Archive for July, 2008

Universal Music launches Lost Tunes download store for “lost classics”

July 31, 2008


Universal Music has launched a new UK music download store called Lost Tunes ( which is dedicated to exclusive tracks, rarities, hard-to-find recordings and “overlooked classics” from the vast Universal catalogue.


An opening batch of 134 download albums will be available exclusively through the Lost Tunes site – including The Walker Brothers’ Live In Japan, three albums by British post punk band Comsat Angels, R&B favourites Nine Below Zero, and Bill Fay’s eponymous album.


Other initial selections include albums by Joni Mitchell, Scott Walker, Marianne Faithfull, The Flying Burrito Brothers, David Ruffin and Caravan.


A new collection of eight previously unavailable tracks by early 1990s Liverpool band The La’s will be available from September 1. The rare recordings include a John Leckie/Steve Lilywhite mix of ‘Come In Come Out’ and a John Leckie/Bob Andrew mix of ‘Way Out’.


A further 500 exclusive download albums are scheduled to be available from the store over the next six months, including never-before-released gems from the archives of the Trojan, Fiction and Decca labels.


In addition to classic rock and pop titles, the Lost Tunes store will also feature rare reggae, blues, and soul albums – and hard-to-find tracks from the Verve, A&M, Motown, Vertigo and Stax catalogues.


All of the downloads on the Lost Tunes site are available as 320kpbs MP3s, without digital rights protection. The tracks will work on any MP3-compatible fixed or portable device, including iPods, MP3 players and mobile phones.


According to Universal, the site is designed to help music fans rediscover old favorites and find new ones. It features a “smart search” facility, with music sorted into eight genres and 38 sub-genres ranging from progressive rock, electronica and jazz fusion, to world music and spoken word.


Universal insists Lost Tunes – dubbed “the home of rare music” – will not attempt to compete with larger services such as iTunes, but will cater for people looking for older and more obscure tracks.


“We wanted Lost Tunes to replicate the experience of going to a favourite local record shop where browsing and discovering music is a real pleasure and an adventure,” said Universal Music’s Azi Eftekhari.


Shopping at Lost Tunes won’t be cheap though. Individual tracks are priced at 99p, while albums cost anything from £5.99 upwards.

Bob Dylan to release Tell Tale Signs compilation of rare and unreleased tracks

July 31, 2008


Bob Dylan fans are set for a treat this autumn with the release of Tell Tale Signs – a multi-disc compilation album consisting of alternative takes, previously unreleased studio recordings, demos, live tracks and rarities from 1989 to 2006.


Tell Tale Signs is the long-rumoured eighth volume in Dylan’s Bootleg Series. It will feature unreleased recordings from his studio albums from the last two decades – including 1989’s Oh Mercy, World Gone Wrong (1993), Time Out of Mind (1997) and Modern Times (2006).


Also included are tracks which were specially recorded for film soundtracks such as Lucky You (‘Huck’s Tune’) and Gods & Generals (‘Cross the Green Mountain’). There’s also a track from an album that Dylan started recording with David Bromberg in 1992, but which was never finished or released. Another rare gem is Dylan’s duet with Ralph Stanley on the song ‘The Lonesome River’.


Tell Tale Signs: Rare And Unreleased 1989-2006 will be available in both a 2CD and 3CD format. The 2CD, 27-song edition will feature a booklet of rare photographs, liner notes and recording credits. The 3CD set is understood to be a deluxe limited edition that will include a 12-track bonus disc and a hardcover book of photographs of all of the singles Dylan has released throughout his career.


Tell Tale Signs is also expected to be released as a limited edition four-LP set which will be pressed on 180 gram vinyl and will include all of the elements of the 2CD set.


Fans who visit Dylan’s web site ( will be able to obtain a free download of ‘Dreamin’ of You’, a Daniel Lanois-produced track which is featured on Tell Tale Signs. The previously unreleased song was recorded during Dylan’s sessions for his album Time Out of Mind.


The full track-listing for Tell Tale Signs is:


Disc 1:
’Mississippi’ (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
’Most of the Time’ (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
’Dignity’ (piano demo, Oh Mercy)
’Someday Baby’ (alternate version, Modern Times)
’Red River Shore’ (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
’Tell ‘Ole Bill’ (alternate version, North Country soundtrack)
’Born in Time’ (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
’Can’t Wait’ (alternate version, Time Out of Mind)
’Everything is Broken’ (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
’Dreamin’ of You’ (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
’Huck’s Tune’ (from Lucky You soundtrack)
’Marching to the City’ (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
’High Water (For Charley Patton)’ (Live, Niagara, 2003).


