Saturday, August 17, 2002

Up the Hatch

I don't know what makes me queasiest about this Desert News report on Orrin Hatch's musical aspirations - he's the real life Bob Roberts, it seems.

Is it that the crypto-conservative's "lullabies" are currently serenading Stuart Little? Could it be that Bono is not only hanging out with people like this, but offering them advice on how their lyrics sound? (Not that that should be a surprise - watching Bono dance for Bush Jr's photo-op in return for a miserable few quid tossed in the poor box earlier this year showed exactly where Vox's heart lies - he loves the hard-on that the powerful gives, and doesn't care what direction it points).

But, no, the worst part is surely the discovery that, even away from the camera, Bono speaks like that - "the brothers won't sing them"? Jesus, the man is such a cliche it's amazing that he hasn't arranged his own tragic death and candlelit vigil.
Oh, and Hatch? Don't listen to Bono. If your songs are any good, get yourself a snazzy pseudonym, and send them off to Geffen. Being a right-wing fuck has never been a stumbling block to music business success. Ask Eric Clapton.

Friday, August 16, 2002

The Kelli Deal

Interesting thread on the One Little Indian discussion board about Kelli Ali's Tigermilk album and the poor level of support she's been getting from 1LI - some of it does seem to be fair, such as mispellings of her name on official websites (we do that all the time, but it's not our job to promote her) and the sending of PAL format tapes to american TV stations; not to mention the constantly slipping release date for the album.

But what really irks is a post from someone having a go back - "None of you work in the industry; you don't realise how difficult it is to get great coverage" cries someone. Which manages to be both arrogant - the little people don't understand - and scarily wrong. Getting good coverage is one of the reasons why record companies and PR exist. If they can't deliver that, then what's their point?
Still, full kudos to the label for letting this remain on their site - lesser labels would have pulled it straight away.

MORE TOPLOAD: Ananova are really milking their chat with Dan Hipgrave. Either that or he's been ringing them up a lot while Gail's been doing her breathing exercises. Today's installment explains why Toploader didn't do any festival gigs - because, apparently, they don't agree with playing new songs at festivals and so they would have had to have played stuff off Onka's Big Moka. Uh? But... you mean you'd have had to play stuff that people actually wanted to hear? Why would that be a... bad thing? Hipgrave actually says "You're playing to the audience at festivals" as if at other gigs, you're playing to the floor. Then he thinks out "I know Coldplay got away with it at Glastonbury, but we're very different bands." So, today he's acknowledging that Coldplay are a different proposition to Toploader, whereas yesterday, of course, he was whining that Coldplay get different treatment from the NME to the Eastbourne crew.
And if - as he claims - they don't approve of playing new songs to large, varied audiences, why did they refuse to play Dancing in the Moonlight at the Commonwealth Games, substituting the dreary new single for the one they'd been hired to knock out?
Finally from Dan for now: "We decided to do a big tour of smaller venues rather than a small tour of bigger venues". That makes sense, Dan - better to play to a wide range of nearly full small places than half empty large ones, isn't it?
And, for the record: Actually, Mrs Hipgrave? We would. [NSFW] Mr Hipgrave? How could you?

Elvis memorial cut-out section

I'm old enough to remember the death of Elvis - although, to be frank, all I can recall of the news that day was the story about the car crashing into Graceland's gates; that, and the Top of the Pops tribute that week. I read the complete history of Elvis when Look-In ran it a couple of years later, but, frankly, Elvis really did mean shit to me. And I know that isn't merely because of my age - I can remember sitting in a bedsit in Leeds listening to a younger mate read a poem he'd written; a rant against Miles Hunt, whose crime was to have named an album 'Never Loved Elvis.' To Gary, this was an act of secular blasphemy; a rejection of the sacrament; a denial of rock and roll. He could never forgive Hunt.

But as Elvis' death in the Silver Jubilee year reaches its own street-party 25th anniversary, Gary would find defending Elvis a harsher job. Not least because the Chuck D thesis - Elvis was a straight-up racist, pure and simple - is attaining academic support just at the same time as D himself has recast his statement as a critique of the music industry's lauding of Presley, rather than of Elvis himself.
Writing in The Guardian, Helen Kolawole calls for the entertainment industry to hold its own "Truth and reconciliation commission."

Apparently unaware that anyone with any interest in music happily acknowledges that Most Popular Culture was a black creation, usually repackaged for pasty white ears, Kolawole calls for Michael Jackson to officiate at these proceedings. Good choice, because it's not like Jacko's been grinding his own axe about race as part of his ongoing contract negotiations, is it? This would probably be on a par with having Mugabe in charge of the apartheid T&R process.

Although, interestingly, Kolawole falls into many of the traps Jackson himself did. She seems unable to even consider the possibility that Elvis was as much a victim (in those early years) as the artists whose work he was recording; his talent was sucked dry by Tom Parker through an unfair contract.

The main charge against Elvis is that he took black music, sanitised it, and sold it into a mass market. Well, yes, but that is the story of the Music Industry - it's not down to colour, it's down to the way corporations always tame individuality to make it marketable.

It's why punk - rather than being unleashed in the form of genuine shouty scary screaming - got commodified by a shop boy into the punktomime posturings of the Pistols (they'll chill your blood, but they'll not slit your throats); it's why the resurgence of metal and rock was quickly hosed down and made into Limp Bizkits, who, y'know, let the kids get it out of their system while remaining firmly within The System. It's ridiculous to posit a world where no Elvis would have led to the true innovators - Berry, Richard - becoming the biggest stars in the US, because that wouldn't have happened. A nation where being black meant you had to stick to the back of many buses, where systems were set up to exclude blacks from voting, with no black faces on television - how would removing Elvis have made it likely that the networks and the labels would have got behind a black artist in the same way? It's possible to be realistic about the system that Elvis was working in without supporting its assumptions, you know; and however painful it might be, while we're paying proper respect to the people who made the music that inspired Elvis, maybe we should also recognise that Elvis (and Hailey) cleared the path for other artists - of all colours - to follow.

Go back and read the outrage caused by Elvis' wiggling, swaying and noises. Now, try and imagine the calls for heads to roll if the first taste white America had had of rock had been a black guy. D'you think the genre would have got past the first single?

One other point: In a lot of the anti-Elvis articles, much has been made of Elvis saying that all blacks could do for him was to shine his shoes, and buy his records. Disgusting sentiments, that Elvis should rightly be pilloried for. If he ever said it. Snopes seems convinced that the lack of any record of the quote, and the way it gets attributed to shows he never appeared on, or to towns he never visited, makes it little more than an urban myth. Certainly, if Elvis was racist to that extreme, it's curious that everyone has to fall back on this single instance to 'prove' it.

So, I shan't be wishing I could be stood outside Graceland tonight. And I know that, if hadn't been Elvis, it would probably have been someone else taking the role. But, for today, I'll drink a toast to Presley, for without him (or someone like him), the chances are it'd be Perry Como's death that people got dressed up for, and Bing Crosby who'd be spotted, alive and well, working in Safeways.

Bales out - briefly

Spiritualized have put work on the next album on the back burner while Kevin Bales, the drummer (who had no name at the weekend) gets over leukaemia. The band will, however, be fulfilling their live commitments, with Chris from Six By Seven filling in in the meantime.

