Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another attempt to make file-sharing profitable

Qtrax is launching in October, and claims to have 20 to 30 million copyrighted songs representing all four major labels ready to share, in return for the watching of some advertising.

We're a little puzzled by the "20 to 30 million", though - to not know within a margin of error of ten million tracks what your offer is seems a little, um, overly-relaxed, doesn't it?

Boo Radleys Weekend: Glasto 1995

More Boos action, with three tracks from the 1995 Glastonbury appearance: It's Lulu, Stuck On Amber, and Reaching Out From Here:

Main Boo Radleys weekend post

Rice-Oxley rides to Gore's defence

The Live Earth concerts are coming in for a bit of a knocking, what with the idea of jetting a bunch of popstars to play to half-empty venues on the other side of the planet being a weak way of projecting an idea that we need to reduce, reuse, recycle. But the efforts are now being swung behind the idea that the environmental damage is incidental providing that the message gets across - cynics amongst you might note that a squad of people pushing that very line seem to be popping up across realistic blogs pushing that very line in comments boxes around the world.

Never mind that it's akin to suggesting that the best way to have promoted the idea of the blackout during the second world war would have been to build a massive electric light to flash on and off on the top of the Greenwich Observatory (because it doesn't matter that it contradicts the message, so long as the message is shared, right?)

Now, Tim Rice-Oxley has - appropriately - stood up to be counted for the misguided-but-well-intentioned:

"Live Earth is getting a lot of flak like all good events like this tend to," Tim told NME. "But you go to the middle of America and people are talking about it and hearing about it so it seems to be really doing the job that Al Gore wanted. We're really excited to be part of it as it's a really big show."

You'll notice that by the end of his own quote he'd even forgotten what it was that he was meant to be part of - not "as it's a vital chance to save the world" or "as it's an opportunity to add our voice against global warming", but "we're excited because it's a big show."

Vince Neil: drunk sells drink

Celebrity endorsements are tricky things. Get it right, and the synergy of artist and product creates a circle so virtuous you could roll it down the street and pretend it was Doctor John CD.

Get it wrong, and... well, you end up with ideas like having Vince Neil launch a brand of tequila.

As in, presumably, if you drink a lot of this and try to drive, that'd be the right way te-quil-a colleague, like when Neil had a drunken crash and killed Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley.

Something to listen to: Radio stuff

These are all BBC Radio Listen again links, so will decay a week after original TX:

Jon Ronson On... goes to Glastonbury, and asks Melvin Benn about being owned by Clear Channel. Benn points out that it's now LiveNation - but doesn't mention the board-level crossover of the companies - and shrugs that "we're all tainted"

Arcade Fire live at Maida Vale from Radcliffe & Maconie's Thursday night show; it starts an hour in and there's no unpleasantness like the camera smashing on last night's Jonathan Ross show

Crowded House acoustic on Danny Baker, crammed in between extra news bulletins about cars not exploding

Embed and breakfast man: Boo Radleys weekend

This weekend, a mini-festival of Boo Radleys performances. We have a more than soft spot for the Boos, having seen them a surpising number of times before they got good, due to their habit of popping up supporting every second band to play at Liverpool's Planet X, Poly or Cosmos. It's fair to say their skill at getting bookings ran a little ahead of their talents - Sice was, at this time, widely believed in the city to be miming his guitar parts. But all that gigging paid off, and slowly, the Do Badleys surprised all of us by getting good. And then essential, buoyed by a contract with Creation at the time when the label was both in a position to, and of a mind to, sign off on some experimental mucking about which resulted in a couple of the greatest, if most-overlooked, albums of what we have to call the Britpop era. If Oasis were Creation's cash cow, and the Primals the stud pony, the Boo Radleys were the label's clever chameleons.

So, across this weekend, some posts featuring the best of the You Radleys from BooTube. First, with the sort of bad-punning inevitably you've come to know and love, we disinter the band with their Glastonbury 1994 performance of Lazarus:

Also this weekend
Glastonbury 1995
Happens To Us All from Snub TV
It's Lulu on Top of the Pops

Buy Radleys:
A somewhat low-key Best Of released through Camden last month
Learning To Walk in 2003's re-issue of Rough Trade's 1992 compilation of their early stuff, including the debut ep which was released through a semi-obscure label based in Preston
Everything's Alright Forever and Giant Steps - that'd be those two albums we were talking about up there.

Eavis turns down banknotes for Banksy

That giant Banksy toilethenge on the Glastonbury festival site? A mystery buyer is offering good money for that. Michael Eavis has turned them down, though:

"I'm not going to sell it but I'm going to take it down though. I don't sell other people's art. That's not what I do."

Apart from, erm, the performance art which you sell on through the Glastonbury tickets.

McManus takes disco Mary role

Have you been wondering what Michelle McManus is up to these days?

Oh, go on, at least try and look interested.

She's turned up in the cast of a disco-themed retelling of the nativity story at the Edinburgh Festival.

And you thought her career had tanked.

Michelle's excited:

"People may be surprised that I've chosen to play this role but I loved the script.

"And I've always wanted to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. Also, as an aspiring actress, I felt this was a great challenge and would be a lot of fun as well."

Yes. Playing Mary in a nativity play - a challenge for an actor so great, most girls have nailed the role by the age of nine.

Apple blossoms?

It's currently an totally unsubstantiated rumour, but it's fascinating suggestion: could Jay-Z and Beyonce be about to join Apple to start a "label"?

Jay-Z is nearly out of his Def Jam contract; Beyonce is coming to the end of hers with Sony, and, of course, after settling with The Beatles, Apple is now free to be in the music business without worrying about the wrath of Ono.

On the other hand: are they really going to want to be producing content? Surely Steve Jobs is wise enough to allow the labels to go bust doing that and just enjoy the fruits of retail?

But, here's where Control has three hands: a high profile power couple making music directly for iTunes might be a handy, heavyweight warning to the majors when they're negotiating the next round of iTunes contracts: if you don't deliver your artists, we'll cut you out altogether.

Akon gives kids sex packs

James P emails us with details of Akon's latest slip-up. Here's what he has to say:

Had to pass this story on, thought you'd like it; Remember a few weeks ago,
Akon was filmed dry-humping a 14 year-old girl onstage? And then a few weeks
later Akon was accused of pulling a 15-year-old boy onstage and hurling him
into the crowd, injuring another woman? Well, it looks like Akon's managed
to stay out of trouble since then. Sort of.

Parents have expresed their disgust, shock and other tabloid-friendly
parental emotions over a concert held in Chicago recently, with headline
acts including Akon. The concert attracted a mainly teenage and pre-teen
crowd. Parents brought their children along to see a family-friendly pop
concert and enjoy all the fun which came with it. So some people were
surprised when dancers onstage started handing out goody-bags to children
containing, erm, free condoms, adult-shop catalogues and 'sex coupons'.


The promotions manager responsible claimed members of staff 'Mistakenly
grabbed the bags containing the condoms, which were identical to bags meant
for the B96 concert, which included T-shirts and dance music CDs'. Yes, that
explains it.

When I first heard about Akon's child-dry-humping antics, I was fairly
appalled. The follow-up boy-flinging episode wasn't too good either. But
with this third incident, in which children at an Akon concert are supplied
with explicit pictures and sex-aids, it's finally dawned on me; Akon is
resurrecting the traditional British farce.

All the elements are there; The hapless protagonist, the series of
unfortunate misunderstandings, the very public climax, the lot. In his
biopic, I'm sure his manager will be played by Lee Evans, who will spend the
film stumbling into dressing rooms and stammering "Um, Akon, hi, erm...
You're not gonna believe this, but... That girl? Yep, it was another
child..." I'm fairly certain this latest incident, in which a load of porn
is picked up instead of a pile of t-shirts in an identical bag, was lifted
straight from an episode of Terry and June. I can picture Akon now, coming
offstage after his performance, saying "Phew! A whole set in front of an
audience of pre-teen fans, and absolutely no accidental dry-humps or
assaults! I managed to avoid any minor-bothering mishaps the whole time!
This calls for a bag of sweets!" before his manager pulls him aside and
explains that the audience have each been mistakenly given a bumper bag of
scud. Five quid says his next album is titled '...With Hilarious

Next week Akon plays a church fete and, in an attempt to improve the vicar's
rendition of 'Toccata and Fugue' accidentally feeds him the wrong sort of
'organ enhancement' pills.

We're having visions of angry mothers grabbing Akon backstage:

Mom: You gave my daughter a voucher for a sex shop
Akon: Yeah... is there a problem?
Mom: She's only eleven
Akon: Oh... I see why you're upset. But don't worry... there's no expiration date on the coupon, so can keep it until she hits puberty...

Tom Jones put a Monkey on his back

It's not going to take much to be the highlight of the Diana Concert, so Tom Jones has probably got it nailed: he's doing a full-band cover of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor:

"I'm a massive fan of the band and I felt like doing something different with my set.

"It's a great song and I wanted to do it as a surprise for the Princess Diana concert. I haven't been in touch with the lads about it but I hope that they like it."

