CMU Daily - on the inside Monday 14th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Robbie not on strike, though ie remain cautious of all new EMI
- More artist support for departing Wadsworth
- Kylie reportedly not impressed with EMI either
- EMI jobs cuts expected to reach 2000
- Live Nation to take ticketing in house
- Fortunes frontman dies
- Sugababe arrested over car attack
- Bjork attacks photographer
- Fed asks for police records on Britney stand off
- More Wu-Tang tensions
- DMX faces $1.5 million bill over rape claims
- New Coldplay due in May
- Is Jay-Z/Apple announcement upcoming?
- Rev Run signs to London digital label
- Snoop has rock ambitions
- Collins back with gay abandon
- Owen's Big Night Out: British Sea Power at The Czech Republic Embassy, London
- Vedder wins at low key Golden Globes
- Starr helps launch Liverpool's cultural year
- Faulkner performs on a high
- Infadels tour
- Babyshambles tour upcoming
- Bragg supported prison music scheme deemed a success
- Single Review: James Yuill - No Surprise
- PIAS rebrand a bit
- New Pirate Bay shutdown attempt expected
- RIAA continue anti-P2P campaign
- Zavvi make board changes
- JK and Joel on rubbish radio
- Communicorp's EMAP Radio Ireland purchase complete
- Chart update
- Sub.tv playlist
- Total rock world album chart
- Aguilera and Richie give birth
- KT engaged
- Westlifer doesn't want kids on ex's new reality show
- No more Panic! At The Disco, just Panic from now on

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TOP BIT
So, what happened to me on Friday? Well, firstly there was the big thing - standing in the queue in the bank and hearing T'pau's uber-classic 'China In Your Hand' on HSBC Radio and wondering how I'd forgotten what a good song that was and quickly returning to my iTunes so I could download a copy. Hurrah. Then there was the arrival of our second ticket for tonight's Brits launch at the Roundhouse in Camden, which means both me and CMU man on the ground Owen can be in attendance. Do say hello if you see us, though I have a Company Law exam tomorrow and should be at home revising. So if we do talk, can you make sure we only talk about under what circumstances the courts might "lift the corporate veil"? Friday was also the day when I forgot to return a call to a PR who was going to tell me all about the much expected new venture from former Live Nation UK chief Stuart Galbraith, a JV with AEG which has just been announced and which we will have the lowdown on tomorrow (assuming I remember to give said PR a call today).

What else? Oh yes, a call for comment on the "Robbie is on strike" story that did the rounds of the news media on Friday. As you no doubt saw, Robbie's management, ie:music have expressed concerns about what will happen at EMI under new owners Terra Firma. More importantly, he said that Robbie wouldn't be willing to release a new album with the major (with whom he is still in contract) until it is more clear where EMI will go next. Hence the "he's on strike" reports.

The comments by ie:music chief Tim Clark are the latest public comment from the artist management community expressing caution regarding the new regime at EMI. Of course, ironically, the artist management community has long been critical of the 'head-in-the-sand' record companies, and their inability to grasp the potential of the digital age. Much of the criticism of the EMI old guard made by new chief Guy Hands has echoed things said by artist managers in the past. Hands' approach to bringing his major record company into the 21st century will involve a radical reinvention, and the sacking of many hundreds (possibly thousands) of current employees, including very senior players. Such revolution is never nice, but perhaps, just perhaps, it is necessary. And while Hands disposal of popular execs and tough talking of making artists work harder may raise concerns in the artist community, perhaps it is what is needed to achieve what artists and their managers have long wanted - a reinvented record industry able to partner with artists on innovative content creating ventures that work for all parties - artistically and commercially - in this here digital age.

That said, it should be noted that the much reported comments made by Clark in the Times and elsewhere last week didn't specifically deny that fact. Clark is, after all, one of the best minds in the UK music business, and with a record label background himself, as well as having co-masterminded one of the UK pop world's most profitable success stories of recent years through a truly integrated approach, he knows more than anyone that some of what Hands is saying about EMI and the old-school record industry is correct. That said, Clark's point is that Hands has so far been good at identifying problems but less good at suggesting solutions. Certainly Hands hasn't been forthcoming publicly with solutions, and given Clark's comments it seems he hasn't been sharing them with the representatives of some of his biggest artists either. Whether than means he hasn't got any solutions, or whether he is still finalising them, isn't clear. It may be more clear tomorrow when Hands is expected to, for the first time, properly outline his plans for reinventing EMI (and, possibly, the whole major record company model).

Whether Hands will prove to be the man with right plan for the record industry I don't know. I'm still keeping an open mind. Though, I have to say, with the only thing certain at EMI right now being that a period of uncertainty is upcoming, if I was Tim or Robbie I too wouldn't be wanting them to be handling my next make-or-break album release until the dust has well and truly settled.

Anyway, enough of that, on with today's rather long CMU Daily...

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JOBS N STUFF

CD POOL AND XPRESSBEATS REQUIRE A DESIGNER
We are looking for a young, enthusiastic and creative designer. You must have good knowledge using both Adobe Photoshop & Macromedia Flash. DreamWeaver or other html creation software knowledge preferred but not essential. Training will be provided to perform basic tasks in Freehand and Quark. Design based duties will include regular creation of advertisements in the form of static and animated web banners, magazine adverts and email templates and creation of template based CD artwork. The successful candidate is likely to be fresh out of Uni and MUST have a love of dance music! In addition to the design responsibilities the candidate will also help the technical team ingest music for our range of download stores. Please e-mail your CV to admin@cdpool.co.uk. Interviews will be conducted this month.

