Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dubstar weekend: I Will Be Your Girlfriend

"and now, you'll have to tell your wife" - mad, swirling, staring eyed and perfect:

[Buy: Amazon want a pricey three quid for a vocal remix]

[Part of Dubstar weekend]

Tour dates: Midlake

It's a little in the future (actually, one of them is a long in the future) but worth planning early: Midlake are coming to the UK:

Monday 28 June – LIVERPOOL – Academy (£16)
Tuesday 29 June – SHEFFIELD – Leadmill (£16)
Wednesday 30 June – PORTSMOUTH – Pyramids (£16)
Sunday 10 July – SOUTHWOLD – Latitude Festival
Tuesday 2 November – LONDON – Roundhouse (£19.50)

Darkness at 3AM: Nadine Coyle gets a job offer

The 3AMies are excited this morning about Nadine Coyle adding something to the KitKat advert that's already on her on acting CV. She's vaguely being considered for a movie that doesn't exist:

Nadine Coyle, 24, is not just a big hit in the pop world. Our insider on Brit flick Shank (out tomorrow) says: "There's a real buzz about Nadine. Execs have asked about getting her involved in Shank 2."

Judging by the lukewarm reaction the film is getting, I suspect it might take more than getting Nadine onboard to make a Shank 2 happen. Perhaps Nadine needs to ask Nestle if they need her for anything else.

Downloadable: Meursault

Oh, yes - there's free downloads from Meusault here - Blindfolds and 2007.

What's more important is that - if you're anywhere near Leicester - you can see thema totally different band with the same name play live tomorrow night. What else would you do on a Sunday night in Leicester?

Embed and breakfast man: Dubstar

I can't believe there hasn't been a Dubstar weekend already. Perhaps I've just been waiting for an excuse. And the release of I'm In Love With A German Filmstar in a couple of weeks is excuse enough, don't you think?

They started life as The Joans, a boy-boy two-then-three piece which made the big change when one member went off to build a career with British Airways. (That might have seemed a smart move at the time.) Sarah Blackwood was drafted in by Steve Hillier and Chris Wilkie to make up the numbers. A bit of name changing, a deal with Food Records, and before you knew it they were all over the radio. They were helped by disc jockeys not listening too closely to the words of their songs, and assuming Not So Manic Now was a jolly, Christmassy tune.

They did decide to try an actual happy song, managing to release it - Cathedral Park - on the Monday after a drunk guy crashed the car with Princess Diana in it.

There were three albums, and then a decade silence - until now. Sarah Blackwood has been off doing interesting things with Client (and, as a solo extension in the form of Client B), so there's been plenty of stuff to keep us going. But new Dubstar? That feels special.

Let's start with the biggest hit - Stars, which took a rerelease to get to number 15. Here, it's live at Glastonbury 1997:

Buy Dubstar
Disgraceful | Disgraceful mp3
Goodbye | Goodbye mp3
Make It Better | Make It Better mp3

Dubstar anywhere
Official site
Dubstar on Facebook
Dubstar on Last FM
Dubstar on Spotify

Dubstar across the weekend
I Will Be Your Girlfriend
No More Talk on Top Of The Pops
Not So Manic Now & Anywhere
Self Same Thing

Friday, March 26, 2010

NOFX: Taking the piss

Charming. NoFX's Fat Mike Burkett marked SXSW by pissing into a tequila bottle and offering fans a drink:

He tells, "I confirmed that urine was not classified as a biohazard waste and not subject to the risks of legal ramifications of blood, semen, or faeces."

Oh, that's alright then.

There are, naturally, some people who would probably pay to drink their favourite star's wee; a few who might even object to having it adulterated with tequila. But - legal or not - this is a bit disappointingly frat boy.

One thing to note: Mike was doing a solo set, which means he was in his Cokie clown persona. I guess if you accept gifts off men dressed as clowns, you should expect what you get.

Miley Cyrus shuns music

Given that she was dealing with an audience that was decaying faster than an isotope of Ununquadium, it's perhaps wise of Miley Cyrus to bail out of the almost-music business that she's in:

She recently revealed on The View that she's become a bit disheartened because "the music industry isn't as positive as I'd like it to be."

Well, that's true. Like every other industry in the world - with the possible exception of the one that makes little hats for dogs to wear on holidays - the music industry turns out to be full of people miserably trying to make a living.

Still, having decided that the music vibe might be a bit too down for her, Miley's decided to get out. And what will she do instead?
"I've got a record coming out in June and then I'm done," she said. "I just want to work in movies. That's what I like and that's what I want to be doing."

Oh. Yes. Hollywood. Just the place to relocate if you think music is too downbeat and back-biting.

It's like quitting the army to work in the private security industry.

The economics of SXSW

Lovely piece on the economics of SXSW from Fucked Up's perspective:

A festival pass can cost almost $800 a person. A band gets either wristbands or $250, which is enough to buy enough gas to get your van maybe 15 hours away from Austin, one way. Most bands are from outside that radius, and are well within the range of losing a shit ton of money by coming. In exchange, sxsw gets access to the best bands in the world, every club in Austin, and sponsorship money from all the coolest companies on earth. One of the more creatively heinous examples of branding I learned about this year was the Green Label Sound record label, which is a branding exercise of Mountain Dew soda. When my friend was offered to do a record with Green Label Sound for many thousands of dollars, I was happy to concede that it was a great deal for his specific band. Then I saw the giant 4 panel billboard for Green Label Sound right next to Stubbs on Red River St. Great for Chromeo, Neon Indian and the two other bands on the advert I forget ("great" in the sincere and non-facetious sense) and realized how maybe it was a bit more of a serious issue than I'd thought. Think of all the bands that had to blow their wallets apart to get to their one sxsw showcase, and all the partiers who had to pay to fly or hitchhike from Greenpoint or Plymouth to get to Austin in order to create the cultural critical mass that allowed Mountain Dew to greenlight a giant billboard in the epicenter of American indie rock. Think of why there is so much free beer and cigarettes and energy drinks at sxsw, and why every year there is even more, and why every year there are a dozen more huge shows presented by even bigger companies than last year. It's because you paid your money to go there and see these ads.

