CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 16th May
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Virgin Group sell V2
- Barrett loses lawsuit against Island and Marley family
- DMX cautioned at Heathrow
- Outkast film soundtrack release update
- No Doubt begin new album without Gwen
- New Black Eyed Peas EP
- Paddingtons kick off new compo series
- Amusement Parks On Fire tracks
- Single review: iLiKETRAiNS - Terra Nova
- GNR play live in New York
- Ashcroft cancels show
- CYHSY announce one-off
- Bacardi launch B-Live global with ICA night
- It's the Acoustic Festival Of Britain
- Single review: You Say Party! We Say Die! - The Gap
- Musictank go classical tomorrow
- Chrysalis revamp Echo
- EMI publishing revamp
- EMI ready to make another Warner bid?
- MTV prepare Urge launch
- Windows Media Player 11 reviews out
- Creative sue Apple over iPod interface
- Apple phone rumours
- Time Out appoint new music editor
- Album review: Sandy Thom - Smile It Confuses People
- Gallagher confirms Oasis break
- Geri has baby girl
- Albarn attacks do-gooders
- Alice cooper gets key to Alice
- Robbie refuses to be on TV

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TOP BIT >>
As you all surely know by now, CMU's sister publication ThreeWeeks is in the midst of covering all things Brighton Festival (and the Week Two edition of the ThreeWeeks in Brighton magazine is out today - hurrah). As part of that, we've been getting very excited about the Great Escape, which takes place at venues across Brighton this Thursday, Friday and Saturday - but we're also equally excited about all the other great music that is taking place as part of the city's three week long culture fest. And next week that includes the UK's first ever songwriting festival - going by the name The Carousel. Programmed by Squeeze's Chris Difford and Jeff Hemmings, of Brighton's Latest 7 magazine and Juice 107.2, The Carousel will bring together some of the very best UK songwriting talents, showcasing the musical skills of both well-established stars and up-and-coming artists. Among the highlights are performances by Turin Brakes, Lou Rhodes, Chris Difford, Jim Noir, Sam Brown, Tom McRae and Bic Runga, while songwriter extraordinaire Guy Chambers will be giving a masterclass. The CMU team is currently working its way through the final programme, and our Carousel recommends will be appearing on the CMU Beats site later this week. Meanwhile, if you're Brighton based look out for all the details in this week's Latest 7 and ThreeWeeks in Brighton magazines - both out today. Press info from music@thelatest.co.uk

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SERVICES N STUFF>>

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ON AIR>>

TODAY ON TOTALROCK
Natasha talks to Frankenstein today - the man, the band, the monster ('The Batcave', 9pm to midnight). Listen live at http://www.totalrock.com

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CMU SUPPORTS>>

THE GREAT ESCAPE: You know the deal by now - three great days in Brighton offering an unrivalled programme of one to one interviews with leading industry figures, including Michael Eavis, ie Music's Tim Clark and David Enthoven and, just added, EMI CEO Tony Wadsworth, plus more great gigs and showcases than you can possibly imagine including The Futureheads, British Sea Power, The Kooks, The Bees, The Feeling, The Cribs and Martha Wainwright. It all takes place 18-20 May - full details at http://www.escapegreat.com - plus if you work for an independent or grass roots media or music company, or in the college space, email greatescape@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk and we'll tell you how you can get a full delegates pass for the very special rate of £175.

