CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 18th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Global digital sales double
- FPB say Which? backs their anti-VAT loophole campaign
- Electric guitar fest coming to Harrods
- Stickland wins Kerrang! defamation suit
- Nate Dogg takes court action against Knight
- Pete's progress
- Jury selection for Spector case due for March
- Single review: The Procession - Don't Let Go/Don't Hesitate
- Pink backs down over sheep issue
- Prodigy launch new label
- White Stripes look for new US deal
- New Tangerine Dream album is dedicated to Barrett
- The Feeling cover Buggles
- Cardinals single, live dates
- More Muse tickets
- Give It A Name announce headliners
- Album review: Various - Klubb Kazz Sessions Seven
- Apple figures released
- GMG Radio appoint music head
- GCap confirm Fru appointment
- Pussycat Dolls get Vegas casino
- Fed-Ex mocks self in Superbowl ad
- Blunt may be moving to Switzerland

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TOP BIT>>
So, the Celebrity Big Brother racism thing is really kicking off isn't it? I'm not sure CBB really counts as music news, but we've been reporting on CBB on the dubious excuse that there are some music people in the house, so I reckon that gives me a right to have an opinion.

The story, in case you missed the front page and top-of-the-show news TV coverage of it last night (trials of people accused of trying to blow up London obviously not so important), is that the traditional arguments between the Big Brother celebs have taken something of a racial dimension because the big feud is between Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and former non-Celebrity Big Brother contestant Jade Goody, and Jade (and WAG Danielle Lloyd, former S-Clubber Jo O'Meara and Jade's fella Jack Tweedy to a certain extent) has taken to making arguably racist remarks against Shetty, and India in general, as part of the rows.

Criticism of the housemates' remarks, and Channel 4's airing of them, has grown in the last week, originally focused mainly on the various CBB message boards, then among Shetty fans in the UK, then in the wider British media, and now across the media in India, where Shetty is all but worshipped. The media outrage over there persuaded Indian government officials to raise the racism allegations in meetings with Gordon Brown, who is out there at the moment on some kind of government junket. Meanwhile, back here in the UK, media regulator OfCom has received a record number of complaints about the show because of the alleged racism (15,000 as of last night), mainly because of the media hype surrounding the story and the fact that it's really quite easy to complain in this email age.

But are the housemates being racist, and should Channel 4 be held to account for airing their arguably racist comments?

Actually, the rows between Goody and Shetty do make quite interesting viewing (on an entirely academic and not at all voyeuristic level, obviously), because the conflict between the two isn't racial but social. Goody, with something of an inferiority complex, can't accept those aspects of Shetty's personality/attitude which are typical of a-list film actors but, seemingly, not so much because she has a problem with a-list stars acting in that way in general, but because she doesn't think Shetty is on that list (because outside of the Bollywood world she isn't). Goody's core problem with Shetty isn't racial as such - it's a more simple personality clash - but, as is quite common, while searching for ways to express her frustration, Jade (and those supporting her side of the argument) rely on the kind of simple racial slurs that don't require much imagination on the part of the disgruntled.

Should Channel 4 be airing those slurs? Personally I don't see why not, given that what is happening in the BB house is a representation of a common kind of situation in Britain where people who wouldn't dismiss a person simply because of their race will nevertheless use that person's race against them once they decide that they are going dismiss them anyway, for other reasons. The fact that phenomenon is being identified and discussed is surely a good thing - and it's not as if Channel 4's airing of it, and the media coverage that has resulted, is painting Goody et al in a good light. That said, I think it is wrong that Davina McCall can let such racial slurs go unquestioned once those housemates are in the post-eviction interview, nor should she let her interviewees constantly refer to Shetty as "the Indian" without comment, as Goody's mother (who Davina proclaimed as her "favourite housemate ever") did last week.

So, while Channel 4 shouldn't shy away from showing people using racism as a device in pursuing in-house feuds, that behaviour should definitely be questioned and not just laughed off in the programming that surrounds the show.

