Monday, August 31, 2009

An interesting perspective on greatest hits collections

It was a throwaway line, and not necessarily germane to Stereogum's discussion of a Foo Fighters greatest hits collection, but it got me thinking nonetheless.

While they were more of a necessity in the pre-MP3 era, Greatest Hits collections will be around as long as music needs marketing.

This is another example (perhaps it belongs in my Empoprise-BI business blog) of the way in which people in different eras will think of things differently. People of my age still refer to "record stores," and still think of times when albums had two sides. (When I released the Ontario Emperor MP3 "Digital Judge," I purposely designed it to consist of three, rather than two, sections. No one cared.) And if we wanted to collect all of the best songs of an artist on a, "record," we'd have to shell out money and buy something that"record" company offered to us.

But now we have the power to assemble our own greatest hits collections by buying and downloading individual songs. And these collections can be suited to our own personal tastes - if I don't like "Philadelphia Freedom," I can leave it off my Elton John collection. Similarly, if I want to throw "Stairway to Heaven" onto my Elton John collection, I have the power to do so.

So what purpose do corporate-produced greatest hits serve? Well, for one thing, there are still a lot of people (admittedly, myself included) that don't download a whole bunch of music. For another thing, it allows the artist to mark a milestone - "I guess I had a career; Sony was able to cobble together a greatest hits collection."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The warriors and the geographical bands

As I write this, some former students from my high school are celebrating at our 30th anniversary reunion. I initially planned to fly to the East Coast to attend, but our family vacation and various other commitments and potential commitments interfered. But the reunionists are reunioning, beginning with a get-together on Friday night, continuing with the major event on Saturday evening, and concluding with a picnic on Sunday afternoon.

Because of the reunion, my brain has been in a reminiscent mood. But not completely. On Friday evening, when I cued up a radio combination of Novaspace radio (yeah, fly bluesmen dropped out, but Eurodance is still in) and Wolfsheim radio, the thought struck me - shouldn't I really be listening to songs from 30 years ago?

So I began thinking about the music from my high school years in the late 1970s, or more specifically the music that I was listening to during my high school years in the late 1970s. Your musical tastes are largely influenced by the people around you, and if my high school classmates were listening to Eno or the Clash or whatever, I certainly wasn't aware of it.

What I was aware of, however, were the geographical bands. Geographical bands have been around forever (one could argue that after Mayor Daley forced a name change, Chicago was a geographical band), but there seemed to be more of them in the late 1970s. I never personally got into New England, but I joined many people in listening to Boston and Kansas. I've told my daughter that if I hear certain songs from those two bands, I can predict what the next note will be in the guitar solo or whatever.

And both bands had links to the geographical areas for which they were named. Tom Scholz wasn't born in Boston, but ended up going to college there:

Tom Scholz '69, SM '70 never expected his passion for music to be much more than a hobby. After graduating from MIT, he worked as a senior product design engineer at Polaroid by day and spent his nights composing and recording demos in his basement studio and playing in local bands.

The late Brad Delp, however was a Massachusetts native.

Kansas was more of a true band (rather than a de facto solo project) than Boston was, and the band's roots are truly in Kansas - specifically, Topeka.

Dave Hope (bass), Phil Ehart (drums, percussion), and Kerry Livgren (guitars, keyboards, synthesizers) formed a progressive rock group named Kansas in 1970 in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas, along with vocalist Lynn Meredith from Manhattan, Kansas, keyboardist Don Montre, keyboardist Dan Wright, and saxophonist Larry Baker.

Vocalist Steve Walsh, on the other hand, originally came from a distant location...Missouri.

But enough talk. Here's Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

And Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son."

P.S. Since I took both of those videos from, it's worthwhile to mention one more thing. Some of you will recall that MTV didn't exist when I graduated from high school in 1979. I do remember, however, going to Alan Carter's house one night. He had cable, and that night we noticed that HBO had some type of jukebox with visuals between the movies. They showed the band Raydio obviously lip-syncing to their song "You Can't Change That." As I've previously noted, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world, and couldn't imaging that the whole "video" thing would take off just a few years later. (Sorry, Michael Nesmith; I didn't have the faith.)

