Saturday, May 09, 2009

Bangles back again

The Bangles never quite stopped going - they slowed and deposited members, but never quite stopped. But even so, it's been six years since there was a new studio album. The wait though - let's say we've been waiting - is almost over, as Susanna Hoff is writing new Bangles stuff. And kind-of claiming to have invented alt rock:

"It's kind of funny because having been in the band that's thought of as an '80s band, all four of us were so into '60s music that we really didn't relate to the '80s -- even in the '80s," Hoffs says. "The other thing that continually surprises me is how many people love the '80s. It's really surprising to me. I realize there is something to be said for music that's fun. Even in its lightheartedness or its silliness, I think the '80s was the birth of indie rock, which is a really cool aspect.

Can you really excuse an entire decade because you can loosely find the roots of something once credible there? I'm not so sure.

Ignatieff starts fight with Paul McCartney

As if the idea of the Late Show's Michael Ignatieff becoming leader of the Canadian opposition isn't enough to try and digest, he's now developed a battle with Paul McCartney over wildlife policy.

And, by wildlife policy, Canadians usually mean 'killing seals'. Ignatieff wants to be left alone to club them in peace:

"We look at the culling of deer in Scotland and wolves in Europe by farmers and find it very frustrating to see this reaction to a carefully regulated and managed cull here, which is an economic mainstay of some of the poorest communities in Canada," he said.

"Europe's inability or refusal to see the seal cull for what is smacks of hypocrisy and misunderstanding.

"Paul McCartney, I love your music - but leave the seals to the people who know them. This is not marginal to us, this is very important."

I'd love to think that McCartney is drafting a reply, wondering if "Michael, I love your novels..." would just sound sarcastic.

Amy Winehouse gig interrupted by God

Amy Winehouse's comeback - handily located near the bars of the hotels of St Lucia - ended in a a bit of a mess. Because of technical difficulties:

In a statement, her spokesman said: "Amy would like to express her disappointment that weather forced the abandonment of her show at the St Lucia Jazz Festival last night.

"The set started well, but as the heavens opened, a number technical difficulties occurred on stage, culminating with the lighting rig failing for two songs.

"In addition, rain began to flood the technical wings at the side of the stage which caused sound problems. Amy and the band tried to soldier on but the set had to be cut short.

"Amy is very disappointed as St Lucia has been wonderful to her and its people have welcomed her with open arms, but circumstances beyond anyone's control meant that this special show did not go as planned."

That's the official explanation.

Cynics - or 'people who saw it' - take a less charitable view:
Despite that fans have criticised her performance. Local resident Ben said her singing was "painful".

He added: "What a wasted talent."

At one stage Winehouse appeared to forget the words to a song and told the crowd, "Sorry, I'm bored".

On this occasion, both sides could be right - it is possible the act of god canceled the show, but only because God was crying when he saw how terribly it was going.

I'm not sure what that would mean for the insurance.

Two different Sachs

Last week, The Guardian interviewed Andrew Sachs. This week, Sachs speaks to the Mail.

Oddly, it's hard to reconcile the two accounts of the meetings.

Today's Mail:

For the first time, Andrew Sachs reveals his contempt for the stars behind that vile phone prank, his fury at their cynical 'apologies' – and how it's destroyed his relationship with his granddaughter [...]

Sadly, though, since the obscene telephone calls were broadcast, his family's dirty linen has been dragged out for a very public airing. Soon after, a slew of risqué images and videos of the 23-year-old, who goes by the stage name Voluptua, appeared in the downmarket newspapers alongside revelations of her role in the raunchy burlesque dance group Satanic Sluts. Andrew and Melody were knocked for six.

Last week's Guardian:
Sachs said the story had been widely misreported. He had not been close to his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, nor was he entirely shocked, as had been suggested, about her line of work as a dominatrix and member of the burlesque dance troupe Satanic Sluts.

Blame Canada

This is a week or so old now, but I never got round to mentioning it at the time: the US has added Canada to its list of nations which doesn't look after intellectual property rights.

Yes, the same Canada as the one you're thinking of. The one with the leaf on the flag. Although, to listen to Kira Alvarez, chief negotiator for intellectual property enforcement and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, you might as well viewa skull and two crossbones as being interchangeable with a maple leaf:

“We really do want them to adhere to their intellectual property obligations.”

You know what the report, Special 301 Report, is? It's a hoot, that's what it is:
Canada has for more than a decade now completely ignored their international treaty obligations, declining to incorporate those IP enforcement commitments into law. USTR cited this and also mentioned “continuing concern about weak border enforcement.”

Border enforcement? Seriously, America? You think that intellectual property can be contained with chain-link fences and a guy with a torch looking through a lorry? It's like thinking the solution to nuclear fall-out is a face mask and a parasol.

Tucked into the responses to the story on the Copyright Alliance Blog is this one:
Rowena Cherry Says:
May 1st, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Hmmm. When I saw “Canada” my blood started to boil.

I am sorry, Neal, I’m simply ready to believe almost any calumny of your countrymen because certain Canadian pharmacy representatives steal my identity in order to try to sell me (and my friends) products to improve the appearance and functioning of parts I do not possess (and do not wish to possess).

That is no doubt unfair, but allegedly Canadian pharmacy salespersons are interfering with my privacy, my peace of mind, and my ability to enjoy peaceful email communications with my friends.

They say they are Canadian. That’s why I believe they are Canadian. When your countrymen spam my desktop, in my home, in whatever country I live in, they ought to be subject to the laws of wherever they are trespassing.

Maybe if Canada could denounce the pharma spam, we’d all be happier.

So all Canadians should obey US law, because some people who claim to be Canadian send spam? That would certainly make life simpler for the United Nations, wouldn't it?

Nails hammer Apple

To be frank, ranked in the list of Apple embarrassments, the Nine Inch Nails u-turn won't really make the top ten (it's no Newton) but the decision to restore Nine Inch Nails' app to the app store is quite important. It suggests that Apple have managed to get back a bit of perspective after the wobble post-baby shaker.

Curiously, Cupertino have nothing to say about the change of heart:

Apple have refused to explain their change of heart, saying: "It's not something we comment on."

- but they were happy enough to comment on the time they reversed their decision and did ban baby shaker. So, still a small problem with consistency, there.

Gordon in the morning: This is journalism

Jordan has a tan.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Today's Plagiarism Today

There's a couple of interestingly-spun items in today's round up of Intellectual Capitalism on the Plagiarism Today website.

First, there's the news of a tenfold increase in UK fines for "piracy" offences:

This, in some cases, ten fold increase has caught the attention of many who worry that the fines may be used indiscriminately. Meanwhile, those in copyright industries are applauding the higher fine, even though they had originally hoped for jail sentences for online infringements as well.

All of this was part of a consultation between the Intellectual Property Office and the public. The IPO is now drafting legislation to be voted on that most people feel has a solid chance of passing.

A consultation with the public led to the suggestion of a tenfold increase in fines of unlicensed duplication? Where did they find this "public"? The staff canteen of EMI? Trimming Bono's hedges?

Meanwhile, PT also gets annoyed with Europe, and in particular the European Parliament voting against "graduated response". Graduated response is what supporters of three strikes call it, insisting that a judge should be involved in any decision to throw "copyright infringers" off the internet. Imagine that - a judge involved, like it was the crime the music industry always claims it is:
The bills are now headed for yet another round of negotiation proving once again that bureaucracy is alive and well in the EU.

So, giving consideration to matters which ends up with a decision the the IP capitalists like is a "public consultation"; giving consideration to a decision that goes against them is "bureaucracy." I mean, heaven forbid that people should actually think about a law which could cut people off from participation in their nation's life just because Warner Records says so, eh?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Speak You're Branes

This was unearthed by the wonderful Speak You're Branes site (reading comments boxes so you don't have to) a couple of weeks back:

I have never bought a record, tape or a DVD/CD in my life. I have had a few bought for me but I refuse to give these so-called pop stars/singers any of my money. There is the radio for listening to music and that is as far as I take it.

