Friday, 29 October 2010

Free Download Friday #76: Motörhead play the Blues

Last week it was cars (see Free Download Friday #75: Green Police). This week it's beer. I wouldn't normally combine drinking and driving but in this case, I'm making an exception.

Mr. Lemmy Kilmister
Originally uploaded by Edvill
I am, however, sorry that this is the second advert associated free download in a row but this one was too good to miss. Motörhead have re-recorded Ace Of Spades for a beer commercial... and it sounds awesome.

They have slowed it right down, taken out the bass and added a harmonica. It has gone from a 90mph rock classic to a down and dirty Blues track. Lemmy's growls his way through the lyrics and sounds better than ever.

There has been a change to the lyrics too. After he sings, "I don't want to live for ever", there is a pause before he adds, "But apparently I am!"

Since it is being used in a beer advert, to get the track you have to enter a date of birth as well as giving a valid email address but it is a small price to pay to get access to this re-imagining of a classic!

I would love to hear a whole album of unplugged Bluesed-up versions of classic Motörhead tracks. I suspect it's not likely to happen but it would be fascinating if it did!

{Public health warning: If you are interested in living for ever; Lemmy is probably not the best role model!}

Update: A message from the beer people on the YouTube channel says:
"We've run out of downloads for the slow version of Ace of Spades! Working hard to get some more. Thanks for all your support and for digging the track. Follow us on Twitter @k1664slow for updates."
Well that's poor! I guess they completely underestimated how many people would want to download it. Silly Billies! You can still watch the ad on YouTube but it's not the same as getting the whole track for download. Sorry, clearly this is not my best ever Free Download Friday!

Update 2: A Twitter message posted Friday 12 November said they have made another 10,000 available. Go get one while they last!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Alex The Actor

I've been meaning to post this for a while. Isorski, on his Isorski's Musings site drew my attention to the following video in his Alex Lifeson's Acting Debut - Video post.

Alex seems to have adopted The Beatles they're-gonna-put-me-in-the-movies style of acting; that is, he's just acting naturally! The Internet Movie Database lists Trailer Park Boys: The Movie as his first movie and the character he plays is "Cop 2" - is he getting typecast?

{P.S. If you're not sure what this post is doing in a music blog, shame on you!
Alex Lifeson is, of course, the guitarist in the greatest band in the world and therefore deserves to feature here for services to Rock even if here he's acting rather than rocking!}

Friday, 22 October 2010

Free Download Friday #75: Green Police

I remember hearing Cheap Trick's Dream Policeon the radio back when I was a teenager. I was so impressed, I went out and bought the album. Shortly afterwards, I picked up a copy of At Budokan... on yellow vinyl no less!

I must admit though that I haven't followed their career or releases very carefully since but I still have a soft spot for Dream Police and was pleased to find they had re-worked and re-released it... sort of. They re-worked it as Green Police for an Audi advert. It has to be said that the advert is slightly odd but the song is as strong as ever. It is still available from the Audi site... but it is a bit tricky to find (unless you have a direct link to it!).

They've had a bit of airplay on the radio recently with a pretty good cover of a Slade song called When The Lights Are Out:

You can hear the original Slade version on YouTube too.

So what do you think? Is Green Police a trip down memory lane for you too or a new discovery? And in either case, what do you think of Green Police?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Silly idea #1: Sue all filesharers

Apparently Gene Simmons has been telling media types that the music industry was "asleep at the wheel" and that the current state of the music industry is down to a failure to sue... "every fresh-faced college kid who downloaded material". Oh dear!

I read about his solution to the music industry's woes on Rock Radio's website (see Simmons: Sue All Filesharers). He seems to think that criminalising the people who were most likely to spend money on your product was the best hope for the music industry. The numbers reported though don't even begin to make sense. The Rock Radio sites says:
Statistics suggest that trade body the RIAA spent $16million chasing 20,000 people through the courts, resulting in recovery of $391,000. If that were scaled across the 60million P2P users in the US, they would have to spend $48billion and retrieve just $1.1billion.
What ever you think of Kiss' ability to make music, it is undeniable that they know how to make money! Surely a businessman like Mr Simmons can see that this is not a sensible or sustainable way to conduct your business? The music industry may be losing money due to illegal filesharing but is the solution to throw money away while perusing "fresh-faced college kids" through the courts?

Now don't get me wrong, people should not be illegally downloading and sharing music. Taking music without paying for it is not right. While I don't agree 100% with the statement credited to Gene in the article that he... "doesn’t believe the industry should be fooled into thinking filesharers are anything but thieves.", my problem is with the use of the word "filesharers" because filesharing in itself is not necessarily a bad thing; it depends what you are sharing. I don't particularly have a problem with the word "thieves". Downloading music that you should have to pay for, but not paying for it, is not a victimless crime and the excuse that the music industry makes too much money and so it is OK to rip them off is no excuse at all.

So what do I think? I think the music industry would have had less of a problem if they had woken up to what was happening and given people a legal, relatively cheap, way of accessing music electronically when it became clear that there was a market for obtaining music by download instead by CD. Instead, they sued, criminalised and tried to bully people into doing things the way the industry wanted it done.

There are some signs of improvement: iTunes and similar download services are making them bucketloads of money and there seems to be some recognition that giving away music for free can bring returns in the long term (see for example many of the tracks in my Free Download Friday posts). But it would be good to see more effort going into new revenue generating models such as sponsorship, subscription and advertising. Unfortunately, rants like the one from Mr Simmons suggests that at least some parts of the music industry are clinging to old ways; alternating between imitating headless chickens and ostriches with their heads in the sand.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Free Download Friday #74: Washing Of The Water

I mentioned Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back project in a previous post (Band iPhone Apps #1: Peter Gabriel).

