Tuesday, 5 July 2005

Depeche album title

Hot on the heels of their world tour press conference two weeks ago, Depeche Mode decided to use the US independence day holiday as perfect fodder to announce the name of the album they'll be touring.

"Playing The Angel" is set for a 17 October release on Mute. It will feature among its tracklisting the following songs: "Precious", "Sinner in Me", "Suffer Well", "John the Revelator", "Macrovision" (with Martin Gore on lead), "A Pain That I'm Used To", "I Want It All". Three of the album cuts will be written by frontman Dave Gahan.

The album is set to be preceeded by the single Precious in early October. This will be the band's first real single release (not counting Enjoy The Silence 04) since the EP-length Goodnight Lovers in 2001.

Friday, 1 July 2005

Live 8 = musical depression

The Mirror published details today about the running order and song lists for tomorrow's Hyde Park Live 8 gig.

My initial reaction? Thank the maker I'm not going to be there.

Apart from the horrid line up (Velvet Revolver? C'mon, I'd rather see the Boomtown Rats), it just smacks endemic of the problems with the British music scene. I mean, HOW MANY acts playing in London are American this time around?

The icing on the poison cake, or the bruised cheek from the slap in the face is Mariah Carey performing. Eek. At least she'll give people about 20 minutes for loo break and food buying.

Thankfully Sir Bob has made reassurances that this isn't to be considered Live Aid 2, which is good because it could only sully the good name and memory of that event.

Link: The Mirror

New Saint Etienne DVD!

In other Saint Etienne news, their LONG awaited Finisterrefilm finally comes out on DVD on Monday (4 July).

This film, in an embryonic state, was trotted around during the tour for their Finisterre album back in 2002 as back drop films for the new songs. Clips were also used as videos for the album's singles.

The hour long film was then completed after the tour and shown in various cinematic venues like London's ICA.

Like vapourware, the promise of the release of the film has been in the air ever since, so three years on, it's finally coming out.

A bit hurrah all around!

In other other news, there's a new film in the works that the band is debuting at the Barbican in October. I've tentatively pencilled in a 2008 DVD release date for that.

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Massive Attack back again!

Side-Line.com are reporting that Massive Attack have buried that hatchet and are actually putting the finishing touches on a new album. Fans of the band will know that the members have been trying to bury the hatchet for years... in each other.

This will mark the first time in a long long while that the three main members of the revolving collective have appeared on album together. The band's last album, 100th Window, featured just two members from the band and was widely regarded as a solo album for Robert Del Naja.

Whether they can scale the heights of success that the Bristol scene brought them in the mid-90s will be interesting to see. It's just good to see that they're back.

New Saint Etienne single!

Hot on the heels on the "just inside the top 40" (aka scarping in at #36) success of their Side Streets single, Saint Etienne have apparently given given the go ahead from Sanctuary for a second single from the Tales From Turnpike House album.

As they put it on their official site: "Sanctuary have agreed that we can take another single from Tales From Turnpike House, with mixes. And other quality b-sides. Which will probably bankrupt them."

This is good news, as the Saint Etienne remix was sorely lacking from the last single, even though there were 4 b-sides.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

C'mon feel the Lemonheads!

Today I got to work to some rather good news. The Lemonheads gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire has had an extra date added. Their 15 September date sold out before I'd even heard about it. Today I find out that they've added the 14th as well.

As part of the All Tomorrow's Parties series of "Don't Look Back" concerts, Evan Dando and co-horts are performing the It's A Shame About Ray album in it's 33 minute entirety. How cool is that? Very very cool.

I came to the Lemonheads late, too late to ever see them live in their heyday, so this opportunity has just put me on cloud nine.

Friday, 3 June 2005

Mozza label-less again

Morrissey seems to be labelless again.

According to rumours, he copped a strop when Sanctuary released a press statement saying he'd play this weekend's Isle of Wight festival. He won't, and apparently he won't be releasing anything else on Sanctuary either.

According to various sites, he's busy working on a new album and hasn't sacked his drummer. Of course, he's never welcome back to the Isle of Wight festival either.

For those counting, this makes five record labels for his last five albums, so I guess no one could be really surprised at this news.

Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Greatest Radio Station on earth

I've been a very happy Audioscrobbler for almost two years now, but it took until mid-March of this year to actually subscribe to the service, pledging a one-off payment of £2 to the cause.