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RIGHT NOW IN THE CMU BEATS BAR>>

Beats in Brighton
The Brighton Festival is under way, and you can check out CMU's preview of the Great Escape, plus reviews of other music events taking place at the Festival this year courtesy of our sister title ThreeWeeks in Brighton, all online later on today at http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk

MySpace Of The Day: Ambulance Ltd
Ambulance Ltd are a band from New York who I don't think are as big over here as they should be - I really like them. In fairness, they've got a lot of MySpace friends, so I suspect they're doing perfectly well at home, but they should be getting more attention here too. I was first turned on to them when their eponymous 2004 release fell into my hands back in, er, 2004, but they've recently (well, in March, not that recent, but nobody told me about it) released a new EP 'New English' which, incidentally, hasn't fallen into my hands. But never mind, there are a couple of tracks on the MySpace page from it, so you can go and check those out plus a track from that aforementioned 2004 release, plus the usual stuff - images, blog entries, biog. Go check.

http://www.myspace.com/ambulanceltd

Read more about our MySpace of the Day right now at http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk

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VIRGIN GROUP SELL V2
The Virgin Group yesterday confirmed it had sold its stake in the V2 record label to the rock n roll institution that is US investment bank Morgan Stanley. The bank, who bought a 47.5% stake in the label in 2002, now owns 95% of the independent record company - with Virgin founder Richard Branson holding on to the other 5% in a personal capacity.

Although they have not commented on their investment in the label, reports suggest Morgan Stanley will continue to be passive investors, leaving the day to day management of the record company to its existing management. Label head Tony Harlow told reporters he was happy with the deal, and was comfortable with Morgan Stanley being majority owners, having worked with the bank over the last four years. He added that he didn't feel that the deal would worry any of the label's roster of artists, which include Paul Weller, Bloc Party, Mercury Rev, Nitin Sawhney and Stereophonics, especially given that Branson would personally maintain an albeit minority stake in the business.

There is some speculation as to why the Virgin Group has decided to again leave the recorded music sector. Branson famously sold his original record company, Virgin Records, to the EMI Group in 1992 to fund his airline, but he returned to the music business as soon as the contract governing that sale allowed him to do so, launching V2 in 1996. Media reports suggest that the sale of V2 was motivated by plans to launch a Virgin branded music TV channel as part of the Group's new relationship with UK cable TV network NTL. Those reports say Virgin bosses were worried that the credibility of any new Virgin music channel would be affected if the Group also owned a record company.

As previously reported, V2's struggling US operations were sold last year, to Sheridan Square Entertainment, who merged the label with their existing record company Artemis.

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BARRETT LOSES LAWSUIT AGAINST ISLAND AND MARLEY FAMILY
Aston Barrett, the bassist in Bob Marley's band The Wailers, has lost his court battle for an alleged £60 million in unpaid royalties relating to a 1974 contract with Island Records and a subsequent 1976 agreement with Marley himself. As previously reported, Barrett said that Island, now owned by Universal, and the Marley family had not honoured those agreements, but both the record company and Marley's estate argued that the matter had already been addressed in a 1994 court settlement in the US, in which Island paid Barrett $500,000 and his legal costs.

Mr Justice Lewison at London's High Court yesterday sided with the record company and the Marleys, accusing Barrett of reinterpreting past events to suit his own agenda. Commenting on Barrett's testimony, the judge said: "He was plainly close to Bob Marley himself, whom he trusted implicitly. At this remove of time, his recollection of events was hazy. And I also consider that, as often happens, he has reconstructed events in his mind according to how he would like them to have been."

The Marley family welcomed the ruling, telling reporters yesterday: "For the last four years, Aston Barrett has persisted in this hurtful and extremely expensive claim which was actually settled in 1994. The family of Bob Marley is delighted that the claim has now been rejected in full. We always felt that this would be the outcome and it was hard to listen to Aston Barrett reduce his friend Bob to someone who was more interested in playing football than making music. Now that the action is over, the family want to concentrate on keeping Bob's legacy alive and to introduce new generations to his music."

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DMX CAUTIONED AT HEATHROW
DMX has followed Snoop's example and elicited a caution from police following an arrest at Heathrow airport for abusing airline staff. According to reports, the rap star refused to cooperate with stewards onboard an American Airlines flight to London after being asked to fasten his seatbelt as the plane was coming in to land. The captain of the flight alerted police on the ground, who apprehended DMX, real name Earl Simmons, as he stepped off the plane.

