Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice has been given the “cover story” treatment in the online-only NME this month:

As is mandatory for any shows in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Wolf Alice’s final shows for ‘Visions Of A Life’ have been given a little festive twist. For the most part, it’s incredibly subtle – two Christmas trees stand either side of the stage, unlit until the encore. As the final notes of ‘Giant Peach’ subside, a blizzard of “snow” falls from the ceiling and Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ blares through the PA.

“Snow machines are very different to what I thought they were,” Theo says, sprawled across the couch in the venue’s green room. “I think we all thought they were foam. It’s just fucking white paper really.”

“I wonder if it looks like snow,” frontwoman Ellie Rowsell ponders, too close to the deluge when it falls to get the same view of it as the rest of the venue. One thing she is certain of – it gets everywhere. “I found a piece in my knickers this morning,” she laughs. “It was kind of plastered to my arse.”

The band had previously joked to NME about hiring a Michael Bublé impersonator for the night but there’s an absence of any guests or even Christmas covers. Despite that, there are some treats along the way to get dewy-eyed over – live debuts for ‘VOAL’ tracks ‘After The Zero Hour’ and ‘Sky Musings’, and two old tracks resurrected for the occasion (‘Storms’ from the 2014 EP ‘Creature Songs’ and ‘Fluffy’ b-side ‘White Leather’). The latter in particular has got Ellie feeling nostalgic. “I had a little moment playing it the other day cos I listened to the lyrics almost hearing it as an older me,” she explains. “I felt really sorry for my younger self and I felt a bit sad. Like, ‘Oh god, why was I so pathetic?!’”

It’s a great article, if only because it shows them at the crossroads in which they find themselves as artists. They have two great, classic albums out and now the pressure is on to follow them up with something as good, if not better. This is where a lot of bands slide back or fall apart, so it can’t be an entirely happy time for anyone associated with the band.

Anyone who thinks that there aren’t great bands out there has been ignoring the likes of Wolf Alice. They are classic rock and roll, updated to include everything that’s good about making guitar music.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Electric Fetus

I see that the Electric Fetus, a record store in South Minneapolis, has been given a “best in the nation” rating by Rolling Stone, and it jarred a lot of memories for me.

Twenty-odd years ago, it wouldn’t even be in the top five for best record stores in the Twin Cities. It was always a good record store, in my opinion, and great for catalog titles, but definitely not one of my go-to stores.

In no uncertain order, I preferred these options:

  1. Garage D’or in South Minneapolis. I bought so many rare and interesting things here, it’s not even funny. My double cassette version of the Church’s Hindsight came from there, and I remember how the clerk “forgot” to put it in the bag. Thanks again, dirtbag, but I still have it. Oh, wait, I had to go get it on CD as well because, hello, cassettes? Anyway, one of my favorites.

  2. Let it Be in downtown Minneapolis. Easily, the most comprehensively stocked store in the ‘Cities. Tons of great stuff. Never had enough money to go there much, but you could get AMAZING stuff there.

  3. Roadrunner Records in Bloomington. A regular stop on the way home and an important store. I got the Electrafixion album there, and tons of other stuff. They were great when I traded in stuff.

  4. Oar Folkjokeopus. I actually spent more time in the co-op they had in the basement, but oh well. An incredible selection of 45s by obscure bands was had there, and I remember getting bootleg R.E.M. albums there. A must.

  5. Tatters and Platters. A defunct gem, but essential for anyone who cares about music and fashion. This is where you could get second-hand clothes and first-rate music, specializing in British romance and new wave. Is there anything wrong with wanting obscure singles by Love and Rockets? Nope.

I thought Down in the Valley sucked, and I felt like I got ripped off any time I went in there. I remember what it was like to go into Sam Goody’s (sucked!) and I remember a pawn shop on West Lake Street where they had tons of great, great records. I used to go into Hymie & Hazen’s a lot, and that place was really for the jazz crowd who liked 78 rpm records. If you were into heroin and confusion, hey, there you go. Special mention for the store in St. Paul whose name I cannot recall, but I shopped there in the late 1990s before I left the Twin Cities for good and came back.

Positively Fourth Street in Dinkytown was where I went a few times, but, really, I can’t remember it being anything more than disappointing. Same for Flip Side in St. Paul, which, back in the day, had an outsized reputation.

Best Buy and Circuit City had a retail war in the 1990s. There was a time when you could get ten dollar albums at Best Buy, and their bins were always heavily stocked. You go in there now, and they can’t get rid of CDs fast enough. And Circuit City is long dead and buried. There was a brief heyday there, and then it all went south. It gave way to Tower Records (I shopped at the one in Annapolis, Maryland) charging $19 for the new Gomez record. No thank you, jackasses.

As I was moving on from the ‘Cities, there were Cheapo stores everywhere, and the main thing they specialized in was buying up all of the CDs no one could afford to keep. They created this underground economy for people who bought an album, taped it, and then traded it in for cash. All of that collapsed thanks to Napster. Yay!

I went to the Fetus several times, but moved on quickly because it catered to the classic rock / KQ92 crowd. I needed the rare imports and the British stuff. They just didn’t have it.

My memory is fuzzy because I just don’t think about Minneapolis anymore. Did not enjoy living there, do not have good memories, but I still have tons of vinyl, CDs and cassettes that I have never parted with. All of that was purchased in the Twin Cities. I have maybe added thirty or forty pieces of vinyl since I stopped shopping for records by 1994 or so. If never end up back there, I’m fine with it. I live within 90 minutes of standing inside of Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas and, to me, that’s the best record store I’ve ever been in. Waterloo will cure what ails you.

Oh, and this will blow your mind. I read through this thread and saw stuff I had to come back here and add. How did I forget Northern Lights?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Pete Shelley 1955-2018

No one did more to make people who were weird, queer, different, or creative welcome in the world of music than Pete Shelley. His death was announced yesterday, and I felt like something had been torn away too soon.

Shelley never stopped making music and he was able to play until the end. That’s what the promise of punk rock really way—never stop doing something new.

