Saturday, January 26, 2008

MIDEM 2008: Goldsmith twigs something's up

It would shatter our hearts, were it not so funny: down in the South of France, Harvey Goldsmith furrows his brow:

“The technology [to protect online music from 'piracy'] is there but savvy kids are saying ‘while they’re all arguing, I can grab this stuff for free’.”

After about a decade, someone in the old-style music industry has finally realised that procrastination has just created a vacuum into which people have rushed.

Sadly, the realisation has come way, way too late; and Goldsmith's conclusion - that it means its time for the music industry to really sort out putting the locks in place - is the exact opposite of what's needed.

[Part of MIDEM 2008]

Morrissey falls silent

Perhaps as a side-effect of one-too-many drinking games with the crew, Mozzer's voice has given out and so his two Camden gigs this weekend are being postponed. There's a statement:

"Morrissey's concerts scheduled for tonight and tomorrow night at The Roundhouse have been postponed due to illness.

"The iconic artist lost his voice last night five songs in to the fourth night of a run of six sold out shows at the legendary venue. He has been ordered by doctors to rest for the next four days."

The iconic artist? You're cancelling a gig, not putting him forward to go on Deal or No Deal.

MIDEM 2008: Sony BMG want music to be free... sort of

More from MIDEM, and again we're picking up on PaidContent's excellent coverage, as Sony BMG's digital music president Thomas Hesse announces that the company would be happier with the all-you-can-eat digital model:

“This idea of bundling music or access ... enjoying music on a fairly large scale with either a device or with access, be it a cell phone contract or a cable contract ... to me, that’s the next frontier. We feel quite optimistic about it.”

”Access to music so that music becomes something you can access in a very free way with very little encumburences.”

Of course, the advantage for Sony is no customer would ever own anything - if you want to listen to the tracks tomorrow that you listened to today, you'd have to pay all over again. And again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile, there'd be much lower risk in the industry - people on subscriptions would always need to pay you more money to gain access to a library; there'd be less pressure to add to that library.

More optimistically, Hesse also revealed that he believes next year will see digital and physical sales reach the 50/50 point; a more rapid shift to digital sales than we've seen predicted elsewhere.

[Part of MIDEM 2008]

The Ride weekend: Madrid

Vapour Trail, live at Madrid Rocks Festival:

[Part of Ride weekend]

Fran Healy becomes kingmaker

Every year, the seat of learning that still shudders everytime it gets called "the Paul McCartney fame school" - so that's what we'll call LIPA - invites someone who should know to pick the best of the talents studying there to put together a showcase ep.

This year, Fran Healy's doing the honours, choosing the tracks that he believes will set the world alight.

It's an interesting choice - after all, when Travis were invited to pick the tracks which the world would love for their own album last year they didn't do very well. (Yes, there was a Travis album out last year - no, we hadn't realised, either.)

Last year's ep featured The Wombats who have managed to build a following and not just disappear straight away. After a few years burning through cash and relying on Liam Lynch to justify the spends ("look, he had a top ten hit and was on the radio") it does look like LIPA's finally started to turn out acts which are achieving some degree of profile. This might be partly because a new generation has bloomed who haven't got the same degree of cynicism about the whole project and so it's starting to attract people who could probably carve a chart career without going there; and at least it's slightly more credible than the Brits School.

[Thanks to Jonathan for the tip]

It only takes a Midem, girl: MIDEM 2008

This weekend, the music industry is gathering for its annual back-slap and tax-write-off in the South of France at Midem.

Yes, yes, it's funny how an industry which can only be saved by changing the centuries-old relationship between creative people, the public and copyrights can still afford to have a big old bunfight in one of the most expensive places on Earth, isn't it?

The first big announcements of the event has come at a session with Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, who signalled that Universal is still fond of DRM, reports PaidContent:

"We are still testing (DRM-free models) - but our policy is still that we are strongly attached to DRM, especially for advertising-based models and subscription-based models."

Levy also predicted that CDs have a long - if not entirely glorious - future:
“People for many years will still buy physical products from shelves ... in Tesco and in Walmart. There is a very large segment of consumers, a very wide population that will still buy physical products. But we also understand that there is a decline. I believe there will be sales of physical products still for many years.”

We're not sure, judging by how Tesco and WalMart are reigning in their CD rackspace, that the stores feel that their customers are going to be buying physical products from them for very much longer. Nobody apparently asked him how this large segment of CD-buying punters can exist if the threat of download piracy is so great, but then much of the audience for Levy's speech is drawn from those of similar degrees of inconsistent thought.

Assuming anything else happens at Midem worth mentioning, we'll build a mini-index here
Sony BMG favour all-you-can-eat model
Harvey Goldsmith realises something's up
Qtrax: Legal peer-to-peer service announced
YouTube want to hand out cash... what's stopping them?
QTrax falls apart
RoyaltyShare threatens traditional collection agencies
QTrax: the "ink is not dry"
SpiralFrog battles bravely on
U2's camp calls for ISPs to be punished
John Kennedy wants broadband switched off for bad boys
QTrax: was it all a stock stunt?
FT smells restraint; misses QTrax's funny smell
Orange being hobbled by DRM

The Ride weekend: Chart Show chart

Aptly for a Saturday lunchtime, here's an ITV Chart Show indie chart run down. Besides our main focus, Ride, doing Twisterella, you'll also get fellow Thames Valley Scenesters (vague concept copyright the Face, 1992) doing Venice. Sadly, this was when the producers had abandoned the response to not having a video of showing footage of the middle of a record label spinning round and round. There's also a glimpse of Piotr from Adorable...

[Part of The Ride Weekend]

The Daily Mail takes on Tom's wife

The Daily Mail frets over the world we have made in Britain, chewing away at the edges of the nasty side of the country. How can everything be so bad, it wonders? Why are people so terrible?

Perhaps part of the answer might lay in the spiteful nature of the media. As evidenced by, say, the approach taken to Tom Jones' wife in today's Mail.

Melinda Woodward suffers from agoraphobia, and leads a quiet and blameless life with Tom in their big, paid-for home. Apparently, the Mail believes this is something which requires an expose of some sort:

It IS unusual ...the weird world of Mrs Tom Jones, not your typical Hollywood wife

What follows is a nasty mixture of sneering and unsubtle attempts to turn the woman into a freakshow. What makes it even worse is the writer, Paul Scott, cheerfully admits he knows what the pointless article is going to do the woman:
Friends say she has also come to dread going out in public because she fears she is being gossiped and sniggered about because of Tom's formidable reputation as an unreconstructed Lothario.

Nevertheless, Scott continues his mix of gossip and sniggering for a few hundred more words. Still, he happily points out that she doesn't read the papers because of her fear of being a target for this sort of thing, so Scott is able to take comfort in knowing he's ridiculing his target behind her back.

However nasty Britain might be, it's always going to have a have a house journal of spite to turn to.

Imagine the children

Supposedly, according to the dying moments of the old-style 3AM Girls, Geri Halliwell and David Walliams are stepping out together.

You can see the grounds for mutual attraction - one of them gets on stage dressed like an unconvincing woman and makes silly noises in a stupid voice; the other was in Attachments.

The 3AM team, meanwhile, gets a complete makeover from Monday. I know, I know, how will we ever sleep on Sunday night? Most notable of the new team is Danielle Lawler, who managed to last about two weeks as a member of Gordon Smart's "cabinet" before resigning to spend more time with the Daily Mirror.

Embed and breakfast man: The Ride Weekend

I think it's probably fair to say that, of all the bands I've given my heart to, Ride are the ones who probably changed my life, and its velocity and vectors, to the greatest extent. Clearly, it all ended it tears - and Andy Bell's subsequent work for Oasis has been heartbreaking (like having the world's greatest pastry chef operating the machine to squirt the filling into Mr Kipling's fruit pies) - but there was a time, from the first appearance on Sunb TV to roughly the dying moments of OX4, where they were just about perfect.

So, then: a weekend with Ride. Kicking off with Dreams Burn Down, live in the Brixton Academy, 1992.

More across the weekend; they'll be listed here as they go up
Twisterella from the ITV Chart Show
Vapour Trail live in Madrid
Chelsea Girl - promo
Like A Daydream - promo and Reading 1992
Today - promo

Buyer's Guide:
Nowhere - a 2006 remastering of the debut album (and, frankly, their greatest work)
Waves: The BBC Sessions - most essential for their Dead Can Dance cover
Box Set - contains a best of, a b-sides collection, and a live album
Smile - a combination of their two debut eps, 'roses' and 'daffodils'

Gordon in the morning: Girls Aloud v Atomic Kitten as McFly say goodbye

The ongoing ructions from the claims about what Ashley Cole may or may not have done are dominating the pop gossip agenda this morning, but that's in the hands of another writer.

