Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Liam Gallagher Defends George Michael




It has been a terrible year for the entertainment industry, and it seems like there is just death and misery everywhere. Kudos to Liam Gallagher, who has stood up to some of the darkness out there and has made it clear which side of decency he lives on.

I chose not to write about George Michael because I was not a fan; I was not someone who enjoyed his music or his contribution to the culture, but I respected it and I respected him as a person. He's had a lifetime of pain and he has suffered mightily for being gay. No one should suffer because of who they are an who they love. Anyone who mocks the homosexuality of George Michael is a cunt, indeed.

Proof That There's Money in the Vinyl Record Market




Stories like this remind me that there's a renaissance going on in the music business, and it is centered around making quality vinyl records that hipsters buy and don't listen to:

Down an industrial road in southeast Nashville, framed by yellowing, beige-box warehouses, is a building dressed in incongruous, deep-ocean-blue tiling. A burnt-orange sign above its steel-and-glass doors reads UNITED RECORD PRESSING. Inside is where the first Beatles record in America was pressed, where Wayne Newton was fêted as a 16-year-old whippersnapper with an unfathomable jawline. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown, was provided an apartment there. Racist hotel owners didn't want his money.

After more than five decades, vinyl records won't be made there anymore. 

In a post yesterday on Instagram, United Record Pressing wrote: "Spending the last workday at the historic United Record Pressing roaming the rooms of Motown Suite before moving to the new facility." Historic Nashville, an organization that looks to preserve spaces exactly like United Record Pressing, called the news "shocking and sad."

United Record Pressing's operations may be moving to a new space -- in a statement to Billboard, a company spokesperson calls the company's new digs "a game-changer" -- the size of which can conservatively be estimated at two football fields, but the history of its original location is, probably, not going anywhere. Its owners write of having "every intention to honor and preserve it," and a recent push to save Nashville's classic spaces, in no small part owed to Historic Nashville's lobbying, has been successful.

If just one of the handful of remaining producers of vinyl records in Europe or North America was to go offline for a few months, the backlog in work would be huge. They're selling records like crazy all over the world. The question is--who's listening to them?













Monday, December 26, 2016

Mojave 3 Puzzles Like You Digipack Covers




This is a wonderfully packaged album from Mojave 3 called Puzzles Like You. I can't believe it has already been ten years. 

All of the Mojave 3 releases that I have are a treat to behold. This one is a fantastic example as to why their stuff is special.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rick Parfitt 1948-2016




If we were going to go back to last Christmas Eve, and wonder about how 2016 was going to go, I would have said "same as any other year." That would have been wrong. What an awful, awful year this has been. I cannot imagine how 2017 will look, but if it's anything like '16, we're in for a hell of a ride.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The House of Love Babe Rainbow Covers





This album is a masterpiece.

Babe Rainbow

has a fantastic cover--a real winner, if you ask me. I have a soft spot for this album because, back when it was released, I completely missed it. I had the 1990 album, aka, "Butterfly" and, after that, nothing. This was because the House of Love sort of fell off the world for me, but, really, it was just a case of not knowing about this album and what the band was doing. To say that they were underappreciated is an understatement.


They were neglected to death, in other words. And

Babe Rainbow

is one of the most neglected masterpieces of the 1990s. Lost in the sucking swirl of grunge, it ran into a marketplace that wasn't ready for beautiful guitar music. Had Guy Chadwick, et al, simply droned on and screamed about mother, they might have had a chance. Instead, they gave us

The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes

, one of the purest pop songs ever written. Every track on the album is a keeper, by the way. I could mix this whole album up on an iPod and never wonder why those tracks are there.


Acquire this one. It should--it deserves--the reissue treatment, as do all of the other House of Love albums. I would love to see these put back out there with B-sides and live tracks and all, simply because this is crucial music.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Replacements Tim Covers




The Tim album by the Replacements is pretty much the apex of the band--the high point that happened at exactly the moment when they were recorded about as poorly as possible while making the best music of their lives. If this album sounds bad, that's because it does. Tommy Erdelyi was a terrible choice for a producer and the fact that Tim sounds worse than Hootenanny is, well, one more thing to bitch about.

It was the end of the Bob Stinson era and the beginning of the corporate sell-out era, but the drinking and the shenanigans would continue well on through to the end. The songs would never be as good.