The whole thing is worth a read - it's placed somewhere between a whinge and a shrug, but the conclusion is that Wrigleys probably do better from SXSW than any band manages.

NME extends brand a little further

The NME has decided the time is right to launch a festival, the NME weekender.

With this sort of brand extension craziness, surely it can only be a matter of time before the NME starts to sit down the musicians taking part in its events, interviews them, and comes up with some sort of publication to put them in?

The weekender is planned for Camber Sands in November. Let's hope they give away free copies of the magazine - just right for shoving up your shirt to take the edge of that cold, coastal wind.

Chris Evans ruins a thousand headlines

There's probably nobody more surprised than Radio 2 that Chris Evans' audience has increased from the level Terry Wogan left it. But there won't be anyone more disappointed than the tabloids, who must have already crafted their "TOG off" headlines and "thousands of Wogan loyalists desert smutty Evans show" standfirsts.

Still, there's a couple of months before the official figures come out - time yet for the Mail to come up with a way that this is A Bad Thing.

[Thanks to James P for the story]

The Times: Teaching Abba about gay icons

Enjoy Pete "R" Paphides column while you don't have to stick a quid in a slot, for today he meets Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. While mainly noteworthy for how the reunion question is answered, the exchange about how gays love Abba is priceless:

[Björn says "]For instance, we never thought in our wildest dreams that we would be gay icons.”

I put it to him that Fältskog might have had something to do with the whole gay icons thing. “But why?” Ulvaeus counters. “She’s a very heterosexual woman. I know.”

That’s not how it works, I tell him. “How does it work, then?” he asks. Well, it all goes back to her not looking happy. You could tell that she was suffering inside, but she carried on in the name of showbiz. Ulvaeus remains unsure: “Hmm. It could be the outfits and the Eurovision.”

And the reunion questions? After thirty years of instant rejection, when Pete raises the idea, he doesn't get hit straight in the face with cold water:
Andersson, by contrast, seems deeper in thought. “Yeah, why not?” he nods. As if working through the logistics, he adds: “I don’t know if the girls sing anything any more. I know Frida [Anni-Frid Lyngstad] was [recently] in the studio.”

If they are hoofing about the stage in white jump suits - waistbands now elasticated - in a year or two, it might well be down to Pete. I'm not sure if he'll be hailed as a hero or treated like the guy who opened Pandora's Box.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

50 Cent possibly going to turn up at nightclub

The staff at new Liverpool club Bamboo are proud as they announce 50 Cent is going to turn up for their grand opening:

Kay [Uchegbu, party organiser] said: “No one has ever opened a club in Liverpool with 50 Cent or a big international star.

“He wouldn’t go to just any club, he’s 50 Cent, so we had to show his people the idea behind the club and what it’s all about – it’s Liverpool’s only seven star club.

Yes, it takes a certain something to get 50 Cent to your club. And what is it that Bamboo has to bring Centy in?
Insiders said the star would be paid £50,000 to attend the official launch of the new club in Duke Street.

Fifty grand? They could have got all of Hollyoaks, Pete Wylie and an animatronic George Harrison for that.

Akon upsets some more people

Accident-prone Akon - the Frank Spencer of mid-market sludge & B - has now managed to upset an entire religion. And a nation.

Sri Lanka is bloody angry with him:

Sri Lanka has refused to issue a visa to Akon, the Senegalese-American singer and rapper who is due to perform there next month, after Buddhist activists took offence at one of his music videos.

They said that the video for Akon’s song Sexy Bitch, which features bikini-clad women dancing in front of a statue of the Buddha in Ibiza, had offended members of the Sinhalese ethnic majority, which is mainly Buddhist.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed the head offices of the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television Network, the concert’s media sponsor, injuring four employees, smashing windows and damaging parked cars.

There is, of course, an "I hate Akon" Facebook group - although given there's an "I hate" everything Facebook, that's not really significant.

Akon - who is skilled at issuing apologies - flicked through the file past papers headed 'I had no idea she was underage', 'Who knew there were those vouchers there' and 'God, are you telling me it was actually loaded?' to come up with the one marked 'Religion (general enragement of)':
“I was not aware that the statue was even on the set of the video until now. I would never set out to offend or desecrate anyone’s religion or religious beliefs,” Akon said in a statement. “I myself am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended, but violence is never the answer and I am disheartened."

Yes, Akon, trying to placate the Buddhists by claiming that you never spotted there was a massive Buddha in the background while simultaneously claiming yourself to be spiritual. Why wouldn't that work?

To be fair to Akon, The Times' Jeremy Page suggests that this story might be more about an accident-prone children's entertainer:
The decision to bar Akon also raises concerns about the independence of the media in Sri Lanka. Maharaja [the network who played the video which caused the trouble] is one of the few large media organisations backing the Opposition before parliamentary elections on April 8.

Akon might just be an pawn in a greater game that he has no understanding of. Again.

Gordon in the morning: Noel Gallagher has a lot in common with David Cameron

There's going to be another Gallagher child, as Noel is about to become a Daddy again. We can only be thankful that the pain he was telling the Canadian courts about yesterday didn't interfere with that.

Given that all he has is 'Noel and Sara are expecting', Gordon goes to extremes to fill in a story about this. Luckily, he doesn't get his Photoshop guys to mock up the moment of conception. Instead, he reaches for "a source":

A source said: "Noel and Sara are over the moon. They're so happy that Donovan will have a little partner in crime to play with. Their family is complete.

"Their pals have been joking that Nelson is a frontrunner on names as they think the baby was conceived on a holiday to South Africa."

