CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 23rd March
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Apple respond to new French DRM laws
- Aerosmith tour stalled
- Ono objects to Lennon séance
- Yorke on refusal to meet with Blair
- Soldier raps about Iraq
- Hank Williams Jr accused of harassment
- Playstation 3 to include music downloads
- MTV VMAS return to New York
- MTV and Rolling Stone plan Hack Idol
- MTV relaunch in Canada
- Album review: Future Funk Squad - Audio Damage
- Fully Comprehensive tonight
- IDJ Raw Talent Live tonight
- Backlash postpone party
- Iceland Airwaves man launches new festival
- Avenged Sevenfold join Download bill
- Wainwright confirmed for Roskilde
- Spinto Band tour
- Hot Club De Paris tour
- Hot Chip tour, single
- Kula Shaker update
- We Are Scientists re-release debut
- Mathis to play UK concerts
- Gorillaz to screen at inside out
- More Warner executive gossip
- Prince plays impromptu instore
- Tom Petty admits to stage fright
- England cricket team inspired by Cash

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TOP BIT>>
Oh dear, I feel a bit of a rant coming on. Better use paragraphs. OK, here goes.

Now, either Apple's PR team over their in Cupertino are struggling on this one, or they think the wider public is very gullible. It's probably the latter. And sadly they're probably right.

The computer firm yesterday responded to France's much reported (here anyway) moves to force technology firms to share their DRM systems, so every download platform is able to sell music that will work on any digital music player. Perhaps unsurprisingly they attacked the moves, and no less unsurprisingly they did so by positioning themselves as the champions of the music business in this debate - essentially taking the line "fuck with our business model, and you'll fuck the music industry".

They argue that by allowing consumers to convert files from one file format to another (so that the track I bought on iTunes can be played on a Microsoft based player) you make it easier for consumers to convert files into non-DRM protected file formats like MP3 - which, Apple claim, aids piracy, because then consumers could make multiple copies of their iTunes tracks, and share them with millions via P2P. In addition to that, Apple basically implied that they may close down iTunes France in response to the new laws and that - they argue - would leave a lot of iPod owners with no official source of music (because no competing download platform can supply protected music that will work on the iPod) which means those iPod owners would have to go to those platforms that supply content as MP3 which, in the case of major label music, are all unofficial.

Now, I have mentioned before that I am a loyal Mac-user of old. From the Classic to the Proforma to the Quadra to the Power Mac to the iMac to the G3 to the iBook G4 currently sitting on my desk, I've been a dedicated user of all things Macintosh for as long as I can remember - even when Mac-things were very much a minority interest. And I remain an admirer of the ability of Apple and its founder Steve Jobs to constantly innovate - to make computers fun, cool and consumer friendly. And the music business still owes a debt to Jobs for kick starting the legit digital music market from which the record companies are now profiting - a market that the labels had spent years unsuccessfully getting off the ground. But I'm sorry, Apple's latest spin is a bunch of crap.

Apple's objections to the kind of interoperability that the French government wants to make compulsory are entirely selfish. Allowing other download platforms to sell music that works on an iPod is good for everyone except Apple. Forcing iTunes to sell music in a format that will work on non-Apple music players is good for everyone except Apple. To claim that boosting interoperability in this space automatically boosts piracy is not only wrong, it's stupid, and it's dishonest.

And that's what makes me angry. Apple have invested a lot in this space and they want to reap the rewards by locking iTunes users to Apple made music players. I don't actually have a problem with that - and technically speaking there is a logic to using hardware and software systems made by the same people. But why can't Apple just come out and say that, rather than spinning all this rubbish about piracy?

Apple are in danger of becoming the New Labour of the IT world. We all expect Microsoft to be self-seeking gits - so there's no surprise when they turn out to be self-seeking gits. We all expect Tories to be self-seeking gits - so there's no surprise when they turn out to be self seeking gits. But Labour politicians like to position themselves as the caring and sharing ones, the people who are concerned for the greater good - so they have to use all sorts of spin to cover up the fact they are, infact, actually a bunch of self seeking gits. The same is increasingly true of Apple.