Disc 2:
’Mississippi’ (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
’32-20 Blues’ (unreleased, World Gone Wrong)
’Series of Dreams’ (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
’God Knows’ (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
’Can’t Escape From You’ (unreleased, December 2005)
’Dignity’ (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
’Ring Them Bells’ (Live at the Supper Club, 1993)
’Cocaine Blue’ (Live, Vienna, Va., 1997)
’Ain’t Talkin’’ (alternate version, Modern Times)
’The Girl On The Greenbriar Shore’ (Live, 1992)
’Lonesome Day Blues’ (Live, Sunrise, Fla., 2002)
’Miss the Mississippi’ (unreleased, 1992)
’The Lonesome River’ (With Ralph Stanley, from Clinch Mountain Country)
’Cross The Green Mountain’ (From Gods and Generals soundtrack).


Disc 3:
’Duncan And Brady’ (unreleased, 1992)
’Cold Irons Bound’ (Live, Bonnaroo, June 2004)
’Mississippi’ (unreleased version #3, Time Out of Mind)
’Most Of The Time’ (alternate version #2, Oh Mercy)
’Ring Them Bells’ (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
’Things Have Changed’ (Live, Portland, Oregon, 2000)
’Red River Shore’ (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
’Born In Time’ (unreleased version #2, Oh Mercy)
’Tryin’ To Get To Heaven’ (Live, London, 2000)
’Marchin’ To The City’ (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
’Can’t Wait’ (alternate version #2, Time Out of Mind)
’Mary And The Soldier’ (unreleased, World Gone Wrong).

George Michael denies plans for Wham! reunion

July 30, 2008


George Michael has dismissed reports he is set to reunite with former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley for two concerts at Earls Court, London in August 2008.


The pair were rumoured to be teaming up to perform several songs during the Earls Court shows which will mark the end of Michael’s touring career. The reunion had been predicted as part of a series of retirement “surprises”. But Michael’s official spokesperson insists the star has no plans to appear on stage with Ridgeley.


The 45 year old singer is currently on what he says is his final tour of the US, after insisting he is “too old” to play any future arena concerts.


George Michael’s latest album, Twenty Five, was released in the UK in November 2006. The 29-song, 2CD set chronicles his career – from early Wham! tracks such as ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and ‘Last Christmas’, to more recent hits such as ‘Jesus To A Child’ and ‘Outside’. The album also includes duets with Paul McCartney, Mary J. Blige and former Sugababe Mutya Buena.


A companion 2-disc Twenty Five DVD, featuring 40 videos, is now also available. 

Blondie star Deborah Harry’s sixtysomething youthful looks all down to black sheep

July 27, 2008

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Drooling men and envious women aged over 50 take note … the secret behind punk icon Deborah Harry’s everlasting youthful lookshas been revealed. It’s all down to injections of black sheep embryos when she was in her early 30s.


The Blondie star, who turned 63 this month, has revealed that she had the cells of sheep injected into her body 30 years ago in a Swiss clinic – and, it seems, they’re still working.


The black sheep cell replacement treatment was an innovative medical advance in the 1970s which heart transplant surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard is said to have helped to pioneer.


“I had these cells injected into me when I was 32 or 35 and it turned out I was the youngest person to have the treatment,” Harry told US tabloid The Globe.


“They would take cells from different organs in the sheep – such as the liver, glands, bone and whatever – and make up these injections,” she said. “Whether that treatment lasted this long, I don’t know, but I feel great.”


To show how good she feels, Deborah Harry and Blondie have just embarked on a World Tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their classic Mike Chapman-produced album Parallel Lines. The band will be performing the entire album on stage – including hits such as ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Hanging On the Telephone’, ‘Sunday Girl’ and ‘One Way or Another’.


To mark the event, EMI Records has released a special 30th Anniversary two-disc Deluxe Edition of Parallel Lines. It includes a booklet of exclusive photos from the album session, and a DVD featuring a previously unavailable Blondie performance of ‘Sunday Girl’ from the BBC TV archive.


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Fender to launch new Stratocaster based on David Gilmour’s famous Pink Floyd ‘Black Strat’

July 27, 2008


Guitar manufacturer Fender has set a September 22 launch date for the long-awaited David Gilmour Signature Stratocaster which is based on the star’s iconic ‘Black Strat’ that helped to create Pink Floyd’s revolutionary sound.


Gilmour bought his original Stratocaster in 1970 and used it on the classic albums The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall.


