Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bookmarks: Documenting purchases

Jem Stone has put his Word piece about documenting singles and albums purchases on his blog:

However, most of the agony was writing the first entry . Should I should start with numbering Call Up by the Clash (7″) as No. 1 ?
This wasn’t right given that I’d already had bought about 50 singles pre 1980 when the book began. My record buying life had actually begun on a rainy shopping trip with Mum to WH Smiths record shop, three years before, with Abba’s Knowing Me Knowing You. What about that ? So logically then perhaps the first entry should actually be numbered 51 ? Perhaps I should document the backstory (“The Early Years”) in a separate book ? Would it dilute the diary if i put all this stuff in the back ?

I genuinely used to fret hard about this stuff but went, as it turns out, with Number 1.

Back, back, back: Shanice and S Club

Obviously, we can all agree that I Love Your Smile was a lovely piece of pop music. Unless you're young and never heard it. Or have ashes where your heart once was.

But it was a slim career for Shanice, and a somewhat slim base for her to build a comeback attempt on.

You were hardly here in the first place, Shanice. You were hardly here.

This is a worrying sign that the passion for bringing back half-remembered acts from the 90s has reached a point where the supply of unreturned acts is running out.

(As an aside, how awkward was last night's S Club reunion on Children In Need? All the pep of when they were children's TV stars, but the imploring eyes of adults who thought that, by now, they'd have moved beyond this. And making Rochelle from The Saturdays introduce it was just cruel - 'hey, give it ten years, and you'll be back here, too...')

The Shanice comeback is being driven by the Oprah Winfrey Network - a network which knows a thing or two about how 90s powerhouses can slide into obsolescence - and it's going to include awkward moments like this:

In the booth, Shanice begins belting out notes like it was yesterday, showcasing a fiery new sound in the five-octave range she's known for. When the track ends, her producer's reaction says it all.

"Um, could you not be fabulous for like two minutes?" he asks Shanice. "This is too much!"
Could Shanice not be fabulous for two minutes? That's not much of an ask from someone who released one song in 1991 and, since then, has suffered financial hardship and has had to sell her house just to get to the point where the OWN will stick a half-interested camera in her face. I think Shanice's ability to not be fabulous, for periods measured in decades rather than minutes, has pretty much been established by science.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Drumobit: Johnny Elichaoff

Johnny Elichaoff, one of the dealers on Channel 4's Four Rooms and - long ago - a drummer - has died following a fall from a London shop roof.

The Mail's coverage of his death is as dreadful as you'd expect - the headline can't even find space for his name:

Tragedy as Trinny Woodall's former husband, 55, falls to his death from roof of central London shopping centre
They tell you how old he is, but not who he is.

Then, the paper gets on to his musical career:
Nicknamed Johnny Too Bad, he played in a Seventies band called Stark Naked And The Car Thieves before defecting to the equally bizarrely named Baby And The Black Spots and then playing in guitarist Robert Fripp's League Of Gentlemen.

His musical career was interrupted by a two-year spell in the Army in 1984, and he went on to help manage rock bands Tears For Fears and Fairground Attraction.
Stark Naked And The Car Thieves isn't that bizarre a name for a punky-new wave band; and even if it was, Baby And The Black Spots is surely less bizarre a name?

Then the Mail hears from a witness.
Alex Fakhre, 25, who witnessed the fall, told the Evening Standard: 'I was coming back from my girlfriend’s and the road was all blocked off. The police said a guy had fallen from the car park (roof). He looked in a pretty bad way.'
Except he, clearly, didn't witness the fall, as the paper would have known if they'd read what they were copying from another paper.

Although he never made much of a living from music, he made up for it when he went into business. Talking to Channel 4 during his spell on Four Rooms, he summed up his stance:
'When people ask me what I do, I always say 'what do you need?' I'll buy and sell anything - watches, crude oil, furniture, pictures, anything at all!'

Dapper Laugh's geezer mate

Dapper Laughs. Has there ever been so much misinformation contained in a two-word name since the government dubbed burning irradiated corpses and shooting looters "Civil Defence"?

