Saturday, September 12, 2009

Between 10th & 11th Weekend: I Can't Even Be Bothered

The only appearance of this track on YouTube is marked with a fan video which only slightly looks like a screensaver. Soothing, though. Soothing.

[Part of Between 10th & 11th weekend]

Blackie Lawless struggles to understand the news

It's something of a classic day for watching people struggling to cross the massive river flowing between things they understand and things they know. To be fair, hardly anyone would turn to Blackie Lawless for a cogent summary of world events, but his interview in Classic Rock magazine makes him look like a man who shouldn't be trusted to choose his own jello, either.

Classic Rock: You wrote the songs on Babylon while the world was experiencing a global financial meltdown.

Blackie Lawless: It's no secret that I wasn't Bush fan, neither Bush No. 1 nor Bush No. 2. In general, I don't trust politicians. But when this supposed global meltdown was happening a year ago and I saw all these world leaders calling for a one-world government, a one-world system and a one-world currency, I thought to myself: "They gotta be kidding." I mean, do these guys understand what they're talking about? I don't think that they do.

And, let's face it, if Lawless knows anything, it's what someone who doesn't know what he's talking about looks like. He owns mirrors.
Classic Rock: What sort of stuff makes you grit your teeth?

Blackie Lawless: The whole Lockerbie situation. Freeing that Libyan bomber was a despicable act.

Apart from being one of the few people left in the world who believes that "that Libyan bomber" (I'm sure he knows his name, it's not like Lawless would be talking about something he doesn't understand) was responsible for the bombing - at least beyond reasonable doubt - notice how the subtle interplay between realpolitik, trade deals, devolution, compassion, differing standards of justice and differing political approaches can be simply boiled down to "the whole Lockerbie situation".
Plus, as I say, you look at how it's been socialized. I was watching a TV program the other day. It was a British kid here in the U.S. The interviewer asked him: "What did you come here for?" The kid said: "I wanted to start a small business and I couldn't do that in the U.K." There's no help from the government. You can't get a bank loan. There's no incentive to get anything done. Those days are gone. I thought to myself: "Is this where America's going?" It really hurts me to watch your country go that way. The pride factor has gone.

I don't even understand what Lawless means by "how it's been socialised", or indeed where his anecdote starts and finishes. Is he saying its a good thing that the standards of approval for business loans are lower in the US than the UK? But doesn't that feed the sort of financial meltdown of which he disapproves? And isn't being able to hop from the UK to the US to open a business a manifestation of globalisation which a moment ago Lawless was railing against?
Classic Rock: You were a supporter of John McCain during the U.S. presidential election campaign.

Blackie Lawless: By default.

What default would make you support the McCain-Palin ticket? Because voting for that pairing from anything other than conviction seems a little unlikely. You could stay at home. You could have voted for the Libertarians.
Classic Rock: So, how are you finding life under Barack Obama?

Blackie Lawless: I was very, very critical of Obama during the campaign. I wrote a long letter and I sent it out to all the press the night before the election.

How strange that a last-minute letter from Lawless failed to swing the election.
I pulled no punches with this guy because I had really done quite a bit of research on him while the election was going on. He's one of these old-time 60s radicals from way back.

Excellent research work skills, Blackie. The eight year-old Barack was clearly going round spraypainting the streets of Paris in 1968.
He thinks he's going to change the world and he's hell-bent on doing that.

God, yeah - imagine that: someone going into politics hoping to make the world a better place. What a danger to us all.
When he stood there the night of the nomination and he said that he intended on "fundamentally changing" America — a chill ran down my back.

Yes, dammit - shouldn't we be marching to protect the status quo? To ensure that America remains a country where people are hungry, where black men are more likely to end up in prison, where troops are heading off to die overseas? Why would anyone want to mess with that?

If only John McCain had adopted the slogan "If it's broken, don't go trying to fix it, because that might upset the guy from WASP".

Lawless, however, has only just started to ease the lid off his pot of toss:
Thousands of people were just standing there, wildly applauding, and it reminded me of Hitler standing on the steps of the Reichstag.

Yes. People standing in front of a man applauding. It's exactly like Hitler. Unlike at the Republican convention when McCain was selected, and there were only six people and they all stood in solemn silence for five minutes before going "wee-eell... must dash" and leaving quietly by the nearest exit.

People applauding wildly doesn't make someone like Hitler, you chumphead. I imagine that people go wild and applaud at WASP gigs, or used to, when you were famous. That doesn't mean you somehow became one of the Mitford sisters.
I thought, "These people don't understand what this man is talking about, what his true intentions are, and how he is going to go about doing this."

Or perhaps they did and... you know, shared some of his aims and ideals?
This man, like I said, is straight out of the '60s school of radicalism where he thinks he's going to be Robin Hood and rob from the rich to give to the poor.

Robin Hood spent most of the sixties in digs near Nottingham Poly organising muggings of plutocrats. Fact.
I subscribe to the theory: if you work, you eat. And if you don't, you don't.

Yeah. Excuse me, I have to shove some orphans up a chimney... they'll earn that dry rusk, dammit. Now, where were we?
It's really no more complicated than that.

Yes, it's true your philosophy really couldn't be any more simple-minded.
Do we want to be compassionate? Yes. Do we want to help each other as best we can? Yes.

Right. So you have to work to eat, but you help each other out? Do you mean, in effect, that everyone needs to contribute what they can, and we'll all be alright? Perhaps you might like to use the phrase "from each, according to his abilities" there, Blackie. And the helping each other as best we can? That could be summed up as "to each, according to his needs."
But that doesn't mean that I bust my hump to create something and somebody comes along and decides that I can't keep that anymore. That's not what either one of our countries was really built on.

Well, to be fair, Blackie, your country was based entirely on someone coming along and stealing the entire nation from people who were already there. And, pretty much, all British history has seen redistribution in one form or another - not just income tax, but tithes and manorial rights.

But then it is quite confusing, isn't it, Blackie? Perhaps you should just stick to the simple "Obama is like Hitler with his Final Health plan solution" placard painting.

Between 10th & 11th Weekend: Tremolo Song

This was one of the album's singles - it came in a somewhat pointless double CD set, with one of them coming with an outside, swing-fronted container which never fitted in any CD rack, box, or display device known to man.

This version is live, from The Melkweg in Amsterdam in 2008:

[Part of Between 10th and 11th weekend]

Chris De Burgh: And my Lady In red's fuming

You would have thought that, by now, Chris DeBurgh would have realised he was an acquired taste, and accepted that he's one of those people who you either can't stand, or who you go and see because you really feel as if you should do something with your evenings and you can't sit drinking all night by yourself, can you?

Apparently not, though, as he's taken time out of his busy schedule to respond to a bad review the Irish Times gave him. I say "bad"; I mean "fair", of course.

Dear Mr Crawley,

I rarely read reviews, but as yours was sitting on my kitchen table, and after three sold-out shows in the Gaiety Theatre, I thought I should have a look at it; after all, receiving a favourable review in The Irish Times is about as likely as . . . well, receiving a favourable review in The Irish Times!!

Two exclamation marks? What are you, Chris? Twelve?

Still, given that you don't expect to get a good review from the paper, you'll probably chalk it up to experience, right?

Oh, no. Apparently not:
I was not disappointed. How the fond memories came flooding back, more than 30 years of them; you must have a Lexicon of Handy Insults, because you managed to use many of the same ones that have been used so many times before, and still they make me smile at their continued lack of imagination. “Small man . . . shudder . . . warbly tenor . . . mawkish balladeer . . . cringe factor . . . squeaky clean . . . snigger . . . cheesy” etc – yes, they were all there, as used by many of your colleagues before, such as Joe Breen (who, I note, has been put out to pasture in the wine section, and I am assured by friends in the wine trade that he knows as much about wine as he did about music – precious little. I wonder what they have in mind for you in your dotage? Searing critiques of primary school Christmas plays perhaps, or judging knife-sharpening competitions in Sligo?).

Interestingly, "small man" is the first thought that occurs when reading this letter. And "shudder", "warbly", "cringe factor" and "snigger" all fit, too.

Apparently, while Breen has gone off to judge knife competitions, Crawley isn't even qualified to be doing music reviews because, erm, he knows about something else as well:
Being a theatre critic and not a music critic, you must have strayed into the Gaiety by mistake last Monday night, possibly looking for the rear entrance to Neary’s pub, but you certainly arrived with the word “prejudice” burned into your furrowed brow.

When Chris DeBurgh starts having a pop at your furrowed brow, you must be able to grow potatoes in yours.

I'm not entirely sure why being a theatre critic would make it impossible for you to review music - it's not like you're sending a gardening correspondent for a report on the chess or anything. It's pop music, Chris. You don't need qualifications to review music.

