Saturday, March 07, 2009

The name's Estefan, Gloria Estefan

At first, it sounds like it's totally made up: the CIA trying to recruit Gloria Estefan.

You know, what was she going to do? Sneak out of gigs before the encore - like Duffy on her bike - and rush up to grab secret plans from a dead letter box?

But it turns out that the approach wasn't made to the pop star version of Estefan:

At the time the young singer was working as an interpreter for US Customs at Miami International airport.

"They realised I was someone who could pass as a regular person without raising any eyebrow," she told the Miami Herald.

Yes, Gloria. You could pass yourself off as a regular person because, erm, you were a regular person at the time.

Gloria hints that she might have never said never at all:
"Maybe I made the decision [to do it]," she said "What better cover than going around as a singer, talking to presidents, talking to kings, close to all the people they wanted access to? So, who knows?"

Yes. You've been spying, Gloria. Because what foreign potentate wouldn't reveal the location of their weapons of mass destruction when asked by the woman who sang Doctor Beat?

U2 play a stadium tour

Of course they bloody are.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Lefsetz, Bono and Obama

Bob Lefsetz posts a scorching response to the underperforming U2 album:

I saw U2 on Letterman, and what struck me was it was Dave’s show. It was like U2 were members of the peanut gallery, brought up on stage at the end of the telecast to perform for the children. How the fuck did we get here? How the fuck did rock and roll as renegade become I’m gonna do whatever the fuck it takes to try and sell my album. And STILL it doesn’t sell!

Are you stunned that U2 is predicted to sell 450,000 copies of "No Line On The Horizon" this week? You should be. Because despite all the exposure, despite all the banging on people’s heads, most members of the public have shrugged their collective shoulders and moved on, they just don’t care.

U2 is BEGGING us to buy their album. As did Bruce Springsteen a month ago. But it’s not working. Bruce’s album still isn’t gold. Marketing is dead. Because people see it for what it is, a push to close you so the perpetrator can get rich. There’s no message, no hope, no reward, just a coin in the pocket of the "artist".

Where in the Springsteen hype was the declaration that listening to his new album was gonna change your life? U2 moves their corporation out of Ireland to save taxes and President Obama says the rich must pay their share, so that our country can get back on its feet. Who does the rank and file support?

It ain’t Bono and the Edge, no fucking way.

Lars Ulrich becomes the sort of person Lars Ulrich wants locked up

Who is illegally downloading Metallica records?

Lars Ulrich, it turns out:

“I sat there myself and downloaded ‘Death Magnetic’ from the internet just to try it,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is how it works.’ I figured if there is anybody that has a right to download ‘Death Magnetic’ for free, it’s me.”

Ulrich and six of his friends supped on a bottle of wine at the drummer’s house and used an unnamed file-sharing client to download the album, which was released last September.

“We found it - this was like two or three days after it leaked. I was like, ‘you know what? I’ve gotta try this.’ We sat there and 30 minutes later I had ‘Death Magnetic’ in my computer. It was kind of bizarre.”

It's not clear if Lars realises that while he was downloading his record, it was also being made available for upload, and that he was, in effect, illegally sharing his own record - using the RIAA "like stealing CD" metaphor, that's "helping thieves carry pinched stock to their getaway car", of course.

Let's hope the RIAA turn up and drag him through court - if "it was my daughter, and I have no money" fails to melt the RIAA hearts, "but it's my record" will merely elicit hollow laughter.

[Thanks to Gary W for the link]

Anti-Flag: Watch out, you'll do yourself an injury


Justin Sane attempted to stage dive during Anti-Flag's Norwich date earlier in the week.

Nobody caught him. He broke his collarbone, and scuppered the band's UK tour.

Something to listen to: You'll Never Be 16 Again, again

Back during the exhaustive celebration of Radio One's 40th birthday, I wrote an entry about You'll Never Be 16 Again. Some twenty years after its first broadcast, it's getting a run out this week on 6Music Plays It Again. Hurrah!

Can we have Peeling Back The Years in its entirety now, please?

DAF punk

Something to scribble on your "wants" list: Mute are releasing a 20 track best-of from Deutsch Amerikanischen Freundschaft, to sit alongside their 30th anniversary tour.

Slim failure: Eminem loses Universal battle

Attempts by Eminem's producers to win half the royalties from download sales - through a court action against Universal - have failed; a court has rejected his demands.

FBT productions were looking to shift the standard 40% they get from physical sales to 50%. They argued that selling through iTunes and ringtones was a licensing deal; the judge agreed with Universal's view that a digital sale was the same as a CD sale and should be repaid at the same rate.

FBT are looking to appeal; in the meantime, the record labels will be delighted to have swerved what could have been a costly precedent.

It is funny, though: the RIAA insist all their battles for extra revenue from downloads is done to benefit the artists - and yet when the artists ask for some of the money, they end up having to go to court to have it argued why they can't get any.

Gordon in the morning: This is our short-term future

Oh, god. We're in for weeks and weeks of Michael Jackson's every single doing being fawned over and reported as the papers battle for access. Today, it's Michael Jackson goes to the theatre.

