Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Singer Must Die, but not yet: Weiland is grounded

Scott Weiland managed to take his flight out the air last night: He suffered a seizure en-route from LAX to MIA, forcing the scheduled American Airlines plane to make a non-scheduled stop at Dallas Fort Worth. Weiland went to hospital; he's fine now. It doesn't say in any of the reports, but we're betting the rest of the passengers mumbled complaints just nosily enough to avoid seeming too harsh-hearted.

Tune-Yards Weekend: Hatari

Recorded live at The Secret Garden, by the lovely people from Hooves On The Turf, here's Tune-Yards doing Hatari:

[Part of Tune-Yards weekend]

A Singer Must Die, but not yet: Cohen is fine

Wobbly moment last night when Leonard Cohen collapsed on stage mid-Bird On A Wire.

He was taken to hospital in Valencia, where he was given an all-clear and is intending to be back on stage in Barcelona on Monday.

"Food poisoning" is the official line, but that's what they always say, isn't it?

Raincoats under canvas

I suspect that even at twenty quid, the 150 tickets may already have long gone, but just in case: The Raincoats are playing the National Portrait Gallery on the 25th of this month as part of the icon-i-coustic nights.

Extra marks to the NPG for not mentioning that bloke from the computer game who liked them.

Drummerobit: Bobby Graham

One of the most familiar unknown names of the 1960s pop world, Bobby Graham, has died.

By his own reckoning, Graham played on a total of 40 top five UK hits, drumming on Dusty's I Only Want To Be With You, You Really Got Me for The Kinks, and Make It Easy On Yourself. The Walker Brothers version.

Graham also claimed he was nearly in those Beatles, he was; his tale insisted that Epstein had offered him Pete Best's job and it was only offered to Ringo after he'd turned it down. To be fair, Graham at least has the talent to back-up the claim, unlike everyone over the age of 60 in Liverpool who also claims they said "no" to a job in The Beatles.

In total, Graham is believed to have drummed, clashed and cymablled his way through 15,000 tracks. As Professor Gordon Thompson remembers, his reputation meant he was often an obvious choice:

His association with the Dave Clark Five proved particularly problematic given that the bandleader WAS the drummer; moreover, Clark routinely declared that no other drummer played in the studio. However, a close listen to early recordings such as “Do You Love Me,” “Glad All Over” and “Bits and Pieces” reveals double-tracked drumming, suggesting that the drummer/producer had assistance from another musician. Graham maintained to the end that he was that drummer (a claim supported by unofficial correspondence) and who could doubt Clark’s good judgment at hiring the best. Indeed, many a British drummer cringed when they saw Graham at a session, knowing they had just been demoted to playing tambourine.

Bobby Graham, who was 69, had been ill with cancer for some months. He died in Welwyn Garden City on Monday, and is survived by a wife, a son and a brother.

[Thanks to Jon for the story]

Tune-Yards Weekend: Top Chef

Over to a backyard shortly before Merrill Grabus launched the album. As a warm up, she worked through Top Chef:

[Part of the Tune-Yards weekend]

Matt Bellamy wants us revolting

Muse aren't just there for filling the "best live band" slot at the NME Awards, you know.
Oh, no: they want to lead us onto the barricades:

He said: "I've got a home in the centre of London which is right near all the embassies and I notice protests on a regular basis.

"During the G-20 protests, the UK got closer to really making a dramatic change, a non-violent revolution.

"I think the UK needs one and I hope it hasn't died down. Hopefully, we can flame it up again."

The outspoken rocker has also railed against the political system in the UK branding it one of the "weakest democracies" in the developed world.

Matt, 31, added: "You can hear the general feeling that we've been let down again by big institutions which are supposed to be in positions of trust.

"Politicians, obviously, and bankers. The UK is quite behind the curve compared to America and most of Europe. We have one of the weakest democracies. I'm sure it could all be sorted out in a way which that's fairer for everyone."

Yes! Revolution!

You know what else we could do, Matt? We could all go out and make films about injustice and struggle and democracy and share them online. We can show each other the non-violent protests as they spread, encouraging and building dissent.

Although... under the ideas you outlined to Lily Allen, in order to protect a few mulitnational corporations, you'd be forced to pay through the nose to upload or download such materials, which introduces a pay barrier people to gain access to information and so would exclude the very people who have the most to protest about from being part of the debate.

Although... under the ideas you outlined to Lily Allen, ISPs will be having to keep track of what you share online, and so if there was a central backlash, there'd be plenty of records allowing the government to track down anyone who had been taking part in the protests.

Frankly, Matt, while it's nice to see you selling your album as if it's a call to the barricades, I wouldn't follow a revolution led by a man who describes citizens being excluded from the internet as a "perceived civil liberties" issue. You can push for fairness and equality and freedom. You can campaign for "legislation" to allow private companies to "tax" EMI. You can't really do both.

Gordon in the morning: This is all wrong

This Bizarre story is very wrong indeed:

The Killers were playing a gig at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night when a crew member interrupted the band's encore to hail support act THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS.

Frontman BRANDON FLOWERS appeared stunned when the man ran on to the stage to declare: "Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time and The Psychedelic Furs had one of the best songs of all time."

But it was all a big joke. Kanye had better get used to this.

