Saturday, September 26, 2009

Deus Weekend: Sun Ra

Taken from an anti-racism concert in Antwerp in 2006, Deus run through Sun Ra:

[Part of Deus weekend]

Marilyn Manson doesn't even have swine flu

Although Manson claimed on both Twitter and Facebook that he had swine flu, it turns out that even his illness is duller than he'd have us believe:

According to the Canadian Press, Gillett Entertainment Group and Live Nation have denied that Marilyn Manson has contracted the H1N1 virus (commonly known as swine flu), and have confirmed that he is still playing his last remaining Canadian tour date: tonight (Saturday, September 26) in Moncton, New Brunswick. (Manson also played last night in Halifax.)

Blabbermouth reports that he's now removed the claims of swine flu from his Facebook:
He subsequently wrote, "That illness tried and lost. I am fully functioning. Not sick. My mental health is still up for dispute. Don't worry, world. I am not contagious. Just my goddamn music is."

Well, yes, I suppose it is contagious - a bit like swine flu, it's nowhere near the threat it would like to be, nobody really wants it and it does nothing to make you feel good. And it's best washed away as quickly as possible.

Hall Of Fame shortlist announced

Who'll be given the increasingly-watered-down honour of an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? Some of this lot:
LL Cool J
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Darlene Love
Jimmy Cliff
Donna Summer
Laura Nyro
The Chantels
The Stooges
The Hollies

It's hard to believe that Kiss - precisely the sort of dreadful good-idea-turned-into-grim-cash-machine that the Hall Of Fame trades in - aren't already in there.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to look at on the internet - NME

Creative Review has got a piece on the making of the new adverts promoting NME TV.

If you've not seen them, they're based around 'throwing TVs out of windows':

They sum up the problem with the NME brand perfectly - lovingly created, wonderfully done, looks like a lot of time and money has been spent on them. But the idea of basing the campaign on 'throwing TVs out of windows'? It's a well-done cliche.

Deus Weekend: Hotellounge

From - as they requested - the YouTube channel, Deus doing Hotellounge:

[Part of Deus weekend]

Open letter to Lily Allen

Oddly, despite that, um, high-level conference, it turns out that Lily Allen still isn't speaking for all musicians:

This is Dan Bull's riposte.

Beachdown drags promoter down

The collapse of the Beachdown Festival at the end of summer is now wrecking the lives of the promoters - Joe Pidgeon is struggling to cope with the debts generated by the flop and has put his house on the market, reports The Argus:

He said that although plans were falling into place to repay all ticket holders, some of whom paid hundreds of pounds for luxury tents, he was still “working tirelessly” to rectify the situation.

After almost a month the Beachdown directors say they are making progress on repaying those people who bought tickets from local vendors after admitting it was up to the festival to reimburse the customers.

Not, of course, the best time to be selling your house. It's a long, unhappy ending for everyone.

Deus Weekend: The Architect

Here's an interesting video artifact - Deus doing The Architect with a ghettoblaster (their description - doesn't look much like it could blast all that much of a ghetto from here) in Rotterdam:

[Part of the Deus weekend]

Beatles sales: Good, but not great

EMI - desperate for good news - have issued a press release trumpeting the Beatles back catalogue sales:

More than 2.25m albums sold in first five days in North America, UK, Japan

That sounds great, right? Two and a quarter million albums? And, yes, it's pretty good.

But that is over fourteen albums and two box sets, which makes for an average of 142,000 per title, in three territories. Which doesn't sound quite so great for such a heavily-pushed campaign. You wonder if EMI might have been better off staggering the releases instead of having one mega-launch.
US: During the first five days of release, consumers purchased more than one million copies of re-mastered Beatles titles, and the individual albums and boxed sets debuted strongly across multiple Billboard charts.

A million copies isn't bad - it's going to help the EMI bottom line no end. But if Jesus had had such a heavily-trailed second coming and could only fill a million seats, you'd be hearing some serious muttering about if the country was really that interested. Even U2 managed to sell half a million or so copies of No Line On The Horizon in the first week in the US.
[UK]: A further 84,000 CDs were sold last week, bringing their total sales of the re-masters to over 354,000 in 11 days and their total UK sales this decade to 6,755,000.

So in the first full week of sales, there was an average of less than one thousand copies per title per day selling. Nice for back catalogue, but - again - disappointing for something that had special displays built in Tesco stores away from the music department.

And if you do the maths - (354,000/6,755,000) * 100 - it works out that the re-releases have only accounted for about five per cent of this decade's Beatles sales. Again, five per cent in a couple of weeks isn't rotten, but it's not especially starting - the implication is that whole marketing blitz hasn't really driven sales much higher than the band have managed in the last nine and a half years without all that effort.

And there was an interesting statistic in yesterday's Guardian which throws a bit of a shadow over these numbers. Talking about Friends, the paper reported:
Last year, 256,000 copies of the complete 10-season boxset were sold in the UK

It's not quite a straight comparison, but without massive promotion, a single box set of a programme that went off the air years ago managed a roughly similar sale in a year to The Beatles' heavily-trailed entire catalogue managed in its first week. Both good business, but it suggests that episode where Chandler goes "oh my god" is a more efficient back catalogue performer than Helter Skelter.

Nobody would argue that the Beatles week resulted in a damp squib - there's enough eye-catching headlines to pepper a press release, and it's generated tonnes of coverage for the band which will help drive sales and keep the mythos churning. But looked at hard, the numbers support the impression that Beatles week didn't quite end with the orgy of consumption the campaign seemed to be building to.

Embed and breakfast man: Deus

Some Belgian proggy-pop today, as - surprisingly - we've never dipped into the mind of Tom Barman before in the semi-regular padding-out-the-weekend-posts-with-video feature.

Deus are hitting their 20th year this year and, partly by dint of keeping going for so long, they're the most successful Belgian rock act of all time. With about five albums. It's not easy being a Belgian rock act, clearly.

Let's start with Instant Street - which, in itself, is now ten years old.

More Deus
Official site
Deus MySpace
Last FM
Deus on Spotify
Deus Wikipedia

Possess Deus
Vantage Point: CD | Vantage Point: mp3
Ideal Crash: CD | Ideal Crash: mp3
My Sister Is My Clock: CD | My Sister Is My Clock: mp3
Any Way The Wind Blows - 2003 film directed by Tom Barman

More Deus over the next few hours, god willing
The Architect - ghettoblaster version
Sun Ra live
Sister Dew
Slow live

Gordon in the morning: Gordon loves the kids

There doesn't seem to be any explanation as to why Smart is running a photo of Victoria Beckham's kid that doesn't contravene Press Complaints Commission rules on publishing photos of children.

Still, that's not the big news this morning: Oh, no: Gordon's very limited range of references has tightened to an incredible degree:

YOU might not expect KASABIAN to be ROBBIE WILLIAMS fans, but the lads have been raving about his new track Bodies, out next month.

Frontman TOM MEIGHAN, pictured with his name on an Eire footie shirt at the Guinness 250th birthday bash in Dublin, said: "Rob's come back with a monster of a record. He'll definitely get to No1."

Good lord - getting a grating reference to Kasabian, and the day's Robbie Williams story in in two paragraphs. Early to the pub Friday, clearly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kats Karavan being readied

The nature of John Peel's programmes makes any attempt to recreate a Peel show on record likely to wind up with a strange and beautiful compilation album; it's hard to picture any other concept for a compilation winding up with this sort of collection:

Small Faces, Thin Lizzy, Aswad, The Damned, Medicine Head, The Jam, The Slits, Funboy Five, The Cure, Linton Kwesi Johnson, That Petrol Emotion, Extreme Noise Terror, Ivor Cutler, Mercury Rev, Milo, Bloc Party and many, many more.

This is what is going into a four disc set Kat's Karavan, which also promises:
some clips of John’s own links appear from time to time

Turns out that there's not more of this because the BBC hasn't got any of Peel's stuff in the archive. (None at all? Presumably they must have saved the last programmes for the World Service at the very least?)