Fender has reportedly worked very closely with Gilmour and Phil Taylor to make sure that the Signature model is the closest thing to Gilmour’s own much-customised guitar – but “at an affordable price” (although the manufacturer’s suggested retail price has not yet been confirmed).


The Signature Stratocaster – which will not be a limited edition – is said to have the same maple neck, deep black pickguard, shortened tremolo arm and custom electronics as Gilmour’s original.


The launch of the guitar is timed to coincide with the release of David Gilmour‘s three-disc live album Live In Gdansk which was recorded during his 2007 solo world tour. The set includes a live double CD, plus a DVD of the concert.


Purchasers of the Gilmour Signature Stratocaster will find a free copy of Live In Gdansk stuffed into the centre pocket of the black case which comes with the guitar.


The hardback edition of Phil Taylor’s book The Black Strat: A History of David Gilmour’s Black Fender Stratocaster will also be published on September 22 – with a signed softback copy of the book also to be found inside the guitar case.


According to Fender, the final version of the new Stratocaster was not approved until Gilmour was happy that all of the elements combined to make a sound that was as close as possible to his own guitar.


“I told Fender that it was just an ordinary Strat that I bought,” said Gilmour, “but I must say they’ve done a great job of recreating it.”

Bob & Earl star and ‘Harlem Shuffle’ co-writer Earl Nelson dead at 79

July 26, 2008


Earl Lee Nelson – half of the singing duo Bob & Earl, who wrote and sang the classic Sixties soul hit ‘Harlem Shuffle’ – has died in Los Angeles, two months before his 80th birthday.


Nelson originally shot to fame in the late Fifties when he joined the West Coast doo-wop group the Hollywood Flames and sang lead on their 1958 hit ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’.


He eventually quit his job in a toy factory and started recording with Hollywood Flames founder Bobby Byrd, who had built a parallel solo career under the name Bobby Day. Under this pseudonym, Byrd wrote ’Little Bitty Pretty One’ and had a solo hit with ‘Rockin’ Robin’.


In 1960, Earl Nelson and Bobby Day started recording together as Bob & Earl, on the Class Records label. However, these early releases had relatively little success, and Day/Byrd decided to resume his solo career in the early 1960s.


In 1962, Nelson teamed up with another Bobby – Bobby Relf – and they started recording and performing together as Bob & Earl. The new duo’s harmonies had a special quality – a smooth yet powerful sound that reflected Earl Nelson’s background in gospel music.


They found success after writing and recording ‘Harlem Shuffle’ with arranger/producer Barry White. The track was a minor hit in the US in 1963, but it reached the top 10 in the UK when it was re-released in 1969. The Rolling Stones even released a cover version of the song in 1986.


Nelson and Bobby Relf continued performing as Bob & Earl well into the 1970s before splitting up. Relf died in November 2007.


Nelson also enjoyed US chart success in the late-Sixties under the name Jackie Lee with dance novelty hits such as ‘The Duck’, ‘African Boo-Ga-Loo’ and ‘The Chicken’.


Earl Nelson was divorced twice and had 11 children. He suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease towards the end of his life.

The Smithereens to release second Beatles tribute album

July 26, 2008


US rock band The Smithereens plan to follow up their 2007 Beatles tribute album, Meet The Smithereens, with a second tribute album, titled B-Sides The Beatles. It will contain cover versions of twelve of the Fab Four’s earliest B-sides.


Formed in New Jersey in 1980, The Smithereens have always been best known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop songs with distinct echoes of The Byrds and The Beatles.


The new album is expected to follow a similar format to Meet The Smithereens which was the band’s own track-by-track homage to Meet The Beatles – the first Beatles album to be released in the United States.


Meet The Smithereens featured the band’s respectful re-recordings of every song from the original Beatles LP, including ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, ‘Little Child’, ‘This Boy’, and ‘Not a Second Time’. They mostly stuck to The Beatles’ original arrangements, right down to Paul McCartney’s famous “1-2-3-4!” countdown on I Saw Her Standing There’.


B-Sides The Beatles – which is expected to be released in September 2008 – will contain cover versions of a dozen Beatles tracks originally recorded in 1964 and early 1965.


The full track-listing is: ‘Thank You Girl’, ‘There’s A Place’, ‘I’ll Get You’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, ‘Ask Me Why’, ‘Cry For A Shadow’, ‘P.S. I Love You’, ‘Happy Just To Dance With You’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘Slow Down’, ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’, and ‘Some Other Guy’.


