Archive for Music

Rage against Cowell

Posted in Music, Rage Against The Machine with tags , on January 27, 2010 by pieman70

Well, we did it, Xmas no1 of 1009 was “Killing in the Name of” by Rage against the machine and not “the Climb” by….  Come on, what’s his name, you know, hingmy off of that thing.

That is a little cruel, but hells, we’ve earned it.  Year after year of dreary X-Factor winners, or pop idol etc, and finally, a good song.  I’m tempted to get all choked up and start talking us all up, how we did the impossible and that makes us mighty, or indeed point out that governments should take heed, because there are more bright independent people out there, we just rarely move like a herd, but I’ll leave it for the moment.

Naturally, there have been naysayers, smart alecs talking about how its funny that a whole load of people bought a song with the chorus “I won’t do what you tell me” because they were told to, and of course that both songs are on labels owned by Sony, so whatever wins Sony makes a big heap of money (And some said by that reasoning Cowell)

To address the second first, yes, it may well have been a marketing stunt by Sony, possibly off the back of cowell’s clever move last year of releasing a weak and lifeless cover of “Hallelujah” prompting online campaigns to get one of several alternative versions to No1, the advantage, he has a stake in the rights to Hallelujah so probably got a fair chunk of money from that.  However someone likened him getting money from RATM sales to JD sports getting money from M&S sales because they share the same shopping centre.

The First, well, I’d disagree, yes we all bought the song on a specific week for the purpose of getting it to No1, but I’m betting if you asked 50 people you’d get at least 20 different reasons.  Me, I like the song and don’t own it, plus I really liked the idea of every pointless light pop TV and radio station having to play Killing in the name of, and indeed have enjoyed seeing the gritted teeth approach most of them have to playing a storming rebellious hit.  In fact one criticism is that many pop stations have since carried on regardless, in a review of 2009 one station played an excerpt from Killing, only to play the whole of the climb.  Great, so here’s a clip of the winner, and here’s the whole of No2.

My other reason is a stupid one.  See, I have a small confession, up until my late teens, music didn’t really interest me.  In fact most of my CD collection was film soundtracks.  Thing is I blame a lot of that on opportunity.  When I was younger most of the people I hung around liked “What was in the charts” basically through primary school I was around people who were content to be told what they liked.  I just couldn’t bring myself to agree, so I generally accepted that, aside from the odd flash of something I liked that chart music wasn’t for me.  As I grew up obviously my horizons expanded.  This is the crux of the matter.  While my rock taste was developing if I hadn’t been to rock clubs and talking to rock fans then many bands wouldn’t register.  I often think that if a good rock song could get up the charts and get the radio play then more people would realise how awesome rock is.  Its stupid but there we are.  And that’s my final reason.  If one person who has been content to listen to the manufactured drivel gets inspired to Rock from this, then it’s been a success.


The Majesty of Rock

Posted in Music, Rock with tags , on October 22, 2008 by pieman70

I noticed recently that AC/DC’s Back in Black is joint second best selling album in the world, joint with the Bodyguard soundtrack and beaten by Thriller. In the same band of over 40 million copies sold are Saturday Night Fever, The Best of the Eagles and The Dark side of the moon By Pink Floyd.

And you know what, while in the over 30million there are some of the newer pop acts, Shania Twain and Backstreet boys, we have to go pretty far down to get more of the big pop acts. I predict that more of the classic rock albums such as U2’s The Joshua Tree, Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Guns’n’Roses appetite for destruction will continue to climb where their pop companions will stay. Why is this. Because of those albums (And aside from the Joshua Tree) I bought all of those years after release. You see while Backstreet boy’s Millennium gained 30million sales in the years around its release, in nearly 30 years time will people still be buying it? Saturday Night Fever perhaps, the bodyguard soundtrack, a possibility, but if me and my contemporaries are anything to go by, and the kids I see around, people will be buying copies of Back in Black, Led Zeppelin’s IV and The White album by the Beatles for decades to come.

This is of course the lasting power of really good Rock, and the interest of the fans, that they pass their enthusiasm on. Interestingly enough my wife was sorting through our Mutual CD collection and she commented on the Number of Iron maiden Albums I owned. I replied that I had them all, and that in around 3 decades of recording they have produced a large volume of material. My wife is a huge Take That fan, but aside from them producing fewer albums, she has never really liked an artist to try and get all their stuff. Rockers are a different breed though, and the music is of a quality that in years to come I hope my kids will buy their own copies, or download, or mentally plug in to AC/DC’s Back in Black.

