Tuesday, November 30, 2010

U2's Bono Says Financial Woes Hurting AIDS Fight

Financial tough times in developed economies are undercutting efforts to stop the global spread of AIDS, U2 lead singer Bono said on Tuesday, November 30.

"Times are hard in the Western world," the Irish rock star and campaigner told Reuters after launching World Aids Day, marked around the world on December 1, at Sydney's Opera House.

Bono said agencies established to arrest acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) "were fighting hard for funding" nearly three decades after the disease was first diagnosed.

He added that more money was needed to meet a target set by the Global Fund to eliminate the transmission of HIV from pregnant mothers to their unborn children by 2015.

According to the United Nations children's fund UNICEF, over a thousand babies are born each day in Africa with HIV and about half of the HIV-positive women in Africa do not get the drugs they need to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies.

"In recessionary times, people have to tell their politicians this is important to them," Bono said.

An estimated 33.3 million people worldwide had the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS in 2009, according to the latest figures issued by UNAIDS. There were 26.2 million in 1999.

There is no cure and no commercially available vaccine but combinations of drugs called antiretrovirals can keep patients healthy. However, the virus stays in the body forever and can reactivate if people stop taking the drugs.

"Some people think that the pandemic is on its way out and it's job done," Bono said. "It is really not so."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Willie Nelson Arrested, Charged With Pot Possession In Texas

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman says country singer Willie Nelson was charged with marijuana possession after 6 ounces was found aboard his tour bus in Texas.

Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks says the bus pulled into the Sierra Blanca, Texas, checkpoint about 9 a.m. Friday. Brooks says an officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up marijuana. Brooks says the Hudspeth County sheriff was contacted and Nelson was among three people arrested.

Sheriff Arvin West didn't immediately return a phone message left at his home Friday, but he told the El Paso Times that Nelson claimed the marijuana was his. The singer was held briefly a $2,500 bond before being released.

Nelson spokeswoman Elaine Schock declined to comment when contacted via e-mail by The Associated Press.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Billy Joel Recovering From Double Hip Replacement

Singer Billy Joel is recovering from a double hip replacement, his publicist said.

"Billy Joel is doing extremely well following bilateral hip replacement and will be back at his Long Island (New York) home by the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend," Joel's publicist Claire Mercuri said in a statement.

Grammy Award-winner Joel, 61, is the singer of hit songs "Piano Man," "My Life," and "Just the Way You Are," among others, and has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

He released The Hits last week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first solo album.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

'Let It Be' Leads Beatles Digital Debut

The Beatles' much-ballyhooed arrival in Apple's iTunes Store makes waves on Billboard's charts as a number of the Fab Four's singles and albums dot our tallies. All told, the group sold 1.42 million tracks last week in the U.S. and a further 119,000 digital albums according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Beatles' top-selling song download of the week is its 1970 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 "Let It Be," which moved 63,000. In the runner-up slot is 1969's "Here Comes the Sun" with 55,000. They arrive at Nos. 26 and 29 on the Digital Songs chart, respectively, and are among 11 Beatles tunes this week on the 75-position chart, which will be refreshed along with all of Billboard's charts on Thursday (Nov. 25).

Half of the Beatles' top 10 sellers -- including "Sun" -- were never released as commercially available singles but have remained popular airplay-only album cuts. (Note that SoundScan and Billboard combine multiple versions of a song's tracks into one overall total, reflected on our Digital Songs chart.)

It's interesting to see that six of their top 10 sellers are also unavailable on the Beatles' greatest-hits collection "1." The 2000 release contains the group's 27 No. 1 singles from both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Official U.K. Singles chart. It has sold 11.7 million copies in the United States, making it the seventh-best-selling album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. So perhaps casual fans --who likely already own "1" -- cherry-picked tunes that they were lacking in their iTunes library.

As for the band's biggest digital album last week, that would be Abbey Road, which moved 16,000 and debuts at No. 8 on Top Digital Albums. Their $149 box set was the second-largest seller, with 13,000. They are two of seven Beatles sets on the 25-position tally. The set which moved the fewest downloads for the week was the "Yellow Submarine" soundtrack, which sold 2,000 downloads.