Comes With Music comes with longer contracts

The slowly sinking Comes With Music Service has waved a distress flag in the UK, offering its few customers a free contract extension as it suddenly realises it has no idea how to handle renewals. Reuters explains:

Nokia had said previously that consumers could extend their 12 month music packages on a monthly-basis through mobile operators. But the first subscribers in Britain were prepaid clients to the 12 month music package, and were not linked to particular operators.

Analysts said Nokia's latest move also reflects the company's uncertainty about how to renew subscriptions for customers who do not have an operator package and who do not want to buy a new phone with the service.

There's added uncertainty, as it's not clear where the money for the tracks downloaded by subscribers will come from. Clearly, Nokia isn't afraid of losing its shirt on this deal - so there can't be much expectation of anyone actually using CWM that much. And now they've got three months to try and work out how to make the system work.

Endangered Rhino?

Rhino Records - the catalogue arm of Warners - is having one of those restructuring that sounds like it'll wind up without much structure left. Variety is reporting up to 40 redundancies:

A statement from Rhino cited a "fundamental transformation of the physical new release and catalog business" as a reason for the cuts.

Company said Rhino will evolve into an entity that "handles WMG's global digital catalog initiatives, film, TV, vidgame and commercial licensing, and name and likeness representation for legendary artists."

Ah, yes. Which of us didn't dream of working in the likeness representation industry when we were kids, eh?

Something The Sun forgot to mention

Oddly, when The Sun was apologising to Lily Allen this morning, they forgot to mention that they were sending a more tangible form of apology in the shape of £10,000.

Eminem's publishers turn up in court

It's been a while since we've heard from the publishers of Eminem's music, who seem to be objecting to the presence of Eminem's tracks on legal download services. After a long period of bubbling discontent, they've finally got Apple and Eminem's label into court in what seems to be an attempt to legally enforce the ability of the tail to wag the dog:

Publishers Eight Mile Style, along with an affiliated company, Martin Affiliated LLC, allege that Apple had no right to sell the songs on iTunes. The company also says that Eminem's contract with Aftermath Records did not give Apple any rights to market his songs online.

The idea that a label can't market a track digitally seems to be an odd one, and while it's clearly a nonsense, it's nice to see a record label having to defend itself in the face of an irritating, grasping sort of legal action.

And, clearly, Eight Mile Style have some explaining to do as well:
Speaking in court in Detroit, Apple lawyer Glenn Pomerantz told US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor that Aftermath Records have the rights to use Eminem's recordings as they wish, and added that despite taking Apple to court, Eight Mile Style had still cashed royalty cheques and hadn't asked Apple to stop selling Eminem's music, reports Associated Press.

Eminem, notes NME, was not in court for the business. The case is expected to last a week. Or possibly forever.

Daily Telegraph finally beats the 1960s

Ha! The Daily Telegraph never liked the 1960s, coming in all flash with expensive haircuts and electric guitars, pushing away the glorious austerity of the 1950s. And now the paper has been proved right:

The Mamas and Papas incest case shows that it's time to stop celebrating the Sixties, says Gill Hornby.

Yes, of course. One bloke had an incestuous relationship with his daughter, which completely negates the putting of a man on the moon, the invention of the laser, Twister, KerPlunk, the Beatles (when they were fresh) and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and the World Cup and the Mini.

Of course, Gill doesn't just rely on a spot of incest to stack up his case:
The Beatles might crop up, perhaps The Rolling Stones. Yes. And who had the Christmas number one in 1969? Rolf Harris, with his groundbreaking, radical Two Little Boys.

That was, younger readers, the last time anything even approaching a novelty record reached number one.

Now, you or I might wonder if picking the Christmas number one, one week before the end of the decade, is perhaps going to say anything much about the music of the previous ten years. But not Gill. The existence of Rolf's single somehow means that Giant Steps, Easter Everywhere and Carryin' On are wiped out.

It's a silly, spurious article, and to try and hold a decade responsible for an act of incest is as unfair as blaming Gill Hornby for Conrad Black's crimes simply because Hornby writes for the Telegraph.

Downloadable: El Perro Del Mar

As a taster for the due-next-month new album from El Perro Del Mar, download and enjoy Change Of Heart, which is a free sample thereof. The new album is called Love Is Not Pop, even although the reverse is often true.

Self-selecting subset of musicians propose pointless fudge, congratulate selves

It's important to remember that - even although members of the FAC, Lily Allen and Sandie Shaw turned up and had a lovely vote last night, to talk of this as somehow representing the views of musicians is confusing "a few acts on major labels" with "musicians", and so should be read as another subset of interested parties rather than a representative approach.

But what did they decide last night?

After a three-hour meeting in London, the Featured Artists Coalition, which emerged as a breakaway lobby group in the summer, backed the government's proposed introduction of "technical measures" to combat the rising tide of copyright theft. If they ignore two warning letters, persistent illegal filesharers should have their broadband connections throttled "to a level which would render filesharing of media files impractical while leaving basic email and web access", according to a statement after the meeting.

Well, that's just a pointless, meaningless fudge, isn't it? Either you throttle the connection to the point where it has an effect - which will mean it'll stop anything worthwhile happening online, which is the same as removing web connection altogether - or you'll just leave those accused by the music industry able to use the web in a meaningful way, which makes it an empty threat.

There doesn't seem to be any point in this suggestion. Either you believe that the right to participate in society and access to communications is a basic human right, or you don't. It's like proposing a punishment for drunk-drivers which would see them still able to drive, but with a speed limiter that stops them going above ten miles an hour.

Meanwhile, UK Music have sent a letter to Lord Mandelson which, once again, proves they don't actually understand the technology in which they profess to be expert:
"We support government proposals which would see internet service providers (ISPs) send notifications and apply technical measures to impede and discourage the use of unlicensed peer-to-peer networks and to encourage the use of legitimate services.

"We agree that a clear distinction should be made between how technical measures are applied to the casual infringer, compared to how they are applied to the persistent infringer, with temporary suspension of broadband accounts being applicable only as a last resort."

"The use of unlicensed peer-to-peer networks"? Do UK Music not really understand the difference between the peer-to-peer network (which may or may not be licensed) and the sharing of files without copyright owner's permission? Do they really not understand the problem they're trying to "solve"? Are they suggesting that the networks themselves need to be licensed, rather than the files?

It's insulting to call Sharkey and his chums Luddites. At least Ned Ludd understood the technology he was attacking.

Spandau Ballet decide we need new material

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, Spandau Ballet are going to record some new songs:

Guitarist and songwriter Gary Kemp said: "The band gelled immediately and we immediately played better than we did even back in the day.

"The new song was a way for us to show that Spandau Ballet are back, not just to play the hits on tour but also to take on our contemporaries in the pop charts."

Right. When you say your "contemporaries", you do know that you're talking about Men At Work and the late Renne And Renato, don't you?

Gordon in the morning: Robbie Williams is talking about Robbie Williams

I think Gordon and I agree on this one, up to a point, as Robbie Williams talks about going into rehab:

He said: "Robbie Williams does not go into rehab just if his life gets a bit out of control. It was damn serious. Death had to knock on my door to help me with my decision."

Yes, Robbie has gone all "George is getting upset".
Serious stuff. So serious, I'm prepared to ignore the fact he's speaking in the third person.

That's where we differ, though - Gordon's prepared to ignore it (after all, if he doesn't, he's stuck without a story about Williams today, and that would never do) but, to be honest, I can't help thinking that at least it directs attention away from what a pompous twit the rest of the quote makes him look like. Perhaps if Robbie Williams did sort his life out before waiting for death to come knocking, Robbie Williams wouldn't have been in the mess Robbie Williams was in in the first place.

In related news, Death has also issued a statement, denying that he ever went to Williams' house: "I sometimes drive past Jason Orange's house waving my scythe, but that's just for shits and grins. Let me tell you, the Underworld is no rush at all to bring Robbie Williams in. No rush at all."