I know of people who spend £40-£50 per month on music - quite frankly they are such sad people.

I have never even been to a music concert nor downloaded any music on the web. My money is for ME and not for others to live like lords on it.
Bob Jackson, Newport

Spotify plan super-premium service

Spotify is about to try a new approach to persuade people to sign up to a subscription: a tenner a month will give you unlimited downloads. DRM free downloads at that.

On a straight cost-comparison, all-you-can-eat for a tenner a month looks like a much sweeter deal than iTunes per-piece pricing; the weakness of the offer is if people look at the £120 annual commitment and feel that it offers better value than grabbing downloads as and when for a quid a time. Are there currently enough people downloading more than 100 tracks a year to make it viable?

And the other question is if current Spotify users will want to pay £10 a month to be able to play whatever track they want to hear, when they want - as isn't that what Spotify are already offering them for more-or-less free? Are there enough people who want to lash out over a hundred a year to be able to keep the tracks forever?

[UPDATE: @DanRebellato tweets the following:

Apparently, it's "100% not a goer" according to Jim from Spotify. :-(

Warners cool on digital portfolio

Having invested enthusiastically but not wisely in Imeem and Lala, Warners have decided to change their digital strategy again and are writing off USD33million worth of investment in the two companies.

Which doesn't look great, either for Warners or for Imeem. The irony is that part of the reason why digital companies like Imeem are struggling to break in to profit is the ridiculously huge sums that the traditional record labels are demanding for content - in effect, Warners has helped torpedo its own multi-million investment.

Warners has yet to announce what its plan T will be, having ditched A to S.

Good news for EMI, sort of

The team at Terra Firma will be opening extra bottles of Orangina this morning, as EMI share figures that look better than you might have expected.

Partly, this is down to a reduction in returns (a digital dividend - less physical product means less unsold physical product) and cost savings (or sacking people, as it's also known), but mainly? It's because of currency fluctuations:

Net sales increasesd just 4% io £1,072 million ($1612M USD). Excluding the currency impact, sales were down 10%, slightly more than the contraction in the overall industry.

So EMI's success is mostly down to the change in the value of the pound. To be fair, persuading banks to back the Terra Firma takeover of the company, EMI did do a small bit to help hasten the economic doom, but I'm not sure they'd suggest that it was part of a strategy to turn the company around.

Even with the real decline in sales, though, it's worth noting that EMI still had revenues of £163million - the old music industry's claims of penury are a little overplayed.

Gordon in the morning: Ha ha, look at the funny man pretending to be gay

Joining in with the jolly promotion for Sacha Baron Cohne's latest iteration on one idea, Gordon and Carl Stroud enjoy a bit of sniggering:

OUTRAGEOUS comic SACHA BARON COHEN couldn’t sit down for THREE DAYS after a bid to bleach ALL his body hair went badly wrong.

In case you miss the subtle nudge-nudge, the Sun subs helpfully provide a crosshead:

But why was Cohen bleaching himself in the first place?
“He’d heard that all-over hairlessness is a popular trend in the gay community, so he thought he’d bleach all his hair so it looked invisible."

Really? Only in all the promotional material where Cohen does what I suppose it meant to be "standing like a gay", you can see his hairy arms and hairy belly. Perhaps he started with his arsehole and abandoned the whole bleaching thing after it went wrong? Or maybe it's all a way to work in the phrase "couldn't sit down for days"?

Gordon does have some news which will cheer up people holding tickets to see Michael Jackson - David Copperfield's been dropped from the bill after he asked for a ridiculous sum of money to appear. Paul Daniels, I understand, is still available.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bunnymen in space

Well, that's going to piss off Julian Cope - Ian McCulloch is getting to space before him:

Echo & The Bunnymen are set to launch a copy of their 1984 album Ocean Rain into space.

NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra is set to take a copy of the classic album, his favorite record, with him when he blasts off to the International Space Station on June 13.

Somewhat surprisingly, Yahoo Music News implies that NASA are somehow just part of Warners marketing machine:
The mission ties in with a boxed-set reissue of the album, set for release on May 30. The set will include a live version of the album recorded in the Liverpool Arena last November, plus a DVD documentary and booklet.

This is good news for NASA, who had to cancel the last Shuttle mission when the Bob Dylan album leaked online.

Bassobit: Donald "Ean" Evans

Ean Evans, Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist, has died at the age of 48.

Born in Augusta, Evans had built a local following as a member of Cupid's Arrow before switching to session work. It was Hughie Thomasson who persuaded him back on the road, as part of the group Outlaw - an arrangement that remained in place until Thomasson was drafted into Lynyrd Skynyrd. Evans then formed his own outfit, Noon (rotten band names would haunt him through his entire career), with whom he would remain until his own call-up to the Skynyrd came through.

Following the death of Leon Wilkeson, in August 2001, Evans became a member of the band. He remained with them through until his cancer diagnosis late last year.

Evans is survived by a wife and two daughters; Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant said Evans died Wednesday.

[Related obituary: Billy Powell]

The Mail attacks Bono

The appearance of Bono's poetry on Radio 4 delights the Daily Mail's Christopher Hart. Because not only does it give a chance to have a go at Bono - which, fair enough, he roundly deserves - but also to indulge in the Mail's in-house sport of kicking the BBC:

Yet Bono still has one little group of ardent fans who think the sun shines out of his well-upholstered behind. Our dear old BBC, which perhaps should henceforth be called the Bono Broadcasting Corporation.

It makes a change, I suppose, from the Bolshevik Broadcasting Company - although this was a joke the Mail was making back during the U2 at the BBC overkill, when it might have been more appropriate.

But just imagine, eh: the Mail - whose online edition is now little more than those celebrity shots that aren't exclusive to OK or Hello - getting all annoyed at a famous person being treated as something special. To be fair, Hart does realise this:
Unfortunately the BBC has long since ceased to inhabit the normal world, and is all too eager to confirm Bono's self-importance at every opportunity. It's true that the Beeb isn't the only section of the media to show a slavish devotion to celebrity culture. But surely the point about the Beeb is that it's supposed to know better.

... so, then, as we scroll past the Mail's teasers for pieces by Ulrika on bras, Julia Roberts in a bikini and so on, are we to assume that the Mail doesn't know better?

[Thanks to @alanconnor]

EU tells UK government to hit play and record

As part of a "know your digital rights guide" launch, Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and Meglena Kuneva, the EU Consumer Commissioner called on the UK to allow personal copying to help harmonise copyright rules across Europe:

Reding and Kuneva want to go further with a "digital agenda" for the future. This includes addressing the online music market, attacking the spam problem, mandating better privacy policy disclosure, and smoothing out "private copying" inconsistencies.

Of course, not even the Blakeys who run the IFPI would ever try to bring a legal action against a UK citizen for ripping a CD they'd bought to their own computer or iPod, so it would be more a tidying up rather than the granting of a fabulous new legal right.

And, given how the IFPI is turning slightly more Kurtz than Blakey, it might be just as well to have some legislation to fall back on.

Chris Brown: Let's talk about anything other than what I did

Chris Brown's attempts to build a defence by focusing on anything other than the incident with which he has been charged continue with attempts to call for an investigation into the leaking of the post-beating Rihanna photo:

[Brown's lawyer] Geragos is reportedly seeking notes from the Internal Affairs probe, along with notes from the 25 officers and LAPD personnel who handled the case and other documents that he intends to use "at the preliminary hearing to attack their credibility. The defense intends to prove and argue that the aforementioned officers are not credible and that the Court should not believe some of their statements."

Obviously, many musicians get annoyed when their work is shared online without permission, but if anyone has the right to be outraged over the leaking of the photo, it's not Brown.
Regardless of whether an LAPD officer leaked the photo, as Geragos suggests, the attorney believes that the leak has irreparably damaged his client's case, according to The Associated Press.