Obviously, all the power of luck and love to Kevin.

Who knew Spiritualized had a 'slower' [NME] - but they do...

California all over?

The Bill that had been meandering through the California state legislature which would have reduced the hold labels exercised over artists with allegedly 'unfair' contracts has been withdrawn by Democrat Kevin Murray. Murray says his Bill will return, but it's being suggested that he's backed down from a battle he might have found tricky against Rebecca Cohn's Arts & Entertainments committee.

It's not like they're poor, is it? [BBC] - Ms Cohn denies being music biz patsy

Remodel madness: The Wall remade in a country style

NME: Some signs of life

The slump in NME's readership has been stopped, to sighs of relief at King's Reach Tower. Although a small increase - 2.7% year on year - the nudge of ciculation back to 72,000 suggests that maybe the formula of glossy cover, smaller format and briefer articles may have given the fifty year old a future. An upturn in rock bands worth reading about can't have hurt, either.

Kerrang, however, firmed up its position as the World's Best Selling Rock Weekly with just a snip under 84,000 readers (60% up on a year ago.) The other metal/rock titles all posted healthy increases. But it's Q which must now adopt the title 'The sick man of the newstand' - while labelmate Mojo grew its readership, Q has lost one in ten of its readers since last year.

In other segments, the Popbitch regime at the Face (and its ludicrous attempts to seem hip by writing about the trend-before-last as if they were new - guys, scouse girls have been wearing pyjamas as day wear since '99; even the Liverpool Echo has managed to cover that) is facing a huge struggle - another 6% down this quarter; 13% down on the year, and getting dangerously close to the all important 50,000 level. Smash Hits and Top of the Pops are down as well.

NME up, Kerrang up more [MediaGuardian] - TVTimes/NME merger put back to 2003...

Something to listen to

A ficitionalised rationale for those people who call out for 'Freebird' at concerts for no apparent reason from NPR

Everyone talk about

Some very good things over on New York London Paris Munich right now, including the official en-meme-enation of the Steve Earle controv, and a consideration of the similarities between blogcritics and epinions. Essential, as ever.

Goodiebags emptied

Mark Goodier is quitting Radio One. Yeah, he only does the chart slot but even so. What's probably a bit of a surprise is that he's currently the third longest-serving dj at the station - only Peel and Nightingale have racked up longer; he's been there for fifteen years. Nowadays, of course, probably because they give people like Sarah HB and Theako shows, the rate of turnover at the station is higher, but for those of us who were brought up with DLT and Simon Bates, when the lunchtime show almost seemed to be a job for life, it's all a bit disconcerting.

Apparently, the BBC are planning to use his departure at Christmas as an opportunity to make the Top 40 "new look", which is disturbing. How can you make a run down of records in increasing order of sales different, unless you make it something other than a chart show? No new names in the frame yet, but we're just hoping it's not bloody Moyles.

At least he was never Bruno Brookes [BBC] - we say: Jeremy Vine for the Top 40 presenters slot

Denver stoned

The most curious thing about the report into the John Denver statue on BBC News Online is the related stories they've got on the page about the memorial to the chap who died in an air crash - "Lennon watches over airport"; "Sculpture of Queen for Jubilee" and "R&B's Aaliyah dies in plane crash"

MAKING YOUR HONOUR'S MIND UP: As if the prospect of an end to the long running Courtney Court sagas isn't disappointing enough, that other Jarndyce versus Jarndyce of the music industry - David Van Day and Bobby Gee's battle for the soul of the name Bucks Fizz - has also been settled. The two parties have come to an out of court deal whereby Bobby G will still be Buck's Fizz, and David Van Day will be touring under the name 'David Van Day's Bucks Fizz Style Musical Entertainment' or something.
What you might not know, of course, is that Jay Aston is currently touring under the name Aston.
Peace at last [BBC] - we could never understand why Bobby Gee didn't just drag Therese Bazar out of retirement and tour her round as Dollar?

MIND YOUR BLOUSE: Lifted entirely from It's Up For Grab's very own Simon Tyers post to the Kenickie list, we present proof that Channel 5 are attempting to turn Lauren Laverne into the new Gwen Steffani

Thursday, August 15, 2002

SOME GIRLS: Swizzlestick are currently running an excellent interview with Juliana Hatfield, where she talks about side projects (Some Girls and the Blake Babies reunion), cover versions, Aimee Mann (I know this might mark me out as being Terence Q Thick, but I didn't know she was the voice behind Til Tuesday - but then they never progressed much further in the UK than the Great Gambo's Saturday afternoon US chart slot) and, inevitably, the interweb: "Most of the money that is being made is going to the record company and the executives so I'm like, "Good. Power to the people." The musicians make such a tiny royalty rate anyway, keep the money out of the hands of the greedy fuckers in the record company. But, the tiny percentage that the bands do get, that's what they have to try to live off. I'm not really sure what to think. But I do feel really strongly about one part that I think is really bad. It gives people the freedom to have whatever they want and to have unauthorized recordings that maybe the artist doesn't approve and doesn't want out there." She goes on to talk about songs she didn't want people to hear which somehow got onto the web, and then onto unofficial CDs: "There are pros and cons though. I was glad that people were able to hear the songs that I was proud of. That's the only way people are ever going to hear them. I was in a bind. I couldn't release the songs and the label wasn't going to release them so I'm glad people heard them. At the same time, I felt abused. People were taking my stuff and doing what they wanted to do with it. But I'm sure the intentions were good. I don't know if it was being sold. If people are selling it, that's a whole other thing. That's just bad if people are making money off my work and I'm not getting a dime."
Which is a fair point - and one we've not really got to grips with here very much. Live songs and released songs are one thing; but what about the stuff that hasn't been released because the artist doesn't think it's good enough? The problem here lies with the way the stuff seeps out - clearly, the Juliana stuff must have got onto the web from someone who was either at the session, or else who was trusted enough to be given a tape. In future, artists are going to have be a lot more careful who gets to take away their doodles and half-formed ideas; the Record Company vault is more like an all you can eat diner now.
Of course, if she'd died in an Aaliyah style crash, her label would probably have stuck 'em out on a full price CD anyway. Talking of which, Juliana says: "A CD costs so little to manufacture and yet these record companies are charging $16, $17, $18 for one CD. I refuse to pay that. I won't pay $18 for something I can get for so much less. Why are people buying CDs? They are stupid to pay that much money." Only someone on a small label like Rounder could hope to get away with that.

NOT SO BROKE: Bit of a surprise that Napster's physical assets turned out to be worth as much as $25million in the end (according to a Macworld report, anyway) - is it just us, or is that an awful lot of money for a supposedly bust company?

Do you remember the first time?: some people remember what music they lost it to

KEEP IT OUT OF COURT, LOVE: The brinksmanship of the Courtney Love versus Geffen battle seems to be coming to an end, with Reuters reporting that the whole messy royalty versus undelivered records battle is nearing an out of court settlement, thereby saving the RIAA and its members from having the terms of its contracts held up to public scrutiny, Courtney from having to knock out five additional Hole albums and the rest of us from getting the chance to watch a great ole' courtroom punch up. Bastards. Meanwhile, it's also being claimed that Courtney has made a written proposal to Dave Grohl and Krist Novosellic over the Nirvana problems, and is waiting for a response. Nobody's commenting on any of this officially, of course.