The wrongness of this story? What sort of world do we live in where The Psychedelic Furs are warm-up act to The Killers?

Embed and breakfast man: Tuneyards

Or, to be precise, tUnE-YaRdS. They - or, rather, she, Merrill Garbus - turned up earlier this week on Marc Riley's 6Music programme to turn in a set of messed-up slickness. And to paint her face. It was radio, but a trademark is a trademark.

Before we get going with some video action, 4AD are offering the track Sunlight as a free download, which is a good starting point.

The Tune-yards MySpace "sounds like" box says:

Your mom when she gets really mad but instead of whoopin' yo' ass she starts making crazy-ass beats with the pots and pans AND yo' ass.

Which sounds a bit like this - FIYA being given a live looping performance:

More about the Tune-Yards
Official site
Tune-Yards on 4AD
Tune-Yards MySpace
Tune-Yards on Last FM

Bird-Brains on CD
Bird-Brains on mp3

You haven't heard the last of the TuneYards here this weekend, oh no.
Top Chef

How close would you like to be to Ian Brown?

With a sixth solo album about to emerge from his mindhole, Ian Brown is doing a "most intimate gig of his life" type thing at the end of the month. And, to disprove the claim that you couldn't give away tickets to such an event, they're giving tickets away via an HMV competition.

Downloadable: Saint Etienne

The lovely people at Saint Etienne have pulled together a three-track live ep, Trumpton Comes Alive, which you can download and play on your computer or portable electronic devices. It's very good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Psst, Jay-Z: Everyone knows it was a stunt now

MTV and Jay-Z are still hoping that people treat Kanye West's "incident" like it was something that happened, rather than something that was scripted:

Jay-Z has known Kanye West for many years, so when he watched West interrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, he probably wasn't as surprised as a lot of people.

"He's just a super-passionate person, and of course it was rude because it was [Swift's] moment, but that's the way he really felt. [But] he's been that passionate from his first record."

Thing is - regardless of motivation - the line was delivered in a totally passionless manner as to make this seem a rather unlikely explanation, isn't it?

Lily and Matt talk rights

Although Lily Allen is mostly wrong on copyright, it's with a degree of respect that I wave my hands at her latest blog yelling "no! no! no!" At least she's debating, sort-of, something, with her call for people to pay more for music.

On MySpace. A site whose popularity was first, largely, built on sheaf after sheaf of unlicensed music. Perhaps Lily doesn't see her use of MySpace, and delivery of traffic there, as a reward for past behaviour, but it does smack of someone using a platform built from profits of crime to launch a clean-up campaign.

So, what does Lily have to say in her follow up?

I've had a lot of responses back since my previous blog posting here. The long and short of it is, even before this economic downturn Piracy has been affecting all areas of entertainment, except maybe theatre. CD sales, Film DVD sales, book sales , TV DVD sales, everything.

Everything except theatre, eh?

Cinema's up, too:
Cinema admissions for June stood at 12.5m, an increase of 5.6% yr on yr.

• The average weekly admissions figure for June were 2.91m an increase of a 5.4% on average weeks in June 2008.

• Q2 admissions have reached 42.1m (up 22.5%) and the highest Q2 since 2004.

Book sales down? Are you sure, Lily? It's not quite so clear:
August 12, 2009, New York, NY: Book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the month of June increased by 21.5 percent at $942.6 million and were up by 1.8 percent for the year.

And so on. But we're cherry-picking data here, admitedly.
Now, if people go on consuming at the rate they are and do not pay for what they are consuming, not only will the artists within all these industries be without jobs and unable to express themselves but the behind the scenes people too.

This is convoluted. If people do stop consuming without paying, you still won't be any better off.

And there's no direct link between people being able to express themselves and people buying corporate products:

- Hey, Romeo, will you sing me a love song?
- Nah, Juliet, as people have stopped buying CDs from Barnes and Noble, rendering me somehow incapable of writing and singing a song for you

Thats literally millions of jobs . .

Is it? The UK government last year put the number of people employed in the creative sector at 2 million. A third of these were in software and computer games development, and there's also visual arts, ballet dancers, the staff of the BBC and architects amongst others helping the headcount. All in all, if filesharing had the power to totally wipe out the film and music industries (and it doesn't), you'd be talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs, not "literally millions." Not to be taken lightly, but not quite the same.
I know that a lot of you want to know that you're not being overcharged for a product and you want to know that your hard earned cash is going to the right places, alot of work has to be done in order for this to happen.

The market price for individual, basic mp3s is almost zero. Any move the government makes is merely going to artificially inflate the price. Or, in other words, overcharging for a product.
I think that paying 14.99 for an album is ridiculous, I'm with you on that, and that wont happen again, but piracy is not the answer.

"That won't happen again" because... why, exactly, Lily? It happened in the first place because the music industry were able to exploit a limited supply of product and - for each record individually - a monopoly of supply.

You're campaigning tirelessly to see the conditions under which albums rose to fifteen quid be replicated online by the use of copyright barriers. How can you say that it won't happen again?
It's hard enough to get a job at the moment.

Lily Allen spent the last three weeks trying to get something - anything - down at Tesco, and even her experience... oh, sorry, she's just guessing, isn't she?
People are being laid off in all areas and the record companies are no exception.

