Music: August 2007 Archives

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela

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I've just been listening to an amazing concert that I'm really annoyed I didn't go to. I'm talking about the appearance of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under its 26 year old conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

Now before you go scooting on believing that I'm getting all high falootin' talking about classical music, you really do need to listen to this concert.

As I say, I missed it, not managing to read about it until the following Sunday, thus missing out on the BBC's Listen Again facility.

But fortunately on Wednesday the Prom was repeated on Afternoon on 3. So until next Wednesday afternoon you can hear it here. Fast forward about 1 hour 35 minutes to get to the start of the Prom.

And if the prospect of the Shostakovich fills you with dread, then skip another hour to 2 hours 35 minutes when a wonderful performance West Side Story's symphonic dances is performed by this massive orchestra of 200 12 to 26 year olds.

And then stay with it for some wonderful South American music and three encores.

Just read what others are saying here. More than one person is demanding a CD/DVD release of this excellent concert!

The concert was also on BBC Four, which of course I missed too. But I'm certain that there'll be some repeat performances over the coming weeks and months. The first chance to see the performance again is likely to be next Thursday's "Youth Orchestras of the World" on BBC1 at 10.35pm. I'll be tuning in.

Why does Venezuela have such wonderful young musicians? It's all down to a system that lets any child in the country learn a classical instrument. Hundreds of thousands have participated and leading to a musical renaissance. There's a programme all about it that you can download here.

Last.fm and Future Music

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There was much excitement recently, when it was announced that a revamped Music Week would include a chart from Last.fm. This is the site, we're told, that really discovered the Arctic Monkeys and so on.

Now I must admit that I've never really persevered with Last.fm to the extent of using it properly. It might well introduce me to all sorts of music that I've not previously heard, but I'm always suspicious of just hearing the will of the masses. In other words, the most popular albums will always ride to the top because everybody has them.

Anyhow, it was with interest that I turned to this week's Music Week to see what interesting new songs are being highlighted by Last.fm.

Well the top ten is dominated by Kate Nash who has four songs in it, including the number one - Foundations, which is also her current single. The album only came out last week, so it's not surprising that everybody's listening.

The number two is Misery Business by Paramore (misspelt in the paper incidentally) which is a single released back in June that didn't trouble the charts too much reaching the dizzy heights of number 31. For a band like Paramore, this is probably helping their album, Riot, which currently sits at number 47.

Elsewhere we find Starlight by Muse at number 5. A great song undoubtedly, although it came out in September last year, so not exactly cutting edge. Just behind that we find Kanye West's Stronger, which is also the current number one. Then there's another Muse track, Supermassive Black Hole, a single from June last year.

Then there's Hey There Delilah by the Plain White T's [sic] which is still high in the charts at number 6, although the album it comes from, Every Second Counts, was originally released last year. However, the album is currently unavailable, with an imminent re-release next week.

Finally there's Golden Skan by Klaxons which was released in, er, January this year.

What I'm trying to say here, is that this chart isn't much use for predicting the next big thing, aside from giving Kate Nash's record company some food for thought when they think about what to release from her album as a follow up to Foundations. And a few other record companies might be a bit miffed that some songs weren't as big hits as they might have been - but that's always been the case.

To be fair, there are two additional charts that Last.fm is reported to be supplying: a global version (this one is UK only), and a "hype list" showing artists that have risen most in the last month, and as the Guardian column linked to above suggests, it'll be this chart that'll be the most useful. But it remains to be seen how different it'll be from the radio airplay charts already published which obviously include pre-release tracks, as well the overall pre-release top 20, which is currently led by James Blunt (1973), The Twang (Two Lovers) and the very fine Scouting For Girls (She's So Lovely). Although with Razorlight's America at 17 and Lily Allen's Smile at 19, I'm not quite sure what "Pre-Release" actually really means.

Charting Again

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Do you follow the charts?

No, me neither. But I couldn't help noticing that Elvis is having something of a resurgence.

Currently there are three singles in the Top 40:

Blue Suede Shoes is a "new" entry at no. 13.
My Baby Left Me is a "new" entry at no. 19.
Suspicious Minds is at no. 26 having slipped from last week's no. 2.

What's going on?

Well a couple of things. First of all, Elvis's label, RCA, is releasing 18 Elvis singles over the coming 18 weeks to build an "Elvis the King" collection. Avid collectors dash out to buy these limited edition re-issues which can be stored in a box. The collection "commemorates" the 30th anniversary of Elvis's death.

But hang on. Didn't something like this happen a couple of years ago? Why, yes it did. On that occasion it was "celebrating" the 30th anniversary of Elvis's birth.

They seem to be a different 18 singles this time around, but there is obviously plenty of bonus material bulking it out. Suspicious Minds and Blue Suede Shoes are the most recent releases.

But what about My Baby Left Me? That's not part of either singles collection. Instead it's the first major Elvis release now his material is out of copyright in the UK. As Music Week reports on its front page this week, it has been reissued by Memphis Recording Service and sold exclusively through HMV. In this instance, the recordings have not been sourced from early vinyl, but from masters and safety masters that the record company has got its hands on.

As ever, it should be pointed out that the songwriters of My Baby Left Me, do get paid. It's just the performers (and producers) that don't.

It should be noted that aside from these singles, there are also a considerable amount of other Elvis material proliferating at the moment with a partwork having just launched, and collections of Elvis's films readily available. And if that collection of Elvis Number Ones from a couple of years ago is not enough, you could pick up Elvis The King instead (which does have a further 21 tracks including some biggies like Blue Suede Shoes and Always On My Mind which the previous collection didn't).

But you might want to wait for "Elvis Presley: The New York RCA Studio One Complete Series" coming before Christmas. It's another unofficial release taking advantage of the UK's copyright laws. I rather suspect that Elvis completists - those who're putting these re-issued singles so high in the charts - will be getting this CD too.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from August 2007.

Music: July 2007 is the previous archive.

Music: September 2007 is the next archive.

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