There are far too many songs, and far too many albums to count. I loved them when the reformed in the 90s and I thought Do It was one of the greatest comebacks ever, reminding me of how important it is to give people a chance to come back after they've gone away. They were more than the singles; the Buzzcocks were an album band and they were tremendous live. Shelley being out in front of them with Steve Diggle meant that you were going to have your skin peeled off dealing with what was coming at you.

I am sorry I never saw them in person. I have at least nine different live albums by them and they are all classics, all incredible and full of power.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mark Knopfler Does Not Tolerate Bullshit

Really, it’s as if no one knows anything about anything these days:

This past spring, Mark Knopfler set the classic-rock community into a tizzy thanks to a series of carefully orchestrated power moves against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His band, Dire Straits, was one of the six acts included in the 2018 induction class, but our resident Sultan of Snub couldn’t give two damns about the (trumpet playin’ band) honor: He refused to attend the ceremony in Cleveland and publicly gave no reason as to why, despite his bandmates imploring him to say something, anything, to their fans confused by his seemingly anti–Rock Hall stance. (The ceremony would’ve also doubled as the band’s first reunion in over 20 years.) He never relented, birthing one of the most confusing and uncharacteristic Rock Hall inductions in its history, and making this Vulture writer speculate wildly about the ideology behind his snub. Does Knopfler hate accepting awards? Or international travel? Did fellow inductee Ric Ocasek steal his girlfriend in the ’70s? Please, just tell me!

Well, apparently, Knopfler does not hate accepting awards, as he was nice enough to show up at this year’s SSE Scottish Music Awards (?!?!) to accept the Living Legend Award. Yes, he is a legend — we present 3:28–4:13 of “Sultans of Swing” as evidence — but, but … why this award and not the Rock Hall?! According to his acceptance speech, we guess it’s because of his fondness for the country. “When I was a little fellow lying in bed not far from here listening to the music of the River Clyde, the noise of the fog horns and the ships, I used to absorb all the sounds of Scotland,” a local outlet quoted him as saying. “A songwriter couldn’t ask to be born in a better place.” You know a better place where a songwriter could visit? Cleveland!

God, that’s obnoxious and trite.

Anyone surprised to find out Knopfler is gracious about something that matters—an honor given to him by the music community of Scotland—doesn’t know anything at all.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Ride Unplugged

Ride are continuing their 30th Anniversary Acoustic tour tomorrow in Bristol. It’s a shame these shows weren’t extended for an American audience, but oh well.

Here’s the full itinerary:

You can still see them in London and Manchester, and hopefully they’ll find a way to keep playing and to keep making music. Everything they’ve put out so far has been brilliant.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Afterlife

Noctorum is a collaboration between Marty Willson-Piper and Andy Dare Mason (with guests, of course). Their fourth album promises to be something special.

Head over to PledgeMusic and see if this excites you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

First World Problems

Ian Brown is out with a new single, and there’s an album that follows:

Ian Brown appears to be teasing his return, as posters advertising a new single ‘First World Problems’ have been spotted across his native Manchester.

This follows a similar pattern to when The Stone Roses plastered their iconic ‘Lemon Posters’ across the city in 2016 – before returning with new music and tour dates.

Having not released a solo album since ‘My Way’ in 2009‘, there have been rumours that Brown was working on material away from the Roses since last year. Fans are now speculating that a new track from album news from Brown will arrive this week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Don't Buy or Sell It's Crap

This one’s a stinker.

Record Store Day features a release by the Dead Kennedys, only it’s not Jello-approved as far as I can see.

Who in the hell releases their rehearsal studio tapes and calls it a “new” album? Good Lord, quit trying to shake the pennies out of that dying carcass.

This release comes from Manifesto Records, and here’s what we think about that:

Doctored versions of all the old releases are released on Manifesto Records. Biafra does not endorse these re-releases and suggests that anyone thinking of buying them stop and consider where the money is going first. Their live CDs are embarrassingly weak on the ears and are not recommended.

I’ll go with Mr. Biafra’s recommendation and pass on faux-Dead Kennedys merchandise. Boo! Boo! Boo!

While we’re at it, go support Alternative Tentacles instead.

Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape

Bauhaus are releasing their live LP Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape for Record Store Day and I think it would be a wonderful acquisition if you can get your hands on it. You may be underwhelmed by the quality but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because it’s the coolest shit ever to play this stuff in the dark when you’re trying to think about your problems.

When I got this album, along with Mask, I immediately became frustrated with Bauhaus. Then, I went and got their other albums, and fell in love with everything they have ever done. This is one of those bands where I buy everything they do, up to and through all of the Love and Rockets stuff, of course. Casual fans just need their greatest hits. Some of the deep tracks get a little ponderous, but so does everyone who made a lot of music in the 1970s and 1980s.

Record Store Day is coming, and sometimes assholes ruin it by gobbling up all of the good stuff. Go fight for what’s yours and don’t let them pull their capitalistic bullshit on you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dammit Jeff

Jeff Tweedy has some new music out, and it’s great.

What made me mad was learning that he has a double necked Rickenbacker. This is not that funky bass-six string combo. No, this is the 12 and 6 string guitar version, which is amazing. In this video, he plays an assortment of incredible guitars.

Dammit, Jeff. Why do you have to keep surprising people?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Music is Not Power

For obvious reasons, this is naive and misguided:

Richard Ashcroft has lashed out at artists who make “political” speeches rather than focusing on entertaining fans.

The former Verve frontman spoke to Radio X today (September 10) while promoting the release of his new single ‘Surprised By The Joy’.

“So many fucking artists, man, if they can’t write a song or they can’t sing or they can’t play, they end up being like semi-political leaders, or believe they have to have a million causes to hide the fact that they can’t do the very thing that we want them to do,” he said.

“Ultimately, if someone’s paying hard-earned money to see me play live, they don’t want a rant about what’s happening on the other side of the world,” he continued. “They don’t want to know which way they should vote.

“We don’t give a crap. That paradigm has been broken, smashed by music. That’s where music is power.”

