In the Fab tradition

Klaus Voorman returns his trophy along with other artists.

Winners at this year’s Echos, Germany’s top music awards, have returned their trophies to protest rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang for lyrics such as “I’m doing another Holocaust.”

6:19 AM PDT 4/17/2018 by Scott Roxborough

Getty. German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang performing at the Echo Awards April 12.

Controversy and scandal are rocking the Echo Awards, Germany’s top music industry honors, after a rap duo came under fire for lyrics comparing themselves to Holocaust survivors.

At the 2018 awards, held in Berlin on April 12, German gangsta rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang won the Echo for best rap album for their top-selling disc Jung, brutal, gutaussehend 3 (Young, Brutal, Good-looking 3). The album includes the song “0815,” in which the rappers say their muscles are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners” and add, “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov” cocktail.

The decision to give the pair a prize was criticized that night by Campino, the lead singer of Germany’s legendary punk band Die Toten Hosen. Campino said he likes provocation as much as the next guy, but “for me personally, misogynistic, homophobic, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic insults cross the line” of acceptability. The audience gave Campino a standing ovation.

Now other artists as well as politicians and business leaders are joining in to condemn the rappers — and the Echos for honoring them.

“Anti-Semitic provocations do not deserve a prize; they are repugnant,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in an interview with Der Speigel magazine. In comments to German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, the German-born CEO of Arbus Tom Enders said the award “hurts Germany’s international reputation. Is anti-Semitism becoming acceptable in Germany?”

Maas noted how particularly offensive it was that the rappers were honored on April 12, or Yom Hashoah, the national day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. The protest also comes at a time when anti-Semitic incidents and violence are on the rise in Germany.

In an essay for the Die Welt daily, Jewish German comedian Oliver Polak said that the normalization of anti-Semitism in popular music was part of the reason “that young Jewish people are chased around and beaten up in schoolyards.”

Several Echo winners have also spoken out, with some returning their awards in protest. Two-time Grammy winner Klaus Voormann, the so-called “fifth Beatle,” returned his lifetime achievement Echo, as did the Notos Quartett, winners of this year’s Echo for best classical music album, saying the Echo “is for us nothing more than a symbol of shame.”

This is not the first scandal for the Echos. In 2016, the awards, handed out by music industry association BMVI Music Group, honored German rock band Frei.Wild, a group accused of far-right and neo-Nazi leanings.

Part of the problem, critics say, is the nomination process. Unlike the Grammys or Britain’s Mercury Prize, the Echos are primarily chosen on the basis of commercial, not artistic, merit; the best-selling albums and artists are automatically nominated. An expert jury picks the winners from those nominees. If the jury can’t decide, an Echo Awards advisory council, made up of executives from the major music labels, gets the final vote. 

This setup makes the Echos numbingly predictable. The same top-selling artists turn up year after year. German pop star Helene Fischer won her 17th Echo Award last week. British songster Ed Sheeran swept the top categories, winning album of the year, international artist of the year and hit of the year for his track Shape of You.

But the voting procedure also means best-selling bands with objectionable views — whether right-wing groups like Frei.Wild or rappers with violent or apparently anti-Semitic lyrics such as Kollegah and Farid Bang — are automatically nominated as well.

The BMVI initially defended its procedures, but on Sunday, association CEO Floridan Drucke said Echo organizers would reconsider their nomination and selection process in the wake of the scandal. Drucke said the association rejected all forms of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and the glorification of violence.

For their part, Kollegah and Farid Bang say they also reject anti-Semitism, and that their lyrics have been misinterpreted.


If you have a guitar and a lot of soul

…, just bang something and mean it. You are the superstar. Just catch the groove and let it flow out of your heart. – Kris Novoselic

Behind the Music: Nirvana. Or, Nirvana 101. A nice piece of documentary for the uninitiated; and, a refresher for those who love the band. That’s the beauty of this type of rockumentaries. The cast is complete – the band members, Sub Pop Records owner, authors and contemporary artists.

