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TODAY'S NEWS
Backstreet Boys creator given 25 years
Whitney drugs charges dropped
We met him on dozens of occasions: R Kelly trial update
Spears dad quits job
Emo fans to march on London
Disturbed vid includes graphic portrayal of suicide
Wentz attacks MTV
Morissette hits out at 'sexist' music industry
Ting Tings ask to be dropped
Hip hop icons stage no profanity concert
Happy Mondays back in the studio
Arctic Monkey announces new project
Carla Bruni announces new album
McFly considering their options for indie release
Mighty Boosh to record album
Doors drummer gets former bandmate to guest on jazzy solo album
Eurovision update
Polar Music Prize winners announced
Musicians awarded at BMI Film & TV awards
Three Tenors launch named best cultural moment
Spears for Las Vegas?
Glastonbury special guest announced
Original Specials line-up officially reforms
New art site launches tonight
Album review: Various Artists - Freshtraxxx 3 Mixed By Utah Saints
Chinese search engine fined over MP3 search
Bauer appoint new Q Online editor
Album review: The Shortwave Set – Replica Sun Machine
Pete Doherty refunds fan
Zuton fans don't know Zuton songs
Wentz-Simpson pre-nuptial
Skinner fails to walk to France
Gallagher swears at photographers
Madonna can't out-diva the boys
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THURSDAY 22ND MAY


So, some digital ponderings today I think. Napster have just released their first quarter financials for 2008, with some good news and some bad news. The digital music firm is still making losses, of course, but revenues were up and costs down, meaning that the loss made in the first quarter of 2008 - $4.3 million – was half the losses made in the same quarter the previous year.
 
The less good news is that the number of people signed up to Napster's main subscription service, while up on the previous quarter, is down year on year – from 830,000 to 760,000. Subscriber numbers are important because, while the firm does have an a-la-carte download service and ad-funded preview operations, it still sees the subscription model as its core business. Which means that the company – and those who have ploughed millions into it over the years – are still dependent on the subscription model taking off as a serious option in the digital music space. But will that ever happen?

Most of the subscription based digital music services have fallen by the way side, of course, despite efforts by many firms to persuade punters that paying a set fee a month for access to every song ever (while a subscription is valid) is better than paying a dollar, or 80p, every time you download a track. Napster and Real are the two companies that remain most wed to this way of doing digital music – and eMusic also, I suppose, though their subscription model sits somewhere between the Napster offer and an a-la-carte service in that your subscription fee is basically a bulk purchase of individual downloads rather than a fee for temporary access to an entire catalogue of music.

The move by the majors into DRM-free digital music in the a-la-carte domain is both good and bad news for Napster. It does mean that they can now sell iPod compatible MP3s via their own a-la-carte download store for the first time, which enables them to better compete with iTunes in this domain. And, as they revealed this week, they hope that if they can boost traffic to their download store they can use that to upsell their subscription packages. So that's good news. But on the flipside, Napster's subscription offer by definition requires DRM, so that access to music can be halted when subscriptions lapse, and with DRM out of fashion that could limit mainstream interest in the subscription concept.

The rise of ad funded digital music services is also good and bad news for Napster. They themselves see advertising as a useful second revenue stream, and have the contacts, platform and brand that could enable them to really compete in this space. And, of course, ad-funded free services can again be used to upsell subscriptions. But then if a number of new totally free ad-funded music services enter into the market – with companies like Q-Trax trying to get an ad-funded version of the P2P system made famous by the original Napster – that could reduce the market for paid-for services. 

Which is presumably why city types remain cautious about the long term success, or otherwise, of Napster, despite an improving financial situation there month on month. Though I have to say that personally I do still see a future for subscription based services like Napster, mainly because the audience who are most receptive to the one-fee-for-temporary-access concept are young consumers, the mainstream of tomorrow. And if the subscription services can be more compelling, more comprehensive and more user-friendly than the ad-funded free websites, and their subscriptions be reasonably priced, then I can see an ever increasing place for them in the market the future. Whether Napster will be the firm to provide such a service and take that place in the market, remains to be seen.
   


INDIAN JEWELRY
Label mates of Yeasayer on We Are Free, it's a shame that Indian Jewelry decided to pedal in such a flagrantly noisy environment, as beneath their Marychain-isms and esoteric fuzz there's pure untapped commercial potential. It's unlikely that they'll care for this comment, however, given the psychedelic wandering of songs like 'Swans' and 'Temporary Famine Ship', both owing as much to 90s shoegaze as they do to Spacemen 3 and the more recent stoner psych of Wooden Shjips. Brilliant yet often difficult, hit the link below for some woozy listening.


www.myspace.com/indianjewelry

 
 


CREATIVE MANAGER
A leading management company based in North London is looking to recruit a Creative Manager. Applicants for this new position within the organisation should have in depth experience of the following: 1. Artwork origination process from concept to production and 2. Video commissioning.
In addition the successful applicant must have great communication skills with both colleagues and artists along with an up to date knowledge of current creative trends. An ability to work under pressure on multiple projects is also essential. To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to creativemanager2008@gmail.com.