P.P.S. Yes, the picture at the top of this post is a bit of an inside joke. Not only does it show a "Boston" band that was a little more traditional than the Boston band that Tom Scholz created, but it also shows people playing flutes - and I was a flute player in high school. If I had a flute today, I'd play the Wakefield Warriors fight song for you...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Madonna and the gypsies - shouldn't Stevie Nicks have championed this cause?

Whatever one may say about Madonna, she's certainly not shy, even when it can potentially cause her trouble. PopEater:

Thousands of Romanian concertgoers made their displeasure known with Madonna on Wednesday, after the singer paused her show to speak out against the persecution of Gypsies in that corner of Europe.

"It's been brought to my attention that there's a lot of discrimination against Romani and Gypsies in general in eastern Europe, and that makes me very sad," she told the crowd of 60,000 in Bucharest. As she spoke, a vocal minority began booing her words. She did not acknowledge the jeers.

There is a video. Note the changing reaction of the crowd - happy, then troubled, then positive again.

I'm not familiar with the song that she sings in the closing minutes of the video, but it is a nice one. Can someone identify it?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ellie Greenwich

Some people may have missed it in the news of the deaths of Edward Kennedy and Dominick Dunne, but Ellie Greenwich also passed away.

The Music's Over listed some of the songs Greenwich wrote or co-wrote:

Either on her own or with such songwriting partners as her one-time husband, Jeff Barry, Greenwich penned such gems as “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes), “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals), “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Darlene Love), “Hanky Panky” (Tommy James & The Shondells), “River Deep, Mountain High” (Ike & Tina Turner), and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (Manfred Mann).

The New York Times, while mentioning another song ("Leader of the Pack"), talked about the environment in which Greenwich worked:

Ms. Greenwich was among the songwriters, music publishers and producers working at the Brill Building, at 1619 Broadway in Manhattan, which (along with 1650 Broadway, across the street) became a center of pop music in the early 1960s. The buildings were home to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Carole King and Gerry Goffin, among many others, and from their offices and studios came a flood of teenage anthems, story songs and achy love songs fraught with the hormonal angst of the young.

And the Guardian mentions a message at her website that sadly, as of this evening, has not been updated.

*To all the High School students performing "Leader" across the country, don't be shy about contacting me (See link on the Home Page), you'll get my personal response; just give me some time.

Sadly, there's no time left to take advantage of her insight. And her webmaster is obviously consumer with other duties at this point.

From Jeff Pope to Fly Technoblues to the African-Nordic Four Seasons

If I were to compile a list of 100 things that I should be doing, one of them is to listen to radio deejay Jeff Pope more often. I've loved his work on KGGI (and before, when he was on X 103.9). Even though his station is an Inland Empire station, I get good reception on it even in Orange County. Which is more than I can say for our Los Angeles ESPN affiliate; why did the Lakers have to switch stations?

But I digress.

So anyways, one of the reasons that I like to listen to Pope is to introduce some new songs into my music mix. Let's face it - my normal music listening habits don't often veer into whatever the danged urban kids are listening to these days (or, for that matter, the suburban kids - ask my daughter). So if I listen to KGGI for a bit, maybe I'll hear a song that captures my fancy, and if I can figure out what it is, I'll introduce it into my music mix.

About my music mix - I'm still working on my "reduce the long tail" project in my library. Basically, it goes like this - if any artist in my library has only one play, I either listen to the artist again so that it has two or more plays, or I delete it the artist from my playlist altogether. (Goodbye, Diddy.) At the same time, I'm working on broadening my library, so during the last week, I've been listening to songs that are similar to songs by Novaspace, Baby Bash, and Charley Patton. Or, in other words, Eurodance bluesmen that are so fly.

