Saturday, January 12, 2008

"RIAA reversing now... RIAA reversing now..."

Having tried a number of different approaches to stop pre-release albums leaking onto the internet - all of which have failed - the majors are now sending out review copies of records with voices mumbling 'this is a preview copy' over the music every minute or so.

Like when Simon Bates used to announced the imminent closure of 1053 and 1089. Or a truck going backwards.

Of course, this is a ridiculous idea - how are you meant to review music which keeps getting interrupted for a copyright message? And, naturally, it again pillories the journalists when anecdotal evidence suggests that sources of leaks come from elsewhere in the production and distirbution chain. Perhaps overdubbing 'this is the proper version' might help?

Brumobit: Rod Allen

Founder and leader of the Fortunes, Rod Allen, has died following a short period of illness.

Allen was born in Birmingham in 1944, and it was with schoolfriend Barry Pritchard that he formed The Fortunes in 1960s, a group he would lead for the next forty years. Initially trading under the name The Clifftones, the group swapped from acoustic to electric guitars to become The Merry Men, working as a backing band (almost inevitably) for a Robbie Hood. The backing role didn't appeal any more than the lincoln green stage outfits, and the Men soon stopped robbing from the rich to seek their own fortune. As The Fortunes Rhythm Group.

Benefiting from the happy combination of interest in British acts sparked by the Beatles and a wider range of inspiration than many of their peers (including classical and the work of Bacharach and David) allowed the band to build a solid, more mature fan base on both sides of the Atlantic. It didn't come quickly, though - it took five singles for Decca before You've Got Your Troubles found an audience.

The Fortunes' fame was so high that they were adopted as a voice of Coca-Cola, delivering the keynote "it's the real thing" on commercials for many years.

The band were at their peak during the late 60s, when You've Got Your Troubles scored a hit, and the band were lauded at the 1966 NME Poll Winners' Show:

There was a minor wobble the same year when the band admitted that they didn't actually play on their records - one of the many dodgy "common industry practices" of the era. A bigger wobble came in 1967, when their manager, Reg Calvert was shot. Calvert was also running Radio City, a London pirate station, at the time; his killer was connected with rival Radio London. (This bloodshed was the culmination of one of the stories that pirate radio afficiandos usually fail to mention when they get misty eyed for the days of unregulated pop stations.)

The hits continued into the 70s, but with diminishing effect; however, the band were able to turn their fanbase into a perpetual touring afterlife. They had been due to play a package this month (with Barron Knights, Marmalade, and The Tremeloes); initial statements from the band indicate they intend to continue as it's "what Rod would have wanted.")

Rod had been suffering from lung cancer; he had only been diagnosed two months before his death.

A working definition of how marketers imagine goth

The completely heartbreaking nature of Bulley For My Valentine listening parties inside Hot Topics, and what it says about marketing and PR people trying to 'do' youth cultures they really don't understand, is so far from what goth actually is, it could get a part as 'oldest goth child' in a British sitcom.

Core removed

The DAB radio line-up is looking somewhat ropey today as The Core ceases broadcasting, replaced by that old standby for when Radio 5 didn't have anything to transmit, BFBS. Although The Core has been closed by GCap as part of its failing digital strategy, its website would make you think they've just run out of space:

We're sorry to announce that Core will be coming off-air at the end of Friday 11 January. We are making way for a new national station on DAB from this Saturday, and we will stop broadcasting online at the same time.

Oh, yes. We bet the Squaddie Service was desperate for that frequency.

Also gone is Oneword, a couple of weeks after Channel 4 bailed out of joint ownership; their berth on the DAB line-up is currently piping out birdsong. Their website says goodbye:
Oneword Radio - Update

Unfortunately Oneword will no longer be broadcasting from Saturday 12th January. We are genuinely grateful to all our listeners for their loyal and continued support over the last eight years.

The Core failed because it wasn't distinctive; Oneword failed because it couldn't afford to be distinctive. With that in mind, is Channel 4 really sure about the money it's committing to its radio adventure?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Bradford Cox writes about his heart condition and his healing music project:

The girl next to me was a really sad situation. She was the daughter of a high profile player for the Atlanta Braves. She contracted E-Coli from a Whitewater amusement park and was in terrible pain and screamed constantly. Her parents had to leave her at night and she just screamed and screamed and I tried to drown it out with my walkman. One day I woke up and her bed was gone and there was no screaming. She had died in the middle of the night. That's how I spent my sixteenth summer. Which might explain why I refer to that age so much on Cryptograms. It was like an invisible summer that never happened.

Stuart Maconie in The Times argues that this, this is our Golden Age:
Do you know what’s at No 1 right now? OK, it’s probably something from The X Factor but you take my point. Unless you’re Simon Cowell nobody gives a toss about the charts except for a week in late December when it becomes a kind of dull tabloid equivalent of the Boat Race. Is this such a bad thing? What matters more to you, whether the new Morrissey/ KT Tunstall/ Sigur Rós album is any good? Or its first-week chart placing?

... and, Jude Rogers makes a similar point in The Guardian's Film and Music supplement:
Thom, Damon and Noel and the post-punk pinchers rule only if you choose to track contemporary music as a guitar-obsessed timeline. Second: the idea that hunting for music these days is an easy task is nonsense. The internet may have made the act of searching simpler, but the profusion of music online means finding good stuff is still as tricky as the Velvelettes trying to find their needle in a haystack.

What this explosion does do, however, is expand our chances of finding like-minded souls who might point us in the right direction. Then factor in the number of emerging artists, plus the pressure on major labels to stop being "boring" (thanks, Mr McCartney) and engage with an internet audience. Now tell me this decade isn't amazingly alive.

How Courtney sees herself

Courtney Love is making herself involved in the planned tawdry cash-in ("planned filming") of the Heavier Than Heaven book about Kurt Cobain. Yes, it's a La Bamba for the grown-up grunge kids.

Love's main interest, of course, is in who will play her. She's been sending casting notes:

A close friend says: "Kirsten Dunst was rumoured to be in the frame, but Courtney really admires Scarlett and has already sent the contract out for her to sign. Courtney even copied Scarlett's sleek blonde movie look when she was in London for the Fashion Rocks party last year.

"This is a labour of love for Courtney and she is putting her heart and soul into making it an accurate, credible glimpse of her life with Kurt."

Doesn't that actually sound more like Courtney wants to play Scarlett? And wouldn't Hilary Duff be better for the role?

Babyshambles back for bill-paying tour

Looks like that the arena tour was a step too far for Babyshambles. The discovery that Pete Doherty's popularity with the wider public was as a character in Kate Moss's lovelife rather than as a singer, and the consequential slow ticket sales for the 'shambles Arena jaunt has left the band pondering a further, quick tour to try and make good the losses.

This might be interesting to the 'is KT Tunstall gay' audience

KT Tunstall is either about to marry the love of her life, or enter into a passionless, PR-driven attempt to hush the whisperings about her sexuality, depending on your point of view. She's got engaged to Luke Bullen from her band.

Apparently he turned up on Christmas Day and asked her:

"So, 11 o'clock on Christmas morning, the doorbell goes and it's Luke suited and booted. With all his bags. And a little box. Wrapped with a ribbon.

"He proposed. Being an opportunist, I obviously said yes. It feels smashing. We're gonna do the deed way up in the wild North."

Depending on which side of the debate you've placed yourself, this will either be a charming, heartwarming tale of romantic gestures, or a cunningly scripted tale from a cynical press office.