Tom Jones has been in showbusiness for three hundred years and still thinks you can tell the 3AM Girls about a "surprise" and not have them spoil it.

The Girls are calculating the likely outcome, and they see good things in the future for the Arctics:
The Arctics have a massive young following but news of Dame Shirley's and Sir Tom's support could broaden that fanbase.

They're already the band of choice for politicians to drop into conversation, so it's not entirely clear who the 3AMies think they're going to be broadening their support out to now - the dead?

Nor, of course, have they calculated the risk that this sort of "tribute" could undermine their core support as the Arctics become ever more tainted with being "Gordon Brown's type of thing."

May not, then

Brian May was planning a duet with Joss Stone during tonights Mawkathon Difest - but has now decided not to. Apparently, he was afraid of embarrassing himself:

: "I just could not get my head around the way they have arranged it.

"I didn't want to risk embarrassing them - or myself! It was too short notice for such major changes.

"I have chatted to Joss and we are going to create something new together soon."

You'd have thought that Brian May would have been beyond embarrassment by now, though, wouldn't you?

Manson finally finds some straights to freak out

Ah, bless. Although he's normally tolerated in the same way that Barney the Purple Dinosaur and Ronald McDonald are, what Marilyn Manson really wants is to be thought of as scary and threatening.

So he was delighted when they wouldn't let him into Koln Dom. Straights! Freaked out! Quick, tell the papers:

He denies he was banned because of his Satanic views – Christian groups in the States have blasted him for albums such as Antichrist Superstar.

Marilyn didn't think cathedral staff recognised him and told reporters: "They didn't let me in because I was wearing lipstick."

Or perhaps they did recognise him, and just didn't want his vacuity in their cathedral. Or, much more likely, they were closed.

But "I went to a cathedral and it was closed" isn't quite as exciting for Marilyn, is it?

Apparently, he's in Cologne because some of his daubings are bing displayed:
Marilyn’s paintings include subjects such as late Superman actor CHRISTOPHER REEVE and Nazi terror leader ADOLF HITLER, who is depicted as a transsexual creature with breasts.

He said: "Either you like them or you don't."

No, actually, it's possible to be completely indifferent to them.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Something to listen to: Ash

Twilight of the Innocents - it's Ash's last-ever album (this side of financial reality setting in) and you can stream it all into your audio capture software ears over on Right now.

Live Earth pledge apparently not signed by acts

Earlier today, in the comments section, a contributor suggested that complaining about the air travel involved in Live Earth made you a "moron."

Interestingly, Live Earth have launched a pledge for all of us to sign which suggests that, at least, they're not "morons" in this sense.

Here are two points:

2.To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become "carbon neutral;"

7.To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

Clearly - and coherently - they're calling for people to reduce as much as they can, and offset anything left over. How does that fit with flying Macy Gray to Rio, exactly?

And what businesses who will be flying all these stars around - airlines, presumably - who share a commitment to solving the climate crisis? We've yet to hear of any airline pushing for aviation fuel to be taxed at an equal rate to other types of fuel?

Virgin tried to save Fopp

There had been some last-minute attempts to save Fopp from closure, the most notable of which was a proposed merger with Virgin Megastores. The deal fell through because the figures "didn't add up" and Fopp's suppliers weren't keen to embrace dealing with a Virgin-Fopp force.

Of course, Virgin's track record of running a smaller chain, one more enthusiastic about retailing music, alongside its main business isn't great - Our Price went from cool-for-a-chain, to couldn't-care-less, before turning into V-Shops and disappearing completely.

Even more surprisingly, Virgin had also had talks about a link-up with fellow struggling high street musical chain HMV.

Fopp issued a statement marking their closure:

"It is with great regret that we announce the closure of Fopp. Our store chain is profitable, well regarded and loved by our loyal customers and staff.

"However we have failed to gain the necessary support from major stakeholders, suppliers and their credit insurers to generate sufficient working capital to run our expanding business."

You had us at "high-diving horses"

Of course, it was cruel and wrong but can you honestly say that if someone told you there was a horse about to leap off a diving board round the corner that you wouldn't have popped down to have a quick look?

This occurs to us on getting an email from the press team handling the return of 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster. Their return EP includes a track about what might have been the highspot of animal-baiting sideshows. Guy McKnight stopped grinding his teeth long enough to approve this explanation:

“All the new songs are about the usual stuff really, paranoia, anxiety, schizophrenia, high diving horses from the 1930’s, the wrath of god, Klaus Kinski, man’s desire for freedom ultimately resulting in his own destruction, really dangerous circus entertainment, Werner Herzog, you know, that sort of thing. We’re just pleased to be back and on the road. “

The road? Oh, yes, there's a tour as well:

Monday 23rd July Manchester Academy 4
Tuesday 24 Birmingham Barfly
Wednesday 25 Brighton The Gloucester)
Thursday 26 Chatham Tap'n'tin
Friday 27 Liverpool Barfly
Saturday 28 Leicester Sumo
Monday 30 Glasgow Barfly
Tuesday 31 Newcastle Academy 2
Wednesday 01st Aug Leeds Cockpit
Thursday 02 Sheffield Plug
Friday 03 Stoke Sugarmill
Saturday 04 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Sunday 05 Bristol Thekla
Monday 06 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Tuesday 07 London Scala

Hook thrown by the clappers

Peter Hook gives two cheers to the Ian Curtis biopic. But not literal cheers, though:

"I really enjoyed it... But it was like having your heart stamped on. The weirdest thing was at the end, when it really hurt and everybody started clapping. It would've been nice to have a dignified silence."

Still, at least it wasn't a trumpeted announcement about back-catalogue now being sold in the foyer.

That's probably being held back for the general release.

He's lucky he didn't do his hip a mischief

The rain which has effectively destroyed Sheffield and forced junior reporters to spend a week up to their bellies in floodwater and sewage claimed another victim last night, when Rod Stewart slipped on a wet step during his Manchester City gig. Although he played on, he needed ten stitches in his unsightly gash.

Britney sends mom a message

Last night Britney Spears popped round her Mum's house. She took a little something, too.

A cheering legal document asking Lynne Spears to not "be around her grandchildren" when taking medication which "could impair her judgement". You might think that Britney Spears asking you to be careful when your judgement is impaired is a little rich.

Jack White rarity gets less rare

Italy Records - or rather, their lovely press people - have announced plans to re-release The Hencthmen's recorded works in a compilation Hentch-Forth.Five. It includes some of the work that Jack White contributed for the Gawker Delay ep. There was more to the band than the short time White was involved, though - The Hentchmen won the honour of a mention in Seventeen Magazine's Cute Band Alerts. For, um, 1997.

Fopp for the chop?

Fopp, which had been the one bright spot on high street musical retailing, has got into difficulties and - having had its branches shut down for "stocktaking" last week - have warned staff not to expect any pay this month as they battle to avoid administration:

A spokeswoman for Ernst & Young said: “We have been brought in to discuss the options with the management.”

She added that they involved administration, receivership or insolvency but cautioned that Mr Dempster had not yet been officially appointed by the court.

Dermot Power, of Ernst & Young rival BDO Stoy Hayward, said that, although HBOS, the banker to Fopp, and trade creditors had been “incredibly supportive”, administration was likely.

“BDO looked to create a restructuring without resorting to insolvency but we could not make it work,” he said.

Gordon Montgomery, the chairman and major shareholder of Fopp, who founded the chain from a market stall in Glasgow in the early 1980s, admitted last weekend that sales were falling. “We are experiencing difficulties. However, I can categorically state we will not go into administration.”

It looks like Fopp's expansion over the last year or so has thrown the company completely off kilter: in February it trebled its outlets at a stroke by buying most of Music Zone's stores; in January 2006 it had taken over branches of the defunct MVC.

At the moment, stores are trading but on a strict "cash only" basis. The website isn't taking any business.

War is over (again)

Peace just can't stop itself breaking out, can it?

Today's Daily Mirror reports an end to the bad feeling:

YOKO Ono has ended her long-running feud with Sir Paul McCartney - by calling the former Beatle a "magnificent man".

The pair fought a bitter battle over the Fab Four legacy for more than three decades with Yoko suggesting Macca's talents were inferior to her husband John Lennon.

But at the first anniversary of the Beatles-inspired show Love, Yoko, 74, said: "John would have been very happy this is such a success... and that another magnificent man introduced him."

How lovely. The trouble is, the Daily Mail reported the end of the feud on the same location last year:
After the first night of a Beatles-inspired stage show called Love in Las Vegas, Sir Paul took the stage and kissed Yoko on the cheek.

It was a very public reconciliation for the two who have fought a bitter battle over the Beatles' legacy for more than three decades.

If they keep ending their feud on an annual basis, it might start to look like it's more a promotional push for the Beatles-themed circus acrobat show.

The Mirror says sorry to Ferry

Today's Mirror carries an apology to Bryan Ferry for not stressing carefully enough the distinction between his admiration of Nazi-era art and architecture, and the state which that art was in support of:

ON 16 April we reported on an interview given by Bryan Ferry to a German newspaper. Our article was headed "The Nazis were so amazing" and claimed that Mr Ferry had been "singing the praises of the Nazis". We now accept this was not true.