CLASH MAGAZINE OPPORTUNITY
Clash is seeking an experienced advertising sales professional to develop advertising and sponsorship revenues across its magazine and website Clash Magazine and ClashMusic.com. Clash is a successful music magazine devoured by the culture vulture download generation with regular advertising from leading brands. A large part of the role is developing relationships with brand managers and media buyers to develop advertising and sponsorship deals typically in our key target sectors of music, drinks, fashion and technology. The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate a successful track record and have over three years cross-platform media sales experience, with knowledge of one or more of our key target sectors. Based in our central London offices we offer competitive salaries and packages to attract the best. Please contact jp@clashmagazine.com

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SNAP OF THE DAY: SEBASTIAN TELLIER

Here's one to get excited about for 2008: a new Sebastian Tellier album. The French electro DJ is set to release his new work next month, a record co-produced by one half of Daft Punk, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who would have made the anticipation unbearable by sheer association anyway. That new single 'Sexual Sportswear' is set-up to be one of the best 7 and a bit minutes of electronic music you'll hear all year (and yes, we do realise it's only mid-January) makes it all the more essential that you should take a listen at his MySpace and, if to your taste, head to his show at either London's ICA or Paris' Palais de Tokyo in February. Both are arranged as part of the Stage Of The Art 2008 series, a celebration of French and English talent, with Tellier playing London before being transferred immediatly to the Paris venue for a second set.

http://www.myspace.com/telliersebastien

Nominate your acts for SNAP Of The Day - email info to owen@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

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ROBBIE NOT ON STRIKE, THOUGH IE REMAIN CAUTIOUS OF ALL NEW EMI
So, there was much chatter about the future of EMI under new boss Guy Hands on Friday amid reports one of the major's biggest artists, Robbie Williams, was on strike. Those reports stemmed from an interview in the Times with the boss of ie:music, Williams' management, Tim Clark, though he himself never said his client was "on strike".

Clark did, however, express concerns about the abilities of EMI, under its new regime, to handle the release of a new Robbie album. Those comments followed a blog entry by Robbie himself telling his fans to expect another quiet year in 2008, with the chance of only some online single releases. That despite expectations of a follow up to Williams' popular 'Swing When Your Winning' covers album this year.

Clark's personal concerns seem to be the unpredictability at Guy Hands' EMI. Radical changes are expected in the next few months and, it seems, management of some of the major's biggest artists are somewhat in the dark as to what that will mean for the major, and their ability to release and market major global albums. Clark said: "Given where EMI were, the state they were in, the changes they were making, how could any artist deliver an album - we wouldn't know how it would be marketed, distributed and promoted. They're decimating staff and it would be wilfully irresponsible of any manager to say 'let's deliver this album, they'll sort it out'. Well, actually no - we have to be persuaded that the services that they offer to their artists are going to be of the highest quality".

Speaking to Billboard following the wide reporting of the "Robbie is on strike" story, Clark said: "That term 'going on strike' is such an emotive one and it's certainly not what he [Robbie] would say" adding that: "We recognise that Robbie Williams is still under contract to EMI. There's absolutely no ill-feeling, we have to be pragmatic and we also have to recognise the extraordinary change digital technology is having on our industry". However, Clark did add that after two meetings with Hands he has little idea of the strategy of EMI's new owners, concluding: "We have to wait and see what happens. They absolutely have to persuade us the services they are offering are top notch".

Asked if the departure of EMI UK chief Tony Wadsworth last week added to his concerns about the new EMI regime, Clark continued: "It's a concern when somebody of Tony Wadsworth's standing and ability leaves. He has been a great supporter of artists and it is a problem that's he's left, for many of those artists he's had a hand in signing directly or who he's supported strongly over time. So, yes, a lot of people are very upset over his departure".

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MORE ARTIST SUPPORT FOR DEPARTING WADSWORTH
Clark isn't the only artist manager to express concern regarding the departure of Wadsworth from EMI. Also speaking to Billboard, the manager of one of EMI's other major players, Coldplay, said he was "confused" by the former UK chief's exiting. David Holmes of 3D Management told the trade mag: "I am both saddened and confused that the current owners of EMI have chosen not to include Tony Wadsworth as part of their future plans for the company. I am not really sure what EMI is right now. I guess we shall see when Guy makes his announcement [regarding his future plans - expected tomorrow]". As previously reported, there were rumours last week that Coldplay have indicated they will "review their options" when their current recording contract with EMI expires - though the band have since denied those rumours should necessarily be translated into any comment - negative or otherwise - on EMI and its new leadership.

