Saturday, August 30, 2008

Amon Duul II Weekend: Between The Eyes

From Germany's answer to Top Of The Pops, Beat Club, this is a 1970 performance:

[Part of Amon Dull II weekend]

Winehouse under a legal cloud again

Given her non-appearance in Paris last night, Amy Winehouse might have some extra legal bother to deal with again:

A statement on the Rock En Seine website said Winehouse's appearance had to be scrapped at the "last minute".

The statement added: "We are very sorry about this situation and share the disappointment of the festival-goers."

Winehouse is said to be recovering at home. Her spokesman declined to comment on the threat of legal action.

He had previously said: "Amy Winehouse was regrettably unable to perform at the Rock En Seine show in Paris due to illness.

"She was taken ill at her house and wasn't able to travel to France for the concert."

Presumably, if you're so ill you can't travel, you'd know more than two hours in advance - I know the Eurostar is brilliant, but even so, you wouldn't be thinking "well, I'm due on stage in Paris at eight o'clock, so I'll need to be heading off just after PM finished", would you?

This buggers the chances of REO Speedwagon being allowed into town

If you read this report of gig-related turmoil in the Patriot News, you might think it was Slipknot or Marilyn Manson who'd come to town:

Police said eight of the arrests were for underage drinking, and five were for disorderly conduct. Police said one person was charged with trespassing.

Township police were assisted by the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and the Dauphin County sheriff's office.

But no: It was Journey who caused this crime.

How high must the drinking age be there if Journey fans are too young to drink?

MTV European fakes

There's been a warning that fake tickets with prices in the thousands are circulating for the MTV Europe awards. You can tell tickets being offered are fake, because genuine ones (a) aren't yet available and (b) aren't worth three figures, much less four.

Amon Duul II Weekend: Phallus Dei

An extract from a live performance of the Phallus Dei album:

[Part of the Amon Duul II weekend]

Like-o Candy

Mary Chain songs, lovingly recreated: The Jesus And Mary Chain Covers Project.

Gordon in the morning: Locked lips

It doesn't really matter who it's about, all you need to know is a grown man wrote this in a newspaper this morning:

The pair couldn’t keep their hands off each other and locked lips in full view of fellow frolickers in the bar.

Meanwhile, Gordon laps up Victoria Beckham's trip to Manchester:
They supped £8,000 of vintage bubbly Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs at posh Japanese venue Ithaca in the city.

With dinner included, the final bill was an eye-watering £10,000.

I bet hubby DAVID was relieved to know her perfume producers Coty were footing the bill.

Let's just leave aside that if Beckham needed to raise ten grand, he'd probably need to, ooh, play thirteen seconds of football or do one twenty-millionth of a photoshoot, and just allow our jaws to drop at Smart's 1950s attitude. Mrs. Beckham is out promoting what we shall - this once - call with a straight face "her business"; Gordon assumes that the hubby will be underwriting it all. Let's just hope Victoria was back home in time to cook David's tea, eh, Gordon?

Embed and breakfast man: Amon Duul II

Something slightly Proggy and a lot Teutonic this weekend - that'll teach you for complaining about Britpop. Inspired by Rob Hughes' replaying of a 1973 Peel Session this week on 6Music, we're dipping into the back catalogue of Amon Duul II. Without Amon Duul II, it's probable there wouldn't have been Krautrock as we know it.

Founded in 1969 out of a schism in a commune-based improv band, Amon Duul II were the more successful of the two factions. They achieved chart success in the UK - along with the Peel Session - but a move to Atlantic Records irked the purists and marked a change in the music; striving for accessibility, and sales, resulted in an erosion of early support without much in the way of new fans to replace them. Oh, yeah, and punk. Punk definitely didn't help them. They called it a day in 1981, although the surviving members reunited to perform at drummer Peter Leopold's funeral in 2006.

Let's start near the very beginning - this is an untitled jam from 1969:

More about the band
Official site - aptly for a prog band, the site is completely over-engineered and slow to navigate
Wikpedia entry
Amon Duul II on Last.FM

Phallus Dei - debut album, and yes, it translates as God's cock.
Vive Le Trance
DVD of Phallus Dei live - not the greatest quality, but essential for aficionados

More video action across the weekend
Phallus Dei
Between The Eyes live on Beat Club
Surrounded By Stars live in 1975

Well, she was conceived after Cerys did her News Of The World bra and panties shoot, so...

Cerys Matthews is being credited - in part - for a resurgence in more traditional names for children in Wales. This is apparently a trend away from 'celebrity' names, although quite how naming your kid off the woman on I'm A Celebrity fits with that isn't explained.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Napster tries to block shareholders from board

The long, slow, public death of Napster enters a new wave of spasms, as "dissident shareholders" attempt to get voted onto the company's board in the face of stiff opposition from the current board. Why, say the current stewards of Napster, they don't even know about the business:

Their SEC filings describe work experiences—musician, nursing home executive, ice cream franchisee, middle management banking executive and other positions—that are irrelevant to a company like Napster competing in the highly sophisticated digital music industry.

If I was catty, I might point to Napster's flailing swoosh on the downward spiral and ask how all the current board's glitzy experience is actually helping them in the highly sophisticated digital music industry.

But it's worse than that, wail the board: the would-be members haven't even been on a board before:
The dissident group has provided no evidence showing that any of its members have ever served on the board of a public company, meaning they would require on-the-job training.

Goodness - can you imagine? Never mind that they might have some good ideas, or plans about how to salvage the mess - you'd have to teach them how to sit at a big table, and who knows if any of them have even seen a flipchart before? You know, the important Napster Board will be trying to do important business things, and these guys will be sitting there needing to have the hands-free telephone explained to them.

If 'never having been on a board before' disqualifies you from being on a board, what are we going to do when all the current board members of companies die off?
While we appreciate that the dissidents are music enthusiasts and subscribe to Napster’s service, such interests hardly qualify any of them to serve on your Board.

Yes: the Napster board think that being enthusiastic about the company and the business it is in doesn't really qualify you for having anything to add to the way the company is run. That's a tacit admission that anyone who really understands the highly sophisticated digital music industry has long since abandoned Napster as a bad deal - so any current customers clearly must be a bit klutzy. But, hey, the board have put it in a nice way.

The real beef, of course, is that the dissidents want Napster sold, and Napster sold quick; the current board know it has got to be sold, but want a more cautious approach - in other words, one which doesn't involve their arses being kicked out of the door.

The soundtrack album which feature the noises of joysticks being waggled

The history of computer games turned into movies is not, it has to be said, a glorious one. Bob Hoskins as a Super Mario Brother, anyone? That one with Kylie in? Admittedly, when Lunar JetMan was filmed as 2001 A Space Oddity [note to self - check on Wikipedia before posting this] it was a success, but generally, it's a genre which seems to exist solely to ensure that the 99p DVD box on my local newsagent's counter is always well-stocked.

Still, at least you can understand how a movie might be made from a computer game with a plot. What's less clear is how you'd adapt a game that's not story driven, and turn it into a movie. That, it seems, is the challenge Brett Ratner is setting himself, as he plans - yes, really - to turn Guitar Hero into a movie:

“I love ‘Guitar Hero’ and I think it’s a part of pop culture. I would love to do a ‘Guitar Hero’ movie, if Activision would ever let me. I’m trying to convince them, but why would you have a movie screw up such a huge franchise? Not that I would make a bad movie. So that would be cool, to do a ‘Guitar Hero’ movie. ”

But, listen, he's telling us the plot:
“It could be about a kid from a small town who dreams of being a rock star and he wins the ‘Guitar Hero’ competition. One of these dreams-[come-true] kind of concepts.”

You can see why this story would need to be about Guitar Hero - because otherwise it would be every TV movie ever made about teenagers competing in competitions, and how would you persuade a video game franchise to fund that, eh?

When you're putting an organ to your mouth, think of Bob Dylan

We're not quite sure what's taken him so long to get round to the obvious cash-making tie-in (perhaps he was just waiting for the very last of his credibility to vanish) but finally, you can buy a Bob Dylan harmonica. They're being made by the same company who did the Steve Tyler harmonicas last year, apparently - if you see someone sitting in a bar muttering "Dylan, Tyler... there must be someone else who uses harmonicas and loves money", that'd be an executive from Hohner.

[You might also enjoy: The extensive coverage we did of Tyler's mouth organ last year]

Lohan update

Since Lindsay posted her last, Micheal, her father, has been back on to his blab-outlet of choice, X17, with this classy riposte:

My father just, literally, died in my arms. I notified all my kids and my lawyer notified Dina's attorney. Let's see if she has the decency and respect to bring my kids to the wake and funeral. THIS will show her true colors!

Now, kids, that's respect - you actually wait until your parent has expired before issuing the challenge to your ex-wife and kids. Nobody warms to a guy who starts turning the funeral into a celeb-slapfest before the corpse is cold.