PS: A bit late today I know - apologies - I think there was some kind time warp on the Isle Of Dogs this morning, one minute it was 10am, the next it was midday. Scientific explanations welcomed.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS>>

JANUARY = MISERY
JANUARY + PLAYMUSIC MAGAZINE = HAPPINESS
JANUARY + PLAYMUSIC MAGAZINE + FREE 12 TRACK CD INCLUDING THE BIZARRE, BUT BRILLIANT, TALL PONY AND THE SUPERB DARTZ! = UTTER BLISS
The February issue of Playmusic is in the shops now. In this month's packed issue we've got the magnificent Shins on the front cover, there's features on Jamie T, The View, Dragonforce & Ben Folds, we go shooting guitars with big scary shotguns and go an extreme gig fest with little, not very scary, Steve Lamacq. Also, if you're an unsigned band, send us your stuff and you could get on our covermount CD next month - go to www.myspace.com/playmusiconline for details. Playmusic - get involved

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CMU RECOMMENDS>>

REMIX NIGHT JANUARY
The first Remix Night of 2007 is the traditional 'Dig The Nu Breed' night which will see Remix chief Eddy TM presenting some of the acts that he is most excited about for the coming year. And there are quite a few of them! Live you'll get Metronomy, Goose, Devil's Gun and The Officers, while on the decks with Eddy himself will be South Central and Slim Jim. This all takes place at London's Cargo on Friday 19 Jan.

BASICS: Friday 19 Jan, Cargo, London, 9pm - 3am, tix £10. Press info from Leyline.

More recommends: http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk/cmurecommends

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: ARNOLD LANE
Interesting one today - named, as you'll see, for a song rather than a person. This is basically linked to the re-recording of Pink Floyd's debut single 'Arnold Lane', which David Gilmore has re-recorded with the help of David Bowie and founding Floyd member Richard Wright. As part of the promotion of that single, EMI are offering any MySpace band the opportunity to record their own cover version of the track. The band behind the best one will win recording time in EMI's Abbey Road Studios, which is quite a good prize. I could go through all the specifics here, but if you're a MySpace band interested you're better off visiting this MySpace page where you find all you need to know. But do it quick, the closing date is 22 Jan, and obviously you're going to need to record the song.

http://www.myspace.com/arnoldlaynecompetition

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GLOBAL DIGITAL SALES DOUBLE
No surprises here really. In fact, I think there was another report last week that said more or less all of this also. Anyway, a new report from those International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry chaps confirms that global digital music sales almost doubled in 2006 so that they were worth over $2 billion - and about 10% of all music sales. Some 795 million tracks were downloaded from nearly 500 legitimate online music services in 40 countries - an 89% increase on 2005. The trade body now reckons the growth will continue so that digital accounts for a quarter of worldwide music sales by 2010.

But, and it's a crucial but, the report also confirms that, even with the recent boom, digital sales were not fully compensating for the slump in physical CD sales, meaning that overall music sales were down - by 4% in the first half of last year.

Commenting on the report, IFPI chief John Kennedy told reporters: "The pace of transformation in our industry is breathtaking, but at the moment the holy grail is evading us. I would like to be announcing that a fall in CD sales is being compensated for by an equal or greater increase in online and mobile revenues. But that is not yet happening on a global basis".

Of course, the report blames some of that on the ongoing popularity of P2P file sharing, and makes particular reference to the failure of the internet service providers in this domain, with implications that this is an area where the trade association plans to step up its activity in the coming year. Of course, the music business has long had problems with the internet industry, arguing that ISPs used the growth in file sharing to persuade early adopters of the need for their broadband services, even though much of that file sharing was illegal. Internet companies, some label execs argue, continue to passively approve of such file sharing by failing to help in the content owners' campaign against P2P based copyright violation.

