The Pumpkin Invasion

They’ve taken over our garden! NOWHERE IS SAFE!

Not An Eggcup

One day, some mad soul is going to write a complete history of Factory Records (and no, it probably won’t be me — I know just enough about the catalogue to realise that anybody to tries to do such a thing will go insane. At which point, they’ll be the perfect candidate to work on the history of ZTT Records), and they will discover all sorts of wonderful bands that weren’t New Order or Joy Division. Forgotten names such as Section 25, Minny Pops, Stockholm Monsters, and Crispy Ambulance (yes, really). And hopefully, the author will have a soft spot for FAC 12.

As ever, a Peter Saville cover is a hallmark of quality. FAC 12: The Distractions / Time Goes By So Slow may be the greatest 7" single ever released by Factory (Blue Monday was 12" only, remember, and the 7" of Temptation is a pale shadow of the glory of the full-length version). The Distractions were rather out of place in late-70s Manchester; bands borrowing from decades of pop weren't all that welcome in a post-punk world. Joy Division, however, loved them, and The Distractions often found themselves playing support for Factory's biggest band. They provided a contrast to JD's intensity; although their lyrics were no less melancholy, the OMD-like synths and perky guitar gave their songs an upbeat new-wave feel.

Time Goes By So Slow is a tale of lost love touring around the centre of Manchester. And it contains one of the greatest lines in Factory Pop: "But Albert just won't do / I don't need him but you" (referring to Manchester's Albert Square). Plus! It's not often a song discusses petrification! Oh, and how the guitars drop out at 2:00, leaving the song wallowing in lonely synths and the saddest drumbeat you've ever heard, right before the final repeat of the chorus. It's just fantastic.

"I wonder why you had to go / and time goes by so slow"

Doubtless, you'll now be itching to hear this song (unless you're Tom, who heard it last week), so I'll list all the outlets where you can currently purchase a copy:

(tumbleweeds)

Factory were never all that reliable about keeping their catalogue in print, and the failure of the company compounded matters somewhat. This song made the jump to CD in 1990 on a compilation called Palatine: The Factory Story/1979-1990, but again, that has been out-of-print for many years now. So, short of tracking down the original 7" and a record player, you can't hear this wonderful record. Unless you know where to look.

currently playing: Monaco — What Do You Want From Me?

put that purple skirt on you know it makes me hot

I Am, I Feel CD1 single coverI Am, I Feel Alisha’s Attic Mercury Released: August 1996 Highest UK Chart Position: 14 Available on: Alisha Rules The World

As Pop as Spice, as Punk as The Sex Pistols, as Britpop as Sleeper, as English as scones, as Germaine as Greer, as Sisterly as a convent.

Alisha's Attic were the missing link between Bananarama and The Spice Girls, if you were looking for such a thing, with self-penned songs to appeal to the indie set. After spending several years attempting to get a record deal, the two Poole sisters (Shelly and Karen. No, not Alisha) somehow came onto Dave Stewart's radar. Now, to be fair, Mr. Stewart, once half of the Eurythmics, is probably a perfectly respectable gentleman, but he comes across as someone you wouldn't leave in the company of two young women. I'm just saying. My other completely fabricated rumour involves Liam Gallagher and a five-foot plunger, in case you're interested…

Anyway, I Am, I Feel was Alisha's Attic's debut single. In common with many records of the 1995 era, it sounds very Pop, yet is devoid of the heavy production associated with, say, Bananarama or The Spice Girls. Electronic whistles, harpsichords, and a simple drumbeat dominate the song, with the ubiquitous-in-this-era guitar coming along for the ride. Pleasant and inoffensive. I suppose that you could try and tie this song in with Scarlet, but here the character singing the song seems less secure; while she talks a good game: Like, I wanna smash his face in / Yeah, that’d be fun, the chorus suggests that she'd stay with this slug of a man if he showed even a little compassion. It's not as self-assured as Ginger Spice, or even Kylie's Stock, Aitken, and Waterman phase; the character retreats into fairy-tale imagery (I click my heels together three times / They sparked a little but nothing happened) even as she uses violent fantasies to try and escape from the man's label of 'angel'. It's a little confused. But possibly more realistic, in that both sides of her are conflicting.

