CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 8th December

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- It's The End Of The Year As We Know It
- More possible PR problems for SonyBMG over DRM
- Linkin Park close to ending grievances with Warner
- Will the Inc now go into business with Warner?
- Jay-Z sued by wrestler over hand gesture
- Starsailor cover Sugababes
- Wilco, Decemberists, on new Minus Five album
- MCs embark on UK battle tour
- Connick Jr and Marsalis work on New Orleans project
- Lennon's cousin objects to documentary
- C4 pilot new breakfast show
- Davina gets prime time chat show
- Ofcom and ITV chief contribute to BBC charter debate
- Competition people to investigate HMV book acquisition
- Wippit form partnership with UK newspaper group
- Podcast named word of the year
- Creative to launch video player
- 7digital launch video download platform
- Franz Ferdinand release those new live recordings
- Brian Harvey has made a full recovery
- Doherty faces no Shrewsbury charges shocker
- Eminem considers remarriage
- Eddie Van Halen's wife files for divorce
- Myleene somewhat ironically happy slapped
- African country bans unfaithful songs
- Japanese company build MP3 player into toilet


Now, here's something scary. There are just nine more editions of the CMU Daily before Christmas. This is partly because we are all buggering off early (21 Dec), but also because the year that's been known as 2005 is nearly at an end. With that in mind, CMU has been busy chatting to the artists behind ten of our favourite albums of the year. You can find out why we liked those albums here in the Daily, and then read the full interviews on our website. And then, of course, you guys have been busy voting for your favourite track of the year. You can still vote on that, meantime check out how people have been voting here in the Daily.


FAVOURITE ALBUM OF 2005 #2: Superthriller - Superthriller 1
I've met a fair few CMU readers who get very frustrated when the music they love fails to excite the wider public - why, they ask, isn't Radio 1, MTV and the mainstream media dedicating more time and space to leftfield alt-nu-bass-driven electro? Personally, I have fully come to terms with the fact that 90% of the population only have time for 10% of the music out there. Frankly, it's their loss. But then there are a handful of artists who are making music that I not only love, but which I am convinced has real mainstream potential. This is genuinely depressing because all these artists need to make it big time is a suitably large marketing budget and a sufficiently motivated product manager battling their corner. I've often thought about approaching one of those major record companies and suggesting they give me a pot of cash which I can then combine with my many marketing skills (and I have many, honest) to get some of these artists the mainstream attention they really really deserve. If I ever do manage to get access to a major record company's bank account (though given how often I slag them all off in the CMU Daily, it's unlikely to be anytime soon) one of the first bands I'd invest in would be Superthriller. Coming out of London theatre collective Shunt and released via London independent Mint, these guys make the kind of funky intelligent pop music that could and should be dominating the charts. With a definite sense of humour, and plenty of catchy hooks and quirky lyrics, 'Superthriller 1' is a great album that demonstrates that, while Prince is a definite influence, this band have, between them, eclectic music tastes. That said, there's a distinct Superthriller sound on this album, which means every track sounds reassuringly familiar after just a few listens. The release of this album and subsequent gigs have been relatively low key, though through word of mouth and some well chosen support sets a buzz is slowly starting to build. Given I lack that major label marketing budget, why not help me out by tracking down a copy of this long player and playing it to everyone you know - together we can introduce the world to the funky pop of Superthriller.

Read our interview with Superthriller here:



Pendulum - Slam (BBK)
Surely the most arresting record of the year came from Pendulum's debut 'Hold Your Colour' LP. A half-time intro winding into hurricane beats rotated from Jo Whiley to Rider Radio & raves - 'Slam' proved that hard-edged, properly produced D&B can still commercially smash it.
Voted for by: Alex Farber, Drum&BassArena

Hot Hot Heat - IOU (Warner)
This track is one of the highlights of one of the best albums of the year. It's one of those records that leaves you exhilarated and a bit confused about what's just happened (in the best possible sense). This is what great guitar pop music is all about, and this year's buzz bands should be taking lengthy notes. Bigger, brighter, bolder, brasher and just better than anything else I've heard this year.
Voted for by: Gerry Gallacher, UMGI