Well, I'm introducing a new song into the mix, courtesy my Thursday morning drive time KGGI listening - "Beggin'" by Madcon. Here's the version that Google doesn't want me to embed into my Blogger blog. Here's the version that MTV does want me to embed.

And here's the version that I added to my library.

Incidentally, according to this biography (which details where Madcon actually comes from - is a Röyksopp collaboration in the works?), the song itself is a Frankie Valli cover. Here's how the Jersey Boys did it.

Sadly, no version by the Four Seasons, the Jersey Boys, or any other related entity is in So I have to rely on the African-Nordic version for my scrobbling.

Postscript - when I have time, I like to add Creative Commons commercial licensed pictures to my blog posts. While trying to think of a perfect picture for this post, I wondered if there were one that somehow gave a musical slant to the word "fly" (from Baby Bash, natch). Well, I found one, but it kinda sorta distracts you from the content of the post itself. Therefore, I've placed it at the bottom of the post, rather than the top. (If Mr. Pope does vanity searches, I'm not sure how he'd react to THIS. Then again, maybe he'd try to put it on the air somehow. "The new way to listen to music...")

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When is music inappropriate?

First off, I am not Muslim. But what if I were?

This story illustrates a music-religion issue:

Malaysia’s conservative Islamic party on Monday called for the Danish band Michael Learns to Rock to be banned from performing next month, saying it was an insult to Muslims during Ramadan....

“We are opposing this concert because holding it does not respect Muslims as it is the fasting month of Ramadan, a time for holiness and cleanliness,” PAS youth wing chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi told Agence France-Presse.

“It is an insult to Islam for the government to allow such a concert to take place and we urge all groups to follow our lead in demanding the concert be banned,” he said.

Now before you dismiss this out of hand by saying that conservative Muslims are unenlightened kooks, take a look at your own views and those things that you hold precious. Perhaps you'd object to a Klan concert on Martin Luther King's birthday. Or perhaps you'd object to a Christian concert during an official secular holiday.

While many of us, especially those who are inclined to read this blog, are music lovers, there are times when we believe that certain types of music - or any music at all - are not appropriate.

Or, more accurately, we prefer a certain John Cage piece during certain instances.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More on Akoo - why it's there, and why I'm familiar with the concept

I had jury duty service on Tuesday which ended before the day ended so, rather than driving an hour to work, I got drafted to pick up my daughter from Ontario Mills. As I was waiting for her, I noticed some display screens and photoblogged about it.

After I wrote the blog post, I began interacting with Akoo. My location is "ONT," so when I wanted to know what video was playing on the screen at the time, I'd simply text the following to 33123:


As I sat there, I got responses regarding artists that I know next to nothing about:

What's playing now? Jordin Sparks - Battlefield!

What's playing now? Kristinia DeBarge - Goodbye!

What's playing now? Esmee Denters - Outta Here!

I confess that I have NEVER heard of Kristinia DeBarge or Esmee Denters, but they're obviously popular.

At the same time, as I mentioned previously, they flashed various seven digit codes on the screen to allow you to request a video. None of the suggested videos interested me until I saw a reference to Sublime's "Santeria." Since I like the song, and I had never seen the video, I requested that one. Within five minutes, the video played.

I was intrigued by the appearances of Bradley Newell in the video, which made it obvious that Newell had already died before the video was made. A similar technique was used in the video for Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line,", which was made after Roy Orbison's death.

But back to Akoo. After getting back home, I had the opportunity to visit (although I subsequently discovered that the site worked on mobile phones, including my older model). After entering the appropriate code for my location (in this case, "ONT"), Once I did that, I was presented with a screen with several options (Most Requested, Artist Spotlight, Music Channels, Search Music), along with the opportunity to register by using my mobile phone number as a login.