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FABRIC PRESS DEPARTMENT
We are looking for someone to join us within the fabric Press Department. We're looking for someone who has a few years experience within a London/UK music based PR agency or in-house department; experience in plugging/managing radio campaigns (London, national, regional & international experience all advantageous); who understands radio globally and has contacts appropriate to fabric within radio - online, digital, commercial, pirate, community, government subsidised radio, podcasts; has experience with print/online/digital PR campaigns (London, national, regional, student & international experience all advantageous); has experience with industry, trade, internal business, corporate and event press (advantageous but not essential); has strong copy writing skills; is friendly, passionate, savvy, honest, hard working, highly organised, very diligent and a completer finisher; has very strong administrational and organisational skills, is computer literate and numerate; is extremely flexible in time and outlook; has a good understanding of electronic music and knows what fabric's ethos is. Salary to commensurate on experience; start date is immediate. Please send CV and covering letter emailed to Pearl Jones - pearl@fabriclondon.com. Closing date for applicants: 5pm Wednesday May 28, 2008.

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RESEARCHER & ADMINISTRATOR AT UNICORNJOBS.COM
Based in Shoreditch, we are looking for a recent graduate to join our friendly team. You will support our recruitment offering and offer additional administrative support to the company as a whole, as well as being responsible for organising some of our events. You must be IT literate, have plenty of initiative and an eye for detail. This is a fabulous opportunity to make your first step onto the career ladder in a sociable and fun environment. To apply, send your CV and covering letter to jobs@unicornjobs.com quoting ref: SSRES

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ADVERTISING MANAGER AT ROCK SOUND
Rock Sound Magazine is looking for an Advertising Manager. The role consists of maximising sales and key account management across the display and classified areas of the magazine, as well as the website, and dealing with the music industry at both direct client and advertising agency level. The candidate should be into rock music, have at least one year's display sales experience, good contacts at record labels and advertising agencies and have strong phone and presentational skills. Experience of selling to lifestyle brands would be an advantage. If you think you're the right person please email patrick.napier@rock-sound.net explaining why and attaching your CV.

Advertise your vacancies here from just £100 a week - full details here.






OFFICE SPACE IN CAMDEN
Backstreet International Merchandise have desk space available for creative/music/media types looking for affordable workspace in central Camden. For enquiries please contact Steve Faye on 0207 428 1107 or email steve.faye@bsimerch.com

Advertise your services here from just £120 a week - full details here





The Brighton Festival is in its final stage, but with plenty more fine theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance, art and debate to come. Plus lots of music. Our sister publication, ThreeWeeks, is covering it all - check out the coverage at www.threeweeks.co.uk. Meanwhile, here's the final batch of reviews from Team ThreeWeeks/CMU from last week's The Great Escape, the big music convention that sits in the middle of the Brighton Festival. First our reviewer's Saturday round up, and then a couple more reviews...

Joel's Saturday at TGE...
Free from work, Saturday's great escaping began early. Brighton based Doll & The Kicks took on the bustling New Road at midday and proved to a steadily increasing crowd that this acoustic set up really suits their sound. Having been forced into watching Noah And The Whale a little remotely yesterday I was looking forward to an afternoon set at the Sallis Benney theatre. It was cancelled though, for no apparent reason, so I took a chance on what was due up next, namely 'The Noise Of Art'. Very monotonous visuals and a perfectly suited soundtrack, this held my attention for a very generous 20 minutes. I caught a few songs from Johnny Truant across the road but they weren't worth spending lunchtime in the Barfly for so a break for the Cup Final ensued. Needing to hang around near St. Peter's (so as to be reassuringly close to the Speigeltent), I watched Talk Taxis at Ocean Rooms. They fit the mould of a lot of young indie bands but dispense with the tweeness that characterises most and go straight for snarling aggressive indie rock. At eight, and the highlight of my festival, was Bon Iver in the Speigeltent. It was a spellbinding performance of great scope, exuberant melancholy at its heart. Surely a performance that will live in the memory of all in attendance. Anybody involved in TGE this final day could have done a lot worse than hole up in the Sallis Benney Theatre for the next three acts. Jay Jay Pistolet, Noah And The Whale (finally) and Laura Marling's complementary sets proved a fantastic showcase for traditional and contemporary folk. My night rounded off at full throttle with the very current Mystery Jets at Digital, sans dad, but making up for it with youthful vigour. JG

Bon Iver
The Great Escape
Against my better judgement I'm going to declare this the best show I've seen, not only at The Great Escape, but in the whole of the Brighton Festival. In the Speigeltent you couldn't ask for a more appropriate venue for Bon Iver's beautiful, heartrending folk. Debut 'For Emma, Forever Ago' will have trouble avoiding the story of its ascetic conception but live, the musicianship with which it is re-enacted conveys the record's rich array of emotion on its own terms. Justin Vernon's haunting falsetto, and music ranging from the very simple to the overpoweringly cinematic in scope, bring with them the remoteness of the Wisconsin forests but engage the audience with it. Never more so than when all are singing along, on demand, at the tops of their voices. Spellbinding.
The Parlure Spiegeltent, 17 May, 8:00pm
tw rating 5/5
[jg]