Unfortunately, music is not power anymore. Perhaps in the 60s it was; maybe for a minute in the 80s, you could say that music had some power and influence. But, when they made it so you could steal music through modems and store it on computers, it lost a lot of its value and we haven’t gotten it back yet. Kids today don’t care about bands as anything other than small niche things they might like for a while.

A big artist of today might sell a million copies of their CD if they are lucky. Compare that to the millions of downloads a video game might get, or that a series might get if it’s popular enough. The power of music has been waning steadily for over twenty years. The decentralization of all things media has played a part in fracturing people so that a huge album doesn’t have the meaning it once did. We are rapidly approaching the day when Springsteen, U2, and whoever else are going to be lucky if they can sell a few hundred thousand copies of their latest “album” while social media and competitive video gaming command much greater audiences.

Hell, they’ve even tried giving away music. How’d that turn out?

If artists want to speak out, let them. It’s the least they can do.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Apples & Oranges

Always happy to buy some new music and support an artist like Andy Partridge.

If you didn't already know, he has a wonderful single out, and you can get it on CD. I was not quick enough to get it on vinyl, but that's okay, because I am a kid of the 90s and I like CDs just fine. Oh, I have your spinning vinyl discs, and I like them well enough, but give me the pristine clarity of an impersonal silver plate and I am happy enough.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Streaming Music is Still a Form of Piracy

This is a really smart move on behalf of streaming music companies--ensure that the general public is convinced that what they are doing is NOT stealing music when they admit that that's what they used to do:

The number of Britons illegally downloading music has fallen, a new study has found. 

Conducted by YouGov, the report revealed that streaming has steadied the number of people pirating music as more affordable options for consuming music have become available in recent years.

One in ten Britons said they download music illegally – an 18 percent drop from five years ago. That number should become even lower, too, as 22 percent of people who said they illegally download music said they don’t expect to still be doing it in another five years time. 

Using unverified sources such as file sharing sites and torrents to illegally download music is becoming more difficult, according to 36 percent of those who pirate music in Britain. Surveyed participants added that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music had helped them stop illegally downloading music by making it easier than pirating, offering fair pricing and “fill[ing] the vacuum” with new releases and old songs. 

People who said they still accessed music illegally also explained why they continued to do so. Over half of the group (51 percent) said it was frustrating when music is released exclusively on one platform, like Beyoncé and Jay-Z releasing their joint album ‘Everything Is Love’ only on Tidal at first. Meanwhile, 44 percent of responders said they only illegally downloaded music when they couldn’t find it anywhere else. 

In a press release, YouGov’s Associate Director Justin Marshall said: “While illegal downloads still present a significant challenge to the music industry, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Our research reveals a change in behaviour, with those that previously attained music by unlawful means now being enticed by the low costs and ease of use associated with streaming.


The technology has caught up to the immediate needs of the people who consume music--they want everything right now, and they're willing to pay a small fee for it, even though they know they can just download it, organize it, store it, and retrieve it for themselves. What this amounts to is laziness on the part of the consumers responding to this survey--it's easier to "stream" it than it is to "pirate" it becomes a new mantra.

Never mind that this is just another clever dodge.

Never mind that, even if you're paying for a streaming service, the vast majority of the people making listenable music aren't getting paid. The streaming services themselves are sitting on the cash, using it to keep themselves in business, while an understaffed or non-existent compliance department somehow forgets to send the checks to the artists whose music is being used to keep them viable.

Never mind that a select handful of people at the top of the music industry on the commercial side are reaping most of the financial benefits that an artist currently without a major deal could never receive from any streaming service.

Are you an artist who made music twenty or thirty years ago? The chances are, people are still listening to your music and you're getting paid--maybe twenty bucks this year, maybe fifty bucks a couple of years ago, if that. 

This is all a scam, and artists are still being ripped off. Even though streaming is pushing out illegal downloading, you can be rest assured that there are countless artists out there who made great music that are never going to see the earnings they deserve.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Big O

You can already guess what this is about, given that the NME spent all of thirty seconds putting two bad photos of Liam and Noel Gallagher together:

"Stop fucking about the drinks are on me"

Liam Gallagher has reached out to his brother Noel for an Oasis reunion, saying that he forgives him.

The ex-Oasis frontman wrote on Twitter on Thursday (19 July) that he wants the band to reunite after their split in 2009.

They're not getting back together until they decide that they need the money, and then they'll do it and it will be glorious and sad at the same time.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

How Do You Release a Four Hour Bootleg?

This is way more Bruce Springsteen than most people can probably handle:

Bruce Springsteen has released the full, 4-hour performance of his June 7th, 1978 gig at Los Angeles’ Roxy.

The bootleg recording of the show was released through his ongoing archival live series, which has featured shows from 1977 all the way through to 2017.

This 1978 gig proved particularly popular among fans after it initial broadcast on KMET-FM Los Angeles. It has never been given an official release until now – you can buy it here.

Welcome to the show that never ends, I guess. 

Every artist should have a website like Bruce Springsteen. Want to buy an old show? Even one that went on for four hours? You got it.

Really. It's yours for less that $25 bucks. How cool is that?

This reminds me of one of the greatest lines from Bruce McCulloch: "Our love is like a Bruce Springsteen concert. It's not that great, it's really long, but, wow! What energy."

Friday, July 6, 2018


The Church are going to tour Australia and New Zealand this fall, and this round of shows will feature their unparalleled Starfish album, played in its entirety:

An Evening with The Church begins at Wollongong’s Anita’s Theatre on Friday 23 November; touring theatres in Newcastle, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Auckland and Adelaide before concluding at Perth’s Concert Hall on Sunday 9 December.

An Evening with The Church will see one of Australia’s most iconic bands celebrating their most successful album on its 30th anniversary as well as a host of greatest hits. Fans are urged to secure tickets early to avoid missing out on this unforgettable experience!