Elsewhere, Paul McCartney has told Music Week that he sent a note of support to Wadsworth after news of his departure from the major last week. McCartney, of course, knew Wadsworth through his lengthy solo relationship with EMI's Parlophone, and the singer is still signed to the major for his classical projects. Though it should be said that it was Wadsworth's EMI of which McCartney said last year: "Everybody at EMI had become part of the furniture. [With every new record] I could guess what they were going to say. 'Love your record, Paul.' And I'd say, 'Well what should we do with it?' Then they'd go: 'Well, we think you ought to go to Cologne', which is what they always say. You go somewhere, speak to a million journalists for one day and you get all the same questions. So I started saying, 'God, we've got to do something else'",

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KYLIE REPORTEDLY NOT IMPRESSED WITH EMI EITHER
Elsewhere in 'artists dissing EMI' news, rumour has it Kylie Minogue is blaming the major (though not necessarily new chief Guy Hands) for her recent album 'X' not performing quite as well as hoped. Of course the mixed critical reception to the new long player might have played its part also. A source told the Daily Star Sunday this weekend: "It has not been the massive comeback Kylie has hoped for and the blame has to fall at someone's door. It is hoped that the flagging sales will pick up with the release of her second single, 'Wow', but if not it could be curtains for her relationship with EMI". A spokesman for EMI's Parlophone, to which Kylie is signed, told the tab: "This is not something I want to comment on at this stage".

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EMI JOBS CUTS EXPECTED TO REACH 2000
But enough of all that, let's get down to business shall we, and the not so fun matter of the 2000 EMI jobs that could be axed this week. That is quite a down sizing, even compared to recent job cuts at the other majors. According to the Telegraph, new boss Guy Hands will reveal his plan for reviving EMI's fortunes tomorrow, and will announce a cut of a third of the major's workforce as part of his strategy. The vast majority of the cuts will, needless to say, be within the major's recorded music division - Hands has so far been seemingly willing to let the more profitable EMI Music Publishing carry on as normal. Hands is expected to announce his plans and the significant jobs cull at a meeting in West London tomorrow, to which EMI staff, artists and their management have been invited.

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LIVE NATION TO TAKE TICKETING IN HOUSE
As expected, Live Nation have announced they will take their ticketing in house when their existing contract with Ticketmaster expires at the end of this year. Live Nation chief Michael Rapino told reporters on Friday that the in house ticketing operation, a JV with German firm CTS Eventim, should bring in $25 million operating income each year.

Billboard quote Rapino thus: "For the first time ever Live Nation will control our most important asset, the concert ticket. Through livenation.com we expect to sell more than 20 million tickets annually directly to music fans throughout the world. Through this activity we expect to strengthen the relationship we have with our customers, develop brand new revenue streams, maximize attendance at our events, and build new alliances with corporate partners that have never been before possible".

Rapino also confirmed that the live music conglom's new ticketing division will compete with Ticketmaster et al to provide ticketing services to venues and tours other than its own.

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FORTUNES FRONTMAN DIES
Rod Allen, lead singer and bass player for sixties pop band The Fortunes, has died aged 63 after losing a fight with liver cancer.

A statement on the band's website reads: "After a very short illness, Rod quietly and peacefully passed away with his family around him at his home in Coventry on Thursday 10th January at 1am. Rod's terrible illness was diagnosed just two short months ago and we all held our breath and hoped and prayed that his treatment would succeed... but it wasn't to be".

Birmingham band The Fortunes enjoyed chart success around the world in the sixties with songs like 'You've Got Your Troubles' and 'Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again', while in the US they became associated with Coke after providing songs for the drink brand's ad campaigns, singing 'Things Go Better With Coke' in 1967 and 'It's The Real Thing' in 1969.

Allen fronted the band through a series of line up changes over the years, though the current version of the band have said they will continue despite the frontman's death, explaining: "Rod's wish was for The Fortunes to continue, so we will do our utmost to keep his legacy alive and make The Fortunes a group that Rod would be proud of".

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SUGABABE ARRESTED OVER CAR ATTACK
Sugababe Amelle Berrabah has been arrested after allegedly attacking a neighbour's car after a long running dispute.

A source told the Daily Mirror: "There's been needle between the two families and on Thursday it hit boiling point. There was shouting and a girl called police, who got there about 10.45am. Amelle was shaking as officers carted her off".

Local police confirmed "a 23-year-old woman from London was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and public order offences" and that she had been bailed and was due to appear at Aldershot police station on 21 Feb.

Berrabah was arrested last April after a fracas at the Bar Med club in Guildford, though the Sugababe told reporters that she acted in self-defence after a group of girls "started on" her and her sister.

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BJORK ATTACKS PHOTOGRAPHER
Also in trouble for losing her temper is Bjork, who allegedly attacked a photographer at Auckland International Airport after flying in to play a gig in the New Zealand city this weekend.

Glenn Jeffrey, a photographer with the New Zealand Herald, says: "I took a couple of pictures... and as I turned and walked away, she came up behind me, grabbed the back of my black skivvy [Kiwi speak for a long t-shirt] and tore it down the back. As she did this she fell to the ground. At no stage did I touch her or speak with her. The man accompanying the singer said to her: 'B, don't do this, B don't do this'".

Jeffrey added that he had spoken to police about the attack, adding: "If anybody assaults anybody you have the right to a legal recourse, whoever they are".

It's not the first time Bjork has lashed out at the media at an airport - she famously took a swing at a reporter at Bangkok Airport in 1996 after said reporter had the cheek to say "welcome to Bangkok". The singer later apologised for that attack, videos of which have since become a YouTube favourite.

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FED ASKES FOR POLICE RECORDS ON BRITNEY STAND OFF
More from the pop police file, and Kevin Federline has reportedly asked the LA Police Department to release its reports on the recent run in at the home of ex Britney Spears where the singer barricaded herself in her house and refused to hand over the couple's two children. Federline's people say they want to see all the police's papers relating to the incident, presumably to help them with the next stage in their battle to win the Fed full custody of the children. As previously reported, Federline has had complete custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James since the barricade incident, though that is to be reviewed by the courts later today. Word has it that that court hearing will be open to the media after Spears' lawyers request for a closed hearing was denied.