Washing of the Water
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
He is currently touring with a full orchestra to play the tracks from the Scratch My Back album on the New Blood Tour. However, since there weren't quite enough covers, he also re-worked some of his own songs in the "no guitars, no drums" format.

Amazon (apparently) made one of these re-worked tracks available briefly as a free download. However, if you missed it, don't panic because Mr Gabriel has made it available on his own site:
Download 'Washing Of The Water'
I wasn't sure what I'd make of this version as I didn't find it easy to get into some of the Scratch My Back tracks and I really like the original version of Washing Of The Water. I needn't have worried. With the full orchestra behind him it sounds huge but it is carried along by a simple arrangement of the melody picked out on the piano. Then swelling brass and the bass line on strings. Beautiful! And Gabriel's voice is better than ever.

Grief! The man is sixty. He formed Genesis in 1967, so has been a professional musician for about forty years... but is he slowing down? Is he resting on his laurels? Is he heading for retirement? Don't be silly! He is still pushing the boundaries.

{Apology: Another week and another Free Download Friday with no posts in between. Too much to do, too little time. (Or rather too little organisation and self-discipline!) I will try to do better.}

P.S. I hadn't realised that Friday was Blog Action Day 2010 until I read Geoff's post at Totally Free Music. It turns out that the theme for Blog Action Day this year is Water, so quite by accident, this was a very appropriate post. If you download this track, why not head over to the Blog Action Day site and sign the petition, get involved in fund raising or find out read about some of the other ways you can get involved.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Free Download Friday #73: Band of Skulls

I mentioned last week (Free Download Friday #72: Support Acts) that I had other free downloads from Band Of Skulls that I was surprised that I had not already featured... well, better late than never!

I have found three tracks from this band... well three and a half because there are two different versions of the same track; a live version and a remix. Three tracks come from the RCRD.LBL site (which I have linked to before) and one from Paste Magazine (which I found while looking for Band Of Skulls music).
  • Blood - a studio track. I read a review somewhere (can't remember where now) that said the Band Of Skulls sound like The Black Keys. I'd say this track was the most Black Keyish if the tracks on offer here. There is an interesting noisy guitar solo towards the end (about three and a half minutes in) and the interplay between the vocals from Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson is excellent.
  • Impossible (Live At The Troubadour) - a great live track with a seemingly endless section of noise at the end. Brilliant!
  • Death By Diamonds And Pearls (MightyMetronoms Remix) - a dance remix which is OK if you like that sort of thing.
You can hear all of these before downloading thanks to the RCRD.LBL widget:

And from Paste Magazine:
  • Death by Diamonds and Pearls - A live version of the track murdered by the MightyMetronoms above! As far as I'm concerned, this raw, stripped back version is so much better than the remix version that I almost considered not linking to the remix version on the RCRD.LBL site.
I think I like the power trio approach to music because, with only three people in the band, there is no room for passengers. All the members of the group have to step up and deliver and I hope you agree that Band Of Skulls deliver big time in at least three of the downloads on offer here!

I would like to hear more from this band... but I would really like to see them live.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Free Download Friday #72: Support Acts

Support acts often get a raw deal when touring with bigger, more established acts. Their first problem is that, in general, people have paid to see the headliners and may have no interest whatsoever in seeing anyone else. Even if the audience are willing to give a support act a fair hearing, it is likely that they will not be particularly familiar with their music, so there will be no instant connection and the band will have to work that bit harder to win the crowd over. Add to that the problem of squeezing equipment and sound check into what ever space has been left by the main act and it is clear that a support act's lot is not a happy one.

Muse @ Teignmouth
Originally uploaded by radio1interactive
I'm sure some established bands are better than others at giving space and time to support acts but it is not immediately obvious what could be done about the lack of recognition problem. However, Muse are trying to do something about even this problem. Over three shows Muse had nine different support acts and, as they say on their website:
"With the UK stadium shows almost upon us, we thought you might like a taster of the support acts playing with the band over the next two weekends... A selection of these acts have very kindly donated us a free track to give away here on so you can check them out before the shows."
Brilliant! This is a great idea. Head over to the Download Support MP3s page and grab eight free tracks. And you don't even have to give your email address in exchange! The download has been available for about a month now, so sorry it has taken so long to post about it.

The tracks available are:
  1. Percussion Gun by White Rabbits. Pounding drums at the start that keep it moving along at a fair lick. Good stuff! One of my favourites.
  2. The Price Of Love by White Lies. Slow start but picks up and moves along with an all strings outro.
  3. Back To The F*** Yeah by Pulled Apart By Horses. I'd say the vocals are a bit too shouty (he'll hurt his voice doing that) but the music sounds good.
  4. Nun by I Am Arrows. This band was founded by the ex-drummer of Razorlight... which makes sense as there is a bit of a Razorlight feel to it.
  5. Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool by Editors. Dark and disturbingly brilliant. Another of my favourites.
  6. Velvet by The Big Pink. Industrial noise paired with a stong beat and low-key vocals. I'm surprised that I like this as much as I do... but it's another of my favourites.
  7. Bubbles by Biffy Clyro. C'mon the Biff! It sounds like Biffy Clyro... and that's a good thing! I like this track.
  8. I Know What I Am by Band Of Skulls. I like what I've heard from this band so far. A three piece band that makes an impressive racket! I have a few other free downloads from this band and I was surprised I haven't shared them on this blog yet... This track is a real foot stomper and another favourite.
Now I call that a pretty good haul. Eight tracks, not a duffer among them, and five out the eight rated as four stars or more in my iTunes.

What do you make of these tracks? What is your favourite? If you are already a fan of one of these bands, what album/tracks should I look for next?