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CMU Info
Top Stories
Allegations stack up against the doc in Jacko death prelim hearing
In The Pop Hospital
Franklin says "health problem resolved"
Beastie Boy Yauch given all clear
Awards & Contests
Finalists announced in mega new bands competition
Reunions & Splits
Mike Skinner on the death of The Streets
In The Studio
Willow Smith working with Skillz and Jazzy Jeff
Release News
Strokes album chatter
Roberta Flack to release lovely compilation
Films & Shows News
Damon Albarn to score short film
Gigs & Tours News
Fixers announce debut single and tour
Wolf People announce first UK headline tour
K-X-P announce UK and Ireland shows
Brands & Stuff
Ginuwine flogging boozy milk
Lee Ryan denies Tesco album deal
The Music Business
iTunes paying The Beatles direct
PRS completes live royalty consultation
BMG hires Billy Mann
Imagem makes new production music acquisition
And finally...
Toni Braxton considering playboy shoot

Love Amongst Ruin was formed by former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt following his departure from that particular band in 2007. Taking the opportunity to move out from behind the drum kit and become the band's frontman, Hewitt set about writing a set of rock songs which eventually formed the band's eponymous debut album, released last year via Ancient B Records. They also completed their debut headline tour late last year, rounding off 2010 supporting Feeder at a Kerrang! sponsored Christmas show. Now gearing up for 2011, we caught up with Steve to find out more.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I saw Philthy Animal Taylor, the drummer from Motörhead, on 'Top Of The Pops' playing 'Ace Of Spades'. It looked like an exciting thing to do. From then on I hassled my parents every day to get me a drum kit, eventually they relinquished and the rest is, as they say, history. History which we are still making...

Q2 What inspired your latest album?

I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly out of a job for reasons that were never explained to me. Basically, it was the feeling of betrayal that motivated me to write 80% of the tracks on 'Love Amongst Ruin'. The other tracks concern true love and strange fruit.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?

It varies, there isn't really one process. Sometimes I just have a beat that I have laid down and we build off that in the studio. Or, it could be, that I have an almost completed song that I have worked on in my home studio. That could include drums, bass, guitar, some keyboards and guide vocals. Then I share what I have with Donneye and/or other members of the band and we see where that takes us.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

All the greats, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Cure and, of course, Radiohead.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?

Play loud, play often.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and the future?
Right now I just want to get out and play this album for as many people as possible. Once we have done that I'm taking the whole band back in the studio to start writing and recording the next album. We already have three tracks almost complete.

MORE>> www.loveamongstruin.com
VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: Fabric Live at Fabric
So, this here Club Tip column is seven years old today, so let's celebrate with some quality drum and bass and beats, shall we? It's not the first time we've kicked off the Club Tip year by recommending a trip to Fabric to shake away those January blues, and this one should really do it for you. The guys from Hospital Records are taking over all three rooms tonight.

In Room 1 you get a packed line up of Danny Byrd, London Elektricity, Shy FX, Nu:Tone, Cyantific, SPY, Sigma and Stanza plus MCs Dynamite, MC Wrec, Darrison and AD, while in Room 2 it's Emalkay, Roska, Stenchman, Sampha (live), Koan Sound and Girl Unit, with MCing from Dread MC and Crazy D. Room 3 will be hosted by Hospital's offshoot label Med School, and will feature an alternative set from the aforementioned London Elektricity plus Joe Syntax, Synkro, Stray, and intelligent drum and bassmeister Blu Mar Ten.

All good stuff to get your new year going.

Friday 7 Jan, Fabric, 77a Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M, 10pm-6am, £15(£10 NUS) or £6 after 3am, more info from www.fabriclondon.com, press from Oli at Fabric.

So, Doctor Conrad Murray has been in court this week for a preliminary hearing regarding those allegations that it was his negligence that caused the death of Michael Jackson in June 2009.

As previously reported, it was a shot of the powerful anaesthetic Propofol, being used by the singer to help him sleep, that killed the late king of pop. Prosecutors will claim that Murray was negligent in administering that drug, and also that he failed to respond correctly once his patient went into cardiac arrest. The aim of this court hearing is to assess whether there is enough evidence against Murray for a full trial later this year.