Elsewhere, Gordon is apologising to Lily Allen:
IN May we reported in Bizarre that Lily Allen had made various offensive remarks about David and Victoria Beckham and Ashley and Cheryl Cole in an interview with a magazine.

We now accept that Lily didn't say these things to the magazine and we apologise to Lily for the upset and embarrassment caused by repeating them.

God, this 'copying things from other people' is fraught with danger, isn't it? Although I suspect after her week cutting and pasting and scanning and posting, Lily might be a bit more sympathetic.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beta Band boys back as Aliens

Gordon Anderson seems to be well again, and has hooked up again with his former Beta Band bandmates. They're now going to be working as a trio under the name The Aliens. It's a lousy name for the Google era.

There's an album, Luna, due out towards the darker end of October.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Rorschach

Brooklyn Vegan catches up with Charles Maggio of Rorschach, in the middle of their comeback tour:

Are these one off dates or do you have any intentions of
keeping this going? More dates, more material?

We have been offered what would amount to an entire US and partial European tour, but unfortunately our lives are such that touring is not really an option. These 5 days are the only thing on the schedule now, we have no intentions of getting back together, it was always just about having fun. No new material is planned, but a remixed/remastered double lp/cd of both of our records will be for sale at the shows.

Lily Allen quits the battle

"Cry God for England, Harry and... you know what? You lot are here now, I'm going to bugger off back to the tent and watch the football. Good luck."

Yes, almost to the second as we were saying that you had to at least admire Lily Allen for engaging with the process, no matter how wonkily, she was pulling out of the debate:

The singer posted messages on Twitter saying she was not going to attend an emergency meeting of music artists this evening to hammer out a unified position on illegal filesharing.

The star says: "Hello, there is a meeting today in London where artists are meeting to discuss Piracy. My job done.

"I wont be attending the meeting because it's going to be a press frenzy and I don't want to detract from the issues. I'm proud of the fact that I've been involved with this debate but I'm passing the baton on to other artists.

"And I've shut down the blog, the abuse was getting too much."

You've got to love the idea that the press might be able to cope with thedrummerfromBlur and Billy Bragg, but it would the very presence of Lily Allen so dazzling it would be unable to keep its mind on the details. And didn't the whole idea of the "Lily Allen Filesharing Battle Blog" kind of play on Lily Allen attracting interest?

Did Allen really see her "job" as having somebody else arrange a meeting? Because I don't remember there being a strapline on the blog saying "trying to get The Futureheads and Natasha Khan (if she's not on tour) in a pub talking"?

And even if the "abuse" (people disagreeing with her) is too hard to take, why has Allen taken down the site? All those musicians taking time to write down their perspectives on filesharing - only for Allen to put them online for two minutes and then whip them down. How does that help the debate at all?

The sense is that Allen suddenly realised she'd waded well out of her depth and has decided to bail before finding herself having to respond to questions rather than just angrily moaning when caught out.

Perhaps she realised that 'artists who want to get paid should get a fair market rate' is uncontroversial, and that the real question is what that fair market rate is.

Embed and breakfast man: MGMT

The mighty Yo Gabba Gabba invite MGMT to be some sort of drug-addled Viking with the following results:

[via You Aint No Picasso]

Mandelson enjoys record industry day out; sings record industry song

How lovely for Lord Mandelson to have a day trip out to the music industry PR establishment, The Brits School. Once again, he's taken the opportunity to try and normalise the idea that private companies should have the power to demand people are thrown off the internet:

“Downloading somebody’s work without paying for it – whether it be music, film or computer games – is not a victimless act. It poses a genuine threat to our creative industries and to the livelihoods of talented, hard-working people striving to get a foothold in them. It’s essential that the voice of young artists is also heard,” he said.

“In the end this problem will be solved not simply by new laws but by new approaches to doing business. We believe that temporary account suspension as a last resort, in the most serious cases, is worth considering to allow these new business models to develop.”

The mention of new approaches to doing business is welcome - because, when your business has changed beyond recognition and the market price of your basic product has fallen to almost zero, that's what you have to do. The banging the drum of the "temporary" suspension - and will we ever get to see a suggestion of what 'temporary' might mean? - suggests that the message hasn't really got through.

Do I need to run through again the arguments why downloading a file might actually be victimless act? (Mainly, because there's no direct correlation between an unpaid download and a lost sale.) Do I need to run through again why it's just possible that upholding a four-company cartel throttling the access to the marketplace might not be the best way to give artists a chance to be heard? Why filesharing can offset some of the skewing of the market in favour of the Big Four?

It's forgiveable that Lily Allen waffles and pops when talking about filesharing - as I've said before, however wrong she might be, she's at least engaged with the process. But Mandelson is supposed to understand this sort of thing, and he's making the policy - and yet he gives no indication he's thought about this any further than reading through a discussion paper, funded by the intellectual property industry, over a good lunch, also funded by the intellectual property industry.

It's not there

Lily Allen's 'we'll only throw them off the internet a bit' blog has currently lost all its content. Hope it's not a DCMA takedown notice...

Lily Allen says goodbye

One of the few things that Lily Allen got right about her Not Alright campaign against fielsharing is that she was talking about something in which she had a direct interest.

So it was surprising that she went out of her way to deny having a financial interest in the issue:

“Just so you know, I have not renegotiated my record contract and have no plans to make another record (applause).”

It's alright that you have a financial interest in it, Lily - that's not a problem. And if it was, not making another record wouldn't absolve you from the perceived conflict of interests, as you've still got tracks which will be selling for a couple of years yet.

Interestingly, her "spokesperson" has rushed forward to try and explain to Popjustice that "no plans to make another record" doesn't actually mean she doesn't plan to make another record:
Anyway, deeply unfashionable as it is in an era of just copying, pasting, publishing, retweeting and waiting for the comments to roll in, we took the 7.8 seconds' worth of effort required to send a querying email to Lily's spokesman, who sent this back:

"She is not quitting pop music and is still promoting her current album, which is why she said she is not thinking ahead to another record."

I guess, like Allen's copying of an article without link or attribution, it should have somehow been perfectly obvious that what she said didn't actually mean what she meant to say.

Let's take Lily's 'questions answered' post at face value, though:
I think there is discussion going on, on this blog and wider. One of the things i'm trying to do is to get out what file-sharing does to new artists ,not answer every question about what might become law.

But isn't the blog calling for something to be done? It certainly looks like it. Surprising that it's turned out to be purely informational. Can't seem to find any figures to do all this explaining, though.
Loads of comments are angry about cutting people’s internet off permanently, but from what I’ve seen, no-one’s saying that. The governments proposal is for warning letters, then if they’re ignored, for “temporary account suspension”.

Oh, so you only lose access to communications, news, job applications, your business (if you have one), your bank account and online shopping for a "temporary" period. On the say-so of a private company, without any due process of law. That's alright then.
And newsflash people, the ISPs do this all the time already if they fail to pay their bills or break their licenses.

That's not the same thing, though, is it, Lily?
Also the government legislation is targeting uploaders – people that make music available illegally – not downloaders.

No, I don't think it is - I don't think there's any such distinction in the legislation. And do you know how filesharing even works? That the default is a two-way service? That many of the people who have been dragged to the courts didn't see themselves as uploaders but as downloaders? And if Mr Smith is unable to log-in to his business email because his son has been accused of file-sharing, does it really matter if the son was uploading or downloading?
Loads of comments are from people that are convinced music should be free. It’s not free to make, so it can’t be free, can it?

There's not actually any logic to that - there are lots of things that cost money to create which don't cost money at point of delivery. They just use different business models - libraries, the motorways, NHS, ITV programmes, Capital Radio.
If you’re downloading all your music for free, some real music fan somewhere is paying for your music.

Does anyone really download all their music for free? And does this follow? And does it matter? If I listen to all my music on Capital Radio, some "real" music fan is paying for the music - does that make me some sort of thief? Should I have my radio taken away?
Unfortunately there aren’t enough people paying, which is threatening new music.