Now, even two months ago, the thought of Jacko choosing to visit Oliver - out of all his West End options - would have called for some high-concept snickering: the one with the large cast of urchin-children singing I'd Do Anything, eh? The one with Boy For Sale, eh?

But now: who would want to upset the man - or, rather, his people - when they need to be able to run exclusives from the back of the Dome?

So the coverage feeds the myth, not the gossips:

He was driven just under a mile to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane — home to the Lionel Bart show, which stars funnyman ROWAN ATKINSON as Fagin and famously features the song Where Is Love?

You might wonder why Gordon's team are focusing on Where Is Love, which is one of the lesser songs in the book. Could it be...
Jacko, in a shiny jacket, red and gold waistcoat and dark glasses — but MINUS his trademark lone glove — waved and shook well-wishers’ hands as he left his five-star London hotel.

... could it be we're reverse-engineering the headline?
Where Is Glove?

Is anyone under the age of eight still expecting Jackson to be wearing one glove all the time? Isn't that a bit like expecting Mark Wing-Davey to always have the second head attached?

Still, I'll bet a funny thing happened on the way to the theatre, right? There must be an amusing anecdote or two along the way?
The 2,000-plus sell-out crowd burst into laughter when a tannoy announcement requested that no pictures be taken.

Audience member Michelle Forrester, 32, said: “We all thought the announcement was about Jacko.”

Ha ha ha... actually, that is pretty funny; they've used Tannoy as if it was a generic rather than a brandname. Boy, the chuckles we're in for in the coming weeks.

Friday, March 06, 2009

U2: No multiplatinum on the horizon

Set against the current backdrop, you might feel that "only" flogging half a million albums in the first week in the US is the sort of "fail" most bands would chop their drummer up into little pieces for.

But from U2, No Line On The Horizon managing that is pretty humiliating. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb outsold its follow-up nearly two-for-one.

DigitalMusicNews is pointing the finger at the album being led out by a clunking single; certainly, there are signs of mounting panic at U2central in the deal that now sees the record being more-or-less given away as a four bucks download on That's presumably to try and shore up the numbers.

Folding magazines: Depression deepens; No Depression shrinks

No Depression, the lovely alt-country magazine, stopped being a lovely magazine and turned itself into a cheaper online-only beast.

It turns out that it wasn't cheap enough, and now is remaking itself as... a... thing... of some sort:

On October 1, we launched While traffic to the website has been great and the response positive, we have determined that it is impossible to bring in enough revenue to support our basic business expenses, the largest chunk of that being the editorial budget. We have soldiered on for as long as we can, but are left with no choice but to discontinue the editorial budget at the present time.

It is with great sadness that we come to this decision, as our great stable of writers has helped us to create the voice and spirit of No Depression for thirteen years. It is our hope that a business model for online content providers will emerge in the future that will allow us to resume providing quality music journalism. We are committed to placing our complete archive (75 issues) online for all to enjoy and are in the process of that currently.

Like Fabchannel earlier today, you have to conclude there might be some wisdom in this sort-of-stasis, freezing yourself like Walt Disney in the hope that you can be thawed out and resumed when someone comes up with a cure for there not being enough money to support stuff.

Major video embedding disabled by YouTube's request

That official videos from the major labels on YouTube are useless, as you can't embed them, is something I've always assumed is the major's fault.

It turns out not, not entirely, as a deep throat has explained to MediaMemo:

I work at a major label and I’ve been told informally that embedding is disabled on our label’s YouTube clips because the deal terms negotiated with YouTube on our first licensing deal a couple years back demanded such large advance and per-stream payments that YouTube could only come close to the ad rates required to satisfy the terms by selling the advertising around the video, and not just on in-video overlays. So in the negotiation, YouTube told us only way we could get the terms we asked for was to disable the embedding on our videos.

Of course, the majors could have cut their cash demands, but chose not to - to the pain of their own digital marketing teams, who have seen their attempts to build artists through fan-sharing scuppered.

Hello again, Au Revoir Simone

Good news, making spring seem a little more bearable: Au Revoir Simone are bringing a new album. Still Night, Still Life is due May 17th, although a spot of online leaking could probably persuade them to bounce it forward a little.

Oasis discover true value of their music

Surprising news from

A series of free downloads of semi-acoustic songs performed by Oasis' Noel Gallagher and a CD are set to be made available later this month.

Unusual to see someone being called a cross-dresser rather than a TV, but still, it's impressive to see Noel doing something which runs against his boorish image.

Unless, of course, NME actually means that free downloads and a CD are being released, featuring Noel Gallagher.

Which, disappointingly, turns out to be the truth - free downloads via iTunes, and free CD through The Sunday Times. To be fair, there's a large pile of cash going to the Teenage Cancer Trust as part of the deal.

Are We Not Men gets Don't Look Back

Some happier news: Devo have announced they're going to do a run through of Q: Are We Not Men as part of Don't Look Back at the Forum on May 6th.

Not so Fabulous

It was only yesterday I was reading someone predicting that there would probably be a cull of about 98% of the independent online video sites by the end of the year, as attempts to square a triangle of costs, revenues and user base result in calculator meltdown.

