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Top Stories
Government announce secondary ticketing plans, another bloody consultation
Trinity Street demise leads to big cock up on NME tickets
Rafferty is fine, well and in Italy
TMZ post picture of beaten Rihanna
AC/DC gig ends in riot
Hammer in new reality show
In The Pop Courts
Pirate Bay supporters hack IFPI site
And on your left, the shooting room: Spector trial update
In The Pop Hospital
Girls Aloud to perform at Jade's wedding
Pop Politics
Pink plays alligator for PETA
Awards & Contests
Post BRIT stuff
Georgia enters anti-Putin song for Eurovision
Reunions & Splits
Borland responds to criticism over Bizkit return
In The Studio
OK Go on new album
Skinner says new Streets LP is rave
Release News
Bat For Lashes announces single
Wolf to release two albums instead of one
New Prince tracks online
Gigs N Tours News
Simon And Garfunkel plan tour, apparently
Britney Spears recruits magician
Festival News
Womad announces return
Bearded Theory returns
City showcase stage Sawhney masterclass next week
Single review: VV Brown - Leave! (Island Records)
The Music Business
Shareholder group moves to block Live Master deal
Former Radio 1/EMI man to do industry skills review for ACM
The Media Business
Bauer and GMG confirm pay freezes
And finally...
Perry: see, I told you I was ill
CMU Daily Archives
Same Six Questions
CMU Directory
Advertise with CMU
As one of the key acts which helped to define Britian's indie dance genre of the 1990s, St Etienne are a quintessentially English band, whose references to their native London are endless. Today, the band still have something of a legendary status, and continue to make great music, having adapted over the years to ensure they are always relevant. The release of the band's latest retrospective 'London Conversations' was set for September 2008, though after production blips this was delayed. But at last the eagerly awaited compilation finally came out this week, alongside the recently released new single 'Method Of Modern Love'. To coincide with this fantastic release, we have Bob Stanley of St Etienne's answers to the Same Six Questions.
Q1 How did you start out making music?
Well, myself, I'm not musically trained in any way, whatsoever. I never persevered playing an instrument: acoustic guitar hurt my fingers, and the clarinet was boring. It was really just me and Pete [Wiggs] messing about with the gear we had when we were teenagers. We used to wire up tape recorders and a record player and put vocal samples onto backing tracks and ...and ended up with things that sound a bit like a DIY version of something like Sugarhill, I suppose. The thing that really made us think we could do something legitimately was 'Beat Dis' by Bomb The Bass, at which point we went into the studio and did our first recordings, with Moira Lambert a friend of Pete's brother, Dan, singing.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
Richard X played us his demo of 'Method Of Modern Love' when we were working on 'This Is Tomorrow'. He thought it was very us. We did the Cola Boy mix [on the b-side] together with Richard, but left him to man the controls on the a-side version. He's far more professional than we are, we wouldn't argue with him.

Q3 What process do you go through when you're creating a track?
It completely varies, it will usually start with a song title, or a snatch of melody or a lyric. It always changes and all three of us will normally come up with something independently and bring it to the studio and work on it together. But, pretty much me and Pete decide what's in the backing track and Sarah [Cracknell] usually comes up with top notch lyrics.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
God, everything. It depends on what were listening to at the time. At the moment, its early 50s pre- rock n roll stuff for me. I'm listening to Frankie Lane at the moment. And a lot of the Brill Building compilations that have come out on Ace. Goffin and King are always there.

Q5 What would you say to someone that's experiencing your music for the first time?
I can't think of how to describe it. It's electronic pop music. That's it.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest single, and for the future?
Number 11, it's a nice chart position. As for the future, I'm trying hard to live in the present as I always think too much about the future and the past. Ambitions, I'm writing a book on the history of pop music, that's all I can think about at the moment. Maybe a spin off TV series where I'm the Simon Schama of pop.

