Saturday, April 09, 2016

The Spectator listens to Lily Allen

The Spectator, trying to make things easier for the Establishment, isn't going to let Lily Allen try and land a blow on David Cameron:

Making clear her opposition to Cameron, Allen claimed on Twitter that he has been ‘stealing’ from the public and needs to resign:

Our Prime Minister has been stealing from us. It's very important that he resigns.

Alas Allen has failed to offer up any evidence to back up her claim. Given that offshore does not automatically equal tax avoidance, Blairmore itself does not appear to have been used specifically to reduce Cameron’s tax bill. In fact, when he sold his shares, he paid income tax on the dividends.
Except the prospectus for Blairmore did explicitly state it was being set up in such a way to minimise tax payments for the company in the UK; and obviously, if a company sits out of the country to avoid paying tax in the UK, it means that the Camerons are cashing in from profits inflated at the expense of UK taxpayers. All legal, of course, but the very fact that Dave has struggled to keep the pile of cash out of sight suggests that even he knows it's not entirely moral.

The Spectator thinks it has a winning argument, though:
Still, given that Allen is taking such an avid interest in Cameron’s family’s tax affairs, perhaps it’s worth reminding readers of some her father Keith Allen’s comments on tax avoidance. In 2011, the comedian came to U2’s defence after the Irish band were accused of tax evasion over their offshore affairs:

‘That whole thing about getting U2 to pay their tax and whatever… I don’t actually hold with the argument.’

What ever would Lily say?
Ah, yes. You should be judged based on the standards of your fathers' behaviour. Although, oddly, when people try to suggest that Cameron senior's tax avoidance somehow throws his shade on Dave's behaviour, that's wrong.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Rolling Stone decides its not Miller time

Back, then, to last night's inductions to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Over at Rolling Stone, you can read dispatches from the night.

You can read, for example, Deep Purple's acceptance speeches.

You can luxuriate in every detail of how Lars Ulrich introduced them.

You can spend some time with the text of Kendrick Lamar's introduction of NWA.

You can read NWA's acceptance speeches.

You can pore over every detail of Dan Auerbach's introduction to Steve Miller's induction.

And of course, you can read Miller's acc... oh, hang on. No, you can't. The Steve Miller acceptance speech, which - as we heard earlier was the only interesting thing of the evening.

Why, you wonder, would Rolling Stone neglect to run a speech which attacked the very idea of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and called out its management? I wonder if Wikipedia might have a hint?

Jann Simon Wenner (born January 7, 1946) is the co-founder and publisher of the popular culture biweekly Rolling Stone, as well as the current owner of Men's Journal and Us Weekly magazines.
Wenner, who was made a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983, has endured controversy during his career as it relates to his involvement in the organization.
That noise? That's the sound of Wenner's part in the Berkely Free Speech Movement being erased from history.

I think we need to send someone to go round and check on the BPI

The BPI is involved in a scheme called Get It Right From A Genuine Site. It's well meaning, kind of like a Sunday School teacher getting you to colour in pictures of Jesus holding a lamb and believing that this will stop you from becoming a bad person when you grow up. It's not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just it's so disconnected from how the world works.

Reg sits in front of his computer, about to torrent a dodgy Taylor Swift album.

"Hold on" thinks Reg, "before I do that, I should check the BPI's Get It Right From A Genuine Site site, just to check it is okay."

He checks the site.

He realises he is doing wrong.

He goes to Spotify.

He can't find 1989, so he sighs and goes back to the torrents.

There's a site to promote the campaign at - snappy, eh? - but this is where the BPI suddenly froze in panic.

What if someone started a site at And they could fill that site up with things that aren't genuine at all. And the people of the UK, who have come to trust wouldn't realise, and MUSIC AS WE KNOW IT WOULD CEASE TO EXIST.

TorrentFreak has discovered that the BPI has binge bought all the domains it could find:

UK music group BPI owns the domain but to be doubly sure there are no imposters the group has also bagged at least 17 others, including the .audio, .band, .biz, .com, .digital, .email, .foundation and .net variants.
But what, worried the BPI, if people decided to try and parody our lovely campaign? What then?