The available artists are not numerous, and are obviously targeted to a younger audience than myself (although it may be possible that different artists are available at different locations). On a whim, I checked to see if they had Flash and the Pan. Here are all of the available artists under the letter F:

Fair To Midland
Fall Out Boy
Fatboy Slim
Fefe Dobson
finger eleven
Fiona Apple
Five For Fighting
Foo Fighters
Fountains of Wayne
Frankie J
Franz Ferdinand

But this is just one of the services offered by Akoo. The main website describes their mission:

Akoo's interactive networks enable any mobile phone to act as a remote control, empowering viewers to activate video entertainment programming and immersive band experiences on HD LCD-TV screens in out-of-home environments.

So why would a mall implement this? As it turns out, I have an understanding of this. Some of you may know that one of the Empoprises blogs is called Empoprise-NTN and is devoted to the interactive trivia games offered by NTN Buzztime. Their claim is that if you put their online trivia game into your bar or restaurant, people will play the trivia, stay in the bar/restaurant longer, and spend more money.

It's no accident that Akoo was installed in a food court at Ontario Mills. Presumably the same principle is in play here - get your teens with their text-ready phones (or web-ready smartphones), get them sitting in the food court for longer times, and get them to order more fast food, and maybe spend a few more hours at the mall like shopping and stuff.


Noticed this display at Ontario Mills (Ontario, California). Apparently you text a 7 digit ID ("ONT" plus a 4 digit number) to 33123.

More at the URL.

P.S. The old Virgin Megastore here is now an H&M. Suomi beats Branson.

Will investigate.

[6:40 PM - FOLLOWUP.]

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pandora-ing to Wyclef Jean fans (or, I was distracted)

So anyways, April Russo had a request:

If you live in the US, and have both a Pandora and account, you can do something really nice for Kol.

It turns out that Kol, being British, is adversely affected by Pandora's geotarding, so April requested that we listen to a particular Pandora station, then take any song played by the station, go to, and tag the song on with the tag "kol pandora." This way, Kol could kinda sorta get the Pandora effect from, which people in the United Kingdom CAN access.

Well, I got temporarily distracted after the second song that I tagged - Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (which, ironically, isn't currently on, but I tagged the entry anyway in case it is added later).

Wikipedia says the following about the song:

"Wish You Were Here" is the title track on Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here. The song's lyrics encompass writer Roger Waters' feelings of alienation from other people. Like most of the album, it refers to former Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett and his breakdown.

Rolling Stone, which labeled the song as the 316th greatest song of all time, shared a sad story about the recording of the song:

Syd Barrett...mysteriously appeared in the studio in such bad shape nobody recognized him....

But that isn't the saddest story that I heard. After I shared the story of how I was distracted by the Pink Floyd song, April Russo shared two things with me.

The first was a story that appeared on a website called The Cosmic Gift. The writer mentions how he had lost track of an old friend of his named Steve Bresnahan. By the time the writer found Bresnahan, he had already passed away ten years previously. Steve's father explained the circumstances:

"[Steve died in an] Auto accident. I suppose you know Steve worked with the homeless in Florida. There was a woman that he had helped get an apartment. She needed money and the day it happened, he went to work, picked up his paycheck, cashed it and took her some money. On his way back to work a van broadsided his car on the driver's side. The impact severed an artery to his heart and although they worked on him in surgery for hours trying to save him, it was too late. I'm an atheist, but Steve was a born-again Christian. If you believe the story in the New Testament about the Good Samaritan, then doing what he did was just about a guarantee of instant sainthood. The people I met in Florida at his memorial service all seemed to act as if they believed that. Even for an atheist, stuff like that strikes me as pretty cool."

If you read to the end of the item, to the obituary, you will see why this was shared with me.

On a happier note, April also shared a three-part tribute to Pink Floyd on YouTube, performed by Shadow Gallery. The first part is here. (Warning: the video portion of the third part is NSFW.)

But I don't crowd source EVERYTHING; I do a bit of discovery myself. Not finding the original "Wish You Were Here" on, I began searching for cover versions - and discovered that many of the songs entitled "Wish You Were Here" bear no relation to the original, although Kosheen used the song as the basis for something else that they did.

Wyclef Jean, however, shared a cover version that was very nice, and included an extra verse that personalized the song for him. This one's on YouTube also.