"The purpose of the leak was necessarily for profit and to vilify Mr. Brown and poison the potential jury pool," Geragos wrote in his motion of the photo, which he claims was seen by "hundreds of thousands of viewers" and which can still be seen in multiple stories on the TMZ site, including its report on this motion. The AP reported that Geragos is seeking files on officers, detectives, supervisors, criminalists and a forensic photographer, as well as information about any misconduct complaints others have filed against officers in other cases. A judge is scheduled to hear the motions on May 28.

So this a defence which isn't "I didn't hit her", but focusing on how bad Brown ended up looking because he hit Rihanna. Clearly, Geragos' line is that what remains of Brown's reputation has to be sacrificed to try and keep him out of jail.

Rajars: Moyles swells his audience

In the nip-and-tuck of breakfast shows, Chris Moyles has closed the gap on Terry Wogan again; meanwhile, Absolute Radio seems to have stopped freefalling, adding 200,0000 listeners in the last three months. Still some way to go to replace the 31% of the audience who've disappeared over the last twelve months, though.

Michael Jackson lands another court case

Raymone Bain was, you'll recall, the woman who spent the best years of her life denying stuff about Michael Jackson; helping manage the press during his trial of child abuse, insisting that he wasn't at death's door. That sort of thing.

She did a lot of work to shore up his public image.

Now, though, she's undoing a lot of that work, by becoming the latest in the long line of Jackson associates to wind up taking him to court:

In a video statement released on the internet, Bain alleged that her erstwhile employer "elected not to honour the financial obligations of our contractual relationships", despite her "numerous attempts" to amicably resolve the matter.

She added that she was "sincerely disappointed in Mr. Jackson's failure to honor his obligations".

Frankly, you might have thought if you were spending your time dealing with press questions about Jacko and unpaid bills, you might have wanted to get your wages upfront.

Gordon in the morning: Soliing football

Surprisingly, The Sun doesn't appear to have found any space to share the news that - despite what Jess Rogers reported last week, Tulisa Contostavlos doesn't have swine flu at all.

There is room, though, for the latest Lily Allen attempts to parse the entire world. She's moved on to football, like some sort-of attention-seeking Adrian Chiles with lipstick:

Ashley [Cole] fares little better and is accused of “soiling” football.

The chart-topper seethes: “He is the worst, he disgusts me. He jumps on everything that moves.

“I am not criticising just to criticise, but I have met him several times. He is revolting.”


The entire British footballing establishment, it seems, isn’t up to the singer’s exacting standards.

She thunders: “It’s ridiculous, I hate it. Footballers aren’t there to show off in London, but to play football.

“Mind you, they are probably too stupid to understand that. Especially the English ones.”

Footballers, she concludes, “go out everywhere they can find alcohol for too much money and sex for nothing.”

You know, she has a point. It's about time footballers started to behave a little less like chart-topping female singers.

Elsewhere, Gordon raises an eyebrow at the friendship between Justin Hawkins and Rita Peachey. Because Rita is 72.

Ah, yes, Gordon. The very idea of someone younger spending time with somebody in their 70s is just inherently amusing, isn't it?

Wild west wiki: Lil Wayne

Wikipedia. It's a wonderful source of information, isn't it? Imagine you wanted to know something about Lil Wayne, for example. Everything you need to know.

Of course, yesterday evening at 8pm, Lil Wayne's entry was a little more pithy. But it still told you everything you needed to know.

Amusingly, on the Wikipedia Talk Page for Lil Wayne, there's currently fevered debate over if you can trust YouTube - because:

a documentary posted by an anonymous uploader on YouTube can't be treated as a documentary at all. There needs to be credibility and reliablity in the publishing chain, or the source isn't reliable.

That was, erm, Kww who said that.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lily Allen: You might need better break-ups

Today's Spinner quote of the day comes from Lily Allen:

"I've actually broken up with boyfriends for inspiration."

That either shows a lack of conscience, a lack of imagination. Or both.

Downloadable: Dinosaur Jr

Thanks to the lovely people at RCRD LBL, you can enjoy a lovely slice of Dinosaur Jr:

This is I Want You To Know. Yes, it's off Farm.

[via RCRD LBL]

Downloadable: Sky Larkin - Your cassette pet

Sky Larkin are poised to release a C60 - yes, a tape - with the following tracklisting:

Side A

01. Antibodies.
02. These are the Bones of Traits and Traitors.
03. LtoR.
04. Matador (Lull’s Channel Switch Remix).
05. Antibodies (J.Xaverre Remix).
06. Keepsakes (Cereal Remix).

Side B
01. Hark to Heart; A Word In Your Shell About Antibodies and Land Art. By Katie Harkin
02. Ten Minutes. By Doug Adams
03. Real Attempts at Internet Dating. by Nestor Matthews

It's all released on 11th May, but if you're not sure if you want to have to dig out the walkman, here's a sample: Matador, downloadable in glorious mp3.

N-Dubz: Just fancy that

Goodness, whoever would have thought? Despite Gordon Smart's panicky reports last week, Tulisa from N-Dubz doesn't have swine flu at all. Just ordinary, common-or-garden, actually-kills-more-people-than-swine-flu, flu.

Oddly, Gordon hasn't found space to reassure the readers he "worried" last week.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - the pop papers

Nick Neyland takes space in Culture Now to consider the future of the music writer. In passing, he also suggests that the days of Lion Rock and Raggle-Taggle flat-pack genre creation are at an end:

The creation of new micro-genres has certainly waned since the music press was drained of its power, although it could be argued that it was relatively easy to corral a group of likeminded writers to push new concepts onto the music world back then. A small batch of tastemakers, experiencing relatively minor competition from other outlets, could dream up daft concepts over a few beers at lunchtime and then easily foist them onto a large group of avid readers (how else to explain the ill-fated Romo revival of the mid 1990s?). A vast quantity of writers, all competing with hundreds of other music websites and publications, are going to find it much harder to coalesce ideas about genre and other grandiose concepts.

Wedding by the sea: Weddoes launch their own festival

What could be more pleasing than passing a day in Brighton, enjoying a festival curated by the Wedding Present?

The Wedding Present will be headlining their very own all-day festival at Concorde 2 this summer in Brighton on England's sunny south coast. The event, which is called AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA [in honour of the David Gedge song of the same name] will run from 3PM on Saturday 22 August 2009.

Original plans to name the event My Favourite Dress and make everyone come wearing summer frocks faltered when Gedge imagined what many of his hardcore audience would look like in a Laura Ashley frock, so At The Edge Of The Sea it is.

In other Weddoes-related news, the Big Band Concert recorded at Leeds the other week is going to be broadcast in two chunks on Radio 2 on June 1st and 8th.

Gordon in the morning: Telling porkies

Gordon chills the blood of juggling-and-mud fans everywhere this morning, claiming that swine flu has put "Glastonbury at risk":

GLASTO chief MICHAEL EAVIS fears his famous festival could face the chop this year over the swine flu outbreak.

The bearded dairy farmer called worried organisers to an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the prospect of cancelling the event amid fears of a pandemic.

Really? Eavis really believes the event is under threat? Or is it just one of those things that you put on the list of things to be aware of in planning?

What did Michael tell you, Gordon?

Nothing at all, as it turns out. But there was a "source":
A source said: “So many people gathered in one place is a risk and if the Government wanted to pull public events, like they have done in Mexico, we’d be one of the first to go."

Well, Glastonbury would be one of the first to go if the government happened to start canceling events the weekend that the ban came in. If swine flu did suddenly become a real problem, but it happened in the next couple of weeks, the FA Cup Final might be the first to go.

But it won't be, because it isn't likely. Even Gordon's "source" says so:
“It would be crazy not to put a plan in place. Right now, though, it is still full steam ahead.”