Got to love the "their family is complete" bit - because that's exactly the sort of thing you say to other people at the start of a pregnancy. "If anyone asks, tell them our family is complete."

But what's this about Nelson? It turns out it's something that's been made up purely to allow a punning headline:
Noels Son Mandela

- which would only be clever if the baby had been going to be called Nelson. As it is, Gordon doesn't really have any reason to expect it's going to be a boy.

Still, if there's one thing Gordon knows about, it's Noel Gallagher:
Noel - who has a daughter Anais, ten, from a previous relationship - has been taking a break from the limelight since Oasis split last summer.

Smart does admit that this break includes playing two gigs at the Royal Albert Hall, but also seems to have missed the whole 'making an advert for tennis shoes', announcing a new solo project, and attempting to take the focus off Kasabian at the WarChild post-Brits gig, and giving a statement about being pushed over to the courts, and offering support to the World Cup bid and...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tegan and Sara: The same old song

How would you feel about a record which just featured the same song, done in slightly different ways, over and over again?

True, that could be describing any Boyzone album, but in this case we're talking about Alligator by Tegan and Sara. iTunes only, and this is the track list:

1.) Alligator (Holy Fuck Remix)
2.) Alligator (Passion Pit Remix – 80s Mixtape Jam Flex Edit)
3.) Alligator (Toro Y Moi Remix)
4.) Alligator (VHS or Beta Remix)
5.) Alligator (Doveman Remix)
6.) Alligator (Four Tet Remix)
7.) Alligator (Murge Remix)
8.) Alligator (Ra Ra Riot Remix)
9.) Alligator (Automatic Panic Remix)
1o.) Alligator (Hi-Deaf Remix)
11.) Alligator (Dave Sitek Remix)
12.) Alligator (Sara’s Original Demo Version)
13.) Alligator (Morgan Page Remix)
14.) Alligator (Kevin St. Croix Remix)
15.) Alligator (Mad Decent Remix)
16.) Alligator (Josh Harris Remix)
17.) Alligator (Hamel Remix)

They're going to be bloody angry if it turns out it was actually a crocodile.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Music Matters

After fifteen or so years trying to tell you that playing an unlicensed music file was akin to stealing a handbag, or a CD, or a kitten, the music industry has decided to change tack. They're having a crack at treating file sharing like drink driving:

Comparisons were made at the launch in London to anti-drink driving campaigns which have gradually changed attitudes.

Ms Byrne said of such parallels: "Absolutely, I spoke to quite a few people when we were doing this campaign and it's not going to happen overnight but I think the whole point is basically creating awareness and to chip, chip away."

They're exactly the same thing. Apart from drink driving being something that kills people, while a person listening to an unlicensed music file is very, very unlikely to mount the pavement, hit a pedestrian and put people in hospital.

The project is called Music Matters, and starts from the wrong-footed hypothesis that people don't understand the issues. "If only we could explain how badly EMI needs the 0.0001p it would have got from a legal streaming of that Robbie Williams song you listened to without permission; how you're effectively stealing cash from the servicing of that big pile of debt. And the best way to do that is to pretend that you're as bad as a drunk driver."

But it's not just patronising and insulting comparisons with drunk driving. Oh, no:
Chris Morrison of CMO Management agreed that the problem is generational.

But he continued: "You can educate that out of people... Racial prejudice was rife when I was a child... the public attitude towards it has changed radically."

They're not just fighting crime; the music industry is quite close like Martin Luther King. Unfortunately, that's close as in 'standing close by his grave pissing on his memory', but close nevertheless.

Morrison concludes:
"Music must have a perceived value if it's to have a future."

That's true. Don't expect your Mum to whistle as she cuts the grass if there's no money in it. Don't think that people will make music because they love the sound, or enjoy performing, or want to engage with an audience. If you can't hang a price tag on music, it will vanish.

Can we turn to Gennaro Castaldo, HMV's expert in expertise, for some sensible viewpoint?

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said the campaign was "engaging with the fans for the first time.

"Up to now they've probably been communicated to or dictated to, they've read about it but they've never actually been engaged with dialogue in this way before."

It's not entiely a dialogue if it's designed to change people's thinking to match that of the organisers, is it? Going "tell us what you think, and then we'll tell you what to think" is still dictating, Gennaro.

Sympathy for the Bono: He's struggling

How can Bono make poverty history? He's having trouble stopping himself making his own wealth history. He's the worst investor on Wall Street, reckons 24-7 Wall Street. It stares at Elevation, his equity group:

The most well-known of the Elevation investments is Palm (PALM) which made a completely unsuccessful run at the smartphone business dominated by Apple (AAPL), RIM (RIMM), and handsets powered by the Google (GOOG) mobile operating system known as Android. Wall St. had hoped that Palm’s new line of Pre handsets would allow the company to be a modest competitor in the industry. It has, instead, burned through large amounts of money and, ,by its own admission, is in trouble as it tries to reach what were fairly modest sales goals.

Yes, but everyone can have one bum deal, can't they?

Oh. There's more. There was three hundred million sunk into Forbes:
Forbes may have done somewhat better than that, but the value of the family controlled business that was once run by Malcolm Forbes has dropped by at least 80%. Elevation owns an illiquid investment in a media company that is now worth perhaps $100 million.

And Elevation also invested heavily in shares have lost about 50% of their value since then. Last year, Move had a net loss of $7 million on revenue of $212 million. The market value of the firm has dropped to $340 million and the stock trades at just above $2.

Oh, and Elevation stuck cash into Yelp. Yelp bravely turned down a $500 million bid from Google just in time to be hit by a wave of lawsuits claiming its reviews were less than genuine.

Don't titter, though. If he ends up losing his shirt, he's going to have to more songs to scrape together the money for his glasses.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Noel Gallagher: Oh, it fair put the wind up me

You'll recall that Noel Gallagher did a flip-flop over whether he wanted to appear in court to provide a witness impact statement about how it felt to be pushed over on stage. In the end, he just sent a letter:

"I would describe the sudden impact and shock as feeling as if I had been hit by a bus," Gallagher said in his statement.