In fact, Mr Ferry had spoken only of his admiration from an artistic point of view for some aspects of German art, architecture and presentation which were associated with the Nazi regime. He made no mention of the Nazi regime nor did he use the word "Nazi". We accept that Mr Ferry abhors the Nazi regime and all it stood for.

We apologise to Mr Ferry for the offence caused by our report and are happy to set the record straight.

Interesting. The headline was an extrapolation way too far.

But also slightly curious - because in the original interview, still on the Welt Am Sonntag webistehe does. clearly, use the word "Nazi":
Da haben Sie mich ertappt. Normalerweise behaupte ich gegenüber deutschen Journalisten immer, ich würde mein Studio als mein "Hauptquartier" bezeichnen. Das ist weniger verfänglich. Aber die Art und Weise, wie sich die Nazis inszeniert und präsentiert haben, meine Herren! Ich spreche von den Filmen von Leni Riefenstahl und den Gebäuden von Albert Speer und den Massenaufmärschen und den Flaggen - einfach fantastisch. Wirklich schön.

It is noticeable, though, that when the interviewer attempts to lead him further down this line of thought - by raising Bowie's supposed admiration for Hitler's body language, Ferry refuses to be drawn.

Kylie stands up Elton John

Kylie Minogue was meant to have played a special set for Elton John and hispartnerdavidfurnish's guests at a charity bash he threw at his home, but called on the night to say she was too tired to perform.

Elton stepped in and played instead, which meant everyone suffered. But then, the guest list included Boris Becker and Hugh Grant, so it's hard to feel to bothered.

A tale of bravery which puts us all to shame

We're certain that when our new Prime Minister comes to publish his book, Courage, in a paperback edition he will expand it to feature nine portraits of bravery. After all, who couldn't be moved by Victoria Newton's report of Posh Spice's 'bravery':

BRAVE POSH SPICE attended yesterday’s press conference just two days after suffering...

Brace yourselves, everybody
... a SPIDER bite.

Not a poisonous, life-threatening spider. Just a slightly itchy spider bite.

Such bravery.

Al Gore calls his good friend Lenny Kravitz

Amongst those being called for the Rio leg of Live Earth: Lenny Kravitz, Macy Gray and Pharrell Williams.

It's barely even worth counting the excess air travel that clocks up, isn't it?

A' bombs in Wardour Street?

Lily Allen has been released on police bail after keeping a pre-arranged appointment to talk about an alleged assault on a photographer outside the Wardour Club:

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said a woman arrested over an alleged assault had been bailed to return in late July.

You'll note they're not exactly rushing on this one as if Allen was a clear and present threat to the public.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bush grows back

It's not just the Spice Girls and The Verve. Oh no, apparently Bush could be reuniting, initially for Live Earth the weekend after next.

Gavin Rossdale said he was tired of being known for being married to Gwen ("let slip some hints"):

He told DJ Ryan Seacrest, "I kinda miss the band thing. I loved being in the band. It's kind of like a team."

And as for the rumours Bush are among the surprise acts at Live Earth on 7 July (07), Rossdale said, "I'm in... There could be some truth in it, I'm up for it."

The crueller amongst us might suggest that if the best surprise Live Earth can pull is a Bush reunion, the organisers of the event should follow the example of the Istanbul team.

King doubts heir's conviction on the King of Kings

He might not know which Beatles are the live ones, but when it comes to piety, there's no pulling the wool over Larry King's eyes. He didn't fall for Paris Hilton's claims to have found God while in prison:

He also called the heiress' answer to his query about her favorite Bible passage "weak." (Hilton said she didn't have one, despite claiming to have studied the Good Book every day she was incarcerated.) "She was weak in the Bible part," King said, acknowledging he thought "in that moment, that she didn’t read the Bible."

We can't help but wonder why, if that was what he was thinking, he didn't push Hilton on it during the interview rather than sharing his doubts with the media later - I suppose we're just lucky he went into TV rather than the law.

Fiddy sticks

Memo to Fifty Cent: If you're going to go to a major, televised event - like, say, this week's BET Awards - and intend to lipsynch, you might want to ensure you at least explain to the guy playing the tunes in for you that you don't want him to play the instrumental version.

50 didn't quite have an Ashlee Simpson, but he didn't know what to do, so pranced about the stage looking lost while one of his crew yelled rude words until the proper track was cued.

It's so much less bother to, you know, sing a bit.

Polly returns in September

Island Records have confirmed to that Polly Jean Harvey is preparing an album for September - it might be called White Chalk. But that's not, obviously, inked in yet.

Hill and high water

Lauryn Hill's occasional forays into live performance never fail to disappoint. Well, unless, as with last night's Oakland Show, you'd paid ninety bucks to be there.

Eyewitness reports detail a sixty minute wait between the support and her arrival; a "largely improvised" jazz workout followed by some teetering singing and falling over - something Hill blamed on her "high heels".

Apparently, though, she looked the part:

She had that make-up on like a bag lady, like cake face with reds and blues.

Apparently, there are no plans for refunds, but the audience can at least take comfort in having a story to tell their grandkids.

Prince beats record shops with rolled-up Mail on Sundays

The continued struggle between free music and the people who are trying to make money from selling music has a whole new battle brewing: Prince is apparently talking with the Mail On Sunday about cover-mounting his new album.

Yes, his new album. He wants to give it away for free.

No, we don't know why he's chosen the Mail to be his vessel - surely he doesn't think the average Mail reader crosses over with his target market? - but it's not the paper, it's the very idea:

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) made no secret today of its anger over the Prince plans, saying the rumour of a giveaway "beggars belief".

"It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. "It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music."

"If it turns out to be the case - and we're still trying to get to the bottom of it - The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

We love the suggestion that the record stores have, until now, been stocking records by one of the world's biggest selling artists as some sort of charitable endeavour, and not because they were selling them at a profit; and that they think that this puts Prince in their debt in some way.

It's sadly hilarious, though, that as an artist finds a way to make money off his music that doesn't involve record shops the record shop reaction is to throw the artist off their shelves. Because reducing your range even further is the way to tempt the customers in.

- Hello, record shop man - I was just enjoying this Prince CD I got free with my paper, and it made me decide to come and buy some of his other records. What have you got?
Record shop manager looks forlornly at smoldering remains of Prince's back catalogue

HMV in a hole, hires electric rotavator

We've had a lot of email today about the terrible performance of the HMV chain, where a combination of making its record shops like dark, miserable holes of unloved content and buying Ottakars book stores and making them as rubbish as they'd previously made Waterstones has seen their profits, erm, cut in half.

To be fair, the chain managed to grow its sales by 3.8% and still showed a profit of £48.1m (if you don't count "exceptional items"), so it's not quite pulled a Tower yet, but it's been enough for the company to run around squawking. Indeed, FeatherBoa emailed us with what might constitute one of the four horsemen of the retailing apocalypse - Gennaro Castaldo speaking softly on Channel 4 News at lunchtime. No word as to if he'll be on the main C4News tonight, but here's hoping.

There are plans to turn the chain around:

"Our markets are changing profoundly," chief executive Simon Fox said.

"Entertainment is being generated and consumed in entirely different ways putting pressure on traditional retail space and traffic."

He added that efforts were under way to "reduce our dependence" on the sale of physical music such as CDs.

These efforts include selling digital downloads in store and continuing to expand its online business.

As James P responds:
They really want us to close the laptop, drive into town and download our
music in HMV, don't they? The story mentions the supermarkets undercutting HMV on Top 40 albums, and yet HMV still aren't twigging that this is the bit where they say "Ah, but what if you wanted your favourite band's early stuff? Or something by that artist that the band mentioned in an interview, but who doesn't seem to get stocked in Asda?". It's almost as if stocking CDs has become a chore for HMV, and they're using these profit-dips to justify a move from record store to download-outlet. One day, the only CDs we'll be able to buy will be 'Classic Gold' compilations and 'Sad Songs Vol 25'.

But it gets worse. Like many companies struggling to compete in the 21st century, it sees its salvation lying in Web 2.0, reports Paid Content:
”Delivering film, music and games-related content to its online community, our new site will allow users to create home pages, meet like-minded people and access film previews, behind-the-scenes footage and music performances.”

Which is a unique selling point shared only with every other website in the world. There's no suggestion of anything that might be unique to the HMV site which might persuade people to do their social networking there rather than elsewhere; and we suspect that HMV haven't got anything up their sleeves. Sure, they might be able to pull a couple of bands to do exclusive sessions for them alongside a physical in-store, but is that enough to make their site sticky enough to get people to stay and buy stuff?

They are going to off DRM-free downloads for sale - but only the same ones already available for purchase elsewhere, the EMI and some indies which make up the 'enhanced' iTunes offering; they could sell them for less, but don't seem inclined to.