So, Gordon's "exclusive" is if - if - swine flu gets a lot more serious, and the government bans large public gatherings, then a large public gathering won't happen.

But Gordon isn't content with one large-gig/health-related non-story. Oh, no. There's scrawny old Michael Jackson, too:
MEDICS have warned MICHAEL JACKSON that he needs to beef up before his mammoth O2 residency.

They say the star is 20lb underweight and urgently needs to pile on the pounds ahead of the 50 live shows, from July 8 to February 24.

In other words: doctors are advising someone to make sure they're in the best of health before embarking on a job which requires them to be physically fit.

It's a classic day for stating the bleedin' obvious, experts say.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Downloadable: Peaches

As a taste of Peaches' new album, I Feel Cream, snag an mp3 of the track Talk To Me.

50 Cent clears himself after a long investigation

50 Cent is delighted to announce that he had nothing to do with the strange burning down of one of his houses, through his own website:

Back in May of 2008,50 Cent’s ex and baby mother of his son, blamed and accused 50 Cent for a fire that took place in her 1.4 million dollar home, which 50 purchased for them.

50 Cent has just been officially cleared of the house fire. The police department and insurance investigators ruled that there is absolutely no proof or evidence suggesting that Curtis Jackson or any affiliated parties were involved. Curtis Jackson has just been cleared of all the accusations. The investigation will continue until the guilty party is found.

Now that 50 has been cleared...Who Does that Leave to Blame???

The only slight wrinkle in the story is that it isn't actually true:
Detective Lieutenant James Rooney, the commanding office of the arson squad for the Suffolk County Police Department said he had read the post but would not confirm its claims. "The investigation is still ongoing," Rooney said. "I don't know where they got that information, but our case is still open and ongoing."

Is it just me, or is there something really desperate about a man so keen to claim he never done nothing that he'll run made-up police reports? In fact, it looks so sweatily-palmed desperate, it's almost as if he wants people to read his claims as outrageous fibs - could 50 Cent be trying to poison future juries against him in a bid to ensure he can't get a fair trial because of his own website making him look shifty?

Madonna: dressing for motherhood

In a bid to try and pretend that it does more than print pictures of ladies in sexy clothing, the Daily Mail has decided to turn its shot of Madonna at a party into a think piece:

Is that really a suitable dress for someone trying to win an adoption case Madonna?

The self-proclaimed Material Girl appeared to lack plenty of the aforementioned substance as her Louis Vuitton mini dress and thigh-high boots showed off the tops of her thighs, her muscular arms and plenty of décolletage.

But was that really the outfit for someone who is currently battling a high-profile adoption case?

The Daily Mail Reporter, called, erm, Daily Mail Reporter, apparently thinks that the courts might not have heard of Madonna before, and - seconds before shoveling babies into her shopping basket - someone will burst in to the court room waving photos of last night's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Ball yelling "stop! she has gone out in public showing her arms! She is not suitable for motherhood!"

This is Madonna, Daily Mail Reporter. She's published a book featuring a photo of herself getting a back-handed compliment from Vanilla Ice. She advertised Pepsi by having a squirt off a man who was meant to be Jesus. She... well, you can add your own favourite example of Madonna public indignity here. Going out wearing a pair of kinky boots is unlikely to swing the court at this point.

Downnloadable: St Helens

If you take a handful of Bird Blobs and mix in a smidge of Love Of Diagrams, you wind up with this: St Helens.

And this is what they sound like: How To Choose Your Guru, a free mp3 for you to listen at.

Like them? You can find them all over MySpace. Enjoy.

Off-Message: Radiohead should split

Showing the sort of intuitive understanding that makes a great music manager, Brian Message advised Radiohead to split up during the making of In Rainbows.

Although he did have a point at the time:

"Radiohead are a once-in-a-generation act," Message told the Music Managers Forum in Dublin, "but you have to be honest if it's not working."

There aren't many managers who would advise a clapped-out band to call it a day, and fewer still who would admit to having said so during the making of one that year's best albums.

Message also differs from many other managers with his approach to the internet:
"We find ourselves out of step with the rest of the industry on [internet issues]," Message said. "We believe filesharing by peer-to-peer should be legalised. The sharing of music where it is not for profit is a great thing for culture and music."

Message condemned the proposed "three strikes" legislation against filesharers...

Here comes the 'but':
...and argued instead for a tax on internet use, that would help remunerate artists. "As a free market advocate I never thought I'd say this but we will have to have government intervention to force the internet service providers to adopt a licensing mode," he said. "Those who are providing [filesharing] facility as part of their value proposition should be contributing to the artists."

A tax on internet use.

It's actually handy when you phrase it like that, as it does make it clear what we're talking about here: The government raising a levy on access to information. Like a tax on printing presses, you mean? Or a tax on knowledge. But - hey - if the money is going to go to Peter Skellern and Survivor, then that can't be a bad thing, can it?

If even well-minded music industry types can feel comfortable putting aside their dearest beliefs like this, how about we create some similar taxes that flow in the opposite direction?

Like, for example, flyposting. Flyposting is a nuisance to councils - it costs money to police, and to clean up flyposters. Why don't we simply levy a tax on all promotions of cultural events? Sure, many gig promoters and bands might not actually use illegal flyposting, but someone has to pay for the clean-up. Naturally, anyone who chose to not pay the levy would be banned from advertising any events, because those who are benefiting from promotional activities should be contributing to the costs of scrubbing walls and repainting bus shelters.

Yes, it's arbitrary and unfair and capricious - but then so is the web tax. Why should only the music industry get to make bad laws?

Mudhoney: coming to the UK

You don't need me to talk this one up for you. Mudhoney. In the UK. In October.

09th - Edinburgh Studio 25
10th - Leeds TJ Woodhouse
11th - London Camden Koko Theatre

Bono: I had no idea you wrote such bloody awful poetry. Actually, I had an inkling, but even so...

Bono's 1994 poem about Elvis is going to get an outing on Radio 4:

Elvis, with god on his knees
Elvis, on three TVs
Elvis, here come the killer bees, head full of honey, potato chips and cheese

1994, this was. He was in his mid-30s.

And apparently there's some 14 minutes worth of this. But it manages to be ill-advised in ways beyond just literary:
Elvis the bumper stickers
Elvis the white knickers
Elvis the white nigger ate at Burger King and just kept getting bigger.

To be fair to the BBC, they're not actually making this programme. In fact... who is? Where would you find anyone fawning enough to think Bono's every utterance is worth fifteen minutes of hard-won time?
Des Shaw, director of Ten Alps, said:

Ten Alps, you say? You mean the company co-founded by Bob Geldof?

Anyway, tell us about it, Des:
“We’ve been tossing ideas around for two years, keeping on going back to it and trying to work out how we’d use it. It took a while to work out how to produce it in a very effective but bonkers way. It’s a difficult one for Radio 4.”

There's just something about the word "bonkers" which causes your anal cavity to expand to three or four times its normal size as it seeks to suck in all known life, isn't there? They might as well just title the press release 'You don't have to be mad to suggest Elvis is a pair of white knickers, but it helps!!!!!!'

Bob Dylan: get the local angle

Bob Dylan's number one album isn't just his victory, you know. Oh, no: it's also Liverpool's. At least, according to to the Liverpool Echo:

Liverpool Local News
Liverpool hero Bob Dylan is top of the album chart with Together Through life

The paper's basis for claiming Dylan as a "Liverpool hero"? Erm... that he played a gig in the city:
JUST days after his sellout appearance at the Echo arena, superstar Bob Dylan leapt straight to the top of the album chart – almost 40 years since his last number one record.

And, hey, if you want to read a causal link in to 'appearing at an Echo-sponsored building' and 'having a number one record', that's your prerogative, right?