The real crowning glory of this era of the band is found on two of the cuts contained on this album. Bastards of Young and Here Comes a Regular are two sides of the same broken heart, and you could build the quintessential novel of the Eighties around those two songs, weaving them in and out of whatever plot full of fuckups and failed glory you could imagine. There are brilliant songs scattered throughout their career, but these two are the two best songs they ever did.

I have never been able to figure out the cover, though. It has an industrial feel to it, with the band portraits designed to make them indie darlings. There were ideas behind it, but how do they match up to the words "a picture on a fridge that's never stocked with food?" And why didn't someone just put that image on the front and call it a day? 

Primal Scream Country Girl Covers




This is where I really, really started to get into Primal Scream again.

This single has a fantastic cover. Country Girl is a classic rave up. Live, this song brings down the house. The cover here is classically presented with a dark and sinister top and bottom bar, just like a scene from a letter-boxed film. I love what they did with this package.

Ten years? Really? It feels like it just came out.

Monday, December 12, 2016

James Laid Cover




The single from James called Laid was easily one of the best things to come out in 1993; I would say that it was definitely a high point for the band that experienced so many highs and had so many great singles.

The design for this one somewhat mars the impact of the single; the cover is difficult to read and I would definitely have flipped what's on the back for the front. I love the close up stitching as a motif and I like the detail in the cloth and the colors. This is not the first time I have liked the back cover more than the front cover, but it won't be the last, either.

Oasis Live Forever Cover

This single broke Oasis wide open, and helped vault their debut album into the stratosphere. Live Forever was more than just some Britpop throwaway. It rose above the genre and defined the Oasis phenomenon. Every subsequent single rode this wave of optimism in the face of bullshit, lies, and blank stares.

The sleeve features the childhood home of John Lennon on Menlove Avenue, and it is one of those fantastic collaborations between Microdot and Michael Spencer Jones. How many singles put the lyrics on the back? Am I right?

Oasis Be Here Now Alternate Cover

Be Here Now has been reissued, and I'll figure out how to get a copy of that in due time. 

This is what could have been an alternate cover, which I regard as a greatly flawed masterpiece that could have been fixed if someone would just do two things:

1. Remove all of the ecstatic choruses that were added when everyone was on cocaine

2. Shorten the songs by at least a minute each

3. Include the cover versions of songs recorded during the sessions and dump the filler tracks

None of that's ever going to happen, but oh well. As reissues go, this is a chance to hear the Mustique demos, which should have been their own album, of course. Why tack them on here? The demos would make a tremendous album on their own.

Here's the best way to look at mid-period Oasis. Separate the first two albums and their B-sides from everything else. They comprise the best one-two punch in the history of music. Nobody has a better first and second album than Oasis.

View The Masterplan as the real "third" album and Be Here Now as a compilation of B-sides. If you flip them around, you can see The Masterplan as a solid third album of great songs. Mash them together if you want. The song The Masterplan alone is the greatest B-side in all of music history. Noel's ridiculous, obstinate temper at that time made The Masterplan a B-side when it should have been a single. It should have been the first track from Be Here Now, backed with Acquiesce, Stand by Me, and Half the World Away.

Alas, who would ever listen to a blogger?

XTC Black Sea Cover

Black Sea

is the XTC album that everyone should hear first. I don't care what your dad says, buy this one first and then explore the rest of them.


I'm not saying that because it has the coolest cover. I'm saying that because the songs are instant classics.

Black Sea

is 35 years old--how is that even possible? You kids today with your music--you just don't know.


This is the fifth best song on the album by the way:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Echo and the Bunnymen A Promise Cover

Another old favorite, and why not?

The cover for the 45 rpm single for the song A Promise borrows from the cover art and theme of the album Heaven Up Here. This is an excellent use of the method of tying in the single to the album.

Sleeper Inbetweener Single Cover


Sleeper's

Inbetweener

Single features a fantastic piece of commercial art, and it works on so many levels.


The song, in and of itself, is a novel set to music, and it is so intelligently rendered as to demand the sort of packaging and artwork seen here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Echo and the Bunnymen Never Stop EP


I find it hard to believe that there aren't more (and better) images than this of Echo and the Bunnymen's Never Stop EP. I have cleaned this up and I tried to enhance it a bit. Somewhere, I can probably dig out a better version.

The Greatest Comeback Album Ever

It's easy to forget just how reviled they were.