It may surprise you to know that Alisha’s Attic recorded three albums before Mercury dropped them. It certainly surprised me. I assumed that after the initial success of their first few singles, they faded away into obscurity. But no. Three albums on Mercury, plus a self-published fourth album sold to their committed fans. Shelley is now pursuing a solo career, while Karen has written songs for Blue, Dannii Minogue, Holly Valance, and Amy Studt.

Today's News!

In helpful visual form; the bigger the text, the more popular the word (I strip out the 50 most popular English words):

aid million still gandhi deutsche flight pinochet death shrine immunity crown germans top into del china police weer de darfur plane teenager billion return temas los less yesha haifa 400 terrorism men la weapons condor food next off push deal free prison big continues nothing happy, harry ap radical abu job iraq firefighters missile mosque sudan families ad inside draws thatcher internacional cities business power stripped attack airport se no afar talks children day break 74 agree pc manhunt american 26, residents et threat reporters execution shiites für disarming van results noon gets crash chile wont bullies culture iraqis ready amelie ... fire news russia blast najaf do voor wins says ipo coup archos longlist world medaillewinnaars nacional/españa action air road abuse para give afp iraqi act may ii u.s. porn german thu southern family case gcse & un boosts booker say protesters / política sistani palestinians extra crashes security over later wages operation wound arrives law pay returns aug under held home koningin ire killed force strips strike peace gmini living recorders son record internet russian general after hoger scandal heart boscastle india gaza looms teenage germany al leave pakistan takes terror attacks street medal new service en continue ambassador states huldigen rebels gold two kerry flock israel loses attacked forces calls it first, plot lessons mccain march father us block ghraib not double quits premier ayatollah live robert more year gives reuters op bush high help first cleric

currently playing: The Sundays — A Certain Someone

The Continuing MP3 Saga!

After reading about how Warner Music recently sent out a track to various MP3 blogs, which seems to imply some grudging approval of the format, I sent an email to the BPI, asking if they knew that one of their members was supplying blogs with songs. I also asked if there was a way for me to continue operating, considering that nobody else seems to have received one of these notices.

I present the response from Matt Phillips:

Hi Ian I can't really offer you any legal advice on this matter as I don't know the detail.
Basically it's about using music with permission.
Generally speaking - if you're making copyrighted music (anything released by a label) available to share with other people without the permission of the copyright owner you're infringing copyright law and come on to the radar of our anti-piracy unit.

My advice would be, if in doubt, don't do it.
If you have any further queries, please contact our legal department.
Thanks
Matt

Hurrah for substance-filled replies. I understand he was probably making the general case, but labels do release public domain songs, and any song is protected by copyright, not just those released by labels. Plus, the label would also have to be a member of the BPI to come onto their radar, I assume?

Anyway.

currently playing: New Order — The Perfect Kiss

Only Good

The latest ad from the Swift Boat Veterans.

What really gets me annoyed about this advert is the implication that John Kerry failed his fellow soldiers by giving his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It glosses over the fact that he was right. Or are supposed to believe that this, or this, or this, or this did not happen? It did, and Kerry was only telling the Committee what other veterans had told him. America committed war crimes in Vietnam. But some people refuse to accept this fact.

There's a worrying development in some parts of America, a belief that it has done no wrong, ever. Admittedly, at the moment it seems confined to crazed right-wing authors, but they're not bearded militiamen writing screeds in linseed oil inbetween preparing for the End Times; they're successful media figures. Aside from the Swift Veterans, last year saw the release of Ann Coulter's Treason, which attempted to rehabilitate Senator Joe McCarthy (yes, she's insane. But many people think she's wonderful. I despair), and Michelle Markin's In Defense of Internment has just been released, doing well in the Amazon rankings.

