Saturday, September 29, 2012

Talent borrows; genius steals; One Direction watch someone doing copy-paste

One Direction have 'fessed up that they've been attempting to rip off The Clash. I know, I know, it's like watching little kids dressing up as adults, but apparently Live While We're Young acknowledges a debt to Should I Stay Or Should I Go:

One Direction member Harry Styles, who seemingly admitted during an interview with BBC Newsbeat that the similarity between the two songs was intentional.

Speaking about the likeness between the tracks, he said: It was kind of on purpose though. It's a great riff, so…

Meanwhile, his bandmate Louis Tomlinson said that it was inevitable that songwriters would pen tracks which sounded similar to older efforts, claiming: "I assume it must be quite difficult to do a unique riff now because there have been so many songs - surely there's only so many riffs you can pull out?"
I love the trembling way that Tomlinson talks about songwriting - it's like when I find myself talking about football; I know the basic idea of what's going on but don't have very much direct experience. It's a case of gently easing yourself out of your field of expertise and hoping the structure doesn't collapse underneath you. "There's probably only a limited number of riffs... like, erm, four? more? four million? Some... some, anyway. And lyrics, right? They're saying we're running out of lyrics because Paul McCartney used up so many... I think..."

What the pop papers say: NME at sixty and a half

With a multitude of covers to choose from, this week it's the NME's 60th birthday.

Only it isn't, is it? As the free facsimile of issue one inside shows, the magazine launched in March 1952. Were you looking for a metaphor for "slightly behind the curve", turning up six months late to your own party would be a pretty good one.

So, who do we get on these multicovers? There is a nice surprise - a Patti Smith variant, meaning that at least there's one woman given front page prominence. A fifty per cent drop in the number of women who appeared on the front of issue one, but - hey, who said progress would always be a straight line, eh?

Smith is a slightly risky choice for the anniversary - she's not been considered worthy of a cover for over thirty years and so, unlike some of the other cover stars is a bit less grateful, a bit less eager to please. She tells an anecdote about how, to punky New Yorkers, NME was too expensive, so they'd read the content but not buy the magazine. Ah, for the days when that was just a problem in overseas markets, eh, IPC?

Other covers- well, obviously there's not one but two Gallaghers.

Liam is reminded that the NME in the 1990s was "practically stalking" him every week - imagine that, eh? Asked why the NME is important (a leading question) he burbles out something almost incomprehensible that they transcribe anyway:
When I go and do my weekly shop I get NME and I read it while my misses is putting all the gear in."
Ah, the magazine of choice for boorish middle-aged men; such a quick read you can get through it while someone lobs a couple of foccacias and a bottle of merlot into the Bag For Life.

Noel, meanwhile, makes a more spirited attempt to justify the NME's existence:
I don't read about things in the Daily Mail, or a Sunday supplement, or the fucking Guardian. I read them in the NME.
Me, Liam, Noel. Is there anyone in the actual demographic that NME sells to its advertisers buying the thing?

Talkingnof demographics, there's an inadvertently revealing quote from Noel when he's talking about his brother's covers:
I'd go into the shop, and me two Asian mates, they'd be reading it under the counter.
"Me two Asian mates", Noel? Apart possibly from David Cameron, who mentions irrelevant ethnicity in the middle of an anecdote?

Paul Weller awkwardly tells a story about the Melody Maker (hey, how is that Meldoy Maker website coming along, IPC?) but does spark a wonderful admission from Gavin Haynes, that the Preston from The Ordinary Boys interviews his hero Weller piece was a bit of a sham:
[Preston] wasn't even a fan, despite claiming to be. [...] He only didn't because that was the feature that would get him in the NME.
Really? Preston pretending to like someone just to raise his profile? Hard to imagine, innit?

Weller helpfully announces that he, too, reads the NME rather than blogs. The advertising department must have been screaming "can you find someone who doesn't wear trousers with elasticised waistbands who reads the bloody thing?"

There are some teenaged readers in the Arctic Monkeys piece, but, erm, they were the teenaged Monkeys.

Nicky Wire actually has something interesting to say, recalling a time when NME spoke confidently about Roth and Amis and - wonderfully - singling out the Sing Me To Sleep Youth Suicide issue, which normally gets pointed to as an example of what the NME shouldn't have been doing, despite it coming from an era of more solid sales and a more creative product.

