Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Music For Free

Imagine for a moment if no money whatsoever could be made from making music. Do you think this would be a good thing? Imagine no record companies, no A&R men, and no adverts on T.V dubbing Jack Johnson "the Bob Dylan for the 21st century" or KT Tunstall as "the new Janis Joplin". Imagine no promotional leaflets, no buskers, no spotty little emo kids trying to plug their shitty band on myspace. Imagine no possessions, oh wait that's been done. But seriously imagine. Who would make music?

Have a look at your CD's/Vinyl's/Tapes (does anyone still have tapes?). Do you think any of those artists would have made that music if they hadn't been aware of the promise of getting big money for doing so? I'm sure there are some. Some people just can't help writing songs, even if they're not that good at it (I speak from personal experience). But does doing it for the money necessarily make music bad? You'd have to say that the truly best artists are the ones who really do it for the love of the music. That's why the 1969 Beatles are better than the 1964 Beatles. In 1964 they were still writing songs to be big hits. Don't get me wrong, they wrote some fantastic songs, but they couldn't have written 'Tomorrow Never Knows' or 'a Day in the Life' then. By 1966 they had started making music predominantly for themselves. Now the problem is if it wasn't for the early pop stuff, the Beatles would have never had the chance, money, reputation, balls to have become what they did.

So it seems music being made for money is actually a good thing. It certainly pushes people to experiment in order to find the next big thing. My only concern is the record companies and their seemingly complete lack of any imagination or adventure. The trend at the moment doesn't seem to be finding something new, exciting and original (at least as original as is possible). The trend seems to be to find another Coldplay or even the new Strokes. Why do record companies distrust listeners so? The Beatles are the prime example of how rewarding experimentation can be for a band and record company. Imagine the equivalent of Sgt. Pepper… coming out now. It would never be released due to record company apprehension. And yet it's probably the most successful album ever. All guitar music seems to be produced by the same bloke nowadays, using preset sounds in an identikit studio. Why is there no adventure or experimentalism at the moment? It's so easy to be in a band that sounds just like the Libertines or the Arctic Monkeys (who are incidentally just the Libertines but Northern), and due to there being so many of them its pretty much pot-luck for the record company who they actually sign up. How do they pick? Hair styles? Fashion? Who knows? Does it really matter?

So… music for free then… it would certainly get rid of all the Libertines wannabes, trouble is it would probably get rid of the next Beatles as well. Maybe by 2010 the Strokes will be releasing a genuinely great concept album about New York traffic wardens. You never know… I wait in anticipation.

Dan Matthews

ALBUM: The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers

Released in 1976, The Modern Lovers first album, and only album without Jonathan Richman &… preceding their name, is an underrated early punk influence on the same level as Marquee Moon and Blank Generation, both released a year later. But despite this it is rarely mentioned alongside these albums with the deserved enthusiasm.

The Modern Lovers originated in Boston as early as 1970, after Jonathan Richman returned to his hometown after a demoralising nine month stay in New York City. The Modern Lovers became a Boston live highlight for the next couple of years and made numerous demo recordings for numerous record labels but they never nailed a deal. This despite the production skills of reputable types on the scale of Velvet Underground’s John Cale and garage-psych godfather Kim Fowley. In December 1973, after a second studio stint with Fowley the Modern Lovers were toast. Richman was already recording demos on his own, guitarist John Felice formed the Real Kids, Bassist Ernie Brooks went to work with New York Dolls’ David Johansen, keyboardist Jerry Harrison joined Talking Heads and drummer David Robinson joined the Cars. Richman relocated to California to join up with the Berserkley record company. Berserkley’s first step with Richman on their roster was to pull the promising demos’ recorded by the Modern Lovers together and release them as an album.

The album opens with ‘Roadrunner’, an unabashed two chord proto-punk anthem, introducing you to the raw no-frills but somehow warm and welcoming production. “I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll” drawls Richman and this is the kind of song that makes you remember how much you love it yourself. ‘Astral Plane’ and ‘Old World’ continue the party. And then ‘Pablo Picasso’ fades in and Richman starts to sound like Lou Reed about to crack up laughing, “Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole, not like you” he groans to the pulsating beat, another trick learnt from the Velvet’s. ‘She Cracked’ is another interminable rocker with a simple but catchy chorus.

