Author Archives: Time Lord
Neil McCormick surveys the reality:
“Fans are extremely loyal, and they love hearing new versions of old stuff. In fact, a lot of people would rather listen to that than a new album. Remarkable, really.”
But, let’s face it, an industry with a business model that depends on selling an ageing audience something that they already own is in big trouble. Thankfully, not every veteran is relying on their back catalogue. Neil Young and AC/DC have new albums on the schedules. And in the usual scheme of things Irish rock superstars U2 might have been expected to boost the Christmas sales with their new album, but instead they gave it away free on iTunes. Explaining their motives, Bono said “the charts are broken”. He has a point.
UK album sales have been in decline for most of the 21st century, down last year to a meagre 94 million from a 2004 peak of 163 million. CDs still account for nearly 80 per cent of those sales, although there are kids obsessively listening to music now who wouldn’t know what a CD was if you broke it over their heads.
Meanwhile, streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube are rapidly expanding, claiming worldwide listening numbers in the billions. These are forums where you can access music without actually owning it. To put it in perspective, U2’s 1987 album The Joshua Tree sold more than 25 million copies in the course of its lifetime. But U2’s Songs of Innocence has already been downloaded free more than 26 million times and actually listened to by more than 80 million iTunes users. By most criteria, you would have to call that a hit. But it only reached number six in the UK sales charts.
U2 have effectively opted to put their music where the majority of listeners might actually find it. The bigger point is that just because older fans still want to feel a physical object in their hands, it would be a mistake to think this means that oldies are taking over pop. The truth is, the kids are just having a different kind of conversation in an era of big pop singles, where individual tracks accessed online are all that really matters.
But you can’t put a download or a stream in a Christmas stocking.
Perhaps it is Dan Flynn who wrote the best review of U2’s Songs of Innocence:
Songs of Innocence follows the creative holding pattern that began after Pop ventured too far from the mainstream for the stalwarts there from the raw-rock beginnings of Boy. It reminds listeners of the back catalogue, which may be the point.
Conclusion? This isn’t U2 but a robot tribute act playing Coldplay playing U2. Surely the busker bazillionaires, particularly the world saver on vocals, can no longer spare the time for mere music.
Still, if it’s worse than U2 past, it’s better than radio present. “Song for Everyone,” an acoustic ballad that builds into a soaring anthem, deserves to knock Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber off the airwaves, even if for four minutes. And if it fails in that noble mission, it will at least serve as the soundtrack for when the twelve-pack becomes a one-pack. “If there is a dark/within and without/There is a light/don’t let it go out.”
Guys in their fifties generally fail to match the artistic output of their twenties in as thumotic a genre as rock ’n’ roll. Songs of Innocence isn’t Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, or Achtung! Baby. But it isn’t exactly post-Tattoo You, phone-it-in Rolling Stones, either. U2 on an off day hits the ears better than no U2 at all. And with fans thirsty for a drink after five dry years, going back to the well works well enough to satiate. Listeners get more than their money’s worth at the price.
U2 keeps making the same album. … There’s a payday in safely playing like the heyday.
The new District 97 live album One More Red Night is out… and it is completely AWESOME.
John Wetton is superb, and the band does a mind-blowing job with all these Crim classics!
1. One More Red Nightmare (4:41)
2. The Great Deceiver (3:38)
3. Lament (4:19)
4. The Night Watch (5:31)
5. Fallen Angel (5:47)
6. Book Of Saturday (3:07)
7. 21st Century Schizoid Man (5:25)
8. Starless (4:47)
9. Easy Money (5:27)
Produced by Jonathan Schang
Recorded live on October 17, 2013 at Reggie’s Music Joint, Chicago, IL
John Wetton-Lead Vocal
Leslie Hunt- Lead and Backing Vocals
Jim Tashjian-Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rob Clearfield-Keyboards, Additional Guitar
Wow, is this band ever the real deal!
I can’t wait to hear the new studio album that is in the pipeline, thanks to their amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign.
Rock on, District 97. You are today’s upper-echelon prog, and you carry us on your mighty shoulders.
Yes, indeed. Faithful to all the best inspirations of yesteryear, Leslie and the boys are rigorously maintaining the interstellar standards of excellence which define the essence of prog.
I love this album! My friends, play it loud; and play it often.
You will be stunned at how good this album is!! I was not expecting this, but here it is.
It is now undeniable. District 97 has assumed the mantle!
Greg Spawton tweets the link to this great story from James Hall:
As a cause of potential marital strife, it was a biggie.
About six weeks ago I received an email from a contact in the music industry. Would I, as an occasional music critic, like to go to one of Kate Bush’s sold-out shows at the Hammersmith Apollo at the end of September as their guest? There was no room for a plus-one, sadly, the contact said, but if I wanted to come alone then I was more than welcome.
KB syndrome is a common issue for men of my generation
Now available: a free download of the new Forever Still song, “Scars.”
