Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jessica Lea Mayfield weekend: The One That I Love Best

Thanks to the lovely people at KRCL:

[Part of Jessica Lea Mayfield weekend]

Shania Twain falls silent

The Mirror runs a piece about Shania Twain which we'll repeat here in its entirety:

The country-pop singer has turned to vocal coaches and friends, including Gladys Knight and Lionel Richie, to “re-find her voice”.

Canadian Shania, 45, longs to reignite her music career. Her 1997 album, Come On Over, sold 40 million copies while last album Up shifted 11 million.

In upcoming US TV documentary Why Not, she admits: “I have lost my ability to express myself and my ability to sing.

“I was slowly losing my voice and slowly losing my confidence.”

In her autobiography, out later this year, Shania will detail her “shockingly painful upbringing”, which included the death of her parents.
Is it just me, or is the Mirror being suprisingly uncurious at this news? "Oh, yes, Twain lost her voice and she'd like it back", like that's a thing that just happens. Did nobody read through that before publishing and wonder if they ought to explain this "loss of voice"?

It could have been through cancer of the larynx, or having been surprised by an enormous bear, or too much shouting during a bar-room fight between Dick Cheney and David Cassidy. It might even have been that voodoo had successfully been invoked by people who didn't appreciate the inability of a pub to host a hen night without Man I Feel Like A Woman popping onto the jukebox.

In reality, it was the pain of breaking up with her husband. Surely that's a significant factor worthy of a mention in the report?

Jessica Lea Mayfield weekend: Kiss Me Again

The official promo for Kiss Me Again. No, it just looks like that because her dress is hidden behind the guitat:

[Part of Jessica Lea Mayfield weekend]

Jack White clarifies his closing statement

You'll recall when Jack White broke up The White Stripes, he told us that the band was now ours.

In the last couple of weeks, we've been round to their place and it's all locked up, and we can't see the keys anywhere. Luckily, Jack White has now clarified what he meant:

Speaking to the New York Times, he said: "People say, 'Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you do that?' Or, 'Don't you owe something to somebody or to yourselves?' All those questions.

"That line was the idea of explaining to them that at a certain point as an artist, you paint your painting, you do your sculpture or your music, and you release it into the world."

The 35-year-old added: "You don't own it anymore. You have no control over it. You put it out there to share with other people. You can only hope for the best."
Well, yes. Although that's true whether your band is still a going concern or not, isn't it? And, frankly, I think most White Stripes fans would have grasped the reader-as-auteur theory probably around sixth grade, so if that was all you meant it's akin to telling people that you can hear the songs by listening to them.

Still, it's generous of him to clear that up. Even though it has the air of someone popping back into a room to say goodbye again because they feared their departure wasn't really noticeable enough.

Embed and breakfast man: Jessica Lea Mayfield

If there's a finer song this year than Jessica Lea Mayfield's Our Hearts Are Wrong, then 2011 is going to be a year spoiled rotten.

Here she is doing the song on Letterman, in case you've not yet had the pleasure:

Jessica has been performing on stage for twelve years. She's 21. A bit of a leg-up came with that Black Keys guest duet, but mostly... it's all down to her. And a strange voice - good strange - that she says has no high range at all.

And she doesn't swallow any old shit, either:

. I remember when I was a kid, my cat died. And the vet gave me this letter that said my cat was in heaven sitting on rainbow. My thought was “bullshit” on a similar note, I always wrote Santa mean letters, like “write me back if you exist, jerk”.
Santa has yet to respond.

Tell Me
With Blasphemy So Heartfelt

If you're still not convinced enough to pop your hand into your pocket:

More JLM on the www
Official site
Last FM

Further beautiful pain across the weekend
Kiss Me Again
The One That I Love Best live at KRCL
For Today live at
Grown Man live at The Farm

Help Japanese animals after the tsunami and earthquake

It's not just people whose lives have been torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan - it's also left a lot of animals in distress and need, too.

A timely email from Peter D:

The earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in Japan has bought about a huge level of destruction. Thankfully there are various charities and government agencies to help those affected. These things unfortunately effect the animals of Japan and sometimes they go unthought of. A charity has been set up, to aid animals affected by this and details can be found here.

You may recall during January Darren Hayman wrote, recorded and released a song a day, under the January Songs umbrella and well as music, he posted illustrations and videos. Darren wanted to do something to help this charity and as such is auctioning off his notebook that contains the lyrics, illustrations, notes, ideas and prose on ebay over the next week. All proceeds will go to the charity and the winner obviously gets this rare one off item.