Mother Jones Magazine: Let me read you a recent quote from Randy Newman: "I used to be against world peace until U2 came out for it. Then the scales just fell from my eyes.... And when they're singing with those black people? Do you know that black people just love their music? Bono's conducting those black people and they're doing just what he says!...
BONO: I had heard that. Randy Newman is a very funny man, though I think he's written far funnier lines than those.
MJ: Are you interested that criticisms like his have been leveled a lot lately, particularly at "Rattle and Hum?"
B: I suppose. What's uninteresting about that is that we are such an easy target, from the word go, because we perform from our own point of view. I sing about the way I see things. Some people write songs about the way characters see things. Some artists perform with a wink. That's just not the way with U2. When people perform from their gut -- when John Lennon sang a song called "Mother" -- that was not a hip thing to do. He was exposing himself. It's performers like that I admire.... If you're going to spend your whole life worrying about dropping your guard and exposing yourself, worrying that working with a gospel choir might look like imperialism, that would be dumb.
MJ: But the criticisms I read of the film are that it was too guarded. Let me read, if I could, another criticism ....
Well, I'm really not interested.
MJ: I just want to give you the opportunity to respond ....
B: What this suggests is that the music is not enough. That is my expression -- the music -- and within that music I can take my clothes off. Not for the press, not for the TV shows, not for the film. That film was about music, and in that music was everything that we have to say and offer. Now people want it made easy for them. They want it spelled out. Why can't people just accept the music? You know the real reason? It's that people don't listen to the music anymore, and a lot of critics don't.... I think our fans know all the songs on our albums, and I don't think many critics do. I really don't.
MJ: Were there any criticisms that did sting, that hit home, that taught you anything?
B: No. I must say I was generally very disappointed in the community of critics. It's funny. I would've thought that what people would have expected us to do would've been to put out a double live LP, and cash in on "The Joshua Tree," and make a lot of money for very little work. That is what big rock bands do.
When we didn't do that, I expected people to recognize that. When we put the records out at low price, stripped away the U2 sound, then just went with our instincts as fans, and just lost ourselves in this [American R&B] music, in a very un-self-conscious way...
MJ: But if the LP has been unfairly and stupidly criticized by people who aren't listening carefully ...
B: No. It's not even that. It's that the spirit of it has been completely and utterly missed. The spirit of it is unlike any record of a major group, for a long time. That spirit is the very essence of why people get into bands and make music. And it's not about being careful. And it's not about watching your ass....

Achtung Baby

is the result of being torn apart and reduced to having to plead for understanding. I don't think people understand that context. This is the album that only an angry band could make and that's why it still resonates.


U2 needs to make another one of these and come back, fully, into the world with some anger instead of some wry comments about the bar scene.

The Church Gathering Speed Bootleg Cover


Bootlegs offer a glimpse of the past. In this case, the cover of this Church bootleg is far more interesting than the poorly recorded music inside. The tin can through which the sound has been passed failed to do anything other than reduce the band to a stifled growl.


The cover features a photo of the band I have not seen before. This is the Richard Ploog era, and it begins with all of them looking like they are ready to conquer the world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ride




The fact that Ride have decided to put out a new album is a welcome surprise:

Ride will release their first album in over 20 years in 2017.

 After a brief reconciliation in 2001 for a live televised performance, Ride officially reunited in 2014, with guitarist Andy Bell telling NME at the time that: “As we were all still friends, we always thought when the time was right we’d [reform]. And now the time is right.”

The four-piece, who are considered to be pioneers of the shoegaze genre, last released a full-length record, ‘Tarantula’, back in March 1996. The band broke up later that year.

It now appears that the band are gearing up to release their first album in over 20 years. DJ Erol Alkan first broke the news – as well as revealing that he would be producing the forthcoming LP – on his Instagram account, posting an in-the-studio picture of the band recording with the caption “Currently in the studio with Ride producing their forthcoming album.”

As long as I'm on this sad parade of non-reunions, breakups and whatever, allow me to have a moment. I can still remember the week I picked up Tarantula. It was in some mallrat music store in Minneapolis. There, on the front, was a sticker proclaiming it the final album from the band, a kick in the ass that haunted the rest of the decade. There was the Live Light album, a thumb of the nose at the music business and one of those rare "legal" bootleg albums that sounded OK but could have done with some serious remastering and remixing. 

