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Is it time to take Take That seriously?

Men and women, not always but often, have disagreed on many things about music; its purpose, its purpose, its value and its quality. And as music journalism has traditionally been a male-heavy occupation, the view of what is good and what is bad comes from those who pee standing. Witness The Beatles by way of example. Their early, poppier years are rarely viewed with the academic scrutiny of the later, more rock-influenced albums. This may explain why comfortably the most popular band in Britain are never candidates for the end of the year polls. But is it time we started giving Take That some credit?

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here at ELM Towers, we need a break as much as the next person, so it’s turkey, trimmings and all that jazz for us. And, in keeping with the festivities, here’s a Christmas toon from 1994 – Oasis (when they were good) with a cracking version of ‘Whatever’. Merry Christmas readers!

I know a lot about art, I just don’t know what I like – 10 Classic Album covers

The Government estimates we produce over 10 million tones of packaging waste each year. The Daily Mail have declared war on the simple plastic bag, declaring it a hazard up there with nuclear war, Labour and immigrants. Even asking for one in Marks and Spencer is now akin to saying ‘I would like you to show me your most effective cakes for luring children back to my shabby abode for inappropriate fun’. The world hates packaging.

But truly great albums are not complete without a stand-out package. You simply couldn’t imagine, say, Full Moon Fever or Parklife coming in different covers or having a different track order. The sleeve notes, the insert photographs….they all have a part to play. In these days of instant individual download and songs never accruing any physical status, it’s sometimes hard to give albums that almost mythical status that some of these classics achieved.

Here are some of the albums you simply can’t imagine coming in a different cover.

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Don’t Stop Believing – AOR makes a comeback

It was Glee what did it. The actually-quite-good American teen comedy has taken the world by storm, and in its wake, the radio is awash with songs from the glory days of American rock. Songs which were long-gone and, according to some, best-forgotten, have suddenly become cool again. Except, of course, they haven’t.

Soft rock, AOR – call it what you want, but it’s never been cool. It seemed in the 70s and 80s like it had been beamed in from another planet. We had punk, New Wave, New Romantics, Acid House; John Cougar Mellencamp was unlikely to ever resemble a musical James Dean while all that was going on. But come on – ‘Bat Out of Hell’, ‘Cold As Ice’, ‘We Built This City on Rock’N’Roll’ – good Lord, my friend, what treasures are these!

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Dylan banned from playing China

Western ray of sunshine Bob Dylan has axed a series of dates in east Asia after being refused entry to perform in China.

The veteran folk God had lined up dates in Shanghai, Beijing, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong this month after finishing a string of dates in Japan. Continue reading

21st Century Man – Luke Haines Interview

Without Luke Haines, there would have been no Britpop. He wouldn’t want your thanks for that. With The Auteurs debut album, he helped an angle-hungry UK Media find the British response to grunge which would eventually lead to Cool Britannia and all that. The ironic thing, of course, was that he bore absolutely no resemblence to the monster he helped create.

Scabrous, engaging and deeply funny, his 2009 autobiography Bad Vibes is a viciously comic stab through the heart of the British music industry in the 90s. He’s also released an excellent new album titled 21st Century Man. Ladies and gentlemen, the ever-engaging Luke Haines; Continue reading

The Brits 2010 – Your brief guide to the new musical landscape

The Brits are a bit like the monarchy – they seem to have fans but no-one you talk to can point you in the direction of one. What are they for? Lazy people. What’s that you say? ‘But ELM, surely they act as a facile excuse for industry people to get coked up and talk about ‘vision’ and ‘profile’ while trying to get close proximity to the winners?’ Well, yes, obviously. But that’s not their primary purpose. They exist to allow people who don’t like music but think they do to buy a few currentish albums for the CD rack next to the hi-fi. Don’t mock – the Mercury is the same but with better PR. Continue reading