The IFPI's end of year report says: "With cooperation from ISPs we could make huge strides in tackling internet piracy globally. They have it within their power to limit access to copyright infringing material and therefore hold the key to substantially reducing online piracy. Technology similar to that used to block access to child pornography could be used to block access to websites that facilitate infringing file-sharing of copyrighted music. It is very unfortunate that it seems to need pressure from governments or even action in the courts to achieve this, but as an industry we are determined to see this campaign through to the end".

In an interview with the FT, Kennedy accuses the ISPs of "filibustering" in this area, and again implies that the IFPI will be focusing its attention of winning political support in this domain, pointing to a "legislative clampdown" in order to bring the ISPs in line.

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FPB SAY WHICH? BACKS THEIR ANTI-VAT LOOPHOLE CAMPAIGN
The Forum Of Private Business is citing a new survey by consumer magazine Which? to back its argument that that much previously reported VAT loophole is driving down the profit margins available on music CDs which, in turn, is threatening the businesses of independent music retailers.

The new Which? Survey, in the magazine's January edition, compared the price of a Justin Timberlake and a Beatles CD in various European countries, including Germany, France, Ireland and the UK, and found that the average price of a UK CD was as much as £2.50 less than elsewhere in Europe.

The FPB reckon this is because of online mail order operations that base themselves in the Channel Islands. As previously reported, current VAT rules mean that goods sold from the Channel Islands that are under £18 (ie most CDs and DVDs) are not subject to VAT, meaning that mail order operations who utilise the loophole save £1.75 on every ten pound purchase. High street retailers argue that that gives the mail order firms, like Play.com and HMV's online operation, an unfair advantage, while forcing high street retailers to drop their prices also.

While that could be argued to be a good thing for consumers (who can buy CD albums for less money), independent retailers argue that the need to compete with the online retailers cuts their margins to dangerously low levels, forcing some record stores out of business. And, of course, while consumers may be getting cheaper CDs, in their capacity as tax payers they are considerably worse off because the mail order operations aren't paying VAT.

Commenting on the Which? report and his organisation's ongoing attempts to have the Channel Island VAT loophole closed, the FPB's Nick Goulding told reporters: "Too often the picture is blurred by the insistence that the sole factor in the demise of high street music retailers is the increase in music downloads. This report ... adds more strength to the argument that something must be done to close this loophole."

Richard Allen of mainland mail order music seller Delerium Mail Order, who is lobbying for a judicial review of the VAT situation, added: "If, as the Treasury believes, various factors are affecting UK music retail prices, why do prices remain buoyant in the rest of Europe? Surely it is obvious that the differentiating factor in the UK market is the presence of the hugely exploited VAT loophole which is now achieving saturation advertising on TV and in the print media. When you have Channel Islands-based retailers like Play.com and HMV advertising new releases at £8.99 including delivery in mainstream music publications, then must be an effect on pricing in shops. It also has as a longer term effect on the public's general perception of prices. Because the UK mainland retailer is still having to compete to survive but also has to suffer a VAT element, prices are now reaching levels that are unsustainable as a business model. We are already seeing individual shops and chains going to the wall as a result".

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ELECTRIC GUITAR FEST COMING TO HARRODS
One for all you electric guitar heads out there - the frying pan is coming to London for the first time ever. Which possibly doesn't sound so exciting to most of you, but the real electric guitar heads will know that the 'Frying Pan' was one of the first ever electric guitars to be manufactured, by Rickenbacker if my memory serves me correct (actually, if my memory does serve me correctly, I think they were known as Richenbacher at the time). The original 1931 Frying Pan guitar is one of over 100 electric guitars that will appear as part of an exhibition called Born To Rock which will be staged at Harrods next month (from 2 Feb to 3 Mar) and which will trace the history of the instrument and, by association, that wonderful thing that is rock n roll. All kinds of guitars, taking all kinds of shapes, and played by all kinds of rock legends are being promised, and given that the exhibition is currently breaking attendance records at the National Museum Of Ireland in Dublin, I think we can be assured that that is so (actually it's all being produced by our friends at BigTime, so I know we can... be assured that is).

