It was a neglected pleasure, an enjoyable task I had not indulged in for years, like so many I had got so carried away with digital this and downloadable that I had forgotten music buying is an engaging and tactile joy.


The experience of buying a CD on Amazon, or downloading a single from iTunes is just transactional. Type, type, click, type, password, check details, are you sure, click, type, done.

Compare that to an enjoyable five minute chat with the knowledgeable bloke in the shop, giving his recommendations a go and buying a great record I’d not heard of.

Dealing with an actual human, who owns a business, employs local people, who collectively know a huge amount. A touch more engaging than ‘if you’ve bought, then perhaps you’d like’

I know that the online boys have their place, but the shift in how listeners consume music and engage with their favourite artists means the local record shop can play a new and different part in the equation.

As the Olympics bring London to a halt, and Mayan speculation attempts the same on a global level, 2012 will also be the 5th year of Independent Record Shop day. I intend to visit my local specialist, to get down Berwick Street and support those people that really love music, promote new artists and enjoy shooting the breeze.

Don’t get me started on the tactility of vinyl and the delight of cover art, that is a whole other essay!

All art aspires to the condition of music; some people appreciate that extends to buying it.

Read more

In the past month, two of the worlds largest internet corporations, Google and Yahoo!, have unveiled new logo designs. Both companies wanted to freshen up their image, however one of these corporations has fallen flat, being heavily criticised by typographers and designers alike, where as the other has pretty much gone unnoticed.

Yahoo! stated that the company wanted a logo that stayed true to their roots yet embraced the evolution of their products. Whilst this may be the case, it seems that they have missed a great opportunity to reinvent themselves. It was always going to be a challenge keeping parts of the original Yahoo! brand whilst trying to create a fresh new outlook and maybe, proved to be a bit too much.

Google, on the other hand, have made what visually seems like and incremental change to their logo - removing the minor letter shadowing to create a simple, flat logotype. It seems by doing so they have completed a gradual flattening process that started in their first logo update in 1999. Over the years, the logotype has slimmed down, and very slowly lost some of its letter shadowing. Now, the logo has been stripped down to its simplest form and fits perfectly into a world where clean, flat design is at the forefront.

This is encapsulated in the logo evolution of many of the worlds leading organisations, Apple being a great example. The original Apple logo, which was used in 1976, depicts Isaac Newton sitting under a tree with an apple dangling above hide head, wrapped by a thick ribbon reading ‘Apple Computer Co’. This was followed by the famous multi-coloured apple symbol, used between 1977 and 1998. Nowadays, Apple, much like Google, have stripped their logo back to its simplest form, using a flat, one colour symbol of a partially eaten Apple to represent their company. Perhaps if Yahoo! had followed suit, and got rid of the useless exclamation point and chosen a flatter logotype instead of the out-of-date bevelled effect they now posses, then maybe their new logo unveiling might have been a bit more success.

Read more

I’ve just finished reading the late great Gil Scott-Heron’s book The Last Holiday: A Memoir, a biographical work building up to Stevie Wonders ‘Hotter Than July’ tour, a tour put on to campaign for a national day to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, and to ensure that a period of dramatic political and cultural revolution was never forgotten.

I then spent an enjoyable evening listening to Scott-Herons work having finished the book; his moral compass, and ethical determination provide inspiration, humour and a great historical record.

It is telling that politically tinged music tends to come from the left. Thinking about music of the right you think of fascist hardcore or Phil Collins; one wonders if there is there is a grey area somewhere between the two?

Having said that, the use of music by politicians is always amusingly divisive, with Presidential and Prime Ministerial candidates the world over not quite understanding the legality of broadcasting, permissions or often the nature of the songs they walk out on stage to.

Looking across the Atlantic, we find the best attempts to rile socialist musicians.

During the last presidential race, Jackson Browne successfully sued John McCain for using his music to target Barrack Obama, without his permission. He also used staunch Democrat and anti-war campaigner John Mellencamp’s egalitarian ditty Our Country sans permission. Mellancamp subsequently performed at Obama’s inauguration celebration.

More recently Gingrich has angered Survivor, Bachman used Tom Petty and Romney wound up K'Naan. So much for the Eye of the Tiger.

My favourite though is the wonderful David Byrne suing the conservative Governor of Florida for using 'Road to Nowhere’ in an ad smearing a competitor. He received damages and an apology on YouTube.

So is there a burgeoning industry in finding and licensing appropriate music for political ends? Perhaps; things can only get only better.

Read more

Older Posts  /  Newer Posts