THIS IS KIND OF COOL: The GooGoo Dolls are getting people to bring tins and packets of foods to their current US shows, where they'll be collected by USAHarvest and distributed - presumably, although here they go a bit quiet - to deserving people.
goo goo dolls reinvent gigs as Harvest Festival

PRICELESS: Apparently, Toploader have told Ananova that people who criticise their new album are just "jealous" of their lifestyle. Excuse me? Jealous of what, apparently? The fear of decent hairstyles? The ability to get fading lad's man's flavours of the month up the duff? The woefully named Dan Hipgrave whined "People can say what they like about our music, but these reviews are more like personal attacks.
Well, I'm glad we're free to say what we like about your music - I have a Danube-bursting torrent waiting to set free. But "more like personal attacks?" You're paranoid, Dan. The nme review does concentrate entirely on your music - splendidly describing it as "a veritable fractal zoom of bong-addled indulgence and soul-mashing crap music. " But carry on...
"It's only the immediate press that have given us bad reviews and I put that down to jealousy. Not jealous in that they want to be us, but jealous of our lifestyles.
What exactly is the 'immedeate press'? Is there some sort of press that isn't immedeate? (Actually, the Liverpool Echo can take a few weeks to get car crashes into the paper, but we're sure he didn't mean that.) And if he means that posterity will judge the album more kindly - how can he possibly know? Has he found a copy of Mojo from 2009? Has a bong-fuelled visitation from the future whispered the position of the album in the Diamond Jubilee Radio 2 poll?
And, believe me, young man - nobody casts envious glances in the direction of Toploader's "lifestyles." Apart from maybe The Levellers.
"Coldplay have already got top marks in NME for their new album even before the staff have heard it - you mark my words."
Ooh, you're not implying that NME might be playing favourites, are you? Thing is, if anyone here comes across as jealous, it's you. You really want to be thought of as credible, don't you? It must pain you that Coldplay - who are, to be frank, as shite as you lot - get treated like latter day Shelleys while you're seen as the Bunch of Tossers whose art is so cheap you flogged it to Sainsburys for a Jamie Oliver ad. You'd kill to be given just a day being treated as visionary, wouldn't you? Never mind, I'm sure Somerfield will be keen to use some of your tracks to flog pork chops.
Oh, and we've all seen your wife's tits before - so it's not like you're getting privileged access.

PULL YOU PUSH YOU DOWN: Ricky 'Not hitherto thought of as a genius' Martin has criticised "the media" for desensitising people to violence. Talking in Puerto Rico, Ricky said: "On my recent visit to India, I internalised that we cannot distance ourselves from the dispossessed, which need voices like ours so that the whole world can know their reality via the mass media.
"Entertainers have a prime responsibility to rescue the highest human values and translate them into a positive message of well-being, happiness, and peaceful co-existence."

Hmmm. Well, it's nice to see anyone taking an interest in the world about them, isn't it - although why Ricky needed to go off to India and "internalise" (does he mean 'thought'?) about it is questionable. But surely the point of the mass media isn't solely about making people "know their reality" (clearly, someone starving in Zambia doesn't need Emma Bunton to tell them they're starving - the function of entertainment is to, um, entertain. And there's nothing wrong with that. Ricky's on a tricky road, so we shouldn't take the piss too badly, but someone should offer to help him before he ends up a Bonoesque sloganeer making empty statements and facile gestures. So, Ricky - you've got the platform, we're listening: What do you actually have to say? Iraq, Enron, Asian Brown Cloud? We're listening...Expect 'Give Peace a rhumba' by Christmas [Ananova] - but kids, politics can be sexy...

SPAMBANDS: "The next John Lennon" should have warned us... Normally, we don't provide the URLs for Spambands, but Chocolate Spinach have such a poorly designed website - and we mean rubbish, rubbish, rubbish - that its worth a look. We'd advise you not to have anything to eat beforehand.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Rock Sound is a bloody odd magazine. Its articles all seem to come from one of three angles - either they read like nearly-translated pieces (possibly from the original dutch?); or the writer appears to be a decent, music loving sort who'll cling to any attempt to write about anything other than Puddle of Mudd; or else the bit will be a hagiography as heartfelt but incoherent as the bands they write about. Although its a curious hybrid, some of the results are pretty good - My Vitriol are played My Bloody Valentine and Ride tracks (the Ride causes them to spit that they've been compared to the Oxford boys in the past - although it was from Carnival of Light, which is hardly fair); Shirley Manson displays irritation with the way the boys talk about her (not for the first time in an interview, either) and ponders what happened to female -fronted pop ("where are they? Skin, Cerys, Elastica... they've all gone")...

But what's most fascinating is the chat with Mani of Primal Scream. A lot less defensive than Bobby, he might not have actually been briefed on the party line over the change of title for Bomb The Pentagon, and so his explanation rings more plausibly: "It got played at a few gigs last summer, but we decided to rewrite the chorus and retitle it after what happened, otherwise we might have had the CIA trying to knock us off [nervous laughter]. We don't want to be seen glorifying that, because it's just innocent people dying." In effect, then, the Primals realised that Bombing the Pentagon wasn't such a jolly wheeze, and chose instead to climb down. Nobody could blame them for that...

"If you're rock & roll, you don't need to get wasted" says Dave of InMe. His words in Rock Sound might chime with Blur's Alex James, who disgraces himself in the New Statesman diary by not behaving disgracefully. Tales of playing bridge and how dreadfully common the South of France has become for holidays conclude with the observation that "scientists are the new rock and roll stars" - well, what with predicitions of apocalypse and panic inducing anthrax attacks, they're certainly the new punks...

While rock stars are content to have their music made into ear-filling mush. In a fine bit for the Guardian Review, Alexis Petredis and Phil Tagg (excitingly described as 'music scientist', which, if Alex James is to be believed, makes him the Most Rock & Roll Person in the world) took a voyage through the aural background music. You hope the Starbucks assistant who confided once the official four hour Starbucks tape ends, he plays his own stuff didn't get into trouble. A few more spirited workers like that, and the 'bucks might have avoided the awkward charging-fire-crews-for-water incident on September 11th. Pub chains defend enforcing music centrally by claiming they don't let the staff choose the furniture or the pictures, so why let them choose the music? Yes, Rat and Parrot. You make sure you crush the last piece of humanity out of your staff before we set foot in there again... can you stop them having independent thought as well?...

Most depressing item of the week is a feature on Hugh Goldsmith of Innocent Records in Music Week. He "talent spotted" Billie Piper Evans from a picture ad on the front of the title in 1997. She was plugging Smash Hits, he, of course, decided to thrust her on us not knowing if she could sing or dance. Admittedly, the fact she can't do either didn't hold her back, but even so... couldn't he at least make the effort of wandering about a couple of stage schools?...