Alongside the guitars of history (and not so recent history) is a collection of brand new guitars that have been specifically designed by a string of famous design, art, fashion and music types, including Joseph Arthur, Graham Coxon, Bryan Adams, Jennifer Lopez, Fred Deakin, Rankin, Johnny Rocket, Hedi Slimane, Anton Corbijn and Peter Blake. This is the RockCouture collection that has been put together by those BigTime people over the last eighteen months, and has previously been displayed in Paris and Dublin, although as an ever growing collection there will be more RockCouture guitars at the Harrods show than ever before. This collection is a big charity thing, with each designer nominating a charity of their choice, and each guitar getting auctioned off in aid of those charities. The first auction, in which ten guitars will go under the hammer, will take place at the end of the London exhibition. Future auctions will take place as the Born To Rock show, and RockCouture collection, continues to tour around the world in the coming year.

The Born To Rock exhibition will appear in Harrods as part of their upcoming Harrods Rocks season, which will include a stack of other rock related events and promotions, including the arrival of a new stage area on the second floor, in the heart of the exhibition, where a programme of live music will take place during the month of February. More on those events when we get it.

Confirming the plans for the Born To Rock programme at Harrods, BigTime CEO Ian Spero told CMU: "Judging by the reactions we've been getting from Dublin, Born To Rock really will appeal to anyone interested in music, fashion or design - and with the live events programme that will accompany the London version of the exhibition, this is really going to rock. People of Knightsbridge, watch out!"

For press info on all this you need to speak to the Noble PR people. To get involved in the Born To Rock project now or in the future, or for info on live and promotional opportunities for bands as part of the Harrods Rocks season, I'd email borntorock@bigtime.tv.

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STICKLAND WINS KERRANG! DEFAMATION SUIT
OK, let's get this straight, tour manager Mark Stickland is not a wanker. Well, not in this context anyway. As previously reported, Stickland was suing EMAP's Kerrang! over an interview that ran this time last year with Bullet For My Valentine, in which the band's drummer, Moose, claimed he had walked in on the band's tour manager masturbating in a dressing room back stage at a venue in Germany where they were playing, adding that the band christened him Stinky after the incident. Although Stickland was not named in the interview, he was the tour manager on that Bullet For My Valentine tour, and claimed that the article defamed him, by throwing his professionalism in doubt (based on the logic that professional tour managers don't masturbate while they're at work, which is logic, of a sort).

EMAP stuck by their story, claiming that it was true, and adding that as they didn't mention Stickland by name, to the vast majority of their readership he would have stayed anonymous had he not pursued this case. However, Stickland argued that as he worked in the heavy metal industry, and as they all read Kerrang!, the story put him in a very embarrassing situation. He said: "I felt very awkward picking up the phone and asking people for work. The bands I work with are all heavy metal bands and, in the heavy metal business, everyone reads Kerrang!"

Either way, the jury hearing the case were convinced the incident recalled by Moose did not, in fact, happen and ruled against EMAP, who were ordered to pay forty grand in compensation to Stickland, which is quite a lot compared to the five grand he had asked for in an out of court settlement. The judge hearing the case said the ruling was so clear cut that EMAP won't be allowed to appeal, although they could appeal for the right to appeal, if they so wish.

Following his win Stickland told reporters: "All I ever wanted to do was clear my name and I believe that is what's happened. I'm very relieved it's all over - it's been a year to get where we are".

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NATE DOGG TAKES COURT ACTION AGAINST KNIGHT
R&B star Nate Dogg (you might wish to argue that he actually sits in the hip hop camp rather than the R&B room, but he sings rather than raps, hence the R&B tag) is going to court in a bid to stop bankrupt Death Row Records boss Suge Knight from discharging (ie cancelling) the $10 million debt which he allegedly owes the singer in back royalties.

