I have a lot of respect for John Prine.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I have a lot of respect for John Prine.
If it wasn't bad enough having the IMF turn up like your mother, suggesting you spend a little less on takeaway pizzas and suggesting you ask your Uncle Mickey for a job at the car wash, Ireland are now suffering the indignity of having Westlife trying to perk them up:
In his assessment of the Irish economy, Nicky Byrne is blunt.No wonder the Irish government kept denying they were going to seek a bailout - they were just waiting to deploy Westlife distributing tin-eared platitudes. That'll sort things out:
"Things are very bad," he says.
"But when things are bad you need to dig deep and pull together. We're a good enough nation to do that."
Byrne's bandmate Kian Egan thinks that most people still hold the country in high esteem.It turns out that rather than quantitative easing, Westlife's plan to refloat the Irish economy is to release an extra flow of stereotypes into the system:
"I don't think the image of Ireland is down," he says.
"The people are down, but Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world and the people are some of the friendliest in the world."
"Anyone who has ever been knows it's a fantastic country for a pint of Guinness, a night in the pub, a bit of a laugh. The surf here is amazing, there's so many great things here. Tourism will come back up big again.That's all it's going to take, then - just get the Dáil to agree to increase the craic levels and everything will be fine.
I suppose at least they didn't ask Bono. Although there'd be something quite pleasing about the Dutch using U2's tax funds to bail out the Irish.
It says in the Bible "judge not, lest ye be judged". (Everytime I come across that line, it always sounds like Geraldine McEwan is saying it.) Cheryl Cole's just had an object lesson in that:
CHERYL Cole burst into floods of tears after a huge bust-up with British fashion guru Julien Macdonald.When judges clash. Thank god Gregg Wallace wasn't at the same party, or it could have turned into a devastating three way.
The singer, 27, was left "sobbing and devastated" after the Next Top Model telly judge attacked her dress sense.
Elsewhere, James Blunt has mailed his friends to ask them to buy his album, which, funnily enough, is exactly the same model that most teenage garage bands use to try and boost sales of their CD-Rs into double figures.
Gordon has got hold of a copy of the email (so, clearly, not gone just to friends, then):
"Dear friends and friends of friends.To be fair to Gordon, he does notice that it seems incredibly unlikely that Blunt has any friends who shop in Tesco, but he's more stung by the jibe at the media:
"My third album is out today. It's taken over a year to make and I promise it's got some really great songs on it.
"With a slightly cynical UK media, I am totally dependent on word of mouth, so I hope you don't mind me emailing you. You can buy it most easily at Tesco. Or order it online."
He's wrong to blame the "cynical UK media" for having to depend on word-of-mouth. He can't have read Bizarre recently - this is his second lead story in a week.I'm not sure rushing to say 'hey, I'm not cynical, I keep pushing your crappy album' is that dignified a response, but given Blunt has turned up on Have I Got News For You and Buzzcocks - and nearly all papers unquestioningly ran the album promo story about how Blunt stopped the third world war from breaking out - "supine" might seem to be more apt than "cynical". And "totally dependent on word of mouth" would seem to be a massive porky.
In fact, it's not even true that it's easiest to buy it at Tesco, if you think about it.
Friday, November 19, 2010
It turns out that Christians have given up on the power of prayer, figuring that Facebook is a lot more responsive than God when you've got a mission. They've taken to social networking in order to get a black metal festival axed.
The Christians - marching unto war under the banner Catholics Taking Action - took against the Sydney Black Mass Festival:
According to their page, "a satanic "Black Mass" celebration is to occur at Newtown RSL – it is simply disgraceful. The advertising which features the insignia of the Church of Satan and an inverted crucifix is encouraging people to come and partake in an "unholy spell to be cast upon the city of Sydney" featuring the "ultimate of soul possessing occult revelations...unbridled blasphemy... [and] a union of all things unholy".Oh, bless them. They actually think that black metal fans believe all the devil stuff. I guess if you thought that, you might find the whole thing a bit alarming.
