The Big Hurt: This week in free stuff

A sharp decline in the value of music?
By DAVID THORPE  |  March 21, 2008

In yet another blow to the traditional record industry, the CHARLATANS UK have released their new album, You Cross My Path, as a free download. It’s a tiny bit difficult to get excited about a band who’ve been releasing a B-minus album every couple of years for what seems like forever, but the novelty of its being free makes this one worth a shot. Although I enjoyed the album (more so than the unfun NINE INCH NAILS download from last week, certainly), it seems like a bad career move — the Charlatans have long been the easiest band in the world to take for granted, and now they are granted. Standout track is “Oh Vanity,” which might be an effective ripoff of BOOKER T & THE M.G.S’ “Time Is Tight,” or maybe NEW ORDER’s “Your Silent Face,” but most likely New Order’s “Waiting for the Siren’s Call.” Three songs in one! All free!

In other old-dogs/new-tricks news: IRON MAIDEN are set to release a free digital download of Somewhere Back in Time, a collection of their best-known hits of the ’80s. The catch: you’ll be able to listen to it only three times before it expires. That’s fine, though; three plays of an Iron Maiden album is about as much as the human constitution can withstand before spontaneously generating a denim exoskeleton.

Amid this frenzy of technological advance, ELBOW’s GUY GARVEY has emerged as a skeptic. Although the availability of single tracks off iTunes for a buck is great for consumers sick of shelling out $15 for an album of filler, it tends to annoy artists who take their albums seriously. In an interview with, Garvey explained: “I’d rather people went ripped the whole thing for free than got the individual tracks for 79p each, you know what I mean, there’s no point in doing what we do.” You heard him, guys! This one’s free too!

R.E.M. will be the first band to preview their new material through the popular iLike Web application, which provides tech-savvy music fans with an innovative new social music platform through which not to give a shit about R.E.M.

This week’s outstanding journalistic coup: the UK’s Daily Mail printed a story about how LISA MARIE PRESLEY is getting all fat by eating junk food like her dad. It turns out that Presley — who is now suing the paper — is pregnant. I’m no legal expert, so somebody help me out with this: for a libel case to stick, will she have to prove that she’s not fat, or that she hasn’t gained weight by eating?

VAN HALEN are postponing a few dates on their upcoming tour because Eddie is suffering from an “unspecified medical condition.” If I had to guess, I’d put my money on mummification.

LOU PEARLMAN, the loathsome chicken hawk behind ’N SYNC and the BACKSTREET BOYS, will finally face justice. When he wasn’t putting together twink-heavy boy bands for his own well-documented delectation, he was, it’s alleged, bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars with a series of phony companies. No word yet on whether he’ll be punished for his crimes against culture.

XTC’s ANDY PARTRIDGE has teamed up with taxingly eccentric singer-songwriter ROBYN HITCHCOCK for a collaborative album. Personal favorite Hitchcock lyric: “If I was man enough, I’d come on your stump.”

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Related: Streisand vs. Maiden, No reason to complain, Boxed and ready, More more >
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