Saturday, August 17, 2013


The Associated Press has seen how much the artists playing the Illinois State Fair are getting.

Ke$ha? $200,000. Toby Keith gets $300,000.

Because we can (and because I fancied playing about with Datawrapper) here's a little visualisation of the payments:

Singer accepts money to sing for airline; unhappy at airline promoting this

Megan Washington landed herself a sweet gig just over a year ago - she did a corporate to mark Qantas' 90th birthday, trilling I Still Call Australia Home.

Everyone's happy, right?

Not quite. Qantas have been using video of the song ever since, and Megan's angry about that. So angry, she's launching a lawsuit:

Ms Washington alleges the use was unauthorised, and claims by promoting the song as they did, Qantas misled the public into believing the airline had her approval and support.
You can see her point. There might be some people who are untouched by cynicism enough to think if someone gets up and sings a song for a corporation's birthday, that they might in some way like that corporation. Rather than just being paid to shill.

The whole thing is particularly complicated because, since her turn at Qantas' birthday, Washington has taken on a role promoting Virgin Australia. It's unclear if she approves and supports them any more than she did Qantas. Perhaps we'll all find out in court.

Liking Slayer a bit like hate

There was panic and horror in Commack when hate-filled graffiti appeared near a Little League pitch.

Everyone relaxed a bit when they realised that the graffiti just said Slayer.

I think the pentangle probably threw them a bit.

The Cult eject fan for using phones

The suspicion that it must be like going back in time to see The Cult live in 2013 doesn't exactly vanish when you discover that Ian Astbury had someone ejected for texting during a set in Fort Lauderdale. Boca mag was there:

[A]s the band tore through some of its greatest hits during the second set, things got personal. Astbury went off on someone near the front of the stage who was texting one minute and, apparently, shouting at the singer the next. In between songs, Astbury took large swigs from his water bottle and spit it at the person in question. Not once, not twice, but three times.

“You’re ignorant—and you’re rude,” Astbury shouted into the mic. “I call it like I see it ... If you can’t handle it, go home. This is a Cult concert!”
Ironically, given that Astbury had also been moaning about people videoing the band on their phones, the moment where this screen-jabber was plucked from the crowd by security was, erm, filmed on a phone. It's probably the most entertaining thing that's happened at a Cult gig in recent years:

It is terribly rude to the people around you to hog the front row while not really being interested in what's going on upon the stage; equally, though, if you're an entertainer and your audience are choosing to play Candy Crush instead... it doesn't make it sound like you're very compelling.

Gordon in the morning: Glastonbury on the beach

Over in the private area behind the Sun's magnificent paywall, Gordon hears that Mick Jagger is planning his own festival.

Because nothing has a happier historical precedent than a festival that the Rolling Stones have been involved in the organisation of, right?

Gordon quotes a "source"; maybe someone who has been paid in vouchers to access the Sun website now it's not really on the internet any more:

"Mick has put out some feelers in Brazil to put on a big show. The plans are ambitious but if he pulls it off it will be huge. The whole vibe of the event is very much 'flower power' and the same hippy values that Glastonbury prides itself on. The publicity drive will begin in the next six months or so but there's no doubt there will be big names on the bill"
Yes, of course it's in Brazil, where the sun is warm on old bones and the tax arrangements agreeably outside HMRC's grasp.

I suppose it's not inconsistent that someone who thinks they spy "hippy values" in between the phone-charging points and ATMs of Worthy Farm could believe that a Rock Business Festival which flies people halfway round the world to have a party against a backdrop of protests against grand entertainments taking precedence over local problems is in someway a "flower power" event.

That vague "six months" to the publicity drive feels like the sort of time period which is just long enough to let most people forget it was ever mentioned, should it not happen. We shall see.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pete Townshend pats One Direction fans on the head

To save time with their new single, One Direction simply got some grown-ups to take an old Who song and pretended it was theirs.

When the world pointed out that Best Song Ever is pretty much just Baba O'Riley, One Direction fans reacted with the usual misplaced groupthink, and decided to launch a pre-emptive attack on The Who.

