Friday, August 29, 2014

Blink and you'd miss it

A press release arrives, breathless with excitement - guys, they've got the band back together:

Irish indie legends “Blink” have announced a comeback show in The Button Factory on October 25th to celebrate the 20th anniversay of “A map of the universe” and a career spanning greatest hits compilation “catch that moment” out on October 24th.
Yay! Blink! Blink are back together...

Hold on. Who?

Genuinely, I spent a couple of minutes staring into space, trying to recall Blink. Blink?
Best remembered for hits like “Cello”, “Going to Nepal”, “It’s not my fault”...
I'm sure it's more me than them, but this isn't sounding familiar at all. And a quick check at the official charts website suggests that the band managed one entry, at 57, with a song that they're not best remembered for. Happy Day.

And that brings it back - the slightly irritating sub Frank And Walters act who did this:

Just me and you and you and me,
In a little mad hat
Down by the sea.
It barely counts as a ditty.

And from that comes memories of shouting at The Chart Show "why are you playing this again from the indie chart?", and what I presume was the follow-up single (orangey-browny sleeve?) cluttering up the mark-down dump bins of every record shop in Liverpool for an age and a half.

So, one grating number 57 hit in the UK, and a landfill problem for the sale-or-return department at Parlophone to solve. Somehow I doubt that's going to make it into the press release:
Blink had a string of top 10 singles, 3 hit albums one of which was Billboard Album of the Month in the US, Meteor award nominations
A "string of top ten singles" probably refers to Ireland, although the band's brief Wikipedia page offers a different view:
Blink's first singles 'Going To Nepal' and 'Happy Day' reached the top 20 in Ireland. Their third release 'It's Not My Fault' debuted at No 8.
And worth noting that the third 'hit' album waited two years for a release in Ireland.

But there must be more to them than this?
...and in between the even found time to be the first ever band to appear on the old Eircom Phonecards
They were on a phonecard. That must have been a fun conversation in the office:

- We really need to stress that this isn't just a small band who were marginally important and of their time. We've got to make it clear that they're timeless. What can we find that will resonate with a modern audience?
- Let's mention those phonecards. That'll make the teenagers interested.

But it wasn't just phonecards. Oh, no.
... as well as a much publicized spat with some guys who wanted to be in Blink too. They changed their name to Blink 182.
Yeah. I know this might seem like Blink won, but... which band is easier to Google? Which wound up with a stronger branding?

Still, nice to be reminded of a band I'd totally forgotten ever existed. And, astonishingly, reminding myself who they were, an even more obscure name fell out the internet, from an interview with the band in 1994:
it was a college tour and the NUS organised the dates with ourselves and Orange...
Orange! Surely they must be about to reappear for a 20th anniversary shindig any moment now, right?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Really, Perez Hilton? Really?

I know Perez is well past his prime these days, but apparently this is what passes for insight these days:

Nicki Minaj Isn't The Only One! These Pop Stars Sampled Classic Hits In Their Songs Too!
What's that? Pop stars have sampled classic hits before Nicki Minaj did? Really? I'm shocked.

But she's the first one to use a drumbeat on her song, right? Tell me at least that's a new thing, Perez.

Selling Houses with Papa Roach

Here's a lovely story of domestic bliss: Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix has sold his house, and his realtor is delighted:

Elizabeth Glyzweski of Lyon Real Estate, who worked on the sale with partner Anthony Metz, also of Lyon, said the touches Shaddix and his wife Kelly added to the home helped it sell.

“Every time they’ve purchased a home, they made it fabulous,” Glyzewski said.
And why is Shaddix moving? Is it to get closer to a hellmouth? Is it he needs more space for his monsters of annihilation in the backyard? Does he just need somewhere he can rock out louder?
But not only was the house in far better shape than one might expect from a former rock star owner, the couple moved for a very everyday, domestic reason: They wanted to be closer to the school their kids are attending.
Ah, by day, a beat-pumping rock beast bellowing about Hollywood whores; by night, a sharp-elbowed parent juggling league tables and catchment areas.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First night: Kate Bush

I suppose those of us with tickets for subsequent nights of the return of Kate Bush have one thought as we turn to the reviews this morning - 'dude, don't fuck it up for us'. Ridiculous, of course, to worry that she might be scared away by the harsh glare of the critics.

Ridiculous because she's a grown-up woman and not a kitten.

Ridiculous because, having built the event up over the last few days, how could the reaction be anything other than a warm embrace?

(It's understandable how the media have hugged Kate's return so close; her, and the new Doctor, have been the two pieces of light in what feels like a never ending month of despair and gloom. Who wouldn't seek out some comfort?)

So... what did people think? Did they like her?

Kate Bush comeback greeted with huge cheers
Okay, Tim Masters on the BBC News website, that tells us all we need to know. Let's move on.

Oh, alright. What else?
There were no songs from Bush's first four albums, which meant fans did not get to hear early classics such as Wuthering Heights, The Man with the Child in his Eyes or Babooshka.

