Big In Japan

Paradise Kiss is on the cutting edge of sequential art with high-quality pop-art illustrations that stretch the limits of traditional manga stereotypes. With characters who run the gamut of fashion, from the chic to the bizarre, Paradise Kiss is a coming of age story rooted in high comedy and one girl's awakening to her own beauty.

And for the anime, why, it’s backed by Franz Ferdinand’s Do You Want To!

(A companion piece, of sorts, to Sweeping The Nation’s Japan watch. And beware, there is a high possibility of J-Pop MP3s by the end of the week)

currently playing: New Order — Ceremony

Wanted: For Suspected Arson

WANTED!

currently playing: The Pixies Three – 442 Glenwood Avenue

DIE SMURF DIE!

This is…just…someone in Belgium BitTorrent this! PLEASE!

currently playing: Sugababes – Hole In The Head

Annie, Robyn, M.I.A. and…

Rachel Stevens — Come And Get It

It’s quite a sad reflection on the music industry today that this album is already been written off as a commercial failure, and it isn’t even out until the 17th. Now, it’s a fine enough album, with a few great tracks, some ones that are quite good, and a few that are, well, a trifle dull. The problem is that it all sounds so anonymous; by the time the CD finishes, you get the feeling that pretty much any pop starlet could have been responsible for the past hour (with the exception of Some Girls, which Polydor have added to this album seemingly in a fit of desperation). I’m not one who insists that pop has to be about something, or have a message, but I would like to feel that the singer brings something to the project, as opposed to being just a simple cog in the producer’s machine. People say that Stevens is a return to the sophisticated “New Pop” of the 1980s, but I think music critics have put too much emphasis on the role of the producer in that era. Sure, without Trevor Horn, Relax would be forgettable, but it’s a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song, unmistakably. There’s nothing here that suggests Ms. Stevens is capable of doing the same.

(Part of the commercial failure of this album, though, has to be placed at the foot of Polydor and 19 Entertainment, who released two of the weakest tracks from the album as singles. Plus, Negotiate With Love came out at the end of March, meaning that it’s been over six months since the first single and the album’s release, which seems awfully silly. A preferred release strategy, if I might be so bold, would have been to release I Said Never Again as the first single back in April, followed six weeks later with the Cure-sampling It’s All About Me (I’m sure some interest could have been made out of that, even if pop sampling isn’t all that notable these days). Followthat with the album a week or so later, and then release two more singles at six weeks intervals (probably the Eighth Wonder-aping Funny How and I Will Be There). Then, in October, cynically re-issue the album with a DVD containing the videos for all four singles (and Some Girls). Oh, and hire Michel Gondry to make one of them)

Also, I feel vindicated in my earlier Mud comments after finding out that Rob Davis co-wrote I Said Never Again

Girls Aloud — Biology

Meanwhile, back at Camp Xenomania, they’ve come up with a cunning strategy: a detenté, if you will of the two main movements of British music in the 1990s. Which is to say that they’ve taken a Britpop song via The Kinks and ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, and stapled it to the Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life. It really is better than it sounds, trust me, even if only the start seems to stick in the memory on the first ten listens.

currently playing: De La Soul – A Rollerskating Jam Called Saturday

Dear Joss Whedon…

…we love you. But if we ever meet you, we’re going to hurt you.

currently playing: Air – Alone In Kyoto

Credit In The Straight World

Well, the Popjustice thread on Miss Stevens is now full of people dismissing the “it’s the fault of downloaders!” stance that I was talking about on Monday, so hurrah. (Number 10 in the midweeks, though, which has got to be a big problem for her record company).

And… in other happy news, the UN and the USA have lent on Iraq to reverse last Sunday’s changes to the upcoming referendum.

EDIT: But Ms. Stevens is now #11 in the midweeks. Oops.

currently playing: New Order – Sub-Culture

Iraq Iraq Baby

Well, the news is in - Iraq has chosen its new model for democracy. Unfortunately, its model is Florida:

Some Sunni leaders who have been organizing a campaign to vote down the document said today that they might now boycott the Oct. 15 referendum, because the rule change made their efforts futile. Other political leaders also reacted angrily, saying the change would seriously damage the vote’s credibility in Iraq and abroad.

Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least 3 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

The change, adopted during an unannounced vote in Parliament on Sunday afternoon, effectively raises the bar for those who oppose the constitution. Given that fewer than 60 percent of registered Iraqis voted in the January elections, the chances that two-thirds would both show up at the polls and vote against the document in three provinces would appear to be close to nil.

Still, we can be happier about the rumblings of a Republican filibuster of Harriet Miers (yes, their own candidate), and Mr. DeLay’s latest indictment (which also appears to involve one Mrs. Thatcher, just to make it even more amusing):

If convicted, the money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison. The charge of conspiracy to launder money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The initial conspiracy charge carries a punishment of up to two years.

We can only hope…and if they want to extradite Mrs. T, well, funnily enough, our new treaty with America means that they don’t have to give us any solid evidence…

currently playing: Martha & The Muffins – Women Around The World At Work

Have You Ever Had It So Blue?

I am amused by the constant complaining on Popjustice that the reason that pop acts aren’t doing well on the album chart is that the kids are downloading the leaked version in advance of the actual release date. It’s like they’ve swallowed the music industry’s PR whole.

And I’ll like to see their explanation for Franz Ferdinand’s almost-certain number one this weekend, despite the album being widely available via ARRR! methods for a month beforehand…

currently playing: The Cardigans – I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer

GREEN EYES. BLUE EYES. GREY EYES.

(Note: This entry is long, pompous, and paints me firmly as a K-ROCKIST of the worst sort. I apologise in advance. I am withholding my supply of chocolate digestive biscuits from myself as a punishment)

New Order — Singles

So, I know you’re thinking: given that Substance, (The Best of), (The Rest of), Retro, and International all exist, what possible room is there for yet another New Order hits collection?

Well, the gimmick behind Singles is that this collection, unlike others, features the actual 7” singles that New Order have released over the past twenty-five years, instead of album tracks, 12” mixes, or remixes. This Is A Lie, but hey, nobody ever expected them to be consistent.

The compilation starts off by including the original version of Ceremony, never before seen on compact disc. This was recorded when they were a three-piece; when Gillian joined the band, this original single was replaced by a shorter, 12” version which featured all four members. Now, it’s not a vast difference, but this version sounds better to me, the rougher-production bringing out the most from Ian Curtis’s final moment. So, hurrah!

Two more treats follow (skipping over Procession, as fabulous as it is, simply because there’s no difference between this and the Substance version); the first appearance of the 7” mixes of Everything’s Gone Green and Temptation! Retro-sequencer fun! The 12” version of Temptation is so much better though. But I’m biased, as I love that song more than butterflies.

And then, oh, and then. Yes, then it all starts to fall apart. Now, I can’t blame them for Confusion. God knows, Arthur Baker has remixed it so many times you could probably fill an entire album with different takes on the track. It seems to be a song that New Order just can’t help making new versions of, even by accident. They’ve done it again here, because this isn’t the 7” mix of Confusion (either the Factory or Rough Trade version); it’s the 12” mix with three minutes lopped off. And lo, the Confusion beast grew once more…

The Perfect Kiss. I’m getting annoyed now. Ooooh. Rage. Building. Up. Is this the 7” edit? The fabled 12” mix cruelly edited on the Substance compact disc and currently only available in its prime by either buying the original vinyl record or a cassette version of Substance? No, annoyingly, this is the album version that you’ll find on Low-life. ARRRRRGH! WOULD IT HAVE BEEN SO HARD? breaks down in tears 40 SECONDS! THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING! MY VINYL COPY HAS A SCRATCH IN IT!