Popbitch has a great piece which explains why ITV commissioned the series in the first place - basically, it's not how you treat women, but how ITV treat its few remaining successful entertainers - but there's also this:

The extent of Holly Willoughby’s involvement probably goes no further than getting her mate (Mike Skinner from The Streets) the job of composing Dapper Laughs’ theme tune.
Mike Skinner was working for Dapper Laughs? Oh, Mike. Oh, Mike.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bono: The emergency exit shouldn't be an exit, and that's an emergency

Even inanimate objects can't stand Bono. As if having a giant mechanical lemon whose doors failed to open when they should wasn't humiliation enough, now his plane doors are opening when they shouldn't:

The rear hatch of the aircraft taking the U2 lead singer from Dublin to Berlin was missing when the aircraft landed at Berlin Schonefeld Airport on Wednesday.
In some places, like the Daily Mail, this is being touted as some sort of near-death scrape for Bono:
Bono cheats death after private jet door falls off: U2 singer 'extremely lucky' after plane's tailgate becomes detached during flight to Berlin with four friends
That sounds scary, although let's not forget that in newspaper terms the Mail Online is less a paper of record, more one of those tablecloths you get at Romano's Macaroni Grill that the waiter writes his name on in crayon.

Because, as CNN reports:
The ground crew discovered that the hatch was missing shortly after the aircraft landed at 12:26 a.m., 11 minutes after it blew off, Freitag said.
So was this a chilling moment when the people on the plane saw their lives flashing before their eyes (Bono's would have been directed by Anton Corbijn, obviously)? Not if nobody noticed until, after the plane had landed, someone turned up to carry the cases off the plane and realised they didn't need to unlock the door.

Still, I'm really pleased that no harm came to Bono. Can you imagine how grim Saturday's Band Aid Rehash session would have been if it took place under the shadow of a Bono who had fallen to earth and simultaneously ascended to heaven? I'm betting that rather than assign it to somebody else, the whole track would have fallen silent for the duration of "tonight, than God, it's them instead of you".

New stuff from The Popguns

You can - and you should - be preordering the new album from The Popguns - yes, The Popguns - right now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Minaj: The Nazis were artistic nazis

The man who put together Nicki Minaj's nazi video has issued a statement:

Before I start, be clear that these are my personal views and not the views of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, or Young Money.

First, I’m not apologizing for my work, nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism.

But a majority of the recognizable models/symbols are American: MQ9 Reaper Drone, F22 Raptor, Sidewinder missile, security cameras, M60, SWAT uniform, General’s uniform, the Supreme court, and the Lincoln Memorial. What’s also American is the 1st Amendment, which I’ve unexpectedly succeeded in showing how we willfully squeeze ourselves out of that right every day.

Despite the fact heavy religious and economic themes were glossed over, there’s also Russian T-90 tanks, Belgian FN FAL, German mp5 (not manufactured until 1966), an Italian Ferrari, and a Vatican Pope.

As far as an explanation, I think its actually important to remind younger generations of atrocities that occurred in the past as a way to prevent them from happening in the future. And the most effective way of connecting with people today is through social media and pop culture. So if my work is misinterpreted because it’s not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I’m not sorry. What else is trending?
First of all: "Sorry not sorry"? Is it still 2012 in America?
Jeff Osborne, the artist who directed the “Only” lyric video, issued a statement via MySpace
Oh. I suppose if you're still using MySpace, "sorry not sorry" must seems as new and astonishing as the first time someone from Britain came face-to-face with kangaroo.

Still, it's nice to have that clarified. It's not about Nazi Nazis, it's just 'hey, aren't all regimes a little bit nazi-like, have you ever thought that OMG it's so obvious when you think about it and aren't CCTV cameras just jackboots attached to walls, right?' Nazis.

It's not unusual for Godwin's Law to apply in YouTube comments. There's more than a few piece-to-camera YouTube videos where it can be invoked. I think, though, this might be the first time Godwin can be pressed into service for a lyric video.

Hey, Jeff, here's one for you: why don't you take a picture of Obama, right, and put a little moustache on him? SEE IF PEOPLE CAN HANDLE THAT TRUTH.

Alica Keys puts her mouth where her money is

There's a strong call to arms from Alica Keys, refusing to be silenced on political matters:

I know critics will say that people like me should stick to making records. But musicians are voters too. We are artists and we are human, alive to what is going on around us. We seem to be able to connect to millions of people who have either lost faith in the system or who need to feel a part of a community. Music has an uncanny way of getting to people’s emotions. And when we listen to music it is as if the consciousness changes around us. I intend to keep on speaking out, as do a number of my peers. We feel it is our duty to use our fame for something bigger than empty things.
That's pretty impressive.

