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VIVENDI DENIES SPLIT RUMOURS
Speculation about a restructure follows an admission by the company's Chairman and CEO in a recent letter to shareholders that the firm has been facing some difficulties of late, mainly because of a new competitor in the French telecoms market. Viacom's SFR tel co has traditionally been a good earner for the group, but the launch of an ultra-low cost mobile rival in France has hit it hard, just as the entertainment and communication's firm took complete ownership of its telephone business, buying out Vodafone's share this time last year.
According to Reuters, in their letter the Viacom chiefs told shareholders that the firm's board constantly reviewed its portfolio of companies, and that the concept of selling some of its assets was "never taboo". They added: "Should we keep the perimeter of the group as it is? Should we sell assets or separate the group in two or three? These questions are not taboo ... Your board is sensitive to these strategic questions and studies them deeply".
These comments seem to have led to this week's report that a split was being seriously considered at Viacom HQ, with Universal Music and games unit Activision Blizzard sitting in one business, and other divisions in another. But a Viacom spokesman yesterday strongly denied that any such proposals were being given serious consideration at this time.
Said spokesman told reporters: "Vivendi learned with stupefaction of the claims made by Bloomberg in a story published tonight about its strategy. Vivendi vigorously denies all the assertions in the story, which are unfounded and based on anonymous sources".
Vivendi's music business Universal plans to get much bigger, of course, via its planned purchase of the EMI record company, regulator approval permitting, though the music major will sell off some of its publishing catalogues to help fund the deal.
GIRLS ALOUD TO REFORM THIS YEAR
Cole told Chris Moyles on Radio 1: "It's coming up to our tenth birthday in November this year... and we all want to do something to celebrate that".
Asked why they went on hiatus back in 2009, she said: "What happened was it had been seven years of consistently non-stop touring, album after album. As women we needed this space to grow".
DEFTONES FRONTMAN AND FORMER ISIS MEMBERS FORM NEW BAND
Harris explains: "Clifford, Jeff and I started Palms a little over a year ago out of a desire to continue making music together after ISIS ended [in 2010]. Chino joined shortly after and our sound took shape from there. We've worked really hard on this first release and are excited for people to hear it. It's nice to be back behind the drum kit, and with this line-up".
Moreno added: "Being a huge ISIS fan I've always dug the moods these dudes convey with their sound. I am excited to combine my sense of creativity with theirs, and to have fun doing so".
The album is slated for release later this year via Ipecac.
THE BEACH BOYS TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM
Wilson joins the surviving founding members of the band - Mike Love and Al Jardine - along with guitarist David Marks, who joined shortly after the band originally formed, and keyboard player Bruce Johnston, who replaced Brian Wilson in the band's touring line-up in 1965.
The band recently completed work on the new album, 'That's Why God Made The Radio', which is due for release via EMI/Capitol on 5 Jun. The band's 29th album, it was recorded at Ocean Way Studios in LA and also produced by Wilson.
Listen to the album's title track here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGke6pnT1d0
PAIJE RICHARDSON RELEASING DEBUT SINGLE
Recorded in a converted water tower in a remote part of the Isle Of Wight, it's one of several original songs featuring on Paije's PledgeMusic-funded first album, which will also include new versions of a number of R&B and Northern Soul standards, plus "rarely heard music from the 1950s".
Paije, who sounds a thoroughly nice chap, says this of choosing the album's covered content: "Some I had heard before, others I hadn't. Those that hit me on a certain level or had the right vibe I listened to again and again until I knew which ones I wanted to interpret".
Listen to 'Bang Bang', as is released on 9 Jul, here: soundcloud.com/paijerichardson
DJ SHADOW READIES RARITIES COLLECTION
Says Shadow: "I like to follow up new material with a tastefully-done archival project. As long as the old stuff is given a context and doesn't overshadow the new, I think it's a healthy exercise for me, and one that re-calibrates me for whatever new musical path lies ahead. I think it's important to revisit where you've been occasionally so that you can determine where to go".
Though minus a release date, 'Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996' does have the following tracklist to its credit:
Intropy (Original Version)
GAZ COOMBES CONFIRMS SOLO DEBUT
Released on 21 May by Coombes' label, Hot Fruit Recordings in conjunction with EMI Label Services, the LP is preceded by a week by lead single 'Hot Fruit', the video for which is screening via the link below.