Ride got me through the first few years of being in the Army and I have never taken them out of the rotation. I would encourage everyone to buy this album when it comes out and support the band as directly as possible. Buy things from their merchandise page and, if they come back out on the road, definitely go see them play live (why wouldn't they tour to support the new album, right?).

At some point, I was going to complain about not having a Stone Roses album to listen to, but you can't have everything.

 













Come On




Urban Hymns turns twenty years old next year, and this should be celebrated. If you were to stack it up against everything in the Nineties, it's a top five album, easily.

It's a top twenty album of all time in terms of British music since the Eighties. It's a verified classic album and someone needs to bring it out and play it for the masses. If that isn't in the cards, well, why not? Who wants to wait around for a 25th anniversary?

Lush




I wish I could say that I was shocked by this, but I am not:

Lush have announced that they will be breaking up at the end of this year. 

The four-piece previously broke up in 1996 before playing their first gig in 20 years earlier this year. They reunited for a warm-up gig at London’s 375 capacity Oslo venue on April 11. Their last live show had taken place in Tokyo during September 1996. 

Posting a statement to Facebook, the band wrote; “It’s been a fantastic year for Lush. We received an incredible reception to our Blind Spot EP and the three beautiful career-spanning 4AD releases, sold out two Roundhouse shows, toured North America with great success and had a ball at our European festival appearances.”

I missed their show at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. I had the ticket, I had spent months waiting for the show to happen, and then the schedule of moving house got in the way of everything and obliterated my September. I literally spent every day working, moving, lifting, planning, and hoping everything would work out okay and it did.

I wish I could have gone, but I had to make a choice. Either clean the house and make it so that we could sell it or spend two hours trying to get to D.C., find parking, and wait to see the show. I chose the house, and it is good and sold. Of all the things I've had to deal with, selling the house in Maryland was the toughest and most important obstacle to overcome.

It wasn't a bad year--I saw Leo Kottke and Robyn Hitchcock from the front row, and I really would have liked to have seen Lush, The Replacements, and Ride but it was not to be. And the Bunnymen--can't forget them, either.

I don't know the particulars and I'm sure someone does. I hope it was not a case where Miki and Emma couldn't agree on anything. I suspect that the stress of it all was too much. Getting together and playing live should not disrupt entirely the raising of kids and all that--they have to come first. Moving house, raising a family, having a normal life--that's all vastly more important than music when you are in your advanced years.

Music is a young person's game. You can really do fantastic things when there are no obligations and no one left at home wondering where mummy went to and what city in North America is barely paying enough to host a show.

Time to get back to blogging, time to get on with things, time to savor the records and remember everything that is still wonderful to hear.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Liam Gallagher Returns to Music




I wouldn't ask our kid what he's up to--you're liable to get a Twitter screen full of invective. But it's good for him to be back making music.

Liam Gallagher's return to music appears to have been confirmed, speaking about a "new chapter" and getting his "life back together" in an upcoming interview.

Gallagher also reportedly spoke about experiencing a "crisis" after his post-Oasis band Beady Eye broke up. The group, led by Gallagher and featuring former members of Oasis and Kasabian, released two albums since their formation in 2009. They announced their split in 2014.

In May, Gallagher hinted at his return to music. It followed a denial from the frontman that he would go solo, with Liam arguing that he wouldn't do so because he is "not a c**t".

Now Q Magazine has teased a new interview with Gallagher, in which he allegedly speaks of how he "got his life back together" after finding himself "in crisis after the split of Beady Eye". 

He's Liam fucking Gallagher--how do you know when his life is back together? Is there a device that measures these things?

I have always thought of him as the perfect guest vocalist and a great collaborator for artists who don't have a lot of mainstream appeal. Gallagher can sing like a real Everyman and make anything his own. Is there a better front man out there? No, there probably isn't. All the greats are gone, save Gallagher.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shaun White Had a Band?




Nothing about this story makes any sense:

Superstar Olympian snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White is now facing a potentially serious legal case against the ex-drummer of his band, the Bad Things.  The case, filed by Bohm Law Group, Inc. on behalf of Lena Zawaideh, who played in the group for several years.