I am selling the item via my ebay profile and Darren will be sending the winner the item.
It's a really, really good cause, and really, really lovely item to bid on.

Gordon in the morning: Unpixelate

The Sun's on-again, off-again pixelation of Kai Rooney's face is now firmly off, as it's clearly decided that, while it really objects to the idea of "blackmailers" trying to make money from selling photos of the child, it's actually quite relaxed about doing so itself.

Today, though, Gordon's just running a piece about what a great dad Wayne is. It's all quite touching...

... except for the slapping of a giant link reminding everyone about just how much Rooney loves having sex with prostitutes. Hopefully Coleen can cut carefully round that bit when she's sticking it in Kai's scrapbook.

In other news: a woman bet on a horse and the horse didn't win.

Friday, March 18, 2011

120 Minutes later

Obviously, being in the UK our flavour of 120 Minutes was Paul King presenting Chapterhouse videos until someone made it stop - two hours of sitting on a sofa in a shared house saying "do you reckon he ever got the paint off those shoes?" (Actually, nobody had MTV in those days, and the programmes circulated on fuzzy VHS tapes, sourced from richer friends' parents' homes.)

In America, where the alternative music pickings in the mainstream were a bit thinner, 120 Minutes was treated with a bit more respect. But surely it was of its time? Bringing it back now feels a bit like that horrible mid-70s revival of Ready Steady Go.

Bob Mould - while happily acknowledging that the original was pivotal - isn't exactly welcoming it back with open arms:

“The show really invested in careers,” notes Mould. “The 1990s may have been the last time you see that investment. 120 Minutes elevated new artists and framed them as career musicians. But even now, my attention span is shorter. It’s a whole different game.”
The original 120 Minutes could coast quite a bit - with very few places you could see, say, Husker Du, it was simply enough to stick them on the telly. That won't work any more, because Mould and Hart dance to my demand if I type in that little box up there to the right of the screen. MTV2 going to need something unique, and surprising. For all those 120 Minutes. And hope the kids want their grandad's alternative.

Beth Ditto: Useful

Beth Ditto is charming. It might explain why she seldom gets asked any difficult questions and can say quite surprising things without interviewers going "what was that?"

So, chatting with Tim Jonze in yesterday's Guardian, she said this:

"I feel like I've made a difference for certain people and that's what matters. Growing up with riot grrrl, I feel like I owe it to the me of tomorrow – without sounding too ridiculous – to do this. The people who listened to Gossip when they were 14, they're 20 now and it's no longer cool, but when they're 30 they can look back and think, 'I listened to the Gossip and it was really helpful', and that will be how Bikini Kill or Nirvana were for me."
Jonze is interested more in how Ditto feels in the world of celebrity and so doesn't pick up on the curiously bloodless claim.

Sure, some people grow to be embarrassed by the music they listen to during their teenage years, and, yes, perhaps some look back later on and think "actually, that was quite an important thing that I did for the time". But is that really the way Bikini Kill resonate through people's lives? Riot Grrl was, for those there at the time, a life-changing thing; it wasn't just a phase.

It was a mission, and people on a mission might leave the path, but not because it ceased to be cool. It wasn't dressing up and trying out, it changed the way people fundamentally lived and thought and did. The Bikini Kill Archive is stuffed with evidence of that.

Ditto's description might fit the Gossip. And The Osmonds. And perhaps you might get Le Tigre in to do a remix when you're in need of the attention, then drop them when it's not going to help get the prime-time TV slots, looking back on it later as useful. But it's a total misjudgement of what riot grrl was.

(By the way, isn't it normal when a newspaper writes about a former columnist to normally acknowledge that they wrote a regular piece for that paper? Even if it was a slightly cringey one like What Would Beth Ditto Do?)

Gordon in the morning: JLS jump out a plane

They were wearing parachutes, though.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Liam Gallagher finally finds a worthy target

At last, a band deserving of what Liam Gallagher clearly believes is withering contempt:

Liam Gallagher feels his brother Noel made Oasis look like "Culture Club on shit acid" in their videos.[...]
He told Spin magazine: "Sometimes Noel treated us like his fucking backing band. Some of the videos we did were fucking shocking. 'Lyla', for example. We look like fucking Culture Club on shit acid.
Gallagher's pledge to hand back the thousand upon thousands of pounds he made from the era seems to have been dropped from the quote, perhaps for length considerations.

