Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mick Jagger defends ticket prices

The Rolling Stones have been on something of a charm offensive the last couple of days to justify the gougy prices for tickets on the current tour.

Obviously, we know the justification for a ninety quid starting price point - it's what people will pay and the band are greedy.

That isn't what Mick Jagger says, though:

You might say, 'The tickets are too expensive' - well, it's a very expensive show to put on, just to do four shows, because normally you do a hundred shows and you'd have the same expenses.
Um... Up to a point. Yes, your fixed costs would be spread over a lot more gigs, but let's be clear that this isn't some sort of U2 multimedia bollocks where the band arrive in a spaceship made from guitars, so a large wedge of the outgoings will be marginal - venue hire, electricity, staff, and whatever it takes to stop Keith Richards turning into a pile of dust for another day.

Mick knows that, and so instead embarks on trying a spot of distraction, by pointing instead at the secondary market:
"So, yes, it's expensive," he added. "But most of the tickets go for a higher price than we've sold them for, so you can see the market is there. We don't participate in the profit. If a ticket costs 250 quid. let's imagine, and goes for 1,000 quid, I just want to point out that we don't get that difference."
True, but just because they gouge on top of the original price doesn't alter the fact that the original price was already ratcheted up.

Luther Towns fall out over Pussy Riot

Every couple of years, the Luther Towns of Germnay give an award in the Reformist's memory, honouring those who speak out against injustice.

This year, they've decided it should go to Pussy Riot.

I say "decided" - it's not quite that simple.

Because Pussy Riot were protesting in a church, some of the people connected with the prize think that the women are unfit to be given the honour.

Given it's in memory of a man who went round nailing his revolutionary demands to church buildings, surely it's a bit surprising The Luther Towns are squeamish at the idea of churches as venues of social protest?

Gordon in the morning:Obama pants

Obama's second term is down to Katy Perry, reports Gordon Smart:

KATY PERRY is taking credit for BARACK OBAMA’s election win after buying him a pair of lucky Y-fronts with his face on them.
Nothing would give you confidence like discovering your four years has seen you reduced to a novelty figure picking up skidmarks.

But tell me Gordon: is Katy really claiming her comedy knickers brought victory?
[A source said] “Katy’s been saying he won because of the lucky pants.”
So it was just a joke, as you, erm, recognise:
That sense of humour explains why her marriage to RUSSELL BRAND was so brief.
But, of course, if you admitted from the outset that you're writing about a weak gag... Why, there'd be no story at all...

Friday, November 09, 2012

A new weekend dawns for Radio 1

Yesterday, we were cutting through BHS to get to the other side of the mall, and out the corner of my eye I spotted a display using Reggie Yates to sell trousers.

I'm a little ashamed to say I laughed out loud.

One of the assistants looked a little crestfallen.

Clearly, this piece of negative reaction has set off a chain reaction, as less than 24 hours later the BBC has announced that Reggie Yates is leaving Radio One.

Yates is giving up his watch on The Chart Show, with Jameela Jamil being given the slot. For younger readers, "the chart show" is a programme where the records that manage to sell more than one or two copies in a week are celebrated.

Along with Yates, Vernon Kay is also leaving the network - it's astonishing to think that he was still there. I'm not entirely keen on the idea of Radio One adopting a quietus for any presenter who hits puberty, but the idea that you can simultaneously have your face on a board game box for sale in John Lewis and front a programme aimed at cutting edge younger listeners seemed the sort of idea that Bannister had wiped from the network.

Dan and Phil - who are "YouTube sensations" are being brought in for the request show. They might be good, but I'm struggling with the idea that 'good on YouTube' is synonymous with 'good at two hours of live radio'.
Taking over the mantle of the Sunday night Radio 1 Request show are YouTube sensations Dan and Phil who will have a brand new fully visualised show between 7-9pm, interacting with listeners and playing the music they want. This brand new show along with the last hour of the charts will make Sunday evenings a fully visual experience on Radio 1 from 6-9pm.
If it's a "fully visual" experience, isn't that a problem for people who choose to listen to radio on the radio?

One interesting point: Sara Cox is moving back to daytime to provide maternity cover for Fearne Cotton. She's been on Radio One for 13 years now, and is only a year younger than Chris Moyles. I think we should all toast her survival skills.

Gordon in the morning: An expanding empire

There's a new section in Gordon's showbiz coverage from this morning.

It covers clubs.

It's called Clubz. With a Z.

Which is charming; it's the sort of naming convention a short-lived kebab shop in a declining market town would have gone with.

I wonder if they thought of going with "Discotex" at all?

