Saturday, October 13, 2007

Veruca Salt weekend: Shutterbug

Continuing our weekend with Chicago's finest - this is Shutterbug, from Saturday Night Live On The Sunset Strip:

[Part of Veruca Salt weekend]

The aftertaste of Britpop

There was a large piece in this week's Guardian Films & Music section which looked at the Britpop second-string comebacks. It included this gloss on Kula Shaker's downfall:

Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills found the sudden, overwhelming success particularly miserable. "I think 98% of artists at the top of their game are suicidal, or lonely and depressed, or killing themselves with drugs," Mills says. "Look at Liam and Noel, trashing their marriages and fighting all the time." He believes that the huge media interest turned everyone, including himself, into "pantomime characters" - with his band's role being "psychedelic posh twats". Mills' own career was torn apart by his interest in Indian mysticism. In 1997, he told an interviewer about his dream of "great big flaming swastikas" onstage. He wanted to reclaim what was originally a Hindu peace symbol, but the Independent accused him of dabbling in Nazism. Stunned, Mills apologised. These days, he is less bashful about the episode: "Anyone who has independent thought is going to have a rite of passage".

This isn't quite as it was - nobody thought that Mills was a Nazi; the point was that he was someone who was so stupid he didn't realise that getting excited about having swastikas on stage would cause offense; a man who - like Lydon's mob before him - didn't have the capacity to understand that symbols used in the pursuit of a great wrong can't be re-assigned fluffy new meanings.

Still, it's interesting that Mills is attempting to rewrite his part in history - suggesting he was mauled for "independent thought" rather than stupidity, and that he was turned into a pantomime character rather than gleefully clambering into the back-end of a horse's costume all by himself.

Independent thought. From a man who flogged his songs to more than one car advert and beer advert.

In your Dad's suits you hide

Presumably, Marks and Spencer will be delighted by the new Take That men's suits campaign anyway, as at least they're unlikely to sound like the loved Nazis in the same way Bryan Ferry, the previous incumbent of the Autograph range, did.

However, their throats must have tightened a little when Rankin delivered his shots - the band don't actually look like they own the clothes they're modeling. Indeed, the general effect is of a bunch of dossers who have been visited by a jilted wife, as she distributes the clothes of her errant husband around the neighbourhood. It's less Autograph, more identity fraud.

Violent end?

According to, The Violent Femmes are currently playing their final slew of dates before calling it a day, driven apart by lawsuits and Wendys advertising:

Reports of turmoil within the group have been common through the years, but things may have reached a peak with Ritchie's lawsuit, which contends that the bassist is entitled to half of the band's past and future royalties.

"This action is the unfortunate culmination of an ongoing intra-band dispute between Ritchie and Gano over Gano's misappropriation and misadministration of Ritchie's interests in the jointly owned songs and assets of the band," the lawsuit said.

Ritchie has also publicly said he was offended by Gano's decision to sell licensing rights to "Blister in the Sun" to Wendy's.

The band, though, aren't saying anything:
In a telephone interview with Wednesday afternoon, drummer Victor DeLorenzo declined an opportunity to elaborate.

"I would neither confirm nor deny the rumor," said DeLorenzo, who offered to clarify any questions in the near future.

Ritchie added that the rumors are "premature."

"People have predicted the demise of the Femmes many times over the years. I've even had calls from journalists asking me to eulogize the other members upon reports of their deaths. Still everyone is alive and still playing," said Ritchie in an e-mail message. "We have not made any kind of decision about the future."

It's not exactly the most ringing denial that the band is winding down, though.

Record companies are great at digital

If you're an artist, and putting your faith in an RIAA company to protect your interests in the digital world, you might want to think again.

The IFPI, the international RIAA client organisation, can't even look after its own domain names. Somehow, it's managed to lose to The Pirate Bay.

Sure, it's a cheap stunt on the Pirate Bay's part, but if we were making our living from playing music, we'd start to be wondering if these people understand the internet well enough to be our best representatives as everything shifts digitalwards.

Chantelle "forgot" she wasn't the marrying kind

Chantelle off of Big Brother - who, surely with divorce must be nearing the end of her celebrity life cycle - has been explaining to the Daily Mail that she got confused when she married Preston:

"I don't know why I did it now. I just got caught up in the whole thing. He asked me to marry him and I went: 'Yes!' I'd forgotten that I didn't ever want to get married. I didn't want to have children. Now I've reminded myself of that again. I can be a bit indecisive, me."

The tragedy, of course, is that the whole wrong marriage could have been avoided had Chantelle put a post-it on the fridge with a reminder that she didn't want to get married; next to the one about needing more milk and not forgetting her mum's birthday.

Chantelle worries that people might think she's not very bright:
"Do you think I'm stupid?" she asks. "Maybe I am, but I don't think I am. I just don't see why you need to know what capital goes with what country. Why would you need to know that?

"Or politics. Boring. Who cares? Does it make me stupid if I don't want to have opinions about that? Does it?"

Um, yes, actually, Chantelle, and also dangerously disassociated from the realities of the world.

The Mail is equally worried:
Who knows? Who cares? Well, quite a lot of people actually. Thanks to our celebrity-obsessed age, everything Chantelle does, says and thinks is documented, and served up for our entertainment.

The Mail's fretting over this celebrity obsession might have been a little more convincing had it not come in the middle of a full-length interview with Houghton, of course.

Every million helps

The Spice Girls are pocketing "a million quid each" (we imagine there's some journalistic hyperbole invested in that figure) for advertising soulless storeborg chain Tesco:

A source said: "Tesco is one of the tour sponsors and has been desperate to get them in an advert. They will be sending themselves up, in the tradition of the old Jane Horrocks ads, and viewers should find it funny."

"Should find it funny" is a bit of an odd phrasing, isn't it? Like "might be idly amused", it doesn't exactly speak of much confidence in their abilities.

Mind you, the Jane Horrocks ads weren't famous people "sending themsleves up", as they were all playing characters, weren't they?

Still, viewers should find it funny. Especially those scraping together enough to get a cart full of Value Brand groceries. They'll be gurgling with delight at helping Beckham bank a few more thousand quid.

Veruca Salt weekend: Number One Blind

Continuing our trawl through Veruca Salt's back catalogue, this is the promo clip for 1994's Number One Blind:

[Part of Veruca Salt Weekend]

Tanita Tikaram fights the fags

We've not heard much from Tanita Tikaram for a while; it turns out she's been busy fighting plans for a local pub to allow smokers to stand outside her house:

“People drinking in the pub already spill over into St George’s Terrace, leaving empty glasses, food and cigarette butts, using the garden as a urinal and as they drink more alcohol becoming louder and more raucous.

“I don’t see the sense in extending an already undesirable situation.”

Geronimo Inns, who run the Queens in Regent's Park Road, insisted that unless they were given a more lenient licence, things would remain bad:
Geronimo, which has run the pub for 10 years, warned that it would be harder to control customers without the extended licence.

In a letter to the New Journal, commercial director Ed Turner said: “The customers would be moved further along, and The Queens would not be able to manage potential disturbances.”

He told the panel: “There’s been a lot of changes and problems for the industry on the back of the change in smoking laws.

“It’s been very difficult, it’s been a big learning curve for us and our customers.”

We'd suggest that if you're having that much trouble "controlling" your customers, what you need is not to have a more lenient licence, but perhaps have no licence at all. And while, obviously, the ban on smoking has caused difficulties, what sort of clientèle are you attracting if "not pissing in Tanita Tikaram's garden" is a behaviour which has to be learned?

... because "not wearing a shirt" is a Nobel Prize category

We're not amongst the greatest admirers of Victoria Beckham, but if you're going to criticise her, you should at least have grounds:

"David's talented but what does Victoria do? Nothing."

That was Jordan. Now, it's true that Beckham might be the slightest of contributors to The Spice Girls, but she does at least have some claim to having sold a lot of records. And you, Jordan? What exactly is your special talent?

(We should stress that we don't consider owning breasts to count as a talent, nor charging for a peek at them, come to that.)

Still, Jordan does concede that they can all rub along:
"But there's room for all of us out there so I do wish them well."

That's mighty generous of you. With so many pages of Hello! and Ok! to be filled, everyone can get their beaks wet.

Researching Victoria Newton

Talking of the queen of pop gossip, Twangfreak dropped us a line yesterday pointing us in the direction of Victoria's Wikipedia entry.

Amongst the many delights in the revisions is a plea added by IP address

Made request for neutral sources and removed biased ones

Of course, is an IP address which points to News International - you've got to love someone from the Sun's offices pleading with people writing about Victoria Newton to restrict themselves to "neutral sources" and ignoring "biased ones" - how long Bizarre be filled if Newton herself applied those standards?

Newton weighs Mel C's breasts

Victoria Newton bursts forward this morning with surprising news:

MEL C is snacking her way to bigger breasts.

Liverpudlian Mel - the most flat-chested member of The Spice Girls - has started eating specialist Japanese F-Cup cookies in preparaton for the group's reunion tour.