Field Music - It's Not The Only Way To Feel Happy (Memphis Industries)
Lolloping pop brilliance from the former Futureheads drummer and his suave younger brother. The choice cut from Field Music's debut was not only the best song I heard all year, but ample justification for continuing to believe in the innate brilliance of the human species, electric guitars, and xylophones.
Voted for by: James Jam, NME

Vote for your track of the year - send the name of your favourite track, a few words on why, and your name and company to


There has been more (yes, more) bad press for the digital rights management technology being used by the major record companies to 'copy-protect' their CDs, this time relating to software developed by technology firm SunnComm.

Possible problems with the company's MediaMax Version 5 DRM were revealed at the same time that the issues surrounding the 'rootkit' software made by First4Internet first became apparent. However, the SunnComm software is getting more attention this week because security firm iSec Partners has investigated the technology, at the request of consumer rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and they have confirmed that the company's DRM can make music fans' computers more susceptible to virus attack.

iSec say that the MediaMax 5 software requires a computer to be operating "high-level privileges" every time a CD is played - privileges only normally activated while new software is being installed. That increases the risk of virus attack. Princeton University computer science professor Ed Felton explains: "Any program that comes along can modify your MediaMax files, booby-trapping the files by inserting hostile software that will be run automatically the next time you insert a MediaMax-bearing CD into your computer". Even more problematic are claims that the 'patch' initially released by SunnComm to uninstall the DRM software made a user's computer even more susceptible to viruses.

All this is especially bad news for SonyBMG, who used the technology on 40 odd album releases in the US, mainly on the CDs of BMG artists including Alicia Keys, Britney Spears and Dido. Still recovering from the PR and potential legal fallout of the rootkit debacle, the major label could do without major coverage of further DRM weaknesses. Interestingly, with the SunnComm story generally ignored by the mainstream press so far, SonyBMG have not made any public announcement on this DRM like they did with rootkit. It will be interesting to see if, following the iSec report, they now feel the need to make a statement before any possible media attention grows.


Linkin Park are said to be close to entering into a new recording contract with Warner Music despite their public criticism of the major label earlier this year. As previously reported, the nu metal band issued a statement back in May accusing the major record company's new owners, led by Edgar Bronfman Junior, of pursuing crippling cost cuts for the benefit of shareholders, but to the detriment of their artists.

The comments came as Warner prepared for their flotation, providing some tricky PR problems for the major label. Warner bosses argued that Linkin Park's management team had put them up to making the statement as part of ongoing contract renegotiations between the major label and the band.

Seven months on, and despite the public criticism, those contract renegotiations now seem to reaching a conclusion. The band's guitarist, Brad Delson, has told Billboard: "We're resolving our differences and we're looking forward to putting out a record next year. We're all focused on the creative process right now."

The band are now expected to release a new album via Warner in Spring 2006, as originally planned.


Talking of deals with Warner Music, there was renewed speculation yesterday that the Murder Inc record label, known as The Inc these days of course, will now enter into a partnership with the Warner posse.

The Lorenzo brothers' record label has historically been affiliated to the Universal Music Group, but when that relationship came up for renewal - with Inc supporter Lyor Cohen no longer at the major, and with the money laundering allegations made against the Lorenzos still pending - neither side seem particularly interested in continuing the partnership.

Irv Lorenzo was reportedly in discussions with Cohen about going into business with his new employer, Warner Music, earlier this year, but the ongoing federal investigations into the Inc's financial affairs would have made announcing any joint venture tricky, especially as Warner was going through the motions of a flotation. However, with the Lorenzos cleared of all charges earlier this week, a Warner deal is now possible.

New York Post journalist Tim Arango says that Chris Lorenzo spoke to him last week, before the jury announced its verdict, about the Inc's relationship with Universal, confirming: "We're free finally. We have a lot of options, and we'll figure it out after the new year". But Arango reckons the Lorenzo brothers are closer to reaching a decision about the future than that quote suggests - and that a new deal with their old friend Cohen over at Warner is pretty damn likely.


