Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bing throws 'pirates' off its search engine

Bing has removed "several hundred thousand" search results from its index, believing them to be links to unlicenced content.

A cursory search for, say, "Torrent Monsters University" proves this has had little more effect than removing a few pine needles would diminish a forest.

Bing's user base is out visiting his grandson this weekend, and is unavailable for comment.

Johnny Marr firm on Smiths reunion

Johnny Marr sighs, and stresses again: No Smiths Reunion:

If people get genuinely upset and frustrated that four men that last played together 25 years ago are doing other things, then those people need to go and find a hobby. They really do. If the band only split up two years ago it might be a different matter, but 25 years? Come on. It’s a long time. If you like The Smiths, the records, photographs and memories are all plenty to be getting along with.
And besides, what would be the point of booking Smiths reunions dates? These days, Morrissey only has to spot a gig coming up in his Google Calendar for him to require a lay-down and a course of Lemsip.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Lady GaGa apparently wants to tell you how to listen

Artists who understand their audience maximise their recordings to fit the technology that audience will use.

So, the best artists of the 1960s tailored their mixes to sound good on transistors. By the 1990s, engineers strove to make the best of the CD format.

Some people, though, just stick out recordings and expect you to conform. That group includes your GaGa:

The singer teased the LP in a series of tweets this morning, emphasizing both the lush quality of her material and her hatred for poor fidelity. "oh, & just a suggestion... use HEADPHONES when listening to the new music, ARTPOP is ELECTRONIC CANDY & DELISH ON THE EARS," she wrote. "THE SPEAKERS ON YOUR COMPUTER are NOT ACCEPTABLE, unless you like hearing music underwater. I do not."
Yeah, you. You organise your life round Lady GaGa's demands.

(I can't even begin to run after the stick that is calling your album Artpop, and then insisting it's electronic candy. I don't think any of us have the energy.)

Frankly, GaGa, if you're making music right now and don't expect it to be consumed - at best - on tiny little earbuds after having been compressed onto a phone or over a sub-perfect broadband system - you're not making pop at all.

Countryobit: Jack Clement

Jack Clement - known as "Cowboy" - has died.

Clement's nickname came from a sketch he was in on the radio and not authentic links to wrangling. He worked as an engineer and producer at Sun Studios; he was also the writer of two of Johnny Cash's early number ones. He also produced a couple of songs on U2's Rattle And Hum, but nobody's perfect.

Jack Clement was 82; he died Thursday 8th August in Nashville.

Gordon in the morning: Ken's waiting for the call

Tucked away behind the solid paywall of The Sun this morning comes the news that Matt 'Not Luke' Goss is dropping heavy hints that, you know, if you were looking for a 1980s band for any purposes, he'd be happy to get in touch with Luke 'Not Matt' Goss and get Bros back together.

This year, of course, marks the fifth anniversary of Matt going on Radio One to try and drum up interest in a Bros reunion, which was quietly dropped when nobody seemed that interested.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Fireman calls for Bauer stations to be taken off their hands

Bruce Fireman - described for these purposes as "media banker and analyst" - has demanded that Bauer be refused permission to take over Absolute and that, for good measure, it be made to give up Radio City, Piccadilly and all the rest.

The reason?

Nazis, of course.

It turns out one part of the Bauer empire publishes a magazine Der Landser, which has a rather rosy view of the Second World War and the SS in particular.

Fireman thinks this sort of thing should be used to draw attention to himself ("should bar Bauer from holding broadcast licences"):

"Bauer Parent's response to complaints made about its publication of Der Landser is that the magazine does not glorify National Socialism, nor does it downplay Nazi crimes.

It says it is lawful to publish Der Landser in Germany. That may be. That does not mean that a decently-conducted company would publish such a magazine which glorifies criminals but avoids prosecution by not mentioning the word 'Nazi' and not promoting anti-Semitism.

It is obviously unacceptable deliberately to evade the application of German law by not telling the whole truth about, and never condemning, the 'heroes' Der Landser glorifies."