MORE>> and

ANDY'S 15TH BIRTHDAY CLUB TIP: Fierce Panda's 15th Birthday at The Scala
Celebrating their 15th birthday at the moment (seemingly for the sole purpose of making me feel very old) is the lovely Fierce Panda record label. They will be taking over The Scala in Kings Cross tonight, for a show featuring the rather fantastic line-up of The Walkmen, Hatcham Social and The Molotovs. Not only that, but there is a post-party party in the Cool For Cats room at the venue, with performances from Electricity In Our Homes and An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, as well as DJ sets from Kate Jackson, The She Set and Artrocker.

Friday 20 Feb, The Scala, Kings Cross, London, 7pm-3am, £15 (or £6 for just the after party), press info Division Promotions,

VIGSY'S 15TH BIRTHDAY CLUB TIP: Big Chill is 15! at Big Chill House
The Big Chill festival is also 15 this year (David Byrne has just been added to the line up for the main festival, by the way) and to celebrate the Big Chill House in Kings Cross is throwing this little party next week, and it should be a good night, coming as it does with DJ sets from The Heatwave and, in particular, Moody Boyz who, after their dubstep remixes, are in demand. Alongside those guys the Big Chill DJ's will grace the decks. I like this venue, and the wider Big Chill vibe, so this is a definite anniversary to celebrate, and a fine way to do it.

Thursday 26 Feb, 8pm - 1am, The Big Chill House, 257-259 Pentonville Rd, London N1, info from Shep at Big Chill or at



The government again blustered about the growth of ticket touting yesterday, and then announced a grand plan to do, erm, nothing. Oh, they're going to have a consultation. Because if there's one thing we need, it's another consultation on this. Did the government even read John Whittingdale's parliamentary select committee report on this very issue last year?

The no doubt expensive consultation will involve talking to consumers, promoters and ticket sellers about the growth of so called secondary ticketing - when companies and individuals buy up tickets for in demand events and then resell them for profit, normally online via secondary ticketing resale and auction sites.

The government is bothered that [a] genuine music fans end up paying more money than they need to for tickets, and that [b] some secondary sellers take money for tickets they don't actually have and can't always deliver.

The live industry, of course, gets pissed off that secondary sellers can often earn more on a ticket resale than they do on the original sale, even though a reseller has no other costs. Some also fear that the extra money spent on the hiked up secondary ticket means the punter will spend less on other tickets or live music related purchases, so that the live sector overall loses out. And don't get a gig promoter started on the companies who own the resale websites and who are building their entire business on the commissions from resale transactions, you'll be there for sometime.

The government's consultation will look into some of the ways employed by promoters to make it harder for touts to buy up substantial numbers of (or in some cases any) tickets for in demand events, and also at proposals that the Society For Ticket Agents And Retailers introduce a kitemark style system whereby they vet primary and secondary ticketing sites. The dodgy sites where tickets often don't really exist when money exchanges hands wouldn't get the mark, so (more aware) customers would know not to use them.

All of which is lovely, though Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who is leading all this (the growth of ticket touting being an issue in sport as well as music) was again clear that new laws to govern touting are not on the agenda - he'd prefer event promoters to introduce measures to reduce the impact of touts themselves. Which is what makes the whole government review pointless to me, because promoters who care about things like this (Michael Eavis, Harvey Goldsmith etc) are already introducing those measures, while the rest won't want to make the cash investment such measures require. If the government aren't going to introduce new laws, then they are wasting everyone's time getting involved, other than, perhaps, backing the proposed STAR kitemark system.

Still, it gave Sutcliffe an good excuse to buy a new suit and to preach to us all thus: "Real efforts are being made by some event organisers to thwart the touts and ensure that as many tickets as possible go straight to real fans. But most of the time tickets go to whoever is quickest online on the day they go on sale - and too much of the time that is touts who simply want to resell at a profit. The industry now needs to quickly build on these successful new approaches and ensure they become much more widespread. An honest and transparent resale market can be beneficial; it provides fans with an opportunity to buy tickets for sold-out events or sell tickets they can no longer use".

