Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Celebration or Cash-In?

Take That's Gary Barlow has decided to arrange a concert to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. But is this a real celebration or a thinly-veiled cash-in?

Barlow has attempted to pull out all the stops for this concert, recruiting a line-up of musical superstars such as Elton John, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and Sir Paul McCartney. But Barlow has also contacted a few other musicians in an attempt to get them involved.

Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and JLS are currently confirmed as part of the line-up. But should Barlow have really included these fresh-faced musicians?

The inclusion of these musicians will obviously increase the popularity of the concert by bringing in more of a varied audience as young people will want to come to see those performers. But it also costs the prestige of the event. Surely the musicians that are selected to play a concert to mark such a momentous occasion should be of a higher calibre; reknowned and well-respected musicians as opposed to flavour-of-the-month performers?

No disrespect intended towards those musicians, obviously. But they are fresh faces in the musical world; they won't have even had a real opportunity to earn that respect and recognition yet. What recognition could they have at the moment?
Well, Ed Sheeran does currently hold the record for lowest weekly sales for a number one album of the 21st century...

Barlow has stated that "The Diamond Jubilee concert will celebrate 60 years of the Queen's reign with an amazing line-up of world class artists", but can these new musicians really be counted as world class?

Barlow did attempt to justify the choice, however, by adding "it's going to be a fantastic event that transcends multiple decades of music." This decade has barely begun, Barlow. Should it really be included in this?

Have your say below.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

35 Years of Rumours

35 years ago today Fleetwood Mac released their eleventh and "most important" studio album, 'Rumours'. But it wasn't without its fair share of problems.

The album followed the band's successful commercial tenth album, 'Fleetwood Mac', and months of heavily publicised problems. Two members of the band, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, were at each other's throats and this led to a lot of issues arising during sessions.
In addition to this, Mick Fleetwood was in turmoil following the revelation that his wife was having an affair with his best friend and the press were publishing inaccurate stories about the band members.

In early 1976, the band began working on new material. Over the following turbulent months, the band managed to record the album despite a lot of tension and set-backs. One such set-back involved the kick and snare drums sounding "lifeless" and a tape machine that completely destroyed one of the tracks the band had worked on for nine months.

On February 4th 1977, 'Rumours' was released and was incredibly well received. One critic stated that the entire album seems "more consistent and eccentric" than the previous albums, and noted that the album "jumps right out of the speakers at you".

The album was referred to Mick as "the most important album we ever made" as it allowed the band to continue. It also inspired countless musicians for years to come and continues to do so. Musicians who have cited 'Rumours' as an influence include Tori Amos, Death Cab For Cutie, Matchbox 20, The Cranberries and even Elton John.

In memory of Rumours below we have featured a video containing the album in its entirety, as well as Mick Fleetwood discussing 'Jaws' - the tape machine that devoured one of the tracks.

'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac, in it's entirety.

Mick Fleetwood telling the tale of 'Jaws'

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Britpop's Second Coming

2012 looks set to be a massive year for British music, particularly those musicians who were part of the Britpop scene in the 1990's. So could we be seeing the signs of a Britpop revival?

Last week, NME announced that Noel Gallagher would receive the award for 'Godlike Genius' at this year's NME awards. Now, the chief has a chance to show the world just how much he "pushes boundaries" due to the imminent release of the first track from his forthcoming collaborative album with Amorphous Androgynous.

The song, entitled 'Shoot A Hole In The Sun', will be released as the B-Side to his imminent single 'Dream On'.
So what can we expect from this collaboration? Not a lot of specifics have been given regarding it, other than Noel stating that some of it is "fucking far out". We can speculate regarding this track though.
Noel previously worked with Amorphous Androgynous on a remix of his Oasis track 'Falling Down', which was featured as a B-Side to that single. Given that the title is 'Shoot A Hole In The Sun' (a lyric from Noel's second third solo single, 'If I Had A Gun...'), we can assume that the track is simply a remix of that song.
If this is the case, Noel may have already given us a sneak peak at the song in the video clip for his single 'If I Had A Gun...'. Towards the end of the video (4:05 onwards), you can hear a different version of 'If I Had A Gun...' playing in the background. Could this be the new song?

Official music video for 'If I Had A Gun...' by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

In addition to this, Liam Gallagher's band Beady Eye have hinted at releasing an album at some stage in 2012. The facts surrounding this are vague, however.

Meanwhile, fellow Britpop giants Blur are awakening from their slumber. Having made their last appearance together in 2009, the band have now revealed that they will be performing at the Brit Awards 2012 as they receive the 'Outstanding Contribution To Music' award.

Bassist Alex James, who revealed that the band would play the event, also hinted that the band would record new music together at some stage. However, he did dismiss the possibility of another Blur album.
And Blur front man Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon were recently announced as being the special guests at this year's pre-Brit Awards fundraiser gig for War Child.

In addition to all the Blur goings on, Graham Coxon is currently preparing to embark on a tour in April to support his eighth solo studio album. The album, entitled 'A+E', is set to be released on April 2 and will see Coxon embarking on his most interactive tour to date. For the UK tour, Coxon has asked local bands to submit their tracks to him via his website and those tracks will be made available to visitors of his site. Fans will then vote in a poll and Coxon will make the winner his support act.

But is all of this enough to cause a Britpop revival? How likely is it to actually happen?

Well let's also not forget that 2012 is also the year that legendary band The Stone Roses make their long awaited return. Although not truly part of the Britpop scene, their second album caused them to get lumped in as part of the scene. And their return, along with the return of The Happy Mondays, will certainly be one reason for interest to return to the British music scene. And with such attention on British music, it seems perfectly possible that 2012 will see the second coming of Britpop.