The biscuits, with a calorific value of 68.7 each, contain trans-fats which are sent directly to the breast area, as well as 50mg of "breast-enhancing herb" Pueraria Mirifica.

Manufacturers claim women can expect to see their breasts increase by at least a cup-size if they eat two cookies a day.

Besides being - what's the scientific term here? bollocks? - is Mel C, who we have down as more level-headed than flat-chested - really embarking on this fools' errand?

Probably not:
Mel told Radio 1: "I'll be a guinea-pig for them, can you imagine if my boobs got bigger suddenly?

"That'd be so great!"

Which, to us, sounds like she's taking the piss out of the idea rather than "eating breast biscuits".

Never mind, though, it gives Newton an excuse to publish pictures of the Spice Girls, inviting her readers to rate their tits out of five.

Good, clean, family fun. Rupert Murdoch must be so proud - and it can only be a matter of time before the editor's chair of the Wall Street Journal is Newton's by right.

Embed and breakfast man: Veruca Salt weekend

Oddly, although they've been prone to disintegration a wart in a bottle of Bazuka, Veruca Salt have never quite gone away completely - although on this side of the Atlantic, you could be forgiven for thinking they did Seether and that was it. So, this weekend, we've got a slew of stuff from the band through their half-dozen line-ups and decade-and-a-half of releases.

To kick off, this is 1997; the band are on Rosie O'Donnell's show - and this is Morning Sad. We don't know why a bottle of Listerine appears on the screen before the interview:

Purchases are possible:
1997's Eight Arms To Hold You, the album being promoted on O'Donnell
IV, the sort-of-comeback from last year on Sympathy For The Record Industry
Resolver - we were listening to this when we thought "it's probably time for a Veruca Salt weekend"
Former Salteen Nina Gordon's second solo album - don't say Aimee Mann, she gets sick of that

As usual, we'll list further dips into the Veruca Salt catalogue from across the weekend at the foot of this post
Number One Blind - video from 1994
Shutterbug - live on Saturday Night Live
All Hail Me - live in British Columbia, 2007

Victorian values

Ah, the sweet joy of family-friendly entertainment: American Idol, giving young folks a chance at stardom, then setting them on a live show circuit where child labour laws might be seen as something of an encumbrance.

Nineteen Touring LLC has just been fined for 16 violations of child labor laws in New York State. The company allowed 17 year-olds Jordin Sparks and Sanjaya Malakar appear in the show without bothering themselves getting proper permits.

[Thanks to James p]

Friday, October 12, 2007

Snocap melting fast

Snocap, Shawn Fanning's post-Napster attempt to build a peer-to-peer service which kept the labels happy, seems to be running aground. Despite signing a deal to provide fulfillment services for MySpace paid downloads, the company is struggling with rumours that two thirds of the staff are being let go and a breakdown in relations with CD Baby.

Figures quoted by CNet suggest the problem facing Snocap:

Snocap said that its MyStores have attracted more than 175,000 registered consumers, and over 80,000 artists have created their own storefronts.

Two customers to every merchant? However was that going to work? Especially in an environment where MySpace has millions of users.

Universal stamps its one good foot

The desire of the RIAA companies to stop having to rely on Apple to flog its digital material has seen them throw weight behind any number of crackpot ideas - like Universal getting a dollar from every Zune sold, or signing up to Spiralfrogs or whatever, and still online music downloads means, pretty much, firing up iTunes.

So, from whichever underground lair they're using this week, Doug Morris has come up with another brilliant idea. Universal are throwing their decaying weight behind TotalMusic, says Business Week:

The world's most powerful music executive aims to join forces with other record companies to launch an industry-owned subscription service. BusinessWeek has learned that Morris has already enlisted Sony BMG Music Entertainment as a potential partner and is talking to Warner Music Group. Together the three would control about 75% of the music sold in the U.S. Besides competing head-on with Apple Inc.'s (AAPL ) music store, Morris and his allies hope to move digital music beyond the iPod-iTunes universe by nurturing the likes of Microsoft's Zune media player and Sony's PlayStation and by working with the wireless carriers. The service, which is one of several initiatives the music majors are considering to help reverse sliding sales, will be called Total Music. (Morris was unavailable for comment.)

TotalMusic! Like TotalWar! Nurturing the Zune!

The Zune must be nurtured. Nurture the Zune with TotalMusic.

While the details are in flux, insiders say Morris & Co. have an intriguing business model: get hardware makers or cell carriers to absorb the cost of a roughly $5-per-month subscription fee so consumers get a device with all-you-can-eat music that's essentially free. Music companies would collect the subscription fee, while hardware makers theoretically would move many more players. "Doug is doing the right thing taking on Steve Jobs," says ex-MCA Records Chairman Irving Azoff, whose Azoff Music Management Group represents the Eagles, Journey, Christina Aguilera, and others. "The artists are behind him."

Really? The artists want to share a very, very tiny slice of revenue with all the other artists, do they? Hmmm.

And how, exactly, does a 'hardware manufacturer' "absorb" the cost of a five dollar a month subscription? (By absorb, of course, they mean 'add a 100% mark-up and hide in the cost passed to the consumer'). We can see a mobile phone operator could charge a perpetual five dollars, but if you buy a Zune - no, imagine for a moment that you did - how are you meant to be charged an absorbed five dollars a month? Will Bill Gates pop round on the 20th of each month and ask you for another fiver? It's like the music industry don't quite understand how people pay for mp3 players and consoles. Business Week reckons the manufacturers will be asked to pay for an eighteen month commitment upfront - ninety dollars worth, which will probably add $150 to the consumer price for a product by the time taxes and admin and mark-ups are added in. Which is going to make that Zune seem even more slightly less attractive.

Of course, you can see the some of what passes for logic here - nobody wants to touch subscription services for their music, because if people wanted to spend their money on buying music only to discover their collection disappeared overnight, they'd just get divorced. So locking people into a subscription when they buy their player or change their cell carrier is a good plan for the labels. After all, for years the majors have been relying on bundling something people don't want with something they do to make some cash, from the filler tracks on albums to lame label-mates supporting the more popular bands. Nobody in their right mind would seek out a subscription to a music service, but they might just use it if the small print in their contract says they're going to have to pay for it anyway.

But then you're down to looking for manufacturers and distributors willing to build in this little 'extra' to their goods and services. It's telling that while the labels and supposedly artists are onboard, no manufacturer seems to be rushing forward. After all - people buy mp3 players without any bundled subscriptions, as they can fill them for free from their own record collections. Why would a more expensive player with a subscription have an edge over one that can be bit-torrented full?

Let's not be too cynical though - this is exactly the sort of idea the music industry needed to be coming up with in order to survive. Sadly, it needed to come up with it in 1998.

Experimentalobit:Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge

Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, Psychic TV Member and life partner of Genesis P Orridge, has died. She was claimed by an undiagnosed heart problem on Tuesday.

Officially listed as being in charge of samples, Lady Jaye was also working on an art/science project - Breaking Sex in which she and Genesis were attempting to synchronise their appearances into a third, united entity, Breyer P Orridge:

You can be playing a role, which is great if that role is liberating,” said Jaye, “if it makes them feel more comfortable in their own skin, I think that’s fantastic, I think that’s what everyone should do. They should let their personality and their lifestyle reflect how they feel inside. There’s a lot of internal conflict that happens when people are forced into roles that are really not reflecting their inner feelings. People get sick in all sorts of ways.”

Psychic TV had been touring their first studio album in twelve years; understandably, the tour is now suspended.

Oh, really, John?

John Lydon doesn't like being accused of selling out by appearing on a video game:

"I have certainly, in 30 years, not once ever joined the establishment, or put out anything of inferior quality, just to part fools from their money," Lydon defended. "That's never been the way, and it never will be. We don't demand attention, we just do what we do. And oddly enough, that seems to be what everybody wants to copy."

This, of course, is the same Lydon who did Shark Attack for Channel 5, I'm A Celebrity for ITV and - of course - Judge Judy. Nothing of inferior quality there, then.

Lydon then bores on about how the band were politically obliged to ensure the quality of their work:
"One thing people got to understand is, the Sex Pistols started as a genuine band, from a working-class background, facing serious social and economic situations," he continued. "Massive unemployment, riots in the street, Margaret Thatcher in power — this was a serious time, so the songs relate directly to that."

Yes, that's right, John. The Sex Pistols songs relate directly to the horrors of Thatcher being in power.

Only you quit the band - "ever get the feeling you've been cheated" - onstage at the San Francisco Winterland on January 14th 1978. Thatcher didn't become prime minister until May 4th 1979. We've never bought the idea that the Pistols had a genuine political agenda, but if Lydon had been rattling at those in power, you think he'd be able to recall the name of the Prime Minister he was tilting at. The Sex Pistols formed under Harold Wilson; they split under Callaghan. Indeed, as the first reunion didn't come until the tail-end of the Major administration, the band never played a single note under Thatcher.