Fireman reminds Ofcom that it "must be satisfied that the holder of a broadcast licence is fit and proper to do so and must consider not just the conduct of a licensee but also those who manage and control it."
Ofcom has always been a bit reluctant to use the "fit and proper person" test with any degree of seriousness - you'll have noted that James Murdoch's inability to spot what was going on under his nose didn't disqualify him - so it's unlikely that Bauer are going to have to exit the UK radio industry over a small-circulation magazine, however odious.

These are Paul McCartney's pants, I swear

A jazz musician is trying to flog off what he reckons are Paul McCartney's old leather trousers.

Mike Hoggard claims Brian Epstein gave him the trews at the Cavern Club; Epstein was trying to persuade the band to wear suits instead of leather, apparently, and so was giving the clothes away. Look, apparently it says "Paul" in the trousers, so what further proof do you need?

Mr Hoggard, who has now owned the trousers for more than 50 years, said he recently rediscovered them when he was moving house.

He said his Yorkshire Jazz Band played regularly at the legendary Cavern Club between 1960 and 1961. At the time, a little-known band called The Beatles were their support group.

"The trousers were in a bag hanging up [in the dressing room]. Epstein said to take them because he wanted to get them out of the leather and into these suits.

"So I took them and I wore them. At the time they [The Beatles] weren't famous at all, so there was no sort of thought about 'I've got something that's massively invaluable' or anything like that, just I fancied a pair of leather trousers."
Mike's son-in-law reckons you can recognise the trousers in photos of the time, soon.

Hang on, though... were the Beatles being moved onto suits at this time?

Walter Smith made their suits for their first Granada TV appearance in 1962; that raises the possibility that McCartney was swanning round Liverpool without any trousers at all.

Mind you, while we're looking at the Beatle trousers, it's worth mentioning that after Smith had suited them up, London tailor Dougie Millings wasn't impressed. The band turned up to see him for suits shortly afterwards:
It all began in the fall of 1962, a time Dougie Millings remembered because it coincided with the release of the Beatles' first single, ''Love Me Do.'' Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, brought the group to Mr. Millings' shop at 63 Compton Street in the Soho section of London. There was a grand piano in the basement.

And how were the soon-to-be conquerors of the hearts of the world's teenage girls dressed? ''Well in hand-me-downs, really,'' Mr. Millings told GQ magazine in April 2000. ''Not well.''

So far, Paul has been tight-lipped on if these are his trews or not. We'll keep you posted.

DMC: It was better in the past, you know

You know when Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels reckons music was at its best? Yes, funnily enough, it was when Run DMC were at their height:

He exclusively told BANG Showbiz: ''Hip hop was always about the relationship to the listener, regardless of where you come from, where you live, how old you are. People say, 'Man, I can play these old school records right now. De La Soul, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, it blows away all this new stuff.'
In related news: you could go to the cinema and have a meal out after with change from a quarter; school exams were harder; that over there was all fields; front doors were routinely left open.

So, tell us, Darryl - what made hip hop so much better back then?
''Because what we did is we never let the feeling of what we represented be diluted by the commercialisation of the culture.''
That's true. There was none of this grubby obsession with brand names and stuff back when Run DMC were in charge, right?


Spotify CEO senses stage three is near

Talking to the Wall Street Journal, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is quite chipper. Music Ally has read the full interview:

“I think a lot of people just look at the financials and say: ‘Oh wow, losses, that’s really, really bad.’ That’s not at all how we see it, we see that we’ve actually now proved our business model,” he says. “The difference between what we pay out in royalties and what we actually take in in revenue is increasing, which is positive.”
There's two things here, surely: if you're still making huge losses (over USD75million in the last twelve months) that might prove your business model, but it would appear to prove your business model doesn't quite work. A bleeding patient is still bleeding, even if not quite bleeding to death.

Secondly: given how unhappy many musicians are with what they see as widdly little royalties , trumpeting that you're taking in cash at a faster rate than you're sharing it out might not be the soothing sound you could me making.