Elsewhere in Britney news, gossipers are gossiping that the singer is seriously considering starting a new life in the UK with current partner, Birmingham born paparazzo Adnan Ghalib, though as that would presumably require her to give up all visitation rights to her children that is probably not going to happen anytime soon.

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MORE WU-TANG TENSIONS
Tensions don't seem to be disappearing within the Wu-Tang Clan following the news last week that group member U-God had begun legal proceedings against the hip hop outfit's corporate entity the Wu Music Group.

Rapper U-God, real name Lamont Hawkins, claims the Wu Music Group has failed to pay him his cut of the earnings from the Rock The Bells live venture, from a publishing deal with BMG, from Wu-Tang merchandise sales, and from the advance for new album '8 Diagrams'.

Hawkins filed a lawsuit against the Wu-Tang company last week, which says: "The defendant has failed and/or refused to pay certain monies currently due and owing to plaintiff, despite plaintiff's repeated demands that it do so". The lawsuit is claiming about $170,000 in unpaid fees, plus interest.

As previously reported, other Clan members have recently expressed dissatisfaction with the hip hop outfit, with producer RZA coming under particular crticism. There were tensions late last year with Clan member Ghostface Killah amid reports the new Wu-Tang album would be released on the same day as his new solo offering, while Raekwon told the Miss Info website of various problems he had with RZA and the Wu-Tang company last November, claiming most of the Clan members were not consulting on the group's artistic or commercial decisions.

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DMX FACES $1.5 MILLION BILL OVER RAPE CLAIMS
Rapper DMX is facing a $1.5 million bill after failing to defend himself in a defamation lawsuit. One Monique Wayne sued the rap star over comments he made in an interview with US based Sister2Sister magazine.

Wayne had claimed she had had the rapper's child after a one night stand. In the interview Wayne accepted he was the father of the child, but said that the pregnancy had only come about after Wayne sexually assaulted him as he slept. The rapper, real name Earl Simmons, told the magazine: "She raped me. DNA says it is [my child]. I don't know. If I did [have sex with her] I would remember. It ain't like she's a pretty girl".

Wayne said Simmons was lying and promptly sued for defemation in October 2006. The case came to court last week, where Wayne's mother, sister and and a psychologist testified in her favour. Simmons, however, did not attend or send a defence on his behalf, leading the court to find in Wayne's favour. The rapper must now pay $1 million in punitive damages and $518,000 in compensatory damages.

DMX's people are yet to comment. Wayne told the New York Post: "It's not so much the price, it's the point I wanted to get across. Let him think about what he's going to say before he says it".

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NEW COLDPLAY DUE IN MAY
Assuming EMI doesn't collapse into a hole in the ground, Coldplay's new long player is now expected to have a May release. Called 'Prospekt', and produced by Brian Eno, this is an early (though yet to be confirmed) tracklisting...

Famous Old Painters
Glass Of Water
Lost!
Cemeteries of London
Violet Hill
Poppy Fields
42
Yes!
Leftrightleftright
Rainy Day
Prospeckt's March

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IS JAY-Z/APPLE ANNOUNCEMENT UPCOMING?
Speculation continues as to whether former Def Jam chief Jay-Z has a new music business venture in the pipeline following his departure from the top job at the Universal division. Rumours are rife of JVs with both Apple and Yahoo. With the Macworld conference upcoming where Apple normally make a few headline grabbing announcements, if an Apple/Z deal is upcoming many expect it to be announced there.

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REV RUN SIGNS TO LONDON DIGITAL LABEL
Joey Simmons, better known as Rev Run of Run DMC, has signed a new record deal with London based Craze Productions, who have been behind a number of online and mobile based hip hop initiatives in the past, and who are expected to move into physical releases through their new relationship with Simmons - albeit with a continued bias to online activity.

Craze CEO Sam Kleinman told reporters: "This is a landmark deal for Craze Productions, which will put our company at the forefront of multi-faceted marketing and promotion in hip hop. It will lead other major artists to sign direct with digital record companies thus bypassing the major recording companies".

Simmons himself said in a statement: "I am excited about this new album and venture with Craze Productions. The reason why I signed with Craze Productions was the totally radical manner in which they view the current global market potential for hip-hop".

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SNOOP HAS ROCK AMBITIONS
Snoop Dogg reportedly wants to make a rock album, and fancies the idea of working with Madonna, Bono or Mick Jagger on it. In a recent interview Snoop said: "I want to work with Madonna, Bono or Mick Jagger. I'm on some rock shit, man! Rappers don't really move me too much. They can't do what I did. I'm also trying to get down with something that's outta the box and bigger than me".

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COLLINS BACK WITH GAY ABANDON
Former Orange Juicer Edwyn Collins has spoken to the Daily Record about his return to music after his previously reported fight for life after a near fatal brain haemorrage. Back in music making mode, Collins told the tabloid: "It's exciting times. I used to analyse and reflect on my life. But illness left me in a corner. Now I do everything with gay abandon".