The B-Sides The Beatles CD will also feature some surprises for die-hard Beatles fans – including an appearance by session musician Andy White who played drums on ‘P.S. I Love You’, the B-side to The Beatles’ first single ‘Love Me Do’ in 1962.


The album will also include in-depth liner notes written by Beatles author and historian Bruce Spizer.


The CD cover was created by legendary illustrator Jack Davis, best known for his work on Mad magazine in the Fifties and Sixties.


“This project started while we were making demos in preparation for the next original Smithereens album,” said Smithereens co-producer Kurt Reil. “As the band warmed up on some obscure Beatles B-sides they used to play in clubs, we soon realised there was some unfinished Beatles business for The Smithereens, especially in light of the success of Meet The Smithereens … and the idea for a follow-up was born.”


Who knows, maybe they’ll have a crack at Revolver next …

Terry Wogan still UK’s top morning radio DJ

July 25, 2008


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BBC Radio 2’s Wake up to Wogan is still the most popular breakfast radio show in the UK, according to the latest figures from radio industry body Rajar.


Radio 2 also remains the UK’s most popular station, with 13 million listeners.


Wake up to Wogan – which has been running since January 1993 – had 7.75 million listeners tuning in each week between March 24 and June 22, 2008, according to Rajar. The figures were slightly down from last quarter’s record audience of 8.1 million.


With his radio show perceived to attract older listeners, Wogan jokingly refers to his fans as TOGs – standing for ‘Terry’s Old Geezers’ or ‘Terry’s Old Gals’. The show is also listened to by ‘Terry’s Young Geezers’ and ‘Terry’s Young Gals’ (known as TYGs) who are forced to listen, says Wogan, because their parents insist on tuning in to Radio 2.


The Rajar figures showed a slight fall in Radio 1’s listening audience – down from 10.87 million listeners per week in 2007 to 10.68 million during the survey period. The figures also showed that BBC 6 Music has continued to increase its audience. It now attracts some 551,000 listeners.


Rajar also revealed that more people aged 15 and over are now listening to radio via their mobile phones. The figure has risen to 12.2% from 8.9% this time last year.


The Rajar figures are compiled on behalf of both the BBC and UK commercial radio stations.


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Celine Dion songwriter Steve Thompson launches multimedia project, ‘Voices’

July 24, 2008

British songwriter Steve Thompson – who has written songs for artists such as Celine Dion, Sheena Easton, Elaine Page, Sara Brightman and Elkie Brooks – has teamed up with playwright and poet Tom Kelly and photographer Peter Dixon to create an innovative multimedia album titled Voices.


Voices features a unique fusion of evocative soundscapes composed by Thompson, moving poetry written and read by Kelly, and unforgettable images captured by Dixon.


When creating Voices, the three artists collaborated virtually, using internet applications to evaluate and shape their ideas. The result, though, is more human than technological – and it’s highly original and emotive.


All three artists’ work and lives are firmly rooted in the North East of England.


Tom Kelly is a prolific Gateshead-based poet and playwright with many writing credits to his name. Plays like Baby Love and I Left My Heart in Roker Park have made him a firm favourite with North East audiences.


Peter Dixon is a photographer from Jarrow who is famous for his moving images of urban dereliction.


Steve Thompson has written such diverse hits as ‘Hurry Home’ by Wavelength, the Acid House dance track ‘Chiki Chiki Ah Ah’ by Baby Ford, ‘I Don’t Want To Be The One’ by The Searchers, and ‘Paris By Air’ by The Tygers Of Pan Tang. He was at the forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s, producing bands like The Tygers of Pan Tang, Venom and Raven.


The result of the Thompson-Kelly-Dixon collaboration is a highly atmospheric piece which has just been released as a 13-track DVD.


The Voices DVD is now available to buy for £10 ($20), including postage and packaging.


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All the way from Memphis to … Bolton – Elvis lighter to be raffled

July 21, 2008

A cigar lighter once owned by Elvis Presley is to be raffled in aid of kidney research during The World’s Greatest Elvis Tribute Concert to be held at Bolton Arena on Saturday August 9, 2008.


With the event being billed as “the UK’s biggest ever tribute show”, thousands of Elvis fans attending the concert will have an opportunity to win the lighter which has been donated by Elvis tribute performer Steve Preston in memory of his mother and mother in law.


Preston bought the lighter for £900 several years ago and it has been authenticated by Elvis’s family.


The World’s Greatest Elvis Tribute Concert will feature four of the world’s top Elvis tribute artists – along with the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis Presley’s original backing singers, and rock and roll legend D.J. Fontana who was the King’s original drummer. They will also be backed by a 24-piece orchestra.


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