So after all of that...I found yet another cover version of Fox on the Run, and the video even included a dog. None of the other versions that I cited in my post Blinded by the Bluegrass had a dog. But Pink Floyd did, I guess...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If not for you...

I was listening to Dan Patrick's radio show, and he played a snippet of the song "If Not For You" before going to commercial. The version that Patrick's show played was the George Harrison version, which appears on the All Things Must Pass album.


So anyways, I ended up ignoring the commercial and musing about the fact that, despite Bob Dylan (yeah, the homeless guy) meeting all four of the Beatles, the one with whom he worked the most was George Harrison. Beehive Candy documents how they worked together in 1970, and Dylan of course appeared in Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. And - sorry if this shocks some people - "Nelson Wilbury" and "Lucky Wilbury" were actually Harrison and Dylan, respectively.

Of course, if you look at Harrison's career, you'll see that he often associated himself with some pretty quality musicians. This is a guy who was, quite literally, worshipped by millions around the world. Yet he ended up playing guitar with Delaney & Bonnie (along with another guitarist, some guy named Eric Clapton), surrounding himself with huge loads of talent in various projects, and for that matter extending himself beyond music and co-financing a movie by some comedy troupe.

But Harrison wasn't the only Beatle to surround himself with talent. John Lennon willingly became a Ronette to let Phil Spector produce him. Then there's the ongoing project Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, which has included everyone from Joe Walsh to Jack Bruce to Sheila E to Zak Starkey. (What, no Jason Bonham?) And Paul McCartney has collaborated with many people, including one with that guy who died recently. (In the process, McCartney learned a valuable lesson about when to share and not share business tips.) Plus, of course, McCartney is the world's leading champion of all things Buddy Holly.

As George Harrison and the other ex-Beatles showed us, music does not exist in a vacuum. While collaboration can sometimes dilute the genius of any single contributor, the collaboration itself may open new avenues of expression.

And no, Harrison didn't play rhythm guitar on "Layla."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blinded by the bluegrass

When I was growing up, I was familiar with two songs that were both called "Fox on the Run." One of the songs that I knew about came from over the water and was done by Sweet.

There was another song called "Fox on the Run." Here's Manfred Mann's groovy performance of the song.

However, I was not familiar with Manfred Mann's "Fox on the Run." The only Manfred Mann song that I know is "Do Wah Diddy Diddy." (Note that the cover version of "Blinded by the Light" was performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, a different outfit.) You see, the version of the Manfred Mann song that I knew was performed by Tom T. Hall. I couldn't find a Tom T. Hall video on YouTube, but this Country Gentlemen video gives a flavor of what Hall's version sounded like (without the growl).

So how did a groovy 1960s song morph into something completely different? Wikipedia credits Bill Emerson (of the Country Gentlemen) with the transition. Emerson's website says this in passing:

A founding member of the famed bluegrass ensemble "The Country Gentlemen", billed as a featured artist while with "Jimmy Martin" during the height of that bluegrass legend's career, the man who introduced the classic "Fox on the Run" to bluegrass....

Rebel Records contains a little more background:

The association with [Charlie] Waller led to the creation of the genre-shifting group, the Country Gentlemen. This was followed by stints with Bill Harrell, Red Allen and Jimmy Martin. It was with Jimmy that Bill gained the utmost recognition and Martin’s Decca recordings and persistent touring kept the picks firmly planted on Bill’s fingers.

In the late 1960s Bill joined forces with Cliff Waldron to form the New Shades of Grass. Their influential Rebel recordings helped to loosen up some of the strictures of the bluegrass mold, while still remaining firmly within its boundaries. It was this grouping that introduced the now classic "Fox On The Run" to bluegrass.

So what did Emerson do after that?

After a second stay with the Country Gentlemen in the 1970s, Emerson eventually enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

To my knowledge, Emerson has never performed any Village People songs on the banjo, however.

I couldn't find a lot about Hall's take on the song, but this site, which celebrates Hall's songwriting skills, did mention the song briefly.

