Saturday, November 21, 2009

Noel attacker pleads guilty

Daniel Sullivan, the guy who pushed Noel Gallagher over on stage in Toronto, has pleaded guilty to assault.

His defence told the court he couldn't remember anything about the incident, except clambering over the fence. Sullivan was drunk at the time, which might explain why he never quite made it the double by pushing Liam over as well.

He'll be back in court in February for sentencing.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Getting the pop-ups

Taking advantage of the lack of any real competition, HMV is experimenting with ten temporary stores around the UK this Christmas. Who can explain what's going on in HMV's minds better than temproary store czar Gennaro Castaldo? Pin him down, Sky News.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo has admitted more temporary shops may be on the cards next year.

That's put the matter into context. Thank you.

There's a sense that this is an admission from HMV that their main (or, at least, most lucrative) market is people buying stuff to give to other people for Christmas. There must be more than a few people wondering if perhaps there's little point in keeping stores running twelve months a year when you can make a killing by taking over a cheap, abandoned shop for just two.

Big Chill goes hyper-corporate

The Guardian calls the takeover of the Big Chill by Reading-Leeds promoter Festival Republic "quiet" - which is true; it happened in September after the owners went bust.

Still, I don't see what everyone's worried about - it's not like Glastonbury got noticeably more corporate and lost touch with itself after FR got involved there, right?

[Co-founder Katrina] Larkin said Festival Republic would provide much-needed financial security and logistical knowhow, leaving her to focus on the creative side of the festival. "I needed to protect the Big Chill, I needed to take it into a family that would look after it. There is an umbilical cord between me and that festival. I have given up too much to see it fail."

Hmm. Wasn't this pretty much the deal when Melvin Benn got involved down at Worthy Farm, too?

One of the big creditors of the Big Chill parent company was PRS - you do wonder if they were really acting in their members' best interests by not trying to work out a deal. Is it really better for musicians that Reading, Leeds, Latitude, Big Chill and Glastonbury are all in the same hands?

Lily Allen demonstrates more of the clear-eyed consistency we've come to love

We all know where Lily Allen stands on filesharing, don't we? Slightly to the right of Lord Mandelson.

So if she believes that throwing households off the internet on suspicion of sharing music for free is appropriate, what terrible fate would she have in store for someone who took her music, copied it, and then sold it? Got to be boiling oil at the very least, right?

Erm, no. Apparently Lily's happy with the idea of unlicensed music sharing, providing someone's making money from it:

"If someone comes up with a burnt copy of my CD and offers it to you for £4 I haven't a problem with that as long as the person buying it places some kind of value on my music," she told Key 103.

So: stealing is bad, stealing is okay providing you sell on the things you've stolen.

My head is hurting a bit.

Gordon in the morning: 2010 Brits to be hosted in 2002

Gordon's big splash this morning announces the host of next year's Brits:

Peter Kay.

Talk about catching 'em while they're hot. Presumably Ronnie Corbett already has a booking for that night?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Driving Spotify's adverts

Spotify are hoping to use the music you listen to in order to target adverts.

It could sort-of work: If you like Robin Beck, you might want to buy Diet Coke.

But it's not really this simple, is it?

The Spotify founder and CEO, Daniel Ek, explained the thinking behind personalised advertising.

He said: "There's a simple principle – we are trying to make a better advertising solution. We are showing that, around the data, there are things that matter. For instance, combining demography with music taste, we can group you with other users. We can then predict whether you like Audi better than BMW and then serve you advertising from either of them.

"There are certain brands that want to be associated with things that are cheerful and others with classical music and there's a lot of things we can do in this area."

Well, yes: if an advertiser wants to advertise to people who listen to classical music, that would be easy. It's not quite the same as working out whether it's better to serve a Central Office Of Information warning about Swine Flu to an 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster listener or a Katy Perry fan?

TunesPro: Going broke selling downloads

Hypebot reports the launch of a new music store, selling downloads in America for 19 cents a pop.

The store, TunesPro, says it can do this price because it's absorbing a loss of 39 cents a download. It says it's happy to do that because it's cheaper than advertising. It also tells Hypebot that it is offering legal downloads.

