CMU Daily - on the inside 12 Jan 2004
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Elliot Smith's girlfriend speaks out over murder allegations
- B2K may not have split
- New download service has open market
- Album Review: Dani Siciliano - Likes...
- Madonna supports Democrat candidate
- Diddy plans for allstar Biggie tribute
- Motown plan Supremes collection
- Sinatra family win legal case over use of Frank's name
- Xfm rejig playlist system
- Prodigy on new album
- Basement Jaxx live dates
- Single Review: Daniel Merriweather - City Rules 
- Darkness enjoying some success in US
- Music Tank explore artist contracts
- Missy explains slimmer look
- Starsailor to release disco number
- Jackson moves into new home
- Matrix make plans for debut album
- McManus breaks record of sorts with chart topper
- Simmons sells hip hop fashion line
- Lauryn Hill goes into e-commerce of sorts

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ELLIOT SMITH'S GIRLFRIEND SPEAKS OUT OVER MURDER ALLEGATIONS
The girlfriend of singer songwriter Elliott Smith has spoken out over as-yet-only-implied allegations that she may have been responsible for her partner's tragic death last year. As previously reported, it was assumed depressive Smith had committed suicide last October. His girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, who discovered the body, reportedly told friends that less than an hour before his death Smith had threatened to kill himself. Used to melodramatic threats from her boyfriend Chiba ignored his remarks and took a shower - only to discover later he had stabbed himself.

However last week a coroner in US said police had not supplied sufficient evidence for him to conclusively conclude Smith's death was, in fact, suicide. A copy of the coroner's report surfaced on the Smoking Gun website on Thursday revealing various pieces of evidence that may suggest the singer's death was a case murder or manslaughter - and if that's the case Chiba is now suspect number one.

Among that evidence are small lacerations on Smith's palms which could have been caused as the singer tried to defend himself against an attacker. The medical examiner has also questioned why Smith's girlfriend removed the knife on finding the body, and questions her "subsequent refusal to speak with detectives". Following the Coroner's report last week police have said they will reopen their investigations into Smith's death.

Speaking to journalists on Friday, Chiba said that although she had not been charged or questioned over these allegations, she felt that she was now a suspect in the court of public opinion. She continued: "Up until now I've chosen to remain silent because I want to maintain some sense of privacy for Elliott and his family and myself in this really difficult time. But I want people to know that I'm not keeping quiet because I have anything to hide. If I was a suspect, I would have heard from the investigators, for one thing. Another is that his sister and his parents and everyone close to him knows the truth, so I'm not worried about it."

Adding that she objected in particular to the accusation there has been a "refusal to speak with detectives" she said: "The media are just looking for some sort of sensationalistic angle that will sell their publications. In my mind, there's no question to what happened and there's no need to put that kind of spin on it".

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B2K MAY NOT HAVE SPLIT
The exact nature of the reported split of American R&B combo B2K is somewhat unclear following a seemingly contradictory statement from the band's creative director this weekend. As previously reported, B2K's manager Chris Stokes last week told reporters the band were no more - confirming he would continue to manage the affairs of B2K member Omarion, but not the other guys.

This weekend creative director Dave Scott issued a vague statement that suggested those other guys planned to continue as B2K without Omarion and under new management. Scott: "I have worked with B2K since day one. I am saddened to see their current situation being exploited and dissected on a national scope. I believe the boys' (Raz B, J Boog, Lil Fizz) decision to seek new management is no one's business but their own". 

That contradicts Stokes' statement last week in which he said: "The kids are growing up and are interested in pursing their own careers. I have enormous respect for each of them, and I wish them success in their pursuit of their individual careers. Raz B, J Boog, Lil Fizz and Omarion are like family to me. And while I would like nothing more than for them to stay together as B2K, I am respectful of their decisions and will continue to support them."