John Lydon out of the estate agency business gets a front, too - I think he's the only person to mention Sounds, and as far as I can see, there's not a single mention of the fourth power, Record Mirror, anywhere in the issue.

The sixth cover is The Killers, who use their platform to announce that Razorlight get a bad rap. Which is true; Razorlight are no worse than The Killers.

Perhaps what's more interesting than the people who turned up is the people who didn't - most notably, no Bowie, who was something of a God for the 40th and 50th anniversaries and used to hold the record for most covers back when you had to wait for a while between reappearances. I wonder who fell out of favour with whom.

And there's barely a whisper of Pete Doherty.

What else do we get? There's a collection of "crazy covers" which ignores Wire's genuine enthusiasm for a time when NME was interested in the culture that created music rather than just rerunning old Lennon interviews. An arch eyebrow is raised for the Karen Grant and Blind Date covers - imagine, eh, the NME putting TV on its front cover. What were they thinking? It'd be like, say, half the 2012 NME website being given over to film and telly, wouldn't it? That would be crazy.

There's a two-page history of the magazine, which runs thought the well-trod path: Accordian Times, singles chart, Beatles, swinging London, falling sales, Tony Parsons, indie pop, lion rock, The Arctic Monkeys.

Alright, it might not have mentioned Lion Rock. But the is a namecheck for shrromadelica.
Rather awkwardly, the history starts with an error, suggesting it was a merger between the Musical Express and the Accoridan Times which created the NME - a "fact" which the Guardian repeated this week.

The reprint of issue one is lovely, although to be honest, I'm more curious to see what the final Musical Express & Accordian Times looked like. It's interesting to see a tension as to what the magazine might be known as back in March 1952 - there's a small lobby for The New ME, and NME appears only once. The page given over to Accordians mentions the first ever electric accoridan. Dropped from the masthead and electricity - it must have been a worrying week for accordianists everywhere.

Perhaps the most heartening thing in the issue, though, is a short bit by Matt Wilkinson setting out a manifesto for the next 60 years. Part a diagnostic on what's gone wrong in alt rock - no stars, no spirit - and part a pledge for the future:
Personally, I'm for smashing the whole fucker wide open
Next week's cover is Palma Violets. That's a start. But only time will tell if this really is a new rallying call, or merely the new music ed doodling in the corner while the churn of Gallagher - Beatles - Gallagher - Clash covers roll on.

Friday, September 28, 2012

November spawned a monster surprise

Wichita Falls, Texas is a growing place, it's true, but it was still something of a surprise to discover that Morrissey is going to play the city.

To judge by the listings for the Wichita Falls multi-purpose centre, they can't quite believe he's coming, either:

Perhaps more surprising is that Morrissey is so happy to play a venue which makes so much of its income from gun and knife shows and, indeed, a few days earlier is hosting a pig sale. Still, I'm sure he'll make his tokenistic fuss about not serving hotdogs in the venue on the night.

Gordon in the morning: Cramming Andrew Mitchell into Myleene Klass' bra

The showbiz section of The Sun website leads today with a big puff for Myleene Klass' new range of pants. They attempt to somehow use it to keep the Andrew Mitchell story going:

Undie Klass
But posh Myleene's definitely no pleb
The link between former Hear'Say women wearing knickers and the chief whip swearing at police and then lying about it isn't entirely obvious. I'm not sure "definitely no pleb" applies, either, when the range is for Littlewoods, one of the more - ah - democratic stores.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Retailobit: Brian Selby

Brian Selby, who founded legendary Nottingham record shop Selectadisc, has died.

Selectadisc was always the highlight of any visit to Nottingham; a place where long-forgotten Revolving Paint Dream singles would dangle tantalisingly at reasonable prices from the walls.

Brian also created The Garage nightclub in Nottingham's Lace Market, and that made a difference, too. DJ Graeme Park explains how to the Nottingham Post:

Everybody who worked there used to go there because it used to a have a reggae sound system and it was the only place in Nottingham that wasn't like a Ritzy or full of idiots.
Selectadisc opened a London branch, which is frozen in time on the front of some sort of record; Selby eventually sold up in 2008 as the changing shape of the music industry started to have an impact.

Brian was 71; his family have set up a campaign in his memory to help the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Legendobit: Andy Williams

As you'd expect, there's a lot of love online for Andy Williams today.