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Talking about the dangers of buying gig tickets online, it's the NME Big Gig next week, the big Cure headlined O2 event to celebrate them being named Godlike Genius at this year's NME Awards. You got your tickets right? Well, not if you bought them from the official NME website.

NME's online store was, until last weekend, run by Trinity Street which, as previously reported, was put into administration by its financial backers last week. As a result tickets bought via the store have not been sent out, monies paid are all tied up in the Trinity Street liquidation, and no one really seems to know what is going on.

As a result, the Big Gig's promoters, AEG, have sent out a message to those who bought tickets via the Trinity Street service advising fans to [a] apply for their money back off Trinity Street's administrators Tenon Recovery and [b] buy new tickets. Tickets have been put aside for those affected and will be reserved until the weekend, though with fans unlikely to see their money from Trinity Street for some time (if ever, depending what the company's debt situation was like), that may be little compensation.

AEG have said they are also making some free tickets available in cheaper seats at the back for those who can't afford to rebuy their original tickets, though it's not clear exactly how they will be distributed. Those affected, meanwhile, are busy speaking to their credit card firms to see if there's anyway of getting a refund through them.

AEG's email points out that "at the time of working with Trinity Street there was no reason to believe that the company would cease trading", which, to be fair, is almost certainly true - I don't think any of us saw the e-commerce firm's sudden demise coming.

That said, the promoter's email could be a little more apologetic, given that to the punter on the street they were buying their tickets directly from NME not Trinity Street. And it would have helped if, on one of their first email outs about the ticketing problem, AEG hadn't pasted all the ticket holders' email addresses into the CC line by mistake, making hundreds of email addresses public. Still, will make it easier for those disgruntled ticket holders to organise a "we hate the NME" rally.

Away from the Big Gig debacle, seems to have reinstated Backstreet Merchandise as their official online store provider, which seems like a very sensible move to me.

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Good news people, Gerry Rafferty is fine. As previously reported, a former bandmate expressed concern that the Stealers Wheel and 'Baker Street' singer had gone missing after he left St Thomas' Hospital in London last August. He'd been in the hospital getting treatment after suffering from liver failure, leading to concerns about the missing Rafferty's health.

Once bandmate Tony Williams had spoken to the Daily Mail about his concerns, rumours began to circulate that Rafferty was alive and well on the South Coast somewhere, probably Bournemouth. Those rumours turned out not to be true though - well, about his location. He is safe and well, but is living in the rather more exotic surroundings of Tuscany.

The statement said Rafferty was "extremely well" and had been living at his Italian home for the last six months. He's apparently working on a new album out there. The lawyer said the singer offered "a personal thank you" to concerned fans.

Responding to Rafferty's statement, concerned former bandmate Williams told reporters: "I'm delighted he's fine".

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US c'leb website TMZ has posted a photo which it claims shows Rihanna after her beating from thuggish ex-boyfriend Chris Brown.

It's not been confirmed if the photo is genuine, though it does show someone who looks like Rihanna with lots of bruises and scratches to her face. Police haven't confirmed whether the photo is real, though have announced they have launched an investigation into how photos taken for evidence as part of a domestic violence case have been leaked to the press, which I think means they must be the real deal. TMZ haven't said how they got the photo.

Of course a bigger question than the source of the TMZ photo is whether you can resist the temptation to click on this link and look at it.

