Friday, 15 April 2016

What we're listening to. Amy Winehouse 'Back to Black'.

The recent documentary, 'Amy', prompted this and it's really well worth a look. It's an excellent view on the sad, tragedy of Amy Winehouse.

Talented? Not just vocally but as a lyricist and everything comes from her own experiences so when it's sung, it has meaning and that comes across. Just listen to the lyrics on the title song 'Back to Black' or indeed, 'Rehab'.

'Love is a losing game' for Streamabout, is the stand-out track but it's all so strong. Beautiful in fact.

It was of course only her second (and ultimately, final) Album from 2006 with 'Rehab' being the best known track. 'Frank' was her first Album. 

The production is superb too from the really terrific Mark Ronson (Bruno Mars 'Uptown Funk', Adele's '19' and 'Valerie') and he was able to walk the line of not 'overproducing' it. However, we've never seen a record with so many musicians credited so that's the extraordinary ability of Ronson. They're on there, but they don't interfere.

This is a terrific insight into that Album recording.

'Back to Black' is the UK's second best selling Album of all time. 

Amy has been compared to Sarah Vaughan because of her smoky, jazz vocals but that's unfair, she was out on her own albeit with an R&B sound likened to Ray Charles.  

Alcohol (she was booed whilst touring with this record on stage), the collapse of her marriage to the love of her life and of course drugs, caused the pain, inflicted the damage. She died in July 2011. 

She was actually a really great, relatively shy, person who had bucket full's of talent. There's no doubt she'd have gone on to even more extraordinary things. Just it's all too tragic to contemplate.

Here's the title track.

Previous "listen to's" you'll also find on this blog.......Police 'Outlandos D'Mour'; Michael Jackson Off the Wall; Carole King Tapestry; Beatles Red Album; Sex Pistols Never mind the Bollocks; Sam Cooke Live at Harlem Square; The Doors LA Woman; Thin Lizzy Live & Dangerous; Kendrick Lamarr Butterfly; Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace; Clapton 461; Massive Attack Blue Lines; The Clash London Calling; Chris Isaak At The Filmore; Bob Dylan Street Legal; Bad Company Straight Shooter; Jackson Browne Love is Strange; Lou Reed Transformer; Steely Dan AJA; Stones Black+Blue; Stephen Bishop Careless; Nils Lofgren Night after Night; Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells; Neil Young Harvest; Led Zep 4; David Bowie David Live; Van Morrison It's too late to stop now; Wings Band on the run; Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing; Ryan Adams Heartbreaker; Santana Essential; Bob Dylan Desire; Roxy Music For your pleasure; Bob Marley Legend; Stephen Fretwell Magpie; James Taylor Sweet Baby James; Deep Purple Machine Head; Springsteen Darkness on the edge of town; Leon Bridges Coming Home; Eagles Hotel California; Jungle; Aretha Soul Queen; Neil Young After the Goldrush + Harvest; Zappa Overnite Sensation; Fleetwood Mac Rumours; Keith Jarrett Koln Concert; Doobies Southbound; Stevie Earle I feel Alright; Tom Waits Closing Time; Pink Floyd Dark Side; Van Morrison Moondance; Eric Church Caught in the Act; Randy Newman Little Criminals; Elton John Madman across the water; Patti Smith Horses; Doobies Captain and Me; Steely Dan Can't Buy a Thrill.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Ad Blocking. Newspapers sue, solution is simple.

The row about Ad-Blocking rumbles on but is anything being achieved and isn't it simpler than all of this?

Some of the UK's and US largest publishers have sent a 'cease and desist' legal threat to 'Brave', a new browser with Ad blocking backed in, run by the former CEO of 'Mozilla'. The publishers include The NY Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal et al - 17 of them at least. Presumably too, they've a lot of letters to send to a lot of Ad blockers.

They seem to favour a long legal battle about 'copyright' than using their heads.

'Brave' blocks all Ads except...their own. Clever boys, although the premise is that publishers also get a share (estimated 55%). Publishers claim it's a breach of copyright and will seek damages. Fair enough, that's going to take a legal while....

(As an aside, Denis O'Brien's mobile Digicel is blocking Ads since September, for a different reason because as a 'platform' that carries traffic to the publishers, they too want a share of the Ad money.)

The difficult bit of course, is that online publishers rely on advertising to pay for (and profit from) their sites. Ad blocking diminishes that revenue and Ad blocking is on a surge in an overcrowded market. But you have some sympathy for publishers who are running a business too. 

However, it's often forgotten that it's the users who want to Ad block, a point that seems to be missed.

And why? Because of the Ads, not because of the content. 

They do not want to be extensively tracked (and they are with the 'consent' of the publisher) and they want a faster browsing experience (which heavy 'rich' advertising negates).

'Brave' sells itself as 'Browse safer and faster'. That's what users want and that's why users are using Ad blocking like 'Brave'. 

More than 200 million people use Ad blocking software for these reasons and as a consequent, browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari are all allowing users to do so. Adblock Plus, the most used blocker, takes payment from companies to bypass their Ad blocking software, often referred to by critics as 'extortion'.

So Ad blocking is something the user wants and we know, the user also wants content. After all, that's why they're online.

Is the solution therefore, not simpler?

If the publisher simply refuses any content to users with Ad blockers (no access to any news for example) that will fix it. And if the publishers come together (which 17 titles seem very keen to do legally), this can be done overnight. 

ITV and Channel 4 are good examples of the start of this journey.

You want access to the site? Switch off your Ad blocker or you get none.

It's really that simple because on balance, users want the content more than they'll suffer the Ads. Exactly as they do in traditional media.

You want to stop Ad blocking then just stop giving the content. Today.