Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bookmarks: HMV

Lady_cait worked for the Virgin Megastores as they became Zavvi and then crashed into a wall. She then joined HMV, and is seeing her employer collapse all over again. She's hoping that as people get upset about their gift cards losing value, they'll also spare a thought for the 4,000 people losing much, much more:

Except its not 4000 jobs. It’s 4000 people. 4000 families. 4000 homes. Just like when our shop went under it was me and my credit card bills. Jess and her mortgage. Dan and his kids, Tony and his retirement plans. People’s lives thrown into absolute chaos. It’s the scariest thing that ever happened to me, and probably to alot of them too. I hope people realise that in the next few weeks, when they walk into a HMV and find out they can’t use their gift card anymore.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Progobit: Nic Potter

Nic Potter, who had two spells in Van Der Graaf Generator, has died.

Potter joined VDGG when the band reformed for the first time at the end of the 1960s, as original bassist Keith Ellis had decided to stick with Juicy Lucy. He didn't hang around for long, as he found Peter Hammill's interest in the occult unsettling; indeed, he only made it through three tracks' worth of recordings for the album H To He, Who Am The Only One. Including this one:

However, he came to terms with Hammill, touring extensively as part of Hammill's solo backing band and appearing on records. Potter also came back to Van Der Graaf Generator, rejoining in the late 70s - although he still found the dark side of the band's following disturbing.

Nic Potter had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia. He died Wednesday, at the age of 61.

The long Game

Last March, computer game store Game was having difficulties, and HMV was gloating. Gennaro Castaldo, hearing the rival chain was finding it hard to get hold of stock, sensed a chance:

We are working hard on our own advertising, PR and promotional activities, including specially-built product zones on, to send a positive message out to consumers so they know we have these titles in stock, and to highlight special deals we may be offering.
I think it's fair to say that the virtual-reality boot is now on the other player's foot controller. One winter on, and Game are offering to buy chunks of HMV's corpse:
Retailer Game has revealed that it is one of the 50 separate groups or individuals who have expressed an interest in buying all, or part of HMV.

Game has asked HMV's administrators, accountancy firm Deloitte, about the possibility of purchasing an undisclosed number of HMV stores.
Perhaps the best continuity bet for HMV having a (probably short-term) future comes from Hilco. They own the Canadian HMV, which operates under a licence.

It's a collapse jam-packed with irony.

Cover sludge: recreating The Beatles

Here's a headline to chill the blood:

Mick Hucknall and Stereophonics to re-record first Beatles album
Obviously it's not just those two; War and Famine will be also be taking part in the project to complete the team.

It's apparently a project designed by Radio 2 to celebrate "the golden age of the album" - so Kelly Jones must be on board to remind us how far we've fallen since then.

The idea is that Please Please Me will be recreated in twelve hours, thereby proving... something. That musicians can still work at the pace The Beatles did, presumably. But it's actually going to take about three hours longer than the original did.

Unconfirmed at present are rumours that 6Music is going to try and recreate The Spaghetti Incident sessions over a similar period taken by Axl.

Occupy HMV

While Deloitte are still trying to find a buyer for the UK HMV chain, the Ireland branches have been put into receivership and closed.

Staff, understandably, are angry as hell at being told they won't get paid, and are occupying the Limerick store:

Also being hit by the more extreme approach being taken in the Republic are the proceeds from a charity single. RTE explains:

€27,000 in funds raised by a charity single for a seriously ill child are in limbo because of the problems facing HMV.

More than 300 musicians took part in the recording of "Tiny Dancer", which went to number one.

Lily Mae Morrison, a four-year-old from Galway, is undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma at Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin.
The charity says that Deloitte are "aware of the sensitivity of the situation", by which I think they mean they know how bad a terrible situation could look. Perhaps Deloitte might like to pass a share of the squillions they're getting for closing HMV down to the charity as well?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Punkobit: MJ Drone

Michael Howells, once better known as MJ Drone, has died.

The Drones had originally been a pub rock act Rockslide, and seem to be the only Manchester punk band whose foundation isn't directly credited to the appearance of the Sex Pistols in the city. They'd reformated as a punk act shortly after Howells had joined the band.

They landed a spot on a Stranglers tour after Jean Jacques Brunel spotted them; a tour with Slaughter And The Dogs also saw them on the undercard, much to Drone's chagrin. At the time, the Drones had sold thousands of records, and had been led to believe it was going to be a co-headlining tour; the posters, though, made it clear Slaughter were top dogs.

It's fair to say that The Drones weren't drawn to punk by the political strand of the movement; when BBC Two documentary strand Brass Tacks spoke to the band and asked them to do something "punkish" for the camera, bassist Red Arse Whisper took the opportunity to get his arse out and fart.

They'd released a track, Rollercoaster, in their original incarnation; their first Drones release was on their own label. The Temptations Of A White Collar Worker was produced by Paul Morley - then, not-quite-an-NME-writer. It sold well enough to attract the attention of Valer Records, for whom they recorded a further ep and an album.

Here's where it started to fall apart; the band - apparently irked by Morley's interest in early Joy Division incarnation Stiff Kitten, the band and mentor went their separate ways.

The band signed with Fabulous, an Island Records imprint, but split before anything releasable was recorded.

There was a reunion in 1999, which did generate at long last, a second, final album.

Mike Drone continued to play - here's a performance from 2006:

MJ Drone died January 10th; there are no further details.

Gordon in the morning: Olly's sweet FA

Gordon has spotted a gruesome twosome:

HOW about this for an unusual partnership? Former England striker ALAN SHEARER and Essex lad OLLY MURS.