During that period, the two-time Gold medalist White was accused of being a lewd and sexually aggressive band leader, with the following laundry list of offenses cited in the recent filing:

  • Sending sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh of engorged and erect penises.
  • Forcing Zawaideh to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter.
  • Making vulgar sexual remarks to Zawaideh such as, “Don’t forget to suck his balls!” when commenting about Zawaideh’s boyfriend.
  • Sticking his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and the sticking his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.

It’s unclear what relationship the pair had during the period, though White may counter-argue that these actions were merely part of a sex-filled relationship between the pair.  In that counter-argument, things like ‘dick pics’ and lewd comments would be acceptable rules of the relationship, though issues involving California workplace violations will be sharply tested.

I can't tell if this was a vanity project or just proof that Shaun White is an immature asshole. Bonus tip for serial abusers out there--sending dick picks is essentially proof that you don't know what you're doing anymore.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shoeshine Girl




I cannot wait for the Verve reissues:

The Verve have premiered a previously unreleased song, which dates back to the sessions for the band’s classic debut album ‘A Storm In Heaven’.

‘Shoeshine Girl’, which can exclusively be heard via NME below, was recorded during the sessions for the 1993 album. It wasn’t released on ‘A Storm In Heaven’ or its accompanying singles and has remained unheard for the past 23 years.

Along with ‘South Pacific’, it’s one of two unreleased tracks to feature on a newly expanded 3CD box-set of the album, which is reissued on September 9.

It would be the height of foolishness not to reunite and promote the 20th anniversary of Urban Hymns next year, wouldn't it?
 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beautiful Thing




This is the E-mail I received after getting the second Stone Roses single, Beautiful Thing.

THIS ITEM WAS INACCURATELY ADVERTISED AS BEING LIMITED TO 5000 UNITS. THE VINYL SINGLE WAS MANUFACTURED TO ACCOMMODATE ALL TERRITORIES AND THE UK ALLOCATION FOR THIS WAS 5000 UNITS BUT A TOTAL OF 6000 UNITS WERE MANUFACTURED GLOBALLY. 

The message goes on to ask me if I want to send it back for a refund.

Who would return a 12" vinyl single because they made 6,000 of them instead of 5,000? Whoever would do that is an asshole.

I am a bit ticked off that they included no B-sides on the two new releases. When you order All For One or Beautiful Thing, you get the single track and nothing more. Given that there have been numerous live performances, I wish they had thrown 3-4 live tracks on these releases as B-sides. At a minimum, there should be an official release of the version of Fool's Gold that appears in Made of Stone

Monday, August 8, 2016

Slowdive




A new album? Really?

The return of Slowdive was easily 2014’s best reunion. Now, following their comeback tour, the English shoegaze outfit are on the verge of releasing a new album — their first in over two decades.

In a recent interview with Danish publication Undertoner (via Reddit), drummer Simon Scott revealed that Slowdive have completed recording sessions for the new album, their fourth overall and the very long-waited follow-up to 1995’s Pygmalion. “We’re finished recording the album and it will be mixed this summer, but we do not know when it is released.”

Scott continued, describing how the band has incorporated more manipulated field recordings into its latest material: “It’s Neil, who is the primary songwriter, but what has changed since the ’90s, is that he asked me to manipulate some of the sounds we have recorded. It’s not that the album is going to sound electronically. We’ve played together for two years after the restoration, and Neil wanted to capture how well a live band, we are, in the studio. So in that way it’s a live record.”

There were a whole slew of Mojave 3 albums in the 90's and 2000's, and those could properly have been considered part of the story of Slowdive. Halstead's solo albums are incredible, so here's to the idea that the next Slowdive album will be a continuation of this incredibly beautiful journey we've been on for so long.

 

The Stone Roses Are Headed Down Under




Three nights in Sydney, and then a make-up tour of Japan? The Stone Roses aren't going away. There should be a new album coming out soon, but I'm not going to jinx it.

What About Sgt. Pepper?




Revisionist history at work:

Released 50 years ago (it came out on August 5, 1966 in the UK and three days later in the us), ‘Revolver’ is considered by many to be The Beatles’ finest work – and yes, we know they’re all good – but come on, this one is really something. A huge leap in the band’s creativity and inspiration, their seventh studio album saw them drawing on their experiences with drugs as well as their interest in eastern religion. Here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about it. 