The Beatles' Top 10 Song Downloads (Week Ending Nov. 21)

Title - Sales - Year Released - Hot 100 Peak
Let It Be - 63,000 - 1970 - No. 1 (2 weeks)
Here Comes the Sun - 55,000 - 1969 - N/C*
In My Life - 45,000 - 1966 - N/C*
Hey Jude - 38,000 - 1968 - No. 1 (9 weeks)
Come Together - 38,000 - 1969 - No. 1
Yesterday - 35,000 - 1965 - No. 1 (4 weeks)
Blackbird - 32,000 - 1968 - N/C*
Twist and Shout - 30,000 - 1964 - No. 2 (4 weeks)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps - 27,000 - 1968 - N/C*
With a Little Help From My Friends - 26,000 - 1967 - N/C*

*N/C - Single was not initially commercially released and did not chart.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beatles Sell Over 2 Million In First Week On iTunes

The Beatles sold more than two million individual songs and more than 450,000 albums worldwide in their first week of release on Apple's iTunes store, Apple said.

Of the catalog of 13 Beatles studio albums released last week, Abbey Road was the top-selling digital album in the U.S. at the iTunes store, landing at No. 6 overall for the week ending Nov 22. The Beatles Box Set was No. 10 on the iTunes U.S. album charts for the week.

"Here Comes the Sun" was the best-selling Beatles digital single but did not place in the top 10 for the week, Apple said.

Apple did not release Beatles iTunes chart positions for territories outside the U.S.

The Beatles catalog was released on iTunes, the world's No.1 digital music retailer, for the first time on November 16, ending years of negotiations between Apple founder Steve Jobs, the Beatles management company and record label EMI.

Billboard.com on Tuesday said the iTunes debut of the Fab Four compared favorably to those of other bands that for years resisted joining the digital music revolution.

Rock band Led Zeppelin's catalog made its digital debut in November 2007, generating total U.S. digital album sales of 47,000 units and 300,000 individual songs in the first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

But despite the fanfare last week over the arrival of the Beatles on iTunes, their 40 year-old classics failed to trump new material from the likes of R&B singer Rihanna, and the latest effort by the cast of hit TV musical comedy Glee.

According to Apple, Rihanna's new album "Loud" was the best iTunes album seller in the United States last week, followed by The Christmas Album of cover versions of holiday songs by the Glee cast.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

John Lennon's 'I'm Only Sleeping' Lyrics To Go On Sale

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to the Beatles song "I'm Only Sleeping" will go on sale next month, Bonhams auctioneers said.

The lyrics, appearing on the back of a letter chasing payment for a radiophone bill, are expected to fetch 250-350,000 pounds ($400-560,000) when they go under the hammer at an entertainment memorabilia auction on December 15.

Also on offer are two Ivor Novello Awards for songwriting and composing, with the prize for "She Loves You," awarded to the Beatles in 1964, expected to sell for 40-50,000 pounds.

The other prize is the 1968 best song award for "She's Leaving Home," which Bonhams estimates to be worth 15-20,000 pounds.

A personal list of expenses for May 1968 includes details of all domestic outgoings including doctor's fees for Lennon's son Julian and payments to his first wife Cynthia's mother. It has a pre-sale estimate of 10-15,000 pounds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Van Halen Readying New Album, Tour?

Van Halen are reportedly gearing up for a new album and world tour in 2011.

The as-yet-untitled new album, which will be out on Warner Bros. early in the year, will be the band’s first new material since 1998. The label is also planning on releasing some of Van Halen’s earlier works — including Van Halen II, Women and Children First and 1984 — on vinyl on Dec. 13.

No tour dates are available yet, but the band will reportedly make stops in North America, Australia and Europe. The line-up will consist of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rolling Stones Team Up With "Call Of Duty"

Historically, the Rolling Stones have never needed much help selling their music. But this month the group witnessed a notable bump in digital single sales for a pair of songs, thanks to the release of the latest installment in the popular Call of Duty video game franchise.

Call of Duty: Black Ops was released November 9. But more than a week earlier, on October 31, Santa Monica, Calif.-based publisher Activision released an ad for TV and the Internet featuring a montage of the game's cinematic cut scenes with the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" as the soundtrack. The ad appeared during several prime-time TV shows and on several game enthusiast websites, garnering more than 3 million views on YouTube alone.

The game itself set a new record for opening-day video game sales, with 5.6 million copies sold and $360 million in revenue (including all pre-orders), according to Activision. To shed some perspective on how popular the Call of Duty franchise is, the previous record for single-day sales was the last installment of the same game -- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare -- which last year sold 4.7 million copies and rang up $310 million in opening day sales.