Bratman now a dad... perhaps

The exact position of Christina's Aguilera potential child is a matter of some debate. Like a kind Schroedinger's Cat with added placenta. Some insist that the there is a child, while her people insist it is still a foetus at this stage.

Adding an extra edge, Nicole Richie and Joel Madden are in the same hospital, Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They're also having something approximating a baby.

This doubling-up is useful; not only does it allow economies of scale for papparazi and entertainment journalists, but it also makes that episode of Friends where Monica and Janice spawned simultaneously seem a little less far-fetched. There's also the tantalising prospect of a delivery-room mix-up, with Christina bringing up Lionel Richie's grandchild believing it was her own child. You can almost smell E! and Us Magazine willing those little ID anklets to fall off...

Wood snaps

It's only to be expected at their age, I suppose - each date on the Rolling Stones tour seemed to be followed by a bout of hospitalisation.

Latest to get to spend some time with the alcohol rub and thermometers is Ron Wood, who's done himself a mischief:

"He felt a twinge during one particularly energetic number.

"The pain was getting worse but he was determined not to let it ruin his Christmas."

The pain turned out to be a hernia - last week he was in for an op to push everything back where it's meant to be.

Gordon in the morning: Flogging the Swede

By, Gordon might not have much to work with, but he's certainly spinning what little he has out, isn't he? Having made a lead piece yesterday out of an alleged off-the-cuff remark by Sven Goran Eriksson about how he thought Alesha Dixon was "his type", Gordon makes the story his lead today as well, asking Alesha what she thinks of it.

Her response:

You’re winding me up? Sven, who is, like, 100? Oh my God! He’s older than my dad!

“All I can say is Jose Mourinho is the only football manager who is good looking.”

Doubtless the empty Bizarre pages on Monday will be filled with a response from Jose.

Gordon's also struggling this morning with his response to Britney Spears' ever-unfolding world:
Last week I had a lot of sympathy for Brit as she was rushed to hospital. But she clearly has no intention of getting herself back on the straight and narrow.

It must be frustrating that she tends to morph into her latest form of off-kilteredness after The Sun has gone to print, but since the 'being rushed to hospital' is part of the same mental health crisis that led to yesterday's pink-wig-and-seven-hours-in-Mexico excursions, isn't it a little odd to be sympathetic for one and not the other. Is it really fair to be patient with someone suffering from an illness dependent on what symptoms they're presenting? Is Gordon like this with the people he lives with? "Sorry, mam, when it was just sneezing I had sympathy for you, but now it's that hacking cough it's time for you to mysteriously get better somehow".

Gordon has also run an advert for the latest Maxim in the form of pictures of Petra Nemcova from the latest issue. Aware that this might look a little gratuitous, Smart attempts to construct a news-based rationale:
Are you missing me, James?

PETRA Nemcova flaunts Beautiful curves – to show James Blunt what he’s missing
Supermodel Petra, 28, was the pop heart-throb’s Czech mate before 30-year-old James dumped her to play the field with a string of other stunners.

So, she's doing this "to show James Blunt what he's missing", is she, Gordon?

Now she has hit back by unveiling her ravishing form in a new ad campaign as the face of undies firm La Senza.

Ah. So it's her job rather than anything to do with Blunt at all. Curious that Gordon believes everything women do is something to do with men, isn't it?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Capital of Culture Update: Favours and back scratching

The appearance of Sirenz on a list of bands to play Liverpool's prestigious-ish Mathew Street Festival turns out to be down less to their skillz as their contactz. Having the son of Liverpool City Council's Head of Sports proved to be the key, as detailed in a series of amusing emails leaked to Liverpool Subculture. (Part two and Part three.) When even a battle of the bands can't be run without favours being called in and strings being pulled, what hope is there?

I've been compared to damn Britney Spears

Robyn, it turns out, gets grumpy when she's compared to Britney:

"We are different. Success did come to me very young but I managed to take time off, which I think was a very good move.

"I’m proud of the fact I decided to leave the US after my initial success and figure out who I was going to be. I think that was the healthy thing to do.

"Maybe it does show intelligence on my side but I knew that all that mattered was the music and I needed to be in a place where no one tells me what to do or how to do it.

"It’s always been about enjoying what I do and that’s the basis of all the decisions I make."

We love that almost coy admission that - you know what, I might be, oh, intelligent, I guess, if you really want to force that on me.

Effectively, though, isn't she saying that Britney maintained her success while she's had troughs and peaks?

EMI quits IFPI - RIAA to go next?

The prospect of a major restructuring in the cartel arrangements for the music industry are getting ever closer: EMI have formally filed their departure from the IFPI, the international wing of the RIAA; it's hard to see how the IFPI can continue to claim to represent the desires of the record companies when a major label has publicly announced they don't. Or, indeed, how the IFPI can continue without EMI's hefty financial contributions.

The Register is predicting that the RIAA might merge the IFPI into its operations - which, effectively, would formalise the arrangement that's currently in place.

We guess this is what passes for innovation when you're Panic At The Disco

The new-look Panic at the Disco are exactly the same as the old one, onlt without the exclamation mark that nobody - save the twelve year-old girls inking their names on the back of their math books - used anyway.

SideLine sidelined

PVC and Depeche Mode obsessed Belgian Goth magazine SideLine is dropping its printed edition, following owner Seba Dolimont's heart attack at the end of last year.

The magazine, which had sales of 6000, has been running since 1989, and intends to continue as an online title (don't they all?):

Dolimont says:

"My body has sent me a sign, I can no longer remain a 'super-busy bee' for years any more. So I am forced to make choices in my activities for my health's sake. Music is my sole 'mega' passion, no doubt, but I also have a very demanding full time job with huge responsibilities, a family life with two young sons and I am running a record label next to it all. (...)"

"I consider Side-Line as a baby, and selling it to some stranger or leaving it in other hands is not an option for me. So after a long talk with the 2 chief editors who have been running the mag for the last 7 years, we decided to cancel printing the magazine, and only focus our information duties on and expand its content in the near future."

The editor, Bernard Van Isacker, reckons that "twenty times" as many readers see the magazine online as in the printed version, which doesn't strike us as an especially large number. And, as he observes:
"also internet offers more flexibility and faster information dispatching."

Which you can't really argue with. We've a soft spot for SideLine, and wish it well in its new incarnation.

Gordon in the morning: Sven watches TV

Let's take a moment to praise Gordon this morning: most people would have an unsourced quote from someone supposedly related to Man City that Sven had muttered something nice when Alesha Dixon had come on the television and thought "well, that might make a small piece if there's a tiny gap on the page when we come up to deadline".

Not Gordon, though: he's built his entire page around the remark:

The snake-hipped shagger from Sweden has set his roving eyes on Strictly Come Dancing champ ALESHA DIXON.

And when Sven wants a woman, he normally gets her.

All he said, apparently, was:
"how impressed he was by her dancing and that she was definitely his type."

From this, Gordon "bets" that Sven has "studied [Alesha's] form in detail" and makes a grisly suggestion that Dixon is like some sort of Frankenstein-cum-blender amalgam of women Sven has had relationships with.

If this is enough to lead the page, everyone should be on their guide. Tell someone you think Kate Nash has a nice smile, and Gordon will deliver 300 words speculating that you've been stalking her.

Robbie Williams is not having it

Whoever thought we'd be hearing Robbie Williams yelling "everybody out". Out in the sense that Miriam Karlin meant when she said it in the Rag Trade, of course.

According to The Times, Tim Clark is threatening that his gurning charge will be 'going on strike' by refusing to deliver his next album to EMI.