As previously reported, police continue to investigate the Rihanna/Brown incident that followed a pre-Grammy party earlier this month. Rihanna, meanwhile, is keeping a low profile even though it's believed she has now returned from her native Barbados, where she was recuperating with her family, to the US. Brown, I think, is continuing to consult God on the whole affair. No word on whether God reads

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Did you know that a 2007 study ranked Norway as the most peaceful country in the world? Which makes it a little surprising that an AC/DC concert in the country on Wednesday ended in rioting. According to reports, tensions were high amongst gig-goers because they had begun the night enduring long traffic queues to get to the venue, the Telenor Arena near Oslo. Things got worse once the gig was over, as many fans became stuck in traffic again, whilst poor public transport links left fans stranded. According to reports, members of the crowd threw bottles at police patrol cars, and tore down fences erected in an attempt to control crowds. Police blamed the traffic infrastructure and the effects of alcohol on a number of fans.

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I feel as though I already knew this, but I don't necessarily think we covered it before. According to reports MC Hammer is to star in a new TV reality show later this year, and shooting begins next week. 'Hammertime' will chronicle the eighties star's life in Oakland, California, and run for eleven episodes.

Executive producer JD Roth says: "Here's a dad with five kids, married to the same woman for more than 23 years, living in the same place where he grew up and going to church every Sunday. He's had his ups and downs, and it's what makes him such a character you root for. I really wanted to tell the future of MC Hammer. What kind of dad is he?"

As previously reported, Hammer is due to perform at a one off co-headline gig with Vanilla Ice in Utah.

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Once again what was going on outside the court dominated the headlines as the trial of The Pirate Bay Four went into, well, day number four yesterday. Supporters of the four men behind the infamous BitTorrent tracker hacked into the website of the Swedish branch of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry and posted a declaration of war against the music industry. The IFPI's global site was also down, though the trade body denied it had actually been hacked.

The message posted on the hacked Swedish industry body site read: "The ruthless hunt conducted by the IFPI, Anti-Piracy Office, Warner Bros, and all the other companies with a pawn in the game now resulted in a trial in which four innocent men are accused of copyright infringement. This is a declaration of war against anti-piracy outfits and the industry players behind them".

The message kind of lacked the sense of humour normally employed by The Pirate Bay posse, and one of the four defendants, Peter Sunde, distanced themselves from it, and asked their supporters to resist the temptation to go hacking or make threats on their behalf.

Sunde wrote on his blog: "Our case is going quite well as most of you have noticed. In the light of that it feels very bad that people are hacking websites, which actually puts us in a worse light than we need to be in. If anyone involved in the acts going on is reading this - please stop, for our sake. We do not need that kind of support. But I hope it's over now and that we can go back to winning our case without taking these measures. The hacking can only reflect badly on us and if you want to help us, please stop with the attacks".

In court two of the defendants, Hans Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, took to the witness stand, though neither offered much insight into the funding and running of the site, which is what the prosecution mainly wanted to talk about, insisting they only really knew about the geeky techie stuff that made the site run, not how the Pirate Bay operated as a business. Warg seemed to say the venture was all a bit too shambolic to suggest any one person controlled its operations.

Both distanced themselves from suggestions they and their colleagues not only allowed mass copyright infringement via their website, but actively encouraged it. Neij added that a speech he once gave that suggested he did in fact know about and support the infringement had been written by someone else and did not represent his opinions. Despite also claiming ignorance of the ins and outs of Pirate Bay style infringement, Warg went on to claim that more legit services like Google and YouTube also provided access to illegal content, a common argument used by those planning legal justification for Bay type service.

Whether the "I'm just the geek that writes the code" routine will work as a strategy for personally avoiding authorising infringement charges remains to be seen. Ignorance of the law isn't a defence of course, and Neij and Warg would have to be pretty dumb to have had no idea of the infringement issues that surrounded the Bay. So if the court can be convinced there is an infringement case against the service for its role in distributing illegal content, I'm not sure their claims will help Neij and Warg avoid liability. Still, things should be much more interesting once the most eloquent of the Four, the aforementioned Sunde, takes to the stand.

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The jury in the ongoing Phil Spector murder trial had an away day yesterday, taking a tour of the legendary producer's LA home, including the room where actress Lana Clarkson was shot dead back in 2003.