What links Billie Piper and The Music? Both have bad hair on their first front pages - the Music grace the cover of nme this week, if 'grace' is the word...

news: there's a picture of julian casablancas on crutches; a picture of the cab that Noel Gallagher crashed in; lots of outraged from Americans who paid to see Oasis being fairly shite in america. More excitingly, there's one of the Vines with his shirt off (and it's Craig) but Eyan's gone off home; meanwhile, the Libertine's people indulge in more damage limitation following their spat; Phil Spector has produced Starsailor tracks - which is akin to Santa helping out the tooth fairy; turns out two of the strokes and one of the Cooper Temple Clause went to a posh, expensive school in Switzerland - so, being in a band is a huge risk for you then, isn't it?; So Solid have denied being involved in an attack on a woman in their villa in Aiya Nappa - the woman was asked for oral sex, and hit when she refused; that's not the sort of behaviour we'd expect from the band, is it?; C-Span are pissed off that Eminem used subterfuge to get footage for his shows, but decided not to get too upset - probably because its the most people who've ever seen C-Span stuff in history...

on bands: the bandits - Liverpool's delgados (or second generation The Stairs) and Interpol (the indie Men In Black)...

V2002 warrants a mere page - boy, festivals are so over, aren't they?...

Kelly Osbourne is famous for being the daughter of a man who used to be in a pop group and who now is incapable of operating a television or taking a joke. Beyond that, she is incredibly ordinary - and I don't mean in a "she's down to earth, isn't she" way - I just mean: she is ordinary. There is a two page interview with, basically, your mate's sister...

This is better - The Datsuns. Yesity yes. They complain at having Dolf D Datsun's voice compared to Bruce Dickinson - but at least its not "Meatloaf"...

Isn't Truth Hurts a crap name for a solo artist? Hello, Mrs Hurts, is your truth coming out to play (nb: this joke was worn out when we stole it off John Walters in the 80's). Apparently Dre gave her the name. When asked 'why?' she says 'You can't tell?' and then starts to bang on about her nipples instead...

A couple of weeks ago, Nancy Banks-Smith observed a drama about Churchill's wilderness years ended with the words 'Churchill went on to lead his country to victory in war", and said "You suddenly realise: there are people who don't know this." You might feel the same way about an articvle that has the whole "Elvis recorded a birthday record for his mother" tale in it. (NME's level is now on a par with Look-In's 'the story of...' picture strip...

Back to now, and back to the Music - Robert Music couldn't cope with September 11th, until his parents sat him down and told him you can't worry for everybody. His reaction? "I don't care about what is - I care about what should be."..

albums: queens of the stone age - songs for the deaf ("the feel odd hit of summer", 9); liars - they threw us all in a trench ("spookier than ARE weapons", 8); sleater-kinney - one beat ("S-K keep it wild", 7): interpol - turn on the bright lights ("the dark's vital signs... interpreted", 8); kaito - montigola underground ("exhuming guitar music's past has rarely sounded so fun", 6)...

sotw is LCD soundsystem - losing my edge ("original. respect"); in its wake are the tide is high - atomic kitten (why can't jenny just put them away?"); oober,am - beany bean (good to have 'em back"); tompaulin - give me ariot in the summertime ("chumbawamba on life support")
Oh, and art department - we know its the same white label every time...

live: moby in toronto ("the last third scrapes perfection"); the pattern in WC1 ("we'd love to applaud, but its not de riggeur"); electralane at london ladyfest (foru smart women taking original steps"); liars ("all you need to know") and miss black america ("one big yawn") in glasgow...

matt bellamy out of muse does the CD thingy - Rage against the machine and the beach boys...

and that, then, would be it for this week...

THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY, HA-HA: Yesterday's FT had an interview with the Tipper Gore de nos jours, Hilary Rosen, and came away pretty certain that the RIAA is gearing up to take individual consumers to court over music downloading: Ms Rosen refuses to talk about the plans, or to confirm the RIAA is planning such an initiative, but a few comments she drops in conversation ("when it comes down to it, everybody is individually responsible") support what music industry sources say is happening: that the RIAA is canvassing companies to work out whether pursuing individuals is a viable strategy.
But what might do for the RIAA is complacency rather than the unedifying spectacle of suing people for having MP3 copies of Christopher Cross songs on their PC. Rosen believes "I don't think it's the end of the business - every survey that we've ever done says that music is an incredibly important part of people's lives, consumption of music is still extremely high - we just have to monetise that more effectively and find better ways of getting piracy under control. We will return to growth."
Music, Hilary. People don't feel any emotional attachment to labels, to the industry. American Ice - the biggest corporation in the US in 1900 - must have felt pretty secure that demand for cold drinks would ensure its ice delivery service was always going to be around. Where are they now?
Hilary doesn't mind being attacked [FT] - grappling to monetise your culture...

REPORT CONFIRMS WHAT WE'VE ALWAYS SAID: New research from Forrester Research in the States - crucially, not paid for by the RIAA - has found that while the music business is in trouble, it's not because of people using the net.
The findings show that 31% of music consumers download stuff and burn it to CD, they also buy 36% of all CDs. The slump in sales in blamed on the economy and that digital sales will reverse the contraction in the market by 2004.
Report summary - all you need is an 'Oasis are shite' and you've pretty much got a No Rock and Roll Fun with pie charts

Madonna writes song for Kylie
Kylie writes song for Atomic Kitten
Atomic Kitten stand about doing impressions of Dr Evil

IF PROOF WERE NEEDED: If the music industry wasn't beyond the bottom of the barrel, then why on earth would the release of singing teaboy Rick Astley's Greatest Hits get not only a fanfare, but a slot at all?
Ask your gran. Unless she was cool [Ananova] - Never Gonna Give You Up... and, erm... what else?

CARY BEARS HIS SOUL: President of the RIAA stuck his head in the gob of Blogcritics and agreed to answer some questions about the American Music Industry's approach to various web- and technology related issues. While encouraging that he bothered, the results were the sort of whitewash and half-truth that stands for the best of American Corporations when they attempt to talk (down) to their consumers.
There's a lot to chew on, so we'd recommend that you read the whole transcript for yourself. But we have a few quibbles we'd like to raise ourselves - Sherman's quotes in purple:

Actually, we're not lobbying for copy-restriction technologies.
Depends what you mean by lobbying for, doesn't it? While the RIAA might not be pushing for funding for copy protection, it's only because they don't need to. What they are lobbying for, however, is the right of their members to use copy protection measures even where it causes problems for the consumer's machines: "In response to [Congressman Rick] Boucher's letter [Boucher wanted to protect purchaser's fair usage rights], the RIAA cited the harm to the recording industry from the illicit downloading of music, and pointed to CD copy protection measures as a means of curbing the practice." see also: techlawjournal 4th March 2002

Each company decides on its own whether to use such technology, and so far, only one major has done so for commercial releases in the U.S., and then only on four albums
As usually happens, they're testing it out on European markets to see how it goes down and smooth out the glitches - you know us Brits, far less likely to bring class actions when our Macs get rendered unusable

ALL releases with copy protection on them have been labeled, by the way. Don't believe rumors that companies are secretly putting copy-protected CDs into the market
Nowhere near as prominent as they 'parental advisory' label, though, is it?

As for crashing computers, I know that there have been reports of that out of Europe. That's one of the reasons the US labels are proceeding so cautiously, because they don't want the consumer to have a bad experience.
The US labels, of course, have no connection with the European labels ruining people's equipment. Not the same Sony, Virgin, EMI, Universal... at all, then?