It's unclear if Lohan also left the hospital room before sending out his challenges to Dina, although since his Blackberry couldn't do any harm once the medical equipment was no longer required, we shouldn't think badly of him if he didn't.

Lohan behold

Time, once again, to turn our attention to the happy world of the Lohans, where Lindsay Lohan's dating of Samantha Ronson has now brought the Kaiser Chiefs just one degree of separation shy of getting a spot on E! Entertainment Television.

Lohan's father, though - who seems to be offering TV networks a chance to pay for him to slag off his daughter - is incensed that Samantha Ronson is making herself famous by kissing his daughter. Though, to be fair, even if that is her motivation, surely that still puts her one moral notch above a man who makes himself famous by verbally bitch-slapping his daughter.

Still, Lindsay can take this no more - and let's be generous and not assume that the "this" isn't "the spotlight being on someone else for a moment" in this case, and lambasts her father's decision to air what remains of the family's dirty laundry in public:

If you have something to say to me, say it to my face -- that's what I have believed my whole life. Don't be a coward and say it to others first, let alone all the media in the world.

The effect of this high-minded appeal to talk face-to-face and not, via advertising-supported proxies, over each other's heads to the court of public opinion is only slightly diminished by being published on Lohan's MySpace blog.

Cradle To small glass office for several hours

Cradle To Grave have pulled their US tour, or rather, had their US tour pulled, after The Department Of Homeland Security weighed them and found them wanting.

The band have released a press release - although this isn't the first time they've been turned back, having been blocked at immigration in the past because "their name might incite violence" and had visa applications knocked down for a lack of artistic merit.

[Singer Greg] Cavanagh commented: "Contrary to popular belief, the US doesn't welcome all foreign musicians with open arms," he chuckled sarcastically. "We regret to say this, but the tour is over before it even started. Thanks to everyone that worked so hard to bring us down there for the shows we had booked. We'll hopefully have better luck next time and be able to play for all you crazy West Coast metalheads."

We're not sure who might hold this supposedly popular belief that the US welcomes foreign artists with open arms, but you've got to love a metal band which uses the phrase "he chuckled sarcastically" in its press releases. Can you even chuckle sarcastically? What would a hollow chuckle actually sound like?

The band claim that the border patrol failed to listen to them - something, to be fair, that the DHS staff have in common with most music lovers.

Where was Joss?

Talking of Barack, though: he's named his vice-presidential running mate. He's accepted the nomination. He's given Hillary a chance to do something other than run through the figures for the Clinton 2012 campaign.

And yet no sign yet of that campaign song Gordon Smart insisted Joss Stone was writing for him.

Psst, Barack - Bono isn't actually an official part of US iconography

And more from the inbox: Barry S emails to point out that Barack took to the stage at Invesco Field last night to the strains of City Of Blinding Lights. Presumably a signal that - while he embraces Hope and Change, he doesn't intend to dismantle the US state's carefully constructed reliance on Bono to provide high office with a carapace of presumed cool.

Also, we'd have used Coors Field if it had been us. They've got fountains.

"Watch out for the cycle path? I thought you said beware of the psychopath"

Another email from James P:

You may remember a story a few months back about a Meat
Loaf impersonator getting threats from Meat Loaf himself, over his tourbus's similarity to Meat Loaf's own.

It gets worse for the poor chap.

He's currently in a legal battle with a working men's club where he was due to play. He refused to go onstage after his tribute bus got stuck up a cycle track where staff had directed him. According to the article, "Club staff also demolished a fence and took down a bollard in a bid to get him to the venue, but to no avail". It's not clear whether that's referring to the bus or the Meat Loaf.

Anyhow, he's now taking the club to court for his £800 fee. Unfortunately they in return have successfully counter-sued for £1950 in lost ticket sales. This is on top of the £1000 he was forced to spend on respraying the tourbus to keep Meatloaf happy.

Is there an unluckier tribute artist out there (besides the Gary Glitter acts, obviously)? I don't know of any. Surely this is PR gold for the real Meatloaf though, who can now claim that he's put some sort of demonic curse on the bus? I reckon a simple statement to the press saying "Meatloaf wishes him the best of luck with the next MOT, as it'd be terrible if it failed..." would do wonders for his image.

James ends up suggesting they never had this trouble with Vengabus, although to be fair, the Venga Boys never got the lucrative Thirsk and Sowerby Institute gig.

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this is that the club stood to make about a thousand quid on the deal in the first place - no wonder they were ripping up bollards and pulling down fences to try and get the fake Meat Loaf (Quorn Loaf?) into the building.

It turns out there had been a simple solution all along:
Kevin Andrew, secretary of the Thirsk and Sowerby Institute, said: "A lot of people were very disappointed. We had to tell people on the door it was not going ahead.

"He could have parked on a doctor's car park and we would have helped him with his equipment, but he sped off and didn't give us a chance to offer him alternative access.

"He was bang out of order."

Come on, Mr. Andrew - you can't really complain if you hire a Meat Loaf tribute who leaves like a Bat of Hell, can you?

That's about ten pence a bleep

An email arrives from James P:

This may be interesting, or I may be the last person in the world to have found it... I just clicked the banner on xrrf for the new Little Jackie single (which I rather like). Perhaps unsurprisingly, it took me to a page where I could buy it:

According to this page, I can download the nice clean edited version for 99p. However, the 'explicit version' is on special offer for just 50p. It's a foul-mouthed bargain! Is this a common occurance? Can I save money on my downloading if I develop a liking for smutty-yet-chirpy pop songs?

How much longer must we keep flinging this cut-price filth at our kids, etc.

Of course, this does make economic sense - anyone can say "arsebiscuits" or "stickyflaps", but it takes a skilled artisan time and effort to carefully remove the sweary bits from the songs. You're paying for that talent, you see.

Darkness at 3AM: Chippy off the old block

What the 3AM Girls don't explain is why, if Natt Weller hates being Paul's son so much, he turned up to pick up his Dad's awards at awards promoting something called

Moaning, moaning, all the way:

"I might as well turn into Calum Best now - get fat, sleep with loads of girls and end up in rehab."

Well, getting yourself into the 3AM column for doing little more than dancing to some PR agency's tune is the first step into turning into Calum Best.

Gordon in the morning: Something fishy

Most people - especially if they were Oasis fans - would do their best to suppress a story which has one of their heroes having a painting of Spongebob Squarepants done for his living room:

The OASIS frontman has commissioned an artist to paint him a massive portrait of the cartoon sponge — in the style of ANDY WARHOL.

Not Gordon, though, who somehow spins 500 words out of it. That's not counting a grim top ten of fish-themed Oasis songs (Sushi's Electric Eel, that kind of thing.)

Included what sounds like a suspiciously cod (it's catching, sorry) quote from Liam:
“SpongeBob is a fucking mental, full-of-beans, enthusiastic sponge that lives at the bottom of the sea in Bikini Bottom. He’s mad for it.

“He’s got a mate called Squidward, who plays the clarinet and is grumpy like our kid NOEL. I’m having a huge painting done at the minute, a proper Andy Warhol-style portrait of SpongeBob.

“He’ll be facing Elvis and Hendrix in the living room.”

Now, I'm not Alan Turing, but to me this sounds like something you might get out of an automated Liam Gallagher quote generator. Maybe Liam just rings up and says "big painting of a child's toy, could you chuck in a few mad for its and a joshing reference to my brother Noel? Thank you."

Lydon spreads himself thinly

The next time John Lydon starts on one of his oh-so-interesting rants about how he's the true spirit of punk and how he never got involved in marketing campaigns and it was all trees round here and so on, he'll be doing so from the perspective of a man who is doing an advert. An advert for Country Life butter.

Once people thought he might topple the Queen herself. Now, he's only capable of unseating these guys:

But it's all for charity

"Is everything she does imbued with low-grade innuendo" asks Michael M, pointing us in the direction of Katy Perry as she has her breasts moulded for charity.

That's as in 'a cast made of', rather than left half-cooked out of the fridge in hot weather. Naturally, the process has been videoed. (There's YouTube if you really want to see Perry getting her tits covered in a sticky white substance. The moulds will be sold to raise funds for a good cause.

Nobody would object to Perry deciding to help out a charity, even with some low-grade teen porn, but given that the charity she's 'helping' is a breast cancer one, is this really the best way to do so? Selling pert little tits made of plaster in aid of women who've lost a breast to cancer seems dangerously close to having a sponsored hop to raise funds for people who've had legs amputated.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

... and you might be better off watching at home

Given what happened at the Radiohead Hollywood Bowl gig, the safest place to be watching the band tonight might be online. According to reports in LA Weekly, security guards working for the Bowl attacked Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting, F-Yeah Fest founders. The pair filmed the strong-arming of a bloke being thrown out of the Bowl:

The guards, employees of CSC Security, the company contracted by the Bowl to provide protection, were being overly rough with him, alleges Carlson. “They're strangling him – brutally. He's gasping for air.” Reich turned his camera directly on the action as the CSC guards continued to restrain the man.