In the comments section of Hypebot, anonymous sources are being cited suggesting that the last claim is as untrue as the first two are unlikely, but nobody seems quite sure.

Even if the organisation is legal, the business plan is very high-risk - spending forty cents to get every sale is the sort of thing that even the losing team on The Apprentice would avoid doing. You might attract price-sensitive consumers - at a huge cost - but (since they're price-sensitive) as soon as you return the prices to a level where you can make a profit, they'll be off again.

Sony decide turning to online retail is the way ahead

You can see the logic behind having Sony stores on the High Street - if you value the quality of their electronics, you might go to shop the brand.

Less clear is the value of a Sony store online selling digital music, movies and ebooks. I've said before that only the major labels believe that their brand offers any attraction to the consumer, and there are few customers who think "I wonder what songs EMI or Universal have on offer this week".

Locked-in items - Playstation games, for example - you might just get away with. But wasting time, money and effort building a music store which will only offer a limited range? What would the point be?

They're planning on calling it Sony Online Service. The initials say it all.

There's a ghost in Sting's house

As if being dead wasn't bad enough, imagine if you found your underlife consisted of looking at Sting's pyjamas:

"I would never have said I believe in ghosts, until I saw one - and I've seen a ghost with my own eyes. I woke up at three in the morning, bolt upright, looked into the corner of the room and thought I saw Trudie standing there with a child - our child - in her arms, staring at me.

"And I thought, 'Well, that's strange - why is she standing in a corner, staring at me?'. And I then reached next to me and there was Trudie, and I suddenly got this terrible chill. And she woke up and said 'Gosh, who is that?' and she saw this woman and a child in the corner of the room. A lot of things happened in that house, a lot of flying objects and voices and strange, strange things happened.

"When you live in old houses you get this energy there. Intellectually, no I don't believe in them (ghosts), but I've experienced them on an emotional level."

It's believed that Sting had the house exorcised immediately - they won't stand for their staff having children, so it's not like they're going tolerate their ghosts having childcare issues.

Morrissey doesn't suffer fools at all

I suppose, given that he's having a bit of a shit time on his current tour, it's understanable that when he does turn up, Morrissey is grumpy old sod.

In Hamburg, somebody decided to boo when Mozzer launched into his vegetarian speech.

Did Morrissey laugh it off?

What do you think?

Miley Cyrus bus crash contains no Miley Cyrus

It's a nasty bus crash - and, unfortunately, it involves loss of life, but it isn't really a Miley Cyrus bus crash, what with her not actually being nowhere near the buses at the time.

The bus, carrying members of production crew working on her tour, left the road in Virginia and overturned. One person is reported as having died at the scene; another person was badly injured.

Even Eminem realises he's run out of ideas

Instead of the promised second collection of Relapse, Eminem is going to just toss out a special edition of the first Relapse for the Christmas market.

Relapse: The Landfill (sorry, Refill) is the first album with a few extra tracks which, apparently, aren't good or interesting enough to stand up on their own. There is no reason for anyone who lashed out for the original version of the record to feel like they've been sold short or foolish now they're asking them to buy it all over again.

Mandelson plots whim-based copyright legislation

Some really disturbing news from Boing Boing about what it claims Milord Mandelson is cooking up to drop into the Digital Economy Bill:

These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

This is good news for any rich man who can offer Mandelson canapes on a yacht - no more pesky having to wait for parliament to do their bidding; he can have their new rules in place before the second glass of wine is poured.

There's more:
Mandelson is also gunning for sites like YouSendIt and other services that allow you to easily transfer large files back and forth privately[...]. Like Viacom, he's hoping to force them to turn off any feature that allows users to keep their uploads private, since privacy flags can be used to keep infringing files out of sight of copyright enforcers.

Well, yes. It also allows you to keep things that are private private. For legitimate reasons. Effectively, since YouSendIt is an FTP replacement, you could argue that Mandelson is arguing that anything online would have to be made open - who knows what's going on on behind those sign-in boxes, eh?

It's a ridiculous idea, which almost certainly wouldn't stand up to the passage of legislation in the Com... oh, hang on: under the new rules, it wouldn't have to.

As principles to fight for go 'British law shouldn't be made on David Geffen's yacht' is a pretty strong one.