Various allegations have been formally made this week, regarding Murray's conduct, by those around Jackson in his final days. Yesterday two doctors from the UCLA Medical Center, where Jackson was taken after going into cardiac arrest, said that Murray failed to tell them about the Propofol shot when they specifically asked him what drugs the singer had received.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Jackson security guard Alberto Alvarez, who was at the singer's home when his heart failed, recalled how Murray had instructed him to remove various medicines from Jacko's bedroom before paramedics arrived. The implied accusation is that Murray knew he had been wrong to administer Propofol to Jackson and that his first instinct, therefore, was to cover it up.

One of the UCLA doctors, Dr Richelle Cooper, was asked about Propofol during her testimony. She told the court that it was a commonly used anaesthetic in hospitals, employed during basic operations such as "fixing a broken bone or dislocated joint", but she added: "I've never seen it used in a home setting".

Other allegations made against Murray by various witnesses who have taken to the stand this week are that the doctor procrastinated before dialling 911 but then told paramedics he called them immediately, that he took and made various phone calls in the hour after giving Jackson the powerful sedative when he should have been monitoring his patient, that he couldn't give UCLA staff any accurate information on what other drugs Jackson had taken when, and that he seemed a little confused as to what to do when it became clear the late king of pop's condition was worsening.

According to CNN, one security man, Faheem Muhammed, recalled how Murray crouched next to his patient "in a panicked state" and asked the various staff members in the room: "Does anyone know CPR?" The implication, of sorts, being that perhaps Murray himself did not. Muhammed told the court: "We knew Dr Murray was a heart surgeon, so we were shocked".

Murray's legal rep Ed Chernoff has provided some possible explanations for some of the allegations being made - for example, suggesting at one point to Alvarez that perhaps his client asked the security guard to bag up various drugs in Jackson's room with the intent of taking them to the hospital with him, rather than to hide them. Though most commentators seem to think that, even if many allegations can be answered with innocent explanations, the amount of claims that have been made this week provide more than enough evidence for a full trial.

With various members of the Jackson family in attendance, including his parents and sisters Janet and La Toya, the preliminary hearing is expected to run for most of next week too.

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Aretha Franklin has told JET magazine that the unspecified health problem that required surgery late last year, forcing the cancellation of a number of live shows, "has been resolved". It was widely speculated Franklin was suffering from pancreatic cancer, though neither the singer nor her people have commented on the nature of her condition.

But Franklin did tell JET that she began feeling "a very hard pain" in her side during a concert in Toronto last year. Believing it might be a side effect of a recent colonoscopy, she contacted the medic who had undertaken that procedure, who recommended she have a CAT scan. That scan revealed whatever condition it was that required surgery. Says Franklin: "Thank God he said that because that unfolded everything, what the problem was and everything".

Remaining silent on the specifics of the surgery she received, she added: "I know my fans are concerned. Let them know I am feeling great and coming along. The problem has been resolved".

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Beastie Boy Adam Yauch has been given the all clear after his battle with cancer eighteen months ago. His bandmate Mike D confirmed so to Radio 1 this week, adding that plans to release a new Beastie Boys album this year were now pretty certain to go ahead.

As previously reported, there are two new albums in the can, including the one that was delayed when Yauch was taken ill, though the way in which those records will now be released is a bit confusing (the second one is coming out before the first one though with songs from the first one on it, or something like that).

Mike D added that the band hoped to tour the new album, though wanted to make sure Yauch was fully fit again before doing so. In the meantime most effort is being put into a "really big video" for one of their new tracks.

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The five finalists have been announced for the second year of Basecamp Rocks, a large scale new bands competition staged by ski and surf experts Basecamp and run by youth marketing company The Eleven. The finalists were selected at a semi-final event in London earlier this week which saw no less than 24 acts play over six hours at the Islington Academy.

The 24 semi-finalists had been selected by online fan voting, then on Tuesday a panel of four judges, including CMU Publisher Chris Cooke, selected four of the five finalists, with an audience text vote selecting band number five. The five finalists will now play at The Barfly in Camden on 22 Feb where an overall winner will be selected who will win, among other things, and all-expenses paid tour of some key Alpine ski resorts.