Herman's Hermits sold more records in the states than the Beatles, so I don't know why everyone suddenly proclaims Revolver as the "best" out of what should really be one long continuous series of recording sessions. Albums meant something vastly different in the 1960s than they do today. In three years, the Beatles would put out five, six or seven different albums; nowadays, they'd be putting them out once every four or five years, if that.

Rolling Stone championed Sgt. Pepper as the greatest Beatles album. You couldn't go anywhere in 1987 without being clobbered over the head with proclamations about how Sgt. Pepper was the greatest thing ever made. It's all so foolish. And then you get into the maturation of Rubber Soul, the majesty of Abbey Road, and the innovation of the White Album. Really, there is no "best" Beatles album. There are only different ones.
 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ozzy's Being Held Against His Will




Ozzy Osbourne released a hostage video today (oh, there is no video).

Over the last 6 years, I have been dealing with a sex addiction.

I’m sorry if Ms. Pugh took our sexual relationship out of context. I’d also like to apologize to the other women I have been having sexual relationships with.

Out of bad comes good.

Since the press exposed this I have gone into intense therapy.

I am mortified at what my behavior has done to my family. I thank God that my incredible wife is at my side to support me.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as "sex addiction." There are varying degrees of compulsive behavior, and there are underlying conditions that may lead to being unable to control certain behaviors, but there is no such thing as a physical addiction to sex.

And, if you were wondering, no, that's not how Ozzy talks.

OZZY OSBOURNE: I was wearing a coffee pot for that day. And I walked at the hotel when she'd ripped my shirt. And I would start walking to -- and started to. ..

Mr. Osbourne, blink twice if someone has a gun in your ribcage.

Peter Hook Writes Another Book




The only reason why Hooky writes these books is to drive Barney crazy:

Peter Hook is set to release a new book documenting his time with New Order.

The veteran bassist previously documented the rise and fall of ‘Madchester’ in his books The Haçienda and Joy Division’s short career in Unknown Pleasures.

On October 6 he will release his third book Substance: Inside New Order, which documents the rise of the band and his eventual split with the Manchester group in 2007. 

"We didn’t really think about it afterwards, it just sort of happened. One day we were Joy Division and the next time we got together, we were a new band," he said on the formation of New Order. 

The band have since carried on without Hook as Bad Lieutenant but returned as New Order in 2011. Hook has since gone on to form Peter Hook And The Light.

I've never been happy with Hooky's comments about how Gillian never contributed anything to the band, but, then again, I don't matter.
 

Prince Had One Hell of a Sense of Humor




I think the point I'm trying to make is that Prince probably got the humor in letting Weird Al do his songs. He just didn't think the ideas were good enough.

Comedian ‘Weird Al' Yankovic has said that he is sad that he never got the chance to parody Prince's songs. 

Yankovic who has in the past done parodies of Lady GagaMichael Jackson and Kurt Cobain claims he had ideas lined up for ‘Let’s Go Crazy', '1999', 'When Doves Cry' and 'Kiss'.

But the Artist Formerly Known As always turned him down. “It's too bad. I hadn’t approached him in about 20 years because he always said no, but I had this fantasy that he’d come out with a new song, I’d have a great idea, he’d finally say yes and it would erase decades of weirdness between us. But that’s obviously not going to be the case,” Yankovic explained. 

Prince had a sense of humor about himself though. Using an image of Dave Chappelle dressed as Prince on the cover of a single was the ultimate expression of what he thought was funny.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Damn You, Violent Femmes




For reasons I can't get into, this is a show I cannot attend:

“Since we’ve been given the mantle of ‘elder statesmen,’” Ritchie says, “maybe we should start to behave that way. Hopefully we’ll be a little more stable than we’ve been in the past, though if you think about it, the Femmes have been going for 35 years. It’s not unusual for bands to take the occasional hiatus. What is unusual is going for 35 years and still sounding good.”

Hey, maybe next year in Austin, Texas.

Not Even Pennies on the Dollar




Proof that you cannot trust streaming companies to pay for music:

Last year, Apple Music got off to a rocky start with artists after it was discovered that artists wouldn’t be paid anything on free trial plays.  That stung pretty badly, considering that virtually zero users would be paying for Apple Music during the first three months of launch.  Instead, 99.9% would be using a three-month free trial, and only rolling into a paid relationship after that point.

Only after the user rolled into a paid account would artists get paid.  Otherwise, the artist made nothing, even for thousands of plays.