Iron and Wine
The Great Escape
The sound of Iron And Wine was impeccable last Thursday at the Old Market. Excitement had filled the hall as the audience waited, some even on the floor, claiming their territory, in order to be as close as possible. This excited anticipation was certainly justified, as the bearded Samuel Beam, leading a seasoned band, played a flawless set. Featuring material from his new album, the sound of Iron And Wine was that of rejuvenation – a ceremony of musical catharsis. The friendly and humble Beam even came back for an encore, as the audience clearly wanted more. Perhaps, however, it was some of his acoustic material they wanted, which was the only thing missing in the performance.
The Old Market, 15 May, 10:00pm
tw rating 4/5
[cp]


BACKSTREET BOYS CREATOR GIVEN 25 YEARS
Lou Pearlman, the man behind The Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Florida judge, after he pleaded guilty to all those previously reported charges of conspiracy, money laundering and using false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding.

As much previously reported, since Pearlman's brief career as American's biggest pop mogul, he got himself involved in a dodgy investment scam that amounted to an elaborate pyramid scheme. As the whole thing began to untangle, leaving hundreds of mainly elderly Americans out of pocket, Pearlman fled the country but finally gave himself up to the feds.

Judge G Kendall Sharp said he would reduce Pearlman's sentence by one month for every $1 million he paid back to those he stole from.

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WHITNEY DRUGS CHARGES DROPPED
Elsewhere in the pop courts, a judge has dropped drug charges filed against Whitney Houston which dated back to 2000, or her "druggy period" if you like. She was originally charged for possessing marijuana at an airport in Hawaii. But having put much effort into kicking the drugs in recent years, a counsellor told the court this week that the singer was now clean and does not require any further treatment for drug abuse. As a result the judge said he would drop the outstanding charges. So that's nice.

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WE MET HIM ON DOZENS OF OCCASIONS: R KELLY TRIAL UPDATE
More pop courts, and back to the R Kelly trial, which kicked off in Chicago this week. And you'll remember that the whole case is centring on who, exactly, is in this sex tape that was shown to the court on Tuesday. The prosecution are convinced that not only is the guy in it Mr Kelly, but that they know who the girl is too – which is how they know that she was underage when the video was made between 1998 and 2000.

The defence claim that not only is the guy in the video not Kelly, but that the girl that the prosecution have identified isn't in it either. Their claim is aided by the identified girl herself, who denies that it is her. However, the prosecution continued their case yesterday by wheeling in one Simha Jamison, a friend of the alleged victim, who says that it is, in fact, her friend in the vid. Are you following all this, yes?

Jamison told the court yesterday the she and her friend, the alleged victim, were best friends throughout school, and that they both visited Kelly at both his recording studio and a Chicago basketball court on "dozens of occasions" while they were about 12. They also visited the house where the prosecution claim the sex tape was filmed. They are claims that certainly help the prosecution's case, which is hindered by the fact it is not especially easy to make out the identities of the two people in the video, although the defence will presumably try to pull her claims to pieces when they cross-examine her later today.

Kelly is accused of filming himself having sex with an underage girl, and faces 15 years in jail if found guilty. The case continues.

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SPEARS DAD QUITS JOB
Britney Spears' father Jamie has left his job as a caterer in order to look after his daughter's business affairs full-time. As previously reported, Spears Senior became a court-ordered conservator for his daughter's affairs after she went a bit loopy at the start of the year. According to court papers issued in March, Jamie Spears is receiving a salary of $2500 a week to look after his daughter's legal and financial affairs, as well as her estate. His position will be reviewed on 31 Jul.

The request for "replacement compensation" for Jamie, published by People.com says: "The responsibilities he has assumed as conservator ... have required [his] full-time attention. As a result, he has been unable to continue to his prior employment and he has lost his source of income which he needs to pay his living expenses".

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EMO FANS TO MARCH ON LONDON
Members of the dangerous emo cult are to march on London, bringing their depression and death fixations with them. We advise all parents of children who have not yet fallen victim to this terrible plague on society to lock up their sons and daughters before it's too late. Or make them wear a bright yellow t-shirt – that's one previously proven protection device against this disease.

Yes, thanks to such OTT declarations of paranoia regarding emo among certain parts of the press – well, the Daily Mail mainly - a group of My Chemical Romance fans have organised a protest march, due to take place in London on 31 May, finishing outside the offices of the tabloid – whose campaign against emo has been particularly fervent. Negative press commentary on emo has grown in recent weeks, of course, in the wake of the suicide of thirteen year old emo fan Hannah Bond.

In a statement, organisers of the protest said: "The Daily Mail has repeatedly attacked MCR, going back years. They recently posted an article accusing the band of being a 'suicide cult'. Enough is enough, these boys have worked so hard to keep us out of harm and away from suicide, it's time we bounced back. We need to stand up and let the world know that MCR is a positive band with a positive message".