Oh, and if you have tears, prepare to download them from your ducts now. There's this idea, too:
It expects digital music players and digital radios will account for 13 percent of store sales by 2010

The chains which have a tradition of high street sales of tape players and wireless sets, the Currys and Comets, are having trouble making these a significant segment of their business, much less turning a profit on them. Without the room to offer a decent sized range of DAB radios, and the already-announced plans to try and turn the stores into coffee-flogging youth clubs, do they really think they're going to be able to turn more than a pound in every ten they take across the counter from selling hifi equipment?

It's now official

Everyone who had been predicting a Spice Girls reunion at any point in the last decade will now be going "told you so", as it's official.

Melanie Chisholm, you have let us all down.

Or, as she puts it:

"A girl is allowed to change her mind and also this is something that we have only seriously started this year really.

"I think really all of us have had our fears and doubts but we feel that the time is right."

I suppose it must be hard to keep saying "no" when your former colleagues are struggling for cash and being offered hundreds of thousands of pounds.

As decisions go, this is the second worst they've made, just behind the "let's carry on regardless" when Geri quit originally.

The picture promoting the reunion shows the main problem they've got - back in their day, although each had their own character - okay, their own in the sense that it was created for them alone - they looked like a coherent whole. The way that, say, Waitrose's range of canned vegetables might all have different labels, but clearly come from the same range.

Now, though, they look so random and disparate that they could just be a bunch of people going in to the Big Brother house. It reminds us of Jennifer Saunders in Happy Families, where, in order to try and make it not look like the same actress was playing all the sisters, through costume and prosthetics she ended up with none of the family looking like they were even related to each other.

Who knew Continental Europe even had tumbleweed?

The galloping inflation in concert ticket prices may have run into a problem, reports The Times, as Europeans are simply refusing to pay ridiculous sums to see bands play in enormous venues, and are staying at home instead, leaving bands either cancelling, scaling down their shows, or playing to vast, echoey, half-empty chambers:

Barbra Streisand sang in France on Tuesday for the first and supposedly last time in her half-century career. Yet 3,000 seats were empty in the Paris Bercy stadium. The top Paris prices were €582 euros (£390).

The Stones played to a thinly populated Stade de France in Paris this month, and Sir Elton cancelled a planned Paris mega-show with seats at €750 last February and replaced it with a gig at the Paris Zenith at €150.

An appearance by the Stones in Werchter, Belgium, this month, sold only 33,000 of the 70,000 places. George Michael and The Who abandoned plans to sing at the same venue and opted for a Belgian hall.

Of course, in Britain, people are still happily selling kidneys in order to get to see the back of the head of someone enjoying a restricted view of Barbra Streisand on a big screen. Where's David Stafford and Penny Junor when you need them?

Napster's empty offer

Interesting times at Napster, who have taken space on the Brighton Evening Argus website to advertise a wonderful offer: Free downloads. There is an asterisk, which presumably should take us to some modifying text, but there's nothing in the advert.

And when you click through the ad, it takes you to where, erm, there's no mention of any free downloads, modified or not.

Now, the most charitable explanation for this would be that an advert for has somehow appeared on a UK website being viewed in the UK, and while the advert couldn't work out where we were, the Napster site did and then bounced our browser off to the site.

On the other hand, it could just be a cheap attempt to lure in customers with an offer which doesn't exist. We've dropped them a line to ask which it is.

Amusingly, they describe themselves on their site as:

"the biggest brand in digital music"

... which might come as surprise to Apple.

And the moral is, don't smoke or something

Alex Kapranos is taking on the role of Surgeon General, delighted by the ban on smoking:

"The smoking ban has got to be a good thing. What's good about cancer? My grandad died of cancer through smoking.

"I came across the ban first in New York and it seemed freaky, but you don't notice it after a while."

The smoking ban we can take. The clumsy shoehorning of it into every soap opera set south of Carlisle we could do without. Don't stick a poster about smoking up in your going-out-of-business chip shop, you fool; you need that space to fight a grease-splattered battle against the kebab bar.

Apparently, working with Brit-hoppers has the status of marriage

Sway would love to work with Pete Doherty, but wouldn't want to lead him astray:

"I wanted to do something with Pete but Lethal has done that now, so I can't. He is my family, so it would be like shagging my best mate's wife."

"I also wanted to work with Lily, but Dizzee got there first as well.

"But I saw Ian Brown and his new stuff blew me away. He liked my stuff too, so I hope we'll be working together."

We hope Ian Brown won't be too upset that he's been cast as third choice here. But isn't it beautiful that British rappers operate a 'hands off she's mine' rule? How far does it go, though? Would it mean that if Richard Ashcroft did a record with Jamie T that'd be him mated for life?


The curious hold that Jamelia has over the 3AM Girls continues, apparently, as this morning, apropos of nothing, they report with a straight face her latest explanation for her invisible career. It's not that she's down the dumper, she's just a loving parent:

"I have two children, I'm not going out to work every day leaving them at home and being unhappy with it.

"I'd rather go with a label that isn't willing to make me do that and I have been approached by many of them already."

But surely if a label was that energerised by your future prospects, surely sorting out childcare would be simple? After all, labels are skilled at working around drug addictions, strange sexual appetites and visa difficulties - coming up with a way to let you take your kids with you when you have to play a shopping mall.

How far have you moved, Dita?

Dita Von Teese, for someone who claims to have moved on from Marilyn Manson, seems to be talking about him rather a lot. After yesterday's suggestions in the papers that he was needy, she turned up on Johnny Vaughan's Capital Radio programme, and hinted at something else:

“I need a man willing to put a drink down once in a while.”

Not that she's obsessed with him, or anything. She's moved on.

Spice Girls reunion secret ingredient: Free Richard E Grant?

We're not entirely sure we can believe Victoria Newton's claim in this morning's Bizarre.

The problem, apparently, is that kids who "were in nappies" when the Spice Girls split won't have a clue who they were. The solution, according to Newton, is to re-release Spiceworld and "let kids in for free."


Leave aside the question of if children who were in nappies, even ones at the time Geri left, really are the target audience for this event - they'd still only be nine now, so hardly awash with cash, or liable to be down the front of the Millennium Dome.

Instead: would the Spice Girls really build their comeback on the very moment where they jumped the shark?

And who are the kids who know nothing of the Spice Girls (which, of course, would mean they'd be ignorant of Victoria Beckham) who could be persuaded to buy in to the reunion by seeing a poorly-conceived film? Wasn't Spiceworld so very much of its time, it'd be like showing punks Summer Holiday in 1977 and hoping they'd like Cliff Richard?

To say nothing of why, if the Spice Girls are so irrelevant to this age group, kids would want to troop off to see them in a film, even if it was free?

Respect for intellectual property rights

A young couple sit enjoying a drink in a pub, when they're approached by a singer with a guitar, intent on serenading them. Their delight at this charming treat turns quickly, though, as they realise the song is detailing the weakness of the bloke - his girlfriend, having thus discovered the reality of her boyfriend's dark side, storms off, and the man is left sitting, looking shifty, as his shame continues to be detailed by the musician.

So it is that the movie industry is currently attempting to teach us to be ashamed of ourselves if we buy cheap movies through the cautionary tale of 'Knock off Nigel'. The message of respecting the intellectual property of others might be a little stronger, though, if the whole idea hadn't been stolen from the Mexican Pot Noodle advert from a couple of years back.

It's a knock-off advert,
built on knock-off ideas,
it's a knock-off advert,
built on stolen ideas

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Killers bury Glastonbury

Well, that makes 2008 seem more attractive already: The Killers have said they won't play Glastonbury again. Or at least until they're old:

"This will probably be the last time we play here. You only get one real shot at it and this is ours. If we ever come back, we'll be The Who's age.

"I was trying to channel all my nerves into some positive energy, but 10 minutes before I was total wreck. The idea of headlining this festival was just so far off for us when we first played here."

Well, not that far off, as you were asked, weren't you?

Did the RIAA pretend to be grandma?

Back in 2005, Tanya Andersen stood up to the RIAA. They had been threatening her, demanding money in recompense for gangsta rap songs they claimed her daughter - who had been seven years old - had downloaded onto the family £250 Dell computer.

At the start of June, the RIAA quietly withdrew its claims against her - shortly before a deadline set by the court for the labels to offer up evidence that proved their case against her. Now, though, Andersen has issued a demand for recompense from the labels, and in her deposition to the court, has made a number of eye-popping allegations about the RIAA side's behaviour.

These are, of course, the claims of a woman pursuing financial recompense, and so have not been proven in court. However, she suggests that the RIAA threatened to make her ten year old daughter's life a misery if she didn't drop her original counterclaim:

"Defendants' lawyer threatened persecution of Kylee in an effort to force Ms. Andersen to abandon her counterclaims against the defendant record companies," Andersen's complaint claims. "Their demand for face-to-face confrontation with Ms. Andersen's then 10 year-old child in a deposition at the offices of RIAA lawyers were also intended to coerce and threaten her."

Oh, and allegedly, the RIAA phoned up Kylee at school, pretending to be her grandma, to try ratchet up the pressure.


Andersen has also expanded her claim to take in MediaSentry - her deposition points out that "evidence" of filesharing the company had provided in Canada had been thrown out as worthless.