Edward Eveld in the Kanasa City Star visits his home of Branson, Missouri:

Raeanne Presley, Branson mayor and a member of the family that owns Presleys’ Country Jubilee, said Wednesday was a sad day for the city, which lost both a legendary entertainer and a staunch Branson supporter.
“Around town he always had a wonderful smile that looked like he knew a little bit of a secret,” Presley said. “He was the snappiest dresser in town, always wearing some cool tennis shoes.”

Williams grew enamored with Branson in 1991 on a visit to see his friend, Ray Stevens. Soon after he built a 48,000-square-foot theater building that won a state conservation award for its setting. The Williams family built a home overlooking Lake Taneycomo and also had a home in La Quinta, Calif.
Williams had chosen to move to Branson in 1991; Ray Stevens was already living there and introduced him to the town.

It's not just where he lived at the end that he was adored. The Aiken Standard gathered memories from the town he left in 1985:
Former S.C. Rep. Skipper Perry worked at Houndslake's Country Club in the '70s the first time he met Williams. When Perry purchased Palmetto Package Shop downtown, the two reconnected when Williams started shopping there.
"My experiences with him were, No. 1, he was a gentlemen; No. 2, he drank good wine and champagne and No. 3, Aiken was a place where people wouldn't bother him," Perry said.
Aiken resident Rosamund McDuffie met Williams during his time in Aiken, as well.
"We will all miss him terribly," McDuffie said. "I do appreciate the fact that he was here ... He was a very honorable character. He was very good and easy to be around."
For the Star Tribune, Barry ZeVan recalled a backstage encounter in 1970:
Bob said I should just go backstage, knock on Andy's dressing room door and we could have the meeting. I did what Bob suggested. In those days, security was a little less stringent, and because of my television visibility, the security guards kindly recognized me and allowed us to get right to Andy's dressing room door. I knocked. Andy answered in about 10 seconds, "Yeah? What do you want", he asked. I said, "I'm a friend of Bob Finkel, and Bob said he thought it would be okay if my daughters and I said hello to you in person after tonight's show". He immediately (warmly, with a very big smile) welcomed us into his dressing room, he asked me about my history with Bob, the girls got his autograph, we had a nice, short visit, and left. That was that, and I never saw Andy face-to-face again.
What comes across in all of the small, personal stories is a man who made time to make other people feel special. These little, passing tales of kind words and making time probably explain as much about why he was still performing, still popular after such a long career as all the other analysis of his talents.

But, clearly, the voice helped as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rain Parade reuniting

After years of refusing demands for a comeback, The Rain Parade have announced a reunion. But it's in a good cause:

As for benefit show, promoter Chris Chandler says he asked Piucci why he’s reforming the Rain Parade now after years of resisting pleas for a reunion. Piucci’s response: “Our friend [The Windbreaker's Bobby Sutliff] was badly hurt. We were asked to help. Here we come.”
But reunions, once enacted, tend to stick. The band are apparently advertising for a drummer to play some European dates...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lyor Cohen quits Warners

Lyor Cohen, the man who knocked Warners back together after it escaped from Time Warner, has announced he's got something better to do with his time:

"To all the artists and employees who live and die for the music every day, and who personally sacrifice for the good of the creative process: 'keep on keepin' on' in the tradition of a company that respects and honors the artistic community," Cohen said in a statement.
The label is making warm noises about understanding his need for a new challenge, although what could be more challenging than keeping the leaky old Warners ship afloat we struggle to imagine.

Festivalwatch: Guilfest

Guilfest is dead at 21. After an especially hard year, being lashed with rain and giving a stage to Olly Murs, the organisers have said 'enough'.

"I'd love to see Guilfest keep going, but I think it's got to be somebody who takes the helm or somebody who would need deeper pockets," organiser Tony Scott said. His company Scotty Events Ltd has been left with debts of around £300,000.
I'm not entirely sure that quote from the NME is totally correct, but you get the gist.

Madonna endorses the Tea Party's version of Obama

You know what, Madonna? Your enthusiastic endorsement of Barack Obama for president during your DC gig might have been a bit more effective if you hadn't somehow given it in terms which endorsed a right-wing-nutsack view of American current affairs:

"Y'all better vote for f--king Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right? We have a black Muslim in the White House. Now that's some amazing s--t," she said. "It means there is hope in this country. And Obama is fighting for gay rights, so support the man, goddamnit."
A black Muslim? Jesus, that's the sort of shit I expect from my in-laws, not from someone who supposedly supports the man.