More info: www.whatthefrank.co.uk

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DISTURBED VID INCLUDES GRAPHIC PORTRAYAL OF SUICIDE
Talking of teenage suicide or, more to the point, attempts to use music to try and find ways to stop it, the new pop promo from US rock band Disturbed, for their song 'Inside The Fire', contains a pretty graphic depiction of suicide, so much so the video is unlikely to get aired by most music telly channels. The aim of the vid is to highlight the issue of suicide and depression, and to encourage any young people with suicidal tendencies to seek help asap.

The video, which is online at www.disturbed1.com, is preceded by a message from frontman David Draiman who explains the song is based on his own personal experience of suicide – as a teenager his girlfriend took her own life – and he encourages any Americans contemplating suicide to seek immediate help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The song appears on the band's new album, 'Indestructible', out next month.

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WENTZ ATTACKS MTV
Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz has hit out at MTV for not playing music videos on its flagship channel. The bassist recently put a poll on his blog with the title, "What's the number one thing you hate about MTV?" Of almost 700 responses, a lack of music was the main dislike.

In a follow-up message on Tuesday, Wentz wrote: "It is a network called 'Music Television' that does not play music videos. And when they do play videos, it is in 30 second clips on 'TRL' or underneath the credits of whatever reality show. The truth is we have a collective memory of videos. Certain ones we can all sit and look back and say 'Oh I remember that' or 'I can't believe Axl rocked the NWA hat and the bicycle shorts in the same video'".

He added that he has been told – by the powers that be, presumably - that people no longer have attention spans long enough to watch full music videos, which surely means we're now in some kind of sub-MTV generation, where everyone just tails off in the middle of...

Wentz continued: "People say that with the ADD generation, people can't pay attention to a whole music video. I disagree. As most of you do, as well. The truth is whole videos should be played. Bands should play live. Premieres should be a big deal like they used to be, not just a snippet of a video. Artists should be able to let their imaginations go and know that people will be able to see what they have crafted. Artists should talk about their videos. We should and can make the music video important again".

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MORISSETTE HITS OUT AT 'SEXIST' MUSIC INDUSTRY
Following claims by Tori Amos that it's almost impossible to gain independence within a major label if you're a woman, Alanis Morissette has also spoken out about sexism in the music industry. She told the Guardian: "It's such a common, daily thing I don't even notice it anymore. It's scary for them, especially if there's money involved. I'm a liability to them - I'm a woman, I'm empowered, I'm an artist. I've had executives who can't come to my shows, they're so scared of me. I've been a thorn in many people's sides just by existing".

It's obviously rubbish that there's any sexism in music, but isn't it cute that she has an opinion? Morissette has also recorded a new single (with the help of several men, I bet) called 'Underneath', which is released on Monday.

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TING TINGS ASK TO BE DROPPED
Taking Estelle's recent advice that all artists should be dropped by a record label if they want to get ahead in music, The Ting Tings have told The Daily Star that they want their label, SonyBMG's Columbia, to drop them. Though they want to be dropped for artistic inspiration.

Referencing the experience of being dropped by Universal/Mercury as members of Dear Eskimo, the band's Jules De Martino admitted: "We were really nervous about getting involved with a label after being dropped before. When it came to putting pen to paper we panicked. It was horrible. I fled to the Scottish highlands for a week and Katie hid at her mum's so they couldn't find us. [When Mike Pickering and Rick Rubin came on board] we thought, 'Look, they obviously like us so let's do the deal".

But, nevertheless, they admit the being dropped thing provided much inspiration for their work as Ting Tings, so being dropped a second time could have advantages. De Martino Continued: "We ripped up the rulebook for the first [Ting Tings] album. I think the second album will be really hard, so I've already asked the label to drop us again so we'll have something to write about".

The Ting Tings' debut album 'We Started Nothing' is reportedly currently 5000 sales ahead of the current number one, Neil Diamond's 'Home Before Dark', in the midweek album charts.

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HIP HOP ICONS STAGE NO PROFANITY CONCERT
A number of hip hop pioneers, most prominently Kurtis Blow, will amass in the Bronx tomorrow to celebrate 'No Profanity Day', which sounds like a fucking good idea to me. The celebration will take the form of a three hour hip hop show featuring hip hop names like Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force, Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Mele Mel, Lovebug Starski and Blow himself, and the promise is that there'll be not one N, B, H, F, C or MF word uttered throughout the duration of the concert.

Blow, who has been a vocal supporter of the most recent rallying call to end the use of racist and sexist language in hip hop, told AllHipHop.com this week: "I've always been a stickler for being more conscious of the lyrics in hip hop. Not only do I think it's important to support no profanity in hip hop and rap music, but also it's more important to support no profanity in everyday life because in our society, most violence starts with the way we talk to each other".

