Wednesday, August 21, 2002

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The 'doesn't that fan go up to four?' edition
Boy George is cross with Eminem. He told the Observer magazine that he reckons its the popularity of Em that has seen "Fag" yelled at him more often this year than for, ooh, ages. Hmmm. Well, while we don't deny that Eminem has probably helped the word along a little, hasn't it occured to George that, what with the campaign to reclaim 'queer' as a term of pride going so well, the queerbashers are going to have to turn to some other term to yank the gay chain? And that, maybe the reason he's getting more abuse these days than he was a couple of years ago is that he's developed a higher profile than he had during the 90's? And that virtually every US TV show is happy to have 'fag' used by its bad guys as a gay-bashing term? Blaming Eminem is lazy, knee-jerk, and - coming from a man whose early career was a target for the 'ban him! quick! before he turns our children!' brigade - disappointing...

the guardian friday review identified a new genre - or thought it did - and called its work 'Nu Drivetime', but anything which attempts to tell you that Pink and Nickelback are the same thing is asking for trouble. And not for the first time, a journalist failed to understand the "get compared to damn Britney Spears/She's so pretty/That's just not me" line - 'she's so pretty' is reported speech, do you see?...

still, if nudrivetime doesn't float it for you, give it twenty four hours and the Guardian Guide suggests that the actual new big thing is the resurrection of Poodle Rock. In a more considered piece, the launch of 1xtra was compared with the pulsing pirate scene in London - perhaps the most surprising part of which was that people working in dance take Westwood seriously and treat him with respect, even after stories like that in Private Eye which takes glee in relating how the bishop's son took part in a mass-mix-in, and could neither work the turntables, nor the faders...

suede talk to Music Week about the trials of returning to a much changed industry: "It feels very different. The media is very different. For a start, most of the magazines we used to be in don't exist any more" observes slinky Brett Anderson. Luckily, the band quickly abandoned its early plans for the new album to be "very strange, electronic folk music" because "it didn't work sonically", according to Matt Osman. In its place came "real soul", and we'll get a chance to find out exactly what that means in September.

Music Week also reports on Clear Channel's plans to extend their stranglehold of European festival events into the UK - moves probably aided rather than hindered by the pisspoor efforts of smaller scale groups like Essential. Casting a nervous glance at Clear, and saying "hey, that's our stranglehold", is Mean Fiddler's Melvin Benn who tells MW "We're not corporatism coming into music in my view, although the argument around Clear Chanlle is exactly that. However, it's a fact that Clear Channel aren't succeeding to impress themselves on the UK festival market" - words that President Bush himself could have speaked out...

More on festivals: In the Music on the Move special that came with the Guardian at the weekend, in which John Robinson talked amiably about how festivalgoers now expect to get their moneysworth, rather than in the muddy past when people got what they paid for, and they hadn't paid for anything. Sadly, this misses the point that the result of putting up prices hasn't only brought about a clientele who are less prepared to treat a weekend camping in the country like a weekend camping in the country, while Robinson's tone suggested that anyone who objects to the new corporatism in brit-fests is a freeloader who is stuck in the past, rather than (as is the case more frequently) someone who felt that festivals were getting a bit pricey when they hit seventy quid a throw, but that it was worth it for a unique experience. It also neatly sidesteps the fact that many of the Squeaky Clean New Festivals are sponsored by Orange, who also underwrote this unremarkable booklet - although it did draw out the astonishing detail that there was only a six year gap between Dylan going electic, and Kraftwerk recording Autobahn...