They also had a good look at the fountain in the courtyard, which has relevance to the case because there has been debate over how noisy it may or may not have been when Spector appeared at the doorway to his house just after Clarkson had been shot. Spector's chauffeur claims he heard the producer say "I think I killed somebody", but the defence argue the driver, not a native English speaker, could have misheard over the splashing of the fountain.

Photos of the crime scene shortly after the shooting, with Clarkson's dead body and all that blood, were also displayed as the jury toured the building. Spector and his legal team were also in attendance because the trip constituted a session of the trial, though the producer's young wife, Rachelle, was asked to stay away this time. She was there when the jury visited the crime scene in the first Spector trial, and the prosecution claimed that seeing the defendant and his wife close together in their home might have influenced that jury.

As much previously reported, Spector is accused of shooting Clarkson dead, he claims she shot herself. The whole case is going through court for a second time after the first trial resulted in a mistrial.

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Girls Aloud are attempting to make time to perform at the wedding of Jade Goody this Sunday. As you no doubt know, former 'Big Brother' and 'Celebrity Big Brother' runner-up Goody was diagnosed with cervical cancer last August and was recently told that she has just weeks to live after surgery failed to stop it spreading.

The group's Sarah Harding told The Daily Star: "We have had contact from Jade's people about performing at her wedding. It's now in the hands of our management. We are desperately trying to rearrange our schedule so we can do it. It's a very sad thing to have to discuss".

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According to reports, and Ricky Gervais, Pink plays an alligator in a new advert for animal rights group PETA, or People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, if you like. Gervais writes on his blog, "Did a cinema charity ad for PETA. It's a great idea and I play a rabbit, and Pink plays an alligator. I'll post it when it's all finished and shiny".

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Various post Brit stuff to report on. First up, the fact that the televised award show won the ratings battle for ITV on Wednesday day, but viewing figures were still down on last year. An average of 5.2million viewers watched this year's event, representing a 22% share, but it was nearly 1m down on 2008, when an average of 6.1million watched, which was equal to a 24% share of the audience. However, this year's viewing figures are similar to those of 2007, meaning that it was possibly the attraction of watching a potential car crash last year (The Osbournes presenting) that caused heightened interest.

Elsewhere, and as you might expect, Brit Award winners and performers have seen an immediate impact on their record sales. According to data released by the Official Chart Company, download sales for winners outperformed the rest of the market within minutes of getting their award. Sales of multi award winner Duffy's debut album 'Rockferry' saw a four-fold increase, whilst her singles sold twice the market average. The Ting Tings, who performed at the event with Estelle sold three times the average of their LP 'We Started Nothing', whilst sales of Estelle's 'American Boy' almost doubled usual sales.

The Official Chart Company's Mark Talbot says this: "In this digital age, fans can hear music on the TV or radio and instantly satisfy their need to own the track or album by downloading it there and then. These figures indicate that a show like the Brits can have an immediate impact on sales - an impact which we expect to see rolling through the rest of this week, as CD sales are also boosted by the Brit artists' media profile and in-store retail campaigns".

Meanwhile, the Pet Shop Boys have been talking about their Outstanding Contribution Award, saying that they are delighted by it, but that they feel as though they are "outsiders" in the music industry. Neil Tennant told Metro: "I don't think we have ever felt completely like insiders in the pop industry. We've always done our own thing and I think that is maybe why we are getting this tonight. We've kind of created our own world and I think that's what's important to us."

And so on to War Child, Bono, Gary Barlow, and Coldplay's shit day. You may be aware that Warchild held a gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire following the Brits ceremony on Wednesday, featuring Coldplay and The Killers. The Killers opened the show, which began after 11pm, after the stars rushed from the Brits to Shepherd's Bush. Brandon Flowers told the crowd: "Thank you for having us, were so honoured to be part of this, War Child has done so many wonderful things. It's great to be partnered with Coldplay. I remember when I first saw the video for 'Yellow' they were a real inspiration it made me think we had a real chance, so were honoured to be here with them."