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HAPPY MONDAYS BACK IN THE STUDIO
The Happy Mondays are currently in the studio, working on their sixth album, the follow-up to 2007's 'Unkle Dysfunktional', frontman Shaun Ryder has revealed.

Speaking to Billboard, Ryder said: "It's sounding good. We had a few tracks left over from the last Mondays album. So, we thought that we might as well do another one".

He wasn't too sure about a release date for the album, though. He said: "Knowing us, it'll probably come out in about two years time. I mean, the other one, we had that in the can for, what, two years before that got released, because of legal problems. It took us eight or nine years to sort out all that. So, we've now got ourselves a new set of legal problems, which will probably take another few years to sort out and then we can get this one out".

Fret not, though, Ryder fans! You will have some new music from the vocalist this year. He also revealed that he has contributed vocals to songs by unsigned Manchester band Some Other Guy, two of which are due to be released on limited edition 7" vinyl later this year. Ryder says: "One of them is a poem - a John Cooper Clarke/rap sort of thing. I'm just talking, sounding very common. And the other one is me doing Frank Sinatra over some really nice atmospheric music".

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ARCTIC MONKEY ANNOUNCES NEW PROJECT
Former Arctic Monkeys bassist Andy Nicholson, who left (or was fired from) the band in 2006 has returned with a new band, Mongrel. As well as Nicholson, the band is made up of Babyshambles' Drew McConnell (guitar), Reverend & The Makers bandmates John McClure (vocals) and Joe Moskow (synths), and rapper Lowkey.

Speaking to NME, Nicholson said: "I thought I'd keep my head down, grow up a bit and come back twice as strong. I could have got a deal as 'Andy Nicholson' but I wanted to do what's right for me. Mongrel is something you can't pigeonhole - there's dub tunes, reggae tunes and dancey tunes".

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CARLA BRUNI ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM
Carla Bruni, the former model who married French president Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this year, has announced that she will release her third album in July.

'Comme Si De Rien N'Etait' ['As If Nothing Had Happened'], is named after a photograph taken by the singer's brother, Virginio Bruno Tedeschi, and has already sparked controversy in France, due to a song called 'My Junk', which includes drug references.

All royalties from the album will be donated to charity.

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MCFLY CONSIDERING THEIR OPTIONS FOR INDIE RELEASE
McFly are apparently considering some kind of Radiohead-style choose your own price download whatnot for their next album, their first long player since parting company with Universal Music. Speaking to the Beeb, McFly boy Tom Fletcher said the band and their management were considering all the possibilities for future releases now they were away from the constraints that come with working with a major record company.

Fletch: "It's one of the options we're talking about, but we haven't made any decisions yet. You'll have to wait and see. There's not a set way of doing things anymore. Now, especially with stuff like downloads, or giving music away, there's so many options for what you can do".

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MIGHTY BOOSH TO RECORD ALBUM
The long-awaited debut album from The Mighty Boosh could now be closer than you thought, if rumours are to be believed. According to a source, quoted by The Sun, the duo are soon to record their first long player. This is plausible, as their programmes have always featured a lot of music and they recently revealed that they've formed a band.

The source said: "The Mighty Boosh lads are looking for a studio to work on new material. They want to write and record some new tracks. Record labels have been trying to get them to release an album for ages".

I'm not sure a Boosh album now is such a good idea myself – I'm feeling a little too exposed to all things Boosh at the moment.

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DOORS DRUMMER GETS FORMER BANDMATE TO GUEST ON JAZZY SOLO ALBUM
Former The Doors drummer John Densmore has scored an impressive guest vocalist for his new solo album 'TribalJazz' – former bandmate Jim Morrison. No, he's not back from the dead, Densmore has recorded a new version of Doors track 'Riders Of The Storm' using Morrison's original vocals. The rather fine Michael Franti also guests on the new album.

Warning Doors fans that his new solo work has a different sound to it, Densmore says of his new long player: "For thirty years I've been saying I was a jazz drummer before I got into The Doors. Finally I am putting my sticks where my mouth is. I joined forces with Art Ellis. Art had been producing his original afro/jazz music, as well as performing as (an) opening act in festivals with Sting and many others. We began reworking the wonderfully melodic lines of Art's music into a synthesis of world rhythms and acoustic classic jazz that pleases us both".

The album will be released digitally via www.Omstream.com

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EUROVISION UPDATE
Well, that's no fun, Ireland's turkey has been knocked out at the heats stage of the Eurovision Song Contest, meaning neither Ireland nor Dustin The Turkey will appear at the main Contest on Saturday night. Which is a shame. Though, it has to be said, while the concept of entering a wise cracking puppet turkey into Europe's big song competition was amusing, his song was pretty awful.

In a pre-Eurovision poll conducted by the BBC, Sweden came out top by quite a long way – their entrant, Charlotte Perrelli, has already had one Eurovision win, back in 1999, and could win again with new song 'Hero' if the Beeb's pan-European poll is to be believed. Ukraine, Switzerland, host nation Serbia and Russia were the next most popular entrants in the pre-Contest poll, the UK entry – Andy Abrahams' 'Even If', came so low down, I didn't get that far down the list. If Perrelli was to win on Saturday night she'd be the second singer to have two wins in the Contest – Ireland's Johnny Logan won in both 1980 and 1987.

