Saturday, June 02, 2007

Yog cancels Prague after prang

The young people of Prague were, this evening, supposed to have been enjoying the music and showbiz stylings of George Michael. And, you know, sitting through the less good bits of his live show. It wasn't to be, though, as one of the vans carrying part of the stage had an accident in Romania and the special podium couldn't make it in time.

Is it just us, or is there something a little obscene about driving a stage halfway across Europe in the first place? Do they not have stages in Prague he could have used?

Still, let's hope the truck wasn't in collision with a car being driven by a drugged-up driver, although, of course, George doesn't believe that's breaking the law.

Embed and breakfast man: Creep

This does take a little while to turn into something interesting, so we'd suggest pausing it while it loads and whipping through to about one minute forty or so. It's Amanda from the Dresden Dolls playing Creep. On a bar. With ukulele accompaniment - it's what George Formby would have wanted...

[Via Brooklyn Vegan]

Bill Gates likes music

Apparently unconcerned that "We write the code which drives the software which allows Excel to add up on spreadsheets" isn't perhaps the coolest of backgrounds, Microsoft has created an initiative it's calling Ignition, which will promote a "new" band across the entire spread of Microsoft's activities. So the video will pop up on X-Box, it'll get streamed on MSN or Windows Live Live Windows or whatever it's called, there's to be some secret special stuff for the relatively tiny Zune market, Bill Gates will wear a band tshirt, that sort of thing.

Oddly, Maximo Park has been the first to sign up for the campaign; as part of the deal they've had to create locked-in content for Microsoft. It's supposedly offering them access to 30 million. That's a combined audience and will include people using XBox Live for gaming and checking email on MSN, so not really a totally useful guide to the size of crowd Maximo Park will be exposed to. We're also not sure if having a single month of ubiquity is going to charm more than it turns off.

Police: criticism from own ranks

Victoria Newton, oddly, managed to run a review of the Police's comeback gig under her own byline, despite it happening in Vancouver and her being in London. Perhaps that's how she was able to report that it was GRATE:

[A]n encore featuring Every Breath You Take finished their comeback in style.

Sting owned the stage and did son JOE SUMNER. whose band FICTION PLANE was the support act, very proud.

Meanwhile ANDY SUMMERS wowed fans with his guitar solos, and STEWART COPELAND proved he is still a great drummer . . . despite the dodgy headband.

... while someone who was there, Stewart Copeland in fact, didn't think they were up to much:
“Whenever you’re ready Mr. Copeland” says Charlie, the production manager, as two crew members hold aside the giant gong, creating just enough space for me to slither onto my percussion stage, which is still down in its pit. I leap on board but my foot catches something and I sprawl into the arena in a jumble as the little stage starts to rise into view. Never mind. The audience is screaming with anticipation as I collect myself in the dark and start to warm, up the gong with a few gentle taps. But I’m overdoing it. It’s resonating and reaching it’s crescendo before the stage has fully reached its position. Sort of like a premature ejaculation. There’s nothing for it so I take a big swing for the big hit. Problem is, I’m just fractionally too far away and the beater misses the sweet spot and the big pompous opening to the show is a damp squib. Never mind.

I stride manfully to my drums. Andy has started the opening guitar riff to MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and the crowd is going nuts. Problem is, I missed hearing him start. Is he on the first time around or the second? I look over at Sting and he’s not much help, his cue is me – and I’m lost. Never mind. “Crack!” on the snare and I’m in, so Sting starts singing. Problem is, he heard my crack as two in the bar, but it was actually four – so we are half a bar out of sync with each other. Andy is in Idaho.

Well we are professionals so we soon get sorted, but the groove is eluding us. We crash through MESSAGE and then go strait into SYNCHRONICITY. But there is just something wrong. We just can’t get on the good foot. We shamble through the song and hit the big ending. Last night Sting did a big leap for the cut-off hit, and he makes the same move tonight, but he gets the footwork just a little bit wrong and doesn’t quite achieve lift-off. The mighty Sting momentarily looks like a petulant pansy instead of the god of rock. Never Mind. Next song is going to be great…

But it isn’t. We get to the end of the first verse and I snap into the chorus groove – and Sting doesn’t. He’s still in the verse. We’ll have to listen to the tapes tomorrow to see who screwed up, but we are so off kilter that Sting counts us in to begin the song again. This is ubeLIEVably lame. We are the mighty Police and we are totally at sea.

And so it goes, for song after song. All I can think about is how Dietmar is going to string us up. In rehearsal this afternoon we changed the keys of EVERY LITTLE THING and DON’T STAND SO CLOSE so needless to say Andy and Sting are now on-stage in front of twenty thousand fans playing avant-garde twelve-tone hodgepodges of both tunes. Lost, lost, lost. I also changed my part for DON’T STAND and it’s actually working quite well but there is a dissonant noise coming from my two colleagues. In WALKING/FOOTSTEPS, I worked out a cool rhythm change for the rock-a-billy guitar solo, but now I make a complete hash of it – by playing it in the wrong part of the song. It’s not sounding so cool.

It usually takes about four or five shows in a tour before you get to the disaster gig. But we’re The Police so we are a little ahead of schedule. It’s only the second show (not counting the fan gig – 4,000 people doesn’t count as a gig in the Police scale of things).

Perhaps it sounded so much better if you were a little off from the stage. Like Wapping.

Somethings to listen to: More Songs To Learn And Sing

Sweeping The Nation is reprising Songs To Learn And Sing, the micro-essay and mp3 festival, right through the month of June. They've got me out the way first, which means it's uphill from here...

Kelly Osbourne goes back home

And as Paris Hilton's music career evaporates, Kelly Osbourne goes back to the only thing that's ever worked for her: sShe's filming for a "reality" television series. With, for no apparent reason, Kimberley Stewart.

Hilton's music career: loose ends tied

Warner Music has confirmed that Paris Hilton's half-hearted attempt to use music to give something to define her other than having been created from the sperm of a rich man has been drawn to a quiet close:

A spokesman for the record label confirmed: "We are not expecting any new Paris Hilton material in the foreseeable future."

Still, it's a bit of a blow to the postproduction music video industry - they earned quarter of a million dollars, and she only made one promo. Nothing is totally without some suffering.

It was twenty years ago today...

... that John Walters pointed out that the twentieth anniversary of Sgt Pepper should really be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Lonely Hearts Club Band, which would have made yesterday the 60th, we suppose. Did we really hear during the Today newspaper review that one of the papers actually claimed to be "revealing" the Lucy from Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. (The Times, apparently) to be Lucy O'Donnell. It wasn't about LSD at all - how can it be that we've thought that all these years, eh? Despite Lucy popping up every two or three years giving interviews about how a drawing of her by Julian Lennon being the inspiration for that song?

Actually, you know, we don't believe it for a minute - we know this is the official Beatleography line, and it chimes with Lennon's claims in Rolling Stone back in 1970 that he swore to God he didn't "realise" it spelled LSD. Yes, yes, there was a picture, but are you seriously trying to tell us that Lennon wasn't gurgling with delight at the coincidence?

Meanwhile, the Sun has "updated" the cover with what it claims are more contemporary versions of the faces on the sleeve. It actually starts out fairly well:

1. Indian mystic Sri Yukteswar Giri replaced by Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama.

2. Sinister occult leader Aleister Crowley replaced by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard.

But then, either the paper is trying to signal desperately to its readers that we live in a decaying culture, where the taint of celebrity has debased everything it touches, or else they just don't have a clue, really:
3. Bawdy hellraising actress Mae West replaced by rehab hellraiser Lindsay Lohan.

4. Offensive stand-up Lenny Bruce replaced by edgy stand-up Ricky Gervais.

Ricky Gervais "edgy"? Perhaps in a culture where Lindsay Lohan is seen as a latter-day Mae West, but Lenny Bruce was repeatedly arrested for obscenity, banned from several cities, barred from nearly every nightclub in the United States, sentenced to four months in the workhouse because of his act. Ricky Gervais writes children's books and makes charity videos with Bono.
5. Pioneer of electronic classical music Karlheinz Stockhausen replaced by electro-wizard Moby.

We're sure even Moby would argue there's no equivalence here.
6. Comedian and actor WC Fields replaced by pint-sized funnyman Danny DeVito.

"I have been in the entertainment business some forty-three years, and I have never said anything detrimental or anything that might be construed as belittling any race or religion. I would be a sucker to do so because you can't insult the customers." versus "I think it was the seventh Limoncello that got me."
7. Founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung replaced by hypnotist Paul McKenna.

One man created a whole way of looking at the world and exploring the way our minds work; the other, a former Capital Radio dj who sells self-help tapes.
8. Dark crime writer Edgar Allan Poe replaced by darker crime writer Ian Rankin

This one's not a bad substitution.
9. Dancing movie legend Fred Astaire replaced by Dirty Dancing’s Patrick Swayze.

But Swayze made one movie about dancing twenty years ago - couldn't they have thought of another dancer? Like Wayne Sleep, maybe? Or perhaps Natasha Kaplinsky?
10. Leading artistic chronicler Richard Merkin replaced by graffiti commentator Banksy.

Maybe, although Banksy's field of reference is totally different - Julian Opie might have made a bit more sense, based on the Blur pictures in the NPG if nothing else.
11. Painting of air force icon Varga Girl replaced by Forces beauty Nell McAndrew.