Actually, since the next album is meant to be one of his dreadful swing ones, we're not sure this might be quite the blood curdling threat it's supposed to be.

Clark, who's Williams' current manager, seems to be slightly vague about what the aims of the strike might be:

Tim Clark, Williams’s manager, told The Times: “The question is, ‘Should Robbie deliver the new album he is due to release to EMI?’ We have to say the answer is ‘No’. We have no idea how EMI will market and promote the album. They do not have anyone in the digital sphere capable of doing the job required. All we know is they are going to decimate their staff.”

He throws in some abuse of Guy Hands for good measure:
Mr Clark discussed Williams’s future with Mr Hands, but said the financier was acting like a “plantation owner” who had stumbled into the record industry via a “vanity purchase”.

This seems a little unfair - whatever your view of Terra Firma and their odd little bunch of companies, they're hardly the sort of organisation that is going to invest cash in something for the 'vanity' of it; the use of 'plantation owner' - with its echo of Prince's claims that Warners treated him like a slave - is also a little over the top.

Clark might criticise EMI for not knowing what it's doing "in the digital sphere" - but that was the case before the Terra Firma takeover; much of the restructuring since has been an attempt to shift the company from being a record label into one managing digital content. You can't have it both ways.

After all, EMI might not be in such bad straits if the previous owners hadn't pissed away large sums on the likes of Williams, who is getting Beatles-sized money for, at best, a Rod Stewart-sized career.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Amy Winehouse don't need nobody

Is Amy Winehouse going to seek help? Like everyone wants?

Apparently not, as it's contrary to her worldview:

: "I'm of the school of thought where if you can't sort something out for yourself then no one can help you."

Let's hope she never needs open heart surgery. Or, at the very least, she's got a mirror on a stick and a long-handled knife if she does.

More idol droppings

More shattered dreams as audience phone-in votes prove to be a bad guide to what will be sold for cold hard cash: Katharine McPhee has been dropped.

Lavigne and Whibley to spawn

The prospect of Avril Lavigne continuing to pretend she's, like, fifteen while simultaneously wetnursing the child she and Deryck Whibley are having isn't an edifying one, is it?

Having a child means accepting ones responsibilities, which might be why the settlement of alleged copyright infringement that Lavigne was involved in. Some people thought Girlfriend was a rip-off of The Rubinoo's I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. Others - including Lavigne, her management, and... erm, well her and her management denied there was any similarities. The terms of the settlement are being kept secret, so it sounds like Lavigne's cut a huge cheque to make the problem go away.

[UPDATE: She might not be pregnant.]

Five years ago

The RIAA predicted that their legal actions against filesharers wouldn;t be a success - one of the few times they've been right in the last decade;
Reggae producer Neil Fraser claimed that everytime someone was killed by a gun, it was Radio One's fault;
a bullish EMAP was plotting a US launch for Q
and, in an early sign of heading off the rails, there were rumours of a Britney/Durst collaboration.

There are some bad people on the right

David Cameron has loomed into view at the Salford Lad's Club, to remind people how much he likes Morrissey. It's unclear if we should read this as an endorsement of Mozzer's views on the need to protect a fictional English way of life.

Hazel Blears issued a bizarre statement:

Ms Blears, who is also communities secretary, said: "People in Salford remember when the Tories were in power... I'm surprised he wants to visit a shrine so reminiscent of the 1980s - the dog days of Thatcherism."

We're not quite sure what Blears means by this - is Salford a shrine to Thatcherism? Is the Salford Lads Club "reminiscent of the 1980s"?

Cameron then went on to Amir Khan's gym in Bolton:
Some people might argue that teaching boxing doesn't make young people less violent, and that boxing is dangerous. They're wrong on both counts."

Apart, you know, from the dangerous bit. People who support the idea of boxing as a sport point out the death rate amongst participants in boxing is far lower than that of hang-gliders, footballers and jockeys pursuing their sports, but it's possible to ne seriously injured without being killed. And, as most medical investigations into boxing reports back, being punched in the head a lot isn't entirely good for the brain.

Still, Cameron is keen for people to be more like Khan:
"Better in a boxing ring, than hanging around on the streets. Better looking up to Amir than some drug dealer on the street."

Given that Amir Khan was sentenced earlier in the week for driving at speeds police claimed were nudging 140 miles an hour, you might wonder if he's such a great role model.

In related news, Morrissey has announced his latest best-of tracklisting; the live album version includes National Front Disco - which looks a little defiant. We wounder if Callmedave is plotting a photo op down there, too?

[Thanks to Oliver K for the tip]

Instumentalistobit: Drew Glackin

We've just heard of the death of Drew Glackin, New York based multi-instrumentalist who worked with bands from the Hold Steady through to Crash Test Dummies, while functioning as bassist for the Silos and lap-steel pedal player for the Jack Grace Band.

Glackin was just 44; he lost his life to heart damage caused by an overactive thyriod. A memorial fund has been opened in his name; you can find the details on The Silos MySpace.

Folsom Prison blues

Plans to recreate the Johnny Cash concert at Folsom Prison on the 40th anniversary of the event this coming Sunday have been dropped. It might be for the best, really, judging by how the Woodstock Anniversary events went.

Snoop Dogg is out of ideas

Snoop Dogg has revealed the collaborators he'd most like to work with - and, iin the process, that he's effectively lost all interest in music:

"I want to work with Madonna, Bono or Mick Jagger," he said. "I'm on some rock shit, man. Snoop Dogg, man! Rappers don't really move me too much. They can't do what I did. I'm trying to get down with something that's outta the box and bigger than me."

Now, we can understand the desire to try something new - even if discussing making a piece as art using the phrase "out of the box", like a song is on a par with a strategy for selling toilet paper to Idaho suggests that there's precious little creativity left.

But Bono? Madonna? Jagger? Is the prospect of working with such clapped-out performers really enticing you? The only people who think of Bono or Madonna as innovative and 'out of the box' are... well, the same sort of people who think of Dogg as edgy and innovative, probably.

He's much happier talking about opportunities to sell stuff:
In 2008, Snoop wants to introduce a new clothing line called "Rich and Infamous," a brand of pet-care products and a chain of grocery stores called "Snoopermarkets."

We bet that pun came before the concept.

Coral grief

News from everyone's favourite bunch of cheeky off-kilter Scouse popsters - no, not The Zutons. Or Space. Or the Wizards of Twiddly.

It's The Coral, in fact, who have parted company with guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones (for the second time, actually.)

There's a statement:

“The Coral would like to announce that Bill Ryder-Jones has left the band. The Coral will carry on as a five piece and are currently writing and recording new material.”

The fact that Noel Gallagher has been sniffing round the bag like an elderly tiger with the scent of lavender may or may not have had an influence on his decision.

See you on the ice? Maybe not, Mumba

Samantha Mumba - whose Harvey Goldsmith arranged comeback was such a success she's reduced to appearing in ITV's Strictly Come Dancing On Ice - might actually not even manage that: She's collapsed before the first programme. The Mirror describes it as:

a mystery illness

and, also, as a slightly-less mysterious:
Doctors hooked up a drip to the singer, 24, who appeared to have severe flu symptoms and dehydration.

She's determined to go on, though. ITV have taken precautions:
Studio bosses have ordered extra medics and equipment to be on standby in case Samantha is taken ill at Sunday's show.