Really? Earlier this week, Universal Music still made a USD186million profit in the last six months, so there's not exactly a shortage of cash in the labels.
You don’t even need to be good at maths to figure that one.

You don't have to be good at maths because you're just making statements rather than offering figures to support your argument, Lily.
The music industry’s not divided ,look at the letter from The Futureheads – members of the FAC , on here.

Different people are saying different things, and the FAC - unlike UK Music - doesn't claim to be speaking with a single voice for all the music industry.
We don’t agree on everything – SO! – we’re all creative people and are never going to agree on everything. We do all agree file-sharing’s not alright though.

Really? All of the music industry? Still, it's nice to see that Lily has abandoned her previous claim that the FAC did support filesharing.

Gordon in the morning: Stale Spice at the back of the cupboard

Even while giving the idea space, not even Gordon can pretend to be excited as Mel B tries to get another Spice Girls reunion:

THEY promised us there would be no more SPICE GIRLS after the reunion tour ended.

But MEL B just can't resist an opportunity to get up on stage clad in leopard print, brandishing her whip.

Scary Spice and husband STEPHEN BELAFONTE have put together a deal for the girls to reform one last time - at the World Cup in South Africa.

Bloody hell, B, have you already burned through the cash you were given for the last ill-advised reunion?

Smart comes up with a plausible reason for the plan:
I'd imagine the girls' husbands and boyfriends will be backing the World Cup plan - so they can blag a free trip to the tournament.

(Women, of course, wouldn't be interested in free tickets for the football - it's not like Mel C was known as sporty, and played football at a competitive level, is it?)

Elsewhere, young woman fails to recognise 44 year-old record shocker:
EMMA WATSON needs to gen up on her music.

The Harry Potter star was dancing to THE BEATLES' Day Tripper at the afterparty for London Fashion Week's closing Burberry show when she asked banker boyfriend Jay Barrymore . . . what the song was.

He told her - and she went bright red in front of guests at Burberry's Westminster HQ.

Really? Why would you expect a 19 year-old to know a song from her grandparent's youth? If anyone has anything to worry about this, I'd say it'd be the Beatles industry rather than Emma.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Lily Allen

Gary Marshall has done a lovely piece for TechRader responding the Lily Allen's use of a copied article1 and a scanned letter to fight copyright infringement:

It's clear that Allen doesn't see that she's done anything wrong - her apology isn't exactly graceful or particularly apologetic - and that's the point.

Many, many illegal downloaders don't see that they've done anything wrong, either - and by doing the very thing she's campaigning against, anything Allen has to say on the subject of respecting copyright is going to be ignored.

That's a shame, because there's a debate to be had on the issue of copyright and fair use. But there's another debate to be had, too, which is whether the existing system is even worth protecting in the first place.

1 - Oh, yes - she pinched a piece from TechDirt and passed it off as her own. And when caught, she says it was obvious she wasn't trying to pass it off as her own work, despite not having mentioned it wasn't. It's quite fun to read the comments, where Allen's supporters try to explain that THIS ISN'T THE SAME THING AT ALL.

Downloadable: Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin are a generous lot - they've just chucked out a couple of free recordings in a zip file called Smarts.

Oh, and there's a bunch of tour dates coming up which you can go and offer them sexual favours in return for the free tracks. Full details at the end of that link.

We are the pigs: Manson has swine flu

Marilyn Manson has got the swine flus:

So I have officially been diagnosed, by a real doctor, with THE SWINE FLU. I know everyone will suggest that fucking a pig is how this disease was obtained. However, the doctor said, my past choices in women have in no way contributed to me acquiring this mysterious sickness. Unfortunately, I am going to survive.

The caps are Manson's own. Given that he's meant to be in touch with the darkest sides of the human psyche, isn't getting a little over-excited at having something that's a bit like a bad cold a little odd? I bet Aleister Crowley didn't start sending notes around when he got the snuffles.

Still, it's good to see his sense of humour hasn't deserted him, even if it's a snide, misogynistic sense of humour.

Rare Sinatra

There's something charming that a star with the heft of Nancy Sinatra has a website that looks like it was knocked together as a school project in the early years of the decade; even more charming is the news of Cherry Smiles.

It's a self-released collection of stuff that previously had only come out on dusty 45 RPM singles (they were dusty when they were delivered to the shops; it was in the contract). Obviously, Lee Hazlewood pops up, but so too does Ry Cooder and Duane Eddy. Digital-only, you can buy it at Amazon.

Downloadable: Roddy Hart

So this, then, is a free download to sample Roddy Hart. He's being described here as satisfying to fans of Bruce Springsteen and Teenage Fanclub, which is quite a stretch. You can see the thinking, though, as it's kind of a muscular jangle. You can listen to Dead Of Night and make your own mind up.

Or you could go and see him doing tour dates next month:
1 Oct Academy 2, Oxford w/Ben Taylor
2 Oct Chapel Arts, Bath w/Ben Taylor
4 Oct Phoenix, Exeter w/Ben Taylor
5 Oct Pavillions, Falmouth w/Ben Taylor
6 Oct Globe, Cardiff w/Ben Taylor
7 Oct Assembly, Leamington w/Ben Taylor
8 Oct Academy 2, Bristol w/Tommy Reilly
9 Oct Joiners, Southampton w/Tommy Reilly
10 Oct The Hippo, Plymouth w/Tommy Reilly
12 Oct Sugarmill, Stoke w/Tommy Reilly
13 Oct The Globe, Cardiff w/Tommy Reilly
14 Oct The Garage, London w/Tommy Reilly
16 Oct Academy 3, Manchester w/Tommy Reilly
17 Oct Bodega, Nottingham w/Tommy Reilly
19 Oct Academy 2, Sheffield w/Tommy Reilly
20 Oct The Musician, Leicester w/Tommy Reilly
21 Oct Freebutt, Brighton w/Tommy Reilly
23 Oct Orange Box, Yeovil w/Tommy Reilly
24 Oct Academy 2, Oxford w/Tommy Reilly
25 Oct Academy 3, Birmingham w/Tommy Reilly
6 Nov Guildhall, London (The Whisky Show)
7 Nov Guildhall, London (The Whisky Show)
13 Nov The Borderline, London w/Nell Bryden
17 Nov, Hootananny, Inverness
18 Nov, Red Rooms, Perth
19 Nov, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
20 Nov, Oran Mor, Glasgow
22 Nov, Libertine, Ayr

Microsoft does something with bands and wristbands

The XBox - which young people tell me is a bit like a Binatone TV game, only the gun costs extra - is about to.... um...

Xbox Unites Music Lovers With The Hottest Bands To Create a Nationwide Gig Tour With a Difference

Yes, that's what they're doing. They're bringing together music lovers with hot bands. Although if the band didn't already have fans, they wouldn't be that hot, would they?

Anyway, it's a "nationwide gig tour" - 'gig' is a word used by musicians to mean concert, you know - but it has a difference.
Xbox launches Xbox Reverb - a series of gigs that get the fans and the bands talking

At last! Those two factions have been at war for years. It's about time... oh, hang on: you said 'fans' and 'bands'? I misread that at first as 'Israelis' and 'Palestinians'. You might want to just make it a bit clearer that this is what you're talking about.
Thousands of music lovers around the UK will get the chance to help put on the gig of their dreams, as Xbox unveils a major new music initiative that gets the fans and the bands talking.

That's 'fans' and 'bands', right?

The gig of their dreams, huh? Now, nobody's going to be all silly and say "I'd really like to see The Beatles with John and Ringo bought back to life", are they? It's got to be plausible. I'm dreaming already - Ride, Sonic Youth and the Sugargliders. That'd be a set and a half. How do I make this happen?
Xbox Reverb, officially launched in London tonight with a gig featuring exclusive sets from Calvin Harris and Magistrates, will enable fans to collaborate with a selection of the UK’s hottest live acts to co-curate a series of gigs, tailor made by the Xbox Reverb community and the artists themselves.