After every blue police phone box had been reduced to a smouldering wreckage, they suddenly realised The Who was a band, and so off they danced to Twitter to circle their wagons and wave their tiny little fists:

Not entirely clear how being able to "crash twitcam" is going to change the basics of copyright law but good luck with that. I'd love to see it in court:
"So, we have heard from the lawyers for The Who publishers, and their musical experts and precedent. What argument do you have for One Direction?"
"Well, your honour, I have only one very weak argument, but I shall call upon a couple of thousand teenagers to make the same weak argument over and over again in case that changes the facts."

Heartwarmingly, it even turned into a crossover between two sets of fandamentalists:
Into this teen-tinged tag-team Twitter takedown storm stepped Pete Townshend. His statement is masterful:
"No! I like the single. I like One Direction. The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we've all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don't mean great music – not always. I'm still writing songs that sound like Baba O'Riley – or I'm trying to!. It's a part of my life and a part of pop's lineage. One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I'm happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by The Who. I'm just relieved they're all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets. The funniest thing is that in Canada this year I met with Randy Bachman once the leader of GUESS WHO who told me that he not only copied Baba O Riley for their hit You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, but he even called his band after us. Why would I not be happy about this kind of tribute?"
Of course, bringing the Guess Who into the story will mean One Direction fans will be attacking Toys R Us to destroy that face guessing game, but there's always collateral damage.

You'll note that not only does Pete calm the fears that The Who are calling for the song to be banned, but he also does nothing that would prevent his publishers suing One Direction's publishers for a lovely large payday.

And that's the difference between experience and enthusiasm.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

NME circulation continues in the same direction

There's not much to celebrate in the just-published ABC figures for the NME. But then there seldom is.

The headline? Average sales are down now to 20,011 - and around a quarter (5,002) of those are at below full cover price.

That's 13% down compared with the six months to the end of 2012; 16% down on the sale compared with the same period last year.

Is there much comfort for the title in the stats for its digital edition?

Not really, not yet: in the UK, they sold just 356 copies onto people's tablets. The much wider potential market of the rest of the world? 465 copies. Although there's potential there, the NME isn't making any digital headway yet.

There was, however, one glimmer of hope, as one issue managed to out-perform the sluggish sales of the title - the David Bowie cover story. It suggests that when the magazine is able to bring its a-game, it can still create a buzz. Perhaps - given that Liam Gallagher frontpages offer no sales advantage over, say, Haim or Karen O - its time for the magazine to stop clinging to the Gallaghers and start reporting the news?

Countryobit: Tompall Glaser

Tompall Glaser, outlaw movement country singer, has died.

Glaser was joint-owner of the Nashville studios which came to be known as Hillbilly Central - Glaser Brothers Sound Studios. It was here that the first million-selling country album, Wanted! The Outlaws was recorded. This brought Tompall together with Waylon Jennings and others to create a hotchpotch mix of tracks that hadn't found homes elsewhere; on paper it sounds unappealing but it found an enthusiastic audience.

Glaser's back-up vocals can be heard on Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire; and he and his brothers had numerous country hits in their own right. But it was as businesspeople that the brothers really shone - quickly establishing a publishing company and those studios; racking up production credits.

Tompall went solo in 1973, but after falling out with Waylon Jennings over money the Glaser Brothers reunited towards the end of the decade. It was a short-lived comeback, though; by 1982 Glaser was solo again. He released a final album in 1986, and shortly afterwards Hillbilly Central was sold off, closing the chapter on the outlaw movement.

Tompall Glaser died Tuesday 13th August 2013; he was 79 and had been ill for some time.

Gordon in the morning: Everything has a price

As you'll be aware, in order to read Gordon Smart's high-quality journalism online these days you have to pay.

What does your money get you?

Today, it's a story about how Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop is going to be used in a John Lewis advert.

Who wouldn't think it great value to dip into their pocket to discover exciting news about a television commercial, eh?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Flatmates are back

Yes. Those Flatmates. Louder Than War has all the details, but here's what you need to know:

Bristol Exchange Fri Aug 23rd – Tickets

London The Miller Aug 24th – Tickets.