Chris, though, has moved on to how loved he was:
How it must have galled you to hear the rapturous welcome I received at the start of the show; how you must have writhed at every standing ovation; how you must have cringed at every call of “Chris, we love you”; how you must have felt isolated as the audience rose to their feet as one, singing, dancing and shouting out for more; how you must have growled to yourself as you left, surrounded by so many happy people, to make your curmudgeonly way to the safety of the street outside.

Yeah, how it must have upset you to hear so many lithe teenages lovelies offering to have sex with Chris, right? How it must have stung to watch Chris being offered the throne of the nation. How your very being must wriggled like tapioca caught in the au pair's cleavage to see half a million people spontaneously explode with love, their remains reforming into a giant heart-shaped mosaic of a winking Chris DeBurgh.

Or perhaps Peter Crawley missed all those things happening. Maybe he went to the bar.

It's just funny that - with a room so full of love and positivity, DeBurgh is obsessed with apparently the only man who didn't seem that bothered.
You really should look up the word “entertainment” again, you might be surprised to see that it is all about people having a GOOD TIME!!

You might like to check a book about English usage and see if they advise double exclamation marks for anything other than chess reports.
Your churlish review is an insult to all those who enjoyed their night out, and in these days of collapsing newspaper sales and an entire new generation on the way who will get their information online, you may be looking for another job sooner rather than later.

Really? People would not buy a newspaper because someone says they like something different to that which they enjoy? No wonder you use so many exclamation marks, it sounds like your audience is comprised entirely of fifteen year-olds.
Your pals in the pub must have loved your review, but it seems that you are universally loathed in the theatre world. A leading impresario has described you as “puffed up with his own self-importance”, and a much-loved and successful actress refers to you as “that loathsome little turd”. Great accolades, to be sure.

Now, let me get this straight: it's wrong and unfair to review someone's music and call them "cheesey" or a "small man", but it's perfectly fine to describe someone's character as "puffed-up" or as a "loathsome little turd". That seems fair.
And what of you and your future ambitions? Will you continue to be an occasional critic in a country with the population of Greater Manchester, or are you, like so many of your colleagues, about to write a book/play/film script/biography? If so, I would be delighted to attend the opening/launch/ premiere.

Is DeBurgh picking on Ireland for being under-populated?
. To have gone to the Gaiety with your mind made up is unprofessional of course, but to totally ignore what actually happened and launch a personal attack is so transparent that any reader can see that it was pointless even writing it, as you were the only person who attended the show that night who didn’t ACTUALLY WANT TO BE THERE!!

If the attack was so transparent, then why does Chris feel the need to respond at such vitriolic length?
As I have always had a very positive attitude towards life, I have sympathy for your position, as it must be so poisonous to have to lurk in the shadows, riffling through the garbage bins of despair and avoiding those who think that you are an irrelevance, an irritation to be ignored and laughed about.

Yeah, how dare you simultaneously ignore and avoid people while going through their garbage and laughing at them as you ignore them. How cruel must you be to twist the rules of physics and logic simply to shrug your shoulders at a concert?
I would be very happy to meet with you and pursue these ideas further, but I suspect that you, like so many others of your kind, would lack the courage, like a dog that snarls and barks from a distance yet cowers and runs away at the first sight of reaction. Anyway, the offer is there.

Yeah, Peter Crawley - you're happy to tell people you didn't think a concert was much cop, but if someone said 'lets meet so I can call you a turd' you wouldn't want to meet up with them, would you?
Finally, whatever happens in your career, let me wish you a long and happy life, all the best,

Chris de Burgh

Just because you've compared someone to a shit, there's no need to impolite.

Just as Chris was about to head off down to the post office, he had another thought:
PS We were wondering by way of explanation and as you seem to portray yourself as a bitter and unfulfilled man, were you much teased by your school chums in the schoolyard and called “Creepy Crawley”? I think we should be told!

Notice how DeBurgh doesn't actually want to look like he was resorting to playground insults, and so instead dressed it up as a psychological query. I wonder if Chris DeBurgh (note to self - add some half-assed stuff about potty training and separation anxiety here before publishing) explains why he releases such god awful records.

Chris: People seem to like what you do enough to pay you to keep doing it. Why would you even bother to make yourself seem like a touchy idiot by writing this, much less by sending it for publication? Do you no longer have anybody around who can take you to one side and say "behaviour like this makes you look more like the subject of the review than less"?

Kelly Osbourne calls for hard work, gumption

Kelly Osbourne didn't get where she is today relying on other people, and wants the rest of us to pull our bloody socks up:

"I find it easier being in America. The UK is a lot harder, people have this kick you while you are down mentality. It seems like some teenagers just want to get pregnant so they can get a bigger council house.

"It is not OK for girls to want to grow up to be a WAG. I find that frustrating."

Yes, Kelly, there are teenagers who currently have council houses, and those council house-holding teenagers plan to go out and get pregnant in order to be moved to larger council houses.

This is especially true if you're living in a world where the Daily Mail is right, or - perhaps - in 1973.

But it's so pleasant to see that Kelly is, in effect, channeling Michael Caine and Paul Dacre simultaneously. Given that Kelly has been constantly handed jobs on account of who she is, despite her inability to perform the basic functions those positons required, you might think she'd been treated pretty well in the UK.

Apparently not well enough. Perhaps it's because we tend to point out to her that she's actually a bit rubbish at presenting things. Not like in America, where even Glenn Beck gets his own show despite having several social handicaps which suggest it would be better for him if he just had a nice sit down.

Kelly, of course, has achieved... erm, whatever it is she's achieved only though her natural... advantages
"A lot of celebrity kids don't do that much with their lives. You are in a position where you are so lucky - you can do whatever you want.

"A lot of them waste their lives going to parties and being mean to other people."

Whereas, of course, Kelly spends her time going to rehab and being mean to Lily Allen, Lady GaGa, Kate Moss and her boyfriend, tube drivers, Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham, Simon Cowell, Peaches Geldof and, fresh to that list, British teenagers.

Oh, but hang on

Between 10th & 11th Weekend: Ignition

Not the most-obvious choice for a second track on an album, a song called Ignition. This is the 2008 version of the band playing the track in Sheffield:

[Part of Between 10th & 11th weekend]

Runrig and panic: Pete Wishart calls for something to be done

You'll recall Pete Wishart, the SNP MP who once was a member of Runrig. He's written an opinion piece for the Scotsman about filesharing.

Will it be informed amd coherent?

Pete Wishart: We must silence web trade in 'free' goods to protect our artists

No. It turns out it won't be.

Pete kicks off with a long, laboured and inaccurate metaphor:
IMAGINE a perfect Saturday afternoon shopping trip. You've had a fantastic fix of retail therapy and you can't wait to get home to try out all your new goods.
Then you come across your local music store and you can't believe what you see: outside there's a sign saying "for an unlimited period only – everything inside is free!"

With no-one to hold you back, you immediately help yourself to this week's top ten, the new Tarantino film and the latest computer game. As you leave, the assistant calls: "Come back anytime, we're open all hours!"

Of course, this is absurd, but it is exactly what happens online, every second of every day.

It's absurd. Imagine a shop just giving away all its stuff. Crazy!
Music and other digital products are simply offered to a public grateful not to have to pay a penny. No-one refers to it as "giving goods away" – that would be too crude – instead it is "sharing" or "peer-to-peer filesharing" to give its proper title.

Even by the music industry's "downloading a track is like stealing a CD" standards, this is pretty poor stuff - given that Wishart is about to embark on a "filesharing is stealing" rant, why has he started off by suggesting it's like a shop giving everything away? Wouldn't that metaphor only work if the files on the peer-to-peer networks were placed there by the record labels? He can't even frame his absurd reduction properly, so I'm guessing we're not going to get much in the way of new thinking here.
Music led the file sharing revolution and, where music gently tread, the rest of the creative industries came galloping in. Now films, computer games, books and football highlights can all now be given away for nothing.

Just the highlights of the football, mind. Attempts to share bits of a match where there's ten-minute patches of backpassing and time wasting get rejected with a 404 error.

Pete, by the way - you've said "given away" again: aren't you meant to be saying "stolen"?
Platinum selling artists Radiohead and Pink Floyd have said they are happy to see their music used as a sort of digital loss leader to sell other products, but these groups are the exception rather than the rule.

Are they? What about the hundreds of thousands of bands who share their music freely through blogs and MySpace and other sources for exactly the same reasons? What about the hundreds of thousands of artists who make music for fun, and don't see it as being a way to fund their second homes or - ahem - political careers? And all those artists whose work has fallen out of print and isn't doing them any good at all locked away in vaults?

But I'm sure you have figures from a survey asking a representative sample of all musicians, and not just those with active recording contracts with mainstream labels before you claim authoritatively that the Radiohead approach is the exception rather than the rule, right?
The average musician earns less than £15,000 a year and losing royalties makes the day-to-day struggle even harder for them.