Presented by Frontier Touring
Begins: Tuesday 10 July (12noon AEST)
Ends: Wednesday 11 July (12noon AEST)
(or until pre-sale allocation exhausted)

Begins: Friday 13 July (12noon local)

Friday 23 November        
Anita’s Theatre | Wollongong, NSW

All Ages | Ph: 136 100

Saturday 24 November  

NEX: The Arena | Newcastle, NSW
All Ages | Ph: 1300 762 545
     Sunday 25 November        
QPAC Concert Hall | Brisbane, QLD

All Ages | Ph: 136 246
Friday 30 November
State Theatre | Sydney, NSW

All Ages | Ph: 136 100
Saturday 1 December
Palais Theatre | Melbourne, VIC
All Ages | Ph: 136 100
Sunday 2 December
Royal Theatre | Canberra, ACT
All Ages | Ph: 132 849
Tuesday 4 December
Spark Arena (Theatre Mode) | Auckland, NZ
All Ages | Ph: 136 100
Friday 7 December
Thebarton Theatre | Adelaide, SA
All Ages | Ph: 136 100
Sunday 9 December
Perth Concert Hall | Perth, WA
All Ages | Ph: 136 100
Twitter @thechurchband
Instagram @The_Church_band


Having seen them play songs from Starfish live, I can tell you, do not miss this chance to see them show their magnificent chops and their elegant power in a live theater setting. This is the way to see the band--in what looks to be a selection of impressive venues. I write this not because some people are going to jump at the chance to go; I write this so that anyone sitting on the fence will see the wisdom of attending what promises to be a show with incredible range and dynamics. 

I assume they will find a way to take this show to America. If not, then there will be something equally wonderful to hear when they make it back to the states. The anniversary of Priest=Aura is a mere three and a half years away.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Song Remains the Same

Led Zeppelin's reissues are impressive to say the least:

Led Zeppelin have announced a reissue of ‘The Song Remains The Same’. 

The classic rock group are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Guitarist Jimmy Page previously teased “all manner of surprises” to mark the milestone.

If you have ever subjected yourself to the whole film, then you know what to expect. The dreamy, almost surreal introduction, the hammering performance, and then you start wondering, "should this song really be twenty minutes long?"


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Learning From Loss

Pete Tong speaks about the death of Avicii, and he makes points I never would have considered:

Veteran club DJ Pete Tong has called for more emotional support for artists and DJs working in electronic music.

Speaking at the annual International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza, Pete called Avicii - who died aged 28 in April "one of the most talented and successful artists of his generation".

"The warp factor speed of his breakthrough fueled by the adrenaline rush and global connectivity of social media ensured that Tim’s feet never touched the ground," said Pete.

"Tim had no training, there was no apprenticeship...He’d not even had a proper job."

Pete called the Avicii - whose name was Tom Bergling - story "unique - it's the perfect storm in the sense that few will ever be that young and that talented, making the right music, at precisely the time when a world wide musical movement is about to explode."

He added: "Given they way it turned out I hope we never see it again - BUT his death has put the spotlight firmly back on our profession - The Life of a DJ ".

The article goes on to explain that the Electronic Music industry doesn't really have any kind of support network or infrastructure for artists who need help or suffer from a litany of problems related to being successful in their field. There's a real lack of awareness for communities that exist on the fringe. I suppose you could say this about any number of musical genres or fields of artistic endeavor, but what caught my attention was that this wasn't really an idea that was explored when the death of this artist was announced. He was young, he was talented, he was an innovator but he was "troubled" and that's why he died.

Well, don't tell me he had troubles. Tell me what could have been done to help him and save him and keep him around.

Monday, May 7, 2018

What Did You Do With Your Dole Money?

Isn't this a given? Young, snotty British lads are supposed to say awful things about Theresa May:

Shame have hit out at The Sun after the paper penned an article accusing them of “attacking the Prime Minister.”

Sharing the piece to their Instagram account, the band captioned the image, “Pleased to announce we shall be spending our newly acquired funds on hard drugs and anti-tory propaganda, and a new bib for @danwootton if we have some left over #dontbuythesun.”

The article blasts the band for their track ‘Visa Vulture’ which calls out the Prime Minister with lyrics including “Oh Theresa, honey, You know that I mind the gap, With my chargrilled meat, Inside your butter-bread baps.”

Writer Dan Wooton says Shame have received a “taxpayer-funded grant” and still ‘crudely insult the PM’.

They don't even seem that snotty, really. They're a bit posh, but oh well. Take that cash and make some art with it. Modern British history is replete with stories of young people who took money from the dole (or a grant or a loan or whatever) and used it to buy guitars that were then used to chop down the old guard and make everything better.

Well, not really, but I have no idea what a butter-bread bap is.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Bunnymen & The Femmes

This is the show I want to go see:

For the second straight summer, Echo & The Bunnymen and Violent Femmes will team up for a U.S. co-headlining tour, a trek that so far spans 11 dates in Texas and parts of the south, and which will see the two bands alternating which closes the show each night.

The tour opens July 12 in San Antonio, Texas, and wraps up July 25 in Washington, D.C., hitting, in total, four cities in Texas, two in Florida and Virginia, as well as Tennessee and Georgia.

Echo & The Bunnymen and Violent Femmes tour dates:

July 12: Tobin Center, San Antonio, TX %
July 13: ACL Live Moody, Austin, TX #
July 14: Revention Music Center, Houston, TX %
July 15: The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, Irving, TX #
July 17: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN %
July 18: State Bank Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA #
July 20: House of Blues, Lake Buena Vista, FL %
July 21: Saint Augustine Amphitheatre, St. Augustine, FL #
July 23: The National, Richmond, VA %
July 24: Norva, Norfolk, VA #
July 25: The Anthem, Washington, D.C.%

Monday, April 23, 2018

What Did Richard Ashcroft Get For His Soul?

Never in my life did I think Richard Ashcroft would open for the Rolling Stones or have anything to do with them:

Liam's good pal Richard Ashcroft (of Verve fame) will get things started in Manchester and Edinburgh and further support on the tour will come from the likes of Elbow, The Specials and The Vaccines.