“The guy was screaming,” remembers Reich, “and trying to tell them that he would leave peacefully if they let him go.”

“The guard walked up to [Reich] and said, 'What the fuck do you think you're filming?' and grabbed at the camera,” says one eyewitness who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. According to the witness, Carlson walked over to intervene, whereupon the security guard pushed Carlson to the ground, sending the flyers scattering across the pavement. Reich filmed this, as well. The eyewitness and his wife, not wanting to get involved, continued toward their car, but notified the L.A. police officers -- “at least six or seven of them,” he says -- stationed at the Bowl entry that there was trouble up above. He says that they did nothing.

As the pair left, one of the guards, it's claimed, suddenly realised that the video was the sort of thing that winds up on YouTube making people look bad, and a chase through traffic ensued as they tried to get the camera.

This is where it gets even worse - as the LA cops sat by and watched:
As Reich headed south on Highland, he spied one of the many police officers who patrol the Bowl. “I cut across and headed that way, thinking, 'He will prevent these guys from taking my tape.'” The guards caught up to him and allegedly tackled him in front of the officer. Another guard restrained Carlson, who was trying to help Reich secure the tape. Reich spotted bystander Dawes, and threw it to him. “I knew that then at least we'd be able to get the tape later,” reasoned Reich. “I figured, there's no way that the security guards are just going to assault this random dude in front of a cop.”

He was wrong. Remembers Dawes: “It landed within five feet of me. I leaned down to pick it up and I got tackled by two of the dudes. They threw me into that ivy-covered wall and I was trying to get them off me. At one point there were three guards on me. I threw the tape to Sean, and that's when it got really ugly.” Dawes alleges that one of the security guards threw Carlson into an electrical box. “He hurled him into it, then threw him onto the ground -- at this point there are two or three officers there. [The security guards] smashed his head into the pavement as they're trying to cuff him, the cops aren't doing anything. I'm yelling, 'Officer, this is your jurisdiction -- this isn't Hollywood Bowl property anymore. Don't let them do this.'” Dawes recalls that the officers replied that they “give event staff leeway.”

That's pretty bad - for the police to cheerfully admit they let a private security firm make the rules on public property seems to be the dereliction of about six types of duty; to allow them to actually assault people on the street really ought to be sacking offence.

After some more violence, according to the pair's tale, Carlson was handcuffed - again by private security - and marched back onto Hollywood Bowl property (that would seem to be kidnapping to us).

The lax attitude of cops towards the private security may partly be explained by the officially-sanctioned moonlighting of LA cops as on-site security.

The official cop response to the allegations:
Captain Girmala says that the Hollywood Bowl hires off-duty LAPD officers for crowd and traffic control issues. She says those officers are “supposed to help during the immediacy of an incident, and are directed to contact on-duty officers if it is determined to be necessary.” She adds that CSC security officers assigned to the Bowl are not permitted to carry actions outside of Hollywood Bowl property. “They're basically to stay within the venue itself, and if anything rises to the level of serious incident, they are to contact the police.” She says that the off-duty officers have radios that are in sync with CSC security.

Girmala says that she's waiting for a more thorough report on the incident, and will comment further once she's apprised of the situation.

The 'security should call the police if there's a serious incident' rule is a brilliant one. Unless, of course, it's security which is perpetrating the incident.

Radiohead tonight

GreenPlastic Radiohead says that Colin out of Radiohead has told them that the band are going to be webcasting their gig from Santa Barbara Bowl tonight via Dead Air Space. Live and free.

Everyone else will be online in the morning to tell them how they've "failed" in some way by doing this.

I'm not going to teach anyone how to dance for you again

The Black Kids might not bother with another record, because it's too much like hard work, complains Reggie Youngblood:

"I don't know if there's going to be a second record. If anything, [performing] has hindered my songwriting because I'm used to writing on my own pace, at my leisure, or while I'm supposed to be working a proper job. I don't really have time to sit down. When I'm not performing, I'm usually really tired and just want to sleep."

So it's that, then, and not the way that everyone was being simply beastly to the band five minutes after they arrived.

DiFranco enForumed

There's just a single date on the Ani DiFranco 'tour' of the UK: she's playing the forum on October 29th at the Kentish Town Forum. Support is coming from Hamell On Trial and Anais Mitchell - both of whom are on DiFranco's Righteous Babe label. Which probably puts the stress on them a little.

Deus ex Manchester - and Dublin and London

News spots in our inbox about three Deus dates in the UK & Ireland this October:

Monday 13 October – DUBLIN – Tripod
Tuesday 14 October – MANCHESTER – Academy3
Wednesday 15 October – LONDON – KOKO

Cuba cracks down on punks

There is a place where punk still threatens the status quo, then: Cuban authorities have arrested Gorki Aguila, singer with Porno Para Ricardo:

Gorki Aguila is 39 years of age & has been visited by his father according to Elizardo Sánchez of the Cuban council for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) a group which has in turn argued that there is no legal basis for the charges and reiterated their hope that popular support will see those charges dropped. Accordingly an open letter from a cross section of 150 Cuban artists and musicians has been published and a petition has begun on line. The group CCDHRN are already pressurising for the release of an estimated 300 political prisoners.

The Associated Press reports that he's facing trial for "social dangerousness" - behaviour contrary to "Communist morality".

Curiously, the Manic Street Preachers - who, at least once, were quite punky and attempted an aural and lyrical assault on social norms - were welcomed with open arms by the current regime not so long ago. Perhaps Nicky Wire might like to have a word with Havana...

Johnny Vaughan's Next Top Model

We're given to understand the press release for this story came with the words "we give it six months" written in invisible ink all over it: Lisa Snowdon is to co-present Capital's breakfast show.

We say co-present; that would imply some sort of interaction and chemistry between Johnny Vaughan and her.

Vaughan has put together some sort of statement:

"I'm delighted to have Lisa as my new co-host. Her enthusiasm for her new role is self-evident and she's a natural behind the mic. Lisa is a great addition to the Capital breakfast show."

Which, Global GCap executives agree, is saying all the right things. Even if there's nothing there to make the casual listener think "wow - that sounds like a double act I can't miss..."

"I couldn't think of a better way to start the day than with Mr Vaughan and the breakfast gang. He keeps me on my toes and has me in stitches for the whole four hours.

"I have grown up with Capital and having the opportunity to work with Johnny on London's most iconic breakfast show is a dream come true for me."

Is Johnny Vaughan's the "most iconic" breakfast show? Even if you allow for there being degrees of iconism, if you say 'breakfast show presenters in London' isn't Tarrant still the first one that springs to mind? And Baker, even though he's in the afternoons now, is still more iconic than Vaughan, surely?

And is 'listen to Johnny make me laugh for four hours' as compelling an offer to an audience as Snowdon seems to think?

Whigfield: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton - despite what the internet might have you believe - is not dead. She is alive and well.

Estelle's album falls off the Apple tree

Emboldened - or emstupidened - by the sales of Kid Rock's album without appearing on iTunes, the majors are once again trying to pressure Apple into letting them dictate the retail terms for iTunes.

Atlantic have pulled a four month old Estelle album from iTunes as some sort of statement - although since not even major label bosses would believe that Kid Rock's album sold because the kids liked the "not available on iTunes" cachet, it's hard to see what the point is.

The labels dislike that Apple allows cherry-picking of tracks rather than bundling the rubbish fillers up with the few decent songs. This, though, explains why the non-appearance of the album on iTunes didn't overly hurt Rock's sales - had it been available there, people would have just bought the single and left the sludgey gloop of the rest of the record unwanted on the virtual shelves. Rock could probably have sold a million more copies of the single through iTunes, but it's unlikely he would have shifted many full sets of tracks from the album session.

Actually, I'm thinking we should encourage the labels in this new pursuit - for what better way of having it flagged that nobody would want most of the tracks on an album than deciding it's not worth bothering letting people buy them individually. The sticker might say 'not on iTunes'; it could be read as 'stick to the single - or wait for Now That's What I Call Music'

MTV plot over-literal Katy Perry performance

Given that Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl has all the subtlety of a Simon Heffer think piece, it's surprising to discover that MTV executives are afraid that their viewers might not have got the point of the song, and are trying to get her to kiss a girl while performing her hit single Look! Look! I've Had A CosmoGirl Style Bi-Try Experimental Snog With A Girl! Me, Over Here! Little Bit Gay! OMG Not "Gay" Gay Though Like, Cringe Or What?.