There are two semi-final heats this week (the second tonight) – though we here in the UK, of course, don't have to bother with such tedious early stage shenanigans, us having a guaranteed place in the final as a result of us paying for the whole thing. France, Germany and Spain likewise – and last year's winners are also guaranteed a spot in the final. A viewer vote decides which of the 38 countries competing in the semis will get through to Saturday's final, though a jury of pundits will also get to put one artist from each heat through in addition to those selected by the viewers, seemingly in a bid to ensure the notoriously political Eurovision voting doesn't leave one bit of the continent particularly badly represented on Saturday night. Which countries compete and get to vote in each of the two heats have also been strategically organised so to reduce the impact of viewers in any one country automatically voting for their neighbours.

The voting at the final on Saturday, however, will be left to viewers all across Europe, as normal. It will air on BBC1 from 8pm.

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POLAR MUSIC PRIZE WINNERS ANNOUNCED
American soprano Renee Fleming and Pink Floyd have been announced as the winners of this year's Polar Music Prize, Sweden's biggest music award, which was set up by ABBA manager Stig Anderson in 1989.

Fleming receives the award "in recognition of her sublime unparalleled voice and unique stylistic versatility", while Pink Floyd are recognised "for their monumental contribution over the decades to the fusion of art and music in the development of popular culture".

Both winners will receive 1 million Swedish Kronor (approx £86,000) from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on 26 Aug.

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MUSICIANS AWARDED AT BMI FILM & TV AWARDS
Another set of awards from US royalty people BMI. And this time over 80 musicians have been honoured for music featured on film and television soundtracks, at the BMI Film & Television Awards, which was held last night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in LA.

Composer Christopher Young received the Richard Kirk Award for "significant contributions to film and television music". Recognising his soundtrack work on films such as 'Ghost Rider', 'The Grudge' and 'The Exorcism Of Emily Rose'. The Who's Pete Townshend took home three awards from his work on 'CSI', 'CSI:Miami' and 'CSI:NY'. The head of the Sundance Institute's Film Composers Lab, Peter Golub received the Classic Contribution Award for his role in enhancing music in independent film. Other winners included Steve Jablonsky, Rupert Gregson-Williams, George Fenton, Mychael Danna, Aaron Zigman, Kevin Kiner, Mike Post and Matt Koskenmaki.

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THREE TENORS LAUNCH NAMED BEST CULTURAL MOMENT
The launch of The Three Tenors has been named the best cultural moment of the last 21 years in a survey conducted to mark the 21st anniversary of the Hay Literary Festival. Second place went to the reopening of The Globe Theatre in 1997, third to the release of Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone the same year, fourth to the launch of the iPod in 2001, and the fifth place went to the 'River Dance' performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994, which pretty much invalidates the whole list, if you ask me.

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SPEARS FOR LAS VEGAS?
According to reports, Britney Spears is in negotiations to stage a major comeback in Las Vegas. The singer was seen having dinner with Palms Hotel & Casino owner George Maloof Jr in LA on Tuesday night, sparking the rumours. Although, Maloof Jr and Spears have apparently been friends for a number of years, and both her ex-husband Kevin Federline and father Jamie have had business dealings with him in the past.

However, the new issue of The National Enquirer reports that Britney is planning a "multi-million dollar stage production she hopes will jump-start her career". They quote a source, who says: "She wants to make a splashy comeback in Las Vegas. She wants the show to be full of high energy and flashy costume changes".

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GLASTONBURY SPECIAL GUEST ANNOUNCED
So, when the Glastonbury organisers announced their line up with an ominous "Special Guest TBC" filling the slot directly before Jay-Z, we all started speculating, didn't we? Is it Coldplay? No. Is it Eminem? No. It is, in fact, none other than Amy Winehouse.

Asked by BBC Newsbeat if she thought Winehouse was too unreliable to take such a prominent slot on the bill, Glastonbury's Emily Eavis said: "I have total faith. I think she'll come and deliver. This is one of the biggest sets of the summer, supporting the most anticipated artists at Glastonbury in the past 38 years. I don't know how much [speculation that she is unreliable] is hot air from the press and how much is reality but she is pretty reliable actually. It's her personal life and no one really knows the extent of what she's up to and I don't think it should be public knowledge. We all know she's a brilliant performer and I think that's what we should be focussing on".

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ORIGINAL SPECIALS LINE-UP OFFICIALLY REFORMS
The original line-up of The Specials have managed to overcome their previously reported differences in order to play their first shows together for 25 years this autumn.

Frontman Terry Hall told Billboard: "We've been trying to do it for five years, but we solved those problems and hopefully got over them. Seven 50 year old men together in a room is not very pleasant, no matter who you are. But we're getting on great and that's all you can hope for, really. It's weird because we're all living all over the place, so it's difficult arranging to be in the same place at the same time. We're doing a block of rehearsals in June and then once we've done that, we'll see when we're ready. We're going to play just the first and second album. The first album probably in full and half of the second one. That's all we want to do - just get together and play the songs once more".