Anyway, some form protest letters later, and the unbridled blasphemy has been thrown off the venue, and so now won't go ahead. Because, obviously, satanists will just stop inverting crucifixes if they can't get a stage.
[Thanks to Karl T for the link]
This is nice: OMD covering The XX's VCR:
Jason Manford from The One Show - apparently it's still on - is going to rest from the show after having web sex with twelve women. You probably would need a rest after that, to be frank. It's lucky Gordon was there for him at this difficult time.
"There for him" in the sense of putting his head on a platter. When Gordon says:
The Mancunian decided to own up- he means in the sense of "otherwise we'd have run the story anyway."
So delighted is Gordon with his story that he thinks it deserves one of his thinkypieces:
I FIRST met Jason on Xtra Factor's panel last year and we really hit it off with talk about football and families.What does that actually mean? Was it the first time you noticed Manford was hooked, or any star? It can't be Manford, as you'd never met him before so the "very first time" doesn't make any sense. But if it was last year, you'd surely have seen other people using Twitter - let's not even get into the poppsychology use of the word "hooked".
He chatted about nappies, his missus and the dreaded midnight feed - warning me and my pregnant wife of the madness to come.
He clearly loved his family, but also the fans' adulation. And I noticed that for the very first time here was a star utterly hooked on Twitter.
Ironically, Twitter loomed large in our chat when I was with him again yesterday.But he's not really got a problem with Twitter, has he? It's the cheating on his wife that's a problem, surely?
It's a shame his followers, who helped his star rise, also played a part in his downfall.
Still, if you ever wonder what cutting a deal with your tormentors gets you, here's Gordon sugaring the pill:
He'll be back though. His wife has forgiven him and he'll make it up to her.I wonder if that laughter can cure nausea, only I've got waves of it washing over me right now.
His hotel room antics might have raised more than a smile. But he can rescue this situation with the medicine he knows best - laughter.
Elsewhere, Dane Bowers has been charged with crimes related to drug dealing. Which at least proves wrong all those people who thought he couldn't even get arrested these days.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The headline is clear:
Beatles dominate iTunes on first day of downloadsThe article by Anita Singh is equally clear:
However, predictions that the band's back catalogue would swamp the top 10 proved wide of the mark. Despite the hype, the most downloaded tune, Hey Jude, peaked at number 28. Only three others made it into the top 50: Twist and Shout, Here Comes The Sun and Let It Be.Both very clear. Both saying totally different things.
Doesn't Robbie Williams find himself somehow on stage during his chum Jonathan Wilke's panto every bloody year? It's happened again.
This year, Wilkes is doing one of those soul-sapping "adult" pantomimes:
The show can only loosely be called a panto as the material is so blue that BERNARD MANNING would have been proud.Gordon, naturally, worries about the little lady:
It also contains cross-dressing dwarfs, a filthy Snow White, Corrie killer BRIAN CAPRON and "the most offensive song in the world" - JAMES BLUNT must have got a half-decent royalty cheque.
Who knows what Robbie's missus made of all the dirty gags - I hope she's got a very open mind.Or a very, very low boredom threshold.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
A liberal splashing of La Roux over the top of Chromeo's Hot Mess. Enjoy responsibly:
Poly Styrene releases her first solo album next year. Yes, it's been a while coming.
As a warm-up, here's a free first taste. Oh, Santa - Up Yours!
Yesterday, there were two schools of thought about the Beatles iTunes launch. Naturally, we were going with the cynical, won't make much difference line, while Gennaro Castaldo led the charge for this being a ground-breaking moment. A watershed. A Kennedy-in-Dallas moment. Gennaro foresaw a singles chart clogged with Beatles as far as the eye could see, for as long as recorded history could bear.
At first, it looks like Gennaro was right, judging by the Guardian's report:
British music-lovers are double-clicking their love for Hey Jude, Twist and Shout, and Let It Be.15% of the top 200? That's thirty tracks.
At the time of writing, Beatles songs have been available as legitimate paid downloads for just under a day. And already the Fab Four occupy 15% of iTunes UK's top 200.
That really would clog the top of the chart.
