Wednesday, November 06, 2002

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Nirvana Week Special Edition
you sometimes have to wonder where radio reviewers come from - Eizabeth Mahoney in the Guardian on Friday seemed to be apparently unaware that the BBC Asian Network has been operating as a national station for two years - to the best of our knowledge, and as such her rant about why the BBC hadn't created this before 6Music would have been muddled headed even if it wasn't for the claim that six is aimed at a "well provided for" audience. Because all non-classical music is the same, of course...

talking of radio stations, XFM have entered the publishing market with X-Ray (I do wonder if Capital curse the day the station chose X as its name - there aren't many marketing opportunities there, are there?). We suspected that the title wouldn't get much beyond the M25, but were delighted to discover that not only its distribution, but also its writers, roamed much further than edge of the Great Wen. It seems the idea is for the magazine to promote the digital life of the station (DAB, D-Sat, web) rather than for it to pick up sales off the back of the FM station in London. The chosen format - Glamour-sized A5 - is very now, but somewhat offset by the need to include a massive and unwieldly card to carry the free CD, but since the CD includes the Flaming Lips, The Bees and the Von Bondies, we're not really complaining...

XRay pulls off a difficult trick for a monthly, and carries some news we'd not heard before - that Ministry of Sound has pulled its backing from City Rockers electroclash label - X suggests its a sign that electroclash is over, but we'd suggest its more an indication that MoS's balance sheet is as red as Britney's pleather catsuit...

If we've got a problem with the title, it's that there's too many recurring monthly gimmick slots - we don't think "are going to be huge" or "absolute power" are bad ideas, but it does look like shorter pieces are going to get straitjacketed very quickly...

The Darkness, by the way, "Are Going To Be Huge" - "We're not taking it lightly" they say, "but also we realise that the most pretentious thing you can do is take yourself seriously." Wandering Steps give a "it's grim up north" guide to Preston; peter hook is given absolute power (wasn't this a Simon mayo slot?) and he'd ban Pop Stars - "If I walked in front of Pete, Louis and Geri I can imagine what their reaction would be " reckons Hooky. And of course he can - it'd be similar to Everyone's Reaction to Revenge...

Rock and Roll heretic takes on Jim Morrison, splendidly concluding that he "never achieved his poetic licence"; The Von Bondies do a Top 10 (MC5, Blacktop, Gories); Label of Love (isn't that a 6Music slot?) is SubPop; "Who are the new Bolans?" asks X-Ray, choosing Jeff Buckley - well, he's dead, I suppose, so its not a totally ridiculous claim.

The big interviews are with Wayne Coyne -"God is one of the great human inventions - the idea that something cares for you in the middle of the night. I have a weird combination of Dr Seuss, Nietzsche and Dickens that I carry with me like a CD collection"; Dave Grohl - "I've always made fun of myself from the time I was 12 years old" he says, which isn't something you can imagine Kurt doing - and Liam Watson, who produces the White Stripes wearing a white labcoat. Normally, producer interviews are really dull, but Liam is great value - he reveals that his mixing desk "used to belong to BBC Wales Cardiff."

Vanity Fair has produced a special music issue, and in addition, for the UK edition there's a Britbeat supplement which meets Ms Dynamite - but doesn't get much out of here beyond fame being "mad, mad, mad", and shows just how far the game's up for Damon Albarn, as Robert Palmer chooses him as his man of the moment. "Damon released an album for Oxfam this year" trills Mr Palmer. Unlike Oasis, who stuck out one for the Record and Tape Exchange. The supplement's list of buzzbands - Craig David, Goldfrapp, So Solid Crew, Beth Orton, Oakenfold, Badly Drawn Boy and Kosheen sounds curiously dated, like finding a magazine from 1999 at the barbers...

The magazine proper has a fold-out cover affair featuring Gwen Stefani, J-Lo, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys (and then, on the inside of the fold) Norah Jones, Eve, Nelly Furtardo, Shirley Manson, Barry White and Debbie Harry. Even Christine Hamilton could spot the odd one out in that line-up. Apparently Barry hadn't been invited, he just turned up and started rubbing the women's lower backs muttering "too small... too small." Disappointingly, Jennifer Lopez didn't act like a diva at the shoot...

a few years back, there was some godawful band made up entirely of bluebloods. it was shite. there's now the New York equivalent with Tatiana Von Furstenberg and her chums...

