Jul 31, 2004 · 1 minute read
(By the way, if the BPI is reading — I have permission, from the band themselves, to spread this song far and wide. So that's what I'm doing here.)
Somewhere, what sounds like an out-of-tune version of the lambada plays. Then the song begins: "Win your complaints / Slam the doors and break all the plates" It's an explosion of Phil Spector and Motown tricks; a group of indie kids break into the derelict remains of Detroit, discover the Funk Brothers' old equipment and immediately set to work breaking a million hearts in mono. This is an unmixed, low bit-rate, unfinished song, and it's still one of the best things I've heard all year; a transcendent piece of pop. And this week, of all weeks, I needed to know that music isn't just there to cause me grief.
Saturday Looks Good To Me — Empty Room
Jul 30, 2004 · 1 minute read
Thanks for everybody's emails and comments. Some have requested further information. I don't have much, but here you go:
This site is hosted in the US, but the music files were stored on my Linux server at home to save space.
I've checked the logs for both this site and my home machine. There's no access that corresponds with the time that the BPI gave. But there is a spike of activity on both servers from an IP address of 184.108.40.206 around that hour. The user-agent string is "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows NT; DigExt)". which doesn't seem special in any way, and I can't find any referral data, so I have no clue how they got here. The address doesn't resolve, but SideBit's Locator places it in the UK. The address is now blocked at my firewall, but that's just me being petty rather than a serious attempt at blocking their access.
The moral of the story seems to be: if you're running a music blog, make sure you don't host the files in the UK.
Jul 29, 2004 · 6 minute read
You remember this article, right?
How it seemed cynical even by the most jaded of standards? Well, let's have a cheer for Pakistan for capturing Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani!
Meanwhile, the Commons foreign affairs select committee released a report on how well things are going in Iraq, oh, and Afghanistan too. Turns out that Afghanistan is safe, as long as you define "Afghanistan" to be a street in Kabul.
This looks like a fun book. I'm not sure that "We weren't as bad as the Nazis!" really counts as a defence though.
Anyway, the final day of the convention. For a change, I had a look at some of the other news networks, and I must say: why did Fox News bother going to the expense of moving everybody out to Boston? They're not showing most of the speeches, they're still running their regular programmes. It would have been so much easier to leave everybody behind...
Hmm, only just flipped back, but not sure if bringing up De Gaulle is a good idea, Sen. Biden, but a good point on trust.
Now Wesley Clark. Beating the war drum and, most likely, talking up Kerry's Vietnam record. Because I don't think they've mentioned it yet.
Ah, Joe Lieberman. Will I resist the urge to put my foot through the television? Yes, Joe, and look how that VP nomination turned out, eh? And don't think bringing up Obama is going to make you look any better. Sorry, I really don't like Lieberman. Always makes me feel that he's in the wrong party somehow. Like he took a wrong turn at Albuquerque along the line. Well, I hope there's not Hindus, Sikhs, or Buddhists watching, Joe. Will he mention Clinton in former Presidents? Yes, but skipped Johnson. For obvious reasons, I guess.
Bored now. Seen this? I'm quite impressed. Not to get all fanboy about it, but when do you stop? Will Lucas be happy when he's added a digital effect to every frame? Has anybody said "No, George, that would suck" to him in the last twenty years?
Nancy Pelosi. Making the case for a Democrat Congress. It's weird; even if there was an election going on over here at the moment, there would be as much emphasis on soldiers. I mean, she's talking about healthcare, education, and outsourcing now, but there's been so much talking about war and supporting the troops. Even if we're still in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, the issues will probably be Europe and public spending, with defence getting a cursory mention. Sorry, getting distracted here, but I think it's an intriguing difference…
Oh. She's gone. Whoops. BUT! WILLY NELSON! ON THE PULSE OF YOUNG AMERICA! Actually, this could be great. HE'S GOT A GOSPEL CHOIR, AND HE'S MAD ENOUGH TO USE IT! Dammit, why didn't they invite The Polyphonic Spree? Forty hippies on a stage! Hmm, this isn't as good as it could be. Oh well. Who else? "Coming up next! A bunch of emo bands and intelligent dance music! DEMOCRATS BIGGING IT UP IN THE AREA! SLAM-DUNKING, OUR KID!"