But fans did not seem to mind missing out.
Tim then speaks to two fans who seem keen to insist that they didn't mind missing out:
Julie Beynon, from Glasgow, told the BBC: "That was really surprising. I noticed she played a lot from Aerial which I didn't have a problem with. I think it might reference the fact she was much happier in that period of her life. It felt quite joyous and celebratory."

She added: "I'm not disappointed - I thought it was stunning comeback. To me it was like musical theatre but with Kate Bush songs. It was a a weird hybrid of different styles, and completely innovative."

Elizabeth Hobson, from Enfield, said: "She does what she wants to do. We might have liked to hear some of the songs we love from a while back - but hopefully everybody's going to be really nice about it and we might see some more of her at a later date."
Okay, Elizabeth from Enfield doesn't explicitly say "well, it's fine that she's done all this tonight, providing she comes back at Christmas and does some of the Top Of The Pops ones." But she kinda does.

The Telegraph's Bernadette McNulty enjoyed herself, although possibly not quite as completely as she might have hoped:
Throughout, the pace was resolutely mid-tempo,the narratives sometimes obscure and the skits often hammy - in one artists' scene from the Aerial segment, literally as exciting as watching paint dry.
But apparently it was still thrilling.

The Daily Mail sent Jan Moir. Presumably had she not been invited, there'd have been a chance she'd have cursed the entire Apollo to sleep for a hundred years. Her copy is, as you'd expect, poorly banged together:
Bush had asked that no one would film her performance on their mobile phones and iPads. There was one request to do this before the show started – an announcement that was cheered by many in the stalls.
It's not clear whether Jan is telling us that there was a request not to do this, or if they were asking that any photography be done before the show.

For The Guardian, Alexis Petridis got the tickets:
Her voice too is in remarkable condition: she's note-perfect throughout.

Backed by a band of musicians capable of navigating the endless twists and turns of her songwriting – from funk to folk to pastoral prog rock - the performances of Running Up That Hill and King of the Mountain sound almost identical to their recorded versions - but letting rip during a version of Top of the City, she sounds flatly incredible.
And Hannah Ellis-Petersen didn't, so was stuck outside getting fan reactions. But this was an evening when even the fans milling about on the streets of Hammersmith were kinda starry:
Daren Taylor, drummer for band The Airborne Toxic Event, had taken a similar journey to make it to the opening night.

"I've flown in from Los Angeles today just to see Kate Bush," he said.

"It's not easy to express what Kate Bush means to me. Her music touches me, and I'm sure everybody here, in very unique ways. I don't think any two people will tell you the same thing that her music means to them."
The New York Times' Ben Ratliff gets off to a clunky start:
Kate Bush Returns to the Stage, and Her Fans Are There to Welcome Her
'Ticketholders turn up to gig'. Okay, Ben, I'm holding the front page.

He has taken the trouble to find out the name of some of the other participants:
The songs use repetition, much more than her earlier work, and slow, hypnotizing grooves; the drummer Omar Hakim found the center of them, and Ms. Bush finally began to move to them like a dancer.
Meanwhile, Claire Rutter in the Mirror was, erm, reading Twitter. Now, you might laugh, but how else would we know what Boy George thought?
Poor Culture Club star Boy George couldn’t make the show tonight, as he sadly tweeted: "Had to miss Kate Bush tonight but hopefully I will catch one of the shows."
The Mirror, there, sharing the view from someone who doesn't even have any solid plans to go to one of the shows later.

Billboard chips in with a setlist:
"Hounds of Love"
"Running Up That Hill"
"Top of the City"
"King of the Mountain"
"And Dream of Sheep"
"Under Ice"
"Waking the Witch"
"Watching You Without Me"
"Jig of Life"
"Hello Earth"
"The Morning Fog"
"A Sky of Honey (prelude)"
"An Architect’s Dream"
"The Painter’s Link"
"Aerial Tal"
"Somewhere in Between"
"Among Angels"
And although there were no fan photos, DigitalSpy gathers some of the official shots.
Louder Than War's Dave Jennings, like many reviewers, consciously echoes Imperial Smash Hits' parody of old school rock writing:
The whole show was like a religious revival, a west end blockbuster opera and a rock show as one. She carried on from here with Top of the City which was followed swiftly by Joannie and a simply brilliant, nay, breathtaking even, version of Hounds of Love.
I hope that "nay" was a conscious echoing, anyway.

The Daily Express sent Simon Gage:
The second half sits halfway between the early set and the conceptual with Kate's hippy side coming to the fore on tracks from Aerial with giant projections of birds in flight, characters playing painters, an artist's dummy the size of a child...

It would be easy to laugh just like it's always been easy to laugh: some of it is daft, some of it wilfully daft but that's what makes English eccentricity so cherished.
What Gage nearly captures - and what hangs over most of the reviews this morning - is a slight sense of unspoken awareness that if this had been a theatre, rather than a rock venue, and the name on the tickets an arts ensemble rather than Kate Bush, there might have been a temptation to shout 'get on with it' at some points of the show.