Kinks for Sunday afternoon

The Sunday after next, Ray Davies is going to follow in the steps of Prince by giving out free copies of his new album with a Sunday paper. This time, it's The Sunday Times, and Ray is excited:

"Personally, it's about reaching as many people as possible. I'm incredibly proud of this LP and am truly excited that 1.5 million copies will be distributed to people who'll hear it organically - the way it was intended."

Well, up to a point: 1.5 million copies will be distributed, to people, some of whom might actually even remove it from the sleeve.

We're not entirely sure how one listens to a record "organically" - with a potato strapped to each ear, perhaps?

Bye bye Boom Bye Bye?

Richard Smith pops a Guardian Music Blog onto the internet cautioning against making incitement to hatred on grounds of sexuality a crime:

It's also the legal equivalent of your mum saying she's going to go down your school to have a word with the bullies; all very nice and well-meaning, but totally counterproductive. A quick read of Eric D Nuzum's history of music censorship, Parental Advisory, should remind you how anyone who tries to ban a record ends up giving their target a cachet of rebel cool quicker than you can say "Relax, don't do it".

Really, Richard? You think that a law making this sort of hatred illegal would have the same effect as Mike Read banning Frankie Goes To Hollywood? You can't see a difference between banning a record because it's about sex, and banning a record because it calls for the murder of people because they're gay?

The broader point - that there's already a crime of incitement and the new proposal is making a well-meaning but ultimately confused attempt to criminalise some aspects of free speech - was also made by Christopher Biggins on Today earlier in the week. Discrimination and direct incitement are matters for the law to be involved in; I don't think Buju Banton should be given a platform to spout his bile from, but this should be a matter of morality and debate, and not one of legislation.

Amos, really

Tori Amos popped up on Craig Ferguson's US talk show last night; it's on YouTube at the moment where you can see the full double-piano playing bounce. Not sure about the wig, mind.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Let's not panic, eh?

The Sun turns to a man who should know, Gennaro Castaldo of HMV, to find out if Radiohead's pay-as-you-like offer marks the end of record shops as we know them. Surprise! He doesn't think so:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo doesn’t think so. He said: "Let’s face it, Radiohead are one of the few acts that can pull this sort of thing off. Fans appreciate the versatility of downloads, but they also love to collect albums."

Of course, what jhe's effectively said is that only big acts can afford to turn their back on traditional distribution methods - which, for a record shop spokesperson is on a par with a butcher saying that new rules will mean he'll still have everything except beef, lamb and pork in future.

McManus reinvents herself. Again.

Full credit to Michelle McManus - she's happy to put in the effort to try and find something, anything, which might extend her career. Okay, she doesn't actually have a "career" as such, and it's "restart" more than "extend", but still, you've got to admire her pluck.

She's now decided to have a crack at a dance record.

Or, at least, a popstar-made-by-ITV's idea of a dance album. She's not gone Aphex Twin on us:

"I'm 27, I'm single, I'm a girl who goes out on a Friday night with my mates, and I love dance music. I love it when Girls Aloud or a really great tune comes on and everyone starts screaming and you see them running on to the dancefloor.

"I kind of wanted to pay homage to that whole Friday night going out with the girls thing, so the album is very Eighties electro. It's my favourite genre of music, The Eighties."

We're not quite sure how you'd hear a Girls Aloud track and think "I know, I'll make a track inspired by Afrika Bambaataa, but then if you think that "the Eighties" is a genre of music (with its leading lights Run DMC, Sheena Easton and the Bhundu Boys, of course) anything is possible.

Spice against Life

We can hardly contain our excitement at the mounting prospect of a chart battle between the Spice Girls and Westlife.

Actually, that's not true, we've just found a small yoghurt pot which has more than enabled us to contain it.

We're assuming that Mel C has started tearing strips off Westlife that the party line at Camp Spice was supposed to be saying nothing in public:

"We've just sold out 17 nights at the O2 Centre... We've got nothing to prove!"

And referring to her longrunning spat with Louis, she added: "I think Louis secretly fancies me. In the playground if you fancy someone you just smack 'em. Whenever Louis gets the chance he slags me off!"

That's quite a brave thing to say, really, as it's impossible to formulate a sentence of that sort without imagining the other person's sex face looming down on yours in the smaller rooms at a Ramada Encore.

Let's not count the number of perfectly good Internet Rumours that a Mel C-Louios Walsh marriage would destroy.

Winehouse unlikely to ban booze soon - reports

With MTV confidently booking Amy Winehouse to be the central feature of this years Woodies (we'd forgotten, too - they're the MTV online college awards), they'll be concerned to hear that apparently she's backsliding. However, the best The Sun can rustle up by way of evidence is a photo of Winehouse drinking Lucozade, with perhaps the worst caption we've ever seen on a picture underneath:

Lucozaded by drink ... Amy


Pete bars pints

We're a little confused by Pete Doherty's plans to play a tour of dry venues to "celebrate" his drug-free status, a tour idea which two Sun writers (Victoria and Gordon Smart) have just seemed to blithely accept:

The BABYSHAMBLES star is in talks for a series of solo gigs marking more than two clean months.

But Pete, 28, insists the venues he plays at the end of this month do not serve alcohol — as he will be performing sober for the first time in five years.

But Pete's kicked illegal drugs, not legal ones, so why would you play a gig in an alcohol-free venue to mark that? Isn't that slightly misleading?

Apart from anything, Newton herself was reporting this earlier in the week:
HERE’S a podgier PETE DOHERTY back on stage in his first gig since leaving rehab.

The BABYSHAMBLES singer gave an impromptu performance at the Sun Inn in the quaint Wiltshire town of Marlborough.

Pete – whose band went to No5 in the album charts yesterday with Shotter’s Nation – was only released from the nearby Clouds clinic on Thursday.

And he couldn’t resist nipping to his new local to celebrate with a few pints of Guinness.

And if Pete really wants to take a stand, rather than throw a stunt, couldn't he just insist that the bars in the arenas Babyshambles are due to play next month?

Established musician signs to record label

After this last week, someone signing to a record label at all is so unusual, it's worth commenting on. That it's Bob Mould makes it tantalising. He's cut a deal with Anti; the first fruits of the partnership, District Line is due sometime in February and includes a track that was originally intended to appear on Workbook:

“Walls of Time” is an outtake from that very album.

“It was a Workbook song that didn’t make that record,” says Mould. “That was one of those songs waiting a long time for recording. But it seemed like a really appropriate closer for this record, when it popped back into my head.”

We're sure that's "appropriate" as in "it fits and has finally found a home" rather than "if we stick this old thing on, we can go home early and catch deal Or No Deal".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

!!! -1

That's going to bugger the auto-bookmarking link, then.

John Pugh has quit !!! to spend more time with Free Blood. We hope they advertise for a new drummer with an "???" ad.

Pete Doherty moves on from Likely Lads obsession...

... now it's Steptoe And Son. "I only wants you to be 'appy, 'arold... don't worry about me, my life is over..."

(Actually, it's a promo picture from the The Observer Music Monthly's meeting between Macca and Doherty, of course.)

Presumably a different Fergie?

Surely the Fergie who is encouraging the planet-crushing replacement of perfectly functional mobile handsets by working with Motorola isn't the same Fergie who appeared at Live Earth imploring us to take more care of the Earth, is it?

Ra! Ra! Raveonettes

The Raveonettes are about to tour the UK. *Moistening*:

13 November London King's College
14 Norwich Arts Centre
15 Brighton Barfly
16 Peterbrough Met Lounge
17 Birmingham Barfly
19 Glasgow King Tuts
20 Newcastle Academy
21 Leeds Cockpit
22 Manchester Academy
23 Oxford Zodiac

Running away from Celine Dion

The sudden shuttling forward of the Britney Spears' Blackout release date might be less about the fear of internet leakage, reckons AndPop, and more to avoid a scheduling clash. With Celine Dion.

Drinking alcohol out of your baby's upturned head or whatever it is she's supposed to have done is one thing, but if you can't face down Celine Dion in a chart battle, it really might be time to consider that job as a barmaid she was supposedly considering.

Foetus repeaters

Jim Thirwell - never one to be backwards in coming forwards - has roped in a bunch of friends and comrades to effectively record a remix tribute album to himself. Vein is a reworking of Foetus' 2005 Love, and amongst those joining in are Matmos, Mike Patton, Fennesz, Jason Forrest, and Tujiko Noriko. After that, Thirwell takes all the remixes, and mixes the mixes down into one mix and bunged it as an mp3 for people to download. [All complaints about the bitrate to Mr J Foetus, America, please.]

A house is not a home

Of course, if the X Factor was on the BBC, there'd be angry stories in the Daily Mail over the not-entirely-surprising revelation that the "houses" the X Factor judges take their flesh-coloured programme-mulch to aren't really their houses. ITV insists it's not really fibbing:

A spokeswoman for the show said: "The contestants are invited to a house. We call them the judges' houses, not the judges' homes.

"Sharon had only just moved in to her new home and hadn't even unpacked so we couldn't have filmed it there.