Gordon in the morning: Headlines and dead lines

-Hey, subeditor
-Yes, Mr Gordon, sir?
-I'm appearing on the television talking about how great Sun headlines are right now. It's a little awkward...
-...oh, I wouldn't say that, Mr Gordon, sir. A little stiff, perhaps, but not awkward
-I meant my request was about to be awkward, not my performance
-Oh. Really? Oh.
-Anyway, I want my column to live up to my claims in the advert. So can we come up with some clever headlines this week
-Well, we can try. Unless the stories are so pointless as to smother any inventiveness. What have you got for me?
-Some fan hiding in JLS' bags... why are you snapping your pencil like that?

Obsess baggage

That'd be the best they can do now. Perhaps the idea is that people will sit in the pub going "recess baggage? Obese baggage? Obsess backache? Oh... excess baggage."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The end of the Linn: CD players dumped

Linn have announced that they're ceasing production of CD players:

Gilad Tiefenbrun, managing director of Linn Products, said: "Our customers have fast recognised the limitations of CD players and in the age of home networking, people now want better control of their music and the ability to enjoy it in any room of their home.

"CD players no longer belong in the specialist domain."

To be honest, I suspect hi-fi heads have been looking for an excuse to drop the format ever since you started to be able to buy CD players for less than a couple of hundred quid - the joy of owning them for early adopters was more in pretending that they were worth all the extra bunce you had to drop and the sense of exclusivity. Now, they're to be left to the sort of people who shop in Argos, once and for all.

[via @emalyse]

Downloadable: Fitz And The Tantrums

Another one of those sharing widget-things, this time offering you the chance to grab a full CD from Fitz And The Tantrums.

For a limited time, obviously.

George Best Week'end': You Can't Moan, Can You?

Rounding off the album, it's a performance from The University Of Latvia:

[Concluding George Best Weekend]

Arm bands look black for festivals

Is it just me, or does the threat of fake armbands really not seem to be that much of a risk to festivals, surely?

Reg Walker has told the UK Festival Awards and Conference that it's going to be a big problem:

Speaking at the UK Festival Awards and Conference in London on Thursday, Mr Walker said about 100 wristbands had been seized at this year's Reading Festival.

"What's worrying is the quality of the wristband, right down to the barcode. They're highly convincing and virtually indistinguishable from the real item," he said.

It should be pointed out that Mr Walker is from festival security company Iridim Security, and thus has a financial interest in encouraging people to stamp out this sort of thing.

Thing is, though, if these wristbands are so uncannily similar, it doesn't seem likely that some bloke is going in as soon as the gates open, run home and get out the John Bull Printing Kit. In other words, this isn't so much a story about how security can help root out the forgers; more about how the current security around production of these wristbands is breaking down.

That's not what Mr Walker believes:
And while some counterfeiters may have inside information on the design of wristbands, Mr Walker said others simply get one when the gates of a event opens, then "take that apart and copy it, giving them a 24 or 48 hour turnaround time."

For a three-day festival, a 48 hour turnaround seems a little weak - is there really that many people who will hand enough cash for the last couple of days to make it worthwhile doing it large numbers?

Reg Walker is predicting that a festival will see a major problem next year - "there is a plan to manufacture them [the fake wristbands] in their thousands."

Really? The sudden influx of thousands of people on the second or third day of a festival wouldn't look a little suspicious?

And where are these thousands of wristbands going to be sold, exactly? Not online, as that would be like posting a giant 'arrest me' sign on the web. So presumably this is going to involve touting - and where are you going to find thousands of buyers for wristbands for a festival already underway? Not in one place, suggesting the need for a sales force spreading out across the country. Has anyone really thought this through?

If you squint, he really does look like someone who looks a little like Simon Cowell

Of course, it's easy to poke fun at people who offer themselves up as celebrity lookalikes, but it's worth having a look at Simon Cowell Double. Mainly because he looks more like a younger Terry Woods off Emmerdale to me.

He's for hire, of course:

Meeting and greeting, mixing and mingling, judging or just being available for photos, who better than Simon Cowell.