Except, to clog the top of the chart, you'd have to be near the top of the chart:
40 Hey JudeThere are some doubles because there's more than one instance of some songs in the iTunes store.
59 Twist and Shout
65 Let It Be
77 Here Comes the Sun
79 Twist and Shout
98 In My Life
99 I Saw Her Standing There
101 Come Together
109 A Day in the Life
123 Hey Jude
128 Eleanor Rigby
146 I Am the Walrus
147 Let It Be
154 Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
155 A Hard Day's Night
160 Hey Bulldog
163 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
172 You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
176 Strawberry Fields Forever
183 Strawberry Fields Forever
184 With a Little Help From My Friends
185 In My Life
190 Norwegian Wood
192 Penny Lane
194 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
197 The Long and Winding Road
198 Here Comes the Sun
But let's just look at the top end of that chart - even with all the hype, they've not even managed to dominate the iTunes top ten. And only one song has managed to scrape into the Top 40.
Far from being long-awaited, it turns out that the response to The Beatles coming to iTunes has been a path largely beaten away from Paul McCartney's door.
Perhaps Castaldo was right, though. This does feel like a watershed moment. The day when The Beatles started to be just another band.
Now, that has been long-awaited.
eMusic's unique selling point used to be that it offered a download home to the less corporate end of the label high street - a good first stopping-off point for what used to be known as indie.
Not any more. For even as eMusic adds a quarter of a million Universal tracks to its database, it's telling subscribers to grab indie stuff while they can:
As we prepare for the largest catalog addition ever to eMusic in the US - 250,000 new tracks! - and make it possible for similar additions in the UK, Europe and Canada, we want to be up front with our loyal indie fans and provide advance notice that music from Domino, Merge and the Beggars Group family of labels will no longer be available on eMusic as of Nov. 18, 2010 pending further discussion. Many of you who have downloaded or music or saved for later from these labels will be receiving an email shortly with these same details.Yes, you did read that right - eMusic are boldly trying to make extra sales off the back of dumping a lot of its core content. That shows they have chutzpah. Even if they don't have 4AD any more.
This is as heartbreaking to us as it is to you. Please know we have done everything we could to keep them from leaving. Forging deals with our label partners can be pretty complex. As many of you know, labels have come and gone over the years, and we hope to see these labels back soon. You can add your voice here to help us bring them back. For more info, see our FAQs.
In the meantime, we encourage you to get the music you love from these labels at a great price before November 18 - music from artists like Arcade Fire, Spoon, The National, Vampire Weekend, The xx, She & Him, Caribou, Titus Andronicus, and Deerhunter, to name a few.
We understand that you may not have enough downloads before your next refresh date to get everything you want. In that case, we invite you to get a booster pack.
But does losing the sort of stuff that defined eMusic mean that it has somehow lost it's soul?
Do you know, eMusic are glad we asked that:
For those of you wondering if this means eMusic is losing its focus, rest assured, we're still the place you go to find the records that hover under the radar, records that represent clear artistic vision - and the records that we find inspiring on both major and indie labels, regardless of how many albums were sold. Let us prove it to you!It's like listening to a paunchy fortysomething pretending to still be the guy he was in college - "nothing's changed, I still support social change; it's just sometimes I have to deny protesters' applications to march in Parliament Square from time to time."
There were two big revelations yesterday, of course. Gordon has a little opinion box to mark the engagement of The Beatles and iTunes:
Love, Love Me DoughYou think that's bad? The main piece is headlined Lucy In The iTunes Worth Diamonds.
I'VE done a bit of maths today. If you bought every Beatles album, on every format ever released PLUS the latest remastered versions, you would be more broke than Ireland.Why would you, though? That's like saying if you bought every can of Baked Beans that Heinz ever made, you'd need a big trolley.
I like the idea of Gordon doing maths to work out that it would be expensive to buy the complete run of albums in numerous instances, though. I'm picturing him, tongue stuck out the side of his mouth, carrying a three here, multiplying by inflation there.
Still, nice reference to the grown-up news.