"I ended up in a heap on the floor."

People who have been hit by buses confirm that, indeed, getting smacked by fifteen tons of metal is very similar to being nudged by a drunk bloke.
"The promotional work in connection with the launch of the new album was very important to its success and early sales momentum. This opportunity was lost," Gallagher said as he described the impact of the missed appearances.

"The emotional impact it had on me was essentially coping with the pressure to perform so as not to let the band down."

It's a bit rich to blame the crappy sales of the album on Noel getting pushed over - you can see why he didn't want to come and deliver that line in person. And given this is meant to be an impact statement, "essentially coping with the pressure to perform so as not to let the band down" doesn't seem to be that much of an emotional strain - isn't that the job description?

Gallagher does say he's suffered pain as a result:
The incident, despite months of rehabilitation and doses of pain killers, has left him with ongoing pain that he is forced to "grin and bear," he said.

"From time to time I still feel painful twinges," Gallagher said in a victim impact statement read in court Tuesday.

"I have been told that I will never really recover from the damage to my ribs."

Oddly, he doesn't say by whom. And there are some doctors who say that while ribs can heal, they never heal to be as good as they were before, so Noel may very well have a point.

Outside the courtroom, there were other - equally considered - impact statements:
"I personally think that this incident is responsible for Oasis breaking up because of all the momentum that was lost," said Paul Benoit

You might think this is just ill-informed speculation, but Paul is an insider:
...who was working as a caterer at the festival the night of the attack.

Back in the court, sentencing of Daniel Sullivan was deferred again, until April 21st.

[Thanks again to Alice P for keeping us up-to-date with the Canadian court action]

Gordon in the morning: Could you make it out to my Mum? She's called Gordon, too...

Well, here's a photo sent to us by young Gordon of Wapping, who bumped into Brad Pitt while going out to see a film. "He was very nice" says Gordon, "and signed a magazine and a shoe and everything."

Actually, the real article is even more toe-curling, with Smart uncertain if he's trying to play it down or go OHMYGODIMETBRADPITT:

In fact, if ever I get round to penning my showbiz memoirs, Monday night almost surpasses the time I supped Kia-Ora with GEORGE SAMPSON in Bizarre HQ.

Thanks to director MATTHEW VAUGHN I was part of a star-studded, intimate afterparty celebrating his cracking new film KICK-ASS in London's Notting Hill.

Personally, I can't quite get past the idea that the man in charge of the showbiz pages of the UK's largest-selling newspaper chooses to run photos that make him look like someone in that awful NME column who got their mate to take a snap of them with Loz out of Kingmaker on a cameraphone.

Kelly Osbourne: The dangerous dogs act

Kelly Osbourne is, says the Dogs Examiner, currently wearing her arm in a sling:

While visiting her mother, Kelly attempted to break up a dog fight. In the process, she fractured her elbow.

There are, sadly, no further details about how this might have happened, so anyone claiming that the fight was a set-up - and as soon as Kelly came over a chihuahua knelt down behind her and a labrador pushed Kelly - is just making stuff up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BBC announces plans to waste money saved by closing 6Music

Hey! Good news, everyone - by closing down 6Music and Asian Network, the BBC will have enough money to build 60 new DAB transmitters across the country. This will allow even more people to enjoy listening to the empty space left by the closure of the services in high quality digital no sound.

Jay-Z "supports" Arsenal

I'm sure you, in common with many of us, have had little sleep since the rumours arose that Jay-Z might Manchester City rather than Arsenal.

Now, we can breathe easily, and sleep again, as he's confirmed that he supports, in some way, Arsenal after all:

"After that game the press started reporting that I was a Manchester City fan, I am really glad all that has been cleared up and that everybody in the UK knows that I am an Arsenal fan," he explained.

Yes, it must have been terrible with some people thinking that you had a vague interest in a slightly different team to the one you're actually not really that bothered about but are a bit.

Jay Z went on to sound like he knew a little bit about this soccerball:
"It was about five years ago now," he said. "When Thierry Henry was at the club I saw him play and I just thought he was an amazing player. Ever since then I have been a big fan of the club, following you guys, and still today you play the beautiful football that Thierry did. I think he had a real long term-effect on the team."

I might be being a little cynical, but this sounds less like the way football supporters talk about football, and more like the sort of thing you'd say if you'd phoned someone up to give you something to say to make it sound like you knew about football.

Protest against the Digital Economy Bill

Tomorrow (or, if you're being sanely curled up in bed with a book and a mug of milky drink as I'm writing this, today) there's a chance to get out and protest against the Digital Economy Bill. I shall cut and paste this from Boing Boing, before CTRL+V is outlawed:

Come along to the ORG demo on Wednesday, 24 March at 17:30, and protest against disconnection and censorship on the internet.

We'll provide placards, just bring some black tape for gagging or blindfolding yourself.

Disconnection is collective punishment. It is unacceptable. It is unfair and it is disproportionate.

The demo will be held at Old Palace Yard (opposite Parliament, next to Westminster Abbey)

It's all being organised by the Open Rights Group.

Strawberry Fair axed by police

It might be unfair to suggest that Cambridgeshire Police deliberately decided to appeal against a licence granted to the Strawberry Fair in order to leave organisers no choice but to abandon this year's event, but they do seem to have been insanely fixated on stopping it happening.

There's a statement from the organisers:

We have been grateful for the many messages of support for the Fair - it is very heart-warming to realise how many people appreciate and enjoy the hard work that goes into the Fair year after year.

We would like to give a little more detail about our decision, and in particular why we felt it was impossible to fight the appeal and continue to organise an event for this June.

