Saturday, August 03, 2013

Rock sick list: Lemmy

Lemmy's not been having a great time of it recently, and it doesn't sound like his health has turned a corner: Motorhead cut short a gig last night after six songs.

There's some pretty lurid rumours circulating about what actually happened after the sixth song, and everything appears to be at about fourth hand, but Ultimate Classic Rock seems sure about this:

Motorhead ended their scheduled 75-minute set at the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany after only 30 minutes. According to Metal Talk (via Classic Rock), the band played their songs at a slower tempo than usual and that Lemmy looked pale. At one point he told the crowd, “I’ve been ill recently – I’ve come onstage to play some rock n’ roll and f— myself even more.”
He seems to have done that pretty successfully.

[Thanks to @zaichishka]

Bookmarks: Wham!

It might be slightly alarming to realise that Club Tropicana is now thirty years old, but at least it's given The Quietus an excuse for a reappraisal:

In the video the leather jackets and street corner rants have been ditched for swimming trunks and lounging by the pool. The boys had escaped the shackles of home and work and were now enjoying the spoils of their stardom.

Billy Bragg: Won't someone think of the children? The other children?

With skateboarders fighting hard to keep the space under the Southbank Centre that they've made their own - turned from a concrete void into a bustling space of community - it was great to hear that Billy Bragg had got involved.

Bragg, you'll recall, was a miner. He was a docker. He was a railwayman. This was between the wars, obviously, but even so. The firebrand on the side of the little guy.

Let's here it, Billy. Stand up for the kids.

I don't believe that the skateboarders set out to put themselves above everyone else in the South Bank community.
Hang about...
Yet, by refusing to meet with us, they appear to want a veto on all our plans and dreams, resisting changes that can unlock the potential for thousands of kids who have just as much right to express themselves through their creativity as those defending the undercroft.
Oh, "us". In the "them and us" of the battle of the Undercroft, you're not on the side of the us, you're on the side of them.

To be fair, Bragg isn't chomping a cigar and demanding the Undercroft gets redeveloped just for the hell of it - he sees this as the only way of releasing funds and creating a space for the Royal Festival Hall to work with local kids. And besides, suggestions that the Undercroft is going to be handed over to bland multinationals is a fib, he says:
And in the undercroft itself, there are no plans for a Starbucks, despite what some have claimed. There will be two new restaurants, but the real focus will be series of pop-up ventures, similar to Luke's Café, giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to start up their own businesses
Some lovely misdirection there, you'll notice, sliding over the question of the "restaurants" and pointing at the lovely, lovely community businesses instead. Which are lovely. All popping up and giving young people a chance.

That might work as an argument if you were still half-asleep, I suppose, but it clearly doesn't add up. If the idea of turning the Undercroft into retail space is to fund the Floating Glass Rehearsal Space and the education projects inside it, you're not going to do that from three-week businesses selling upcycled lamp-standards. It's clearly the anchoring restaurants that are the financial heart of the project.

A quick look at the Southbank Centre's Shop-Eat-Drink webpage offers a slightly more honest view of the sort of business that will be courted once those pesky skatekids have moved on - currently, you can choose from Eat, Yo! Sushi, Wagamama, Wahaca, Le Pain Quoitedien, Las Iguanas... there's even a branch of Tesco's Giraffe there. It's hilarious the Southbank keep focusing on there not being a Starbucks, like that cancels out the rest of the chains.

So, even if the Undercroft was full of teenagers with dreams and piping bags, they'd be fighting for attention against some the largest marketing budgets in the country.

Bragg's argument - that this is a way to create a space and the funding to do interesting outreach with kids (I say "Bragg's argument", much of it is just cribbed directly from the Centre's talking points) has some merit to it:
There is currently no dedicated education space for the South Bank to realise its dream of offering children from local state schools the opportunity of artistic immersion – learning all of the subjects on the curriculum through the medium of the arts. The Festival Wing development will provide that environment.
It's just a pity when they found the room for the Tesco Giraffe they didn't notice this apparently pressing need for rehearsal space. After all, it's only been there since 2011.

There are other questions that just hang in the air, unanswered - if the other place that is being offered to the skateboarders is so great, why not put the Definitely Not Starbucks there? I mean, it's not like you're trying to sweep the skateboarders back into the middle of nowhere, is it? Is it?