The only good news here is that if there is one group of people who won't buy this kind of dishonest spin, it's the good old French. I hope it backfires on Apple bigtime. Meanwhile, why don't the major record companies get over their obsession with DRM and follow the independent sector's lead? Once everyone starts selling their music as MP3 the big technology firms will lose their hold on the digital music space, and we can all stop listening to the nonsense they spout and get on which making and enjoying music.

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PRESS ROOM>>

THE INSOMNIACS BALL... Kill All Hippies and Stylish Riots present London's first ever all-night indoor festival, kicking off the Easter Weekend on Thursday April 13th, with three live stages and dozens of live bands and DJs underneath the arches at London Bridge in the seOne club. Line up so far includes no less than British Sea Power, White Rose Movement, Mando Diao, Battle, New Rhodes, The Pipettes, Art Brut, Dogs, The Rifles, Komakino, Good Shoes, Cooper Temple Clause (DJ set) and The Rakes (DJ set). How good is this? Doors will open at 8pm, when the live music begins, and the entertainment will continue until 6am the following morning - Good Friday. Full details at http://www.insomniacsball.co.uk - for details of a special student discount check http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk.

Press info: http://www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk/pressroom/insomniacsball

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RIGHT NOW IN THE CMU BEATS BAR>>

MySpace Of The Day: Suburban Kids with Biblical Names
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names are an indie-pop act, signed to Labrador Records in Sweden and they specialise in making enthusiastic yet wistful pop gems on piano and guitar, backed by "My-first-drum-machine" beats and sounds. They regularly post on their MySpace site - and the best to date is 'Loop Duplicate My Heart', a 3 minute love song for a computer, synthesizer and soundsystem. Find out all here...

http://www.myspace.com/suburbankidswithbiblicalnames

More on our MySpace Of The Day, plus Student Music Awards finalists answer the Same Six Questions right now at http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk

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APPLE RESPOND TO NEW FRENCH DRM LAWS
Apple Computers yesterday attacked new French legislation which will force technology firms trading in France to open up their DRM systems so that any download platform can supply digital music in a protected form that will play on any digital music player.

The new law, which now heads to France's Senate, having won support in the country's parliament, is arguably most damaging for Apple whose entire business model in the digital music space depends on owners of iPods only being able to buy protected music from iTunes, and users of iTunes only being able to play their music on an iPod.

The computer firm yesterday claimed that the new legislation would be damaging for the French music industry because if Apple was forced to share its DRM code with third parties it would make it easier for people to strip the digital rights management off the music sold via iTunes, meaning that music could be more freely shared via P2P networks. In addition, and alluding to the possibility of Apple closing down iTunes France in response to the new law, the computer firm claimed that if there was no official source of content for iPod owners then they would turn to unofficial sources of MP3s, again via P2P networks.

In a statement Apple said: "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers. iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy."

Speaking for the major record companies, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry welcomed the moves to boost 'interoperability' in the download space, but stressed that those moves should not come at the expense of workable DRM solutions. IFPI chair John Kennedy said: "Interoperability is crucial to attracting consumers to buy music online, but it should not be at the cost of endangering the technology used to enable legitimate offerings of music and services online".

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AEROSMITH TOUR STALLED
Aerosmith have been forced to cancel the remainder of their current US tour because singer Steven Tyler is to undergo throat surgery this week. The band, on the road since the autumn, have cancelled eight shows in the last couple of weeks, and now say they will be unable to complete the final twelve gigs of their North American outing.

A spokeswoman for the group explained that Tyler, who is 57, will be unable to perform for two or three months after the operation, but did not reveal exactly what is wrong with him. She said: "Despite Aerosmith's desire to keep the tour going as long as possible, Tyler's doctors advised him not to continue performing to give his voice time to recover".