Then comes this press release:


Online concert channel ceases its activities as of today, due to bad economic prospects within the music and online advertising market.

During the last nine years, Fabchannel have been successfully promoting concert recordings of national and international artists online among a large international audience.

The Fabchannel business model bases itself on two essential ingredients: international streaming rights and international advertising/sponsoring revenue. After a substantial investment in 2007, Fabchannel has been focusing fully on increasing its reach among the international audience and the development and implementation of online advertising formats and partnerships.

After an energetic start in 2008 with the introduction of video commercials on, media partnerships with renowned news sites like and as well as signing a worldwide partnership with Universal Music Group, in the last few months it has been getting ever more difficult to reach the set targets. The audience has not increased as planned, mostly due to the majority of major record labels giving no consent to record their artists. At the same time, the online advertising and sponsoring market has been put under big pressure due to decreasing budgets of advertisers and sponsors.

The management and shareholders of Fabchannel expect that this situation is not going to change during the next years. Therefore, they have jointly taken the decision to stop all activities in order to avoid getting into financial problems and, for example, lose the possibility to use the archive they have been building in the future.

Fabchannel’s concert archive will go offline on Friday 13 March. During the upcoming months, Fabchannel will strive to make suitable arrangements with employees, customers and suppliers.

Probably wise move to protect the archive rather than plough on and lose it - and it offers a glimmer of hope that there might be a rebirth sometime in the mythic post-stimulus future.

Limewire makes RIAA life even more wretched

There's been darknets hiding around for ages - closed little cliques where files get shared, away from the prying eyes of copyright holders or the people they overpay to watch peer-to-peer networks. The one piece of soothing balm for the record labels has been the faff-factor of setting them up: offsetting the 'free' was a 'lack of convenience'.

Now, though: Limewire have made setting up a private darknet so much simpler.

Folding magazines: Arena closes

The first of the non-top-shelf magazines, Arena has been dumped by Bauer, despite its "Britain's fastest-growing men's magazine" tagline.

Originally a-bit-like-The-Face-but-without-the-make-up, Arena has looked increasingly awkward, unable to spend to match GQ or Esquire's elan, but never quite comfortable when it chased after the FHM bikni-bottoms-and-squirty-cream market. Still, it's a shame that such a doughty survivor has been brought low by the current conditions. No room for sentiment.

Gordon in the morning: Handing out hugs and blankets to the shocked masses

Gordon, of course, has coverage of the Razorlight split. And there's only one way to sum up the split of a British band shortly before a gig in Cheshire:

Trouble in America...

In order to stack up the headline, the made-up, sorry, unnamed source places the argument that "brought things to a head" between Borrell and Burrows as happening "during a recent trip to America". Although if that was true, you might wonder why Burrows didn't quit there and then.

Elsewhere, Kylie Minogue is getting a stupid sum of money for recording a single track for a Bollywood film - three quarters of a million quid, apparently. Now, I've been keeping up with the news - we're meant to gather and boo when people get paid money completely out of proportion to their work they do and the value they generate, right? C'mon Gordon - let's boo Kylie, shall we?
And as she chats to star AKSHAY KUMAR between filming she looks worth every penny.

Oh. Are you suggesting that Fred Goodwin could have avoided all that bad press if he'd just been a bit prettier?

It's perhaps fortunate that Gordon Smart isn't up a mountain with Cheryl Cole - can you imagine how thin the atmosphere at the top of Kilimanjaro would be if Smart was having to follow up the story about Ashley Cole's latest bit of bother? Especially given that it turns out his arrest-attracting rage was sparked by someone taking photos for The Sun in the first place?

For the paper, Andy Crick and Philip Case are covering the "story", and they do have quite a scoop:
Cole, who earns £82,000 a week, plonked himself on a bar stool. Then as Chelsea skipper Terry and Mancienne mingled, he knocked back a bottle of Japanese Asahi lager.

He clutched a wad of £20 notes as he ordered a round of drinks — and began chatting to a blonde clubber wearing a shiny blue mini-dress and a string of white pearls.

Sadly, the paper's two writers fail to mention if Cole had been wearing the mini-dress when he was drinking the lager, or if he'd nipped off to change.

Still, nobody would be as cheap as to try and get mileage out of his wife being off doing good works, would they?
Fundraiser v hellraiser

It truly is a dichotomy. It's almost impossible to imagine Cheryl Cole ever being in a violent outburst at a nightclub.

Horror! One of Johnny Borrell's backing band quits

Andy Burrows, drummer with And The Borrells out of Johnny Razorlight And The Borrells, has quit the band. It's a sensation:

"The past five years in Razorlight have been an amazing experience," explained Burrows. "I am very proud of everything that myself, Johnny, Carl and Bjorn have achieved together, but for personal reasons I have decided to leave the band. I will be pursuing other musical ventures."

No word on what these other musical ventures might be - perhaps "whistling while refilling the milk counter at Tesco."

Interestingly, despite the warm-sounding statements, the announcement of Burrows' departure came two days after he was replaced - David "Skully" Sullivan-Kaplan turned up drumming during the band's Warrington gig.