The five finalist bands are:
Abi McQuater: www.myspace.com/abimcquater
Cytota: www.facebook.com/pages/CYTOTA/113361638684544
Dickie & The Bohemians: www.myspace.com/dickieandthebohemians
Early Ghost: www.myspace.com/earlyghost
Kill!TheKid: www.facebook.com/pages/KillTheKid/251229426295

Commenting on the Basecamp Rocks competition, which is now in its second year, the boss of Basecamp, Fergie Miller, told CMU: "One of the main ambitions of BCR as a competition is to provide and grow a platform for young artists to ply their trade out of the commercial limelight. It's an opportunity for them to learn about self-promotion, to develop their own voice and creative style, as well as to perform in front of new crowds at new venues rich in music folklore".

More at www.basecamprocks.co.uk.

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Mike Skinner has been talking about his planned retirement of The Streets after the release of one more album, 'Computers And Blues', on 7 Feb.

Rambling to The Guardian last week, Skinner said: "I've been doing it for ten years and I've always tried to do something different with each album. Some [of my work has] been amazingly received and some of it hasn't been, and I've run out of new avenues. As uninteresting as The Streets is to talk about, the most interesting element of anything is its death, so if you're going to talk about The Streets, ending The Streets is probably a good thing to talk about. But it's not interesting really. I haven't really got anything more to do".

Meanwhile, speaking to Zane Lowe on Radio 1 yesterday, Skinner added that his advancing age (he's all of 32) was also a consideration, saying that he doesn't want to be "singing 'Let's Push Things Forward' when I'm 40". He joked that he should have had the forethought to wear a mask when he first launched the project, saying: "If I'd have put on a helmet like Daft Punk... sometimes I think I should have - those guys can go on forever. They're going to be 60, and under that helmet they could be 23".

Skinner also revealed that after touring to promote 'Computers And Blues' he will produce his first film.

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Willow Smith, whose debut single, 'Whip My Hair', is all over the place at the moment, is working with lyricist Skillz and producer Jazzy Jeff on songs for her forthcoming debut album, which will be released by Roc Nation at some point this year. Both men have previously worked together on tracks by the young singer's father, Will Smith, of course.

Skillz told BET.com this week: "Me and Jazzy Jeff are ... working on some stuff for Willow Smith's album. I worked with her dad on a few projects before so you know I have a relationship with him. It was just a natural progression like they're doing music so, you know, that door's always open. I'd be crazy not to try to walk through it, so we're working on some stuff".

Despite being a popular ghostwriter in US urban circles, the obvious question for this project is surely: is it a challenge to write from the perspective of a ten year old girl? No, says Skillz: "I can write for anybody. It's just stepping outside of yourself, looking at the market and working out what's missing and trying to fill that void. We all throw darts, sometimes they stick, sometimes they don't. But, you know, you keep going".

Speaking of ghostwriters, elsewhere in Willow Smith news this week, Soulja Boy has claimed to have written the aforementioned 'Whip My Hair', telling his fans on Twitter: "Yes, it's true, I wrote 'Whip My Hair' for Willow Smith. That's why she says, 'hop out the bed, turn my swag on'. We getting $$$ [in] 2011, no games".

This is news to many, not least its credited writers Ronald 'JukeBox' Jackson and Janae Rockwell. Jackson tweeted yesterday: "We'll see who did when those royalties come around ... Soulja wrote 'Whip My Hair?' And Waka Flocka wrote 'Thriller', right? My house must be POPPIN, cuz I had NO IDEA Soulja was in my house when I did that song!"

Though we suspect Soulja Boy's tweet was more about accusing Jackson and Rockwell of nicking one of his lines rather than about claiming to have written for Smith. Soulja Boy did release a single called 'Turn My Swag On' in 2009, which does indeed also contain the line "hop out the bed, turn my swag on".

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It's been a while since The Strokes last promised that they're definitely going to definitely release a new album (definitely) soon, so it's nice to get an update during the first week of the year. The as-yet-untitled album, which was completed last year, is definitely coming out in March, insists bassist Nikolai Fraiture.

Speaking to Radio 1, Fraiture said that the album sees the band return to their "classic sound", adding: "Sonically, I feel it's the album which should have been made between 'Room On Fire' and 'First Impressions Of Earth". Definitely.

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Roberta Flack will release a compilation of love songs called, er, 'Love Songs', on 31 Jan via Rhino Records. Hey, that'll mean it's in the shops in time for Valentine's Day. It's almost like they planned it, or something.