It's not the first time in recent years that the hip-hopper has been arrested at an airport, of course. As previously reported, he was arrested back in 2004 at New York's JFK airport for pretending to be a federal agent and crashing his car into a gate.

He's releasing a new solo album, 'Year Of The Dog', this summer, by the way.

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OUTKAST FILM SOUNDTRACK RELEASE UPDATE
Outkast have confirmed new dates for the release of their debut movie 'Idlewild', and its accompanying soundtrack. The two were originally set for release in February of this year, but, as previously reported, became subject to delays. The duo have now confirmed, however, that the album will be released in the US on 22 Aug, whilst the film will be out three days later. It's not clear as yet whether the same release dates will apply in the UK.

'Idlewild', set in the deep south in the 1930s, has been written and directed by Bryan Barber, and sees appearances by Macy Gray and Patti Labelle as well as Andre 3000 and Big Boi. 'Mighty O', expected to be the first single from the album, has recently been leaked online.

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NO DOUBT BEGIN NEW ALBUM WITHOUT GWEN
Tony Kanal, Tom Durmont and Adrian Young of No Doubt have started work on their new album without Gwen Stefani. It's not because they hate her, or anything, it's because she is in the final stages of her pregnancy.

Kanal told MTV.com: "We're taking it very slowly; kind of just going in and writing here and there. Right now, it's all about the music and being as creative as possible. We've been doing this so long that if we try to set a place to go to, we'll never get there. So we're letting that road unfold in front of us. I'm sure we'll have the same influences, all the reggae and rock stuff we grew up on, and a bunch more, so we can go in a different direction as well."

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NEW BLACK EYED PEAS EP
The Black Eyed Peas are to release a new seven track EP entitled 'Renegotiations: The Remix'. The mini album, which has previously only been available to download and as an import, will get its UK release on 5 Jun. It features collaborations with the likes of Justin Timberlake and James Brown.

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PADDINGTONS KICK OFF NEW COMPO SERIES
DMC are launching a new compilation series with an 'on tour' theme (ie the songs curating bands bands listen to on their tour bus). Called 'Back To The Bus', The Paddingtons are the first to don their compiling hats for the series. The collection will feature an exclusive chat with the band themselves, as well as songs by Iggy and The Stooges, The Libertines, Joy Division and The Moldy Peaches.

Here's what The Paddingtons say: "There are only so many chords and only so many ways you can play them - we ain't sayin' we ripped all these songs off but these are songs that we love and inspire us as a band. 'Back to the Bus' is the only place where you can drink eat and sleep in the same room at 70mph. A taste of our taste in rock and roll when on the road. The Paddingtons 'Back to the Bus' compilation is our party on wheels, it's the reason why we are what we are today and what we will be like tomorrow."

The Paddington's collection is out 26 Jun, and we hear the next one will be compiled by Babyshambles. Press info from jamies@thesundayclub.com or emma@thesundayclub.com.

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AMUSEMENT PARKS ON FIRE TRACKS
Amusement Parks On Fire are finishing up their UK tour at ULU tonight. Just in case that makes you sad, here's something to cheer you up, two free tracks available to download, one from APOF, the other from their American co-headliners Scarling, as follows:

Amusement Parks On Fire - Out Of Angels http://exodus.interoutemediaservices.com/?id=9c6045b1-354f -4249-9331-ca36943ef086&delivery=download

Scarling - City Noise
http://exodus.interoutemediaservices.com/?id=ae31bf71-2fdf -4a50-906b-aa3c16d3b3dc&delivery=download