But, yes, Gordon is actually being cynical about the news:
So thank God (who isn't as big as the Fab Four) the back catalogue is now available on iTunes. It means every true Beatles fan will be able to own the same material yet again.
Everyone seems to be getting excited about the news, but it feels at least five years too late to me.Well done, Gordon. You're right. It's not a major news story, and certainly not one that should be met with over-excited applause. Thank God you're the editor of the Sun's showbiz section - you can treat this story with the down-page cool treatment it actually merits.
In other news, Howard Donald's superinjunction has been lifted, which is not interesting because of his affair, but because it's another example of superinjunctions being used for vanity rather than any real purpose. Coming a couple of days after a valid use of the blanket ban on even mentioning the blanket ban - giving the chance of negotiations with Somali pirates in private - it's clear that this sort of tittle-blocking use of injunctions is bringing the measure into total disrepute. Donald should be ashamed for even trying to pull one.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
With nearly the entire world fawning over a man getting engaged to a woman, it's left to HMV's head of occasion Gennaro Castaldo to welcome the appearance of a few more tracks onto iTunes:
“This could prove a huge landmark event — the holy grail that the digital music industry has been waiting for,” said Gennaro Castaldo of HMV."Really? You seriously believe there's a significant number of people whose decision whether to move to non-physical music or not is determined entirely by whether they have to rip a Beatles CD or can download it?
iTunes seems to be doing pretty nicely without The Beatles on it, so it's far from clear why this would be the holy grail. Most commercial bands who could be are already on iTunes, so it's not likely McCartney is going to lead a thousand more acts onto the platform. It's no more a holy grail than the news that Lowestoft Asda have got iceberg lettuce back in stock this evening.
In a bid to try and bark up some excitement, Gennaro thinks of the charts:
“If the Beatles have agreed to allow any of their songs to be downloaded individually then you could have a situation where the entire top 10 or 20 of the singles chart could be made up of their classic tunes for weeks to come."For weeks to come? That'd be the market of people who have waited seven years for The Beatles to come to iTunes, but are going to leave it two or three weeks until they get round to buying them.
After yesterday's massive announcement from Facebook where they seemed to not really be entirely sure what it was they were announcing - it's not email, except for the emaily bit, but you can save your IMs because nobody has been able to do that before, right? - today it's Apple's turn to confuse a small tweak to the business with something calling for a massive announcement.
Supposedly, today The Beatles come to iTunes.
Stop shrugging, dammit. This is important, says the New York Times:
“It is very symbolic because Steve Jobs is a huge fan of the Beatles,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, who has been following Apple for more than two decades.That doesn't really make it symbolic, does it? That might make it nice for Steve Jobs, and the few people who like the Beatles and have mp3 players but have, for whatever reason, been unable to rip CDs.
You really hope there's going to be something else to announce - all-you-can-eat-pricing, perhaps - otherwise there's going to be a massive sense of underwhelmance: "You brought us here to tell us Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite is going to be for sale? Seriously?"
Talk about going out on a limb: Louis Walsh has revealed he's not sure Nadine Coyle has much chance of a solo career taking off:
"It's going to be very hard for her to cut it as a solo star," Walsh said. "She needs to get a really big record producer or manager behind her, or it doesn't matter if she's written the greatest songs on the planet because not enough people will be exposed to them."After this, Walsh looked into middle distance. "You know who does have a good chance, though?" he continued. "That David Cameron. I reckon he might get to be Prime Minister one day. But..." - here he dropped his voice to a gravel whisper - "... I wouldn't put money on the Titanic ever arriving in New York. Just a feeling."
It's probably too late to hope that the way pregnant women are infantalised by the tabloids will stop - all that talk of "bumps" - but as ever, Gordon has raised the bar in the wrong direction. Talking about Pink:
And it's great to see that she's Keith Cheggers with her first child, showing off the bump in a bikini.Keith Cheggers? I've heard of cockney rhyming slang, but don't think I've come across cock rhyming slang before.