Well, to be honest, I'd say Bruce Forsyth, or Barry Cryer, James May, Nemone, Liz Kershaw; possibly Tony Dortie? Quite a few people would be better than Simon Cowell, the sort of honking show-off who would destroy any event by attempting to recast it in his own image. I'm not sure, though, if having someone who turned out to not be Simon Cowell might be better or worse; the phrase "thank Christ, it's just a bloke who looks a bit like him" offers a clue, though.

George Best Week'end': Anyone Can Make A Mistake

Nearly at the end of the album now - will this weekend never end, you might wonder? - and it's back to Glasgow for the penultimate track:

[Part of The George Best weekend]

Darkness at 3AM: Chris Moyles makes a "comedy" album

The 3AM Girls know what they want:

There's only one album we want filling our Christmas stockings - Chris Moyles's Parody Album.

The only album you want? Really?

And it turns out they undersrtand that it's parodies by, not of, Moyles, which makes it even more puzzling.

I blame The Shire Horses.

Gordon in the morning: Lee Ryan caught by the rozzers

As if the very idea of being hassled by the cops for smoking dope isn't amusing enough, Lee Ryan managed to get himself searched - outside the Mayfair Hotel, of all places - by accident:

A spokesman for Ryan said: "The police searched everyone who was around. Lee was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

This isn't the first time Ryan has been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He keeps wandering onto stages at times when people want to be entertained.

Gordon Smart keeps popping up on television during the commercials, mumbling about how brilliant The Sun's headlines are.

Yes, Gordon. No doubt people will be talking about this one down the pub:
Leona’s chic, JT’s a geek

People will speak of little else.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's okay to dis Annie Lennox, says the judge

It's not often you hear a judge talking sense, but Mrs Justice Sharp has done us all a favour by kicking out an attempt to sue the Telegraph. Petra Ecclestone had been kicking up a legal rumpus because of an item in the diary:

[F]ashion designer Petra Ecclestone was quoted as saying: "I am not a veggie and I don't have much time for people like the McCartneys and Annie Lennox."

Ecclestone claimed the words were defamatory and meant she was "disrespectful and dismissive of the McCartneys and Annie Lennox to the point of being willing to disparage them publicly for promoting vegetarianism."

The judge snorted - literally - dismissively:
Justice Sharp, said "right-thinking members of society" would not think less of Ecclestone because of the quote.

So she struck out the libel claim, adding incidentally that it was irrelevant whether Ecclestone denied having made the quoted remark.

The irony of the Telegraph being saved by a sensible judge in a libel case probably won't be lost on those who have been served with libel writs from the title's proprietors, the Barclay Brothers, over the years.

Still, it's nice to know that having a bit of fun at Annie Lennox's expense is now an activity protected by law.

Embed and breakfast man: Asobi Seksu

A quick break from the boy Gedge, to bring you this - a new video from Asobi Seksu:

The track you've just been watching - if you're slightly anally working down the page in order - is called Transparence, and it comes off of Hush.

George Best Week'end': Give My Love To Kevin

Oh, he buys you pretty things? And what does your mother think? I just can't bear to imagine you sharing a bed with him...

David Gedge's true songwriting talent was to deliver one side of a converation, like a kind of lovelorn madlib where you were asked to supply the other person's responses. Nowhere is this shown off to better effect than on Give My Love To Kevin.

And - surprise - this features a much younger Gedge than we've seen so far, as this is from back in 1990 - at a hometown date. Which would be in Leeds:

[Part of George Best weekend]

Wentz and never again: Fall Out Boy split

Causing endless upset to untold thousands - admittedly, only amongst people trying to flog deodorant and cheap eyeliner to teenagers - comes the news that Fall Out Boy are calling it a day.

Or, as they put it:

"It's a break with an indefinite date when they're coming back," their spokesperson told NME.COM.

In other words "we'll see how long Wentz can live on the royalties."

George Best Week'end': It's What You Want That Matters

From the dark in Edinburgh:

[Part of George Best weekend]

Michael Buble: You're in with a chance

There's a Michael Buble announcement about dating fans:

"I have dated a fan. What's amazing is they start as a fan and they get to know you as a person and you become a real human being.

"I don't choose people to fall in love with because of what they do. I think good people are good people."