Extra medics? Really? In case one woman needs a drip?
It's bad news for ITV if she does drop out, of course:
Samantha is one of the favourites to win the show after Gareth Gates and Hollyoaks actor Chris Fountain.

- in other words, she's one of the few participants who people might have heard of.

Gordon in the morning: Knives and coffee stirrers

So, what's the big news this morning, Gordon Smart?

Apparently, it's that Olga Kurylenko is going to be a Bond girl.

Yes, yes: that was news back on Monday, but Gordon has something to add to the story.

Sadly, that something is his libido:

Olga would definitely be the first I’d like to shake and, well, you know the saying.

Eh? Gordon thinks sex is like stirring? Does he have one of the those Starbucks sticks rather than a penis?

It also appears Smart has trouble telling the difference between 'made-up' and 'real':
In Le Serpent she played a model who gets all tied up in her work — in bondage gear. A film about to become a lot more popular than when it was first released.

Olga later admitted she found the whole experience of being tied up “beautiful”.

Better looking and more mental than ANGELINA JOLIE in the sack? Brilliant.

Let's not even bother ourselves with Gordon's suggestion that enjoying a spot of S&M is "mental", confusing consensual sexual activity with mental health, and just ponder why he thinks that 'playing someone in a film who wears bondage gear' is more extreme than Jolie's use of knives for sexual mutilation. Perhaps knives are considered vanilla in Gordon's world?

Still, we learn a little of what Smart's idea of cool is:
007 — the man all lads would love to be

Aha. So deep in his heart, Smart desires to be the urbane, worldly, sophisticated James Bond. A man who can seduce with his eyebrows. Could Gordon charm Olga with sweet sophistication?
She just needs to whip off her undercrackers and whisper sweet nothings in Russian.

Probably not, then.

(Although, Gordon, since she's Ukrainian, it's slightly more likely she'd whisper sweet nothings in that language.)

Select Committee report: Selling on tickets isn't bad

Disappointingly, the actual report of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee into secondary ticket sales - although published - isn't online yet, but the BBC has a copy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recommendations look like a bit of a messy compromise. Which is a polite way of saying "fudge", of course.

The MPs recommend that there's no reason for legislation stopping the practice:

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said it was "neither practical nor in the interests of consumers" to ban ticket sales through the secondary market - where tickets are sold on.

Which is good news; the committee also blames promoters and venues for creating the problem in the first place by having a rubbish, or sometimes non-existent, returns and refund systems in place.

Mr Whittingdale said giving event organisers a share in profits from resold tickets was the "middle way".

So: the promoters have more-or-less dropped the ball by making selling on the only way you can get any value from a ticket for an event you can no longer attend, and yet Whittingdale and his committee think they should be rewarded as a result?

The committee suggests that there should be an outright ban on the resale of tickets given for free to children and the disabled, which seems fair enough, but then:
There should be an "across-the-board commitment" that the "distasteful" sale of tickets for free events and charity events - such as Concert for Diana - will be stopped.

But on what principle? And who is define what "distasteful" is - okay, an event like the Diana concert where all the profits go to charity would count; but would Live Earth? And how about if half the profits are going to charity? What about ten per cent? Could a promoter make such a rule work to their favour if they offered a slither of one per cent of the ticket sales go to a charity? How about if the event is, say, raising funds for something that isn't a registered charity - perhaps to raise awareness of something, or to help out a band whose equipment has been stolen? Does that count as distasteful?

Perhaps what actually counts as distasteful will be cleaned up when we're able to read the full report. But the appearance of the phrase "the middle way" means we're not holding out much hope.

Oral evidence to the committee
Evidence given in advance]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Setting Suns eclipsed

Setting Suns, the band formed by Interpoler Sam Fogarino and Swervedriver's Adam Franklin, have been forced to change their name. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was at least one other band operating under a similar title and so now Setting Suns have become Magnetic Morning.

Confusingly, Magnetic Morning's debut was self-titled, although now their band isn't called Setting Suns, it's not any longer. But it's still called the same thing it was. There was a track called Cold War Kids on it; we're expecting them to be dragged into the legal crisis any moment now.

Kelly Osbourne... now will you intervene?

We know a cry for help when we see one. And Amy Winehouse's Rosie The Riveter make-over is clearly a cry for help.

That, and all the drugs.

Apple agrees to demands, blames labels

The news that Apple has accepted it must charge all European Union citizens the same price for iTunes downloads is encouraging - although we're not sure why it will take six months, and the headline on its press release held out the prospect that the rest of Europe might suffer instead:

Apple to Standardise iTunes Music Prices Throughout Europe

The body confirms, though, that they intend to drop prices in the UK - just as soon as those rotten labels agree:
Apple currently must pay some record labels more to distribute their music in the UK than it pays them to distribute the same music elsewhere in Europe. Apple will reconsider its continuing relationship in the UK with any record label that does not lower its wholesale prices in the UK to the pan-European level within six months.

“This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing”.

Apple's tune has changed somewhat - it's not so long ago that they were parotting the label's lame excuse of "lots of other things cost more in the UK" as a justification for the gouging of UK consumers.

Obviously, their capitulation to an EU investigation heads off the prospect of an embarrassing lawsuit and the need to refund British customers the part of the price which merely reflected the UK licence, but price harmonisation still seems to fall short of what is demanded by European Law - an EU citizen should be able to shop in any EU country, and discrete stores nation-by-nation, even ones with equal pricing, do not allow that.

Apple blames this on the labels - but maybe it's time for Apple and the EU to team up and force labels to remove this anomaly. After all, if the Commission is serious about a single pan-European music licensing regime, wouldn't this be a good place to start?

Desmond sues Heat over Spears

Richard Desmond's OK magazine is launching a legal against Heat over chunks of an interview with Jamie Lynn Spears they maintain was lifted from their publication. It's about pride, rather than money:

"OK! magazine has established its reputation in the UK, the USA and throughout the world by the relationship of trust it builds with celebrities," said OK!'s group editorial director, Paul Ashford.

"We take pride in handling their stories and pictures in a positive and responsible way. We go to all possible lengths within the law to protect these exclusives and safeguard the interests of the celebrities and of our own readers."

Ah, yes. OK should be justly proud of its positive and responsible handling of stories and photos.

This would be the same OIK Magazine whose "positive and responsible" outing of a person attending Alcoholics Anonymous was this described by the Press Complaints Commission:
It was clear that the magazine had published private information about the complainant. Taken together, the photograph, its caption, and the information in the article constituted intrusive material about her attendance at an AA meeting. The fact of her treatment was not in the public domain, and there was no public interest reason for publishing references to it without her consent.
The defence advanced by the magazine – that there was no breach of the Code because readers might think the complainant was at the meeting only to provide moral support – was clearly without merit. The fact was that the magazine had stated that she had attended the meeting and published a photograph of her outside it. It did not know whether she had been there for treatment herself, and took no care in its presentation of the material to avoid a possible intrusion into her privacy. This was reckless in the circumstances, as shown by the subsequent revelation that she had indeed been at the clinic for treatment. It was also regrettable that the magazine had not engaged with the complainant’s solicitor when a complaint was made directly to the publication.

Yes. Breaching someone's privacy when they're vulnerable, making up spurious justifications and ignoring their victim when they try to seek an apology. You can see why OK would be rushing to court to protect their reputation for "positive and responsible" handling of stories, can't you?

Shins keyboard player uncharged

Neither Marty Crandall nor his former girlfriend Elyse Sewell are to be charged following the allegations both made of domestic violence. Police have cited lack of evidence for their decision, coupled with a desire to avoid a lengthy he-said, she-said investigation.