Or they could bring on Madeleine Albright. I like them, I do, but I'm now bored senseless. I'm guessing that the Republican Convention will be different, if only because there's more chance of me getting worked up when I see people like Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush. Or I might have a job by then and you will all be spared. I want to see Al Sharpton following Bush around all summer, with a sign saying "WHERE'S MY MULE?" Albirght: unity, security, truth, bringing the world back to America. The usual.
And I'm worried. There's not going to be a big bounce after this convention. Or even a little one, I think. And it doesn't matter that he's now in a better position than Carter in 1976, Reagan in 1980, and Clinton in 1992. No bounce means failure in the eyes of the media. So that's what it will be. But anybody who has watched any part of this convention will know about Kerry's war record and what he stands for. If they've been lucky, they've seen fantastic speeches (Gore/Clinton on first night, Obama on the second, and Sharpton yesterday). I don't know what I'm trying to say; I suppose I'm trying to say that the convention probably doesn't matter to people who are busy having lives and not sitting in front of a computer screen, so I don't understand why it's considered to be so important. Is it even being carried by the major networks?
Carole King. And guess what she;s singing? "Close your eyes and think of me / and soon I will be there" DO I SEE LIGHTERS? And a sing-a-long! And a "You've got a friend…in John Kerry" (aha!) moment.
JFK sounded good, didn't he? DEMOCRAT DANCE PARTY!
"Kerry/Edwards Time! Let's Get It On!"Willie Nelson's checking Hillary Clinton out!
Andre Heinz is coming out to Hey Ya. Dude. Heh, "6"6" with the hair" Vanessa Kerry is good. And now Alexandra Kerry. All the family! Hamster CPR! Leave no hamster behind!
and now, a special bio hosted by Morgan Freeman.
They've got the men of Kerry's patrol boat on stage. Wow. Introducing Senator Max Cleland. More Vietnam, although this time incorporating Kerry's protests afterwards.
He's walking through the crowd! To Bruce Springsteen! Don't screw it up.
Just guessing, but this is probably going to be a speech of few sentences and lots of cheering.
Life story first.
"I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to his military advisors, and I will appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Constitution of the United States" — oooh.
He's getting better. Warming up a little. And now laying into Bush for throwing away unity: "Saying mission accomplished doesn't make it so"
"We will not go to war because we want to, but only because we have to"
"We will never send you to war without a plan to win the peace."
Leading with the military, then. 40,000 new troops, but not for Iraq; to bolster an over-stretched army.
"The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom"
"We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in America." ouch.
I know it's because I'm listening to him. But he sounds good. He's moving on to the domestic issues now, about "you don't take kids out of after-school programs to give Enron a bigger tax cut."
"help is on the way" investment, closing tax loop-holes for companies that outsources. And reintroducing fiscal responsibility. A pledge not to raise taxes for the middle classes, but rolling back tax cut for those that make over $200,000 a year.
Education: increased spending, especially in the poorer areas (his wording here about prison was great).
Healthcare: "[Healthcare] is a right for all Americans and we will make it so"
Energy - reducing the dependence on oil. DAMN
"I want to address these next words to President George W. Bush" — a pledge for unity and also a call for him not to abuse the Constitution (veiled reference to election postponement?)
Picking back up on Obama's speech — One America.
"What if we have a President who believes in Science?"
And U2's Beautiful Day to close us out. You can't have everything.
Kerry / Edwards on stage, balloons coming soon, I imagine.
Well, he had to be good. And he was. We can but hope.
Jul 29, 2004 · 5 minute read
"Gee, son, that's a good question. You see, long ago, there was music. And people wanted to share it, to talk about it; the way it made them feel, how it excited them, and to let others hear things that they might not have ever heard."
"That sounds nice, daddy. What happened?"
"Well, despite that there were more records being sold than ever before, some people didn't want to share. And didn't want others to share. And these people were in control. But only for a limited time. To get around that, whenever the limited time was about to end, they'd talk to some other people in control, and as if by magic, their time was extended. Meanwhile, the people who they were supposed to represent weren't always getting paid the money they were owed, and because they hated technology and the changing world, they tried to stop it from happening."
"So why don't we have music anymore?"
"Because they modified our ears at the genetic level so we couldn't hear a song unless we paid £5 for a one-use-only, non-refundable ringtone, son."
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Jul 28, 2004 · 3 minute read
Hurrah! Is it too late to call in UN Election Monitors?
Here comes Jesse! My, he's on early, isn't he?
And possibly the first direct reference to Florida 2000?
Wait - hold up - did Louis Theroux just start clapping? It looked a lot like him.