This is all a bit confusing, so bear with me while I try to figure it out. Hmmmm... No, still a bit confused. Though I suspect the issue here is that Nate, real name Nathaniel Hale, had something of a confusing relationship with Death Row Records, which is why he was not listed in the label's bankruptcy papers, why he was not aware that he needed to make a claim against the company by last September, and why he is worried Knight is going to legally put his past business affairs behind him without reference or concern to monies owed to him. Hale can't actually remember if he ever had contractual relations with Knight, or Death Row, or one of Knight's other companies, but he knows that Death Row has earned considerable revenues from his music over the years, and that a big chunk of that should have been paid on to him.

In the legal papers seeking a court judgment that ensures his interests are considered in Knight's ongoing bankruptcy, Hale claims that when he has approached Knight personally regarding unpaid royalties the hip hop mogul has responded with false promises, denials or, on occasion, threats of physical violence. He's a lovely bloke, isn't he?

As previously reported, Knight filed for bankruptcy after he failed to honour a court ruling against him to pay fellow Death Row founder Lydia Harris her claimed share of the company's profits.

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PETE'S PROGRESS
In a busy old day in the pop courts, Pete Doherty was back at Thames Magistrates Court yesterday for another update on his drug treatment order and hey, isn't he doing well? Well, isn't he? Well, the doctor overseeing his court ordered rehab said he was making a "great effort" to kick his addictions, while his lawyer said his progress so far was "encouraging". I think that counts as "doing well".

That doctor added all this: "It's a long process and there is another nine months to go. This is more optimistic but we cannot take the pressure off. It takes day-to-day effort".

That lawyer added: "Most people would have failed by now".

Our old friend District Judge Jane McIvor said she was please with Pete's progress, and that he would not have to attend court reviews of his rehab quite so often.

After the hearing, Pete told reporters: "For the first time I am actually turning up for appointments in a coherent state. For them, it's a big step. It's just a really positive time for me at the moment."

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JURY SELECTION FOR SPECTOR CASE DUE FOR MARCH
More court shenanigans, and the long running Phil Spector murder trial may finally get under way in March. It was confirmed yesterday that potential candidates for the jury in the Spector trial would be assessed from 19 Mar. The court is likely to start with 300 possible jurors, who will all fill out questionnaires regarding their suitability to sit on the case. As much previously reported, the legendary producer is accused of murdering Lana Clarkson at his Beverly Hills home on 3 Feb 2003. He claims she killed herself.

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SINGLE REVIEW: The Procession - Don't Let Go/Don't Hesitate (Nude Records)
The Procession are a harmonious trio of Los Angeles based musicians who have managed to fuse together the simplistic poppyness of 60s guitar bands and modern instrument intensified ditties. Basically what would happen if the Beatles and Arcade Fire had a bunch of kids together. The first track on this double A side, 'Don't Let Go', is a dance filled ballad with a creepily catchy tune. The second track, the better of the two, has some really sweet sounding piano licks which lends the track a really cool 60s sound. Their voices have a confidence that carries both tracks and it's not hard to see why they're currently working their way onto Xfm and Phantom's playlists here in the UK. GM
Release Date: 15 Jan
Press Contact: V2 IH [all]

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PINK BACKS DOWN OVER SHEEP ISSUE
Pink is no longer backing the PETA campaign encouraging a boycott of Australian wool because of Australian farmers' ongoing use of the pretty disturbing practice of mulesing, which, as previously reported, involves cutting skin from lambs' rears to prevent infestations of maggots.

The pop star hasn't had a change of heart and now thinks it's not cruel at all, but has since learned (as we noted in our earlier report on this subject) that the Australian wool industry plan to phase out mulesing by 2010 anyway, so Pink thinks she should have done a bit more research before endorsing a campaign to end something that the Australian farmers are going to end in due course anyway.