It's got pieces on Pete Tong and Carl Cox, so it's pretty much coming straight from street level.

Shopwatch: Avalanche, Edinburgh

Bad news from Edinburgh, I'm afraid: Avalanche Records is closing in January.

The announcement is not without hope - there are plans, someone trying to find a new way of financing the store; possibly some sort of move online. But, for the time being, there's nothing solid.

The reason for the closure? Here's what they say in their announcement:
In the 6 months from the start of 2011 many new releases from PJ Harvey to Bon Iver sold well and certainly the location was not a problem. However over the last year or so not only has there been less big releases for us but even those we would hope to do well with have not sold well. The new Animal Collective album is just the latest example. The last Frightened Rabbit EP and new Godspeed album were reminders of how it used to be. As happened with the Tom Waits album that FOPP seemed to fail to keep in stock we did get a fair number of people who came to the shop for the new Godspeed album on vinyl because FOPP were out of it proving unfortunately that our sales are not entirely in our own hands. We are not alone as the figures I gave recently showed the indies losing market share on new vinyl at the same time that sales were increasing by 10%.

However the biggest loss has been in selling local and Scottish bands. While our reputation has grown our sales have plummeted. As many will have heard me say more than once selling an album to fans is the easy bit. Selling it to those who don’t know the album or artist is far harder and often time consuming. If that is all that is left to a shop it simply isn’t economical. Even the latest Meursault album which is at No. 2 in our chart achieved that with just a quarter of the sales of the first album. Seventy per cent of those sales were on my recommendation.
Let's hope the plans to save the business come together before it's too late.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Robbie Williams: Pensioner puncher

Has being accused of being too old for Radio One's A List got Robbie Williams worried? Why else would he be featured punching a pensioner in the video for Candy were it not to try and prove how he's not an older person himself?

Or maybe the older woman he hits is meant to represent 'Robbie as an elder', and by punching out Williams is trying to destroy this new image?

(Or, of course, it could be the video was shot ages ago and he wouldn't even have known he'd have been sent out into the Status Quo wilderness by Radio One when he made the clip.)

Whatever, the idea of punching a woman has gone down pretty badly with the organisations struggling to stop people treating older people like shit:

However, the National Pensioners Convention has attacked the video, with general secretary Dot Gibson telling The Sun : ''Celebrities should think twice before making ageist comments which seem to imply that pensioners should be treated in a degrading way. Elder abuse is a serious issue and needs to be tackled rather than seen as a bit of a joke. We need to be uniting the generations, not suggesting that they are different. Pensioners are just young people who grew older.''
Williams' team had a response:
A spokesperson for Williams commented: ''Robbie Williams does not condone violence in any way; the plot for this particular video did involve some aggressive scenes but they in no way reflect his views on violence in real life. He was playing a particular role in the video."
So, er, that's alright then. He only hits older women when he's on the television; in real life he doesn't do it.

I'm not sure that's actually encouraging: to foist a stereotype of people born before you as in the way and expendable. According to the UK Studyof Abuse and Neglect of Older People Prevalence Survey Report, one out of twenty-five people aged over 66 experiences abuse in any given year. That's quite a punchline, Robbie.

Gary Barlow: the Wilderness years

So, as Gary Barlow picked up his Music Industry Trust Award he gave a little speech:

Barlow himself reminded the audience at the Grosvenor hotel that it hadn't always been easy for him, saying in his acceptance speech that "I loved the fact that I spent seven years in the wilderness, doing a lot of eating".
The wilderness, eh? As self-aggrandising claims go, comparing yourself to Jesus is one of the biggies. But was Barlow really, like Jesus, out in the desert having his faith tempted? The "lot of eating" reference suggests superficially that, had the devil suggested he turned stones to bread for a bit of lunch, Barlow would have said he'd already eaten, but more specifically, was Barlow experiencing a period of self-imposed exile?

There was a period when nobody bought his solo records - mainly because they were godawful - but that isn't going into the wilderness; a closer biblical parallel would be that of the scapegoat, with Barlow being made to carry the sin of Take That's collapse.

But after that, Barlow was busy writing songs for people like Charlotte Church and Shirley Bassey. So, not exactly alone and out in the wilds, then.

Gordon in the morning: First with the news

Hold the front page. Gordon has exciting news:

Benedict Cumberbatch is coming back Holmes

Third Sherlock series is go

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and MARTIN FREEMAN are two of the most sought-after British actors in Hollywood.

But the pair have stayed loyal to their fans here by signing up for a third series of BBC1’s Sherlock.
That is pretty exciting news. Not quite as exciting as it was when it was announced back in January, but exciting nevertheless.