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NEW DOWNLOAD SERVICE HAS OPEN MARKET
An Indianapolis based online music retailer is hoping to kindle a bit of excitement in the legit download sector with a new open market for digital music. Called MusicRebellion.com the service hopes to sell a wide range of music the price of which will depend on demand. The cost of each track in the service will rise and fall automatically based on supply and demand - the more popular a track becomes the more expensive it will be. Less downloaded tracks may go for a little as 10 cents. A spokesman for the company behind the service, Digonex Technologies, told reporters: "Our behaviorally based download model is predicated on the belief that the public will purchase music legally when given a fair price, a quality product, and an easy-to-use system." 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Dani Siciliano - Likes... (!K7)
Though not known much past her own frontdoor as anything other than 'Herbert's singer', Dani Siciliano has cut her own niche in music with her debut album, 'Likes'. And while it is clear that Dani has borrowed much method as well as style from Herbert, she has also brought something very individual to the blend, with guest appearances from Gabriel Olegavich (French horn), Max de Wardner, O Mugson (guitar) and Matthew Herbert as Dr Rockit. It's all a bit like what I imagine a Norah Jones / Skye Edwards / Beth Orton / Pink album would sound like if it were produced by Herbert / Soulwax / Coldcut / 4 Hero / Bugz in the Attic. All the good singers get stolen by pop music and major labels; luckily we¹ve managed to keep Dani on our side. A serene album that grows and grows. JG
Release date: 26 Jan
Press Contact: Shilland [all]

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MADONNA SUPPORTS DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE
The very long process of electing (or not quite electing, as the case may be) a new President of the USA is underway, with the Democrats busy deciding who will represent them in a bid to take over from George W as Warmonger in Chief. Madonna is the first major celeb to get involved, throwing her support behind presidential candidate Wesley Clark. The singer has written a letter of support describing the retired US general as "a perfect example of the American Dream" and "a national hero". 

She writes: "I'm supporting Wes Clark because in him I see the qualifications, character and vision we so desperately need. He is smart and he is good. I want my children to grow up with the same opportunities that I had - to know and understand what's going on in the world and to travel that world safely and with pride. Our greatest risk is a lack of leadership, a lack of honesty and a complete lack of consciousness."

Madonna plans to hold a fundraiser for the former Nato commander at her LA home later this year. 

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DIDDY PLANS FOR ALLSTAR BIGGIE TRIBUTE
Word has it that P Diddy is currently in the process of securing the involvement of Eminem and 50 Cent in a new album set to celebrate ten years of his Bad Boy Entertainment enterprise. The album will feature a remix of the Notorious BIG's 'Victory' - designed to pay tribute to Biggie on the seventh anniversary of his death as well as celebrating the landmark in Bad Boy's history. Diddy hopes to make that track something special, hence the bid to get Mathers and Fiddy on board. No word from the Shady Records camp just yet. 

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MOTOWN PLAN SUPREMES COLLECTION
Having watched 'number one compilations' from the Beatles and Elvis shift so many units, Motown are cashing in with a similar collection of chart toppers from Diana Ross and the Supremes. According to Billboard, the 24-track Motown set will feature eleven Supremes No 1s, four from when the group was called Diana Ross and the Supremes, eight Ross solo tracks and a new remix of You Keep Me Hangin' On. The album will be released in the US next month. 

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SINATRA FAMILY WIN LEGAL CASE OVER USE OF FRANK'S NAME
The family of Frank Sinatra have won legal action against producers Main Event over their Sinatra tribute show 'Sinatra: The Main Event' - an "unofficial biography of the singer". The family argued the use of the Sinatra name without their permission infringed the singer's trademark, even though the word "unofficial" was included on posters in relatively small print. 

Talking about the legal action Sinatra's daughter Tina told reporters: "My father spent a lifetime concerned with the quality and integrity of his professional life. It is unfortunate that we must resort to the judicial system to stop people who simply want to profit from the use of his name." 

Sinatra Enterprises lawyer Mark Lee added: "You cannot use the Sinatra trademarks in a production in a way that is likely to confuse the public into believing that it is an authorised show when it isn't."

The family will now receive damages from the producers of the show, which played briefly in Atlantic City in 2001 and in Las Vegas in 2002. 