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ONO OBJECTS TO LENNON SEANCE
Yoko Ono has condemned plans for a televised séance attempting to contact late Beatle John Lennon. And for once the woman has a point. Viewers will be charged $9.95 to watch the TV event, which will take place on 24 Apr. Producer Paul Sharratt says he is "making a serious attempt to do something that many millions of people around the world think is possible," and not a vehicle designed to exploit gullible persons willing to part with cash.

It's not the first time such a TV séance has been staged; the same producers televised an attempt to contact Princess Diana, an event that attracted half a million viewers back in 2003. The Lennon programme will see psychics travelling to sites significant to the musician, including New York's Dakota building where he was shot by Mark Chapman in 1980, before gathering around a table for the séance, with infra-red cameras in place to capture any 'presence' in the room. Ono was invited to appear, but has, of course, declined.

Yoko Ono's spokesman Elliot Mintz said: "John Lennon was an amazing communicator of heart, mind and spirit. He still speaks to those who choose to listen to his recordings. That was the medium he chose to speak with us." Mintz called the programme "another example of the misuse of John's affirmation of life as opposed to the preoccupation of his death", adding "the proposed show strikes me as being tasteless, tacky and exploitative."

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YORKE ON REFUSAL TO MEET WITH BLAIR
Thom Yorke has spoken out about his previously reported decision to refuse the opportunity to meet with Tony Blair back in September to talk about global warming. The Radiohead frontman, an ambassador for Friends Of The Earth, has said that the situation became untenable when he got involved in preliminary discussions with the prime minister's advisors.

Yorke told NME: "Luckily, in the end the decision was kind of made for me. There's this whole thing going on at the moment with Blair and the nuclear thing. This all started kicking off about two or three weeks before I was supposed to meet with Blair, which I was not happy about anyway for obvious reasons, ie Iraq. It was, 'If we could just have a meeting beforehand where we could go through how it would proceed...' It was like talking to Blair's spin doctors. It was all getting weird. It was just obvious there was no point in meeting him anyway, and I didn't want to."

On the personal impact the discussions had on him, he added: "That was the illest I'd ever got. I got so stressed out and so freaked out about it. Initially when it came up I tried to be pragmatic. But Blair has no environmental credentials as far as I'm concerned. I came out of that whole period just thinking, I don't want to get involved directly, it's poison. I'll just shout my mouth off from the sidelines. It's a nasty business. It's up to people with pure integrity who know what they're talking about, like Friends of the Earth."

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SOLDIER RAPS ABOUT IRAQ
An American soldier serving in Iraq has made a rap album about his time on active service. Sergeant Neal Saunders was deployed to the country back in 2004, and decided to use music to help him deal with the trauma and frustrations of serving in Baghdad. "When you see someone standing beside you take a bullet, it changes you," he says, "after the first ambush, I knew if I spent my last dime I was going to spend it telling this story."

The album 'Live From Iraq', was written, recorded and produced in Iraq, in a temporary recording booth Saunders set up in a 30ft by 30ft room he shared with eight other soldiers. The record focuses entirely on events taking place in the war zone, and Saunders, agreeing that the album may not make easy listening, says there was never a commercial angle to creating the long player, but that it was intended as a voice to reflect the reality of war for those caught up in it. More than ten thousand copies have been sold.

Saunders, who has now left the army and has set up a recording studio and is running projects to support serving and former soldiers, says he is contacted by soldiers and their families who say the album has helped them deal with their situation. He says: "I've even gotten emails from parents that say, 'I've listened to this album and my son or daughter they don't talk to me about this. And after listening to the music I understand maybe why they'd want to keep it to themselves and they don't want to talk about it, because they still can't deal with it.'"

A documentary about Saunders is to be broadcast on BBC 1Xtra today at 2.30pm.

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HANK WILLIAMS JR ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT
Hank Williams Jr has been accused of harassment by a 19-year-old waitress who claims that the country star tried to kiss her and lifted her in a chokehold, allegations greeted with shock by Williams' publicist Kirt Webster. It's been a bad couple of weeks for the singer; his two daughters were injured in a car crash, an incident followed by rumours sparked by an anonymous caller to a radio show who claimed that Williams has asked for only white personnel to attend to them. On those rumours, and the new accusation, Webster said: "Hank Jr has had to defend himself once already in Memphis last Friday from erroneous allegations, and now this."