Gordon in the morning: A lucky break

Peeking across the Sun's mighty paywall this morning, you could be spending your cash reading about how a former Spice Girl is delighted she flunked a job interview:

GERI HALLIWELL doesn't have much faith in her own ability. Ginger Spice says it's a blessing in disguise that she didn't end up getting a judging role on X Factor as she'd have messed it up.
Yeah, that's right, Geri. When life gives you lemons, pretend you don't even like satsumas anyway.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Kelly Rowland appears to believe that God is responsible for Verizon infrastructure

You're at sea. You have a small bit of trouble. Your phone is able to get a signal and you can call for help.

That, most people would assume, was a combination of luck and investment into the mobile phone network.

Not Kelly Rowland, though. She puts it down to God:

Speaking about the accident and how she came to be rescued, Rowland told Metro: "I remember thinking to myself, 'Lord, please don't let this boat capsize'." She added: "I was like, 'Please Lord, give me two bars. He gave me two bars and we contacted some folks that were on land and they helped us." The boat was 33 miles (53km) north of Provincetown when it was stranded.
Why would you only pray for a weak singnal? "O, lord, give me 4G, but not yet."

Furthermore, why would you ask god for a weak phone signal rather than, say, a boat, or help, or one of those whales out the Bible that you can live in assuming it's not a mistranslation of a metaphor for depression?

And, come to that, what sort of God is it who'd see one of his children bobbing about on the ocean, and decide that the intercession required was limited voice-carrier capability?

Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.

Embed and breakfast man: Capital Children's Choir

This is excellent. The Capital Children's Choir covering Crystal Castles with only mouths to work with.

Gordon in the morning: One of JLS makes a playlist

Behind The Sun's paywall this morning, your cold hard cash will buy a chance to read a story about Marvin out of JLS plotting a dance album. This, it appears, is cause for Calvin Harris to "watch out". Presumably in case Humes borrows his headphones but doesn't return them.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

New York sells off vinyl

The New York Public Library is selling surplus vinyl records - things it has been given, but already has a decent copy of. It frees up space, raises funds to expand the collection.

They've got a tumblr with some of the merchandise on display.

"This also available in licenced version" plan

There's something sweet about Comcast's plans to pop up a message when it sees someone downloading an unlicenced track:

As sources described the new system, a consumer illegally downloading a film or movie from a peer-to-peer system would be quickly pushed a pop-up message with links to purchase or rent the same content, whether the title in question exists on the VOD library of a participating distributor’s own broadband network or on a third-party seller like Amazon.
How effective is this likely to be? There's two reasons why people grab torrents - because the content isn't available through licenced platforms; or because it is, but they'd rather not pay.

In effect, this is like trying to do home security by sticky-taping the Argos catalogue laptop page to the top of your Macbook.

Robin Thicke's dealer sees him coming

You know when the police seize drugs and claim they're worth squillions, and everyone stares at the story, and does the maths, and wonders where the cops think they'd find anyone paying that for drugs on the street?

It turns out Robin Thicke might be the pictured customer, as he's somehow managed to spend half a million dollars on cannabis.

To be fair, he doesn't say how long it took him to get through this cash, and if he was really doing half a million dollars' worth of dope, he probably lost track of days about three hours in.

I know, I'm taking the honking claim of an insecure young man desperate to impress way too seriously. I mean, he can't have been doing all those drucks because he was telling me he was totally driving his car at two hundred miles an hour up and down the A5 last night, right?

Gordon in the morning: Naming rights

Come with us for a quick peek over the Sun's paywall, to see what fresh meat Gordon is laying out to tempt you in the new marketplace.

Today, he's got a story about MKS, in which Keisha Buchanan reveals they could have grabbed the Sugababes name had they wanted to [don't bother following the link, there's a paywall].

That's worth the price of entry, right?

Although you could have read pretty much the same story on the NME a week ago. And they'd lifted it from BBC News the day before.