Meanwhile, the glorious leader hopes the image of their fallen comrade will encourage the rest of the Razorlights on to new highs, issuing this from his bunker:
"Over the last two albums and five years Andy has been an integral part of Razorlight and we will miss him," he said.

"From the day he walked into our rehearsal studio it was obvious that he was an amazing drummer and he’s contributed on many levels beyond that. He's been a great player and a great friend and I think we'll both always be proud of the music we've made together. As far as the band's future is concerned, we're all looking forward to touring with Skully and getting on with making our next record."

I'm sure the rest of you are enjoying the cute, fifteen year-old-boy nickname for the new drummer as much as I am.

Experts attempting to calibrate the likely shockwaves from 'drummer sat behind man without a shirt quits' suggests the impact on your life will be somewhere between 'having to take a terrapin to a locum vet' and 'that slightly curious feeling you get when you realise your usual postman must be on holiday'.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Eagles clipped

You'll have heard The Eagles' Life In The Fast Lane, of course. Did you manage to listen to it without fainting clean away?

After 40-odd years, Birmingham radio station Eagle 106.9 FM has started to remove an offensive bit from the song:

We’ve been up and down this highway/ haven’t seen a goddamn thing.

Eagle 106.9 program manager Mike Schoenherr, a.k.a. Hurricane Shane, replaced “god” with a snippet of lyric-less music from elsewhere in the song.

This is, in case you hadn't guessed, Birmingham in Alabama, not in the West Midlands.

It's unclear how many people objected to the "god" more than the "damn", if, indeed, anyone objected at all.

Thom Yorke apparently doesn't realise what he owes to Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus (who plays Jem out of Jem and The Holograms on TV) has revised her previous love of Radiohead. Why?

Cyrus' spokesperson explained that last week she played Karma Police and realised that the much-touted originality of the band relied on the superior assumption that its natural audience would have a limited musical knowledge with which to compare what they were doing, and as such, Radiohead's adventurism is actually little more than the passing off of stolen goods to an audience whose shallowness they secretly despise.

Sorry - my mistake: I misread the Pitchfork report on first scan. What actually happened was this:

[S]he tried to get her people to pull some strings for an awkward backstage meeting at the Grammys, Radiohead's crew told Miley's crew that the band "doesn't really do that." Amazing.

This did not sit well with Miley-- a girl, I imagine, who doesn't hear the word "no" too often. "The reason I'm in this business is to make people happy," she said, suggesting Radiohead are not in it to make people smile. No shit! Radiohead are about making people miserable-- beautifully, heart-explodingly miserable! Get it straight, Cyrus!

She said, "I left 'cause I was so upset. I wasn't going to watch. Stinkin' Radiohead! I'm gonna ruin them, I'm going to tell everyone."

Yes. 'Won't dance to Billy Ray Cyrus' kid's demands'. That'll end their career, that will.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Cantrell on Cline

Vanity Fair listens as Laura Cantrell visits the site of Patsy Cline's plane crash:

About a mile off the highway, the house lots and yards yield to thicker woods. The light through the windshield is wintry, high, and dull. A modest marker signals entry to the site, and two gravel tracks divert from the main road. A small wooden shelter appears, painted white and covered in graffiti, displaying old news clippings about the crash. Several steps beyond the shelter, a path travels steeply down a little ravine. At the bottom is a large gray boulder, four to five feet high and several feet across and deep. The path down to it is steep but gradual, and the stone bears the inscription: “On this site March 5, 1963 Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes lost their lives. In loving memory, July 6, 1996.”

[via Earbender Twitter]

Downloadable: Art Brut

More free mp3 worth having, this time from RCRDLBL: Art Brut, Just Desserts, from the Frank Black-produced sessions which will form themselves into a new album on May 12th. That collection, Art Brut vs Satan, won't have this on it, so it might be the only chance you ever get to own it.

Obviously, if nobody switches off the internet you'll have other chances. But it might not happen.

Vivian Girls head for us

No, not the US. Us, as in this side of the Atlantic:

14th May Brighton po na na - Plan B Night
15 Brighton Great Escape @Pavillion - Uncut Night
17 Brixton Windmill
18 London 93 Feet East
19 Birmingham Dragon Bar
20 Manchester Ruby Lounge
21 Glasgow Stereo
22 Leeds Stag and Dagger Event @ Leeds Library
23 Nottingham Dot to Dot Festival
24 Bristol Dot to Dot Festival

Why should be excited?

That would be why.

Downloadable: Ladyhawke v Alex Metric

As a way of tempting you to swap whatever is left of your currency for digital sounds, the Ladyhawke team are offering a free download of Paris Is Burning, remixed by Alex Metric. The unremixed version is released as a single this week.

She wasn't Toni Braxton enough for me

What could be worse than turning up to see Toni Braxton, and discovering that the person on stage wasn't Toni Braxton at all? Besides turning up, it not being her, and then a riot ensuing.

Somehow, people in Suriname were able to remember what the real Toni Braxton looks like, and, realising that the woman on stage was Trina Johnson, a Braxton impersonator, set about trashing the joint and looting.