Why oh why would I pay for something I've happily been using for free for over two years, you ask?

In a word - Last. Or more aptly Last.fm, Audioscrobbler's sister site that streams music to you night and day. As your Audioscrobbler plugin sends info to the servers about the music you listen to (as you listen to it), it gets collated and generates musical neighbours based on what you listen to.

If you don't pay-subscribe to Last.fm, you can listen to "profile stations" which are the musical preferences of these generated neighbours. The big problem here is that just because they also love Duran Duran and New Order, they also might love Bolt Thrower or Boyzone, thus disrupting your life with irritating tracks you don't like.

Solution? Pay-subscribe to Last.fm and all of a sudden you have the choice of listening to your own "personal radio station". This option takes tracks from your personal collection of fave tunes and tracks listened to and pumps them back at you. It's the greatest radio station on earth. Every track's a winner and there's no annoying DJ or advertising to listen to.

My only concern is some of the more obscure and Canadian stuff I listen to isn't represented. Oh well. You can't have everything, but you have most of it.

Link: My Last.fm page

Deluded Halliwell

Today's Metro had a wonderful interview with Ginger Spice, the completely self-deluded one.

Of interest, if that's a word is her assertion that she's the most "unmanufactured pop artist you could meet. It freaks people out when they meet me - they are very surprised by what a creative force I am in the studio." Um... yeah. So she actually sings the material other people write. Great.

The best part of the interview was when the interviewer asked "You issued a statement denying you were dropped by your label after malicious rumours appeared on the Internet. Why do you think people write things like that?," to which the waste of space replied, " I ignore it. I don't even talk about it because it feeds it. I just get on with what I do." So, issuing a statement is ignoring it, you dolt?

Why is this woman still allowed to release music?

Links: Metro interview

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Let Sleeping Roses Lie

After thinly veiled "wouldn't it be nice if" remarks this week, it looks like the darlings of the Madchester scene, The Stone Roses, are getting back together.

If they'd split after their fantastic first album, this news could come with a huge amount of excitement. Likewise, if the seperate members hadn't attempted a solo career, this news would be viewed with a sense of anticipation.

As it is, I can't get any excitement out of this news. Certainly any kudos Ian Brown once had as a solo artist have waned, likewise John Squire and whatever hamfisted band he's cobbled around his once elegiac guitar playing.

The Roses were of a time and place. Manchester late 80s/early 90s. Nowhere is this more apparent than their 1994 Led Zeppelin tribute album which they plied as a second album. Gone was the scene that forged them as well as any of the feeling or inspiration that made the debut album one of the 20th century's standout rock albums.

Will their new stuff be any good? Doubtful, as the rock/guitar scene today is focused more on the 80s influenced art-rock scene like The Killers and Franz f***ing Ferdinand. Maybe they can kick start a new Madchester revival, but as a sceptic, I'm firmly entrenched in the "this is a horrible idea" camp until proven otherwise.

Of course, there's always the cash in argument, but that is WAY too obvious.

Link: Review of The Stone Roses

Thursday, 28 April 2005

Amaz(on)ing freebies

I know this will come as no surprise to many, but surfing through the American Amazon site as I don't usually do, I happened upon an area called "free downloads" under the rather well hidden music menu.

Normally sites like this that feature freebies feature freebies noone has ever heard of or have them wrapped in so much DRM you can never listen to them. Kudos to Amazon that neither of these factors are true. On the front page of the downloads page today is an exclusive Moby b-side, a couple of new Aimee Mann tracks and a track off the Bloc Party album.

Further digging and I found two MP3s from VHS or Beta, a band who opened for Duran Duran recently in North America. Now whether Amazon planned this cunningly or not, having downloaded the two free MP3s, I now have to own as many VHS or Beta CDs as I can find. Damn you Amazon.

The one complaint I do have about the site is it's American-centric offerings. That said, it is the US site, so it can't really be helped.

I just don't know how they can offer over 200 free MP3s without any recompence from the record labels. However they did it, my hat is definitely off you Amazon.

Link: Amazon's Free Downloads

Monday, 18 April 2005

Nail in Singles coffin a little deeper

This weekend saw the first official singles chart to include Internet-downloadable music.

As much as it's a big confidence booster for the emerging distibution method, it's a worrying nail in the coffin for the venerable single - 7", 12" and CD - that's been a mainstay in the British record industry for over half a century, in one form or another.