"We have never said they are the judges' real homes and it has been this way for the past four years."

The semantic difference between "house" and "home" is surely wafer-thin - and, if the idea isn't to make people assume that Sharon and Louis and Kylie's sister have invited the squawking public into their homes, why call them "judge's houses" rather than, say, "the bands' house" or "the solo women's base"? It's such a silly lie - and, of course, if you're going to believe that Shayne Ward has some sort of star quality, you're clearly going to believe anything. We could understand if ITV said "it's a made-up TV show", but trying to argue that a smudging of terminology wasn't designed to conceal the truth is almost as pathetic as falling for the claim in the first place.

The canny men of Radiohead

In a response to the criticism of the lowish bitrate of In Rainbows, Jonny Greenwood has tacitly acknowledged the online hoopla was intended really as promo campaign for the definitive, physical item:

I don't know, we talked about it and we just wanted to make it a bit better than iTunes, which it is, so that's kind of good enough, really. It's never going to be CD quality, because that's what CD does."

Now, since "you shouldn't encode at a CD rate because the CD will get jealous" isn't a line of argument a grown-up would essay (besides, distribution of digitally encoded music files is also 'what CD does' - and yet that didn't stop In Rainbows being digitally encoded and distributed online, did it? - we can only assume this is a slightly veiled way of saying "sure, we're not going to give it to you in CD quality because we want to sell the CDs". In other words, the ground-worryingly historic opportunity the band offered fans was to decide how much they'd pay for an advertising campaign, not a record.

Do you mean 'Jenny Frost had a baby'?

Did the Sky News website really think the best way to announce the motherhood of Jenny Frost was to write:

We've just spotted the Celeb baby stork whisking his way back to his nest. And it seems he was a flapping from Jenny Frost's gaff.

Besides everyone knowing that babies are found under cabbage leaves and not delivered by storks, why would anyone phrase something like that? Unless their readership consisted entirely of squeamish ten year-olds?

When is a million pounds not a million pounds?

When, we'd suggest, it is the "million pounds", which Jonathan Ansell has supposedly signed to Universal for.

A classical singer, who was in the ridicule-stained G4, signing for a million pounds to a record company in 2007. Obviously, this is an accountant's million, rather than a large stack of actual cash:

"I'm incredibly excited to be signing to Universal, and thrilled to be pursuing a solo career.

"It's been an amazing journey to this point and I think, at the start of this new chapter in my career, anything is possible. Three years ago I was at music college and I went on The X Factor with some mates for a bit of fun, and now I've got my own deal.

"I never, ever expected to be able to do an album with anybody, let alone on my own. I just wanted to be able to earn my living as a singer in whatever way. So I'm completely blown away."

An interesting quote - just a "I do the music I like and if anyone else likes it, that's a bonus" short of containing every new-signing cliche in the book.

Usher's next album pushed back until kids are in college; 2025 release date pencilled in

There's some good news this lunchtime - apparently Tameka Foster has put her foot down and told her husband Usher to get all his silly ideas about making records out his head and to concentrate on their impending parenthood. There's a solid source for this, assuming you believe off-the-record briefings to Page Six to have validity:

According to a source, the Confessions singer "only listens to Tameka now, and she wants all Usher's focus to be on her and the baby". The source adds, "The album had been in the works for over a year... now it looks like it's never going to happen."

Never? Why, are we to suppose that Foster has also flushed away the master tapes accrued thus far? Surely an album that he's been working on for a year must be nearing the final buffing anyway - it's Usher, after all, it's not like he's got Kevin Shields' attention to detail holding him up.

Softy, squishy, and nothing much to chew on

Mutya Buena apparently "keeps trim" by eating baby food, reckons ContactMusic, although we really doubt the veracity of the quote they attribute to her:

[My daughter] Tahlia frowns when she sees me eating it. She just doesn't really like me particularly!

Eh? Assuming this quote hadn't been mangled, would you really have run a story "woman eats slop" rather than "daughter doesn't like mother"? The sense, of course, is that this is rather over-processed slop.

Tracking Victoria Newton

The Media Standards Trust has launched a new service, Journa-List, which number-crunches the output of British paper staff. You can, for example, take a look at the shape of Victoria Newton's work.

Madonna prepares the jump

If the excitement about Radiohead's album seemed excessive, wait until the final deal between Madonna and LiveNation gets signed - sometime quite soon, according to the New York Times.

Elsewhere, at the end of the month, The Eagles launch a new album, Long Road Out of Eden. The band are releasing it themselves, and pushing it exclusively through - mmm, classy - WalMart and Sams Club in the US.

Hitler was a Beatle

We're not quite sure why Brian Reade's got himself into such a state of excitement over claims that Hitler got as much fanmail as The Beatles. It's hardly a surprise, is it? "Hitler was popular" isn't going to make anyone hold the front page. Except Reade, perhaps:

Which makes you wonder how different we might have viewed him if he'd had a decent publicity agent who marketed Hitler wig-and-moustache sets, released a film called HEIL! and told a press conference he didn't mean any harm when he said he was more popular than Jesus Christ.

We're not quite sure if Reade really means to imply that Beatlemania and Nazism are directly comparable, but for a bit of PR spin. We know we're not fond of Lennon, but that seems a bit rich...

What More Can I Give?

Either Michael Jackson's comeback album is going to feature about 200 tracks, or else there's a lot of people investing a lot of time for stuff that will never see the light of day: Kanye West is apparently writing some stuff for him.

Jackson, for his part, has issued a frightening announcement:

I’ve been really busy lately. Soon I will be sharing exciting and surprising news with you.

Your continued love and support means so much to me.

I really love and appreciate you all from the bottom of my heart.

Exciting and surprising, eh? Perhaps he's finally got his 9/11 benefit single ready for general release. That would be surprising.

Victoria Newton offers support for Pete

Having been one of the strongest critics of his drugs and drugs and drugs lifestyle, you'd think Victoria Newton would be delighted at Pete Doherty's new, calmer outlook.

Nope. If you calm down, don't expect Victoria to offer support. Writing an article - or overlong caption - to a picture of Doherty coming out of a teashop, she also finds space to chide Winehouse, too:

I fear the spirit of the old Pete he left in rehab has infested the beehive of AMY WINEHOUSE.

Good lord, don't these people realise their job is to kill themselves in the public eye for our amusement?

Heather Mills: Nice little earner

Poor Thomas Whittaker, whose decent little scoop about Heather Mills' settlement cracks under the weight of having to use the official Sun formulation of "dubbed Mucca over her porn past", despite nobody outside Wapping using the nickname. And it has to try and fit the "greedy, cash-grubbing harridan" prism into which the story has been served for the last couple of years, despite it not really fitting the actual detail, which seems to be McCartney being generous:

SIR Paul McCartney will give wife Heather Mills a staggering £50MILLION divorce deal today.

It is FIVE TIMES the amount Heather, dubbed Mucca over her porn past, had originally demanded from the fomer Beatle.

They decided on the settlement to avoid a lengthy legal battle for the sake of daughter Beatrice, three.

It's too much for anyone, of course, but for McCartney it's the sort of cheque he can write without breaking a sweat. He's actually got a chequebook which has the "million pounds" pre-printed the way ordinary people have the "£" symbol filled-in for them. He does, it's true.

So, despite the papers' desperate hopes for an even longer, messier, public divorce, the couple have settled quietly, relatively quickly and fairly amicably.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The New Avengers. And the new Pansy Division

While John Lydon and his friends continue to live off the songs they wrote before Elvis died, there's more interesting punk going-ons in America, where the reactivated Avengers are back, and hoiking together with queercore legends Pansy Division for an American tour.

The Division, meanwhile, have signed a deal with Jello Biafra to release their first album in about a half-decade on Alternative Tentacles in a short period of time.

The Klaxons honk about the Pistols

With the NMRE bravely continuing with its misguided campaign to "right" history by sending the Sex Pistols to the lower-end of the Top 30, they've now pulled The Klaxons in to overstate the importance of the band:

Jamie Reynolds [...] declared he would do all he could to get 'God Save The Queen' back into the charts.

"The Sex Pistols are probably the most important band that existed so I'm happy to support NME's campaign in any way I can. I will certainly be buying several copies," he declared.

He added: "It wasn't even the music necessarily, it was the thought that went into the Sex Pistols that was important. But buying the single will at least be the first step to realising that for anyone who doesn't know the band's history or legacy."

We're not sure this actually was meant to make any sense - how can you support a campaign to "correct" a chart position if you don't "know the band's history or legacy"? "I'm righting a historical wrong I've never heard of", then?

The Sex Pistols aren't without a legacy, of course. They provided an image of punk - drooling, thoughtless, heartless, cartoony, without a sense of history - for the media; a stereotype which scrubbed all the subtlety, individuality, and awareness from the genre. The Sex Pistols legacy is Gizzard Puke and Matt Belgrano. The historical outrage is the way punk was hijacked by the trouser salesman and the realtor; not the awkward fact that they were outsold by Rod Stewart.

There was a magazine guy, a radio guy, and a songwriter...