Coldplay's subsequent performance featured a guest spot from Gary Barlow, who joined the band for a rendition of Take That's 'Back For Good', and Chris Martin's admission that he'd had a shit day. Martin told the audience: "I think everyone agrees that the band to see at the moment is Take That. We've just got back from Japan, lost all the Brits, it's been a shit day frankly, but it's going to get better, please welcome Mr Gary Barlow!"

The Killers then returned to the stage with Bono for an impromptu performance of 'All These Things That I've Done', following a brief rehearsal backstage.

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Georgia has chosen a song which contains thinly-veiled jibes at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to represent the country in this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The song, 'We Don't Wanna Put In' by 3G, which apparently has a 70s disco feel, contains the chorus, "We don't wanna put in, the negative move, it's killin' the groove. I'm gonna try to shoot in, some disco tonight, boogie with you".

I'm not sure any of that even makes sense, but it's causing all manner of upset over in the former USSR. Relations between Russia and Georgia have been tense for several years, of course, and the two countries went to war last year. Georgia initially said it would not take part in a Moscow-hosted Eurovision, but changed its mind in December.

The song may yet be barred from entering, or be forced to have its lyrics changed, due to a rule against political content in Eurovision entries. Eurovision spokesman Sietse Bakker told the BBC that organisers would make no comment on the song until after a meeting on 16 Mar where all 43 entries would be scrutinised.

A spokeswoman for the organisers of Georgia's Eurovision bid, TV station GPB, denied that there was anything dubious or underhand about the song. She told Reuters: "This song is not about politics, it has nothing to do with politics and politicians. If you look at the text of the song there's nothing wrong with it. It's a funny disco song. I hope we won't face any problems in Moscow since we don't want a scandal".

But the song's producer Kakha Tsiskaridze, seemed to think otherwise, saying: "We need to send a message to Europe and first of all to Moscow. It's important for us to say what Georgia wants to say as a country".

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Wes Borland has responded to criticism from Limp Bizkit fans about his decision to return to the band literally days after saying that such a reunion was not on the cards. As previously reported, he and Fred Durst announced last week that Borland would tour again with his former band, as well as starting work on a new album, after eight years away. The aforementioned fans are cross because Borland so recently criticised Durst's songwriting skills, and said he preferred to be with his other band, Black Light Burns.

Borland says: "So I just log into the [Limp Bizkit] site and everybody is talking shit about me. That's alright. Think what you want, but we are back, all five of us... And we're gonna kill it, so start making some progress towards getting over it", adding: "Fred and I are all good again. Period".

He goes on to say that Back Light Burns are by no means over: "I want to assure everyone that this band had a lot left to do and the best is yet to come. We have a record to find a home for this year and as soon as we do, we are putting it out and suiting back up for more. Thanks again, and we will continue to update you here throughout 2009 with news as always".

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OK Go's Damian Kulash has spoken to Rolling Stone about the band's new album and says it's been influenced by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Prince. He says of the record, which has the working title 'Help Is On The Way': "I was in a heavy classic-soul/'Purple Rain' phase - that's why there's not that many guitars on the album. Those songs make guitars feel redundant and sledgehammer-ish. If you need a loud, heavy guitar to make your song rock, there's a problem with your song. It's like 'Purple Rain' through broken speakers. Maybe that's a little unfair - obviously we're not fucking geniuses - but it's dancey and anthemic and expansive".

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Mike Skinner has said, via his MySpace blog, that his next LP is a bit ravey.

Skinner wrote: "The album doesn't sound like Lou Reed's 'Berlin' because I never said Lou Reed, I only said 'Berlin'. Incorporating some kind of post-modernist arthouse Bauhaus row with foul mouths. But it's not that at all. It now sounds ravey. It is a ravey album that bludgeons you over the head with its stick of 1988 Romford, Blackpool and Philadelphia rock. It is an insane album".

