If you would like to be outraged, turn to page 4

What an odd week it’s been. On Wednesday afternoon, I was sitting in Dublin airport, a sizeable snowstorm visible through every window, sipping what was alleged to be tea and flanked on all sides by the moral outrage of the British press. The TV in the hotel had Sky News, so I’d caught moments of the scandal as it unfolded by, even now, I can’t quite believe how it was escalated so quickly by the delightful, intelligent and well-rounded individuals who work for the Mail.

If  I might just, briefly, focus on the point that I believe to be key to the whole situation. Prior to the papers getting hold of the story, there had been five complaints, and only two had come immediately after the show had aired. Now, it’s also worth stating that what Brand and Ross got up to in that particular programme should not have been broadcast. But, I think it says a great deal about what that show must have been like that such content only provoked two complaints from its actual listeners. Thus, the people tuning in for that particular programme were, almost entirely, untroubled by that incident and felt it was in keeping with what Saturday night on Radio 2 offered.

I could spend several days writing about the people who are willing to be engineered into moral outrage by the very people who claim to want to protect our delicate little minds from such filth, but I’ll try and keep it brief. If what was said was humiliating for Andrew Sachs‘ granddaughter, then why on earth did the Mail decide to take something that had only been heard by a little under half a million Radio 2 listeners and reprint it for the benefit of the masses?

That Russell Brand, he’s outrageous. The things he says aren’t fit for the good people of Britain to hear. Why not read them instead?

It’s typical Mail reportage.

So-and-so went to a film premiere last night looking really slutty. Here’s a fucking huge picture of her so that you can examine exactly how slutty she looked. Hands on the table at all times, please.

As someone who struggles with the notion that God guides us all through our daily lives, I’m tempted to try and organise 10,000 complaints about Songs Of Praise. I find it offensive to my beliefs and, although I’ve never seen it, they sing songs about God and bang on about him being a redeemer and stuff. Honest, I read it in the paper. Then again, I could engage my brain for, ooh, maybe five seconds, and realise that this programme isn’t for me. That’s why I haven’t watched it and it’s why it hasn’t actually offended me. There, that was a really unnecessary crisis averted, wasn’t it?

On Thursday night, Newsnight gave over the first thirty minutes of the show to this story. Thirty minutes! Still, it’s not like a super-power is about to appoint a new President or anything, is it? Emily Maitlis appeared to want to leave Mark Thompson as close to death as her sense of humanity allowed during her interview and actually bothered to quote a fairly typical Frankie Boyle crack from Mock The Week at him twice, in the hope that he would condemn that and give the hacks something else to find some fake ire over.

I know that this blog is essentially about music, but I get a lot of my musical info and awareness from some of the BBC’s outstanding broadcasting. The Beeb means a lot to me and the access I have to it is something I cherish. The thought that this story will lead to an even more timid BBC than we already have, post-phone-in scandal, genuinely troubles me. Not as much as Fox News does, mind you.


Mixtape…blah, blah, nostalgia, blah…

I was about to start with a profound and incisive statement, but that new Bloc Party single really is fucking dreadful, isn’t it?

I’ve spent a thoroughly enjoyable day rearranging bits of the record collection and ripping assorted tracks to the computer in order to refresh the content of my mp3 player and contruct a decent mp3 CD for a long car journey that’s coming up. It’s wonderful just browsing through the tunes that have, at various times in the last few years, meant rather a lot to me. I did the slightly embarrassing, but hugely popular, swivelling-a-little-bit-in-a-computer-chair dance to Stardust‘s Music Sounds Better With You‘ earlier and it was hugely satisfying. And what about ‘Forever J’ by Terry Hall? A beautiful, beautiful song which was sampled on ‘Life In Mono’ by Mono, which I’ve also ended up digging out. However, whilst finding out more about it I stumbled upon the Emma Bunton cover version. Eugh. Now, I actually really liked that soul-pastiche album she did a few years back. The one with pink cover. But this is not good. At all. The original is, however, and it would seem you can still buy it via the iTunes empire.