Yes. Do you suppose piracy might be affecting banks and replacement window companies as well, or do you think this might be some broader economic point totally unrelated to how many people have bookmarked the Pirate Bay?
My own label EMI laid off thousands last year. I don't care so much about the high-ups (and by the way they're always the last to go - what a surprise) but the people who are going out are the young ones, the life blood basically.

EMI are in a mess because they were leveraged out by a private equity company who piled on debt without having much of a clue how to run a record company. That didn't happen because someone copied a CD off their mate.

Oh - and quite a few executives at EMI have lost their jobs over the last couple of years, too.
They're the ones that go first, , I've seen it. And the same is happening in TV and film. Why do you think you are just getting Terminator 6 and Harry Potter 7 instead of exciting new voices? Because the young voices are not there anymore.

Film sequels were only invented in 2004, after the last fresh idea was sucked out of a branch of the Odeon by a chap with a camcorder. This, Lily, is just piffle and I think in your heart you know that pointing to the conclusion of a movie franchise that was launched as a franchise to somehow suggest that young people don't make movies any more is just crazy. Did directors and producers used to be treated Logans Run style back in the 1970s?
Do you care about that, or do you just want to watch and listen to the products of the last generation?

This isn't a coherent argument at all - if you fileshare, there won't be any The XX? But people do fileshare, and there's still a constant parade of young people in tight jeans parading out of from wherever they come. Many of them disappear again quickly - but twas ever thus. Hardly anyone makes any money from music, and hardly anyone ever has.
Or do you want a voice that is heard and can make a difference? What I do know is we have to invest in this sector of our country guys, we are great film makers,we have incredible writers and authors, historically the best music makers, we cant throw it all away.

Here's a question: how many tracks and books have gone unwritten because of piracy against the number unwritten because the major media corporations refusing to invest, or pulling the blanket after a failure by a new name to reach an arbitrary level of sales?
The internet is the most amazing thing, but it should be OUR thing, and ironically piracy is just playing into the hands of the corporations.

Because EMI isn't, apparently, a corporation?
What these artists and creators do, they do for the love of it,

so... erm... they'll carry on doing it even in the unlikely scenario of the money disappearing altogether?
I know its hard because money is scarce but we have to inject money back into these areas. It's not fair to steal peoples material,I know it's art and it has no physical value but even Shakespeare had shares in The Globe Theatre.

Yes. He underwrote his creativity - because there was little money in actually acting - by taking a stake in a different part of the industry.
People will lose their jobs, you'll be watching X-factor, Simon Cowell will be getting richer, radio stations will be churning out old back catalogues from people your dad or even your grandads age(vera lynn is No 1 this week) and the taxpayer will have to subsidize yet more unemployment.

The suggestion that the X Factor is a reaction to filesharing, and not the same labels whose case Allen is pressing now colluding in a cheaper way of knocking out records, is just ridiculous. And for Allen to be pleading for EMI while knocking Vera Lynn at the top of the charts is just hypocritical. In fact, MySpace points out how much:

Please, please, please go and see a film in the cinema instead of buying it in Tesco's car-park , buy a c.d. or album off itunes if you really like it, and god help us, keep buying books . If we do this, i really think we can make a difference. Anyone band, writer, author, musician, actress please feel free to contact me on this matter if you feel it is important

It's actually not that silly a thing to say - if you like culture, buy some culture. But this is so far from "if you share files, you must be punished" as to be laughable.

Allen also runs a response to her earlier post from Matt Bellamy. His stance is even more disappointing, as you'd hope he had a better grasp on things:
My current opinion is that file sharing is now the norm. This cannot be changed without an attack on perceived civil liberties which will never go down well.

"Perceived" civil liberties, Matt? The word "perceived" here being used in the sense of "actual, but difficult for me, so I'll pretend they're not there."
The problem is that the ISPs making the extreme profits (due to millions of broadband subscriptions) are not being taxed by the copyright owners correctly and this is a legislation issue.

I'm sorry? Is this really written by Matt Bellamy or a thirteen year-old at the Brits school? Copyright owners do not tax. Governments tax. You might raise a royalty - but clearly, this is being done "correctly", otherwise it wouldn't be a legislation issue, it'd be one of litigation.
Radio stations and TV stations etc have to pay the copyright owners (both recording and publishing) a fee for using material they do not own. ISPs should have to pay in the same way with a collection agency like PRS doing the monitoring and calculations based on encoded (but freely downloaded) data.

But ISPs are not broadcasters. What you're proposing is akin to the transmission companies being forced to pay for the material that others are using their network to share. Which is clearly nuts.
Broadband makes the internet essentially the new broadcaster. This is the point which is being missed.

It's not "being missed", Matt, it's just plain wrong. The internet is a distribution network. It makes lots of people with servers potentially akin to broadcasters, but an ADSL line is no more a broadcaster than the M1 is a motor vehicle.
Also, usage should have a value. Someone who just checks email uses minimal bandwidth, but someone who downloads 1 gig per day uses way more, but at the moment they pay the same.

Unless they're using, say, dial-up at a penny per minute, or mobile. Or on one of those deals where the amount of data is tiered. But broadly, two people on the same deal will pay the same, regardless of use. This is a pretty good measure, actually, as it encourages use of the internet and people buying music and films and apps.
It is clear which user is hitting the creative industries and it is clear which user is not, so for this reason, usage should also be priced accordingly.