Luckily, Gordon can keep himself busy with some pictures of Atomic Kitten in their knickers. We'd think there was a stench of desperation about a band who feel people are only going to notice their reunion if they dance about in push-up bras. (Actually, fair dos to Jenny Frost, who has chosen to dress a little more demurely.)

And while we're being fair, Gordon does have a cracking story this morning, with the news that McFly are trying to grow up:

The lads - TOM FLETCHER, DANNY JONES, DOUGIE POYNTER and HARRY JUDD - have decided the time has come to grow up and shake off the shackles of being a boy band.

Yes, they're planning to leave Island and get serious. Indeed:
They have instructed management to hunt out a new deal similar to the one PAUL McCARTNEY signed with coffee giants Starbucks.

We really hope that they're not expecting Starbucks to treat their demo tape like it came from one of the most famous musicians from the biggest group of all time. Indeed, they might want to lower their sights from Starbucks to something more akin to, perhaps, those Let's Eat people who have the trollies on trains.

Of course, being Gordon, he has to ruin a good story by shoehorning in a lousy pun:
I can just see the McFly boys sitting in their three-quarter-length trousers in Oz planning to “do a RADIOHEAD” and release an album on t’internet.

Boys, if you want to keep flogging millions of CDs, stick to what you do best.

The only way is down (load) from here.

The use of 't'internet'; the suggestion that what Radiohead did that was noteworthy was "releasing an album on" it - as if there aren't thousands of albums released on the web every week - and all just leading up to a weak pun. The warning itself is a good one, though.

Friday, January 25, 2008

British Sea Ow, ow, ow

Normally, a band member can be fairly certain if he tries to stage-dive that the fans will be there to catch him. Not if you're just the keyboard and cornet player, though: British Sea Power's Phil Sumner dived at the Leeds Irish Centre. Nobody caught him. Bang! He was knocked unconscious.

And broke a molar. He's going to be fine, though - some stitches, and he's back behind the keyboards. But with a valuable lesson learned.

Oh, God: Doherty's got a novel

Apparently clean and lovin' it - or clean enough to fool Spin magazine, anyway, Pete Doherty reveals that there's a nightmare for all of us that's followed him from his drug days: A novel:

“It’s a sizzling gypsy tale, a rambling, shambling, melody of a novel that came about when I was still on the old fighting juice. It’s fascinating stuff."

We suppose he means "fascinating stuff" in the way that he believed those awful, drug-addled journals were in some way interesting to anyone other than himself and armchair psychologists.

Without the drugs, without Kate, and without Carl, Doherty's starting to look more and more like a long-lost Chuckle Brother.

Bono: Of course he's in Davos

Now we know why Bono is wearing those glasses: it's to hide the tears. He revealed the truth about his shame at a Davos conference:

"It's like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins. Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-soaking, gulfstream-flying rock star.

"I'm going to kick the habit. I'm trying father Al, but oil has been very good for me - those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel."

So, when Bono needs to confess about his carbon footprint, he flies to see Al Gore in America. Then he flies to Davos, to tell a conference full of other people who've flown to Davos, all about how upset he is.

Al Gore might be an eco-Priest, Bono. At least he's not a Whisky Priest.

The Miley Cyrus terrorist dance

We did wonder when reading the sad story earlier today about the sixteen year old kid who was arrested after supposedly saying he was going to hijack a plane to commit suicide who'd be the first news outlet to try and make something out of the supposed plans to fly the plane into a Hannah Montana gig.

Well done, TMZ, whose team broke off from their current duties of reporting every single rumour surrounding the death of Heath Ledger, and then reporting the denials with a 'fancy anyone even believing that' sneer, to bring the 'news' of how close Miley Cyrus came to grief:

The unnamed 16-year-old had handcuffs, duct tape, rope and other items with him on the flight Tuesday, and though there was no incident on the plane, the FBI says he had a plan to hijack the jet. "He had some general plans where he was going and indicated where he wanted to die."

... and then how close she didn't come to grief:
Even though Nashville media have reported that the plane was going to be directed to Lafayette, La. to interrupt a Miley Cyrus concert, it seems that the concert was scheduled for today, not Tuesday.

... which didn't stop TMZ headlining the report:
Dude Tries to Crash Miley Gig – With Plane?

although, of course, the response to the question is 'no, not really'.

Now, let's assume that there really was a 'plot' - and it wasn't all a damaged kid seeking some attention - let's just look at the facts here: a sixteen year old boy, acting on his own, planning to somehow overpower the entire attendant team (and, presumably, all the passengers) using only some string and sticky-tape. So, how's he actually going to manage that? But even if he did, he'd then have to get into the locked cockpit, and somehow overpower the flight deck team. And then somehow fly the plane to a concert, and dive it into the gig - which isn't that easy, if you're not used to flying this sort of plane. So, really, it was a 'plot' in the way that another 16 year-old boy's 'plot' to move to Hollywood and somehow become Miley Cyrus' boyfriend is a plot.

Sonics: UK debut

Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Sonics. (Yes, we know that hardly squares with last year being the "thirtieth anniversary" of Punk, but that's what you get when you set your clocks by John Lydon.) Although they admittedly spent much of the time not as a going concern, last year's reunion means that, for the first time, The Sonics are going to play the UK. They'll be at The Forum, in London, on March 21st.

Amy Winehouse: so lovely that somebody cares

So, Winehouse is in rehab, as - it seems - a contractual obligation, seeing as how it's Universal Records that has issued the official statement:

Amy Winehouse's planned appearance at the NRJ Awards in France on Saturday has been cancelled as the artist has entered a rehabilitation clinic.

Amy decided to enter the facility today after talks with her record label, management, family and doctors. She has come to understand that she requires specialist treatment to continue her ongoing recovery from drug addiction and prepare for her planned appearance at the Grammy Awards. She is nominated in an incredible 6 categories.

Amy entered the facility by mutual agreement and continues to receive the full support of all concerned.

Amy is the most talented and important musical artist of her generation and has made huge strides on her road to recovery. Universal Music Group wants nothing more than to see her take the time she needs to come back to full health and fulfil her incredible potential with the label.

The label has always had the best interests of Amy at heart and has been guided by her family and doctors in the last few months as to the best direction to take.

All concerned feel that Amy must put her health before all other considerations and will be by her side whenever and wherever they are needed.

Fascinating, isn't it? The claim that she is "the most talented and most important musical artist of her generation" (really? The Most? And is this really the place for vacuous and clearly spurious marketing slogans?); the hopeful description of the rehab as part of an "ongoing" recovery, but most notably, that false concern.

Universal want her to "take the time she needs" but, at the same time, has made it clear she's gone to rehab to get into a decent state to do the marketing jig at the Grammys. In other words, she can have about a week and a half, but then back to work.

That doesn't seem like anything like enough - even in patients who aren't using crack and coke to self-medicate other problems, the withdrawal cravings can continue for weeks, with a high-risk of relapsing. Even if Amy's withdrawal is simple, it's hardly helpful to insist that she be sorted out by a cut-off point.

There hangs a suspicion that this spell in rehab is more about getting Amy a visa than getting Amy clean. If that isn't the case, Universal should be ashamed for issuing a "take all the time you need - providing it's not more than a fortnight" public statement.

Tim Burgess finally due to give it away

The long-promised free Charlatans album has finally got a release date: it's due out (via the XFM site) on March 3rd.

It'll then have a physical release, which we think you're supposed to steal from shops in May. We're not sure about the stealing, though. You might want to check that. It's called You Cross My Path, and everyone was really excited about this idea when it was first announced, although only until Radiohead introduced the pay-as-you-feel model about twelve seconds afterwards.

Swellings choke off Bjork festival date

It seems a shame that, having flown halfway round the world and literally fighting her way through the airport to get there, Bjork is having to cancel her Big Day Out dates in Australia.

Apparently, she's got "swelling vocal cords", it says here.

UB40 split: not quite so amicable after all

The departure of Ali Campbell from UB40 isn't the 'happily leaving to pursure a solo career' that we had been lead to believe by the official statement.

Indeed, Campbell was surprised there was an official statement at all:

The 48-year-old denied reports that he was quitting because of arguments over his solo career. "That is not the truth. I released my first solo album 13 years ago and when I released my current solo album I had every intention of continuing to balance my solo career with my commitment to the band," he said.

"The reason for me leaving the band is that management difficulties, which have been ongoing for almost five years, had become intolerable. I have been deeply unhappy with administrative practices and with many decisions that have been made in recent years, and I have an ongoing investigation into the handling of my business affairs in relation to UB40," he said.

This could, then, be the first time a band have split over administrative differences.

One night as Morrissey's lackey

There's a wonderful - albeit slightly disturbing - piece in today's Times by Andrew Winters, who got a job as a "valet" on the Morrissey US tour. Which lasted a day.