At the licence hearing that the police spent a great deal of time and money attempting to get the fair closed down, employing a London-based law firm and barrister to present the evidence they had gathered at significant cost to the tax payer.

Strawberry Fair is almost entirely reliant on income from traders. With no event there is no income and the battle through the magistrates court is going to cost us dearly so we are appealing to the people of Cambridge to come along to our fund raising events, for example the Band Competition final on Thursday 15 April at the Junction (more to be announced soon) and possibly to donate a few pounds via our website.

As a voluntary group we don't have access to the kinds of legal resource or the public finance used by Cambridgeshire Police in their objections to the license. It is going to be an very tough task for us to prepare for the appeal hearing both in time and money, we hope that the people of Cambridge will support us in our mission to secure the fair for 2011 and onwards and give generously whilst not doing anything to exasperate the situation unnecessarily and damage the future of the fair. We would also welcome people to come up with their own fund raising ideas, please contact us if you want to get involved.

At last years fair, Cambridgeshire Police invested a significant amount of time and money into information gathering activity at the Fair. Despite several written and verbal requests from the Committee, they declined to share important information they had gathered other than the overall assessment they published in the press. It appears to the committee, therefore, that the purpose of that information gathering activity was not to help improve the event, or assist our planning processes, but specifically to object to a license for the Fair.

In spite of this lack of information the committee had implemented a raft of changes that were widely accepted to be moving the fair in a good direction. We have regular meetings with the council, residents groups and police and we have made massive changes to the event in recent years in response to the concerns raised. We feel it would be more productive for the police to raise any specific concerns they have with us about the event at these meetings rather than pursuing it through the courts.

It would have been an impossible task to fight the appeal whilst also being able to maintain the high standards of event planning and management necessary for a successful and safe Strawberry Fair. We are surprised that the Police had not realised what the effect of their decision to appeal would be. The timetable for the appeal process is well known, and will take us to within weeks of the Fair. They are also fully aware that the Fair is a community rather than a commercial event, with all the work carried out by volunteers.

The committee would like to stress that much of the work the police have done with the fair in previous years has been very constructive and helpful and we would very much like to build on this but it is hard to see the constructive input from this year?s objection to our licence and the appeal against a decision by publicly elected officials.

It's only fair that anyone should have the right to appeal against a decision they disagree with, but it seems unfair that Strawberry Fair should win a licence, only to not be able to use the event because an outstanding appeal made further investment unsafe.

Nationalise EMI, says Dubber

Let's file Andrew Dubber's call to nationalise EMI as a thought experiment rather a serious proposal. But it is a thought experiment that's more thought through than, say, seemingly anything Graham Coxon says these days:

After all, a case could be made that things that are of significant worth to the British public, economically and culturally speaking, should theoretically be in the ownership of the British public. Especially when those assets are under serious threat as a result of private ownership mismanagement and ‘market conditions’.

Rather than have the rights to some of the most important British cultural treasures in the hands of a billionaire tax exile, a private equity firm and a transnational bank – and in imminent danger of having them simply flogged off to who knows where just to dispense with what has become, in financial terms, a ‘toxic asset’ – it would make sense to put them into public ownership.

It's interesting to ponder how this could work - Dubber points to the BPI's constant crowing of how important music exports are as to bolster the argument that EMI shouldn't fail; you could also suggest that as some in the industry want to make music more like a utility, it would make sense to treat it like any other utility. (Hey - this is a thought-experiment-world; I renationalised the gas, electric, water and phones before even mentioning Graham Coxon.)

Protecting employment in the UK would be a wise thing for the government to do; and a call to protect valuable cultural assets equally so. But should Her Majesty's government really be in the business of sending out A&R men to watch Spiggy And The Tater Tots to decide if they should get a deal. Can you imagine the attempts by the government of the day to curry favour with voters by signing just anyone in the six months prior to an election? You'd end up with Pixie Lott making records. (Thought-experiment-world; she's better off studying for a law degree.)

And would a government-run EMI take even the few lame risks that a major label would these days? Had Wilson taken the label under the national wing in the 70s, would HMG's EMI have ever released The Sex Pistols? Go on, picture Callaghan standing up at Question Time to explain to Thatcher why he was signing off on that.

There are also obvious worries about how far a state-owned EMI would dominate the market place. Personally, I could care less - but using tax money to bail out Guy Hands would never get past the EU.

Here's another proposal though: other parts of the cultural framework are preserved under bodies like the National Trust, the National Gallery and so on. Maybe that's where the future would work best for EMI. The question would be how you would clear the company of all that debt in order to pass it over to a charitable concern?

Sleater-Kinney: 66% reunion, possible 100% to come

Things might not be totally over for Sleater-Kinney: Carrie Brownstein has suggested there might be a reunion sometime this half of the decade:

"We will probably do something [eventually]. [But] it's so intense, that band."

"We spent 11 years committed to [Sleater-Kinney], heart and soul. To get back into it we have to be in that place where we can immerse ourselves fully. I think it will happen. We have to loop around, and we're at the far end of the circle, away from the band, but I think we will come back and revisit it. And hopefully that record will be sometime in the next five years."

In the meantime, the next best thing is Carrie and Janet Weiss are working together on a top-secret new band. By 'top secret', of course, I mean 'one with no MySpace page as yet'.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to play Jumpers over and over and over and...

Florence And The Machine go all 3D

Grazia are doing one of those oh-so-2008 augmented reality specials, focusing on Florence And The Machine:

An iPhone app will unlock further special features, including the ability to “spin Florence around by blowing into your iPhone and take a picture of her in any location”, said Bauer.

That really doesn't sound like behaviour appropriate for a grown man. Not in public, anyway.

What Craig David doesn't know about music...

Bad news for Craig David - that guy who used to pop up everywhere a few years back making him look a fool is back.

No, no, not the Bo'Selecta guy - he could never make David look as much of a ratchet-handle as David does himself.