Again, Matt, you're talking absolute twaddle. You might use a lot of bandwidth because you're mailing video you've taken of your kid to his grandma. You might use a lot of bandwidth because you're a Spotify premium user and streaming legal, paid-for music all through the day. You might be one of those struggling creative people Allen was talking about, using the net to share music you've written with journalists and other artists. You could be watching iPlayer. You might just be Stephen Fry using Twitter. To extrapolate that someone using a lot of bandwidth must be doing because they're using unlicensed material is such a fundamentally flawed assumption as to render your entire argument pointless.
The end result will be a taxed, monitored ISP based on usage which will ensure both the freedom of the consumer and the rights of the artists - the loser will be the ISP who will probably have to increase subscription costs to compensate, but the user will have the freedom to choose between checking a few emails (which will cost far less than a current monthly subscription) and downloading tons of music and film (which will cost probably a bit more than current subscription, but not that much more).

But the infrastructure of broadband is pretty expensive - it's unlikely any ISP would be able to afford to run an account which was for "just checking email", except at a loss. And if all I'm doing is downloading iTunes tracks which I've paid for, and mp3s being sent to me PR people, why should I be forced to pay a levy on my connectivity to go to music businesses?

And, come to that: why should it be only musicians who get money from any such levy? Shouldn't anyone who shares any content on the internet get a slice? What makes Matt Bellamy more deserving of money made from snooping on people's communications than, say, a journalist whose article gets circulated away from his paper's website?
We should set up a meeting with Lord Mandelson as he is on this issue at the moment, I'm sure he would meet us for breakfast!

I bet he bloody would, Matt. Enough said.

Third Sugababe changes

The position of third Sugababe is, like the American Presidency or chairmanship of the Wheeltapper And Shunter's Club, a limited appointment. Oh, you might be able to find a new role as second Sugababe, but that's only for the lucky few - for most, you get one, maybe two, terms, and then that's it. You're moving on.

Heatworld is just reporting that Amelle Berrabah's time in the band has come to an end; perhaps one of the least-successful Third Sugababes in living memory, she's mainly been successful at getting the brand linked to dubious stories involving terrible allegations and great upsetment.

In a surprise move, they have decided the time is right to appoint the first ever Celebrity Third Sugababe (it's not known if this version, like Celebrity Big Brother, will only last for about one-tenth the time when it's an unknown holding the post.)

Well, I say celebrity - it's actually supposedly Jade Ewen, who is putting promotional work for her solo career on hold:

Jade Ewen's record label Geffen sent an official statement out just a few minutes ago which read, "Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, we regret to inform you that Jade Ewen will be taking time off from all promotional activity for the foreseeable future."

Since this promotional work basically involved being seen leaving bars with one of JLS, it's not like there's going to be a lot of effort gone to waste there, then.

Bookmakers William Hill are taking odds on David Cameron replacing Jade by the end of the autumn; you can get 7-4on.

[Thanks to Michael M for flashing the news]

Polka News Network: Rib Mountain trims bands, lengthens sets

Polka bands aren't just having to cope with the cruel indifference of the Grammy committee, but there just aren't going to be as many polka bands at the Wassau Rothschild Pavilion polka nights. But it's not all bad news:

Although there are fewer bands on the roster than last year, Raczkowski said people can expect more music.

"The bands will play longer sets. The quality is there. These are all really good bands," he said.

Doing more with less. Mark Thompson would approve.

Publishers seeking snatch royalties

If only music publishers ran supermarkets, how sweet it would be. They'd have the little pieces of cheese on sticks as samples, and after people had a bite, out from behind the deli counter would come the publishers, seeking recompense for the consumed cheese.

"But this is a sample, isn't it?" the customers would stutter.

"Yes, it's a sample. And the samples cost. So cough up..."

Or, in other words: Publishers are now seeking to be paid when people listen to the 30 second sample on iTunes.

Oh, and in addition, they want payments if someone downloads a TV programme or film which features music. Yes, yes, the rights to cover that music would have been bought out at the time the producers make the programme, and so this is being paid twice for the same thing.

Of course, it's greedy, but the songwriting lobby (or, rather, the collections agency) don't think being paid twice for the same work is greedy:

"We make 9.1 cents off a song sale and that means a whole lot of pennies have to add up before it becomes a bunch of money," said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters' Guild of America. "Yesterday, I received a check for 2 cents. I'm not kidding. People think we're making a fortune off the Web, but it's a tiny amount. We need multiple revenue streams or this isn't going to work."

Rick Carnes isn't kidding that he got a two cent cheque. But you get 9.1 cents for a sale. So - assuming he didn't sell just under one-fifth of a track - he's having quite a bit of his royalties hoovered off during the process of money getting from the seller to the songwriter.

Perhaps the president of the Songwriters' Guild Of America might like to have a word with someone high-up at the Songwriters' Guild Of America about that. He might also like to have a little chat with the people sending out the cheques as to why they'd do something so stupid as to send out a two cent cheque - does nobody really have the wit to only trigger a payment when there's enough money to make it worth sending? If songwriters are struggling, part of the reason seems to be an insane approach to the administration of royalties.