But Glasto this year was great, right? We've been told how wonderful the crowd were, now that johnny poor person has been kept out by a mix of high fences and higher ticket prices. But who did that leave filling the hundred thousand tents? Shirley Manson's Glasto diary in Q gives a hint: "At 4pm, there were already hundreds of lager lads so utterly wasted that they were barely able to move out the way of the bus" she reports, while observing that even those able to stand by the time the band comes on don't get much in the way of a live experience: "a huge TV camera obliterated our view of the crowd [on one side]... we were a million miles from the audience, which was a real downer" - but she admits that just being at Glastonbury gave her goosebumps, which seems to be what the festival has finally become - a major brand name with wonderful values attached...

elsewhere in Q, they're trying to scare us: both a new David Gray album and a John Lydon biopic are in the pipeline; while the new Toploader opus contains the lyric "It's a shame/there is no gain/ we all feel the pain/of stupid games" - yes, we see...

Bobby Gillespie, you might recall, said that if anyone has a problem with him, they should bring it to him face-to-face. In Q's cash for questions slot, someone tries. Again. Here we go: "The song wasn't about bombing the Pentagon" -[But then why was it called Bomb the Pentagon?- " it was anti-militarisitic and it was about a variety of different subjects. But when 11 September happened, everyone went fucking crazy, trying to get us to explain ourselves. You know what? I don't have to explain myself to anybody" - but what happened to 'if you have a problem, ask me to my face?' - "I'm a rock and roll singer" - yes, but you're meant to be one of the smarter, sharper ones; when it comes to political tunes, you can't expect the songs to carry the full weight of what you want to say. And if you're not going to explain yourself, what's all the spluttering attempts to explain yourself here meant to be? - "I just thought it wasn't that good a line" - really? Obviously you must have thought it was good when you chose that out of the others in the song as the title of the track - "And I just didn't feel like standing up and singing the Bomb the pentagon - it's dumb and boring" - dumb, perhaps, but boring? - "And it would seem like I was trying to push some violent point; I hate violence." Mmm, but this isn't good enough Bobby - see, suggesting you bomb a building is violent imagery; the fact that someone has bombed the Pentagon since you wrote the line doesn't make the call to destruction any more or any less violent. Why can't you just admit you wrote something that seemed like a cool meaningless slogan, which suddenly was given a very bloody demonstration of just how far from meaningless it was, and you now really wish you hadn't? We wouldn't think any less of you; certainly, this pointless beligerant ranting is just making you look more and more stupid with each new magazine that comes out. Oh, and "I hate violence"? - Asked "One bullet: Bush or Blair?", Bobby responds by sighing, and mimes firing a gun: "Where do you stop? Every fucking politician." (NB: In the event of a top level political assassination, please be aware this remark probably doesn't mean what it means.) Still, at least he didn't go to the toilet halfway through...

Nicholas from The Hives reckons "Culturally, you have to feel pain and suffering in order to enjoy something" - which is bollocks, but at least it's credible bollocks...

The twenty-fifth death of Elvis looks set to dwarf the silver anniversary of Bolan's death, just as surely as his actual death bumped Marc down the illustrous obit lists in '77. But at least Mojo gives the man the space he deserves, and trots John Peel out to do some reminiscing: "He used to write me these fey letters, although they were not disagreeably so. Given the level of pretension and bullshit that was around at the time, they seemed relatively modest."

Mojo also majors out on the last led zep gig in the UK, and the time the MC5 took on the implausibly named mafia lite Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers and, virtually, lost, but the cover stars are (in a rare someone you like who isn't actually dead shocker) are White Stripes. Meg used to be obsessed with the Fortress of Solitude from Superman movies, building her own in the back yard, while Jack explains that White Blood Cells is dedicated to the death of the sweetheart. "The entire world is wrapped around sexual ideas" he fills in, lamenting the loss of chivalry - "I think people mistake certain things as being sexit when really its our own defined nature." The married incest people list their top ten influences, including the Sonics, Captain Beefheart and the Gories...

