Thursday, July 28, 2005

Any last requests?
And now, ladies and germs, it is my great pleasure to welcome my very first special guest blogger. Daniel Barnes was a punter at the Danse Macabre gig; here's his thoughts.

Danse Macabre, Kings Arms, Friday 22 July, Reviewed by Daniel Barnes
Most people have not read the interesting, and probably insane, book by physicist Frank J Tipler called "The Physics Of Immortality". In it Tipler puts forward the theory that universe is moving towards something called the Omega Point. The Omega Point is the nerdy equivalent of Biblical eschatology, where everyone that ever existed will reincarnated in a kind of giant computer simulation about 4 billion years hence.

Nothing is ever lost; everything is significant; and it turns out we will live forever not because God loves us, but because the laws of physics do. I trust Tipler; he is an aetheist and a determinist; plus he has done the math - and bloody difficult it looked too.

So much for theory. Friday night at the Kings Arms provided dramatic empirical support that the Omega Point may be even nearer than he guessed. After all, who'da thunk Danse Macabre would be unexpectedly reincarnated after a quarter century's silence, let alone generate more media attention in the week prior to their gig than during their entire previous career?

Until it happened, the prospect seemed somewhat less likely than Pluto hitting the earth, or Pluto hitting no.1, or even Children's Hour reforming. I for one was very happy to see them. Generally I couldn't stand the bleak space-rock of the early '80s, but Danse Macabre did angst with taste and craft that was more Roxy Music than Modern Romance. Guitarist Weston rocked hard in an entirely appropriate classical/metal way; Roddy pounded tribally; Ralph Crump on bass was always more Barry Adamson than Peter Hook; and of course Nigel proved that it is better to play one-finger synthesiser with charisma than it is to be an army of Rick Wakemans. They had some *tunes* too - my own crap glam-punk band did a crap glam-punk cover of "Between The Lines" just last year cos it stands up. As, after 25 odd years, did the band themselves.

Of course, this was more than could be said for those of us in the audience. At least being in the band you get flattering lighting. You also get an inkling of how Bryan Ferry must feel playing live these days – where once he looked out over a sea of Jerry Halls, now there is a sea of geriatrics. But it was encouraging to see that little else had changed. One fashion babe of the era, still lovely and still bombed, wondered aloud to me about when Danse Macabre were coming on; and asked me the exact same question about halfway thru their actual set. Just like old times.

ADDED by Peter: While we're on an 80s nostagia bent, Children's Hour (who later became the Headless Chickens) and YFC play Friday 29 July, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland and Friday 12 August, Bar Bodega, Wellington. Children's Hour have their collected recordings plus some live goodies reissued on CD thru Failsafe Records. There are some MP3's available for download there too. Russell Brown has some memories of Children's Hour here.

Danse Macabre live photo by Mark Wallbank at Club Bizarre. Tip of the hat in his direction, and to Simon Grigg, who DJ'ed on the night and dug up some great dusty old tunes, from Scritti Politti to The Cure.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fat Freddy's Drop chart watch
Caught the C4 doco on FFD "Fat Freddy's Drop: Tale of a True Story" (more nice work from Nick D) and Mu talked about the interest they'd got from major labels here to release their album. He said they'd decided to go the independent route, as that way they'd learn more about the business for themselves rather than passing it off to someone else. He also let slip that Atlantic Records in the US had shown serious interest in them, and Mu admitted he was tempted for a second, as he mentioned that a lot of records in his collection that had come out on Atlantic. This offer eventually fell to the wayside.

The doco also demonstrated their extended family approach to being in a band, focussing on shared communal meals cooked by the band's secret weapon, keyboardist (and incredible chef) Iain Gordon, aka Dobie Blaze. General consensus among the FFD boys was that his best dish ever was his paua wontons. There's even a new vid for FFD floating round called Shuck, which is basically a cooking demonstration by Iain while on tour in Europe - it's somewhere in Greece, then changes location to FFD's studio on the Wellie coast for another cookup. Hungry yet?
Go here to the Fat Freddys site and under Mad Feats, look for 'Dobie Blaze Cooks' and you can download one of his recipes...