That works, although it shows how far the concept of "forces sweetheart" has been watered down since the second world war - McAndrew's basically one step away from Force's Readers Wives.
12. Big-faced actor Huntz Hall replaced by big- faced actor Nicolas Cage.

13. Genius builder and designer Simon Rodia replaced by architect Sir Norman Foster.

Again, not bad choices, although we suspect Foster was the second answer shouted back when the newsroom was asked "does anyone know any architects?" (after "my brother-in-law had a good guy for his loft extension.")
14. Cutting-edge beat poet Bob Dylan replaced by a crustier but still cool Bob Dylan.

In other words, the picture researcher called back with an "are you sure there's even a man called Murray Lachlan Young?"
15. Fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe replaced by fifth Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson.

This is insulting to Sutcliffe, and completely fails to understand why he was there in the first place - I guess at least they didn't replace him with Bonehead. Dylan gets to stay, but the pretty Beatle doesn't? You could argue, if you had to swap him out, that Yoko should have taken his spot. But some chump from the Arctic Monkeys?
16. Controversial cartoonist Aubrey Beardsley becomes Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

Groening would have been the perfect man to replace Disney; really, though, this is where Banksy should have been stood.
17. Old mannequin replaced by Topshop mannequin.

If the Sun had any creativity left in its paper, they'd have put Kate Moss in here.
18. Police founder Robert Peel replaced by Sting, the founder of The Police.

That, frankly, is pathetic.
19. Drug-dabbling writer Aldous Huxley replaced by off-his-head writer Will Self.

20. Poet Dylan Thomas replaced by Irish rhymer Seamus Heaney.

"Irish rhymer", "drug-dabbling" - is anyone else getting the sense there aren't too many Eng Lit graduates working for the paper these days?
21. US screenwriter Terry Southern replaced by Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese.

22. Doo-wop singer Dion DiMucci replaced by R&B star Usher.

23. Comedy actor Tony Curtis replaced by funnyman Adam Sandler.

21 and 22 aren't bad suggestions; Usher could be any unfathomably popular American chart act, but their interchangeability is the point.

Adam Sandler as this age's Tony Curtis, though? Have we really sunk that low?
24. Cutting-edge artist Wallace Berman replaced by shark-pickler Damien Hirst.

25. Radio favourite Tommy Handley replaced by gobby radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles.

Yes, we have, haven't we?
26. Blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe replaced by platinum starlet Scarlett Johannson

The Sun does tend to view all women with blonde hair as interchangeable; if they'd done this three weeks into Big Brother it would have been that woman who wants to be Victoria Beckham.
27. Drug-inspired writer William S Burroughs replaced by serial-caner author Irvine Welsh.

Addict, you fucking fools. Burroughs wasn't "ooh, I'll have a little bit of blow and see if I can come up with a poem", he was a drug addict.
28. Spectral yogi pin-up Sri Mahavatar Babaji replaced by Celeb BB pin-up Shilpa Shetty.

This is a little bit like replacing Pope Benedict with Claudi Schiffer because they're both German.
29. One half of comedy double act Stan Laurel replaced by Dec’s other half Ant McPartlin.

Oh, give me strength. Laurel and Hardy were international celebrities who made iconic comedy films. Ant presents light entertainment on ITV.
30. Painter of heroic figures Richard Lindner replaced by Spider-Man creator Stan Lee.

If Lindner had painted "heroic" figures in the sense of people embued with extrahuman strengths, you could see the thinking here. But Lindner's people are failures, toys and, above all, dislocated from society; they're not heroic in any real sense. Would it be unfair to assume someone scanned his Wikipedia entry to come up with this substitution? And wouldn't, say, Beryl Cook have been a more apposite stand-in; a different approach, but the same milieu?
31. Tubbier half of comedy double act Oliver Hardy becomes Ant’s pal Declan Donnelly.

After all, if Laurel and Hardy were busy, they wouldn't have called in Vernon Kay instead, would they?
32. Creator of the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx replaced by Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

David Cameron would at least have been funny. Osama Bin Laden might have been controversial. Vanessa Redgrave could have been an stage wink.
33. Time Machine author HG Wells replaced by 2001 creator Arthur C Clarke.

That's keeping it contemporary, boys. Although, erm, wasn't 2001 being created at the same time as Sgt Pepper?
34. Yoga guru Sri Parama-Hansa Yogananda replaced by yoga obsessive Madonna.

That's just absurd. Almost grotesque. Mad Lizzie has done more to promote well-being than Madonna, and we'd not even suggest her to stand here.
35. Desert hero Lawrence of Arabia replaced by Gulf War veteran Andy McNabb.

"There were many other lonely fighters to whom this self-regardent picture is not fair. It is still less fair, of course, like all war stories, to the un-named rank and file: who miss their share of the credit, as they must do, until they can write the despatches" versus "Suicide is the arsehole's way out".
36. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud replaced by Sun Agony Aunt Deidre Sanders.

If only Freud had restricted himself to reducing complex sexual anxieties to photos of women in their knickers, he might have managed to hang on to his seat.
37. Mannequin replaced by New Look mannequin.

No, they didn't use Lily Allen, either.
38. Pin-up cartoon of a Petty Girl replaced by cyberbabe Lara Croft.

39. Wise-cracking stage man Max Miller replaced by cheeky pop star Robbie Williams.

Max Miller was a hugely talented comedian with perfect comic timing. Here, maybe, you could have argued Ricky Gervais could have sat, albeit slightly uncomfortably. But to confuse comic ability with "sometimes wears a cap and gurns" is a travesty.
40. Another Petty Girl replaced by cartoon sexpot Jessica Rabbit.

Again, a good idea but... contemporary? They should have put in Lynne from their own George & Lynne cartoon strip. Or... a page three girl? It's like The Sun doesn't even read The Sun, isn't it?
41. Moody actor Marlon Brando replaced by grumpy thespian Russell Crowe.

Spot on, although the Beatles couldn't have known that Brando was going to end up doing any old crap for the money at the time.
42. Cowboy actor Tom Mix replaced by spaghetti western gunslinger Clint Eastwood.

That's really updated the idea. Despite, erm, A Fistful of Dollars predating Sgt Pepper by three years.
43. Writer, poet and wit Oscar Wilde replaced by writer and comic Stephen Fry.

Fair enough, and Fry has even played Wilde which is quite nice.
44. Zorro actor Tyrone Power replaced by Mask of Zorro star Antonio Banderas.

45. Modern artist Larry Bell replaced by unmade bed artist Tracy Emin.

46. African explorer David Livingstone replaced by British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Again, not a bad series of replacements.
47. Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller replaced by King Of The Jungle Phil Tufnell.

48. Writer Stephen Crane replaced by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.

49. Music hall comedian Issy Bonn replaced by stand-up Jimmy Carr.

50. Legendary Irish writer George Bernard Shaw replaced by modern Irish writer Roddy Doyle.

These, taken together, could really be used as evidence in a court case about the world the Sun has made. Doyle's clunking, insular work in place of Bernard Shaw's connected, deeply political work? Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha as our generation's Arms And The Man? Jimmy Carr there at all? A cricket bloke who won a gameshow what we give to eternity in place of an Olympian who made an iconic movie character? In the stead of Crane's evocation of the meaning of courage, Brown's pisspoor airport potboiler?
51. 3D artist and designer HC Westermann replaced by iPod designer Jonathan Ive.

52. Liverpool FC legend Albert Stubbins replaced by former Everton star Wayne Rooney.

We'll give them these.
53. Indian spiritualist Sri Lahiri Mahasaya replaced by spoonbender Uri Gellar.

They're not very good with the philosophers or spiritual leaders, are they? They might as well have just slapped Paul Daniels over his face.
54. Alice In Wonderland writer Lewis Carroll replaced by Harry Potter creator JK Rowling.

There's some sort of logic to this one.
55. Boxer Sonny Liston replaced by British Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan.

56. Waxwork of George Harrison replaced by waxwork of Arctic Monkey Alex Turner.

57. Waxwork of John Lennon replaced by waxwork of Arctic Monkey Jamie Cook.

58. Waxwork of Ringo Starr replaced by waxwork of Arctic Monkey Nick O’Malley.

59. Waxwork of Paul McCartney replaced by waxwork of Arctic Monkey Matt Helders.

The boxer one is fine, but... apart from there not being any waxworks of the Arctic Monkeys, surely, if anyone, a plasticated Beatles should be represented by Oasis?
60. Albert Einstein replaced by Brief History Of Time genius Stephen Hawking.

"Stuart, you can stop looking for a photo of the bloke who invented Suduko... I've had a better idea..."
61. John Lennon replaced by son Sean.

62. Ringo Starr replaced by son Zak.

63. Paul McCartney replaced by daughter Stella.

64. George Harrison replaced by son Dhani.

Are they trying to make a subtle comment about the foolishness of believing that talent is inherited? Did they get Rupert Murdoch to sign off on that?
65. Child star Bobby Breen replaced by off-the-rails Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin.

66. Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich replaced by Aussie screen star Nicole Kidman.

They both have funny accents, you see.
67. Legionnaire from the Order of the Buffalo replaced by anonymous British soldier in Iraq.

Curiously, there's no such thing as the Order of the Buffalo - the only other place you'll find it mentioned is in the Independent's guide to who's who on the Sgt Pepper cover. There is a "Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes", which is a bit like the Masons or the Elks; there's also an "Order of the Buffalo Hunt", which is a Canadian honour. Neither are really anything to do with fighting soldiers, though. Still, the paper probably wanted a picture of an Iraq fighter somewhere, knowing how keen the Beatles were on Britain supporting American wars.
68. Shapely actress Diana Dors replaced by curvy Kelly Brook.