EMI loses more experience

You know EMI is having trouble at the top when the FT deadpans that Tony Wadsworth's departure is "the most senior executive to leave... since August."

Wadsworth has been with EMI for quarter of a century and was involved in bringing Radiohead and Coldplay to the label; his decision to quit ahead of Terra Firma's restructuring plan is a further indication that the private equity owners of the label might not know what they want EMI to be like, but they know they don't want it to be like EMI used to be. Is replacing old hands like Wadsworth with the likes of John Birt a wise move?

Kelly Osbourne tells it like it is

Thank god Amy Winehouse has a friend like Kelly Osbourne, who really cares about her. Cares enough to selflessly talk to the media about how much she cares:

I talk straight. I don't just say, 'Look Amy, you're just fantastic.' I say, 'Amy, you have a problem. I'm here when you are ready to deal with it.'

"I'm not going to tell her to go to rehab. She's not an idiot, she knows what her problem is."

Thank god Kelly - alone amongst the world apart from everybloodyone else - is able to tell Amy she's got a problem. Where else would Winehouse hear that (except for from every newspaper, Bryan Adams, any half-bit celeb keen to take the flashlight off their own problems) if not from Kelly?

Gordon in the morning: Watched telly. Got up.

In common with other papers, Gordon Smart has got very excited about the Williams story, turning the top story over to something he's read on the internet. The rest of Bizarre this morning is fairly typical: there's something from another part of the paper about Cowell telling Britney to go home to her mother; a story which seems to be "I saw Alesha Dixon on the television" and a photo of Rhydian off the X Factor, which is borderline bullying:

ALABASTER X Factor flop RHYDIAN ROBERTS – or, as I like to call him, ROBOKNOB – beamed down to make his first public appearance, eight days into his Mexican getaway.

Earthlings appeared terrified upon seeing the excessively muscled albino pop oddball clasping a rugby ball.

Why would you call someone Roboknob because they've got pale skin? Why would being albinoesque make you a robot? Am I missing something?

Robbie Williams is not going out again

A shock for the cultural life of the nation: Robbie Williams has quit touring. He's greeted the new year by blogging:

There might not be a proper album out this year and there definitely won't be a tour anytime soon. Fuck that, the last one nearly killed me.

But there will be some kind of something this year. I might just put the B-sides to the next album out first. Online

Then put an album out in 2009. Which means you won't be seeing a lot of me onstage for a while. Sorry folks.

I do have to say, the more time I’m spending away from public life, the more I like it. Unfortunately I have a massive competitive urge that wants me to put out three albums a year.

“Which one will win? I’m sure as soon as I get bored I’ll be back. But right now there’s a soy vanilla latte and mince pie waiting for me in the kitchen.”

Of course, Williams spouts this sort of announcement with the regularity of a speaking clock, so we're not going to start hanging out bunting yet; and there's the threat of dreadful records to take the edge off the joy anyway.

But if Williams likes being away from the public eye - and, clearly, the public eye doesn't mind - perhaps he might like to make that estrangement permanent and stop publishing attention-seeking messages?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Government threatens ISPs

The Minister for Intellectual Property sounds like a Jim Hackeresque set-up for a "... and he apparently doesn't own any property" punchline, but it's a real job. Currently, it's a role taken by Lord Triesman, who has warned UK ISPs that if they don't do something about filesharing, the government will be forced to act.

"Forced to" in the sense of "the largess of the media multinationals depends upon it", of course.

Triesman emphasised that the government speaks with one voice on illegal filesharing. "We're not prepared to see the kinds of damage that will be done to the creative economy," he said.

- although since file-sharing has been going on for years, and the "creative economy" is still doing rather well, we're a little at a loss as to what this damage would be. Fewer tickets for government members to go to the Brits awards or Glastonbury?

David Triesman is an interesting man to be fighting for the rights of Sony-BMG in the House of Lords. He was a Communist in his youth - presumably back then believing that all intellectual property was theft?

His warning to ISPs that, should they not come to a voluntary agreement with music and film companies, he'll push Gordon Brown to introduce legislation in the next Queen's Speech is also a bit curious: He's currently waiting to be rubber-stamped for a plum job at the Football Association and is unlikely to be a minister by the end of next week, never mind the start of the next Parliament. Which gives a pretty good indication of his commitment to seeing this job through.

It's not that albums aren't selling - only big albums

There's an interesting perspective on the Lefsetz Letter, looking at the drop in physical CD sales in the US. Bob points out that the main drop is taking place at the top end of the charts - the top ten are selling only about a half the number of copies the chart toppers were managing in 2000:

People still want music. In prodigious amounts. They just don’t all want the same thing.

In other words: majors' desperate search for the next big thing is misguided - people don't want a big thing at all.

Goldsmith fails

Harvey Goldsmith's attempts to block a secondary market in Led Zep reunion tickets seems to have failed somewhat; although there's no indication of how many they flogged, Seatwave claims they pocketed an average of £7,425 for second-hand Led Zeppelin passes.

Streaming now: Xiu Xiu

Over on their MySpace, Xiu Xiu are streaming their new album, Women As Lovers. Lovely.

Bemusing Britney claim of the day

According to Cinemablend, who head it - apparently - from, there's a curious twist to Spears' hospitalisation:

The 26-year-old was taken to Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Thursday (05Jan08) following a stand-off with police when she refused to hand over her boys to ex-husband Kevin Federline after a scheduled visit to her Beverly Hills mansion.

However, a 'reliable source' tells website that, despite reports, Spears was not under the influence of any substance when she arrived at the hospital.

Of course, it could all be made up - Britney not on drugs being a more eye-catching headline than the reverse. But it's still all weird.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]


We know he'd sort-of-retired, but it's still surprising to discover Eminem has been hospitalised with pneumonia. Has he taken up residence in a retirement home, like Kramer?

Five years ago today

Steve Sutherland's masterly tribute to Joe Strummer - "how come Paul Weller's still shopping for hats?" - sat alongside the announcement that The Beatles Monthly was ceasing publication simply because there was nothing left to say;
Gay Dad turned up on an advert;
The Daily Star insisted that Robbie Williams was signing on for an "Osbournes style" show;
but the best rumour of the day was John Piennar and Tony Hadley plotting a fight.

Glastonbury to force registration again

Not entirely unexpected: Glastonbury is going to enforce preregistration again this year.

Organiser Michael Eavis told BBC News: "I agree it is a tedious business, but people appreciate why we're doing it."

Really? Or do people merely go through with it because otherwise they don't get tickets? Did anyone really say "good-oh, we're registering to stop touts" last year?

Eavis makes suggestion that it almost is a proof of devotion:
"I think most people who are really determined to come find a way, don't they, or they try harder?

"It's only the people who are half-hearted about it that don't pursue the chase for a ticket," Mr Eavis said.

But if the idea is to close out touts, does that mean people who'd pay double, treble, even ten times face value are only half-hearted about going?

Eavis once again demonstrates his remarkable ability to rewrite history, by praising last year's process:
"We did it last year and it was perfect," Mr Eavis said.

"The only thing is some of the photographs weren't quite good enough so we're sharpening up the pictures."

... oh, and there was all the trouble when the system launched, and the slow registration turn out which meant the deadline had to be extended, and then there was the breach of the promises made to people when the information gathered in the process was used to send spam emails. None of which dents perfection.

Eavis has given some hints as to who's headlining - someone to bring the young people in, apparently:
"I'm putting on a black American headliner, who's absolutely terrific that's going to appeal to those people."