It's not entirely clear, though, how this high-minded ideal of not using fame for "empty things" fits with, say, the adverts for Givenchy or the promotion of Blackberry mobile phones. Or the USD25million deal to push Coca-Cola's Vitamin Water, a product whose markering was so empty that some people are calling for consumers to be repaid for buying into its faux-healthy image.

But perhaps phone upgrades and water with calories aren't empty. Or maybe those matters had to be attended to before turning attention to using music to connect to emotions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dexys: You heard it here first

From the print edition of The Guardian's review of Geno Washington:

As Dexys’ Kevin Rowland told the Guardian recently, it was seeing Geno Washington perform “in 1968 in a sweaty club” that made him want to become a singer.
Luckily, in the online version, it's clearer that the paper realise that 'Rowland saw Washington in 68 at a club' isn't quite the scoop they make it sound in print:
As Dexys’ Kevin Rowland told the Guardian recently, it was seeing Geno Washington perform “in 1968 in a sweaty club” that made him want to become a singer, and inspired the band’s 1980 smash hit, Geno.

Nicki Minaj embraces the Third Reich asethetic

Nicki Minaj's new video has a whiff of Nazism about it. I say a whiff, but that might underplay it:

Kinda makes Brian Ferry's frothing over Nazi architecture seem small fry, right?

Still, I'm sure Nicki can explain how this is all somehow okay.

Just a quick thing, Nicki, starting out saying "it wasn't me" isn't the best way to start taking full responsibility.

And I don't think anyone was suggesting you were condoning Naziism, more using the imagery of a regime which killed millions to flog a few digital downloads. You were trivialising it.

In fact, the only way this could be worse is if you tried to tell us that one of your friends is... oh, hang on:

Oh, that's alright then. As you were.

Tell 'em about the honey, um, Usher

Popjustice reports that Usher is reduced to hiding songs inside boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.

He'd sell more records if he hid Honey Nut Cheerios inside his CDs.

Band Aid 30: Or, keeping Emeli Sande busy

Could there be anything worse than the Band Aid 30 idea?

Oh, hang on...

Announcing the project, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure said the song's lyrics would be changed to reflect the Ebola crisis.
This does give the impression that Bob and Midge had this conversation earlier in the year:

- Hey, it's the 30th anniversary, we should definitely do a Band Aid 30
- Who is this?
- It's Midge
- Midge Who?
- This isn't a knock-knock joke
- Oh, Midge. Hang on... how did you get this number?
- Jools Holland
- Bloody Jools. Anyway, what did you want?
- Band Aid. Band Aid 30.
- Oh. Yeah... but is there an African crisis we can help with?
- Well, Syria's in Africa...
- [silence]
- Bob?
- [silence]
- Bob?
- [silence]
- Well, I'm sure something will turn up...

God knows how they'll change the lyrics - "It's Christmastime, that's no time to die from ebola/ At Christmastime, we let in light and we wash our hands properly/ And our world of plenty handwash/ We can scrub our fingers clean/ Throw your arms around the world/ After checking its temperature, of course..."
Geldof and Ure, who masterminded the first version, said the project was nothing to do with nostalgia.
Then why call it after Band Aid, and mark the 30th anniversary, and use the same song that was used 30 years ago?
So far, confirmed artists include U2's Bono, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Emeli Sande, Underworld, Sinead O'Connor, Paloma Faith, Foals and Bastille, who have given up two arena dates to record their contribution.
Who would have guessed that Bono would be involved, eh?

But don't think this an insular British thing:
Versions will also be recorded in France, Germany and the US. "Think Daft Punk. Think Johnny Hallyday," said Geldof.
Ah, Johnny Hallyday - Bob's finger-on-the-pulse understanding of the Francophone music scene is, clearly, second to none.

As ever: it's lovely to raise money for charity, but you can donate right now to the DEC Ebola fund, and we don't need to make Emeli Sande do any singing at all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mercury-Jackson duet blown by Bubbles

Why did that Michael Jackson - Freddie Mercury duet never get finished?

Mercury didn't want to be produced by a chimp:

They were supposed to cut “There Must Be More To Life Than This,” but Mercury couldn’t handle The King of Pop’s weird attachment to his primate pal, The Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

“‘I’m not performing with a f–king chimp sitting next to me each night,’” Mercury exploded, veteran show business journalist David Wigg will write in a book, The Mail reported.