You mention Enhanced CDs. As it happens, lots of consumers have had trouble with Enhanced CDs, because they may not play on all devices.
This is disingenuous - Enhanced CDs don't play on all devices; of course you can't get the video to work on an audio player. And some of the E-CD material that's meant to work on computers doesn't, but that's besides the point - it's usually a rubbishy geegaw anyway, and itsn't the same thing as the whole of the CD being rendered useless; furthermore - as far as I know - there's never been any record of someone having to call in an engineer to open their CD because an Enchanced CD has crashed the machine and won't allow it to reboot.

P2P in particular can really be a fabulous technology - but right now it's doing far more harm than good. (So our surveys show.)
Well, it's probably true that from an RIAA perspective, P2P is being used for bad (non-charged) swapping more than good (royalty paying) purposes. But who's fault is that? Maybe if the recording industry had had its wits about it, it could have been exploiting the technology. It's still not really come up with any effective way of using it, so the market for P2P music downloads - and its a huge one - has no choice but to go to the darkside. If I wanted a copy of a new Oasis track on my computer right now, it would make no difference if I wanted to pay $12, $2, or ten cents - I can't do it. Give me a couple of minutes, and I can have an illegal one in my Itunes folder moaning away. There might be a lesson there.

As for the need for RIAA (and presumably record companies), there will always be a need for record companies...
Again, this sidesteps the original question, which was about the need for a cash-rich lobbyist group rather than record companies at all. But since they bring it up...

...they are the venture capital companies of the music business.
Were, more like. Nowadays, record companies don't do the grooming and developing of artists - they expect management companies to do that. Indeed, one famous manager was heard complaining recently that labels nowadays expect acts to turn up with photos, first album, dance routines and so on. Meanwhile, labels drop acts if the first album doesn't sell. Record companies are whittling their activities down to little more than pressing and promoting rather than supporting artists through the development of their first couple of albums and the early stage of their careers. If that trend continues, sooner or later people are going to twig that they don't really do that much any more...

I think you've been misled about what the Berman bill would do. [...] It would not allow, and we would never seek the right, to go into people's computers and "scan" their files.
Erm... hang on a moment - I've checked the Bill, and while it expressly forbids alteration, deletion or imapiring the integrity of any computer file of data, there's not a single word that forbids scanning of hard drives - indeed, since the wording of the act throws in anyone making anything available on a peer to peer network, it's clear that the Bill would be useless if the copyright holders weren't able to check what files were being held on hard drives.

Some of the majors have recently announced price reductions (99 cents a track, $1.49 a track, etc.)
$1.49 a track - even 99 cents a track - is daylight robbery. Albeit not in the same way that music downloads are theft, but only a schmuck is going to pay $1.49 for a track that would cost the same - or less - when it's distributed physically, with all the extra staff, infrastructure

I hate that term, by the way. To me, "sharing" means we each get a little less. If I share my pie, I only get to eat half. If I share my car, I can't use it when the other person has it. "Filesharing" however means we each get the whole thing, and noboby gives up anything! That's not sharing, it's publishing!
Jesus, is that what the RIAA are coming down to? If we must debate at this sub Doctor Seuss level, my wife and I shared a moment of passion last night. We both got the whole enchilada. Okay? Now, back to grown-up debate:

In 2001, sales were off by 10% in the US. That's a huge drop. Sales are down more than 10% so far this year (according to SoundScan). What's more, this is happening around the world, not just in the U.S. It's hard to think that people suddenly don't like the new music being offered in countries as diverse as the US, Japan, Germany, Sweden, the UK, etc.
But what all these countries have in common is growing Internet access and increasing numbers of CD burners and burgeoning sales of blank CD-R discs. Get the idea?

Okay, in order -
In 2001, sales were off by 10% in the US
it's the economy, stupid. The Christian Science Monitor, for example, was reporting back in December how retail sales had dropped 3.7% the previous month; that between August and December consumer confidence had nosedived. Clearly, the music industry has experienced some of the hit that comes from an economy screwing up - and with people suddenly discovering its pensions and investments aren't as strong as they'd been led to believe, of course non-essential impulse purchases are going to be down.
What's more, this is happening around the world, not just in the U.S
The UK - probably the second home for Internet downloadage - saw a 5% rise in sales in 2001
It's hard to think that people suddenly don't like the new music being offered in countries as diverse as the US, Japan, Germany, Sweden, the UK, etc
Is it? Why? Isn't it just as hard to imagine that people are going to go on buying more and more music, year in, year out? Especially with shiny new exciting things like DVD coming along to tempt their alreaady-reduced free cash in other directions. Especially when there's very little on the big labels to excite us.
But what all these countries have in common is growing Internet access and increasing numbers of CD burners and burgeoning sales of blank CD-R discs. Get the idea?
Sorry, did the bleeding from the front of my head disturb you? I did that banging it repeatedly on my desk. I get through a couple of spindles of CD-Rs in a good month. None of them for music. It's for sending designs to printers and archiving my Hard Drive. The record companies were on dodgy ground when they tried to suggest that every blank tape was a stolen LP; the reason why CD-Rs are skyrocketing is because they're the only cheap solution to storing massive amounts of data. All figures for sales of CD equipment designed to copy music point to a low take-up. The sale of white trousers and numbers of people going to discos could be tied together, but it would be based on a major, and wrong, assumption that everyone who pulls on white keks is going to be going to strut under a mirrorball. The belief that every blank CD is going to be put to use holding an unpaid for edition of a Red Hot Chilli Peppers album is similar nonesense.

In a study we'll be releasing soon ... 19% [of downloaders] said they purchased more, while 41% said they purchased less.
So, less than half purchase less because of downloading, then? That seems to be pretty good to me, even before we see the questions you asked, and get a look at the methodology (when you say 'less', do you actually mean less than they would have been anyway, or less than last year, or what, precisely?)

In 2000, the top ten albums sold 60 million units in the U.S. In 2001, they sold 40 million units. Seven albums sold over 5 million copies in 2000; none did in 2001
But as we've seen on No Rock..., the top 50 concerts are also seeing a similar drop in how much business they're doing. That suggests its the content that's turning people off, rather than the ability to download stuff off the net

Copyright law specifically allows certain kinds of archival copies of software, but not of music, movies, books or anything else. In fact, in the Texaco case, the court held that making archival copies of scientific papers was not a fair use.
Um... and the relevancy of Texaco archiving scientific papers to whether or not there's a legal right to copy the CD you've paid for to your own MP3 player is... anyone? Anyone at all?
The law in the UK gives you the right to do what you like with a CD in private. You have the right to copy it onto any format you wish, so that you can play it back to yourself. I have no reason to believe, from what I've seen, that the situation is any different in the US. The RIAA are attempting to use technology to remove this long-held right..

IT'S NEW RELEASE MONDAY: or, rather, it was. And it's a great week for new stuff, with K records bringing back Heavenly versus Satan, that controversial (aren't they all?) Ready Mades and Flophouse Junior offering Hour Glass House. Highlight of the week, though, must be Lifted, or..., which despite straying into the Hall of the Way Too Long Name looks set to establish Bright Eyes' reputation in the UK. We shall enjoy just a couple more minutes of having Conor Oberst to ourselves...