Sure, Bragg's project is a good one, and it does great work. But what we've got here are two different types of endeavours which allow young people to build their skills, interests and confidence.

One is - fundamentally - well-meaning, but an interjection of concerned adults with budgets and targets and clipboards; the other is something that, mostly, the kids have organised for themselves, and do for themselves.

Bragg might not think of himself as marching into a genuine piece of punk culture and telling the guys to clear off because he and the Arts Organisation know better what young people need, but that's exactly what he's doing.

It's okay, though, because there's no Starbucks.

Meanwhile, Bragg might like to re-read Solzhenitsyn's For The Good Of The Cause.

[Thanks to @Pedro_Dee for the tip]

Johnny Borrell: When you give life lemons, someone will make lemonade

You know how you can tell when your record sales are really bad? It's when your label stops trying to talk up your record, and joins in the gales of laughter.

I wouldn't normally plonk down an entire press release, but Stiff Records' giggling at Johnny Borrell's sales deserves to be read in full:

Stiff Records is proud to announce first week sales figures for its latest album – Johnny Borrell's 'Borrell 1' – of 594.

'Borrell 1' is the début solo LP from the former Razorlight vocalist and is the first new album on the highly prolific Stiff Records since 2007.

That last album was the multi million-selling two-volume set, '30 Years Of Stiff Records' (although admittedly that was a free cover-mount with 'The Independent on Sunday').

"First week sales of 594 makes 'Borrell 1' the 15,678th best selling album of the year to date," comments a Stiff spokesperson. "So far we've achieved 0.00015% sales of Adele's '21' – and 0.03% sales of this week's No. 1 album from Jahmene Douglas – so we feel like it's all to play for as we move into the all-important week two."

“We might even break the Top 100.”

'Borrell 1' is out now on Stiff Records. If they're dead, we'll sign them.
You could almost feel sorry for Borrell - after all, it's unlikely Stiff warned Borrell that failing to sell any copies beyond his immediate family would result in public humiliation; and, as we know, Borrell does have a precious self-image which might struggle with knowing there are another fifteen and half thousand more popular albums than his. This year alone.

Johnny Borrell is people, after all. And, let's face it, while he might make terrible albums, it's not his fault that someone at Stiff - which is now just a tiny outcrop of Universal - decided to spend money on releasing it.

And given that marketing and promotion is what the major label is meant to provide in return for its cut, this is a bit like an inept surgeon mocking the dead guy on his operating table.

On the other hand: 594. I know Razorlight were growing ranker than a week-gone bobcat left to fester in an open drain towards the end, but were there no curious fans left by the end?

[Thanks for the tip to @curiousiguana]

Friday, August 02, 2013

Life imitates Roy Of The Rovers

Oh, how we laughed when Melchester Rovers signed two of Spandau Ballet. As if a real football team would waste its time signing pop stars, even for the stunt value.

The joke, it turns out, was on us. Doncaster Rovers have signed Louis Tomlinson out of One Direction.

There's a charity-related angle to the whole thing, so it looks like a publicity stunt with its heart in the right place.

If this was Roy Of The Rovers, there'd be a massive flu hit to the team, forcing Tomlinson to appear in the first team for an all-important cup match. (Probably while a disgruntled former goalkeeper attempts to burn the stadium down.) But that... that would be too far-fetched, surely?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Judge Jules takes step closer to being actual judge

Judge Jules - perhaps irked by the constant 'he's not a real judge' gags - has joined a legal firm as a trainee lawyer. The Drum reports:

“Some of you may have read that over the past 5 years I’ve been refreshing my legal qualifications. This was my game-plan for many years, and in early June my final law exam was done and dusted,” he said.

“From October I will be taking up a part-time position practising law at a top entertainment lawyers Sheridans, in addition to carrying on with my regular DJ and music production duties.

“Confidentiality prevents me from listing them, but suffice to say that Sheridans represent some of the biggest names in global music, including some huge individuals from the world of EDM/dance. They also cover other aspects of entertainment, including film, music, theatre and sport. I’ve learned a huge amount from my many years in the music business, which will hopefully position me as a strong and insightful advice giver.”
Yes, I'm sure that'll be invaluable, as you'll be able to advise people to put a donk on it, but then bill them two grand for the advice.