Still, who wouldn't want to pay Rupert Murdoch to read stuff the BBC had so long ago they might have forgotten reading it in the first place?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Billy Bragg's local struggling London lad actually scion of Nottingham pie dynasty

Turns out that when Billy Bragg was patiently explaining how those mean Undercroft skateboarders were stopping local people from starting their businesses with pop-up shops in the space, his example wasn't quite as local as he thought. Or as much of a start-up:

Supporters of the Long Live South Bank (LLSB) campaign to save the undercroft skatepark at the South Bank Centre (SBC) have asked me to correct an assertion that I made in my Guardian comment piece on Wednesday 31st August. I stated that Luke's Cafe, a pop up venture on the Queen Elizabeth Terrace was run by a 'local lad'. It has since been pointed out to me that Luke is in fact Luke Heartland of Heartland Pies, a Nottinghamshire business that his father owns. It was a mistake on my part, when I spoke to Luke he didn't go into detail about the background of his business and, clearly, I should have.
But hey, at least Luke isn't Starbucks, right? And that's what this is all about. Focusing on Starbucks not, probably, taking space in the Undercroft.

You might think Bragg would be slightly abashed; at least to allow the correction to stand alone for a while.

But, no. Having done the "actually it turns out he's from 100 miles away and not a start-up" confession, Bragg then trots out his arguments all over again. Just in case you might want to process the idea that Bragg was holding out Luke as the sort of person who so badly needs a helping hand that the skateboarders have to give up their area.

How Altered Images and Spandau Ballet made the new Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi once supported Spandau Ballet on tour - he was a stand-up; they were desperate to avoid giving the impression they were part of the rock machine by doing something as "industry" as having a band blow them off stage ("support them").

Shapers Of The 80s has the full story, but it was Gary Kemp's passion for Clare Grogan that put Capaldi in the right place to get the gig:

Kemp, himself then 22, recalls vaguely how Capaldi came to his attention at the age of 23: “It was through Gerry MacElhone who managed Altered Images. Maybe he played me a tape, or something.” Clearly he had other more important things on his mind at the time. The point was Grogan had starred in Forsyth’s 1981 cinema smash, Gregory’s Girl, and Spandau’s Diamond tour launched in March 1982 with three dates in Scotland and Capaldi live onstage as the warm-up.
Capaldi reckons that it was that slot which got him the role in Local Hero. And that set Capaldi on the road to the TARDIS.

Clare Grogan is at the centre of everything.

[Sidenote: Both Grogan and Capaldi played parents in Skins, closing the circle.]

Furore-leafed Clovers

Harold Winley - who was a member of The Clovers when they did Love Potion Number 9 - is trying to win the right to perform under the band name from the trademark owners.

The Associated Press explain what happened:

Winley and another band mate, Harold Lucas, went on to perform with separate musical groups that called themselves The Clovers, and Harold Lucas' group eventually trademarked the name in the 1980s. Lucas died in 1994, but two of the men he trademarked the group's name with continue to use it when performing.
Yeah, you thought the Sugababes had weaved a tangled web.

Winley has been refused the right to be Harold Winley And The Original Clovers. He doesn't think it's right:
"It is our position that when people come to see The Clovers they expect that they are going to see Harold Winley or another original member of The Clovers," said Winley's lawyer, Brad Newberg.
To be honest, I suspect that most people who go to see The Clovers think they're going to see the band that did Saturday Night At The Movies; or, more likely, they're thinking 'this is the kind of stuff that Dad likes, isn't it? Why isn't he smiling? Shit, maybe we should have done the winery tour after all'.

But there's a twist here. The trademark-holding Clovers turn out not to be worried about Winley being a Clover; they're upset at his suggestion he's more of a Clover than they are:
Charles Stevens, one of the group members from Lucas' Clovers, called the lawsuit "frivolous." Stevens, who lives in Washington, said Winley is not an "original Clover" because he didn't start with the group until the late 1940s. Lucas and three others were performing as the Four Clovers before Winley joined.
They're having peace talks today. Good luck, everybody.