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Bat For Lashes, aka Natasha Khan, has announced the release of the first single from future album of the year 'Two Suns'. 'Daniel', which was apparently inspired by Khan's first crush, will be released by EMI's Parlophone on 1 Mar, and features Yeasayer's Ira Wolf Tuton on bass.

A clip of Bat For Lashes' forthcoming documentary, 'Joshua & The Bat', is also available to download from

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Patrick Wolf's two-disc album 'Battle' will now be released as two discs. As in, two separate albums. The first, 'The Bachelor', will be released on 1 Jun, while the second, 'The Conqueror', will follow at a later date. Apparently the decision to split the release has come about "so as not to overload people with too much information at one time". 'Battle' will now be released in its complete form in 2010.

I'm not sure what this means to all the people who invested in the album (in its original form) through, in return for a cut of the profits. Presumably it means that the fans who have collectively put £42,750 into the project can expect kickbacks from three releases, rather than one now.

The tracklist for 'The Bachelor' is as follows:

Hard Times
The Bachelor
Count Of Casualty
Who Will?
9. Vulture
The Sun Is Often Out
The Messenger

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Prince has added three new songs to his previously reported newish website The new tracks, accessed by clicking on subtle cassette images at the bottom right hand side of the screen, are 'Disco Jellyfish', 'Another Boy' and 'Colonized Mind'. As previously reported, Prince plans to release three differently styled albums this year, with the new tunes coming out mainly via the website I think.

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According to reports, Simon and Garfunkel are planning a tour, though not here.

Art Garfunkel apparently revealed the news a few days after making a surprise appearance at a Paul Simon concert, where the duo performed three songs - 'The Sound of Silence', 'The Boxer' and 'Old Friends' - to rapturous applause. Garfunkel, who recently performed his own solo shows in Florida, told BBC News: "Our plan to work together is coming together but it doesn't go through England this time".

The duo last toured five years ago in both the US and Europe.

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Britney Spears has apparently recruited a magician to help with her upcoming world tour. Illusionist Ed Alonzo says "she'll be singing, dancing and doing illusions at the same time", which sounds interesting.

Meanwhile, choreographer Rujata, who has also been helping with the show, says that Spears has been rehearsing for eight hours a day. "Britney is a perfectionist. When she comes in the room, it's a really intense, high-pressure environment", she says. "[She] is totally fit and her body is back in shape. She is really confident right now".

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World music festival WOMAD has announced that it will be returning for 2009, and will take place in Charlton Park in Wiltshire from 24-26 Jul. Tickets are on sale now for the event, and prices haven't been raised since last year. All children 13 years old and under go free if accompanied by an adult ticket buyer, plus, they've introduced a new 'Teenager Ticket' for 14 to 17 year olds this year. See for more details.

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The Bearded Theory Music Festival has announced that it's returning for a second year. The event, runner up in the Best New Festival category at the UK Festival Awards, will take place from 15-17 May at Bradley Nook Farm near Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Organisers will be hiring homeless members of the community as stewards, and all profits will be donated to Shelter and Padley Day Centre. The festival is also easy on the budget, with adult tickets for the three day event costing £45.

This year's line up will include the likes of The Saw Doctors and Neville Staples, as well as a host of local musicians and comedians. The festival will have five stages and is expanding its children's area, which will offer activities such as skiffle workshops, carnivals, and scavenger hunts as well as a children's open mic tent. Children's tickets are £5 for under fives and £15 for under sixteens.

See for info.

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Organisers of central London music festival the City Showcase have announced that they will stage an event next week at the Apple Store on Regent Street, featuring both a set and masterclass by the rather fine Nitin Sawhney. The event takes place on 28 Feb, and City Showcase Director Nanette Rigg told CMU: "This will be the first in a special series of City Showcase music events hosted at the store and we are honoured to have such an accomplished and innovative artist as Nitin perform at the first one".