The zero-pay decision was first reported by Digital Music News, after receiving a leaked contract from an independent label.  Indeed, independent labels had been unsuccessfully protesting Apple’s decision, and appeared powerless against the might Apple Music.

Then, something interesting happened: Taylor Swift publicly protested Apple’s no-pay decision, leading to a reversal within 24 hours. [...]

Sounded like a big victory for artists.  But exactly how much was Apple planning to pay?  One year later, we have the answer, with a leaked royalty statement revealing a payout of approximately $0.0017 per free trial stream.  The payout was determined during a test conducted by an independent r&b and hip hop label, and shared with Digital Music News.

Of all of the companies in the world with deep pockets, billions in cash on hand, and with the ability to compensate artists with even just a few pennies per stream, we have the noble example of Apple. A musician might as well buy lottery tickets. There is no path that leads to making a living playing music that runs through the streaming industry. It's the greatest ripoff in the history of ripping off musicians.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Pono is Dying a Slow Death




The Pono died a little bit more this week:

Pono’s companion music site, at ponomusic.com, abruptly went down over the weekend with apparently zero warning to users.  According to details now posted on the site, a broad range of higher-end downloads will be completely unavailable for several weeks, with no firm return date.

In a notice posted online, Pono blamed a backend problem with Omnifone, which has now been acquired.  Apparently the rugged got ripped out under Pono’s music hosting and delivery as a result, with the company scrambling to move backend providers.

Whether Omnifone reneged on a deal as a result of its acquisition, a renegotiation flatly failed, or some fight broke out between the companies is unclear.  Either way, Pono believers are now paying the price.  In a notice that has now replaced an entire store of higher-end downloads, Pono assured users that its core licensing with major labels remains in place.  But storing, delivering, and encoding all of those songs is the responsibility of the service, with Pono opted to outsource.

I don't know of any websites that send you a warning before they go belly up, but there it is. Someone decided to start their own ponosucks.com site and the general consensus is, thanks for nothing.

The Pono music player is based on the faulty notion that Baby Boomer ears are more sensitive and special than yours and can hear things in the music that normal human beings cannot comprehend. This has not lead to anything other than an offline website and a bunch of people who "own" some albums that they aren't going to be able to play anywhere else.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Waiting on the Replacements




Oh, so that's what's really going on with the Replacements:

How often do you speak with Paul Westerberg and are you two working on anything together? There was some talk of another Replacements record before the reunion ended.

You know, we exchange texts now that he’s actually got a cell phone. We exchange goofy pictures and texts about once a month. We never lost touch. We never went years without talking to one another. We always talked and had that sort of thing. It’s like your brother that you have a lot of history with — good and bad.

He’s a little bit older than me. There are certain witticisms that I reach out to him for. We did our thing. As far as anything together, we’ll probably play something together again. We never said we wouldn’t.

As for anything in the works? Not a thing.

I don't know about you, but the way I read that is that when everything settles down, the Replacements will probably put something out or go on tour again. There's nothing definite there, but there's nothing final in those remarks either.

In the interim, anything that Tommy Stinson puts out is going to be good, so you should just get it without questioning it first.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The George Harrison Estate Hits Back at Ivanka Trump




It's getting to be an epidemic. The Republicans are so loathsome and unpopular that no one decent wants them to use their music. Donald Trump refuses to stop using the music of the Rolling Stones. Last night, Ivanka Trump used a George Harrison song without seeking permission.

George Harrison's estate has condemned Donald Trump and the US Republican party for use of The Beatles' classic 'Here Comes The Sun' at the 2016 Republican National Convention. 

The song in question featured on the Fab Four's 1969 album 'Abbey Road' and was penned by Harrison. It was played to accompany Trump's daughter, Ivanka, onto the stage as she introduced her father. 

The ideas of the Republican Party are so reprehensible, even dead Beatles condemn them for stealing their message.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Jam Will Never Reform




This is a bit misleading:

The Jam nearly reunited last year for the first time since 1982, bassist Bruce Foxton has revealed.

Since splitting at their height 35 years ago, Paul Weller has remained adamant that the trio – also featuring drummer Rick Buckler - will never get back together.

But Foxton has revealed that there was an opportunity for the band to be seen together for the first time in public at The Jam’s memorabilia exhibition About The Young Idea, which ran at London’s Somerset House in 2015.