Oh. So, it's the gig of my dreams, providing my dream involves Calvin Harris and Magistrates? Or other bands chosen by Microsoft?

Where do my dreams actually come in?
Upon signing up to the Reverb Facebook and Twitter groups, fans will be invited to provide their own personal input and suggestions into how the gigs should look and feel based on criteria set by the bands and by the Xbox Reverb team.

I don't want to sound like I'm Mussolini or someone, but if I'm getting the gig of my dreams, and I can't choose the bands, I'd at least hope that I get to shape things a bit more than merely working within "criteria set by the bands" and the people who bring you Excel Spreadsheets.
This feedback, which could include everything from deciding the set list to designing the flyer of the gig, choosing the support act and much more, will then be thrown open to the bands themselves and the most popular suggestions put forward.

Designing the flier, eh? That's certainly a way to save a few quid on the event by not having to pay a proper designer. How about also suggesting that fans get a unique chance to stand behind the bar decanting drinks and taking money from other fans, putting it in a till and cashing-up at the end of the night as well?

Let's be clear, though: The bands make the final choices. By which they mean the PR company working for Microsoft and the band's management.
The result will see a series of DIY gigs taking place around the UK from the end of September with a number of lucky winners being given the chance to attend the events themselves.

A series of DIY gigs, albeit one put on by one of the largest corporations in the world. And it's nice to see that some "lucky" winners will get the chance to, erm, go to a gig that supposedly has been designed by the community.
The first three gigs have already been announced and will see rockers Danananakroyd taking to the stage in Birmingham on September 29th, before Pulled Apart by Horses pull Leeds apart on October 5th with Esser to play an exclusive gig in December.

On the 29th? So there's less than a week for this crowd-sourcing to take place, is there? That's probably going to rule out too much in the way of surprises.
At the events, Xbox will also be giving out Reverb Passes...

Wow. That sounds nothing at all like the sort of thing you used to cut out from the back of a cereal packet.
...exclusive interactive wristbands to everyone who wants one...

One for everyone who wants one. The sort of exclusivity that money simply can't buy.
giving guests the chance to post live tweets, comments and status updates throughout the night automatically by simply swiping their Reverb Passes on Touchpoints planted around the venues.

God, imagine that. A special, exclusive wristband that everyone has which allows them to do something they couldn't otherwise do. Unless they had a mobile phone made some time in the last ten years on them.
Commenting on the campaign, Alex Weller, Brand Experience Manager, Xbox 360 said...

If ever a job needed the Mitchell And Webb Old Lady's Job Justification Panel running over it, "brand experience manager" would be right up there.
We’re really excited to be able hand over the reigns of these events to communities of music fans, giving them the chance to curate their own gigs with their favourite bands. The response to the Facebook and Twitter groups has been fantastic meaning we’re already seeing a community of people who, just like Xbox, are passionate about great music experiences and enjoying great social experiences together.

XBox - which, you'll recall, is a lump of plastic and some electronics - turns out to "enjoy great social experiences". Who knew? I think I once saw a Sega Saturn at a Glee Club, and my Uncle swears he dated a Atari for a couple of months back in the day, but I never knew that the XBox was so outgoing.

Beatles also not in this chart

Interesting toy developed to help push Vodafone's business: the Real-time UK Top 40. It's simple - you tweet what you're listening to with a #realtimetop40 hashtag, they knock up a chart.

Depressingly, it turns out a lot of people are listening to Patrick Swayze's She's Like The Wind right now. Even if you were still in mourning, you just wouldn't, would you?

We comes to i

New Media Age is reporting that We7 is about to launch an iPhone client:

Before the end of the year, We7 will offer listeners the option to pay a monthly subscription in return for receiving ad-free streams as well as mobile access via an iPhone app, mirroring Spotify’s premium offering.

So, in other words, you'll have to cough up to get the iPhone streaming, but at least you won't have the ads.

Incidentally, how much must O2 be delighted its all-you-can-eat data plans for the iPhone are going to be put to such use?

NMA also says this:
The ad-funded streaming model is thought to be a strong contender for fighting piracy, with 95% of all digital music estimated to have been shared illegally.

What does that actually mean? It would be nice if there was a source for this high-sounding estimate, at least as a start, but since "digital music" includes stuff encoded on CDs, and paid-for, and legitimately streamed and legally shared tracks, and music on digital relays of radio programmes and instances where the music has been licensed in reverse, and people who've recorded their own works and works in progress in the studio, the entire paragraph seems to be an enormous nonsense.

Geri Halliwell brings order to Nepal

As if being a woman in Nepal wasn't bad enough, your best hope of your government taking domestic violence seriously is a visit from Geri Halliwell:

"[Prime Minister Medhav Kumar] was really cool - forward thinking. He wants to educate women and look after their maternal health.

"My presence apparently gave the confidence for that new prime minister to speak out about violence against women because there was a western presence there. Suddenly he thought, 'Okay, this is cool to do it'. It was having that diplomacy and saying 'We can learn from each other', basically."

It wasn't that he thought "Clearly, this is an issue nobody gives a honk about, otherwise the UN might have sent someone with a bit more clout than Halliwell to take us to task. I'll just tell her what she wants to hear, and wait until they send in someone with more gravitas. Like Ellen."

I might be being really unfair, though: perhaps ContactMusic just failed to detail the signed agreement to bring forth legislation changing the status of women in Nepali culture that Halliwell had secured?

Patrick Wolf brings on full supporting cast

Imagine a gig featuring Alec Empire and Marc Almond. What possible force could keep any sane person from such an event?

How about the realisation that they're effectively propping up Patrick Wolf's set? Awfully nice of them to help out, but not sure that even their presence makes it worth dragging through the Emo-Mika's performance.

Vevo: Still moving ahead, apparently

Vevo - somewhere between the RIAA companies attempting to create a Hulu for pop videos and a glorified webpage with YouTube embeds - is still a going concern, it seems. They've appointed someone to sell advertising on the site. This suggests we're still at the exciting 'phrases written on whiteboards' stage of the endeavour. Still no word on why they're building a site, rather than working on monetising a site which has already got the audience, but I'm sure corporate boxes have been ticked and signed.

Karftwerk delayed at Fabrik

Never mind The Beatles box set, the big cardboard-packaged event this year is set to be the Kraftwerk collection. Assuming the make it, as the release has just been pushed back to November. The constituent parts of the set - the individual records - get a re-release, as planned, on October 5th.

Gordon in the morning: Wayne Rooney apologises to the mosh pit

It's amusing watching the little dribble of stories trying to somehow build interest in the new Stereophonics album by suggesting that Wayne Rooney is a big fan. There was one on Newsbeat the other day, and today Gordon has one:

Wayne, 23, is a huge fan of the Welsh rockers, who were playing at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, North London.

But a witness said: "Graham [Rooney's brother] and the friend were bouncing around, knocking into people and spilling their pints.

"At one point a minor scuffle broke out. Wayne was taking people aside to excuse their antics."

Only at a Stereophonics gig would someone dancing look so out of place, you'd not only have to apologise but it would become a news story.

Elsewhere, Gordon has the inside scoop on the Sugababes split. Or something like it:
Mock-roach ... our mock-up of Heidi Range as a cockroach

Yes. There's a photomontage where Heidi's face has been dumped on a picture of a cockroach because... um...
Sugababes - who The Sun yesterday dubbed the Cockroaches Of Pop for surviving three line-up changes - recently signed a multi-million Pound deal with JAY-Z's label Roc Nation.

Oh, yes. Because of that. That would be worth drawing more attention to.

Didn't The Beatles survive three line-up changes?