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XFM REJIG PLAYLIST SYSTEM
Xfm's new head of music has told reporters about his revamp of the station's playlist. Although always published as one long A-Z list, the playlist did have an A, B and C section which governed frequency of play. That has now been changed with a simple 'Daytime' / 'Nightime' distinction. Nigel Harding told Music Week: "The Daytime mix is focused on big Xfm records, both from established artists and hot up-and-coming bands, rotated more often to achieve a consistent sound. The Evening mix features some Daytime acts but the emphasis is heavily on cutting edge new music. We decided to dispense with traditional A, B and C lists as it's difficult to guarantee rotation and we believe it's more transparent to simply focus on the two sounds of Xfm."

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PRODIGY ON NEW ALBUM
Well, we've heard that The Prodigy's long awaited next album is "nearly ready" before, but our insider tells us this time it really is "nearly ready" and we should expect a release early summer. Talking about the album to Nekozine.co.uk Liam Howlett has confirmed: "The schedule is for the album to come out in June-July 2004. And it really is fucking coming out this time, it's no joke".

On the sound of the album he continues: "It sounds sexier. The tracks I've done sound like me, they sound like The Prodigy, but they kind of have... they are punk in attitude. It is more beats and hard production and kind of toughness that's on a street level."

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BASEMENT JAXX LIVE DATES
More festival news, and Basement Jaxx have said they have agreed to play Glastonbury this year. Talking about their new live show Felix has told Radio 1: "We've got a drummer and Simon plays guitar in most of the set and there's more vocalists, so it's less of a show and more of a live band musical experience. And live visually it's taking things to the next level as well. We're at the front of the stage doing a bit of a guitar solo in a snakeskin thong, it's really raw."

Those who can't wait for Glasto could take in the Jaxx at one of the following UK dates in March:

12 Mar: Glasgow Academy
13 Mar: Manchester Apollo
15 Mar: Nottingham Rock City
16 Mar: Newport Live Arena
19 Mar: Brixton Academy

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SINGLE REVIEW: Daniel Merriweather - City Rules (Ice-Station Records)
There is something so wonderfully incongruous about the fact that Daniel Merriweather sounds like D'Angelo on heat, but looks like an extra from Heartbreak High. The Australian white boy has a voice that¹s so rammed full of smooth soul that you want to get inside it and zip it up behind you. Mark Ronson and Justin Stanley provide the track¹s backing: lazy swing-beat kick and hand-clapping snare, and a svelte and sanguine bass and organ groove. While NY¹s, Saigon, supplies the rhymes good and proper, it is Merriweather¹s voice that carries the track single-handedly; the young Melbournian is surely one to watch making Dwele and Maxwell look like Johnny Mathis. JG
Release date: 12 Jan
Press Contact: The Play Centre [all]

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DARKNESS ENJOYING SOME SUCCESS IN US
The Darkness are busy doing the promo circuit in the US and it might just be paying off - though there is still some work to be done. The buzz band of 2003 in the UK are the so called 'pacesetter' on this weeks US Billboard chart - that is to say their album has made the biggest leap up the chart. Then again they are only at number 92, so don't get too excited about UK rock domination just yet.

That said the buzz is growing around the band and an appearance on the David Letterman show over the weekend can only help. Media in the US seem a little bemused by the band, but generally positive of their music.

One report revealed that the band had refused to do a photo shoot because the photographer wanted to shoot them pouring champagne over 15 naked models. Two reasons were given for that decision. One source quoted guitarist Daniel Hawkins as saying "we don't like to degrade women". Another quoted the band as explaining: "They were trying to give us that Moet & fucking Chandon crap, but we don't pour anything less than Cristal." 

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MUSIC TANK EXPLORE ARTIST CONTRACTS
Well, it'll either excite you or put you to sleep, makes your own choice. The first meeting of 2004 for industry group Music Tank is entitled 'Entering The Age Of Aquarius - A New Dawn For The Recording Contract' and will centre on a presentation by BMG Vice President Of Legal And Business Affairs Clive Rich on his company's new artist contract. The presentation will be followed up by a more general discussion on artist contracts and the changing relationship between artists and their labels. The event takes place on 21 Jan at 6.30pm - tickets from www.musictank.co.uk - press info from sam@name-uk.net.

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MISSY EXPLAINS SLIMMER LOOK
Missy Elliott has apologised to her larger fans who have criticised the singer for pursuing a slimmer look, and for lines in the track 'Pass That Dutch' that said "If you's a fat one, put your clothes back on/ Before you start putting potholes in my lawn".