On the strength of the exposure provided by the new Call of Duty ad, track sales for "Gimme Shelter" jumped from slightly more than 2,000 copies the week of October 31 to 5,000-plus for the following week, then doubled to nearly 11,000 for the week ending November 14, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

According to Activision vice president of music affairs Tim Riley, scoring "Gimme Shelter" for the ad was no small feat. New York-based ABKCO Music & Records holds the rights to the song and, as is common with synch licensing negotiations, wanted to view an early edit of the ad before granting permission. So Activision flew to New York to show the clip on a secure laptop rather than risk sending it digitally lest it become discovered by the rabid game press. What's more, for the first time in Activision history, it allowed another company to make edits to the ad itself in order to obtain approval from the band members as well.

"It's such a big deal, such a serious song and such a big band...we had to fly out for it," Riley says. "They certainly say 'no' more than they say 'yes.' It's the Rolling Stones. It's not like they need the money."

It's not the group's only involvement in the game. "Sympathy for the Devil" was licensed as background music for a scene inside the game as well, which helped double that song's weekly sales to nearly 5,000 for the week of November 14.

And it won't be the last, either. Riley notes another element is coming. But he wouldn't reveal whether it's a song licensed for new game content, another ad or some other use.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mythic Syd Barrett Track Released Online

Buried in the tiny black-on-purple print on the back cover of An Introduction To Syd Barrett, a new anthology of Syd Barrett's short lifetime on record, as the founding guitarist in Pink Floyd and an acid-damaged solo artist — is an offer you cannot resist: a bonus download of a previously unreleased track from the protracted and chaotic sessions for Barrett's 1970 album, The Madcap Laughs.

"Rhamadan" is a 20-minute instrumental with no discernible melody or structure, just the sound of Barrett apparently soloing with himself on various overdubbed instruments. The only other player, on congas, is — according to some accounts and a suggestion at the official Syd Barrett website — Steve Peregrine Took, Marc Bolan's percussionist in the original acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex. The only vocal on the track is an engineer calling out "'Rhamadan,' take one!'" One, it seems, was plenty.

The best things about "Rhamadan": It's free with purchase of the album. And it is a glimpse of an abandoned path on the way to The Madcap Laughs: the long delirious spells of improvisation that were the early Floyd's specialty in performance and best preserved on record in "Interstellar Overdrive," the Side Two beast on 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Barrett was already coming apart at the seams during the Madcap sessions. "Dark Globe," featured on Introduction (it was produced by Floyd bassist Roger Waters with Barrett's replacement, David Gilmour, on guitar), is a raw wound of erratic strumming and helpless braying: "Please lift a hand/I'm only a person/With Eskimo chain/I tattooed my brain all the way."

But for all of its disconnected noodling, "Rhamadan" has a weird kind of joy about it, as if Barrett had briefly rediscovered the pleasure of pure playing. If nothing else, the song moves. (Note the motorcycle sound effect — a bike pealing out from left speaker to right — at about the seven-minute mark.) A bass guitar constantly solos over varying but relatively sturdy drum and conga patterns. Guitar, piano and organ skitter and jabber to no particular purpose but with more spirit and engagement than you expect.

You wish for the Floyd's furious free-rock interaction in the middle of Piper's "Pow. R. Toch," but even they, with Gilmour, had settled into a more pensive, floating, chance music by that time.

"Rhamadan" adds little to what we know, or likely ever will, about Barrett's mental dissolution and determined self-exile until his death in 2006. Strangely, what Introduction does not tell you anywhere in the packaging — despite a stellar track selection and Gilmour's input in new mixes of songs such as "Octopus," "Dominoes" and Barrett's last single with the Floyd, 1967's "Apples and Oranges" — is original release dates and the albums on which the songs first appeared.

It is a curious omission for such an obvious labor of love. Frankly, it's not that hard to collect the entire essential Barrett: Piper, Madcap and Barrett, also released in '70 and his final formal word to the world. And you should. But as an incentive for completists and a treat for novices, "Rhamadan" is a nice bit of Christmas come early. It is not a revelation. But it's good to have — a last piece, it appears, of the madcap laughing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lou Reed Premieres Film About His 102-Year-Old Cousin

Lou Reed has premiered his 28-minute film about his 102 year-old cousin Shirley Novick at the Vienna Film Festival.

Named Red Shirley, the film features Reed interviewing Novick about her life, recounting tales of her fleeing Poland because of the Nazi threat in 1938 and describing her emigration to New York where she worked as a seamstress, reports the Independent.

Watch a clip from the film by scrolling down and clicking below.