But, generally, the reviews are positive, and warm, and it's more than a 'dog walking on hind legs' approval for something you'd never expect to see.

Are there no dissenting voices? Not many; they keep pretty quiet. Only one brave head put above the parapet on that hotbed of counterthought, Mumsnet:
Shrieking, arm flapping and mincing.

What am I missing? I'm sure she's a lovely woman but good lawd I cannot see the appeal.
A bit of a kicking later, the poster returns, bruised, to the keyboard:
Blimey this thread might be the most contentious one I've ever started on MN
In short, then, the world is (mostly) chiming with that classic Smash Hits letter:
Oh Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate
It's love I feel for you, not hate, hate, hate

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Does anyone have the energy for a Morrissey story?

The ongoing spat between Morrissey and Harvest Records has taken another shall-we-call-it-lurch-towards-the-edge, as Harvest Records have yanked World Peace Is None Of You Business off the digital market:

According to a source familiar with the situation, "Morrissey has not been dropped by [Harvest Records, a subsidiary of Capitol Music Group, itself a subsidiary of Universal Music Group] but out of deference to his request they have reluctantly removed his album from all services."
Billboard thinks this shouldn't be too frustrating to Mozzer fans:
Since its release the album has sold 25,000 units -- 15,000 CDs, 3,000 LPs and 8,000 digital downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. With those kind of sales numbers for the physical formats, Billboard speculates that Harvest probably built about 50,000 physical units for the U.S. market. That means there is still plenty of World Peace stock left for Morrissey fans to track down, if they're so inclined.
Bless Billboard, convinced that people's response when discovering they can't download a record from iTunes or stream on Spotify is to pull on a coat, get out the car and drive to town to look for a CD. That's quite sweet.

With the record vanishing, now would be the perfect time to announce a European tour, right?

No, really; he has announced a European tour. Apparently including the O2 Arena. Good luck getting that venue meat-free, Morrissey.

Monday, August 25, 2014

MIA & NFL shake hands on middle finger

Remember when MIA was invited to do the Superbowl and she gave the audience the finger and the NFL suddenly realised that they'd asked her because she was "edgy" but she might be the wrong sort of edgy?

There's been a settlement of the ensuing lawsuit; details haven't been revealed but it's unlikely the NFL have got the $16.5million they were seeking.

Meanwhile, turns out the halftime show at the next Superbowl is going to be pay-to-play, as the NFL suggests artists might like to "contribute" to get the slot. 'For exposure' on a grand scale.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dominican Republic adds 'Miley Cyrus free zone' to nation's many attractions

The Dominican Republic is a compelling destination, with the cable car journey to the top of Isabel de Torres; the artistic haven of Altos de Chavón; and the gorgeous oceans. Now, there's an even better reason to head there: they've banned Miley Cyrus:

The Dominican Republic government commission that oversees public performances is banning a Sept. 13 concert by Miley Cyrus on morality grounds.

The commission said in a statement Thursday that it took the action because Cyrus often "undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law."
Part of us would be keen to see Cyrus go there, and take her chances with Dominican customs and morals, but for now, let's just focus on choosing a colour for nations on the map where you don't run the risk of twerking.

Tony Orlando opens research unit, drops clanger

The University Of Iowa opened a new diabetes research unit yesterday, and amongst the great and good turning up to the ribbon cutting was Tony Orlando, out of Tony Orlando and Dawn. Presumably a yellow ribbon cutting.

In preparation, Radio Iowa invited Orlando to talk about his connection with diabetes:

In a phone interview with Radio Iowa from his home in Branson, Missouri, Orlando was asked if any members of his family had diabetes.

“My mother did,” Orlando says. “My mother passed away and she had probably what we know as a diabetic stroke two Februarys ago.” The 70-year-old Orlando grew up in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City and says he learned early on about the difficulties that came with physical and psychological impairments.
That's interesting, Tony. Maybe you could tell us some more about that?
“My sister had cerebral palsy and was mentally retarded and at a very young age, I knew when there were health challenges in the family,” Orlando says. “It’s a very important part of the support system to have help.”
Your sister was... what?

You're right, Tony, that, yes, support is important. But you know what else is important? Not using outdated, offensive language that people are campaigning hard to dissociate from being used to describe disabilities.

This week just gone

Ten years on: 2004 stories that are still popular in 2014:

1. The last Mark & Lard in full
2. Ten years after closure, an appreciation of the original Radio 5
3. Avril Lavigne has a pop at Britney Spears
4. Reactions to the death of John Peel
5. Best albums, etc, of 2004, according to people
6. Manics married
7. Kylie Minogue oversees some new underwear
8. Sunday People exposes that man loosely linked to music knows where they sell cocaine
9. Babyshambles in Blackpool
10. RIP: Les Gray

These were the week's interesting releases:

Imogen Heap - Sparks

Download LP1

The Magic Numbers - Alias

Wire - Document And Eyewitness

Download Document And Eyewitness

Luke Sital-Singh - The Fire Inside

Download The Fire Inside