On her appearance in a PETA video condemning the practice, the singer told Aussie TV: "I probably could have been a lot more researched, on my own. That's the lesson I'm taking from this".

She continued: "My message was, in my mind, boycott animal cruelty - not an entire industry, not Australia, obviously, because it's my favourite country. Then going back, I was speaking without thinking and I actually did say ban Australia, which is bullshit. It's not something that I can agree with. I have nothing against farmers. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I don't want to hurt anyone, I just want the animals to hurt less."

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PRODIGY LAUNCH NEW LABEL
The Prodigy are launching their own record label, to be backed by independent Cooking Vinyl. The new label, to be called Ragged Flag, will release the band's next album and will also look to sign other artists. The new venture brings to an end The Prodigy's long relationship with XL Recordings, now one of the UK's most successful independents, but for a while an imprint pretty much bankrolled by the Prodge. Billboard quote Prodigy main man Liam Howlett thus: "We have been planning this for a while and we are looking forward to building our label up, starting off with the release of the new Prodigy album. We have recorded a few songs already for this next album and they are sounding big and mean".

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WHITE STRIPES LOOK FOR NEW US DEAL
Talking of bands signed to XL and new record deals, let's talk about The White Stripes. Not that Jack and Meg are looking for a new recording deal in the UK (where they are signed to XL), but they are looking for a new deal in the US following the news that their label there, the US version of V2, is stopping releasing new material. The Sheridan Square owned V2 US will continue to work the White Stripes catalogue for the time being, though word has it that deal too will soon come up for renewal. Which means that the White Stripes or, rather, their manager Ian Montone, is busy sounding out the possible deals that are out there. Most of the majors will probably be interested in the duo, though HitsDailyDouble reports that gossipers reckon Universal's Interscope will probably get first option, given the longstanding relationship of mutual admiration between Jack White and the label's co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

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NEW TANGERINE DREAM ALBUM IS DEDICATED TO BARRETT
Tangerine Dream - celebrating their fortieth anniversary this year, by the way - are set to release a new album, 'Madcaps Flaming Duty', and it's dedicated to the late Syd Barrett. Set for release on 2 Apr, the new LP was recorded in October last year, and features lyrics based on the work of seventeenth and eighteenth century English and American poets adapted for the tracks by writer Bianca F Acquaye.

TD main man Edgar Froese said in a statement: "This recording is dedicated to the influential spirit of a legendary musical mind, Syd Barrett, who had to end his present incarnation in summer 2006."

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THE FEELING COVER BUGGLES
The Feeling's new single, 'Rose', out 12 Feb, is to feature a cover of an absolute classic - Buggles' 'Video Killed The Radio Star'. Their previously reported upcoming tour dates are as follows:

16 Feb: Norwich UEA
18 Feb: Wolverhampton Civic Theatre
19 Feb: Bournemouth BIC
20 Feb: Plymouth Pavilions
22 Feb: Liverpool University
23 Feb: Edinburgh Corn Exchange
24 Feb: Doncaster Dome
26 Feb: Derby Assembly Rooms
27 Feb: Manchester Apollo
2 Mar: London Hammersmith Apollo
3 Mar: London Hammersmith Apollo

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CARDINALS SINGLE, LIVE DATES
The Cardinals are set to release their second double A-side single 'Hold On/Hello' on 29 Feb. The band, currently working on debut album 'We Must Learn to Walk Again', will also appear at the following live dates:

25 Jan: Bath Moles
31 Jan: Inverness The Market Bar
1 Feb: Glasgow 13th Note
2 Feb: Dundee Doghouse
3 Feb: Edinburgh Den @ Cafe Royal
9 Feb: Cardiff Clwb Lfor Bach
12 Feb: Manchester The Roadhouse
17 Feb: London The Borderline

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MORE MUSE TICKETS
Muse have released a number of extra tickets for their previously reported Wembley Stadium shows on 16 and 17 Jun, after all the original tickets for the gigs sold out within hours of going on sale. The new tickets are on sale now (unless they've sold out again) at a cost of £37.50.