They got together for a chinwag and a couple of bevvies yesterday as the Football Association celebrated the launch of its 150th anniversary year in central London.
Two people at the same event have a chat hardly seems that unusual - perhaps if they were going round solving crimes, or announcing a civil partnership, there might be a raised eyebrow.

But Murs being at the event in the first place - there's something strange there. It turns out Murs has a role with the FA:
Man United fan Olly was at the bash because he’s just been named as an official ambassador for the FA.
Olly Murs. An ambassador. For the FA.

Did it not occur to the FA that they might have access to any number of well-renumerated, high-profile people who perhaps might be more appropriate to promote the image of football?

I'm picturing the scene at Lancaster Gate:

- Righto, we need someone to bring football to the public. How about Olly Murs?
- From the X Factor? Wouldn't it be more appropriate for us to get someone like Beckham?
- Don't be ridiculous, she'd be way too busy with the fashion and musicals and what-not.

Murs does have a connection to the world of Association Soccerball:
Back in the day, Olly was a half-decent footballer – even plying his trade as a semi-pro for Witham Town for a short while.
So that's half-decent performances at a non-league standard from Murs. But before that, he was a footballer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

OneUp down

As HMV bravely claims there's a way ahead, more grim news from record shops: Aberdeen's OneUp is closing:

"It is with deep regret that we have to announce a closing down sale.

"As you are all aware, recent trading has been very difficult. We cannot express just how much we have appreciated all the support our loyal customers have given over the years.

"And we would like to thank all of our past and present staff for their amazing effort who made One Up what it was, we could not have done it without you. We will continue to trade till January 31st and will keep you updated."
OneUp opened in 1979, and has been an enthusiastic and key part of the local music scene since then. Not just selling records, but offering performances too:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gift vouchers expired

Not an unexpected move, but Deloitte have just announced that any HMV gift vouchers will not be honoured.

I can understand why they do this, but every time that announcement is made, it just destroys any lingering confidence and goodwill, doesn't it?

HMV limps on

You don't want to look, but you can't look away: HMV is continuing to limp on, with Deloitte apparently planning to find a buyer for the business.

It'd be a miracle if Deloitte could even find a business there, much less something to sell.

You'd have to wish the administrators luck - there are real people whose jobs hang in the balance now; people who aren't to blame for the decade of decline and hare-brained cinemas-and-youth-hangout schemes.

Equally, you'd struggle to see what administrators could do, starting from here. At least with Fopp, and MVC, there was always a chance that a rival chain might be interested in buying the rump. There's no rival chains any more.

There's a brand - if even dear old Zavvi lives on as a URL, that suggests there might be some room for HMV to hang about making a mockery of the chain's failure to develop a digital strategy. But there's few jobs in there, and - seriously - does anyone really go to or and think it's the same business?

So: a little early for publishing the obituaries. But I doubt if anyone hasn't already started writing them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

HMV throws in the towel

BBC News is reporting that HMV has appointed administrators and suspended trading in its shares.

It looks pretty grim indeed now.

Chill remains in deep freeze

Last year there was no Big Chill, ostensibly because of the Olympics. Presumably the cancellation of the 2013 event is the Olympic legacy?

Teena Marie has one last album

When Teena Marie died in 2010, there was an album waiting to be released. It's finally getting an airing, after Marie's daughter, Alia Rose, did the leg work to get it out.

SCUM washed off our streets

SCUM are the latest band to take advantage of the new year to call it a day:

Hello everyone, It seems an appropriate time to announce after a long hiatus - S.C.U.M have collectively decided that we will no longer play or continue to write together.

We'd all like to thank you for all of your support but we have chosen to part ways and work on new projects. See you all very soon.

Tom, Brad, Huw, Mel and Sam x
They done that on their Facebook.

Relive they way they were with their 2012 Daytrotter session.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Olivia Harrison halts Beatles statue plans

James Lambert had been trying to raise interest in putting up a statue to George Harrison in Henley On Thames, but he's put his ideas on hold after Mrs Harrison suggested he might think again:

James Lambert, 42, from Henley-on-Thames, wrote to Olivia Harrison but was informed she would prefer a community project in his name.
What's quite cute is that Lambert has taken this to be a warning about the dangerous power having a lifesize Harrison would give the town:
Mr Lambert admitted: "The statue could create problems of different types of fans turning up, the unwanted fans."
Sadly, the BBC News report lacks a venn diagram showing who the "unwanted fans" might be - or, indeed, who the wanted ones are.

Presumably there's a fear of Henley being overtaken by rowdy fans of 60s Music and statuary, getting up to - who knows what? The unlicenced erection of Ringo Starr statues? The singing of madrigals inspired by Harrison? Attempts to use some form of electricity to animate the Harrison statue, marching it up the high street stealing watches and valuables from frightened locals?
"I think the danger was it wouldn't just become a Henley acknowledgement of George's work but would encourage more people to visit Henley."
Good lord, can you imagine the scenes? People from Henley being stood in front of the George statue, only to have their reverie interrupted by a car from, say, Milton Keynes, or Welwyn, or Liverpool, packed full of people wanting to look at the bronze.

When you consider that possibility, why, there's no way it could go ahead, is there?

This week just gone

The most-read stories from 2013 so far are:

1. Shrag split
2. NME's best singles of 1993
3. Cassingles are growing in popularity
4. HMV slashes prices to stay afloat
5. Video: Tindersticks
6. What are people saying about the new Bowie single?
7. If someone steals Damon's bike, he buys a new one
8. Bowie v Hendrix v Suede
9. Video: Suede
10. NME hails Haim

These are the interesting releases:

Broadcast - Berberian Sound Studio

Download Berberian Sound Studio

Gallops - Yours Sincerely, Doctor Hardcore

Download Greatest Hits

Francoise Hardy - Francoise Hardy

Download Greatest Hits

Merz - No Compass Will Find Home