Liam then trumpets how Bleeding Eye or whatever it's called is, you know, a democracy:
He added: "The little fella's gone. I watch enough Sky News to know that we shouldn't have leaders. This band is four geezers all on the same page, wanting to make this the greatest band in the world."
Yes, it's a total democracy. That's why Spin was interviewing Liam Gallagher. It could have oh-so-easily have been The Former Andy Bell, the one that used to be in Heavy Stereo or David Laws who did the interview. It just so happened that the Beady Eye commune decided Liam would do it today.

Gordon in the morning: You can say anything about Courtney Love

Gordon picks up some claims from a bloke with a book to sell:

SINGER COURTNEY LOVE wanted to snort the ashes of husband KURT COBAIN, a new book claims.

Author NICK STRAUSS says Love had the idea shortly after the NIRVANA frontman was cremated following his shotgun suicide.

He alleges Love, 46, who has battled drugs, offered him a bag of ashes at her Los Angeles home and told him: "Say Hi to Kurt. Too bad you don't do coke, otherwise I'd suggest taking a straw to it."
Is it just me, or does this sound less like an actual invite to snort Kurt's ashes, and more like a slightly macabre joke?

The worst thing, though, is that even if it happened, this sounds like a bit of a weak anecdote to make the key plank of a book about Courtney Love. This is Courtney Love, dammit, who runs up and down the street naked save for a duck costume, and who seizes every new form of electronic communication to spread claims and libels. And the best you have is a weak joke about how ashes look like coke?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rockobit: Ronnie Hammond

In something of a grim week for musical check-outs, Ronnie Hammond, singer with the Atlanta Rhythm Section, has died.

Hammond benefited from being in the right place at the right time: when Buddie Buie, the impressario behind ARS needed a replacement for lead singer Rodney Justo, Hammond was working at a recording studio and had impressed Buie with his fill-in voice.

He would remain with the band through fifteen albums and a gig at the White House for Jimmy Carter's son before quitting in the early 1980s - he went off to try some solo material and was replaced by Justo. The Rhythm Section wound down, a slump which would continue until 1989 and Hammond's return.

The band continued to release music and tour with various line-ups during the 90s, while Hammond entered something of a personal slump. Suffering from alcoholism and depression, he managed to get in an argument with cops. He attempted to attack a policeman with a guitar. The policeman had a gun. You can tell how it would end.

Luckily, the serious injuries were a bottoming out, rather than a full stop. Hammond returned to health, and performing; the Rhythm Section rolled on - although, eventually, without Hammond.

Ronald Hammond died Monday from heart failure; he was 60.

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: The Indelicates

Simon Indelicate talks about leaving the corporate record industry to form Corporate Records in ORG Zine:

It’s probably worth noting that, discounting the uncompromising positions of paid lobbyists from the BPI, these are not evil or stupid people. It is just that the industry they built and did great things with no longer has an economic foundation. It used to be that the recording, manufacture, distribution and promotion of recorded music were enormous costs that prohibited entry into the market by anyone without serious financial clout.

The technology of the last two decades have now almost eradicated these costs. The ability to effectively record or synthesise music requires only a computer and an internet connection. Manufacture and distribution of physical media is unnecessary when the encoding and transfer of digital music is free. Effective promotion costs only time and the right twitter contacts. Costs have collapsed. Consequently the supply of recorded music has exploded.

[hat-tip @dillpickle]

Jon Bon Jovi calls Steve Jobs a killer

Who killed the music industry? I'd always thought it would turn out to be like Murder On The Orient Express, with lots of people having had a little stab, but Jon Bon Jovi, out of the Jon Bon Jovi and The Bon Jovis, points the finger at just one man:

And yet he accuses Steve Jobs of being the scorpion in the decline of jacket-based music purchases: "I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?' Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."
Yes. Not just in a metaphorical sense, but personally. Like he finished it off with a car jack.

That noise you can hear? It's Shawn Fanning yelling "yes - it was Steve Jobs! Clearly, the man is guilty. He alone. Phew."

I'm sure Jobs already has a defence prepared - given that the iPod and iTunes found a way to successfully sell music tracks fairly easily available elsewhere for free, he might hope to be seen as having helped keep an ailing industry alive. Bon Jovi's attack is a bit like having a go at the Good Samaritan for no other reason than he happened to be there at the time.

Bon worries that children are missing out on whole experience:
[H]e believes people today miss "The beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it."
... before getting it home and discovering it was a bit rubbish.

