Saturday, September 22, 2007

saturday / saturday / saturday

Sheeit, Elton John wants to close down the Internet

I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span.

Don't let the sun go down on me? I think it already has, old chap....

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Friday, September 21, 2007

its Sunday at the laundry / and you're looking out the window

Peter McLennan has a bit of a stab at the worst NZ album covers of the past year. My favorite is the Young Sid comment:

"Young Sid forlornly stares out from behind a chain-link fence, like it's 1988. See, he is from the streets. He is from South Auckland, where you gots to be packin'. In fact, he is so dangerous that the chain-link fence from which he looks *might* be jail. Or he might just be in a local school playground."

I'd not seen that one, but it truly is a shocker anyway you look at it. Most of the time, when New Zealand tries to be urban American it just makes me grimace, and this is just another bloody example of the same, slightly embarrassing cartoon street that inhabits the world of the likes of Savage (who of course the Australians quite liked...but if you've heard the Hilltop Hoods then its fairly clear that Australians don't, and never have, got hip-hop beyond the most grimace inducing level.

 Talking of shocking artwork...I've had a few moments over the years when I've been less than satisfied with, uhhh, the cover (and some which I'm rather proud of). But it's funny how time smoothes things. I had an email from some guy in the UK going ainsworthsspare (in a positive way) over my terrible (yes I did it) Doobie Do Disc album cover from 1982. Apparently it was a positive affirmation of the rawness found on the record....uh, no, it was a rather quickly knocked out thing, using the first image I could find, which happened to be a drawing a photographer called Mike had done in the far corner of our office, and the rawness...well despite our best efforts that may have been something to do with they way they were recorded.

But, to the point, what I have done is upgraded my old label pages (Propeller..hence the photo of The Ainsworths who appeared on Class of 81) into an overview, a 7" page, a 12" page and an album page. But, being several thousand kilometres away from my storage space, I'm missing a few sleeves on the album and 12" pages, so if anyone ancient out there, reading this (Chad?) happens to have a copy of any of the missing sleeves, well I'd be keen on a scan.....simon.grigg at gmail dot com dos the trick. You'll get a nice credit....


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

talking loud / and sayin' nothin'

Now to American politics….

My friend Harry, writes from NYC that Alan Greenspan has been making quite a week of it, not only is there the much talked about slagging of Bush, but almost as interesting was his appraisals of the various presidents he’d served under or worked with. Harry’s opinion was that it was fairly clear that old Al, like most sane people, despises GWB’s White House and all it stands for, as is made rather clear if you read between these lines:

I looked forward to at least four years of working collegially with many of government's best and brightest, men with whom I had shared many memorable experiences [Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, among others]. And on a personal basis, that is how it worked out. But on policy matters, I was soon to see my old friends veer off in unexpected directions ...


The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose [the 2006 elections]

But the Nixon comments too raised some eyebrows. Not Nixon per se, we all know he was, and will historically always be treated (despite his undeservingly sometimes overlooked repartee with China and Russia, for which he deserves credit) as a scumbag of the worst order.

But rather his potty mouth.

Greenspan confirms this ‘president’ managed to turn every second word into the f word...oh, ok…fuck (but my daughter has told me not to use it some much I didn’t say it). Plumbers, builders, rock’n’roll musisicans...even me…we can curse as often as we like, but ‘Presidents’ are supposed to, y’know, conduct themselves in a certain way that becomes their elected status leading the land of the free (note to Americans..none Americans never, ever see the POTUS as "The Leader of the Free World"..its your fantasy, but that's ok, you say it, we'll just smile). Take GWB, he can murder, invade, and leave a stream of blood across the globe, but he still conducts himself like a president (although he doesn't deserve a capital P). But then again, maybe that’s because he has the lawd on his side. Which brings us back to good old Alan G, who has now joined the ever growing list of Bush ship jumpers who have flipped. I can’t wait for scuzzy old Rumsfeld’s it wasn’t my idea honestly tell-all. This was after all a man who said:

Nonsense. It just isn’t. There—there—there are certain…………. things like that, myths that are floating around. I’m glad you asked. I—it has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.

Now, it seems, Greenspan says it was all about the oil….somebody is lying again. He, of course has an ulterior motive in that his time to meet his maker is fast approaching and the best guess is that he’s freaking out (now that he too has the lawd) that St. Peter is gonna say look Al, I can't let you in,  George W. Bush is actually working for the other side, down there ..... because deep down Alan knows that’s the god given truth.

So Alan thinks its time to quickly make amends, although as many are pointing out, he doesn’t get off that easily. I mean, he was the man who pushed so many buttons and had the power to say no. It all feels a little gutless.

But even more so when, after, you can imagine some very threatening calls (you ain’t the man anymore type of thing) over the weekend, he does a three sixty. You mean, that it had nothing to with Saddam’s threat to move to the Euro, Al? The only threat to the flow of oil came from an illegal invasion to protect the flow to one country…of course it was about oil. If there was no oil, would anyone in the White House actually care. The invasion, as is glaringly obvious, did nothing to reduce the violence and turbulence in the region as Greenspan claims was the intent. It was, amongst other things, a simple oil grab. And still is.