Brighton At The Edge Of The Sea Fest Aug 25th – Tickets.

Nottingham Pop All-Dayer on Sept 14th – Tickets.

These dates will be followed by a short tour in October which will take the band to Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield.
Here's the only possible response:

Mel C demands Louis Walsh's credentials

Mel C is delighted that Louis Walsh is leaving the X Factor, because she doesn't see the point of him:

"Louis Walsh and myself have had a bit of a spat running over the years," she said.

"He has been very rude about me. We had an argument on CD:UK.

"He's a very lucky man to be where he is in my opinion. What does he actually do?"
Louis Walsh has been coasting, doing ten consecutive series of X Factor. Mel C, on the other hand, only did one stretch as a judge on that Jesus thing.

Pete Doherty is Alf Roberts

The best running sketch on the last radio series of Mitchell and Webb was the one where old ladies questioned people about their jobs, usually suggesting they'd be better off opening a little shop instead.

It seems Pete Doherty has half-taken this to heart, although his shop is naturally self-obsessed:

British rocker Pete Doherty has set up a shop in London to sell off his personal items and memorabilia from his bands Babyshambles and The Libertines.
In effect: imagine a pile of bags left outside a house when someone moves out. Now imagine if those bags were opened, and price labels stuck on the contents. There you are.

Cher seems to be only person in the world convinced GaGa "leak" wasn't a stunt

It's not just the disappointing GaGa comeback single that has been "leaked" online. The duet between GaGa and Cher has also fallen onto the internet, and Cher is mad as a wasp nest duct-taped to a leopard. ContactMusic has attempted a translation:

"Just heard (The Greatest Thing)! F**k ! It's not even the right f**king version!!! Why do ppl (people) think this kinda leaking s**t is ok ! I'm so f**king disappointed... I've sat on (that) song 4 (for) over a yr (year). Now some a**hole leaks (the) wrong version! Gaga's single is great, & that's all that matters."
It's unclear why, if all that matters is that GaGa's single is great, what Cher is all up in a lather about.

Embed and breakfast man: Mustang Steel Band

Here's something: the kids of the Mustang Steel Band having a go at covering The Primitives' Crash:

Drummerobit: Jon Brookes

Horrible news yesterday, with the death of Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes.

As a key member of a major Madchester band and a West Brom fan, Brookes was Baggie twice over.

There's a lovely 1999 interview with Brookes and James Hannah, in which Jon looks back over the Charlatan's career up until Us & Us Only. There's some consideration of the previous tragedy that hit the band - the death of Rob Collins during the making of Tellin' Stories ("I can hear cer­tain con­flicts on there between us all. I think the ascent made us dizzy again. I still haven’t quite digested the songs."), but mostly it tracks a band who rose, fell and rose again, making it up as they went along and doing a pretty good job of it.

Beyond being a musician, Jon was a father and a husband. He was only 44.

The Charlatans kept me going through some grim times. His drumbeat kept my heart going. Thanks, Jon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Andy Partridge re-evaluates Andy Partridge

This is quite sweet, actually: they've been remixing Drums And Wires, XTC's 1979 album, and Andy Partridge is well taken with it:

Heard 5.1 mix of DRUMS AND WIRES at Steven Wilson's yesterday. So good,it's upped my opinion of the album.COMPLICATED GAME=breathtaking.
On the downside, further 5.1 remixes of XTC albums depends on EMI being able to find the original tapes, something Partridge doesn't hold out much hope for.

Hold the front page

This just in:

Not recognising Elvis could be a bad sign

You know those pub quizzes where they give you an unusual photo of a famous person to see if you can identify them? Failing at that doesn't just mean you don't get to win the bottle of wine, but it could be an early sign that you've got dementia.

Yes, according to the Daily Express (and therefore, probably not according to actual doctors) not being able to spot Elvis could be a symptom:

Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We all forget a face. But when ability to recognise someone as famous as Elvis or Diana becomes an issue it may be there is a deeper-rooted cause.”
Possibly, although Elvis died 36 years ago, and is it fair to assume that he's still such a cultural norm that his face is useful in this way.