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SINGLE REVIEW: iLiKETRAiNS - Terra Nova (Fierce Panda)
Leeds five-piece iLiKETRAiNS are epic. Words like 'soundscapes' and 'wide' and 'cinematic' spring immediately to mind. They play their gigs in British Rail uniforms to backdrops of projections of snow, trains and chess - so you can see what we're dealing with here. The A-side of this single is about Captain Scott's doomed 1912 expedition to the South Pole, while the B-side deals with Hjalmar Johansen, who led the Norwegian expedition that beat him there. I'm all for bands making an effort on top of their music. It shows dedication. It shows passion. Of course it shows that they're a little bit bonkers, but I like that in a band. If the music doesn't hold up though, then it becomes a bit of a hollow shell, and while iLiKETRAiNS have got 'epic' sorted, their music's a bit austere compared to contemporaries British Sea Power, Interpol or Hope Of The States, meaning iLiKETRAiNS will need to embrace a teeny bit more pop if they want to sell millions. DG
Release Date: 29 May
Press contact: Stone Immaculate [all]

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GNR PLAY LIVE IN NEW YORK
Guns n Roses have played the first three dates of that previously reported four night residency at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. The first night was the band's first gig in three years.

Axl Rose is the only remaining member of the original band, but I think this week's line up is the similar to that which appeared on the ill-fated 2003 comeback tour. It comprised keyboardist Dizzy Reed; guitarist Robert Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails; ex Primus drummer Brian Mantia; guitarist Richard Fortus; keyboardist Chris Pittman; bassist Tommy Stinson from The Replacements; and Guitarist Ron Thal from Bumblefoot (a new addition).

The set featured a whole lot of old favourites, including 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'Paradise City' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine' as well as debut performances from the finally-on-its-way album 'Chinese Democracy'. On the ten years it's taken to finish it, Axl Rose told fans: "You can hold your breath a lot longer than David Blaine. I want to thank you for that."

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ASHCROFT CANCELS SHOW
Richard Ashcroft was forced to cancel last night's scheduled show at Birmingham Academy due to throat trouble. The sold out gig has been rescheduled for 12 Jun and tickets for last night's show will be valid for the new date.

A statement on the singer's website reads: "Unfortunately Richard will be unable to perform at his sold out show at Birmingham Academy this evening after taking medical advice on throat and vocal problems. Richard sincerely apologises to all ticket holders."

Ashcroft is due at Exeter University tonight, before he heads to London for the final three dates of his tour at Brixton Academy on 19, 20 and 21 May.

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CYHSY ANNOUNCE ONE-OFF
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are set to play a one-off gig at the London Forum on 7 Jul, ahead of their festival appearances at T In The Park and Oxegen on the 8 and 9 Jul. The band then head off to Australia, Japan and France before their appearance at Reading and Leeds at the end of August.

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BACARDI LAUNCH B-LIVE GLOBAL WITH ICA NIGHT
Bacardi B-Live will celebrate its global launch on 31 May with a special invite-only event at London's ICA, which will feature an eclectic line up featuring Dimitri From Paris, Cosmo, Gary Lucas, Grammy-nominated Venezuelan Latin dance band Los Amigos Invisibles, audio-visual innovators The Light Surgeons, the always good Unabombers and the music legends that are Roy Ayers and Chaka Khan. As I say, this is an invite only event for music and media types, so if that's you and you want to go I'd get on the email to liz.matthews@momentum-uk.com or gary.berman@momentum-uk.com.

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IT'S THE ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the first ever Acoustic Festival Of Britain, taking place in lovely old Nantwich (that's in Cheshire). On the bill are The Animals, Elkie Brooks, Paul Jones and The Blues Band, Hayseed Dixie, Sandi Thom, Pentangle, Dennis Locorriere of Dr. Hook, The Stranglers, Steve Harley, Bruce Foxton of The Jam, Glen Tilbrook from Squeeze, Mike Peters of The Alarm, Ian McNabb of Icicle Works, Tom Hingley of Inspiral Carpets and Chumbawamba. It all takes place on 29 and 30 Jul at Dorfold Hall in Nantwich which the press release tells me is within 40 minutes drive of Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Stoke and Wrexham and which, I can confirm, is about 25 minutes drive from Holmes Chapel (just in case you wondered). Tickets are £25 per day. More info at http://www.acousticfestival.co.uk. Press info from mike@artists2events.co.uk

