd only take a minute or so, right?

I think the real tragedy for Liam is that, if there has been an angry battle being fought over the oh-so-obvious 'put a tit on the sleeve, generate some publicity' move, nobody seems to have noticed that, either.

Gordon concludes this dash through the mind of Mr G by capturing his reaction to the cool response to the album from people who got past the sleeve:
He’s also not been best pleased by some of the reviews it’s had.

He added: “Ultimately the only thing I care about is how people react to the live shows.”

Good mantra to live by.
It's not really a good mantra to live by, though, is it? I suppose many bands past their prime do continue to make a decent living from touring, but given that Gallagher is already edging into "and do you have a smaller auditorium available" booking territory, "making a record which sells some copies" might be a better mantra to live by.

Still: Liam doesn't care what people say about the record.

Which is surprising news, since about four paragraphs back he was preparing to shoot his own balls off in response to, erm, Robbie William's capsule review.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Face '83: Evelyn "Champagne" King

There was a lot of this sort of thing around in 1983. There was a lot of this sort of thing on offer in The Face's list of best records.

It's not bad, it's just, when you look at what it is a very long list of records, and start wondering why nobody thought a spot of editing was called for, you can see this being struck through in front of your very eyes.

Still, here's Evelyn doing her thing on Soul Train. It's worth remembering that this song, Get Loose, was not set in space, or the future, or a nuclear facility. Pity Eve didn't remember that when picking her outfit.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

We'll be rejoining the project tomorrow, with The Face's judgement scoring 11 against the judgement of history's 7.

Face '83: Rufus & Chaka Khan

Somewhat missing the point, the Rocklist list for this credits Rufus but makes no mention of Chaka Khan, which you've got to hope is an error in translation rather than a mistake in the Face's original.

This is unquestionably great. Apparently it nearly ended up as a track on Thriller, but Quincy Jones was too slow and by the time he asked, it had been promised to Russ Titelman. You wonder which of the makeweight tracks on Thriller would have been tossed overboard to make room for Aint Nobody if Jones had been quicker - one suspects Paul McCartney could have safely saved a journey to the recording studio.

The Face's judgement 11; the judgement of history 6

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Was (Not Was)

1983's version of Out Come The Freaks was the second of a none-more-Douglas-Adams four-part trilogy. It came two years after the original, but was the first of the sequence to reach the UK chart. Although only 41.

Whether you think this was a wise choice for The Face or not depends entirely on how you feel about Was (Not Was). Personally, I think they tended to produce work that you'd expect would be better for all that over-thinking, but I guess that that is why I'd probably never be invited to write for i-D or Blitz. A narrow victory to The Face, I think.

10 - 6.

[Part of The Face's best recordings 1983]

Woot-ton: Dan returns to News Of The World, replaces Gordon Smart

Not that The Sun On Sunday is really the News Of The World or anything, but the title The Sun supposedly isn't keeps breaking through the carapace.

Dan Wooton's useless News Of The World showbiz column is returning to its old home.

Up until now, Gordon Smart had been offering up a seventh slice of Bizarre in the Sun Of The World; but it seems David Dinsmore has decided that Sunday readers deserved something a bit more meaty.

Dan Wootton had been showbiz editor of the News Of The World when it pretended to close following revelations of just how vague its grip of ethics was.

Face '83: Kashif

I Just Gotta have You. Is Kashif's song, with thirty years of hindsight, still able to hold its head up high?

Oh, yes. That's still pretty damn proud.

The Face 9; History 6, as we take another break from the proceedings. We'll be back to 1983 later.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Fonzi Thornton

We hit here a slightly fallow patch - given that it's virtually impossible for find Ruby Turner's Every Soul, or June Pointer's Don't Mess With Bill, online (there's a shit remix of one of the latter), let's give The Face the benefit of the doubt, and assume the originals were so glorious they ascended to heaven. 7-5.

Then there's David Bowie's Let's Dance. Not the greatest piece of Bowie's work - though, clearly, not the worst by quite a distance. Erring on the side of generosity, let's applaud The Face for supporting Bowie when a lot of popular opinion had written him off, shall we? 8-5.

Which brings us to Fonzi Thornton. A man whose Wikipedia entry kicks off with a great list of the people for whom he has provided backing vocals, while pushing the times he was at the front of the stage to the bottom of the page.

Mind you, all that work helping out others paid off when he came to make The Leader (the whole album is the Face's choice); he pulled in a bunch of favours and wound up with Luther Vandross, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Jocelyn Brown and Kashif fleeting across the surface of the record.

It's possible that the starry cast blinded The Face to the shortcomings of the record. Thornton has gone on to appear on more than 120 further albums; only on one other occasion did he get top billing.