A generous Gaz, who's also giving away album track 'Sub-Divider' as a free download, compares solo status to his time in Supergrass: "In a band, when you get a group of people who are walking the same path, it can be the most beautiful thing. But with this I felt it was really focused on just what I wanted to get across, and on my inspirations - whether it's film, film soundtrack, or past artists that we didn't really look at much in Supergrass. This is a completely blank page in a blank book, ready to be written on".
In terms of live activity, Gaz is down to play The Camden Crawl, Apple Cart and Great Escape festivals, with a headline slot also booked at London's Bush Hall on 25 May.
WHITE MANNA ANNOUNCE DEBUT ALBUM
Check out the tracklist and stream 'Mirror Sky' below:
BEATLES' FIRST US GIG TO BE SCREENED IN CINEMAS
Filmed at The Washington Coliseum in 1964, the twelve song, 30 minute set was originally recorded to be shown in cinemas, viewed by around two million Americans in March the same year. The footage was then lost, but was recently rediscovered and remastered by Screenvision, the company which has produced the new documentary.
The film will be premiered at the Ziegfield Theater in New York on 6 May, and will be screened in cinemas across America from 17-22 May. No word yet on a UK release.
MAXIMO PARK ANNOUNCE SINGLE, TOUR DATES
Preview 'Hips And Lips', the issue date for which is the same as the album's own (11 Jun), after these live dates:
6 Jun: Birmingham, Glee Club
EDDY TM'S LOSERS MAKE LIVE RETURN THIS WEEK
Now bolstered by former yourcodenameis:milo vocalist Paul Mullen and ex-Oceansize drummer Mark Heron, they supported Sunshine Underground at London's XOYO last night and join the band again at The Haunt in Brighton tonight. Londoners kicking themselves for missing out need not worry though, they'll be back in the capital on Friday night to play Club NME at Koko in Camden.
Now, this seems like the perfect opportunity to dig out the fantastic video for 'Flush' from Losers' debut album, 'Beautiful Losers': www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsaLyUTDGTo
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BEARDED THEORY, Kedleston Hall Park, Derbyshire, 18-20 May: With Adam Ant's The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse just confirmed to replace former headliners The Levellers - who cancelled their Bearded Theory appearance due to injury - this year's festival will also feature Wheatus, Terrorvision, The Travelling Band, Dreadzone and Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs. www.beardedtheory.co.uk
HULTSFRED FESTIVAL, Sweden, 14-16 Jun: Hulstfred's latest supplements, who include Chase & Status, Spector and Willie Moon, unite with the likes of The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Noel Gallagher, Kasabian and Noah & The Whale in - for the most part of the festival's roster - bringing a distinctly British sense to proceedings at this Swedish three-dayer. www.hultsfredsfestivalen.se
LAND OF KINGS, various venues, Dalston, London, 4-5 May: O Children, Male Bonding, Is Tropical, and the one-time Lulu & The Lampshades line-up, now renamed Land Shapes, are new introductions to the impending Land Of Kings roster, as are DJs Kwes and Micachu aka Kwescachu. The list of those acts already confirmed includes Speech Debelle, Trophy Wife, Slow Club, Connan Mockasin, Bos Angeles, Bullion, NCZA/Lines and Stay+. www.landofkings.co.uk
LEEFEST, Highams Hill Farm, Warlingham, Surrey, 29-30 Jun: Friction & Linguistics, Jakwob, Raf Daddy, Urban Nerds and Dismantle are amongst those acts appearing on the just announced LeeFest dance line-up, and thus join the already mentioned Mystery Jets, Summer Camp, Slow Club, Ghostpoet, Bastille, The Skints, Man Like Me, Casiokids, Sound of Guns and FOE. www.leefest.org.uk
MYSTERYLAND, Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands, 24 Aug: Avicii, Fedde Le Grand, A-Trak, Simian Mobile Disco, Goldie, Tiga, Fake Blood and Seth Troxler, feature on the first and last announcement regarding this one-day Dutch dance-athon, which celebrates its nineteenth anniversary in 2012. www.mysteryland.com