Jay-Z is being sued by a former pro-wrestler over allegations he has ruthlessly stolen a hand gesture. No, really. Diamond Dallas Page says he first used the hand gesture - basically putting both hands forward and touching your thumbs and index finger to create a diamond shape - back in 1996, and that he then had it copyrighted. Jay-Z has subsequently used the gesture, in particular on the cover of 2002 album 'The Dynasty Roc La Familia', which, the wrestler claims, is a violation of his copyright. He is suing in a bid to stop Jay-Z from making the hand gesture in the future, and to secure compensation for the violation he has suffered.

According to MTV, Page's lawyer George Gallegos, who says the wrestler is pursuing the legal action to "save his livelihood", told reporters: "People would come up to him and ask him if he was letting Jay-Z use it or if he had licensed it to him. Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records use this symbol to promote themselves, to promote their artists, to promote their music and to promote their fanbase. People have come to recognise [Page by this symbol], and the way that it's being used by Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella is taking value away from it and creating confusion upon the public."

Quite which members of the public are getting confused between a white wrestler and a black rapper because they sometimes make the same hand gesture isn't clear. Jay-Z and his people are yet to comment on the law suit.


Starsailor's new single 'This Time' is to feature a live b-side cover of Sugababes recent number one hit 'Push The Button'. I'm trying to imagine it, and it's not going so well, but there you go. Should be interesting. 'This Time' is the second single to be released from the band's third album 'On The Outside', set for release on 23 Jan.


'The Gun Album', the latest collaboration from The Minus Five collective, set for release on 7 Feb, is to feature performances from a variety of interesting guests. Core collective members Scott McCaughey, and REM stars Peter Buck and Bill Rieflin are joined by Wilco, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy and John Moen as well as folky singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding. Wilco feature on two tracks, a contribution which follows their 2003 Minus 5 collaboration on album 'Down With Wilco'.

The Minus 5 recently played five shows in Spain, and are planning a north American tour for next spring.


Hip hop MCs Mic Assassin and Stig today embark on a mini-tour of the UK to decide which of the two should represent the UK at a series of rap 'street battles' in New York. Having come top in a London street battles, the two MCs will now compete with other British MCs around the country. Whichever of the two wins the most of those regional battles will be heading for the New York contests next month. The competition is being organized by Jump Off, who will re-launch their regular events at London's Mean Fiddler next year. The regional street battle dates and participating MCs are as follows, press info from

Thursday 8 Dec
Bournemouth 6pm: Nathaniel/Pride
Bristol 10pm: Jinxsta/Genius
Cardiff 2am: Muddmouth/Ruff Stylz

Friday 9 Dec
Ipswich 4pm: Truth/Arkaic
Brighton 8pm: Koaste/Heins

Saturday 10 Dec
Birmingham 130pm: Sonny Jim/Kosyne
Liverpool 530pm: Lee Scott/TL
Manchester 830pm: Strategy/(tbc)

Sunday 11 Dec
Leeds 130pm: D.Brown/Dangerman
Newcastle 5pm: Subliminal/(tbc)
Glasgow 10pm: Respekt BA/Freestyle Master


Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis are spearheading a project to create a 'village' for New Orleans based musicians who lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The pair are working alongside not-for-profit housing organisation Habitat For Humanity, which has so far raised more than $2million towards the cost of building a new neighbourhood with a music centre at its heart, where musicians can teach and perform. Quint Davis, a New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival producer who helped arrange a benefit concert in New York which raised around £1million for the project told reporters: "The money being used to build these homes for New Orleans musicians was raised by New Orleans musicians. Our pact with them was to help New Orleans' musical community."

Connick Jr. says that he and Marsalis had both been looking for ways to help when they returned to their home town several weeks after the devastating storm hit. He explains: "I had been kind of coming up blank. The problem is so massive, it's hard to know where to begin. As we talked, we both realised we should really stick to what we know, which is music. There's a ton of musicians who have no place to go." Branford Marsalis says the project is a thank you to the musicians "who made it possible for people like me and my brother Wynton and Harry Connick Jr to get out and spread the word."