Winters - who is a Mozzer fan - reports on a strange world:

The production carries “sound-check suits”. I am informed that the band are considered “ambassadors” of the Morrissey tour and are therefore expected to be dressed in these suits for all soundchecks, all collective flights, all dinners and functions that may possibly include Morrissey – and it’s my responsibility to make sure that they are wearing them.

A very, very strange world:
During the soundcheck I am to “fragrance spray” between the front row and front of house and am informed that Morrissey’s PA will provide me with the fragrance of the day “if required”.

A strange world that just gets stranger:
Morrissey instructs his PA to order him a large vodka concoction. Then something bizarre happens. A drinking game ensues, where one of the musicians is encouraged to knock back his pint to a chorus of “Down in one, down in one, down in one,” a chant to which Morrissey himself adds flamenco claps, skipping in front of his employee. He immediately beckons for another pint for the same musician and the process is repeated.

Sadly, the chance of finding out just how strange Morrissey's world really is gets stolen from us, as Winters is sacked, by email, without any explanation - although since he's warned anything from being dull to liking Henry Rollins can be considered just cause, it's possible he just did everything wrong.

Right this minute...

Cat Power is on Today talking about stage fright...

Gordon in the morning: I'm in charge

Is it just us, or does the byline on the Winehouse goes to rehab tale speak of some sort of background scuffle?

Bizarre Editor,
Deputy Bizarre Editor

A source close to the story told us: "Gordon wasn't going to sit by and not have his byline on the big story yet again, but Pete insisted that if he shared his byline, he wanted to get his job title into it." Actually, we made up that source and are only guessing that's what led to such a cock-waving heading, but our understanding of tabloid journalism allows us to guess and attribute it to a source.

The amusing thing is, despite all the editorial firepower, Amy going into rehab is considered a lot less key to the paper, which instead splashes online and in the paper with the claims that Ashley Cole supposedly cheated on Cheryl Cole (or had a "“wild” sex romp", of course - according to the rompee Aimee Walton).

Indeed, even the Bizarre website gives greater prominence to Caroline Iggulden's claims that Britney Spears' uncle says she "never had a chance".

The uncle is William Spears, who claims to be in a position to know:
“I’m not just a family friend or someone who claims to know them. I was there every day, working with them. I have seen all the terrible things happen.”

William - or, um, Road Kill Willie as he's apparently known - talked to the The Sun in the luxury of his static caravan, offering the claim that Britney snuck a bottle of booze away from a family party when she was 13 before speculating that perhaps she's cursed because she has the same middle name as her late grandmother, and concluding:
She was a sweet young girl but as she grew up and saw the violence, the alcohol and everything, she became what she saw - as mean and hard-drinking as the rest of the family.

“That kind of childhood would make anyone unstable. It did with me.

“If people think she has reached the bottom, they are very wrong. Suicide is the bottom line for Britney.”

... and when that happens, he'll be waiting in his caravan to share his thoughts on that, too. Prices available on request.

Cod reggae singer cashes in chips

Ali Campbell has quit UB40 after thirty years. Campbell, it seems, wants to concentrate on a solo career; UB40 is going to continue without him, according to their official statement:

"Ali Campbell has taken the decision to focus on his solo career and in doing so, could not give his full commitment to UB40.

"The other band members of UB40 are naturally disappointed and saddened after being together as a band unit and as good friends and a family unit for almost 30 years."

"UB40 will continue to record and perform with the existing seven members.

"UB40 has never been about any one individual, but more a collective of band members, who have all contributed to create the unique sound that UB40 have become renowned for over the last three decades."

This is quite brave, isn't it? UB40's distinctiveness has always been down to Campbell's voice; take that away and you're surely just left with a fairly basic pub reggae band.

The sad thing, of course, is that had they split sometime during the first Thatcher administration, they'd probably have been recorded by historians as talented, innovative pioneers rather than grinding on into something of a punchline.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

24 hours from Tullsta: Loeb plays IKEA

Mark Malkoff is currently making a series of short films based around the idea that he's living in a branch of IKEA; the latest episode features a surprise guest appearance from Lisa Loeb. No, really:

[via Stereogum]

Adams has a witty retort prepared

Fan to Ryan Adams, during last night's Cardinals gig: I can't see your face
Ryan Adams, holding up lighter: Go and see Coldplay instead.

Okay, it's not that witty, but at least the fan got off better than the guys he threw out for yelling for Bryan Adams songs.

Finish Idol: a bit Gothiery than Will Young

Our eye was caught by a detail in the interview SideLine are carrying to herald End Of Green's Michelle Darkness going solo:

[The album] features also some very peculiar cover versions of the songs "The sound of silence" (Simon and Garfunkel) and Joy Division's "Love will tear us apart" for which Michelle Darkness worked together with the Finish Idols winner Hanna Pakarinen.

Finish Idol?

Yes, that's as in Pop Idol. Ms Darkness explains:
Hanna did an amazing job on the cover version! Nino my producer explained in the studio that the Finnish Idols cannot be compared with the German ones f.ex. (do not know others though) it is really about rock and metal there!! The latest winner Ari went straight to #1 for weeks and got platinum gold in same week, he looks like Axl rose from Guns and Roses somehow and they play heavy metal. So Hanna has always been in rock bands and writes songs and her voice was the only choice to imagine with her sexy warm timbre.

Hanna PakarinenBlimey. Really?

Perhaps not. Besides winning Finish Idol, she was entered by her nation for Eurovision last year. We suggested she was a cross between Amy Lee and Dolores Cranberry.

Still, even that's got to be better than Will Bloody Young.

Jo lie-ly: slight return

More news of low-level fibbing from the Jo Whiley show: in addition to the previously revealed pre-recorded competition, today the BBC have announced she did it again:

In a programme which was pre-recorded to permit essential engineering work in Radio 1's studios, listeners were invited to enter a competition that had already been recorded with an on-air participant who was a listener who had expressed an interest in entering the competition the previous day. Although this person was a genuine member of the audience, the name of a second participant, mentioned on air, was invented, and listeners had been invited to telephone and text when in reality there was no opportunity to participate.

This breach occurred three weeks after the previously reported breach on this programme.

The problem here is that it's a small lie, but a pointless one - and one which we're not entirely sure is explained away by "engineering work", come to that. They couldn't find a studio which wasn't being worked on? A spare one at Radio 2, for example?

And since the engineering work must have been pre-booked (otherwise they wouldn't have known to record the competition in advance) why did they book it in for during the day when a DJ was supposed to be doing live competitions from the studio?

Russell Brand is also fingered for having a BBC staffer call in to a pre-record.

Again: it's frustrating because it's hard to see what would have been lost had these programmes just fessed up that they were on tape, rather than going to elaborate lengths to try and pretend they were live.

Scott Mills worries the BBC Press Officer

The dormant row over Chris Moyles' use of the word 'gay' in a modern, ironic slang sense has been reopened by Scott Mills in a Guardian interview. The questions about his role as an out dj on the network led, inevitably, to the question of Moyles' clumsy use of the word:

You're friends with Chris Moyles. How do you feel about him being accused of homophobia?

It's ridiculous. Chris is one of the least homophobic people I've met. That "gay" thing [when Moyles used the word "gay" to mean "rubbish"] was an off-the-cuff remark and I didn't find it in the least bit offensive. I know, having spoken to him, he was quite mortified that people would think he was homophobic.

But you were involved in an anti-bullying campaign where you said that to use "gay" as an insult was ...

Yes, but I think on Chris's show it was meant as a joke thing. I've spoken to him and I don't think he would -

BBC press officer: I don't think we want to go into this. It wasn't offensive to you ...

Aha. So you need a press officer on hand to tell you what was and wasn't offensive to you, eh, Scott?
Not to me. I can understand that people would have been offended by it, but I wasn't. That may be because I know him, though.

Was the BBC wrong to back Moyles?

BBC press officer: I'm not sure he can really comment ...

I don't really want to say. I don't really have an opinion.

... at least, the press officer tells me that. How can you not have an opinion, Scott? How come a minute ago you were defending him and then, when asked if the BBC was right to do so, you suddenly don't have an opinion?

The answer, of course, is because while Moyles is merely clumsy and ill-judged what was acceptable, Mills should know better, but doesn't. As his next answer shows:
I think it's been blown out of proportion. Some people even think I'm homophobic. I'll say things and think it's fine, but it sometimes offends people. I'll write back, saying, "Actually, I am gay" and they'll go, "Oh, right, sorry to bother you." Maybe because I'm so comfortable with it, some things I say could be construed as being homophobic but obviously I don't mean that.

Aha. I'm gay, so I can't be homophobic. But if people who complain don't realise you're gay then how can could "I'm allowed to say it, I'm on the team" be an excuse? Mills has chosen to be out in a soft way "not a gay ambassador" - which is fine, his choice and all that - but if you're going to use being gay as an excuse for being homophobic, you'd better bloody make sure people know where you're speaking from.