Still, despite running a ten month-old story, Gordon doesn't miss the chance to be his master's voice:
Women all over the UK will be dusting off the Sky+ in preparation.
Now, while I'm sure he hopes that Rupert Murdoch will be pleased at the mention of another part of his empire, isn't the implication that Sky+ machines might be sitting around, so unused they become dusty, actually less of a plug for the device?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Music Industry Trust honours famous tax dodger

Really, Music Industry Trust? You couldn't think of anyone who actually pays their taxes to give your Award to?

Gary Barlow picked up the prize, and the MIT fawned all over him:

It’s probably true to say that, in what is already a remarkable career, 2012 has been like no other year for Gary. I can’t think of another artist who works with both Simon Cowell and Her Majesty The Queen; eventful is an understatement.
Funny thing, that: working with the Queen. A woman funded from central taxation, which Barlow goes out of his way to avoid paying. Let's give him a prize, shall we?

Chris Brown shares a secret

The continued treating of Chris Brown like he's a person is unpleasant enough, but let's check in with the man as someone asks him to share something nobody knows about him:

"I think, [it's] that I'm 100 percent dedicated in everything that I do," Brown said. "I want to embody everything that's positive."

"I've accomplished all I need to accomplish in my life as far as me being able to say I can successfully sing, I can dance onstage with the greatest," he continued. "At the end of the day, when I need to be great is when people can say I've helped out the world. It first starts here, helping myself, but what I want to do is bring peace to the world.

"Not to sound all Teen USA!" he laughed.
Somewhere there's a recording angel peering at his notes going 'dude, you're not even right about the dancing'.

Gordon in the morning: Twenty years of pain

JLS are looking to the future. Marvin tells Gordon:

We want to be JLS for ever – and as long as we keep making good music and keep busy then there’s no reason we can’t be here in 20 years’ time.
I can't see any real reason for them to be here now, so, equally, there's no reason they shouldn't still be doing it in 2032.

I love the idea of them "keeping busy" for two decades, as if their success will continue providing they have a bunch of To-Do lists. If they fix the shelves, tidy the shed and empty the dishwasher, that'll get them to the next Greatest Hits collection.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Pitbull believes we'll have to wait for him to die to enjoy him

Pitbull is thinking about how history will judge him.

And history is going to love him, he reckons:

The 31-year-old rapper - whose real name is Armando Pirez - wouldn't be a fan of his own work if he were younger, but thinks his true ''brilliance'' will be appreciated in years to come.
This is a bit confusing - if he was younger, and making the same work, he'd hate it? Can you explain, Mr. Bull?
He said: ''If I was younger, I'd think it was some bulls**t. The music isn't brilliant."
I'm older than you, and I think it's some bullshit.

But, yes, we can agree that your music isn't brilliant. We might argue a bit over if it's actually music. Do go on.
''People don't understand brilliance until after the fact - which happens with all artists, whether that's Picasso, Michelangelo, Van Gogh.''
Let's just set aside the lofty company into which Pitbull is elbowing his way - he's less a Picasso than the bloke who draws willies on the toilet wall in a market town Wetherspoons - and just consider that claim.

Picasso was being enthusiastically collected on both sides of the Atlantic by 1905. During his lifetime, Michaelangelo was considered the greatest living artist - you don't get the Sistine Chapel gig if you're thought a bit edgy and only liked by the hipsters. Van Gogh did fail to breakthrough during his lifetime, so that's one out of three.

Gordon in the morning: First with the news

Gordon Smart is a man in the know. He's on the beat, he's up to date. You can read all about the new No Doubt video on Bizarre this morning:

TALK about a fitting name for a song – NO DOUBT’s new single is called Looking Hot.

GWEN STEFANI is doing exactly that in the Wild West-themed video.
Nowhere, though, in a piece published on Sunday, does he find room to mention that the band pulled the video on Saturday.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Formatwatch: Pono

Neil Young is unhappy thathis high-quality music is being squished into mp3 format and played back on crappy speakers.

He's got a plan though: He's going to persuade people to buy a new player and a new format. This will be high-quality music. What could go wrong?

Obviously, if you're punting a high-quality music player, it's going to have to be a high-end product all the way through. So this player, Pono, is going to be a thing of great beauty, right?

Um... okay, maybe they're starting with a Fisher Price version for toddlers to catch them young, yeah?

Young doesn't seem to have any understanding of how people are listening to music now - streaming it from the cloud, using their phones - which is why the obvious questions, like 'what makes you think people are suddenly going to buy a standalone music player like it's 2002 all over again?' haven't derailed the process of bringing this product to market.