The man who stole his greatest song was named Allen Klein, and he was the man who ripped off everyone because he knew how to do it. He ripped off the Beatles and he ripped off anyone foolish enough to get between him and an easy buck.

Klein and the man he mugged on the way to stealing Bitter Sweet Symphony are both dead, so maybe that's why Ashcroft has decided to take a lucrative solo gig and pretend like it's all water under the bridge.

For those who don't know, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are credited for, and have made millions from, a song they had nothing to do with:

When Jazz Summers, the manager of the British group the Verve, called in early 1997 to say the band wanted to get publishing clearance for a sample, Iris handled the situation. She told Summers that someone from the record company had already phoned and tried to low-ball ABKCO with an offer of 15 percent. “I’ve told him to f--- off, Jazz,” she said. “We don’t like people stealing our music. I’ve spoken to Allen. We’re not going to agree to this.”

Indeed, Klein was ultraprotective. ABKCO was happy to support writers who wanted to collaborate with other artists, but he saw sampling as a dilution of a work’s viability and didn’t want to encourage people to use samples and then negotiate retroactively.

That was precisely what the Verve’s musicians were trying to do. In this case, the sample, used in a song entitled “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” was taken from an instrumental version of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time” that had appeared on an album by the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra. The Verve had cleared the rights to sample the recording from Decca Records, but they hadn’t thought about getting permission for the underlying composition until after the fact. The irony was that the segment lifted from the Oldham recording didn’t sound a bit like the original Stones song, and the arranger who’d written the riff, David Whitaker, wasn’t even listed as a composer. As it stood, the credits for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” were shared between Verve vocalist Richard Ashcroft and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. But the record couldn’t be released without the permission of Jagger and Richards’s publisher, ABKCO Music.

At a loss, Summers let his record company take a whack at it. Ken Berry, the head of EMI Records, came to New York and called on Klein. He played Klein the completed Verve album, Urban Hymns, which EMI’s Virgin label was betting would be a big hit. And “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was its obvious lead single. So Allen could appreciate how imperative it was that he grant a license.

“There’s no sampling of our music,” he said. “We just don’t believe in it.”

“Oh, f---,” said the head of EMI Records.

Klein let a day or two pass before calling Berry. He realized EMI and the band were in a bind, he said, and he was willing to make an exception to his rule and grant a license — if Ashcroft sold ABKCO his rights as lyricist and the company became the sole publisher of “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” The bargain was made; Richard Ashcroft was paid a thousand dollars.

The deal was as unsparing as any in Klein’s career; he held all the cards, played them, and raked in the pot. When music photographer Mick Rock happened to call Klein that day to see how he was, it was obvious to him that Allen was enjoying himself. “I was very bad today,” he said.

Klein was human scum, and he exploited artists and stole their money as easily as he breathed in the morning air. I have no idea why Ashcroft would do this. Money makes people do horrible things, I guess.

Van Morrison Knows Things

When someone as venerable and as irascible as Van Morrison says something that you agree with, of course you have to produce a short, opportunistic blog post about it that no one will read:

"The media makes things up," the star told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I've been talking about fake news from day one," he continued. "But back then, when you said, 'this is made up,' they'd just dump on you more. So I had to put it in songs eventually."

The Northern Irish singer, who is responsible for some of the most extraordinary music of the last century, said he had grown wary of the press in his early days, as part of R&B group Them.

"We had to do a lot of interviews when we started. You do that when you're a kid, but later on you realise it's pointless," he said.

"It's funny, the whole star-celebrity media... It's like the song, 'You build me up to knock me down' [by] Hank Williams.

I agree with almost his every word, but, on principle, I can't abide a Van Morrison post that doesn't include pointing out that this man actually likes to smile and play music people want to hear, so to hell with any criticisms, sir. And if you call him dyspeptic, I'll have to ban you for five minutes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

Echo & the Bunnymen are releasing a new album this fall, and it looks like the perfect introduction to their classics (and two new songs). They're re-working old songs with an orchestra, always the right move for a band with timeless string of hits.

The Bunnymen are still revered by those in the best of popular culture. In the past year alone, the highly acclaimed and culturally phenomenal Netflix series 'Stranger Things' has used the song 'Nocturnal Me' whilst the equally comparable '13 Reasons Why' has used 'The Killing Moon', a song also used on another Netflix show, 'Dead of Summer'.

1. Bring On The Dancing Horses
2. The Somnambulist
3. Nothing Lasts Forever
4. Lips Like Sugar
5. Rescue
6. Rust
7. Angels & Devils
8. Bedbugs & Ballyhoo
9. Zimbo
10. Stars Are Stars
11. Seven Seas
12. Ocean Rain
13. The Cutter
14. How Far?
15. The Killing Moon

The thing I like about this project is that the song choices are so strong. Including their greatest non-album track Angels & Devils is innovative and brilliant.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

HD Vinyl

They're going to start pressing records onto a ceramic plate? Really?

The first-ever ‘HD vinyl’ could be hitting your turntable in 2019, with an Austrian startup receiving $4.8m of funding to develop the product.

A patent filing in 2016 described how records could be made with a superior quality to standard vinyl. It said that the LPs would boast higher audio fidelity, higher volume and longer playing times.

Now, founder and CEO of Rebeat Innovation, Günter Loibl, has told Pitchfork that the new format could hit record stores as early as 2019.

How does it work? According to the official HD vinyl site, the process converts audio digitally to a 3D conversion. Once optimized, the 3D topographic map will be engraved onto a ceramic plate.

Now, I'm sure they've tested the hell out of this, but, what I really want to know is, why do I have to buy all of my music all over again?

And, you're going to press thin ceramic plates and sell them to people?

I followed the link and read the website. As with anything, it comes down to--how many can you produce and can you convince people to move on from an existing format? I have no idea if they can do it, but I suspect that the first time one of these discs shatters from normal use, people are going to be pissed. I have just enough audio album Blu-ray Discs around to keep me in a foul mood.