The RIAA could find this one worse than embarrassing - it actually threatens to undermine their entire legal battle against filesharing, and could, potentially, open the way for people who'd handed over money in the face of RIAA threats to seek that cash back.

Today, Mitch Bainwol was still bullish, praising a decision by American mayors to sign a piece of paper calling for more training to help local government deal with the risk of copyright theft:
In addition to the commitment to increasing anti-piracy resources and strengthening policies to fight IP theft, the Mayors' resolution also calls for its members to implement tighter internal policies and practices that detect and prevent piracy - such as the use of illegal peer-to-peer applications - on government-owned computers.

We're still not sure what an "illegal peer-to-peer application" would be - presumably there are also criminal presentation packages and outlawed word processing software?

What's in Wentz's wardrobe?

Pete Wentz, deodorant salesperson, has apparently got a collection of 700-odd hoodies.

There's a man who really, really wants a hug off David Cameron.

Apparently, erm, this is a tribute to Bob Dylan.

No, really:

I have two year' worth of hoodies, wearing a different one every day. A lot of people in the hardcore scene used to wear them. It's also like a comfort blanket. Long after I started wearing them, my manager told me that Bob Dylan would wear hoodies on tour. And when the hoodie was up, you couldn't talk to him. I was like, "That's amazing!"

Pete Wentz, it seems, is very easily amazed.

Doherty misunderstands the concept of 'surprise'

Although, to be fair, with Doherty's track record of not turning up, he can promote a book signing in advance and it still counts as a surprise event if he shows up.

Tomorrow night, he's due to pop up at Red Snapper Books in Cecil Square, London to sign copies of the Book Of Albion.

Red Snapper specialises in counterculture literature, so it must be making a special exception to sell Doherty's book.

At least when he interviews Henry Kissinger, there's only one to keep track of

Larry King, flagship presenter on CNN, had a bit of trouble last night interviewing The Beatles.

He forgot which ones were alive, and which were dead:

KING: Where were you when — when John passed?
MCCARTNEY: When John passed I was in Sussex, at my home in Sussex. That’s where I was.
KING: Did somebody call you?
MCCARTNEY: Yes, my manager at the time called me. And it was just the shock of all shocks, you know?
KING: George, where were you?
KING: Ringo.
MCCARTNEY: No, this is Ringo here.
KING: Ringo, where were you?
STARR: I was in the Bahamas.
KING: I was getting to (INAUDIBLE) George.
STARR: I was…
MCCARTNEY: No, you weren’t, Larry. You said his name wrong.
STARR: Shut up, it’s my turn.
MCCARTNEY: I know, but he got your name wrong, Ringo, on national television.
STARR: I know. Give him a break.
MCCARTNEY: We can’t cut it. It’s live.

I suppose we should at least be grateful that he knew two of them had died.

Morrissey's throat wrung by David Letterman

Morrissey, poor lamb, had to abandon a show at the Boston Bank of America Pavilion because the day before taping Letterman had pushed him over the edge:

"We recorded the David Letterman show last night in a studio that was 30 degrees below zero," Morrissey explained from the stage. "Twenty-nine degrees below I can take, but 30 below was too much and unfortunately it will not just be the emotions cracking tonight but my voice as well."

He managed a few songs, and even took his shirt off at one point (he's going to catch his death) before he disappeared off and never returned. Morrissey's people says that the date will be tried again after he's had some honey and lemon; the promoter seems to be tight-lipped so far.

Elton repaid for fakes

Elton John went on his holidays in 1996, and saw some lovely statues in a window. So he bought them, for £180,350, off of a Parisian art dealer called Jean Renoncourt. Only he got them home and showed them to a bloke who knows a bit about statues, and he said "these aren't genuine Luigi Grossi statues, they're probably a bit fake." So Elton has spent the last ten years trying to get his money back.

He's finally won his case.

Now, he's going to concentrate on trying to get his 75p back on that stick of rock that had BACKPOOL written through it.

Oh My God! The marriage is over

Can it really be true? Can Preston and Chantelle, off of Big Brother, really be splitting up?

We understand that she started to read him extracts from her book, and he just got up and walked out.

Naming and shaming: what could possibly go wrong?

The Animal Collective album leak - a leak which hardly anyone notice - has given the music industry a chance to demonstrate that the bit some labels put on CDs about the tracks being watermarked isn't just made up, the way some people will shout 'goodbye' when they leave an empty house to try and fool passers-by into thinking there's someone in there:

an e-mail from the band's publicist, Judy Miller, sent to pretty much every other music journalist on the planet, which read, in part:

"Hello friends -

"Sorry to write this one....but.....

"Last week three tracks from Animal Collective's new album leaked. Within minutes, we were able to track the leak to a writer's CD. That person got in more trouble than you care to hear about and was almost fired. The person was also forced to write an apology letter to an entire staff of people and the head of Domino Records along with other penance."

"Penance"? I wonder if the Animal Collective might want to have a word with their publicist and ask her to calm down a little. This sort of glee at someone almost losing their job and being forced to kiss the ring of a record company executive doesn't give me a good feeling about the band. Indeed, if not exactly a Stalinist show trial, the nasty whiff of a kangaroo court hangs over the whole affair.

As is the case with Thou Shalt Not Leak, a website that says it will be devoting itself to:
post[ing] the names, indelible and set out for all to see, of those people who've been given the care of having an early copy of a release and have set that responsibility aside and leaked the record they were entrusted with.

Or "pointing fingers in public", as it is also called.

If you think that sounds a little holier-than-thou, that could be because the site is:
For those of you who vindictively hope i get a libel suit, or who have chosen to out me, or for some reason think i am an evil person, i think your anger is rather misguided. What i don't understand is the lack of respect for the artists you love. I'd love to talk about this side of things, since it always gets pushed to the side.

You prop up this artist or that, and then effectively steal out of their pocket, if not by your download then helping to create a culture where their music loses all value. That artist has put their life, blood, and sweat into making their music, and in one fell swoop a careless person can re-route all the planning they have put in to showcasing that work.

The first thing to note is that JP is very upset that people have revealed his true identity which reminds us of that old Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown wrote a letter to the editor calling on people to stand up and be counted - "signed name withheld".

You have to wonder if this is the RIAA's new anti-piracy initiative - clearly, a bout of public name-calling would be so much cheaper than the legal campaign, and probably just as ineffective.

The other curious thing is that JP suggests that it would be a "careless" person who leaked - which is true, you might accidentally allow other people to access tracks that are supposed to be watermarked - leaving the CD on a desk, having to store it on a shared server, having to pass the album on to a colleague for review, even the watermarked CD disappearing in the post en route to you. Since JP cannot be certain the leak was deliberate, or even down to the person apparently fingered by the electronic fingerprint, and freely admits it might be carelessness rather than criminal intent, should he really be "naming and shaming" people, for all the world like some superannuated News of the World paedophile expose?

The confused feminist world of Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto is proposing an anti-shaving campaign:

"Why should we shave? Men don't."

"And if there's anybody who can make the girls ditch the razors, it's Kate [Moss]. "

"She's so fucking hot. I'd like to see her try and shave at Glasto.

Who wants to be tiptoeing in a shitty shower in the mud when you can be getting fucked listening to great music?"

But who would actually have been shaving at Glastonbury? Surely, if you're that bothered about body hair, you'd shave before leaving for Somerset, and if your hair grew so fast you needed to shave again before the end of the weekend, you'd probably have given up the battle.

We're reminded of a bit of Kate And Allie:
- My mother refused to let me shave my legs
- Your mother was ahead of her time
- My mother was a blonde

That Ditto would choose Moss to be a role model for this campaign is an extension of her earlier, confused embrace of Moss while rejecting size zero models. If this campaign ever happened, Ditto seems to be saying, somehow choosing Kate Moss as an ideal role model would magically mean people not noticing her tiny figure and only focusing on the hairy armpits. We're not sure if Ditto would make this happen through a repeated drumming pattern distributed by mobile phone, or simply using some sort of magic. Oh, hang on a moment - it's 'Kate Moss can't be seen to be promoting size zero because she's my friend', isn't it? We wonder if, Karen Elson sent a gift and an invitation to tea over to Ditto, then she'd magically turn from bad role model into a good one?

Damon Grant dies again

Simon O'Brien has quit his job as a Radio Merseyside presenter after accidentally calling for the government to be fucked on air:

The station received a number of complaints from listeners after the howler at 6.30am.

It came when O’Brien played a trailer for a Roger Phillips show due to be heard tonight.

The programme Phillips Extra, due to air between 6-7pm, looks at the planned regeneration of Liverpool’s Edge Lane and the needs of people affected by the plans.

But a recorded chat between Phillips and O’Brien ended with the 42-year-old former Brookside actor clearly heard saying “fuck the government, fuck the planners”.

It is understood it was recorded at the end of last week.

But an editing blunder meant the swear words were accidently left in.