If you have a desire to preserve any respect for Craig David, look away now:

He said: "[I] didn't actually know that Motown was a label ... I thought it was an era or genre, like New Jack Swing or something - I didn't know that if you weren't on Motown records, it wasn't Motown."

David then looked puzzled after reading the claim "if it doesn't say Kelloggs on the box, it isn't Kelloggs in the box" on the side of his Rice Krispies. "Isn't Kelloggs a type of food?"

Now, not knowing Motown was a record label and thinking it was an "era" would matter less if he hadn't just released a "Motown" collection.
"But then that didn't matter, because I wasn't conceptualising the album at all, it was purely songs that I liked and had inspired me, and songs that when I sang them, were a challenge too."

Bless him, he wasn't conceptualising the album. Isn't he cute?
"I wanted to make an album of me re-recording famous songs," he said. "There was no strong concept, but it ended up falling into a Motown thing, which really stemmed from Michael Jackson dying last year.

That was a terrible night for Craig, until someone explained to him that Michael Jackson was a specific person, and not "everyone in America".
"I'd got my tickets, and really wanted to see his show, so when he died I listened to his records a lot like a lot of people. I then looked at other music that had inspired me, from my childhood and later in my life, started singing them and realised that a lot of the records were Motown songs."

How could you realise that if you didn't know what Motown songs were, Mr Craig?

[tip of the hat to Andrew Collins]

Gordon in the morning: Start polishing your forelocks

Apparently thinking this is some sort of good news, Gordon pants excitedly this morning:

MADONNA is moving back to London after rekindling her love for Britain.

It's less than a year since her Madgesty stuffed her leotards and conical bras in a bag and returned to New York while in a strop about her marriage to GUY RITCHIE going pear-shaped.

But now she's coming back to stay. Although not, obviously, to stay; not for so long that she'd have to start paying tax here. That would be ridiculous.

She's going to be filming her pointless Edward And Mrs Simpson remake here - and having spent three quarters of a column polishing the doorknobs because ma'am is returning, Gordon tries a little joke:
Madge is the BERNARD MATTHEWS of the film industry: Very good at producing turkeys.

Well, I did say he was trying a joke.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Graham Coxon has a dream

Anything that attempts to shift people's interest in politics beyond merely prodding the Tories for their latest failure is to be welcomed, but Instigate Debate has fallen a bit short.

They hosted a debate between Graham Coxon and Pete Doherty - neither of whom have had the best of weeks - and Graham revealed he had plans for America:

"Part of me wants to kind of clear America like an old overgrown field that needs the stubble burning and start again. Just keep the nice Americans somewhere while we do it. I think there will be a lot less oxygen being used, a lot less greenhouse gases."

The first sentence, you can understand.

The second, with the idea of putting the "nice" Americans out the way of the burning... well, that starts to make the whole thing sound a little sinister.

And the third sentence... I suppose at best you could hope that Coxon was making some sort of Swiftian point. Only he's not really Swift.

You take the "nice" people to safety, there's a "clearing" of America, and the end result is less oxygen being used.

Maybe he was joking. Maybe there's a context in which that statement isn't a millstone dangling around his neck. Maybe it's just ill-judged rather than disturbing.

Coxon does move on to suggest that he's actually imagining a world where it's American foreign policy influence that has vanished:
"That's my little dream fantasy, that they have no importance in the world. They're not some sort of power, they think they're policing the world -- and we can actually get back to how it used to be when us and Persia were good mates."

Ah, yes. Let's turn the clock back from a time when a major Western power dominates the globe through its military and financial might to, erm, a time when a major Western power dominated the globe through its military and financial might. The idea of Persia and Britain being "good mates" is laughable - in fact, Britain spent much of the early part of the last century attempting to secure the profits from Persian oil fields. Can you really disdain American cultural imperialism while hankering after the days of the British Empire?

To be fair to Graham, none of his contributions in the video seem that thought-through, and it's impressive that Instigate Debate decided to post the chat rather than just sit on it to spare the participant's embarrassment. Maybe, though, a campaign for Instigating Informed Debate might be called for?

Boy George hints at possible flirtation with relevance next year

Boy George is hinting that Culture Club might do a reunion next year:

"I think we could do a one-off gig or maybe a small tour," he told BBC 5 live. "It's our 30th anniversary next year so we may do something."

The band briefly reunited in 1998 and staged a 20th anniversary concert in 2002 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

"Last time we re-formed, there was a point to it," the singer - real name George O'Dowd - told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire.

"We'll see," the 48-year-old continued. "It's all about my mood at the time."

I'm not quite sure how the 20th anniversary could have been in 2002 and the 30th in 2011, but I'm sure the maths all adds up. If I were a promoter, though, I'd be wary about booking a tour that hands on the "mood at the time" of O'Dowd, though.

6Music cuts Freakzone again

If you were trying to annoy the campaigners keen to keep 6Music on the air, you could do worse than chopping another half-hour off the Freakzone and giving it to, erm, Huey Morgan.

Huey - who also presents pet programmes for Channel Five - is being rewarded for... uh, um... something. He's being described as "award-winning", after coming third in a category at the Sonys earlier this year.

It's part of a not entirely disastrous reworking of Sundays - Cerys is back, Jarvis is still there, and there's a potentially self-indulgent two-hour Adam Buxton themed music chat show.

The new Sundays:

7.00-10.00am: George Lamb
10.00-12.00pm: Cerys Matthews
12.00pm -2.00pm: Adam Buxton's Big Mix Tape
2.00-4.00pm: Huey Morgan
4.00-6.00pm: Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service
6.00-8.00pm: Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone
8.00-10.00pm: 6 Mix
10.00pm-12.00midnight: Guy Garvey's Finest Hour
12.00midnight-1.00am: Don Letts' Culture Clash Radio

Dave Pearce has been shoved off to Saturday nights.