... and they walked into top positions with EMI. Guy Hands of EMI is apparently in North America, restructuring the top team there by drafting in People magazine Publisher Paul Caine, Clear Channel Communications New York SVP Programming Tom Poleman and pop producer/songwriter Billy Mann. Judging by this heroes-style line-up of different talents, it looks like his determination to make EMI a different shape of company is a serious one. We're still not sure this means Hands has a strategy as such, but at least he knows there's a need for some sort of change.

Thom Yorke talks

How has Thom Yorke celebrated theofficialdeathofrecordlabels day? With a posting to the official website, of course:

hope you are enjoying listening to the download of In Rainbows.
its a relief to us all that finally its out there.
its been a mad couple of weeks.. as i'm sure you can imagine...

"I love pop music to death..... Most great composers rely on folk music. I rely on pop music.
I'm not saying I'm a great composer or that pop music is folk music. There's a whole endless thing going on out there.
You make your little pond but if your pond isn't connected to the river, which isn't connected to an ocean,
it's just going to dry up. It's just a little piss pool. I've lived too long to be happy in a pond."

I found this in WIRE magazine over a pint in the pub last night.. its Robert Wyatt

Yeah, yeah, Thom, that quote is all well and good, but bloody Robert Wyatt was saying that ages ago, so it's not even like it's new, and the font you used was pathetic, it should have been at least three pixels taller...

Brown's heart appears, wobbles

Crack-daddy Bobby Brown has gone off to hospital after suffering a heart attack scare. He was allowed home after a doctor explained that the thing he was feeling in his chest was the seat of love and emotion and passion, and not some alien beast or something.

Raw material lined up for next 'bad duet' poll

No sooner does Bono have his man issue a denial of the 'working with the Spice Girls' rumour, does the prospect of Christina Aguilera working with Aretha Franklin rear its not-entirely-attractive head.

Suddenly, the Manics get serious

"I think people take music too seriously. We are cross that Radio 1 don't play us. But we'll do a Christmas single to completely shred any possible credibility we have left.

- James Dean Bradfield, September

"The song is finished, and there's all the traditional sounds like sleigh-bells. It's a proper Wizzard style tune. However we were worried about looking like dickheads, so aren't going to make it an official release... it's just too cheesy."

- Sean Moore, October

Sting croaks

There's to be a break in the Police's comeback juggernaut, as doctors beg with Sting to keep quiet for a bit. Sorry, that should be "advise", rather than "beg". Apparently he's at risk of ruining his voice if he doesn't give it a rest. So a bit of peace is in everyone's interests.

Paint the whole world with In Rainbows

Donewaiting and stereogum are both liveblogging their deflowering of that Radiohead album. In full.

Gonna buy some records by the Status Quo

Francis Rossi isn't that impressed by Amy Winehouse:

"Amy is supposed to be great but I can't stick her. I like a couple of records but I'm not sure if people will like her in three years.

"I'm not knocking her for the sake of it. But I have been subjected to so much of Amy and her antics that I just think, 'Fuck off'.

"What message does giving her Woman Of The Year send to young people? There has to be some responsibility somewhere, surely?"

Well, she's been named Woman of the Year in Mojo magazine, so I doubt if any young people will ever notice, but... do carry on:
"Everyone knew what was going on with her. She's not a good role model.

"They should have said to her: 'You're not getting it. You would have done but you're not cutting it anymore.'

"She may be able to sing, but what gets through to the kids in the street is the fact that she is out of her tree, falling over and not being able to keep her hands out of her knickers. She should straighten herself out."

These are fine words, although Status Quo have dined out more than once on their tales of being wasted at Live Aid, which might throw their claims to pick role models for the next generation into some sort of relief.

But Rossi hasn't finished. He then turns his attention to Pete Doherty:
"Doherty, on the other hand, isn't even worth entertaining. At least Amy has serious talent. Pete hasn't got anything. There's no talent there, otherwise he would do something. He doesn't count. He seems quite intelligent but the records are grim."

Pete gets busted, then comes straight out and thinks it's no problem being nicked.

There's no fear of the law or of punishment and young people think, 'If he can do it so can I'. Doherty is still acting like an angry young man and so are Oasis. Get off it. You can't be an angry young man pushing 30 and if you are you're a twat."

Well, certainly you shouldn't be publishing teenage-style diaries at that age.

Wet Wet Wet weather warning

Prepare for a miserable winter - Wet Wet Wet are completing an album:

Band member Tommy Cunningham added: "It'd be easy to do a greatest hits tour every four or five years but we want to be a sparkling new Wet Wet Wet with a brand-new Love Is All Around."

A new Love Is All Around? Wasn't that what Colin Powell told the UN Saddam was trying to develop in his weapons programme?

Allen signals end of Empire

According to the 3AM Girls - yes, surprisingly, they've published an actual story rather than a piece about Jamelia's shoes - Lily Allen has run out of patience with Empire Management and is seeking new representation:

After a sensational 2006, with debut single Smile hitting the top spot, everyone thought it was only a matter of time before Lily secured her position as one of Britain's top female artists.

But problems have dogged her throughout the year. She scrapped her US tour in the spring because she was homesick and she's had to watch as Amy Winehouse's career has rocketed. And last month she ditched her bloke of two-and-a-half years, DJ Seb Chew.

All three of those things, of course, hardly being Empire's fault. And she's taking her personal manager, Adrian Jolly with her.

The Mirror suggests the problems with the visa and consequent failure to "break America" was the tipping point - although, once again, her visa being revoked was down to her own actions because of her caution for common assault, so it hardly seems fair to blame Empire for that one, either.

A good lunch

Victoria Newton bemoans the lack of content for her column supplied by the Q Awards:

SADLY, this year’s Q Awards heralded one of the most uneventful evenings ever for good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll behaviour.

Could that be anything to do with them taking place in the early afternoon, Victoria?

Britney's dad wants her locked up

We're certain that Jamie Spears, father of Britney, has his daughter's best interests at heart when he calls for her to be committed - it's for her own good:

A source close to Jamie - who Britney refuses to speak to after accusing him of cashing in on her fame - said: “He is consulting lawyers about the best way to help Britney.

"He feels they need to stage an intervention to get her into rehab or some kind of therapy.

“He is worried she is going to harm herself or the boys.

“Jamie is also concerned about her wild lifestyle. She is spending money like it is going out of fashion - checking into hotels when she has two homes in LA.

“He feels she should be putting the money aside for her kids.”

Lawyers staging an intervention? Since when did getting in a big circle and making someone already struggling feel even more shit about their life become a legal mechanism?

Of course, we're sure that this really is about doing what is best for Britney and her money. Especially the money. Sorry, did we say money? We meant children, of course.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Britney likes the cars, the cars that go boom

Britney Spears, a petrol station and lit cigarette. It's almost as if she's wishing her life was being scripted by Phil Redmond.

Wild Youth frenzied attack

More rock misery: Dan Mild from Birmingham punk band Wild Youth has been hospitalised after a street attack. The unprovoked attack left Mild (or Wild, depending on which MySpace page you're looking at) with a serious eye injury. Birmingham police are asking for witnesses to the attack - which happened in Lichfield on Friday evening - to contact them on 0845 3302010.

Standing in the footsteps of lemurs

Kelly Jones has been tipping his hat to the man who made him what he is today:

"Coming up off the back of the Britpop thing and getting to know people like Noel (Gallagher) and stuff, you realised that it is all about songwriting and it’s about working your bollocks off but having a good time, and making it look like it’s easy but behind the scenes you’ve gotta fucking put the graft in.

"There are too many bands that want it and if you don’t want it as much as they want it then they’ll have it, so it’s up to you really."

Building your belief in songwriting craft on Noel Gallagher's example is like trying to become a cordon bleu chef by aping Colonel Sanders.

Actually, we awoke this morning to the sound of that new Oasis single, Lord Don't Slow Me Down and felt... well, nothing, really. It's a song completely shorn of any passion, any arrogance, any wit: like coming across a school bully years later and seeing he's now a shallow, empty hulk of a man, there's no feeling of victory, just a sad sense of loss. The last thing Noel Gallagher would probably want is to instill feelings of pity rather than distaste. Perhaps he really should think about throwing it in now.

Voxtrot trot off - again

The Voxtrot tour - which is proving about as ill-fated as Captain Oates' popping out for some time - has hit another snag. Ramesh isn't well:

Sorry everyone, but Voxtrot is canceling off of tonight's show at Club Absinthe in Hamilton, ONT. If you've seen the band in the last couple days, I'm sure you're aware that Ramesh has been a bit under the weather. He was taken to the hospital after last night's show in Philly, and underwent minor surgery this morning. Thankfully he's okay.

No word on what the minor surgery was.

You can't get pickier with a Kwik Fit fitter

The Performing Rights Society should, in theory, be the good guys - keeping an eye on people using music for public entertainment, making sure that people making money from using recorder works share their take with the artists.

But instead, they've started to take on the look of a cross between Percy Sugden and Tony Soprano, applying the rules with menace and pedantry.