Well, that's true - but where do you make the leap from filesharing to lost royalties? If you're relying on music to make your living, under the present system, you're more than likely going to be making a pittance until you recoup, if ever. Musicians have always struggled; back before Tim Berners-Lee hoofed it down to the patent office, most musical careers ended up in a cash-driven rush for a plan B. It's terrible, it's a waste of creativity and it's a situation almost entirely driven by the domination of the major labels.

Crying tears over a possible few lost quid in royalties while arguing strongly for special protection for a cartel which has gouged the heart out of thousands of artists and rigged the market for decades is crocodillic.
The loss of royalties has become such a problem that many artists, such as Mercury Prize winning Speech Debelle, must ask themselves what is the point of creating anything if no-one is paying for it?

I wonder if there's a special keystroke in the new version of Microsoft Office that will insert 'currently fashionable artist' into a document as you type?

Nice to see an MP getting so carried away with the idea of being the voice of the populace that he feels comfortable backing up his own arguments by imagining what Speech Debelle might be thinking about filesharing. He could, of course, have gone to the trouble of asking her.

Rather awkwardly for Wishart, The Guardian ask Speech Debelle what she thinks of filesharing this morning. She does say it makes it harder:
I wouldn't care about [illegal sharing and downloading] if I didn't have the pressure of having to sell more albums to maintain a career. I don't really want to do anything else, so I need to be able to maintain myself and I need to keep people happy.

But... she's actually quite relaxed and sees it as a positive for her profile:
Outside of that, I would prefer it just to be heard. Some people might nick it and become lifelong fans. My album is called Speech Therapy because writing it was therapy for me, so I can't be like, well, other people shouldn't hear it unless they pay for it. I didn't pay for it.

[The industry] has changed so much that now you don't put out a record – you put a record on the internet. You've got to have an album to begin with [then] you get your MySpace, your Facebook, your Twitter and you connect them all up.

People spend so much time in front of computers, all they have to do is click a button and they stay in your world.

Yes, Pete, it might have made you look a little less foolish if you'd bothered to find out that Speech sees that unlicensed downloads can have career-positive effects. But still, I know you were just supposing. Let's get back to your supposing, shall we?
If we are serious about developing our creative industries, then we must respect intellectual property and copyright.

Very true. Let's respect the original reasons for introducing copyright, and roll it back to a point where it was protecting creativity and not merely generating a market in intellectual property. That... that is what you mean, Pete, isn't it?
Forthcoming in the next Westminster Parliament is the Digital Economy Bill – a piece of legislation that will create a regulatory framework to combat illegal file sharing and other forms of online copyright infringement.

Here we go again. If it's already illegal, then there's already a regulatory framework to do that, isn't there? What the bill is designed to do is to remove the work of protecting that IP from the owners and shifting it onto everyone else - as if, to adapt your metaphor, the record shop has decided that the cost of its security should come from the council tax, as the people who might steal walk down the street to get there.
The UK government is right to pursue it vigorously. If we are to lead in the world, then we cannot allow our artists and creators to work for nothing.

Two things: "We cannot allow our artists and creators to work for nothing."? You're going to criminalise free performances, are you? You're going to stop bands recording free fanclub giveaways?

No, I know you're not. It's just sloppy wording and half-formed thoughts. You find that a lot on the internet. I just hope like hell you've actually started listening to what you're saying by the time you're voting on the idea of giving powers to private companies to have people barred from their internet accounts.

Even if you'd been a bit tighter with your phrasing, you'd still be wrong, though. Who says that if this bill doesn't pass artists will be "working for nothing"? Do you really think that not changing the rules about what happens when someone is accused of sharing unlicensed files will mean that people will force their way into gigs without paying? That T-Mobile will stop sucking tracks down to soundtrack their commercials? That fans won't ever buy albums in shops out of love? That Radio One will stop paying royalties? That YouTube will stop paying royalties?
"Won't you just criminalise some seven million kids who are doing nothing wrong?" comes the knee-jerk response. No. These "kids" (or rather the internet account holder) will simply get a letter informing them that what they are doing is wrong.

Aha. People who hold differing opinions from you - some people who have been thinking and writing about these issues for over a decade - are "knee-jerkers", are they?

It's nice to see that you're using some statistics at last to back-up your case, although the "seven million" kids or otherwise figure was roundly debunked as being a total fantasy just seven days ago.

It's also nice to see that you're aware that this system is deeply flawed: "These "kids" (or rather the internet account holder) will simply get a letter informing them that what they are doing is wrong." So the person who is doing "wrong" isn't actually the person who is getting the letter. That does float a whole slew of questions about if it's fair, or even worth bothering with.

Assuming that that was all that is currently being proposed. But it's not, is it?
That letter will spell out the damage that illegal file sharing does and politely ask that they stop taking music for nothing. If it is ignored, then they will get another.

Of course, most will stop at this point, but those who continue to abuse the property of others will face sanctions such as temporarily suspending internet connection. What could be wrong with that?

Why will "most" stop at that point? You've already admitted that the person getting the ticking off could be somebody other than the person who is doing the filesharing, so you're making a bit of an assumption there in the first place.

But, if you really need to have it spelled out to you why closing down an internet account "temporarily" is wrong - especially an account which might be used by more people than the alleged filesharer, let's try this:

- Many people need the internet simply to do their job
- Many people need the internet to access their bank accounts
- Many people rely on the internet for their access to news
- Many people rely on the internet to contact health authorities, legal authorities and so on
- Many people rely on email as their connection with family and friends

Oh, and it's probably illegal, anyway, and you're proposing doing it on the say-so of a record label. Perhaps because someone might have shared a couple of Madonna songs.

You really don't see what's wrong with that?


And you're going to vote on this legislation?
The music industry is an easy hit. It is renowned for its excesses and its contractual shortcomings, but somehow it has conspired to give the UK the second-largest share of a valuable world market, bringing millions of pounds to the UK economy and producing some of the greatest talents the world has known along the way.

Hurrah! At least a vague, throwaway acknowledgement that the companies for whom he is special-pleading might not actually be all that socially responsible. But they make money, so who cares about that, right?
Yes, the music industry is in dire need of reform, but the need to protect and develop our creative industries is more important than one sector's business model.

So... here we stand at the start of a potential new, golden age. We admit that there are problems with having four companies carve-up most of the English-speaking music industry between them, but rather than seize the chance to help create a fairer system, we must at all costs shore up the failed system.

Seriously, Pete: the only way you can think of developing a healthy creative industry sector is by fudging the rules to protect one British, one Japanese, and two American multinationals? I thought Runrig records showed a one-note lack of imagination, but who knew you'd slide backwards from there?
We need serious debate about how our artists are protected and how our creative industries are developed, but the solution does not lie in giving products away for nothing. We can be the best, but only if our artists are rewarded for the work that they produce.

You're making the mistake of confusing profit with quality - the best is not always the richest - and it's nice you want to debate what we do to encourage creativity. It looks a little, though, like you've made up your mind already. A mind made up on dodgy statistics, misplaced suppositions and gloomy understanding it might be, but one made up nevertheless. Where is the debate in this piece, Pete?

Between 10th & 11th Weekend: I Don't Want To See The Sights

So, then, onto the album proper - and one of the band's great lost classics:

Another happy lad with dirty pictures plastered on the wall.
A british beach collection, a classic alcoholic argument.
I don't want to see the sights there is nothing worse,
Thank God I don't have to see the sights.

[Part of Between 10th and 11th Weekend]

Saint Etienne: Return to Foxbase

Some sublime news from the Saint Etienne camp:

Rumours have been flying left right and centre, but we can finally confirm that disco dynamo Richard X has taken Foxbase Alpha and re-arranged it into a brand new beast called FOXBASE BETA. Using the original masters, adding cellos, electrix, choirs, and the spirit of Brian Cant he has created something really special - spruced-up yet reverential, it is essentially a 2009 up-date of Foxbase Alpha, given a shot of vodka and a loving caress. We're chuffed. It feels unnervingly like jumping into a Tardis.

FOXBASE BETA will be issued, via the fan club, as a limited, numbered 2CD set of 3,000 copies, which will also include FOXBASE EXTRA, three unreleased recordings from the original album sessions: a just discovered coda to Girl VII (we'd forgotten it existed), a summery instrumental called Richard III, and the first, very different, take of Kiss And Make Up, which was the very first Saint Etienne recording. We cut it one afternoon in January 1990, and then Only Love Can Break Your Heart in the evening! It was all so simple then. These tracks won't be available anywhere else.

There's also to be limited 12", gig-only versions and all manner of highly collectable whatnot. Let's just not think about how young we all were when the original came out. Let's not think about that. Don't THINK ABOUT IT.

Gordon in the morning: This is what his dreams are like

If this story featured a woman - any woman - wearing a bikini top, Gordon Smart would have exploded:

GUY RITCHIE has set his sights on rock lords KASABIAN to provide music for his next film.