I just can't wrap my head around it. What next? Why Dred Scott Is Misunderstood and Reasons Why The Confederacy Should Have Prevailed? Markin's book is particularly offensive; I've been around the Smithsonian exhibit, I've read about the issue, and there is just…no excuse for rounding people up on the basis of their race and putting them in concentration camps. Malkin bases her argument on the theory that FDR had secret information that no-one else knew (the MAGIC decrypts of Japanese communications); the problem is that these messages have been known about for years, and the closest they come to calling into question the loyalty of the Japanese immigrants is a commnique to an embassy that says it might be a good idea to set up a spy ring (and specifically mentions that using non-Japanese agents would be preferable). The Japanese did not know that the Allies had broken MAGIC, so if such a ring did exist, you would expect information about it to flow across channels. None does. Plus, the people who pushed hardest for the camps did not have access to MAGIC. Even Supreme Court Justice Scalia thinks that the Supreme Court decision that upheld the detention ranks alongside Dred Scott as one of the Court's biggest mistakes. But don't just take my word for it — Eric Muller, a UNC Law School professor is currently discussing Malkin's book and shredding her arguments one by one. But he isn't in the Top 100 Amazon bestseller list, so his voice isn't going to be heard as much as a media figure who makes regular appearances on Fox News and MSNBC.

It worries me — a nation that believes it can do nothing wrong can be easily led by its leaders that its actions are right simply because they're doing it. No country is perfect; they're all done horrible things in the past (for an Empire nation, Britain probably comes off better than Spain or Portugal, say, but we still invented concentration camps, we firebombed Dresden into ashes, we carved up Africa with the rest of Europe, and we made a mess of Ireland). Patriotism should never be blind.

currently playing: The Knife — Heartbeats

You have been eaten by a link

The Pentagon’s new plan. Last used to great effect in Afghanistan during the 1980s. And that worked out fabulously, didn’t it?

Art thefts throughout history.

Watches from the 1970s

Shopping lists!

Pinball!

Because everybody needs a sealing gum recipe…

(email is working normally again now)

currently playing: The Beta Band — Dry The Rain

Email

If anybody has tried to contact me in the past 24 hours, I probably didn’t get your message. It appears my host is having a few problems. In the meantime, messages can be sent to ianpointer at gmail dot com if you need to get in touch with me. (please do! ;-))

currently playing: The Concretes — Seems Fine

Diagnosis: Eh?

Dick van Dyke: CG Artist?

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Saturday

And Now A First

I can still remember the first time I heard Le Tigre’s Hot Topic. Lauren Laverne was filling in on the Evening Session, and playing live tracks from Hole’s glorious 1999 Glastonbury set; I was working on something, perhaps trying to rewrite a grammar so it could be parsed by a LALR(1) parser (it’s best not to care, really), when it started playing. I stopped, enthralled by a song listing feministic icons to a bubblegum beat. As I heard the first words “Hot Topic is the way that we rhyme”, I knew that I had to add it to my collection. A quick trip to Piccadilly Records later, and I was listening to their eponymous first album. It was everything you could have hoped for; arch-political garage pop that lurched from assaulting Rudy Giuliani’s career (My My Metrocard) to the joys of being in a band (Let’s Run). Fabulous.

The second album, Feminist Sweepstakes wasn't as good as the first, but still had rather enjoyable songs, in particular LT Tour Theme and Fake French. Three years later, they have signed to Universal Records and are about to release a new album, This Island. This is the new single:

Le TigreNew Kicks

If you put your ears to the speakers and listen closely, you can hear my heart breaking in the first thirty seconds. It's a protest record. About the Iraq war. Well, for a start, it's about two years late to catch that bandwagon. But I can forgive that, truly I can. What I can't forgive is three minutes and thirty seconds of unimaginative sloganeering, a backing track that appears to have died thirty years ago, being played through the use of zombie magic, and the complete lack of, well, any semblance of a song.

"This is what Democracy sounds like!"

That's Le Tigre, making a constitutional monarchy sound more attractive with every passing second…

(to be completely fair, I am hearing that some of the new songs they've been playing live are fantastic. Which makes bobbins like this all the more puzzling.)

currently playing: Le Tigre — Hot Topic