The Sun apologises, sort of, for Winehouse story

Oddly, despite having admitted its Amy Wnehouse and Alan Sugar hitlist story was a total fabrication as long ago as last Thursday, it's only today that The Sun gets round to apologising to the website who it attacked in the story:

OUR story on January 7 about a 'hit list' of top British Jews on the website was based on claims by Glen Jenvey who last week confessed to duping several newspapers and Tory MP Patrick Mercer by fabricating stories about Islamic fundamentalism.

Following Mr Jenvey's confession, we apologise to for the article which we now accept was inaccurate.

"Inaccurate"? Isn't "inaccurate" a bit better used for, say, a story which suggests a man might be a woman's third husband rather than her fourth? Wasn't this story more completely fabricated rather than inaccurate?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Microsoft come up with idea to make music "better"

Microsoft have lagged behind Apple in the music stakes, but they've come up with a cracking new idea to put themselves at the heart of the modern music world: they're coming up with a way to put DRM in peer-to-peer shared music.

Yes, that's right: you'll not only pay for the infrastructure and the data costs of the music sharing, but thanks to Microsoft, you'll also not actually own the tracks. Who couldn't fail to love that idea?

Information Week is saying this idea could "revive" peer-to-peer networks, as if they'd somehow vanished in the face of RIAA lawsuits. It's unlikely to even revive DRM, to be honest. Users have constantly made it clear they don't like digital locks - it's unlikely that they're going to embrace a system which expects them to distribute the padlocks when somebody else has the keys.

Beatles >= Jesus X

Of course, it's only a bit of fun, but simply because there were more searches for "Beatles" than "Jesus" on Google for a couple of days doesn't mean that "the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.

Mainly because people don't type the things they like into a search box. Otherwise I'd be constantly harrying Google for coffee and kisses.

And because The Beatles had something new-ish out, you'd probably expect that to have happened. If Jesus had just issued a remastered version of The Bible, or a computer game ("feed 5,000 people using your Wii..."), maybe he'd be doing better.

Not to mention that doing a Google search on one term doesn't mean you have to forswear your love of the subject of another possible search term. Searching on "King Kong" doesn't mean you'd have to abandon your love of "Godzilla".

Still, the Telegraph report does have this interesting paragraph:

Though the graph clearly shows that The Beatles caught the imagination of more people during September than Jesus did, video games experts point out that The Beatles Rock Band has not fared as well in the shops as expected with rival music game Guitar Hero 5 outselling the Fab Four's version.

So, the albums sold nowhere near as well as expected - for all the excuses we keep hearing - and the computer game didn't sell well, either. Perhaps all those searches were people trying to work out what all the fuss was about?

Embed and breakfast man: Graham Coxon

This is fairly fresh out of the box, the Chris Hopewell-directed video for Dead Bees by Graham Coxon:

Buy Dead Bees
Buy The Spinning Top

Paris Hilton fights poorly-drawn birthday cards

Yes, she was briefly trying to be a pop star. Remember?

Anyway, while no fan of the poorly-drawn celebrity birthday card sub-genre, some people seem to enjoy them. Paris Hilton, not so much - she tried to stop Hallmark making one with a bad drawing of her on.

The case went her way; but Hallmark aren't taking it lying down. They're insisting that poorly drawn card with bad impressions in are a free speech issue, and asking for the whole case to go back to court.

Never mind the Sugababes...: Chas & Dave split

Some things are just unthinkable on their own. Marks without Spencer. Huntley without Palmer. Keith Harris without his lips moving. Morrissey without the air of wounded persecution.

And Chas without Dave.

But we're going to have to get used to it, as Dave Peacock is retiring from showbiz. He's calling it a day following his wife's death in July, but Chas Hodges is going to carry on to fulfil all the outstanding commitments. He's going to play as 'Chas & His Band', as 'Chas & ' just doesn't have the same ring to it.

It's unlikely we'll see the likes of Chas & Dave again in our lifetimes.

At last, The Stereophonics quality control process is revealed

They don't just hammer some tunes together, have a photo taken and fling the thing out, you know. Oh, no. The Stereophonics test their products:

Stereophonics' Kelly Jones has revealed that he's given Wayne Rooney a copy of the band's forthcoming 7th album.

"I popped by and gave him an album promo and within about 15 minutes of me driving away he was texting me his favourite songs - he was into it," said the lead singer.

A passing vivisectionist writes: I might spend my days squirting shampoo into rabbits eyes - for fun, I should add, as my job involves making Beagles test stairlifts - but even I find the idea of forcing a poor creature like Wayne Rooney to listen to a Stereophonics record turns my stomach. I would do something to campaign against it, but I've got an important dropping a house brick test to do, and the octopuses have just arrived.

Gordon in the morning: Ice cream man

It's hard to imagine anything more horrific than this:

MIKA whipped up chaos yesterday when he turned up in an ice-cream van to hand out tickets to last night's exclusive Bizarre gig.

I'd announced there would be a ticket giveaway just for Sun readers - and hundreds (and thousands) of you flocked there to grab passes.

But no one expected pop star Mika to be manning the van himself.

Isn't it much more likely - on a warm day at the start of autumn - that the people crowding round the ice cream van were flocking there to grab ice creams? Only for Mika to pop out trying to make you go and see his show instead.

At least he did give out some ice cream:
A crowd quickly gathered as word spread that the colourful singer was handing out cornets and free passes. Last night Mika performed a special set for 700 lucky Bizarre readers at the Bloomsbury Ballroom.

I'm not quite sure how a van handing out tickets with much hoopla managed to only target Bizarre readers. Perhaps you had to do some sort of test, like managing to look interested while someone talked about JLS.

Fans of Gordon's inability to cope with the idea of head-to-head challenges will be delighted to hear there's a textbook example today:
TAKE THAT and their former bandmate ROBBIE WILLIAMS have been getting on famously recently. But that could all change this Christmas - when they go head to head in the album charts.

Head-to-head? Really?
Rob drops his collection Reality Killed The Video Star on November 9, then GARY BARLOW's gang issue live CD The Greatest Day just three weeks later.

Only 21 days apart? That's almost the same day, if you look at it on an astronomical time scale.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Downloadable: Hatcham Social Club

Hatcham Social Club are about to support Echo and The Bunnymen off on a US tour - these dates, to be precise:

11/15 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
11/17 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
11/18 - State College, PA - State Theatre
11/20 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre
11/21 - Fairfield, CT - Fairfield Theatre Company's Stage One
11/22 - New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
11/23 - Boston, MA - House Of Blues
11/25 - Chicago, IL - Metro

To give the audience something to sing along with, they're giving away an mp3 of Crocodile.

But they don't like to talk about it....

While it might be better for Coldplay not to have it widely known that they've given a million quid to a children's charity, but the problem with nobody knowing is... well, nobody would know, would they?

I do hope that Chris Martin shuffled into the room and said "I've not been entirely honest with you... I'm actually a successful pop star and... no, really. I am. I am! I've been in the charts. No, look, don't give me your money... I'm going to give you some... tell them, Will..."

Charlotte plan: Pay to play

Hurrah! After having closed earlier in the year, the Charlotte in Leicester is reopening. Excellent news, right?

Um... up to a point. Simon T emails with details of the new regime operating at the venue:

Out of curiosity someone from a local scene forum emailed the new owners about their request for unsigned bands to come forward and got this response:

"Getting a GIG !

The Charlotte is now being run as A Social Enterprise, the local community acting together to provide services needed by local people. The Charlotte will try and generate an income to ensure it covers its running costs and is self sustainable. Also The Charlotte will qualify for grant support. Any additional money that it generates is reinvested back into The Charlotte and no one makes a profit. We are hoping that this will make the venue more accessible to the community enabling us to use it to its full potential.

You will now be required to pay a deposit of £33 to play at the Charlotte or £45 as a headliner.

In return you will receive a minimum of 11 tickets (15 as a headliner) with a £3 entrance fee

Your fans will pay on the door and return your tickets. Every ticket collected up to your deposit amount will be refunded. Every ticket after your deposit amount will earn you 1.50 per ticket.