Hall also said that the band intend to play small UK venues, rather than heading off on a large-scale world tour: "That's the kind of venue where we started. I don't like arena dates, at all. They're just soulless. The very nature of this band, we shouldn't go and play sit-down theatres. It would just be weird. I think we should carry on where we left off".

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NEW ART SITE LAUNCHES TONIGHT
Not a music website – but worth a mention anyway, plus they have some fine DJs playing their launch at The Social on Little Portland Street in London tonight. BLANK NO MORE is a new website set up to champion top art and design talent – including eBoy, Dan Mumford, Eskimpush and Paul Willoughby at launch - and to give those artists a simple way to sell their prints. You can find out more about the venture at blanknomore.com. The website formally launches at a bash at The Social tonight, which will include a chance to see work by the artists featured on the site, then DJ sets from Another Music = Another Kitchen, Toshiki Ohta and Watkins. Preview kicks off at 6pm, party from 7pm. Email writetous@blanknomore.com for more info.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Various Artists - Freshtraxxx 3 mixed by Utah Saints (Finger Lickin')
Riding the crest of their comeback wave, The Utah Saints step up to mix the latest compilation from the Finger Lickin' camp, and they make a damn fine job of it. Cruising through multiple styles like breakbeat polygamists, this mix spans electric hip hop through electro, breaks, and even a bit of drum & bass for good measure. Programming and choice of tracks are excellent - it feels like a proper mix as opposed to a few tunes thrown together - and in addition to some fresh new material from Finger Lickin' stalwarts such as Drummatic Twins and Slyde, we're treated to the Plump DJ's anthemic 'System Addict' (the best thing they've done since their debut LP, in my opinion), an exclusive Utah Saints (aka Beatvandals) re-edit, and the wonderful, string-laden High Contrast mix of Utah Saints' own 'Something Good'. Boring mix albums come and go, but this has a sense of fun, freshness and diversity - a great package, and highly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in breaks. DEG
Release Date: 12 May
Press Contact: Trailer Media [all]

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CHINESE SEARCH ENGINE FINED OVER MP3 SEARCH
One of China's top five search engines has been found guilty of copyright infringement for having one of those MP3 search services which are popular in China, but which piss off the record companies somewhat. The difference with this search engine – Zhongsou – is that rather than the infringement verdict coming from a civil lawsuit pursued by the record companies through the courts, the ruling has been made by the Copyright Bureau of the Hebei province, albeit following a complaint issued by the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry. The Bureau has ordered the web firm to stop providing the infringing service, and to pay a penalty of 100,000 Renminbi (about £7000).

Similar MP3 search services are offered by the market leader search engines in China, Baidu and Yahoo! China. It allows users to easily find illegal sources of music on the net, though the search companies originally claimed they themselves were not infringers because they didn't host any of the infringing content on their servers. The defence worked when the majors sued Baidu, but then the Chinese authorities clarified the country's digital copyright laws, and as a result the courts found in favour of the record companies when they sued Yahoo! China over their MP3 search facility. On the back of that the record companies have had the OK to launch new proceedings against Baidu.

The action taken by the Copyright Bureau against Zhongsou should make things easier for the record companies, taking some of the responsibility for bringing net firms in line out of their hands.

Commenting on the fine, IFPI Regional Director Asia Leong Mayseey told reporters: "We are pleased with the maximum fine imposed by the administrative authorities against Zhongsou's blatant and deliberate infringement of our members' copyright. This should send a signal to other similar infringing music services. China has the potential to be one of the most dynamic digital music markets in the world, but legal services cannot compete when household names like Zhongsou deliberately break the law, abuse the rights of others and seek to drive advertising revenue by providing illegal content. We cannot tolerate such abuse of our members' rights and other internet companies that are breaking the law should be warned that we are coming after them next".