Shellshock and Sub-Culture (the latter being slightly infamous for Peter Saville refusing to do a cover for the single release, as he didn’t like the mix. So Factory supplied it in a black sleeve) are all present and correct. But (come on, you know what’s coming, don’t you?) THEY DO IT AGAIN! Bizarre Love Triangle is taken straight from Brotherhood, not from either the 7” or 12” singles. Grrr. It’s still awesome, of course, but you’d think they could have included the right version. It’s not like New Order’s catalogue is a complicated as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s (where Trevor Horn would often issue new mixes seemingly just for the hell of it).

The cover of Singles is the negative of this cover for 1987’s True Faith / 1963:

True Faith

(once again, neither of these is the original single. True Faith is the 12” version previous seen on Substance. 1963, is…well…Arthur Baker did a remix of it, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that we have another new edit in addition to the original 1988 and 1995 releases. Oh God, Johnny, don’t point that gun at me, we still have CD2 to go)

CD2 kicks off with Blue Monday 1988. Followed by Run2! Or not. You see, Run2 was withdrawn from sale after a lawsuit by John Denver, who thought it sounded a little too similar to Leaving On A Jetplane. However, Run2 has appeared in the listings of many a New Order compilation. Each time, hopes are raised, and savagely dashed, as it turns out to just be the original Run from Technique. I think, by now, they’re doing it on purpose.

“Get round the back!” I love World In Motion. I know it’s sneered upon by sniffier New Order fans, but come on! John Barnes! It’s one-on-one! They don’t make lyrics like that anymore (and indeed, in the Criminal Justice Act of 1994, such lyrics were outlawed, but apparently, curry-themed anthems are allowed). “We’re singing for Eng-er-land!” How can people hate this?

Spooky is another album version instead of the single, but as it’s Spooky, nobody cares (unfair, actually, listening to it again. In fact, most of Republic is unfairly maligned. Sure, it’s not as good as Technique, and I can see how it could be considered a disappointment after that, but it’s still got a nice groove. (Yes, I just used ‘groove’ strikes a Westwood pose)).

The rest of the compilation follows the single gimmick correctly, so I have nothing to complain about. So, I’ll say that as comebacks go, Crystal is up there with “TALK TO THE HAND!” Everything wonderful about twenty years of electronic pop reflected and refracted around a glitterball synth. Even if it reveals that Barney hasn’t found the honey section of the supermarket yet (it’s actually quite cheap!). After Here To Stay, the curio from the 24 Hour Party People soundtrack, produced by The Chemical Brothers, the band (now minus Gillian) decided to have another three year rest, perhaps in order to stop themselves hating each other again, and perhaps just because they’re a bunch of slackers.

Anyway, CD2 ends with the singles from 2005’s Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. Krafty may sound like the band hit ‘New Order Preset 2 (Republic Edition)’, but hey, it’s effective. As much I like Ana Matronic, the same can’t be said of Jetstream, which never really takes off (I’m so sorry. But it had to be done). Waiting For The Sirens’ Call and Turn though, are both great.

So, what have we learnt? Aside from me being a complete obsessive who shouldn’t be allowed out of the house? Despite the practice they’ve had over the years, the definitive New Order compilation is still elusive. Singles is riddled with labelling errors, wrong track selections, and extensive duplication with past collections. Yet, it’s utterly essential and fantastic. If you don’t know various FAC numbers off by heart (only a few! It’s not as if I’ve memorised the entire catalogue! Stop looking at me like that!), this is a great way to get the best of New Order (I’d also advise picking up Substance when it floats into one of HMV’s roaming sales, as it’s mainly 12” mixes and is just as wonderful). If you do happen to know what FAC123 is without looking it up (SHUT YOUR MOUTH), then Singles will irritate you. It really will, but you’ll buy it anyway for what it includes, and grumble quietly about the mistakes. Or write huge-ass blog entries about them. Who knows?

currently playing: New Order - Confusion (Rough Mix 12” DO YOU SEE — dies)

Aaron Wants Royalties

Hehehe:

“Doing his job has always been his strongest suit,” said one adviser close to the White House. “Let Bush be Bush. Let him lead. It’s what Bush does in times like these.”

currently playing: New Order – True Faith