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PLAYSTATION 3 TO INCLUDE MUSIC DOWNLOADS
Sony have confirmed that the content platform that will come with its new PlayStation 3 gaming console will include a music download service. No word on whether that will be an extension of Sony Corp's Connect download service, or something new. I'm guessing the latter - because the chances of one bit of Sony talking to the other are low. After all, should anyone at PlayStation go to the Epic label at sister company SonyBMG to discuss artist exclusives for their music service, they might find Epic bosses have already done a deal with the X-box content platform run by rivals Microsoft.

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MTV VMAS RETURN TO NEW YORK
MTV yesterday announced that its Video Music Awards would return to New York this year, after two years in Miami. The twenty-third year of the network's annual awards event will take place at NYC's Radio City Music Hall on 31 Aug. It will be the thirteenth time the event has taken place in the city, and the tenth time it has been staged at that venue.

Confirming the decision MTV President Christina Norman said yesterday: "New York City is our hometown and we are really looking to showcase the music, culture and people from every borough of this amazing city on TV, online, broadband and wireless to fans around the globe".

MTV will announce more details about the event, including the line up, in the next few weeks. The network plans to build programming around the awards that appear across its TV channels as well as its web and mobile operations.

Do you know, I quite like the way American awards ceremonies move around to different places each year. I'm think I'm going to start lobbying for the Brits 2007 to be staged in Stockport.

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MTV AND ROLLING STONE PLAN HACK IDOL
Talking of MTV, we hear that the US division of the music telly network are planning a new reality show featuring aspiring music journalists competing for a one year staff-writer job at Rolling Stone. The wannabe hacks will be filmed for three months as they take on an array of music journalist related assignments (opening jiffy bags, looking awkward at the back of gigs, getting over excited about Arctic Monkeys, dissing James Blunt, that kind of thing), with whoever comes up with the best metaphors taking the full time contract.

Commenting on the venture, Rolling Stone founder and publisher Jann Wenner told reporters: "Throughout our history we have seen the careers of some of the nation's most notable journalists flourish, including Cameron Crowe and the late Hunter S. Thompson. We're anxious to meet the candidates and welcome them into the Rolling Stone family as they embark on their professional careers."

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MTV RELAUNCH IN CANADA
And staying with MTV for just a little bit longer, MTV relaunched itself in Canada this week, mainly with the arrival of a new home grown MTV channel.

It's not the first time MTV have broadcast a Canadian specific service. Their Canadian channel was originally a joint venture with a company called Craig Media. But then rival media company CHUM, who own Canada's market leading youth and music channel MuchMusic, acquired Craig Media forcing MTV owners Viacom to bring the partnership to an end.

The new MTV Canada is a joint venture with CTV, who have rebranded and revamped their existing talktv channel to bring MTV to the airwaves. That fact makes the project quite interesting, because CTV's licence for talktv said that the service should be speech-heavy and that at least 68% of its output must be made in Canada. Whether MTV Canada will be able to fulfil those requirements remains to be seen.

Launching the new channel, CTV's President Of Programming Susan Boyce said this week: "It's a landmark day for Canada's creative community and viewers from coast-to-coast. A culturally vibrant country like ours deserves its own MTV. Sharing Canada's creative talent with the world through MTV's worldwide network puts Canada on the world stage. It's where we belong."