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BAUER APPOINT NEW Q ONLINE EDITOR
Bauer have announced the appointment of Anthony Barnes to the role of Online Editor for Q. Barnes, formerly Arts & Media Correspondent for the Independent On Sunday and Press Association, will oversee a revamp of qthemusic.com, which will provide a link between the magazine and the about to relaunch Q Radio – the aim being to have more synergy between the print, online, radio and telly outputs of Bauer's cross-platform brands. Commenting on his new job, Barnes told reporters: "I'm delighted to be joining at a time when the online site can play a crucial part in launching a great new radio station and acting as a unifier between the different platforms of the brand". The new look Q Radio launches on 2 Jun.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Shortwave Set – Replica Sun Machine (Wall of Sound)
Okay, so you're a struggling alternative pop band, whose music is self-described as 'Victorian funk' and you've just left your record label after your debut album failed to achieve the sales its reviews suggested it deserved. What do you do next? Get Danger Mouse, one half of Gnarls Barkley, to produce your second album, of course! It sounds odd, I know, but Danger Mouse is reportedly a huge fan of the band and their debut album, 'The Debt Collection', and invited the band to support Gnarls Barkley on tour. Having worked with The Black Keys and The Rapture in the past, it sounds an exciting and enthralling collaboration. And Danger Mouse plays to the band's strengths, too - not suggesting any hip-hop influences, but fleshing out the band's recordings and giving them a much fuller sound. With the likes of Van Dyke Parkes and John Cale in assistance, the emphasis is very much on recreating a psychedelic sound that recalls the late 1960s. To an extent, it works too. Co-vocalist Ulrika sounds very much like a contemporary Nico, with a voice that's drained and very European in sound, which gives the band another Velvet Underground reference on the likes of 'Replica' where her vocals are much more prominent. Elsewhere, there's the sunny pop of 'Glitches And Bugs' with neat and quirky sonic flourishes, which contrasts sharply with the full orchestration on the standout heartbreaker 'House Of Lies', as well as the glam rock pastiche 'Now 'Til 69'. It's a pretty diverse record overall, but a solid rather than spectacular one. Very little really stands out, though it passes the time rather pleasantly and there's not much to fault about it. It just doesn't really quicken the pulse too much. KW
Release Date: 5 May
Press Contact: Motion PR [O]

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PETE DOHERTY REFUNDS FAN
Pete Doherty has refunded a fan the price of his ticket, after he was refused entry to a gig in Scotland. Wesley Shearer was turned away from the singer's solo show by security staff at the Glasgow Barrowlands venue on Monday because he had been drinking. But as he was leaving, his fortunes changed slightly. Speaking to The Razz, Shearer said: "I saw a cab pull up at the stage door and realised it was Pete arriving for the gig. I shouted his name and he looked round so I told him I couldn't get into the gig. He shook my hand and when I opened it there was a £20 note in it. It made my night". You would have thought he might have got him into the gig. Maybe he was too drunk for Pete's liking. You know how Pete hates inebriation.

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ZUTON FANS DON'T KNOW ZUTON SONGS
Zutons frontman Dave McCabe has told Virgin Radio that fans now think the band are covering Amy Winehouse when they play 'Valerie', their 2006 hit, which Winehouse covered for Mark Ronson's 'Versions' album last year. He said: "I think they see it as Amy Winehouse's song... but I don't mind".

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WENTZ-SIMPSON PRE-NUPTIAL
Pete Wentz has revealed that he signed a pre-nuptial agreement with Ashlee Simpson before they were married on Saturday. The reasons for the agreement were not forthcoming. However, Ashlee probably remembers that her older sister Jessica was sued for $10 million by her ex-husband Nick Lachey, after they divorced.

Wentz said: "We have signed a pre-nup. She legally is a Wentz. I don't know what she'll do with her stage name, that's up to her. She hasn't decided that".

He also told US TV/radio presenter Ryan Seacrest that the couple are going on a rather unorthodox honeymoon in their basement: "We got some blow-up palm trees. A little fake 'n' bake tanning booth. We're eating DiGiorno's pizza, getting in that tanning oven every once in a while, it's great. It's gonna look like we're on that private jet. We're gonna save that 30 grand, you know?"

Seacrest also asked Wentz about rumours that his new wife is pregnant. He replied: "Ryan, this baby has not been confirmed". Which I'm taking to mean she is pregnant. Is that wrong?

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SKINNER FAILS TO WALK TO FRANCE
Mike Skinner of The Streets has failed in his attempt to walk non-stop from the UK to the south of France for the video for his new single, 'The Escapist'. Although the original plan had been to make the trip with "only the shirt on my back and the money in my pocket", Skinner revealed earlier this week that things had not gone to plan. Although, I would say that his excuses are pretty poor.

Writing on his MySpace blog, Skinner said: "The rules of my walking adventure through France have been bent slightly. ['Beat Stevie' TV show co-presenter] Ted Mayhem offered me his clothes and a meal in a lovely restaurant. I couldn't refuse. The descriptions on the menu were so funny and as Ted read them to me out the car window I salivated profusely. I also hadn't realized that I had a gig to do in Austria tomorrow. I made the flight to Vienna and I have to make the decision whether to go back for more walking or home to my bed and back to Stevie's house to edit the video".

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GALLAGHER SWEARS AT PHOTOGRAPHERS
Like father, like son. Liam Gallagher's son Gene stuck two fingers up at photographers, as he left London's Nobu restaurant in his father's arms on Tuesday. The seven year old is Liam's only son with wife Nicole Appleton, who he married on Valentine's Day this year.

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MADONNA CAN'T OUT-DIVA THE BOYS
Madonna has revealed that working with Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams on her new album 'Hard Candy' was not always easy. She said: "I don't usually work with other artists who are also performers, so I had to adjust to sharing diva space. [I'm] used to being the diva in the room". She added that it was "fun" but said, "sometimes there were fireworks. My perspective is that they were difficult and I wasn't".


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