Midprice stuff is also having a great week - Sparks do a Best Of, Melody AM from Royksopp and Destiny's Child's Writings on the Wall make what seems like early entries into the pocket money price bracket. If you don't really like music - or know someone you hate - The Man Who... is now available for something nearer to what it's actually worth. But the best of all is the entire Suede catalogue going MidPrice - offering cheap thrills with songs about cheap thrills from suede to dogmanstar and sci-fi lullabies, head music and beyond...

NB: The behemoth that is Amazon can sometimes be a bit flaky about getting its midprice stock available on time, so you might be better off popping into a shop for the cheaper titles...

Singles - Sinead O'Connor's Troy is coming around again - presumably she's got a load of communion wine to buy; it's pitching up against Sugababes Round Round and Royksopp's Remind Me.

LITTLE TAKEOVER?: Last night's Newsnight mailout suggests Alan 'Uncle of Stuart' Little is making a bid to take over Jeremy Vine's position as BBC News' Head of Music:
And who is Ayn Rand, and why does her work fascinate restless Tories? We'll have to play some songs from Rush to help explain, but it will be worth waiting for.
Uh? Now, I think I'm right in saying that this item was dropped because of developments in Newmarket (or it might have been that we swapped to see if it was a Max Bygraves-era Family Fortunes on Challenge before it came on) but we have to ask: is there any instance in which playing the music of Rush at a television audience is justified? Jeremy remains the boss.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2002

WHY BOTHER, THEN, NOEL?: Noel Gallagher's given an interview to the New York Post, deriding the American music industry and people who buy records in the States. If the US is so shit, Noel, why are you going to so much trouble to try and break your band in the country again? Having had a disaster-strewn start to the tour, if you really don't care about selling records there, why not just come home? The writers of that report pushing for an office to flog British music in New York (shamefully including one of the Sundays, as it turns out) worry that this sort of behaviour seems arrogant - it's not, it's just reeking of sour grapes. Further, Noel believes that you shouldn't be allowed to buy records before you're 16, and is bemused by the success of Britney Spears and Eminem. He's clearly spending too much time hanging out with Ole Man Weller, isn't he? Tunes, Noel, it's tunes...
Why don't you shut up? Please, shut up. [BBC] - no, really, shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up.

RADIOHEAD: FILE UNDER RADIOHEAD: Can anyone explain why, on theBBC music homepage, 'Radiohead' is treated as a genre?

BUT WASN'T RIDICULE NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF?: Adam Ant has pleaded guilty to affray. The charges related to an incident when drinkers in the Prince of Wales pub in Kentish Town took the piss out of Adam's combat jacket and flat cap. It's claimed that Adam - who appeared in court under his real name Stuart Goddard - threatened to shoot them if they didn't move back. Other charges against him have been dropped; he's due back in court on October 2nd.'Diddley qua qua' not a valid plea [] - shall we do the mirror (not a bullet or a knife) joke again?

UPDATE: Following the collapse of Korea's file sharing system under the weight of their legal action, the Korean record companies are trying to take over the system - maybe one of them would like to give Bertelsman a call and ask about how much luck they've had with Napster?
MP3 Pay Service Faces Obstacles, understates the Korea Times - interesting hints of a CD boycott, though

MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL: We love the Internet, you know. Not the bits where a now largely deserted office sticks up a page of stuff to fill the gaps between adverts, but the parts where people make seize the opportunity to turn the stuff in their heads into something that other people can look at. One such site is the frankly remarkable Nigel's Golden Days, a collection of charts from the years between 1973 and 1984, with - and this is the special bit - a personal commentary from Nigel on every track. Sometimes you get stories about being escorted to the record counter of Woolworths by policemen, sometimes an Allan Jones style factoid, but there's always something. The sort of website that should be required reading for anybody working in the music industry to peruse, to make them realise what's on the other end of their piecharts and carefully orchestrated release of tracks to the media.

FAITH IN PEOPLE: There's been a follow-up by Janis Ian to her original piece about downloads, copyright and the whole damn hoo-hah. Suddenly forced to the front of a battle she wasn't expecting, Ian expresses the hope that, while the RIAA can afford to pour millions into lobbyists pockets and the wallets of the legislators, it can't afford to alienate record buyers and offers a modest proposal, whereby all the labels would build a site to house downloads of their out-of-print material at a resonable rate - "By "reasonable" I'm not talking $1.50 per song; that's usurious when you can purchase a brand-new 17-song CD for a high price of $16.99, and a low price of $12.99. I mean something in the order of a quarter per song. I read a report recently showing that in the heyday of Napster, if record companies had agreed to charge just a nickel a download, they would have been splitting $500,000 a day, 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year.
Record companies would have to agree that there'd be no limits on how many songs you could download, so long as you were willing to pay for each one; this is a major reason their own sites haven't been more successful."

This would also, of course, get over the other problem about charging for downloads, which is suddenly slapping a ten dollar plus bill onto something that had previously been experienced as a giveaway - although getting the labels to see and accept that would take the efforts of a stronger man than I.
As to her first point - faith in the people - I'm not sure I can share her enthusiasm. The principle was established at the last election that the Will of the People can be interpreted by the courts, and there's precious little evidence that US capaitalism has ever heard the cries of the people it's driving over before; why the record companies should have better ears than pharmaceuticals or utilties or motors isn't clear. Indeed, an industry that believes Christina Aguilera to have the voice of a diva may prove to be the deafest of the lot. More importantly, America dominates the world of recorded music, and most of us don't have a voice in the political process that relates to how its companies operate. We're just left having to deal with its fallout.
Janis Ian's responses in full - offers of marriage to the usual address...

HERE'S ONE FOR MICHAEL BUERK AND HIS TEAM: Obviously the Rocking Vicar is doing this sort of thing so much better these days anyway, but isn't there something slightly icky about Popbitch carrying ads? "You spill the beans... we'll count them?" - nobody would deny the Popdog team need to make cash, but the whole thing seems to be a bit fraught with risk - f'rexample, this item about a popstar having details of her pregnancy stolen from her mobile phone was being served up with an advert for Orange when we read it. Still, not as bad as last night's Tonight which, having had an interview with the parents of those girls apparently forced into a car and driven away went to commercials, kicking off with the Direct Line ad which has a child being driven away in a car shouting and waving...