The mp3 player will soon be receiving a number of albums that I can’t believe I haven’t felt the need to put back on there since reformatting it a few months back. Most of Supergrass‘ back catalogue is still absent, as are the first two Portishead albums and Thom Yorke‘s ‘The Eraser’. Not for much longer. Also going on will be Madness‘ wonderful track, ‘NW5‘ that came out as a one-off single a little while back, but which will feature on their forthcoming concept album, ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’. If you’ve not heard it, I would put it up there with pretty much anything else they’ve ever done. It’s great.

And with that cunning link (that’s great and so is this) I should probably say a few words about the Jamie Lidell record I was on about the other day. Gilles Peterson has started offering a splendid service via TellJack that allows you to hear albums, in full, before deciding whether or not to purchase. You don’t download anything, it’s all done via high quality streams, but it’s splendid. That’s how I got to hear ‘Jim‘, by Jamie Lidell. I keep calling it ‘Son of Stevie’ because it sounds like that sort of record Stevie Wonder would be making now if he was a) younger and b) as good as he used to be. To me, this album slots in quite neatly alongside ‘Innervisions‘ and ‘Talking Book’. High praise, I know, but it really is the best soul album I’ve heard in yonks. And, I’ve heard Sharon Jones and the new Al Green. Anyway, there’s a track on the newly updated Mux (click on the tape in the right-hand column) along with a chance to hear the Terry Hall track ‘Forever J’ and the Mono track that sampled it. Plus other stuff. Stuff you’ll like, I’d imagine.

I remember now what it was that I was going to talk about when I was going on about mp3 compilations. I was listening to Jeremy Vine‘s show on Radio 2 yesterday (the outraged voice of middle class Britain©) as he discussed the possible charges for broadband customers in the UK. Apparently, devious downloaders will be receiving angry letters in the near future, explaining that what they’re up to is illegal. Assuming, of course, that they are downloading illegally, that is. They wouldn’t make any mistakes, would they? Judging by some of the calls to the programme, mistakes have already been made and there will be more on the way. Predictably, one of the ‘I ain’t paying for it, why should I? I’ve ten CDs over the last twenty years and they were, like, £16 each, so why should I pay now?’ brigade got on air. I’ve never really had a strong opinion about it one way or another, but with the number of independent record stores dying on their arses and bands failing to keep hold of their record contracts, you do have to wonder. Ok, so it’s a symptom of a jaded industry, rather than the cause, but surely nobody who loves their tunes thinks it’s a long-term approach? Weirdly, I’ve just noticed that the good folks at Norman Records are having a similar debate on their blog.

And finally, the nominations for the Mercury Music Prize came out t’other day and I was amazed by just how many I’ve actually heard and liked. The list is as follows:

Adele – ‘19
British Sea Power‘Do You Like Rock Music?
Burial – ‘Untrue
Elbow‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
Estelle – ‘Shine
Laura Marling‘Alas I Cannot Swim’
Neon Neon‘Stainless Style’
Portico Quartet‘Knee-Deep In The North Sea’
Rachel Unthank & The Winterset‘The Bairns’
Radiohead‘In Rainbows’
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss‘Raising Sand’
The Last Shadow Puppets‘The Age Of The Understatement’

It’s only Portico Quartet that I need to do any real research for – and I will, I’m sure. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so in line with the Mercury choices. It could just be that I’ve bought far too many records recently, and therefore whatever they’d gone for I’d have been in this position, but I’d like to think not. From my perspective, it’s got to be between Elbow, Laura Marling and Radiohead. Radiohead are getting a bit of negativity thrown their way regarding this because of how established they are, but ‘In Rainbows’ really is one of their best albums and definitely one of the best albums of the last twelve months. Laura Marling is someone that I’ve raved about on here for almost a year now and I certainly don’t intend on stopping. ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ will be in my end of the year list and it’s a near-perfect folk-pop album. It’s an exercise in measured understatement, and it’s all the more beautiful because of that. However, I think it should probably go to Elbow. They went off, not in possession of a record deal, and did it all themselves; recording a record that they would want to listen to. It’s a wonderful, wonderful collection of songs and ‘One Day Like This’ could well end up as one of my all time favourite songs.

Any thoughts? Perhaps the blog will get spammed again by the vinyl collectors of Idaho. (See comments for previous post) I’m with Neil Hannon on Idaho.

Like I said, have a listen to the Muxtape.