And through a process which we can only conclude involved typing FAMOOS LESBIAN into Google, they're angling for Lindsay Lohan. Which would take a grindingly obvious stunt record, add a screamingly hackneyed stunt, and call for a flatly unsurprising guest appearance.

Now: if it was Blanche from the Golden Girls, then we'd offer some respect.

Gary Glitter no longer his own worse enemy

Simon Heffer, earlier this week, writing in the Daily Telegraph:

Most rational people would find it quite acceptable if he were to be taken out and shot in the back of the head, and will be regretting that he came through his three years in a Vietnamese jail in quite such good shape.

Really? Heffer believes that "most rational people" would applaud vigilante justice and summary executions?

You can almost hear the memo flying through the air from the Telegraph lawyers, worrying about a possible charge of incitement, in the next paragraph:
I am not for a moment suggesting that anyone outraged by the existence of Gadd, or who fears for their own children when this man is loose on British soil, should take the law into his own hands.

Because that would be unacceptable. Oh, but hang on, though: Heffer has said that "rational people" wouldn't think it unacceptable. So is Heffer saying that he doesn't consider himself to be rational? That would make sense, as a lack of rational thought would explain two such contradictory paragraphs.

[via Greenslade]

Knight in the cells

Suge Knight has been thrown in jail, accused of beating his girlfriend while brandishing a knife. Although, as balance, the police point out:

“He did not stab her,” said Officer Jacinto Rivera, a department spokesman.

He's all heart.

Darkness at 3AM: Dude plucks hair like a lady, apparently

The 3AMies do seem to be quite serious here:

Preening Gmtv presenter Andrew Castle is proud to admit he wears make-up but may be a little too metrosexual. Andrew, 44, (or is that Andrea?) tells Closer magazine: "I'm not ashamed to say I've invested in nasal hair trimmers."

Oh, he plucks the hair from his nose. He must be a girl if he does that. Ha ha, is he called AndreA? Ha ha ha. Ha. Ha.

Scottish XFM dances away

XFM in Scotland - which originally won its place on the FM airwaves as Beat 106, promising Scottish alt-rock - is to be turned into a Galaxy branded dance station after the completion of the GCap-Global merger:

In an email to staff Darren Henley, the managing director of the music brands Classic FM, Xfm and Choice FM, said the process would "take a month or two".

"In the meantime we will still be broadcasting as Xfm Scotland but inevitably our focus will move towards the launch of the new station as the weeks go by," said Henley.

"I know that there has been a lot of uncertainty and change over the past few months for everyone in Glasgow - and I really do appreciate the very professional way in which you have all carried on working so hard and your willingness to embrace change."

Although, presumably, the staff who present indie shows are now going to have to embrace the change of not actually having a job any more.

Global, of course, is thrilled at what it sees as a chance to sell more advertising - sorry, bring an experience of some sort... new... what is it, again?
The Global Radio executive director, Richard Park, said: "Central Scotland can prepare itself to receive Britain's fastest-growing radio station aimed at young people and the prospect of the output from the Glasgow studios is an exciting one."

The people in Central Scotland who already enjoy XFM, presumably, aren't important and won't be able to stand in the way of this "fast-growing station aimed at the young peoples".

Gordon in the morning: And guess who was with him? Yeah, Julie.

Today's Bizarre column isn't just lame, it's got a date for fitting with special orthopedic shoes. Smart kicks off by trumpeting:

Duff dates

LOOKING at these pictures I thought DUFFY was trying her own version of Blind Date — and needed a Graham for a quick reminder how to do it.

You thought that, did you?

But what was really happening, Gordon?
But it seems the singer wasn’t on three fast dates after all.

But the only men here are her bandmates.

So, then, you have photos of Duffy talking to men she works with... and this would be a story how, exactly?

Perhaps showing how low the bar has been set on Bizarre today, there's even a guest piece - presumably the money you make developing property in Brighton hasn't got so poor she's auditioning for Pete Samson's job - by Julie Burchill. Burchill announced a year ago she was quitting journalism, and to be fair, you can't get further away from journalism than the Bizarre website. Burchill turns in a 50th birthday article about Michael Jackson, which reveals that he was young when he was famous, and has had a strange life since:
That kid who sang I Want You Back all those years ago, seemingly so full of the joy of life, has become a broken shadow of a man.

It's not that it's a hacked-together article without much of a point, but you do expect to see citation needed scattered across it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drummerobit: Steve Foley

Steve Foley, the late-era drummer for The Replacements, has died after apparently overdosing on prescription medicine.

One of six children, Foley's father was less than thrilled at his choice of career; it was only when he joined the Replacements that his father accepted the decision.

Foley replaced Chris Mars on the Replacements drum stool for the last year of the band's existence, and then followed Tommy Stinson into Bash And Pop.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Foley had been struggling with depression in recent years, but the overdose appears to have been accidental. He had recently been working as a car salesman.

A return to Vienna

Ultravox - what Midge Ure did before he became the bagman for Bob Geldof - are re-releasing Rage In Eden and Vienna, both in luxurious double CD editions. September 22nd is the US release date; they're calling them the Remastered Definitive Editions, which means the best you can possibly imagine until they do the next re-release.

FBI protects 'Chinese Democracy' the way the Chinese government protects itself from democracy

The guy who posted up nine songs he claimed were from Chinese Democracy back in June has been arrested by the FBI:

A man [Kevin Gogill] accused of posting nine previously unreleased songs by the rock band Guns N' Roses on a website where they could be accessed by the public was arrested at his home early today on suspicion of violating federal copyright laws, authorities said.

Thank god there's so little crime in America the FBI have got nothing better to do with American's tax dollars.

Can we all PayPal some money to Diddy?

Let's hope that when they find a way to help those being crushed by the rising price of fuel, first in the line for assistance is P Diddy. The man is suffering, damnit:

Gas prices are too motherfucking high. As you know, I do own my own jet and I have been having flying back and forth to LA pursuing my acting career. Now, if I'm flying back and forth, like, twice in a month that's like $200,000 or $250,000 round trip. FUCK that. I'm back on American Airlines right now. Ok? Your boy Diddy right now is on American Airlines. Look. I want to give a shout out to all my Saudi Arabian brothers and sisters and all my brothers and sisters from all the countries that have oil, if you could all please send me some oil for my jet I would truly appreciate it. But right now, can you believe it, I am actually flying commercial. That's how high gas prices are ok, so I feel you. Look, I'm at the gate right now. This is proof that gas prices are too high, we need to do something about it, so tell whoever the next president is that we need to bring gas back down.

You know what? Let's just rip up Alaska now. I didn't realise Diddy was having to fly on commercial planes. We really must find him some oil.

[via I Don't Like You In That Way]

Polluting the body politic

Barack Obama - and with a slightly less straight face, John McCain - both pledged some time ago to reduce the presence of lobbyists in American politics.

That hasn't stopped the RIAA spending record company shareholder's cash turning up at Denver:

Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the RIAA, said RIAA president Cary Sherman and others from the recording industry are in Denver "to be relevant to the political process. We'll be in Minnesota next week."

Mmm. Yes, since you ask, I did throw up a little in my mouth at that "relevant to the political process" - why should a business lobby group feel they need to be connected to the political process at all? Should they not just wait for democracy to run its course and then see if they're relevant any more?

Glastonbury 2009: Registration remains

Michael Eavis has announced the plans for selling Glastonbury tickets for 2009.

And, yes, you're going to need to register again:

"We have come up with a scheme that will allow people a much longer period to plan and pay for their tickets, while still continuing the battle against ticket touting.

"By paying as little as £50 up front this year, festival-goers from all over the world will be able to guarantee a ticket for next year's event. At the same time the very successful registration scheme will ensure that tickets will only go to those named individuals who have reserved them in advance."

That would be the "very successful registration scheme" that helped leave piles of unsold tickets this year, and which had to be quietly dropped in a bid to try and get the venue up to capacity.

And, yes, you read it correctly: there's going to be a deposit system, where you can secure your tickets for fifty quid now, and pay the balance of £125 by February. Yes, that does make £175 for a ticket.

If you don't decide to buy a ticket in the end, Glastonbury will still pocket a tenner - graciously returning forty quid. This, apparently, covers "administration" - nice to see that Glastonbury has embraced the fee structures of the High Street Banks whereby you're charged a large sum for a small amount of work. You might wonder if the interest earned in sitting on piles of fifty quids for half a year or so might not cover the cost of this administration in full, but that would be allowing cynicism to stare down on the festival.

And what if you buy a ticket this autumn and are unable to attend next summer - perhaps because you end up in a Turkish jail, or get a job as a weekend sous chef? You can return your tickets - again, the organisation will charge a ten pound fee for your trouble - but you can't pass the tickets on to your brother, uncle, sister or dogwalker:
Tickets may not be transferred to another name. Should you be concerned you will be unable to attend the Festival due to unforeseen circumstances, you may wish to consider insuring your ticket.