Then everything slows down for ‘Hospital’, starting with a stirring organ then Richman “I can’t stand what you do, I’m in love with your eyes”. Here it is Richman’s honesty and resignation coupled with his sense of humour that is highlighted. The raw production is more effective than ever on this and the other ‘ballads’, coupled with the sensitive arrangements always allowing Richman to be at the forefront.

The rock ‘n’ roll is back for ‘Someone I Care About’, a gloriously dumb testament to shunning one night stands for something altogether more meaningful. ‘Girlfriend’ is another ballad but is more tongue in cheek than ‘Hospital’. ‘Modern World’ is a riotous teenage paean, “I love the USA, I love the modern world” goes the chorus, ironic but not cynical. The album is closed out by two more rockers in ‘Dignified & Old’ and ‘Government Center’, handclaps included, and another slowy, ‘I’m Straight’, with Richman sounding like he had a pretty bad cold at the time of recording, it all adds to the heart on sleeve rawness of the album though, makes you wonder how much of the time demo’s are of a higher quality than the ‘finished’ article, they certainly worked for the Modern Lovers.

Dan Matthews

Detroit

Ah Detroit. Motown. Home of the Stooges, the MC5, “the Sound of Young America”. Soul meets Punk meets revolution. Today the scene of the biggest blues revival in popular music. What more exciting and legendary music city is there in western music?

Situated in the far North of the USA in the State of Michigan, across Lake Erie from Canada, Detroit has always been a mixing pot for different cultures. When slavery was abolished in the North but not the South black slaves flooded North and the liberalism and relative open-mindedness of Detroit made it a favourite settlement. Jobs in the famous car construction factories were another pull, the 40’s and 50’s were the boom periods for General Motors and Detroit was a rapidly growing city. Jazz and blues clubs sprang up all over the city; The Flame Show Bar was one of these, opening in 1949. Berry Gordy and his family were in-charge of photo concessions at the club and the multitude of black and white stars were to play a large part in Gordy’s early musical education. By late 1957 Berry Gordy had his first commercial success when he co-wrote “Reet Petite” for Jackie Wilson. Next year Gordy began the first incarnate of his record label, Tamla Motown was born and the first group on the roster were Smokey Robinson’s Miracles.

The early sixties saw steady if unspectacular progress for the newly named Motown records but by 1965 through 70 Motown would become one of the most well-known record labels in the world. In the 70’s the label would move to LA and this saw a vast down turn in quality emitting from the label, a coincidence? Home-grown talent such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Four Tops etc. were Motown’s staple, the list goes on. The rise from obscurity to world-wide stardom for these poor black kids from Detroit was inspiring not just for black Detroiters. The late 60’s saw an explosion of white bands playing rock n’ roll influenced equally by the English invading bands like The Rolling Stones and The Animals as by Motown. Mitch Ryder was an early example of Detroit rock n’ roll, ballsy garage rock with a distinctly soulful undercurrent. Ryder even fronted an all black band known as the Peps, showcasing Detroit’s racial diversity and comparable harmony. The Sonics were another early exponent of the ‘Detroit rock sound’. Raw and unhinged, The Sonics would cover artists such as Rufus Thomas and The Coasters but deliver the songs with rock n’ roll abandon. These artists were instrumental in the arrival of two of Detroit’s most famous bands, The Stooges and The MC5.

Formed in 1964 while still in high school, The Motor City 5 grew up on Motown, British invasion rock n’ roll, Mitch Ryder and The Sonics. In 1966 the MC5 began regularly playing at the famous Grande Ballroom where they were soon noticed by radio host and political activist John Sinclair. Sinclair along with bringing political awareness and a revolution mindset to the band also introduced them to the avant-garde, artists like Sun Ra and John Coltrane. Funk legend George Clinton was discarded by Motown and also played regularly with the MC5 as he was based in Detroit, once again highlighting the city’s multiculturalism. The close relationship the band had with Sinclair’s ‘White Panther Party’ would prove both electric and troublesome. Shows would often end up in riots and even ones that didn’t sounded like riots. Revolution rock n’ roll was the MC5’s speciality and no band could compete. Except maybe the Stooges…

The Stooges were signed to Elektra in 1968 when a scout went to Detroit to see The MC5 and ended up signing both bands. Fronted by the maniacal Iggy Pop, The Stooges were revolutionary in every sense, Ron Asheton’s feedback drenched riffs along with the pulsating tribal rhythms were revolutionary on their own but it was Iggy who always stole the show. Like a man possessed he possessed a confrontational style much copied since but never bettered.