In other news, University College Hospital has taken out a restraining order against Dr Fox.

Gordon in the morning: Corden announces availability

A second dip into the Sun this morning, as Gordon Smart reveals that James Corden is hoping to extend a Mugabe-like grip on the Brit Awards:

JAMES CORDEN has held talks about another year at the helm of the Brits.

This year’s show pulled in the biggest TV ratings in the event’s 30-year history – but in terms of rock’n’roll antics the best description of the night was “beige”.

However, the host with the most has demanded some assurances on the line-up for next year before committing to the gig for a fourth time.
Corden should be in with a chance of keeping his job - when last year's show was met with ill-stifled yawns, James trotted out a defence so corporate I suspect he delivered it via Powerpoint:
“The show is put on and made to showcase British music and sell British music so people buy those albums and that money will go back into record companies to invest in other British artists who will then inspire another generation of musicians.
I suppose it's slightly more appealing than the jokes he tried during the show.

Gordon in the morning: Mumford 'umble

You know that point in Michael Caine's career where he suddenly started wittering on about how it's great in America because nobody cares about class? That's the point Mumford And Sons have reached:

anjo player WINSTON MARSHALL said: “Class is a big issue here. And some people get picked on more than others. I think we probably do.

“I mean, it doesn’t help that we wear waistcoats and tweed the whole time.

“But there is a reverse snobbishness in England towards that sort of stuff.

“And I think that’s one of the reasons we really enjoy America, ’cos we’re classless.”
Yeah, Winston. People think you're posh boys because of the tweed. Nothing to do with you and Mumford having met at an Eton Group private school, of course.

Worth remembering here that a couple of years back, there was an attempt to drag The Vaccines into the posh band part of the venn diagram, but, despite the parents with expensive London property and the best efforts of Simon Price, the label never stuck.

Compare that with the Mumfords. They can send their footmen to the front gates all they like, displaying "We are classless" messages on gilded easels until it's time for a kitchen supper, but the sense that they'd be played in a sketch by John Cleese rather than Ronnie Corbett always hangs over them.

I don't think it's that America doesn't notice this; indeed, it's a big part of their appeal over in the US - a country which happily shoved all the guns from the Royal baby salute onto the news.

If Winston turned up with his banjo but without the accent in New York, he'd not be given Grammys and would probably be thrown onto a bus heading off to the Appalachians.

It's okay for the Mumfords to complain about how they get "picked on". They seem less interested in admitting the massive advantages their background gave them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gordon in the morning: The Wanted are charmers

Oh, what larks, Pip: The Wanted have taken to pouring stuff onto people's heads:

Victim DR TODD SWIFT called cops after being drenched in champagne from a second-floor window.

He also claims he was verbally abused by the boyband, saying they called him BARACK OBAMA because of his accent.
“I came out of the gym and was walking down the street.
“Suddenly I was hit with a lot of liquid. It was not, as the police claim, a glass of champagne. It was a lot of liquid. It went all over my hat, jacket, shirt and face. I looked up to the second floor and there were three young guys laughing at me. One of them said, ‘P*** and beer, mate’.”
The police muttered they couldn't do much because it was difficult for them to know exactly who had thrown the stuff. It's not clear if the cops meant they were unable to tell members of The Wanted apart, or if, like the rest of the world, they struggled to differentiate The Wanted, One Direction and Union J.

Todd Swift is a poet, and has turned the assault into a poem, After The Boy Band Assault:
I became afraid of champagne.
Looked up for signs of spit.
No longer Beliebed.
Went in every direction at once.

Was the new kid on a scooter.
Danced to myself.
Heard my heart beat, beat, beat.
My voice was autotuned.

I walked out of sync.
My arms were full of broken dolls.
I ate scandal for breakfast.
I took it, and that, and that too.

I feared five star hotels.
I feared five star windows.
Sniffed tabloid paper for kicks.
I was a page three boy.

The stories I read came true.
I was in a shocker.
Called Simon Simon, Lou Lou.
I was backstreet frontpage.

I was electronic and empty.
I was hand-picked young.
My life went west.
I smelled like a back seat.

My shadow, my entourage.
My sanity was syndicated.
My doctors and lawyers called from LA.
My dry-cleaning was paid for.