If Jovi's big worry is that people no longer buy records without hearing them first, then shouldn't his ire be directed at listening posts in HMV? Or, more accurately, at whoever first put those booths in record shops back when Paul McCartney was alive?

Still: nobody buys records based purely on what the cover looks like anymore. It's a tragic loss. I felt exactly the same way when the last Pig-In-A-Poke salesman went out of business.

Rapobit: Nate Dogg

Nate Dogg, former Death Row artist, has died.

Dogg has been plagued by ill-health for much of his life; he had massive strokes in 2007 and 2008.

Born Nathaniel D. Hale in Long Beach, Dogg was introduced to performing by his pastor father, singing regularly in church. After a spell in the marines, Dogg formed 213 with Warren G and Snoop Dogg. Dr Dre heard the group's demo, leading to a 1993 deal with Death Row. Although working in his own right, much of his greatest success came when he was riding shotgun with Tupac and Warren G - in all, he would chart in the US 40 times in various partnerships. He should have thought about adopting Featuring as his first name.

Nate had legal run-ins - guns and drugs and community service - but had been returning to the church; towards the end of the last decade he formed a gospel choir, Innate Praise.

Nate Dogg was 41; he died on Tuesday 15th March.

Gordon in the morning: OMG, it's Lily Allen

Lily Allen knows a thing or two about rotten chat shows, so perhaps it's no surprise that she's rushed to defend Peaches Geldof and her show, the aptly named OMG.

For those unfamiliar with the programme, Gordon explains:

Bob Geldof's 22-year-old daughter made her hosting debut when she launched ITV2 show OMG! With Peaches Geldof this month.

The programme has been met with mixed reactions.
It's not her hosting debut, because she anchored that Teenage Mind thing and her guide to Islam, but perhaps Gordon has had some therapy to help him forget that.

Mixed reactions, indeed, though. Running from "please make it stop" to "I suppose it could have been worse; it's not like she had Fearne Cotton on it".

It turns out someone made a mild a joke about the programme on Twitter:
[O]ne unimpressed fan wrote to Lily on Twitter: "Lets hope that OMG show becomes 'canned Peaches' very soon. Lol."
Lily was as unimpressed with her fan as her fan was with Peaches:
She wrote: "You sound very bitter, give her a break.

"She's not hurting anyone... Why would you want that? You must be jealous."
Yes, that'd be it - the only possible reason for objecting to a poorly-made programme with a useless presenter and a creaking format, where the self-obsession of the host is only out-shallowed by that of the guests would be bitter jealousy.

You might have thought Allen would be pleased that there's a new low point in the 'chatshow knocked up to give a star name something to present' category. But it's nice to see solidarity - perhaps she could start a union of some sort? In fact, there might be a programme for Sky Living It in that. Excuse me, I have a call or two to make.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obituary: Smiley Culture dies in police raid

Sky News are reporting the death of Smiley Culture. The report says police are calling his death - during a drugs raid - as being down to "self-inflicted injuries".

UPDATE: It's a bit grim now to think that Smiley Culture owed his success to a song which saw him being let off a potential possession charge thanks to his toasting prowess:

Sure, it was a borderline novelty hit, but in 1984 there weren't many British MCs, and none were having chart hits. At the time, it seemed unlikely that a British policeman would have been intimate with Culture's track Cockney Translator - even though "in the reggae charts number one was it's number"; subsequent discovery of just the sort of background snooping the police were doing at the time makes it more plausible.

He never quite achieved the same level of success again, despite cutting a deal with Polydor. Follow-up hit Schooltime Chronicle was a Grange Hill to Police Officer's Bill; the album Tongue In Cheek has vanished from print.

Born David Emmanuel, Smiley took his first reggae steps as a member of the Saxon Studio Sound System djs. Saxon was like the RADA of fast-talk reggae - alongside Culture, the studios gave first steps to Tippa Irie, Papa Levi, Daddy Sandy and Daddy Colonel. Maxi Priest also graduated from the collective.

After his mid-80s peak, Smiley took a small role in cappuccino-car-crash flick Absolute Beginners. He then faded from public life before a sad return in the July of 2010 when he was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine.