This is exactly the sort of thing record companies love. They can make people pay for the same old music all over again and then they can pocket the profits and stiff the older artists they're not paying streaming royalties to. It's evil-genius level brilliant, and they get to sell you a product with better artwork.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lindsey Buckingham Has Been Thrown Out of Fleetwood Mac

Even though I don't care, and never will, this seems to be a really big deal:

Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham are cutting ties.

A representative for the band confirmed to CNN on Monday that Buckingham and the band have parted ways and that he will not be going on tour with them in the fall.

"Lindsey Buckingham will not be performing with the band on this tour," a statement read. "The band wishes Lindsey all the best."

The representative would not provide any further details as to what led to his departure. A source close to the band told CNN that the split was "over musical differences regarding the tour." A representative for Buckingham referred questions to the band.

    Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, the same year as the band's longtime lead singer, Stevie Nicks. Buckingham, who has since served as the lead guitarist for the band, wrote some of the band's most well-known songs including "Go Your Own Way," which was the lead single off the band's highly successful 1977 album, Rumours.

    Bless your heart, CNN, but there's a little more to the story than that. What I want to know is, who is having sex with whom these days and did that factor into the decision to throw Lindsey out of the band?

    These are some supremely weird and kinky people, but it could also be about drugs. I never believe rock stars when they talk about how they've solved their chemical addiction problems. This is Fleetwood Goddamned Mac. How freaky have they been getting? It's 2018, and people have been known to maintain their perversions well into old age. I don't doubt for a moment that this band is still a traveling orgy of senseless acts of deviance and indulgence. Nowadays, you bring on people who can service the elderly in about as many ways as you can imagine. They have slings and swings for all of that stuff now. I would imagine they have professional medical people on retainer to revive or resuscitate band members on a regular basis. Someone's walking around with an array of specially-loaded EpiPens, and if they aren't, well, they need to. 

    Granted, it's more likely about money or how many shows they were going to play. Maybe Lindsey got tired of playing the hits. Who knows?

    Saturday, March 31, 2018

    Midnight Oil 1984

    Last year, Midnight Oil came back to life as a band and toured the world. They showed everyone what music with a conscience sounded like (hey, wasn't there a band called U2 once that tried to do the same thing?). I am waiting for the live album that will eventually be released that will properly document the shows they put on for fans everywhere. I don't know if it's the end of the band or if they will wait five years and put out new music and go back out there.

    I do know one thing. We need Midnight Oil now more than ever. I hope they have it in them to document the atrocities of the Trump era.

    There is a new documentary out about their impact on the music world called Midnight Oil 1984. What a year for them--they recorded and released the amazing Red Sails in the Sunset and went on another barn burning tour of the world.

    Red Sails is one of the most amazing albums ever. Recorded with cutting edge (at the time, of course) digital technology, you can really hear the experimentation and the defiance of the band. When asked to go and produce radio-friendly singles, they told their record company to go pound sand.

    Somewhere in the period between Red Sails and Diesel & Dust, they went back out onto the road and documented their attempt to reinvent themselves as a band. 

    I have a copy of Black Fella, White Fella in storage and it is a tremendous document of their ability as a live band. Instead of arenas and festivals, they packed themselves in trucks and played for people in the outback, preferring the backslapping of the indigenous people of Australia to the fawning bellows of an inebriated crowd in a massive field.

    The trailer for Midnight Oil 1984 looks amazing. Someone should have just merged the two projects together and given BF, WF a proper re-release. 

    Saturday, March 24, 2018

    Sir Paul Speaks


    Paul McCartney threw his weight behind calls for gun control at the March for Our Lives in New York on Saturday, saying the issue has struck a chord with him because fellow Beatle John Lennon was killed by a gun. Speaking to CNN, McCartney conceded he wasn’t sure calls for change could end gun violence altogether, but “this is what we can do, so I'm here to do it.” “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me,” he said. Lennon was famously shot and killed outside his Manhattan apartment building in 1980.

    This is what the beginning of a movement looks like.

    Saturday, March 17, 2018


    There is nothing wrong with a little highbrow discussion of XTC:

    XTC is pop that is somehow beyond the limits of pop. There is pop and art, and there is rock and art, and yet the terms Pop art or art-rock don’t quite fit. In the seventies, bands such as Yes; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Genesis; Jethro Tull; and so on were known—with their long solos, long tracks, and grandiose concepts—as art-rock. Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper preceded them, and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool followed. In the middle was punk, which ripped apart the pretensions of the art-rockers and put Andy Partridge in an awkward position. He couldn’t show his soft side, and he couldn’t do anything that stretched the attention span. But from his earliest records, what was unmistakable was chromatic harmony, a concept that sprang from nineteenth-century Germany, starting with Wagner’s Tristan chord. To put it less technically, Partridge’s chords are often weird—stacked, suspended, and eerily cast—and they sound like no one else’s.

    Here's one way to get to the Tristan chord:

    And there you have it. I realize there are other variations, but this one sounded pretty good to me.

    The idea that XTC is high brow entertainment is a bit of an inside joke. It's accessible pop music! It's difficult, complicated prog rock! It's dance music for white people! It's pastoral punk! It's everything you can imagine and more. Oh, and the songs are wonderful.

    Thursday, March 15, 2018

    Julian Casablancas is a Useful Idiot

    Nobody has to listen to what Julian Casablancas has to say about anything ever again:

    Julian Casablancas has argued how the “whole mainstream resistance” to Donald Trump “completely misses the point” because the President is “just like a symbolic facade, puppet of the real problems”.

    The Strokes frontman recently spoke to Rolling Stone, admitting that he is somewhat a fan of Russia Today because the controversial TV network gives airtime to American dissidence, despite “obviously” also being pro-Putin propaganda.

    “The dissident voices like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, you used to see them a little bit in the mainstream,” Casablancas said. “And now it’s so repressed that people have to go to like, RT, to speak their opinion, and now they’re trying to shut RT down.”

    “It’s almost like the new Star Wars where there’s like 10 people left on a ship and that’s, like, the Resistance. That’s all that’s left.”