Yeah, except Diana Dors was an actress, and Kelly Brook... well, it's kindest to say that Kelly Brook isn't.
69. Child star Shirley Temple replaced by Britney Spears in Disney TV show.

Because, of course, Britney Spears is now only remembered as a child TV star in a programme none of Britain ever saw.
70. Japanese Fukusuke doll replaced by Teletubby toy.

Hello Kitty, surely? They can't even get their toys right.
71. Snow White figurine replaced by Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear.

72. Statue from home of John Lennon replaced by statue of Bobby Moore.

Bobby Moore? Why Bobby Moore?
73. Plastic doll replaced by Bratz doll.

74. Doll with Rolling Stones jumper replaced by ITV Digital Monkey with Arctic Monkeys T-shirt.

Good lord, what's with the Arctic Monkeys connection? It's almost embarrassing to see the Sun dropping their names all over the place, like a grandpa dropping the name of a band he read in the Daily Mail into conversation.
75. Figurine of Hindu goddess Lakshmi replaced by Barbie doll.

We're sure the Hindus will be delighted the consort of Vishnu has been deemed out of date and replaced with a doll eight years older than the original album.

Well done, everybody. Well done. We're going off for a little sob.


Couldn't Mutya have done a park bench as a tribute or something? Because we're not sure having you whole leg scratched and ink injected into the wound is as good a way of "paying tribute" to her mother as she seems to think it is.

Friday, June 01, 2007

"Some people might recognise me..."

Oh, this is hilarious - Ziggy, the man they're throwing into the Big Brother house, used to be in Northern Lights. And he actually thinks there might be people watching going "oh, of course..."

We wonder if they're going to bring in all of Two Thirds at some point?

Of course, this could actually be a very cunning play on what they did on the last Celebrity Big Brother but one, where Chantelle was pretending to a person from a band nobody had ever heard from as well.

Sharon Osbourne bingo winnings

After our post last weekend about Sharon Osbourne's threats of violence, we did write to Sarah Mercer, who is head of groups communications for Gala Coral Group, to find out if this sort of conflict resolution is one they'd like to see people adopting in their bingo halls - Osbourne, of course, being the face of Gala Bingo.

As yet, Sarah hasn't replied. Perhaps it's because it was a bank holiday weekend, maybe she had a backlog built up. We'll try resending, and keep you in the loop.

Mrs Way on the way? Or no Way?

Gerard Way has told MTV2 that he's engaged, and that's why he's wearing an engagement ring. On the other hand, the band had been trying to deny he was engaged when first asked about it; and, frankly, if our fiance treated our engagement as something slightly embarrassing to try and cover up, we'd be disaffiancing pretty sharpish.

Hey! This kind of fact-free post could almost count as an Inconvenient Truth for the IFPI, couldn't it? Maybe I should send a CV across.

All the world's a Bordello

The sightly clunking gypsishism of Gogol Bordello is about to be flying about a lot, as they undertake a world tour:
06-01 Nürburgring, Germany - Rock Am Ring
06-02 Nürnberg, Germany - Rock im Park
06-08 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
06-09 Aspen, CO - Belly Up Aspen
06-16 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo
06-22 Glastonbury, England - Glastonbury Festival
06-24 Vienna, Austria - Donauinsel Festival
06-25 Padovia, Italy - Sherwood Festival
06-26 Rome, Italy - Villa Ada
06-28 Milan, Italy - Festival
06-29 Belfort, France - Eurockéennes
06-30 Zerajanin, Serbia - Roadfest
07-01 Gothenburg, Sweden - Pier Pressure
07-04 Prague, Czech Republic - Rock for People Festival
07-06 Turku, Finland - Ruisrock
07-07 Kinross, Scotland - T in the Park
07-08 Dublin, Ireland - Oxegen Festival
07-12 Quebec City, Quebec - Festival D'été
07-13 Ottawa, Ontario - Ottawa Blues Festival
07-14 Detroit, MI - Majestic Theatre
07-15 Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
07-17 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
07-18 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
07-19 Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
07-20 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
07-21 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
07-25 Targu Mures, Romania - Fel Sziget
07-26 Ostersund, Sweden - Storsjoyran
07-27 Trondheim, Norway - Storåsfestivalen
07-29 Paleo, Czech Republic - Paleo Festival
08-09 Oslo, Norway - Oya Festival
08-10 Budapest, Hungary - Sziget Festival
08-11 Zofingen, Switzerland - Heitere
08-12 Rothenburg, Germany - Festival
08-14 Paredes de Coura, Portugal - Paredes de Coura
08-16 Hasselt, Belgium - Pukkelpop
08-17 Gampel, Switzerland - Openair
08-18 Exeter, England - Beautiful Days Festival
08-20 Brescia, Italy - Radio Onda Durto Festival
08-21 Ariano, Italy - Ariano Folk Fest
08-22 Florence, Italy - Ippodromo
08-24 Reading, England - Reading Festival
08-25 Leeds, England - Leeds Festival
08-27 San Diego, CA - House of Blues
08-28 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre
08-29 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
08-31 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
09-01 Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot Festival

You'll note this time the Glastonbury Festival is being placed in Glastonbury. Pilton, people, Pilton.

Some of my best Franz are songs

Pitchfork is currently offering links to Franz Ferdinand covering LCD Soundsystem's All My Friends. You might like to watch it.

IFPI steal Al Gore's IP

Amusing to see the IFPI (where the RIAA pretends to let other nations play at copyright police, too) have, uh, borrowed the title of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, for their list of ten "facts" about piracy. Isn't that the sort of playful inspiration-borrowing that strict copyright and trademark law looks askance at?

Anyway, we thought we'd take a close look at these "truths". It's not clear if they're going to get Alan Parker. to write them in big black pen on his hand or anything:

1. Pirate Bay, one of the flagships of the anti-copyright movement, makes thousands of euros from advertising on its site, while maintaining its anti-establishment “free music” rhetoric.

Well, they never said they'd be fascinating or surprising. It's not actually quite true, either, is it? Pirate Bay's stance, as we understand it, is that of Kopimism, a belief in the free movement of information, which isn't, really, the same as being anti-establishment. And since the ads appear, you know, on the site, it's not like people might not have noticed.
2., the well-known Russian website, has not been licensed by a single IFPI member, has been disowned by right holder groups worldwide and is facing criminal proceedings in Russia.

Well, this is factish - although "We say we don't like them" isn't really a truth, and since the IFPI are self-appointed and not democratically mandated, one might say "so... what, exactly?"

And are Allofmp3 facing criminal proceedings in Russia? Two and a half years ago, the IFPI trumpeted the passing of results of a Moscow police investigation to the Russian state prosecutor. We've not seen anything solid since then; nor has the IFPI, to judge by its website.
3. Organised criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.

Really? Terrorism? This is often around by the copyright lobby - buy a fake Celine Dion CD today, and you'll suffer tomorrow. And the day after, you'll be blown up by a terrorist. The RIAA claims that it's got evidence that Dawood Ibrahim is producing CDs in Pakistan and using the cash to fund bad things. Maybe he is, but that doesn't really mean that he's turning up at the local car boot sale down the road to flog 'em, is there? Or maybe the RIAA has just made it up, or got it from the same bloke who told Bush and Blair about the yellow cake. Certainly, if they do have evidence, they're not letting anyone see it to evaluate it.
4. Illegal file-sharers don’t care whether the copyright infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.

This isn't entirely true - some do. Some file-sharers, indeed, will only share music that has become out-of-print. So, at best, a partial truth, then.
5. Reduced revenues for record companies mean less money available to take a risk on “underground” artists and more inclination to invest in “bankers” like American Idol stars.

The IFPI seem to be suggesting that the major labels are releasing a slew of rubbish - which is true, and - actually - surprising. We don't see any graph showing relationship between total revenue and risk-taking by major labels; we'd even be happy with a graph showing a list of risks taken by major labels in the last five years. But we don't get them.
6. ISPs often advertise music as a benefit of signing up to their service, but facilitate the illegal swapping on copyright infringing music on a grand scale.

If we were ISPs, we'd be more than a little bit annoyed by this - there are, as the IFPI-RIAA point out constantly, any number of legal music services online. The implication here, that BT and Virgin Media say "sign up with us, you can steal loads of cash" is just fanciful.
7. The anti-copyright movement does not create jobs, exports, tax revenues and economic growth – it largely consists of people pontificating on a commercial world about which they know little.

Sorry, did they just run out of 'truths' and go for abuse? And wasn't point one that Pirate Bay were arch-capitalists? And, if we buy the IFPI's claim that ISPs are facilitating copyright-skirting services, then are we to assume that the bosses of BT and Orange and Pipex "know little" about the commercial world? Or is this bunch of facts just contradicting their own pants off?

It's also simply wrong to suggest that "the anti-copyright movement does not create jobs" - some people who disagree with copyright might not be capitalist. But others see the loosening of copyright rules as a way of stimulating the economy. The IFPI's jumbling of a number of schools of thought together weakens its case - for example, the people who object to the calls for extension of copyright in recordings beyond fifty years can point to the creative work being done by labels like K-Tel in releasing music and creating value in music which had been left unexploited for decades. Recordings locked in music industry vaults are equally poor at creating imports and tax.