It's the worst tribute-act related violence since Nowaysis fans kicked stuff after realising the Knebworth gigs were actually being played by the real Gallaghers.

Toni Braxton's people have issued a statement, glad of a reason to be in the news:

"Toni Braxton is aware of what happened and is obviously displeased with what happened. She regrets that both she and her fans have been victimized by this hoax. Ms. Braxton's attorneys are exploring the legal ramifications."

It's not entirely clear why Ms Braxton's attorneys would think there would be any legal ramifications of 'tribute act in Suriname goes awry' which should detain them; it's even less clear if the Braxton camp could show any working to justify how Toni has been "victimized" by the event - unless, perhaps, she was also playing a gig in neighbourhood and lost ticket sales?

[Thanks to Michael M]

Jacko: You don't call that a comeback?

A telling detail of the slipshod modern world of Michael Jackson: If you're going to try and create a frenzy around your surprise announcement, it might be a good idea to make sure your organisation isn't slapping posters up in tube stations which give away the secret hours before the press conference.

So we know, without Jacko having to even lower his facemask, he's doing ten nights at the Millennium Dome (now the BT Cellnet Millennium Dome).

Indeed, not only have billposters stolen Jackson's thunder, but so have the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (or Tout Club), issuing warnings about touts flogging dodgy tickets for gigs that haven't been announced. Except to tube travellers:

"We are warning people not to buy tickets that are not yet on sale because it is unlikely that they will receive those tickets," ASTA chief Graham Burns told BBC 6music.

He added: "It's impossible when the dates haven't been announced to be selling tickets for something when there are no announced dates."

Obviously, his point is a fair one. But that last sentence should perhaps be preserved for itself, as a thing of beauty and logic.

VeVo, VeVo, it's off to work they go

Universal and Google are going to launch a premium online video service, VeVo that uses YouTube technology to play music videos. And adverts.

Yes, it sounds a lot like YouTube, only this will be different by, erm, not featuring music from other artists and not hosting debates where insults are hurled at those who suggest that rather than filming an epileptic dog and putting it online, the owner should take their animal to a vet.

It's the first of this omissions that is most striking: are record labels still clinging to their belief that people relate to music in terms of 'which multinational company deals with distribution'?

A service offering one-quarter of the majors' product is only ever going to be a service with 75% of its effectiveness removed. If it's not all in one place, you're just encouraging someone else to take it and create a one place where everything will be. That's why YouTube works.

Flaming flames Fire; Fire fans flames

Wayne Coyne, it turns out, isn't impressed with impressed with the Arcade Fire:

"We've played some shows with them and they really treat people like shit," he said. "Whenever I've been around them, I've found that they not only treated their crew like shit, they treated the audience like shit. They treated everybody in their vicinity like shit. I thought, 'Who do they think they are?'"

The Arcade Fire aren't taking that lying down, as if they were some sort of doormat. Not that they use doormats, they make a roadie get on the floor for that sort of thing. Win Butlers has slapped a blog up [in Flash, and impossible to link directly to] in which he suggest Wayne Coyne might not be the best person to judge if the band "are righteous, kind and goodhearted people like The Edge and Justin Timberlake" (of whom Coyne approves). Butlers concludes by suggesting that it might be slightly prick-like to tell Rolling Stone that "people [Coyne] doesn't know" are "arseholes".

Bet Chris Martin wishes he'd thought of that.

Mini Liveblog: Jackson comeback

Pete Waterman and Paul Gambaccini have just popped up on Today to discuss the Jackson press conference, discussing in all seriousness if he could manage to keep singing for a two-hour show. As if it won't be on tape, with his mouth-hole being operated by wires and string.

Waterman - who is excited by the gigs - probably has it about right. Surveying the rumour of fifty nights, he said "get your tickets early [for early dates] - he won't be going past twelve..."

Oasis get in scuffle with Chinese government

Oasis had been due to play China, only now they're not. Why?

Depends on who you believe, really. The promoter suggests that the economic downturn was the reason; the band insist permission to reform was revoked when the Chinese government discovered Noel Gallagher once took part in a Free Tibet concert.

Hard to believe that Noel Gallagher ever stood up about anything, other than Jay-Z playing Glastonbury.

You can appreciate a MSTR of the KRFT

Streaming now on MySpace: Fist of God, the new MSTRKRFT album.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: The Specials

A sad drama in two parts.

The Friday before last, The Guardian's Film & Music section met the reformed Specials, who denied that Jerry Dammers had been treated badly:

"I've read Jerry's statement and I just don't get it," says Hall, for once looking like someone who might be physically incapable of smiling. "'They're trying to kick me out of the band' - not at all mate, not at all."

No, they say, Dammers wasn't ex-communicated by the other members. Golding and Bradbury both claim they spent vast amounts of time trying to convince Dammers to take part and that it was his own intransigence that caused the split. "I spoke to Jerry night after night all the way through 2008," says Bradbury, "and at the end there just wasn't a meeting of the ways. A little more give and take, a few more people skills, it could definitely have worked out better." "He wanted to do one date, in Coventry, in front of 30,000 people, at the football stadium," says Hall. 'I thought that was a bit of a Take That thing. We wanted to play 2,000- to 3,000-sized venues. I don't think he likes the idea of touring, to be honest. I think he hid that a bit in his statement. But apart from that, I have no idea why Jerry isn't doing it."