Take, for example, the case of Kwik Fit. Now, if you were at work, and played a radio while you did your work, that's fine. Personal use. If you pump the radio into a waiting room, where the public can enjoy it (or, if it's tuned to Capital, they can at least pretend to.)

However, PRS staff who popped into a Kwik Fit heard the sound of radios bleeding through into the waiting area from where the fitters were working. The music wasn't being played to the public, but since passers-by could hear it, albeit muffled, tinny and at a distance, PRS have brought a legal claim.

Let's hope the courts do the right thing and kick this greedy money-grubbing bid out, otherwise - come next summer - you'll find yourself being hit by a demand for cash because people could hear your car radio while you were stopped at the traffic lights.

Radiohead: hear before you buy

There's a lot of coverage about XFM's plans to play the Radiohead album in full from mid-day tomorrow, but they're actually being scooped by the NME which is going to publish an audio-dribble of the whole thing from 10 am tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, as Simon points out in the comments down there, there's a squall blowing around the Radiohead downloads, with complaints that 160 kbps bitrates aren't exactly the highest of hi-fi rates. Although, to be honest, we're mentally filing this alongside those people who complain about the sound quality on DAB, as a problem which exists solely in the ears of people who actually spend more time perfecting the diamond of sound in between their speakers rather than browsing in record shops.

American Music Awards goes all interactive

In what they're pitching as some sort of all-new breakthrough, this year you - yes, YOU - can vote for the winners of the American Music Awards. Providing you want to pick something from the conservative shortlists that have been drawn up on your behalf.

Here are the nominees; leap over the list:

Favorite Male Artist:
Justin Timberlake

Favorite Female Artist:
Avril Lavigne

Favorite Band, Duo or Group:
Linkin Park
Maroon 5

Favorite Album:
Linkin Park/Minutes To Midnight
Justin Timberlake/FutureSex/Love Sounds

Favorite Male Artist:
Toby Keith
Tim McGraw
Brad Paisley

Favorite Female Artist:
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Favorite Band, Duo or Group:
Big & Rich
Brooks & Dunn
Rascal Flatts

Favorite Album:
Tim McGraw/Let It Go
Rascal Flatts/Me And My Gang
Carrie Underwood/Some Hearts

Favorite Male Artist:

Favorite Female Artist:

Favorite Album:
Beyoncé /B'Day
R. Kelly/Double Up
Justin Timberlake/FutureSex/LoveSounds

Favorite Band, Duo or Group:
Bone Thugs-N-Hamony
Pretty Ricky
Shop Boyz

Favorite Male Artist:
Young Jeezy

Favorite Album:
Bones Thugs-N-Harmony/Strength & Loyalty
T.I./T.I. vs. T.I.P.
Young Jeezy/The Inspiration

Favorite Artist:
Norah Jones
John Mayer

Favorite Artist:
Daddy Yankee
Juan Luis Guerra y 440
Jennifer Lopez

Favorite Artist:
Linkin Park
My Chemical Romance
The White Stripes

Favorite Artist:
Casting Crowns
Jeremy Camp

Favorite Album:
High School Musical 2

Plain White T's
Robin Thicke

You see, you can have Thurston Moore being flogged in a thousand coffee shops in a thousand towns, but it doesn't mean you'll shift the locus of your nation's default mainstream tastes.

EMI thinks this digital thing could be quite important

We wonder if, when Guy Hands and Terra Firma bought EMI, he expected to discover an open embrace of the digital market; an awareness that the industry in which EMI exists has shifted irrevocably; an understanding that they'd been bought for a pittance by the German motorway cafe company because they hadn't been fast enough to adapt.

Or if he knew he was buying into a bit of a headless chicken in a basket case.

Judging by the email he sent round the place following Radiohead's pay-what-you-will album, he's still dealing with a company that doesn't know it's trying to sell ice in a nation of fridge owners:

In the e-mail, sent to staff on Friday, Hands described Radiohead's action as "a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy".

"The recorded music industry... has for too long been dependent on how many CDs can be sold," he wrote. "Rather than embracing digitalisation and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, the industry has stuck its head in the sand."

Hands is understood to have been surprised at the size of salaries paid to second-tier executives. On Friday he warned that unless there was a major cultural change, more established bands could follow Radiohead's lead, choosing to cut the label out of the loop and distribute their music directly to consumers.

EMI's biggest names include Robbie Williams, Joss Stone and David Bowie, all of whom are established enough to adopt the Radiohead model. With bands' revenues from playing concerts and festivals overtaking their income from CD sales, the decision to break free has become less risky.

"Why should they subsidise their label's new talent roster – or for that matter their record company's excessive expenditures and advances?" asks Hands.

It's almost heartbreaking that it takes a bloke from a private equity company to understand the situation, while the supposed music-aware EMI excutives have been missing the point for so long.

The big question, though: what is Hands going to do about it?

Gordon tops opinion poll

No, not that Gordon. This is Sting, who has come out on top of a survey to find the world's worst lyricists, part of a rash of not-really-news surveys that have been causing mild discomfort and intimate itching this last couple of days:

The schoolteacher-turned-rock star topped Blender's list of the worst lyricists, thanks to lines that betray "mountainous pomposity (and) cloying spirituality," the music magazine said.

It's not often that we see acclamation for Sting that we feel able to throw our weight behind, but they do have a point.

To be fair to Sting though, he did have the decenc... yes, yes, I'm about to be fair to Sting. I do, sometimes, do balance, you know... he had the decency to at least make his dullness flip the usual career path - he started with the sort of "doo-doo-dah-dah" will-this-do-isms that usually mark a songwriter's descent into keeping going merely to pay the mortgage and ended up writing the sort of shameful overblown stuff that most people start out with. "I've been up, I've been down/I've been lonesome, in this godless town/ You're my religion, you're my church/ You're the holy grail at the end of my search" is a lyric for a sixteen year-old boy who's just formed a band called Scarlet Stigmata, not a man who played Zarm in Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

The top five in full:
1. Sting
2. Neil Peat
3. Scott Stapp
4. Noel Gallagher
5. Dan Fogelberg

Better luck next year, Pete.

Elsewhere, someone did a search to discover The Greatest Video of All Time, ever. It was won by Bohemian Rhapsody, voted for by the same people who think that it's been downhill all the way for air travel since Montgolfier stopped doing his balloon trips.

Sure, it was the "first" pop video - even although it wasn't - but it's not actually any good, is it? It's what happens when you're unable to get past a bag full of ideas and a bunch of new vision tricks and instead of choosing, elect to use the lot. There are better videos of a similar vintage - Rat Trap, for example, which was more than a performance video and a couple of cross-fades. And, really, BoRap isn't even the best Queen video - better than the promo for Radio GaGa? I don't think so.

Still, the top five in full:

1. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
2. Michael Jackson - Thriller
3. Justin Timberlake - Cry Me A River
4. A-Ha - Take On Me
5. OK Go - A Million Ways

Yes, we double-checked, and it does say that the video for Cry Me A River has only been bettered twice in the last forty years. We've just watched it again to make sure we didn't miss anything, but it does seem to be exactly as we remembered it: a mean-spirited, self-aggrandising, spiteful ending; most of it like a car advert for one of those brands whose names you can never quite remember, with - for no reason at all - a smattering of Lionel Ritchie's Dancing On The Ceiling treatment bunged in to the middle.

Elsewhere again, 6Music attempted a spot of self-promotion with a list of the worst duets - although we'd rather they tried to build their audience by not shunting Gideon Coe off into the middle of the night, to be honest.

Their top ten:

1 Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony and Ivory
2 Arthur Mullard & Hilda Baker – You’re the One that I Want
3 Mick Jagger & David Bowie – Dancing In the Streets
4 Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth
5 Renée & Renato – Save Your Love
6 Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – The Girl Is Mine
7 Elton John & Pete Doherty – Children Of The Revolution (Live 8)
8 Puff Daddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You
9 Elton John & George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me
10 Band Aid – Do they Know It’s Christmas?
10 Girls Aloud & Sugababes – Walk This Way

Now, there's much to agree with here, but the appearance of Mullard & Baker's Travolta & Newton-John cover seems to have missed the point that it was a joke. And in what way was the Bowie and Crosby cover bad?

Not to mention, of course, that in return for a bit of Christmas fluff, viewers to Bing's 1977 special also got this:

[thanks to Michael M for the worst lyricist survey]

Somewhere, a really annoyed guy is trying to skim an iPod across a lake

We're very taken with the story of the family who bought their daughter an iPod, only to discover the box was full of rocks. They returned the thing to Target, only to get a store credit and have to drive twenty miles to the next branch of Target which still had iPods in stock.

Guess what?

That was full of rocks too.

And, apparently, Target wouldn't give a refund even then. (Presumably having blown such large sums fighting a losing battle to own the roundel trademark has left the company short of the readies.)

Now, this sounds like an urban myth to us, but the Star Telegram swears its true; they reckon there's something going on at the warehouse which supplies Target in Texas.