Sure the format has taken it's knocks and the CIN - those people who officially make chart rules - don't seem to be able to figure out how to get more people to buy singles, but I'd like to think we can rescue the physical distribution model before the singles chart ends up being just like the States.

Link: NME story

MY VIEW: Just a side note, why does the CIN insist on music fans buying a single spanning two or three very very short discs at variable cost? I can end up spending more on a single than I do on the whole album, usually with the same version of a song spread over three or four formats.

Case in point being the new Nine Inch Nails single, "The Hand That Feeds You" released today. There's actually three pieces of music available - the single version, and two remixes. For some reason, it's taken Island 3 formats to release all these tracks (including having all three on the CD single), including 2 mixes on a 9" vinyl single, and 2 on a DVD single.

It's ludicrous when you get examples like Japan and the US where the few singles that are released are jam packed with enough goodies to sway fans to make the purchase.

Sunday, 17 April 2005

Drum up interest with gimmicks?

With the release of the new Nine Inch Nails albums mere days away, the promotional stints to drum up interest in the album are coming full whack.

Not only will With Teeth be released on the new DualDisc format, lead nail Trent Reznor has now released lead single "The Hand That Feeds" in Apple's Garageband format, so fans can remix and deconstruct it to their liking. According to the readme file that comes with the .sit download (told you it was Apple-only), Reznor explains a few things:

"I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks - to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there. I tried a few years ago to do this in shockwave with very limited results."

And here's info on what you can expect in the download:

"What I'm giving you in this file is the actual multi-track audio session for "the hand that feeds" in GarageBand format. This is the entire thing bounced over from the actual Pro Tools session we recorded it into. I imported and converted the tracks into AppleLoop format so the size would be reasonable and the tempo flexible."

Giving fans loops and samples isn't anything new, but it's always nice to see a band offering fans a little more than the usual remix, b-side, video, dreaded limited edition digipak combination for releases.

Now only if these bands would realise that the Mac population is really, really small that would be a cool thing.

Link: NIN.com File Download An early remix

Monday, 11 April 2005

Not surprised

Music could be consigned to the rubbish tip of recent memory if a recent report is to be believed.

Research group Nielsen Entertainment have released a study outlining where various entertainment products fit in the purchasing priority list for men and music comes in a paltry third. Leading the charge are video games and DVDs. More worrying for the record industry is that a large chunk of these game players are now over-40s.

Economically, of course, we will always spend more on video games and DVDs, as they are roughly £30 and £15 each respectively, whereas a CD can be had for about £9.

It's almost odds on that the RIAA and the BPI will use this red rag to issue more calls for lawsuits and to cry foul that piracy is killing the music business.

Nobody likes competition, but the least these two ostriches could do is take their heads out of the sand and realise that the entertainment landscape is not where it was in the 90s, when the competition was low-rent video game consoles with lacklustre games and the VCR.

These days, the PS2, X-Box, GameCube, DS, PSP, Gameboy and PC offer amazing value for money and the top name video games like "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" and "Halo 2" are making waves across the board, not just to the geeks who sit in their parents sitting room for weeks on end. They're also commanding advertising budgets that many indie record label would salivate over.

The other accomplice in the music downgrade, DVD, has revolutionised the way we view entertainment. Fuelling an explosion in the sales of Dolby Digital and DTS enabled home systems, the discs also feature a myriad of bonus material and extra features that makes a CD's bonus offer - a lyric booklet or pictures of the band, maybe - just that more pathetic.

Some record labels have attempted this by offering value-added bonus DVDs with CDs, but these efforts are as value-bare as a lyric-less CD booklet. A video, two or three live tracks and not much else. The DVD's 4.7GB limit barely gets a seeing to on many of these discs.

Sure the governing bodies of music can cry foul and sue everyone and anyone, but if they actually decided to see the competition for what they were and try to find ways of embracing the forms of entertainment people actually want, they'd be much better off.

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

What's in a word?

Late last week, ex-Happy Monday Bez was quite ecstatic because yet another Happy Mondays greatest hits album was being released on Monday and he was hoping the proceeds would lift him out of his bankruptcy.

So, Monday came and much to the surprise of probably everyone except those at London Records, "Greatest Hits" appeared on the shelves in shops across the land.