Even in his autobiographical songs, Hall maintains a certain writerly detachment. He may be writing and singing about his past, his experiences and his hometown but he never loses a writer’s cold, analytical distance from the people they’re writing about. “That’s How I Got To Memphis” is probably the closest Hall gets to the soul-shaking, transformative personal pain that informs so much great country music. “Fox On The Run” has the same sense of loss but it was written by Tony Hazzard and was originally a hit for Manfred Mann.

So who is this guy who can write a song for a British band and a Navy banjo player alike?

Tony Hazzard's songs are known to millions. During his first flurry of pop success in the mid-late '60s he scored huge hits with "Ha! Ha! Said The Clown" and "Fox On The Run" for Manfred Mann, "Listen To Me" for The Hollies, "Me The Peaceful Heart" for Lulu, "Hello World" for The Tremeloes and "You Won't Be Leaving" for Herman's Hermits. In addition, his "The Sound Of The Candyman's Trumpet" was recorded by Cliff Richard and entered into the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest (note the word SONG there, folks). "Maria Elena" was beautifully rendered by the great Gene Pitney while the Jimmy Page-led Yardbirds turned Tony's "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" into a psych-pop classic. Simon Dupree & The Big Sound, The Casuals, The Family Dogg, Cherry Smash and The (formerly Swinging) Blue Jeans all turned to Hazzard's effortless pop tunes in the late '60s too.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

She's her baby tonight

While I was on vacation, I read about a Whitney Houston interview in advance of her forthcoming album, which I've previously mentioned in this blog. In this interview, Houston talks about how her 15 year old daughter inspired her:

"She encourages me and inspires me, when I look at her and I look at her eyes and I see myself, I go, 'OK, I can do this. I can do this.'"

More here, including her assertion that her time away from the spotlight was because she was concentrating on raising her daughter - and not because of other personal issues.

Monday, August 10, 2009

#iwt - the musical tweets

It's August 10, and I'm in California, a place where I haven't been since July 25. Back on the 25th, I departed the state on a 2+ week train trip to Illinois, with a side trip to Wisconsin. However, I didn't want to necessarily advertise that I was away, so I pre-wrote a lot of posts in advance and just kept the Empoprise-MU blog (and my other blogs) humming along as unusual.

But I still tweeted and blogged about my vacation as it happened - I just obfuscated things a little, often using the hashtag #iwt (which stands for Illinois Wisconsin Train, at least when I use it).

For example, on July 26 I tweeted the following:

song in head - "take it easy" #iwt

That was my announcement that my train was passing through Winslow, Arizona (not that I was standing on a corner looking at a girl or anything). In a similar vein, the July 27 tweet

i probably won't scrobble it, but i'm thinking "hey hey hey hey" #iwt

indicated that I was in Kansas City - "Hey Hey Hey Hey" being the Little Richard song that he paired with the song "Kansas City". Incidentally, it also was an admission that I wasn't using at the moment, and in fact wouldn't be using it for a couple of weeks.

Oh, and there was this August 5 tweet:

badger badger badger badger #iwt

This had nothing to do with the "Badger Badger Badger Badger" song, but instead referred to the fact that I was in Wisconsin.

But I wasn't just tweeting - I was also blogging. For example, this July 10 photoblog post was written while I was in downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois. Somehow I can't picture your top metal bands using a Hello Kitty axe.

So I guess my vacation inspired tweets about the Eagles, Little Richard, and Hello Kitty, among others. (Now that's a concert bill.) If you want to see all of my #iwt tweets, don't bother searching Twitter; instead, use the FriendFeed search

Which brings me to the #iwt tweet from @LilAicha87, but that's a topic for another post.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I guess Duncan Riley and I have different tastes in music (Avalanches, "Frontier Psychiatrist")

Back on July 22, Duncan Riley shared this video from the Avalanches.

Riley also shared his take on the video:

Before today I’ve never heard of the band The Avalanches, and after today I hope I don’t hear of them again any time soon.