What has she got planned for subsequent dates? "Get behind Obama, it's amazing that we have a Kenyan citizen running death panels as a prelude to a full communist takeover, right?"

Planet Rock on the block

Planet Rock - which I think is the only surviving original DAB commercial channel - is up for sale, although owner Malcolm Bluemel might want to stress a little less how he's burned through three million quid propping the station up.

Currently Planet Rock has a million listeners - which is good news - but each one of those represents a 33p loss. It doesn't sound like it would be impossible to shift that towards a break-even point; the question is if anyone would care as passionately as Bluemel did to try.

Gordon in the morning: McFly attempt to break America

I suppose there's some sense in McFly having a crack at becoming as big in the US as they are in the UK right now, as... well, it's not like their UK popularity of 2012 is setting the target especially high, is it?

Gordon is being very supportive:

After a decade topping the UK charts, the four-piece are finally making a bid to crack the States.

The early signs are very good. Two nights at The Roxy, then two more at the famous Gramercy Theatre in New York this month all sold out in under a minute.
Finally making a bid to break the US, eh?

Have we forgotten 2006, when - buoyed by an appearance on the soundtrack to a Lindsay Lohan movie (oh, boys, you are so of your time) - the band, erm, made a huge push to break the states. Look, their website was very excited:
McFly are as we speak on a jet plane home after an 8 day promotional trip to the U.S. The boys have giving back to back interviews and performances from the East Coast in New York to the West Coast and Los Angeles ahead of the release of their U.S. album on May 9th and their movie debut in Just My Luck on May 12th. The boys will be back in the studio writing and recording in the UK before returning to the USA at the end of the month.
That album was the only one that got an American release.

And, despite Gordon's reportage, the band are pretty clear that this isn't really an attempt to build a massive new Romeny-voting fanbase, but merely a thank-you to their existing, small fanbase there - they don't even have a US label right now. They told Billboard about the dates, stressing what it was all about:
"We just want to go over and do some small shows for the fans that we know we have there," says McFly's co-lead singer and guitarist Tom Fletcher. "We've been wanting to do that for years and years and years and years. But we've just never had the opportunity, or something else has come up."

"We have some fans in America that have been fans for like eight or nine years -- right from the beginning -- so much so that they fly over to see us in the U.K. It's amazing that they are so dedicated. So I think we owe it to them to come over."
Doesn't really sound like a band seeing this as their big US break, does it?

Monday, September 24, 2012

MySpace tries again, again

There's about to be yet another MySpace relaunch. The preview of the the latest version looks surprisingly swish, but appears to be uncertain if it wants to be Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook. So it ends up looking like it's ripped off all of them.

Has MySpace managed to catch the moment? Can it be the go-to place for new music again?

Clue: They have got Justin Timberlake to be the relaunch star. His musical career kind of petered out around the time MySpace started its downward spiral so this looks more like a bid to attract back users from the glory days. Or - given he's the boss - a bid to do it on the cheap. Neither explanation fills you full of hope, does it?

Romney joins the Pirate Party

It's not unusual for political candidates in the US to get themselves involved in copyright bother, but Mitt Romney is taking things to a new level.

This isn't the embarrassing tshirt using an uncleared font.

Oh, no.

Romney actually owned shares in one of the biggest dodgy video sites in all of the Internet, Youku.

Yes, having sent China so many American jobs, Romney also helped underwrite Chinese piracy.

If he does win in November, at least the RIAA and MPAA lobbyists will know Mitt understands how people make money from unlicenced online content.

Megaupload: NZ government has exceeded its limits

The unhappy attempts to try and close down Megaupload is like a small, spiky thing that people keep catching their fingers on. The New Zealand PM has just been forced into admitting his government spied, illegally, on Kim Dotcom. Torrentfreak reports:

This morning Prime Minister John Key announced he has requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security after the Government Communications Security Bureau illegally intercepted the communications of individuals in the Megaupload case.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is an intelligence agency of the New Zealand government responsible for spying on external entities, much like the function of the CIA in the United States. It is forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the country.
It's important remember this apparent breach of the New Zealand constitution was in the vitally important cause of making sure nobody listens to a Phil Collins album without the correct paperwork.

The NZ opposition is claiming that Key would have had to have signed off on the eavesdropping.

Gordon in the morning: Oh well, whatever...