What's so odd about this? Well, given that the Mondays haven't released anything of any importance in over a decade, the decision to weave together a new collection of hits, mixes and misses seemed to be a strange idea for the record label.

Suffice it to say, the released that appeared on the shelves this past Monday was actually the same desperately released "Greatest Hits" that London released in 1999. Need more proof? Well, there's the 1999 copyright. How about the dead giveaway? NO RINGTONE ADS!

I'm torn between what is the most interesting element here. Either this reissue trying to be pawned off as a new release or the fact that it was reissued in the first place.

The Mondays played a gig with the Farm a couple of weeks back in Brixton and Bez was on some reality show months ago. The timing just doesn't seem to correlate with anything. It's almost like London were cleaning out their warehouse and decided it was high time to get rid of a load of Mondays Greatest Hits albums. Not even at budget price!

To add insult to injury, the original Mondays best of disc "Loads" (along with the bonus disc of mixes entitled "Loads More") was a much better deal than this recent (I'm talking 6 years ago here) release.

At least those of us that bought "Greatest Hits" six years ago don't have to fork out again for what could have been a disc "with new mixes" or "previously unreleased tracks" or "something new worth forking out for".

My money's safe this week.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Roxy Reuniting

I guess the news of a new Roxy Music reunion tour a couple of years was sorta big news, apart from the fact that it was a skeleton Roxy crew. Only Phil, Andy and Bryan had returned to the fold, accompanied by non-Roxy musicians.
Word out now is that not only are the full-on Roxy Music touring this summer, but they're also going into the studio. And when they say reunion, they mean it literally.
Founding member Brian Eno, who left after the band's second album is due to rejoin with the band almost 32 years after leaving. His involvement will apparently include touring and working on the band's new album, their first since 1982's brilliant "Avalon".
As Eno has divided the last three decades creating ambient music and producing albums for the likes of David Bowie and U2 (the latter with partner in crime, Canadian Daniel Lanois) it'll be interesting what influence his attendence will have on the band's new output.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Technology comes to the masses

Running on Wired's news site is a great article detailing how one of the internet's newest technologies is being used to promote new music.

For the South By South West (SXSE) music conference in Austin, Texas, organisers have managed to secure free tracks from around 750 bands to offer to the public. These tracks, in mp3 format, have been zipped up into one big 2.6GB BitTorrent file to be shared on P2P networks.

This allows massive downloads without the organisers having to run up massive bandwidth charges. Excellent.

The event also has several key applications that allow attendees to navigate the conference via their iPod.

Now before a showcase gig, you can see where the show will be as well as listen to a sample of the band to see if it's worth bothering in the first place.

It'll be interesting to see what the organisers for June's NXNE in Toronto have up their sleeves.

Comment: You have to had it to conferences like this and the indie labels who seem to be embracing new technologies and ideas, instead of trying to sue them out existence.

The promotion these bands will get is invaluable, but if the RIAA had their way, BitTorrent, MP3 and P2P in general would be as dead as Johnny Carson. Forward thinking? Not really.

Link: SXSE
Link: Wired news story

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Pricing oddities and stuff

Upon hearing the news that Woolie's online shop has dropped the price of their downloads to 67p, I thought I'd go over to their website and take a looksie.

All in all, everything seems to be in order. Although, they purport to sell "singles" for 67p. What they actually mean is single tracks. You're not getting videos and b-sides and remixes for your sub-pound purchase.

Most albums are also priced at the more favourable £6.80, which - for a 10 track album - actually works out to 68p per tracks, but we won't bitch about a penny.

Funnily enough, checking out the new Lemon Jelly album, the site is still charging £9.35 for the downloadable version, even though you can buy each track seperately for 67p... and if you do, I'd suggest leaving off the first intro track, it's only 24 seconds and doesn't really do anything... that way too, you get the album for £6.03, saving a whopping £3.32 off the lazy "click one button to order the whole download album" price.

Link: Lemon Jelly and the price discrepancy

Thursday, 24 February 2005

End of an Era

News comes today that Andrew Collins, that happy slap-stick reason to listen to BBC's digital radio 6Music is being shunted out of his wonderful drivetime slot.

His replacement, Steve Lamacq has been shunted from pillar to post since the demise of his Radio 1 evening program The Evening Sequence. Collins, whose profile is getting bigger than ever with a TV column in venerable magazine Word will be hosting a new show on Sundays from 2-5pm as well as taking over the 6Music Chart Show.