    Well, that guy turned out to be a fucking idiot. First, it's as if he has no idea America elected Barack Obama, and I would be shocked if this guy has ever voted anywhere, ever. Second, RT is Russian state propaganda, designed to influence other countries to split up, fall apart, and go to war with themselves. Third, if you're savvy enough to note that RT is obviously pro-Putin, then how is it you haven't figured out that it serves as a means to hiding what Putin is really doing to Russia and to Western democracy?


    Wednesday, March 7, 2018

    The End of the Print Edition of the NME

    Very sad:

    The NME is to cease publication in print after 66 years, the weekly music title joining a growing list of once mighty magazine brands that now only exist online.

    The website will continue, replacing the print edition’s cover star interview with a new weekly digital franchise, the Big Read.

    The NME will continue to keep a sporadic presence in print with special issues such as its paid-for series NME Gold, to cater for music stars’ appetite for appearing in a printed product.

    The people who grew up with it are losing something valuable. The NME was something one held in their hands. To me, it's always been a website. Let's hope they can keep that going.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2018

    Waking Up In Another Town

    It's an avalanche of cool music:

    Ride release 'Waking Up In Another Town: Weather Diaries Remixed' through Wichita Recordings. Available 21st April in all great record shops, this limited edition (3000 copies worldwide) double LP is a collection of remixes of 'Weather Diaries' tracks

    This looks like amazing stuff. So, we've had a new Ride album, a world tour, a new EP, and now a double album remix? Incredible.

    Sunday, March 4, 2018

    Wide Awake in America

    I have very little interest in post-Achtung Baby U2, but this is a great idea:

    U2 have announced the vinyl reissue of three of their classic releases, including their 2000 album ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’.

    The three records in question – 1985’s ‘Wide Awake In America’ EP, 1997’s ‘Pop’, and ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ – will be all be remastered and pressed on 180-gram vinyl for the reissue, with each record set to be packaged in a sleeve which faithfully reproduces the original release’s artwork.

    Both ‘Pop’ and ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ will come with a lyric booklet, while all three reissues will include a special download card.

    All three reissues are due on April 13, and pre-order is available now through U2’s official store.

    They won't do this, of course, but they really should expand the number of tracks and make Wide Awake in America a proper album. Leave the first side the way it is, and add between five and seven live "bonus" tracks from that era. The tour that U2 undertook to promote The Unforgettable Fire produced a slew of live performances that, when you hear them as bootlegs, are really just astounding. Every U2 show from that era was an event, and it's a shame they are not releasing those recordings in their proper format.

    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    Old Man Says Nutty Stuff

    Is this a thing now?

    Crusty old Charlie Watts has decided to pull a Quincy Jones and say outrageous stuff that cannot be backed up, and then pretends the existence of his half-century old band doesn't mean anything anymore:

    The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has said that it wouldn’t “bother” him if the band broke up, also revealing that he doesn’t think David Bowie was a “musical genius”.

    This week has seen The Rolling Stones announce details of a huge tour of UK and Ireland for this summer, including dates in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

    Their first UK tour in five years, the band have also been criticised for the prices of tickets for the No Filter tour.

    Following the news, Watts spoke to The Guardian when he seemed to suggest that he wouldn’t mind if his band called it a day.

    “I love playing the drums and I love playing with Mick and Keith and Ronnie, I don’t know about the rest of it,” Watts said. “It wouldn’t bother me if the Rolling Stones said that’s it… enough.”

    He continued: “I would hate it to dissolve not amicably. I would like Mick to say, or me or Keith or whoever… I don’t want to do it any more, for whatever reason, and we just say that’s it. I wouldn’t want it to be an argument or whatever.”

    It's as if someone much, much younger gave Watts some advice on getting his name in the NME for some sort promotional purposes, and it fell flat because Bowie is dead.

    Saturday, February 17, 2018

    Tomorrow's Shore

    When Ride started making new music, I was not at all a skeptic. I knew what we were in for, and I knew that Weather Diaries was going to be a strong album that would not diminish their back catalog in any way.

    The songwriting bug has come back to bite Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, and it looks very much like Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt are writing songs as well. Everything you hear from Ride now is a proper collaboration of ideas and sounds.

    I did not opt for the vinyl release; I wanted to hear this, so I went for the digital download.

    I'm not in the business of telling people what to do. If you preview this stuff and like it, support the band and drop a few bucks on this. The quality of their work is amazing, and it always has been.

    Pulsar is better than anything you're going to hear being pushed on radio or YouTube, to be perfectly honest with you. I have no idea why this kind of music isn't more popular.

    Friday, February 9, 2018

    Sunday, February 4, 2018

    Richard Ashcroft Swings Back at Noel Gallagher

    Richard Ashcroft has decided to take a passive aggressive jab at Noel Gallagher weeks after being accused of not writing his own songs.

    Someone made a perfect photo of the controversy, and so, why not share it? 

    I'm not sure where Gallagher got the idea that Ashcroft stopped writing his own songs. Did he say it because he has insider knowledge? Did someone tell him something? Who knows?

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    How Many Careers Have Been Ruined?

    We have seen an outpouring of ink over the legitimate claim that numerous actresses have seen their careers ruined because they wouldn't have sex with powerful men. This is endemic to every walk of life. The music industry will catch up to the film industry, if only because that would be the right thing to do.

    Stacey Solomon has a story to tell:

    The former X Factor contestant and TV presenter said she felt unable to progress in her music career following the incident

    Stacey Solomon has said that she was sexually propositioned by a big music producer in order to ‘further her career’.

    Speaking as a panelist on Loose Women today (January 31), Solomon discussed an incident that took place while she was attempting to make and distribute music in another country.

    The former X Factor contestant said the producer had asked for “some alone time to get to know each other better” while working, after her appearance on the ITV singing competition.

    “I remember going out to a different country to work on a record and hopefully distribute it,” Solomon said. “And I met somebody who was really big – a music producer – who could help me distribute it and get on board and make a huge difference.