There's a round on Buzzcocks where the panel are going to be invited to spot the grown-up who was once the baby on the cover of Nevermind - this is meant to be a challenge, despite the way Spencer Eldon turns up on television and online more regularly than adverts for the Money Advisory Service.

They're on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. There's the baby from the Nirvana album. They have pixelated squares over their genitals. The headline, surely, is Nevermind The Bollocks?
It’s a case of Nevermind the Nirvana boy on the Buzzcocks

If that sounds clunky, here's the teaser text designed to tempt people from the front page of Bizarre to the story:
PHIL Jupitus and Noel Fielding had to attempt to identify the 21-year-old version of the nude baby that was photographed in a swimming pool and would go on to be one of the most iconic images within music for many years up until the present day - in a new episode of the hit music-comedy panel show
I understand in one of Michael Gove's new exams, students will be invited to try translating that into English.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grant Shapps sets aside funds to destroy Ringo's house after saving it

Oh, pity the politician who would save Ringo Starr's first home. You'll recall our old friend Flo Clucas who announced she'd preserved the house for the ages, only to mumble quietly when asked how that was going.

Then last year, Grant Shapps popped up to call a halt to the demolition, or rather to indicate he might not be unhappy if it didn't get knocked down. And this year, Shapps popped again to garner a bit of good publicity by announcing the previously-announced policy all over again.

Trouble is, he's mannaged to bugger things up and even while he was waving for the cameras, his department was busily releasing the funds to, erm, knock down the estate.

Grant Shapps saving Ringo's house. Not pictured: Grant Shapps signing off on destroying Ringo's house. Image: DOSaCDCLG CC-BY-ND

The Telegraph reported on the resulting court case earlier this week:
Grant Shapps, the former Housing Minister, accidentally signed off a regeneration project without realising it would demolish the house in which Ringo Starr was born, a court heard today.

Nine Madryn Street, in Dingle, was set to be knocked down by Liverpool City Council as part of regeneration plans for the Welsh Streets area of the city.

But a court heard the Conservative Party Chairman had not been informed that house would be bulldozed alongside 5,000 terraced homes as part of a £35.5 million regeneration project.
Perhaps it was one of Shapp's alter-egos who'd signed off on the deal? Or maybe he'd left his ministerial computer unattended, with a password of 1234 and a person or persons unknown "hacked" into the system?

The whole thing is now heading for judicial review, and at least Shapps is now simply chair of the Tory party, where if he makes a similar blunder he won't be damaging anything important to the nation.

Lady GaGa succes: not to be sniffed at

GaGa stink in a bottle is selling well, apparently:

Six million bottles in a week, eh? That's almost too good to be true.

In fact, it really does sound too good to be true.

In three months at the start of 2011, all the department store brands combined managed eight million units.

Is GaGa really not just outstripping the competition, but selling at something like ten times as fast?

Seems unlikely.

Is GaGa confusing the number shipped with the number actually sold?

Bookmarks: John Taylor

Splendid work by BBC News, which invites John Taylor to re-answer questions he first took from Number One and Smash Hits back when he was the most famous cheekbones on the planet:

Q: Why are you a tax exile? (Smash Hits Book of Personal Files, November 1986)

JT: "I didn't know I was. The only time we took a year out was '83 and I don't remember planning it in advance. It was just served up for us - this is what we're going to do. We were recording the difficult third album. We did it in the south of France, the Caribbean and finished it off in Sydney. These days I go backwards and forwards between the States and here and it's all the same tax wise."

In the Smash Hits grilling, he was quoted as saying he did not see why, "with a career that may at best last five years", he should give 70% of his earnings to the government. He says now: "I don't have a problem with tax."

This week just gone

What do Bng users search for that brings them here? A year's worth of data suggests:

1. xrrf
2. No Rock And Roll Fun
3. McFly nude
4. R Kelly sex video
5. Bev Rambough
6. Thom Yorke rude
7. Adam Yauch smoker
8. KT Tunstall gay
9. Marshall Grant
10. Stone Roses reform 2011

These were the interesting releases from, uh, the week before last:

Toy - Toy

Download Toy

Racehorses - Furniture

Download Racehorses

Amanda Palmer - Theatre Is Evil

Download Theatre Is Evil

The XX - Coexist

Download Coexist

Calexico - Algiers

Download Algiers

The Raveonettes - Observator

Download Observator

St Vincent & David Byrne - Love This Giant

Download Love This Giant