We'd love Family Dollar to launch a campaign with a slogan "When it says rocks on our box, you'll find rocks in our box."

Kershaw: suspended sentence

Andy Kershaw has been given a three month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, after admitting breaching a restraining order and drunk driving:

High Bailiff Michael Moyle told Kershaw he was not prepared to make him a "martyr".

Presumably Moyle was afraid the red-blooded Radio 3 audience would be chaining themselves to the outside of Douglas' jail.

Something to listen to: Cover joy

Here's something that's brightened our day: Skatterbrain is currently hosting a Siddeleys cover. The Luckmsiths have done a version of Falling Off Of My Feet Again, available as part of their rarities collection. (And you've got to love the idea that this implies there are some Lucksmiths tracks which are commonplace.)

For comparing & contrasting purposes, the original is also being hosted at the same site. The Siddeleys, one of the greatest of all lost indie bands, on a rainy morning in 2007. Who would be without the interent, eh?

Katona: that's why Mum's gone to Coventry

The board of Baugur must be delighted with their ongoing Kerry Katona fronted advertising campaigns - who better to stress the vital and important beyond mothers and children reflected in the adverts than Kerry Katona.

Hey, for Christmas, why don't they shoot an advert with Kerry's own mum in?

Eh, Kerry?

"I want nothing more to do with her.

"It's sad but it's taken me all this time to realise she's a nasty piece of work.

"She took me for a ride. She doesn't like Mark because he could see through her.

"It's awful to say but the only time I'll get peace from that woman is when she's dead.

"She isn't even mentally ill, she's just sick in the head."

Isn't illness being sick, and mental pertaining to the head, and thus "mentally ill" and "sick in the head" the same thing expressed with differing levels of delicacy?

Still, plenty there for Iceland's creatives to work with - they could run with a fireside scene of a table groaning under the weight of turkey-nose nuggets and breaded gristle-sticks, with Kerry and a screen husband (for some reason, they seem reluctant to cast Mark in these things) enjoying a stolen kiss over the seven-for-a-quid pizza bites, while Old Mother Katona stands outside in a howling snowstorm, face pressed to the window. Heartwarming, isn't it?

More George woe

The strange events which Boy George set in chain when he called the police claiming he'd been robbed by a rent boy continue to rumble, with more misery for Mr O'Dowd: now, he's having to shell out thirty grand to Kasia Saleh. She'd expected George to turn up at a Club Gay USA for Halloween 2005, but because he was too busy wasting police time, he didn't show. Saleh reckons his non-appearance "ruined" the event, so at least for his money George is getting a little bit of an ego-massage from the feeling that his non-presence can be so devastating.

Victoria Newton: factchecker

Yes, it is pretty poor that Q managed to mis-spell the Arctic Monkey's name on their award, but of we were Victoria Newton, we'd not crow quite so much about someone making a small slip. After all, with her track-record it's a bit like Vlad The Impaler trying to sue a place for giving him a papercut.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Might as well rain until Decemberists

The Decemberists aren't coming any more. They've pulled their UK dates due to some half-explained illness:

With much regret The Decemberists have cancelled the remainder of our European tour. One of our band members is ill and needs to return immediately home to mend.

Our deepest apologies to all of our fans whom have purchased tickets to our forthcoming European shows. Unfortunately our calendar doesn't allow us to return to Europe at any point soon so please refund tickets at point of purchase.

Well, that's vague, then.

Yahoo! context and hubris

Ian Rogers has worked in both what we still call 'new' media and for record companies in the past; he was with WinAmp; he's currently with Yahoo! Music and has just posted a presentation he gave to some "friends in the music industry" in which threw down an interesting new policy.

First, he illustrated that convenience will always win out over hubris (or, rather, the perception that better makes people happy to pay and jump through hoops):

History tells us: convenience wins, hubris loses. “Who is going to want a shitty quality LP when these 78s sound so good? Who wants a hissy cassette when they have an awesome quadrophonic system? Who wants digitized music on discs now that we have Dolby on our cassettes? Who wants to listen to compressed audio on their computers?” ANSWER: EVERYONE. Convenience wins, hubris loses.

Then, he extrapolated what this will mean for Yahoo!Music in future:
I’m here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I’ll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I won’t let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. I will tell Yahoo! to give the money they were going to give me to build awesome media applications to Yahoo! Mail or Answers or some other deserving endeavor. I personally don’t have any more time to give and can’t bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value. Life’s too short. I want to delight consumers, not bum them out.

If, on the other hand, you’ve seen the light too, there’s a very fun road ahead for us all. Lets get beyond talking about how you get the music and into building context: reasons and ways to experience the music. The opportunity is in the chasm between the way we experience the content and the incredible user-created context of the Web.

So, what does this mean for Yahoo, then, besides a firm rejection of DRM? Rogers believes that Y! can offer something which iTunes - "a spreadsheet which plays music" - can't, and that's context to the music. By a strange coincidence, the 'context' is what Yahoo is kind of good at - or at least, should be.

Here's where we start to disagree with him - to be frank, although we're quite curious about matters musical, we've never once thought "if only iTunes could tell us what the drummer on this track ate for breakfast the day he played" and tapping the questions that we do have into a browser has never proved too onerous; indeed, we've got iTunes plugged into Firefox anyway thanks to FoxyTunes.

But convenience? That can only be a good thing.

Music in your face

At a meeting I found myself in last week, a wise man observed that the last thing Facebook users need now is another bunch of widgets to pull onto their already overcrowded homepages, which may mean it's totally the wrong time for Facebook to try and take on MySpace by introducing a way for bands to create artist's face pages with all the extra paraphernalia that'll involve.


Facebook has been making the rounds of music labels trying to get this service off the ground.

Oh, right. Here comes the brave new future of the music industry... so let's go and talk to the beached whales of the old labels about getting them on board first.

The cost of concerts

Tucked in Robert Sandall's Sunday Times piece on CDs and the music industry was this observation:

Now that live music rules, nobody bothers to complain about what it costs any more. Euphoria at the news earlier this year that the Police had reformed obliterated all concerns that it cost between £70 and £90 to see them play at Twickenham in September. I spoke to many fans at one of those gigs; not one complained about the ticket price.

Well, probably not - after all, if they had thought that seventy quid was too much to see Sting, they wouldn't have been at the gig for Sandall to talk to, would they?

But is this price inflation really happening without demur? Just because you can fill out a room with people willing to pay £100 doesn't mean it's actually the right thing to do; and for younger bands especially, making the audience select itself from amongst the rich could help kill the atmosphere. The rising price of ticket prices isn't a victimless crime.

Bearobit: Dainton Connell

Dainton Connell, for two decades a member of the Pet Shop Boys team, has died in a car accident in Moscow.

Originally part of the band's security before becoming a personal assistant, the man who was known as the Bear is the subject of a eulogy on the official Pet Shop Boys site:

Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant are "devastated" by this tragic news. They had known Dainton for almost 20 years, during which time he had worked for Pet Shop Boys as security and later as personal assistant. He was also a close friend.

"Dainton was a warm, kind, loveable friend, a huge Arsenal fan and a larger-than-life character, famous in North London and beyond. We are devastated by his sudden and tragic death and our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Mandy, and their family."

Dainton was being driven to a nightclub by Anton Antonov when Antonov lost control. The car hit a tree, crashed through a barrier and plunged into a river; medical reports suggest both men were dead after the impact of hitting the tree.

[Thanks to Karl T for the story]

... and these would be the 8th most important awards

What the British music industry needs, of course, are a few more awards ceremonies - after all, this month alone there are three nights where Amy Winehouse has nothing scheduled to send her apologies to.

Into what they clearly perceive as a gap steps XFM, who are announcing their own awards ceremony:

Xfm announce the launch of their awards ceremony acknowledging the best of 2007's new music. Based around one main prize 'The Xfm British Debut Album Of The Year' the awards will take place at Camden's Koko on January 16, 2008.

Ah. So it's a mini-Mercury, then.
Xfm's managing director Nick Davidson commented,

"Xfm have been thinking of holding an awards ceremony for a while now but we wanted to make sure we got it right, ensure it has real meaning and a focus point - we have chosen 'The Xfm British Debut Album of the Year' because we know new music, inside and out.

"This awards isn't for the industry but for our listeners and the bands to acknowledge the passion and hard work that goes into a debut album. We hope it will be a great evening for everyone that attends and that the bands in the running for the award are genuinely excited by the prospect of winning it."

It's not for the industry, it's for the listeners, eh - although, strangely, timed to try fit a lean mid-winter slump for sales and, we'd imagine, for record labels advertising on XFM. Presumably that's when the listeners asked for the event to be scheduled, though, so what could XFM do, eh?