A must-watch on this great band that produced only two studio albums under Geffen Records and performed around the world under the weight of superstardom in a span of three years but did influence a lot others to create what may be arbitrarily called ‘the grunge movement’ in music – the Seattle sound in the late 1980s up to the mid-1990s.

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Classic (cover) song

Nothing beats the original I may say, but Jeff Buckley’s version of We All Fall In Love Sometimes is superior in certain ways. The emotion he puts in the song is simply heart-wrenching. Besides, with only his guitar, Jeff gave it a stripped version conveying perfectly the raw emotion in the song.  What Chris Martin did with it in Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin is to make the song more accessible. Obviously, Chris borrowed more from Jeff than Elton in terms of arrangement, but he stripped it of the final verse with the crescendo on it.

Jeff Buckley’s take on the song.

There’s nothing much available of Chris Martin’s version of it, but I got this one, which confirms my suspicion he may have borrowed the vocal style and a bit of the song arrangement from Jeff Buckley. I’ll add Chris’s version later when it becomes available.


The ‘making’ of God Only Knows

The Beach Boys’ masterpiece God Only Knows remade with the help of a few friends to celebrate the launch of BBC Music…see how we made it.

How the BBC made this video is explained by Ms. Anita Singh who gave us a glimpse of it in her article dated 09 October 2014 called God only knows how the BBC made this video

BBC Music

Starry cast: from Nicola Benedetti to Chris Martin, star musicians took part in the recording of a Beach Boys classic  Photo: BBC

Brian Wilson, above, felt ‘humbled’


The brief was to find a “joyous” song to launch a BBC initiative showing its commitment to music, and the shortlist was whittled down to one: God Only Knows, by the Beach Boys. Months of negotiations followed with Brian Wilson’s record label, his management team and his wife, Melinda, before the deal was done.

Neil Caldicott, the BBC executive who masterminded the project, explains: “It was in a conversation with his wife that we heard Brian was both flattered that the song was being considered and then up for being part of it. That was an amazing moment.”

A lot has happened to Wilson since the song was released in 1966 – he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder – but he remains one of the greats of the music world.

Wilson said he felt “incredibly humbled” that his song had been chosen.

2 The Cast

No David Bowie this time

The list of who does not appear in the film is more intriguing than who does. Where is Adele? Sir Paul McCartney? David Bowie, a reclusive character though he was happy to appear in the BBC’s 1997 rendition of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day? It turns out that some artists were offered a coveted spot but rejected it.

“There were a few people who just didn’t want to do it; I’ll be totally frank,” says Caldicott. “There was a schedule we were trying to hit, and particular filming days when people weren’t available. But a song choice such as this is subjective, and music is subjective. There were people who just said, ‘I love the project, I think it’s a great idea, but it’s not for me.’”

Did the BBC approach Bowie? “We put out a lot of requests. An awful lot of requests. And what we’ve got is a brilliant line-up.”

3 The use of CGI

Kylie appeared to float in a bubble

Kylie floats past in a giant bubble; Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal is in a hot air balloon; Paloma Faith does her best Fifties pin-up girl on a swing and singer-songwriter Lorde flaps her angel wings – all in a fantastical rainforest populated by tropical butterflies and a Bengal tiger.

Sadly, none of this happened in real life. The tiger was stock footage added in post-production. The performers did their thing in front of a green screen, with special effects added later. Kylie was actually sitting on a Perspex box, and Baaba Maal’s basket never left the ground.

Meanwhile, two technicians stood beside Lorde to do the wing-flapping and were later edited out of the shot.

Pharrell Williams’s descent from a glamorous ballroom staircase was actually filmed on a set of concrete steps in the corridor of a recording studio.

4 The location

One Direction recorded their segment in Atlanta

In 1984, Bob Geldof corralled every pop star in Britain into a London studio on a frosty November morning to record Do They Know It’s Christmas? for Band Aid. They even had to audition – Phil Collins beat Culture Club’s Jon Moss to the spot on drums.

Getting today’s superstars in the same place at the same time was impossible. The main video shoot took place at Alexandra Palace. The BBC Concert Orchestra were in situ along with BBC Young Musician of the Year, Martin James Bartlett, while the corporation’s own stars – Jools Holland, Lauren Laverne and Gareth Malone – turned up to film their bits.