We're a little lost as to if O'Brien has resigned because of his sloppy editing - which seems a bit of a harsh reaction to a small, if pungent, slip - or because he has views, which can hardly be right. Sure, he shouldn't express them while in a BBC presenter's chair, but it was an error - and, again, that seems a bit of an extreme punishment for a small mistake.

Manson: could try a nightlight

Dita Von Teese says she's not surprised that Marilyn Manson has tapped off with a teenage girl:

“It’s quite typical of him to get into another relationship quickly - he is the kind of person who needs to be with someone all the time so it doesn’t surprise me.

“I’ve moved on.”

It's fair enough: if you were Marilyn Manson, would you want to be stuck with nobody else for company?

Amy 4Real

A rising pop star, cutting words into their flesh during an interview with a journalist from the pop papers.

Amy Winehouse has gone a bit Richey Manic:

The Camden Caner carved words into her own FLESH, rushed back and forward to the TOILETS and launched into four-letter RANTS during an interview with a US rock mag.

Not, of course, that Victoria Newton has any sympathy for a young woman who's clearly in need of support right now, headlining the report:
Amy's sick self harm stunt

Now, we're no fans of the Winehouse here, but if someone is carving chunks out of their flesh, we can't but be worried for them - and dismissing it as a "sick stunt", like it's Marilyn Manson waving around a walking stick, is missing the point somewhat.

But dont think that Victoria is not concerned:
I fear her behaviour is putting her huge potential for success across the pond in danger.

Yes, that's the real worry here - never mind that Amy is teetering on the brink of a long, hard, deep fall, let's fret about how it might harm chances of getting a good position on the Best Buy racks.

Blake Fielder-Civil takes the interview with Spin to show himself as something of a delight:
The article, which appears in the July edition of the magazine, also shows a chilling, aggressive side to Blake, who got annoyed with a bald man sitting in the bar where the interview took place last month.

The interviewer writes: “Fielder-Civil whispers into my ear cheerily, ‘Tell the guy who looks like he has leukaemia I’m going to slit his throat.’ I don’t.”

Newton, of course, isn't bothered by the callousness or casual violence, but frets about the poor PR:
Hardly the ideal man to have at your side on a charm offensive.

And the "rant" isn't so much a rant as self-flagellation:
“I don’t care. I don’t care about any of this and I don’t have much of an opinion of myself. I don’t think people care about me.

“I made an album I’m very proud of and that’s about it.

“I write songs because I'm fucked in the head and need to get something good out of something bad. I thought, ‘I’m going to die if I don’t write down the way I feel. I’m going to do myself in.’ It’s nothing spectacular.

“I don’t think I’m such an amazing person who needs to be written about.

“And if I did I’d be a fucking right cunt, wouldn’t I?

“Just ask me a silly question, like, What's my favourite Tootsie Pop. I’m just a very silly girl.”

Hopefully, the people who are supposed to support Amy will read this and, unlike Newton, think "this person is in trouble" rather than "well, that's our sales in the MidWest tanked."

Oh, yes, yes, YES, Prime Minister

As Tony Blair steps down (or so he claims - I wouldn't put it past him to stand up at Prime Minster's Questions and say "actually, maybe I'll stay on for another few months..."), eulogies abound in the paper. None is warmer than Bob Geldof's love letter in the Sun. Bob, writing through the tears, remembers the good times:

I did look smart. At least my suit was. I can’t do anything about my floppy face — it always looks dirty and scruffy.

“Where do you get your suits anyway?” the PM enquired, half genuine, half mickey-taking.

“Clearly not in the same place as you,” I responded tartly, checking out the too-worn, ill-fitting Man At C&A look that Tony Blair was sporting the other week at the German Chancellor’s office in Berlin.

It turns out this was a meeting, rather than a date.
“Ah, this is my European suit . . .” he said, as if that was an excuse, and Angela Merkel walked in.

Damn you, Merkel... I think they were about to move on from feeling the quality of their suit vents to grabbing each other's arses.
“You look very smart Bob,” the German Chancellor said . . . ho hum.

Bob? Bob? This is meant to be about Blair, not you.

You remember, don't you? Lovely golden Tony:
He was always at ease with people but anxious with his responsibility.

“Are we doing all right?” or “How are we doing so far?” he would ask everyone, desperate for approval in the early years. It was all so new.

And those eyes.... oh, what a pretty face:
The “Bambi” grin is still there — and when it’s genuine it is spontaneous, warm and welcoming.

But gone, thankfully, is the nervous need for approval — replaced by the simple human desire to be liked.

Which of us don't want to be liked? Or... or, loved, even. Loved like a man. Loved for being a man.

Of course, there are silly little rows and minor falling outs:
Of course, along with everyone else, I have disagreements with many of the things that have happened under his Government and I also recognise some extraordinary achievements.

But putting all that aside, he’s all right.

By now, you'll notice, Bob is so spinny in his head, he's suggesting that Blair is alright despite his extraordinary achievements.

Of course, there's never actually been a date, but it does seem like Geldof has spent time daydreaming what it would be like, the pair of them down Cinderella Rockefella's:
I’ve never seen him dancing but I bet he’s crap. His face adopts a sort of “rabbit-in-the-headlights” rictus grin — you’ve seen it on telly.

It could be boredom or a not knowing what to do or say next, or simply embarrassment, but it passes.

He’s tall and still thin, his French is good and my missus and several other of my female acquaintances think he’s sexy. Gawd help us!

I’ve been with him late at night over a glass of wine, after an impossibly hard day, and it’s like anyone winding down.

Loosened tie, shoes slipped off, slightly giggly... in need of a massage to work out all that stress. It's a lonely job:
So your football isn’t up to date, nor your music, nor your telly, nor any of the stuff the rest of us do. Which could of course probably explain the crap suits. But his clothes are cool in downtime.

Decent jackets, cas’ shirts, dad jeans. He lounges in his chair.

... the sunlight catches his eyelashes, for a moment lighting the spark in those deep eyes... sorry, where were we?
We are friends, I hope, but not intimates.

There are always regrets, aren't there? But... now, now there's hope:
These are enough to disperse cynicism and reaffirm the potentially transformative power of politics, while leaving Britain a kinder place than when he first entered that famous front door.

I am privileged to have known Tony and to have been a minor spectator to his journey. Bizarrely, we have ended up as friends.

Now, hopefully, we will get the time to be mates. I’d like that. And maybe I’ll tell him where I get my suits.

Maybe... maybe even clothes shopping together?

There are some people who suggest, you know, that the failure of Make Poverty History was down to Geldof and Bono being too close to the politicians they were supposed to be convincing. Funny, that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh... yes, another format. That's an excellent idea.

With physical music formats now in decline - has anyone else noticed how difficult it is finding even blank audio CDs? - Warners have decided that what the market needs is yet another pre-recorded format to choose from.

Hence, meet the MVI disc. That stands for Music Video Interactive.

Effectively, it's just a budget DVD:

[A] disc that combines perks from albums and DVDs and spins in anything that supports the DVD format. In addition to the actual songs, the typical MVI will include, among other features, hi-resolution audio and 5.1 surround sound audio, MP3 files, behind-the-scenes material concerning the album and a ring tone program that allows one to make a ring tone from any section of the song on the album.

Remember the name. It may very well be the last pointless physical format of them all.

Re-inflating the Zeppelin?

You never should believe stuff you read in blogs, just as a default position, but Danny Eccleston's Mojo Blog claims that Led Zeppelin could be about to reform have a ring of truth about them. Apparently Page, Jones and Plant have lined up Jason Bonham to take his Dad's place; the original idea is to do a get-together as a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun - and if that date, before the end of the year, goes well, there could be a tour.

It Is I, LeClerc

More larks from Glastonbury: Pete Doherty says he and Kate Moss wore disguises to tour Glastonbury:

“Obviously walking around can be a bit of a hassle, so we got up in disguise," he told BBC 6 Music. "I had a poncho with a long black wig, she had long black hair and make-up. We had a bit of a dance and it was alright.”

Pete, people weren't not recognising you, they were just not caring.

It's too late to audition for the Diana gig, Mozzer

Americans, attention: Morrissey is booked to appear on Letterman this Friday night, and he'll be unveiling a new song, That's How People Grow Up. An early chance to tell if the late-career return-to-form is continuing, or if he really needs to think about those offers of Smiths reunion tours.

Is Jay-Z stealing music?

That's what's claimed in a lawsuit launched by Broadcast Music Inc. The company has issued a lawsuit on behalf of Kanye West, Michael Jackson and others claiming that J-Zed's 40/40 club is playing records without paying royalties.

The club haughtily denies doing any such thing, says TMZ:

A rep for the 40/40 Club says the club hasn't been served with legal papers, and adds that "under no circumstance" would songs by R. Kelly, whose tune "Thoia Thoing" is mentioned in the suit, be played in Hova's house.

Oddly, they don't seem ashamed at the idea of playing Jackson's music.

Weezer breathe again

The cult-like believers that Weezer had broken up - unquelled by Rivers Cuomo saying they weren't splitting up - will probably not be shaken in their resolve by news of the the band going back in to the studio. Together, says River:

"Weezer is just polishing up a batch of songs for a recording session that is going to start at the beginning of July. This will be the final recording session for our 6th album which we aim to put out in the first half of 2008. We hope you are all having good times."