C4 are giving the doco a second screening tonight (Wednesday) at 10.30pm.

FFD chart watch - this week they bounce back to #10 (up from #12 last week), just ahead of Dave Dobbyn and Mariah Carey. Shihad drop from #35 to #39. Both bands have been touring NZ for the last few weeks.
Speaking of local acts, P-Money's latest album Magic City has just hit the stores on double vinyl (with full colour cover art- wickedness, FMR), and there's also an instrumental version of the album on vinyl too.

Sony admits to paying radio stations to play their artists,
pays out $10 million fine, doesn't blink

"I am shocked and appalled" says Bob Mould, reacting to this article. This kind of thing is widely known, but just in case you think a song gets on the radio because it's good, then you really need to stop sniffing marker pens. Another example here; "In one instance, a Sony BMG executive contemplated a plot to promote Killer Mike's "A.D.I.D.A.S" by sending deejays one Adidas sneaker. Deejays would receive the other sneaker after playing the single ten times." Imagine playing Run DMC like that.

"Please be advised that in this week's Jennifer Lopez Top 40 Spin Increase of 236 we bought 63 spins at a cost of $3,600." "Please be advised that in this week's Good Charlotte Top 40 Spin Increase of 61 we bought approximately 250 spins at a cost of $17K …"

"Take Jennifer Lopez's awful record, "Get Right," with its shrill horn and lifted rap. It's now clear that was a "bought" sensation when it was released last winter. So, too, were her previous "hits" "I'm Glad" and "I'm Real," according to the memos. ... It's no surprise. There isn't a person alive who could hum any of those 'songs' now. Not even J-Lo herself." Hang on, that Get Right tune is based on a James Brown and the JBs sample that is pretty damn hot. Still, it is J-Lo. Gimme the JBs any day.

From a Sony internal memo on Sept. 8, 2004: "Two weeks ago it cost us over 4000.00 to get Franz [Ferdinand] on WKSE." The Glasgow Daily Record drops the bombshell on their hometown heroes... "Last year, a Buffalo-based DJ added their single Take Me Out to a station playlist - and was rewarded with an extravagant trip to Miami for four."

And still more..." Another, from an Epic employee to a Clear Channel programmer looked like this: "WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET AUDIOSLAVE ON WKSS THIS WEEK?!!? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen." And of course, Clear Channel are a little worried...

Coolfer notes that a $10m payout is "not so bad. Springsteen wants $10 million per album for five albums."

The closest example we have is Crowded House. When they were pushing their debut album in the States, there was a boycott by the record companies of radio pluggers over there, so they were able to do a super-cheap deal with a radio plugger to push 'Don't dream it's over' to US radio, as they (the radio pluggers) were desperate for work. That song was a hit because someone paid for it to be on radio, not purely because it was a great song (which it is, of course - can't diss Uncle Neil). You can read more on this in Chris Bourke's excellent book 'Something So Strong'.

ADDED: Okay, best headline on this... The Denver Post with "Payola may explain Celine Dion".
Original Sony documents can be viewed here (PDF format). Runs to 59 pages.
Coolfere has more coverage - 'Least Shocking Shock
er: Record Label Paid Off Radio Stations'... "How soon people forget. In 1998 the entire country -- especially the puritans in the print media -- were aghast when it was reported Interscope had paid Portland's KUFO radio station to play Limp Bizkit's "Counterfeit." The label and station were forthcoming about the arrangement. The station was given $5,000 for 50 spins and each spin was preceded with the message, "The song you are about to hear is sponsored by Flip/Interscope."
It was public then and it was still public last week. Labels buy off radio stations. In this moment of warm fuzzies let's all be aware of the fact that labels will continue to do what they can to influence radio spins. Always and forever. Spitzer's clean-up won't change that. It will, we all hope, return some integrity to radio..."