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GIVE IT A NAME ANNOUNCE HEADLINERS
The Give It A Name event - this year taking place in three cities, London, Birmingham and Glasgow from 27 to 29 Apr - have announced their headliners, and they are... (drumroll)... Brand New, HIM, and Jimmy Eat World. Other acts also scheduled to appear include AFI, Juliette And The Licks, New Found Glory, Enter Shikari, The Audition and Alexisonfire.

Tickets go on sale on Friday at 9am at a cost of £32.50 for a day ticket, £80 for a three day ticket. Get more info from http://www.giveitaname.co.uk but in the meantime, here's the full line up, less some acts still to be confirmed.

27 Apr in London (Earls Court), 28 Apr in Birmingham (NIA), 29 Apr in Glasgow (SECC)
HIM, The Used, Alexisonfire, Juliette and The Licks, From First To Last, Mindless Self Indulgence, Cry For Silence, The Sleeping, Ignite, Kill Hannah, Lost Alone

28 Apr in London (Earls Court), 29 Apr in Birmingham (NIA)
Brand New, The All-American Rejects, New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, Enter Shikari, Senses Fail, Madina Lake, Saosin, Kevin Devine, Mae, Kids in Glass Houses

27 Apr in Birmingham (NIA), 29 Apr in London (Earls Court)
Jimmy Eat World, A.F.I, Thursday, Sparta, Hit The Lights, The Receiving End Of Sirens, Hello Goodbye, The Audition, mewithoutYou, MXPX

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ALBUM REVIEW: Various - Klubb Kazz Sessions Seven (Slip N Slide)
Slip N Slide return on top form with their latest compilation which goes for the more jazzy end of dancefloor music. Setting the standard high with Dimitri From Paris's rework of 'Peace' by Japan's rather good househead Yukihiro Fukutomi, this album is generally good throughout, continuing with some funky sounds in Ashley Beedle's 'Balloon Room' and then going down a big band slant on Tiger Stripes 'Missing You'. If I'm being honest, 'South Africa' by Oskido is surprisingly average, but Q Burns and Lisa Shaw's soulful 'This Time', which gets a Charles Spencer mix, maintains the quality, and is a little more upbeat. 'Love Is On It's Way' by Liquid People spreads a small ray of sunshine, and jazz comes to the front in the slightly abstract Silicania Soul 'Life Is A Tree', with a disjointed backdrop from the Truby Trio. Then more Truby Trio, as they get remixed by the still upcoming Ame in 'Universal Love', really deep late night dancefloor deluxe, and then a bit of a tech classic - '1998' by Milton Jackson, with Ski Oakenfull pushing the button to polish up a real gem. 'Warrior' by Andy Caldwell reduces the tempo too quickly, and Patchworks' 'Brothers On The Slide' is middling, but groovesome nevertheless. A reliable compilation which collects together some nuggets of jazz influenced dance cuts. PV
Release date: 29 Jan
Press contact: Slip n Slide IH [all]

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APPLE FIGURES RELEASED
As expected, Apple released a financial update yesterday, reporting that 21 million iPods were sold during the last quarter, which included the Christmas rush of course. Which is quite a lot of iPod. As a result, revenues topped $7.1 billion, with profits surpassing $1 billion, almost double the profit on the same quarter last year. Despite all that, some investment types remained cautious, because sales of Mac's computers were a bit below expectations, although computer sales are traditionally slower in the Christmas quarter anyway. But some city insiders do worry that the company relies too much on the iPod, and that the other parts (and especially the more traditional parts) of Apple's business need to be taken into account. Those concerns may be alleviated though if iPhone and the Mac TV thingimy take off to the same levels as the iPod, putting the wider group's fortunes into more than one basket.