Long Live Rock and Roll.

For those about to ROCK!

Posted in Games, Music, Rock with tags , , on March 3, 2008 by pieman70

There are several things that can make me buy a game, but there are 2 which can be almost guaranteed.

1. Unlockable content, I’m a real sucker for repeating the same tasks to see extra gubbins.
2. Zany peripherals, If I’d had a gamecube, I’d have bought Donkey Konga, a Saturn, Samba del amigo or whatever it was called. In fact I still yearn after a singstar set despite the game being pretty duff if not mixed with other people and copious amounts of booze.

One series that scratched both of these was Guitar hero. I mean not only is it a fun rhythm based game but it has unlockable content (Characters, tracks etc) and an absurd controller, plus the rock music I so dearly love.

I counted the original as my last extravagant purchase before responsible co-habiting life, and really enjoyed it.

There was some criticism from people that Guitar Hero was a bit sad, and that players of it should buy a guitar and learn for real. For gods sake, I’m playing a game. I know I can’t get up in front of a crowd and play Texas flood unless I have my comedy plastic guitar and a PS2. The amount of hostility from your common or garden bedroom guitar player was really surprising, what had guitar hero done to deserve such wrath? Did they think that people would just play guitar hero instead of taking up the guitar? is it one prop too many for air guitar? Are all these games ok but rock, particularly with a guitar shaped peripheral, is sacred?

I love rock like I love pies, and to me this was a great idea. Rockers could play a fun game, kind of air guitar with a score attached, while gamers would be introduced to a world of rock. Ok covers in GH1 but still I imagined gamers walking away thinking “I’d like to hear some Judas Priest” or “Man Boston are excellent” and indeed there were stories of players taking up the guitar. Still, the hate was confusing.

Guitar Hero 2 really just fixed the few problems in 1, adding co-op 2 player with one on bass and the encore system while still keeping the game’s rock themed humour made this so far the pinnacle of the series. Sadly disaster struck. Harmonix and Acclaim had a falling out. Harmonix went on to team up with MTV to produce Rock Band (More on that later) while Acclaim got Harmonix’s cooperation on Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s and hired Neversoft to do Guitar Hero III.

Rocks the 80s was good, exactly what I wanted, just more tracks with the guitar hero II engine, a few graphical tweaks but to be honest I was quite happy with just more songs, about the only issue was that, with reduced extended content the game was still sold initially at full retail. It just wasn’t value for money. Shame as I would have been quite happy with many expansions based around the GH2 engine (Its not like you’re coding much new) at around the £15 price point, and would have picked them up as, lets face it, having the controller I tend to want to use it so I’m a bit of a captive audience. Just started GHIII and I’m a Little put off. Its clear they wanted to make it more “Next Gen” or wanted some separation from Harmonix, perhaps Neversoft wanted their own stamp, but the look and feel of the game just doesn’t work as well. Still it has some killer tracks.

There was, however, competition this time around. Rock Band. This was a bold move by Harmonix and MTV, for starters it would have all songs by the real artist as opposed to Guitar Hero’s “Made famous by” majority. Also a full set (around $200 in the US) included 2 guitars, with 6 extra buttons for special sections, a mic for singing and a drum kit. The idea is that you and 3 friends can get together and play as a band, or you can play each part individually (a nice touch since the bass tracks in GHII were only available in 2 player co-op) Sadly my inner killjoy points out that in total I’ve played 2 player guitar hero 3 times. How often could I actually get 3 others to play rock band. Rock band also has an uphill struggle. See, quite a few people have guitar Hero SGs (The guitar peripheral) and while Rock Band may be the better game, we’ll most likely go for the one which we can buy at the cheaper solus price.

SO, what do I want from each company. For both, keep releasing on the PS2, you’ve got a userbase there who most likely now own 4 games for their controller, none of us are going to buy a PS3 to own a 5th. Although by all means release a PS3 version alongside your Wii and 360 ones. Also consider allowing other companies to make guitar based games using the SG or rock band guitars (Preferably compatible with both) having other dance games didn’t hurt Dance Dance revolution nor did other singing games dent singstar, so compatibility throughout.

Rock band – Open the game up to 3rd party controllers, give me a guarantee that my Guitar hero SG will work with rock band and I’ll probably buy it for more songs to play. hell I may even buy your mic as I hear with a stand you can sing and play guitar (If you are able to concentrate like that, apparently its not easy) preferably I could attach any PC voice Chat mic and I’d probably buy one of those and also use it for voice chat on my PC. Regardless if my two SGS were compatible I’d definitely buy Rock band when it becomes available.