Even Bon Jovi doesn't like Cobain-Jovi

Although Courtney Love's predicted climbdown by Activision has yet to appear, more grumbling about the clumsy use of Kurt Cobain turns up. This time, Bon Jovi Jon out of the Jon Bon Jovi Band is saying he thinks it stinks, too:

"I don't know that I would have wanted it either," Jon Bon Jovi told the BBC.

"To hear someone else's voice coming out of a cartoon version of me? I don't know. It sounds a little forced."

Okay, "a little forced" rather than "stinks", but it's the same sort of thing.

However, Jon does offer something that leans towards collaborating Courtney's claims that she didn't know how the characters - by which I mean 'real people' - would be used in the game:
"I had the paperwork, they wanted me to be on that game and I just passed," he said.

"But no-one even broached the subject with me that I would be singing other people's stuff. I don't know how I would have reacted to that. I don't know that I would have wanted it either."

The paperwork probably mentioned it; and - had you been going ahead and signing - 'how will this avatar be used' would be an essential question to ask. But it doesn't look like Activision were being upfront with the information.

Gordon in the morning: I think he might now just be a bot

I don't think Gordon is even bothering to phone it in these days. Bizarre looks like it's been compiled by a semi-intelligent algorithm this morning.

No, no: Let's not do the joke about how that'd be 50% more intelligence than usual. That would be mean.

So, there's a chunk of JLS, despite them actually not having done anything to justify a story.

Instead of the usual Calvin Kleins, the JLS star is more likely to be sporting a pair of bright yellow Spongebob Squarepants or Superman undercrackers. The boyband picked up the comedy keks on a shopping spree in men's fashion shop Topman on Wednesday.

Yes - "game show losers buy amusing underwear".

Then, of course, there's a picture of a woman from a magazine and an inevitable Robbie Williams story, which is also the inevitable X Factor story:
Rob revealed: "There's this one guy on the X Factor who is amazing. I think he could take my place.

"I've got my eye on him. He's dead."

Apparently something called Olly Murs is the guy who could take Robbie's place - and, yes, from what I've seen he does come across as the sort of gurning pain in the arse who combines the sort of mix of slight talent and annoying personality that could certainly see people getting confused.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UK Music decides to ignore counterviews, claims to be one voice

An astonishing claim at the top of a Guardian story:

The music industry claims to have reached a unified position on illegal filesharing but it remains unclear whether it will maintain its demands for persistent filesharers to be suspended from the internet.

In a statement ahead of a 29 September deadline for comments in the government's illegal filesharing consultation, umbrella group UK Music says "government intervention is extremely welcome".

The confusion of "UK Music" with "the music industry" manages both to perpetuate a myth, and ignore that the not-exactly-low-profile FAC have very publicly disagreed with UK Music's line.
Sharkey rebuffed suggestions of a growing rift in the UK music industry.

He said the debate around what measures were needed to curb filesharing had been a "very productive exercise" and claimed it had in fact brought various parties closer together.

The debate, Feargal, actually starts at "do measures need to be introduced to curb filesharing at all", isn't it? And how does people issuing statements effectively insisting that UK Music is wrong really bring people "closer together"?

I suppose in a world where a self-selecting group claims to speak as one voice for everybody, anything at all possible. It's a pity that Feargal's Music claims are being treated as being representative rather than selective.

Hands admits buying EMI made Terra less Firma

Guy Hands has more or less admitted that buying EMI was a rotten plan:

Guy Hands, founder of private equity firm Terra Firma, on Thursday admitted that if the May 2007 auction for music group EMI had happened two weeks later, he would never have bought the company, by far his biggest investment.

It's a little hard to think why he might have spotted the strange smell coming from the building had he waited fourteen days, having missed what everyone else could see when he did do the deal.

Still, he's excited for this year:
Meanwhile, on the operating front, EMI is making progress, Mr Hands added, noting that he expects earnings to reach £200m next year while the re-release of The Beatles recordings has been a huge success.

Really? A huge success? If it had been, that EMI is relying on a forty-year old product would be enough of a worry. But you'd have to suggest that the Beatle churn resulted in 'not an embarrassment' rather than a huge success.

Winehouse: Not a target at all, admits The Sun

So, amongst the stories that popped up in the last day and a half or so was the admission by The Sun that the big front-page splash which claimed Amy Winehouse and Alan Sugar were on some sort of terrorist hit-list was about as true as... oh, that story about Elton John's dogs or something.

The Sun has appears to apologise:

A PHONEY terrorism "expert" has confessed to duping newspapers and a senior politician.

Newspapers. Like The Sun, you mean?

Yes, it turns out that far from being an apology from the Sun to its readers, it's actually running an apology from Glen Jenvey to The Sun:
Jenvey - who had been described as "an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst" by Tory MP Patrick Mercer - said: "I'm fully responsible for the story. The Sun was deceived.

"The Sun did not know that I was behind the postings.

"I would like to apologise to all the British Jews who we scared and I'd like to apologise to The Sun newspaper."

Somehow, The Sun seems to think that this lets it off the hook - "ooh, he didn't say 'I've forged the postings', so how were we to know?". Shouldn't The Sun have investigated a little more closely before running the story?

So, apart from the relief that Amy Winehouse is now - officially - once again her own worst enemy, there remains a big question: had we paid to read this story behind a paywall, would we get a refund?