My facebook was not my own.
I was blamed for doing too much.
I was hopped up on capital F.
I was not wanted.

I was a report being made.
I woke in the night screaming hits.
I was 2.30 am stumbling out.
Hit an all-time low.
The Wanted might also turn the incident into something creative, the next time they get the finger paints out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Times Of India exits UK radio market

Somewhat inevitably, the Absolute family of radio stations have been swallowed up by Bauer, ending an exciting period when The Times Of India owned a national UK radio station.

It looks, roughly speaking, that the value of the portfolio - which also includes a bunch of decade-themed digital channels - has dropped about thirty million quid in the six or so years since the paper bought what was then called Virgin Radio.

This means that alongside Kerrang and Planet Rock, Bauer now adds Absolute Classic Rock to its stable of superserving the heavy metal fan. An exciting era of further consolidation beckons.

Spektor at the feast: Regina acts like the Queen

It looks like Regina Spektor had a smaller band thrown off the Secret Garden bill at the weekend, which is a bit disappointing. Electric Banana reports:

Eddy Temple-Morris, the curator of the Temple of Boom for SGP, took to Twitter to slam the singer. He Tweeted: “I’m heartbroken. Regina Spektor has thrown her toys out of the pram and threatened to pull unless we cancel the wonderful @cleanbandit.”
The official reason was that the bass from Clean Bandit was reverberating through the entire site, but site rumours are suggesting Spektor's demands were motivated more by worry at the relative size of crowds at her stage and Clean Bandit's.

Whatever the motivation, Eddy Temple Morris (who curates the festival) is going to put things right:

Spektor doesn't appear to have addressed the story anywhere, yet. Clean Bandit, however, are making out like bandits on the publicity. It could turn out to be the best thing that's ever happened to them, although it clearly didn't feel like that at the time.

[Thanks to @houmansadri for the tip.]

Thieves score Score's solo album, Seagull kit

Coming to this late, but: A Flock of Seagulls had their van pinched in Downey, California.

The van has been recovered, but no sign of the equipment as yet. Amongst the musical instruments, there was also a hard drive featuring work Mike Score had pulled together for a solo album.

Singersongwriterobit: JJ Cale

JJ Cale died Friday night in San Diego. He was 74.

There's a lot being written about Cale at the moment, but there's a comprehensive interview with the man from Jambase that's pretty much all you need - he explains why he sees his albums as "song-writing demos", talks about touring, and reveals that he started using drum machines in 1970 after he got hold of one by swapping an electric banjo.

Gordon in the morning: Hold the front page

Whoever would have thought:

LADY GAGA’s next tour will be even weirder than her previous gigs.
As breaking news goes, that's right up there with 'October will be cooler than July', 'Glastonbury 2014 tickets will cost more than they did the year before' and 'ignored toddler will screech more loudly when ignored in Tesco'.

But thanks for telling us, Gordon.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A quick thought of Liam Gallagher and Rupert Murdoch

The extra-marital sex story about Liam Gallagher was hinted at by The Sun, but the paper was too cautious to publish until an American paper ran the story. At that point, with the story in the public domain, The Sun decided it was okay to talk about it.

Let's hope the owner of The Sun doesn't have any part in an alleged sex scandal that's being discussed in publications in the US, otherwise The Sun's rush to publish the Gallagher story would make it very difficult for Rupert to argue the same principle shouldn't apply to him, eh?

This week just gone

Most-read July-published stories:

1. How well did The Face's choices for best records of 1983 stand up?
2. Rolling Stone puts current affairs story on front page; terrorists win
3. Thom Yorke takes music off Spotify, except the Radiohead ones
4. Harry at Glastonbury
5. Sweet dreams are not made of cheese
6. Westwood leaves Radio One
7. Back! Back! Back! Jody Watley
8. RIP: Steve Hay
9. Steve Grand comes out while NME hosts "that shit is wrong" video
10. HMV bully former manager into changing shop name

These were this week's interesting releases:

14 Iced Bears - Hold On Inside

Houndstooth - Ride Out The Dark

Download Ride Out The Dark

Grant Hart - The Argument

Download The Argument

Front Line Assembly - Echogenetic

Download Echogenetic

Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus

Download Slow Focus