Moby uses ginger-flavoured toothpaste. Ginger is, of course, a powerful natural remedy for nausea, and so it makes sense that he'd choose it when he has to look at himself in the mirror; the Donna's big tip for on the road beauty is waterproof mascara; Christopher Hitchens travels Route 66. His article lasts slightly longer than a trip up the road keeping within the speed limits; James Wolcott thumbs through some rockbiographies and resolves "not to become a crack whore" - although maybe if he'd chosen something from nearer this century he might have changed his mind. Grace Slick once tried to give drugs to Richard Nixon, you know. Thank god she didn't succeed; he'd have wound up releasing the Watergate tapes as a concept album...

Elvis Costello takes us through a day, listing what he listens to as time matches on and he loses a bit more hair - this is actually such a brilliant concept, it should immedeatly replace any of those "My Top Ten" retreads the pop press fall back on to fill the odd column. He dusts to the Pet Shop Boys in the morning and fights sleep with Lucinda Williams. Of course he plays In The Wee Small Hours in the wee small hours...

The stupidity and venality that killed Warners as a label is examined in loving detail, ending with the sting: In the summer of 2002, the price of a share in AOL Time Warner wouldn't have bought you a ticket to the opening night of Don Juan in 1926. These people are one-fifth of the RIAA, working for music, you know...

La Mer - better known as Bobby Darin's 'beyond the sea' has its life examined, from World War II French classic to 60's US cheese hit, and - we hope this has been photocopied and stuck on the wall of the British Pop Music Office in New York - the 1964 British Invasion has its prime movers regrouped to discus what exactly happened. Over-funded government initiatives were not on the menu; and there's a third edition of the Rock Snobs dictionary of names to drop. Soprano deborah voight is pictured pretending to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

And, in the midst of the usual faces pictures (Elton John, Randy Newman, Eminem) comes "the next big things" - Rosey, Tweet, Claudette Oritz of City High; Vanessa Carlton; Michelle Branch; Andrew WK (snurk! snurk! snurk!); Craig David; Sonny of POD; Musiq; TapRoot's Stephen Richards; John Mayer and Lamaya

the then-weekly nme is a Special Nirvana Issue - "everything you need to know about the greatest rock band of our age" (erm, isn't that Bleach, actually?)... "Nirvana is a trio who play heavy rck with punk overtones" says the first exclusively-reproduced page of genuine Kurtwrite (TM) suggesting that Kurt's grip on grammar was a slim as his grasp on sanity...

news: Chris Martin from Coldplay jokes that playing with Noel Gallagher is "even bigger than when Bryan Adams and Mel C teamed up." No, Chris, because to be funny, it would have to be true. You're closer to Tom Jones and The Cardigans, mate; Ryan Adam's bid to recreate Evan Dando, this time as farce, continues as Noel Gallagher claims that until he'd heard Wonderwall peformed by Adams, he hadn't been able to play the song properly. That's because Ryan is actually a musician rather than a gormless ug, Noel, and he can bring magic even to one of your songs. You should hear what he can do with a songwriter's back catalogue. The NME is a bit behind with the Missy Elliot story - warned that they'd have their Royal Appointment warrant withdrawn, Gerrards have axed the adverts which proclaim Missy Elliot 'new royalty.' Paul Burrell is said to be considering an appilcation to Missy as we speak. Better news for the Queen, though, as the Strokes have contacted NME to make it clear that rather than saying "God save the Queen - maybe we'll assassinate her after the show", Julian had said "I'll probably get assasinated for saying that" - you can see how the slip was made, what with the two sentences sounding so similar. But why would the Strokes be bothered? Where was Julian in the 50 coolest last week? Mark him down two places; the apparent confusion between "news" and "stuff that Big Brother releases press releases about" continues as nme runs a piece that some knicker company in the US is going to use an Oasis track on its commercials - hey, who said they'd never crack the States. Oddly, the track in question is Hung In A Bad Place - not a phrase we'd want associated with our underbunders; there's a nice page on Jam Master Jay and coverage of Bill Drumond's silent protest - Alanisly getting more attention than anything he's said in years; Great competitions this week - The Libertines will name your band if you win, although we suspect they might call the band something like "Holly Vallance Spread And Unashamed" while you can win a tape with Graham Coxon's Virgin radio session and his drawings all on it and everything. To win you have to text "CUNT" to Damon's mobile as many times as you like; The Hives come clean and playing as a Stooges tribute band; Thom Yorke's played a solo set in California, suggesting even the rest of Radiohead have got sick of him...