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OWEN'S BIG NIGHT OUT: British Sea Power at The Czech Republic Embassy, London on 10 Jan
A one-off gig for competition winners and invited guests, the unusual venue choice of the Czech Republic's embassy seemed a peculiar pick even for a band as unpredictable and frankly odd as British Sea Power - this being the same group whose previous escapades include releasing a double A-side with country bumpkins The Wurzels (of 'I've Got A Brand New Combine Harvester' fame) and penning a song to the melting Polar ice caps on their last record.

Not having been to too many embassies myself in the past, it proved a challenge just getting there as it became clear that The Czech Centre we'd turned up at was probably not the right location. Thus the beginning of the night was marred with a visit to a confused Czech lady, who on being told that CMU had arrived for the gig appeared utterly lost, offering us lessons in Czech instead as if such a thing was a viable alternative.

Ignoring such flippant anecdotes, the actual embassy proves less than spectacular upon arrival, more '70s office block than governmental grandeur, with BSP playing a room backing on to its courtyard with just enough space for the sub-200 audience. The band prove as sartorially aware as ever, all dressed in a piece of clothing that in some way references their hosts, whether that be a red and white cycling shirt or the national flag. Indeed, even as they take to stage frontman Yan seems lost in the moment, telling the crowd: "Welcome to the Czech Republic".

What follows is an introduction to their forthcoming record, 'Do You Like Rock Music?', with 'Atom' a majestic start to their set in all its air raid sirens versus soaring violinist joy. Though it's not until the restless chanting of "Easy! Easy!" on 'Lucifer No' that the crowd get fully involved, a band-fan relationship reaffirmed during one of the highlights, new single 'Waving Flags', which (perhaps predictably) entices a flag bearer at the front into the spotlight. It's a song of wistful brilliance and when Yan sings "You are astronomical fans of alcohol / so welcome" about the flux of Eastern European immigrants entering the UK, the relevance of the band's location becomes all the more important, adding a weight to the polemical lyrics far beyond it merely being an 'odd' venue choice. Plus, given 'Waving Flags' potential as a festival favourite, I'm hedging my bets on Czech flag waving becoming the news of the summer.

BSP's talismanic anthem 'Remember Me' follows and maintains the air of excitement in the room, still as powerful and heart-raising as it was when first released, a feeling that is equally pertinent to another old song they roll out, 'Carrion'. Ending the set with 'A Rock', guitarist Noble is seen creeping onto the top of the speaker to the left of the stage. Mid-song he begins a battle to balance himself on their fans' hands, while simultaneously continuing to play his guitar, a decision that has predictable consequences (much to the horror of the embassy staff) as his legs perilously knock into the projector and he waywardly dislodges a light cover from the ceiling while struggling for support. Onstage meanwhile, the band has invited a middle-aged man and flag wearing lady onstage for some impromptu vocal contributions. As the end arrives they depart, however, leaving Yan to thank the fans and the embassy ("the only embassy that would let us do this") and Noble to try and fix the light: conclusive proof if it was ever needed that British Sea Power are back better and more polite than ever. OS

To invite Owen to your big nights drop him an email: owen@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

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VEDDER WINS AT LOW KEY GOLDEN GLOBES
Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song yesterday, though, of course, the prize wasn't presented at any glitzy showbiz awards bash, rather it was briefly mentioned at a rushed press conference. As previously reported, the Golden Globes awards show was cancelled because of the ongoing writers strike in Hollywood. Vedder won the prize for his song 'Guaranteed' from the 'Into The Wild' soundtrack. Dario Marianelli won for Best Original Score gong for his work on 'Atonement', which, as it happened, was also named Best Motion Picture (Drama).

There were other wins with a musical theme, even though not strictly music categories. The new big screen version of stage musical 'Sweeney Todd' took two prizes, for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), and for Johnny Depp who was named Best Actor for his title role in the movie. Meanwhile Marion Cotillard was named Best Actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in 'La Vie en Rose' and Cate Blanchett won in the Supporting Actress prize for her interpretation of a mid-career Bob Dylan in 'I'm Not There'.

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STARR HELPS LAUNCH LIVERPOOL'S CULTURAL YEAR
Former Beatle Ringo Starr led the proceedings this weekend as his home city launched its year as European (Co-)Capital Of Culture. Starr sang his new single 'Liverpool 8' plus Beatles classic 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and John Lennon's 'Power To The People' as part of the launch concert at the city's Echo Arena.

Starr appeared as part of a show called 'Liverpool: The Musical' in which no less than 700 performers participated, including Echo And The Bunnymen, The Christians, Pete Wylie and The Farm, and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

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FAULKNER PERFORMS ON A HIGH
Newton Faulkner has performed his hit 'Dream Catch Me' and new single 'Teardrop' at 2000 feet in a hot air balloon above the Swiss Alps. The musician battled with near-zero temperatures for the unusual session as part of a Virgin Radio show that took place on his 23rd birthday.

Faulkner: "I was worried my hands wouldn't work and it was hard on my voice because when I went to take a breath it was a bit of a struggle. But it was an amazing thing to do. On my last birthday I had lunch with my mum and dad then played computer games with my brother, so this is pretty different. I've done all kinds of gigs in all kinds of places, including a moving train, but this is the ultimate. Next year I'll have to perform in outer space to top this".