A location for the neighbourhood has not yet been decided but Habitat For Humanity are looking at three different possible areas of New Orleans. It's estimated that between $7.5million and $15million would be required to create the village and the music centre, which is to be named for Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, teacher and father of Branford and Wynton Marsalis.


John Lennon's cousin, Stanley Parkes, has spoken out against Channel 4's decision to air that Mark Chapman documentary that goes out tonight, saying that he and his family are upset by what they consider to be the ill-timed glorification of a murderer. The key issue is the broadcast of tapes recorded by Chapman's biographer Jack Jones in the early nineties in which Chapman explains how he shot and killed the former Beatle.

Parkes, who is based in Scotland, said: "I think the decision is absolutely abhorrent. It's totally out of order to give the man airtime to explain how and why he shot John. It's just glorifying a killer. Our family are devastated by that. It should never have been allowed to happen, especially on the anniversary. I don't know how they [Channel 4] get away with it. To everyone else John is a public figure, but to us, he's just our John. It's very sad for the family when it's all brought up again. The anniversary of his death is upsetting enough without this as well."

Channel 4 have defended the programme, claiming that neither Chapman or his family have profited financially, and saying that it's a serious documentary. A spokeswoman said: "I Killed John Lennon is very much a serious documentary and has been handled accordingly. The programme looks into Chapman's psychology. It is about the mind of a murderer rather than about John Lennon. Neither Mark Chapman nor his family have received payment."

On the tapes, Chapman, refused parole for the third time last year, is heard to explain his reasons for murdering Lennon, saying that he hoped his "identity would be found" via the killing. Chapman says: "There was a successful man who kind of had the world on a chain, so to speak, and there I was, not even a link of that chain, just a person who had no personality. And something in me just broke."


Some new TV shows coming your way in the New Year, both of which may well offer TV pluggers new outlets for getting their artists airtime. The first is a new Dermot O'Leary fronted breakfast show to be piloted by Channel 4 in the New Year. The first time the network has had a live show in the breakfast slot since the sorry demise of RI:SE, the new show, to be called Morning Glory, will have a 2-3 week trial run next month, with plans to make it more of a permanent fixture should it prove successful.


Meanwhile, the BBC have confirmed that they have signed up Davina McCall to host a new mid-week chat show which will air during peak time on a Wednesday evening. Confirming the new show, BBC 1 Controller Peter Fincham told reporters: "There aren't many chat shows with hosts that are women and this is very exciting for us. I think Davina is rather special and viewers really like her. I'm really glad she's here. We think that's a rather exciting thing to do, it's exciting to do a chat show that isn't hosted by a man."


Talking of the Beeb, media regulator OfCom are urging the government to include rules covering cross promotion akin to those that apply to commercial broadcasters in the new BBC charter. OfCom themselves have revamped the cross-promotion rules governing the commercial TV channels - in particular ensuring that when promoting their other channels ITV et al do not give biased information on the best way to receive those channels (Sky, cable, Freeview etc), and that cross promotional airtime is used to promote a network's other TV channels, and not any other commercial ventures they may be involved in. OfCom has no powers over the Beeb, but it said this week that it strongly feels that the BBC should be subject to the same restrictions in this area as the commercial players. In a statement the regulator said: "Ofcom considers it important that the [charter review] White Paper should require the BBC to adhere to the same set of requirements as that imposed on ITV1, Channel 4 and Five."

Meanwhile, the boss of ITV has described plans by the BBC for an inflation-busting licence fee increase as "ridiculous". Addressing a House Of Lords Select Committee on the BBC Charter renewal, Charles Allen said that the licence fee should be rising at less than the rate of inflation, not more. He said that, if the government allowed the licence fee increases that the Beeb wants (about 2.3% above inflation each year), the Corporation's income in 2013 would outstrip the combined ad revenues of every commercial broadcaster which, he says, buts the BBC at a considerable unfair advantage.

Allen: "The quantum is ridiculous. No one's clocked the scale of it and it would distort the market. If the BBC got anywhere near the increase they are asking for it would be ridiculous ... The BBC should be more efficient over time and we should be looking at an RPI [retail price index] minus settlement."


