Saturday, February 09, 2013

Soulobit: Cecil Womack

Cecil Womack has died.

He married Sam Cooke's daughter, Linda - although he proposed to her first when she was just twelve. He explained this to The Independent back in 1994:

By the time her father died in 1964 I felt very close to her. I decided to get my nerve together and propose to her. Either way I wanted to know how she felt about me. One evening, just before I was about to go on tour, I told her, 'I know this may sound strange to you, but I really want to marry you.' She said we were both too young. She wasn't shocked by my confession, but just thought the timing was wrong. She had plans to go to college. Sometimes I wish we had got together then.
Perhaps even more uncomfortably, he told the paper he'd thought about her "romantically" from the time she was eight; although he also describes his feelings for her as "like brother and sister".

It's clearly something of complicated relationship. Especially as he was her step-uncle as well.

Perhaps it's better to focus on the music together - and working together was something Cecil had to fight for:
When we married we started working together all the time. I think that upset some people. A lot of the guys I worked with were very anti-women. They knew I was all for promoting women who could do the job well. I've had good relationships with women and kind of looked after them.
Perhaps the best-known fruits of their collaboration is Teardrops. And that's had a healthy second life, being picked up by the XX:

Cecil Womack died on February 1st. He was 65.

Parlophone moves from one empire to another

As part of the deal to allow EMI to become part of Universal, Parlophone had to be put up for sale.

The idea being that if you take EMI out of the marketplace, power becomes highly concentrated in just three major labels' mechanised-hand-like-claws, and that would be a bad thing.

So, who has bought Parlophone, to save us from this idea that most of the Western world's chart music will be held by just three companies?


I know what you're thinking: how does Parlophone being held by a different major make things more competitive?

But that is to misunderstand competition law: it exists not to allow everyone to compete equally; it functions to ensure that those who are already rigging the market play nicely amongst themeselves.

The Independent, by the way, thinks the key detail in this deal is something else:

Russian-born billionaire Blavatnik buys Blur and Coldplay in £500m Warners Parlophone takeover
Obviously, given the person paying for the ink and the Windows licences at the Indie, being Russian-born is rather more significant for that paper than it might be for the rest of us.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Ping is dead! Long live the Ping!

Over at Cult Of Mac, speculation that Apple is going to try a social-network-music thing again.

Oh, sure, they got burned by Ping, but this time it'll be different:

Apple’s social service would no doubt give people the opportunity to establishing lasting connections, but the default will likely be to erase connections and dissolve the networks when everyone leaves.

More importantly, Apple could achieve what Ping never could, which is to give people the means to share and socially discover music and other content, always with the added benefit of offering a path to purchase for that content.
The USP seems to be that Apple won't store your data forever - Cult Of Mac describe this as "consequence free sharing", which would probably be useful if you find your curiosity driving you to listen to the Barron Knights one more time.

Bjork falls short

Bjork was looking to raise £375,000 from her fans through Kickstarter, in order to port the Bioplhilia app to Android and Windows 8.

In a handwritten note, Bjork told fans:

I feel I cannot leave this project before this has been done since this seems to be the area where it can bloom most
It's not going to bloom now, as the campaign has been dropped a third of the way through, with only £15,370 promised.

There's no explanation of why the campaign has been ended, although the slow take-up would seem to be the most likely reason.

There was an educational programme connected with the app, and much of the Kickstarter plea focused on this - but it doesn't disguise the fact that the fabulously wealthy Bjork was seeking other people to fund the porting of an app which retails for thirteen dollars in the iTunes store. While the education programme might be not-for-profit, there's no suggestion that the Kickstarter project is funding a not-for-profit scheme.

The Biophilia educational website is also a little strange - without wanting to impugn either its motivation or value, if this is a "not for profit" scheme, there's nothing on the website which underpins this status - no charity number, no non-profit pledge. And there's not very much detail on who the organisation is. While the app and how it can be used educationally is explored through a series of videos, there's not very much on the 'who are you'.