Yesterday, the paper's Op-Ed pages gave its response column over to Dammers to insist that, actually, he was treated badly:
What I actually suggested to him (at a meeting where he finally agreed that we shouldn't be considering bookings until we had all rehearsed together) was that if rehearsals went well, we could consider a very big date or series of big dates in London, followed by a date at Coventry's Ricoh Arena to celebrate the 30th anniversary. What might happen after that I left open. It was not that I "don't [like] the idea of touring", as he so simply puts it. I was anxious to preserve the status, political effectiveness and legacy of the band for the long term, including recording, rather than risk the diminishing returns of setting out as a flawed nostalgia act in small venues.

Terry appeared to generally agree, but soon after our meeting he said he wouldn't want to play the Ricoh after all. I assumed it was the size of the arena, but on 5 June he sent me another email: "I wasn't complaining about the size of the Ricoh arena (I have played at much bigger), I will not perform at a Coventry festival of who/why/when/whatever. Speaking as someone who grew up there, I don't feel I owe it anything!"

Gordon in the morning: When heroes clash

We know that Gordon loves U2. We know that Gordon loves Coldplay. So Bono calling Chris Martin "a wanker" on Radio One - before falling back onto the bully's "but, hey, I'm only joking, we all like a laugh, don't we" defence - must upset Gordon, like watching parents fight.

He's thrilled with Chris Martin's response:

CHRIS MARTIN has found the perfect revenge after BONO called him a “w****r” on Radio 1 – playing U2’s track Magnificent as Coldplay walk out on stage in Australia.

Ha! Yes, that'll show Bono - paying him royalties and promoting his bloody awful music. Take that, Bono. You better not get Martin really mad, or it'll be kisses and hugs next.

Hang about... I think the kisses and hugs might be on the way:
[Martin] said: “I always thought he felt that way. I think it’s great that we’re arch enemies – that’s a joke too. We respect any musician, particularly ones who have kept going and not changed line-up and have always been good.”

Incidentally, why is not changing line-up so important? Is it better to keep ploughing on with the original members even if it isn't working? Does this mean all that adoration for The Beatles should be set aside, with their Sutcliffe and Best shedding ways?

Elsewhere, The Official Secrets Act have found a simple way to get some extra coverage - they've got Katie Green in their video. The cost of the coverage, though, is that they've been reduced to supporting act in their own promotion:
Regardless of what the song’s like, the promo’s got to be worth a watch.

The Girl From The BBC deserves better than being watched one-handed with the sound down.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chris Martin regrets a gift

Chris Martin is kicking himself, as he's given Natalie Imbruglia 'the best Coldplay song ever'.

He doesn't say how he took it off Starsailor first.

Oh, hang about, he's serious:

"A bit annoyingly we've given her the best Coldplay song of all time," Martin joked to "But because we're off-cycle we can't do it ourselves."

He added: "Half of me wishes we still had it. But she sounds brilliant on it. I think she has a very unique talent and an incredibly unique voice."

Has anyone explained to Chris that it's possible for there to be more than one interpretation of the same song? Perhaps somebody should. They might also mention that you can do more than one interpretation of lots of different songs, too.

The poor Daily Mail tries to keep up with the young 'uns

Jeff Jarvis has long suggested that, to do well online, you should do what you're good at, and link to the rest.

And yet the Daily Mail online continues to do pop.

First, it tries to cover The Ting Tings filming an Adidas commercial (sorry, "pop video"). Despite having to prod its readers about why they might care about these Thing Things:

The upcoming indie group were seen in their element last month as they performed a duet with Estelle at the Brit Awards.

Bringing their edgy style to the stage, it saw the band and Estelle segway between their hit That's Not My Name with her song American Boy.

The Ting Tings formed in 2004, but burst onto the music scene in May 2008 after their album We Started Nothing claimed the top spot in the UK charts.

So, that's an "indie band" somehow "in their element" playing a mainstream industry event in a mash-up with Estelle; the Ting Tings and Estelle apparently riding a self-balancing personal transportation device between two songs (and what about the third track they played?) and a band reaching number one before "bursting onto the music scene".

You'd think that the Mail might be on safer ground with U2. But not really:
U2 find a street that DOES have a name - it's theirs and it's in Manhattan

The whole point of "Where The Streets Have No Name" is about wanting to go to a place where the streets have no name. Which would suggest that finding streets with no names isn't a problem for them.

Jonas Brothers get in touch with their inner inner-city alienation

There's something sweet, just in itself, of the Jonas Brothers talking about what their next album will sound like, for all the world as if they have a say in it. It's like a sofa holding forth about what cushions might be scattered upon it.