Since Snoop is unlikely to come in to Britain... it surely can't be 50 Cent, can it?

The McCartney dream is over

Well, possibly not, but 3AM are claiming that his friendship with Pete Doherty is at an end because Macca turned down free tickets to see Babyshambles.

To be fair, though, maybe McCartney just assumed the band wouldn't turn up. Or perhaps he just didn't think that Babyshambles didn't belong in an arena, and it was a kindness not to go. Or just maybe he's recovering from a heart operation and needs a few nights in?

The risks of reviewing

A new piece by Steven Wells is always a delight, and today he's appeared on the Guardian's music blog writing about artists who respond less-than-pacifically to bad reviews.

Mind you, as horrifying situations go:

I [...] was savagely pushed in the back at a gig by a furious Sci-Fi Steve out of Bis. Or it might have been Disco John - he ran too fast for me to tell.

... is hardly on a par with being chain-whipped by Sid Vicious.

I once had a bloke send his wife over to remonstrate with me over a review I'd written of his live act.

Gordon in the morning: Counting condoms

With the main showbiz business again being handled by Emily Smith this morning - an unlikely sounding report that Kevin Federline wants to "save" Britney from hanging out with a photographer - Gordon is reduced to rummaging around in Billy Zane's shopping. Apparently, Zane - who is currently holidaying with Kelly Brook - was spotted buying a box of 24 condoms:

Twenty-four? That means even if they’re on a three-week trip there’ll be a couple of days when they have to miss archery at 4pm beside the cocktail bar to use up the whole pack.

Unless, Gordon, Zane can manage it more than once a night. It's a possibility.

Elsewhere, Gordon has the exciting news that Atomic Kitten are covering Cilla Black, which is every bit as exciting as it was back in July 2007 when the project was announced.

Pandora boxed

"Rutger Hauer" has shared with us an email he's just received from Pandora, the streaming music service based on the Music Genome Project. It's been entertaining listeners with a choice of music that reflects their tastes. Up until now, at least:

As you probably know, in July of 2007 we had to block usage of Pandora outside the U.S. because of the lack of a viable license structure for Internet radio streaming in other countries. It was a terrible day. We did however hold out some hope that a solution might exist for the UK, so we left it unblocked as we worked diligently with the rights organizations to negotiate an economically workable license fee. After over a year of trying, this has proved impossible. Both the PPL (which represents the record labels) and the MCPS/PRS Alliance (which represents music publishers) have demanded per track performance minima rates which are far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate and so, hugely disappointing and depressing to us as it is, we have to block the last territory outside of the US.

Based upon the IP address from which you recently visited Pandora, it appears that you are listening from the UK. If you are, in fact, listening from the US, and are denied access from Pandora on or after January 15th please contact Pandora Support:

It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don't often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent - and by that I mean both well known and indie artists. The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans. As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.

We have been told to sign these totally unworkable license rates or switch off, that is what we are doing. Streaming illegally is just not in our DNA, and we have to take the threats of legal action seriously. Lest you think this is solely an international problem, you should know that we are also fighting for our survival here in the US, in the face of a crushing increase in web radio royalty rates, which if left unchanged, would mean the end of Pandora.

We know what an epicenter of musical creativity and fan support the UK has always been, which makes the prospect of not being able to launch there and having to block our first listeners all the more upsetting for us.

We know there is a lot of support from listeners and artists in the UK for Pandora and remain hopeful that at some point we'll get beyond this. We're going to keep fighting for a fair and workable rate structure that will allow us to bring Pandora back to you. We'll be sure to let you know if Pandora becomes available in the UK. There may well come a day when we need to make a direct appeal for your support to move for governmental intervention as we have in the US. In the meantime, we have no choice but to turn off service to the UK.

Pandora will stop streaming to the UK as of January 15th, 2008.

Again, on behalf of all of us at Pandora, I'm very, very sorry.

So another innovative service bringing new music to audiences is axed - and not even due to the greed of the labels, but down to the increasingly-inflexible collection agencies. It's difficult to understand why bodies which supposedly are there to represent the interests of musicians is forcing closure of services which are building their audiencess and offering to make fair payments for the music.

The irony, of course, is that by shuttering services which set out to do the right thing and pay what they can, the MCPS/PPL are merely encouraging the emergence of models which sidestep the legal structure altogether.

The labels - slowly, too late - are starting to realise their strategies are failing; it looks like we're going to have to wait an age for the change of mind to filter through to their front organisations.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rapobit: Eric OG Woods

In another loss for the Houston rap scene, Eric Woods has suffered a fatal aneurysm.

Originally rapping under the name Prince Ezzy-E in the mid-80s, Woods was influential more than popular. An early signing to Rap-A-Lot Records, he formed The OG with DJ Boss for 1991's I Know How To Play ’Em. The national airplay was enough to establish Woods as a key figure in Houston's rap scene, although a step to a larger stage eluded him.

Boss quit to form another group in 2000 - he died from kidney failure in 2006 - but Woods continued alone, recording right up until his death. His position set his face against the more aggressive faux-gangster rappers:

"Watch how many gangsta rappers start coming out
Sticking out their chests like they're hard
Walking with a gangster limp
talking like you is a pimp"

Woods leaves behind a wife, Shelley, and five children. One of his kids, also an Eric, is following in his father's footsteps by carving a niche for himself as a rapper.

Rapobit: Arcani Crosswords

The rapper Arcani Crosswords has died from an accidental gunshot wound, according to reports from Houston police. Crosswords - real name Michael Francis - was playing about with his gun when, it appears, it discharged accidentally.

The rapper had a chequered past, but after police attention for driving while disqualified and minor drugs offences were apparently behind him. He had spent recent years working as an engineer at Fam Tide Records and helping younger artists.

Alongside his rapping, Crosswords was also an artist and had hoped to establish a gallery.

Dr Phil: He's all heart

Doctor Phil has axed plans to do a programme on Britney Spears, because he thinks he can get more attention for less work by not doing a show ("because it's too intense"). He's issued a statement:

"We had planned to tape a Dr. Phil Now show tomorrow, focusing not on the tabloid side of Britney's latest problems, but instead on the very serious issues surrounding this case. Clearly, it is not just Britney's family struggling to find a way to protect adult children who cannot be ordered or compelled to seek help.

"Because the Spears situation is too intense at this time, and out of consideration to the family, I have made the decision not to move forward with the taping at this particular time. Britney and her family are in our prayers and we ask that they be in yours."

Phil has indicated that the time he spent with Britney in hospital will "of course, remain private", except for the details he's already shared with the press, of course.

Mr Hicks, get in here

The new-year clear out at US labels has brought to an end the thrilling prizes won by two American Idols: Ruben Suddard and the much less successful Taylor Hicks have both been allowed to return to work in the security industry.

Hicks has plans to put out his new album on his own, although since he's probably the only person interested in it, he might as well consider that he's hit his sale targets.

Five years ago today

The Grammy Nominations included glimmers of hope for Craig David and David Bedingfeld;
Victoria Beckham finally accepted that Peterborough were more Posh than she was;
Britney Spears was due to play Sherlock Holmes and
Natalie Imbruglia announced plans to marry some bloke out of Silverchair. Can't see that lasting, can you?

Bif Naked battling cancer

Unsettling news from Canada, where Bif Naked has told The Strombo Show she's got cancer:

"I have never been one to give up when an obstacle is placed in front of me.

"I am in the fight of my life and I'm lucky to have the support of my husband, Ian, and many friends and family members.