Gordon in the morning: We're only trying to get us some peace

Whatever happened to Gordon Brown's use of the Widow Twankey ratings he was giving to Lady GaGa's outfits? Today he merely details that she wasn't wearing a bra. Perhaps he felt a bit ashamed of the whole "Twankeys out of ten" concept. But then, he's a grown man going "phwoarr, she's not wearing a bra", like a ten year-old caught in a Carry On movie, so perhaps he's just over-excited.

Elsewhere, Gordon has news of a collaboration:

JOSS STONE and MICK JAGGER are making sweet music together again.

The songbird and the wrinkly ROLLING STONE first collaborated in 2004 on track Lonely Without You, for the soundtrack to the movie Alfie.

Oh, yes... who could, erm, forget that one?
But now they have roped in some dazzling pals to make their next songs even more special.

Wow. Even more special than a track nobody's heard off a film that nobody saw? These must be some pretty dazzling pals indeed to deliver on such a promise.
The duo have been working with BOB MARLEY’s sons DAMIAN and STEPHEN as well as Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack composer A.R. RAHMAN and rapper NAS.

To you or I, this might sound like "some people who happened to be hanging about the recording studio who had a spare hour before lunch", but Gordon? Gordon's impressed:
It’s a mind-boggling roll call of musical heavy-hitters and they have come together to work on an album that will be issued on the UN’s International Day Of Peace, September 21.

A mind-boggling roll call? Really? The woman from the flake advert, someone's sons, a tax exile, a film composer and a random rapper? That boggles your mind, Gordon? Thank God you weren't born when Hear N Aid made Stars, your very head would have popped off and rolled clear down the street, like a whole pickled cabbage losing a fight with gravity.

Still, hats off to the UN for deciding to mark the International Day Of Peace by releasing a record from people known these days mostly for making a godawful racket.

You know what's missing from this well-meaning but pointless endeavour, though?
U2 frontman BONO is also involved in the project and has been recording separately with Damian.

Ah. There you are, Mr. Bono.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Thatcher-off: Number one

Well, before the final match of the season, we're going to present the winning team with their trophy. 1979 was better for music, and the best 1990 had to offer was conceived against the grain of Thatcherism. I'm not sure you can really lay claim to a legacy that really only existed because people wanted to force you into an industrial cheese grater. "I made people creative by the sheer force of their hatred for me" isn't a line you'd ever want to open a chapter of autobiography with, is it?

Anyway, it's a formality, but let's have one last round:

Number 1, April 1979: Art Garfunkel - Bright Eyes

Mike Batt went on from this to slaughtering rabbits. It is, he explained, the only language they understand. He's spent the bank holiday laying Womble traps.

Number 1, November 1990: The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody

Wow. Thatcher's career, bookended by sloppy soundtrack music. At least in 1979 they had the good grace to write something new, rather than disinter a track that should have been let lie after Jimmy Young had had a go at it.

Final scores: Music before Thatcher - 7; Music after Thatcher - 3.

1979 wins by four votes; 1990 just about keeps its deposit.

[Follow all the Thatcher-Off fun]

Thatcher-off: Number two

With Thatcher's cultural legacy now playing for honour alone, we move to to a sniff of the top of the charts.

Number 2, April 1979: Racey - Some Girls

Remember, this was outselling all the 1979 songs we've seen so far, so Callaghan can't be too complacent. Aimed squarely at the Look-In, Non-Threatening-Boys market, the middle prong of the crepe-suits attack alongside Shawaddywaddy and Darts, this was pretty much the same song Racey kept releasing.

1990 is going to have to have a stinker to lose out here.

Number 2, November 1990: The Beautiful South - A Little Time

To be fair, it's hard to see that this record would even have existed had Thatcher not been around. Paul Heaton existed solely in opposition, with even his band's name attuned to the tenor of the times. Plus, it's an excellent song. I can never remember the reason we're supposed to despise The Beautiful South.

1990 wins a round.

Pre-Thatcher: 6; Post-Thatcher: 3

Ciara: One handed debating

Now, it might be that - if you were Ciara, and had recorded a duet with Chris Brown, you might have had some concerns about releasing the track. You know, with that whole 'hitting women' thing hanging over him and all.

But Ciara has decided to go ahead and release it any way. Of course, she's really thought it through:

"You know what it is? Honestly, with that record, it's just more about the music for me," Ciara told MTV News last weekend. "I wanted to focus on the music and leave it at that, because it's a record that I've had for a while, I love the way it sounds and it's one of my most favorite records on the album. And if I alter it, it's not gonna sound the same. So for me, really it's nothing more than about the music, so I kept it there."

"I'mma be honest with you, pretty much everyone on my team was supportive [of keeping the record on the album]. Because we knew what the whole reasoning of wanting to keep it was," she explained. "Being as though I was leaving it at that, I felt OK about that. When you listen to the album, from the beginning to the end, it feels good to you, and it just felt good to me. I could try to do it a different way and I even had moments where I played with it a little bit, but it didn't feel right. So it's all about what feels good to me, so that's why I kept it.

"It definitely took time [to make the final decision]," Ciara added. "In the decision-making process for the records, once you get down to the last few days, that's when you kind of know. It definitely took time, but [the question was] more if the record made sense for the album, period. And that's how I weighed all the records."

So it sounds like she drew up a pair of lists, one headed 'in favour of not incurring further expense rerecording record' and the other headed... well, actually, I don't really think there was another column. Perhaps Ciara could have explained a little about the actual weighing of the decision, but it looks a little like someone at the label decided to go ahead and the rationale has been reverse-engineered from there?

Supreme Court to inspect Janet Jackson's breasts

It lasted only three sixteenths of a second, and yet, five years on, we're still not at the end of the Janet Jackson nipple slip. Now, the Supreme Court is going to inspect the appeal court's rejection of the ridiculous fine that CBS was hit with after a slice of nipple fluttered across the TV screens during Superbowl 2004.

Ofcom might sometimes attach itself to the passing mob, but at least it manages to come to its conclusions, however poor, fairly quickly.

Thatcher-off: Number three

The best Thatcher's musical legacy can hope for now is a draw. But can it at least stay in the game, and force us to come up with an equivalent of a penalty shoot out, which we have no idea how we'd do and I really wish I had come up with before starting out...

Number 3, April 1979: Squeeze - Cool For Cats

"with the Dancing Girls", the title on YouTube helpfully points out, just in case you hadn't spotted them. A bit of everything chucked in: slightly drunken passes, 1970s television, American history. Difford and Tilbrook's songwriting often lurched towards the kitchen sink drama, but with this one, it was just throw the kitchen sink in. Lovely.

Number 3, November 1990: Kim Appleby - Don't Worry

After Mel, this was Kim's comeback (and, as it turned out, farewell) hit as a solo artist, and it was much more than a sympathy/curiosity purchase. It managed to pull off a combination of introspection with the trademark, upbeat, show-must-go-on ethos of the SAW stable. It's actually a pretty good pop song.

But it's no Cool For Cats.

1979 wins again.

Pre-Thatcher - 6; Post-Thatcher - 2.

Chung people: MTV shares money with Twitter and Facebook

As if there was any need to suspect that Alexa Chung's big American break was of dubious prognosis. She's presenting MTV's replacement for TRL, a show axed because it no longer had an audience; it now turns out that MTV is going to share the advertising money the programme makes (if any) with Twitter and Facebook.

It's a generous move on MTV's part, but also one that is surely only going to draw more attention to the weakness of the proposition of What You're Watching: it needs social networking partners because, erm, that's where the audience has gone. And why would anyone want to watch a large pool of tweets and status updates from people they don't know when they could be genuinely social networking on the internet?

Surely MTV needs to find a way to do something that the audiences feel they need more than being online, rather than just acting like a one-way Twitterfall search engine?

Thatcher-off: Number four

In case you've missed this so far today, we're attempting a politico-sociological experiment to decide if music was better before or after Thatcher. April 1979 is starting to look pretty good, but we've got four rounds left to play.