Because what about the people who feel outraged and don't complain? And what about the people who hear you say those things, don't know you're gay, and agree with you?

Indeed, whether you're gay or not, you shouldn't be spewing homophobia on the radio.

Because what about the people who hear you, know you're gay and feel vindicated in their attitudes - because if a gay bloke's saying it about gay blokes, it can't be wrong, can it?

Is Mills unaware of the concept of the self-hating Jew? Is he happy being an Unmarried Uncle Tom? Doesn't he think that being gay, and broadcasting things that people take to be homophobic, makes it worse, not better.

[Gareth McClean has blogged about this over on the Guardian site, too.]

IFPI struggles to retain relevance

International wing of the RIAA, the IFPI, has issued one of its periodic reports calling for more to be done to stop piracy, topped with an eye-catching 'fact':

It also revealed that despite a crackdown in some countries on individuals who share large amounts of music, for every track sold legitimately there are still 20 unlicensed tracks downloaded.

Fascinating, eh?

But is it a fact?

Let's take a quick look at the full report to see, shall we?

First, we know the figure for legal downloads is 1.7 billion. This appears in a little box, complete with a source - albeit the IFPI itself. But they should know.

So, this means there are 21.4 billion unlicensed tracks, then. And that figure comes from... um, nowhere. It seems to be made up, as there's not even a source, much less a methodology.

In fact, if you look at this figure too hard, it starts to undermine the claims made on a country-by-country basis in the report. So, we're told:
2.6 billion illegal music files are downloaded in Mexico and another 1.8 billion in Brazil per year
- according to IPSOS research. That's 4.4 billion tracks in just two countries, which means about a fifth of all unlicensed tracks are downloaded in those two nations. Japan, we're told, accounts for 400,000,000 illegal downloads, bringing the total up to 22 and a half per cent of all global downloads supposedly being accounted for by three nations.

Let's add in China, shall we? The IFPI quotes a figure (again, unsourced) that the Chinese music business is worth $74million, with a digital piracy rate of 99%. In other words, for every single legitimate download, 99 are "stolen", supposedly. But what are the actual figures for this? The IFPI doesn't say, so we'll turn to an article from Knowledge at Wharton which is probably the source of this 99% figure and explains:
"That market has shrunk to several billion yuan a year because of piracies and the rise of Internet music. China's online music market has grown to between 10 billion and 20 billion yuan, and less than 1% of that is legal.

Now, elsewhere in the same piece the unit price of a download is mentioned: charges 0.5 yuan to 2 yuan to download a song and offers a monthly plan for unlimited downloads for 20 yuan (15 yuan during special promotional periods). charges 1 yuan, Aigo 0.99 yuan, and Taile 2 yuan to 5 yuan for a single track download.

So, an average 1 yuan per track seems fair, and we can extrapolate that if the total sales of the industry are rougnly 15bn yuan, of which one per cent is legitimate, then than means the industry is selling 150,000,000 legal downloads a year. Given that the IFPI insists that there are 99 illegal downloads for each legitimate one, this gives us a rough but fair figure of 14.85 billion alleged illegal downloads in China.

So, four countries, and we're up to 91% of all illegal downloads accounted for by four nations. Factor in the stuff done in Russia and the number of illegal downloads that must take place in America and it's starting to look like Western Europeans are actually illegally. Only they can't be, as the IFPI also tartly claims:
In Europe, Spain and the Netherlands have
a huge online piracy problem resulting in
underperformance of their legitimate market sector. According to Jupiter Research, over a third (35%) of all internet users are now regularly filesharing infringing music in Spain and 28 per cent in the Netherlands.

Basically, then, the statistics in the IFPI handbook don't actually add up. Now, it could be argued that the IFPI's claim about a 1:20 legal:illegal download rate is merely an attempt to be cautious, but since the rest of the document is quite screechy, it seems unlikely. The varying forms the piracy data is given in - a number of downloads here, a percentage of the entire market there, the number of internet users who might be downloading over there - suggests that the IFPI knows that their numbers don't stand up to ten minutes oversight from a schoolboy with a slide-rule and so choose to try and smear them in the interests of a good headline. It's dishonest, and means that we should approach all their data with a very long pair of tongs.

As, of course, should their conclusions - for example, this, talking about Mexico:
Online piracy has hit the core music buying population in the region – research in Mexico shows that 64 per cent of music downloading is carried out by consumers in the wealthier ABC economic categories

Now, let's just resist the temptation to 'well, duh' the observation that the poorer Mexican consumers aren't downloading music tracks in a country where IT penetration amongst the lower social classes is so low the One Laptop Per Child initiative is distributing computers. Instead, just admire the totally unsubstantiated claim that the ABC social classes represent "the core music buying population", and the equally unproven suggestion that those 64% of downloaders are responsible for the 25% in Mexican physical sales. The IFPI has lots of claims, and many, many numbers: it's a pity that they so seldom match up.

They do announce an amusing new approach to fighting peer-to-peer networking - just saying it's rubbish:
Research by IFPI debunks a myth about illegal P2P services: in fact, fans get better choice on legal sites. IFPI conducted research with a sample of 70 acts on the legal site iTunes and on the copyright infringing service Limewire. In 95 per cent of searches the artists requested had more songs available on iTunes than on the leading P2P service.

Which prompts the question, if the supply is so poor on Limewire, what are you bothered about?

Still, fair play to the IFPI, with their rigorous research - although they don't say if it's a random sample; they don't even list the seventy acts they searched on: it could be that they were just looking for rubbish acts nobody's much interested in. Or perhaps the IFPI forgot that a lot of filesharers mung the names of bands and songs to avoid bots finding them.

Anyway - something, say the IFPI, must be done, and what they're pushing for is for ISPs to be forced to scan your internet communications. In effect, then - despite admitting in its own report that
only 20 per cent of internet users worldwide use P2P services

the IFPI thinks it's acceptable for all of us - including the 80% who don't use peer-to-peer - to have our privacy invaded merely to chase the chimera of illegal downloads.

If the IFPI wants governments to hand over our privacy, the least it could do is get its figures straight before asking.

John Kennedy is a man in a hurry, though:
FPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy says: “A turning tide of opinion is one thing – a concrete programme of action is another. There is only one acceptable moment for ISPs to start taking responsibility for protecting content – and that moment is now.

Of course he wants action now. With EMI pulling out of the organisation, it's looking less and likely they'll be around to demand action next year.

Mr Bono goes to Washington

Apparently, Bono popped in to the Pentagon on Tuesday, to meet Robert Gates:

Press secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed the 20-minute chat had taken place, saying: "They discussed... their shared desire for greater civilian participation in tackling the problems afflicting that region."

We're sure it's simply because the spokesperson comes from the heart of the military-industrial complex that he spoke of Bono as if Vox wasn't actually a civilian himself.

Curiously, Bono seemed to be implying he was trying to talk up governmental aid for developing regions; the Pentagon suggest the pair were saying that increases in aid should come from non-governmental sources.

Ghostface begs his fans to buy his CDs

It probably is galling to see your fans disappearing; but comforting that, as your career dwindles, you can believe that the reason nobody is buying your album is because people are stealing it off the internet.

It's probably ill-advised to then post to YouTube using a mixture of begging and passive aggressive hints about quitting to try and shift the unsold piles of CD, though:

"I thought y'all motherfuckers loved me, man. You know I go all out for y'all, and I love y'all man, but y'all niggas be hurtin' the kid, because y'all don't wanna go cop our CD, you feel me? Y'all rather download our shit.

"If y'all really rollin with the kid, snap out that shit man. This is real talk... It's comin' from your homey... Y'all niggas gonna make me leave the game based on niggas doin' shit like that man. I thought y'all loved me. Go cop that CD man, even if you downloaded that shit, go to the store and cop that. If you really love your man."

Now how bad do you feel? Ghostface Killah thinks we don't love him any more. His hip-hop power is fading. Altogether, girls and boys: yell "I believe in Ghostface..."

Now, there's a Ting

In today's Daily Telegraph, a loving appreciation of the Ting Tings, and a full disclosure on Kate White's career to date:

"I was into ballroom dancing until I was 16," says White, when I meet them before a gig in Camden. "After that, I convinced two schoolfriends to be in a girl band with me."

They were called TKO, short for Total Knock Out, and once supported Atomic Kitten. After the split, she formed a more guitar-based pop band called Dear Eskimo, with one of their (male) songwriters, Jules De Martino.

"We had a deal at Mercury," White remembers, "but the two bosses who signed us got the boot after four months, and we never got our record out. Nobody wanted to work with us. We were like damaged goods."

Which explains both the punk and the pop in their pop-punk hybrid.