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SINGLE REVIEW: You Say Party! We Say Die! - The Gap (Sound Document)
Punk rock bands with shouty girl singers. Generally a good thing. See Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Be Your Own Pet, Sleater Kinney and Help She Can't Swim, among others. Looking to add their name to that list are Vancouver band You Say Party! We Say Die! 'The Gap' is the first single from forthcoming album 'Hit The Floor' (already available in Canada) and it ticks all the shouty girl punk boxes, if a little untidily - somewhat off-key vocals, plinky plonky keys, a raucous yet melodious chorus. Some of the lyrics are a bit irritatingly repetitive, but who cares when you can dance and shout along like a nutter? The b-sides, 'Stockholm Syndrome Pt. 1' and the corresponding Part 2 are, if anything, better, with more persistently danceable noise, and more tuneful shouting. They say die. I say party. TL
Release Date: 29 May
Press Contact: JG Media [all]

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MUSICTANK GO CLASSICAL TOMORROW
Don't forget that the next MusicTank Think Tank event is tomorrow, looking at the challenges and opportunities facing the classical industry. We'll have a Think Tank Interview on the topic in tomorrow's CMU Daily, but meantime you can find out full info on the event at http://www.musictank.co.uk/

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CHRYSALIS REVAMP ECHO
The Chrysalis Group have said they are planning on repositioning their independent record company Echo as an "incubator label" for the Group's music publishing business, Chrysalis Music. The move will mean that Echo will generally (though not exclusively) recruit artists from Chrysalis' publishing roster - presumably helping new signings to develop and release their early recorded work. The move is part of Chrysalis' seeming desire to become a more public facing company - the publishing sector traditionally being quite anonymous in the whole scheme of things. No word on what the move will mean, if anything, for its current roster of recording artists, which includes Feeder, Morcheeba, Engineers and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

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EMI PUBLISHING REVAMP
Talking of revamps in the publishing sector, EMI Music Publishing yesterday announced a bit of rejig, which will see A&R VPs Declan Morrell and Kenny McGoff add the word 'Senior' to their business cards, forming a Senior VP team with former Radio 1 music man Alex Jones-Donnelly, who joined the publishing firm in that role last year. Elsewhere Fran Malyan, currently Director Of Operations A&R Admin, will take on the role as Catalogue Coordinator in addition to her current job, and Austin Wilde has been promoted to the job of Vice President Of Creative Exploitation And A&R. Finally Felix Howard, himself a songwriter signed to the pub co, will join the company as an A&R Manager. So now you know.

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EMI READY TO MAKE ANOTHER WARNER BID?
And talking of companies called EMI, stock in the EMI Group slipped yesterday following a report in the Observer on Sunday that the London based music company was about to make another offer to buy Warner Music Group, increasing its bid from the $28.50 a share it offered at the start of the month to $30. As previously reported, Warner's main shareholders are expected to push for between $32-$35 a share. EMI are yet to comment on the latest rumours, but a second offer has seemed likely ever since Warner knocked back the original $28.50 a share bid.

In related news, investment firm Thomas H Lee, who own nearly 40% of Warner Music, have denied rumours they are so keen to get out of the major record company that they might do a lone deal with EMI (ie not as part of a package with the other majority shareholders). The also say they have no intention of selling their share to the major's other private equity shareholders, Bain Capital, Providence Equity Partners and Edgar Bronfman Jnr's Music Capital Partners. So that's you told.

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MTV PREPARE URGE LAUNCH
MTV will tomorrow launch its long anticipated (you've been longly anticipating it, right?) new digital music service Urge, a Microsoft based system that will utilise the new Windows Media Player 11, also released tomorrow, and access MusicNet's existing catalogue of 2 million tracks.

The new service will, like Napster and MusicNet powered services from Virgin and HMV, offer both an iTunes style a-la carte download shop and a subscription package. It is the latter, available for $9.95 a month for PC use and $14.95 a month for portable player use, which the TV network is expected to most heavily push.