And so, they fired up the registration site again:
TF discovered these domains while trawling through WHOIS records this week but it was more of a surprise to see that the BPI had also grabbed a bunch of ‘pirate’ versions too. As can be seen below, the BPI has secured the opportunity for people to GetitRightFromaPirateSite too.
Now, you could say there's wisdom in buying up a domain name that could work against you, but this is a pretty specific wording.

At time of writing, these domains are still available: (and all other variants) (and all other variants) (and all other variants)

You get the idea.

What makes this slightly less funny is that you're paying for this - despite the BPI being a cartel run by some of the largest businesses on the planet, the getitrightfromagenuinesite cybersplurge and the related activity is being paid for by the government.

Additional fun fact - you can still register a domain under the name BritishPornographicIndustry.

Steve Miller less than impressed with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Steve Miller has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He's not entirely thrilled by it all:

Asked to expand on his criticisms of the organization, which was founded by industry heavyweights like Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone and has its museum in Cleveland, Mr. Miller said, “The whole process is unpleasant,” suggesting that it be “changed from the top to the bottom.”

“They need to respect the artists they say they’re honoring, which they don’t,” the singer continued, making references to issues like licensing agreements between the show and its honorees. (Friday’s ceremony will be broadcast by HBO on April 30.)

Mr. Miller, 72, then turned to the ceremony itself. “When they told me I was inducted they said, ‘You have two tickets — one for your wife and one for yourself. Want another one? It’s $10,000. Sorry, that’s the way it goes,’ ” he said, adding, “What about my band? What about their wives?”

When a publicist for the Rock Hall tried to interrupt him, Mr. Miller persisted. “No, we’re not going to wrap this up — I’m going to wrap you up,” he said. “You go sit down over there and learn something.”
The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame organisation tried to put a brave face on it by pretending that being condemned by the people they seek to celebrate is somehow very on brand:
“Rock ’n’ roll can ignite many opinions,” the hall responded in a statement. “It’s what makes it so great. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was honored to induct Steve Miller tonight and congratulates him.”
Not so honoured they didn't try to shake him down for asking for three tickets.

What's lovely is the way they try to suggest that Miller is angry at rock and roll - "yeah, people get so animated about rock and roll" - rather than the museum they've built around it.

Countryobit: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard has died at the age of 79. There are, of course, any number of obituaries online already.

Perhaps the best story about Haggard is that his musical career had its inspiration in one of Johnny Cash's prisons gigs. It's a great story because it shows what treating prisoners like people can do, but it's also great because that whole 'here is a man playing guitar, I can do that too' storyline in effect makes Haggard a punk hero as well as a country one.

I first came across Merle Haggard thanks to the NME - younger readers might need to be told there used to be a music magazine with that name. Back in 1988, the paper produced an album of Vietnam related pop, rock and soul called Feels Like I'm Fixin To Die. It's pretty good, and on it was this:

He came to regard the song as a bit of an albatross:

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t written Okie. Not that I’m ashamed of it. I’m not sure but what bothers me most is the people that identify with it. There is the extremity out there. I don’t know. It made people forget that I might be a much more musical artist than they give me credit for. I was indelibly stamped with this political image—this political, musical spokesman, or whatever.
And although it's a great song, based on the lyrics I might have not bothered digging much further into Haggard's back catalogue when I was 18. But this song made me give him a second look:

There's a moon across the border in the Louisiana sky
I smell the Pontchartrain,
I hear Silver Wings
Then, away Merle Haggard flies
If Nanci Griffith was giving him a verse in a song, equal billing with Loretta Lynn - well, he had to be worth a second look, right?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

This week just gone

The most-read March stories:

1. Avalanche closes, and how Record Store Day played a part
2. Daily Star misreports Viola Beach crash
3. Cameron gets Rita Ora briefings
4. Radio X listeners really love Rita Ora
5. Fan "humiliated" by Madonna refuses to be humiliated
6. RIP: George Martin
7. RIP: Keith Emerson
8. Paul Van Dyk falls off the stage
9. Cornwall: home of rock
10. Somebody wrote on Bryan Adam's guitar

These were last week's interesting releases:

The Joy Formidable - Hitch

Download Hitch

Kiran Leonard - Grapefruit

Download Grapefruit

K Michelle - More Issues Than Vogue

Download More Issues Than Vogue

Johnny Moped - It's A Real Cool Baby

Download It's A Real Cool Baby

Bob Mould - Patch The Sky

Download Patch The Sky