Actually, I found the song fairly catchy, and the video images certainly lend themselves to the lyrics. And, according to Wikipedia, there was certainly a lot of assembly required, even for the music:

"Frontier Psychiatrist" contains samples from "Frontier Psychiatrist" written by John Robert Dobson, Published by the Estate of John Robert Dobson, Performed by Wayne and Shuster, Courtesy of Sony Music; and embodies a portion of "My Way of Life" written by Bert Kaempfert, Cral Sigman and Herber Rehbein, published by Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. (BMI) throughout the world excluding Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, where it is published by Bert Kaempfert Music Publishing GmbH (GEMA), and excluding the United States of America, its territories and possessions, where it is published by Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. and JPMC Music Inc. on behalf of itself and Ruth Rehbein Music (BMI). Used by permission. The initial words are sampled from the film Polyester.

And as for the video that sent Riley's head spinning, some people liked it:

The video for 'Frontier Psychiatrist' was later awarded runner-up prize at Soho Shorts Film Festival in the UK.

The album that included "Frontier Psychiatrist" was initially released in 2000 (in Riley's home country of Australia). A new album is rumored, but sample clearances may be holding up its release.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My baby is American made

I live in the United States, and I don't often find myself obsessing over whether a particular song that I hear on the radio is "American" or not. While there have been times in our musical history (e.g. 1964) when people might have worried about non-American content driving out the American stuff, by and large a lot of music that we hear on our radio originates in the United States. In part, this is due to a self-selection that we American radio listeners exercise - if they're singing in some danged incomprehensible language, we don't buy it. But in the end, a lot of the music that we Americans hear is American.

This is not necessarily the case in other countries, which means that they sometimes have to take special steps to promote music that actually originates from within the country's borders.

Hence, the Mercury Prize in the United Kingdom, which will be awarded in September. Stereogum lists the nominees for album of the year, but starts off by listing the qualifications:

In order to be eligible, the album must've been released by a British or Irish artist/band between July 2008 and July 2009....

I wonder how the Irish feel about that? They've been independent for a century give or take, and they're still lumped in with the Brits.

So anyways, here are the Mercury Prize nominees:

Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Florence & The Machine - Lungs
Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Glasvegas - Glasvegas
Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
La Roux - La Roux
Led Bib - Sensible Shoes
Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew
Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy
Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Twice Born Men
The Horrors - Primary Colours
The Invisible - The Invisible

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Standards organizations don't set standards (RIAA and DRM)

The RIAA is everyone's favorite whipping boy, so I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who smirked at Kim LaCapria's Inquisitr piece:

Chief spokesdude for the RIAA Jonathan Lamesauce Lamy has stated DRM is dead, but not before pissing off all the people who have legitimately downloaded music since you could legally do so.

LaCapria then goes on to note:

Despite all the imaginary pros of someone placing artificial restrictions on content owned by consumers, shockingly, big players like Amazon and iTunes began to reject and/or discontinue the practice. DRM effectively worked against legal music sales and created piracy where none may have existed.

It seems that even the most vocal proponents of the practice are finally accepting what is rather than what they’d like there to be and realizing that DRM in the end impacted what they hold most dear: sales.

Not only sales, but also word-of-mouth, as I can easily prove via my personal library. If you look at the first page of my library, you'll see a lot of scrobbles from the Röyksopp and Midnight Juggernauts albums that I recently purchased, but you won't see a lot of scrobbles from the Sarah McLachlan album that I recently purchased. Why not? Because the CD had a copy-protection scheme that I never bothered to master, so I never downloaded the songs to my computer.

Which, in present-day terms (even for me) means that I hardly ever listen to Sarah McLachlan.

Oh well, they got their money, so they should be happy, right?

P.S. It turns out that I was lucky in my McLachlan experiences - some people couldn't even play the CD on their CD players.

P.P.S. Ironically, I discovered the "Bloom" album via (Steven Hodson had played the Junior Boys "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" mix). Too bad that those who follow my scrobbles probably won't be able to do likewise.