Both massive changes are set to happen in early April, so listen to the last month of Collins' afternoon show while you can, and hold back the tears - he not leaving us yet!

Link: Collins' 6Music Show

Tuesday, 8 February 2005

Crap filtered into charts

So, this week sees the American Billboard singles chart being infiltrated by downloads for the first time. The Hot 100, up until this point, was comprised of 80% airplay and 20% sales. Of course, hardly any of the Hot 100 was available commercially, so most of it was airplay.

For those who don't listen to the radio, the Hot 100 became less and less relevant to their everyday lives, myself included (having not lived near an American station in 10 years).

People who want low quality, DRM infected files for 99c a shot can now have their say in how the Hot 100 is comprised. Of course, the details haven't been made all that clear.

I'm just wondering, for instance, that if I buy 15,000 copies of "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran whether they can have it finally go to Number One or is there some sort of release stipulation about what can appear in the charts.

Btw, if it IS possible... let's do it!

Link: Hot 50

With the BBC reporting misleading claims, it would seem the CD single is even more doomed than ever. They're stating that "The last week of December 2004 saw download sales of 312,000 compared with 282,000 physical singles, according to the British Phonographic Industry."

Now when you consider that the average single has between 2 and 3 tracks, and a few have 4 or 5, those figured become a little less download-favourable, with download singles actually tallying around 156,000 2-trackers, or 104,000 3-trackers actually bought.

You can always find yourself lucky as well and buy a CD single that'll be worth a fortune in a few years time (just look for The Bravery's first single on Ebay. Wow! You won't find downloads going for $50 anytime soon).

Link: BBC News

Friday, 28 January 2005

Cure Reissues - The next round

For those of you who don't own the Cure catalogue on vinyl, cassette and CD already, Fiction are currently in the midst of trying to pry more money of out your hands by offering a 2CD remaster series of the entire collection.

Three Imaginary Boys came out in November, and the next three in the series have just been announced for release in April. They are:

Seventeen Seconds (1980)
Faith (1981)
Pornography (1982)

The track listings are as follows:


08. M


01. I'M A CULT HERO (vinyl single by CULT HERO)
02. I DIG YOU (vinyl single by CULT HERO)
04. SECRETS (home demo)
06. IN YOUR HOUSE (live)
07. THREE (alt studio mix)
08. I DIG YOU (CULT HERO live)
10. M (live)
11. THE FINAL SOUND (live)
12. A REFLECTION (live)
13. PLAY FOR TODAY (live)
14. AT NIGHT (live)
15. A FOREST (live)





01. FAITH (RS home demo)
02. DOUBT (RS home demo)
03. DROWNING (group home demo)
04. THE HOLY HOUR (group home demo)
05. PRIMARY (studio out-take)
06. GOING HOME TIME (studio out-take)
07.THE VIOLIN SONG (studio out-take)
08. A NORMAL STORY (studio out-take)
09. ALL CATS ARE GREY (live)
11. OTHER VOICES (live)
13. FAITH (live)
14. FOREVER (live)


07. COLD


01. BREAK (group home demo)
02. DEMISE (studio demo)
03.TEMPTATION (studio demo)
04. THE FIGUREHEAD (studio demo)
05. THE HANGING GARDEN (studio demo)
06. ONE HUNDRED YEARS (studio demo)
08. COLD (live)
09. A STRANGE DAY (live)
10. PORNOGRAPHY (live)
11. ALL MINE (live)
13. SIAMESE TWINS (live)
14. TEMPTATION TWO (aka lgtb) (RS studio demo)

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Depeche Mode reissues ago-go!

Rumours are abounding that Mute Records are going to go back to the well again for their favourite sons and major cash cow Depeche Mode.

According to online zine Side Line, there are plans afoot to reissue the band's entire back catalogue. Chances are quite good the collection will be remastered and issued on SACD.

The label recently reissued a load of Can albums on hybrid SACD/CD and Depeche Mode's "101" live album was re-issued last year on multi-channel hybrid SACD/CD.

As everyone knows Martin Gore isn't the most prolific songwriter, so the chance of a 2CD set for any of the albums is quite slim, especially as Mute have recently issued boxsets for the singles, a remix collection and download for some of the more obscure remixes that featured on white label promos and the like. To continue an analogy, this repeated trip to the well is drying it up somewhat.