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INFADELS TOUR
Infadels have announced a six date tour, which has to brighten up your morning, surely? The band, who had to cancel a gig in December so singer Brann could undergo throat surgery, will return with the following gigs. See you there. Well, at the Scala gig. I'm a big fan, but not big enough to follow them round the country.

10 Mar: Joiners Club, Southampton
11 Mar: Thekla, Bristol
12 Mar: Roadhouse, Manchester
13 Mar: Fibbers, York
16 Mar: Barfly, Birmingham
17 Mar: Scala, London

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BABYSHAMBLES TOUR UPCOMING
Babyshambles will announce a new UK tour soonish, with a spokesman telling reporters last week: "Babyshambles are going on tour this year - it's something they have been planning for a while". That statement was presumably in response to reports in the Mirror that the band were having to do more live dates because a recent arena tour lost money because Doherty et al failed to sell as many tickets as expected.

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BRAGG SUPPORTED PRISON MUSIC SCHEME DEEMED A SUCCESS
A scheme supported by Billy Bragg which encouraged convicted criminals to take up a musical instrument has been declared a success after stats showed that only 10-15% of those who participated in the scheme re-offended, compared with a national re-offending rate of 61%. Of course that might tell us more about the type of convicts who would sign up to that kind of scheme than anything else, but still, it will hopefully encourage the powers that be to continue with the programme which is certainly admirable.

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SINGLE REVIEW: James Yuill - No Surprise (Chess Club Records)
James Yuill's first single, on new label Chess Club, is a sign of the times. When otherwise tacky, lo-fi electronica is considered trendy and indie folk is making a comeback, James Yuill makes a case for the synthesis of all things modern and, when on their own, dubious. His single 'No Surprise' is a smooth composite of indie pop vocals, dance beats, and acoustic guitar. It has an almost aquatic feel to it, with what sounds like a xylophone tinkling in the background. Yet Yuill manages to exude this fresh and friendly exterior without sacrificing substance. There are no surprises here, as the title suggests - just a pleasant and intelligent take on modern music making. EO
Release date: 21 Jan
Info: http://www.myspace.com/thechessclubdjs

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PIAS REBRAND A BIT
[PIAS] have announced it is having a bit of a rebranding renaming splash, with the overall parent company being renamed to [PIAS] Entertainment Group, and with its various divisions around the world to be known as [PIAS] Country Name, so [PIAS] Belgium, [PIAS] France, [PIAS] Germany, [PIAS] Netherlands, [PIAS] Spain, and [PIAS] Australia.

In the UK this is most significant because PIAS' main UK operation is Vital Distribution, which will from this point onwards be known as [PIAS] UK. Vital Pias Digital will become [PIAS] Digital, and other divisions [PIAS] Visuals and [PIAS] Syncs will be known as such. PIAS' UK label Wall Of Sound will not rebrand, and nor will its indie marketing division Integral.

Announcing the rebrand, [PIAS] co-Chair Kenny Gates told CMU: "We're very proud of our history and development as a group over the last 25 years. [PIAS] Entertainment Group now represents a broad range of services, partnerships and repertoire on an international basis that meets the changing demands of the market - we're really looking forward to what promises to be an exciting year ahead. The UK company has evolved over the years from APT to Revolver, Revolver-APT to Vital. It's never been about a name but about a shared vision and the people involved in carrying that vision forward. This decision to change the name to [PIAS] UK is only one of consistency. The people, the service, the vision and culture of what makes Vital so special will continue to always be there".

Vital, and now [PIAS] UK, MD Pete Thompson added: "Vital has always been proud to be an important part of the [PIAS] family and now we are making the message about the group's international reach and broad range of services even clearer. Obviously as far as the UK is concerned nothing changes apart from the name. The staff, management and calibre of service remain exactly as before".

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NEW PIRATE BAY SHUTDOWN ATTEMPT EXPECTED
Another attempt to close down rogue BitTorrent sevice The Pirate Bay is upcoming according to the Wall Street Journal. Swedish prosecutors are reportedly preparing to issue various copyright infringement charges against the illegal download facility. Though it's not the first time the movie and music industry, and Swedish authorities, have tried to close down the service, and in the past they have not succeeded. Will be interesting to see what happens this time.

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RIAA CONTINUE ANTI-P2P CAMPAIGN
Elsewhere in the world of P2P, the Recording Industry Association Of America has said it will continue to pursue its barrage of lawsuits against individuals who share music online this year, and that it would again specifically target students accessing illegal sources of music via US college internet connections. To prove that point it last week sent out 407 legal notices to students at 18 universities, including Stanford, Duke, Bowdoin, Arizona State, and UCLA. Those letters offer students the chance to avoid formal legal proceedings by committing to stop file sharing and to pay a settlement fine. The lawsuits continue despite some speculation that, with EMI calling for a review of trade body expenditure, the majors that fund the RIAA may well finally decide this year that the expensive litigation approach to P2P is not having sufficient returns in the wider picture of illegal online music distribution to justify its cost.

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ZAVVI MAKE BOARD CHANGES
Zavvi, the music seller you might still be calling the Virgin Megastore (though shame on you if you are you off-brand change-resisters), has announced a board restructure. The main changes are the appointment of current Marketing Director Steve Kincaid to the new role of E-Commerce Director, where he will oversee the relaunch of the retailer's online activities, and the appointment of Trading Director Mark Noonan to the wider role of Commercial Director, a job which will also assume responsibility for marketing.