Obviously, Edward Kennedy and Jesse Jackson have been given Bush attack duties this week.
(By the way, I will try and tone down the politics next week…promise)
Ooops distracted by this. ooo.
Okay, it's Martin O'Malley, Mayor of Baltimore, talking up security. And he just appeared to have morphed into Rob Cordroy from The Daily Show. Which a little unsettling.
Hmm, they all seem to be rushing past tonight. And the gloves seem to be off; there's talk of unity, and so on, but they're directly criticising Bush now.
Dennis Kucinich And, I don't want to be too mean, but he's sounding like the clown from Animaniacs at the moment. But he is saying all the right things. He the sort of person that could never win a Presidency, but still, impressed that he never gave up, and always tried to speak up for what he believes in.
Okay, that anthem run-through was painful. Eh. Still not feeling it tonight.
AL! AL! AL! AL SHARPTON! Save me from boredom, Al! "I submit to you that if George Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would never have got to law school!" — zing. And now he's answering Bush's question of "do the Democrats take the black vote for granted?"
"We never got our forty acres! We didn't get the mule! So we decided to ride this donkey as far as it would take us!"
Damn, I know that he's has something of a past, but damn. He's good.
(and yes, Bonnie, it was very much a Sorkin moment)
Senator Bob Graham from Florida.
Everybody is dancing!
Hahaha — looks like Al deviated from his script somewhat. Going away for a bit now.
Back with Elizabeth Edwards, Bring on the Cheek! And they have their wedding anniversaries at Wendy's (Bonnie: "that's the most romantic thing I've ever heard")!
Here comes Mr. Edwards! The smile! No, they're not going to be quiet. Ah, so that's why they kept cutting to them, it's his mum and dad. aww. They really are going to make all they can of Kerry's military record. He's completely untouchable there. Heheh, and they're stealing the "positive" high ground. Now it's "Two Americas", to give everybody access to a good health service, excellent education, and well-paying jobs. DEATH TO OUTSOURCERS!
"We don't want people to just get by. We want you to get ahead."
heh. they watched the hotel bar scene.
and ramming it home with veteran's benefits.
"Hope is on the way." :-)
Jul 27, 2004 · 4 minute read
After yesterday, I have a survival guide: don't even attempt to watch the convention before 8pm Eastern, and things will be a little more interesting.
But today's big news has been THE BATTLE OF THE RADICALS!
ITEM! Ann Coulter's report from Boston was rejected by her employer, USA Today, on the grounds of "basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable." Here's Ann's original report. A choice quote:
As for the [lack of] pretty girls, I can only guess that it's because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council's approval. Plus, it's no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.
ITEM! Bill O'Reilly vs. Michael Moore in a FIGHT TO THE DEATH! "One shall stand! One shall fall!" Or a streetside debate. Lots of O'Reilly trying to get him to apologise to Mr. Bush for accusing him of lying. Moore's position is very shaky on this, but O'Reilly's ground isn't much firmer — the Butler report complained about how qualifiers were removed from intelligence briefings, making things seem more definite than they were. And of course, they still haven't found any nuclear material, or evidence that Iraq was buying it through Niger.
M: I would be willing to sacrifice my life to track down the people that killed 3,000 people on our soil.
O: Al Qeada was given refuge by the Taliban.
M: But we didn’t go after them—did we?
O: We removed the Taliban and killed three quarters of Al Qeada.
M: That’s why the Taliban are still killing our soldiers there.
It's fun to see both sides putting words in each other's mouths. Such a wonderful debating technique.
BEN AFFLECK! *SWOON*
Ask him about the girl in the back of the car!
"That's not my kind of humour" — Oh, Ben, was Mallrats that bad?
I think Bill and Ben are about to hug. Words you never thought would spring from Ben Affleck's mouth: "Ba'athist secular state".
Ted Kennedy! Oooh! Using John Adams for bitchslapping purposes! CLASSY.
By the way, I do love how, even though they both went to Yale, and are both extremely rich, "Bush is the common man." Does the common man often own a baseball team?
Anyway, Fox is about to show the MM v. R exchange. From the script I've read, Moore comes off worse. I have a feeling it's going to be two people yelling at each other for five minutes.
NADER'S COMING TO TOWN TOMORROW! HE'S GONNA CALL YOU OUT, KERRY!! Or something.