The new digital music platform will hope to benefit from cross-promotion across the MTV network. Urge will offer access to downloadable playlists, blogs, news and features from numerous MTV shows, including 'Total Request Live', plus shows on other stations owned by the network, including VH1's 'I Love The...' and CMT's 'Crossroads'. And needless to say, the service will be heavily promoted on all MTV channels and existing MTV websites.

Industry insiders will be watching the launch of the new service closely. There are, of course, a plethora of subscription based download platforms in the market, but with market leader Apple continuing to push the a la carte download model the whole subscription thing is yet to capture the mainstream imagination. Some wonder if MTV, with its existing loyal audience of music fans, could be the organisation to change that.

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WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER 11 REVIEWS OUT
Talking of Windows Media Player 11, which we were, briefly, Digital Music News have reviewed an early copy of the new player and are generally positive in their opinions of it - saying that the enhancements on "graphic usability" are good, that there is a pretty good search function, that the device synchronization and CD burning functions are "highly intuitive" and that, generally speaking, it all seemed to work OK (which in itself is quite rare for new Microsoft products). You can read the review at http://www.digitalmusicnews.com.

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CREATIVE SUE APPLE OVER IPOD INTERFACE
Now this is fun. Creative Technologies have filed a possibly ambitious lawsuit against Apple Computers over allegations that the iPod interface copies its MP3 player navigation system, for which Creative was last year awarded a patent. Creative are looking for both monetary damages and for an injunction barring the continued sale of iPods (that's the ambitious bit).

They have also approached the US International Trade Commission with a slightly complicated claim that the Commission should stop the import of iPods into the US. iPods are actually assembled in China and are then transported into the US for sale. Because the Singapore based Creative have registered their 'Zen Patent' with their US subsidiary, and because Apple are, they claim, in violation of that patent, and because Section 337 of the US Tariff Act bans companies from importing products that violate US patents, the US government, Creative say, should stop Apple importing iPods into the country. There's a certain logic to that, if you buy Creative's initial assumptions.

Apple have tried to apply for a patent for their interface too, but it was denied because Creative filed their paperwork two years earlier. That does put Apple's much weaker competitor into a certain position of power - and insiders say that the new lawsuit and Commission approach are designed to force the iPod maker into a costly settlement with Creative. However, other insiders say Apple are unlikely to settle out of court on this one - meaning a long drawn out and very expensive court battle could be looming.

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APPLE PHONE RUMOURS
Elsewhere in Apple news, and more idle speculation about the possibility of an iPod phone. Rumour has it that Apple are working with Japanese mobile operator Softbank on developing a 3G enabled phone with iPod functionality which would include an iTunes interface and over the air downloading. The new phone could be released in Japan later this year. However, no word on whether this would be a proper iPod mobile, or a new version of the iTunes enabled Motorola ROKR phone which was released last year to pretty lacklustre reviews.

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TIME OUT APPOINT NEW MUSIC EDITOR
Time Out have announced that Eddy Lawrence will be taking over the role of Music Editor at the title when their current music man, Chris Salmon, leaves next month. Time Out London Editor Gordon Thomson told reporters: "Eddy is a great appointment for Time Out. I was amazingly impressed by his energy and the clarity of his vision for the section - as well as his commitment to and knowledge of the London music scene, in all its glorious forms. First and foremost he is an ideas man but he is also a superb writer and motivator. We already have a very talented group of journalists in the music section at Time Out, but Eddy will make us even more dynamic and give us that extra edge. It's a key appointment for us. Exciting times lie ahead".