Commenting on the changes, Zavvi CEO Simon Douglas told reporters: "Steve Kincaid has done a fantastic job in overseeing the launch of the Zavvi brand and with zavvi.co.uk a vital component in our long term multi channel strategy, Steve will devote his time to creating a compelling experience. Mark Noonan will continue the work establishing Zavvi as the number one destination for entertainment product, with his product and marketing teams working closely together to deliver our customer strategy".

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JK AND JOEL ON RUBBISH RADIO
Hey, with all the recent ramblings about what a mess the record industry is in of late, let's dwell on the poor state of another sector shall we? DJs JK and Joel have been dissing the radio industry ahead of their move from Radio 1 to Virgin Radio. As previously reported, the radio duo, once hailed as the new stars of Radio 1 before being sidelined into the graveyard slot there, are moving to weekend mornings with Virgin.

Speaking to the Guardian about their new show, and asked about the wider radio world, Joel observes: "The industry is a complete mess. It doesn't matter where you are listening to what station, in every small town every station sounds exactly the same. Everything is on a conveyer belt. From a money point of view it's great they network from 7pm or whenever, but where are they going to find the new talent? When we started in 1993 you got an overnight show where you could make mistakes. Now it's a shocker. They have a poor jock who has just come out of school and gets £10 a week. Where do people learn?"

JK adds that that lack of new talent is behind the radio industry's recent obsession with signing up TV stars, a trend which isn't necessarily a good thing: "If there is a TV personality that happens to be great at radio, like Jonathan Ross, I can cope with that. But if they're not so good and you employ them just for their name, I think that's a disgrace.

Joel: "You can guarantee if Shilpa Shetty had gone to Capital the day after Big Brother and said can I have a mid-morning show, someone would have signed her up".

Asked about their departure from Radio 1, Joel continues: "We made it very clear, probably too much so, around the building and on air that when our contract came up we didn't want to do earlies anymore. I'll be really honest - I wanted the Edith Bowman [weekday early afternoon] slot. Whether it was ego or stupidity or whatever I thought we were going to get that. So when they were making changes to the schedule and put someone else on the chart show, and we had said we didn't want to do earlies anymore, it was a case of where do we go from here?"

The full interview is in the Media Guardian this week.

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COMMUNICORP'S EMAP RADIO IRELAND PURCHASE COMPLETE
Dublin based Communicorp has completed its purchase of three Irish radio stations previously owned by media firm EMAP. Communicorp's takeover of Donegal's Highland Radio, Dublin's FM104 and Ireland-wide Today FM began last July. There were delays because of concerns expressed by competition regulators regarding Communicorp's dominance in the Dublin radio sector, but the deal got the go ahead after it was agreed that FM104 would be sold on to Belfast based UTV Media as soon as the EMAP/Communicorp deal was completed. As the deal received regulatory approval there were additional reports in the Irish media that Communicorp would also sell off Highland Radio as well, putting the three former EMAP stations into three separate hands.

The deal relating to EMAP's Irish radio stations is separate to and preceded the sale of EMAP's UK radio division to German media firm Bauer, as part of a deal which also included the sale of the UK media company's consumer magazines.

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CHART UPDATE
Basshunter, aka Swedish musician and producer Jonas Erik, has topped the UK singles chart after years of online self-promotion. Now signed to Warner, his single 'Now You're Gone' has knocked X-Factor bloke Leon Jackson off the top spot (he slides down to five). Britney's new single 'Piece Of Me' moves up to second place following its physical release last week, while Soulja Boy's 'Crank That' slips one place to three. Among the new entries on the singles chart this week are British Sea Power's 'Waving Flags' at 31 and The Wombats' 'Moving To New York' at 37.

Albums wise, Amy Macdonald moves up the chart to knock Radiohead off the top spot after just one week. The only new entry is from Tom Baxter with 'Skybound' at 12, though Robyn, The Enemy and The Wombats all enjoy re-entries in the Top 40.

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SUB.TV PLAYLIST
Here they are again, the videos being played this week on the Sub.tv video screen network in students' unions all over the UK.

A-List
30 Seconds To Mars - From Yesterday (EMI/Virgin)
Adele - Chasing Pavements (Beggars/XL)
Biffy Clyro - Who's Got A Match (Warner/14th Floor)
Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor (EMI)
Jay Z - Roc Boys (Universal/Roc-A-Fella)
Laura Marling - Ghosts (EMI/Virgin)
Los Campesinos! - Death to Los Campesinos! (Wichita)
Mika - Relax (Take It Easy) (Universal/Island)
One Night Only - Just For Tonight (Universal/Vertigo)
Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place (Beggars/XL)
Rihanna - Don't Stop The Music (Universal/Mercury)
Robyn - Be Mine! (Konichiwa)
Sons & Daughters - Darling (Domino)
The Hoosiers - Worst Case Scenario (SonyBMG/RCA)
The Maccabees - Toothpaste Kisses (Universal/Polydor)
White Stripes - Conquest (Beggars/XL)