Brendan Benson has chosen the tracks for the CD that doesn't really exist, you know - Elvis Costello, Adam and the Ants, Swervedriver (we've seen Swervedriver mentioned in more pop papers in this last month than during their entire time as a going concern)...

on bands - the thrills - the dublin bay pop art experiment; liam lynch- who does that United States of Whatever track that's all over six at the moment, and is [big drum roll] - The First Person To Go Through LIPA (Liverpool's answer to Fame Academy) to get a Positive Mention in the NME! Hurrah, that's hundreds of millions of pounds well spent, then...

"You're just left with some sort of question mark. And it lasts forever" says Dave Grohl at the start of the Kurt-fest; of course you are, but it creates just the right sort of vacuum to drag pages and pages of special editions in, doesn't it? But to be fair, the nme does the Nirvana stuff really well; John Mulvey's piece on their place in music is all you'd hope for; even being honest enough to admit that when Bleach came out, Edwin Pouncey alone tried to get people interested but was washed away in a paper obsessed with Madchester. But, of course, they all joined up eventually: "[Nevermind] will stand up as a new reference point for the future post-hardcore generation" wrote Steve Lamacq during a rare gap between retelling the story of the time Richet manic cut his arm in Norwich. Mulvey concludes: "Worth dying for? That would be ridiculous. Great music is often described as transcendent. But lives are so much more cmplicated and worth so much more than that. Aren't they?"
A great album generating great writing. Sometimes its not just dancing about architecture...

Steve Sutherland introduces the diary extracts, tellingly observing "we know pretty much all there is to know about Kurt Cobain - he was always fiercely autobiographical - and there are few revealing insights." Besides the pictures Kurt drew - which looked awfully akin to those found in the books of the Fort Worth Killer - the most eyecatching thing is Nirvana's Top 50 albums of all time (maybe he was working for Entertainment Weekly undercover? Hang on - Pee Pee The Sailor? Probably not, then)...

There's an A to Z of "obscure" rock references in Kurt's diaries - mummy, who were The Bangles, Dinosaur Jr, Urge Overkill and Wire? (the Zombies appear both here and in the Vanity Fair rock snobs a to z) and a 'where are they now?' of former colleagues and collaborators - did you know the Jesus Lizard split up?

anyway, back to now: reviews: albums:
craig david - slicker than your average - "he really is all over your boink", 8
stone roses - the very best of the stone roses - "there have already been stone roses compilations before" (and doubtless will be again), 10
pearl jam - riot act - "entering a powerful middle-age", 8
romeo - solid love - "so-so rather than so solid", 5

sotw: the thrills - santa cruz - "debut of the year"
not: bright eyes - lover i don't have to love - "astonishing"
kylie - come into my mouth - "primairily of interest for the Fischerspooner remix on the DVD" - can you think of a more dead sentence than that?
cat on form - a butterfly kiss the tar of a thousand births - "inspired by Fugazi"

live: vines, birmingham academy - "evolving at an extraordinary pace" - no mention of Craig's rumoured man tits, though
ryan adams, LA Wiltern theatre - "occasionally crappy, but for the most part inspired"
ravonettes - E1 93 Feet East - "lab-pure smack rock formula but it doesn't matter"
electric6 - brighton pressue point - "they've yet to have their finest hour"

and finally - someone in Angst claims that Pete "pulled off that denim skirt." Bah, we wish.


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