There's no word on how much this would cost - around ten quid, probably - but since after May 8th you can't even return your tickets at all, not even for a ten quid admin fee, it might be a good idea after all.

Yes, May 8th. A month and a half before the festival, effectively any value inherent in your ticket vanishes at that point, and if you can't go - tough.

There's also this strange little image at the bottom of the FAQ page. Fair enough, marking the page as being the only official source of information on the Glastonbury tickets - but why is it an image rather than a piece of text? Furthermore, an image which has alt and title attributes simply of "Tickets and Registration Notice" - which isn't going to be very informative for people who use screen readers.

DMX tries some of that Alan Shaw fancy talk

How best to win over the judge who is listening to your case? If you;re DMX, you might try a little gentle haggling over the arraignment hearing:

After the judge denied DMX's bond and set his next court date for October 3, the serial arrestee eloquently said, "I ain't coming back on fucking October 3."

The judge made it clear that, actually, he is.

Pete Wentz stands up to be counted. Asks not be counted.

It's great to see young people getting involved with politics. Normally.

Pete Wentz - the frontman for the Ax deodorant brand - is putting out a record on election day. So, then, it's a political record?

"The title of the new album is Folie à Deux. It means 'the shared madness of two' — thank you,," FOB bassist Pete Wentz laughed. "It's not an overtly political record, but I'm not gonna say what it is."

"And I also wouldn't say it's not a political record, it's just one of those things," frontman Patrick Stump added. "We'll just let the record speak for itself, but it is coming out on Election Day."

Aha. "It's just one of those things" - well, there's a rallying cry for the masses. That noise? Oh, that was the ghost of Phil Ochs sicking his tear ducts up, that was.

We guess 'it's just one of those things' translates as 'you can say it's political providing it doesn't harm sales or the lucrative deals whereby our videos are used to flog products to the audience.'

Download: Ladytron remix

The nice people at RCRDLBL, having already given away their vowels, want to give more. And so they're making available a free Ladytron remix download of Ghosts. For you to keep and love.

Any more slicethepie?

It's not a new idea, but the involvement of Steve Pankhurst has helped generate some interest in Bandstocks.

Pankhurst was a founder of Friends Reunited, the service which lets you find out where the people you went to school with are now ("on Facebook", normally) and he's put some of the cash he got offloading the site to ITV into the new scheme. It's another one of those places where bands can appeal to fans to pay the costs of producing an album up front:

Bandstocks will let the public buy a stake in an artist in £10 increments. Once funding reaches a preordained level, for example £100,000, the money will be released for the act to record an album.

Investors will get a copy of the album, a credit on the CD sleeve and a percentage of the profits from its sale and licensing. They will also get priority ticket booking and the opportunity to buy limited edition releases. For the artist, founder Andrew Lewis claimed that Bandstocks would offer a better return than a major-label deal, as well as more freedom and control over copyright.

It's a great idea, but we're still puzzling over how a 100 grand album, paid for in ten quid chunks, would find space to squeeze in the names of ten thousand sponsors on the CD box.

Still, it's an idea that does work - and, effectively, puts 'funding an album' on a par with 'sponsoring a lemur at Chester Zoo' - although if you sponsor a lemur you get free tickets to see him do his thing. But not a free record.

Bandstocks has apparently got Martin Carr lined up to raise funds through its service, and - the crucial difference with similar services - it looks like the idea is to exert a quality control-cum-artistic judgement criteria on who will be able to apply for funding this way, rather than just providing the tools and inviting everyone to wade in. That, then, should help tempt cautious investors by building up a more positive track record of success.

Led to the wrong conclusion

Goodness - Is this the comeback to end all comebacks?:

Led Zeppelin Confirmed Working on New Materials

Erm, no, as it's already marked down in the standfirst:
Led Zeppelin's drummer Jason Bonham revealed that they, minus vocalist Robert Plant, are back in the studio for the first time in more than 20 years.

And, strictly speaking, Jason Bonham isn't "Led Zeppelin's drummer", he's the son of Led Zeppelin's drummer.

Still, if you'd count Macca, Ringo and Julian Lennon as a Beatles reunion, it counts.
"I've been working with Jimmy and John Paul and trying to do some new material and some writing," Jason said. "I don't know what it will be, but it will be something."

The guess is, Jason, if it's anything, it's most likely to be a slightly disappointing tarnishing of reputation.

But you're dead to me NOW, father

Even by the low standards of the X Factor, pretending you don't know who your real family is to stay in the programme is a bit low. But that's what Alan Turner (not the portly manager of NY Estates' Beckindale office) did, throwing himself on the mercy of the judges:

The 23-year- old call centre worker claimed on Saturday night's ITV show that he had been in foster care since he was four and wanted to 'prove to his real family that he was not a waste of space and to make my foster parent proud'.

He told the judges: 'As much as I love my foster parent for all she has done, I want to get to know my real family. I would just love it if they were to get in touch with me and to say they did want to see me.

'I know it sounds a bit corny but I just want a real family - to know my real mum and real dad and just for them to say we love you no matter what.'

And, of course, the best way to do that would be, erm, to have the Christmas number one single and a couple of walk-on parts in Woolworths ads sometimes towards the back end of 2009.

This, though, came as something of a surprise to his Dad - also called Alan Turner, and also nothing to do with farm manger-turned-publican:
But his shocked father, also called Alan Turner, said: 'It is utterly untrue. I am astonished - he absolutely knows who we are and where we are.

'Over the years that have gone by I have seen him and spent time with him. We have the photographs to prove it. I have always said to him that if you ever need to see me or speak to me then I am here.

Of course, ITV would never want to mislead its audience. Unless there's some cash to be made. The X Factor explains:
A spokesman for The X Factor said: 'We've spoken to Alan Turner and he assures us that the allegations made against him are not true and he has not lied to anyone.

'As far as we're concerned Alan has not deceived us and this does not affect his place within the show.'

Although, interestingly, an off-the-record programme source has it slightly differently:
A source on The X Factor said: 'It is true that Alan has spoken to his dad. The issue is that he feels his dad has never really let him into his life so what Alan was trying to do was to ask him to do so.'

So it's that sort of not-really-a-lie lie, then. Perhaps it would be safer if contestants concentrated on the singing rather than backstories.

Still, it's a happy outcome - Alan Jr wanted his dad to play a bigger role in his life, and now Alan senior is doing so by telling the papers that his son is a liar. Nice to see a happy ending, isn't it?

Kid Rock insists he was soggy and damp, thank you

Back in June, Kid Rock failed to show at Download, with organisers insisting he had dehyrdation.

Rock has suddenly decided to get upset about this, insisting it wasn't true:

"They (festival bosses) treated me like fuck. There was just one trailer for my whole band. We had no water, no bathroom, no rider.

"The final straw was when they wouldn't give my crew any food or drinks vouchers.

And the star insists he warned promoters he would pull out if his needs were not catered for - and reacted badly to their snubs by urinating in the organiser's office.

He adds, "I called the promoter and told him he had two hours to get it sorted or I was out. They did nothing so I visited the promoter's office, took a piss on his couch and left."

Oh, boo hoo, they had to share a trailer and Rock's "crew" would have to pay for sandwiches and beer out of Rock's fee. Does Rock think that throwing a tantrum over having to share a caravan makes him look better than people thinking he forgot to drink?

Still, pissing on furniture at least establishes you have no fluid problems.

Gordon in the morning: Burial with a capital B

Today's Bizarre column is stuffed with breasts - Kate Moss on a photoshoot (model does modeling - hold the front page); Uma Thurman down a long lens; Oasis announcing an extra date.

Let us, instead, turn to the current Private Eye, which explores the surprising appearance of a five-month-old Burial interview in Gordon's column, introduced with a claim that Burial had "conducted a Bizarre phone interview". When Guardian writer Dan Hancox asked Gordon to explain how a chat with him became a talk with Smart's column, Gordon replied by blaming it on the subs:

Bizarre was lower case when I left the office. A bad mistake which I have slapped the wrists of a sub for. No ill-intentions I can assure you."

What a shame Gordon chose to use a word to describe the perfectly normal interview that was the same as the title of his column - who knew that could cause confusion? And, presumably the same "sub" excised the words "with The Guardian five months ago" from Smart's copy - after all, there wasn't the ill intention of trying to pass off someone else's work from last winter as a new interview, so there can be no other explanation for the failure to credit the piece.

Cher: What's new, Pussycat?

As the rebooted Batman franchise looks forward to making a second mountain of money ("second movie"), the big question is who is going to play Catwoman.