It's unclear if you should or shouldn't be able to recognise all the Kardashians as part of good mental health.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lady GaGa advises you can safely ignore this post, all posts

Lady GaGa would like you to not pay any attention to this, or any other, posts on this blog:

Dont focus on ANY blogger criticism. I have been a producer/songwriter/musician for over 10 years. Trust the artist, bloggers are not critics. The fans + music scholars are the best critics because they know the artist intimately. ‪#‎STOPHarassingTheArtist‬ we are here to entertain you. ‪#‎FreeTheArtist‬ ‪#‎StopTheDramaStartTheMusic‬

Let's make 2013 a year where music/talent/artistry is more important than gossip/fanwars. I respect all fanbases for their passion ‪#‎BeTheChange‬
For a woman who has spent most of today running round yelling about pop emergencies, calling for a stop to the drama seems a teensy bit rich, but then, what would I know?

If we're to make any sense of GaGa's intervention, we should ignore people who write blogs - sorry, Tom Ewing; sorry, Pop Justice - and listen instead to Music Scholars. Frankly, I am going to adjust my thinking and in future, unless a person can prove they've got at least an upper second from a serious pop university, I shall scoff at their opinions.

It's not entirely clear what happens if a fan writes a blog, or a music scholar also runs a blog. After all, GaGa Daily is a blog run by fans, so when they suggest we ring our local radio stations and demand they play Applause, are they right - because they're fans - or wrong - because they're bloggers?

Of course, it could just be that GaGa has got hung up on a publishing platform and confused 'people who think she's kind of reached the sort of mined-out husk that it took Madonna about five albums to get to' with 'people who use an easy web publishing system' and decided the two groups are interchangeable.

Gordon in the morning: Helping young talent

If you place a glass against the Sun's paywall this morning, you can hear Gordon Smart excitedly announcing that there are going to be "big names" on Paul McCartney's album.

Yeah, because Paul McCartney is a man who needs help with his profile. Clearly, all that time he spent in The Beatles stopped him being thought of as a performer in his own right.

These "big names", by the way, are Mark Ronson and Giles "son of George" Martin. Giles being such a big name that his Wikipedia entry kicks off by mentioning his father and his half-brother.

Why are these two producers at the, um, peak of their powers being brought in, Gordon?

They hope it will take him back to the top of the pop charts.
Macca's solo studio albums in the last decade have got to 10, 5 and 2. It's not entirely clear that he needs Mark Ronson's help to get to the top of the charts.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guitarobit: Jody Payne

Jody Payne, who played guitar for Wille Nelson's The Family across four decades, has died.

Payne retired from touring with the band in 2011, choosing to settle down in Stapleton, Alabama:

“I always said that if I could live anywhere it would be in the middle of Baldwin County, and that’s just about where I am,” the easygoing Payne said with a chuckle. “I really like it here. It’s a small town with friendly people.”
Jody Payne was 77; he died of cardiac problems on Saturday, 10th August.

Can't catch Kanye

If we're to believe the Daily Star, Kanye West has spent a million dollars on kidnap-proof cars.

That makes no sense. Who would want to kidnap a car?

Oh. Apparently it's to protect the people in the cars. Surely the knowledge that if they kidnapped Kanye or Kim Kardashian, they'd have to spend time with them, is a better defence that any armoured car?

This week just gone

The most-used and interesting search terms so far this year, excluding people looking for willies or tits:

1. Thom York Rude
2. XRRF Ding Dong Witch rights
3. Lauren Souness
4. Glyn Jones Arctic Monkeys
5. Lauren Laverne FHM
6. Gary Biddles
7. Francis Rossi net worth
8. Tame Impala split
9. Harvey Keitel
10. Anthony Raneri wedding

These are this week's interesting releases:

Explosions In The Sky & David Wingo - Prince Avalanche

Download Prince Avalanche

Pond - Hobo Rocket

Download Hobo Rocket

Pinkunoizu - The Drop

Download The Drop

Various - Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980 - 1988

Download Mutazione