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ALBUM REVIEW: Future Funk Squad - Audio Damage (Default Records)
The heady melodies and exalted soundscapes here are plucked from a noble tradition of '90s house, and given a boost with some nice, progressive breakbeat. The happy hardcore homage 'Riffulator' takes you back fifteen years to a barn outside Stevenage, while 'Turning Switches' and 'Sorcerary' are also very much follow the white Nova from Asda carpark. 'De-mystified' and 'Kissing Air' are sexy, sultry affairs that lend a certain Goldfrapp quality, and complement well the more boyish, Burberry-cap stuff. Bits feel like they could be in the next Bond film, particularly 'Deep Inside', which builds angelic Tracy Thorn-esque vocals into a rich symphonic sound with strong hints of 007. Rebel MC and Stereo MCs come to mind with the lyrically effervescent 'Writer's Block', which offers navel-gazing insight into the toils of the rapper's life. Poetic impotence is an uncharacteristically self-effacing topic for an MC, and it works better at least than the cliché-ridden bollocks in the opening track. The most successful parts of this record are pretty derivative, most obviously the Depeche Mode-tinged 'Towards the Sun', which chugs away happily while all the time resting on the laurels of electropop. The whole thing is built on big bass and emotionally-charged ballads, heavy on minor chords, string section and Robert Miles-style piano, which gives the impression that Glen Nicholls has yet to wake from the white Nova dream. WE
Release Date: 24 Apr
Press contact: Trailer Media [all]

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FULLY COMPREHENSIVE TONIGHT
Time to run through some gigs and things that are taking place tonight. The previously reported Fully Comprehensive night returns to The Winchester on Islington Green tonight, with DJs Alex Donald and Knight providing plenty of eclectic remixes, 80's classics and uber-pop ("for the ladies" apparently!) from 9pm to 2am. It's 2-4-1 cocktails all night and, what's more, if you go to http://www.fullycomprehensive.com, click 'guest list me' in the listings section and type CMU in the subject line, you'll get in for a quid. That's right, a quid. Sorted.

Fully Comprehensive, of course, host the ground floor of Kill All Hippies every month at the 333 Club. The next KAH takes place on 7 Apr - we'll have details on that and the other 8000 events being organised by our friends at Leyline over the next few weeks in tomorrow's Daily.

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IDJ RAW TALENT LIVE TONIGHT
Also tonight, the team of iDJ Magazine are staging a night at AKA in London, the first of what they hope will be a series of nights showcasing up and coming DJ talent - mainly recruited via the magazine's monthly mixtape competition.

Called Raw Talent Live!, the first night features dub-disco/electronica man Toby Tobias, minimal house starlet Ben Rau, talented house jock Ben Parkinson and iDJ's own Sell By Dave. It all kicks off at 9pm, tickets are £5 all night, £3 concessions. Info on the night from matt@i-dj.co.uk or dave@i-dj.co.uk

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BACKLASH POSTPONE PARTY
This one is actually a postponement rather than a date for your diary. The previously reported Backlash Launch Night, celebrating the move of the HQ of music magazine Backlash to the capital, has been postponed because one of headline band The Pistolas has been taken ill. The event, due to take place tonight, will be rescheduled soon - we'll let you know when we hear anything.

The latest issue of Backlash does, however, hit the streets today featuring interviews with Eels, David Ford, Karl Hendricks, The Far Cries and The Pistolas and a free 20 track CD.

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ICELAND AIRWAVES MAN LAUNCHES NEW FESTIVAL
Mr Destiny, the promoter of Iceland's rather good Iceland Airwaves festival, has announced details of a new event he is staging at the end of next month. The Rite Of Spring festival will bring a programme of cutting edge folk, jazz and world music to Reykjavik from 27-30 Apr. On the line up already are Icelandic pioneers and jazz-funksters Mezzoforte, Scottish/Latin American folk fusion Salsa Celtica, Serbian Gypsy band KAL, Brazilian bossanova act Ife Tolentino, London based reggae/ska/jazz/soul club 100% Dynamite and Reykjavik based Nix Noltes Big Band. Tickets are on sale now via Icelandair, who also offer packages including flights and hotels. For more info sign up to the newsletter at http://www.riteofspring.is.

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AVENGED SEVENFOLD JOIN DOWNLOAD BILL
The always slightly scary sounding Avenged Sevenfold are the latest act to be added to the line up for this year's Download Festival. They join previously reported acts such as Metallica, Guns n Roses, Korn, The Prodigy, Trivium and InMe, on the bill for the event, which takes place at Donington Park from 9 - 11 Jun.