More to the point, Young's motivation is misplaced:
For quite some time now, Young has lamented the decline of music during the digital age. It’s not pirating that’s the culprit. It’s the MP3, a format that degrades the quality of the music we hear. Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference earlier this year (watch here), Young complained that the MP3 can’t “transfer the depth of the art.” “My goal,” he continued, “is to try and rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years.”
Trouble is, hardly anyone has ever listened to music in high quality. Sure, a few people spent thousands on top-end hi-fi systems and treated playing vinyl as a sacrement.

But most people who played Cosby, Stills, Nash And Young records would have done so on a wobbly turntable, with a needle that should have been replaced at some point in the past. Lucky copies of the disc might have got a quick wipe-over with an EMITECH cloth, but most would have just been defluffed by a rub on a jumper sleeve. Once sent on its bouncy, crackly way, the music would have been heard through a built-in tinny speaker, or a couple of wall speakers located not to create a perfect diamond of sound, but to avoid having to move the fish bowl and to make use of a shelf already on the wall.

Beyond that, it would have been stretched cassette tapes turning at strange speeds as batteries faded, or CD players in cars fighting engine and road noise.

Yeah, MP3 and earbuds are a bit crappy. But there has never been a time in the history of rock when people have treated musical fidelity with the respect Young seems to think it deserves.

[Thanks to Michel M]

Little Big Ban: No Doubt pull video, claims some of their friends are Native Americans

No Doubt have, within the last 24 hours, unveiled a Western-themed video for Looking Hot, pulled it, and issued an apology:

“As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures. Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American people, their culture or their history.

Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realize now that we have offended people. This is of great concern to us and we are removing the video immediately.

The music that inspired us when we started the band, and the community of friends, family, and fans that surrounds us was built upon respect, unity and inclusiveness. We sincerely apologize to the Native American community and anyone else offended by this video. Being hurtful to anyone is simply not who we are.”
Yes, they might have phrased it slightly differently, but the did slip "some of our friends are Native Americans into their apology.

To be fair to No Doubt, their defence is pretty solid - they've never been the sort of band you'd look at and think "well, the English Defence League would enjoy this" - which just makes the misstep even more bemusing.

Especially if they consulted Native American experts. Which academic in the field would have said "yeah, go ahead and make a pop video in which cowboys fight with 'Indians'. There won't be a problem with that'".

MOBOs decide to fall in line and give prizes to Emeli Sande

Last night's Music Of Black Origin In The Sense That The Organisers Take The Phrase 'Black Origin' To Mean Awards in Liverpool saw one of the hot trends of 2012 being resolutely stuck to.

That's the 'pretending for some reason that Emeli Sande's admittedly alright performances are in someway superhuman' trend, of course. The one that saw her being left to more-or-less carry great swathes of the Olympic ceremonies, of course.

Sande picked up three prizes, in the categories of 'Best R&B/Soul if you don't have much time to think about it', 'Best Album if you carefully exclude the better ones for various reasons' and 'Best female act if we follow through the logic of our other choices'.

Plan B took two, but you don't need to listen to me - here's the full list of winners:

Best Gospel: Rachel Kerr
Best Jazz: Zoe Rahman
Best Reggae: Sean Paul
Best African Act: D’Banj
Best Song: Labrinth
Best R&B/Soul: Emeli Sandé
Best Album: Emeli Sandé
Best Hip Hop/Grime: Plan B
Best Video: JLS
Best Female Act: Emeli Sandé
Best Male Act: Plan B
Best Newcomer: Rita Ora
Best International: Nicki Minaj
The decision to hold the awards on a Saturday night was to give a higher profile to the event, which was successful, clashing only with The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and dozens of bonfire night parties.

This week just gone

Popular on this day in history - most-read back through the years:

2011 - New Top 40 will save music
2010 - Nadine Coyle releases limited single; Gordon Smart surprised it sells in limited quantities
2009 - R Kelly sex video admissible court evidence
2008 - R Kelly sex video admissible court evidence
2007 - Heather Mills disrobes for PETA
2006 - Red Hot Chili Peppers lead MTV EMA shortlist

These were the interesting releases:

Tracy Thorn - Tinsel And Light

Download Tinsel And Lights

Sandy Denny - The Notes & The Words

Download The Notes & The Words

The Wedding Present - Live 1991

Download Live 1991

Kylie - The Abbey Road Sessions

Download Abbey Road Sessions

Loreen - Heal

Download Heal