ONE BECOMES TWO: The long delayed launch of 1Xtra, the black music station spun out of late night Radio One, has finally arrived. The station goes live - online, on DAB, on DSat - this Friday. Beats are expected to be dropped.
1Xtra - another extra station from the BBC

IT'S SOMERSET VERSUS BURNAGE: There is probably something apt in The Wurzels covering Oasis. (Or Oo-ar-sis, as they winningly call them.) We must admit we were surprised to find out they were still going; surely the passage of time have left them looking oldfashioned and a bit of an embarrassment? Mind you (cue punchline) you could say the same about The Wurzels...
cider-fuelled indie [Ananova] - What do you call a bunch of yokels banging on about how much prozac they take? The Elizabeth Wurzels

SALES FALL: Reports coming from the BPI suggest that singles and album sales in the second quarter of the year are down by 15.6 per cent (albums) and 13.8 per cent (singles) on the same period in 2001. The BPI has actually decided to blame things other than piracy this time round - the jubilee, the world cup, bad weather (are they confusing records and trips to Blackpool?) but then caved in and went "ooh, it must be piracy." It's curious that the more file swapping services close, the more sales actually drop, isn't it? We're ages on from Napster - the last service that anyone bothered with in huge numbers - and Audiogalaxy was getting worse and finally axed during this sales period - and yet, apparently aided by Beckham and rain, it's file swapping that has led to the drop in sales. We get tired of repeating this, but we'll try it again: Maybe piracy might hit sales. Perhaps the attraction of other things could cause problems. But why doesn't the BPI ever go "Maybe we've sold fewer records because they've been generally more rubbishy than this time last year?"
Oh, and BPI - you forgot to blame Big Brother taking press space away from bands and cash from the shops. Have that one on us.
The sky is falling [FT] - Maybe if we got Darius to record with hear'say?

Monday, August 12, 2002

TAKING THE RISE: Pinched before it disappears into the ether, Mark Sutherland's 6Music editiorial on Bobby Gillespie:
Bobby Gillespie has always been a bit of an idiot, but at least he used to have the courage of his convictions. But, as the latest Primal Scream album Evil Heat totters into the shops on the back of the usual bundle of great reviews, it's surely time to ask the question: how on earth does he get away with it?
This is a man whose band has veered from none-more-mimsy jangle pop (when the Scream were unequivocally fantastic, by the way) to greasermetal (when they were rubbish) to blissed out post-house pop (brilliant again) to wonky Black Crowes rock (rubbish) before ending up as some half-arsed techno industrial shock-rockers (rubbish again, which at least breaks the sequence). With anyone else it would be called bandwagon jumping, with the Scream, it's genius, apparently.
But what's worse is, they're now shock rockers who are too scared to shock. The album features a track called Rise which was originally, in a rather more headline-grabbing style, entitled Bomb The Pentagon. The retitling might be fair enough if Bobby G admitted that he'd been a silly boy and that now that his attempt to get a reaction had been put into rather horrible perspective he'd thought better of it.
But no. Instead he attempts to weedle out of it by saying the sentiments remain but the title was too cartoonish, and it's his right as an artist to change any element of his songzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz? it's nonsense, isn't it? He's bottled it, pure and simple, cos he wants his record released in America and/or can't face the flak he'd get. Understandable, undoubtedly, but without honesty it's difficult to take anything he says seriously again. Which, from one of the few rock stars left with something to say, is a damned shame.
Maybe you should have stuck to writing nice little indie songs like Velocity Girl, eh Bob? You were quite good at that
And Mark... please get the BBC to make some space to store these things, could you? It's ridiculous that a site that has so much cash to spend and which happily makes room for Match the Moptops can't actually find the space on their servers to keep a series of editorials which are usually pretty nifty...

SHE'S BACK...: Hurrah! Cerys Matthews is back - or rather, not, as she's in Americkey, but she's recording some stuff, and - whereas Catatonia produced a lot but never really got their online selves together, The Woman We Name Our Plants After has got a functional website complete with an online diary. And everything.

NO NO NO: Leeds-Reading a slightly bleaker prospect with the pull-out of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs...
Another band stays in to finish homework [] - but there's still Andrew WK. Hoo-fooking-rah

WAYS AHEAD: The Classical music industry is in a far less healthy state than its rock sibling - and seemingly better able to point the finger at declining competition in the retail market than any number of online downloads as being at the root cause. One of the ways ahead seems to be for the orchestras to set up their own indie labels. The London Symphony Orchestra has done this - spurred on by a desire to provide music at a price that would encourage people to buy, rather than a desire to make as much money from consumers as possible. The result? A modest profit for all involved, and a sense of connection between artist and audience.
Maybe it's time a few of the Radiohead sized bands learned a trick from the LSO?
Classical musicians adapting to a difficult world [Boston Globe] - there's more ways to sell classics than putting women in bikinis...

THE GEDGE OF A BREAKDOWN: Apparently because he sort of knows the cod doctor's press officer, David Gedge turned up in the Sunday Mirror yesterday in a feature about your 'biological age'. Alongside Andy, a customer services manager and Juliet, a personal trainer, David, who "is lead singer of a band called Cinerama" is berated for being a 53 year old in a 37 year old's body (he's only 37? Blimey) and told to get some antioxidants.
It'll be all those broken hearts, it puts years on you...

BOWIE BRAVER THAN BRIT: Just when you think you can be no further impressed by David Bowie, he goes on stage in a thunderstorm and nearly gets barbecued as a result...
And he was doing Heroes at the time... [Sunday Mirror] - and he's got kiddies to worry about, Brit

LOCK UP TEENAGERS BEFORE YOU CALL THEM UP: You might have thought that US attorney general would be a man whose plate has got more than enough pie on it right now, what with Martha Stewart, and Enron, and Guantanamo Bay, and Worldcom, and his boss, and his bosses v-p and... well, you get the picture. However, he's now being called on to make cracking down on Napster clones and their users. In a letter, 19 members of Congress called on him to prosecute the service providers, and their users; although one of signatories Lamarr Smith (R, Texas) denies that they want to see individuals locked up in chokey for mucking about with Metallica MP3s - but then, he only got $6,000 from the music & media industries this year. Fellow signatory F. James Sensenberger (R, Wichita) pocketed $21,000 from the sector - more than any other industry gave to him - and may be hoping for something a bit more hardline. Joe Biden's senatoral support income of $39,000 could go some way to explaining his sudden attachment to copyright issues, while Diane Feinstein found her path back to office helped by $215,000 worth of music and media money - getting dangerously close to being priced on a par with Mariah Carey.
Anyway, nobody will be very much surprised to hear the RIAA has wholeheartedly approved of this letter - Hilary Rosen issued a statement saying ""There is no doubt, mass copying off the Internet is illegal and deserves to be a high priority for the Department of Justice" - we'll not spend any time picking apart the lack of understanding betrayed by the phrase "mass copying off the Internet" with regard to P2P networks, but instead just ponder why stopping a few copies of Puddle of Mudd tracks changing hands should be considered on a par with the threat of terrorist attacks (apparently so dangerous we need to bomb the arse out of Iraqis to stop them), and fighting the fraud marble-ribbed through the companies on which the whole of American society depend...
And make them turn it down, too [USA Today] - then throw away the encryption key... - handy collection of data on who is buying which US politicians

NOTEBOOKS OUT, BIDEN: While you sit there drawing black rings round CDs to be able to make a passable fist of getting tracks off your album onto your computer, you might want to imagine a future where you actually are breaking the law doing this. This week's Need To Know focuses heavily on the forthcoming European and British legislation that seeks to reverse the concept of the consumer being king. Pretty much the sort of laws you'd expect to be made if whoever is running Vivendi this afternoon had seized power in a bloodless coup last week, you no longer would have the right to use the record you pay for in the ways you choose. Buying a CD would be taken as an agreement that you will only use the thing in ways defined by the copyright holder - so attempting to fix it to work on your PC's CD tray would be an offence on a par with copying the album and flogging it in Camden market. For those of you who are already thinking of using the European Copyright Directive as a handy stick to beat the 'loss of soveriegnty' drum with, hold fast a mo: the directive is pretty mean and on the side of the corporations. But the British legislation that the Blair government is planning on bringing forward to implement the directive is even worse - not only has a timetable been set that would challenge Roger Black to keep up (into law by Christmas), but in the interests of "efficiency" a lot of the Euro provisions have been dumped - such as the sort that might give fair use defences to us lot, the people whose money are funding these corporations in the first place.
Of course, if it's in a Queens Speech during a war, it'll get even less attention than they're clearly hoping for. Don't let them get away with it. The Record Companies have the right to stop people ripping them off - I don't think anyone would argue against that. What they don't have the right to do is start to insist how you use their products once you've paid for them. Time to start campaigning.