The lead on Bizarre, though, is some incoherent complaint from Serge out of Kasabian that footballers aren't 1970s rock stars. No, really:
Serge said: "These boys can claim the money but they can't claim the attitude just yet. Footballers have definitely got rock stars' money now, but I couldn't name you one that's got any claim on spirit.What does this actually mean? The normal assumption would be that an athlete probably would raise less hell than a rock musician, what with being reliant on their athleticism and all - but even that's not true, is it? Pizzorno really thinks that the "attitude" he looks for isn't present in the likes of Cole and Rooney? They're every bit as childishly behaved as any guitarist, surely? It's a bit like suggesting that bankers don't have the greed any more.
"Andy Carroll has the hair and he definitely likes a drink. He kind of looks a bit BLACK SABBATH."
Monday, November 15, 2010
No, he really does claim that his actions saved all of us from burning to death under a hail of nuclear weapons.
James Blunt claims a US general had ordered him and his troops to seize an airfield in Pristina that had already been occupied by Russian troop:
"I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there.It turns out if you read the story a bit more closely, it turns out Blunt didn't actually face down the general at all:
"The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment, so they're obviously game for the fight.
"The direct command [that] came in from Gen Wesley Clark was to overpower them. Various words were used that seemed unusual to us. Words such as 'destroy' came down the radio."
If Gen Jackson had not blocked the order from Gen Clark, who as Nato Supreme Commander Europe was his superior officer, Blunt said he would still have declined to follow it, even at the risk of a court martial.So Michael Jackson, the other one, stopped a confrontation. A confrontation which might have escalated into a battle, which could, possibly, have turned into a war, which might have gone nuclear. But if Jackson hadn't, Blunt says he would have done.
In other words, Blunt would have perhaps prevented the very vague risk of a Third World War if someone more senior hadn't done their job properly. Sleep well tonight.
[Thanks to Michael M]
Generosity from the man in the hat: A free track, in three different variants:
I lost you, but I found country music... This isn't an easy read, but is fascinating: a consideration of a research paper which claimed to find a link between country music on the radio, and the white suicide rate:
The story doesn’t end there though – there were some responses to the article. Mauk, Taylor, White and Allen conclude that “inferences about individual behavior drawn from aggregate data are fallacious and that the authors fail to provide compelling evidence to support that country music is any different from others types of music in its relationship to individual life events and suicide”.
An email arrives from Roger Hill, where he suggests he's been told we might be interested in the relaunch of Radio Merseyside's PMS site.
PMS or LWN or Rockaround has been a feature of Liverpool music life since - jesus - 1977, and it's heartening that both that show and neighbouring On The Wire in Lancashire have managed to survive attempts to force a national brand onto local radio music programming; and it's great to see that the team is still expanding their empire into enhanced online stuff.
Worth checking out for the music even if a Liverpool gig guide won't help you much, certainly.
The press release also winningly suggests that Roger Hill is a "as part of the radio landscape on Merseyside as Tony Snell or Billy Butler." He's going to have to hide from an angry Pete Price demanding to know why he's not a yardstick, you know.
That website again: PMSradio.co.uk
More from No Rock on bbc radio merseyside
There's a bit of speculation captured over on Paid Content which tries to work out if Spotify has made a profit yet:
Among them (unconfirmed), it says Spotify has earned €60 million in sales since October 2008’s launch.There's an awful lot of fingers up in the air there, but perhaps the key thing to note is forty million Euros going to rights holders. That's tonnes and tonnes of cash, and a pretty good sign that Spotify is confident in its business.
Spotify won’t confirm that, but tells paidContent:UK: “In total, we’ve paid close to €40 million to rightsholders since launch across all territories. Approximately €30 million of this has been paid in the first eight months of 2010 alone (January to August).”
If true, it means two thirds, and maybe much more, of Spotify’s income is going out to rightsholders. Regardless, royalty outgoings are generally high. But these payments are also just two thirds of total costs. Hence, Spotify is not yet in profit.
But you wonder how much has found its way to musicians?
Sorry to hear of the death of Andrew Midgley, long-time collaborator with Bob Stanley and the boy who was Cola Boy.