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ALBUM REVIEW: Sandy Thom - Smile It Confuses People (SonyBMG/RCA/Viking Legacy)
So, this is the album from that internet webcam girl. No, not that kind of webcam girl, but the girl who recently became the first person to sign to a major label as a result of utilising her webcam, with which she broadcast gigs to thousands of people from her basement in Tooting. She has a naturally powerful, clear voice, which fits well with both the folksier numbers and the more straight ahead ballads here. The single 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker' (out on 22 May) is an example of the former, with a minimal background of percussion and handclaps bringing her bold voice to the fore. It's a really simple song, and all the more effective for it. The next track 'Lonely Girl' suffers a little next to it. It's more of a bog-standard ballad, and there's not much there that you haven't heard a million times before. Still, it's done well, and shows that Thom can do Kelly Clarkson as well as she can do KT Tunstall. 'Little Remedy' is another catchy tune, and 'Castles', with its Motowny intro and strong chorus, is another winner. So, she's not just an opportunist then, but also a talented artist with a fair bit of range, both in terms of her singing and her songwriting ability. On the strength of this, Thoms should be propelled from her basement to stardom pretty quickly. TH
Release date: 5 Jun
Press Contact: Sony BMG IH [all]

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GALLAGHER CONFIRMS OASIS BREAK
No, don't get too excited, I meant break in the sense of holiday, not a split. Still pretty good news for me however; Oasis are going to take a break from recording and have decided against releasing that previously reported proposed EP. Noel Gallagher told somebody on a radio show somewhere that he didn't think the material for the EP was strong enough.

He told whoever it was he was speaking to: "We had a couple of tracks left over from the last record and in our own heads we thought they were good enough to be released as an EP. We went back and listened to the tapes and we reckon we can get it better, so we're having the year off instead."

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GERI HAS BABY GIRL
According to reports, Geri Halliwell has given birth to a baby girl at London's Portland Hospital. The Sun suggests that the singer checked in at the weekend, and had a caesarian (as is the fashion) on Sunday, one month early. A spokesman has declined to comment as to whether Halliwell is indeed a patient at the hospital, but The Sun claims that a hospital source says: "Mother and daughter are doing fine."

One thing seems certain, the baby's alleged father, Hollywood scriptwriter Sacha Gervasi, 40, was not around for the birth - the pregnancy was apparently the result of a six week fling which resulted in a very public falling out. Well, that's what people say, I didn't notice them falling out, to be honest, and I'm a member of the public.

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ALBARN ATTACKS DO-GOODERS
Damon Albarn has had another go at people who campaign about stuff, like Bono. He apparently said: "I'm not going to get into anyone, but bands who care about certain things and then go on one-and-a-half-year stadium tours are just hypocrites. You set yourself up as the subject of thousands of people's adoration. Where's the humanity in that? That's just idolatry."

He has a bit of a point you know. All these rock stars who make enough money to run a small country, and get to keep it, and then ask us poor people to part with our cash in order to save the world. Bastards.

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ALICE COOPER GETS KEY TO ALICE
Alice Cooper has been given the key to a US town called Alice in recognition of him, erm, having the same name (of course the town is really called Alice, not sure about Alice Cooper). Anyway, about a thousand people came to the town (which only has a population of around sixty, apparently) to see him presented with his gold plated key and marble plaque.

Mayor Dan Lund, who said the town had not seen such excitement since its centennial celebration in 2000, went on to say: "There's not a whole lot of buildings to unlock with that key, but Alice is a cool guy and Alice is a cool city - so it's a fun thing to do." He added, however, that country music is actually more his thing, saying: "He rocked a little too hard for me. I wasn't quite angry enough to be into his music."

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ROBBIE REFUSES TO BE ON TV
According to The Sun, Robbie Williams has declined to allow ITV to air his performance at the Beckham's pre-World Cup do. The TV network's cameras will be there, but Robbie is refusing to sign the release forms. Robbie is to perform a duet at the event with the legendary James Brown, and all indications are that Brown is happy for the performance to be televised.

The tabloid quote an 'insider' as saying: "Everyone involved has been so positive until now. There was disbelief when word came from Robbie's aides. No-one can understand why he's being such a misery-guts about the whole thing. James Brown's an international superstar, far more famous than Robbie, and he's happy to be filmed, so what's Robbie's problem?"

Er...no, too easy.

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