Here's the tracklist:

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
You've Got A Friend (feat Donny Hathaway)
Killing Me Softly With His Song
Where Is The Love (feat Donny Hathaway)
Feel Like Makin Love
After You
The Closer I Get To You (feat Donny Hathaway)
Back Together Again (feat Donny Hathaway)
More Than Everything (Live) (feat Peabo Bryson)
Just When I Needed You
Maybe (feat Peabo Bryson)
Tonight, I Celebrate My Love (feat Peabo Bryson)
And So It Goes
When Someone Tears Your Heart In Two
Only Heaven Can Wait (For Love) / You Are My Heaven (Live) (feat Peabo Bryson)
Can We Find Love Again (feat Peabo Bryson)
All Caught Up In Love
Let's Stay Together

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According to Electronic Beats, Damon Albarn will score a short film based on 'The Boy In The Oak', a children's book by his sister Jessica.

Directed by Luke Losey, the film will be narrated by Jude Law and produced by Alcove Entertainment, which was responsible for Harmony Korine's 'Trash Humpers' last year. Though I'm pretty sure this film won't be like 'Trash Humpers'.

Artwork from the book will also be on display at Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London from 17 to 28 Jan.

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Psychedelic types Fixers, who have been given a light hyping over the last few months, have announced that they will release their debut single, 'Iron Deer Dream', through Young & Lost on 21 Feb. They'll also be doing some of that touring stuff.

Tour dates:

15 Jan: Oxford, O2 Academy 2
7 Feb: Sheffield, The Harley
11 Feb: Brighton, The Hope
12 Feb: Southampton, Unit
16 Feb: Manchester, Night N Day
18 Feb: London, The Lexington
21 Feb: Cardiff, The Globe
24 Feb: Bristol, Start The Bus

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Very good rock blokes Wolf People have announced details of their very first headline tour of the UK, which will take place next month in order to promote their debut album, 'Steeple', which came out last year on Jagjaguwar. The band will also release a new single, 'Silbury Sands' on 14 Feb.

Tour dates:

13 Feb: Nottingham, Bodega
14 Feb: Bristol, Cooler
15 Feb: Brighton, Prince Albert
16 Feb: London, Cargo
18 Feb: Oxford, Jericho Tavern
19 Feb: Manchester, Deaf Institute
20 Feb: Leeds, Nation Of Shopkeepers
21 Feb: Sheffield, Harley
22 Feb: Glasgow, Captain's Rest

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Finnish drums, bass and synth trio K-X-P have announced that they'll be in the UK and Ireland later this month for a handful of live dates ahead of the release of their eponymous debut album through Smalltown Supersound in March.

For a taster, download yourself a free track, which goes by the name of 'Pockets', here: www.melodic.co.uk/ihp/K-X-P-Pockets.mp3

Tour dates:

19 Jan: London, The Lexington
21 Jan: Dublin, Workingmans Club
22 Jan: Cork, Pine Lodge
24 Jan: Glasgow, Captains Rest
26 Jan: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

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R&B bloke Ginuwine is fronting a campaign in the US to sell a new drink called Adult Chocolate Milk. It's not, as you might have thought, a drink with porn in it, but the first product released by the Adult Beverage Co, which plans to release a range of childhood favourite drinks with alcohol in them. The company's slogan is "retaste your youth at 40 proof", so that's nice.

In an ad campaign for the drink, Ginuwine plays a milkman. His new single is also called 'Drink Of Choice', but I think that's just coincidence.

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Lee Ryan has denied claims that he's preparing to release his second solo album, 'Confessions', via a new deal with Tesco. No, that album is going to stay firmly on the dusty back room shelf, right where Geffen put it last year.

A statement on behalf of the Blue singer said: "Contrary to reports today Lee Ryan has not signed an exclusive album distribution deal with Tesco. Lee is not aware of any deal to release his solo album 'Confessions', and is currently concentrating on recording with Blue for their new album due for release later this year".

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Sources have told Billboard that the deal that finally got The Beatles catalogue onto iTunes late last year sees the Fab Four getting their artist royalty from any download sales directly from Apple - paid, of course, to the other Apple, Beatles company Apple Corps - while Sony/ATV, publisher of most of the band's songs, is also being paid directly.