B-List
Basshunter - Now You're Gone (Hard2Beat)*
Bodyrox and Luciana - What Planet You On? (Universal/Island)
Captain Black - Come On Up To Our House (unsigned)*
Cazals - To Cut A Long Story Short (Kitsuné)*
Dave Armstrong feat. Redroche & H-Boogie - Love Has Gone (Ministry/Data)
Electrovamp - I Don't Like The Vibe in the VIP (Universal/Island)
Feist - My Moon, My Man (Universal/Polydor)
Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong - Lonely Buoy (Universal/Mercury)
Opera House - Born A Boy (Marrakesh)*
Richard Hawley - Valentine (EMI/Mute)*
The Bug feat. Warrior Queen - Poison Dart (Ninja Tune)
The Feeling - I Thought It Was Over (Universal/Island)*
The Fray - Look After You (SonyBMG/Epic)
The Little Ones - Ordinary Song (EMI)
White Light Parade - Wait For The Weekend (Split)
Yves Larock - Zookey (Defected)*

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TOTAL ROCK WORLD ALBUM CHART
It's this week's Total Rock World Album Chart, as counted down on Total Rock over the weekend - http://www.totalrock.com. New entries and re-entries marked with a *.

1. Led Zeppelin - Mothership (Swan Song)
2. Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (SonyBMG)
3. Bruce Springsteen - Magic (SonyBMG/Columbia)
4. Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight (Warner Bros)
5. Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden (Universal)
6. Bon Jovi - Lost Highway (Universal/Mercury)
7. Daughtry - Daughtry (SonyBMG)
8. Serj Tankian - Elect The Dead (Serjical Strike)
9. Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Bros)
10. Nickelback - All The Right Reasons (Warner/Roadrunner)
11. Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High (Universal/Mercury)
12. Godsmack - Good Times, Bad Times - Ten Years Of Godsmack (Republic)
13. Kid Rock - Rock - N Roll Jesus (Warner/Atlantic)
14. Queen - Greatest Hits Vols. 1, 2, 3 (EMI)
15. Paramore - Riot! (Warner/Atlantic)
16. Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire (Universal/Geffen)
17. Guns n Roses - Greatest Hits (Universal/Geffen)*
18. Goo Goo Dolls - Greatest Hits Volume One (Warner Bros)
19. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (Warner Bros)*
20. Good Charlotte - Good Morning, Revival (SonyBMG/Epic)*

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AGUILERA AND RICHIE GIVE BIRTH
Christina Aguilera gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday night. The news was confirmed on the singer's website yesterday, with a brief message that said, simply, "Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman are proud to announce the birth of their son, Max Liron Bratman".

An hour earlier in the same LA hospital, reality TV star and daughter of Lionel, Nicole Richie, also gave birth, to a baby girl. A spokesman for her and her partner, Good Charlotte's Joel Madden, told People magazine: "The beautiful healthy baby girl left the hospital with her ecstatic parents".

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KT ENGAGED
The lovely KT Tunstall has announced she will marry her 34 year old drummer boyfriend Luke Bullenn after he proposed on Christmas Day.

Tunstall revealed the news on her website, writing: "Lucky Luke calls me on Christmas Eve. 'I'm in Norwich with my mates' he said. 'Say hi' I said. 'Katie says hi' he shouted. LIAR! He was in a pub in Leith in Edinburgh with my big brother, who I didn't even notice had disappeared for three hours. So 11 o'clock on Christmas morning, the doorbell goes and I'm all worried it's the paps wanting a shot of 'KT's hand-knitted Christmas Day outfit with matching headband and slippers' (I'm joking), and it's Luke, suited and booted with all his bags and a little box wrapped with a ribbon. He PROPOSED!!! AAAAAAAAARRR! He'd been to see my folks a month before to ask their permission, so everyone knew. I'm slightly worried at how good they are at acting now. Being an opportunist, I obviously said yes".

So there you go Amstell, no need for any Jeremy Edwards matchmaking to get KT in the tabloids.

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WESTLIFER DOESN'T WANT KIDS ON EX'S NEW REALITY SHOW
New tensions in the Kerry Katona/Brian McFadden camp which presumably you're all dieing to know about. Word has it the former Westlife boy has told his ex-wife that he's not happy with the former couple's children appearing in a new reality show set to feature the Queen of Iceland. Katona's life is set to be documented on a new reality show for MTV, and she wants the couple's two kids, six year old Molly and four year old Lilly-Sue, to appear, otherwise the programme would not be, she says "true to her life".

A friend of the one time Atomic Kitten told the Daily Star Sunday: "It would be nice if Brian and Kerry could actually agree on something, although I doubt that will ever happen. Brian wants the girls to lead as normal a life as possible, and he feels that's not going to happen if they appear on TV. But Kerry has said it won't represent her life properly without them. I'm not sure what's going to happen but Brian says he's not backing down".

Makers of the reality show have reportedly already filmed the two girls, but McFadden is reportedly considering getting legal advice about how he might stop it being aired.

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NO MORE PANIC! AT THE DISCO, JUST PANIC FROM NOW ON
So, big news here ladies and gentlemen. Panic! At The Disco are changing their name. To Panic At The Disco. It's a dark dark day for fans of the exclamation mark! Though I sneaked one in their, to try and soften the blow! And there too. Confirmation of the exclamation mark bombshell seems to come from the appearance of a new exclamation free logo on the band's official website and MySpace. The development follows comments by the band's Ryan Ross in an interview with MTV News in which he admitted the ! was getting a bit annoying because journalists kept asking them about it. Though if the band genuinely have problems with being asked punctuation based questions in interviews, quite why they've decided to call their upcoming second album 'Pretty. Odd.' is anyone's guess. That is pretty odd, no? Still, nothing to Panic! about.

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