Nevertheless, they have been sharing about what to expect. They really have:

"There's a song we wrote recently and we were thinking ... it does sound different and kind of strange, and [we'd like to work with] a rapper who has some real meaningful lyrics," Nick, the self-proclaimed "most hip-hop" Jonas, told MTV News. "[Someone who] has some real depth to what he's saying — someone like a Common or a Lupe Fiasco or a Mos Def. Someone who takes a more of a spoken-word approach. That'd be really cool."

Nick, while the idea of taking "more of a spoken-word approach", perhaps you should accept your market might be more Sparky's Magic Piano than Theme Music To A Drive-By.

Still, just because they appear to be unfamiliar the word "rap", why shouldn't they perform the final act of desecration upon the badly defiled corpse of hip-hop. They're street. I bet they had a bum education - right boys?
"The next album ... we've been in production for it. We're taking our time with it — we've been taking our time with it since the beginning of this television show," Joe said. "We started recording on our summer tour last year. ... I would say we have eight or nine songs completed that we're still tweaking here and there."

"It's more like five or six," Nick corrected.

Having trouble counting above five? What more evidence of going to a sink school in a bad place could you ask for?

Still, they've got a good grasp on basic biology:
Joe — who joked that the guys have somewhere between five and 20 songs recorded — added, "We're really proud of it. It's a good step for who we are as musicians. As we get older, so does our music."

I think it was Vibe magazine which first alleged that The Jonas Brothers had a portrait of their music in their manager's attic which got older while their tunes, mysteriously, became younger, but Joe's kicked that rumour into the long grass.

So, tell us, Joe: how does this new, maturer sound manifest itself? A more cynical lyric? A call for social justice, or just a world-weary beat?
"There's a lot more horns and it's really fun."

Yes, the mature sound of parping horns. Admittedly, the Jonas Brothers are not the first to try this approach. But, Joe, with these superfun horns, are you sure the audience will come with you?
"I think people are going to be able to jam out to it in their cars or their mom's cars or their boom boxes."

Oh yes. The audience will come with you. Providing their moms are able to drive them to wherever you're going, and it'll be over by nine if it's a school night.

Gordon Brown probably listens to the Arctic Monkeys on Spotify

Splendidly named Harry Wallop, Telegraph consumer affairs editor, issues a stunning announcement:

Spotify now receives backing of 'internet obsessed' Government

Bloody hell. It has?
The Central Office of Information, which is in charge of producing Government information campaigns, has now become one of the largest advertisers on Spotify.

Isn't the COI the Civil Service rather than the Government? And is "buys advertising on" quite the same as "endorses"? After all, the COI takes space in the Daily Mail - does that mean the government follows the Mail's line that it's ballsing up the whole thing?

Oh, and that "internet obsessed" quote?
Matthew Sinclair, research director at the Tax Payers' Alliance, said: "The Government is becoming obsessed with chasing the latest Internet fads at the expense of getting important information across affordably."

(Shouldn't the Tax Payers' Alliance be renamed something slightly more accurate, like "A few reluctant Tax Payers' Alliance", given they only seem to represent a few more screechy right wing tax payers?)

It's touching that the Telegraph - a paper which is keen to embrace online innovations - somehow decides that an self-elected minority organisation's disdain for the COI taking a safer sex campaign onto the internet (which is where the target audience actually are) is worth putting in a headline on the story.

Perhaps more surprisingly amongst advertisers on Spotify: HMV and Warner Music - suggesting that both view (when it comes to the bottom line) free-to-ear music as not wiping out sales of paid music after all.

Norway ISP: Copyright control is for copyright controllers

The RIAA's pretend international body, the IFPI, and a couple of Norwegian movies rights holders clubs, have been trying to force Telenor, the Norwegian ISP, to allow them to decide where people can go online.

Telenor have told the IFPI that it's not going to:

In Telenor's opinion, ISPs are not complicit in the actions of its customers on the Internet. "We comply with all relevant laws and regulations and can see no legal basis for any ISP to act in the interests of digital intellectual property rights holders by blocking individual websites," says Ragnar Kårhus, head of Telenor Norway. "Asking an ISP to control and assess what Internet users can and cannot download is just as wrong as asking the post office to open and read letters and decide what should and should not be delivered."

"This is by no means a new issue, and it applies to the entire Western knowledge-based economy. Telenor sympathises with intellectual property rights holders whose content has been illegally distributed, but in our opinion, it is wrong to claim an ISP is liable for any illegal activity by its users on the Internet," says Ragnar Kårhus.

Having slapped the IFPI down, Telenor then points out that the labels might want to think more about the market they operate in now than spending time telling other companies what they should be doing:
The problem is that the business model for selling digital content is in many ways old-fashioned and has not adapted to the reality of the Internet. The problem is not the ISPs, rather the rights holders themselves. Telenor is of the opinion it is the rights holder's job to develop sustainable business models for content delivery over the Internet. It is possible to do this effectively, as proven by global successes in this area including iTunes and Telenor's own music downloading service. The enormous market for downloading ringtones and games to mobile telephones are other examples of people's willingness to pay for digital content if the business model is right.

"Our experience is that people are willing to pay for legal content on the Internet, if the price and availability are good, and the quality and user experience are right," says Ragnar Kårhus.