The MC5 and The Stooges have gone on to influence countless artists, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Nirvana, and more recently the White Stripes, holders of the Detroit rock flame.

Dan Matthews

ALBUM: Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains

‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is the third solo album from former Soft Boy Robyn Hitchcock. Released in 1984, the album is also the first real example of the acoustic side of Hitchcock. Limiting himself to just piano and acoustic guitar on the vast majority of tracks, ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is a lo-fi production piece from an era when lo-fi production pieces were seemingly extinct. Not that we should be surprised with Hitchcock bucking the trend; the psychedelic power pop of the Soft Boys was hardly the norm in the punk dominated late seventies.


If you’re sick of all acoustic artists sounding the same and seemingly forgetting all emotions bar sadness and heartbreak then you should definitely track this down. Hitchcock’s gloriously silly humour is apparent throughout this album and melded with his warped view on love, life and the universe; it creates extremely warm and natural sounding songs. Hitchcock’s music is both beautiful and funny, not in an out-loud ha-ha way, more of a gentle lasting way. If this album does not cause the listener to smile somewhere along the way there is something seriously wrong with them. On the ode to trains title track, lyrics like “There in the buffet car I dream of eternity, or Basingstoke, or Reading” are wonderfully English. Like a modern day Ray Davies, Hitchcock makes observations on English life free of cynicism or anger. This is a feel good album and even lyrics like “dyin' of starvation in the gutter, that is all the future holds for me, or alcoholic poisoning in the toilet of my choice, that's all there is, as far as I can see” are sang with a wry smile.


Indeed, ‘Englishness’ is a very large part of this album. It's surprising that R.E.M. and other late eighties and early nineties American artists are so influenced by Hitchcock: maybe the ‘Englishness’ is a novelty? Musically ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is most obviously influenced by folk, both American and English, and sixties pop, but the album is rooted mostly in the eccentricities of the English gentleman; from Noel Coward to Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock is a holder of that flame in a time when Americanisation is even more rife than ever. My biggest annoyance with English artists has long been the tendency for them to sing in an American accent. It's almost like saying: “I want to be something I’m not”, which as an artist is completely pointless seeing as art is all about expressing yourself. Robyn Hitchcock certainly doesn’t sing in an American accent, except on the mock country jig “Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus” that is, and he’s certainly expressing himself. You are transported into Hitchcock’s world throughout. A world where you sit daydreaming on a train laughing to yourself as you make up silly rhymes in your head like “I used to say I love you, it wasn’t what I meant, what I really meant was, come on in my tent,”. Charmingly wistful songs like ‘My Favourite Buildings’ and ‘Trams of Old London’ are beautiful examples of the Hitchcock world: “my favourite buildings are all falling down, seems like I dwell in a different town, but why should I bother with painting them brown, when they'll all be pulled down in the end.”


Hitchcock is a huge Dylan fan. He’s even recorded an album of Dylan covers, and to me Hitchcock is like a latter day English Dylan, not those wet folk singers whose record companies tout as “the new Dylan”. High praise indeed, and on the evidence of this album I would hope to get some subscribers to that opinion.


Dan Matthews

ALBUM: Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains

‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is the third solo album from former Soft Boy Robyn Hitchcock. Released in 1984, the album is also the first real example of the acoustic side of Hitchcock. Limiting himself to just piano and acoustic guitar on the vast majority of tracks, ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is a lo-fi production piece from an era when lo-fi production pieces were seemingly extinct. Not that we should be surprised with Hitchcock bucking the trend; the psychedelic power pop of the Soft Boys was hardly the norm in the punk dominated late seventies.

If you’re sick of all acoustic artists sounding the same and seemingly forgetting all emotions bar sadness and heartbreak then you should definitely track this down. Hitchcock’s gloriously silly humour is apparent throughout this album and melded with his warped view on love, life and the universe; it creates extremely warm and natural sounding songs. Hitchcock’s music is both beautiful and funny, not in an out-loud ha-ha way, more of a gentle lasting way. If this album does not cause the listener to smile somewhere along the way there is something seriously wrong with them. On the ode to trains title track, lyrics like “There in the buffet car I dream of eternity, or Basingstoke, or Reading” are wonderfully English. Like a modern day Ray Davies, Hitchcock makes observations on English life free of cynicism or anger. This is a feel good album and even lyrics like “dyin' of starvation in the gutter, that is all the future holds for me, or alcoholic poisoning in the toilet of my choice, that's all there is, as far as I can see” are sang with a wry smile.