Yes, you might give to a Kickstarter to get a signed photo or an exclusive t-shirt, but if what's being sold is that you're helping out a not-for-profit educational organisation, you'd be looking for a bit more explanation of how your money actually supports that aim, surely?

Of course, it might just be that she's paused the appeal in order to add porting to the Blackberry Z10.

Grammys 2013: That dress order in full

Let's take a closer look at the peekaboo dress ban.

It's worth noting that this comes from CBS - the broadcaster - rather than the Grammys organisers themselves:

February 5, 2013, 10:39:56 PM EST

Subject: 55th GRAMMYS: Standard And Practice Wardrobe Advisory

kindly confirm receipt of s&p standards

***GRAMMYS 2013***

CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic.

Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack.

Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic.

Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.

Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure.

Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts.

Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared.


This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera.

Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided.

This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.
The stipulation that it's only female breasts that need to be "adequately" covered is good news for Mumford And Sons, who've been up late every night this week putting sequins on their low-cut bikini tops.

What's wonderful about this isn't that CBS felt it was an appropriate intervention in the first place, but that they felt the need to go into such poetic detail.

Puffy Genital Skin. Is that even a thing? Is toned genital skin acceptable?How far from the epicentre do we get before the skin can safely be seen? And does the level network approved puffiness increase or decrease with distance from sexual organs? It's surprising that such a tightly-worded missive fails to provide some sort of measurement assistance.

The suspicion is that this is less about CBS panicking about a stray boob bouncing in the background of an Ed Sheeran performance, and more about trying to make the red carpet less of a spectacle.

The Red Carpet - or hours of unbroken coverage of people just out the shower walking towards a theatre - is carried by cable outfits like E! and TV Guide, rather than CBS. Would it be that CBS is trying to stop its seventeen hour Grammy telecast being edged out of the next day's media coverage by pages and pages of photos of Jennifer Lopez where you can, like, see her underboob.

The last line of the email, though, is the real stinker. Not even a lapel pin or a wristband reflecting something you believe in?

One thing to tell people to put their junk away. Is CBS really in a position to tell people to make their sure their consciences don't peek out from under their shirts, too?

Gordon in the morning: Grammy cover-up uncovered

The organisers of the Grammys don't want their show to be anything less than classy this year. So they're telling people how to dress:

According to a leaked email, stars are under strict instructions not to flash too much flesh while at the ceremony.
It said: "Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts are problematic."
Thongs, exposed nipples, bum crack, side and underboob are all a no go area.
So, will that work, or will it merely make matters worse as The Sun ransacks its photo archive, using this as an excuse to rerun "you could deffo see a nip" photos?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Dave Grohl grabs at Britney Spears' breasts

Dave Grohl is currently filling in as a chat-show host, covering Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately. On one show, his thoughts turned to Britney Spears:

She just kinda seems dead inside, like there's nothing behind her eyes…
Well, a lot of people have worried about Britney for a long time, Dave, particularly the concern that she's going through the motions on behalf of those who have a financi... oh, you hadn't finished?
Like there's nothing in her boobs anymore!
Hold on, what?

I suppose we should be thankful to Grohl - while scientists struggle for years to discover new particles, Grohl has managed to isolate what appears to be a subatomic form of sexism.

Oh, sure, there's the usual sexism - reducing Britney Spears to her tits.

But then there's a much, much deeper sexism there, reducing her to as just some sort of milch-cow, while simultaneously declaring her to have been milked dry, and thus without value at all.

Here's a thought, Dave: perhaps she's dead inside because of people looking at her and going "it's not even like her tits are that pert these days."

Doubtless Foo Fighters fans are already preparing defences of Grohl. By tea time, I imagine they'll be able to explain how he's actually being progressive.

BPI hails digital

The BPI has, at least, resisted the temptation to describe the 19% of UK music buyers who only ever download as "digital natives". Let's be thankful for that.

They seem thrilled by this news, as it gives it something positive to say after a grim couple of months.

