Monday, 30 August 2004

Reach up for the Sunrise!

I promised myself I wouldn't update this thing while I was on holiday, but somethings are too good not to share.

With the impending release of the new Duran Duran material in the next couple of months, I came across a link for the new video. As a fan, reports of the filming have been quite abundant, but to see the finished product kinda makes the extremities tingle just a bit.

A kindly soul has put it on a website in Divx format for all and sundry to download and watch (thus not having to waste hours and hours in front of shite music channels like I did in 1993 just to see the Ordinary World video).

Also of note is the actual track-listing of the Sunrise single (more for my own benefit than anything else):

1. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Album Version]
2. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Alex G Cosmic Mix]

1. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Album Version]
2. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Nevins Radio Mix]
3. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Ferry Costen Dub Mix]
4. Know It All
5. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Video]

Australia will release the following

1. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
2. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Alex G Cosmic Mix]
3. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Ferry Corsten Remix]
4. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise [Peter Presta NY Tribal Mix]
5. Know It All

So again, the UK CD1 is a redundant purchase if you grab CD2 and the Aussie one. Rumour has it there's a mopping up US single coming out 28 September that should feature everything (as they generally do).


Support the French? Just this once.

Again, I said I wouldn't update on holiday and here I am. Damn.

Anyway, I was reading through ZDNet as one does... on holiday (how sad is that?) and there's a terrific article on how the French aren't gonna takes these crappy copy-controlled discs no mores.

The jist of it is the French are SO pissed off, they're taking to court EMI France and the FNAC record store chain and charging them with fraud! According to the article, "the [fraud] charges carry possible prison terms of up to 2 years for company executives, and a fine of about £24,978)." Ouch and good on ya!

How do FNAC react? By saying "it believes it acted in good faith towards consumers." By knowingly selling faulty merchandise? Are these people the Dellboy of the music industry?

They also had the gall to issue a statement saying "Fnac also agreed to give refunds to customers who found problems playing back the discs… knowing that these problems are not foreseeable." Not foreseeable? CDs are based on the redbook standard, you deviate from that you get problems. Phillips and Sony know this, they forbid these "discs" to carry the CD logo, and FNAC didn't think problems were foreseeable? That's either gullability to the extreme or the usual PR backpeddling. Either way, bring on the fraud charges, these pigopolists need to be stopped.

The other obvious question which FNAC doesn't answer is, of course, if a customer has a problem with the disc, what are FNAC going to do about getting the music in a format that the customer has use?

I borrowed a promo disc for the new Soulwax album which was unplayable on every disc player I own (mainly a standalone DVD player, car CD player and my PC). If I'd paid for this disc and had to slog back to the shop just to have some 18 year old muppet shrug his shoulders and tell me it looks like I won't be listening to that CD, I'd be seeing more than red.

These labels... they have one bullet for the customer and one for their own foot.

Friday, 13 August 2004

Two fingers to the record industry

Back in the day, the only way a band could get their music to a loving public was through the medium of record label. Beit major or indie, the label was the only real form of distribution that would get a band's releases into shops.

How times have changed. Not only are labels really a thing of the past, the bricks and mortar record stores are as well.

Over the last few years, a number of bands have taken it upon themselves to do things literally independently. From Public Enemy to Prince. Now, the Pixies have entered that hallowed club of "We don't need no stinkin' labels".

Lead singer Black Francis, put it succinctly to the Associated Press, "At the end of the day, the record company always needs content. They need artists. Right now, they need artists more than we need them. We're in a situation where we don't have to make records anymore to be asked to go into a studio and make music. Because of all the cross-marketing that goes on these days, it's like everyone's getting called to make songs for a movie, or for a web site, or a commercial."

Are the days numbered for record labels? Probably. As bands like the Pixies forgoe mainstream distribution, releasing new tracks direct to iTunes and selling CDs of concerts at the venues themselves, eagle eyed music fans will wonder exactly why they're bothering with EMI, Sony, Warner or Universal releases.

Copy Protection gripe. Again.

Borrowed the promo for the new copy-protected SoulWax album from a colleague.

The disc is completely unlistenable. Literally.

Popped it into my CD-Rom drive. It found it, but the files were all empty. Popped it into my full-on CD player (which is actually my Sony DVD/SACD player, as I don't see the need for a superfluous device I don't need) and wouldn't work there either.

Great marketing concept this: "the music they don't want you to hear".

I understand there's a piracy concern, but my greater concern was the shunting, scraping and crunching noises coming out of my £400 DVD player as it tried in vein to find anything resembling red-book comforming audio on this disc.

So what did I do, fair reader? Just what anyone else would do. I downloaded the album off the Internet. What exactly is this copy protection protecting against anyway?

Thursday, 5 August 2004

Duran Duran. They may actually release something!

With Duran Duran you never want to count on something until it actually happens, but with reports of record deals signed and videos shot, I think it's time we - as fans - can stop holding our collective breath.

The latest news from is also cause for celebration as it solidifies some of the rumours that have been circulating the Internet for the last few months. Chiefly, the first single will be Sunrise (as featured on the Queer Eye soundtrack) and the album, due out in October on Epic, will be called Astronaut, a title no one would have ever guessed that.

Time to dust off those glad rags and do a little jig. Duran are finally back, baby!

Tuesday, 3 August 2004

Drilling the point home

Not content to charge radio stations, television shows, et al licencing fees to play music, it now seems that - in Canada and the States at least - the net has now widened to include dentists offices.

I'm not sure what I think about this. Sure, if you went to the dentist's office purely for the music, then they could have an argument and it would be wholly justified.

Most of the time, however, the office is just piping in lite-FM radio stations (surely just to mask the sound of drills). These radio stations are already paying hefty performance royalties to BMI, ASCAP, SOCAN or whatever gang goes around forcing a pay up. Re-charging anyone who then listens to a radio station with more than a few people in the same area smacks of a little extreme.

The doctor in the Wired article actually brought in his iPod with personally selected tracks. I guess the next step is to buy some music gear and record a load of personally-written lite-FM style muzak, thus circumventing the royalty payments. I could just see the dentist, mid-examination, stopping to exclaim, "ooh, wait, I love this bit. Did you hear that?"

On the subject of royalty licencing payments, however, I hope the League of Magazine Writers doesn't get wind of this. Those issues of Readers' Digest from 1970 that languish in doctors' offices could net them a small fortune in unpaid fees.

Monday, 2 August 2004

Before Sunrise

According to the Mirror tabloid, the new single (or at least video) from Duran's much-delayed forthcoming album IS going to be Sunrise.

"About to release their first studio album in 19 years, the video for cool track Sunrise will see Andy Taylor filmed among 10,000 clubbers at Ibiza's Manumission tomorrow, Nick Rhodes in a spaceship, Roger Taylor in a vintage car, John Taylor on a LA beach and Simon Le Bon, above, driving a BSA motorbike along the Spanish coastline"

Here's hoping something does finally materialise in the shops and ... God forbid ... they actually capitalise on the momentum that the new singles boxset will generate.