The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

09

Recently Pink Floyd were successful in their bid to sue EMI because their tracks were being sold unbundled. After they argued that their record contract with EMI “expressly prohibited” the unbundling of album tracks, and had expected there to be a lock on their songs so they could only be purchased as full albums. When it came to light that their songs were made available as single tracks, this of course was a bone of contention for them.

There are two different arguments about this, one of which is if the consumer downloaded one track it may entice them to buy the whole album eventually. However, it’s equally as likely that one track will be downloaded, and even if it’s considered to be a fantastic track, that will be the end of that. What’s the point of buying the album when you already have the one song you definitely like and want?

One musician strongly in support of songs being locked so they’re only available as album purchases is Elbow’s Guy Garvey who believes the album is a dying art form, stating that, “You spend a large chunk of your life making [an album] and you think about every note, squeak and crackle. When you put your heart and soul into something you want people to hear it as it was intended.” It would be very easy to accuse the musicians of being greedy, and that this is just some veiled attempt at trying to get as much money from the consumer as possible, but in truth I’m inclined to agree with Guy Garvey.

I tend to look at albums as being like books, a series of chapters containing different scenes and insights. Purchasing a track, that isn’t at the time being released as a single, I see as being like buying one chapter of a book because you know it’s the one chapter you’ll definitely like. But what about the rest? Albums are meant to be played as a whole piece, and I think in some instances people will be missing out. What if the majority of people had only bought ‘She Bangs The Drums’ from The Stone Roses’ debut album, or ‘Grounds For Divorce’ from Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’? Those albums, full of cohesive and defining tracks, could easily have disappeared into oblivion if this was the case.

Naturally this is all subjective, but I personally am in support of locking some bands back catalogues so their music can only be purchased as full albums. Otherwise, bands may see albums as being a waste of effort and time and will only release singles. Could this be the future of music?


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02

This week, it seems, is a week for a change in band line-ups. First there was the frankly surprising news that Caroline McKay, the drummer for Glasvegas, has decided to leave James Allen & Co.

This was followed by the announcement of Matt Rubano and Matthew Fazzi’s departure from Taking Back Sunday. And I was just getting over seeing Taking Back Sunday without Fred Mascherino!

Meanwhile, while temporarily taking a break from mourning the demise of Copeland (they had so much left to give!) I went out and bought Laura Marling’s latest album ‘I Speak Because I Can.’ Simply put, it’s one of the best music purchases I’ve ever made. Here’s a brilliant video of her perfroming the first single from the album, ‘Devil’s Spoke.’

 


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31

After her successful L.A. double-act with Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg is duetting again. But this time she's not straying so far from home.

The award-winning actress, now established as an indie pop star, will release a version of 'Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)', the notorious 1969-70 single by her parents, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. From 2 April, Serge's birthday, the track will be streamed on Charlotte's website and downloadable from online music-sellers; all profits will go to charity.

Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg in 1986

Charlotte's version is based on a 1967 demo version of the song from the recording session by Serge and Brigitte Bardot, for whom the song was originally written. Due mainly to protests by Bardot's husband, this version went unreleased at the time. Two years later, Serge met Jane Birkin and the two brought the song into everlasting infamy.

The new 'Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)' features the late Serge in his original role - his voice mixed into a ghostly, eerie echo that suggests the great man is singing from the nether world (as opposed to the nether regions). Charlotte sounds as refined and demure as ever. Despite a rather treacly remix of the trademark Gainsbourg symphonic strings, the duet works well.

Will this version cause as much controversy as the original? Well, it can hardly be as controversial as the last Serge/Charlotte duet - 'Lemon Incest' from 1986, where papa and 14-year-old daughter extolled the virtues of 'a love that will never be'.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is touring Europe and North America this summer, though she has no Irish concert scheduled yet. It remains to be heard if 'Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)' will feature in her setlist.

 The amateur videomakers are already on the job - here's Charlotte and Serge with 'Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)' version 2010:


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30
Frightened Rabbit 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks'
A review of the album 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks' by Frightened Rabbit Review Snapshot: The Scottish five piece have returned with their much third anticipated album. ...

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30
Laura Marling 'I Speak Because I Can'
A review of the album 'I Speak Because I Can' by Laura Marling Review Snapshot: The second album from folksy songstress Laura Marling highlights why I fell in love with her music in t...

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30
Ellie Goulding 'Lights'
A review of the album 'Lights' by Ellie Goulding Review Snapshot: Bland production, innocuous songs, unimaginative reheating of last year's mainstream breakthrough&...

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30
Pilotlight (live in Dublin)
Pilotlight (Live in the Button Factory, Dublin) Review Snapshot: Pilotlight have a unique sound. Understated and expressive on the record, they are powerful and overstated live. The Cluas Verd...

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27
Mumford and Sons (Live in Dublin)
Mumford and Sons (Live in The Academy, Dublin) Review Snapshot: From an excessive three warm up acts and technical problems to egotistical roadies, my trip to see Mumford and Sons was not the...

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22
Duke Special 'The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen'
A review of the album 'The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen' by Duke Special Review Snapshot: Ireland’s most versatile and underrated musician excels with a trilogy of...

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22

The ‘Greatest Hits’ album. We’re all familiar with it in some capacity, usually the ploy of the record label. It used to be that greatest hits albums signalled the end of a band, as though they were saying, “Right, this is as good as we’ll ever get.” Now, they seem to occur intermittently. Remember the odd Biffy Clyro singles release a few months ago? I’m just cautiously waiting for there to be a ‘Best Of’ album for Elbow.

There are very few ‘Best Of’ or ‘Greatest Hits’ albums that I like, and I’m certain this is the same for almost every other music fan.  I thought The Cure’s Greatest Hits was pretty good. While naturally it was filled with their most commercially successful songs you could tell the songs weren’t just thrown together, that some thought was put into the track listing and it worked out perfectly. I mean, of course I’ll bemoan them for not including ‘Fascination Street’, ‘Catch’ or ‘Prayers for Rain’, but whatever song selection is picked for these albums I always have some sort of issue with the tracks that either are, or aren’t, on it.

While in some instances the Greatest Hits album is merely an introduction to the band for some people, sometimes a band has so much excellent material that it’s incredibly hard to narrow it down into one album. The Smiths’ Very Best Of is a prime example of this, with no less than 23 songs on the album. And prior to that album release there were two volumes of ‘The Best Of The Smiths’. Some bands, it seems, should just remain untouched. If you were to go out and pick up any one of The Smiths’ albums it would be filled with consistently enthralling material. There was never really any need for a ‘Very Best Of’.

On several occasions some bands are unaware that their label is compiling a ‘Best Of’ album, let alone going to release one. Free from any consultation from the band, it proves an irritating and sometimes embarrassing addition to their discography.  This happened to AFI in 2004, when they left their then-label Nitro, the label released a collection of songs from their previous albums that they saw as being the best. It’s still something the band rarely talk about, but when they do the disdain is always evident.

So, are greatest hits album really so heinous? The Best of R.E.M captures the band at various different stages in their career, and no doubt provides an excellent introduction to the band. Similarly, the Best of Depeche Mode is a stunning collection of their songs. Maybe without those albums, very few bands would be appreciated as much as they are now. In some instances, it can shine a light on a band that had previously been only vaguely known by people. Here’s hoping that Doves’ Best Of garners them all of the attention they’ve so long deserved. The verdict? The Greatest Hits album: a necessary evil.


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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.