The Best Of The Worst

Just watched the first episode of a new game show called ‘Best Of The Worst’ – I’m not usually one for blogging about TV shows (well, OK, not very often anyway), but this was the first time in years that I’ve actually cried laughing at a quiz show (last time was an episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks a few years ago).

Anyway, it’s pants wettingly funny, particularly David Mitchell, he of Peep Show fame, who’s carved out a niche for himself as just about the most consistently funny man on TV. Don’t miss it next week…

Radio from the Edinburgh Fringe

For the last two days, Danny Baker’s show on Radio London has been hijacked by Amy Lame to present two shows from the Edinburgh Fringe. On thursday she was joined by Sue Perkins, and today by Andre Vincent.

I saw Sue Perkins show at the Fringe, but it’s when she’s just chatting, riffing off whoever the guest happens to be that you really see what a remarkable comic brain she has – even though the guests are often comics, she still racks up four one-liners to anyone else’s one.

It just made me want to be back up there (apart from anything else, I’d probably have a fair stab at getting on the air on a show like that!) – I’m definitely doing three weeks next year. You can hold me to that!

Anyway, head over to the BBC Radio London webpage and click on the ‘listen again’ links for Danny Baker’s show for Thursday and Friday, and that’ll give you the two shows, with some guests from the Fringe and general Edinburgh chit-chat.

feeling soiled…

just made the mistake of watching 15 minutes of Big Brother while waiting for the Edinburgh Show – BB have clearly plumbed the depths to find the stupidest most unstable desperate people in the entire country. OK, so it’s never been quality viewing, but watching this tragic bunch of no-marks trying so hard to come across like TV presenters in the diary room, but coming across like an annoying 12 year old that you’d really like to bodily pick up and throw out of the building but know that there are laws preventing you from doing such things.

Who’s watching??? (Other than CNL who has a commission to watch it all and report back) – actually, I’m feeling really guilty for encouraging Lizzie to watch it now – the poor lass is doggedly watching it daily, and reporting back. Giving that Lizzie’s a little bit mad herself, it’s probably heartening viewing, knowing that there are people out there considerably more unhinged than she is.

Anyway, pop culture has hit an all-time low, and I’m feeling better and better about being a solo bassist working so far outside of ‘the mainstream’, given that the mainstream is now a cess-pool.

Fret Phobia gig pt 1

So while a nation of armchair critics parked their carcasses in front of the TV to watch some football, a lovely select group of more discerning music lovers came out to see Ned and I in Cambridge on the first night of the Fret Phobia tour. And much fun it was too – I played solo (even did ‘The Inner Game’ which I haven’t played live for about three years!), then Ned played solo, and then we did some most enjoyable improv stuff together, with me looping and layering bass, guitar and voice into a lovely mush…

So, if you’re near, don’t miss the rest of the Fret Phobia gigs – tonight we’re at Darbucka, Recycling.

see you there!

When TV gets it right

Last night was the first in a new series called The Convent, in which four women from wildly differing backgrounds check in to a convent for 40 days. Yes, it’s reality TV, and yes, it’s what all reality TV should be like – offering people the relatively un-manipulated chance to experience something new and potentially life changing.

It’s a follow-up series to one called ‘The Monastery’ that was on about a year ago. Fascinating, life-affirming brain-food. And what’s more, you can watch it all online (thanks to Jonny B for the link).

MySpace controversy

there’s been a lot of forum activity across the entire internet created by the terms and conditions, with lots of musicians protesting that MySpace are going to be stealing our songs and photos and using them all over the place, selling them on etc.

This is the offending section in the T&Cs –

  • Proprietary Rights in Content on
    • By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, profiles, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) on or through the Services, you hereby grant to, a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services. This license will terminate at the time you remove such Content from the Services. You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Services or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth in this section, and (ii) the posting of your Content on or through the Services does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person. You agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any person by reason of any Content posted by you to or through the Services.

(Italics added by me).

The purpose of this bit is to stop anyone from suing them for having their songs played on someone else’s myspace page. It also leaves them free to have streaming audio on the site for ‘artist of the day’ type deals, or even myspace online radio using the tracks that have been posted. Without this clause, they could be hit with royalty claims by God-knows how many shitty indie bands whose mates have put their tracks on their page… It’s an arse-covering clause, not a rights-thieving one.

Think about it – MySpace is currently one of the top three biggest sites on the entire internet. It’s huge, it’s a phenomenon. They really can’t afford to piss people off. They have huge name musicians on there, with incredibly adept legal teams who would fry them alive if they decided to start using MySpace music clips on TV shows or whatever. If they stole some of my music or nicked photos of my site, I’d be onto the papers quicker than you can say ‘any publicity is bad publicity’, it’d be front page news and the site would start haemorrhaging users at lightning speed. Their ad revenue would disappear and the site would implode.

Now, I like most people think that Murdoch is a despicable odious louse on the pubic hair of society. He’s filth and scum of the worst kind. He’s also a business genius. A rancid amoral business genius, but one who really knows what’s going on. MySpace is his latest acquisition and he’s not about to let it fall apart over the licencing of a few tunes. The cost of paying a band to use their music on a compilation album or tv advert or whatever is tiny compared to the legal costs of being sued by Madonna for trying to claim that they have the right to use her tunes anywhere.

So, please, stop fretting about the MySpace T and Cs. Them doing what people say they are going to do would result in such a HUGE own goal for the site and for News Corps on mass, that it’s really not going to happen.

Panic over.

OK, who the hell is going to explain the 2nd Matrix film to me?