RIP: Mary Travers

Mary Travers, the Mary in Peter, Paul and Mary, has died. A fuller obituary when I'm back online, but for now:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gordon in the morning: Remembering Robbie Williams

Lord, it must be days since Gordon filed a story - or something a bit like a story - to remind us that Robbie Williams is about to release another record.

Luckily, he's got something today, more or less:

move to the Land Down Under.

The singer has said he is looking for a farm or beachfront retreat in Oz after a premonition by his girlfriend AYDA FIELD.

Really? Or... could this just be line he's spinning to Australia to try and shore up his market there?
Robbie mentioned the move on Australia's biggest breakfast radio show on station 2DayFM, which is being guest-hosted by DANNII MINOGUE.

How great must it be to have Dannii Minogue as your holiday cover? You'd never get that nasty feeling on the third day of "what if my cover is better than me at my job", would you?

Oh... hang on, did you say Robbie is thinking of moving to Australia, Gordon? Doesn't that require some lazy cliche?
In fairness to him, it's a wise move.

The chances of throwing another shrimp on the barbie in the sleepy Wiltshire village he now calls home are slim now autumn is here.

The inability to grill seafood outdoors after the trees start to turn is absolutely the best reason to move thousands and thousands of miles.

But this isn't really about Australia, or even barbecues, is it, Gordon?
nd he told Dannii that a track on his new album, Reality Killed The Video Star, which is out on November 9, is about his stunning missus.

Ah, that's the money shot. One last piece of Australian cliche for luck?
Fair dinkum, mate.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last FM takes a little downtime

Last FM radio and user profiles are going to be offline for a few hours this coming weekend. It's back-end maintenance stuff, and strengthening of bridges between the glam rock and poodle metal areas.

Coldplay settle

The lawsuit which saw Joe Satriani claim to have written one of Coldplay's songs has ended. It looks like a deal has been done which leaves Coldplay admitting doing nothing wrong, but Satriani satisfied with the outcome. It's all a secret, though. So say nothing, right?

Punkobit: Jim Carroll

The death has been announced of Jim Carroll. Although best known as the author of hip-book turned DiCaprio vehicle The Basketball Diaries, Carroll's life took him from private school, through Warhol's Factory and Mapplethorpe's studio onto the New York punk scene.

Already known as a poet, Carroll stumbled sideways into music at the side of Patti Smith. She lent her band to him for a poetry performance. He pulled together a group of his own - the Jim Carroll Band - and, with Keith Richards rooting for him, he wound up with a three-album deal from Atlantic. From there, it wasn't the most obvious next step for one of his songs to be part of the soundtrack for ET.

Besides continuing with his poetry and spoken-word releases, Carroll would also write lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult, Rancid and Boz Scaggs. He would return to music for a 1998 album, Pools Of Mercury.

Carroll died Thursday, apparently from a heart attack. He was 60.

[Thanks to Jon for the tip]

Allen rails at the filesharers

Lily Allen doesn't have any time for filesharers:

Referring to FAC and its comments, Allen said: "These guys from huge bands said file-sharing music is fine. It probably is fine for them - they do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file-sharing is a disaster.

"The more difficult it is for new artists to make it, the less new artists you'll see and the more British music will be nothing but puppets paid for by Simon Cowell."

The idea that record labels reliance for twenty years on the CD back catalogue bonanza, demands for quick returns leading to bands being dropped after one album and collusion with the likes of Cowell and Fuller might have wrecked chart music all without the help of filesharing doesn't seem to have occurred.

The possibility that new acts are finding different ways to find audiences, and measuring success in other ways than the singles chart, doesn't seem to have occurred.

Lily explains that this isn't like home taping killing music:
"The Featured Artists Coalition say that file sharing's 'like a sampler, like taping your mate's music', but mix tapes and recording from the radio are actually very different to the file sharing that happens today.

"Mix tapes were rubbish quality - you bought the real music, because you liked the track and wanted to hear it without the DJ cutting off the end of each song. In digital land pirated tracks are as good quality as bought tracks, so there's not a need to buy for better quality."

It might be better if Lily had decided to deal either with the taping off the radio analogy, or the mix tape analogy, or the borrowing music to tape off your mates analogy, rather than stirring all three together in a 'that's totally different'.

Peter D - to whom, thanks for the link - pointed out that Lily shouldn't worry too much. After all, there's one artist who made a name for themselves by releasing digital mixtapes through their MySpace page - using the ability to make unlicensed copies of other artist's work as a way of attracting attention to their own music. And they did alright for themselves - didn't you, Lily Allen?

Entering a Gray area

Look out, people. Take to the hills. David Gray is back, and he's angry:

There was this waning of whatever vital energy had inspired me to be creative.

So mentally I was stepping into the void and getting rid of the comfort of what I knew. The previous couple of records have been much more inward and introspective - they were interior scenes of my emotional world.

With this one, I've kicked the front door down and started roaming the streets like a Magnum photographer taking a snapshot of anything I can find.

If I can't be loving every second of this, then someone please shoot me. It's got life flooding through his veins. There's grit, there's gristle. I don't think this is a record of the sensitive singer-songwriter, I think this record comes out and grabs you and looks you squarely in the eye.