Chances are the reissues could co-incide with the release of the band's new album, which they're currently in the studio working on with producer Ben Hillier.

Not to be greedy, but if this trend continues, I've got my fingers crossed for some Recoil SACD reissues...

Link: Amazon.co.uk

Monday, 24 January 2005

Tsunami Gig

As I guessed, the Tsunami Relief Concert in Cardiff came and went and people are hard pressed to say who played, when they played and what they played. A far cry from the Live Aid 2005 it was billed as.

Suffice it to say, about the only thing I am sure of is the Manic Street Preachers DID play and they DIDN'T play their late 90s single Tsunami, which I guess is a good thing. Of course, the Manics of the Generation Terrorists era would have chomped at the bit to play it and be subversive, in the same way they released a song called Another Invented Disease during the AIDS epidemic.

As a footnote, the b-side to the Manics single is called Buildings for Dead People, which given what has happened, is quite eerie.

Still, word is out that Scotland are going to try their hand at the whole Live Aid 2005 thing... sorry, the Tsunami relief concert. According the NME, the lineup looks rather Scot-band heavy, as one would expect. Bands like Franz Ferdinand, Deacon Blue and Trashcan Sinatras are poised to make a forgettable appearance all in the name of charity and re-building a career. (There's only so many slots available on Celebrity Big Brother).

Link: NME's article
Link: Give to the Tsunami Relief

A much better Idol?

After more than 10 years away from the music scene, Billy Idol is set for a return this coming March with an album of new material out on Sanctuary, the label that gives has-beens another chance.

Anyone who's a fan of classic Idol should be quite happy at the news that Billy's buried the hatchet with long-time contributor and all around guitar God Steve Stevens. The last studio album by Idol featured a scab guitarist and really felt like a let down compared to the earlier Stevens driven work.

Also on board is long-time producer Keith Forsey, who sat behind the desk for most of Idol's initial releases, including the "Rebel Yell" album.

The new album, to be released 22 March, is called "Devil's Playground" and the new single, called Scream, already starting to cause a buzz, having been released to radio and digital download stores from yesterday. It can also be heard on the splash page of the official site.

The track is a return to form of sorts for the bottle-blond punk king. The driving bassline, the screaming guitar, and the sneering menacing Idol vocals are all present and accounted for. There's also some lyrics about "lemon trees" which is quite odd.

Whether the man can capture the success he once held in the early 80s (as encapsulated in the film "The Wedding Singer") will be interesting to see, but as other bands of the era like Duran Duran and U2 are still going concerns, anything is possible.

Also, you've gotta admit, given the choice of Idols, you'd take Billy over Pop any day!

Link: Amazon.co.uk

Friday, 21 January 2005

Is it Friday? Then it must be Factory

Everyone remembers Factory Records. The seminal indie label from the 80s that brought us not only Joy Division and New Order, but also the backbone events of the Madchester era - the Hacienda and the Happy Mondays.

Anyone remember Factory Two? Or whatever the third incarnation was called?

Fast forward to 2005 and Factory founder Tony Wilson is prepping a new label called Factory Four or F4 Records. The label should start trading on 31 January 2005 and the first release, "Realize and Witness" from hip-hop outfit Raw will hit UK record shops in March.

Rumour has it that another previous label stalward of Wilson's, namely Durutti Column, will be among the initial signings for F4.

Which previous Factory imprint this label will emulate is hard to judge, but suffice to say the last two kicks at the can haven't worked out too well.

It'll be interesting to see if the soundtrack for the forthcoming Joy Division movie comes out on F4. I might actually buy that release.

Link: Official Site

Thursday, 20 January 2005

BMG are brickin' it

Anyone wondering why BMG Europe are releasing an Elvis single a week for the foreseeable future?

Seems their European copyrights are due to expire on large amounts of his material and while they petition governments to extend copyrights, they're rushing as much crap into the charts as possible to make as much money in as little time as they can... just in case.

Without ammendments to the law, Elvis' track "That's All Right" has fallen into the public domain as of 1 January 2005, so play it where and when you want and you don't have to pay anyone for the privledge!

As it currently works, the copyright law is as such:

- In the United States, under the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, sound recordings are protected for 95 years from the day of recording. For recordings done post-1976, coverage is the artist's life plus 70 years.

- In most of the European Union, the duration is 50 years after the first release of a sound recording.