Number 4, April 1979: Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive

Oh, it could be game over for 1990, couldn't it? Sure, this might be the worst music video ever, with its confused use of rollerskating to depict 'freedom' (a conceit later adopted by most early sanitary product commercials) but this is just a cultural cornerstone, isn't it? If the 1979 election was being fought today, Sunny Jim would appear on TV intoning "first, I was afraid, I was petrified..." and romp home.

Number 4, November 1990: Berlin - Take My Breath Away

Between you and me, right: you know that Kelly McGillis, right? Well... let's just say, she wouldn't be interested in Tom Cruise in real life, right. Don't tell anyone, though. It's the best-kept secret in showbiz.

Yes, a decade of Thatcherism, and this is what was passing for anthemic - a big, airy nothing slapped on a movie soundtrack about fighter pilots. Top Gun didn't make the air force sound as much fun as the Village People did the navy, did it?

1979 wins. Again.

Pre-Thatcher: 5; Post-Thatcher - 2.

Thatcher-off: Number five

Into the top half of the chart battle between music as Thatcher found it, and as she left it, and our international panel of experts suggest that it was a little bit better in 1979. But what of number five?

Number 5, April 1979: The Village People - In The Navy

They. Want. You. Oh my goodness. They. Want. You. What am i going to do in a submarine? Gay, splashy, men-in-uniforms. Did we mention gay? Oh, yes, it's cheesy, but something of a tribute to the state of British society that something so clearly camp could win the heart of the nation. Politicalfact: Under Thatcher's Clause 28, teachers caught humming Village People songs were sacked on the spot, with no right of appeal or pensions.

Number 5, November 1990: Paul Gascoigne & Lindisfine - The Fog On The Tyne

There are nowhere near enough conceits that allow you weigh the relative merits of a gay pop act against a footballer-turned-lets-be-kind-and-say-singer. Still, the success of Gazza at least proves that Thatcher didn't quite get round to killing everyone who lived in the North of England, which is something to consider if you're thinking of writing a book which re-evaluates her impact on British society. Although this was enough to make most of North-East England die of shame. Politicalfact: After this record was released, Newcastle council voted in favour of filling in the Tyne out of shame; the plan was only abandoned when people from Gateshead got excited about being able to stroll across the river.

1979 wins by a wide mile.

Pre-Thatcher, 4; Post-Thatcher, 2.

Thatcher-off: Number six

1979 has done well with Sister Sledge and M; 1990 has relied on Kylie and Belinda Carlisle. So as we complete the top half of the chart, either pre- or post-Thatch has a chance to take the lead to prove whatever it was we were thinking we were going to prove.

Number 6, April 1979: The Jacksons - Shake Your Body Down To The Ground

Captured on The Best Of Midnight Special - should Michael have been up that late at his age? That's going to cause problems later on, you mark my words.

It's hard to believe that people were so bloody miserable in 1979, isn't it? The charts were brilliant. 1990 is going to need something pretty special to boot this out the water...

Number 6, November 1990: Black Box - Fantasy

Go on - before you press play - hum it. Go on.

Apparently, this fantasy involves Gary Glitter playing himself at draughts, which is a bit confusing. Instantly forgettable dance-by-the-numbers, suggesting that Thatcher Ruined Dance. (Except for the flooding the country with ecstasy bit.)

1979 wins.

After five rounds: Pre-Thatcher 3 - Post-Thatcher 2.

Thatcher-off: Number seven

"Yes, she might have crushed your right to be represented by a union, but we never had swine flu under her, did we?"

Round four in our battle between the charts before Thatcher, and after her.

Number 7, April 1979: Sister Sledge - He's The Greatest Dancer

We're not here to judge fashion, people. Concentrate on the music.

This is what The Sledge were doing as Thatcher drove up the Mall. Six years into the Thatcher project, and they were reduced to doing Frankie, which is a career trajectory similar to going from the RSC to playing a bear on kid's TV.

Number 7, November 1990: Robert Palmer & UB40 - I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

UB40 had long since lost any real interest in reggae, and were instead serving up vast vats of Supermarket Own Brand Reggae Flavoured Pop. Robert Palmer, with his cheap suits and general air of junior minister at Ag and Fish, always seemed to be a very Thatcheresque pop star. And when they came together... it was dismal. Truly upsetting.

1979 wins.

After four rounds: Pre-Thatcher 2, Post-Thatcher 2. Another in about sixty minutes.

Gordon in the morning has broken

Today, Gordon has news that Yusuf Islam has suggested that Coldplay have lifted the song they supposedly pinched from Joey Satriani:

Yusuf explained: “There’s been this argument about Coldplay stealing this melody from JOE SATRIANI, but, if you listen to it, it’s mine! It’s the Foreigner Suite, it is!”

Gordon, shocked that anyone might think Martin more than a talented hack, offers up an explanation:
Unconsciously stealing musical ideas has a name. My experts say it’s a condition called cryptomnesia.

Your experts? What experts would those be, Gordon? Your forensic psychologists department, or Wikipedia.

Still, good work on finding a defence. Even if...
I bet Chris regrets what he said to Rolling Stone mag in 2005: “We’re good, but I don’t think we’re that original. I regard us as being incredibly good plagiarists.

... you then destroy it.

Amazon try to distance themselves from torrents

Coda FM, a torrent site, has been offering people the opportunity to buy albums after sampling tracks for free, by using Amazon links. It's worked, too - they've sold a not insubstantial number of albums. Now, though, Amazon are asking them to stop.

Which means that Amazon appear to be saying they really don't want to offer people the chance to legitimately purchase a product if they had previously had a grey version of it. Wouldn't it be more copyright friendly to offer sinners a way to repent?

Anyway, the site isn't going to stop linking:

“We give the user the option to easily buy an album that they liked after downloading and hearing it for free,” the founder told TorrentFreak. He thought it was a good idea, and it therefore came as a surprise when Amazon asked him to remove the links from the site. In addition, the world’s largest online retailer closed his associate account.

Even though he's not making any money from the links any more, he's keen for there to still be a legal purchase route. Presumably Amazon's fear is of seeming to give legitimacy to a peer-to-peer site?

Thatcher-off: Number eight

If you're just joining us, as you shelter from an inevitable Bank Holiday deluge, hello. Today, we're trying to decide if the charts were better before or after Thatcher, by using one of our patented poorly-conceived analytical methods. In this case, comparing the best sellers from the last months of the Callaghan and Thatcher premierships. So far, it's one-all.

Round three, then:

Number 8, April 1979 - Sex Pistols & Ten Pole Tudor - Silly Thing/Who Killed Bambi

The best thing about this late-period Pistols/Tudor split 7" was the angry letter written to Smash Hits complaining about the advert they ran for it. It was distressing to see a page which referred, obliquely, to a dead cartoon deer.

The record itself? Ed Pole's effort was alright, but clearly only added to give some extra heft to a Pistols track from a band who had run out not just of steam, but even the ability to pretend they were what they were supposed to be. Bambi wasn't the only cartoon character getting laid out by this one.

Number 8, November 1990: Belinda Carlisle - We Want The Same Thing

Ah, a woman with a successful career, having broken out from her group, desperately claiming that she wants the same thing as you. Did, I wonder, Thatcher sing this to the men in grey suits as they came in, one-by-one, to tell her they couldn't support her any more? Almost certainly not.

This is far from classic Carlisle - even a little by-rote - but still edges ahead of 1979. Pre-Thatcher 1 - Post-Thatcher 2.

Thatcher-off: Number nine

So, an early lead for music after Thatcher, thanks to Kylie power. Funny that an economic migrant has given Thatch the lead, eh?