"Know little of the commercial world"? Just because people don't want to kiss someone's ass doesn't mean they're unaware where the shit comes out of.
8. Piracy is not caused by poverty. Professor Zhang of Nanjing University found the Chinese citizens who bought pirate products were mainly middle or higher income earners.

Because the very poor Chinese, of course, can't afford anything to play the pirated music on. Besides, the people who buy pirated music aren't the people who sell the product. This statement is as stupid as saying "Cleaning isn't a job choice driven by poverty; a survey has shown everyone who hires cleaners is middle class."
9. Most people know it is wrong to file-share copyright infringing material but won't stop till the law makes them, according to a recent study by the Australian anti-piracy group MIPI.

And you can't take everyone to court, or even a significant number of people to court. So, effectively, the IFPI and RIAA have lost. That is, to be fair, an inconvenient truth indeed.
10. P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.

This is almost textbook duplicity - most of the music searches on the internet are for established bands - does that mean you don't discover new music on the internent? Most record shop shelves feature popular artists - does that mean that shops aren't a place to discover new music? Nearly all radio music is drawn from a very narrow pool of the most popular tracks, but that doesn't mean you might not find a new artist online.

Still, we're sure the IFPI had fun drawing these non-facts, half-truths and well-duhs together. Even if it just made itself feel better.

Fingerprints on the Apple

It was Franco who first alerted us to the discovery of private data encoded into the supposedly DRM-free files being sold by Apple:

We now know where the extra iTunes charges for “Fairplay” tracks is going: all downloaded songs come free with personalised information like your name, email address and other account information. They must have run out of space otherwise they could have squeezed in some bank details and mother’s maiden name.

Although it turns out to be even worse than that: all iTunes sales have this data encoded into them, but since the standard version is locked to a limited number of machines and players, it's caused less concern.

Ars Technica ponders why they'd bother with this ugly, embarrassing encumbrance - as it points out, the people who'd shell out a dollar for a tune aren't going to be the sort fishing in file-sharing networks anyway. It speculates there's a chance that the information might be collated for a fascinating study rather than copyright whoop-ass, but Apple are keeping quiet about what the hell they're up to for now. It all looks a little tawdry.

Apparently, Noddy Holder wasn't a relative at all

You'll have to forgive us, because this sounds a little like the plot to one of the stories from the Haircut One Hundred comic strip in Look-In. Sir Benjamin Slade has finally finished his search for an heir, and the search took him to Isaac Slade, out The Fray. There's been a DNA match, and now Benjamin is looking for Isaac to move to Bridgewater to take over the family home.

Apparently the upkeep is getting too much for Benjamin so, rather than sell the house, he set out to find a living relative to pass it on to. His idea was to keep it in the family, as the last thing he wanted was for the place to go on the market and end up in the hands of some obscure rock star with more money than sense.


Mind you, Isaac's apparently not some Jagger figure:

Ben, who has no children, said: "I'm over the moon to have found Isaac. He isn't your typical rocker. He doesn't do drugs, he dresses and speaks respectfully.

"He and his wife will stay with us for two nights to get a feel for the place. We're pulling out all the stops - the champagne will flow all night. I want him to fall in love with my house so I can jump ship."

Yes, it's good to know that Isaac isn't some amoral figure, so you can comfortably get him pissed and dump the house on him while he's incapable.

Beckham quits show, or something

The fly-on-the-wall Life Of Victoria Beckham series which was being shot despite no actually network wanting it has either been "thrown into doubt" or "is trying to beat up interest with some lame made-up story" as Victoria has supposedly told producers she's going to watch the football instead of turn up to filming.

You know, like Half Man Half Biscuit did with The Tube, and it never did their career any harm.

A US source said: "She told producers she was not going to miss David's England game and they seemed unwilling to compromise.

"It's also his last Madrid match next week and she'd told them months ago that she was going to be by his side - but they seemed to expect filming to take precedence.

"It's a real sacrifice for her as the TV series was a great launch-pad for her career over there. But she felt she was being pushed into a corner and David was obviously always going to take priority."

Mrs Beckham has been fannying about in the US and UK apparently unconcerned if David was turning out regularly for Real Madrid or not, so we presume this sudden interest in David now he's back in the England team has more to do with being photographed with the other WALOFFS (or Women Apparently Living Off Footballer's Fame) to try and boost her flagging career back home. We say "career", as if "being photographed with other women who have sex with millionaire sportspeople" is a properly structured job.

Victoria Newton went to the cupboard...

... and when she got there the cupboard was bare, so she just ran a bunch of photos. This means today's Bizarre consists of man wears hat in new video, couple wear similar trousers and man looks at pregnant girlfriend.

The hat story is brilliant, as it's Simon Webbe, so not only does nobody actually care, but because he's wearing a hat, Newton is apparently confused:

Is hat you, Mr Webbe?

Yes. Yes, it is him. Only wearing a hat.

To be fair to Newton, she has managed to drag a story out of reading another gossip column about Lindsay Lohan:
Wildchild Lindsay on 'heroin'

An arresting headline, but actually, her Dad said "hillbilly heroin", which is quite a different proposition and does make Newton's choice of headline somewhat dishonest (a bit like if someone said "You're a shit journalist" and the headline was "Newton is a 'journalist'").

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Glastonbury 2007: Line-ups

The NME website has announced (possibly leaked) the Glastonbury line-ups. This the Pyramid stage:

Friday (June 22)
Arctic Monkeys
The Fratellis
Bloc Party
The Magic Numbers
Amy Winehouse
Gogol Bordello
The Earlies
The View

Saturday (June 23)
The Killers
The Kooks
Paul Weller
Paolo Nutini
Lily Allen
The Good, The Bad & The Queen
The Pipettes
Seasick Steve
Liz Green

Sunday (June 24)
The Who
Kaiser Chiefs
Manic Street Preachers
Shirley Bassey
James Morrison
Damien Marley
Stephen Marley
The Waterboys
National Youth Orchestra (with Goldfrapp)
Glastonbury Town Band

Good lord, Manics beneath the Kaiser Chiefs is a bit of something hard and jagged for them to swallow; Saturday night seems like a "who can disappear up their own arses the furthest" competition - "if I can make it through Albarn's band with no name, I can see... oh, Lily Allen. But if I can make it through her, then it's... oh, Paolo Nutini. But then... sod this, who's on the second stage?"

Funny you should ask:

FRIDAY (June 22)
Arcade Fire
Rufus Wainwright
The Coral
Super Furry Animals
Bright Eyes
The Automatic
The Cribs
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
Mr Hudson And The Library

SATURDAY (June 23)
The Stooges
Maximo Park
Biffy Clyro
The Twang
The Long Blondes

SUNDAY (June 24)
The Chemical Brothers
The Go! Team
The View
The Rakes
Modest Mouse
Cold War Kids
The Sunshine Underground
The Enemy

That's more like it - although we're a little surprised at the honest-but-unexpected positioning of Babyshambles halfway down the second stage; presumably that covers them if they don't turn up. It's interesting, though, they're occupying a more lowly position than The Coral are the night before. Presumably, The Long Blondes have kept on jobs waiting at Pizza Express or something?

"A moving half-hour followed, with John recounting stories from his past"

The splendid Sweeping The Nation has gathered the links, so we shan't bother: John Peel's This Is Your Life is currently bobbing about on YouTube. Great news for fans of grown men crying.

How do you revive a clapped-out warhorse?

In the case of MTV Unplugged, an idea which had its time and now wants it over again, you try by hiring acts who are even older and more dried-out than the format. Bon Jovi, The Police, Kenny Chesney and John Mayer are all lined up to do their thing.

How much does L'Oreal pay Beyonce again?

It's money well spent, isn't it?

"I actually don't like wearing make-up, I'd rather be natural. My hair is natural and when I go out I don't need to spend hours deciding what I will wear or which make-up to put on. I know exactly what I want."

Oh, yes, Beyonce is worth it, alright.

Germaine Greer buys the NME

We're sure Conor McKnickerless - sorry, McNicholas - will be delighted that today's G2 carries a not-quite-think piece by Germaine Greer discussing the NME's Beth Ditto cover, even although she doesn't really seem to have thought through her views:

When Beth Ditto, singer with The Gossip and a G2 columnist, strips to lipstick and eyeshadow, she is getting nude, not naked, but prissy commentators are talking about it as if she were a Hottentot and NME (which ran the picture on the cover) was the National Geographic.

Does this actually mean anything? Greer fails to point out any "prissy" commentary at all, and we don't actually think there's been anyone swooning away at the thought of a naked woman. We've seen people who've got horny, people who've been turned off, people who've wondered if the idea is quite as empowering as it's supposed to be. But prissyness? We've seen none.

And surely prissyness is the exact opposite of the reaction to the images of naked tribespeople which used to be the stock-in-trade of the National Geographic; the stimulation of choice for the kids whose dads were too posh or too good at hiding their stash to allow easy access to well-thumbed Mayfairs? Secretly thrilled is not the same as prissy, surely?
The NME had enough courage to put the coolest woman on the planet on the cover, and Beth Ditto has given them the kind of picture that they can use: attention-getting but certainly not obscene.

No, really, Germaine? Are you suggesting that by knowing that splayed legs and exposed nipples wouldn't a mass-market magazine cover make is meant to be the sign of some sort of hyper-intelligence at work?