The Apple Store masterclasses promote the main City Showcase festival, which takes place in London's West End from 7-9 May, with many of its free events, like the Sawhney gig, taking place in retail outlets around the capital. Bands interested in playing should go to

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SINGLE REVIEW: VV Brown - Leave! (Universal/Island Records)
The world's still in love with a strong female vocal. Forget the decline of Winehouse, and look to Duffy's storming of the Brits, Adele's US success and the on-going love for the only slightly irritating Ting Tings. Is there room for any more? Well, hopefully. Certainly when someone as good as VV Brown crops up, I'm sure everyone else wouldn't mind squashing up a bit to let her through the door. She came to my attention when she performed on Later... With Jools Holland, and 'Leave!' is as bright and purposeful Motown-influenced pop as you could hope for in this day and age. TM
Release Date: 2 Mar
Press Contact: Island IH [CP, CR, RP, RR, NP, NR] Hyperlaunch [O]

Buy from iTunes
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A group of Ticketmaster's shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit against the ticketing company through the LA courts, claiming that the share deal it's management negotiated with the board of live music conglom Live Nation, whicj it hopes to merge with of course, is "grossly inadequate".

As previously reported, under the merger deal Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares in the new Live Nation Entertainment company for each of their shares in the current ticketing firm. But the disgruntled shareholders say that the deal is based on the ticketing giant's current value, which has slumped since the start of the economic downturn, and that the firm's directors have used the downturn as an excuse to get the merger deal they personally desire done, to the detriment of shareholders. Or something like that. The lawsuit seeks to block the merger.

As previously reported, Live Nation's biggest shareholder, Sam Shapiro of Shapiro Capital Management, has said he backs the deal, but is not happy with Ticketmaster Chairman Barry DIller becoming Non-Exec Chair of the merged company. Meanwhile US and European competition officials are reviewing the proposed merger to see if it complies with the two territories' respective competition rules.

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Former Radio 1 music programmer and EMI Publishing A&R VP Alex Donelly has been appointed by the Academy of Contemporary Music to conduct an assessment of skill deficits in the music industry, with a view to identifying how new vocational training courses could be of benefit to the business. He will talk with employers about where skills are in short supply, and about the possibility of ACM training courses helping music people get those skills.

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Two major media firms have announced pay freezes as management prepare to weather the advertising recession storm.

Bauer Media, owners of radio stations like Magic and Kiss, and music magazines like Q and Kerrang!, announced a pay freeze yesterday, though said that while pay packets won't rise the move won't effect bonuses or commission. The pay freeze will be company wide. A spokesman told reporters: "Bauer Media believes it should prioritise efforts and resources in our core product - on air, on the page and online. As such, it has prioritised this spending above that of recruitment and on increasing salaries".

Earlier in the week the Guardian Media Group, which has music interests through its GMG Radio division, which owns the Smooth and Real Radio brands, also said salaries will not increase this year. Speaking to Media Week, a spokesman said this: "It is important that our businesses take prudent, responsible steps to adapt to the current climate and prepare for what is widely expected to be a very difficult 2009. These steps are designed to protect those businesses for the long term and to minimise any impact on people's jobs".

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Katy Perry said she was ill when she accepted her Brit award for Best International Female, and just to prove it, she went backstage and threw up before leaving the event. Let's hope she gets better soon, her UK tour starts on Sunday.

Writing on her blog, Perry said: "Oh my gawd. I'm am SO happy... I've won a Brit. That's like being knighted practically! Maybe even better. Thank you. Didn't expect THAT! ... I can't tell you how bad I feel right now. Last night I was sweating it out but yeah, lets just say this kitty does not look so pretty right now. ... I have the doctor on speed dial if the fever gets over 101/102. I thought I was invincible and then my body decides to show me other wise. I'm stuck in bed for the next couple of days as I should be".

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