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GMG RADIO APPOINT MUSIC HEAD
Another Signal-Radio-name-from-the-eighties getting a new influential job in commercial radio (sorry for the Signal references, I'm just getting nostalgic) is Terry Underhill, who has just been appointed to a new head of music role across the Guardian Media Group's radio division - which includes the Real Radio and Smooth FM stations. Commenting on the appointment, Group PD John Simons told reporters: "We've now reached such a size that we needed someone of stature in the industry to oversee our music and liaise with the record companies on a full-time basis. Nobody is better qualified and knows our radio stations better than Terry".

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GCAP CONFIRM FRU APPOINTMENT
As expected, outgoing Virgin Radio CEO Fru Hazlitt has accepted a job as MD of GCap London, overseeing Capital Radio and Choice FM. GCap top man Ralph Bernard said Hazlitt was "committed to returning Capital Radio to the number one position in London", though presumably the previous Capital Radio chiefs of recent years have been slightly committed to that aim too.

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PUSSYCAT DOLLS GET VEGAS CASINO
I'm not sure I understand Pussycat Dolls. I don't understand their appeal, to be frank. But I also don't understand their dynamic. Okay, now I do, because I looked it up. Before Pussycat Dolls were an international R&B pop group, they were a burlesque troupe founded by choreographer Robin Antin, and featuring a varying cast of dancers. Presumably the ones that became the pop group are the ones who could sing? Actually, something deep inside me is saying that the 'lead' singer of the pop group (ie the one that actually sings) wasn't a burlesque artist. I don't necessarily trust my gut feeling, however - not with my currently dodgy stomach.

Anyway, the Pussycat Dolls franchise's latest project is a new room at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas called 'The Pussycat Dolls Casino'. A troupe of six to eight dancers will perform at the casino five nights a week. The aforementioned Antin says: "The Pussycat Dolls have been a part of my life for more than a decade and it's incredible to see the brand expand from a burlesque show, to the biggest female pop group today, to a reality TV series and now this. The fact that we're going to have an entire gaming area within Caesars Palace, the most iconic and luxurious hotel on The Strip, speaks volumes to the quality of the Pussycat Dolls brand and the experience this will offer guests."

Incidentally, why doesn't 'Caesars' have an apostrophe in it? Is it because there is more than one Caesar?

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FED-EX MOCKS SELF IN SUPERBOWL AD
Previously reported rumours that Britney's ex, Kevin Federline, was to appear in an advertisement to air during the US Super Bowl are true. The aspiring rapper is to appear in a Nationwide Mutual Insurance ad, in which he will be shown performing in a slick music video. It will then reveal that Fed-Ex was only daydreaming whilst working in a fast food restaurant. It's part of the company's ongoing 'Life Comes At You Fast' campaign.

Federline told USA today: "I felt that it was a good time to come out and make fun of myself. It really works for me. I try not to take myself too seriously."

It's an important gig, of course, not just for Federline, but the advertisers too, basically because most of America will be watching the TV that night. Nationwide's Steven Schreibman said: "No one has personified 'Life Comes at You Fast' in the media better than Federline. Our partnership with Kevin shows the world that he has a great sense of humour".

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BLUNT MAY BE MOVING TO SWITZERLAND
Officials in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier say that James Blunt is moving there, although whether it's for tax reasons or because he's a posho who likes skiing isn't clear. As previously reported, French rocker Johnny Halliday recently moved Switzerland to avoid taxes in his home country.

Anyway, Swiss Daily Le Matin has published a report claiming that Blunt, already a frequent visitor to the area, had registered with the tax office there. Which makes it sound like it might have more to do with the tax breaks than the skiing. Verbier's tourism officials confirmed the news, but refused to comment on whether the singer would be receiving the same tax breaks as Hallyday.

You know I don't like to diss James Blunt, but honestly. What a splitter.

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