But the rest recorded audio and video in different parts of the world. One Direction, for instance, sent in their vocals from studios in Atlanta after a video conference with the producer on Skype.

5 The vocals

Elton John was very particular about which line he sang

You might assume that every artist performed the song all the way through and the producers picked out their favourite lines, but you would be wrong. While the ever-reliable Kylie was “happy to sing the entire thing through on multiple occasions”, others were more particular.

Step forward Sir Elton John, who specified that he would sing the third line (“You never need to doubt it”) and that was it.

Caldicott reveals: “Elton was very specific about the line that he wanted to sing. We were in and out with him within half an hour. He was, as you would expect, hugely professional.

“And when Elton John says, ‘I want to sing that line’, you say, ‘Thank you, Elton, that’s brilliant’.”

6 The unknowns

The youth choir could hear Florence Welch recording her part in the next room

If viewers were surprised to see such a starry supergroup, imagine what it was like for the Tees Valley Youth Choir, a group of 14- to 19-year-olds who were approached to record their vocals in 2013 and had no idea they would be appearing in the musical coup of the year until they caught its debut on television this week just after EastEnders.

“When we went to the studios in London to record our bit for the video, Florence Welch was in the other room, so we knew she was in it. And when we listened to the track, we could pick out some voices, like Stevie Wonder. But other than that, we really didn’t know,” says the choir’s director, Andy King.

Mr King didn’t even get to see the film at the same time as the rest of the UK – he was leading a school trip to EuroDisney in Paris, and had to watch it later on the BBC website.

7 The costumes

Katie Derham’s vintage Thirties outfit was ‘sourced’ by the video’s stylist

How to dress for an English-country-garden-meets-tiger-infested-rainforest-in-Alexandra-Palace theme? Stylist Grace Snell “sourced, hired, begged and borrowed” the outfits, from Katie Derham’s 1930s vintage number to Lauren Laverne’s sequinned dress from Phase Eight.

Jamie Cullum wore a pink Alexander McQueen suit, Florence Welch was resplendent in Roberto Cavalli and soprano Danielle de Niese’s glorious gown was from the High Street chain Coast.

Brian May’s vintage tails, dating from around the time of the First World War, were hired from the National Theatre.

Snell also designed and custom-made Nicola Benedetti’s silver chainmail dress and Alison Balsom’s bespoke feathered cape.

8 The cost

Every artist, including (l-r) Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell Williams, played for free

Every artist gave their time free – unlike for the 1997 Perfect Day promo, when they were each paid a token £250 – and the song is to be released as a charity single with all proceeds going to Children In Need, thus cutting off at the pass any criticism of this being a lavish use of licence-fee funds.

The cost remains a secret as it is “commercially sensitive information”, according to a BBC spokesman, who would say only that it was a cheaper film to make than Perfect Day.

Those old enough to remember that video will see that Sir Elton, the great musical survivor, is the only artist to appear in both.

If the BBC makes one of these in another 17 years’ time, Sir Elton will be 84. Don’t bet against him turning up to sing his favourite line.


The video –


This post was actually triggered by an article from The Guardian that features a 12-minuter behind-the-scenes thing, BBC unveils behind the scenes film of God Only Knows campaign. Unfortunately, I could not import the video from the article so I looked in youtube whatever approximates it. Anyway, here’s the link where you could watch the lengthier feature.

Brian’s bio series plays Beatles songs

I can hardly wait to watch this series.

Brian Epstein Bio Series ‘Fifth Beatle’ to Hum With Lennon-McCartney Tunes

Brian Epstein Bio Series ‘Fifth Beatle’ to Hum With Lennon-McCartney Tunes

By Steve Marinucci

Bravo’s “The Fifth Beatle” will examine what it was like to be gay and Jewish in 1960s England through the prism of the life story of legendary Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who died in 1967 at age 32.