Mark Judge gives us a great commentary on U2’s new album, in the form of a confessional review … and on his birthday, no less!
If you were into some bad stuff in the 1980s, and a lot of us were, U2 could confront you like a tough, poetic, and compassionate priest. I remember spending a lost summer at the beach (in a house that would eventually be raided by police) and when I looked up out of the haze, I saw U2 performing “Bad,” one of the greatest anti-drug songs of all time, at Live Aid. The song was about a drug addict who eventually commits suicide. It’s a desperate, retroactive cry for the person to not throw himself away.
Thanks in no small part to U2, I avoided that fate. I gave up the mind enhancers and one night stands and became a Catholic. I also never lost my love for rock and roll, and now, thirty years later, with Songs of Innocence U2 has given us one of the best records of their career. They have kept true to the punk ethos of writing honestly about what’s in your heart and what you see as the truth. The album is smart and dynamic, diverse, and mesmerizing.
Like U2, I’m not afraid of making the grand statement — it’s probably just genetic to the Irish — and I think that Songs of Innocence is needed today. I mean that both in terms of the world and for me personally. America, which was always a source of musical inspiration for U2 as well as a kind of great spiritual hope, seems lost. The great progressive dream has resulted in more economic inequality, and political correctness imposes the kind of burden on free speech and thought that punk came along to destroy.
When I first fell in love with U2s music in the 1980s, I had my heart set on being a writer. I was from an Irish family that idolized Joyce and Yeats, which is probably why Bono fit so well into our pantheon of greats. For a time the dream of being a writer came true, but the reality of the digital revolution has made it a profession that can no longer be sustained. There is intoxicating freedom, but it simply doesn’t pay any longer. I have to take Bono’s advice. I have to surrender.
And yet, inside me is still that punk rock spark of hope — the idea that you can in fact do it yourself, keep your soul, flourish spiritually, and survive. It’s a feeling U2 addresses in “Cedarwood Road,” one of the best tracks on Songs of Innocence. It’s a recollection of how the band formed.
HAKEN plays “Darkest Light” (OFFICIAL VIDEO). Taken from the Restoration “EP”.
Great vocals throughout, but the best part is truly the instrumental freakout in the back half.
The “EP” drops on Oct 27:
The track list and playing times are as follows:
- Darkest Light (6:44)
- Earthlings (7:52)
- Crystallised (19:23)
The final track is a no holds barred epic including guest ‘cameo’ appearances by Pete Rinaldi (Headspace) and Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic / Flying Colors).
Have you noticed that everyone is releasing “albums” these days that are the length of double LPs? (See the new Slash, for example!)
And that “EPs” are now the length of LPs? (Like you, Haken!)
Not that I’m complaining, right?
A high quality problem…
I am pleased to report that the new Sloan LP is completely awesome.
In advance of my full review, I just had to share with you all one of my favorite tracks on the album.
So hard to decide such things, but as always I am a super-huge fan of anything Chris Murphy contributes to the band.
Here he is again at his finest, with a killer riff and thoughtful lyrics: “You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good” — from Sloan’s Commonwealth.
Play it loud … for the sake of the kids!
U2’s new album? You can’t even give it away.
Chris Richards is offended:
On Tuesday afternoon, U2’s new album was just there, waiting for you. Like an Ikea catalogue. Or a jury summons. Or streptococcus. The latest inescapable unpleasantry for anyone who’s chosen to participate in our great digital society — more specifically, the 500 million human beings on this planet who use iTunes.
As for the album itself, it’s called “Songs of Innocence,” perhaps to suggest that U2 is abandoning a swaddled orphan on your doorstep, not an intrusive cluster of idea-starved rock songs. Yeah, okay, this might be the largest album release in history. It’s also rock-and-roll as dystopian junk mail.
In this brave new farrago of medium and message, U2 seem to have transmitted all of rock-and-roll’s misguided egotism into one ridiculous statement: Our music is technically worthless and everyone in the world should hear it. That’s what this band is “all about,” and Apple is happy to do its part, making you the owner of these songs without asking your permission. Which is disgusting.
Well, I don’t know how dystopian this event is. Giving away free stuff: isn’t that just a promotional stunt, calculated to generate PR to sell more stuff?
U2 and Universal Music Group will face some hurdles due to disgruntled retailers. Sources say Target has a policy of not carrying any title that was first released to digital retail. Target refused to initially carry Beyonce’s self-titled album following her surprise iTunes exclusive, and Amazon withheld the usual prime page placement. To entice retailers, Universal is offering four tracks that iTunes will not have until November, according to sources. Some retailers could walk away with more tracks, as sources say Universal has three additional tracks for select retailers.
The awareness surrounding the Apple giveaway and related advertising efforts could be a financial boon to U2’s catalog. As such, Universal is said to be planning the most aggressive catalog program it has ever executed for U2. The band’s catalog has already been sale-priced at iTunes and is promoted as “limited-time pricing” on the iTunes Music Store home page.