There is no way this is a big wink at the audience and a "it could happen, ladies".

Gordon in the morning: Super-awkward

This, apparently, is Bizarre holding a celebrity party backstage at a Beyonce gig and not, as it might look, that the accounts department at Geering & Colyer decided to beat the rush by holding their Christmas party early.

The caption in full:

The line-up ... Peter Andre, Joe Calzaghe with girlfriend Kristina Rihanoff standing outside the door, Gordon, Alexandra Burke and Frank Lampard whose new girlfriend Christine is outside with Kristina.

"Outside the door"? Also outisde? I've had celebrity pictures taken like that, Gordon - "nah, really, if that wall hadn't been there, and I'd had the picture taken ten minutes earlier, you might have seen me stood in front of Brett Anderson putting on his trousers."
Chelsea ace Frank has secretly been scoring with telly's One Show host for a few weeks. Or bending one in, in football lingo.

Isn't, erm, "scoring" also "football lingo"? (Just to make it clear, Smart means Christine Bleakley here, not Adrian Chiles. Although who's to say who is really 'behind the door'?

The whole Chipmunk-is-suicidal story has been resolved, at least in tabloid terms:
Luckily his management heard his cry for help and stepped in before the problem got out of control.

Hopefully Chip will never be driven to despair again.

Or, more likely, his management are hoping he won't tell people if he is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adam Lambert's management asks Out to not make him too gay

Adam Lambert is on the cover of the new issue of Out, one of the magazine's Out 100. There were, reveals an open letter from editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin:

It’s only because this cover is a group shot that includes a straight woman that your team would allow you to be photographed at all -- albeit with the caveat that we must avoid making you look “too gay.” (Is that a medical term? Just curious). Luckily, you seemed unaware that a similar caution was issued to our interviewer.

Oh, yes. Shana Naomi Krochmal was approached shortly before the interview:
Despite plenty of back and forth between the magazine and the label about the cover and the photo shoot, I still wasn't prepared for what happened when I showed up at the 19 Entertainment offices for the interview. I briefly met Adam, and then the publicist and I walked out to the balcony, at which point I was cautioned against making the interview "too gay," or, "you know, gay-gay." Specifically I was discouraged from asking about the March on Washington that upcoming weekend or other political topics.

As the Out team points out, it's actually easier to put straight musicians on the cover of a gay magazine than to put a supposedly out artist on Out.

The question: how gay does Lambert's management feel is "too gay"?

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: NME best of

Sweeping The Nation turns the NME best-of into a game.

The Pirate Bay buries its tracker

The Pirate Bay has announced that its torrent tracker is down and never coming back.

Not, they rush to stress, because of the legal actions brought against them. No, it's because just as how Napster really outlived its usefulness as you no longer needed a server, the trackers themselves are now passe:

“Now that the decentralized system for finding peers is so well developed, TPB has decided that there is no need to run a tracker anymore, so it will remain down! It’s the end of an era, but the era is no longer up2date. We have put a server in a museum already, and now the tracking can be put there as well,” the Pirate Bay crew write on their blog.

In fact, the Pirate Bay are in talks with torrenting sites to encourage the eradication of torrents altogether:
“We’re talking to the other torrent admins on doing magnet links and DHT+PEX for all sites. Moving away from torrents and trackers totally – like pick a date and all agree ‘from this date, we’ll not support torrents anymore’,” a Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak.

The record labels have got what they wanted. But it's not quite what they were hoping for.

George Best Week'end': Something And Nothing

As we get deeper into the album, the choices for indivdual tracks are getting thinner - but here, for the first time, is something from the Stirling Fubar on the 20th tour. Something and, of course, Nothing:

[Part of George Best weekend]

Faces reunion: They come up with a way to make it worse

Ah, The Faces - back together again. That sounds like a bad idea. Without Rod Stewart? Blimey, that's quite risky.

Is there anything else you need to tell me about this, though?



Former SIMPLY RED star MICK HUCKNALL is the frontrunner to replace ROD STEWART in reunited rock supergroup THE FACES

Good lord.

Apparently the band are worried that if they don't do it soon, one of them is going to die, and it would make a Faces reunion impossible.