"There has rightly been a lot of focus in the past few weeks on high street music retail. That will continue – we must do all we can to serve music fans who love CDs and vinyl," said the BPI chief executive, Geoff Taylor.
I'm not sure what he means here - does he mean that high street retail will continue? Or the "focus" on it will continue? And whose focus? Ours? The BPI's?

If it's the industry's focus, last month Taylor was kind of vague when talking to Billboard about what the BPI was doing:
We're working very hard together with AIM [Association of Independent Music] in talks with the administrator of HMV. Secondly, we are talking to [U.K. collection society] PRS for Music about the way that publishers approach mechanical royalties on stock for which labels are not being paid, or only being paid a fraction of its value. It's important that the publishing community help labels ensure that HMV has a viable future and that as much of HMV can emerge as a viable ongoing concern as possible.
Obviously, you wouldn't expect Taylor to detail exactly what moves were being made, but given that's an interview with a trade magazine, you'd expect something more than "we're having chats with the people managing the decline" as a roadmap.

Still, back to today, and Taylor's embrace of the new figures:
But as well as great music stores...
You're going to have to speak up, Geoff, we can't hear you above the sound of boards being nailed over HMV windows.
...Britain is blessed with a world-beating array of digital music services, which fans rate very highly for ease of use and value for money. And this is just the beginning."
Only a puritan hides his fear of Springtime by pretending to celebrate it. There's a hollowness to this embrace of digital from an organisation whose members struggled against the tide for so long.

And the suggestion that Britain is somehow at the heart of things is surprising - perhaps he's thinking of America's iTunes or Amazon, or Sweden's Spotify. (True, Spotify is headquartered in London now, but its heart is still Scandinavian.)

And the value for money claim is surprising.

In the US, Spotify premium costs $9.99. At the moment, that's £6.38. The same package costs £9.99 here ($15.65 in USD.)

In the US, the top tier of iTunes pricing is $1.29, equivalent to 82p. In the UK, the top rate is 99p - $1.55 at current exchange rates.

When Geoff Taylor hails the value for money, it'd be nice if he could explain what the extra value UK customers are getting for this hefty mark-up.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Justin Bieber date stolen by the Tories

The Tories slipped ten grand into party coffers recently, proceeds from auctioning backstage passes to meet Justin Bieber.

Trouble is, Universal records, who donated the prize, thought they were giving the tickets to charity:

In a statement, the Canadian star's label Universal UK said it thought it was donating to the government-backed GREAT campaign "to help spread the word globally about the UK's culture, heritage and creativity".

It added: "As part of that support we have donated tickets and Meet & Greet passes."
The Tories claim otherwise:
In response, a Conservative party spokesman said: "The Black and White Party is a Conservative party fundraising event.

"The tickets and access to Justin Bieber were donated to that event.

"Universal were aware that the money would go towards Conservative party campaigning."
So, the choice we have is do we believe a record label or the Tory party?

In this case, given the care that Universal have taken to create a frictionless, valueless, empty bucket with Justin Bieber's face on it, it seems more likely that they didn't intend to imply he was endorsing a political party.

Which puts the Tories in something of a tight spot. If they had snaffled prizes that were intended to promote the UK and used them to line their own pockets, that's bad.

If they then lied about it, why, that would be disgraceful.

Let's hope for Central Office's sake it's Universal who are lying, eh?

Gordon in the morning: A favour we could do without

Eminem is, it appears, helping us out:

EMINEM is doing the British music industry another favour 13 years after boosting DIDO’s career by sampling her track Thank You on his controversial single Stan.
That was a favour? We're still picking up the pieces from that one.
The American rapper has now sampled young Bristolian singer JAMIE N COMMONS for the chorus of an upcoming new single of his.
The blues-influenced singer will be hoping that his career goes the same way as Dido’s did.
Heh heh, very funny, Gordon.

Oh, hang on, you're not joking, are you?

The way Dido's career went, in case anyone's forgotten, was a drop in 15 million sales between first and third albums. Her last release, Safe Trip Home, didn't even make Gold in the UK, and that's despite a tie-in with Nectar Cards.