Okay, the real question is when will they announce Angelina Jolie will play Catwoman, but - wait! Some tension has entered the cat casting question: Cher's face (her current one) is apparently in the frame:

“I would LOVE nothing more than for Cher to play Catwoman,” said her manager Risa Shapiro in this morning’s phone interview. “She’d be great. She’s one of the most extraordinary women anyone could ever meet. But I haven’t received any phone call about this, and hadn’t even heard about it .”

They can do astonishing things with CGI these days, so it might be not beyond the realms of possibility that Cher could be made to look like Jolie in post-production. And she would be wearing a mask most of the time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Liveblog: Michael Stipe on The One Show

Somewhat oddly, Michael Stipe is guesting on NuNationwide this evening.

Adrian Chiles - freshly back from Beijing - asks Stipe about the Olympic legacy in Atlanta: Have they forgotten about the Olympics?

"Yeah, pretty much... I know The rents went up and didn't come back down again..."

TVAM veteran and Tory teddybear hugger Giles Brandereth has delivered a report on rich people who give away their fortunes rather than pass the money on to their kids.

Christine Blakeley says how much she admires people who give money secretly; Giles says that entrepreneurs think their kids would be better off without anything. Adrian points out that giving away "all" but fifty million isn't really leaving yourself short, while Stipe looks awkward.

"I give away money but don't talk about it. I'm not a christian but I come from a Christian background and you don't talk about your philanthropy..."

"So, what do you give to?" asks Adrian.

Stipe vaguely says they do a lot here and there, before flashing up a photo of him and Bono. "We're great friends" says Stipe "and through him I've met people like Bill Gates."

They play a video to get Brandereth off the sofa; Chiles chides Stipe over an anti-TV line in the new single. "It's about our president" says Michael, explaining it's about GWB "desecrating" the memory of Martin Luther King.

Blakeley leads him into a few blandishments about Michelle Obama before pronouncing Barack "exceptional". "I think he's going to make it" to the White House "and it will be a better day for all of us."

There's some nice Old Grey Whistle Test clippage - "I remember that... I had hair - it covered the scars..."

"It doesn't take you long to get ready in the morning" chirrups Christine.

Adrian asks if the appetite is still there for touring - luckily, yes, says Michael. Who's here to sell tour tickets, of course. But this is all a lead-in to a piece by Phil Tuffnel on red sheep by the side of the M8.

Tuffers complains that most road statues are up north. Stipe is starting to look like he wishes they'd checked the programme before signing up to come on, as they show him some on the road pictures and ask him to comment: "do you shave all your head before you go on stage?"

Miranda thingy off Coast rolls round for her series on butterflies - "this is the bad boy of the butterfly world" warns Adrian. It's "the dreaded cabbage white", it turns out.

Michael Stipe is now blinking at the gardening woman who follows the film about how great cabbage whites are by saying that she squirts them.

I think he was trying to stay awake - he looks like he could quite easily drift off. Adrian makes a good attempt to include him in things - "would you like to sniff a budleia?" - before giving him a chance to plug the next date in Twickenham.

Michael doesn't have to play, though - they've got a tribute banned (called Stipe) in to do the honours. They do That's The End Of The Show As We Know It. Stipe looks like he hopes he looks like he's enjoying it.

And that's it... on with EastEnders.

Another free download: The Peth

We'd really like to dislike The Peth, with the presence of Rhys Ifans at their apex. And, while it's true that they add little to the great book of rock that hasn't already been done before, there's something like gormless fun to be had.

And had here, in the free single: Let's Go Fucking Mental.

Yes, even with gratuitous swearing, it's still just the right side of gormless fun.

You Say Remix, We Say Play

In a bid to excite people about the You Say Party We Say Die remix album Remik's Cube, they're giving away a free mp3. This one:

The Montage remix of Opportunity

You can also stream the whole album via Imeem.

Dress you up

The revelation that Coldplay like to make their own clothes is, perhaps, surprising - although everybody needs an outlet for creativity and, clearly, their music wouldn't perform that function.

This, though, is what was really strange about Chris Martin's quote. Talking about checking in to hotels, he said:

"We see if they have a sewing kit in the amenities drawer in case we feel inspired."

The amenities drawer? Given that this man is supposed to be a songwriter, what sort of phrase it "the amenities drawer"? And wouldn't it be more obvious to look in the bathroom, where the sewing kit usually sits alongside the showercaps and mini-shampoos?

But then: he expects us to believe they use hotel sewing kits to stitch together stage uniforms. The piddly little needles you get in a sewing kit in a hotel are barely enough to fix a button to a pair of trousers, never mind knock up a stage outfit. The suspicion must be this is what Martin thinks is whimsy. Which is even more numbing than thinking he's sitting up all night stitching sequins on his trousers.

Ticketmaster won't like it

It's currently (it looks like) only live in the Americas but LiveStub is offering a new approach to the secondary ticketing problem.

It reckons that it's going to build a transparent ticket marketplace, offering people the opportunity to see the best-value tickets on offer for whichever event. So you can still get scalped, but only to the level of a grey-market scalping. Hypebot is quite impressed:

The internet has created an expectation of free - from music and movies via P2P to Google's latest application or service. Free, however, did not extend to the re-sale of concert tickets; the so called secondary ticket market. Sites like StubHub tacked on as much as 20% for the privilege of reselling your extra seats.

Concert_ticket's goal is to change ticket resales with a free online service that also makes the transaction more transparent; and Morten Lund, the Dane whose early investment helped propel Skype, is putting his financial muscle behind it.

The problem is that primary ticket sellers aren't really bothered about secondary markets being bear pits, anarchy-dens or fraud-beacons. They just don't like the idea of people extracting value from something they've sold for less money. So don't expect to see Ticketmaster embracing this service any time soon... unless they decided to buy the company and add the technology to their site. In which case: don't expect it to remain free for long.

R Kelly and the missing millions

There's been a strange twist in the case of the woman who pocketed a large sum of money for a non-existent R Kelly tour of South Africa.

Busiswe Zakwe is expected to enter a guilty plea when the case comes to court but, when asked what happened to the money, she says she gave loads to Kelly himself.

Now, fair enough, she's a fraudster, so you might expect her to say that. But South African police have checked her story, and they're satisfied that she did transfer 11 million Rand to one of Kelly's bank accounts - but don't quite know why, nor if the cash was returned.

The solution? They're going to want a chat with Kelly. Just when he thought his time spent with police had come to an end.

Of course, it's perfectly possible the money went into his organisation rather than his personal account, and that Kelly himself may know nothing about the dealings at all.

Darkness at 3AM: Turn it up

The 3AM Girls are all of a twitter at Metallica:

Rock legends Metallica were so disgusted by the sound quality at Reading Festival that they were ready to pay a £10K fine to crank up the volume. Now there's a band that goes up to 11...

How rock of them. Never mind that the real question is not the 'fine' levied on the Festival, but the question of what happens next year when the Reading Festival comes to ask for a licence. Given that you could happily picture homes being built on the lucrative site in Reading, councillors who would rather help builders than host rock concerts might wonder if taking the attitude that you view environmental controls as something you balance against profits rather than strict regulations is not a sign that the festival doesn't take its licence terms all that seriously.

A million Muxtapes

With the RIAA's hollow victory in closing down Muxtape, while alternatives spring up, you know what would really suck for them? If someone released open-source software which allowed anyone with a server and the inclination to launch a Muxtape-type service. That would mean that, rather in the way they killed Napster rather than deal with a single service, and ended up with a squillion torrents instead, they'd killed off a popular service they could have explored licensing, and instead face a world with a million, smaller services to try and cope with.

Meet OpenTape.

Fashion has no mercy...

Kelly Osbourne's Project Catwalk has been canned by Sky. Never mind, Kels, it gives you more time to concentrate on that all-singing, all-dancing variety show your mom's got lined up for American TV. Now, what size in spangly top hat do you need?

Gordon in the morning: Blow up

Jaw-dropping excitement from the Kasabian camp via Gordon this morning:

Serge: "Grenade could have blown us to pieces"

Bloody hell - did somebody toss a hand grenade at Kasabian, then?

Erm... not quite:
KASABIAN guitarist SERGE PIZZORNO has had a lucky escape from the most rock’n’roll death of all time.

Oh, yes?
The Leicester rock lord had the entire street evacuated around his new West London gaff after builders uncovered an unexploded wartime grenade in his back garden.

Oh. So it's not actually the "most rock and roll death", it's rather "a recreation of one of the weaker Coronation Street plots of the last couple of years", then.
Luckily for Serge — and his neighbours — bomb-disposal experts managed to diffuse the explosive before disaster struck.

Indeed. When was the last time someone was killed in the UK by a undiscovered wartime ordinance? Not, I suspect, since closer to the Second World War.
Talking of his close call, Serge said: “All it could have taken was the vibrations from a kickabout in the garden or some loud music and we would have been blown to pieces in a pile of rubble and smoke."