This is as opposed to the usual system whereby the wholesale price for every Beatles download sold would go from Apple to record company EMI, whoich would then pass on the mechanical royalty to Sony/ATV (usually via a collecting society) and pay the artist any royalty they are due.

iTunes paying out directly to Apple Corps and Sony/ATV will mean they see their cut of the money quicker, and presumably, certainly in Apple Corps case, will mean they get a much bigger cut of revenues than the norm, whereby a premiere league artist could probably expect to receive up to 25% of wholesale price. Other rumours suggest Apple Corps could be getting half of the wholesale fee for each download, possibly after Sony/ATV takes its cut.

Also interesting is Billboard's suggestion that this kind of set up looks more like a 'licensing deal' than a standard 'record sales arrangement', though EMI insists it was not a licensing agreement that got The Beatles onto iTunes.

In some ways how you refer to whatever deal was done is just semantics, though, as previously reported, for artists and record companies whether digital music arrangements should be classified as licensing or conventional record sales deals is important because an artist's cut has traditionally been higher in the case of the former. Some artists still on pre-internet contracts argue that when labels sell music via iTunes they are actually licensing music to the Apple download store and should therefore pay a higher royalty to artists.

Attempts by a handful of artists to enforce that interpretation of the digital domain in the US courts have in the main not been successful. Though, of course, the dispute between Universal Music and FBT Productions, the royalty-share-holding producers of Eminem's early recordings, which centres on this very issue, is ongoing.

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PRS For Music has said it has received 31 official responses to its previously reported consultation on the live music royalty. The collecting society began a review of the royalties live music promoters must pay to songwriters whose music is performed at their shows and festivals last year. It is widely assumed in the live sector that PRS's aim is to increase the royalties they pay, something the live community will definitely try to resist.

The Concert Promoters Association, Festival Republic and the Glastonbury Festival are among the organisations to have inputted on the review, the deadline for which was extended several times to allow everyone time to put their thoughts into writing.

Confirming he was pleased with the response to the consultation, PRS's Director Of Public Performance Sales Keith Gilbert told CMU: "We're pleased with the level of response and engagement we have had. The debate has been hugely constructive and it was right to have this official extended consultation period, allowing everyone to share their views on this vitally important topic. We all want to see the continued success of live music in this country, and we will be taking all comments on board in this review process".

The results of the collecting society's review should be published in the spring.

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The ever-expansive BMG has announced the appointment of Billy Mann to the job of President Of Creative, or something similar. Songwriter and producer Mann's most recent executive role, of course, was at EMI, where he was one of the higher profile post-Terra Firma appointments, initially as a Chief Creative Officer, and later as a globally-focused A&R exec and the guy overseeing EMI's first dabblings in artist management. He left the London-based major last September.

Confirming the new appointment, BMG's Chief Creative Officer Richard Blackstone said this: "Billy is one of the few people in our industry who has experienced the creative journey from all sides. Artists and their managers who have worked with him know they have a trusted advocate in Billy and industry executives know they are dealing with someone who has successfully combined entrepreneurial independence and creativity with stamina and ambition".

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Another day and another acquisition in the music publishing world, this time by the dudes at Imagem. The company has just confirmed that it has purchased US-based independent production music company 5 Alarm Music. The newly acquired company will remain a standalone entity, though will also represent some of Imagem's other production music ventures in the North American market, with 5 Alarm's founder Cassie Lord become the firm's VP/GM Library & Production Music for the US.

Imagem CEO André de Raaff told CMU: "5 Alarm Music is a great acquisition for Imagem Music Group as we look to expand and grow our production music business. They are a well established successful agency in America with the 5 Alarm catalogue having a strong footprint in many territories around the world".

Lord added: "We are very excited about joining the Imagem Music Group. André's dynamic world view on music publishing and the music industry is truly inspiring, and I know that the great team we have here in Pasadena looks forward to working alongside our new colleagues in New York, London and the Netherlands".

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Toni Braxton is considering posing for Playboy, news that will undoubtedly displease her former creditors - the singer filed for bankruptcy in October, clearing debts reported to be between $10 million and $50 million.

Braxton told her fans via Twitter: "New Year, New opportunities. So I have been considering taking up Playboy's offer to feature me on their cover this year. I would love to pose with Hugh Hefner though. He's the sexiest guy I know over 30".

She added that it would be totally tasteful and everything, saying: "Don't expect full nudity, just a lil T and A. They have asked me about three times before".

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Andy Malt
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
Caro Moses
Eddy Temple-Morris
Paul Vig
Club Tipper
Dani Filth
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