I'm getting more depressed as this convention rolls on. But hold on! It's howard Dean! They've brought out the tambourines! The crowd loves him. Standing ovation and everything. Just start talking! They'll soon quieten down. The usual topics: Healthcare, the war, and veteran's benefits. And now everyone is dancing to Sister Sledge.
Christie Vilsack is talking about a pen that Harry Truman gave her. The convention floor is getting restless.
Oh, sorry, got distracted. The keynote tonight is by Barack Obama. He's good.
" If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties."
Convention Fatigue is beginning to set in. But here comes Ron Reagan. Only talking about stem cell research, but it looks good to have a Reagan on stage. "They are just grinding a political axe, and they should be ashamed of themselves." Ouch.
"It does not follow that a theology of the few should outweigh the health of the many." Heh.
And, you know, I don't think I'll stick around for the Kerrys.
Jul 26, 2004 · 4 minute read
Yes, I am this sad. I am watching the Democratic National Convention on C-SPAN.
Hmm, it's like a festival, really. Nobody you've heard about is on for the first few hours. Then there's a slow roll-out of some people you may have seen once in a while, then BAM! Primetime and there's Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. And for the headliners: The Clintons and Patti LaBelle! It's just like Glastonbury, except that it's inside, smaller, with fewer cows, but comes with a bonus "Protest Zone", replete with razorwire and armed guards.
C-SPAN is airing a pre-game show! All the build-up! All the excitement! And 59 minutes of filler!
Oooh, a hammer!
Hmm, the vicar looks uncannily like this:
And here comes the army. Still, it's more interesting than the Younger Younger 28s so far. Oh, spoke too soon — Miss Teen New Mexico is now singing the national anthem.
"Hello, Democrats, I'm from Michigan" — we're so very, very sorry (a cheap shot, heck one of my favourite bands comes from there, but I had to take it)
Hmm, perhaps I'll come back at eight, when I'm more in the mood…
Sam The Bald Eagle:
AL! AL! AL! AL! They couldn't resist a jibe. And he opens with a joke! "You win some, you lose some, and then there's that little known third option..." That SNL appearance gave him some well-needed humour. He doesn't seem stiff anymore. But if he snogs Tipper again, I'm going to be sick.
"I believe that every boy and girl should be able to dream of one day, being able to win the popular vote"
Cracking wise and going for the Republican and third-party votes. Where were you in 2000, Al Gore 2004? Where were you?
And he even mentions Clinton! WHERE WERE YOU FOUR YEARS AGO?
Next up, a cynical stab for women's votes. And a cheer for Hillary! Just don't tell her you're for non-secular programmes in school, eh, Bonnie?
And now…CUTE CHILDREN! SINGING!
I wonder how many people are watching. It's a bit like the Oscars, but without any of the excitement. And lots of waiting around when the networks go to a commercial. By the way, if you're in the UK, BBC Parliament is taking the C-SPAN feed, so you don't have to settle for a postage stamp of video that cuts out every half-hour (The Internet — so full of promise, but not quite there yet)
The elephant is so ugly he sleeps his head
Click click click click click
Click himself under
A little dig at "active military service," there, Jimmy. And a not-so-subtle one too.
He's not as funny as Gore. But says all the right things. They're going after Bush more than I was expecting, although I suppose that's what these speeches are for.
Hmm, got distracted there. Hope I didn't miss anything.
Anyway, I think the reason why conventions are so dull these days is because nothing is at stake anymore. The object of the convention is to pick a candidate, but the candidate is already known months before, so it's all a bit pointless. What you want is a close-run race, ending up with a battle in the convention centre, with pundits providing real-time analysis of whether the support of the Yuppie Ladder 101 Union will give a candidate enough delegates to push them over the edge. Make things exciting again. Admittedly, the last time that such an event occurred was probably back in 1972, when George McGovern pulled off a stunning victory over the other candidates, outmanoeuvring them at every turn. He then went on to lose to Nixon 49 states to 1. Only one state didn't vote for Nixon. My God, that's a horrible thought.
And this is a HORRIBLE version of Blowing In The Wind
Missed quite a bit again. There's now a reverend who served with Kerry in Vietnam talking. But I think he's just finished.
Hillary! And she knows a thing or two about healthcare. ho ho. hmm, and the span feed has dropped out, leaving her sounding like a robot. But Robo-Hillary is going down well. BILL! BILL! BERRY! Whoops, wrong Bill. But she's introducing him now – woo!
And the crowd goes nuts.