The RocknRolla director has invited guitarist SERGE PIZZORNO to join him for a cheeky single malt to discuss the idea.

It will come as no surprise to seasoned Gordon-watchers that "cheeky single malt" is not the most ill-placed, hackneyed phrase in the piece.
I bumped into the new GQ Film Director Of The Year at London's trendy Groucho Club.

That would be the most ill-place, hackneyed phrase right there.

Oh, and just to make it the perfect Gordon story, the "invite" turns out to be not quite an invite:
Guy told me [...] "I'd love to meet up with the band. The music on the latest album is like a film soundtrack. He's a talented bloke, Serge."

Coming from someone who made Snatch, that's high praise indeed.

Embed and breakfast man: The Charlatans - Between 10th And 11th

Don't worry if you're not a big Charlatans fan - or, indeed, can't stand the lips-and-fringe-and-organ combination at all; I'm probably not going to work through all of The Charlatans album-by-album.

Probably not.

But someone did hope for an illustrated Between 10th & 11th last week, and who am I to turn my back on popular demand?

This, then, was to be the first of what has proved to be an increasingly difficult series of follow-up albums. Having galloped to number one on a wave of popular affection for all things Madchester, the band were now facing a task of building on success while, all around them, the scene they'd helped shape was falling apart.

But you know what? Before we get to the 1992 album, let's take a couple of moments to remember the singles that bridged the gap between Some Friendly and Between..., which signposted a shift to something a bit more atmospheric.

First up was Over Rising:

Then, the gorgeous Me, In Time:

Of course, we all scribbled out the final letter 'e' and giggled back when it came out. We made our own fun back then.

CD version
MP3 download
Cassette version
And don't rely on dribbles of videos - have Tim Burgess permanently shoved in your slot:
Forever: The Singles: The videos

More to come, when we actually hit the album proper
I Don't Want To See The Sights
Tremolo Song
Can't Even Be Bothered

Downloadable: Venice Is Sinking

More free early-morning goodness, in the shape of Compass from Venice Is Sinking.

This act of generosity - coming fresh from Athens (the REMy one, not the ancient one) - is by way of announcing their new maxi-single ep-type thing. It might be best if Daniel from the band explains it to you in his own words:

We've got a new EP coming out called "Okay". Actually, it's more of a maxi-single for the song "Okay", which appeared on our last album, AZAR. On the EP are two alternate versions of AZAR tracks "Ryan's Song" and (ahem) "Okay". We also included two covers of the San Francisco band Okay wea recorded with Jason NeSmith of Casper & the Cookies: "Compass" and "Give Up".

The Open University has prepared a chart which can explain this more clearly.

Downloadable: Dragonette

Go on, start the day with a free download from Dragonette: Boys & Girls (Les Petits Pilous remix). It's all legal and above-board, a promotional gift to raise awareness of this bunch of Canadian and American tour dates:

10.5 HAMILTON, ON casbah
10.6 LONDON, ON Call the Office
10.7 WATERLOO, ON The Starlight
10.8 TORONTO, ON The Mod Club
10.12 WINNIPEG, MB west end cultural centre
10.14 CALGARY, AB The Whisky
10.15 EDMONTON, AB Starlite
10.16 NELSON, BC venue TBC
10.17 VANCOUVER, BC Venue
10.18 VICTORIA, BC Sugar
10.19 SEATTLE, WA @ Vera Project
10.20 PORTLAND, OR @ Doug fir
10.22 SAN FRANCISCO, CA @ Popscene / 330
10.23 LOS ANGELES, CA @ The Echo
10.24 COSTA MESA @ Detroit Bar
10.26 DENVER, CO @ Larimer Lounge
10.28 KANSAS CITY, MO @ Czar Bar
10.30 SPRINGFIELD, MO @ Outland
10.31 CHICAGO, IL @ Sonotheque
11.4 BOSTON, MA @ Great Scott
11.5 NEW YORK CITY, NY @ Santos


Friday, September 11, 2009

Courtney Love upsets the wrong people

Last night, we saw how Courtney Love insisted she couldn't have burned through all the money that Kurt earns ("all the money that she earns") because she's frugal and shit.

I'm not sure if spending over $10,000 a month on security is actually a sign of not being that good at avoiding pissing away your money, or the claimed non-payment of the bill shows that she is actually quite canny. I'm not sure I can wade through the Tweets that will attempt to explain the situation.

In other Courtney news, unless I've missed it, Activision don't seem to have fulfilled her prediction of a withdrawal of the cartoon Kurt video game.

Goodnight, Vienna

As Michael M points out, the massively over-promised and then rapidly junked Michael Jackson tribute gig echoes the massively over-promised and rapidly vanished Jacko Katrina and 9/11 benefit singles.

The plans for an enormous gig in Vienna in a couple of weeks' time have now been ripped up. Out goes the idea of honouring Jackson's love of castles and The Sound Of Music, because it turns out that the promises to appear were as vague as Jacko's connection to Vienna. Jermaine explains:

“A little more than five weeks ago I began, together with my partners in Vienna, to work on the Tribute Concert. As you can imagine staging a show of this monumental dimension in less than eight weeks is a daunting challenge,” he said.
Related Links

“I personally have spoken to many international artists and invited them to attend The Tribute and perform one of Michael’s songs. Several leading artists immediately agreed to participate in this unique tribute show. Many others told me personally that it would be a great honor to be part of this memorial concert for my late brother – an artist who influenced the music world like virtually no other.

“However, due to the short time frame involved it just was not possible for many of them to change their schedule so that they could be on stage in Vienna on September 26th.”

They all totally wanted to be there, and they said so, but... obviously Chris Brown couldn't make it, and Mary J Blige is helping her cousin move that day, and Stevie Wonder would have come but he's got plans to do something the next day... and... yeah, Janet has reservations at the Red Lobster on the evening and she's been waiting weeks to get in so... yeah, we'll do it in London. Next year.
"We have therefore decided, after careful consideration, to reschedule The Tribute concert for my brother to June 2010 and to stage this very special music event at Wembley Stadium in London.

"Here, over 70,000 fans will have the opportunity to experience the life and music of my beloved late brother. We will hold the concert in the city that he himself chose for his comeback concerts but, due to his tragic death, he was not able to do."

Weren't these meant to be his farewell concerts?

Oh, and don't be thinking it's going to be a bunch of second-string acts like Brown and Blige. Because... hey, they're huge stars in their own right:
"When artists who have won 8 Grammy Awards and sold millions of records around the world and are able to sell out large stadiums are then called 'B-list artists', are made fun of and generally disrespected, is something I just cannot understand. If these artists are not welcome in Vienna, London is more than happy to have them”.

Nobody was making fun of Chris Brown, Jermaine - they were pointing out that the best tribute you can find for Michael is a bloke who would have to negotiate his curfew in order to attend.

Still, we look forward to this all happening in June 2010 at Wembley, or failing that sometime winter 2011, perhaps in Dubai. Certainly in the next couple of years, and almost for deffo in a place where you can fit lots and lots of people. The Peterborough Civic Centre people are offering to do a finger buffet for free if we're able to schedule for a Thursday afternoon.

Having a sweary name is all fun and games until it costs you money

Starfucker are no longer going to call themselves Starfucker. It turns out the 'fuck' bit was a bit of a stumbling block when it came to getting slots on kids TV programmes, tours, and radio.

Whoever would have guessed that, eh?

[Lead fucker Josh] Hodges: “[We've talked about a name change] for at least over a year. [Our tour manager] was really encouraging us to change our name because we lost out on all these tours like the L.A. tour that Passion Pit got on—they got big after that tour. Nobody wants to tour with us, basically. That’s why we’ve never done an opening slot, we’ve always done headlining tours…it’s weird. It’s [the bands'] managers and their people that are like ‘oh, they’re gonna chase away the little tweener fans’ or whatever. Their parents aren’t going to fund them to go to the show. Which I guess I can understand. But no one really cares, it’s just they’re afraid that people will care. Most people don’t care but the fear of people caring has hurt us (laughs).”

Josh concludes that he'd rather be able to pay the rent than be "cool" . But is having a name with fuck in - like nine thousand other bands - actually cool, though? Isn't it the a band name with a swearage the equivalent of pretending to be called Seymour Butts?

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Did anyone here remember Vera Lynn?

What was it again, Gennaro? The Beatles were going to dominate this year?

HMV’s Gennaro Castaldo said: “This is likely to prove one of the cultural highlights of the year.”

The Beatles were going to roll over the competition?
Gennaro Castaldo at HMV told the Evening Standard: "We feel there's every chance that The Beatles will dominate the top 20 next week, even with only four days sales compared with other artists.

"Chances are Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road will battle it out for the No.1 spot against the current incumbents - the Arctic Monkeys."

Hang about... you're sounding less certain, Gennaro.