Indeed, ‘Englishness’ is a very large part of this album. It's surprising that R.E.M. and other late eighties and early nineties American artists are so influenced by Hitchcock: maybe the ‘Englishness’ is a novelty? Musically ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ is most obviously influenced by folk, both American and English, and sixties pop, but the album is rooted mostly in the eccentricities of the English gentleman; from Noel Coward to Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock is a holder of that flame in a time when Americanisation is even more rife than ever. My biggest annoyance with English artists has long been the tendency for them to sing in an American accent. It's almost like saying: “I want to be something I’m not”, which as an artist is completely pointless seeing as art is all about expressing yourself. Robyn Hitchcock certainly doesn’t sing in an American accent, except on the mock country jig “Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus” that is, and he’s certainly expressing himself. You are transported into Hitchcock’s world throughout. A world where you sit daydreaming on a train laughing to yourself as you make up silly rhymes in your head like “I used to say I love you, it wasn’t what I meant, what I really meant was, come on in my tent,”. Charmingly wistful songs like ‘My Favourite Buildings’ and ‘Trams of Old London’ are beautiful examples of the Hitchcock world: “my favourite buildings are all falling down, seems like I dwell in a different town, but why should I bother with painting them brown, when they'll all be pulled down in the end.”

Hitchcock is a huge Dylan fan. He’s even recorded an album of Dylan covers, and to me Hitchcock is like a latter day English Dylan, not those wet folk singers whose record companies tout as “the new Dylan”. High praise indeed, and on the evidence of this album I would hope to get some subscribers to that opinion.

Dan Matthews

ALBUM: James Chance & the Contortions - Buy

Released in 1979, "Buy" by James Chance & the Contortions is one off, if not the seminal New York "No Wave" album. Chance (born James Sigfried) originally moved to New York from Milwaukee in the mid seventies to play free jazz, falling into the cities blooming avant-garde scene, leading him to form the Contortions in 1977. The Contortions' combination of nihilistic noise-funk, free jazz, punk, disco and new wave led to extreme live reviews, both good and bad. Chance’s confrontational style, often starting fist-fights with audience members, and the band's tight funky rhythms, were a draw for the punk, disco and even jazz fans of the late seventies New York scene. It was the tension created by this strange mix that the Contortions thrived on.
Brian Eno took the band into the studio in 1978 to record four tracks for the fantastic ‘No New York’ compilation, joined by other bands from the "No Wave" scene. It was the Contortions songs that stood out. Soon they had enough material for an album, and ‘Buy’ was released in 1979.

"Design to Kill" opens the album with a jerking bass and drum line that is somehow funky yet completely impossible to dance to. Chance’s sax at the start adds spastic bursts of notes like Ornette Coleman on speed, but when Chance’s vocal comes in, the genre-bending becomes even more apparent, his punk anger somehow blending perfectly with the disco rhythms and avant-garde guitar licks.

"My Infatuation" is a spooky march; it sounds like it is about to take-off constantly throughout the song, but never manages it despite Chances vocals almost teasing the band to explode. "Don’t Want to Be Happy" is like a discotheque nightmare: perhaps akin to listening to Chic whilst being tortured, I imagine. This is by no means a bad feeling, just challenging. "I don't want to be happy, I like living a lie" spits Chance over the band's dissonant clangs and squawks.

"Anesthetic" is another nightmare gone wrong song, Chance's saxophone just teetering on the edge over the hypnotic backing before his bitter, angry vocals start teetering even closer to the edge. "Contort Yourself" is painfully funky; the title is superbly apt because contortion is the only dance form possible to this cacophonic bass led jam. Chance's vocal screams are matched only by the equally violent screams on his sax.

"Throw Me Away" sounds almost tame next to "Contort Yourself", but in truth it's another genius piece of manic funk punk, the discordant sax line repeating over and over in the verse like a psychotic bird, until the stop-start chorus leads into that great drum and bass-line. "Roving Eye" is probably the most traditional sounding funk song. It could almost be Bootsy Collins playing bass... it is only when the whole song breaks down to leave Chance's sax blowing out free jazz until he is joined by a less standard backing and odd organ flourishes that you are reminded who you are listening to. It is almost relieving when the good old James Brown groove returns.
"Twice Removed" is another creepy march, leading into the album closer "Bedroom Athlete", which opens with duelling guitars, duelling to see which can be the most out there by the sound of it. Chance's sax then pulls it into another jerky syncopated groove and finishing quite aptly on a squawking squeaking sax "solo".