Although given it had been lying in the garden for sixty odd years and was only turned up by building work, it's more than likely that the grenade was happily buried. And may well have been past the point of exploding anyway - the army treat all of these cases as if they might be dangerous, but that doesn't mean they are.

Serge hints that this is his Cobain moment:
“I’m 27 as well and there’s a tradition of musicians meeting their end at my age."

Only the good ones, Serge.

But then comes the kicker:
"It’s all sorted now and we should be moving in there in a few weeks."

Move in? So you weren't even living there when the grenade was found? This, then, would be a near-death experience in the way a Ryanair airport is near where it says its flying to.

Paul Thompson finds space in Gordon's columns to report a shock:
Madge 'Hitler' jibe at McCain

Published: Today
MADONNA sparked a political furore yesterday — by comparing US presidential candidate JOHN McCAIN to ADOLF HITLER.

She sparked this furore "yesterday", did she, then? Not on, erm, Saturday, when she first flashed the pictures up?

Ah, but, no, because a Sun reader might wonder why, if she made the comparison on Saturday night, the paper didn't notice until Tuesday morning.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moby heads off for space

For years, Moby has bristled when interviewers ask him about how his ecological beliefs square with his music popping up in car commercials. He'll be delighted to know that won't happen any more.

Because there's a much more jaw-dropping "don't do as I do, do as I say" element popping up in his future:

Moby signed up with Virgin Galactic to rocket into outer space on the first space tourism flight in 2010 for $207,000 U.S.

Ah, yes, burning through an enormous pile of fuel, pumping extra emissions into the atmosphere and bursting through the ozone layer for no reason other than to be able to say "I went in a plane high up in the sky". That's the way to show your support for, Moby.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number one

So, here we are, then, as the Bank Holiday ticks away - the number one from 1988's Festive Fifty. Perhaps surprisingly - given that The House Of Love tend not to be the first band on people's lips when remembering the post-C86 era - it's Destroy The Heart which took the honour. Snub TV provides the footage:

Buy: The Creation Years

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Producerobit: Jerry Finn

Jerry Finn - who has been pronounced dead several times online over the last few weeks - actually passed on Thursday 21st, reports Billboard.

The 39 year-old had worked with most of the figures in the post-Green Day "punk" scene - his big break had been engineering on Dookie - but after a list of credits including AFI and Blink 182, he took on the perhaps surprising role as producer for Morrissey's You Are The Quarry. This year, his last major production work would be for Morrissey again, on Years Of Refusal.

Finn suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in July and was taken off life support earlier this month. There are plans for a memorial fund in his name.

Suddenly, McCain's closing of the gap is less of a surprise

As if Madonna's 'hey, isn't McCain like Hitler, huh?" wasn't enough to comfort the Republicans, there's this:

Dave Stewart - yes, the one out the Eurythmics, who was born deep in the US of Sunderland - has made the above, with help from Barry Manilow, Jason Alexander - the Seinfeld one, not the bloke who married Britney - and Whoopi Goldberg; it's five and a half minutes long, and we reckon two minutes in would make a poverty-stricken pensioner with a malfunctioning kidney decide that they'd be better off with McCain.

Hello, Hollywood. Please stop "helping". Thank you.

... whereas who can't do a spot of rapping?

Fabolous might want to think a little harder before discussing his career path:

"I thought I was going to be an artist. I went to art and design high school. I drew cartoon characters. Then I realised I wasn't very good, so I turned to music."

Given that drawing cartoons doesn't always call for the highest level of artistic skill, this doesn't really suggest Fabolous viewed rap as a difficult option.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number two

The Wedding Present's Nobody's Twisting Your Arm - here captured in a Chart Show indie chart top ten (from the fifth March 1988, if you're keeping notes).

Buy: Thank Yer Very Glad

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number three

More genius from the Creation stable, as Jesus And Mary Chain kick off the top three with Sidewalking - surprisingly their only appearance in the run down in 1988:

Buy: 21 Singles

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

First Night: Fifty year-old woman relies on her spectacles

Saturday night saw Madonna kick off her Suck Me Hard tour in the Millennium Centre at Cardiff. So, was it worth kicking a bunch of kids' charity football tournament out for?

The reviews are in.

The South Wales Echo found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that people prepared to blow the cash for the tickets were delighted, and thrilled:

Die-hard fans said they enjoyed watching her prowl around in her stylish outfits and vowed to continue to buy Madonna’s records.

Well, yes - that would be what would mark out a die-hard fan from a fair-weather one, presumably.
Sarah Pearson, 27, of Aberystwyth, said: “It was fantastic. I danced the whole way through it. I paid £250 to get into the golden circle without having to queue, but it was well worth it.”

God, yes... a couple of hundred quid is so worth it to avoid having to stand up for a little while. In a queue.

But some people were worried they didn't get value for money:
Susan Harvey, 49, of Whitchurch, Cardiff, said: “I expected her to say thank you to us, considering we came along for the opening night. Her singing was good, but there was no interaction.

“She didn’t do any of the traditional stuff that everyone loves her for. For £85 a ticket, I was really disappointed.”

Since the show considered a fair amount of showing off, and a bit of celeb-mate name-dropping, the Echo concludes that this section of the audience is upset that there was no ho-hum soft-porny bits.

But it's not Madonna's fault if it was a bit flat. It's us. We've let her down:
Una Magill, 30, from Belfast, said: “It just wasn’t as good as her last tour. I think the audience was a bit quiet. There was no drive from the crowd.”

Bad audience. How dare you not make Madonna's eighty-five quid show a success.

While she might have decided to dispense with diamond-encrusted dildoes, Madge did attempt to whip up a bit of a lather with some sixth form politics. Of course, the right wing media have bounced all over it, because it was frankly lame. Right Pundits were the first:
Well, during the concert she used an interlude to knock people over the head with not-so-subtle images to demonize McCain and sanctify Obama. Surely it wasn’t intended to be subliminal, but it was about a subtle as a train wreck.

During an interlude images of fire and brimstone, destruction and … gasp …. global warming, were flashed on a screen. Those images were followed by images of Adolph Hitler, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and … you guessed it …. John McCain.

Later, the same screen was used to project images of peace, love, doves and rainbows. There were images of Beatle John Lennon, Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and … you guessed it … Barack Obama.

It's almost as if Madge is a Republican. Does she really think this sort of thing is a help to the liberal movement? It gives the right an open goal to kick for, and makes anyone on the centre-left look like they have no sense of perspective.

Of course, she wanted a reaction. And a reaction she has got. Tucker Bounds, McCain's press spokesvoice, pops up in the New York Daily News:
In a statement, Tucker Bounds, McCain's spokesman, slammed Madonna and labeled Obama as a kindred celebrity.

"The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time," he said. "It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attack off-limits."

And he does have a point.

Back with the performance, and Bloomberg's Mark Beech was taken:
And forget about an encore. When Madonna was finished, bright lights came on saying ``Game Over.'' She meant it.

It's that queenly attitude, and arrogance, that help explain why she is the world's most successful female artist with 200 million record sales and counting. Madonna kept her talent bubbling through the two-hour gig.

Does arrogance really make her popular? Really?

Unlike the South Wales Echo, for whom the diehard fans were the ones delighted, Bloomberg reckons the die hards were the disgruntled:
Many Madonna fans left the Millennium Stadium in ecstasy. Her tours are all different, with new songs and fresh ideas. Only a few diehard fans were muttering about the sacrilege of reworking old tracks. (Heck, they are Madonna's creations: she can do what she likes with them. And she's known for sacrilege.)

For Showbiz Spy, Guy Rithcie "explains" Britney's cameo:
MADONNA's husband GUY RITCHIE has explained how BRITNEY SPEARS came to make a cameo appearance in his wife's new stage show - it was based on a real-life incident.
the concert included a special video appearance from Spears, who is seen dancing in an elevator.

And Ritchie admits that Spears' role in the show was created after Madonna saw a video of a similar incident.

He says, "Britney in the lift is based on real footage the missus saw of someone stuck in a lift for 48 hours. The dancing is inspired by what happened inside."

Well, that Madonna had basically copied an idea from the viral that was attached to that New Yorker article about the bloke trapped in a lift is hardly news - BoyCulture spotted it straight away - but that doesn't actually explain what Britney was doing in the video, does it?

The FT's Ludovic Hunter-Tilney was less-than-impressed:
The sense of incoherence reached deep into the production. High-tech visuals brought absent collaborators such as Kanye West and Justin Timberlake to life on a succession of screens, yet the technological wizardry failed to gel with the live action. "Devil Wouldn't Recognise You", a tired ballad from Hard Candy , found Madonna in gloomy gothic robes performing within a circular structure on which vast images of raindrops were projected. The devil of the song's title would have struggled to recognise her amid the murk.