Let us climb a place higher:

Number 9, April 1979 - M - Pop Muzik

"You're living in a disco" claimed Robin Scott, "forget about the rat race". You might as well, as you're not going to get any sleep with all that pumping music and flashing lights. Maybe you should have taken the rooms above the butcher's instead.

A fine love letter to pop music. You can't complain about that.

Number 9, November 1990 - Vanilla Ice - Ice, Ice Baby

The Thatcher years were a difficult time for race relations, weren't they?

After two rounds, then: Pre-Thatcher 1, Post-Thatcher 1.

Another round to follow in about an hour...

Thatcher-off: The chart showdown

Thirty years ago this morning, James Callaghan was looking for boxes, while The Queen was facing the horror of having her hand kissed by Thatcher. (Although at least we can be sure that she didn't drivel and/or drool as she kissed her.) And thus began the period of British politics which, it seems, we're now obliged to say saw Thatcher "do what had to be done" - sorry, all you people, you had to be done, never mind.

But was it good for the country, really? There's only one way to find out, and that's by comparing the top tens for April 1979, the last month of a Labour government, with November 1990, when even Thatcher's closest chums got sick of her. Were the charts in a better state when she arrived, or when she left?

Number 10, April 1979: Hallelujah - Milk And Honey

Fresh from winning Eurovision - back at a time when people still felt obliged to point out that, actually, Israel would be Middle East rather than Europe - the declining moments of a Labour government were hymned by a desire for peace, and love. Isreal's entries to Eurovision often sing about peace and understanding, because otherwise the bands would be force to appear carrying signs saying "It's not our fault. We're just musicians."

Number 10, November 1990: Kylie Minogue - Step Back In Time

There are some who might suggest that it;s appropriate that, as the nation moved from the Victorian Values of Thatcher to Major's bicycling virgins going to Orwellian churches, what could be more appropriate than a song calling on us to step back in time? (And, as we'll see as we climb the charts, music had pretty much done that anyway.)

This video, apparently, is the fifth most popular performance on CD:UK ever ever ever.

Clearly, though, in this battle there is only one winner: Pre-Thatcher - 0; Post-Thatcher 1.

[More across the day]

UPDATE: 09/04/13 - Replaced the Milk & Honey video with one that works

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Alright, look back a little bit, then

The arrival of Bob Dylan at the top of the UK album charts has puzzled the editorial team of Pendle Today. How could such a thing happen, and in 2009, too?

They send, naturally, for Gennaro Castaldo, thought-wrangler for HMV:

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: "Dylan is arguably our greatest cultural icon and his words and music remain as relevant and as powerful today as they did five decades ago.

"His albums always sell consistently well, but with demand for his catalogue of recordings up significantly in recent months, it's evident that Dylan is going through one of his zeitgeist moments, as a new generation of fans join his more established followers in appreciating his musical legacy."

Mam! Mam! Our Bob is upstairs having one of his zeitgeist moments again, and I'm not going to clean it up with a damp rag this time...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Telegraph runs bemusing story about mp3 players

I know it's a bank holiday weekend and many people would rather be sat on a canal toepath eating a scotch egg and fishing, but even that doesn't really explain this oddity in the Telegraph:

Budget MP3 beats iPod in consumer poll
A budget MP3 player which costs less than half the price of an Apple iPod has topped a web poll of consumers.

That's quite an interesting claim. So, give us some details, Ian Johnston:
The little-known Sansa Clip – which was developed as a sideline by SanDisk, which normally makes memory chips – scored 9.1 out of 10 for value for money, according to thousands of people who voted in electrical goods review site Reevoo's Customer Choice Awards.

So it hasn't actually beaten the iPod, it's just got a higher score amongst the people who have voted on the various products - so it might have impressed more of its users, but since they're talking about their impressions of the specific player, and not comparing them directly, it hasn't really beaten anything, has it?

And if you nip over to Reevoo, look up mp3 players and sort by customer ratings, the Sansa clip doesn't appear until you're half way down the second page - not only is it behind the iPod, but it lags behind similarly sized Sony and Samsung devices as well.

Oh, and the "thousands" who have voted according to the Telegraph? The current most-reviewed Sandisk Clip has been rated by, erm, just over thirty reviews.

Apple pulls Nails

The Nine Inch Nails iPhone app was something a triumph for everyone involved - it showed Apple's mobile platform was capable of sexy, alluring, grown-up uses; it gave Trent Reznor reach into a different market. It was wonderful.

Was. Apple have now yanked it because of 'offensive content'. Presumably, in the same way that post-Brand, the BBC have gone compliance crazy, having had its reputation tarnished by the baby shaking monstrosity, Apple are now hitting the delete button as soon as anything that would upset the faintest of maiden aunts is discovered.

Pete Waterman: How did he reach 154 million?

Pete Waterman has, so far, been the biggest moaner taking the PRS line on YouTube royalties. You'll recall his complaint:

"If 154 million plays means £11, I get more from Radio Stoke playing Never Gonna Give You Up than I do from YouTube."

Now, we've already pointed out that he was including views from all over the world - not just the UK - and that he only qualifies for a writer's payment, and that has to be split three ways.

And we've always had our doubts about 154 million plays in the first place.

Handily, the good people at Visible Measures have launched their list of the most-watched videos of all time. These figures are interesting because Visible Measures use True Reach, which counts spoofs, forwards and derivative works as well. They reckon 18 videos have broken the 100 million mark.

Rick Astley doesn't appear on the list.

Now, they're counting in one way, and there's room for margins of error and so on. But there's a massive gulf between "154 million" and "less than 100 million", don't you think?

Lisa Hannigan Sunday: Free Until They Cut Me Down

Recorded live in London, at St John's Church, December 2008:

[Part of Lisa Hannigan Sunday]

RIAA seeking radio money

Naturally, the RIAA aren't so stupid as to push Guy Hands into the battle to persuade Congress to pass a radio royalty for recorded music. Instead, they find a slightly more p=heart-rending spokesperson:

Jack Ely, the singer whose 1963 version of "Louie Louie" still makes the rounds on oldies radio, lives with his wife in a mobile home on a horse ranch in Oregon. Ely says they share $30,000 a year from her teacher's pension and his Social Security checks. They are paying down a mortgage.

So sometimes it bothers Ely, 65, when he hears his voice singing "Louie Louie" on the radio or in sports arenas, knowing he's not getting paid.

"It gets played twice a day by every oldies radio station everywhere in the world. And I get nothing," said Ely, who recorded the song with The Kingsmen before getting drafted by the Army and leaving the band. "I got one check for $5,000. That's all I ever saw from the sale of `Louie Louie.'"

It's a sad story. You might, of course, wonder if the single cheque might not suggest that not only were the radio companies not chipping in, but also the record companies. And if there isn't something a little tawdry in the RIAA parading people who they've spent forty years helping live in impoverishment in order to make a few more quid for their businesses.

But then again, the record companies aren't the most consistent of organisations. And perhaps if there was only one inconsistency it wouldn't be too bad.
Mitch Bainwol, the chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, says he's prepared for a "multiyear" fight.

If I was a US radio broadcaster, that would give me heart - it's possible that in two or three years the RIAA, if it still exists, would be incapable of holding a beetle drive, never mind winning a legal battle. A long game would work in radio's interests.

The second inconsistency comes when comparing the RIAA's attitude to its members' incomes with its attitude to others' outgoings. The main reason why the RIAA wants piracy prosecuted and new copyright rules is because - although the music and media industries have changed completely, it still feels its income should at a level back like it was when it was delivering scarce, physical products. There should be every effort made to protect that income.

However, when it looks at FM and AM radio royalties in the US, this inherent conservative streak vanishes and - despite decades of precedence of the radio networks not having to pay, the RIAA feels that now, because the music and media industries have changed completely, the terms of trade must change to reflect that.

