Saturday, 24 July 2010

Recommendation/Review: Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele

I really really like what Amanda Fucking Palmer (as she often calls herself) is trying to do with this EP: Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele.

This new approach coming from some bands and artists to selling things directly to the audience is fantastic. These attempts by artists (and so far they are generally only "successful" attempts if, like Palmer, they already have a high profile) to be truly independent from labels. To really try and do things for themselves making use of the amazing hopes and possibilities of the internet. It is great from an philosophical perspective: it's what music and art and life is and should be about. It is also great from a ideological perspective as it takes the money away from the bastards. But also it is great from the musicians personal perspective, in an industry that is becoming increasingly powerless and unconnected from the way audiences can and will consume it.

She is giving this EP potentially away for free (well you have to pay 0.84¢ to cover the costs of paypal and paying Radiohead). You can choose to donate more. And you can also pay a lot more for very special personalised "bundles" containing painted Ukulele's, personal phone calls from AFP. She'll sing Haiku's you wrote. And bundles themselves are very interesting new ways for artists and fans to connect (here's another interesting bundle approach).

AFP really gets my good will and respect for this:

is download the music for free, have a friend email it to you, or otherwise own it and enjoy it without paying for it.
honestly, that’s no skin off my back. if radiohead doesn’t KNOW (and neither do I) that you’re downloading this music, i don’t have to pay their publishing fee.
and i’d rather you have this music than not have it. so go ahead and take it from the cloud. yay.
She is fully giving her music, her work, to her fans and asking and offering them the chance to collaborate with her and engage with her. They are her publicity machine, through her blogging, her twitter and her facebook. Word of online mouth spreads this around. She did a live webcast/party offering her fans even more. Making the EP an event. Making it something special.

I don't have much money at present and so only paid the minimum price. And that is really worth paying.

The tracks themselves are varied in how much they work for me. But the ukulele adds wonderful new connotations to the radiohead tracks and when they worth they really work. But don't take my word for it. Why not have a listen:

<a href="">Fake Plastic Trees by Amanda Palmer</a>

For my mind Idioteque from Kid A is the real stand out cover. It is the perfect meshing of the uke sound with the source material, probably because its where the gulf seems greatest. It's interesting as well because the lyrics are more audible and so add new levels to the original. High and Dry is also great and Fake Plastic Trees, whilst not being very different in feel to Radioheads still benefits from the high end uke and female voice.

No Surprises failed to work for me, something about the vocal delivery I think. And Creep (Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin) was shaping up as an amazing cover but loses it with too much pantomime (at least in the way it sounds) emotion at the end of the song.

But over all some great tracks and a great approach. Both deserve respect and support.

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