"Buy" is not easy listening. It is extremely challenging and many will gain nothing but confusion and a headache from it. It's influence on punk-funk as a genre, however, cannot be underestimated. In Leeds around the same time, Gang of Four were making there own brand of punk-funk, but despite Entertainment's political and social commentary, it cannot match Chance's much more personal brand of nihilism and bile.

The combination of punk and funk is almost at odds with the physical compulsion created by both genres. Throughout the album you are often caught between wanting to jump around like a lunatic and wanting to shake your funky stuff, usually ending up in some strange dance falling in between the two: a contortion, if you will.

Dan Matthews

COVER ART: The Libertines - The Libertines


There’s no way the cover of “The Libertines” could be any more fitting. In one stark, perversely beautiful image it encapsulates the unflinchingly candid soap opera that was their swan song.

It’s unashamedly self-infatuated; detailing the genuinely tragic display of what had been a tempestuous but beautiful camaraderie. Carl fixes you with a forlorn stare, conveying just how lost he feels, torn between his friend and their vision for the band; Pete stares down at his own arm, perfectly illustrating his spiral into self-destruction. But with their arms side-by-side, you see their matching tattoos: “libertine.”

The dream is over and this is how it’s happened, blood and guts spilled for all to see. Even before you hear the raucous opening bars of “Can’t Stand Me Now” as it practically falls over itself to pour its heart out, you know “The Libertines” is going to be the story of the decay of one of the most important yet infamous bands in British rock & roll for the past decade.

Chris George

Skint & Fabulous: A Brief Rumage Through London's Second Hand Treasures

Somebody recently told me that they had never really thought of me as the “elegant and classy” type, but rather as "somebody who basically lives in charity shops waiting for rich or fashionable people to die". Truth be said, I take bargain hunting to a whole new level. I am infatuated with charity shops and finding cheap, amazing clothes in and around London. Recently I realised that I could map out the entire city by shops alone, so I decided to write a guide for other like-minded individuals out there who want to find fun, bargainous clothes in some of London's dingiest granny shops.

Here is a guide that will help you find your way around the city's hot spots.

North
Camden is famous for its vintage stalls and markets, attracting tonnes of weird-looking foreigners all year round. Once a Mecca for self-styled, arty individuals on the hunt for unusual clothes, the streets are unfortunately now filled with Indie clones and the markets with clothing for Emos and Goths. However, the high street itself has about four or five good charity shops and you can always find designer clothes there. The vintage stalls themselves are quite overpriced, bar one, which has a big banner over the top that says "Everything £2- £10" (can’t miss it). Everything inside is indeed within this price range and you can find some disgustingly good cocktail dresses there if you go down on a week day.

Further a field is Kentish Town’s High Street where there lies a handful of golden charity shops, all clustered around the dole office. These seem to be frequented by old ladies more than the youthful characters that live in the area, however don't let that put you off. The best bargains are always found where there is less competition! (Charity shopping is a dangerous game you know).

North West
Kilburn is where it all began for me. It is the place that marked the discovery of my first designer item. It was a black, pouf-belle Nicole Farhi skirt, bought for £3 in the Cancer Research shop. I'm telling you, if Camden is Ibiza, Kilburn is freaking Barbados. Not only do you have the benefits of an upmarket thrift store called Traid right on your doorstep (http://www.traid.co.uk/), you also have another six great charity shops well within your reach. These shops are always heaving with clothes as the area is well-populated with rich families who donate lots of expensive, good quality clothes.

Traid is basically a posh thrift store; it buys the clothes that the big stores can't shift from their autumn/spring/summer ranges. You can find anything from 1980's Marks and Spencer dresses, to cardigans from Moschino's 'Cheap n' Chic' range. It's reasonably priced too, the average jumper costing you around £8- £15. I found a 'vintage' neon pink clutch bag in there for only £4.99 two months ago. However, once I got it home I realised it was from H+M as the red label inside kind of gave it away. I was left wondering how 'vintage' H+M could possibly be? Surely it’s only about six years old. So look out for the Real McCoy’s and the...non-Real McCoy’s if you like your vintage.