And why is this "courageous"? Again, Greer doesn't really explain, because she's fallen into the trap that the paper itself has: it's only if you secretly believe Ditto to be some sort of freakshow grotesque that putting her on the cover becomes an act of courage; you can't simultaneously hold the position that the NME is being brave and that Ditto is no different from whoever is on the cover of Zoo this week.

And isn't Greer's anthropological musing on the paper's front page, well, casting Ditto as if she were a Hottentot in the National Geographic?

EMI and Google make a deal

Google has come to an agreement with EMI to allow YouTube to carry their videos in return for a slice of revenue. All four majors have now, reluctantly, agreed to pocket large sums of cash in return for not suing YouTube off the face of the web.

Throw A Penny: Robin Gibb takes chair at CISAC

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, an umbrella body which represents royalty collecting agencies worldwide, has appointed Robin Gibb as its President. He says he's going to use his position to push for changes in copyright law, of course:

Bee Gee Robin Gibb says he plans to campaign for a change to copyright laws on behalf of musicians in the UK.

Currently, performers in the UK receive royalty payments for 50 years, at which point their work goes out of copyright.

"Artists should be getting royalties for the records that they make for life," Gibb told the BBC News website.

Gibb seems to be supporting the push to extend the copyright term in recordings in line with the mainstream push at the moment, but then manages to shoot his own argument down, almost by accident:
"I've been a songwriter since I was 8 years old," said Gibb. "I want to champion the rights of all those people who aren't getting a fair share from their creative work."

The 57-year-old said the Bee Gees had experienced several periods in their career where they did not control their music - including hits like Massachusetts and Jive Talkin'.

The singer said he wanted to make sure other artists did not suffer a similar fate.

"We were lucky because we had some good people working on our behalf, but the reality is that many do not," he said.

"There are still many major writers who still don't own their catalogue.

"It's a moral issue that people should get a bigger piece of the pie."

The BeeGees were lucky to regain their copyrights - and since most artists aren't lucky enough, all copyright extension will do is increase the size of the pie, not the proportion of the slice.

Gibb also fails to explain why musicians should be paid in perpetuity for the work they do on one afternoon - the bloke who built the studio the song is recorded in got paid when he did the building, he doesn't continue to extract an income from his bricklaying for the next fifty years; we're still waiting for the compelling explanation of why the works created inside a studio should, by their nature be treated differently. We're not saying we begrudge the money, it's just if we're being told there is a compelling moral case, we'd be fascinated to hear the philosophical justification that underpins it.

Gibb does have a strong plan, though, to create a label to help artists sell their music through iTunes rather than having to go through the existing label structure. We're not sure if he intends to do this under the auspices of CISAC - presumably there would be conflicts of interest in the collecting agencies also releasing music?

GCap can stations

Yesterday, we had the exciting world of Fru Hazlitt, GCap Radio boss, part one, as she extolled the virtues of advertising online being "less regulated". Except, of course, for it being regulated by the ASA like radio advertising is.

Today, as GCap announces closure plans for three of its stations, she's offering another interesting perspective:

“In 2001, people were saying the internet is dead. In fact, all that it needed was to be revitalised. Radio is going through a similar experience and has the platform of massive audiences on which to achieve it.”

Who said the internet was dead in 2001? Stupid internet companies driven by people with more money than sense might have been crashing (although in the UK, that was really 2000) but nobody suggested seriously that that was the end of the net. But in what way is radio having a dotcom bubble explosion, if that's what she meant - nine out of ten people listening to radio, over a million hours of listening every quarter in the UK.

On the other hand, if what she means is that Capital and its sister stations are being run like ClickMango or, then she'd probably be in a better position than us to judge.

GCap is closing down Capital Disney, its bizarre ABC co-operative station which failed to enchant children of all ages on a few digital transmitters; presumably the appearance of Disney Radio as part of Channel 4 Radio's digital proposals hastened the end there; the company is also "ceasing to invest" in Core and Life, although neither station really has the air of having received any sort of investment at all.
Ms Hazlitt said that the group would focus on the music to attract advertisers. She said: “Contemporary hit music has always been the biggest pond to fish in.”

A big pond. But an overfished pond. And one where the fish are developing legs and leaving the pond looking for niches in which they can frolic.

The president no longer loves the kids

Alan McGee is "winding down" Poptones because nobody was interested ("because he no longer believes in record labels"), he's told The Independent. (Actually, he told the Independent back on May 11th, but nobody noticed until it was picked up by an Italian radio station today.) Bands nowadays, he's spotted, don't really need labels:

The story of how I met The Sessions is simple and, not surprisingly, it was online, through MySpace, after the front man, Taz Allie, messaged me. They caught my attention the first time I saw them and I couldn't believe that they weren't doing more, in terms of playing live and promoting themselves.

I started to put them on more and more at my London clubs, Death Disco, The Queen is Dead and Now We're Off To Rehab. It was through my clubs that I became mates with them and now I DJ with Taz, too. That's when the labels came knocking, offering them all these record deals.

It wasn't long before I told them that they could do all these supposedly great things being offered to them themselves. When Taz worked out what he could do with a bank loan, I offered to advise him. I'm not their manager but once I got talking to Taz, he was so genuine and sincere I offered to help as a friend.

You have to respect them for taking out a loan and putting their balls on the line. They deserve every bit of good press they get. They're all ordinary guys - the drummer is a window cleaner - and I like them because their expectation of the music business is zero. They have been on the go for three or four years, but I think that because they aren't an obvious band they fell on deaf ears for a while and no one seemed to care. Since they have started playing at my clubs they're becoming increasingly popular.

In terms of what's happened with their single, "What Is This Feeling?", I offered to try to get it into a couple of films in order to pay for it, as synchs are a good way to make money. They then took out the loan, made the video for a grand and went about pressing 500 singles, and it's barely costing them anything. Following that, Cherrystones came in to remix the track as a favour and the end result is world class.

The Sessions' version is great, being influenced by The Charlatans, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays (and they remind me of Curtis Mayfield doing Sweet Exorcist in 1974), but how Cherrystones have reworked it with Taz's song writing is amazing. The media are going to be all over it. So with no major, and some balls, The Sessions are going to show everyone how it's done.

We know it's currently the done thing to suggest that getting on film or TV soundtracks is the perfect solution for new bands to flog a few tracks, make a few quid, add a few fans, but is McGee really suggesting that the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack is going to take up all the slack from the Big Four? As it becomes more and more obvious how helpful it can be to get a song playing in the background as actors stare at each other across studio-set operating theatres, won't there be more and more people trying to get in on the act, forcing down prices and creating a market where a whole new slew of music industry intermediaries are going to pop up. It's a fair bet that the production teams on films might be less keen to do deals when they're getting thousands of CDs sent to them; and if there are 500 bands trying to soundtrack the prom for Veronica Mars, why would the TV company want to pay anything?

Indeed, if I ran a top-rated TV show, and kept reading in the paper how the music slots on my show are letting bands build an audience and secure sales, I might start to wonder if, perhaps, I should be auctioning off the slots instead of paying to fill them - especially if I'm already taking dropsy to determine what car the hero drives, or which brand of cola my talent is seen slurping on-screen.

Indeed, if I were NBC, and owned by a company which also owns Universal records, I might wonder how long it will be before my bosses are asking why the music that Abbie has crises to on ER comes from any label other than Universal's fine roster of musicians.

The soundtrack slot, Alan, is not the way ahead. It's a small bubble, and one which will burst incredibly soon.

Warners shovel videos onto the web

Warners is bringing huge chunks of its promo video archive online, through an advertising-supported service. It's tied up with Premium TV, who churn out hours of football-related programming at the moment:

The group described its plans as turning traditional marketing spending into something that promotes its artists and simultaneously generates revenues. Warner said after its recent news of a 7% fall in music sales that it was changing from a traditional record business into a "music-based content company".

The Premium TV deal is a key part of that, according to Patrick Vien, chief executive of Warner Music International.

"These unique digital hubs will further enable us to monetise our content across the myriad of ever-developing ways that people enjoy music," he said.

Doesn't the idea of a monetised content on a unique digital hub make you want to go out and learn how to play guitar?

Meanwhile, Warners haven't given up hopes of swallowing down EMI, but EMI's desperate bid to merge with the people who run Germany's motorway service stations has led to them saying they won't accept an offer of less than three pounds a share from Warners. Terra Firma has bid at 265p, which is already over the odds; the excess price the board want from Warners is to offset the long regulatory hurdles that would come from a big-two-merger.

Johnny Borrell stands alone to save the planet

Johnny Borrell of Johnny Borrell and the Johnny Borrell Experience Band has dumped his backing blokes for a single in aid of saving the planet.

Funeral Blues is equally notable for having been recorded in the only solar-powered studio in London. It's for Friends of the Earth's big ask campaign, but has nothing to do with it, says Borrell:

"It's a song that I wrote a little while ago, and I've been really looking forward to recording it, but it has nothing to do with the ecological concerns whatsoever."

Well done, then.

Johnny, apparently, is so thick he needed Al Gore to stand in front of him and point out the global warming problem:
"I went to the cinema with a friend. We watched An Inconvenient Truth, that film by Al Gore, and we walked out and were like, 'blimey' so that was it. I just got on the phone the next day. I said, 'I'm Johnny. I'm in a band called Razorlight. Can I help you?'"

It's lucky, we suppose, that Al didn't simply dedicate his movie to the cause but use some old footage that had nothing to do with the ecological concerns whatsoever.

Still, just imagine how much energy can be saved if we all pledge to not buy the single, never download it, never play it, and switch the television off every time Borrell pops up on it. Making a difference already.