    “That person asked if I wanted some alone time at dinner to get to know each other better.”

    Despite initially thinking that producer was joking, the singer realised that the remark was “a real invitation of ‘if you come with me I can help you’”.

    Solomon continued by saying she then knew she wasn’t going to be able to “further my career”.

    There are going to be more stories and more fallout from this. I think it is imperative to believe and support everyone who comes forward. Yes, due process is important, but we, as a culture, have been conditioned to think women are liars. That has to change.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    Mark E. Smith 1957-2018

    Mark E. Smith is going to be impossible to properly eulogize. He was a figure very much of his own construction and design. It might have been a shambles all around him, but that's what made it all work.

    Monday, January 22, 2018

    Andy Will Never Go Against Johnny

    There was something a bit suspect about this from the very beginning:

    The former bassist of the iconic Manchester band has said he was "deeply saddened" that "false statements" had been made on his behalf

    Andy Rourke has denied being involved in the newly-announced ‘Classically Smiths’ concert series.

    The series, which is set to showcase a classical re-imagining of the music of The Smiths, had initially been billed as featuring former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, bassist Rourke and second guitarist Craig Gannon. The three were set to be joined by the Manchester Camerata Orchestra for shows in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh before setting out on a full UK tour.

    However, Rourke has now denied his involvement in the ‘Classically Smiths’ series. In a statement provided to NME, Rourke said that he was “deeply saddened” that “false statements” had been made on his behalf.

    No one is interested in such a thing, and if they are, oh well. I don't see any scenario where Andy Rourke goes against anything that Johnny Marr does not wish to be a part of. I get that there is almost zero expectation of anything resembling a Smiths reunion, but this struck me as something weird and out of left field.

    UPDATE: And, just like that, the whole thing fizzles out.

    It was announced on 22 January that Rourke, along with Smiths drummer Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon – who briefly replaced Rourke on bass in 1986, before playing rhythm guitar for a spell – would perform classical versions of Smiths songs with the Manchester Camerata orchestra. Joyce said he was “massively excited to be playing with Andy and Craig again”, and Rourke said he was “thrilled and excited to be involved in Classically Smiths”.

    But Rourke called the announcement “false statements”, adding: “At no time did I give my consent for anyone in connection with this Classically Smiths project to act on my behalf or my name, and nothing was ever confirmed, approved or contracted by me or my team.” His representative called the quotes “100% fabricated and without approval”. Lead singer Morrissey and lead guitarist Johnny Marr are not due to appear at the concerts, and have not released their own statements about them.

    Joyce then announced he was no longer involved in the project. “I entered into agreement in good faith to perform these shows with Andy Rourke and Craig Gannon,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately it became apparent very late that Andy would not be taking part... After much deliberation and soul searching I have decided that without Andy, an integral part of why I agreed to take part in the first place, I have come to this difficult decision. I still believe the shows and concept to be a fantastic idea and wish them all the success they deserve.”

    Friday, January 19, 2018

    The Tragedy of Losing Tom Petty

    The loss of Tom Petty could easily have been avoided if he had been provided access to painkillers that wouldn't fucking kill him:

    Our family sat together this morning with the Medical Examiner – Coroner’s office and we were informed of their final analysis that Tom Petty passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications. 

    Unfortunately Tom’s body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip. 

    Despite this painful injury he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury.

    On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication.

    We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including Fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident. 

    As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.

    As a country, we are not in a place where we can have an adult conversation about opioids because the Trump regime has, literally, put an ignorant, useless man child in a position of responsibility with regards to solving this problem. It will take a complete flushing out of everything Trump related to get us to a point where we can tackle this problem.

    We have a dysfunctional government that won't regulate a drug industry so drunk on profits, they'll never have a sober moment again. We have a crisis on our hands and no one is doing anything. Hey, add that to the pile of things that won't get solved or worked on until we pass through this era with another piece of our hearts ripped out.

    So far, we've lost Tom Petty and Prince to opioids or to complications with misusing these drugs. On top of that, we have lose countless other people, and that's an American tragedy.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The Masterplan

    I have always thought of The Masterplan as the fourth Oasis album, and I have never regarded it as a throw-away record or a mere compilation. The inclusion of "The Swamp Song" and "I Am the Walrus" notwithstanding, the whole thing should have been their followup to Be Here Now and it should have been promoted and marketed as a standalone record. Of all the Britpop era bands, no one had better B-sides than Oasis.

    I would love to see it come out in a deluxe edition, one that gathers up all of the B-sides from the first half-decade of Oasis in the studio. Seven or eight CDs of that stuff would be fantastic.

    Another rant for the future - where is my triple disc Oasis Live at the BBC? Why doesn't this exist yet?

    Released at the end of the whole Creation Records era, The Masterplan is as strong as the first two Oasis albums and holds its own among all the rest. You can hear the chaos of the thing right away, and it's a brilliant, glorious mess. The songs are incredibly strong and this is what makes it an absolute classic for me. I can't understand why these were considered  this record was consigned to the B-side of anything.

    First of all, the song itself is the reason why I think you can make this argument. "The Masterplan" is the one that got away. It should have led off Be Here Now but it didn't. It should have been its own thing, but it wasn't. This is an example of someone tossing away their best work without a care in the world.

    Then we have "Acquiesce" and "Half the World Away." They should have been singles in their own right. What a waste.

    These three songs are enough structure around which you can build a whole album. Why they left "It's Better People" off this is an enduring mystery that I'm the only one who cares about, but still. I'd love to see this expanded and elevated to album status. It sold three million copies worldwide, for crying out loud. If it sold that right now, we'd regard it as a proper masterpiece.

    Monday, January 15, 2018

    Dolores O'Riordan

    This is very tragic and very sad:

    LONDON — Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of Irish band The Cranberries, has died. She was 46.

    Publicist Lindsey Holmes says O'Riordan died suddenly Monday in London, where she was recording. The cause of death wasn't immediately available.

    Holmes says the singer's family is "devastated" by the news.