The venerable Telegraph even links to them doing the mighty That's Not My Name at Glastonbury:

Gordon in the morning: I like Icke

There's a big showbiz story in the Sun today - the claims that Amy Winehouse is going to be put under 24 hour guard by her family.

That's bylined Virginia Wheeler and Pete Samson.

So what's Pete's supposed boss concentrating on, then?

Gordon's busy with a tale that claims David Icke and Robbie Williams are hanging out together, which is mildly diverting (if true) but since it's just a claim by an unnamed source, it's the sort of thing you'd imagine being palmed off to someone further down the bench.

The "source" observes:

It’s an odd acquaintance, to say the least.

Is it? Both are keen on football; both are awash in an LA which doesn't take them seriously; both believe in aliens and stuff like that a little too much; both are people who were in the public eye who are clearly damaged; and, of course, both have performed on the main stage at Glastonbury. And since they met in a restaurant, both are moving in the same circles.

What is notable, though, is that the words "Bizarre editor" have been dropped again from Gordon's byline.

Elsewhere, a photo of Dita Von Teese and Victoria Beckham stretches Gordon's comedy skills:
CHECKING out VICTORIA BECKHAM and DITA VON TEESE together reminds of looking at a Dulux colour chart in B&Q.

The palest woman in showbiz came face to face with one of the most perma-tanned yesterday at Paris Fashion Week.

Apparently, then, colour charts only have two colours on them.

It not only doesn't work as a joke, it doesn't even really work as an observation, either: Beckham, although admittedly perma-tanned, has it done expensively and so doesn't have one of the extreme colours like, say, Judith Chalmers; Von Teese isn't, to be honest, that pale.

But Gordon's not going to let it go:
I have to say, I think Victoria’s Tango glow would work much better in my lounge than Dita’s dazzling white sheen.

They could call it Spiced Orange.

We'd like to think that Gordon painted his living room orange - really, we would - but Beckham isn't orange; and she's certainly not the orange colour of a fizzy drink.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

From tomorrow's Times, but already online, Nick Kent considers Amy Winehouse's addictions - and the public's addictions to seeing heroes crumble:

Like Winehouse and her dodgy entourage, the Stones sometimes found themselves being sold out by dubious druggy acquaintances in need of ready cash. The process was repeated in the Seventies, when individuals in the Sex Pistols’ cheesy retinue started selling photographs of Sid Vicious injecting himself. In the Eighties it went into a higher gear with the advent of Boy George and his heroin problem.

Since then the media has been unstoppable in its obsessive pursuit of falling music idols. There is one obvious reason for this: the general public has developed an insatiable desire for watching its favourite stars debase themselves further and further in the public forum.

Nobody has taken greater advantage of this cultural predicament than Pete Doherty, who has allowed himself to get dragged into some unholy pact with the tabloids in order to become fêted as the most infamous rock star of the millennium. In Doherty’s case, though, it’s understandable. He simply doesn’t have the musical talent to make it any other way.

Unsurprisingly, Pete Doherty isn't exactly a go-to quote guy

TMZ seems a little surprised that Pete Doherty didn't offer much in the way of reaction when a heavily-accented German reporter asked him for reaction to Heath Ledger's death. There was a genuflection - possibly a shrug.

Maybe Doherty couldn't place Ledger. Or maybe he misheard and didn't know quite whose death he was commenting on - after all, it's not like Ledger was a mucker of Pete's, was it? And to be fair, last night, we had to rewind Newsnight to double-check that we'd heard Jeremy Paxman correctly. And Paxman isn't a heavily-accented German.

Things really are grim for Ringo

In the light of Ringo's huffy walk-out when Live With Regis And Kelly because they didn't want to hear Liverpool 8 in full, Contact Music offers sympathy for the Beatle:

Suggesting that being a 67-year-old former Beatle no longer carries the cachet that it once did, the producers of Live With Regis and Kelly on Tuesday refused to allow Ringo Starr to perform a song from his new album, Liverpool 8, unless he cut it to less than three minutes

To make matters worse, Contact Music adds some extra insult by... erm, thinking that Ringo is Sting:

Last FM upgrades - massively

Aha. So, that's what CBS are doing with LastFM. The advertising-supported service has got all the majors, and bazillions of indies on board to allow free, ado-supported streaming for all.

Or at least, Americans and Europeans.

Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, took the podium to announce an overview of the plan to distribute music from the Big Four major labels -- Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Music -- plus Ioda, Naxos, The Orchard and about 150,000 indie labels and bands, all for free. Each label deal is different, according to Smith. The total number of songs available now is 3.5 million, but the company is aggressively adding content, and Stiksel said it will never stop adding music. "The mission is to have every track available," said co-founder Martin Stiksel.

Every track? That's really quite a challenge. We won't consider it done until they've got Ride Mindfuck on, mind.

Chinese Democracy: yet another release date

No, no, really, this time. Apparently. Axl has supposedly finished the album, reckons his manager:

Beta Lebeis confirmed to Metal Hammer magazine that the record was "finished before Christmas". Adding that "everybody knows that". Lebeis also insists that Rose is currently "in negotiations" to arrange the album's on-sale date, with the magazine reporting rumours of a possible late summer release.

If he finished it before Christmas, why would they wait until September before pushing it out?

Unless, you know, it's very, very poor.

Dead man liked dead man: Coincidence? Erm... yes

As conspiracy theories go, we're not sure that Heath Ledger liking Nick Drake quite justifies Pitchfork's "startling dimension" description. Nor, come to that, that a love of a musician Ledger mentioned in a 2007 MTV interview can count as a "revelation", come to that.

Indeed, attempting to both have its macabre cake and eat it, Pitchfork even tuts at the very speculation it's indulging in:

these alarming parallels have no doubt sparked rampant speculation

concludes the 'Fork on an article headlined
The Heath Ledger/Nick Drake Connection
Actor claims obsession with Drake, simulates suicide on 2007 video to Drake's music

Not, of course, that it would speculate rampantly.

Back upstairs at Eric's

From the more-attractive-comeback files: Yazoo.

Yes, Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet are getting back together for a UK tour. But don't - inevitably - call it a comeback:

"Playing this material live is not about revision for me," Moyet said. "It is about finishing something we started - writing, recording, performing.

"Three parts of a whole. A salmon cycle. It's like going home."

A salmon cycle? So we can look forward to the pair of them struggling against the tide, only to have their roes munched out by a hungry grizzly seconds before reaching their final goal, then?

Scientists in action

We Are Scientists are doing a slew of UK dates:

Saturday 12th April - Glasgow Barrowland - Tickets
Sunday 13th April - Aberdeen Music Hall - Tickets
Monday 14th April - Newcastle Northumbria University
Tuesday 15th April - Manchester Academy
Thursday 17th April - Sheffield Octagon
Friday 18th April - Birmingham Carling Academy
Saturday 19th April - Nottingham Rock City
Sunday 20th April - Norwich UEA
Tuesday 22nd April - Southampton Guildhall
Wednesday 23rd April - Bristol Carling Academy
Thursday 24th April - London Shepherds Bush Empire
Friday 25th April - London Shepherds Bush Empire

Up until Friday, tickets are only available to fans. Or people masquerading as fans on their MySpace

Lenny Kravitz gives up sex

Yes, straight women, gay and bi men, it's true: the reason why Kravitz has stopped calling is because he doesn't do sex anymore:

"(It's) just a promise I made until I get married. Where I'm at in life, the women have got to come with something else, not just the body, but the mind and spirit. It usually trips them out, but that's the way it's going to be. I'm looking at the big picture."

Kravitz tells Maxim that he's not had sex for three years.

Now, we might be cynical, but we suspect we'd believe him more about his choice to be celibate had he mentioned his decision at the start of the three years, rather than the end. Because by claiming he never intended to have any sex at all for thirty-six months looks a little like he's trying to rationalize a drought, rather than embarking on trying to keep himself as pure as he remains for his next marriage.

Mick Hucknall learns to love Warners again

A rare piece of good news for the majors, as an errant son returns to the fold: Mick Hucknall has made his peace with Warners over his back catalogue.

He's been in a huff over who owns the tracks since 2000 - even, at one point, re-recording them - but now has agreed a fifty/fifty split on ownership with the label.

Mick's happy, Warners are happy. Everybody's happy.

We're now in for a glitzy, expensive Simply Red official best of campaign.

Okay, but still: Mick and Warners are happy.

MTV Fluxed

So, the bright, shiny multiplatform MTV Flux - the new channel which MTV killed VH2 for - has flopped badly.

How badly?

So badly, it's being dumped in favour of a timeshifted version of MTV One.

MTV is trying to spin the retreat from the idea of a channel based on user-generated content as some sort of step forward:

The company intends to keep the MTV Flux online community alive and integrate the user-generated content concept into its MTV-branded music channels.