Not so hot

The BBC preteen pop-and-pink magazine, It's Hot, is going to close at the end of June. The spin-off from the equally defunct Live & Kicking magazine is blaming its demise on bloody kids using the internet rather than paper and pens; it's been running for the past five years.

I don't normally like tomatoes, John, but this is delicious

CBC Radio 3's video podcast has just produced a food special, downloadable now, including indie gods nominating restaurants, The Stills cooking and The Weakerthans enjoying some Parisian delights.

It's available as a take-away.

Pop takes Fiddy's water

In a nice bit of business, Coca-Cola have attempted to shore up their declining bottom line by buying into Energy Drinks. The smaller company, which flogs water designed to be carried into gyms, was ten per cent owned by 50 Cent; he's expected to be nearly half a million dollars better off as a result of the takeover.

Okay, Enrique, but I'm not wearing the moustache

We're warming to Enrique Inglesias - apparently, he likes to listen to the Village People when he makes sweet, sweet love:

"Village People are one of my favourite bands.

"It's not a joke! I'm surprised you think it's a joke.

"I like their originality. I really do."

And while he chose Marvin Gaye, Josh Groban or even Enigma as mood music to make love to, when asked if he also adds the Village People to the list, he said: "Yes, to Macho Man."

And his latest single features him playing table tennis on it. What more could you want?

Marilyn Manson on affairs of the heart

Marilyn Manson has got advice for you, and, unless we're very much mistaken, it's a familiar one:

"Stay away from crazy bitches. Crazy women can be dangerous. If you get involved with the wrong person you can be in trouble."

Isn't this, effectively, the message of Cliff Richard's 'beware the Devil Woman'?

Of course, what Manson actually means when he says 'crazy bitches' is 'smart women' - his videos have long been notable for taking a very similar attitude to women that you find in a standard R&B video (take off your clothes and decorate the shot), so it's not surprising that this thinly-veiled attack on Dita Von Teese has a misogynistic tang to it - women who know their own minds are crazy, women who don't do as I wish are bitches. He'll be running for Senate on a Republican ticket by the end of the decade.

Something almost interesting happens on Simon Webbe tour

Simon Webbe - he used to be in Blue, of course - was involved in a slightly interesting incident during his Nottingham gig on Monday, when he banged his head on a light.

He wasn't hurt, but eyewitnesses (of whome there weren't that many) said he was slightly dazed for a couple of moments.

We hope Victoria Newton keeps us up-to-date if anything else nearly happens on the tour - perhaps he'll nearly cut his finger on a penknife, or be in the proximity of the sort of cereal that it could be possible to choke on if you don't watch out.

Enemy in a state

Andy Hopkins had to be rushed to hospital following a post-Big Weekend drinking session. No, no, not too much alcohol, it was that 21st century equivalent of the 'bad pint' - he must have had his drink spiked:

“It was scary. I’d only been drinking booze, it must have been spiked.

“I can’t remember any of it but the lads said I was trying to headbutt cars and jumped out of the van and headbutted the concrete.

“Then I was being sick in a corner — they had to call an ambulance. I think I scared them.”

Erratic behaviour, putting yourself in danger, being sick - none of those could be explained away simply by having drunk too much, can they?

He had to be joking - surely?

It's second-hand gossip from the world of Michael Jackson, so approach with caution, but can he really have offered Prince the "chance" of a joint tour?

A source said: “Michael seemed pretty gutted about it. He said he’d approached Prince to see if he would like to work together. But Prince wasn’t interested in gigging with him.

“There would be so much hype surrounding Wacko’s first gig it would end up turning into the Michael Jackson show.

“Prince had his own plans. He is a legend in his own right. He doesn’t need to be support for anyone.”

The worry, surely, would have been less that Jacko would have turned up and stolen the show, more that he wouldn't have shown up and led to a string of cancellations and refunds?

Anyway, once someone explained to Jackson that Prince was short, not young, he'd have lost interest anyway.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Burgess: Virgin bits

Concluding our collection of videos celebrating Tim Burgess' 40th birthday, Tim and Martin Blunt play Manchester charades:

Buyable: More of this sort of thing, in return for credit card details:
Forever: The Charlatans singles DVD
Charlatans Chemical Brother remix ep
Up At The Lake promo poster
John Robb's 1999 Charlatans biography

Take your Camera: Obscura tour

Another wide-ranging, world-scraping tour flopped out of the magic planner, with Camera Obscura plotting an astonishing jaunt:

June 01 Madrid, Spain - Indyspensable
02 London, England - Cheltenham Racecourse (Wychwood Festival)
03 Leeds, England - The Wardrobe
July 06 Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde Festival
07 Kinross, Scotland - T in the Park Festival
21 Benicassim, Spain - Benicassim Festival
August 02 Alentejo, Portugal - Sudoeste Festival
21 Baltimore, MD - Sonar
22 Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts
24 New York, NY - Pier 17 (Seaport Music Festival)
25 Montreal, Quebec - Le National
26 Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix

Miami police seek Fat Joe

Looking for Fat Joe wouldn't take that much work, you'd have thought - it's not like trying to sport a wren in a cornfield, is it? Apparently they think Joe might have witnessed a double murder following an argument in a restaurant car park:

Two men in their twenties were shot dead after an altercation in a parking lot in the South Beach area. Lessli Paz, 25 was killed instantly while Joey Navarro, 26 suffered three gunshot wounds and died later in hospital.

Police say the rapper Fat Joe may have been traveling in the same Cadillac Escalade and was probably a witness to the murders.

A Miami man, Jermaine Chamberline, 24, was arrested in connection with the incident.

Joe seems to have got away from the shootings pretty swiftly, which is, in itself, quite surprising.

Captain Peacock, how am I meant to price the garterbelts when I'm worried what Mr. Prince is doing to my pussy?

Because he's launching a perfume, called, of course, 3121, Prince is going to do a gig in the Minneapolis branch of Macys. It's going to cost $250 to get in, although for a quarter of that price we'd imagine you'd be able to pick up a similar, off-brand gig in the Minneapolis Target.

No deadwood: Tim Burgess

A snatch of Tim Burgess joining Dirty Pretty Things for Deadwood on stage at the Koko Club in November 2006. He's reading the lyrics, you know.

Marilyn Manson: Did I mention Columbine was nothing to do with me?

Marilyn Manson's attempts to suggest he had nothing to do with Columbine, and would people stop mentioning Columbine in the same breath as his name, because Columbine and Marilyn Manson are nothing to do with each other, right, gets another outing on the Orange Playlist tomorrow night:

"I always knew that I never felt guilty or that I did something wrong. I despised people who accused me of doing that. The whole point of my name was to make a statement about the very same thing I was being blamed for.

"I almost feel cheated if Columbine is talked about and I'm not mentioned because I went through so much bullshit and torment, emotionally and personally, and so much concentrated effort to destroy me that I feel I'm being left out when I'm not mentioned. No one else can take credit for or take responsibility for what I already got blamed for. I don't wanna take responsibility because I already took it.

Really, Marilyn? Are you actually saying that you have taken responsibility for Columbine? Because we remember at the time you were rapidly trying to distance yourself from it, in case it harmed your career?

Are you actually saying that "no-one else can take credit or responsibility for" the shootings? What about Harris and Klebold, especially Harris, who quite convincingly has been diagnosed as a psychopath in the strict medical sense?

Isn't it a little bit sickening for you to still be making hay from telling the world how you suffered in an event where people actually died? To ask for our sympathy because you might have been given a tough time on Fox News for a couple of weeks, without a noticeable dent in your sales figures? At least George Michael's ill-judged piano of peace stunt at the Columbine gates has some desire to heal, however wrong-headed he might be. You, Manson, are still making hay from your non-part in the tragedy. Time, surely, to move on?

Jackson buys Amore

We suspect the main impetus for the Sony/ATV purchase of the Famous Music LLC catalogue from Viacom has come from Sony, which is doing quite well, rather than Michael Jackson. It does suggest that Jackson's outrageous cash demands for simply turning up at places might have left him a bit a better off than this time last year.

Sony/ATV have now got publishing rights for songs ranging from The Real Slim Shady through Silver Bells to Amore, and the collection they've scooped up also includes work by Bjork, Akon and Shakira.

Tim Burgess: Malice aforethought

Our all-day celebration of the first 40 years of Tim Burgess' life continues - this is taken from the soundcheck for March's Manchester Versus Cancer event, and, yes, it's Paul Weller and The Charlatans doing A Town Called Malice.

Drops in the ocean: The Pipettes tour, and tour, and tour

The Pipettes have got a massive pile of dates coming up. Look, look at them all:

Jun 1 - Lee's Palace Toronto, Ontario
2 - Black Cat Washington, Washington DC
3 - First Unitarian Church Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3 - Mars RED Music (instore acoustic + signing) Haddonfield, New Jersey
4 - Great Scott Boston, Massachusetts
5 - Highline Ballroom New York, New York
5 - Other Music (instore acoustic + signing) NEW YORK, New York
7 - Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois
8 - 7th Street Entry Minneapolis, Minnesota
10 - Casbah San Diego, California
11 - Troubadour Los Angeles, California
12 - Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop San Francisco, California
14 - Chop Suey Seattle, Washington
15 - Plaza Club Vancouver, British Columbia
19 - Shrewsbury Music Hall (benefit for Cancer Research) Shrewsbury
23 - Glastonbury Festival
Jul 6 - Ruisrock Festival Turku
8 - T In The Park
10 - Lake Festival Nr Klagenfurt
11 - Poolbar Festival Nr Feldkirch
20 - Gurten Festival Berne
21 - Pohoda Festival Bratislava
22 - Benicassim
28 - Storsjoyran Festival Ostersund
Aug 4 - Electric Garden Festival Kent
9 - Liquid Rooms Tokyo
11 - Summersonic - Marine Stadium Tokyo
12 - Summersonic Osaka
24 - Reading Festival
25 - Leeds Festival

Fire service Clinic

In a lovely spot of tipping their hat, Arcade Fire have covered Wirralites Clinic's Distortion at their Portland gig. has videoage.