Apparently, Cuomo is now styling himself R Dawg. There aren't many people who could adopt such a name and end up with a styling less awful than their original one.

You, You Tube & The Music: Glastonbury 2007

Amongst the live Glastonbury stuff turning up on YouTube at the moment:

Bloc Party: So Here We Are & Helicopter
Arcade Fire: No Cars Go
Arctic Monkeys: Diamonds Are Forever
The Chemical Brothers: Hey Boy Hey Girl
Maximo Park: Apply Some Pressure
The Coral: Dreaming Of You
The Twang: Wide Awake
Manic Street Preachers: La Tristesse Durera
CSS: Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above

BBC World News report
A pan round the site

Glastonbury 2007 in full

There's some universal sign language for that...

Neil Finn had to backtrack quickly during Crowded House's set at Hyde Park Calling.

He harangued a bloke he saw on the corner of the stage:

"Where has your friend gone? Are you here as a decoy to make sure no one storms the stage, because you have done it already?"

That doesn't even remotely make sense anyway. But to make it worse, he was actually slagging off the man with the thankless task of translating Crowded House lyrics into sign language.


To be fair, when he realised what he'd done, he did apologise. Apparently he was short tempered after having to throw out a load of bloody labradors some idiot had allowed in backstage.

Memories of a free festival

A festival with no mud, no meddlesome ticket ID and no need to sleep in a tent? It can only be the Tin Pan Alley festival. (Or some other ones, anyway.)

Taking place in the home of the original old grey whistle test, the free festival on July 15th brings together Help She Can't Swim, Future of the Left, We Start Fires and an almost cast-iron guarantee that there won't be any business involving Lily Allen humiliating your childhood heroes by parading them like they're from a captured navy vessel.

London, of course.

Madonna buys more property

Madonna's ambitions to own all the houses in one of the many streets she lives on have moved a step closer, as she writes a cheque out for £6million to buy another Marylebone house. It's not known why she wants another half-dozen bedrooms.

Today's TV/Pop/Racism interface

With suggestions that Iggy Pop might have meant a 'packie shop', an American off-licence, rather than anything disparaging, we now hear (thanks to James P) of a falling-out in Australia between Xzibit and Rove McManus.

McManus is an Australian tv host, and Xzibit took offence when a member of the production staff told him "you know we came a long way just having you on the program". Thinking this was a reference to his race (rather than, say, that it was unusual for an American rapper to appear on a mainstream Asutralian TV programme), Xzibit turned on his heel and walked out. Then posted to his MySpace a post calling Rove a racist. Which seems a little rich, seeing as the remark, whatever its intention, wasn't made by McManus.

It seems that Xzibit really took the huff at having to do a duet with Michael Buble, and so maybe his back was already up when the phrase was used. Less generous commentators might wonder if he used the racism card as a 'get out of sharing a stage with Michael Buble free' card.

All farewells should be sudden, but not final

The Verve are embarking on their second reunion, apparently, with Richard Ashcroft digging out his cheesey trousers, making it up with Nick McCabe and booking a studio and some tour dates.

The reunion - which has generated slightly less excitement than the Spice Girls one, but more than East 17's - is expected to last until their mutual loathing once again reaches the point where they think they'd be better off solo and split again.

Your black leather wardrobe and your Brando boy frown

The Daily Mail has got shots from Kate and Pete's first joint photo session. According to the Mail, Moss takes on the role of "Cleopatra" (albeit one with a jeep wearing jodhpurs) while Doherty, they're not so sure about:

A young Marlon Brando, or ageing addict?

Unlike the Mail to experience a moment of uncertainty.

Pete's modeling one and a half grand Roberto Cavalli jackets now. He's, like, such a bloke of the people.

This time, la luna?

It's good to see that the concert in memory of Diana is set to be a dignified affair, with Simon LeBon setting the tone - apparently, Duran respect the life and work of the woman in return for her respect for LeBon's arse:

"She and I used to go to the same fitness club - Chelsea Harbour in London.

"One day I was on the running machine. I jumped off because one of my shoelaces had come undone, and she wolf-whistled at me across the room, and yelled, like a brickie, 'Nice legs! I'd recognise that bum anywhere!'

"I was quite taken aback, actually, and quietly got back on the machine with a red face."

It's lucky that his shorts' underpant lining hadn't perished, otherwise the course of history could have been bery different indeed.

I'm bringing phlegmyback

Trouble for Justin Timberlake at the Gothenburg Hard Rock Cafe, reports the Mirror. Justin got upset:

A gaggle of teenagers were hounding him for pictures, but when he refused, one boy screamed "fuckface" at him.

It's claimed that Justin, 25, then shot back with: "Are you calling me fuckface? Go fuck yourself."

But is there so much difference between having a sexyback and a fuckface?

Anyway, Justin and Jessica Biel were then followed back to their hotel:
After a while, Justin appeared on the hotel rooftop with a woman - presumably Jessica - by his side. Sources claim that he then, bizarrely, started throwing a weird assortment of objects at his tormentors.

Says an onlooker: "First a load of ping-pong balls came raining down. Then came a plastic bottle of water. After that, there was strawberries and other fruit.

"And then came the phlegm."

Nino Antonio El-Khoury was pictured with spit on the back of his clothes, which he claims came straight from the superstar's mouth.

The 17-year-old said: "Justin spat on me."

It's a story that reflects poorly on Justin - not the spitting, but the discovery that, in a new town, he chooses to go to the bloody Hard Rock Cafe for his tea. No wonder he has a problem with flatulence.

It's not nice to taunt the 3AM Girls, Alex

It's all fun and games making things up and enjoying seeing the 3AM Girls write them down, but now everyone is going to be awaiting the Arctic Monkey/Klaxon/Lily Allen/Dizee Rascal supergroup Alex Turner has promised:

Alex told us backstage at Glastonbury: "It's definitely happening. We're recording an album. It will be out before you know it."

Alex worked with Dizzee on his fab album Maths And English. And Dizzee teamed up with Lily on his hit Wannabe. The three roped in James [Righton] during a fancy-dress do in the VIP bar.

An insider tells us: "Their fans won't know what's hit them."

You have to love that "insider" comment - it's only one step away from an insider said "with eight legs between them, that's forty toes." An insider inside what? A non-existent record? Did they have to phone up a studio that hasn't been built and keep asking to speak to someone who hasn't been employed yet?

Victoria Newton loves Geri Halliwell

What a turn around, eh? After a long period where Geri Halliwell had been cast as some sort of hapless pratfall artist, with stories about dogs getting her thrown out of gyms and running photos of her arse, all of a sudden, Bizarre has decided that she's one of the nation's treasures.

For example, back when her single Desire struggled, Newton flapped out crowing:

Geri: It's all over, dear

GERI HALLIWELL's next job could be flipping burgers after her new single bombed in the midweek charts.

If the former SPICE GIRL was drinking in the last chance saloon before, the barman has just called time — her track Desire is a feeble No18.

But this morning, it turns out that she's sexy and amazing:
Ginger has Geri good pins

SPICE curl GERI HALLIWELL steps out last night — and shows fans why she’s a showbiz leg-end.

Ginger, 34, hit the town for her good friend GEORGE MICHAEL’s 45th birthday party.

And she looked a million dollars with a shock of corkscrew locks — and a sexy black dress slashed to the thigh for the bash at the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, central London.

Goodness, that's positively gushing. It's almost as if Newton is worried that Geri might be involved in a big event soon and doesn't want to be shut out of the exclusive backstage coverage, isn't it?

It's notable that, in the box where The Sun usually links to its older stories about the subject of the one you're reading, rather than stacking up previous stories about Geri, there's just one link to the Spice Girls reunion story.

Timberlake controls the gas

There are some things, you'd have thought, it would be better to leave off your rider to avoid the inevitable leaking. As an example, Justin Timberlake could have saved the image of him as an unhappy bubble of anal wind popping and winking in the mortal bath had he not tried to save a few dollars by putting Beanos on his list of demands. (We're talking about the pills you guzzle before a meal which stop your belly making gas, not the comics, obviously.)

He could have saved his embarrassment, and saved us from Victoria Newton's "funny" list of songs that could be about breaking wind - Pump it up, and so on. She gives up after four, by the way, and rounds off with "Anything by *NSTINK". Perhaps she should try writing for Ronni Ancona.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Global warming gig under threat of cold reception

Live Earth might need a benefit gig of its own, at least in South Africa: they've moved the Joss Stone/UB40 leg of the gig closer to Johannesburg after ticket sales were doing poorly at the original venue. If the fans still refuse to go to the gig, it's rumoured they're thinking of making Stone bellow through their letterboxes.

The Istanbul leg of Live Earth was cancelled, fairly quietly, last week, after it failed to attract support of either government or business.