Downloadable: Phoenix

I still can't quite make my mind up about Phoenix - they feel like a band I should love, but they feel a bit too much like a band designed to make me love them. I shall ponder this as I make use of the Observer offer of a free Phoenix live album.

(Curious: the terms and conditions on the free offer includes "recorded live in Syndney in March 2010". Is that a term, or is that a condition?)

Gen in on Derbyshire

Something to somehow bookmark on iPlayer, next week's Archive On 4 is being given over to the life and work of Delia Derbyshire. has more:

Producer Phil Collinge commented: "Delia’s realisation of the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius and we’ll demonstrate how the music was originally created as well as hearing individual tracks from Delia’s aborted 70’s version.

“We’ll also feature the make-up tapes for her celebrated piece ‘Blue Veils and Golden Sands’, and hear Delia being interviewed on a previously ‘lost’ BBC recording from the 1960s.”

The programme seems to be saying 'there's a lot more to her than Doctor Who', although most of the pre-publicity seems to be focused on Doctor Who.

Pete Doherty arrested

Police investigating the death of Robin Whitehead have arrested Pete Doherty. The Belfast Telegraph reports:

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "A 31-year-old man was arrested on March 19 on suspicion of supplying controlled drugs. He was bailed to return on a date in April pending further inquiries."

Two other men, aged 41 and 28, were arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug.

The 41-year-old man, along with a 53-year-old woman, was also questioned on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The woman is suspected of allowing her premises to be used for the supply of controlled drugs.

Gordon in the morning: Robbie Williams stays at home

Robbie Williams is - according to Gordon - being pushed to go out on tour:

ROBBIE WILLIAMS is locking horns with management about touring at the end of the year.

The pop superstar is still not sure if he wants to go on the road, but bosses have already begun finalising plans.

Smart spends time wandering through the question of should Robbie tour, even going down to writing a list of pros and cons:
The pros: the buzz of being on the road, millions of fans screaming your name, plus mountains of cash.

The cons: stage fright, the stress of being on the road, missing the dogs and LA lifestyle and putting on hold DVD nights with the cracking missus.

Smart is so quick to get to this bit that he manages to miss the twin stories.

The first being that Williams' stage fright might be amplified by the fear that he'd be playing to half-empty rooms: sales of the last album have been a little up on Rudebox, but still well adrift of what he'd once have expected; even with the heft of Sport Relief behind it, Morning Sun stalled outside the Top 40. Why would you rush to tour when there's a chance even a half-empty room would empty out long before the tubes stop running?

The bigger story, of course, is who these 'bosses' are who are - if Smart is to be believed - pushing Williams into touring against his worries for his mental health. As you'll recall, Williams signed a 360 deal with EMI back in 2002. Reality Killed The Radio Star is the last album under that deal, and - presumably - the last time EMI can expect to get a portion of Robbie's ticket sales. No wonder they're keen to have him out on the road, bringing in much-needed cash, regardless of how sensible it would be for him to do so.

Elsewhere, Robert Pattinson, out of The Buffy Babies, manages to pull off being both offensive and self-important:
The actor, dubbed R-Patz by fans, had his eyebrows plucked and has been plastered in make-up.

He said: "You get to the point where you think, 'OK, I look like a transvestite now'."

No you don't, sweetheart. You look like a thirty year-old trying to pass themselves off as a High Schooler, who has confused the words 'smoulder' with 'squint'.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The book of the club

Rock music and comic strips - not always comfortable together, no matter how hard Look-In tried to turn Nick Heyward and Haircut One Hundred into comic heroes.

So the idea of a comic book series based on CBGBS doesn't immediately lead you to think of clearing some space on the shelf.

However, Every Day Is Like Wednesday has details which suggest this might be worth investigating:

The image above is the cover of the first issue, by Jaime Hernandez (obviously), and the creative roster includes comics people Kieron Gillen, Rob G., Chuck BB, Kelly Sue DeConnick and newcomers to the field like Ana Matronic (of the band Scissor Sisters), Sam Humphries of MySpace and Kim Krizan (screenwriter of Before Sunset and Before Sunrise).

And here's a preview page which should swing you firmly behind the project.

First night: Suede

Last night Suede v2.0 reformed - without Bernard Butler, in other words. And how was it?

The NME has a scrappy review:

With Bernard Butler's replacement Richard Oakes on guitar, Neil Codling playing rhythm guitar as well as keyboards, Mat Osman on bass and Simon Gilbert on drums, singer Brett Anderson led the band through a hit-laden set, though at one point the rest of the band left the stage for him to play 'Stay Together' B-side 'The Living Dead' alone on acoustic guitar.

It's accurate, but... well, you don't come away thinking "it's like I was there."

There is a setlist, though:
'Animal Nitrate'
'Pantomime Horse'
'Killing Of A Flashboy'
'Can't Get Enough'
'Everything Will Flow'
'She's In Fashion'
'The Living Dead'
'The Asphalt World'
'So Young'
'Metal Mickey'
'The Wild Ones'
'New Generation'
'Beautiful Ones'
'Saturday Night'

A lot of the blousy numbers, then. It's a pity they didn't check to see if Curve's old wind machine was available for the night.

Live4Ever detailed Brett's reaction at the end:
Frontman Brett Anderson (pic), who has reformed the band without former key member Bernard Butler, told the crowd at the end of the show: “All I have to say is I loved playing tonight. It’s been beautiful. Lets do it again in another seven years time.”

Let's hope he hadn't actually forgotten he was meant to be doing it about, ooh, now, tonight, in Manchester.

For a bit more depth, TheDavidX offers up a bit more colour:
They played it fairly safe songwise, opening with a triumvirate of crowd pleasers that I'd count among my least favourite Suede songs: She, Trash, Animal Nitrate. But I had to admit, they were stunningly powerful. By the coda of Animal Nitrate I had goose bumps down the back of my neck and left the swag stall in Andy's capable hands to join the heaving throng.