Example on £33 deposit

11 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your deposit
3 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we only return £9 and retain £24 of your deposit
17 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your deposit and give you £ 9
25 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your £33 and give you an additional £21
0 fans pay you get no deposit back!!!

Please complete the attached form and secure your GIG now.

We now open for hourly rehearsal hire (Main Stage) from 12th October 1030am-430pm 7 days a week

We charge £10 per hour Mon-Fri and £15 per hour Sat and Sunday


Why do I have to pay a deposit?

One of the reasons The Charlotte closed was poor attendance at its unsigned nights, we have to ensure we cover our costs or we will close again.

What if I don't agree?

At this time you won't get a GIG but you can request to become a member of our Management Committee who advise us on how we run."

So, pay to play, then - but a socially-aware pay to play. You can understand the thinking behind this, to a point, but doesn't it undermine the extent to which it is a social enterprise if only the bands which can afford the entry fee can get to pay: what about broke bands looking for a first step on the stage?

The trouble with pay-to-play is that it favours large bands with big families rather than the great. If you're a six piece nu-jazz act, you might find it slightly easier to hit the point where you make money back than if you're a singer-songwriter on your own.

Fine, have a rule where the bands only get paid if they bring in a certain number of fans. But asking for cash up front? Isn't that less a community endeavour, more pushing all the risk onto the bands?

What next? A two-drink minimum for all lead singers?

Sugababes: Now comprising entirely of third Sugababes

It's confusing times trying to work out exactly what's going on over at the Sugababes, and in confusing pop times we look to Popjustice for clarification.

And there, you find a statement even Popjustice has trouble explaining:

Monday 21st September

The current line-up of the Sugababes has disbanded.

Heidi Range and Amelle Berrabah will continue as the Sugababes and will be joined by new member Jade Ewen. They release their album ‘Sweet 7’ on November 23rd through Island Records.

Keisha Buchanan will continue to record for Island Records as a solo artist.

So Heidi, Amelle and her off of Eurovision are now going to pretend to be the Sugababes, somehow, despite none of them having been around when... well, when this happened:

There comes a point when you might take a look at the name above the shop, and wonder if it really fits anymore. Calling Amelle-Heidi-Jade the Sugababes makes about as much sense as the Carphone Warehouse sticking doggedly to its name rather than adopting the more honest Pay As You Go Hovel-Shed.

Lily Allen gets James Blunt approval

Lily Allen has moved her file-sharing campaign to a new blog, You've got to give her points for using a Billy Bragg lyric, and for being quite honest, in the URL - although might have been even more honest.

So, who's rallying to Lily's call? James Blunt, that's who. Lily has scanned in a letter in support of her that James has sent to the Times (And I'm curious, Lily, as to why that use of copyright material is fine when filesharing isn't?).

Since Blunt is the sort of artist who exists solely because of the power of major labels to force any old toot on the public, it's not surprising that he's happy to keep the majors in business:

Sir, I want to put my hand up in support of Lily Allen (Thunderer, Sept 16). She’s asking British musicians to galvanise over a serious crime: the death of a great British industry — our music business.

The death of the music business might be serious, and it might be tragic, but it's not exactly criminal. That's what happens in a free market from time to time.
The world over, people are stealing music in its millions in the form of illegal file-sharing.

Did Blunt read this letter out loud before he sent it? It's not very sure-footed for a songwriter, is it?
It’s easy to do, and has become accepted by many, but people need to know that it is destroying people’s livelihoods and suffocating emerging British artists.

Cliff Richard has - I know this for a fact - had to start turning his underpants inside out as he can only afford to go to the launderette once a month now, and Dappy from N-Dubz is having to keep his shifts on down the arcade. It's a tragedy.

Blunt doesn't seem to think that the music industry as it worked since the industrialisation of recorded sound might also have suffocated emerging British artists, but then he has about as strong a grasp of history as he does of language.
The music business is made up of thousands of jobbing musicians, producers, mixers and engineers creating and shaping popular music and culture, but illegal file-sharing is cutting off the income from their work.

... if you make the massive assumption that a file shared is a sale lost; and if you believe that there's some reason why the rates for the job in a world where distribution was limited should be the same in a world where distribution is virtually unlimited.
Without the revenue from established artists, record labels cannot fund emerging musicians.

... not even in the 'one album and if you don't recoup, you're dropped' model that has been pissing on dreams since the 1980s.

Blunt, you'll note, just assumes that the only way to fund musicians is by a record label putting the money up front. That's the way it's always been done, so why should we even think of changing it?
They’ll just re-master the Beatles albums again, because they can’t afford to put an amazing new band into a studio to record something that may surpass Sergeant Pepper.

Given the amount of cash spent on the Beatles re-releases, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of cash sloshing about when they want to find money to buy the front page of the NME. It's pitiful to suggest the conservatism of the labels is a response to filesharing - the reissue-instead-of-develop-talent model has been a staple of the music business ever since it realised it could flog everyone the same records they already owned by putting them out on CD.

John Harris has also used this "there won't be a new Beatles unless we kill file-sharing" argument, which somehow ignores that the UK music industry hasn't created anything like a Beatles in over 40 years. It's barely been able to scrape together a Duran Duran in the last twenty.
At long last the Government is looking to legislate to protect the industry. Peter Mandelson is looking to engage the internet service providers who, in my opinion, handle stolen goods, and should take much more responsibility.

Handle stolen goods? I've ragged on James Blunt quite a bit in the past, and always have that little guilty voice at the back of my head: "What if he isn't a bad chap? What if he's an alright sort of person who just happens to have the musical appeal of a chocolate box kitten?" It's nice to discover he really is a bit of an arse. Handling stolen goods, indeed.
How this legislation pans out, and if it goes through at all, is critical to the survival of the British music business...

No, James; it really isn't. If you pushed all file-sharing out the picture, the British music business is still going to have to face some lean years. If you're lying in the desert, chained to posts, your problems won't vanish if you can scare off the buzzards.
...critical to thousands of jobs; and critical to our ability to nurture and develop great musicians...

No, James; it really isn't. Nurturing musicians has nothing much to do with organising dump bins of CDs for Asda, booking a quarter page in the NME or ensuring a delivery van arrives at HMV Kettering on time. If we want to nuture great musicians, let's take the money that people keep saying ISPs should be collecting, and use it to invest in a network of music teachers and instruments for every school instead of passing it straight to companies which happen to have bought out some intellectual property rights.

But this isn't about encouraging the next generation of artists; it's those who have already made it trying to prop up a system which sees them doing alright, still.

Yoko has high hopes for The Beatles game

The Beatles computer game isn't all about making more money for The Beatles and their estates, you know.

Oh, no; it's going to usher in a new era of world peace, says Yoko:

She explained: "I think game is the second revolution. In the beginning they made a splash with their music; with the video game we're going to create a planet of music and art.

"Music and art are both very interesting healing vibrations, and with that vibration we can create the world we've always wanted, a world of peace."

You only have to look at the love and peace that's broken out over on the other franchise, where Kurt Cobain channels Bon Jovi, to see just how right Ono is.

Wedding Car For Cutie

Congratulations to Death Cabbie Ben Gibbard and Zoey Deschanel out of She & Him (for our purposes, anyway): They had a Saturday night wedding.

Pirate Party in France: Not a huge debut

A by-election in the 10th District of Yvelines has given The Pirate Party's French wing a first electoral test. It wasn't entirely a resounding success, with the candidate Maxime Rouquet winning just two per cent of the vote, trailing everyone. Even the Party Of France.

Still, campaigning built around copyright might be new, but the Pirate Party are happy to be part of one of the oldest traditions of politics: presenting a by-election soaking as part of a strategy. This was all about creating visibility rather than doing anything like winning. Or getting close to winning.

It's worth also noting that the turnout was a little over a quarter of the electorate.

Gordon in the morning: You've done this already

Amy Winehouse forcing her goddaughter into her footsteps?