He's thanking previous speakers. It's an Al/Bill reconciliation! hurrah! My, is it so long? There's sentences, progressions, comparisons, and even building of arguments. And he brings the funny! Damn, he's good. He's currently outlining the reasons to vote Republican - less police, tax cuts for the rich, assault rifles on the streets, and now, listing all the achievements of the Clinton Years — "It was better." And pointing out how both he and George Bush dodged Vietnam, but Kerry went of his own accord.
"Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."
Jul 25, 2004 · 4 minute read
Columbia (White Label Demo)
Released: April 1994
Highest UK Chart Position: 31
Available on: Supersonic
- Because it was their first single yet was never actually released as a single.
- If you're to believe the mythology (and myths are almost always simpler than the truth, but have a truth of their own, independent of whether they are lies themselves), this demo was produced by the band itself, proving that Noel Gallagher was something of a genius after all.
- The way the drums are at the front of the mix, even ahead of Liam's vocals, but you never notice because Tony McCarroll was such an abysmal drummer, even when compared to a scurry of squirrels.
- Despite being responsible for the rise of Britpop, the song is called Columbia, thus getting around to world music before Morocco was even a glint in Damon Alban's eyes.
- Because it was the opening song at Knebworth, a show that at the same time was the height of Oasis's popularity, and the moment that killed them as a creative force. Where could they go from there? The biggest band in the country, adored and hounded by the press. The Beatles dealt with it by retreating into the studio, locking themselves away from their fans and remaking pop music. Oasis wouldn't, or couldn't do that, and their fate was sealed.
- Its catalogue number is CRE176, which brings to mind 1976, Year Zero.
- "I can't tell you the way I feel / because the way I feel is oh so new to me", is both the worst lyric Noel ever wrote, and the best; a way of making us relate to the new pop stars thrust into fame and confirming that this is a love song.
- This is a love song. "This is peculiar / we don't want to fool ya" are the struggling words of a boy who realises that pulling pig-tails is not all he wants to do.
- This is a love song. Because Oasis were at their best when writing about love, even if they couldn't put it all into words.
- This is a love song. How could it be anything else?
- They even use samples on this song. Thus jumping ahead of retro before they decided to jump right back in.
- Towards the end, you can clearly hear the Scotch Skeleton saying "re-record, not fade away", giving this record an ancestral history, locking it to 1985. Its predecessor from that year is New Order's The Perfect Kiss. Columbia strips out the dance and simplifies the lyrics, resulting in pure communication.
- It sounds nothing like The Beatles. Indeed, The Fab Four Comparison was always something of a lazy criticism. Definitely Maybe sounds like Noel's music collection condensed into one record. The Kinks, The Smiths, The Stooges, The Stone Roses, and even Holly Johnson — they're all here, mixed in with The Beatles. Even Morning Glory has fewer Beatle-isms than you'd expect.
- This version lacks Noel's vocals in the instrumental section, but it helpfully provides enough gaps for you to sing along if you desire.
- What is the gibberish at the start? Backmasking, foreign tongues, glossilalia ? Or just plain nonsense?
- The way the lead guitar sounds fresh and clean at the start before disappearing into the mix, as if it's taking a deep breath of air before it submerges.
- Liam Gallagher claims to have written one of the verses, but can't remember which one.
- It's 5:25, but you'd never know it.
- In the end, it was something of a red herring. The band wrote and recorded a new song, Supersonic to be their real first single, with this song relegated to the fourth track on the CD. Columbia was re-recorded for Definitely Maybe, losing something of its magic when reprocessed through the eyes and ears of Mark Coyle and Owen Morris.
- Reason 20 remains hidden under the Thirty-Year-Rule, and will only be revealed to an unsuspecting public in the year 2023. But it will be worth the wait, I assure you.
- "I can see the signs, but they're not very clear" — they never were.
- They buried Tony McCarroll, you know.
- In the grand scheme of things, this isn't as good as How Soon Is Now?, Temptation, Nothing Can Stop Us, or You Really Got Me, but when you're listening to it, it is the greatest rock record of all time. It also makes a case for pop record, but falls a little short by being long.
- The end comes when expected, but the way it does is not.
- nyah nah nyah nah nyah nah nyah nah nyah
Jul 25, 2004 · 1 minute read
Remember the Bush records that were accidentally destroyed?
Well, the Pentagon decided to look under the cushions, and behold! They managed to find them, after all. No real revelations, but if he was there during the contested period, he never flew, and didn't take any pay, either.