Speaking about Novick, Reed said: "She has been living in the same apartment for 46 years, which is about 18 blocks away from where I live. She is in a book about garment workers and the people who fought for the union."

He added: "At the start of the movie the way she is speaking is almost like poetry: we suffered for this, we suffered for that, and it was like, 'Oh my God, that is a 100 year-old saying that and she deserves a statue, and then if not a statue, a movie.'"

Filmed on the eve of her 100th birthday, Red Shirley also includes a soundtrack by Reed's Metal Machine Trio.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paul McCartney To Play Apollo Theater

While Beatles fans celebrate the addition of the band's catalog to iTunes, Paul McCartney will help Sirius XM Radio ring in a milestone of its own next month.

McCartney will play New York's Apollo Theater for the first time on December 13, in an invitation-only event for listeners of the satellite radio service as it approaches 20 million subscribers.

The concert will be broadcast live on six different Sirius XM channels. The company also announced the launch of "Paul McCartney's Band on the Run Radio," a commerical-free music channel showcasing McCartney's catalog that will run 24/7 from November 29 to December 26.

The channel coincides with the reissue earlier this month of Band on the Run, McCartney's 1973 album with Wings.

"Sir Paul's performance at the Apollo Theater is our way of thanking our subscribers," Sirius president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein said in a statement.

"We are thrilled to offer them an opportunity to attend the event and listen live to this once-in-a-lifetime concert on Sirius XM.

The news follows Apple's announcement that the Beatles' catalog is now for sale on iTunes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beatles Now On iTunes

The entire Beatles' catalog is now in iTunes.

The digital content is exclusive to iTunes, a representative of The Beatles' record company, EMI, says. The exact length of that deal is unknown, but it will expire some time next year.

As of now, the iconic band's entire catalog can be purchased in Apple's iTunes Store. Each album comes with iTunes LP, which features additional content including lyrics, photos, and album art. A digital version of the Fab Four's entire body of work is also available for download for $149, and that comes with exclusive access to a video of the band's first U.S. concert, Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964. Single albums are priced at $12.99, double albums at $19.99. Songs will cost $1.29 each.

This is a personal victory for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as The Beatles were one of the most prominent holdouts from his online music empire. Apple had tried for years to acquire rights to The Beatles' catalog.

"We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes," said Jobs in a press release today. "It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we've had since we launched iTunes ten years ago."

Apple hyped up the announcement over the last 24 hours with a splash page on its Web site promising that "tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget." After several hours of tech news sites buzzing about what the company could have up its sleeve, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would finally announce an agreement to offer The Beatles' music.

In a press release from Apple, and EMI, each of the surviving Beatles members or a representative was quoted about the news.

Paul McCartney: "We're really excited to bring the Beatles' music to iTunes. It's fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around."

Ringo Starr: "I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes. At last, if you want it--you can get it now--The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo."

Yoko Ono Lennon: "In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John's 70th birthday year."

Olivia Harrison: "The Beatles on iTunes--Bravo!"

The release of the band's music online marks the end of a long journey for both EMI and Apple. The two battled in courtrooms for years over a trademark dispute: Apple Corps, The Beatles' record company, versus Apple Inc.

In 1991, the two updated a 10-year-old agreement regarding how each of them would be allowed to use its trademarks. Apple Inc. (at the time known as Apple Computer Inc.) paid Apple Corps $27 million and agreed not to enter the music distribution business under the Apple name and logo. Apple Corps later said that the computer maker broke that agreement by opening the iTunes Store, and sued in 2003. Apple Computer eventually emerged victorious when a U.K. judge ruled that it was not in violation of the agreement because it was selling prerecorded content, not original music under the logo.

The dispute was officially resolved in 2007, when a new deal replaced the 1991 agreement, which prohibited Apple Inc. from distributing music through physical media such as CDs and cassette tapes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Former Deep Purple Manager Tony Edwards Dies

Deep Purple's former manager Tony Edwards has died at the age of 78.
Edwards looked after the band from 1967-1976 until they eventually split.

He was instrumental in their early success and came up with the name of the band who were originally called Roundabout.

Former guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who left the line-up in 1975 before returning when the band reformed in 1984, wrote on his official site Blackmoresnight.com "With deepest respect - and with great sorrow - we honour Tony Edwards.

"Tony was the man behind the scenes for Deep Purple. He was instrumental to the existence and sustenance of the band and it's music from it's inception to present day. Tony's insight and intuitiveness were unparalleled in the music business. He will be thought of often and missed greatly.

"Without Tony Edwards there would be no Deep Purple."