Wigg went on to write: “Freddie got very angry because Michael made Bubbles sit between them and would turn to the chimp between takes and ask, `Don’t you think that was lovely?’ or, `Do you think we should do that again?’

After a few days of this, Freddie just exploded. He phoned his manager and told him to `get me out of this zoo.’ Freddie then flew back to London, leaving the track musically unfinished.”
Got to be honest, it sounds a bit like Bubbles was a yes-chimp.

By the time Mercury turned up to work with Jackson, it was pretty clear that Michael wasn't like other boys, so I suppose it's more surprising that Mercury agreed to the recording session at all.

On the other hand, if he lasted for a "few days" of Bubbles overseeing the desk, there's two questions:

One: Did Mercury keep thinking 'well, maybe he's just taking time to find his monkey feet and might start being a useful member of the team' for those few days?

Two: A few days? How long did it take to knock out a crummy duet single?

Miley Cyrus literally puts make-up on a pig

It would be enough, perhaps, to reproduce the headline and leave it at that:

Miley Cyrus faces backlash for painting pet pig's toenails
Were it not for this:
The animal lovers, who were not happy with the pictures, called the pop star "a pig" for doing that to her pet, while others accused the 'Wrecking Ball' singer of having "deep issues."
If you're a strong believer in animal rights, and don't think it's fair to treat an animal like a fashion doll, couldn't you at least come up with a different animal to use as an angry insult?

"How could you treat a wonderful creature like a pig in that way? You're a terrible creature, like a pig... oh, hang on."
You'll also notice that Cyrus apparently employs someone to do pig manicures on her behalf.

25 years ago today: Bates on the wall

If yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the fall of The Berline Wall, that makes this morning the 25th anniversary of Simon Bates turning up in the city to do the Golden Hour from the midst of history.

This was most memorable because, arriving too late to get a good spot, Bates explained his position like a person who'd inadvertently booked a fortnight in Boppard rather than Cologne. The people you saw down at the Brandenburg Gate were just the sort of people who want to get on TV, revealed Bates, but here - further down the Wall - was where the real Germans were.

It sounds less and less convincing with each passing year, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Bo Bruce nearly subject of awkward stories in the papers, says awkward story in the paper

Bo Bruce, who didn't win The Voice in 2012 and has been living up to that standard since, glimpsed back into the public eye this week as her posh-but-broke father continues to drag his family through the ringer:

The Earl of Cardigan threatened to make up "dirt" about his estranged daughter, The Voice singer Bo Bruce.

The aristocrat emailed Ms Bruce saying he was considering inventing damaging stories about her and sending them to the newspapers, the High Court heard yesterday.
In April 2012 Ms Bruce - who was a finalist on the BBC talent show in 2012 - was described as "the little scorpion that I have as a daughter" in an email from her father.

In a reference to newspaper articles about her, asked whether he should "invent some untrue tasty dirt" about her or alternatively could "say nice things".
The Earl has been fighting the trustees of his Estate for ages, and this charming episode was part of that.

It's unconfirmed that he also spent a lot of time standing round in shopping centres and public houses saying loudly "that Leanne Mitchell is good, isn't she? I'd definitely vote for her on The Voice, I would, and I'd be ashamed of myself if I voted for anyone else."

This week just gone

Three years with legs: Most popular posts published in November 2011:

1. John Peel Lecture: Pete Townshend warns us to keep away from computers
2. RIP: Ken Russell
3. The slow rot of Alex James' cheese festival
4. Gary Lightbody had writers' block
5. Matt Willis out of Busted never managed Tricky
6. Jimmy Savile's sex shop brick shocker
7. Liverpool Masque theatre closes
8. NME Cool List says Tyler cool for saying that Tegan and Sara need "hard dick"
9. Johnny Marr defends taking cash from John Lewis
10. Gordon Smart sees Kasabian play live

These were this week's interesting releases:

Stars - No-one Is Lost

Download No-one Is Lost

Frazey Ford - Indian Ocean

Download Indian Ocean

Grouper - Ruins

Download Ruins

Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita

Download La Isla Bonita

The Chills - The BBC Sessions

Download The BBC Sessions

A Certain Ratio - Sextet

Download Sextet

The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

Download With A Little Help...