Writing on her website Missy says: "To all my fans who are upset about this [her slimmer look], I still represent for overweight adults and kids but I am also now painfully and personally aware of the health issues. Weight became a health issue for me and I had to drop the pounds. Look at Big Pun and Luther Vandross, I did not want to end up like them."

On the seemingly anti-fat rap Missy explains: "I simply meant that you should dress right for your body size. I have always been a big girl myself and I always took pride in the fact that I never had to change my body to be considered beautiful or successful." 

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STARSAILOR TO RELEASE DISCO NUMBER
Starsailor will release the disco-esque 'Four To The Floor' as the next single from current album 'Silence Is Easy'. The single, to be released on 1 Mar, will feature remixes from Thin White Duke (AKA Jacques Lu Cont) and Soulsavers as well as an as-yet-untitled new track.

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JACKSON MOVES INTO NEW HOME
Following comments on CBS' Sixty Minutes show that his Neverland ranch will never be home again after the police search there last year, Michael Jackson has reportedly moved into a $20 million hillside estate in Beverley Hills. Word is the singer has moved into the mansion, owned by a Japanese artist, on a one year lease with an option to buy at the end of that time. According to one local property agent the house has nine bedroom suites, 16 bathrooms, a north/south tennis court, a 324-square-metre ballroom/theatre, indoor swimming pool, exercise room with sauna and steam room, a spa and a gourmet kitchen. 

In his CBS interview Jackson said of his famous Neverland home, 145 miles Northwest of Beverly Hills: "I won't live there ever again. It's a house now. It's not a home anymore. I'll only visit." 

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MATRIX MAKE PLANS FOR DEBUT ALBUM
The British (but LA based) pop songwriting/production team The Matrix - Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Scott Spock - have been speaking about the plans for their own debut album. Having worked with the likes of Avril Lavigne and Liz Phair, the trio were signed by Sony label Columbia last year, with a plan to release their own album this year. 

That said the trio won't be taking too much of the limelight with the album. Christy told Billboard last week: "We've got two people, a guy and a girl, who are fronting it. Our idea is that we wanted to create Fleetwood Mac for today. These two artists - they're amazing singers, amazing songwriters - will have their own solo careers. We're going to continue to come back together every year and a half or two years and make a record, kind of like Fleetwood Mac did, but we'll all have our ongoing careers".

On the music Christy continued: "We're recording through January and probably most of February. We don't want to say too much, but we're going to stay true to what we do, which is kind of melodic songs, but with a little bit more of an edge."

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MCMANUS BREAKS RECORD OF SORTS WITH CHART TOPPER
Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus will enter the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles after topping the charts with debut single 'All This Time' yesterday - though the criteria for the record are a little specific. She is the first Scottish female singer to make her singles chart debut at number one - got that? Commenting on her number one Michelle told reporters: "It feels absolutely amazing. As for entering the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles all I can say is that I'm so proud to be able to do this for Scotland."

Michelle outsold second best selling single - Gary Jule's 'Mad World' - by four to one last week beating off other new entries from Kelis, Boogie Pimps and Sean Paul. 

Albums wise very little change in the chart. Dido and Will Young swap the top two positions, Michael Jackson and the Black Eye Peas swap over in places three and four. 

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SIMMONS SELLS HIP HOP FASHION LINE
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons' fashion company Phat Fashions has been acquired by US clothing firm Kellwood Co, who have been working in partnership with Phat since last year. The company acquires the company for $140 million - Simmons will continue to head the line - his wife Kimora Lee Simmons will stay on as principal creative. 

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LAURYN HILL GOES INTO E-COMMERCE OF SORTS
After being out of the lime light for sometime, Lauryn Hill has followed up those controversial comments against the Catholic church at a Vatican gig with a number of interesting commercial offers on her artist website. The singer is selling fans art prints, autographed posters and copies of a poem she has written - some are retailing for $500. Fans can also watch a video clip of Hill performing a new song titled 'Social Drugs' on guitar for £15. Whether fans will be willing to part with that kind of money remains to be seen.

Still no word on Hill's long awaited follow up to 1998's 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'.

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