Now that we're getting all business like, what with 'retail price indexes' and all that, a quick update on attempts by the HMV Group to take over independent book chain Ottakar. The Office Of Fair Trading has referred the merger to the Competition Commission, mainly because HMV already owns the dominant UK bookseller Waterstones, and there are fears in the book publishing industry that the merger would give HMV too dominant a position in the book selling sector. While the Office Of Fair Trading doesn't seem to completely agree with those that say the merger will damage the independent end of the book industry, they have recommended the competition commission investigate the merger proposals, partly because of the high number of consumer complaints they received from book lovers concerning what effect the merger will have on the supply of more independent titles.


Digital stuff now, and independent download company Wippit has announced a new partnership with publishing group Northern & Shell which will see the creation of digital music services for four of the company's titles, the Daily Express, Daily Star, OK Magazine and website Daily Snack.

The four different download services will be developed to suit each title's respective readerships. Farzad Jamal, Internet Development Controller of Northern & Shell, explained: "OK's editorial focus on celebrity lifestyle is the perfect bridge to offer readers a direct opportunity to download entertainment products".

Wippit boss Paul Myers said of the new deal: "From Wippit's perspective, it's an incredible portfolio to work with four titles that address different markets and a combined readership of over seven million. We know that these are all trusted brands with long established reputations and high reader loyalty."


More digital stuff, and the word 'podcast' has been named Word Of The Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary. Interestingly their definition reads thus: "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player", which ignores the strictly technical definition which requires for that digital recording to be automatically delivered to a subscriber's computer via an RSS feed.

Commenting on the status of the word in 2005, the Dictionary's Erin McKean told reporters: "Podcast was considered for inclusion last year, but we found that not enough people were using it, or were even familiar with the concept. This year it's a completely different story. The word has finally caught up with the rest of the iPod phenomenon".


MP3 player makers Creative are about to launch a new player to take on the video-enabled iPod. The Zen Vision:M is expected to be officially announced today, although the company's Japanese division started talking about it yesterday. The new combined audio/video player will play a range of video file formats including MPEG 1, 2 and 4, WMV 9, Motion JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD, while on the audio side it will work with MP3, WMA with DRM and WAV. Crucially that list of complicated codecs does not include the file format used by iTunes for its video, meaning that, as with music, owners of a Creative player will not be able to buy content from iTunes. Which presumably means Creative will need another download platform to start flogging a decent sized library of video downloads to feed their players.


Which is possibly where London based 7Digital comes in. They will make an announcement later today about their plans to launch a video download platform. Given that Creative will be in attendance at said launch, it is presumably no coincidence that this platform will launch at the same time as the new players.

Commenting on the new video service, 7Digital top man Ben Drury told CMU: "Consumers are very comfortable with downloading music for their iPod or PC and we are seeing a growing demand for video. If the market follows the same trajectory as audio downloads in 2005, we can expect to the video download market worth in excess of £30million in 2006".

7 Digital doesn't deal with punters direct, rather it offers download services for other people, including consumer brands, media companies, record labels and artists. More info on them and the new video service from Fuse PR on 020 8752 3210.

(Actually we're off to see a demo right now, which is why your CMU Daily has arrived every so slightly earlier today).


More download things. Franz Ferdinand have released those live recordings via their website. You know, the ones we told you about - the two different live versions of current single release 'Walk Away' recorded at SECC in Glasgow on 22 Nov and at Ally Pally on 30 Nov. See, you remember now. Well, they're available now via for your aural pleasure.


Former pop star Brian Harvey has now made a full recovery from that freakish car accident that nearly killed him a few months ago. His manager Simon Harrison says that he's now walking and driving again and is planning to get back into the studio in the coming months. Harrison explained: "He's a fighter at heart and has got some tremendous willpower that seems to pull him through. The doctors at the time were giving him a 2% chance to live - it was as low as that. The surgeon said to me: 'Don't hope for anything better than maybe one or two first steps before Christmas'. They did the operation on his pelvis and took the pins out a number of weeks ago. He had some intense physiotherapy and come out of that and is walking OK."