There is one last shop in Kilburn worthy of a mention. It's called Benny Dee's and is a little scary. It has a 'Chinese sweatshop' kind of feel to it, filled with hideous 'men's and Women's' type clothing. But If you have a good rummage though you're bound to find the odd cute vest top/bright piece of underwear that's so garish it might actually pass as fabulous.

West
If you’re in the mood for second-hand designer heaven the west end is where it’s at. Notting Hill Gate, Westbourne Grove and Portobello Market are all within walking distance of each other - Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill being famous for their designer goods (donated by their rich inhabitants). Look out for the branch of 'The Notting Hill Arts Fund' charity shops that are dotted all around the area, as on occasion they can provide you with some good finds.
Notting hill has a few charity shops, (three excellent ones on the road down towards High St Kensington), however its specialities are the trade and exchange shops where sixties, seventies and eighties memorabilia can be found, along with a huge collection of obscure and rare vinyl (also found in Camden).

Westbourne Grove also has a branch of Traid, which is often better stocked than Kilburn's branch. There are numerous other great charity shops nearby as you head towards Bayswater, and if your feet are in need of a rest, there's a good selection of eateries nearby, such as Planet Organic and Harlem Soul Food.

Hopefully this guide has either given you some new areas to explore or persuaded you to enter the world of cheap-skate living. If any of you would like to contribute to our Charity-shopping guide, feel free to write to Neon Buzz at thisisneonbuzz@googlemail.com with your suggestions.

Marina Diamandis

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Take Me Out, Tonight
Pretty Petty Thieves

In this time of rush fads and crazy phases Pretty Petty Thieves has established itself as regular, almost 'old pro' indie disco. Since its birth in May at the Islington Elbow Rooms it has taken its interesting blend of garage, grime and rock 'n' roll to the sweaty, curly haired, tight-jeaned indie masses of London and is now the flagship clubnight of a rapidly expanding DJing and promotions empire. Here co-founder Shola explains how it all happened.

Where did the idea for Pretty Petty Thieves come from?

Well me and friend Ross [Gill] had the idea about a year ago, but nothing ever happened. He then called me up one day and said we should do it! I was like, yeah ok, whatever - but then he called me half an hour later and asked whether i'd called any venues. I called Elbow Rooms and Andy Peyton was really liking the idea of us doing a one off gig there. We then put together a little introduction to our night and started sending out to bands.

Who was the first band to grace your stage?

The Lineup for 18th May:Lethal BizzleMetro RiotsDelaniesThe MichellesDirty Robbers
I was fortunate - due to my job I was on good terms with Lethal B's PR so she [Nadia] gave us a good deal. Next thing I knew Mix-Mag said they wanted to come down and do a piece on the whole Grindie movement. It was quite funny as getting Lethal B for that purpose wasn't our intention. We just had a perchant from Grime/Garage.
What influences you?

Music. Life. People. It may sound cliched but the feeling you get when someone comes up to you and compliments your night gives the most natural high.

Do you remember the first time the crowd gave you a really positive response? Was there ever a decisive moment when you knew you were in the right job?

When Lethal B came on stage on our first night, everyone got on stage it was crazy. Dirty Robbers and Metro Riots were particularly good too - lots of energy.

As far as DJs go, do you have your own, DJ yourself, or get guests in?

We get the most cutting edge DJs. Dirty Daniel is our resident DJ simply because he knows how to get the crowd going, he has a mad love for reggae and drum 'n' bass. My co-promoter Ross is also a mad drum 'n' bass head. That's all he listens to. And Oasis!

What is one song that always gets people on their feet?

The Prodigy - Out Of SpaceKanye West - Gold Digger. Oh the irony! It's not even his best song, it's all about addiction!

Are there any new acts or songs that you admire?

I adore Metro Riots, I've been liking The Holloways over the last couple of months too. Beans on Toast, The Romance, Man Like Me, JME and Skepta have been on the playlist too. And I can't get enough of Juelz Santana at the moment.

Who designs your flyers? Do you do it all yoursef, are you hands on in that way?

Poppy Chancellor, she's our artistic rock, absolutely amazing girl.

Pretty Petty Thieves? That's a deliberate reference to Morrissey right?