It's PJP v DWP

PJ Proby was, you might recall, cleared of benefit fraud last year. He's been wondering aloud if the DWP didn't waste a lot of time and money pursuing him:

I was apparently being investigated for seven years before they arrested me in 2007, and then it took another five years to get to court. I wasn’t worried about going to prison.
Far from being worried, Proby had planned ahead to such an extent I think he might have already been working in the prison library:
I’d have coped in prison.

I had it all worked out. I was going to keep prison diaries under the name JL Bird and sell them when I got out.

I was on the verge of telling my secretary to go out and buy me an electric razor to shave my head, ready for prison.
Jesus, I know Group 4 are awful, but surely they don't make you share your own head.

But Proby - at least by his account - has been really ill-served by the DWP. They dropped the charges after finding "a box of evidence" but won't tell him what it was; as a result of all the upheaval Proby lost his home of 13 years:
They threw me out of that house at the trial. I’d rented it for 13 years and didn’t expect to move, but the owner didn’t want tour buses coming by showing everyone where the criminal lived.
I'm not sure they'd have been running tour buses on that basis; and even if they did, I'm not convinced they'd have attracted more visitors than a tour bus to go and look at where trouser-splitting music legend PJ Proby lived.

So, understandably, Proby holds a bit of a grudge against the DWP. Is there any part of the UK state that he's okay with?
I thought the judge and jury could be bought like they can be in America. But I learned so much about English law and I was very impressed by the legal system. They followed protocol and it was handled correctly.
Don't worry. Chris Grayling's working on that.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Teignbridge District Council give up, plan to get Muse to do job

There's a germ of an idea lurking in Teignbridge councillor Jeremy Christophers' plan to ask Muse to run the district for a day. Unfortunately, that germ has been submerged in a gimmicky stunt:

Jeremy Christophers, who is the leader of Teignbridge District Council, said: "We're still in talks to get things sorted. It's vital for the council to engage with the younger generation."

He also claimed that the political themes of the band's most recent album, 'The 2nd Law', made them suitable candidates for the role. "Muse have been busy on tour promoting their album 'The 2nd Law'," he said. "The album has songs about global warming and sustainable living, which are important issues."
Well, yes, Muse are interested in that. The problem is that local politics has a focus on getting the opening hours right at Newton Abbot Swimming Pool and making sure that the recycling bins of Dawlish Warren are emptied on time.

Those are important things too, but it's not entirely clear by having Matt Bellamy stand in the council offices talking about ecogeddon is going to link the kids (by which we actually mean Muse fans, who are increasingly-less-young people) with the debate over double-yellow lines in Teignbridge.

After all, Westminster City Council had one of Blur actually fighting for a seat and that didn't do much for the turnout.

This week just gone

On the first of August, The Sun disappeared behind a paywall. It's not a hugely expensive paywall - it's about the cost of bribing a prison officer for a month's worth - but effectively it means that Gordon Smart's column overnight went from one of the most-read scuttle sites to... well, less popular than the Daily Star's website.

To mark the end of this era, here's the ten most-read Gordon in the morning pieces:

1. Gordon promotes the Tulisa sex tape
2. Gordon discovers Jennifer Aniston has nipples; keeps a "Smarties League" of women with nipples
3. Gordon stares at Basshunter orgy photos before pronouncing them inappropriate for a family newspaper. Or even The Sun
4. Gordon reports on a Buzzcocks line-up
5. Gordon gets someone to photoshop "punk" hairstyles onto One Direction
6. Gordon introduces himself and promises he'll be first with the "next Oasis". Wasn't clear at the time he meant Beady Eye
7. Robbie Williams laments that he wasn't enough of a Mod for Liam
8. Gordon amusingly calls gay man by a female name
9. Gordon gets overexcited by breasts
10. Boyzone sex themselves up. Dry boke

These were this week's interesting releases:

Alela Diane - About Farewell

Download About Farewell

Luke Haines - Rock And Roll Animals

Download Rock & Animals

Martin Stephenson - Vagrant Stanzas

Download Vagrant Stanzas

Pet Shop Boys - Vocal Remixes