Yes, it's hypocrisy, but it's more than that. The RIAA have never taken a considered approach to anything in the last decade, just responding to each question as it comes up with the thought "how can we make the most money out of this?" What is most damning is the way these contradictions point to an organisation that is still just flapping in the breeze, without any real guiding principle at its heart.

Lisa Hannigan Sunday: The Man I Love

Recorded live at the Songs That Scare Children event from the Dublin Fringe Festival 2008:

[Part of Lisa Hannigan Sunday]

Britney Spears: That would be crazy how, exactly?

TMZ screeches the breaking-ish news:

Crazy Fan Arrested at Britney Spears Concert

Goodness. Crazy, you say? And how did this craziness manifest itself? Did he wear a hat, or go to the theatre?
Connecticut State Police say the 20-year-old fan -- who they say had definitely been drinking -- was detained after charging on stage during Britney's encore performance of "Womanizer."

Ah. So he got on stage.

Forgive me - my psychology training wasn't the greatest - but how does this actually constitute "crazy"? If he had been trying to pull her hair, maybe there might have been something crazed about the incident. Or, indeed, if he had been running up and down the stage, removing his clothes, blethering about Saint Francis Of Assisi, that might have been an indication of "crazy". But have we come this far, that simply getting on stage is a sign not just of ego-driven nuisance, but also of mental illness?

And he got arrested. Arrested, for getting on stage:
The CSP says after the guy was taken into custody, he was being highly uncooperative -- so they also booked him for interfering with police.

Interfering with police? I guess it's lucky this bloke was only looking to have a bit of a dance, otherwise he'd been getting waterboarding about now.

Lisa Hannigan Sunday: Lille

Taken from RTE2's Other Voices programme, this is Lisa Hannigan doing Lille:

[Part of Lisa Hannigan Sunday

Doves flu: People stokes the panic

If a public health official tells you it might be a good idea not to start a needless panic, that's clearly the signal to, erm, help the Sunday People try and start a panic:

Pig flu victim Iain Askham told last night how he tried to warn health bosses he had been at a packed rock concert while infected with the bug - and was ordered to keep quiet about it.

Askham - or that bloke who caught the flu on his Mexican honeymoon but is doing alright now, what with it being flu and not SARS or anything - had apparently managed to squeeze in a visit to see Doves:
Doves had to axe their show the following night after their drummer Andy Williams, 39, fell ill at the Edinburgh gig.

Are they suggesting that Williams had the swine flu? That he somehow caught it - perhaps from a vague sneeze at the back of the room?

Who better to help stoke the Fear (clever wording - cheers) than a public health official? Or maybe a member of the band? Or, failing that... erm, a shop girl who happened to be at the gig?
Shop assistant Deborah Keogh, 26, was at the rock concert with 29-year-old boyfriend Colin Sutherland. She said last night: "It is shocking, scary really.

"You can see how something like that could have been passed on." Doves drummer Andy began feeling ill during the Edinburgh gig and the band pulled out of next night's show in Leeds. The nature of his illness is not known."

Although he was back behind the drum kit in Manchester, on the 26th, so it's pretty unlikely that he had swine flu, isn't it? But then I can't be sure, I'm neither a health professional, nor work in a shop.

The dull truth - that it would have caused an unnecessary panic to start calling everyone in who'd been at a Doves gig, and would have about as much point as trying to find anyone who might have been in the airport or down Tesco or on the bus with Askham - isn't quite so hysteria-friendly, though, is it?

Still: the possibility of indie music fans getting flu isn't quite an Armageddon scenario. Can you ratchet it up a little, People?
And worryingly, Iain's pal Graeme Pacitti, who caught swine flu off him, revealed yesterday that he was among a crowd of 17,000 people at the Scottish Cup semi-final at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium last Sunday.

That'll do it. You wonder if they sat in the newsroom, debating if they should add "... and said he couldn't be sure if he'd sneezed all over the pies on the pie stall" to that paragraph.

Doctors say that the long-term prognosis for anyone who is infected with swine flu is "a million or so times better than that of the Sunday People".

Embed and breakfast man: Lisa Hannigan Sunday

To celebrate tomorrow's release of Sea Sew, let's spend some time with Lisa Hannigan.

This is the first track to be released out into the world from the album, with a stereotype-defying video shot in an Irish pub:

More Lisa Hannigan stuff online
Official site
On Twitter
On Last.FM
On MySpace
On Wikipedia
Lisa Hannigan posts on No Rock

More from Lisa Hannigan during the day
Lille - live
The Man I Love - live

Ozzy Osbourne: prepare yourself for a shock

This may prove a little hard to believe, but it seems Ozzy Osbourne might not have been totally in the room when they made The Osbournes:

Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne has confessed he refuses to watch his family's hit reality TV show, The Osbournes - because he was stoned or drunk every day of filming.

The Black Sabbath frontman, 60, said: "Every shot, I can tell you what time of day it was by the way my body language was.

At the end of the day I'd go in my bunker and smoke."

I know, I know... it's hard to believe, isn't it? And yet he hid it so well.

News of the World discovers that Gary Glitter still eats, breathes

Apparently believing it be some sort of public service, the News of the World has tracked down Gary Glitter:

EVIL pop paedophile Gary Glitter has adopted a cunning new disguise to dupe the public - he's had a Rolf Harris makeover and calls himself Darren.

By "Rolf Harris makeover", they mean that he's got grey hair and a grey beard. But "stopped dying his hair" doesn't, presumably, sound sinister enough for the paper.

Actually, "looking like Rolf Harris" isn't especially sinister, either, and means that the writer Lucy Panton switches her guff between trying to make yer bloods run cold, and knockabout humour:
Parents should study our pictures well. For the child abuser - who is on the sex offenders register - is still a constant danger and threat to innocent kids.
Glitter's new look in the style of Aussie artist, singer and TV presenter Rolf - catchphrase "Can you see what it is yet?" - is just the latest in a catalogue of images the beast has cultivated.

Why mention Rolf Harris' catchphrase at all? In fact, why mention Rolf Harris? Surely, if you really wanted to twist the knife, you'd draw the comparison with that other kindly old man with a white beard? "Unlike Santa, you wouldn't want your kids bouncing on his lookalike's knee"?

Lucy, it seems, can barely contain her contempt for the lengths Glitter is going to in order to disguise himself:
When he arrived at Heathrow he was clearly the Glitter we all know and loathe.

But now the fallen king of 1970s glam rock has ditched the silly hats, wacky goatee and raggedy clothes that made him stick out like a sore thumb.

It's a pleasing idea that a judge should force Glitter to always wear a jumpsuit and platforms, that the children of the nation might see him coming; I'm not so sure that having a goatee and old clothes would really have been making him "stick out like a sore thumb."

Unless, of course, the News of the World seriously wants its readers to believe that you can spot a paedo because they look a bit odd. Which, in the long run, would be a far greater disservice to a credulous readership than running photos of Glitter would be useful.

This week just gone

The last month's most-read stories from 2009 have been:

1. U2's manager, Paul McGuinness, hails France's three-strike law
2. RIP: Steve Raitt
3. The actor Billy Bob Thornton is not an actor
4. George Sampson: reflections on the end of a glittering career
5. RIP: Randy Cain
6. Beyonce soundboard hoax: She doesn't sing that badly
7. Pete Burns seriously ill, well enough to blog
8. Toby Keith falls out with Ethan Hawke
9. Downloadable: The Noisettes
10. PRS: Now hiring

These were the interesting releases last week:

Metric - Fantasies

download Fantasies

Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything To Nothing

download Mean Everything To Nothing

Trembling Bells - Carbeth

download Carbeth

Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 - White Lies For Dark Times

download White Lies For Dark Times

Morrissey - Southpaw Grammar

Part of a series of re-releases

download Southpaw Grammar

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - From Her To Eternity

Also part of a series of re-releases

download From Her To Eternity

Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education

Apparently re-released on its own

download A Catholic Education

Sugar Pie DeSanto - Go-Go Power