Guitar Hero – More tracks in expansions. Similarly open up the SG so anyone can code a guitar game, allow compatibility with Rock band guitars as well and just give us a raft of extra tracks in expansions around the £15 point.

Keep this up and I’ll keep rockin.


Posted in Music with tags on July 19, 2007 by pieman70

Recently the music industry has been getting uppity about free CD’s givenaway with newspapers, particulalry following Prince giving away his entire New Album in a deal with a national newspaper. Indeed for this particular album teh only way to get it it through the paper or by attending one of his live concerts, where its free with each ticket.This complaining is yet another sign that the large record companies have absolutely no idea on how to run a buisiness model based on anything aside from the sale of physical singles and albums, and indeed no particular desire to develop a new buisiness model, prefering to shut down, lobby and stop any new way for as long as possible. Thing is, it won’t work. The mass lawsuits of those who illegally downloaded music has not stemmed the tide of peer to peer sharing, nor has it moved people on to more legitimate download sites. The best DRM is usually only 2 hrs away from being hacked and rendered inert and many consumers refuse to buy music legitemately online until they can be guaranteed complete freedom to use the tracks as they see fit (be it mix CDs or transfer to any music player they own) plus a free backup should a catastrophic failiure occur. At the moment the record companies are caught seriously wanting. Combine thsi with the alterations in how the carts are measured, now including all downloads. with Internet and DAB radio catering for more refined and specific music tastes its becoming much harder to invent a pop act (bovine and obedient) and find a similarly bovine and obedient crowd to buy them en-masse. Hell we’ve not had a new boyband since westlife, and the bigger events ahev been the reforming of old acts from the 90s, winning nostalgia and novelty value in the same way black lace doesn’t for the 80s.In short the record companies are loosing control of their indusrty, their content and with artist now able to generate their own hype through social networking, they may have to accept loss of control of any new acts.I heard an interesting idea, that in the future an album may be used more as a shopfront to try and persuade people to buy tickets for a tour, in short Artists (and companies) may in essence give away and album in order to generate fans to buy tickets for a tour. WHile I don’t see this happening any time soon I do think that if artists can make most of their money from touring and the all important royalties gained form radio play (WHich is constantly moving away from playlists and more to public demand) then there may be more artists willing to give away the Album for free.

Do I not Have Anything better to Do

Posted in Comics, DC, Marvel, Music with tags , , , on May 14, 2007 by pieman70

Don’t go hanging out washing, my ankles and knees hurt which means there’s bad weather afoot.Watchec the Eurovision song contest on Sat. As always there were huge accusations of block voting, but in fairness, serbia was one of teh better entries (Although I quite liked the Finnish entry again this year and even quite fancied the large armed singer, but I’ll file that under I’m strange) Regardless of what peopel say, last year Finland proved that you get a good act who are already popular accross Europe and enter them in teh contest and they’ll take it. Obviously I have a rock Bias but think how much more enjoyable the contest would be if the following acts went on.

UK – Iron Maiden
Germany – Rammestein
Finland – Nightwish

Ok, so the chances of a stage surviving Rammestein’s liev act is minimal but woudl be great fun, and come on, to have Eddie stalking around the green room after would be worth tuning in on its own.Never thought Morrisy would give us a winner, he’s always had a bit of a British niche in his popularity and you don’t find teh germans or otehr european nations raving on about him as much as they rave about Iron Maiden, Black sabbath or Status Quo.Actually that would be cool, Status Quo doing our entry.In comics my standout issue of the week was Nova #2 the fact that they refrained from having him and Iron man fight, prefering to have a discussion on the merits of registration. I do feel that Bendis is partly to blame for the depiction of SHIELD bursting in on Luke Cage in his flat. Nova made me think, however that Anihilation should be how events are done, mainly contained but with impact later. Anihilation started as 4 4 part stories focusing on 4 characters during the initial attack of the Anihilation wave. These were Nova, The Silver Surfer, Super Skrul and Ronan. that then led to a 6 part series showing the Anihilation war. all great but most importantly for me, for 4 months I was picking up 4 extra issues, but then that dropped to 1 and what it means long term is taht I picked up Nova and teh Anihilation: Heralds 2 parter and will be picking up Anihilation, Conquest. For DC with countdown I hope it is just the 52 issue weekly comic tied with events taht occur in the DC universe but make sure you don’t have to read Countodwn to understant the events in Batman and vice versa.