But still, by the time you spoke to the Star, you thought that might only be the odd non-Beatle album at the top:
HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: “The Official Chart Company has decided to treat the boxset as a single product rather than a set of individual albums.

“Although this will propel the boxset into the charts in its own right, it is hitting sales of the albums themselves and may well deny the opportunity of a purely Beatles top 10."

So... Sergeant Pepper, Abbey Road and - possibly - the Arctic Monkeys duking it out for the top of Beatles dominated top ten, then, Gennaro?

Although oddly, it turns out this week's battle for Number One is between Vera Lynn and Jamie T, with The Beatles putting in solid-but-hardly-earth-shattering appearences down the list. But to be fair, who saw that coming?

Um... you say you did, Gennaro?
Gennaro Castaldo of retailer HMV said: "Dame Vera has been steadily selling albums every day since her new release came out. We're seeing huge Beatles sales around the country, but the purchasing by fans is being diffused over a wide range of Beatles titles.

"Not only does Dame Vera look set to block the historic return of the Beatles, but she will also set the record as the oldest person ever to hold the top spot - an incredible feat by a remarkable lady."

But wasn't the release of all the albums a... what was the phrase you used Gennaro - "“We’re effectively looking at the most definitive Beatles survey ever, which will prove beyond doubt which is the most popular Beatles album among the public”? So what two days ago was a definitive survey has now become a diffusion of sales?

Or is it the box set which has cost the Beatles sales? But since the Box Set doesn't appear to have sold enough to trouble the top 20, it can't have taken that many sales away from the individual albums, can it?

Taco Bell offer to feed bands

It's wrong, it's very wrong. But it's so very, very good. Taco Bell are offering bands free taco bell foods as part of their regular Feed The Beat promotion.

Five hundred dollars worth of Taco Bell bucks (or money-off coupons, in other words), which works out at about 600 cheese roll-ups. Enough to keep a drummer happy.

And, don't worry, bands: they've cleaned up the kitchens:

Briefly Beatles: Sky News announce iTunes, retract

For a short period earlier this week, Sky News was apparently reporting an announcement by Yoko Ono of The Beatles coming to iTunes:

The story kicked off with the headline:

“The whole of the Beatles back catalogue will be made available to buy on iTunes, Yoko Ono has told Sky News.”

But almost immediately after publishing the story Sky News killed it, leaving nothing but a blank page in its wake. Google News had a cache of it for a brief time, but that too has apparently disappeared in record time.

Techcrunch speculated this might have spoiled the big surprise that Steve Jobs had yet to unveil, and that Apple heavies had forced Sky News to recant.

(Oh, as if - for, as James Murdoch has made expressly clear, Sky News is run to make money, and profit guarantees independence from such machinations, right?)

It turns out, though, that Yoko was speaking out of turn and Sky News pulled the story in interests of not being totally inaccurate.

[Thanks to Michael M]

The Beatles: Number crunching

With apologies to Private Eye.

Sales of Abbey Road, best-performing of The Beatles albums on re-release day following a month of press coverage, Beatles Week on the BBC, and Gennaro Castaldo pulling double-shifts:

Sales increase of David Eaglemen's Sum on Amazon alone, after a single tweet by Stephen Fry:

Gordon in the morning: Where is Beatles band?

Meanwhile, Gordon is all excited about the Beatles reissues:

BEATLEMANIA is back - blasting the Fab Four back into the Top Ten with a whopping 50,000 sales of their sparkling reissues in just one day.

Woo-hoo! We're with The Be... hang about...

How many sales?
a whopping 50,000 sales of their sparkling reissues

50,000? But weren't there 14 albums released? 50,000 records spread over 14 titles comes out at an average of... well, sales that would make Speech Debelle's pre-Mercury figures look like Elvis Presley.

All of that coverage, and they manage to only flog fifty thousand albums?

Helpfully, Gordon runs the midweek chart, complete with sales figures:

1 (-) Kings & Queens
Jamie T - 17,568

2 (2) We'll Meet Again
The Very Best Of Vera Lynn - 14,092

3 (1) Humbug
Arctic Monkeys - 10,495

4 (-) Ignore The Ignorant
The Cribs - 10,137

5 (3) One Love
David Guetta - 9,458

6 (4) Only By The Night
Kings Of Leon - 8,356

7 (-) Abbey Road
The Beatles - 7,164

8 (-) Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles - 7,002

9 (5) The End
Black Eyed Peas - 6,354

10 (8) Lungs
Florence & The Machine - 6,090

11 (6) Sunny Side Up
Paolo Nutini - 6,054

12 (-) Revolver
The Beatles - 6,048

13 (-) The Beatles (Stereo Box Set)
The Beatles - 5,867

14 (10) Songs For You Truths For Me
James Morrison - 5,798

15 (-) Rubber Soul
The Beatles - 5,239

Now, to be fair, The Beatles albums did only come into the shops on Tuesday, which means that everyone else had a whole extra twenty-four hours to tot up sales, but even so - given that this was meant to somehow prove that The Beatles were the greatest band ever by storming the charts - it has wound up with them looking a poor second to Vera Lynn.

Yes, they're old albums, and the sales figures aren't bad for back catalogue - but the sheer heft of press coverage suggested we were meant to be viewing this in those terms. As it is, their sales are around the level of a Kings Of Leon record nudging its first anniversary. That's about a quarter of a sale per column inch.

Elsewhere: The love of JLS exhibited by Gordon Smart's pages is bizarre, but understandable - quids pro quo and keeping Simon Cowell happy.

The obsession with slowly chipping away at N-Dubz, though, is bemusing. Following on from announcing that Dappy's juvenilia consisted of raps about stabbing and policemen, and stabbing policemen comes a story today, filed by Jess Rogers, which drags up a "secret" conviction:
RAP star DAPPY has a secret conviction for spitting in a girl's face during a drunken brawl.

It wasn't actually secret - the suggestion there was something hushed-up about it just seems to be a simple way of explaining how Gordon Smart's well-resourced reporting engine didn't happen to report the conviction when it happened.
Dappy - real name Costas Contostavlos - had kept the incident quiet.

Now, what he did was a nasty thing, and it's right to condemn it, but what does Rogers mean by "keeping it quiet"? It was in a public court, and he's been doing community service. Admittedly, he didn't issue a press release - but then that's understandable, isn't it?

And - to be fair to Gordon's team - back when this happened nobody would have been much interested. Equally, though, nobody's very interested in Dappy now, either, and yet Gordon seems determined to bring him down. All somewhat curious.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Phil Collins no longer drums

The news that Phil Collins can no longer drum might be the sort of news that would have led to street parties in the 1980s, but now is actually quite sad:

The former Genesis star can't even hold his sticks after years of sitting in front of a drumkit.

Collins, 58, whose hits include In The Air Tonight, said: 'After playing drums for 50 years, I've had to stop.

'My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in.

'It comes from years of playing. I can't even hold the sticks properly without it being painful, I even used to tape the sticks to my hands to get through.'

But just as you're starting to feel sympathy for a man at the end of his career, he has to go and spoil it all:
Collins told fans: 'Don't worry, I can still sing.'

But the drumming was the bit that people didn't mind so much, Phil. It was the singing that people thought ill-advised.

Tamagotchi Kurt: Nobody's fault at all

The ill-judged resurrection of Kurt Cobain in Guitar Hero has sparked a slew of messages from Courtney Love via Twitter, in which she claims she knew nothing about it:

FOR THE RECORD I DID NOT APPROVE KURTS AVATAR FOR GUYITARHERO5. i think Kurt would despise this game alone let alone this avatar

this is NECROPHILIC this is VILE please address all calls to my lawyer Kieth Fink Esquire who is FURIOUS And to my Publicist Rogers and Cowa

and they both also represent the Estate and Frances's Trust and if youd like to point the finger do so, Bruce Karsh at OAKTREE CAPITOL

and LARRY MESTEL at Primary WAVE not content to rape and pillage mydaughters "trust fund" a fucking JOKE in seattle called Laird NortonTyee

who do not know the difference between emi eom and bmi. who are greedy and lazy and forced me to 1 sell publishing rights then stole fromher

You'll notice we've already drifted somewhat from the avatar in a computer game to the naming of names and trotting through of the big conspiracy again. Now, it might be there has been some terrible wrong done - but yelling about it 140 characters a time doesn't really help your case, does it? It just makes you look a little... what's the word?
2Howard Wetzman and John Branca at Kinsella Wetzman and Ziffen branca in particular ONE who has disabused his forged Power Of Attorney

I know worrying about the misuse of 'disabused' here is a little like objecting to a historical inaccuracy in a Jeffrey Archer book, but... well, she means "abused", surely? Although can you actually abuse a forged POA? Isn't the forgery already the abuse?
and raped Kurts estate and are now raping Micheal Jacksons to profit thier "Private Bank of California" of wich former CPA Micheal Thompson

Hang about... where did Michael Jackson come from?
is an owner in fact 5 former cpas are funnily enough owners this "BANK" is funded by karsh and built on the bones of Hendrixes estate, Kurts

Is the Big Bopper going to turn up here too?
and Micheal Jacksons ( last count 50m for rehearsal tapes) My will was just pulled and if i pop my clogs THEY get everything this is forged

I have a sneaking suspicion that a swift objection on grounds of 'of sound mind' will probably render any will - forged or not - invalid.
this goes to the VERY heart of what you motherfuckers refer to as my "ranting" NEVER underestimate a mothers love and NEVER underestimate

Here a pause as she empties the box again - a chance to point out that the motherfuckers call it ranting, Courtney, because you're, um, ranting.
My ETERNAL and PURE love for my deceased husband, the guradian says Kurt has made 800m dollars(450mpounds) since passing,

Grauniad, surely?
its actually alot more if you count the illegal Nirvana llc di you think in a million years weve spent such an absurd amount of money?