So, let's get this straight: they're quite comfortable about not having Rod Stewart on board, and parachuting the muscial equivalent of Ben Elton into the front of the stage, because that's still 'the real thing', somehow, but if Ian McLagan, say, goes, it'll be too late?

Was that really it?

Oracular Spectacular at 100 and Is This It at number one? someone's gonna be in trouble when they realise the NME has run its Top 100 albums of the decade back-to-front.

Tomorrow night's art/pop charity crossover: Quick reminder

Don't forget tomorrow night sees the launch for the Art Of Music 09, the exhibition being run as part of pancreatic cancer awareness week.

They're still taking sign-ups for a chance to get into the launch, and a chance to bid on art by Placebo, Blood Red Shoes and... well, The Stereophonics.

George Best Week'end': Shatner

"Imagine girls behaving in that way...". Oddly, despite all the clips swimming round from the anniversary tour, hardly anyone seems to have bothered with Shatner. Luckily, the person who took their camera to Edinburgh did:

[Part of the George Best weekend]

Darren Hayman attacked in Nottingham

I suspect this might be a Tweet Darren Hayman wishes he'd never sent:

I'm in nottingham. Most violent city in uk im told. Come see me play!

A few hours later - on Saturday night - he and The Secondary Modern were attacked in the city. The Nottingham Evening Post reports:
Members of the band, Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern, were driving along Curzon Street, St Ann's, in a Toyota Previa, at around 12.15am on Saturday when the suspects approached the car.

A white teenager then dragged the driver out of the vehicle and punched and kicked him as he lay on the floor.

A black teenager got into the driver's seat and tried to push the passenger out the car and start the vehicle.

When the passenger resisted both the offenders fled and were joined by two or three other black teenagers. During the attack the robbers stole a sum of cash.

Darren, who was driving, was seriously injured; he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull.

Best wishes to Darren for a quick recovery.

Gordon in the morning: Classic Sugababes

It turns out that The Sun's 40th birthday TV campaign is a series, so last night we were treated to a new one about how great The Sun headlines are. Or rather were, as there didn't seem to be anything in the advert from since MacKenzie left. Gordon Smart is again stood, blinking awkwardly at the camera, trying to convince us that Sun headlines were something "you'd talk about in the pub later".

Really? The headline?

There's probably only one headline which people were talking about hours later, but for some reason, The Sun doesn't mention its The Truth Hillsborough front page.

Even so, it's a really strange piece of advertising, as it makes a feature of the Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster story while, simultaneously, acknowledging that it wasn't true.

Even odder, Simon Weston is pulled in to remember its famous Falklands-era front page.

No, he goes with Stick It Up Your Junta, rather than Gotcha! Must have been frustrating for The Sun advertising team to realise that the most iconic headline in the paper's history was a nasty, bloodthirsty piece - admittedly written in haste while the newspaper was riven by industrial disputes - which treated war like a video game.

No wonder Gordon Smart looks a man trying to sell a house and hoping nobody notices the nuclear waste dump in the back garden while he does the advert.

Back at the day job, he's got some chilling news about the plans to bring back the original Sugababes:

And PR guru CLAIRE POWELL - who transformed Jordan from a glamour girl into a money-spinning brand - is on board to steer the course to glory.

Couldn't they find someone who knows how to work with people who actually have a bit of talent?
Now Powell, who was tapped up by Mutya's manager, has agreed to help mount a serious challenge to the Babes with the originals - or SuJorbabes, as I'm calling them.

You see? Sujorbabes. That's what we're dealing with.

Robbie Williams losing to JLS in the album charts this weekend isn't all bad for Gordon - after all, he has been working as an outpost of the JLS press office for a few months, and so his story is at least consistent with that. But, oh, fancy having spent a couple of months solidly pushing the Williams comeback - sometimes with a story a day, every day, for days at a stretch - only to see him stagger and run out of steam.

To be fair, though, the JLS album selling for peanuts in Sainsburys and Tesco probably was what really did for Robbie's chances.