Somewhat bizarrely, The Guardian then met up with him in September for an article on post-pop careers. Emmanuel revealed he was running diamond mines:

I first became aware of the possibilities for mining after visiting Grenada, where my mother comes from. Cockney Translation had endeared me to a lot of serious businessmen in the East End of London, and because of the records, I'd met a lot of influential people who helped me get investment. At school I thought diamonds came from vaults: now I've got gold and diamond mine concessions in Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, Kenya and the Congo, and I'm promoting a record for the Azerbaijan government. Recently, I bought an expensive car in cash, which resulted in a visit by the police. It was like Police Officer all over again.
That all sounds a little odd now - promoting records for the Azerbaijan government? If ever a newspaper piece had you yelling 'what? what do you mean?', it was this.

The details of his death today are sketchy - the "Independent" Police Complaints Commission are investigating. The Metropolitan Police have issued a statement:
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "As part of an ongoing operation officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Serious and Organised Crime Command today attended a residential address in east Surrey to make an arrest.

"While they were at the address, an incident occurred during which a 48-year-old man died. Officers from Surrey Police attended the incident and it has been formally referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

Gordon in the morning: Woman who changes hair a lot changes hair

You could almost feel sorry for Gordon, forced to try and come up with something to say every time Rihanna does her hair:

Hair Ri go with another barnet
Almost, but not quite.

Smart struggles to find something to say, he really does:
RIHANNA has been switching barnets like I do pants.
Every second Tuesday she turns her hair inside-out, sniffs it and says "it'll do another few days"?
She must have one new haircut a week.
Oh. You were making that joke. How far through writing a 'news' story that relies on you making gags about your own skidmarks do you get before realising that there's nothing to report on?
Here she is on her way to an Italian restaurant in LA with a mop so big that kitchen staff could have done the floor with it.
Oh, Gordon is trying to find something to say about the hairdo, but... I think his attention is starting to drift:
Her low-cut top made sure she received even more attention than usual – waiters would have been giving HER tips when she's wearing this outfit.
Breasts. Yes, on safer ground with breasts. And how about some news you can use?
Yesterday the Bajan singer confirmed that her new single is ballad California King Bed.

She probably has a kip on one at home.
Even by the standards of a stretched bit of reporting, that last line is something of a classic. Frankly, if a child with a head injury suggested that as a response the release of a song named after a bed, he might look slightly sheepish about it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Bhangra Mixtape rolls on

Some good news from the beleaguered BBC this evening: The Asian Network is going to survive. It's having the budget squished, and the rescue plan has to be accepted by the BBC Trust but at least it probably won't go the way of BBC Choice.

Click. Off. Zune.

Microsoft's belated attempt to have some of that iPod pie has been put out its misery, with the Zune ceasing to exist as a stand-alone music player.

Dead, and never launched in Europe. You've perhaps got to admire Microsoft's tenacity in keeping the product line alive through five long, lonely years; the name will live on - for now - as a store brand for selling music to the tiny Windows Phone market, and the more substantial Xbox community.

For now, though; It looks Redmond is planning to introduce another name for its multimedia services in the longer term. Ventura. For when offences against nature calls.

Francis Rossi: Everyone's rubbish

A penny for Francis Rossi's thoughts? You don't even need that, as he spent a chunk of time sounding off to the Metro, allowing a glimpse inside his head without the need to pay at penny.

What does Francis think of modern music?

Not a lot, it turns out:

Look at Madonna – she can’t sing but she can make a decent record. Her first one, they had to slow her voice down and speed it up. She used the system really well.
Oddly, Rossi can sing but hasn't made a decent record in a very, very long time.
pice Girls – biggest pile of s*** to hit the planet but what a great PR job. Can’t sing, songs weren’t very good, they didn’t look very good but they used the business against itself.
I'm not quite sure how the Spice Girls used the business against itself - isn't the pop business about taking some not-very-appetizing ingredients and making them into something that will sell? It's like suggesting that meat is using the butchery industry against itself.

Oh, and some of the Spice Girl songs were really great pop tunes.
Same with Kylie
You might spot that every act Rossi is damning is female here. But, please, tell us about Kylie:
some innocent child off some Australian soap, she suddenly s**gs Michael Hutchence and her bum comes out and everyone keeps buying her records.
Hadn't Kylie already had a seven-times platinum album before she started hanging out with Hutchence?

I'm not sure if Kylie - who apparently owes her career to having a bottom - has come off better here than the Spice Girls, who "don't look very good".

Is there anyone Rossi rates?
I learned when I was younger from watching Little Richard and working with Jerry Lee Lewis, who was so physically committed to his music he made it move you.
Yes, yes, I think the self-regard we can take as read. Anyone else?
Brian May’s very shy but can stand on top of Buckingham Palace playing his guitar.
"You can stand on Buckingham Palace and play your guitar" sounds like something you might shout at a rotten guitar player, I'd have thought. But, yes, Brian May. One of the greats.