The only songs that might conceivably considered surprises were (and I'm doing this all from memory, I'm sure the set will be somewhere online if you want cold hard fact rather than my romantic recall) Pantomime Horse, Asphalt World (which seemed a bit shorter than usual, though I might have imagine that) plus a solo Living Dead. Otherwise it was all the hits you'd expect: Filmstar, Flashboy, Heroine, Everything Will Flow (sounding surprisingly good here, always an underrated number I reckon), Can't Get Enough, She's In Fashion, etc. The only real clunker was Obsessions which the band seemed to have forgotten how to play and Brett sounded like he'd given up singing it properly after the first verse.

And that's pretty much it. Nobody much blogging about the gig in the way there would have been dozens of reviews a couple of years back - now, it's all YouTubes and Twitters.

Talking of YouTube, then, here's some squint-and-listen-hard instant video. First up, She:

Animal Nitrate:

And The Living Dead:

Finally, the lovely people at TheQuietus have turned the set list into a Spotify playlist. You'll have to provide the cheering and bloke pawing at your arse for yourself.

Downloadable: Goldfrapp

In a bid to turn you into a beast, slathering for the new Goldfrapp album, Amazon are offering a free download of Rocket (Richard X One Zero Remix)

EMI flings away the only thing it has to sell

I'm fully expecting to see a forthcoming episode of The Apprentice where Alan Sugar puts his hapless contestants in charge of running EMI for two days. Surely, surely, that would be the only explanation for the insane decision coming from the crumbling edifice?

EMI is in talks to mortgage its back catalogue of music recordings in a last-ditch attempt to solve its mounting cash crisis.

The group is offering rival labels the chance to manage its North American catalogue business, which includes tracks by The Beatles and Blondie, for a five-year period.

Managing and monetising back catalogue is what your business is, Hands. And that would be your biggest market. What would you have left to 'save' by doing this? It's a bit like McDonalds saying 'tell you what, we'll hand that selling burgers and chips business over to someone else to ensure that we're able to continue the vital work of distributing drinking straws and tiny packets of ketchup around the country'.

Admittedly, the idea that no other company in the world could treat the EMI catalogue business as badly as Terra Firma does must make the idea seem appealing, but since all you're doing is replacing an 'in distress' flag with a 'surrender' flag, what's the point?

Still, at least the Terra Firma guys would take care who they passed the business off to. I mean, at least by flogging off the catalogue, you're keeping it out the hands of your rivals, right?
Talks on a deal began in recent weeks with Universal Music, but have since moved on to include Sony and Warner Music.

Righto. So - in order to save your company - you're planning on handing over one of the few profitable parts to your competitors?

Guy, I know you've proved adept at running the toilets on the German motorway network, but if you'd take the advice of someone who did Economics A-Level, shoveling money from your bank into the accounts of the people you're in competition with might be a bit of a rotten idea? Because when you're all trying to sign the next New Beatles, or new N-Dubz, or whatever, they're going to be able to offer more cash. Because they'll have the money you should have earned.

Graham Coxon makes himself less of a pranny

Thanks to H who, in the comments on yesterday's story about Graham Coxon sending a internet posse over to Queen Margot after the blog gave him a snarky review.

As H points out, Coxon eventually turned up and gracefully held up his hands:

i want to say sorry if any comments on my forum upset or angered you. i do think what you have said here is a bit childish, felt a bit slighted, thought it a bit of a random pop- and a bit cruel but..y'know...i'll survive. i do take offense to the part about handling drink..a bit glib, a bit patronising and considering how alcoholism has affected my life and many of those i know and love..i was rather hurt.....alcoholism- i was born with that...and well my middle name i am with you on but..i was born with that aswell i'm afraid.

i agree with rather alot of what you said here tho..apart from the plonker part. i did actually wear a beautiful 1950s gloverall duffel coat to the documentary premier.. you really should have got a still of that..would have proved your point somewhat.

i do think pretentiousness is a good thing all being said...but really dont think i am pretentious. and as for my mild turrets (fidgeting, shuffling, scratching..)...born with that too....

but sorry for the disrespectful was ugly and i am not in the habit of it... i know not if we have ever met...but you would know that anyway if we had. sorry anyway if you were bothered by repercussions concerning your blur documentary/me blog.

Coxon doesn't mention the bit about encouraging his fans to go and post responses, but, in a later post, admits over-reaction:
a kick in the pants is sometimes required and deserved. my language on reflection was unacceptable and i apologise absolutely!

i should have had the intelligence to laugh it off as the joke it was... i fear i was over sensitive the evening i saw your comments which i now see as pretty harmless... and quite accurate. ouch!

He should have shrugged it off - or waited before responding - but who hasn't jumped on the internet and hit a 'post' button they could barely see through a red mist. Having the grace to admit a wrong and apologise does, at least, make Coxon look a little less bad than some other men who would suggest that anal rape is a good corrective for negative opinions.

This week just gone

What interests those people who have 'fanned' No Rock up on Facebook the most?

1. Liveblog: The Brits 2010
2. Noel Gallagher puts in planning permission for a shed
3. Bookmarks: Victor Keegan on the music industry
4. Lady GaGa countersues her ex-producer
5 Lady Starlight claims Lady GaGa was all her idea
6. Kasabian blame the internet for ruining music
7. NME Awards 2010
8. Spotify overheats; falls off internet
9. Bob Geldof not happy at suggestions aid might have fallen into wrong hands
10. Wiseguy Ticket people facing charges

These releases were deemed 'interesting' by our secret panel of experts:

Goldheart Assembly - Wolves And Thieves

Download Wolves And Thieves

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic Of Chance

Download The Logic Of Chance

White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights

Download The White Stripe's not entirely vital tour album

Hazell Dean - Heart First

Download All The Hits And More

The Lotus Eaters - No Sense Of Sin

Download Silentspace