Monday, November 16, 2009

George Best Week'end': My Favourite Dress

It's a little later than Sunday evening, and here we are, only just now reaching the end of side one:

[Part of the George Best weekend

Camera Obscura: Not just for Christmas

Doing their bit to try and un-ruin a Christmas ruined by the X Factor, Camera Obscura are doing a cover of Jim Reeve's The Blizzard. It won't trouble the charts - because life isn't all Christmas miracles - but it should warm our hearts a bit.

Rapobit: Derek B

Derek B, who has died from a heart attack, was a successful British rapper when it was quite a challenge.

The B was short for Boland; he dropped the 'Oland when starting his career at just 15 with Good Groove and Bad Young Brother. Although both tracks made it to the top 20 - taking him onto Top Of The Pops - he never managed to sustain success as a performer and switched instead to A&R and production.

A slightly more shameful contribution to popular culture came with his co-authoring of The Anfield Rap, Liverpool's 1988 FA Cup single:

He gives us stick about the north/south divide
'cause they got the jobs
Yeah, but we got the side

Perhaps that wasn't one of Derek's lines.

Derek B was 44; he is survived by his mother, Jenny.

No second chance from Morrissey

There are, apparently, scurrilous rumours circulating in Liverpool that Morrissey positions a bloke in the crowd with a cup of water to toss at the Moz in order to give him an excuse to cut short the show. This is brilliant, but clearly untrue - he's the bloke out The Smiths, not Roger The Dodger. It's not like he's ever needed an excuse to flounce out in the past.

Anyway, if there was a phantom bottle-flinger, he's going to have a night off as the abandoned Liverpool gig isn't going to be rescheduled.

Breaking News: Derek B has died is reporting that Derek B has died at the age of 44. The website says he had a heart attack; the news appears to have been confirmed by Music Is Life's Simon Harris.

Iran: Mohammad Reza Shajarian bans his own work

As his protest against the Iranian elections, Mohammad Reza Shajarian has demanded that the State broadcaster stops playing his music:

“After what happened, I said ‘no way’ and threatened to file a complaint against them if they continued to use my music,” Mr. Shajarian said in an interview with the A.P. Though the broadcast services complied with his request, the government has responded to hundreds of other artist protests — which have included boycotting state-sponsored awards and appearing at international events wearing green, the color of the opposition — by banning their work, detaining them or forbidding them to travel.

It's a small request, but a large act of bravery.

Liverpool: Did we mention it was where The Beatles came from?

UNESCO are, apparently, busily declaring some places to be "Cities of Music", for some reason, and Liverpool Council is happy to burn through cash bidding for the title:

Liverpool City Council leader Councillor Warren Bradley, who will chair of the UNESCO bid steering group, said: “Music is in Liverpool's blood and its influence has been truly global from the days of sea shanties and Merseybeat to classical and dance – it was a fundamental reason why we were European Capital of Culture.

“The city today has a phenomenal pool of talent and its exciting that now, more than ever, it has the venues, the studios, the promoters and the festivals to nurture new ideas and diverse artists who will carry on Liverpool's best musical traditions.

“To be a UNESCO city of music would be a massive boost to the city’s international cultural profile and give the city a focus, like in ‘08, to develop our music offer at all levels for the benefit of musicians and music lovers alike.’’

"Develop our music offer" - the very words have a lyrical quality to them, don't they? Admittedly, it's like a late-period Robbie Williams lyric, but a lyric nevertheless.

Not quite sure why, if the city is felt to be so synonymous with music, you'd need to spend money getting an outside body to say "yes, the city is synonymous with music", but having kind of failed to have turned their Capital Of Culutre year into any real lasting legacy, there's a sense of a city scrabbling round to do something, anything, next.

The Echo points out that UNESCO has already made Liverpool a World Heritage Centre. It does neglect to mention that less than two years after the title was bestowed, UNESCO had to make an emergency visit back to the city in response to council planning decisions for Mann Island, issuing a stern 'it's okay for now, but we're watching' report.

Coming the week after it turned out the £1.4million taken from the neighbourhood renewal fund to kit out a tourist information office for 2008 was wasted as it was built in the wrong place, the people of Liverpool must be thrilled at the prospect of burning through more cash on a pointless title.