I know, I know: I've got legal running through if the offer to be shot constitutes a living will or not.

The thought of Gray roaming the streets like a Magnum photographer - rather than smugly prancing like a siamese kitten that's just had some salmon - is eye-popping, certainly.
There's a spiritual force running through me, the force of being alive and unafraid and loving it, and not caring about the past or fame or success or the pigeonhole they stick you in.

He's been writing songs while talking like this. That's the worrying thing.

Gray is guilty about the modern world:
We all feel guilty - we're brought up that way. Think about all the suffering people! Think about them for once, you fool, luxuriating with your M&S meals for one! Think about the starving! You can always feel guilty at any moment of any day.

To be fair, some of those Marks and Spencers portions are a bit mean, but I don't think you'd actually be starving after eating one.
People can create a false impression. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not trying to destroy an image that the media's created of me as some boring dull person who's constantly moaning and writing these sensitive withering songs in the corner.

No. You're clearly not, David.

Gordon in the morning: Whitney forgets herself

Pete Samson has been busy getting a scoop by watching Whitney Houston on Oprah Winfrey:

DIVA WHITNEY HOUSTON "totally forgot" she was a singing star in the depths of her drug addiction, she said last night.

Well, she was doing a lot of the drucks, but did she really totally forget that she was the woman who made My Love Is Your Love? You can see why that would be attractive, but is it really what she meant?
She said: "I didn't think about the singing part anymore. I'd totally forgotten about that life. I had so much money by that time."

So she didn't actually "forget" she was a pop star, she seems to mean that she no longer thought about the job.

While Pete Samson was sat watching Oprah, Gordon was watching the MTV awards (Any luck, James and Rupert, on plans to make sure that people don't take your content and use it elsewhere? I'm sure you wouldn't want your paywall breached by bloggers and other news sites writing about what your writers wrote about when they were watching television.)
KUGELSACKGATE meant May's MTV Movie Awards were talked about for days afterwards.

When SACHA BARON COHEN's bare behind greeted EMINEM's stony face, headlines were made around the world.

Well, people like you wrote about it. What was it you said, Gordon?
The “kugelsack” incident at the MTV Movie Awards last weekend was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

It’s up there with Del Boy falling through the bar in Only Fools And Horses.

Watching EMINEM recoil in horror as Bruno’s g-string clad backside slapped his face will go down in comedy legend.

Hee hee hee. I loved the bit where he said that thing about garlic bread and did the robot dance.

But there was darkness at the heart of that oh-so-humourous moment, wasn't there, Gordon?
But that turned out to be an elaborate stunt.

It turned out that you can't just drop a guy from highwires and have the camera team and producers catch it without it all being set-up first. (I think Gordon means 'set-up' rather than 'stunt' - even if Eminem had been unaware that MTV feel he needs a comedy sidekick, it would still have been a stunt, wouldn't it?)

So, having fooled Gordon once, he's not going to be fooled again:
I wonder if the same will turn out to be true of the unsavoury events at Sunday 's MTV Video Music Awards?

Do you wonder that, Gordon?

The odd thing is, he then writes his piece as if he wasn't wondering that at all, but just taking the event at face value, ending on:
Not surprisingly, Kanye won nothing.

But if he'd been taking part in an elaborate stunt set up with the producers, that everyone was in on, why would that have made it unlikely he'd win an award? And if it was spontaneous, how would that have changed the names already sealed in envelopes? Or if you just mean that Kanye and his increasingly dull activities make it unsurprising that he didn't win? But if he's such poison, why did MTV invite him in the first place?

Clinic in the clinic

Some bad news for Clinic fans:

Due to continuing illness the Clinic gig at The Hoxton Bar and Kitchen has been cancelled and is due to be rescheduled for next year. The promoter has started refund procedures with wegottickets and musicglue so all people who bought tickets will be contacted by the ticketing agent and refunded. Sorry to everybody who bought tickets, we were really looking forward to this.

This was supposed to be taking place on Thursday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fielding a captain

To be fair to Gordon Smart, you'd have to admit you did read it in Bizarre first that Noel Fielding was to be a team captain on Buzzcocks.

And it turns out to be happening.

Gordon could bask in the glory. If only, erm, he'd not announced that Noel had been axed as a team captain before the announcement was made.

Morrissey denies giving Rouke his cards by card

Morrissey is not happy.

He's never happy. But this time he's not happy with Andy Rourke again:

I am forced to defend myself - again - from a comment made by Andy Rourke last week on the eyeweekly website. It is a recurring comment whereby Andy confirms that his dismissal from the Smiths was made via a handwritten postcard from me telling Andy "you have left the Smiths."

I would like to state to anyone interested in the truth of this matter that no such postcard was ever written by me, and no dismissal postcard was ever placed on Andy's car with my knowledge or consent, and I am naturally irked that such an alleged deed has gone down in the fairy tale footnotes of Smiths lore. If such a postcard ever existed, it is likely that an unfunny stunt was played on Andy by someone attempting Morrissey-scrawl - easily done. Secondly, Andy's "dismissal" from the Smiths would not be a decision solely made by me, and would not be announced by me on a note bearing only my name, and it would also not be executed by a handwritten note carelessly thrown onto the hood of a car (or window-wipers, as has often been reported.)
Doesn't anyone have the wit to work this one out ?