Well... no. But when a figure like that is bandied around, it doesn't mean that this would have been the equivalent of Kurt's take-home pay, does it?

There's much more about this, before coming back to the question of avatar.

That would have been a very ill-judged press release.
we have NOTHING to do with this it was presented to me and oi said "show me a better avataR" TO DRAG MY HEELS., never did i intend on allowi

I don't think the avatar being rubbish is the heart of the problem - have you seen the state of The Beatles in Beatles Game? - more so the way he dances like Worzel Gummidge to Bon Jovi songs. Yoko Ono signed that Beatles game off, you know.
allowing GUITARHERO for me or for Kurt i am NOT yoko fucking Ono no ofense to her, but i am a different person entirely and this is insane

It comes to something when a realisation that you're not the widow of John Lennon is a moment of clarity, doesn't it?

Courtney then returns to the grand mortgage fraud - which, for the time being, she seems to have stopped blaming Ryan Adams for - before attempting to pull it all together:
all day every day i take the shit for men and women of LAW and WEALTH

VIOLATING their positions from the moment of Kurts Death forging his will as "In testate" you have not listened to me so Kurts avatar is on

YOU for dismissing me as a LOON, go fucking play guitar hero commit necrophilai KNOW you are raping me and my family mother in law child

NOW WILL YOU FUCKING LISTEN OR DO YOU NEED MORE? i saw a piece of the avatar on the nightly news i actually had to vomit but ive been alone

In the course of explaining the forensics she's done, Courtney makes this astonishing claim:
that is a "boun ce" address, i have spent 20/30,000 hours doing high level forensics and am presently qualified to work at DeloitTouche

... even if she can't spell the company name. 30,000 hours doing high level forensics? That's nearly three and a half years without a single break. If you assume a generous eight hour stretch of high level forensicing a day, that comes in at over ten year's work.

But Courtney's keen forensic brain spots the world might be getting confused by what this has to do with a Bon Jovi karaoke game, so she pulls the threads back together:
and yes this is a clear and linear line to Guitar Hero 5 outragous violationa nd breach o contract it makes you feel smug to say ESTATE

say it but know that at the end i am a widow and a single mother whose polemic husband has been utterly and totally liquidated, and its YOUR

YOUR FAULT for not hearing me scream, and i will not stop screaming so euthe rbecome responsible and allow me to love my country again,

Hang about... the threads haven't quite come together and Courtney seems to be hating America?

After another slew of posts, another attempt to draw back the threads:
and you wonder about Guitar Hero 5 disgusted? welcome to my NIGHTMARE. yeah well sue activision this is disgusting, but theres alot MORE

a proper press release will address this and a proper legal team will be assembled to deal with the mortgage fraud aspect Kieth isnt doing,

its a specialised industry and very very specialised, i understand mortgage fraud almost better than anythingand corrupted banking officers

Again, it's possible that Courtney does understand complicated mortgage frauds, but you'd have to say that this doesn't really speak of a well-constructed argument from a fertile mind.

But it's not a rant. Oh no:
anyone who dares call the below a rant or rambling or "bizarre rambling rant" is a retard who cant take documentation.

Courtney, a poorly typed, mispelled tweet is not "documentation" in any meaningful sense. And even if you case is solid, shouting it in tiny little bursts of message doesn't make it any less of a rant. Indeed, ranting isn't automatically bad. Ask the Ranters.

At some point, Rolling Stone seems to have come across a post now deleted:
“you can assrape dave he was always a bad seed and is stillriding the shit while i take bullets if theres a hell hes going. im not.”

But there's still plenty of blaming of Dave going on:
nor was going to and my quote on grphl stands, he financed his mothers home and his own with kurts etstae not his "own" money.

Courtney suggests that the pointing of a finger at her is to deflect the bad PR the game is getting:
are they doing this to defelct the bad pr?Blame courtney? they know they are fullof shit and oi need to have the preleaselawstuf

activision is fulllof shit they have a a contcrct called a deal memo that said upon approvale they could use an avatar i approved i .

So... Activision seem to think they have a signed piece of paper allowing them to do what they've done? Doesn't this - when you strip away all the claims of raping, and ass-raping, and necrophiliac ass-raping, and too, too much about fraudulent mortgages - come down to it?

Activision think they have a sign-off; Courtney thinks she has signed-off giving permission to release if she gets a final approval. It's as simple as that.

Courtney predicts we're going to see some movement:
and i never inteneded to aPPROVE this shit, they are doing a recall you can be sure o fthat. waita ew hours maybe tomorrow press and etc

We shall see.

Meanwhile, Dave Grohl has issued a somewhat tidier statement:
“Activision is responding to queries regarding the usage of Kurt Cobain’s likeness in Guitar Hero 5 with the following statement ‘Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5.’ Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, the two surviving members of Nirvana, have no say whatsoever in the usage of Kurt Cobain’s likeness.”

Activision, for their part, seem to think that Courtney was helping them in their work:
Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like,” Riley told RS. “She picked the wardrobe and hair style, which turned out to be the ‘Teen Spirit’ look, then we went back and forth over changes — some subtle, some not so subtle… She was actually great to work with. She got back with comments pretty quickly.”

It might, of course, turn out to have been a twisted lawyer wearing a Courtney mask while stealing the gumballs from Frances Bean's candy money box.

Musicians reject UK Music support for internet removal

Musicians who have, perhaps, made a decent record more recently than Feargal Sharkey have been suggesting that UK Music's delighted gurglings at the Mandelson proposals might nor represent the views of everyone involved in music in the UK.

A band of top-drawer musicians have issued an 'oi, noooo':

Artists from bands including Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Blur told The Times that plans announced by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, to suspend the internet accounts of those who engage in file-sharing will criminalise a whole generation of their fans.

This is putting the Featured Artists Coalition in direct opposition to UK Music and, at the very least, undermines any claim of Sharkey's gang to be speaking as one voice for everyone involved in music.

The Times talks to a FAC gang:
Nick Mason, Ed O'Brien, Dave Rowntree and Billy Bragg, the singer, are lining up against Government's stance on file sharing

The presence of Dave Rowntree - a junior Labour politician who had been trying to get adopted by a Westminster constituency not so long ago - is especially interesting.

The really nice thing is that the representatives from the FAC aren't all pushing the same line - Ed O'Brien is relaxed about filesharing and sees it as a sampling opportunity; Rowntree hopes that people can be tempted to legitimate services. The point of agreement is that removing people's access to the web isn't the way ahead.

Naturally, the BPI isn't having any of it:
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, said: “We could hardly have more legal download services than we already do, and they have not eliminated piracy. It is the peer-to-peer downloading that is holding back investment in more services."

Hang on a moment, Geoff - you're saying there couldn't be any more services offered but also nobody is investing in more services because of filesharing? So is it that the market is saturated (there couldn't be any more) or that filesharing is killing it (peer-to-peer holding back investment)? And if peer-to-peer filesharing is holding back investment, then how do we have a world in which the music industry could hardly offer any more services? Why didn't the filesharing hold back that investment?

But Taylor isn't really offering any sort of considered approach: he just wants to see plugs pulled:
“What Government is proposing in the temporary suspension of accounts as a last resort is a set of measures that are proportional and balanced.”

Removing people's ability to participate in modern life, to be able to register to vote, to have access to news and information, to be able to consult medical advice, to bank and apply for work is totally a proportional response to downloading a copy of Aqua's Barbie Girl without asking the permission of the head of Universal.

[Thanks to @blockbusterbuzz]

James Allan alive and well, more or less

The front of the BBC News website reports that James Allan's whereabouts are still a mystery:

Allan went Awol four days ago and missed the Mercury Music Prize, where the Scottish rock band were nominated.

But he got in touch soon after the ceremony on Tuesday to say he was safe. He did not reveal where he was or why he took flight.

Nobody seems to have told them that The Independent revealed his whereabouts yesterday:
The band's manager, Dean Cunning, said the singer had telephoned him yesterday afternoon after finding out that people were concerned for his safety.