Yes; it's in no relation to Dirty Pretty Things or Bright Young Things or Eating Little Things etc.
You must have quite a varied and eclectic record collection, are you the type of person that'll rummage through a jumble sale just to find that lost gem?

Oh yeah definetly, I love record shopping, when I have the money. Best bargin was finding Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and 'The Wall' in Portobello Road and paying only £3 for both - on vinyl!

What would you say Pretty Petty Thieves' ethos is?

As long as a band are good we'll book them. We don't book bands because they're cool and 'of the moment' And as for DJs, they can play whatever the fuck they like as long as people can dance to it. People shouldn't try so hard to be obscure and different, it just makes them the same as everyone else.

What do you think the appeal of an indie night is today? Even the bigger old super clubs like M.O.S are holding 'indie' or 'alternative' nights? How long do you think the success of such a night can continue?

It's quite funny the term indie is now used as a genre of music. It's a division of the corporate movement and an alternative to big record companies. It's suddenly been made into this music phenomenom. I firmly believe that if you sign to a big label you're no longer indie, you fall into the rock/alternative category.

People will always love guitar based music it's always going to be around, it's like cheese - the mouldier it gets the better it tastes.

What separates Pretty Petty Thieves from other club nights?

We are generally good people who want to give bands a chance. We don't have much money, we try to give everyone a go and believe in being fair. We don't discrimate, we give people a chance to design our flyers and get involved on the nights. We take care of our team and each other!

Claire Evans

Video Killed The Radio Star. Or Did MP3 Kill The cassette?

The first victim was vinyl, then video and now cassette has become the latest victim to suffer a grisly death at the hands of the digital takeover.

In May 2007 Currys was the last retailer to pull cassette tapes off the shelves. But the once ΓΌber cool cassette didn’t go down without a fight. Its fall from grace spanning over two decades, which saw the revolutionary compact disc and most recently the dawning of the digital age take hold. But, for me, finding a copy of Now that’s what I call music 11 with such greats as Bananarama’s I Can’t Help It and Yazz & The Plastic Population’s Doctorin’ the House bought memories flooding back. Finding, in a sellotaped shoe box, a dust encrusted, plastic cassette case and torn inlay card with a once white (now tinged yellow) cassette tape inside.

Introduced in 1963 by Phillips, the cassette tape was originally felt to be revolutionary due to re-recording capabilities. To artists recording on vinyl it became the latest in recording gadgetry. Armed with its trusty sidekick (and nifty invention by Sony) the Walkman, the cassette tape became an icon of the 1980s. Smaller than its musical predecessor, the 12” and 7” record, it could hold more music and so was the pinnacle of music technology prior to the invasion of the digital age. The tape was many a milestone to 80s teenagers, marked by the tape play list compiled by a love struck boyfriend or girlfriend. So, the cassette tape is to remain in the stored old boxes of unwanted childhood items that may never see the light of day again.

Ok, so maybe cassette tapes were a bit crappy. I remember spending ages sticking a pencil in the reel to rewind it after either my tape player or the tape itself was about to collapse from exhaustion. But that was half the fun. Now, all it takes is the click of a button to download whole albums onto your PC or iPod. But the cassette tape’s major flaw, like kryptonite to Superman, was the fact that it could rarely hold much musical info. Bearing in mind that one iPod can, on average, hold what would be stored on 1,500 tapes!

Although the death of the tape marks the possible end for mechanical audio technology2 it does also indicate a possible end for the future of private audio facilities. As with CDs which are bought as tangible and individual items, the boom in downloads has meant that the monitoring systems put in place in order to avoid fraud and illegal downloading can now monitor what you listen to and when. Through the intangibility of the MP3, privacy of audio entertainment may become a thing of the past and possibly even become obsolete.

But as has been predicted by music retailers that CD sales are also starting to fall, the death of the cassette only stands to mark a loss in consumer privacy, once the last tangible manner of audio entertainment becomes extinct. Although DVDs have remained as popular as since their launch, their format is about to be upgraded through the introduction of Blu ray discs (BD). This will bring digital technology to a new generation with the use of high definition video (HD).
But if and when tangible musical storage devices such as cassette tapes, videos and CDs become the stuff of 1980s and 1990s almanacs it will take aid in saving the environment. As musical entertainment becomes intangible then there’ll be nothing to actually throw away. With MP3 players getting smaller and iPods following suit, the most damaging appliances to the environment will be easier to depose of.

Christina Warner