I love the idea that there was someone going round forging grumpy Morrissey postcards. I once saw my flatmate being told that "everyone in Liverpool" had a signed copy of Meat Is Murder - this at a second-hand record shop, obviously - so perhaps he's on to something.

It does seem a little much that Mozzer feels the need to defend himself against the claim - given that the courts decided he diddled Rourke and Joyce out of funds, that a judge described him as "untrustworthy" and that Morrissey is on record as having said he regarded Rourke as like a part in a lawnmower, there's not a great deal ofglory to be wrung from being right on this one.

Kanye not just leave it?

I think the NME is fair in its call on the already-chewed-to-death and uber-memed Kanye West moment at the VMAs: lacking any spontaneity at all.

Sadly, it also lacked any wit and was totally devoid of point - it might just have worked if there'd been a punchline, but instead Kanye effectively premeditated turning himself into that little bloke who'd shout "Yer wastin yer time" at Vic and Bob in the early years.

And suggesting that the Beyonce video was not only robbed, but had made one of the greatest videos of all time? Not only did West make himself look stupid, but also lacking pretty much all basic knowledge of music history.

Perhaps it was funnier in rehearsal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Perhaps the most interesting paragraph in all The Beatles coverage

In yesterday's Guardian, John Harris wrote a piece saying 'I love The Beatles but even I think this a bit out of hand'.

In it, he says this:

It may not be [all about marketing], but The Beatles' machine has its uses. The NME's 13-cover extravaganza was partly paid for by Apple and EMI, and when I speak to Hamish McBain, the NME staffer who put together their coverage, he sounds delighted with the outcome. "There was certainly some dissent from some of the younger, more angry faces at the magazine," he says, "a bit of 'What the fuck are we doing the fucking Beatles for?' But there isn't another band we'd do like this. The Beatles are part of the atmosphere of British pop music."

The 13 cover extravanganza - or, the point where the NME finally gave up three decades of rubbing-up against the mainstream and started to trail behind it - was partly paid for by Apple and EMI. Obviously, there's always been connections between record label marketing departments and what appears on the cover of the magazine - a New York trip here, some exclusive access there. But a big, thirteen-variant special effectively having been underwritten as part of a marketing campaign seems to cross the line towards product placement. And when that placement seems so at odds with what you'd have hoped the NME response would be - something a little more questioning, something a little more focused on what The Beatles mean now, something a little more like Little Boots dressed up as John Lennon - you have to ask where the soul of the magazine has gone.

An event with lots of covers because the NME feels its an event - well, at least we know where we are. An event with lots of covers because it's partly underwritten by the company which is flogging the records it's celebrating - well, we still know where we are.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Making more excuses for The Beatles

So, after all that effort, all that promotion, The Beatles trot in a fifth place, far behind Vera Lynn.

Vera Lynn. The kings of the 60s beaten to a sales pulp by someone from two decades before. I've heard the streets of Ditchling are ringing with the observation about revenge being a dish best served cold.

Meanwhile, with the sudden revelation that people couldn't really care that much about The Beatles, we're now in scrabbling-around-for-an-explanation phase. Gennaro Castaldo has been working on this already, of course:

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said the fact the Beatles albums went on sale late in the week damaged their chances of a number one.

He said: "We've seen huge demand for the remastered Beatles albums since Wednesday, but sales have been spread across all the releases, especially the box sets.

"The fact they were only out for four days also seems to have counted against their prospects of a number one."

Oh, yes. The Beatles have a massive fan base who will only buy records on Mondays and who would not go near a record shop on any other day and, naturally, that means that wouldn't buy any of the records. Apart from all the box sets. They still went out to buy the box sets, apparently. Although the box sets didn't sell that many, either, so it doesn't look like even if they had been swapped for individual sales the records would have gone any higher. And there were some dudes in Peterborough who said for sure they were going to buy all the albums, but they were waiting for the cheques from this thing they did for a bloke down the pub to come in, and if you count those sales, and treat all the sales as two, because originally they were two-sided records, they win, right?

Between 10th & 11th Weekend: Weirdo

This grew from a line in Tim's notebooks: "Today I am happy, you are a weirdo". And grew and grew, into one of those tracks that - for a while - turned up everywhere as a music bed for sports programmes and drama trails. It's still a bloody great song:

[Part of Between 10th and 11th Weekend]

This week just gone

Just a quickie this week: these were the recommendations for the week we've just lived through:

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

download Popular Songs

Dawn Landes - Sweetheart Rodeo

download Sweetheart Rodeo

The Pastels / Tenniscoats - Two Sunsets

Marc Almond & Alexei Fedorov - Orpheus In Exile - The Songs Of Vadim Kozin

download Orpehus In Exile

Prefab Sprout - Let's Change The World With Music

download Let's Change The World...

The Cribs - Ignore The Ignorant

download Ignore The Ignorant

Turin Brakes - Bottled At Source

download Bottled At Source

The Orb - Baghdad Batteries

Taken By Trees - East Of Eden

download East Of Eden

And we can't ignore that Liverpool's gift to the world is getting a career retrospective relaunch this week. How hard would we have to be to turn our back on Brian Epstein's genius at this time?

Cilla Black - The Definitive Collection