There are some younger bands he likes, though:
At my age they’ve got to be around for about five years before I hear of them so I like Muse, Snow Patrol, Killers. I love Lady Antebellum. I don’t understand people who’ll just listen to one genre of music.
Three plod rock bands and a country act. He's practically Andy Kershaw, isn't it?

And the music industry - is that in fine fettle?
It’s 95 per cent bulls*** and the other five per cent is bulls***. I didn’t realise until I was about 40. It’s not real.
It's perhaps a bit unfair to suggest that Rossi is a bit slow on the uptake...
When I was much younger I’d read music magazines and it took me years to work out you never read an interview with anyone or see anyone on a chat show unless they’ve got some product out.
... oh, actually, it might not be.

The Quo, though, Francis. You must like the respect you've earned by being in the Quo?
I understand that people can’t stand Status Quo. There are thousands of people across the world who think we’re fantastic but most don’t, obviously. It’s the same with anyone. Michael Jackson selling 45million records in America – that still means 220 million Americans didn’t like it. But ‘showbiz’ blows it up as important. Mars bars sell better than Michael Jackson records and so do paper clips, envelopes and coat hangers. How come no one’s come up with a song that sells 2billion? Even then, two thirds of the world won’t like it.
How come nobody's ever come up with a song that sells two billion? There's a question that probably keeps Guy Hands awake at night. Sure, you can see Rossi's point - everyone is going to be disliked by someone - but suggesting that Michael Jackson is less good than paperclips sounds like the result of some drug-addled face off, with the victor going on to meet the winner of Love versus Thursdays in the final.

Rossi does admit that sometimes, he's not up to par himself:
[Metro:] What’s the worst gig you’ve done?

Live Aid. We weren’t particularly good. We were under-rehearsed and didn’t bring in enough equipment. It’s funny when you see these programmes about it now because back then no one knew how big it was until you went on the stage – and I’ve never seen so many cameras in my life.
Ah, yes. You were under-rehearsed. Apparently under-rehearsed out of your tiny skull, judging by what you told The Observer back in 2004:
It was crazy. A really crazy day. There were shitloads of drugs - coke, dope, all sorts. Everyone was going bananas. Rick [Parfitt of the Quo] told me recently that he got so out of it he couldn't sing anymore and was so annoyed on his way home that he was almost arrested for kicking road cones. Everybody was just totally out of it and Rick and I were the drug centre. People were saying, 'Let's go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?'
Sounds like you took too much gear in. Even if you didn't have enough equipment.

Still, taking part in Live Aid - that must be something to be proud of, right?
But if the West really wanted to feed the Third World it would have happened by now instead of doing some fundraising gigs every 25 years.
No? Oh well.
Live At St Luke’s is out on March 14.
Hey... hey... do you think Rossi is just doing this because he's got something to sell?

Coldplay: The key word here is "nearly"

Can you imagine anything worse than Chris Martin in a tizzy?

Coldplay's roadie Matt McGinn has revealed the band's lead singer Chris Martin once nearly came to blows with bassist Guy Berryman.
Once. Nearly.

It's hardly the stuff of rock memoirs, is it?

Which is unfortunate, as Matt McGinn has tried to write a rock memoir. With an echo of Lionel's book from As Time Goes By ("it's about my life in Kenya. It's called My Life In Kenya"), McGinn has gone with My Life On The Road With Coldplay. And the fight seems to be dramatic highlight:
Matt McGinn - the band's roadie - explained: "Chris temporarily lost touch with his niceness and called his friend a **** in so venomous a fashion that our loveable Caledonian felt moved to respond thus, 'I'm going to f***ing hit you in a minute'. 'Well go on then!' came the retort, sounding more like an order than an invite.

"B****y hell, here we go, I thought. Guy has confessed to me since that at this point he became so furious that anything could have happened, and he really wasn't much more than a kilt's width from braining Chris with his vintage Fender."
That's not even an almost fight. It barely constitutes name-calling. I've seen post-it notes in fridges which are more violent than this anecdote.

God love him, you've got admire a man who spent his life carting guitars for Chris Martin, but I can't see Hollywood turning up at McGinn's house with storyboards and chequebooks.

Cameron 'too close to Google' whines copyright industry

When David Cameron says he wants a copyright regime in the UK that's closer to that of the US, you'd probably be surprised to hear that he's thinking of a more liberal regime.