"I went into my doctor for a checkup and he immediately sent me for tests, including a mammogram, which indicated a high possibility of cancer. From there things have gone at what seems like light speed: biopsy, blood tests, cancer clinic. It's been two weeks from being completely healthy to cancer patient with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy scheduled."

Naked intends to keep fighting; let's hope she wins this one.

Chuck D files Def Jam application

Chuck D has reacted to the departure of Jay Z from Def Jam by dragging out his cv and making clear he'd like the job. Depressingly, he starts by saying that he's got plans for Universal to "establish the name-brands they acquire with their stockholder's money", which is hardly the most exciting call-to-arms we've heard.

D has a four-point plan to reinvigorate the business:

Being ahead of the technology curve; preparing for a thinned out industry; and managing budget efficient acts is very noteworthy of my resume which is simple. I told these cats the online revolution was coming and they needed big adjustments. They relied on lawyers, courts, and accountants only to now look upward at Apple, etc.

It's a good point, although... isn't it a little late? The time to have been ahead of the curve would have been in 1998. In 2007, you're going to have to catch up, rather than expect to be a leader.
Their cost factors didn't fit the times, I come from a world where the $50,000 investments resulted into 6 - 7 figures. Now it's a business where 7 figures are invested to make 6.

Well, again, it's a good point - but "make money instead of losing it" isn't a prescription for Def Jam, is it? It's a what, not a how.
I would run it like sports. These artists would be busting their tails on tour and on the stage to gain a fan. They would be coached on how to do their thing right. Braintrust will be high, and subcontracting to the right contributors will be comparable of the efficiency of these labels like Jazz and catalog departments. You cannot have people working, that haven't the slightest clue of what they are in the middle of.

"Run it like sports"? What, stuff the drummer full of steroids and hope nobody finds out?

For all his talk of being ahead of things, D shows himself to be adrift here - he's thinking in terms of live performances driving physical sales rather than, as the new world is shaping up to be, physical product selling tickets for gigs. The idea of "coaching" bands to play well live isn't a bad one, but how does a record label - with 100 years of experience of making studio recordings - convince an artist they've got the skills to do that? If the labels are merely going to subcontract this role to people who know what they're doing, why wouldn't an artist merely employ these brainstrusts themselves instead of letting Def Jam topslice the fee?
Any criminal mindedness in artistry, and management would have sit this one out, go their own way. It's like bad apples the long run ain't got nothing to do with entertainment. You can't mix the stage and off stage parodies.

Again, it's a splendid idea: don't let your roster get clouded up with people more interested in guns and feuds than making music. It's a bloody good policy. But that would mean having the confidence to walk away from artists the label has been pumping stockholders money into, without any return. While morally unquestionable, it's questionable how many write-offs Universal would be able to bear.

Perhaps D has more detail on his ideas that he's saving for interview, though.

[Thanks to Barry S for the story]

The Christmas Number One, 2008, starts here

Oh, god, already the jostling has started for a Christmas number one.

Now, we've a lot of respect for the team at the Salford Lad's Club, and the work they do. But their plan to reunite The Smiths to record a song for fundraising is a little upsetting.

Never mind the problem of getting Morrissey and the rest of the Smiths in the same studio while Joyce is still suing Mozzer, of course. Let's imagine the band are reunited - something of a dream/nightmare scenario for Smiths fans, of course. What will they be recording?

The song of choice is The Associated Youth Clubs of Manchester's very own anthem 'Ending Youth Struggle', which [club treasurer Mike] Scantlebury suggests could be re-written as the 'Trendy Youth Shuffle'.

Trendy youth shuffle? Really? You wait twenty years for a Smiths reunion and they're going to be trotting out a Chicken Shack style 'young folks aren't all glue sniffers' anthem. Could it get any worse?

Erm, yes:
[T]he club hopes to create a Manchester supergroup including The Hollies and Herman's Hermits.

So, the historic prospect of a Smiths reunion, only with Peter Noone sharing vocals with Morrissey. It's like getting The Beatles back together, but with Atomic Kitten doing half the verses.

Even more gloom for EMI

Of course, with only three albums in the shops so far, it's a little early to start speculating about what Coldplay might do after completing their current EMI contract, and while it's possible that Coldplay consider quitting label stories are part of a strategy to negotiate a better deal, but even so: the company's ability to mislay its big hitters is starting to look like a massive faultline. With Terra Firma promising even less to spend on marketing in future, EMI is starting to look more and more like it's turning into a business managing back catalogue than one releasing new music.

GCap gets a sniff

GCap - owner of Capital Radio - has confirmed that Global Radio has offered to take over the company. With GCap running Capital and XFM, and Global owning Heart and LBC, it's unlikely a merged company would be able to hold on to all those London FM licences. It'd be interesting to see which a united group would feel they could do without.

The facts of life

The Daily Mail is exercised by former Robbie Williams collaborator Nicole Kidman:

If she's pregnant, isn't the why fairly obvious? If we remember page 57 of the Human Biology text book correctly, that is.

Gordon in the morning: Amy in a cardie

With the news of Britney's, um, friendship being handled by the Sun's American editor, Bizarre is left this morning leading with the news that Amy Winehouse put a cardigan on to keep warm.

Still, her festive spell at Bryan Adams house allows Gordon a spot of muted crowing:

The troubled Rehab star had been staying with singer-turned-photographer BRYAN ADAMS over Christmas and New Year — just as The Sun said she would.

Amusingly, Smart is having to say "as The Sun" rather than "just as I said" because, of course, that story was delivered by Pete Samson. And Gordon has seemingly forgotten that the Sun also insisted that Mick Jagger would be sharing Christmas with the pair.

Even more odd: Smart makes no mention of the presence of George Roberts, Winehouse's ex-boyfriend. Surely - in the context of her devotion to Blake - that's a more interesting story?

Britney Spears: ?

Oh, God alone knows what's going on with her - The Sun is reporting that she's holed up with a Brummie photographer Adnan Ghalib, and

bizarrely told loved ones the paparazzi are now the only people she trusts.

But, frankly, who knows?

As if the story wasn't already a depressing mental health story recast as pantomime, Spears' parents have sucked Doctor Phil into matters. The comedy witch doctor is apparently viewed with respect despite making Raj Persaud look like Sigmund Freud. Phil has been padding his part in Britney's escape from hospital, although hospital "sources" have denied that he even spoke to her. Let's hope so; the last thing Spears needs right now is to get 'treatment' from a starstruck gossip.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The song is sung

Some sad news for indie music - Sing Sing has called it a day:

Things have been changing in our personal lives in very significant ways so we haven`t had much to report bandwise...

Until now that is....

After 10 mostly very happy but sometimes very difficult years we have decided to `call it a day` (i.e. end) with Sing-Sing. In 2006 Emma moved to Brighton, East Sussex where she is involved in music publicity and last year Lisa wed her long-term partner Run Wrake, moved to the Kent countryside and is enjoying her new found freedom as a mum and freelance graphic designer. Even Mark van Hoen, our erstwhile producer, is moving to the USA later in 2008.

So we leave behind 2 albums `The Joy of Sing-Sing` (2001) and `Sing-Sing and I` (2005) and many singles. If you haven`t got the full set most of you can buy everything on iTunes now (remember to search for `Sing-Sing` with the hyphen). We do still have physical stock in our shop and we do need to clear it all out before the end of January so please take a peek and take advantage of our mad sale which will end on January 31st (link on the left of the page).