Link: Elvisnews.com

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Lessons Learned

With news this week that Duran Duran's Roger Taylor has injured his foot and thus cancelled the band's about to start Japanese tour, there's been a large hue and cry from fans who are now stuck with a impending Duran-less Japanese holiday.

When dealing with a trip that hinges on the appearance of a band, I guess it's always a good idea to make back up plans as well - like choosing a destination that you'd want to go to anyway.

Back in 1995 I went on holiday to California with a mate of mine. Just so happens that this particular week in June co-incided with Duran Duran (again again) playing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Mate and me got to the NBC studio in Burbank at 7am to make sure we got tickets, then spent a great deal of the afternoon in a lineup with likeminded people. Around 4:30pm (the show starts taping around 5:30pm) we were told the musical act would be Boys II Men not Duran. No reason was given, but the fact that one of the other guests was bassist John Taylor's ex-wife Amanda made us all think.

The point is, while we felt a bit cheated that day - early rising and long lineups for Boys II Men is just WRONG!! - we still enjoyed our Duran-free holiday in California.

While people are moaning about being out of pocket up to £1500 for a Japanese holiday, maybe they should just try and have a good time and drink in the Japanese culture and marvel at places Duran have played, like the Budokan.

Another point. Bands usually have world tours for a reason - so people don't have to traipse half way round the world at great expense to see them.

Friday, 14 January 2005

New Year. New Things. Etc.

So it's a new year and what better way to welcome it than by attending a live and exclusive gig in Londontown?

Last night I attended a BBC Radio 2-taped free concert by Duran Duran at Hammersmith Palais, a small little nightclub that the band played back in 1982, really before the cusp of worldwide fame grabbed them by the danglies. That show as well was taped for radio broadcast.

Apart from the obvious highlight of seeing the band in a 3,000-odd capacity venue (and how many fans can say that - unless they attended the Big Thing Tour in 1989?), it was awesome to see the band continue to trot out the older tracks. Too many bands with a history similar to Duran's continue to tour a greatest hits package year after year.

Credit due to Duran, though. They've been listening to the fans who continually ask for older b-sides and obscure album tracks to be added to the set lists. Last night was the first time in many, many years that the band played "Hold Back The Rain", a standout track from the Rio album, which I have personally never heard live.

This can be added to other non-greatest hits tracks from the last couple of tours; stuff like "(Waiting For The) Nightboat" and "Friends Of Mine", and for the lucky few who got to see it's live debut "Tiger Tiger".

Great gig, welcome introduction to 2005 for those of us there, and I can't wait to see us singing along to "Notorious", "Ordinary World" and "Rio" when the concert is played on the radio later this month.

Set List
14. NICE

18. RIO

hmmm ... what rhymes with brit?

With this year being the 25th anniversary of the first ever Brit awards, there's a special award to celebrate the best British song of the last quarter century.

Now this award would be a chance to look back over some amazing output and different musical movements that once made British music the driving force it once was - punk, new wave, Madchester, Brit Pop, etc.

Sadly the nominees look like a grab back of "what the hells" meant to capitalise on the lack of any hindsight that so encapsulates the music industry today.

Here's the list of nominees:

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Queen - We Are The Champions
Robbie Williams - Angels
Will Young - Leave Right Now

Let's break it down.

Love Will Tear Us Apart is the cry of a man who was so depressed he took his own life mere months before the song came out. The track itself was the bridge between 70s punk and the more melodic rock movement of the 80s. Also proved that an indie label can have an effect on the public consciousness. Perfect snapshot of the time.

Kate Bush is one of the most successful female singer/songwriters of our time and provided the roadmap for artists like Tori Amos. Wuthering Heights was not only a wonderful literary reference but also proved that David Gilmour was more than just the noodly guitar virtuoso for Pink Floyd. Possibly not an overwhelming choice for best British song ever, and not even best Kate Bush song, but it is her first single and got her into the public eye, so fair dos.

Without We Are The Champions, many a final game of any sports series (in whatever sport you choose) would be that more empty. A perfect example of how a song can transcend itself to become something more than its creators could ever dream. Certainly no Bo Rap, but an important landmark in the music as anthem category.

Angels is the song that saved Robbie Williams career. A weeper - sure; a grand ballad that's graced every slow dance and wedding since - of course. Years from now, the state of the British music scene post Brit pop will be summed up by this track.

Will Young won pop idol or something, didn't he?