Music channels MTV2, Base, Hits and Dance will begin to offer a weekly 30-minute show, with the working title Flux Me I'm Famous, that will cover the most popular celebrity news stories discussed by the online community.

Clearly, though, this is a terrible flop for MTV's strategy of merging TV and video, and should be a warning to anyone who thinks that you can easily strap together a web 2.0 community and a linear TV channel. Eh, BBC Three?

Sean Paul triggers epileptic fits

It's a rare condition called Musicogenic Epilepsy, but it's a serious one. Stacey Gayle, a Canadian, found she was having fits whenever she heard Sean Paul's Temperature.

Doctors, of course, didn't believe it at first; then, they did some medical-style probing, and discovered that, yes, she had a type of epilepsy that could be triggered by some sorts of music (alongside other stimuli). She's had to have brain surgery to stop it happen, which seems a little unfair. Admittedly, there might only be four other people on the planet who suffer from the condition, but wouldn't it be better to stop Sean Paul making music instead of chopping bits of their brains out? That way, everyone would win.

Kelly Osbourne tries to pull a Ditto

Kelly Osbourne has shared her 'disappointment' with reaction to her recent weight loss:

"I don't like the way that suddenly now everyone likes me because I've lost two stone. Why was I a bitch before? Because I was fat?"

We're not quite sure why this is disappointing to her - did she hope that people would continue to dislike her? (Actually, we're not sure that people do like her now any more than they did when you used to be able to buy those toys of her with the duck beak where her mouth should have been, but we'll let that slide.)
The singer claimed that overweight people are vilified more than "a junkie".

Really? Or is that hyperbole?
Kelly, 23, told Heat magazine: "I was always the fat spoilt brat because I was fat."

Well, yes - otherwise you'd have just been a spoilt brat, though. It's not so much of an advantage.

Having ranted a little about being treated badly because she was fat, Kelly then, um, denies she was fat at all:
"Just because I'm a size 8-10 now doesn't mean a size 12 was fat.

There is an important debate to be had about people's attitudes to body shape; it would just be better if Kelly thought through her views before joining in.

It might also help more if you don't give interviews about how terrible the attitude to overweight people is to magazines like Heat, which are partly responsible for that sort of thing in the first place. Complaining about body fascism to Heat is like objecting to petrol consumption in Top Gear magazine.

Gordon in the morning: He has views, too

So, what does Gordon have to say about Amy?

Gordon's viewpoint seems to be some sort of moral outrage:

With her talent comes responsibility, a quality she is sadly lacking.

She has a duty as a role model to thousands of impressionable kids who copy her look and attitude.

Since when did talent come with a responsibility? Outside of kung-fu movies?

Surely, though, Gordon won't wind up with a weak pun, will he?
Sadly these days she is more interested in grams than Grammys.


The real question, though, is why Gordon Smart, Showbiz editor, is being wheeled in to offer a viewpoint on, erm, the big showbiz story from the day before. It must smart - no pun intended - somewhat for your paper to call up Jane Moore and a bloody former crack addict to solicit their views before you get a go.

Perhaps it's because Gordon doesn't really have anything to add beyond a "I met her in 2004 and she wasn't an addled crack-addict then" anecdote.

Happily, he's quickly back on safer ground elsewhere on his page: someone's dropped off a photo of Jennifer Aniston where you can make out her nipple if you stare at her tits long enough.

Amy tapes handed over to cops

We're presuming - and we apologise if we're wrong - that the fact the column to one side of the Amy Winehouse story is bylined "By Gordon Smart - Bizarre Editor" implies that, once again, the key showbiz story has been written by someone else today.

The Sun is thrilled that the cops are asking for a look at the Amy Winehouse video:

We handed over a copy at the request of the Metropolitan Police after two officers from the SCD6 Specialist and Economic Crime Command visited our Wapping HQ.

The film was later passed on to Tower Hamlets detectives, who were set to analyse it.

A Met spokesman said last night: “Now we have received the information we will be viewing the footage to ascertain whether any action needs to be taken. We thank The Sun for its co-operation.”

We're not sure that quite stands up the Sun's front page claims:
Exclusive: Star may be charged - Copes seize our Amy film

In fact, it sounds like it should read:
Action of some vague sort might be taken - Sun gives police the Amy film that someone else shot

And while we realise that this isn't exactly a Clive Ponting case, should the paper be handing over stuff like this to the police? Isn't this going to implicate the person who shot the video? Can you square just giving up the source to the cops with best journalistic practice?

Meanwhile, the paper talks to Mitch Winehouse, who thinks it's all for the best:
“No one recognises the problems more than her and seeing images of herself like that may make the difference.

“The moment she says the words, ‘Right Dad go, this is it’, there will be an avalanche of support for her. The plans have been in place for a long time.”

So, she's well aware what her problmes are, but is just waiting for someone to print a picture of her doing crack and hand her over to the cops? It must be heartbreaking to be Mitch Winehouse, but surely he can see that colluding with the Sun in the downfall of his daughter isn't really going to do any good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bon Jovi: Big tipper

Whatever else you might say about Bon Jovi, he's not tight: he left a six hundred quid tip after a meal at a seafood restaurant in Australia.

Pigeons poop on Brit Awards

The Pigeon Detectives are annoyed that the Brit Awards have overlooked them ("overlooked guitar bands".):

Matt Bowman told the Daily Star: "I think they’re a load of rubbish. I’m really glad Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs are up for an award this year, but guitar music seems to be out of favour again with the organisers."

Apart, erm, from the Monkeys and Chiefs. And Editors. And Arcade Fire. And...

Five years ago today

We came within in inch of Rose West marrying a former member of Slade.

The artist formerly known as...

Yes, Puff Daddy has changed his name again: he now wants to be known as Sean John, thereby becoming the first person ever to name themselves after their brand of perfume, instead of the other way round.

It's been fifteen years...

... but now, Leonard Cohen has decided the time is right for a tour. A semi-official announcement appeared on his forum earlier:

The following advance notice is posted with Leonard's permission.

Leonard Cohen will be touring with his band in Canada and US in May and in Europe in the summer.
More details will be announced in February.

North America before Europe? So, um... first he'll play Manhattan, then he'll play Berlin?

Slash jazzed; now he's itching

Slash, ooh, he can't wait to make a new Velvet Revolver album:

The guitarist admitted that he was “jazzed” at the prospect of recording the record after the band finish their American tour in April.

“I've been working on new ideas, and we've had a couple times where the guys all got together and worked on some stuff,” he told Billboard.

“I'm itching to see what this third record's gonna be, 'cause I think it's gonna be fuckin' awesome, and I think we don't necessarily need to spend two years on the road like we did last time."

He really needs to see what the record's going to be? He can't close his eyes and picture a bunch of tired old men honking like they're fifteen and still think Nazis and softcore porn are cool, then?

In rock and roll seventh heaven

Robert Forster's first post-Go-Betweens solo outing is coming together; called The Evangalist and due at the end of April. CMJ is touting it as Ocean Rain continued, as it shares producer and studio with the last Go Between album. It points out, in the face of Forster's denials, that three tracks were even co-written with the late Grant Mclennan.

Coachella for both sides

They're not calling the East Coast Coachella the East Coast Coachella, of course - that would be too simple. No, it's going to be called All Points West Music And Arts Festival. But everyone will call it Coachella East, so they might as well get used to it.

No details beyond a vague 'August 8th - 10th in New Jersey's Liberty State Park' for Coachella East - actually, that's not that vague; but there is now a full line-up for Coachella Proper, which happens on the West Coast in April.

What's coming now is a long list of bands, so jump over if you could care less.

Friday, April 25:
Jack Johnson
The Verve
The Breeders
Fatboy Slim
Tegan and Sara
The Swell Season
The National
Animal Collective
Slightly Stoopid
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
Aesop Rock
Midnight Juggernauts
Does it Offend you, Yeah?
Minus the Bear
Spank Rock
dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip
Adam Freeland
Santo Gold
Jens Lekman
John Butler Trio
Vampire Weekend
Dan Deacon
Architecture in Helsinki
Sandra Collins
Busy P
Cut Copy
Black Lips
Professor Murder
Reverend and the Makers
The Bees
Rogue Wave
American Bang
Lucky I Am

Saturday, April 26:
Death Cab for Cutie
Cafe Tacuba
Sasha & Digweed
Rilo Kiley
Dwight Yoakam
Hot Chip
Cold War Kids
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Flogging Molly
Mark Ronson
Scars on Broadway
Enter Shikari
Calvin Harris
Boyz Noize
Junkie XL
Cinematic Orchestra
Jamie T
The Teenagers
VHS or Beta
Erol Alkan
Yo Majesty!
Little Brother
Bonde Do Role
St. Vincent
Akron Family
Institubes DJs (Surkin, Para One and Orgasmic)
James Zabiela
The Bird and the Bee
Grand Ole Party
New Young Pony Club
120 Days
Electric Touch

Sunday, April 27:
Roger Waters
Love & Rockets
My Morning Jacket
Gogol Bordello
The Streets
Danny Tenaglia
Simian Mobile Disco
Booka Shade
Dmitri from Paris
The Field
Linton Kwesi Johnson
Les Savy Fav
The Cool Kids
Sons & Daughters
Holy Fuck
Black Kids
Black Mountain
The Annuals
Kid Sister w/A-Trak
Man Man, Duffy
I'm from Barcelona
Manchester Orchestra
The Horrors
Austin TV
Shout Out Louds
Brett Dennen

Love And Rockets? Blimey. We're surprised that The Breeders are coming further down the bill than The Verve - and, much as we love Portishead, that they're above Kraftwerk. But not as surprised at the appearance of Jack Johnson on the bill at all, never mind headlining a day. Roger Waters, we can understand - he used to be in a band with Syd Barrett, which buys him a certain degree of kudos. But Johnson? The man who ruined Curious George for us? Really? Have they thought about that one?