And another local angle - do you know if this practise happens in New Zealand? Any record company spies out there? Please leave an anonymous tip in comments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ring the Alarm BaseFM playlist Saturday July 23
Lone Ranger - The answer
Horace Andy - Jah will provide
Al Brown -Aint no love in the heart of the city
Manzel - Midnight theme (Dopebrother 7" remix)
Nightmares on wax - Finer
Salmonella dub - Paletechtonics (Groove Corp remix)
King Tubby - King at the controls
Dexys Midnight Runners - Geno
Sergio Mendes and New Brasil 77 - Mozambique (this album was co-produced by Stevie Wonder right after he did Songs in the Key of Life. Read all about it here.)
Jackie Mittoo -In cold blood
Gwen Guthrie feat Sly n Robbie - Ticket to ride
Rosalia de Souza - Bossa 31 (Gerardo Frisina remix)
Risco Connection - One more time
The WBC - Recline dub
Lotek Hifi - Mixtape blessings (excerpt).
Catch em DJing at the Turnaround, direct from the UK this Friday night. At the Rising Sun, K Rd
Jackson Sisters - I believe in miracles (extended re-edit)
Rhythm and Sound feat Lovejoy - Best friend
Sugar Minott and Ninja Kid - Skaba
Trinidad and Tobago allstars - Cissy strut. Hooray for steel drums!
Frankie Paul - Anytime
Missy Elliot - Can't stop
Sound providers - No time
Freddie Cole - Brother where are you?
Augustus Pablo - Dub organiser
Amadou and Mariam feat Manu Chao - Senegal fast food. (You can have a listen to this track over at Tofu Hut (tip of the hat to Tze Ming): also there's an interview with Manu Chao about the making of this album here at Wax Poetics. New issue out August 12)
Turbulence - Notorious
War - Cisco kid

Bit tired doing the show on Saturday morning due to a bit of a late one Friday night, at the Danse Macabre gig. It's amazing to think their music is over 20 years old, yet still sounds totally contemporary. There are hardly any local recordings of 20 years ago that still hold up like that. There's a review coming of the gig shortly, from a special mystery guest reviewer. Oh the excitement. Stay tuned.

To local writer Gareth Shute, who was announced as a winner at the Montana Book Awards last night. He is now officially an award-winning author, and that is damn cool.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hey Bill Murray.
Went and saw Broken Flowers, the latest film from Jim Jarmusch, at the Film Festival last night - it's shot thru with Jarmusch's dry humour, great little film. Here's Jarmusch on cricket....

JJ: Let's talk about baseball.

GA: I don't know anything about baseball.

JJ: Baseball is one of the most beautiful games. (Laughter) It is. It is a very Zen-like game. I don't like American football. I think it's boring and ridiculous and predictable. But baseball is very beautiful. It's played on a diamond. (Laughter)

GA: I've seen a few movies about it.

JJ: Cricket makes no sense to me. (Laughter) I find it beautiful to watch and I like that they break for tea. (Laughter) That is very cool, but I don't understand. My friends from The Clash tried to explain it years and years ago, but I didn't understand what they were talking about.

Robert Hillburn of the LA Times talks to 21 of the music industry's biggest movers and shakers... and comes up with the most important artists of 2005. It's all hiphop/r'n'b, bar one rock band - Coldplay. " Here's what one says about Eminem: "I feel his moment has come and gone." Another on Britney Spears: "Trust me, she's over." And U2 fans should brace themselves: "Time is catching up with them. I'd rather have Coldplay on my roster." And this on Kanye West... "This may sound strange, but he may be too gifted for the marketplace," an executive suggested. "He is so talented and so willing to be daring that he might be more interested in making great records than commercial records. That's why I would also not put the White Stripes on my list, though I love their music."

Via Ms Behaviour... "Justin Sane, TMet Recordings' A&R guy has written this comprehensive guide for DJs on modern technologies, including the advantages and disadvantages of using CDJs, a list of good digital download sites for DJs to purchase tracks legitimately, the lowdown on file formats and bitrates, and DJing software..." Read more.

And can I get a "Hell yes!" to the restorative power of a nice hot bowl of udon noodles on a cold winters day? Thank you.