I guess Mr Greenspan won’t be chatting to the lord any time soon.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Byrd, can we get on before we-- Is it all right? / Byrd, do you think it's gonna be a hit, Byrd?

Damn...I just discovered Bobby Byrd is dead...damn....RIP...slowly they all seem to be passing.

via Peter Mac....this link to Idolator's link to YouTube. It speaks volumes

np: Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul....which helped bring Bobby to a whole new audience....


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Romeo was restless / he was ready to kill

I have to be honest, I was tempted by the recent Universal reissue of one of the albums that made the biggest splashes in my life. My first exposure to Elvis Costello was in early 1977 when I acquired, somehow, via my friend Brad I think, a copy of an early Stiff compilation with Less Than Zero on it. I was so taken with the song, I, accompanied by various Suburban Reptiles wrangled my way into the then still vaguely alternative Radio Hauraki on a Sunday evening and got the counter culture hero, Barry Jenkins, to play it on his show.

bunchofstiffs I bought the original EMI NZ vinyl issue of My Aim Is True on the day of release, and have religiously acquired every Costello album, and pretty much every 7” and CD single since. Oh, and I’ve re-bought My Aim Is True on CD three times, the last two with a bonus disc of unreleased bits and pieces.

So, ever the trainspotter, I was keen to at least look at the, ahhh, 4th remastered reissue of the album (I can never work out why all these earlier mastering engineers allegedly got it so wrong that it needs continual remastering) not least for the added album of early live materiel that Elvis and I talked about back in 1998.

Yep, I was keen but I have to honest my desire to purchase this re-re-re-reissue evaporated rather quickly when I clicked over to Amazon and saw the item in question. Was it everything I wanted? Yes…..but not for that price. A thirty year old album that has been reissued over and over again, even with a bonus disc of much sought after live materiel should not be listed at close to US$30. And the comments below it seem to confirm that others agree (including one from me!).

It’s a greedy rip off, but worse was to be found.

I was, yesterday, wandering around Amazon’s UK site when I came across the new limited edition vinyl boxed re-issue of the original Joy Division albums, released I guess because the Ian Curtis movie is out and about. Warners, for they own Factory now, in their craving for cash, have decided that, since Joy Division fans are often nothing less than fanatical about the band, that they’d retail this for £120! Four 30cm slabs of vinyl, once again close to thirty years old, in their original sleeves (which have been around countless times since 1980) for thirty pounds a pop.

Seriously. You completists need this they say...

Universal, who put out the Costello, also earlier this year tossed out a remastered double CD of The Style Council’s classic Our Favourite Shop. The second CD consisted of a bunch of previously released vinyl mixes in the main. The UK price….£15.

I wonder how many they sold?

And then they have the nerve to accuse the public of ripping them and the artists off.

As they do.....

Then there was this, in the NY Times, a story which so rightly waves it’s hands in the air and screams righteously rip off about the whole RingTones scam. And scam it is, and always has been:

No, I'm sure that, if you follow the ringtone gravy train to its source, you'll find record-company executives. There they'll be sitting, rubbing their hands together with glee and hoping that their young customers don't identify the ringtone industry for what it is: the last great digital rip off.

Coolfer says it’s about what the market can bear….uhh no, that’s exactly the attitude that put the record industry in the position they find themselves now.

Yep you don’t have to buy any of these, but music for many is a must have item, its passion driven, and I guess those conducting the kiddie swindle (because that’s who buys these things in the main), and the overpriced remasters know exactly that.

So, yes, we are expected to pay these prices for recycled old, admittedly sometimes quite good, re-issues; and for truncated, often time limited, snippets, and yet the industry cries theft and poverty over and over again. And claims relentlessly that the reason for their woes is because people are not buying music..they’re instead stealing it.

Except that’s not exactly true as this survey so clearly indicates. In the US more people over the past two decades are buying music than ever before. People like to buy music. They just don’t buy as much of it per head. I’m sure piracy has made a dent in that…I know it has in some niche genres like dance where vinyl sales are very much down (although digital has rocketed but not to replacement level). But the easy equation of a pirated track is a lost sale is just complete nonsense, regardless of how many times it’s repeated. The simple, and very easy to ascertain fact is that people are generally more discerning now because they can be. You can, more or less, pick and chose which tracks you want, and most people don’t want a full priced album for their three hits, and 90% of people like hits, regardless of what style they enjoy.

So people buy the Beyonce song they like and ignore the rest, and if they can’t buy it as they want it, because record companies don’t want to sell it to them that way, they may take it anyway.

And when Warners are trying to screw people to pay one hundred and twenty quid for four slabs of very old vinyl…I can’t blame them.

Hypocrites……and if you feel the need to burn the Costello, you won't find me arguing...actually if you happen to have one......

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