But, hey, if Jamie Commons wants a career that goes the same way, who are we to argue? Maybe he's got plans to open a DIY store or something in 2016.

Elsewhere in Gordon's section, Jennifer Lawrence appears to have been running around with her tits out:
Jennifer Lawrence flashes her ‘wonky boobs’ at Oscar nominees’ bash
Really, Alison Maloney? Jennifer Lawrence was flashing her breasts at an Oscars party? Are you sure?
The Silver Linings Playbook star – who recently stunned docs with worries about her wonky boobs – flashed her cleavage in the plunging floral gown at the Hollywood Reporter Nominees’ Night at Spago.
Ah, so when you say "flashes her boobs", you mean "wears a dress with a V-shaped neck". That's not really the same thing, is it?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Gordon in the morning: Women meets man, doesn't lead to sex

Olly Murs is on a US tour at the moment. (He isn't, he's playing three showcase dates, but apparently we're now supposed to pretend that's a tour in its own right.)

Gordon reports someone famous was at one of them:

Modern Family actress SARAH HYLAND was at the former X Factor contestant’s sold-out show at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles last week.

The 22-year-old brunette – who plays Haley Dunphy in the award-winning sitcom – hung around in the VIP area to meet Olly and have her picture taken with him after the gig.
Most people will think 'well, that's quite nice'. Gordon, though, seems convinced we need to parse this through a 'DOES THIS MEAN THEY WILL BE BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND AND DO IT, THEN' lens:
But there is no Hollywood romance on the cards this time for single ladies’ man Olly – Sarah is engaged to actor MATT PROKOP.
You know what, Gordon? Just because a man talks to a woman doesn't automatically trigger a flurry of save the day cards.

Headline news

Talking of the death of Reg Presley, hats off to the Telegraph for writing a standfirst which really does offer greater illumination than the headline it sits underneath:

Popobit: Reg Presley

The other Presley has left the building. Reg Presley, lead singer with The Troggs, has died.

Yesterday we saw Oasis being described again as their generation's Beatles, but it's perhaps fairer to see The Troggs as the Oasis of the 1960s - for a long time, The Troggs Tapes was the go-to source for 'bands arguing in the studio', until it was eclipsed by Wibling Rivalry.

Slowly, though, the band's musical legacy has re-established itself - Wild Thing; Love Is All Around - the Wet Wet Wet cover of which allowed Presley to spend a happy time looking at crop circles. And this:

Any Way That You Want Me got a better cover that Love Is All Around:

Reg Presley had retired from music last year, as lung cancer had incapacitated him; he died following a series of strokes. He was 71.

Monday, February 04, 2013

I don't care who you are, you play by the Reddit rules

Over at Hypebot, there's an amusing post about how Dave Grohl's announcement that he was going to do an Ask me Anything got slapped down for violating Reddit rules.

Grohl's just lucky he didn't screw up on Outpost Gallifrey. There'd be no coming back from that.

Thirty years ago today

It's thirty years since Karen Carpenter died.

Gordon in the morning: He wasn't mod enough for me

I know what leaves you unable to sleep at night. Why, you wonder, why did Robbie Williams ever fall out with Oasis?

Wonder no more. Indeed, if you will, Wonderwall no more. Gordon has the answer:

ROBBIE WILLIAMS says he fell out with OASIS in the Nineties because he wasn’t “mod” enough.
Really? Not being mod enough for Oasis is a bit like not being gourmet enough for Charlie, The Little Chef.

But Robbie, it seems, is convinced - why, how could he hope to fly so close to such a band?
Liam’s voice was the voice of a generation
No, it wasn't.
and Noel seemed to be writing the songs of a generation
It would be churlish to just dimiss this with curt 'no he wasn't'; on the strength of the first album, you could say that Noel did seem to have something of a knack for crystalising something, and at the time Williams was fawning round the band like a bear trying to wrestle his way into a bin full of sausages, you could forgive someone for thinking that might be the case.
They were our Beatles for around 18 months.
Again, the temptation is to just snort at this - but, of course, snorting is what led to a bunch of people believing this to be true in the first place.