They're the seventh most important awards of the year

Here are the winners of today's Q Awards, held on a Monday lunchtime over a bare dinner table, like a head of departments meeting in a failing comprehensive, and with about as much impact:

Best act in the world today
Arctic Monkeys

Best album
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

Best track
Manic Street Preachers, Your Love Alone is Not Enough

Best video
Kaiser Chiefs, Ruby

Best new act
The Enemy

Best breakthrough artist
Kate Nash

Best live act

Classic song award
Stereophonics, Local Boy in the Photograph

Classic album award
The Verve, Urban Hymns

Classic songwriter award
Billy Bragg

Innovation in sound award
Sigur Ros

Lifetime achievement award
Johnny Marr

Q merit award
Ryan Adams

Q hero
Anthony H Wilson

Q legend
Ian Brown

Q inspiration
Damon Albarn

Q idol
Kylie Minogue

Q icon
Sir Paul McCartney

Most of these prizes seem to be decided by who'd turn up, and so veer between the "really?" and the ho-hum; the appearance of the Stereophonics as a "classic song award" is, however, interesting - Local Boy In The Photograph is certainly the best thing they ever did, but surely Kelly Jones won't be delighted by the public acknowledgment that, effectively, it was downhill all the way from the moment the band first broke through?

Doherty didn't try to die

Well, you can imagine our surprise at the Johnny Headlock/News of the World claims of Pete Doherty suicide attempt being so rapidly and firmly denied by Doherty's people. Why, it's almost as Headlock was an unreliable witness or something.

Even more interestingly, Doherty's manager is denying Headlock was Pete's minder. Like, for some reason, they were undergoing a swift distancing campaign.

Billie Joe reveals 'real' and 'stagnant' are antonyms

Poor old Green Day - having wrought a world in which every band is a bit like them (by making being a bit like Blink 182 seem, sort of, cool), they're now struggling to find isnpiration for their next record:

“We have a lot of music – something like 45 songs. It’s total chaos, I want to dig into who I am and what I’m feeling at this moment – which is middle aged.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years now. You want to make sure you’re being honest with yourself. I also have to ask myself ‘what’s real out there?’ Right now, it seems stagnant.”

We're not sure that stagnancy and unreality are the same thing, and we're a little lost as to why a stagnant music scene would suddenly make recording music difficult - isn't it better to have something to react against.

How, we wonder, does Armstrong check that the songs he's writing are being honest with him? Does he hire a detective to go through their bins, checking for unexplained restaurant receipts or discarded gifts? Or does he use a lie detector test of some sort?

Brits live again

Next year's Brit awards are going to repeat this year's experiment with an almost live broadcast on TV. Presumably the producers were reassured that nothing whatsoever unexpected, interesting or surprising happened during this year's event.

Oh, if Slash says it's important...

The curious attempt by the NME to put right what once went wrong - like a balding punk Sam Beckett, they're trying to fix the chart for the Sex Pistols - continues to run, despite the awkward truth that McClaren's men did anything other than fail to make the number one spot and then spent the next thirty years imagining a conspiracy orchestrated by the Palace and the BBC which even Al-Fayed would reject as a bit far-fetched.

They've discovered that Slash, the man who pulls off the surprising trick of being the cartooniest of the cartoons who make up Velvet Revolver, is supporting the 'campaign'. You or I, finding Slash supported out aims, would almost certainly recalibrate our desires. Not so the NME, who wave the endorsement around like a two-bit politician who's suddenly got a letter of support from Nelson Mandela:

"If you can pull that off, that will be fucking huge," he declared. "Of course I'd [buy a copy to help the cause]. I don't know how you buy a copy these days. You have to go online to buy one?"

Perhaps it would have been better to have left out the last couple of sentences, as they hardly do much to dispel the sense that this is some sort of old fogey's outing. ("Off the internetwork, you say? And where does one go to find a branch of this internetwork?").

And why would it be "fucking huge" anyway? Ooh, a record from thirty years ago at number one. Yes, that really would turn our sense inside out and use our synapses as scatter cushions. Just like when Elvis Presley was number one in 2005, you mean?

It's not that it's just irrelevant - in an age when BBC One will happily trail its autumn season with a pop at the Queen, and be castigated for inaccuracy rather than a lack of deference - but it's astonishingly irrelevant. It's as old now as 'I'd Like To Get You On A Slow Boat To China' was when 'God Save The Queen' was released; any impact it may have had in its context has long since been diminished and the song exists solely as a moment on the K-Tel soundtrack of old men's memories.

What is its role today? It's warm up of choice for Oasis tribute band Kasabian:
"We always have it on in the dressing room before gigs, we listen to it just before going onstage. I'm backing the campaign!"

The really sad thing is that we don't recall the NME getting this excited about any song made so far this decade. If we must have a campaign, how about sweeping Ting Tings to number one, rather than something from Simon Bates' Golden Hour?

T in advance

We were a little surprised to see this claim in our feedreader:

Amy Winehouse to play T In The Park 2008

Blimey; she can't be relied upon to turn up to things booked a day in advance; ten months is surely pushing it.

But at, the headline has its all-important question mark in place.

And she's not even been approached yet, the story is that Geoff Ellis is considering inviting her to play. And they read it in the Record. Which constitutes less a story about the 2008 T in the Park line-up, more a peek at the back of an envelope wish list.

Liverpool one

As part of the Capital of Culture jamboree, Liverpool acts are getting involved in a project which sees 40 Scouse-ish acts covering forty number one hits by other Scouse acts.

These are on board already:

China Crisis – Starry Eyed
Dave McCabe (The Zutons) - Bad To Me
Elvis Costello – Little Children
OMD - Whole Again
The Real Thing - Eleanor Rigby
Ian McCulloch - Imagine tbc
Scaffold - Re-written version of the 3 Lions
The Farm – Needles and Pins
The Christians - My Sweet Lord
Thea Gilmore feat Mike Cave - You Spin Me Right Round
Atomic Kitten - Anyone Who Had a Heart:
The Icicle Works - Woman
Shack - Day Tripper
The Real People - Hey Jude
Ray Quinn - You to Me Are Everything
Deacon Blue feat Connie Lush - tbc
Dr and the Medics - Two Tribes
Towers Of London – Get Back
Sonia Evans - She Loves You
Anthony Hannah - Relax

It's an interesting idea, although it does throw into relief how far The Beatles have been responsible for the record number of number ones held by the city. There's also some strange presences on the record already - although Donny Tourette tells the Echo he's "proud" of his roots, it's a bit of a stretch to claim the Towers of London as a Liverpool act, isn't it? Although not as far a stretch as Deacon bloody Blue.


The Onion's American Voices consider the Radiohead honesty box system:

"I hope that means there's no limit to how much I can pay. The main way I know how to express appreciation is through money."

Ditto remarks

There was a fairly standard piece on Beth Ditto in the Sunday Telegraph this weekend - of the "she's fat, gay, ate squirrels" piece, in whihc she's given another easy ride. However, ardent Ditto-watchers will be interested to spot this:

This time, Kate Moss gets it – ‘She looks boring as hell’

So we can only assume that Moss has stopped returning calls, then.

In the paper, she's returned to the "having turned Top Shop down" line after having seemingly forgotten doing this during her Jonathan Ross interview; she also makes much of her rejection of the "big machine" - like Nike and Converse - while conveniently forgetting playing Swarovski Fashion Rocks. Perhaps she thinks Swarovski is a bloke who hand-makes all of those small glittery animals.

Lily Allen: consistency

Lily Allen's position on those who hold up being wafer-thin as the only form of human perfection couldn't be clearer:

, “Fashion editors can fuck off. Lots of them are responsible for the skinny issue. If fashion editors put bigger models in their magazines, then maybe girls wouldn’t be sticking their fingers down their throats so much.

“It makes me so angry, they should think more about what they’re doing to the younger generation.

“It’s in the magazines’ and advertisers’ interests to make girls want to be skinny and feel shit about themselves because then they will go out and buy their products. It’s just another part of the capitalist, materialistic, evil world that we live in.”

Indeed. And - however much her music might consist of spiteful nursery rhymes set to a Madness covers band backing track - at least Lily's unequivocal rejection of the demand that all role models be sticks is something of which she can be justly proud.

Oh, hang on a moment. The Daily Mail is excitedly announcing that she's dropped from a size 12 to a size 8:
Allen, 22, is delighted with her new look and said: "After the hypnotism, I want to go to the gym every day, otherwise I feel really bad.

"I just want to get more toned and healthy. I'm really good about everything at the moment - I've never been happier."

Aah, so it's alright, then - she's not dieting, like the way those evil capitalist magazines want, she's getting toned. So, erm, that's alright then.

How the charts work

If you can bear to look at the terrible new layout of the online Sun, there's a fascinating lesson in how the charts work, according to Victoria Newton:

SUGABABES have found the key to chart success – showing a bit of leg.

KEISHA, HEIDI and AMELLE flashed the flesh during a show at London club night G.A.Y. – and then saw themselves hold on to the No1 slot in yesterday’s chart with new single About You Now.

Now, you and I might wonder how an appearance in a London nightclub on a Saturday night, which doesn't seem to have picked up any coverage apart from Newton's column the day after the chart was published would have influenced sales, but then we can't pretend to have Victoria's expertise in these matters.