Don't you love Scandinavians?

Gordon in the morning: Gary in the morning

Gordon, of course, should be half-way up a mountain with Gary Barlow and a couple of Girls Aloud right now, but he's had to pull out because of family illness. Which, genuinely, you have to respect him for: there are too many journalists who would have put the ultimate in social climbing ahead of family.

It's worked out well for The Sun, too, as it means they've got Gary Barlow doing the coverage instead, which has to be a better box office draw.

The question, of course, is if Gary can turn out the sort of observation that Gordon would have come up with:

We are all suffering from altitude sickness and everyone is emotional, especially the girls.

It turns out: yes.

Back at base camp Wapping, apparently the 'Amy cannot escape Blake's evil tentacles' story has now turned in to 'Blake cannot escape Amy's evil tentacles':
IT’S the oldest trick in the book – AMY WINEHOUSE is trying to win back estranged hubby BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL with a sprinkling of FRANK SINATRA.

Is that the oldest trick in the book? Does that mean there were absolutely no tricks in the book whatsoever in the 1940s?

Still, given that Blake - if I remember the story so far correctly - was a terrible drug-addiction generating, cash-sucking, untrustworthy cur. So, this is a bad thing, right?

Apparently, maybe not:
Will she win Blake's heart again? ... Amy and her estranged hubby in happier times

Those were happier times? Wasn't he busily getting her hooked on the drugs? It's all very confusing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Michael Jackson: It's come to this

Yes, the financial downturn has bitten so deeply, it's looking like Michael Jackson is going to have to reduce himself to appearing at Greenwich: Jackson is going to make a special announcement at the Millennium Dome on Thursday.

Of course, it might just be that he's calling the world's press to announce - at long last - the release of that September 11th benefit single. And given Jackson's record of making promises and not following through, you'd think twice before hopping onto the Docklands Light Railway, wouldn't you?

Terra not quite so Firma as EMI sucks down cash

Terra Firma dropped off the accounts for the year earlier today. They don't make very encouraging reading for Guy Hands' stewardship of EMI, with the value of the company being written off by 50%:

Terra Firma has written off half the value of its €2.6 billion (£2.3 billion) investment in music group EMI. The private equity giant revealed in its 2008 annual report that EMI accounts for most of a €1.36 billion (£1.22 billion) non-cash impairment charge on Terra Firma’s 2008 balance sheet.

Not, of course, that the terrible, cash-burning mess is the fault of Terra Firma. Oh, good lord, no:
In his executive statement, CEO Guy Hands squarely criticises banking executives, regulators and politicians for investing too much faith in credit during the boom: they should have seen it was “merely a very large bubble waiting to burst”, he says.

Ah yes. Bankers, executives, regulators. Politicians. They should have seen it coming. Instead of expecting the man lauded by his admirers as "a genius [who is] seeing things that other people don't" and who just last year was chuckling about "completing EMI Music's transition to a global functional matrix organization" to have any inkling that over-borrowing to buy out companies was less gravy train, more a leaky sauce boat.

Jay Kay's car smashed

It's interesting when the standard practice on TV now is to blur any and all car number plates that appear on screen, tonight's Look East left Jay Kay's Ferrari's personalised number to remain in clear view. While the reporter explained that Jay Kay was "disappointed" by the attack - a pastry chef has been accused of smashing the vehicle. Kay believes that someone smashing his car window "says something about the British psyche".

Although the British psyche might feel entitled to ask what spending a million pounds on a car that you couldn't even take an old oven to the tip in says about Jay Kay's Id.

If you get a chance to see the Look East report [online for 24 hours from about now, and then maybe 20 minutes in] there is a splendid moment designed to burn off any residual sympathy mindless vandalism might have generated in the observer, as Kay declines to give an interview but instead dances in the background of the piece like a twelve year-old kid on white cider.

This week just gone

Well, not just gone, perhaps...

The ten most-read pieces during February 2009 were:

1. Lily Allen swaps outfits on the train
2. R Kelly: jurors will have to watch his sex video
3. Beth Ditto naked on one of the many magazine covers that show how unique they are by making such covers
4. McFly resort to full frontal male nudity
5. RIP: Kelly Groucutt
6. Liveblog: Brits 2009
7. Liveblog: Morrissey on the One Show
8. NME awards shortlist
9. RIP: Dewey Martin
10. RIP: Phil Easton

This week's interesting releases:

Screaming Blue Messiahs - Live At The BBC

Freda Payne - How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore?

download Band Of Gold

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - The Century Of Self

download Source Tags & Codes

Erasure - Total Pop: The First 40 Hits

download Pop: The First 20 Hits

Teitur - The Singer

download Catherine The Waitress

Van Morrison - How Long Has This Been Going On

Part of a whole slew of Van back catalogue refreshing this week

Download Van Morrison from 69p a pop

Makin' Time - No Lumps Of Fat Or Gristle + Demos

download Time, Trouble And Money

Rob Da Bank's Sci-Fi Lo-Fi

Slowdive, Lush, the absolutely bloody essential Mercy Seat by Ultra Vivid Scene...