Amy: You've let a multinational company down, now

Oh, crack-snorting Amy Winehouse, Universal Records aren't angry with you. No, they're just let down:

[H]er record company, Universal, said: "We are deeply disappointed and upset by these latest revelations and are doing everything we can to offer Amy our full support in dealing with her problems."

You can almost hear the quiver in their corporate voice, can't you? It's not entirely clear to us if they're disappointed by the revelations themselves, or what has been revealed - would they be upset if Amy was taking crack in secret still? They don't say.

Meanwhile, the BBC drops a fairly big hint that they don't think the revelation is quite kosher:
The footage is grainy and appears to be camera phone quality, while a date and time in the corner of the screen suggests it was filmed on a video camera.

Perhaps the charmer who flogged the video to the Sun scuzzed the quality to give it that authentic crack-den feel?

Bedingfield to UK: Feel the rain on your own bloody skins

What are we to make of the excuse given for Natasha Bedingfield pulling her UK tour?

"It is with the greatest regret that Natasha Bedingfield has had to cancel her forthcoming U.K. tour. "This is through no fault of Natasha herself, but due to her American record label insisting that she remains in the U.S. to promote the release of her album. All tickets will be reimbursed."

Clearly, if it's economic to pull the tour in the UK, while having to desperately pump the album in the US, there's something going wrong somewhere in the Bedingfield camp.

Certainly, critical reaction to Pocketful of Sunshine has been somewhat muted - it scrapes 66 on Metacritic. The label isn't that impressed with the album, either; it had previously shelved the release last Spring (Pocketful Of Sunshine is the record released as NB in the UK, with some new tracks trying to pad out the collection.)

It's also amusing that Sony BMG are putting the blame on Bedingfield's "American label" for the cancellation - Bedingfield being on Epic in the US, which is a brand of Sony BMG. So when they say "her American record label", they mean... erm, "us".

Goths thrown off the bus; Mail outraged

Whoever would have thought that the Mail would swing into action to defend Goths?

A goth, who likes to take his fiancee out for a stroll on a leash, claims that a bus driver told them "no dogs allowed" and banned them from boarding.

Dani Graves, 25, and his girlfriend dress all in black and like to take unusual walks, but the pair have been branded "freaks" and pushed off buses.

He and Tasha Maltby, 19, were told they could not travel on the bus service and believe they have been targeted by the same driver three times.

Gothic Dani claims the driver said: "We don't let freaks and dogs like you on."

Dani is very upset:
Dani said he believed this driver's treatment of them was purely down to the way they dress.

He said: "He doesn't like the fact we wear black clothing. We expect the odd comment, but we don't expect it off a bus driver."

We're not entirely sure - despite having bus drivers in our family - that we'd necessarily be more surprised to find bus drivers being less tolerant of crypto-alternative lifestyles than anybody else. Perhaps Dani was brought up on On The Buses and believes that drivers are disposed to take sides against authority.

Pink: something must be done

Pink has issued a dire warning that if something isn't done about paparazzi photographers soon, something tragic might happen. Like, ooh, maybe a drunken chauffeur driving too fast in a tunnel, pursued by photographers, and crashing, for example. (Presumably Pink hadn't heard about that whole business.)

For what it's worth, Pink doesn't think its fun any more:

“I feel like something tragic is going to have to happen for people to wake up and see how vulturous and poisonous it’s all gotten. Before it was kind of silly, how stupid everyone was. Now it’s just kind of sad and dark; it’s all gone to a totally different place.”

And not solely because they don't seem to be taking pictures of Pink as often as they used to. Oh, no.

Landes in London

Dawn Landes is playing a trio of London gigs in the next few days:

25th Jan - Water Rats Kings Cross
27th - Bardens Boudoir Dalston
1st Feb - Windmill, Brixton

If you haven't come across her yet, this is what she does - recorded by RKST

Radiohead in London: Eyewitness

Thanks to regular commenter Jack, who was amongst the throng when Radiohead played 93 Feet East last week, and has shared his report with us:
It was certainly the best gig of my life! The whole day was certainly an experience. People arriving without being sure what to expect.

The thing I was most surprised with was how civilised everyone was with the wristband situation. There were, of course, a number of people trying to blag it when going down to 93ft East (after the wristbands were given out), but they were relatively good natured about leaving when they were told.

The gig itself was far better than I could have imagined, even after all the build up of the day. Nobody knew what to expect. I believe the original words that were spread around said "some songs from the new album", but people reasoned that it would end up having to be more since there was so much faffing, it was hardly worth it for five songs or so. I think everyone had realised what was happening after Bodysnatchers came on.

As is expected, the encore got the best response, and I'm sure many people came out of the gig with National Anthem being their favourite Radiohead track. That in particular unexpectedly stood out for me.

We wondered if there'd been any announcement about the event being webcast - of a 'you're online live, be careful' nature. Here's what Jack told us:

As for any announcements, there weren't any at all. I'm not sure of the legal standing of that (since gig tickets pretty much always have "by attending, you forfeit all rights to payment for your likeness being used in broadcast" or something, but there was nothing for this). Possibly the fact that a webcast was mentioned in the original message posted online means that they assume that everyone saw that and agreed or something. But there was nothing warning people of anything like that.

Cerys, now is the time to worry

We understand that some of Cerys Matthews' friends and family are concerned - worried, indeed, enough to contact the tabloids - that she might be heading for some sort of disaster. They're waiting for a wake-up call.

Here it is: You know you're in trouble when Kerry Katona is offering advice on how to sort out your life.

We haven't seen the issue of OK where Kerry gives some pointers to Cerys, but we imagine it'll include fully briefing your press person on what drugs you're taking so he doesn't look a lemon when he tells the papers you've never taken cocaine, and getting a nice little job pushing stuff on the telly. But not Iceland, obviously - that's Kerry's gig, and she'll protect it with fighting, if need be.

We notice from the cover of OK, by the way, that it's landed the "world exclusive" on the sex of Katona's latest spawnage. Bet the Washington Post and Der Speigel are mad as hell at missing out on that one.

Monkeys won't go to the Brits

The 3AM column is all of a twitter because The Arctic Monkeys won't got to the Brits. The Mirror's team believe they're afraid of Take That:

Arctic Monkeys are planning to freeze out the Brits because of their head-to-head battle with Take That.

The Sheffield band have a frosty relationship with their Manchester rivals and they even clashed at the Q Awards in 2006, when Alex Turner called Gary Barlow and the boys a "load of b*******."

Now the Arctics - whose song Mardy Bum seems strangely fitting - are determined not to run the risk of losing out to the comeback kings live on ITV.

Or... could it be that they're not going to go to the Brits because they tend to not show up at the big televised events? In 2006 they accepted via a taped insert; in 2007, they accepted via a taped insert... perhaps they've just been really, really scared of Gary Barlow?

It couldn't be that the organisers of the Brits are desperately hoping to goad the band into actually turning up by seeding a 'they're afraid of Jason Orange' tale in the papers, expecting Alex Turner to see it and say "they're saying we're frit... we'll show them...", could it?

Gordon in the morning: While others deal with Amy...

Oddly, the Prime Minister of Showbiz doesn't deal with Amy's crack; that's left to other people to handle. Instead, Smart is left writing about the Spice Girls again. He's worried about Mel B's language:

Because she’s become so much like her foul-mouthed Bo’ Selecta! character, I can no longer tell them apart.

Really? Has she got a large rubbery face and glasses, Gordon? Because that might be the easiest way of telling them, one from the other.
SCARY SPICE has always had the mouth of a drunken trucker, and I’ve applauded her straight-talking in the past.


But there's a time for straight talking to stop, it turns out:
Furious parents have had to cover their kids’ ears to protect them from Mel’s stream of smut during the Spices’ run at London’s O2 arena.