Production on the Sonar Entertainment series, based on the graphic novel by Vivek J. Tivary, is still months off and details as to where it will shoot are scant, but Jenna Santoianni, Sonar’s executive VP of television series and a “Fifth Beatle” executive producer, offered a glimpse at plans for the limited series. Sonar developed the property and set it up at Bravo last month.

“I think Vivek has done an amazing job in adapting his graphic novel to the television script,” Santoianni tells Variety. “And from the script, people are going to get the true life story of Brian Epstein and really feel that he was brilliant yet was a bit of a tortured dreamer and get the early look at Brian Epstein’s discovering the band in the Cavern Club in Liverpool and get a sense of how he both nurtured and protected them, and really guided their careers to worldwide success. We’re going to explore that he was a gay Jewish man in 1960s England, which wasn’t a popular thing to be at that time considering that homosexuality was a felony and that he’s an outsider who really struggled to overcome a lot of odds. And at the same time we’re seeing Brian Epstein overcome his own personal struggles, we’re seeing the Fab Four rise to fame really because of the potential he saw in them.”

Santoianni said television was a good fit for “Fifth Beatle” because it allows for a longer storytelling format. The interest in Epstein’s story is a sign of how much the market for television content has expanded.
“There are a lot of subject areas and formats that used to be considered not suitable for television or that you couldn’t make,” she said. “And part of that was that the budgets weren’t there. And the wealth of channels and programmers that we have today weren’t there. Programmers would say, ‘You couldn’t do period pieces. You couldn’t do things that had a ton of music involved or production numbers. Audiences wanted to see stories about America.”
But things have changed. “The beauty of television is that we don’t have to resolve our characters’ issues or stories in a two-hour movie,” she said. “We get to embrace our characters for their flaws and for their personalities and spend a lot of time with them. And we don’t have to say goodbye to them after two hours.”
The Epstein biopic series was a natural attraction for a longtime Beatles fan who says she was instilled with love of their music by her parents. “The Beatles mean a lot to me,” Santoianni said. “I grew up in Los Angeles listening on the weekends to (radio program) “Breakfast With the Beatles.”
She looks at the entire project as a real accomplishment. “To be able to help (Vivek) take the graphic novel and sell it as a television show is really special and meaningful,” Santoianni said. “It’s a great honor to be able to work with someone on adapting their own work. And it’s been a really great and charmed experience. This is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve even seen.”

Jesus Christ Superstar 2018

…a selection from the musical revival f this classic rock opera. Uploaded just yesterday. Been waiting for these. Well, they never came close to the original but I am sure JCS found a new following through this revival.

Gethsemane by John Legend

I Don’t Know How To Love Him by Sarah Bareilles

Now Alice Cooper perfect as Herod. AC rules as Dee Dan said almost a day ago!

We close with Could We Start Again Please

A prolific fan

Paul McCartney and John Lennon
 Paul McCartney and John Lennon in photo taken during the Beatles’ first US tour in 1964. Photograph: Mike Mitchell/Omega Auctions/PA

A teenage portfolio of more than 350 previously unseen photos of The Beatles’ early invasion of America has fetched £253,200 at auction on Merseyside.

The photographer Mike Mitchell’s images show the band arriving in 1964 for their first concerts in the States at Washington DC and Baltimore. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, who was knighted this week, are also shown at pre-show press conferences and on stage.

A total lot of 413 negatives were sold with copyright for £253,200 by Omega Auctions and only 46 of these pictures had been seen before, at auction in 2011.

Mitchell, who was 18 at the time, had wanted to photograph the Fab Four after watching their famous television performance on the Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964. He said: “I was very motivated to come up with stuff that was as unique as could possibly be.”

He took shots of the band as they arrived for their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum two days later, using natural light because he could not afford a flash. He was there again when they played the Baltimore Civic Center on 13 September, even getting on to the stage to secure a better view.

“I looked and noticed that nobody was up on the stage. I thought, I wonder what it would be like to be up on the stage and see what I could get up there,” he said.

The black Mercedes AMG that George Harrison bought in 1984 for £85,000 from a dealer in Wilmslow, Cheshire, also sold for £43,200.