Touting: the evidence

In preparation for tomorrow's Department of Media, Culture and Sport hearing into the selling on of tickets, interested parties have submitted evidence to the committee, in which those who want bans on people being able to sell tickets they have legitimately purchsed on in the same way they can sell on unwanted CDs, or their old fridge when they get a new one, have to demonstrate that it's a Bad Thing.

Ticketmaster, for example, are good on the apocalyptic vision:

We believe that our clients, who have invested in the event, should be able to control where and how their tickets are sold, and at what price, not the unauthorised secondary market. Ticket touting is bad for our business, but it is also bad for consumers, fans, tourists, and UK plc as a whole. We fully accept our responsibility to self-regulate our business and to achieve fair distribution of tickets on behalf of our clients to the benefit of their consumers. However we firmly believe that the scale of the emerging unauthorised secondary market requires urgent legislation to support the entertainment sector if we are to be successful in responding to this issue.

(and don't you hate people who refer to this country as "UK PLC"? Reducing a nation and its citizens and history and culture to some sort of small business.)

Ticketmaster are also clear on what they want:
We would therefore urge the Committee to recommend strongly that the Government act to make the unauthorised resale of all event tickets, at higher than face value, a criminal offence through primary legislation.

Got that? If you sell any ticket for more than face value, you'll be committing a criminal offence if Ticketmaster has its way. (Presumably you could always try arguing that the mark-up is, in fact, a booking fee, or to cover your administrative costs - it works for Ticketmaster, after all.) So, they're not just going after people flogging on three dozen Bon Jovi tickets - this is people just selling spares. Something, I'd guess, we've all done at some point. Criminalising a two quid mark-up alongside the five hundred quid profiteers.

So, what is the serious problem for which that this new crime is being proposed to stop? On that, Ticketmaster are a little less clear:
The unauthorised resale of tickets for profit does not promote fair and equitable distribution of tickets, and drains tickets away from the primary market, thus restricting the opportunity for genuine fans to purchase them legitimately.

Well, yes. Although to be honest, loading up all the tickets onto a system, and then allowing them all to go in a burst of "first to get through without the server falling over on them" enthusiasm doesn't do much to guarantee an "equitable distribution of tickets" either, does it?
Event promoters and stakeholders make enormous investments in producing their event, and the unauthorised market benefits from that and the popularity of the event, despite having made no investment themselves. The opportunity cost of touting is also great, as the touts are receiving income that could otherwise have gone to the entertainment or sports industries. The damage this does to event owners’ reputations with consumers and fans, as well as the tourism industry and the economy as a whole, has been well documented in the broader submissions, which the Committee will be receiving.

This sounds a little odd to us. Yes, people selling on tickets make money - but they have made an investment, when they bought the original ticket, and that cash goes to the promoter. Presumably the promoters have set the ticket price at a levelwhich would guarantee them a profit they felt worthwhile? So while, yes, a third party is making a profit on the backs of their event, it's not at their expense.

Likewise, the eyewash about opportunity cost is just bad economics - it's the same sleight of hand employed by the RIAA when they paint every quid spent on a pirate CD as a quid lost to the music industry, assuming that money spent on an unauthorised product would otherwise have been spent on an official one. This is even weaker when it's applied to sold-on gig tickets - if you buy a Prince ticket for 100 pounds off eBay, and they officially retailed for 25 quid, it's erroneous to assume that the 75 quid difference would have gone straight to the entertainment industry. Since it would be unlikely the purchaser would have bought four tickets instead of one, that can't account for this strange "opportunity cost"; perhaps, our theoritical figure would decide not to buy a tshirt, and a programme, and a hotdog while at the gig because they had spent over the odds on the ticket. But equally, they're just as likely to have redirected the cash from money they might have spent on computer games, or put into national savings, or donated to help sick donkeys.

Ticketmaster love the equality of access of the internet, but, ooh, it's a worry:
The rapid growth of the internet has affected the market in two ways. It has expedited the purchase of tickets, and the efficient service Ticketmaster offers means that whole arenas can sell out in a matter of minutes. This is of great advantage to the consumer who benefits from such efficient, fast and effective systems. It also allows greater equality of access to tickets for those in society who may not have the physical capacity or lifestyle to access tickets through traditional methods, such as queuing for a long time on a working day.

...although, of course, selling all the tickets online in a single burst disqualifies those who don't have access to the internet, or credit cards, or the ability to log on at precisely 9.00am on day of sale.

Ticketmaster go on to curse the gift of the internet for offering a way in for people like getmetickets to buy in bulk, and for individuals to buy up extra tickets to flog on for some spare cash.

Which is true, but surely Ticketmaster could do something about this without the need for legislation? They do admit in their submission they need to look to doing something about it; and they could try to work with outlets like eBay to come up with an effective solution instead of demanding a massive catch-all law.

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers have been debating new rules with the Office of Fair Trading; their evidence shows they're not happy that the OFT appears to have changed its mind and only wants a ban for business-based reselling:
The OFT have previously suggested support for STAR’s draft term which precludes a ticket holder from reselling tickets without the authority of the event organiser. This position has since changed. It is agreed that the clause can stand in respect of business to business transactions but the OFT is questioning whether or not a ticket seller can remove the right of individual consumers to resell tickets. The OFT have asked STAR to specify events for which resale could be prevented for ‘special reasons’ and have not accepted our argument that this is unduly burdensome. In addition, this term has the potential to allow event organisers and the primary market to take action to help police the unauthorised resales market and to send a clear message to the marketplace.

So, if we understand that right, the OFT offered to allow the ticket agencies to draw up a list of events on which secondary sales could be forbidden - a kind of blacklist to protect the most popular events - but STAR say it would be, oh, too difficult. What an onerous task it would be, when adding details of a new event, to spend thirty seconds weighing up if it should be restricted.

But, of course, if you have a voluntary scheme, there wouldn't been need for legislation, and the ticket industry couldn't have a law of its own to play with.

STAR do make a strong point, though, that if you buy a twenty quid ticket for forty, and the event goes down, you're only going to get face value back. Perhaps, if there must be legislation, that's where it should be focused: protecting the consumer, rather than criminalising the reseller.

Pop's sloppy shop shock

We wouldn't take it from Jo O'Meara, and we won't take it from Iggy Pop: During part of the BBC's Glastonbury coverage, Pop started to throw the word "paki" around:

Referring to the time he appeared on music show The White Room in 1997 in a pair of see through, skin-tight trousers and without underwear, the 60-year-old used the phrase [paki shop] while impersonating a imaginary English person reacting his attire, according to the BBC spokesman.

The BBC have apologised - apparently they had three complaints, even at 1.20am on a Sunday morning - but it's really Iggy who needs to be explaining himself.

It's official: Victoria Beckham isn't a bitch

Star magazine - Richard Desmond's low-heat Heat - has apologised to Victoria Beckham for calling her a grade-a bitch, after running a piece which quoted ay unflattering length complaints about her from the crew of her US TV reality series.

Unfortunately, as the series hadn't started taping at this point, there wasn't much to defend the story with:

[Beckham's Lawyer Gerrard Tyrrell] said Star magazine had agreed to pay substantial damages and Beckham's legal costs and undertaken not to repeat the defamation.

Lawyer Salayha Hussein, acting for Northern & Shell, told the high court that her client accepted that all the allegations to which Mr Tyrrell referred were untrue.

Ms Hussein added: "The defendant apologises to Ms Beckham for the distress and embarrassment caused to her and are happy to give the undertaking referred to above."

Planet's needs, Al Gore's needs, whatever

We're a little puzzled by the claims that The Cribs have been "forced" to apologise for making a mild joke onstage at Glastonbury.

The joke - actually, mild might be over-stating it a bit - was this:

"They want us to speak out about global warming, but the biggest problem is the attitude of some indie bands. Isn't that a bigger problem?"

Since then, Ryan Jarman has issued a clarification:
At no point was I meaning to criticise the festival's climate campaign, I was just making a flippant remark about, how in my opinion, the mainstream mindset of most "indie" bands these days is the real scourge we should be against."

But as far as we can tell, nobody even noticed the original remark, much less took it seriously; certainly, the only reason we can think of for Jarman making this semi-retraction would be an Uncle Ken moment. Everyone has an Uncle Ken, who makes lame puns at family gatherings and - mistaking people pretending not to have heard for people who didn't hear - will repeat the joke, with worse timing and the wrong inflection.

Doubts resurface

Over the weekend, theotheronesfromnodoubt joined Gwen Steffani on stage for one of their songs, and to remake their remake of Talk Talk. It's up on YouTube; it was the first time they'd been together since 2004.

Weller in a jam

Now, we've no particular beef with the new no-smoking laws slowling clambering over the nations, one country at a time. But we could do without the associated "education" campaigns and flogging of nicotine gum off the back of the ban. And we're lost as to how it can really be worth the time of Welsh officials to watch video footage of a Paul Weller gig in Newport, in already smoke-free Wales, to see if he sparked up on stage or not. Surely the investigation will outspend the £200 maximum fine, and the conviction of Weller won't send a 'don't smoke' message as much as an 'it's cool to flout the ban' one. If they really wanted to make a point, couldn't they have just issued a tutting press-release?