Good lord, are they still playing there? Really?
The gigs include a bit where the girls discuss what they have had “too much of” before they launch into their hit Too Much. Clever, eh?

Yes, that's Gordon Smart snickering at someone making a lame pun based on a song title. The man who wrote "I bet Macca was looking back at Kylie and thinking: “No More Lonely Nights.”" Clever, eh?

Anyway, Gordon churns on about what Mel B said, discovering a parent who was "outraged" that her child should hear such things. Despite taking her kid to a gig where she knew there was going to be a song with the repeated refrain "wanna make love to you, baby".

Gordon, it seems, is himself quivering with outrage:
Who needs sex education? A couple of minutes with Auntie Mel at her O2 School of Skank and your kids will have enough filthy words to turn the playground blue for months.

So, not quite so in thrall to the Spices any more, Gordon?
Girl Power? Filth power, more like.

No, he really says that.

Of course, this would appear to be the same Gordon Smart who burbled delightedly when the Spice Girls made jokes about his cock onstage.

So, in search of the real Gordon Smart we turn to his Bebo page, an insight into Gordon's real world.

The most fascinating aspect of the page - besides the testicle-in-an-egg-cup where you'd expect to see a picture of Gordon - is this revelation, from the day before he appeared in the Sun, in that awkward picture where he looks for all the world like a man trying to hide a wedding ring at a speed dating event:
Well there's no turning back now...

Get The Sun tomorrow for a laugh at my gay outfit. I'd be thrown out The Muirs for it - no question.

Let me know what you think...

If I get a doing on the train tomorrow, it was nice knowing you.

Let's leave aside the tricky question of the appropriateness of using 'gay' as a term of abuse - for now, anyway - and just look, wonderingly, at a man happily describing the outfit he wears for his byline photo, every day, in such terms. Something to think about every time you see Gordon peeking out from the Bizarre masthead, isn't it?

It also makes you wonder what the people who provided the "gay suit" would feel - it's a bit different from how he described the clothes in the paper on that bright, first morning:

[Thanks to Barry]

Amy Winehouse does drugs

We're still a little confused as to why The Sun thinks that the revelation that Amy Winehouse does drugs is worth clearing the front page for: didn't we already know this?

Of course, it dresses this up as a concerned friend rather than a gawping bystander poking the fuck-up with a stick:

It will horrify relatives and friends who fear she could soon end up dead.

Because, of course, her family and friends don't already know she's addicted.

And, the trouble is, that beyond 'this is a video of Amy doing what we've already told you she does', there's little to add, beyond describing what's on the video:
At one point, lank-haired Amy is warned to watch out for smashed glass on the floor as she scours a bedroom for her kitten barefoot.

Funny name for a kitten.

To pad out the story some more, The Sun consults experts:
What the experts think

Amongst these 'experts' is
Ex-Crack Addict

- so, presumably, this makes her the paper's crack expert?

Simms tells what it's like being a crack addict:
I was convinced people were coming with guns to kill me.

It's not clear if this was drug-driven paranoia or dealers coming to settle debts.

Simms doesn't have very much to add, so the paper also consults
Youth Worker

He's worried that this makes kids thinks drugs are alright:
I don’t think too many young people will be impressed by what she did, but it normalises drug taking for them.

They see Amy Winehouse doing well and winning awards, then smoking crack.

She’s sending out the message that it doesn’t affect her career.

So, in effect, The Sun shouldn't be trumpeting about her drug-taking as it sends out the wrong message?

There's room for one more expert. Who to ask?
Sun Columnist

Jane also wants Amy locked up:
Surely... the time has come to have her sectioned under the Mental Health Act?

While it might be insane to smoke crack, can you actually be sectioned for taking drugs?

Never mind, Jane has got another idea:
The temptation is to drag her by her egg-yellow hair round a ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital and show her the children fighting to stay alive.

To hammer into her thick skull that she’s lucky enough to have a healthy body and mind that she’s wilfully choosing to destroy.

Ah, yes. Take her to see some sick kiddies. That'd make all the difference. (And, probably, scare the sick kiddies.) If that fails, it's either got to be National Service or a referendum on the European Treaty.

Thank God the Sun has experts on hand. Otherwise we might think they were just publishing sensationalist froth.

Drug addict takes drugs. Hold the front page.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Amy disappears down the cracks

Nothing on the Sun website yet, but Paxman's just run through the front pages of the papers for tomorrow; The Sun is leading with a photo of Amy Winehouse apparently smoking crack last Friday morning.

Also on his Hands...

That shrewd investment in the TV rental industry in 2000 is continuing to cause headaches for Guy Hands, by the way. The Boxclever deal is coming under legal scrutiny - indeed, Terra Firma were due in court today to talk about it; the trial was delayed by two days though as Terra Firma's co-defendants in the case have entered into settlement negotiations.

Natixis is suing because it believes that senior people in Terra Firma knew that the BoxClever deal was flawed, but somehow forgot to tell investors; a year after the company was formed from the merger of Radio Rentals and Granada's rental businesses, the company defaulted on a massive loan.

The apparent settlement with CIBC and WestLB means Terra Firma having to stand alone to fight Natixis' claims, which is more than interesting simply because of the EMI connection. The trial is set to bring much of Terra Firma's way of operating into the public domain and, analysts claim, the cash being demanded by Natixis could strain the finances of Terra Firma even further.

Dizzee Rascal plans to spread his seed

Overpopulation. Something of a problem for the world right now, but not one that bothers Dizzee Rascal, apparently:

I want to have ten kids

This might come as something of a shock to his partner - or, as she's described by the charming Rascal:
one girl I've been seeing lately more than anyone else

Of course, just because Rascal is intent on having ten kids doesn't mean he's going to settle down:
[I]t's deciding whether it will be with the same baby-mother or not.

We can never quite decide if it's slightly more or less demeaning to see women as "babymothers" than to call them "womb-on-leg-o-matics", but it's such a close-run thing we'll just hope that Rascal's sperms are as inmotile as his career is, rather than think of ten kids being brought up in his footsteps.

Cilla: I let Mills be a blind date

At the moment, Cilla Black stalks the daytime television schedules, telling us that the sixties were a special time and reminding you that everyone you care about will die, so you better sort yourself out with some sort of assurance from Liverpool Victoria. Or LV= as it seems to be called these days. It's not clear why, having done all they can to throw the Liverpool connection overboard, they've then hired Cilla Black to hammer it back home again.

Mind you, they've also gotten rid of their lovely chicken logo, too.

We're not sure we'd take Cilla's advice on caring for loved ones, especially as she's now admitted she kept her mouth shut and let Macca walk into the Mills marriage. Oh, why, Cilla, why?

Black, 64, was wary about the union but resisted offering McCartney her opinion on Mills because she feared he wouldn't heed her advice. She says, "If you're totally besotted with somebody - as Paul was with Heather - you don't want a third party telling you what to do.

"I do advise most of my friends. But not Paul. Mind you, if he'd asked I'd have said what I thought. I'd have told him he had to make his own mistakes. That's the only way you learn.

"But I might have suggested that perhaps he should listen to what his family were saying."

So, she advises her friends.

Although people don't listen when they're besotted, so she doesn't.

But she would have done if Paul had asked. Which he hadn't.

But if he had, she would have told him to make his own mistakes.

Except she wouldn't have, she'd have said listen to the kids.

What a tragedy that McCartney never got to hear this clashing, confused

It's not a Secret if you don't tell anyone

Secret Shine are about to release their second album, just fifteen years after their debut. And nine years after they did anything.

They're going to be playing Bristol (of course Bristol) on Wednesday; the album All Of The Stars is out in April.
[via MP3 Hugger]

Gallows told to go hang by Disneyland

For some reason - we can only imagine an amusing chain of misunderstandings behind the scenes - Gallows had been booked to play a gig at Disneyland. The actual one, with the real Mickey Mouse. Not the pretend one in France.

Luckily for everyone concerned, someone thought to check a lyrics sheet before the band turned up.

Now, Gallows aren't going to be playing Disneyland.

We7 pulls down three million quid

We7, the download company with Peter Gabriel's public face has pulled in six million dollars worth of funding to fuel its next stage of growth.

This is to improve on its current base of 100,000 users who listen to ad-supported downloads.

Sorry, did we say ad-supported? We mean:

relevant and quality Brand messages

It's telling We7's press release capitalises the b in Brand. Either they're very, very serious about adverts, or else each download comes with a spurt of Russell Brand on it.

The money might be well put to tempting some majors onto the platform - although there's quite a range of stuff on We7, there's something of a sense of it being a bit like shopping for records in an ex-jukebox box in a newsagents. It doesn't help that the press release trumpeting their millionth download last month revealed the significant milestone was someone adding The Spinners doing Maggie May to their collection.