You may remember at the time of the incident there was some speculation that the accident was some kind of elaborate suicide attempt. On regaining consciousness he explained that he was reversing down cul-de-sac, felt violently sick, undid his seatbelt and leaned out of the car, at the same time hitting the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes. On the suicide speculation, Harrison said: "Having come fairly close to bouts of depression and suicide attempts, people were obviously slightly sceptical as to whether this was just another one. But as he said: 'I'm certainly not brave enough to do that'."

Harvey is now planning a bit of a comeback after responses to a new song he recorded before the accident has had an enthusiastic response from some major US labels after being anonymously posted on a music industry website. "I think I'd prefer to do it over there where we can start afresh with a clean sheet - have a hit record based on the fact that it's a record rather than Brian's back story," says Harrison, adding that Harvey's former band East 17 would be up for a reunion if a Take That style offer came along: "I would love it to happen but it's got to be triggered by somebody saying: 'We've got a tour lined up - it's not Butlins, this time it's Wembley Arena, and here's the money'."


West Mercia Police say they are taking no further action against Pete Doherty following that incident back in Oct when he was arrested following a Babyshambles gig at the Shrewsbury Music Hall. A CID spokesman said: "A man arrested in Shrewsbury on October 1 on suspicion of a drugs offence following a complaint by a member of the public will not be prosecuted. Police carried out further investigations following the arrest and have decided to take no further action. The man's police bail has been cancelled."

Doherty did of course protest his innocence on that occasion, telling reporters that the police had mistaken his tummy implants for hard drugs. That development doesn't mean he's out of trouble, of course, given his arrest last week on suspicion of crack possession. Dear dear.


Eminem has announced that he is back together with his ex wife Kimberly Mathers and that the pair are likely to stage a remarriage. The rap star told Detroit radio station WKQI-FM: "We have reconciled and are probably going to remarry."

He also admitted that he's not sure of his future, indicating that he may indeed retire from active duty, or at least take a break from it. "When I went into rehab, I kind of went into it with the notion of 'I'm gonna get clean, I'm gonna get off this stuff before it gets too out of hand,'" he said. "I'm at a point in my life right now where I feel like I don't know where my career is going. This is the reason that we called [the recent greatest hits release] 'Curtain Call', because this could be the final thing. We don't know."


Eddie Van Halen's wife Valerie Bertinelli has filed for divorce after 24 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple, who met at a Van Halen concert in 1980, will share custody of their 14 year old son who glories in the name of Wolfgang.


The lovely Myleene Klass has been attacked by a group of teenagers near her home in south London. The reason I say it's somewhat ironic in the headline there is because the former Hear'Say singer and current CD:UK presenter has recently fronted an anti-bullying campaign.

Anyway, Klass was confronted by a group of three girls and two boys in a newsagents in Bermondsey, who dropped a bag of chips on her head and pushed her to the ground. After hearing one of the teenagers say "Shall I bitch slap her?", the singer managed to get up and run away whilst the teenagers attempted to take pictures with their mobiles.

She is described as being "very shaken up" by the incident, which she reported to police. Her spokesman Simon Jones said: "The whole point of the anti-bullying campaign was to say 'look, speak out about this'. She wants to get the message across about how important it is to report this kind of incident to the police."


So, how about some of those quirky 'and finally' type stories to finish things off for today? Firstly, the Central African Republic has told its radio and TV stations to stop playing songs that might encourage men to leave their wives. Music that might convince men to look for a different woman, the country's politicians claim, is a hindrance to the country's development. Confirming the government had told the country's broadcasters to avoid such music, Interim Communications Minister Fidele Ngoundgika told reporters: "The Central African woman is a key part of the country's development".


More from the digital music technology files, though it's sitting this low down the Daily cos it's a bit ridiculous. A Japanese toilet company has added an MP3 player to their latest toilet seat. Not only is said toilet lid self-warming, not only does it automatically open, not only does it come with a bidet, but it now plays music. You load the MP3s onto a memory card which slips into a wall mounted unit. The user has a little remote control so they can choose which tracks they want their toilet to play. Given that the bathroom is often the only room in the house lacking any sort of music player it's possibly quite a good idea, though at £860 a time I think we'll manage without.

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