NOZSTOCK, Bromyard, Herefordshire, 27-29 Jul: Organisers confirm that The Futureheads, DJ Zinc and Imperial Leisure are new inserts to Nozstock's 2012 roster, which includes The Proclaimers, Andy C, Dreadzone, The Correspondents and Camo & Krooked. www.nozstock.com
PLAY FEST, New Eccles Hall, Quendenham, Norwich, 1-3 Jun: Sub Focus, DJ EZ and Gypsy Hill prove fitting final amendments to a broad Play Fest programme, sealing a line in submissions that has hitherto included Ash, The Pigeon Detectives, Feeder, Roots Manuva, Reverend & The Makers and The Big Pink. www.playfest.co.uk
TRAMLINES, various venues, Sheffield, 20-22 Jul: Eugene McGuinness, Crushed Beaks, Keep Shelly In Athens and Theme Park are the most recent additions to this free-to-enter Sheffield fest's current live programme, which also counts amongst its ranks Roots Manuva, Ms Dynamite, Charli XCX, We Are Scientists, Esben & The Witch, Mazes, Frankie Rose, 65daysofstatic and Rolo Tomassi. www.tramlines.org.uk
WESTPORT FESTIVAL OF MUSIC & PERFORMING ARTS, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, 23-24 Jun: This family-focused Westport arts and music fest will mark its first ever edition with performances from Ray Davies, Seasick Steve, The Waterboys, Alison Moyet, Beth Orton and Marc Almond, also hosting an array of less established local artists. www.westportfestival.com
CHRIS BROWN LAUNCHES TOY RANGE
He's teaming up with artist Ron English to launch the collection of limited edition figures and sculptures, which is a spin off of his Mechnical Dummy brand, an arty venture based around the MechanicalDummy.com website. The new enterprise will officially launch in LA next week.
Says Brown: "Ron has to be the most creative, out there artist. His work is so precise but at the same time so unorthodox".
No word if the toys will be modelled on this 80s classic: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh-rFAU6d3s
UNIVERSAL SHUTS VERVE UK
The former confirmed his departure from Universal after nearly two decades to Music Week, saying: "I've had an amazing eighteen years working for Universal and have been privileged to have been Managing Director for two legendary labels, A&M and Verve. I'm proud to have signed and A&R-ed some of Universal's most successful global acts including the multi-million, Grammy Award winning Duffy. These are exciting and interesting times in the music industry. I am very much looking forward to my next adventure and to spending some time at Lord's this summer!"
Meanwhile, after also confirming the close of Verve UK, Jazzwise quotes Decca Records' Mike Bartlett as follows: "Verve will continue as a US-based label. We will be announcing some exciting new releases from them very soon. Decca will continue to work with the artists that were brought to the company under the Verve UK imprint".
SONY APPOINTS NEW COLUMBIA UK CHIEFS
Says Gatfield: "Alison & Mark are exceptional executives with a wealth of experience between them. Their complementary skills will drive Columbia to new creative and commercial heights".
Says Donald: "I'm looking forward to the new challenges ahead at Columbia, and I am delighted to be working alongside Mark as we take Columbia from strength to strength".
Says Terry: "I'm really excited to be joining Nick at Sony and be working alongside Alison. Columbia is an iconic label with an incredible heritage and I can't wait to join the team, and with Alison help take it to new successes".
TUPAC-STYLE 'HOLOGRAM' MIGHT ENABLE TLC REUNION
To be fair, the hologram element of the reunion is just rumour (via TMZ), but some sort of live activity to mark the 20th anniversary of 'Ooooooohhh... On The TLC Tip' (and, sadly, the tenth anniversary of Lopez's death in a car accident) has been confirmed.
The group's T-Boz told Essence.com: "We're going on tour; we are in negotiations now with LA Reid, so we'll see what happens. A lot of cool things are coming up".
Reid, now head of Sony's Epic division, signed TLC to his La Face label at the start of the 1990s. By moving to Sony last year the La Face catalogue is now back under his control.
While live activity, and even some possible new recordings, are currently just being discussed, work on a biopic about TLC's rise to fame is apparently already underway. No word on whether any holograms will feature.