Happy Birthday, Then, Tim Burgess

The reason why we mourn the loss of the old, regional ITV is less about the disappearance of brand names like Westcountry, and more the disappearance of the regional arts programmes. Tony Wilson and Granada were always strong supporters of local bands on Granada, and you'd often find half-hours worth of music shows popping up on the far side of the News At Ten in the region, clips in Granada Reports and gigs promoted by the company to film footage to fill the airtime. This, Then, is Then, from one of them:

She does a PA just like a ringin' a Bell

Fergie turned up to do a PA in the Hamptons this weekend just gone, but seemed to get a bit confused. TMZ reports:

TMZ was at the club on Sunday for The Juicy and Glamorous Party, where Ms. Stacy Ferguson took a hosting gig for the night, singing along to a couple lines of "Glamorous" and "Fergalicious" -- in-between random rants about her favorite fast food restaurant.

That would be Taco Bell, of course. It's not so odd, though - for Fergie, "still going to Taco Bell" is her "Jenny from the block"; she claims in the lyric to her collaboration with Ludacris, Glamorous, that she still goes to Taco Bell, sometimes with her hair all mussed up:
I be on the movie screens
Magazines and boogie scenes
I'm not clean, I'm not pristine
I'm no queen, I'm no machine
I still go to Taco Bell
Drivethrough, raw as Hell
I don't care, I'm still real
No matter how many records I sell

Although, of course, if she was that bloody real, she'd be getting her tacos from the Taco Bell express in Target, wouldn't she?
Taco Bell food is safe to eatNews that Fergie has been extolling the virtues of Taco Bell has led to Yum Brands taking a panicky advert to reassure customers.

Oh, alright, that's from last December when the lettuce in Taco Bell had been poisoning people in the US and the company tried to restore confidence with a series of ads on TV and in the New York Times. Is it just us, or does nothing drain confidence more than a company saying "our product won't poison you... any more... trust us..."

Yoko Ono has a slice of dog

Yoko Ono has reportedly enjoyed a freshly cooked slice of corgi, apparently as the other menu option was a pair of Linda McCartney's cutlets. Oh, actually, it was as a guest of Mark McGowan, who was eating the dog as part of a protest against the royal family. It's not sure what Ono's motivation was - surely she can't have anything against people who get incredibly rich as a result of a wise marriage or an accident of birth, can she?

McGowan's dog wasn't specially killed for the event, but had died at a corgi breeding farm; there's no actual law against eating dogs which happen to be dead already. The motivation was ill-treatment of a fox killed on the Queen's land; it's not yet known when he intends to take the next step and eat Otis Ferry.

[UPDATE: Despite TMZ's assurances that Ono was present at the dog-eating, it turns out that she wasn't anywhere near the corgi-eating; she was in Moscow at the time. Source: The Guardian]

Not so sweet: iTunes plus launches

Apple has unveiled its new iTunes Plus service in the US - which is basically called that because it's iTunes plus a tax of an extra 30 cents a piece for being allowed to use your music as you choose. There is, however, one glaring problem with the system: you can upgrade hobbled, DRMed tracks if there are new versions available, but only if you want to do all of them at once. So, if you've got a large slew of EMI stuff in your iTunes, and only want to upgrade one or two tracks to the new shiny format, you're effectively stuffed.

Or even if you've got 95 EMI tracks you'd like to upgrade and three you don't, you're still going to have to lash out the dollar for the upgrades you don't want, as the other option would be to just rebuy the other 95 from scratch.

Which seems like a, what's the word? - oh, yes, a con.

Happy Birthday, Tim Burgess

Continuing a scattering of 40th anniversaralia, this is How High, live at the Sheffield Octagon last December. Tim is the small pixely one with his arms out:

A welcome in the... oh, no there isn't

Of course, Paul McCartney was only joking when he told Ricky Wilson that "Wales is a Third World country." But he's already had to have a spokesperson stress that it was only a joke. And before the dust settles, he'll probably have to borrow Boris Johnson's sackcloth and have a spell of self-abasement in the Principality.

Quick! We must help out Jimmy Page financially

It's heartbreaking to hear from Connect News that Jimmy Page is making a "poor" profit on the sale of his house in West Sussex. He's only managed a £800,000 profit in three years on the place. We're selling a kidney to try and help him out of this terrible, terrible predicament, and we suggest you do the same. Heartbreaking.

It's not 'taking the money and running', it's an exciting opportunity

In a move which will lead to some hard swallowing for anyone who lost a website when NBC bought Xoom, rebranded it and closed it down, CBS has bought Last.FM, the 'if you like this, you might like this, because everyone else who likes this likes that and you don't want to be left out, do you, eh, squareboy?' service.

It's nice for the Last team to get some money out of their idea, and their service, but it still feels a little queasy for a service like this to abandon independence and join in with a major Radio company. It's similar to Television Without Pity now being part of NBC Universal - there's nothing to suggest it's lost its bite, but the mere symbolism is enough.

Anyway, CBS have graphs and things prepared:

The firm's president and CEO Leslie Moonves said: " is one of the fastest growing online communities out there."

He said's strength in building communities around music and syndicating content was "central to CBS".

He added: "Their demographics also play perfectly to CBS's goal to attract younger viewers and listeners across our businesses."

Now, I could be missing a segment from my piechart here, but how will Last FM be "attracting younger viewers and listeners" to CBS products while still only offering impartial, algorithmically mandated suggestions?

Capital Radio: Hazlitt outlines action

Capital Radio has been put at the heart of trying to turn around GCap's disappointing-though-not-disaterous figures for the year, and Fru Hazlitt, the company's London managing director, has some ideas:

"In London, commercial radio is driven by three things - its music, its breakfast show and its London information," she said.

"What we're seeing is that Capital performs very well in two of those - it has always done well with its London-ness.

"The breakfast show we know we have to keep progressing but it has been performing very well.

"We are still working on it but are very confident.

"And in the past with music, we tried to move genre but should have stayed with contemporary pop music because we know we don't have commercial competition in that genre."

This is interesting - firstly, because GCap's XFM has just abandoned daytime djs, which would seem to raise a question on how they intend to stress their 'London-ness' when there's nothing but the music, a text number and a few inserts of "anyone else who knows me" audience participation.

Secondly, it demonstrates again that radio executives don't understand that average listeners can't tell the difference between a myriad of different formats that play fairly recent stuff from the charts. Sure, Capital might focus on "contemporary pop", but most listeners don't think "ooh, I fancy some contemporary pop right now..."; they might have a vague idea about what's chart and what isn't, but there are very few tracks produced that would exclusively fit on just Capital's playlist and no other commercial service in the capital, and to try and make that your distinctive selling point is, frankly, as ridiculous as promising a network where "every singer has a beard" or "all tracks last precisely 2 minutes 18 seconds." Are Scissor Sisters contemporary pop? What about The Gossip? Or do you mean Scooch followed by McFly, but only when McFly aren't doing an Ugly Kid Joe cover or whatever?

And why only worry about not facing competition from commercial rivals? If I was a shareholder in GCap, I'd be a little confused as to why the company I've invested my money is is only trying to compete with half the radio market. Shouldn't they be trying to win back the million or so who prefer Moyles to Vaughan instead of focusing on the shifting of a few thousand between Heart, Magic and Capital every month?

Hazlitt is also interesting on the idea of using the web as an income stream:
[S]he said that web ads complemented on-air advertising and gave powerful brands a huge advantage in a new space relatively free of regulation.

"Radio now operates in a multiplatform environment.

"In the past it has operated on one platform that has been tightly regulated, but now it can operate in a space that is more like a free market and that's a huge advantage for powerful brands like Capital and Classic."

Oh, yes, somebody please free Capital from the beastly constraints of regulation. Leaving aside the question of how unregulated the industry is anyway - ooh, I got a limp rebuke from the Advertising Standards Authority and told to try not to do it again, again - is Hazlitt actually suggesting that Capital is itching to break free of the bonds of regulation which is there to protect the consumer? What are these tiresome regulations she is seeking to loosen? Is she promising that boilerroom financial opportunities and direct-to-consumer medication ads will soon be smothering GCap radio sites? And does she not realise that internet adverts are regulated by the ASA under the same basic terms of conduct that radio adverts are?

Tim Burgess and his knickers

Continuing our all-day celebration of the boy Burgess at 40, here Tim talks about his favourite objects.

Beth Ditto naked statement

This week's NME features Beth Ditto as naked as Avril Lavigne on the cover. For confused but well-intentioned reasons. Those of you with long memories will recall the last time a semi-naked woman was on the front of the NME, it was Lesley Rankine and Silverfish, who were in turn parodying the Polly Jean Harvey cover from a few weeks before. PJ and Beth Ditto were both on the cover as a riposte to traditional ideas of female beauty and societal nomrs - both had hairy armpits, for example.