Based on America. Where, if you say "I don't think I've ever had an original thought in my life", a squad of lawyers descend on you to find out whose copyright your thoughts has been infringing.

What it boils down to is that Cameron appears to have been persuaded by Google that there should be a stronger fair use component to the law. It's business driven, of course, so there doesn't seem to be any proposal to protect parody in the same way.

And, naturally, being a Tory policy, it's got nothing to do with any deep philosophy and everything to do with who is buying the drinks:

Google has its claws in Cameron, say the critics. Rachel Whetstone, Google's European head of communications, is married to Steve Hilton, the prime minister's director of strategy.

And the prime minister's declaration that he wanted to see a US-style relaxation of IP laws, creating a "fair use" exemption – giving space for startups to copy and create innovative products, sourced from material which might be copyright-protected – was top of Google's legislative wishlist.
Still, even Thatcher had the odd decent policy - Channel Four and... well, launching Channel Four. Even if it was motivated by a desire to spite the BBC.

Naturally, people who make money farming copyrights are aghast at even such a mild reform to copyright law:
"I was a Cameron supporter but he has been deceived by the people whispering in his ear," says Mike Batt, the songwriter, producer and founder of Dramatico, Katie Melua's record label.
"I was fine when he was tipping the disabled out their wheelchairs to make them work, butchering the NHS, closing down SureStart centres and making hundreds of thousands redundant. Hell, that doesn't affect me. But the moment he starts saying that he might think the law should let a guy overdub a Katie Melua song on footage of fighting kittens - well, that's where I've got to say no."

I would have given a large cake to have been able to see the look on Batt's face when the penny dropped that the business people who pay for Cameron's suits and haircuts did so not out of the kindness of their hearts, but in order to influence policy.

Batt believes that copyright law isn't the problem:
"It's complete bollocks. The reason Google started up in Silicon Valley is because they have banks that understand the entrepreneurial thinking behind startups. We don't."
Given that Batt has chosen to use bollocks as a measure of validity, let's just check Batt's own balls here.

First, copyright is territory-dependent, whereas banking finance is global - so you can sit in Durham and access American finance, but not work under American copyright law.

Second: most internet start-ups don't come from a background of "entrepreneurial thinking". Even the ones which try to make money don't really come out of a framework of entrepreneurship - the guys behind Spotify weren't trying to come up with a way to sell thirty-second radio ads.

Third: The reason Google started in silicon valley was because it was started by Americans, surely? Again, it was a project to do something useful which turned out to be able to make money.

Fourth: If arranging the finance is the problem, how come so many UK start-ups have managed to at least get to the point where they sell out for large sums, like IMDB and Last FM did?

Batt might know a lot about Wombles; he should stick to his area of expertise.

Feargal Sharkey, naturally, also runs around claiming the sky will fall:
Feargal Sharkey, the chief executive of UK Music, argues that under the current copyright law, legal music download "startups" are flourishing, with 72 competing sites generating £350m in sales last year. He warns of the danger of taking "50,000 jobs from the music industry to create 20,000 in technology."
Obviously, Sharkey's chicken little panic is missing the point - this isn't just about the music industry, Feargal - but it does raise an interesting thought experiment: would the UK economy be better off with EMI and HMV, or Google?

Heartening, though, to hear Sharkey defending so robustly the very copyright regime he's been damning for the last few years as too weak.

Gordon in the morning: Jedward crowbar themselves into storyline

Ha ha ha, look at Charlie Sheen screwing up his life. Isn't it hilarious? You know what would make it even more hilarious? How about if you let pantomime-cow-in-search-of-a-costume Jedward get in on the fun?

EDWARD said: "We spoke to him on Twitter while the whole thing was happening – while he was all over the papers.

"We're big fans of his show Two And A Half Men and we used to directly message him. He replied to us.

"When there were rumours about things we told him to stay cool and stay focused."
Yes, I'm sure that would have helped.

It's funny, the way they talk, it's almost like they didn't realise he wasn't on Twitter until after he had melted down.

You can almost forgive Jedward for using someone else's mental health problems as a way of trying to market themselves, as it's clear the boychildren don't really understand what's going on:
Edward said: "He's gonna be OK. He'll be fine.

"Everyone needs to realise he's cool and not crazy."
No, Edward, you have to understand that he is crazy. That's pretty much all there is to Sheen right now.