But while AMY WINEHOUSE's beehive, tattoos and druggie past may not fit the image, she's busy working her magic for goddaughter DIONNE BROMFIELD.

The singer has conjured up a top recording contract for the 13-year-old starlet on her new label Lioness Records, which launches this week.

Didn't you already do this story back in July?
She's got a string of meetings in the next few days to put the finishing touches to her record label, Lioness.

Amy is also preparing the release of the debut album by her 13-year-old goddaughter, DIONNE BROMFIELD, for later in the year.

Actually - didn't you do this story back in March as well?
Dionne, from Chislehurst, Kent, has signed to Amy's new record company, Lioness.

She will become the first artist to release an album on the label this spring.

Her debut compilation will include original music as well as cover versions, with Amy singing on three songs and doing backing vocals on others.

Still, at least repeatedly revealing that Amy Winehouse is using her goddaughter to try and rebuild her image makes a change from the daily non-stories about Robbie Williams. Today, by the way, it's a UFO watching tale.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apparently, Feargal Sharkey does think we're stupid

Let's hope Feargal Sharkey never goes on Would I Lie To You, as it appears he thinks it's some sort of revelation that Teenage Kicks is about wanking.

He also thinks that it was his Greatest Hit, despite having peaked at 31; even It's Going To Happen managed better than that.

[Story stolen from @sweepingnation]

Seriously: Where is Beatles band?

After all that fuss last week, how have The Beatles re-releases done in their second sales stretch? (And their first full-week sale)?

Vanished completely from the Top Ten, and struggling. Rubber Soul is bested by the 42-weeks-on-chart James Morrison album; Help barely able to outsell Robbie William's Greatest Hits. They're still selling, but in nothing like the numbers the shipping figures suggest EMI was expecting.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - muslim punk

The Chicago Sun-Times meets Muslim punks. Once you're past the "hey - they're punks, but they're also Muslim" sitcom style pitchery, it's an interesting piece.

Beyonce prepares to try Malaysia again

A couple of years back, you'll recall, Beyonce was all ready to play a gig in Malaysia when the country said "not dressed like that, you won't, young lady", and the whole thing was scuppered. Sorry - it was "scheduling conflicts", wasn't it? Nothing to do with outraging public decency at all. Oh no.

Anyway - perhaps to get away from Kanye West, or keen to avoid Jay-Z bringing Chris Martin home, she's going to try again. Let's hope the hemlines don't cause any scheduling conflicts this time round, eh?

Against Trump

Donald Trump's bemusing desire to ruin the Scottish countryside by building a golf course on the coast is generating a pleasing amount of local opposition: There's a gig in support of the campaign this Friday, 25th, at the Aberdeen Blue Lamp. No word on who will be playing, but local artists of all types are involved.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Cliff Richard

And completing our fawning over the week's output from Kings Cross, Bob Stanley's plea to remember the force that Cliff Richard was, rather than the tiresome Tory arse he became:

The late 60s and early 70s produced a wealth of forgotten Cliff treats. After Throw Down a Line came The Joy of Living, a snipe at postwar town planning, of all things. Silvery Rain was about pesticides. Then in 1972 came a single called Jesus. Robin Turner of Heavenly Records remembers being a teenager, "head full of all the usual prejudices that 18-year-olds have" and hearing the song. "It absolutely floored me. The most amazing thing wasn't that I was having my mind blown by Cliff, it was that I was being mind-blown by a Christian rock record that sounded like a pill-ravaged Primal Scream circa Movin' on Up." To add to the fun, Jesus was written by somebody called Hamburger.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Momus

As if the paper has been stalking my coming-of-age years, yesterday's Review featured a loving history of Momus:

In a sense, the persona Currie contrived on his early records was born out of exactly the milieu pictured in that 1980 photograph: a self-conscious amalgam of a very British pop-lust, dreams of the continental avant-garde and the new, grey dawn of post-punk. If his records sometimes sounded like the Pet Shop Boys trying to describe Leonard Cohen, the Momus character (as also the fact of Currie's self-invention) was curiously indebted to the bruised and sly romantics of post-punk: Howard Devoto of Magazine, Billy Mackenzie of the Associates, Bid from the Monochrome Set. His first solo album (after a short stint as singer with the Happy Family) was released in 1986 on the impossibly arch and elegantly art-directed label El Records. Circus Maximus is for the most part a skewed reading of certain classical and biblical themes. The urgent, whispering Currie professes himself a masochistic St Sebastian ("preferring the ache to the aspirin") and sings of "The Rape of Lucretia" like a Morrissey who had not stopped at an enthusiasm for Oscar Wilde but mined the whole decadent tradition: Pater, Swinburne, Huysmans.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Karen Ablaze

There's been some excellent stuff in the Guardian this week. First up, Karen Ablaze was invited by The Cribs to write about fanzines, which gave me the same excited chill I used to get when the A4 stamped, self-addressed envelope arrived from Leeds with the latest Ablaze in it:

Claire Circuit, the scene queen of Leeds electronica, sums up why the internet hasn't killed the fanzine star: "Good, meaty, enjoyable music writing never translates well to the screen. Sometimes it's just the way the lines scan on the big screen, or maybe it's the links littered through the text, always tempting you away from the page you're on." As the co-ordinator of Cops And Robbers, a long-running listings 'zine and website serving Leeds' legendary DIY gig scene, she utilises both paper pamphlets and a strong online forum. "People pick it up in the pub, read it, discuss it, pass it around," while last minute changes can be posted to the site any time. "There's still room for the tangible and the physical," she argues. "I like the idea of all of us leaving behind evidence of the great things we are creating now. I'd rather not leave a legacy solely consisting of Facebook photo albums and 404 'Page not found' messages."

Civil served: Curious story in today's News Of The World

There's a really curious story in the News Of The World this morning. It's not just odd because it paints Blake Fielder-Civil in a good light, but because it seems to be based entirely on his mum standing nearby while he was on the phone to Amy Winehouse:

The ex-jailbird is not allowed to see Amy or give interviews as it would breach his parole licence - but his mum was there when he phoned Amy on Tuesday afternoon.

Georgette Civil heard him say: "I will give up £6million to show you how much I love you."

And afterwards he told Georgette: "I am not a parasite, I am not a gold-digger. I've always just told wanted her for her love, not her money."

So, having decided to leave off the actual illegal monitoring of communications used by the paper in the era before Andy Coulson left the NOTW for Conservative Party HQ, they're now relying on gossipy relatives, are they?

The story is clouded by the revelation that Georgette is writing a kiss-and-tell book - for charity. And then even more clouded:
Blake then asked her to drop a lawsuit against Georgette for giving the star's love letters to him to the News of the World.

Apparently Blake asked Amy to drop the lawsuit because Georgette is "just a hairdresser", although whenabouts in the salon you give private documents to journalists isn't clear - is that before you put them under the drier, or after?

Downloadable: Basement Jaxx

As a way of tempting you in to sample their wares, Basement Jaxx are flinging out a free download through Amazon right now: Feeling's Gone feat Sam Sparro (Rusko's Stadium Rock Remix)

This week just gone

The most popular September 2008 posts in September 2009 (if you see what we mean)

1. Ronan Keating upset that Thom Yorke ignores him
2. NME struggles with details on filesharing story
3. AC/DC decide there's some sort of principle keeping them off iTunes
4. Torrent admin locked up
5. Cliff Richard and his friend the priest: Look at us, but not like that
6. Video: Nat Johnson, voice of Monkey Swallows The Universe, goes solo
7. Video: The Young Marble Giants weekend
8. New stuff from Conor Oberst
9. Video: Saint Etienne weekend
10. Rage Against The Machine get hassled by the Man at the Republican National Convention

Go on, have a think about these:

Unthanks - Here's The Tender Coming

download Here's The Tender Coming

David Sylvian - Manafon

Bananarama - Viva

download Viva

Robin Guthrie - Carousel

Muse - Resistance

download The Resistance

The Feelies - Crazy Feelings