"James is not missing, he's in New York," he said. "He got in touch with me yesterday at about 1.45pm to tell me he was OK because he knew people were worried, but to be honest I've been just as much in the dark about this as anybody - the last time I saw James was at the gig in Cardiff. I don't even know exactly when he went missing."

Not quite "not missing", then.
When asked whether the singer would be able to join the band for their American gigs, Mr Cunning said: "I fucking hope so."

I'm not entirely sure that I'd file Allan under 'found' just yet.

Gordon in the morning: Robbie Williams is missing

Something must be terribly wrong in Wapping - there's no lightweight half-story on the Bizarre pages this morning about either Robbie Williams or JLS. How can this be?

Elsewhere, Gordon has a bunch of gossip from the GQ Awards the night before last, which is fascinating. No, not the lame "look, here's a picture of Gary Barlow talking to Pixie Lott" backstage mutter itself, but the question it throws up for Rupert Murdoch's digital strategy. It's taken over 24 hours for this stuff to appear on the Sun website because it was being held back to coincide with the print edition.

But what would have happened if people were being expected to pay for Smart's gubbins? Let's just assume there's a market for now. If you're shoveling over quids for hot gossipings, would you feel the deal was sweet if you have to wait for over a day before seeing a photo of The Bloke Out Of Take That and That Woman Who Looked Uncomfortable On The Front Of FHM Last Month? Simply so that it doesn't "spoil" the story for the paper edition?

But if Gordon had rushed back to the office after the GQ Awards and stuck the stuff up before he went off to bed, how would the people who buy the paper on Thursday morning feel at discovering they're now handing cash to effectively buy a print out of the website from Tuesday evening?

It's not like Smart has enough content to be able to offer something exclusive to both outlets. So which paying customer gets the stale content, Rupert?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wayne Coyne still has a problem with The Arcade Fire

It's still a bit of a mystery why Wayne Coyne decided to have a go at The Arcade fire earlier in the year. And then why he offered a half-hearted apology. Now, though, he's half-assedly withdrawing the lame apology:

"It's so silly. People say things about The Flaming Lips all the time and I don't give a shit. For Arcade Fire to even think that what I would say would have any impact on their egos... it's all silly," says Coyne. "Who cares?"

Well... nobody, really, but Coyne then suddenly decides that people do care, and suggests there's an army of people disgruntled with Butlers who see Wayne as the only man brave enough to face them down:
"In my defence, I would say it was a casual conversation with the reporter. I don't care. I know what I said was absolutely the truth. I run into people virtually everywhere we play and they're like, 'Wayne, you're the only one that says anything'. I would say in their defence that perhaps they have changed. But I don't care. A lot of silly gossip gets built up into epic proportions. I can understand people who loved their music thinking I was out of line for saying it."

In his mind, at least, he's like the guy in V who first goes round spray painting over the alien posters.

The Jackson memorial gig is shaping up to be quite, quite special

Jermaine Jackson has been in London today, pushing a wonderful live music event. Oh, yeah, in memory of thingumabob. But mostly the event.

Where to start? First, perhaps, with the news that Chris Brown is hoping to take part:

"Chris Brown is working out some situations but he definitely expressed to us that he wants to be here," Jackson said at a press conference in London.

"It's just up to what he's going through with his court case right now - but he's definitely going to work that out and be here."

Ah, yes, "some situations" - or "he's receiving a light punishment for beating a woman's face in" as you might choose to describe it if you were less generous.
Jackson said that, despite the negative publicity surrounding Brown's court case, he was happy for the singer to take part.

"People make mistakes and he's a wonderful performer and during these times people need support and that's really important," he said.

I'm not even sure - if pressed - Celebrity Big Brother's (and, of course, the celebrity's big brother) Jermaine could explain exactly what he means by that. It sounds like he's saying 'well, whoops-a-daisy, he smashed a woman's face, but who hasn't? Besides, we could all do with a dance to cheer ourselves up."

It also sounds a little like JJ is implying that - somehow - the painkillery death of Michael is of a piece with the credit crisis, the war in Afghanistan, the continued provision of a public platform to Glenn Beck and the many other ailments of a planet. That the death horseman was only interested in Jacko and now his job is done.

And that must be what Jermaine meant - for if by "during these times" he simply means the cancellation of a lucrative fifty-night run at the O2 arena, then surely not even Chris Brown - even if he was a musical genius, and not merely a thuggish label confection - would be able to fill that hole.

In fact, it's as if Jermaine has had that thought anyway. For he knows that the only celebrity with the power to fill the gap left by Michael (assuming Oprah and Martha Stewart can't sort out a cover of I Know Him So Well in time) is... well, Jackson.

Simply because Michael is dead isn't going to stop him turning up at his own memorial. Disappointingly, the current plan is not for him to hang around at the back in an unlikely beard claiming to be called Martin Wellborn, but instead he'll "appear" onstage.

God alone knows. A projector of some sort? Some "previously unseen footage"? All we do know is that this reanimated Jacko will be singing along with Jermaine.

It's what Michael would have wanted. Although not so much he invited Jermaine to duet with him when he was alive.

Channel 4 News was reporting that this misbegotten event is going to take place in Vienna because Michael "loved castles and The Sound Of Music". And not, then, because Jermaine fancied a trip to Austria.

Did Jacko love The Sound Of Music? You could understand the appeal of a story about a family of singing kids where it was the father who got forced to perform because of an overbearing presence, but I'm not sure I've ever heard of him doing Lonely Goatherd as an encore. A quick Google brings up a discussion which suggests Charmain Carr, who played Liesl Von Trapp, did some interior design for him in the past (without a happy ending) but that's hardly a conenction that would persuade most families to hold their gentle farewells in a different continent.

Nicola pockets twenty quid

Congratulations to Girls Aloud for picking up the Popjustice £20 Music Prize for The Promise, and a round of applause to Nicola Roberts for heading over to pick up the cash. It's not like she really needed the publicity. Or the cash.

Nobody from The Sugababes showed up for the £20 Invoice for worst single. Pity.

Mercury Prize: Not a guarantee of big sellers

A handy chunk of data has been made available by the Guardian, in spreadsheet take-it-and-mash format, detailing not just the winners of the Mercury, but also how well they sold and the highest chart position.

So, just three Mercury albums have been number one - Suede by Suede, Different Class by Pulp and Whatever People Say... by the Arctic Monkeys.

Only three have sold more than a million - Franz Ferdinand, Pulp and the Monkeys.

Only one album failed to make the top 40, and that's also the lowest-selling album of them all: Talvin Singh's OK.

So, we now know that the average sale of a Mercury Prize Winner is a bit over 500,000 - 580882, to be precise.

And the average chart position is 10.

A top ten record and half a million sales? It sounds like the very model of a tolerably well-performing record. Not too flash, not setting the bar so high that the performance of the next record will disappoint, but good enough to guarantee the label will pony up for it.

Downloadable: Los Campesionos

Some point in the future, you'll be able to download this into your Guitar Band game-pack. For now, you'll just have to make do with The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future by Los Campesinos.

You can watch the song with pretty moving pictures on the LC website.

UPDATE 07-09-14: These links both now go to long removed pages. But there's the song from YouTube:

It's what Kurt really would have wanted; or at least what Jon Bon Jovi would have wanted

No, really, there was a line in the suicide note which said "my only regret is that I die before I get the chance to take part in a tribute to Bon Jovi; if only there was still a way". Genuine fact:

Everett True responds to this delightful desecration:

Um. Grohl and Love sanctioned this one for the new Guitar Hero. So respect due to Grohl and Love then. Fucking corporate cock-sucking memory-destroying fret-wanking MTV-supporting fame-chasing money-grabbing grave-turning publicity-loving vacuous spoiled jaded cunting rock whores.

Apart from the question of whether it should have been attempted at all, there's a wider question of if the people who made this confused Kurt Cobain with Fred Durst.

That noise? That's Yoko ringing up the Rock Band people with a great idea for next year...

Gordon in the morning: Mercury rising

Yesterday, readers of Gordon's column were sent to the bookies almost certain of a Mercury win for Florence And The Machine, mainly - admittedly - on the strength of 'giving Gordon an excuse to print a sexy picture':

FLORENCE WELCH is the front-runner to scoop glory at tonight's Mercury Music Awards.

And if she does bag the 20 grand prize for 2009's best album, I suspect that by the end of the evening she could be pulling a similar pose to this - crawling around London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

So, this morning Sun readers must be... apparently not at all surprised at the outcome:
The Sun's Something For The Weekend section said last week that Speech was the "most deserving" nominee.

Still, regardless of Speech's win, Gordon knows where the moral victory is, and marks the occasion with a large, sexy photo of Florence Welch in a short leather skirt.

