Column from February 28th, 2000 issue

Back to full health this week and just heard the good news that Canadian pomp rock kings Cinema Face have just completed the recording of their third album. Band leader Frank Lamanga already thinks it's their best yet. Full details of the release date will follow shortly....

Just quickly glancing down the up-and-coming Japanese releases for the next two months, there's some new stuff on the way. Amaze Me have both their albums ("Dream On" and "Wonderland") re-issued on March 23rd and each one features a bonus track; TNT guitarist Ronni Le Tekro has a solo album coming about March 23rd called "Extra Strong String"; Artension has a new album coming out on the same day, and likewise it will have a bonus track; slightly earlier in the month - March 15th - Brad Gillis and Praying Mantis release new albums. In April fusion guitarist Frank Gambale will issue his new album "Coming to your Senses" on the 5th, another cool fusion release will be the new, self-titled album from Japanese band T-Square which comes out right at the start of the month. Leatherwolf (are they still around?) issues "Wide Open" on April 26th with a bonus track, and the tedious Ten's new album is due on the same day for anyone so inclined!

Am I the only person in the world that can see that the "clever money" is getting involved in e-commerce left right and center just so they can make a quick buck. Seems to be rather like the Florida property boom of the 1920s and 30s all over again!

In that vein, EMI struck a deal this past week with "Supertracks" of the US to be its "preferred provider of solutions for the digital distribution of music". EMI will take a minority stake in Supertracks as part of a deal which EMI, puffing out its chest for no good reason, says will help it "become the world leader in the online distribution of music". Here we go again, say the magic "E word" and the stock market will throw a load of money at you in the finest tradition of "throwing good money after bad". Too many people think that the big labels feel threatened by digital delivery methods, I don't think they do - if they can control it (as they like to control everything) they can actually cut out the retail middle man and some manufacturing costs and make even more money....

You know what's even more interesting about this whole music/e-commerce deal? Labels are quietly, and occasionally not so quietly, putting money into web companies backing MP3 while their trade association sues them at the same time. Earlier this month, the Recording Industry Association of America sued MP3.com and Napster because it claims they are helping pirates make illegal copies of recordings. Simultaneously, the five bid labels are all investing money in Listen.com which is a San Francisco based company that categorizes the 50,000 tracks on its web site all of which are downloadable and are mainly free. If anyone can see the sense of this, or prove to me that this isn't some bizarre dichotomy, please let me know.... Then again, sense doesn't usually enter into the equation of the current music industry....