The website will also be shutting down at that time but we are going to leave our myspace page up for information and contact.

From the last 10 years, people we would like to thank especially are: -

Alan Moulder, Andrew Pettitt, Audrey Riley, Brendan Bourke, Brian David Stevens, Brian McDonald, Bunny Schendler, Charlie Pritchard-Williams, Darren Groucutt, Denis Blackham, Jorge Martinez, Kieran Evans, Marc Geiger, Mark van Hoen, Mel Brown, Michael `Shifty` Scrivens, Mig Morland, Poppy Gonzalez, Ray O`Neill, Rich Holtzman, Robin Guthrie, Rodger Smith, Russell Yates and Tim Keegan

plus of course everyone who sent donations to us over and above what we asked for with the selling of our CDs. We honestly could not have done it without you. We were a true DIY act in the end and our friends and fans were our most important assets.

In fact, thanks to everyone who have supported us since our first record in 1998. Yes, that long ago - where has the time gone?

As for the future musically? Well, never say `never`...... Emma has some plans regarding her next move so if you are interested in that then please subscribe to our mailing list as 2008 might have something very exciting in store.

That`s all folks and our very best wishes for 2008!

Napster sneak out a price rise

Apparently unbothered by the rising number of DRM-free-yours-to-own services starting to gather on the horizon, Napster have increased prices quietly over the New Year holiday. The leap in basic US subscription rates? A gouge-tastic 30%. Perhaps it's the rise in oil prices.

Capital try to prop up sinking breakfasts

As the Johnny Vaughan breakfast show sinks faster than a Christmas Pudding in a lead-lined box, dragging the rest of Capital Radio with it, the Mail is suggesting that management are trying to add Denise Van Outen to his show.

Really? Clearly, the idea would hope that the old Big Breakfast magic would still be there, but - as anyone who saw Passport To Paradise would warn - that's not very likely to happen. Admittedly, there aren't many people still alive who saw Passport, but that in itself should count as a warning.

The Mail reckons that Van Outen is going to get six figures alongside Vaughan's seven figure salary - the image in our mind is of good money being thrown after bad. They'll be trying to get Zig and Zag to do the news by Easter at this rate.

Jamaican Broadcasting Company loses Tosh and more

If you're read the introduction to Clive James' TV criticism book Visions Before Midnight, you'll be familiar with his argument that the archive programmes wiped by a BBC keen to reuse tape was merely a physical manifestation of the act of forgetting which humanity needs to do to stay sane. Perhaps that's the best spirit to approach the discovery that "a massive number" of rare recordings have vanished from the Jamaican Broadcasting Company's collection.

The missing stuff dates from the 70s, and includes rare recordings of Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, along with footage of Castro's 1977 visit to the island and god knows what else.

In one ear...

If you've a moment and fancy helping out a research project, the Between Ears questionnaire is part of the groundwork for a film about the personal stereo, and how people use it. It takes less time to complete than those "when thinking about breakfast cereals, what five brands occur to you..." ones which pop up with increasing frequency on new sites these days.

Shin or shit? Martin Crandall arrested for domestic violence

The keyboardist with the Shins, Martin Crandall, has been arrested following a violent spat with his (now) ex-girlfriend, America's Next Top Model alumnus Elyses Sewell. She blogs her side:

On the drive home (home?) from Albuquerque to Portland, my ex-boyfriend got shitfaced and roughed me up in a Sacramento hotel. I escaped from the room through a blitzkrieg of violence and talked to hotel security, who called the fuzz.

2.) Because he had a bite mark, inflicted in self-defense, on his arm, Marty told the police to PRESS CHARGES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST ME. Now I am a felon.

Everything and everyone turns up in court on Tuesday for an initial hearing.

Made-up stories about Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

Now, while we accept there's a slight possibility, given 2007's trail of on-the-record public statements, that it's not entirely impossible that Heather Mills believed Paul McCartney's dance routine with Kylie Minogue on the Hootenanny was designed to be a jibe at her, on balance, we're betting that the the Sunday Mirror story is a load of old scrumpyrat.

The paper also claims that Mills has got the hump that McCartney bought Beatrice Barbie stuff for Christmas - as Barbie is "a bad role model". Yes, it's plausible that a fashion model would worry that Barbie was little more than a prancing clothes horse, isn't it?

Jackson in Greenwich

The painfully-fallible Rav Singh has bet his reputation on the unlikely-sounding claim that Michael Jackson is going to play thirty nights at the Millennium Dome, with a payday of a million quid for each date.

Really? Does anyone - besides Singh and Jacko - really believe that Jackson has that sort of drawing power in 2008?

Amy Winehouse - no jail hell, then

Today's News of the World knocks down the astonishing story about Amy Winehouse's jail hell that, erm, the News of the World ran less than a month ago.

Now, the paper says that - depsite its lurid speculation that she'd be banged up and kill herself in prison - the CPS is unlikely to prosecute based on evidence collected so far to try and link her to claims that Blake tried to pervert the course of justice.

Not that the NOTW thinks this is enough to stop her topping herself, mind:

Meanwhile Amy's friends are terrified what she will do if her husband is convicted.

One told us: "She's hatched a suicide pact with Blake. If he lands a lengthy sentence she's determined to end it rather than face years apart.

"Her family are worried sick."

The paper seems determined that she's not going to make it out of this alive. We're not entirely sure how far you can suggest that a guilty verdict would force an innocent person to kill themselves before that could be considered to be influencing potential jurors.

This week just gone

These are the most-accessed individual stories from 2007, counting only those published last year:

1. Beth Ditto strips naked for the NME
2. Radio One: the first 40 years
3. RIP: Casey Calvert
4. Kerry Katona: 'sex tape isn't me'
5. RIP: Tony Thompson
6. Mariah Carey does Playboy
7. Jo O'Meara claims she was the victim of her bullying
8. Casey Calvert - cause of death
9. Akon hands out free dildo vouchers to kids
10. Jo O'Meara: 'Indians are thin because they undercook their food'
11. Pete Doherty sells Kate out to papers to win her back
12. RIP: Rod Poole
13. Sarah Harding sells pants; Mail fumes
14. RIP: Donda West
15. Von Sudenfed video on YouTube

As part of Christmas in 1987, we suggested these were some of the year's best albums:

Wedding Present - George Best Probably the high-point of 1980s British indie

Husker Du - Warehouse Mould & Hart wrap up with double-length, softer collection

Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician We still maintain this is where Beck cribbed all his early ideas from

Pixies - Come On Pilgrim You know that he loves you

Jesus And Mary Chain - Darklands They were plotting their 2007 comeback even then, you know

Primal Scream - Sonic Flower Groove ... and the Mary Chain's drummer was doing alright, too

Eric B And Rakim - Paid In Full Possibly the start of the 'rappers obsessed with cash' cultural norm

Jane Siberry - The Walking Before she went on to invent Radiohead

Spaceman Three - Perfect Prescription Pierce, Boom and, erm, Bassman make their first post-percussive steps

Dead Can Dance - Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun For their efforts, DCD are rewarded with the most point-missing Amazon review of all time ("ok if you are into indian restaraunt background music")

Belinda Carlisle - Heaven On Earth Not entirely the most successful of the post-Go-Gos transformations

Big Black - Songs About Fucking The start of Steve Albini moving into his Imperial Phase

REM - Document Stipe's breakthrough album; it would take a while for him to find his way home afterwards

The Go-Betweens - Tallulah Although overshadowed by Liberty Belle..., does include the sublime Bye Bye Pride