Bob Stanley's appreciation of a friend is worth a few minutes of your time.
I suspect picking up a copy of The Beginning And The End, the new album from Secret Shine, on its day of release might prove tricky.
It's out on Christmas Day.
At least notionally.
Are you in London?
Only Cathal Coughlan and The Grand Necropolitan Quintet are playing.
Wool FM is an interesting volunteer-run station in New England, and they're having a fund-raising drive. Much of it you'll have to go to America to take part in, but there's three lots which you can bit for online:
Original contact sheet from photo shoot for Throwing Muses album "House Tornado." Autographed by Kristin Hersh.All three things would make an excellent gift for a discerning person, don't you think?
Original recording notes for song "Mania" by Throwing Muses. Track Sheet with notes in pencil. Hand-typed lyrics (on an actual typewriter) typed by Kristin Hersh, with production notes and doodles from Throwing Muses. c1988. Autographed by Kristin Hersh.
"Untitled," by Juliana Hatfield. Original painting, acrylic on canvas board, 9" X 12" 2009.
So Nadine Coyle's album fell short of making the top 40. How to stop more crowing from The Sun?
Did I tell you, Gordon, about the time I nearly died to death?
Yes, Nadine Coyle has become the first person to be lucky to have a dodgy boiler:
The star said: "Everyone could have died. We're lucky still to be here.So, yes. Nearly dead. All my loved ones nearly dead. In a horrible way.
"My mouth erupted in blisters. I couldn't sleep or eat or think straight.
"Everyone got really drowsy and we kept having to go to sleep.
"We all felt like we had really bad flu. My older sister got so ill we thought she was dying.
"It was the worst time of my life, being ill while looking at everyone I cared about getting sick as well."
What were you going to say, Gordon?
The star, whose debut solo album Insatiable failed to reach the Top 40, has now moved out of the mansion.Just one line at the end. If only Team Nadine had handled the launch of the record so slickly.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
To be frank, "Bob Dylan smiles" would be a surprise in itself; the granting of Old 97s the right to use the melody from Desolation Road.
Song from a different band, as The Breeders cover Pixies in Japan:
[Part of Breeders weekend]
Metal Exiles have recently done a fawnfest with Slayer's Kerry King, lobbing the sort of 'why are you so great' softballs that, over the years, leads to a band thinking in... well, this way:
"Every year we go on, and everything we accomplish is awesome to us, but it's not something you can sit at home and think about. We're very grateful to be where we are."Imagining Slayer playing back the thirty-thousandth iteration of the same song and going "wooo - that is awesome" puts me in mind of that bit in The Simpsons where Ned listens to his inner child and just hears a thumbs-up.
There was never much dignity about Skid Row to start with, but now drummer and singer are trading insults over what is cheesier: Paul Varone's naked pictures for Playgirl, or Bach playing in a Broadway musical.
To be fair, Varone's appearance in Playgirl is - if you'll pardon the pun - hung not on his brief period in Skid Row, but on his stint on Sex Rehab.
You'd have to question how successful sex rehab is if it takes you to being the front of a porn magazine, surely?
More live stuff from The Breeders, this time in Dublin 2008:
[Part of Breeders weekend]
Most read stories in 2010 so far:
1. Yes, it's always that R Kelly sex video story
2. McFly's first desperate trouser-dropping
3. Sunday Express doesn't understand Twitter
4. Paul McGuinness proposes saving music in the best way for him
5. Why aren't AC/DC on iTunes
6. RIP: Charles Haddon
7. The 2009 NME awards
8. KT Tunstall: Is she?
9. NME Awards 2010
10. Robbie Williams' first love
This is the interesting stuff released last week:
Orange Juice & Edwyn Collins - Coals To Newcastle
Download Coals To Newcastle
Young Gods - Everybody Knows
Download Everybody Knows
Crass - Stations Of The Crass
Download Stations Of The Crass
Les Shelleys - Les Shelleys
Download Les Shelleys
Ray Davies - See My Friends
Download See My Friends
Therapy? - We're Here To The End
Download Crooked Timber
More from No Rock on this week just gone