Dance routines were subdued, and too many songs found Madonna indulging her recent but rudimentary enthusiasm for playing electric guitar, which had the unhappy effect of leaving her static as she concentrated on some elementary chord change. "Borderline", from her debut album in 1983, was transformed into kindergarten stadium rock. "Ray of Light" sparkled, but the lack of movement as Madonna plucked away leached the song of vigour.

The FT's final verdict?
The show's calculated nature was revealed by her unwillingness to go off script: her first cry to the crowd consisted of the unpromising request, "Are you with me Cardiff? Have you had enough?" towards the end of the show.

Helen Pidd, who went for The Guardian, offers four stars but warns Maddy to drop the guitar hero stance:
At first, it's a good gag seeing the first lady of pop inexpertly brandishing an axe. Her Grade One chords work a treat on a grungey version of Borderline. But as the set wears on, and she plays her way through some of her greatest pop songs - even Ray of Light - you long for Mark E Smith to come on and unplug her amp.

In The Observer, Amelia Hill met some more annoyed fans:
Lynne, wearing her best silky cowboy shirt and pink, flashing angel wings, is outraged. 'It's bollocks, that's what it is,' she said. 'One and a half hours late and she still hasn't bothered to come on stage? It's disrespectful. I've driven down two hours from Birmingham. This just isn't right.'

Madonna might do well to remember that - however in charge she likes to feel - at the end of the night, her tours are underwritten by the people picking up the tickets. Hill reports that by nine o'clock, the auditorium was starting to ripple with boos.

And DandyWalker was getting annoyed:
We waited, and waited and waited. Where the hell was that bitch???!!!!

The crowd started to get tetchy, 3 hours had passed of just starring at an empty stage. No support act to ease the wait, nothing. Just other peoples body odour and, and baring in mind the audience was mostly men who would hold hands, over powering aftershave.

Eventually, she puts in an appearance:
Suddenly it was as though the last three hours was merely a limbo stage. It's almost like she wanted to completely numb our senses to make sure we paid full attention. The lights went down and came up and revealed upon her throne there she was. The crowd were immediately won over, she had us where she wanted us.

Of course! It wasn't a fantastically rude failure to appear ontime, or try and keep the crowd entertained while waiting. It was all part of the show. Being bored to tears was part of the experience - how clever Madonna is.

So the audience forgave her. Being a Madonna fan, you learn to forgive. Lose yourself in the details, forgive, believe. Like MadonnaTribe:
There is a main set of screens at the main stage - which move and change shape and layout and are presented in the shape of a cube at the beginning of the show - and a double layer of semi-transparent cylinder-shaped screens above the satellite stage.

Then, there's a whole lot of smaller platforms, stage and ramps, and even conveyor belts, which disappear completely in the stage layout but pop out when the time is right. The catwalks is shaped as a ramp at the very beginning, then is transformed into a flat runway with steps coming down from the main stage, and then again in a conveyour belt. There's a platform moving from left to right (and the other way round), smaller platforms coming out around the satellite stage, this stage itself rises up, lowers down, and generally speaking there's a diffuse use of props and other smaller elements that Madonna had not used possibly since Drowned World Tour.

The stage goes up, and then lowers down. At least Madonna isn't setting out to disprove that what goes up must come down, then. Maybe that's for the next tour?

Madonnalicious, meanwhile, denies that the booing even happened in the first place. Sort-of:
The crowd booing because she was late on - NOT TRUE. The crowd did boo and then cheer and then boo but this was down to a rather disappointing, half hearted attempt at a mexican wave by the crowd. They booed when the crowd just didn't bother participating! Not because M was late on stage.

So the audience was booing itself, then. If this level of re-education keeps up, she won't even need to bother showing up for the next tour. Just get someone - perhaps in crotchless panties and stripper boots - to go on stage after five hours and tell them that Madonna has said they've had a great time. The audience will happily fall into line.

[You might also like: First Night of the 2006 tour]

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number four

The version which got everyone excited - the almost never-ending Take Me by The Wedding Present - was the session version. This isn't that - it's live, recorded at Wolverhampton's Little Civic Hall (presumably for people who don't feel very civil?). You might not need to look at your screen during this one.

Buy: An Evening With The Wedding Present DVD

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Me and you and Xiu Xiu too

Xiu Xiu are inviting their audience to be part of the band. There's three ways of getting involved, but this is the most interesting:

For the aurally inclined, visit Xiu Xiu's merch table, ask for the "tape recorder", and record a short audio fragment (text, music, etc.). Drummer Ches Smith will then write short percussion pieces incorporating the sounds recorded at every stop. After the tour, the pieces will be available at the Xiu Xiu blog as free mp3s, credited to each town.

You can also join in by asking nosey questions or by sending disposable cameras to the band for them to fill with pictures.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number five

Another band which is currently enjoying a reunion surge, then, at five, with the mighty Freak Scene by Dinosaur Jr.

Buy: Bug

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Darkness at 3AM: McFly assault the Queen

The 3AM Girls nod excitedly as McFly get over-excited about their appearance at the credit card promotional event in London yesterday:

The band kicked off the London 2012 party outside Buckingham Palace yesterday and think their singing was rather too raucous for the Queen's eardrums.

They told us: "We were so loud we were sure she was going to reach out of her window and say 'Oi, keep it down'."

Well, yes, I'd imagine if she did find herself in a position where she had to listen to you, she would be annoyed. But the level of the sound? That probably matters less than the sound itself.

Gordon in the morning: Telling lies

Gordon Smart is shocked today. Shocked. It turns out that people in showbusiness lie:

POP babe ANASTACIA has lied about her age for a decade, she confessed yesterday.

Poor Gordon must be startled. People making things up? It's hard to believe, isn't it?

It turns out that Anastacia is actually sixty-three.

Alright, not really. This making things up malarkey is clearly catching. She shaved four years off her age, which doesn't reflect incredibly well on her, but is hardly the greatest lie of all time. Gordon tries to work up some outrage:
She even kept up the fib when she fell ill with breast cancer at 35, claiming to be 31 — to give hope to other young sufferers.

This seems a little unfair - it's not like if you have breast cancer at 35 it's not cruelly young, is it? And it's a bit unfair to suggest she lied in order to "give hope" to younger cancer sufferers; she was already fibbing when she was diagnosed and, you'd guess, if you've just been told you've got cancer your first priority might not be correcting having shaved a few years off your CV.

Still, 'female entertainer lies a little about her age' is a massive story compared with one of Gordon's other scoops this morning:
ROCK giants REM went on stage hours after cops pulled a man’s body from the river outside their Manchester hotel yesterday.

Goodness - 'something unconnected happens near pop group; gig not cancelled'. It's a wonder Rebekah Wade wasn't breaking out the 75 point type.

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number six

And this, of course, is why all right thinking people were giddy with over-excitement when they returned. My Bloody Valentine's You Made Me Realise. This, live, from Amsterdam in 1988:

Buy: Remastered vinyl version of Isn't Anything

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

1988 Festive Fifty Weekend: Number seven

The highest placing for Pixies, with Gigantic. This is live, but no indication of where it was recorded.

Buy: Pixies Acoustic: Live in Newport

[Part of the 1988 Festive Fifty Weekend]

Mystery Jets won't take 'go' for an answer

The Leeds Festival managed to trip over its running times earlier today, winding up with the Mystery Jets ordered off stage after five songs.

The band weren't pleased, and scrapped with roadies as they tried to take their equipment down while they were still playing. Not effectively enough, though, as they still ended having their set cut pointlessly short.

More tributes to the organisational skills of Reading-Leeds: the main stage at Reading has had poor sound quality all weekend, which was 'beyond their control', reckons Melvin Benn:

"The levels on site are almost entirely dictated by the levels offsite," he explained. "The [local] council set levels by which noise, sound can't be above a certain decibel level on certain residential properties nearby [the site].

"They've set exactly the same level that they always set, but the atmospheric conditions [this year] has meant that the sound is staying low and hitting those decibel readings much, much earlier than normal. So we have to turn our levels down."

Oddly, Benn says he has a solution for next year - just one he hadn't bothered to put in place for this year, for some reason.

Meanwhile, when a fire broke out for the second day running at the Reading campsite, the fire engine trying to put it out got stuck in the mud - luckily, another engine was on hand to deal with the fire.

And - try not to picture this - Pink Eyes from Fucked Up stripped naked at Leeds. A brave NME reporter filed this report after peering through smoked glass:
During 'Vivian Girls', taken from the band's 2006 debut 'Hidden World', Pink Eyes, already stripped to the waist, took down his shorts and boxer shorts, tucked his genitals between his legs and faced the audience.

The singer then showed his naked buttocks to the cheering crowd.

They might want to leave the tickets for 2009 off the market for long enough to allow people to forget.