George Best Week'end': All This And More

To Barcelona, now, for another slice of - ahem - crowd-sourced footage of the 20th anniversary tour:

[Part of the George Best weekend]

Gordon in the morning: Being nice to Susan Boyle

This, I suspect, is what Gordon feels is being generous to Susan Boyle:

X FACTOR'S JEDWARD should be seen and not heard.

The opposite could be said of SUSAN BOYLE.

The Highland lassie with the big hits and the hairy chassis deserves to be heard - and by millions.

Gordon's had an "exclusive" first listen to the new record, and runs a big, excited piece all over, which is in no way trying to keep the Simon Cowell camp sweet while needing stuff to write about the X Factor.

Given that Bizarre usually writes about children's bands, or women famous for wearing short skirts, Gordon seems to realise a big, splashy push for an easy-listening Christmas confection is a little odd. But hang about, he has a plausible explanation:
SuBo comes from the same neck of the woods as me... and that's good enough to earn her a place on Bizarre.

Blimey - simply being from Scotland will get you a lead story in The Sun?
It's incredibly classy stuff throughout. A star is born.

Okay, Mr. Cowell, I've done that. Can I have an exclusive about Jedward now, please?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

George Best Weekend: A Million Miles

A short train journey across Scotland, to catch a Million Miles in Edinburgh:

[Part of the George Best weekend]

Bruce Springsteen forgets where he is

If your act involves shouting "hello [place where you happen to be]", you'd have thought that by now - with so many people slipping up and looking a bit silly - any star would double check his location and make sure he had it written at the top of the set list.

Not the Boss, apparently. How many times during his gig in Michigan did he shout out to the good people of Ohio?

Too many. Eventually, Steve Van Zandt whispered into Bruce's ear to put him right. That must have been awkward, being on stage, wondering if you should correct the boss (The Boss), or if that would be embarrassing, or if it'd be worse if he got off stage and found out what he'd done and asked why you didn't stop him, or...

Make it easy, Bruce: stick to playing New Jersey.

Sugababes: Made-up futures of the rest of the band

Good god, the papers are struggling to find anything to say about the X Factor this morning. The Sunday Mirror is reduced to running a story claiming Simon Cowell is eating a lot of Angel Delight.

The People has something which sounds more interesting, and is only weakened by being almost certainly totally made-up:

Former Sugababes KEISHA BUCHANAN and SIOBHAN DONAGHY are set to shock The X Factor judges - by teaming up with the show's reject RACHEL ADEDEJI to form a new girlband.

I can reveal the stars, who were two of the original members of the charttopping band, believe Rachel, 17, is the perfect third member to rival the current Sugababes line-up.

Really, Katie Hind? Oh, yes, you have a source, anonymous as a white cat that doesn't really exist in a snowstorm:
"They'll have to wait a bit because Rachel is signed up to X Factor duties for a few months but after that she will be a free agent."

That's convenient - so, nothing will happen until everyone's forgotten the story. It's like predicting that the Mercury will crash into Mars in 2048 - sure, it's made up, but it's not like anyone will be able to call you on it, right?

George Best Weekend: Don't Be So Hard

You might need to squint a bit for this one - Don't Be So Hard, live at QMU in Glasgow in 2007:

[Part of the George Best weekend]

This week just gone

This year's most-asked questions, according to Google search terms:

1. Why no AC/DC on iTunes?
2. Whatever happened to Samantha Mumba?
3. Who owns guitar hero?
4. What happened to Rick Waller?
5. Who is Beth Ditto?
6. What genre are Kasabian?
7. Who's gay in hip-hop?
8. Where does Chad Kroeger live?
9. Why the Fugees split?
10. When are the Brit Awards 2010?

This were new, and might be worth having a looks at:

The Clientelle - Bonfires On The Heath

download On The Heath

Kate Rusby - Sweet Bells

Martha Wainwright - Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, A Paris

download Sans Fusils...

Laura Gibson - Beasts Of Seasons

download Beasts Of Seasons

Elton Deans Ninesense - Happy Daze + Oh! For The Edge

download Moorsong

X Ray Spex - Live At The Roundhouse

download Live At The Roundhouse

Melt Banana - Lite Live Ver 0.0

download Scratch Or Stitch

Howard Jones - Ordinary Heroes

download Ordinary Heroes