Right, I remember it getting a bit of a slagging when it came out, but I watched the Matrix Reloaded this evening (it was on TV finally) – what the hell was that all about? I mean, other than the fighting and crap attempts at sexual chemistry? Plot? er, no. Any clue? Loads of jumbled up references to the same stuff as the first film – Faith, destiny, fate, sacrifice, the search for meaning… only this time they were crassly squeezed in between the fight scenes, which were all at least 50% longer than they had to be.

Is being cleverly animated enough for a film these days? Was it just me, or was that largely a load of shit?

Internet facts…

From Wadders’ blog

According to research carried out on behalf of the BBC recently:

40% of the population are not online

27% of households have terrestrial TV only

27% of the population aren’t aware of Digital Radio

15% of the population aren’t aware of Freeview

Only 2% of UK internet users publish a blog

30% of UK internet users haven’t even heard of blogs.

So, go tell a friend about blogging! Feel free to use this as an example. haha!

British Book Awards

just watched the British Book Awards on TV. I, of course, voted for Margrave Of The Marshes in the public voted book of the year category, which was sadly won by JK Rowling for some unknown book about kids pretending to do magic or something.

That’s pretty much expected in a public vote. What was more disturbing was that Margrave was beaten in the best Biography category by Sharon flippin’ Osborne! Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Osbornes. Sharon’s a fascinating woman, and as the architect of Ozzy’s career renaissance, she’s clearly a marketing genius. But her book better than the Peel one? Naaaaah.

Imogen Heap gig

This is one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. I first saw Imogen Heap play at the Kashmir Klub about 6 years ago, at a ModernWood Management showcase gig, along with Nik Kershaw (who also had Leo Abrahams on guitar, to be featured at the next Recycle Collective gig) and the Dum Dums. I then bought her debut album in the US for some tiny amount of money, and it very quickly became one of the favourite CDs in this house. It’s great.

Last night she was playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire – a pretty huge venue for someone who this time last year was just finishing up recording a self-produced CD. However, between then and now, the track Hide And Seek from that CD, ended up being featured at some critical moment on The OC (I’ve never watched The O.C. – I’ve been to Orange County, and if the TV show is accurate, I can’t imagine in being very interesting, and if it isn’t, I’d just get annoyed with it). It was a huge radio hit all over the place, Radio 1 played it a lot here, and Imogen was right there in the spotlight where she belongs. The album’s lovely, BTW.

So, anyway, the gig – Shepherd’s Bush Empire – a v. large and pretty prestigious gig, though not the friendliest for the musicians or the audience. I’ve ranted here before about venues owned by Carling, and SBE is one of them with the corresponding focus on beer, leading to people talking. At times it was impossible to hear what Imogen was saying between songs, and during the two supports there was a bit of chatter coming from the main floor.

Ah yes, the support – first support was Zoe Keating – someone I’ve had a fair bit of email contact with as she’s a looping cellist, and was, I think the third owner in the world of a Looperlative, after me and Rick Walker. Her solo set was lovely, featuring unprocessed looped Cello (and the best live amplified Cello sound I’ve ever heard – apparently it’s an AKG contact mic, will get the details for any geeks wanting to know). Very lovely stuff.

Second support I didn’t get to hear much of… We arrived just before 8 so we could see Zoe play, and thanks to the craziness of guest-list goings-on, I had a ticket, but TSP’s hadn’t arrived yet ( we were meant to be going with TAFKASB, but she had to go to some punk gig instead…) so I went in to see Zoe’s set (not fair on TSP at all, but as my ticket was on Zoe’s guestlist, it would have been pretty dreadful to miss her solo set), then came out again to find TSP and sort out tickets. Which was all during second support.

Sadly, while my first ticket was seated upstairs, second tickets were standing downstairs only. We’re too old for that, but we did anyway, found a place by the stairs where TSP could see the stage and settled in for an evening of chronic backache.

Imogen came on and did her first number just solo, looping her voice with a Repeater (she so needs a looperlative!) – it was one of the most musical, clever, groovy and entertaining loop performances I’ve ever seen. It’s interesting that often the best loop-based performers are those that don’t make a big deal out of it, but that’s by the by. The rest of the night was a gorgeous mix of solo loopy stuff, solo piano stuff and was the first time she’d showcased the full band, with Zoe being marvellous on cello, plus drums, tuned percussion and a second keyboard player (the second support bloke), augmented by a few things on laptop.

Imogen’s stage presence was somewhat akin to an amiable old-school TV chef, like a glammed up Fanny Craddock cooking up the perfect gig; ‘now we’re going to add some Cello – would that be lovely?’ – sadly the constant chatter of audience members lubed up on nasty overpriced lager from the venue owners meant that a lot of the between song asides were lost, but the whole vibe of just chatting to the audience instead of trying to whoop them into some frenzy was right up my street.

All in all, musically and performance-wise one of the finest gigs I’ve seen in a long time, some of the most sophisticated looping and a whole slew of stunning songs (including one of the duets she did with Urban Species years ago, just her, the rapper from the band and piano – lovely stuff!). I just can’t wait to see her play the Barbican or Festival Hall, or the Albert Hall – somewhere with seats and an audience encourages to STFU during the whole gig.

The After-show party was a bit of a long wait – I really wanted to meet Zoe, so we stuck around for about 45 minutes til she showed up. Well worth the wait, as it’s always lovely to meet online-chums face to face. Also got to say hi to Imogen, who I’ve met on a few occasions before, but she couldn’t remember where. :o)

If she plays near you, DON’T MISS IT.

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