The Face 8; History 6.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: The Clark Sisters

Ten years into their career, You Brought The Sunshine was the Clark Sister's biggest crossover hit; it came at a tough time as their decision to consort with mammon by playing the Grammy awards left the group detached from their church, and their mother.

Gospel experts insist that there's a distinct "Clark Sound", which might be the case if you listen to a lot of gospel music, but I'm not convinced.

Still, a song which caused a mini-Reformation style spasm in a church has to be treated with respect.

Face 6; History 5.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Tina Turner

If you're just joining us, this is a rather long-haul project which is pitting the judgement of The Face magazine against the judgement of history. It's all about trying to establish if the Face was able to spot style in 1983 or not. Or something.

We left off with the score at four-all.

Let's leave unembedded Kiss FM Mastermixes Vol. II - because if you're a style guide, no matter how good a compilation album is, it's like opening a pop-up restaurant to host somebody else's tasting menu. 4-5.

Which brings us to Let's Stay Together. Tina Turner.

Back in 1983, Tina Turner was quite something. She'd skilfully executed a come-back in the face of quite some serious "squawking granny" hostility (people who think the gentle-joshing the Stones get is real agism should dig out some of the cuttings) and two enormous flop albums; and there was this - a perfect rereading of an Al Green song.

Sure, it was about to go to shit. A couple of years down the line, and the empty bombast of Simply The Best would see her extract maximum rewards from a lazily-adopted tune beloved of every shitarse furniture store and struggling sports team, while burning through goodwill as every repetition chipped away at the hard-won respect.

In 1983, though? This looked like an example of how to rebuild sales and status.

The Face 5; History 5.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Animal Nightlife

Oh, god. This is what people tend to forget about The Face - it had a sharp eye for dance music, and could run a wry ruler over pop with the best of them, but it had a fatal attraction for lumpy British soul. Any band turning up in Carnaby Street with a roll-neck sweater and a saxophonist on the payroll was treated with such awed reverence you can only assume The Face's working title was "shh... they might be able to introduce us to Paul Weller."

The Face's judgement 4; judgement of history 4.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

We'll be picking this up later...

Face '83: Malcolm McLaren

Well, as we seem to be keeping some sort of arbitrary score on the grounds of whether The Face should be blushing red for its 1983 choices, we better factor in the over-familiar tracks we've skipped so far into the reckoning.

So Michael Jackson was such an obvious choice, it counts against the idea of being taste-forming. 2-2. Blue Monday, on the other hand, might be over-familiar but still sounds fresh, they can have that. 3-2.

And Prince's 1999 could have been viewed either way by the future, so it was a brave choice, so it works as a choice. 4-2.

This brings us to Duck Rock.

I guess if you viewed Buffalo Gals, or even Double Dutch, you might consider that Trevor Horn just about saved Malc from himself. But The Face recommends the whole album.

Which means this is part of a recording they would point to and say "1983! This was the year!"

Duck For The Oyster. They don't usually mention that when they get misty-eyed about Malcolm's influence, do they?

4-3, The Face.

[Part of The Face's best recordings of 1983]

Face '83: Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock attempts to pull "if I keep out the video, MTV won't spot this is the sort of record they don't play" trick for second time. Fails to achieve Rock-It levels of success.

I wasn't impressed in 1983. I'm even less impressed now. A strike against The Face, 2-1.

[Part of The Face's best recordings 1983]

Face '83: MTume

MTume's Juicy Fruit. Coyly changing "you can lick me anywhere" to "candy kisses everywhere" in order to calm jittery broadcasters, they managed to scrape a minor UK hit and a Billboard R&B number one.

More significantly, the song has been so sampled it's impossible to imagine music without it.

Okay, The Face. You're 2-0 up.

[Part of The Face's 1983 best tracks]

The Face's Best Recordings 1983

The Face. It was soooo stylish, wasn't it? It was like, made entirely from style held together by cool. It was so ahead of the curve, it would appear through your letterbox before the paper lad had opened your front gate.

Or was it?

In a totally non-scientific survey, we're going to go back thirty years in time. Come with us to 1983, a time when the bands who appear on NME's cover today would only have been 20 to 25 years into their careers. What did The Face consider to be the very best music created in that year? has got the list in full. We're going to dip into it...

I've been struggling a bit with the entry "Pacman by The Pacman", as it's a bugger to track this down. Is it something to do with Richard James' 1982 Pacman theme cover versions? (Presumably not, as that was under the name Power-Pill?

While that one's up for pondering, here's Christian Bale advertising a Pac-Man themed breakfast cereal:

I wonder how much he swore at the crew on that one?