ACTUALLY, HE DID MEAN SHIT TO ME: Chuck D has reversed his position on Elvis, saying that when he said he was a straight up racist sucker, simple and plain, he really meant that he had a lot of respect for Elvis. The curious thing, of course, is that D says his attack was more on the way that Elvis' status "made it like no-one else counted", which sort of makes us wonder why he's chosen to talk about how great Elvis is as part of a week where the world is going to be treating Elvis like some sort of Lard-consuming pope figure, adding to the general impression that Elvis is the only cultural icon that ever mattered. Oh - hang about - at the bottom of the article it says Public Enemy have got a new album out.
Expletives deleted, and then recanted [AP] - next week: Strummer stammers 'we didn't really mean no Elvis in '77' explanation

JERRY MIGHT GET HIS WISH: Jerry, of course, wanted to be a Rockette, according to the Inspiral Carpets, and may get his chance. For reasons too depressing to go into, the owner of the Radio City Music Hall is thinking about getting rid of the current batch of Rockettes and holding open auditions to replace them (with something cheaper, presumably). Probably an idea suggested by management consultants.
High kicked out [Austin Statesman] - mind you, we held up when Legs & Co went

BAD SMELL: As Celine Dion prepares her perfume - apparently, we've had it confirmed that she herself won't be squirting the stuff in bunnies' eyes personally - and attempts to choose a name, she might cast a nervous eye at fellow diva Jennifer Lopez's problems. The J-Lo has chosen to call her pong glow, which would have been fine were it not for the existence of Glow industries perfumes, soaps, musts and so on...
Hey, be careful, she knows scary people [CDNow] - how about calling it G-Lo? Or maybe even G to tha Lo?

DOES LENNY LEAK?: Now, we all like a nice clean pair of trousers, but according to the Smoking Gun, Lenny Kravtiz won't play unless all the details of a high quality dry cleaners are on hand. Psssst - lenny, if you wore dark trousers, it wouldn't show as bad, mate...

LIGHT MY FIRE, HELP MY SALES: If you felt slightly queasy at seeing - as well as hearing - Hendrix flogging cars earlier this year, it might give you a warm glow to know that at least The Doors' legacy is being protected from from commercial exploitation. John Densmore tells The Nation readers about the struggles he has with his own conscience and his own band members to try and keep true to Jim's vision for what the band was meant to be about. As the silver anniversary of the other dead fat bathroom bloke passes with him being hoiked to the sale of evil Nike shoes - a morally dubious choice of footwear that the grasping Ono allowed Lennon's ghost to plug, too. The nice thing is that Densmore is as happy to admit that he's let his guard down in the past - but at least the Riders on the Storm tyre ads had a bit of creative impact behind them, John.
What's almost unsaid is the band politics behind - the message between the lines ("I'm trying to keep the spirit alive, the others aren't, and as the stakes rise, it's getting harder") fulfills the Rupert Giles formula (the subtext is rapidly becoming text). The global politics are clearer - Densmore cheerfully admits that he doesn't want anarchy, but he'd like the return of the middle class.
It's just a pity he wasn't able to stop Will Young.

I COLLECT, I REJECT - SPECIAL: We couldn't pass up the chance to mark twenty five years since that last fateful poo in Graceland, and - to acknowledge that nothing generates tasteless tat like a famous, bloated corpse - we present the top ten pieces of Elvis tat on ebay:
10. Elvis-Marilyn (or is it Geri Halliwell?) shopping bag
9. Singing and dancing Elvis telephone
8. Cast Iron Elvis doorstop
7. Elvis 'swinging hip' clock
6. Not one, not two, but five Elvis musical whiskey decanters - "empty, but can be filled"
5. A postcard that plays like a record
4. Elmo Elvis
3. A not inappropriate cookie jar - one hundred bucks worth?
2. An Elvis musical pop-up
and, at number one:
A photo taken in Elvis' bathroom on the day of his death. The seller points out how it is only a portion of the bedroom, but you can spot bottles of prescription medicines in it. It's what he would uh-huh-v'd wanted...

TIMEWASTER OF THE DAY: Vintage keyboard crossword

THAT OZZY CAN LAUGH AT HIMSELF, CAN'T HE?: Erm... apparently not. If you were feeling a spot of sympathy for Mr O at being sued by someone who claims they thought of the idea of his life first, worry not - the supposed God of Rock isn't above a spot of self-important legal weight-throwing himself. Harry Enfield has just been on the receiving end of a stiff letter from Ozzy plc, warning him against including any characters based on Ozzy "or any of the Osbourne family" in the series Enfield is currently making for the BBC.
What makes it worse and more perplexing is that Enfield's working on an adaptation of Private Eye's Celeb strip, that was running back when Mani from the Primals looked human. Maybe the Celeb writers Peattie & Taylor should send a letter to ozzy warning him against stealing Gary Bloke's routine...
Next, it'll be cease & desist letters to Spinal Tap [Independent] - don't worry, Ozzy - Gary Bloke is meant to still actually be selling records...

ADAMS AT 'EM: Ryan Adams to tour the UK in November:
11/11 London, Royal Festival Hall
23/11 Manchester Apollo
24/11 Edinburgh Usher Hall
26/11Belfast Waterfront Hall
27,28/11Dublin Olympia
And Ireland - [NME] - but who will be helping out Every Other Singer Songwriter in their studios while he's touring?

Sunday, August 11, 2002

OBSOLETE TECHNOLOGY: The return of Toploader looks set to keep us topped up with easy targets for months to come - do they really believe this whole thing? Do they live this? Only a band from Eastbourne could attempt to foist the 'I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke' advert on us and pretend its a, like, totally new concept, man. There are just too many smug, self-satisified bands in the world - you'll know I'm no fan of the Gallagher carcrash (a term that's become slightly more ironic recently), but at least they do try and talk their music up, unlike acts like Ver Loader, or Jammyragoquai, who just give off this whole air of 'You should be pleased we have come to entertain you'. Listen here, Josh - you can buy the world all the Cokes you can afford, but it still won't make the purchase of a Toploader single anything more than an empty, meanigless cash-based transaction devoid of any effect upon the quality of the purchaser's life, the depth of their thoughts, or the extent of their joy. You might think we've fallen for your schtick, that we believe your Ozric Tentacles-meets-Boyzone tunes are in some way a celebration of the sweet beauty of life and the tingling delight of love, but we've got you sussed: the only thing Toploader celebrate is themselves. There are no holes in the body of World Culture which are shaped like a Toploader song; so please stop trying to fill them.