Yes, you might be able to forgive Jedward. But whoever it is who is making money out of farming them should be ashamed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Done Lying Down weekend: So You Drive

Another promo:

[Part of Done Lying Down weekend]

Songwriterobit: Hugh Martin

Hugh Martin, writer of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, has died.

Martin was born in Birmingham, Alabama; he wrote extensively for musicals and movies. If Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was his commercial hit, his critical hit was this:

The Trolley Song, from Meet Me In St Louis, was nominated for best original song at the Oscars; he also got a nomination for Pass The Peace Pipe from Good News. That song has been recorded a fair few times, too; not often as fairly as this version:

Hugh Martin was 96; he died from natural causes at home in Encinitas, California.

Done Lying Down weekend: Divorcee

By playing this over a photo of a flag, you could pretend this was the national anthem and you're watching a smaller ITV station close down for the night. If... if you wanted to.

Church drops self

Given that Charlotte Church's massive deal with Power Amp was supposed to put her in control of her own record-making, presumably now she's dumped the contract she's become the first person ever to drop themselves from their own label?

Despite having been trailed as a deal which would mean Church be free of interference from the money men, the sticking point appears to have been interference from the money men.

Done Lying Down weekend: Can't Be Too Certain

I never did much actual, proper djing - pretty much requiring an actual DJ to have fallen down a manhole or been extradited before I'd be called on - but when the bottom of the barrel was calling, I'd always play this:

[Part of Done Lying Down weekend]

Iron Maiden singer banged up

Not Bruce Dickinson - he's still flying - but the guy he replaced, Paul Di'Anno. Di'Anno - or Paul Andrews, as he's officially know - has been found guilty of claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax payments despite, erm, going around the world touring.

(Just a sidebar: little disappointed to see the Guardian describe council tax benefit as "council tax handouts" in the report - did a sub from the Telegraph slip in?)

Clearly, he's in the wrong, and his defence:

"He was obsessed with music and performing. He is very naive in terms of business matters and has no formal education," [Steven] Ritter [defending] said.
Mmm. I think you'd be stretching naivety a little far to suggest you might not know you had to declare earnings from concert tours while telling the social you'd got a bad back. Even ET might struggle to convince he didn't understand that one.

The odd thing is the DWP response, though. It doesn't appear in the online version, but it was in the print edition of the Guardian:
A DWP spokesperson said: 'Benefit fraud is a crime. This money is intended to provide valuable support to those most in need, not line the pockets of people earning substantial amounts from their celebrity status."
Leaving aside the unedifying sight of a civil servant using pious tabloidese, you can only assume the spokesperson churned out their reaction without knowing any of the details.

Andrew was hardly "earning substantial amounts" - indeed, the court heard that he had hardly any money (reading between the lines, it sounds like he was touring mainly for fun rather than as a way of earning money); and since when did being 'the singer in Iron Maiden who, when people mention him, is always described as "no, the other one" count as "celebrity status"? It's a status which would struggle to get you an invite on Call My Bluff, isn't it?

More importantly, in sentencing, the court made it clear that his status wasn't relevant in any way to the case:
Sentencing Andrews, who lives in Salisbury, Jane Miller QC, told him: "Your public persona is not relevant."
The judge didn't think it was relevant, so why was the DWP making hay from it?

This week just gone

The most-read March stories so far have been:

1. A.Vox deny being homophobic by checking tight definition on Wikipedia
2. Maroon 5 dance to Coca Cola's tune
3. HMV warn they might be even less successful than they thought
4. Take That suffer mild inconvenience at airport; Sun makes story out of it
5. MTV accept Belfast's bid to host the EMAs
6. Soul music excited to be working with Cliff Richard, claims Cliff Richard
7. Pete Doherty accused of burglary, continued asshattery
8. Coke outlines plans to use music to ensnare kids
9. Bob Dylan lets the Chinese government choose his set list
10. John Lydon rails at the X Factor. They deserve each other.

These were interesting and new:

Erland And The Carnival - Nightingale

Download Nightingale

Carrie Elkin - Call It My Garden

Download Call it My Garden

Buffalo Tom - Skins

Download Skins

Noah And The Whale - Last Night On Earth

Download Last Night On Earth

Blancmange - Blanc Burn

Download Blanc Burn

Marianne Faithful - Horses And High Heels

Download Horses And High Heels

REM - Collapse Into Now

Download Collapse Into Now

Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys

Download Build A Rocket Boys

Rival Schools - Pedals

Download Pedals

Placebo - Bsides 1996-2006

Download Placebo Best Of