The trouble is, it's all a bit muddled. Because NME, for all its other faults, doesn't usually have FHM-style covers, so the value of putting Ditto on the front, without pants, is a little lost. Kate Jackson, it's fairly safe to say, hasn't been lined up to slip out of her corset for the next Long Blondes piece, because that would bring a stream of letters calling them for trying to flog magazines with sexist pictures. Likewise, the Twang don't turn up with only a well-positioned tree to preserve their modesty.

So, is NME they saying it's okay for Beth to be on the front nude, because she isn't 'conventionally attractive'? And if that is the case, isn't that simply endorsing the idea of there being 'conventionally attractive' in the first place?

Or does the paper feel that a naked Beth Ditto is, from its reader's point of view, every bit as desirable as, say, a naked Amy Winehouse? In which case, isn't it a little bit Felix Dennis to be selling music magazines with female flesh?

Well meaning, but not thought through.

Which is probably more than you can say for Beth's thoughts in the interview, where she places the blame for women with eating disorders on, erm, gay men:

“If there’s anyone to blame for size zero, it’s not women.

“Blame gay men who work in the fashion industry who want these women as dolls.

“Men don’t know what it feels like to be a woman and be expected to look a particular way. The Beckhams are part of the machine; Paris Hilton is part of the machine.

“There’s that thing Paris Hilton said about Lindsay Lohan – ‘You’re poor, ugly and fat’.

“It’s always women who are victims.”

Isn't this just a tiny bit oversimplistic? After all, a large number of the people who run the fashion industry aren't "gay men" but straight, hyper-capitalist women; the magazines which run fuelled entirely on "celebrity fat bits" and "who's eaten a doughnut" aren't aimed at gay men, but are hoovered up by women; with the fastest rising incidence of eating disorders amongst young men, the "men don't know how it feels" schtick is outmoded and plain wrong; and eating disorders are anyway about far more complex influences than Paris Hilton's clothing range.

Still, you know who isn't to blame? Kate Moss. Before Christmas, of course, Kate Moss was part of the problem, but since then, she's become chums with Beth:
“I spent one night talking to Kate and she said the most amazing things about bodies.

“I didn’t think I was going to like her, but she said, ‘Do you know what I hate, Beth? When people tell my big girlfriends, ‘You have a beautiful face . . .’

“That’s a really radical concept.”

Kate Moss' genuine concern for people who aren't stick thin can be seen in the plus size range of clothes she hasn't designed for Top Shop. To us, it sounds like Moss managed to get away with patronising Ditto without Beth realising it - could that quote have been any more "some of my friends are black"? - but even if Beth did get it, she'd probably have assumed it was an evil, evil gay man throwing his voice.

It's easy to do, Britney

Who amongst us can honestly say they've not, at least once, walked into the wrong toilet? Especially in one of those places where instead of having the standard bloke/blokess pictogram, they've gone with something a little more florid, like a badly translated sing you're trying to cope with when you've had a few refreshing cold drinks.

Still, while we might have had our mouth drop open realising our mistake, what we've not done is, unlike Britney Spears, gone into the wrong gender toilets and been found sick and crying on the floor.

Victoria Newton has a surprisingly detailed eyewitness account:

“Britney was found slumped over the toilet bowl with make-up smeared over her face and her wig hanging off.

“She had a room booked at the hotel but was too ill to stay and was begging her bodyguard to take her home.

“She looked a real mess and was sitting on the floor with her head over the bowl throwing up.

“There was vomit down the front of her black dress and around her mouth.

“Britney was on her knees and must have been sick four or five times. She didn’t really seem with it, but I don’t know if she was drunk or not.”

Good lord, Victoria Newton's source, you're able to estimate the number of heaves - presumably from the volume of puke floating in the bowl? - but are unable to make up, sorry, tell if she was drunk or not?

We're keen to discover how "Britney was sitting on the floor" and "on her knees" simultaneously, but then she is incredibly flexible, isn't she?

Embed and breakfast man: Happy Birthday, Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess was born - not on Christmas Day at all, but May 30th, 1967. Just one day after Noel Gallagher. To celebrate, we're going to speckle today's postings with some glorious Tim action. As you do. (With, obviously, apologies to those of you who hate The Charlatans.)

First, Tellin' Stories, live at the 2006 T in The Park:

Today's other Tim-related videos:
Tim Burgess reveals his underwear in a Guardian interview
How High - Sheffield Octagon, 2006
Then on Granada TV, 1990s
A Town Called Malice - The Charlatans with Paul Weller in Manchester, 2007
Tim plays Manchester Charades for a Virgin Mobile promo

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Almond flakes on stage

The road to health following his motorbike accident was a tricky one for Marc Almond; harder still, for him, has been picking up his career. He's been suffering stagefright:

"Since the accident I've found I have very bad stage fright. It's not just nerves. I've always had nerves. I've always been a very erratic performer. I know I'm capable of being really terrible - some nights I can be great and terrible at the same time.

"But nowadays just the thought of going on stage fills me with dread. I can't memorise songs... On the opening night at Wilton's I stepped on to the stage, opened my mouth and the microphone wasn't working. In a way, it was the best thing that could have happened. I thought, 'Nothing could get worse than this.'"

So it's not so much stage fright, as a loss of confidence in his ability to brazen out a ropey performance.

Leaked Pornographers

Some more new music: Idolator has got a first mp3 from the new New Pornographers soon-arriving Challenger album.

The sound of Ryan Adams

Of course, those of you hipper than us will be busily posting how you downloaded this about seventy-three years ago, but for those of you who haven't heard them yet, Spinner is offering up two Ryan Adams mp3s: One is Two, and two is Everybody Knows. It's by way of a taste of next month's Easy Tiger album.

What could spook Marilyn Manson?

Obviously, we're betting here without the prospect of him being held accountable for his stage act. No, Marilyn drew the line at working with Eminem:

"The song he asked me to sing was — and this may sound strange — too misogynistic. It was the one about killing his girlfriend and putting her in a trunk. ... It was too over-the-top for me to associate with. First of all, I don't drive. And I wouldn't put a girl in a trunk; that's where I keep other stuff. That's my dry, deadpan humor kicking in."

If we've got this straight, doesn't that mean that Dido is more extreme than Marilyn Manson?

Britney: I had, erm, ADD, probably

Britney, it seems, didn't go to rehab because she was off her knickers on drugs and booze. Nor, we're now being asked to believe, was it because her then manager made her go. No, the official line from Britney's website is that she was, erm, like a disruptive child:

"Recently, I was sent to a very humbling place called rehab. I truly hit rock bottom. 'Til this day I don't think that it was alcohol or depression. I was like a bad kid running around with ADD.

"I had a manager from a long time ago come in and try to direct me and my life after I got my divorce. I was so overwhelmed I think that I was in a little shock too. I didn't know who to go to.

"I realised how much energy and love I had put into my past relationship when it was gone because I genuinely did not know what to do with myself, and it made me so sad. I confess, I was so lost.

"This letter is to not place blame on anyone, although I do see the world with a completely different set of eyes now.

"I know everyone thinks that I am playing the victim, but I am not and I hate what is going on right now so much. Maybe this is the reason for this letter... to maybe allow people to look at me differently."

But kids with ADD aren't bad, are they, and as far as we can tell one of the symptoms of ADD isn't removing your pants and getting pissed with Lindsay Lohan. Mind you, Britney's punctuation is like that of a child of six.

Come and get some in Aretha's kitchen

Aretha Franklin is planning to do her bit for deprived kids by launching, erm, a summer camp:

"What I wanna do is have something called Camp Aretha or Camp Ree-Ree for inner-city children of a certain grade point average to come out and take classes in different things.

"Classes in cooking, classes in engineering, classes in how to do a lot of things."

Why do we get the impression this idea might not be totally thought through?

Something to avoid listening to: Smashing Pumpkins

It's like we're morphing into Mark Goodier-era Evening Session.

Yesterday, it was a ho-hum new project from Perry Farrell. Today, for you to ignore if you're wise enough, it's Tarantula, a frankly unwanted new Smashing Pumpkins track.

Tubular sells: Mail defends giveaway

Mike Oldfield's continuing complaints that EMI allowed the Mail On Sunday to give away the whole of Tubular Bells for free have brought about a wounded response from the paper. They've taken a two page ad in Music Week to defend their actions, even claiming that giving away the album boosted sales:

In response, the MoS has this week taken out a double-page advert in Music Week defending the move, arguing that covermounting helps promote music and claiming that sales of Tubular Bells rose by 30 per cent following the giveaway.

MoS managing director Stephen Miron said: “The whole argument is that we are devaluing music, but we are creating a stimulus.”

Miron confirmed that the MoS was keen to continue covermounting entire albums, where possible. “I don’t think we are the enemy in this,” he said.

“I think people would like us to be the enemy. The issues that come about are from retailers putting pressure on the record companies not to do these things. In reality, the music companies would – given a free way – do much more of this.”

Lots for EMI to use to defend itself there, then - although, of course, it might choose not to. Because if it agrees that giving away an entire album for free boosts sales of that very album, never mind other works by the artist, then it can hardly continue to deny that filesharing can stimulate legitimate sales, can it?

And if the Mail On Sunday is telling the truth when it suggests that record companies would continue covermounts if allowed, why is this form of giving music away not educating people to get used to not paying for music, a common complaint about filesharing and online services raised by the labels?