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WAINWRIGHT CONFIRMED FOR ROSKILDE
Rufus Wainwright is amongst the latest set of additions to the Roskilde Festival, which also includes the lovely Tiga and DJ Ricardo Villalobos. Previously announced acts such as Placebo, Coldcut, and Sigur Ros are all set to appear at the event, which, as many times previously reported, takes place from 29 Jun - 2 Jul. In Denmark.

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SPINTO BAND TOUR
The mildly buzzy Spinto Band have announced a series of live dates, starting next month with a headline tour, and continuing in May in support of Mystery Jets. The band release their debut album 'Nice And Nicely Done' on 15 May, preceded by a single, 'Did I Tell You' on 8 May. They are also set appear at The Great Escape in Brighton on 18 May.

Here are those dates:

Headline tour:
8 Apr: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
9 Apr: Leeds Copckpit
10 Apr: Liverpool Barfly
11 Apr: Birmingham Barfly
12 Apr: York Fibbers
13 Apr: Middlesbrough Empire
18 Apr: Belfast Limelight
20 Apr: Camden Crawl
21 Apr: Manchester Blowout
22 Apr: Glasgow Barfly
23 Apr: Newcastle Other Rooms

Supporting Mystery Jets:
1 May: Liverpool Theatre
2 May: Manchester Academy
3 May: Glasgow QMU
4 May: Northumbria Stage
5 May: Birmingham Academy
7 May: Oxford Zodiac
8 May: Norwich Waterfront
9 May: Brighton Concorde
10 May: London Electric Ballroom

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HOT CLUB DE PARIS TOUR
Hot Club De Paris, who are currently recording their debut album, have announced a series of live dates, starting in a couple of days time. Some are headliners, some are not. Here they are:

25 Mar: Aberdeen, Tunnels
26 Mar: Glasgow, Stereo
27 Mar: Middlesbrough, Doc Brown's (with Dartz!)
28 Mar: Sunderland, White Rooms (with Dartz!)
29 Mar: London, Garage (with The Young Knives and Howling Bells)
30 Mar: Leeds, Cockpit
1 Apr: London, Windmill
3 Apr: Sheffield, D&R
7 Apr: London, Montague Arms
11 Apr: Liverpool, Korova ( with Broomheads Jacket)

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HOT CHIP TOUR, SINGLE
Talking of 'Hot' things touring, Hot Chip have announced a UK tour, timed to coincide with the release of the band's new single 'And I Was A Boy From School' on 8 May, and new album 'The Warning' on 22 May. Dates as follows:

15 May: Oxford Zodiac
16 May: Bristol Fleece & Firkin
17 May: Birmingham Academy 2
18 May: Manchester Roadhouse
19 May: Liverpool Academy 2
20 May: Nottingham Stealth
21 May: Leeds Cockpit
23 May: Newcastle Academy 2
24 May: Edinburgh Voltaire
25 May: Glasgow King Tuts
31 May: London Kings College
1 Jun: Brighton Concorde

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KULA SHAKER UPDATE
Well, we said when reporting on Kula Shaker tour date news yesterday that we didn't know anything about the band's forthcoming releases. Well, now we know something. The band are to release an EP, 'Revenge Of The King' exclusively through iTunes on the 31 Mar, press info from Momentum. The tour dates, as previously reported, are as follows:

2 Apr: Coventry Coliseum
3 Apr: Northampton Soundhaus
6 Apr: Sunderland Manor Quay
7 Apr: Glasgow ABC2
10 Apr: Manchester Academy 3
11 Apr: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
12 Apr: London Kings College

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WE ARE SCIENTISTS RE-RELEASE DEBUT
We Are Scientists are to re-release a limited edition of their debut single 'Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt', taken from their 2005 debut 'With Love & Squalor', on 1 May. The band head out on tour in advance of that release, dates as follows:

5 Apr: Portsmouth Pyramids Centre
6 Apr: Bristol Anson Rooms
7 Apr: Manchester Academy
8 Apr: Glasgow Barrowlands
9 Apr: Leeds Met University
10 Apr: Birmingham Irish Centre
11 Apr: Cambridge The Junction
12 Apr: London Astoria
13 Apr: London Shepherds Bush Empire

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MATHIS TO PLAY UK CONCERTS
Johnny Mathis is to perform his first UK concerts for twelve years. The singer, who this year celebrates fifty years as a recording artist, will stage performances in London, Manchester and Birmingham in September. A Mathis best of, you may remember, reached number six in the album chart earlier in the year.

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GORILLAZ TO SCREEN AT INSIDE OUT
Four Gorillaz videos are set to be projected onto the side of the National Theatre on London's South bank this week as part of the Inside Out Festival. The event, which marks Jamie Hewlett's previously reported nomination for Designer Of The Year, will take place from 7.15pm tomorrow and will see screenings of 'Feel Good Inc', 'El Manana', 'Dare' and 'Dirty Harry'

For more info on the Inside Out festival see http://www.visitlondon.com/insideout.

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MORE WARNER EXECUTIVE GOSSIP
More gossip regarding Warner Music over there at Hits Daily Double. Apparently there has been much chatter as to the future of the US boss of the major label's Atlantic division, Craig Kallman.

His partner in crime at Atlantic, Jason Flom, quit last year, reportedly over disputes with the way the Warner Music top team were running things. Recent talk has suggested relationships between the Warner top team and Kallman are similarly strained, and that some insiders have been expecting him to go for a while now - probably being pushed rather than jumping.

But Hits Daily Double report that Kallman's job at Warner may be safe, for the time being at least, because of the meteoric success of James Blunt, who is signed to the Atlantic division. Kallman is apparently enjoying some of the praise for Blunt's global success, which would make it difficult for Warner chiefs Lyor Cohen or Edgar Bronfman Jnr to push for his resignation.

As previously reported, quite a lot of people at Warner US are trying to get some of the glory for the Blunt success story, although arguably the only Warner exec in America who can have any genuine claim to helping the singer songwriter in his rise to fame is Sylvia Rhone - the former Elektra chairman. Rhone, of course, was downsized after Bronfman's takeover of Warner Music and, the consensus goes, if it hadn't been for the support of the Atlantic team in London, Blunt would have been dropped too.

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PRINCE PLAYS IMPROMPTU INSTORE
Prince played an impromptu gig at Tower Records in Los Angeles this week. We know it was impromptu because a publicist for Universal Motown says so: "It was an impromptu decision. He lives in LA," said Serena Gallagher.

Reports suggest that customers were shocked when he turned up, but apparently around 500 fans were given wrist bands to enter the shop, which suggests at least a degree of pre-planning. Hundreds of fans apparently stood outside in the rain, which may or may not have been purple.

The singer, joined by long time collaborator Sheila E, performed a selection of classics such as 'Purple Rain' and 'Let's Go Crazy', plus, presumably, his rather disappointing new single.

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TOM PETTY ADMITS TO STAGE FRIGHT
Tom Petty has said that he gets so nervy before a live show that he can't even speak for hours before getting on stage. I know how he feels, I'm exactly the same. He says: "I'm really nervous before I play. I don't know what it is, but I get to where I can't even speak a few hours before the show, and once I get out there I'm OK."

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ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM INSPIRED BY CASH
England cricket captain Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff has said that his team were inspired to their recent five day test match victory over India by listening to a Johnny Cash track. The cricketer told BBC Sport: "We went in the dressing-room, had our lunch then played a bit of Johnny Cash, 'Ring Of Fire'. It got the lads going and we came out afterwards with a spring in our step."

The song was chosen by Flintoff's teammate Matthew Hoggard. "I'm the only guy that's sad enough to have Johnny Cash on his iPod," he said, "we had a rousing rendition and that seemed to do the trick."

For the record, we don't think it's sad to have Johnny Cash on your iPod.

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