"Bad gig in half-full stadium [versus] over-subscribed showbiz extravaganza beamed to zillions - Johnny, the Queen beat you hands down" - Mojo berates the Sex Pistols

so, onto the nme, which has those nice Strokes on the front; news leads off with the Manics reunion, and Nicky signing a big silver globe; Staffordshire police pulled the lazy option and cautioned every bloody one for drugs at V2002 - thereby ensuring their clean-up rate will look significantly better at the end of the year; they're doing another War Child LP - NME want to create something "both useful and historic" - pegged to the 50th anniversary of the pop charts and nme, everyone will record their favourite number one single (so, not entirely unlike Ruby Trax, which was an nme charity album which marked the 40th birthday of the paper and the charts by getting artists to record cover versions of... ); the new Oasis single will have two a-sides, both of which will sound like b-sides; damon albarn has linked up with 3d's campaign to get artists to sign anti-war petitions - but don't worry, kids, it's still a good cause - although neither Albarn nor 3D seem to object the war, rather than the lack of consultation beforehand; the NME headlines its 2.5% increase in sales as "NME sales boom", which stretches the truth like hot mozzarella (the actual size of the increase is not mentioned); Chris Martin has been playing songs for Noel Gallagher, which we reckon means that its two months, three days before Noel describes him as some sort of shrivelled cock; Axl tells us to not hold our breath for the new Guns & Roses LP - Axl, sweetheart, we're not even keeping a slot free in our spare bedroom CD box; Mick Jones is going to produce The Libertines new album; Cam'ron stares down Bobby Gillespie by rapping his admiration for Mohammed Atta. There's a news story about Andrew WK - apparently, um, he's... yeah. Great!; Morrissey - who has a higher profile than WK these days - is playing 'there is a light that never goes out' as an encore...

on bands: vendetta red (more emo? have we even opened the last lot they delivered?) and dillinger escape plane (oh, look, they're all naked... that must be a statement, then?)...

corey taylor does the ten tracks for a cd thing - anthrax, johnny cash and public enemy. Oh, and David Bowie: "I don't give a fuck what anyone says, David Bowie is fuckin awesome" - so, bravely, corey is setting his ridiculous facemask against opinions held by absolutely nobody at all in the world...

reading -leeds festival buffery covers what andrew wk wants to eat backstage (fruit, low fat milk and yoghurt - party hard, but make sure its bio-actively hard)...

then there's nine straight pages of posters and pictures of the vines and the strokes - hmmm, whatever did happen to the relauched version of RAW magazine, anybody? But eventually we get to a Strokes inteview - if Albert was a woman, he'd masturbate all day; none of them wear undies apart from Julian; he'd consider a small facelift; and Fabrizio is hit by the realisation that he's Charlie Brown. It's all good spirited pop nonesense, and while we may get no nearer them, it's an article thats going to make a lot of train journeys to Leeds-Reading a little more fun this weekend...

album reviews: coldplay - a rush of blood to the head ("outstanding natural beauty", 9); eve - eve-olution ("not startling... but a success", 7); avril lavigne - let go ("the sentiments of 'anything but ordinary' may not be true for a while yet", 4); death cab for cutie - we have the facts and we're voting yes ("reeks of universal appeal", 7)

sotw is envy by ash ("brilliant, bouncy, beautiful bollocks"), rather than princess superstar - keith n me ("should earn her more than six bucks an hour") or pink - just like a pill ("If she was a penised Manc smackie she'd be an indie idol, but she's not" - yes, this is Swells)...

live: coldplay in new york ("nothing can stop them now" - the pictures of Chris 'apparently son of Ian Brown' Martin's dancing might, actually); chicks on speed in highbury ("steps ahead of everyone else"); miss kittin and the hacker in spain ("if they can make Dave Stewart sexy, imagine what they can do for you"); white stripes ("incredible musical togetherness") and the strokes ("strangely elegaic") in detroit...

and, in an... sorry, nmemail, Imran Abmed defends the nme against charges of being obsessed with only anglo-american rock by proudly pointing to having covered stars from no less than five of the seven continents in just the last, erm, six weeks. And then goes on to suggest that the reason there's nothing about the other two is that there's nothing to write about. Erm, probably true of Antartica (although, erm, that's not where Eskimos live) but Africa a musical deadzone? Someone show that man how to log on to Andy Kershaw on demand...


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