Asked if he, Weller and Buckler would ever be in the same room again, Foxton told Classic Pop: “That should have happened at Somerset House for the exhibition. I went with Paul on the press night, but Rick went when no-one else was there. That was a golden opportunity for Rick to turn up. No-one would have argued with the guy. We’d have posed for photos as the three of us and it would have been great. That was a near miss, and it’s a shame Rick didn’t show up.”

Foxton has renewed his friendship with Weller, who guests on Foxton’s recent solo album ‘Smash The Clock’. Foxton also played on Weller’s 2010 album ‘Wake Up The Nation’ and appeared on stage with him at London’s Royal Albert Hall that year.

The bassist had also been friends with Buckler, playing Jam songs together in the band From The Jam. But Buckler quit From The Jam shortly after Foxton and Weller became friends again.

Foxton said: “I don’t think I’ve ever fallen out with Rick, but he’d probably say differently. Now I’m good mates with Paul, it’s ironic that it’s gone awry with Rick. But I wish him all the best.”

There are two bands that are never, ever getting back together - The Smiths and The Jam. Everyone else is fair game for the reunion rumors. A reunion of the Jam would be one where they play songs together or record new music. Having the three of them in the same room is a press event, not a reunion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Never Piss Off the Turtles




The first rule of show business is: Never Piss Off The Turtles.

Howard Kaylan of the Turtles and Flo and Eddie said in a post on Twitter July 18 there could be legal action against the Republican National Committee for its use of “Happy Together” at the Republican National Convention, which opened today in Cleveland, Ohio. “We never approved this use. Now we call the lawyers,” Kaylan, the Turtles' lead singer on the song, wrote.USA Today reported the song was played shortly after “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “The Pledge of Allegiance” to open the convention.

The Turtles are fierce litigators of their legacy, having been ripped off by AM Radio and everyone else since the late 1960s. You steal from the Turtles and you pull back a bloody stump with three lawyers and an entertainment judge strapped to your bloody stump.

The default setting for Republican politicians should be to play public domain patriotic music and nothing else. Everyone in the music business hates Republicans, even the self-professed Republicans who claim to have worked in the music business.

Oh My God No




Can't someone stop this?

Since 1999’s ‘Brand New Day’, Sting has recorded albums of lute music, classical music and Christmas carols, as well as reforming The Police for a two-year tour and writing Broadway musical The Last Ship.

The new album includes ‘Inshallah’ about refugees travelling to Europe and ‘One Fine Day’ about climate change. Sting said: “The biggest engine for migration will be climate. Millions of people will be looking for somewhere safe. I’m still in a bit of a depression about Britain leaving the EU for no good reason. At least the EU has a program to tackle climate change.”

The album will be out before the end of the year, and its guests include Jerry Fuentes and Diego Navaira of Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros as well as drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarist Dominic Miller from Sting’s live band.

You know what this means, don't you? It means that Don Henley and Rod Stewart have to put out albums, too. Something tells me that Phil Collins is going to drop something on an unsuspecting public as well.

And, for the record, it's not a "pop" record if you've got a song about refugees on there. It's a political statement and you should probably just call it a concept album.

Led Zeppelin Are Coming After More of Your Money




I vaguely remember this being a pretty good collection of BBC session tracks:

Led Zeppelin are to release ‘The Complete BBC Sessions’, which includes a song not heard since it was first broadcast in 1969.

The 33-song album features a three-song session from March 1969, which had been unheard since it was first broadcast the following month. A fan who taped it from AM radio in Europe has come forward with a recording, which has been restored to releasable quality by guitarist Jimmy Page.

The session features the only performance of ‘Sunshine Woman’, which Led Zeppelin never otherwise recorded, as well as ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ and ‘You Shook Me’.

They've expanded this set to make it more "complete" after putting it out about twenty years ago. What's changed is that there is a market for the vinyl release, and so they're going to go after that without regard for anything else.  I'll probably acquire it by default, but, really--there are a slew of great Zeppelin shows that have only ever been available as bootlegs. Why not put those out instead?

Still missing is a complete accounting for everything that the Police did on the BBC (several concerts, numerous sessions, things of that nature) and an official release of BBC sessions by the Verve. I am a huge fan of the Ride and the House of Love releases, so we need more of this to come out. If you don't have the Jam or XTC at the BBC, you should probably get all of that, too.