However, if you look again at what Williams has just said there, you'll notice that he's turning the knife, which makes that "seemed to" when talking about Noel seem less an accident of phrasing and deliberately, delicately putting the boot in.

Because The Beatles, if they are anything, did not have a time period slapped on them. Being "The Beatles for 18 months" is like being God for a fortnight - if you don't transcend your time, you're doing it wrong.

Gordon seems to think Williams is praising Oasis; in fact, he's very gently, and somewhat sweetly, putting them in their place.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

First night: My Bloody Valentine - MBV

So last night, then, Kevin Shields hit 'send', or possibly 'return', or issued an instruction to release the babies, and all of sudden, we had a new My Bloody Valentine album.

Squee, as I believe they say.

What is the world making of it?

Caspar Llewellyn Smith doesn't want to rush to judgement:

We should honour Shields and co by not rushing this, and publish the real review of the album in 2035.
Just kidding! Of course he wants first dibs on a review:
so, yes, very, very early impressions: it's not a great leap forwards – it sounds not so much as a continuation of Loveless but a record completely akin to it ... although you can hear the vocals and instruments in the mix more clearly; and the closing track, Wonder 2, is that hallucinatory drum and bass tune Shields once suggested he'd gone and recorded. If that had come out in the mid-90s, the Britpop boys would have all taken their Beatles songbooks and gone home crying.
Must be exciting for the NME, though? A new record by a legendary band, and them with a shiny website ready for a first impression review. Right?

Er, no. They scrape together a tracklisting, but their blogs - presumably the best place to stick a quick response - is leading on something about Elton John wearing funny hats. (That might make it sound like NME haven't updated the blogs since about 1976.)

The LA Times seemed willing to have a go at a review, but struggled with technology and fact:
[Updated Feb. 2 at 7:27 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misidentified My Bloody Valentine as British. The band was actually formed in Dublin, Ireland. Also, as of late Saturday, the new My Bloody Valentine album reportedly is available at the above website. However, the site remains crashed as of this writing, possibly due to a crush of visitors. We'll update as we hear more -- good luck, everyone.]
The Mirror threw the ball to its readers:
Are you excited about m b v? Leave your comments below
This 'write your own review' approach hasn't yet got a single taker.

Peter Paphides' review is acute on the process of release:
Slowly but surely, something about this “sudden release” business is becoming clear. It won’t be for every artist. Young bands seeking to establish themselves have little to gain from springing new works onto an unsuspecting world. Neither will it work for your journeyman rocker who puts out a similar record to the last one every two years, seemingly untroubled by its sonic proximity to the last one. For artists who have had trouble dealing with the expectations of their audience, however, this might be the best way. Screw the build-up. What is the “build-up” anyway? Isn’t that the bit between the announcement of the release date and the release itself? The bit where we all talk about how much we loved the earlier records and, by doing so, place impossibly high expectations on music we simply haven’t had a chance to get nostalgic about?
Gideon Coe is excited:

But perhaps Beach House have it right, though:

This week just gone

The most-read things this week:

1. Neil McCormick's Telegraph Kraftwek piece similar to Jude Rogers' Observer Kraftwerk piece
2. At least we know Nicola Roberts didn't lip-synch
3. HMV loses control of more than one Twitter account
4. Artrocker closes print edition
5. RIP Leroy Bonner
6. 6Music ask listeners to order singles; try to downplay the result
7. Mark And Lard: The last show in full
8. Ronan Keating struggles with time and space
9. Black Flag rises again
10. Gordon Smart hails John Leslie's return to the 'mainstream'

These were the interesting releases:

A Fine Frenzy - Pines

Download Pines

Delphic - Collections

Download Collections

Local Natives - Hummingbird

Download Hummingbird

We've Got A Fuzzbox... - Bostin' Steve Austin

Download Bostin Steve Austin