Elsewhere, Yoko Ono popped up at the GQ "man of the year" awards. You can calibrate how well-judged these prizes are by considering that they believe Guy Ritchie to be filmmaker of the year and George Osbourne to be politician of the year (a view which even David Cameron would double-take.) Yoko's appearance was yet another part of the grinding publicity for the Beatles Game ("was quite a coup for the magazine publishers"), but she ended up being asked to talk about Take That:
Beaming Yoko said: "I love Shine. I know most of their greatest hits. They're a great British band."

It might sound like faint praise to you, but she didn't have to write any of the names on her hand, and she didn't go "that one from the adverts with Alan Hansen in - that's one of theirs, isn't it?"

Gordon, though, senses high praise:
And the feeling's mutual.

Mark said: "It's amazing that Yoko thinks that about our music. It is an honour to accept an award from her."

"I quite like some of their greatest hits" and "it's nice that Yoko quite likes our greatest hits". Mutual love-in, isn't it?

By the time this has been processed for an article teaser, it comes out as this:
Yoko Ono: TT are new Fab 4

JOHN Lennon’s widow is a big fan of the man band – naming Shine as her favourite track

Or at least the one that somebody whispered in her ear before she went on stage.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mike Read knows what to do

Mike Read - yes, the former DJ one, not the dead one who was R-E-I-D anyway - contributed to the Guardian this morning, marking the departure of Wogan from breakfasts.

It includes this slightly bemusing segment, rejecting the likelihood that the audience will vanish:

Yes, there will be an exodus, but probably not of biblical proportions; after all, there has never been bondage at Radio 2 – and in any case where is their Moses or Aaron to lead them to a new radio land, unless Elvis rises again from the chip shop.

Uh... yes, Mike.

Still, Mike has plans for the future and - if not Moses, clearly hopes to be casting himself as some sort of Esau:
Long one of our great exports, the music industry has been strangled by the lack of innovative radio and television. This country has far too many radio and TV stations pumping out pap, so it's not surprising that many are proving to be unsustainable. It's time for a shake-up, and perhaps Wogan's departure will prompt just that. Fewer stations, more quality and realistic budgets.

So, how does Read propose that we boost imports and push forward creative music by innovative radio programming?
As the lawyer Jaggers dealt with Pip's question in Great Expectations, let me take a hypothetical case: 20 former Radio 1 voices, all national names and all highly experienced, who have collectively broadcast to billions over the years and won countless awards. What a line-up that would be. Now, we need a hypothetical name, let's say One Gold. Put thousands of advertisers and sponsors, who would kill to advertise on Radio 2 if it were commercial, into the mix. This theoretical station may well broadcast (and I mean broadcast, not narrowcast) the best of the 80s, 70s and 60s as well as established artists who don't seem to get a look in despite highly successful tours.

Yes... Read's idea is to stimulate and innovate by hiring a bunch of faded old DJs and playing a slate of twenty-to-forty year old hits. It's like reviving British cuisine by pushing Hostess trolleys and boil-in-the-bag beef slices.

Mercury Music Prize: Liveblog

Lauren Laverne, eh? God, how quickly did Jo Whiley fall from favour?

Rather than detain us with large chunks of music, we're whistling through small chunks of the nominated bands. Miranda Sawyer and Nihal are offering opinions - Nihal suggesting that Speech is a Mercury judge's idea of a hip-hop album. Which is a fair point.

The EPG is calling the programme "packed", which with the need to have some runners-and-riders, a form discussion and the actual announcement is a bit of an understatement.

Blimey - Elly Jackson seems to have had whatever the quiff equivalent of a hair extension is to celebrate the evening.

Nihal has dismissed The Horrors, which seems a bit rich considering he was suggesting that it was a bit rocksnob to have a pop at Kasabian.

Miranda Sawyer is suggesting Bat For Lashes should go a bit bonkers. "It's a beautiful album, but... beautiful mixed with something. But to win the Mercury Music Prize, is it enough?" ponders Nihal.

Time for the announcement, then: Jools Holland, naturally, is the MC. Everyone gets a little ripple of applause because we're all winners, right?

"Let's remind ourselves what those twelve people albums are" mumbles Jools, like a man who is doing his best to try and make Fearne Cotton feel better.

"Moment of truth... fever pitch... esteemed judges" - a quick tour of Holland cliches - "only one can win." No, really?

Although his "we don't applaud money, we applaud talent" is a good joke, a bit undermined in an event which is sponsored by a bank and makes a lot of its twenty grand prize.

The result is "a surprise", drags out Jools: The winner is Speech.

Speech Debelle. I don't think anyone saw that coming (I typed just as Aaron S tweeted that.)

So, who knew that this was a year for the judges to pretend that it's not really just a rock prize? Clearly not Speech, who - ironically - had come without a speech prepared.

As one, the world looks up and says "anything that wasn't Kasabian can't be wrong, can it?"

In her winner's interview, Speech has just mentioned that Ms Dynamite winning the Mercury was an "inspiration" - although since that was a gate swinging to open a not-entirely glittering career, that seems a bit ominous. Still, at least she didn't say it was Roni Size who shaped her dreams.

Here comes Newsnight, then.

Stewart Copeland tells the Smiths to reunite

In a conversation with Spinner, in which Stewart Copeland stood atop of the mountain of cash he made from the Police reunion, he suggested everyone should get back together, like, right now:

Copeland believes other famous holdouts should follow suit. We asked him about the Talking Heads in particular since they come from a similar scene and era he describes as being "about anti-nostalgia."

"I would advise them to give it a try because of two reasons," he says. "One, in most bands that I know, and certainly my own band, you have a real bond with your band members. Love them or hate them, there's a bond. We in the Police found and slayed a lot of dragons. We really put a lot of misconceptions about each other and ourselves to rest. We conquered the world together, same as Talking Heads. They have had a big part in each other's lives and wouldn't it be great if they all got along? It's like burying the hatchet."

I'd just point out that when Copeland says that he and Sting and, you know, the other one, slayed dragons, he's not being hyperbolic. Or using metaphors. They made so much bloody cash from the tour, they were able to breed bloody dragons, which they then slayed.

But it's not just the Talking Heads who should get back together, believes Copeland. Everyone should:
"I don't know anything about the Smiths, but yes," he says. "It isn't any act of courage to not do it. What quality does it take to say no to something like that?"

Hmm. What would be the name of the quality which would stop you from dredging up the past and repackaging teenage dreams in order to wank for a few quid? The quality that stops you pretending to bury the hatchet just to top up your ISA? It's on the tip of my tongue...

Gloria enraged? Mail overstates Hunniford's stance

Now it's official that Terry Wogan is off to enjoy a lie-in, and Chris Evans is going to take over, there seems to be some confusion. Especially amongst Daily Mail readers, there seems to be a misunderstanding; an expectation that TFI-era Evans is going to turn up to do the show, with testicle jokes, beer and Kula Shaker over by the piano. This is the howl of anguish from Radio 2 "loyal" listeners who haven't bothered to listen to the more mellow Evans programme on the network.

Still, it's good news for the Mail who haven't had anything to wrap up in a horseshoe and throw at the BBC for, ooh, hours. And it's not just their readers who are struggling to contain their rage, oh no:

Chris Evans tells Terry Wogan fans he'll deliver 'first rate family show' as Gloria Hunniford leads campaign against 'childish' successor

She is, is she? What's Hunniford doing, then? A petition? A march on Broadcasting House? Civil disobedience? How does she intend to be the Joanna Lumley of this campaign?
They include 'shocked' veteran broadcaster Gloria Hunniford, who said: 'I would have reservations. But that's only a personal opinion. He's a good broadcaster, but I personally don't think he's of the same calibre as Terry.'

So she has said "personally, I don't think he's quite good enough" - that hardly seems to be "leading a campaign", does it?

Bill Wyman doesn't hold with all these computer games

Somewhat ironically, considering he was talking at a charity Beatles event piggybacking on the hoopla around Beatles Game, Bill Wyman has been grumbling about Rock Band style games:

[He claimed] they will lead to fewer young people taking up real instruments.

"It encourages kids not to learn, that's the trouble. It makes less and less people dedicated to really get down and learn an instrument".

"I think it's a pity," he said, speaking at Abbey Road studios while recording a charity Beatles song for Children in Need.

Yeah, young teenagers shouldn't be playing computer games; they should be enjoying their time dating elderly rock stars, eh Bill?

Nick Mason - who was hanging about - nodded:
"It irritates me having watched my kids do it. If they spend as much time practising the guitar as learning how to press the buttons, they'd be damn good by now".

Naturally, the makers of Rock Band style games deny they're a bad influence:
But Alex Rigopulos, co-founder of Harmonix Music Systems, which created the Rock Band series, refuted the musicians' claims.

"We're constantly hearing from fans who were inspired by Rock Band to start studying a real instrument," he said.

It's true. After a couple of months using the guitar-style button keypad, many young people progress to the three-button joystick or the fully-programmable trackpad.