Here's the list in full:

Billie Jean – Michael jackson
Blue Monday – New Order
Pills And Soap – Elvis Costello
Juicy Fruit – Mtume
1999 (LP) – Prince
Autodrive – Herbie Hancock
Duck Rock (LP) – Malcolm McLaren
Native Boy – Animal Nightlife
Kiss FM Mastermixes Vol. II (LP) – Various
Let’s Stay Together – Tina Turner
You Brought The Sunshine – Clark Sisters
Every Soul – Ruby Turner Band
Don’t Mess With Bill – Ruth Pointer
Lert’s Dance – David Bowie
The Leader (LP) – Fonzi Thornton
I Just Gotta Have You – Kashif
Out Come The Freaks (II) – Was Not Was
Ain’t Nobody – Rufus
Get Loose – Evelyn King
Portrait (LP) – Gwen Guthrie
Soweto/Zulu’s On A Time Bomb – Malcolm McLaren
Long Hot Summer – Style Council
Look At Granny Run (reissue) – Howard Tate
Little Red Corvette – Prince
Let The Music Play – Shannon
Swordfishtrombone (LP) – Tom Waits
The Land Of The Good Groove (LP) – Nile Rodgers
Jam On Revenge – Newcleus
Hip Hop Don’t Stop – Mann Parrish
Coup – 23 Skidoo
Get Wet – C Bank
Rockin Radio – Tom Browne
The Roxy – Phase Two
Power, Corruption And Lies (LP) – New Order
Soul Mining (LP) – Matt Johnson
Love Town – Booker Newbury III
Labour Of Love (LP) – UB40
Just Fascination – Cabaret Voltaire
Daddy Rollin’ Stone (reissue) – Derek Martin
Last Night A DJ Saved My life – Indeep
Une Sale Histoire – Fab Five Freddy
A Fool In Love (reissue) – Ike & Tina Turner
Thriller (LP) – Micahel Jackson
Pacman – The Pacman
Candy Girl – New Edition
Just Be Good To Me – SOS Band
Go Deh Yaka – Monyaka
I (LP) – Steve Arrington
Outstanding – The Gap Band
White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grand Master & Melle Mel

Some of these I think we can take as so familiar as to not be worth spending time on, so let's start with Costello, shall we?

Except wasn't this released under the name The Imposter? Did The Face struggle with names?

Elvis's 1983 election-campaign counterpoint. (And, incidentally, one of the two thousand songs which might have been a better use of download-effort during the week of the Thatcher entombening.) Yeah, you can have that one, The Face.

Promotional lag: A jab at the Hutt

The music industry has a leak problem. Sure, it's not quite as bad as the fracking industry's leakage problems, as it's only music you can't buy yet leaking out, but it's still a problem.

Here's what happens: the music is finished. In order to "build buzz", the tracks are released to DJs and bloggers and other people whose mothers believe they don't quite have proper jobs. Sometimes, this can be getting on for two months ahead of when the record is actually in the shops.

In the industry's minds, this is supposed to create a vast army of people waiting outside the record shop on the Monday when the song is finally available, cramming money into the tills.

Instead, what happens is that a person hears a song they like, tries to buy it, fails, so snaffles an unlicensed version instead.

Most people looking at this problem would suggest that maybe the record business should start to sell music to people when it is available, rather than waiting a month.

The music industry doesn't see that as the solution, though, and instead has created a solution called the Promo Hutt.

The idea is that instead of waiting six weeks, now people will pay a subscription in order to get access to music six weeks before they could otherwise buy it.

Yes, the labels are trying to monetise their broken distribution system.

The obvious outcome of this - that there will be far, far more ripped copies of records you can't buy circling the internet - seems to have been missed.

Memo to the RIAA: Pop music isn't like stilton. You gain nothing by keeping it in a room for a few weeks while it develops a smell.

This week just gone

The stores from July 2003 which have been most-read over the last decade:

1. Pop papers: Paul Weller in Word, while Boy George files the New Statesman diary
2. Channel 4's The Madness of Prince Charming: Justine Frischmann narrates a life of Adam Ant
3. Pop papers: NME launches pop video chart on MTV2 while Gareth Gates overshares
4. 2003 Mercury shortlist pitches Darkness against Floetry
5. Pop papers: Jello Biafra interviews Greg Palast for Punk Planet. Hard to imagine it went out of business, isn't it?
6. "People are calling Beyonce the new Madonna" reveals Cat Deeley
7. Pop papers: In which Kelly Osborne is used to promote the Edinburgh Festival
8. Karl T watches Tin Tin Duffy in Borders
9. Pop papers: The drummer from the Coral is on the cover of the NME
10 Looking even further back, to Record Mirror's final best singles list

These were the interesting releases:

Deap Valley - Sistrionix

Download Sistrionix

Editors - The Weight Of Your Love

Download The Weight Of Your Love

The Duckworth-Lewis Method - Sticky Wickets

Download Sticky Wickets