Thursday, January 23, 2003

What the pop papers say: The dereliction of duty edition

Stumble... the resurgence of The Face hits a rock in its path as the new Popbitch junta in charge attempt to move away from the stuff they know about. Hence, while they could have had a gorgeous Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover, they instead lead with “Why the undead are cool” (or glamorous or something) “again.” Riding the Buffy wave about three years too late, guys. Or is this A Couple Of Days After The Living Dead?

Talking of the living dead, boys, Muzik magazine is struggling to keep its nerve in a dance magazine market that’s under more pressure than Bobby Brown’s rectum. This month, they’ve tried to recast themselves as always having had a non-dance element to their magazine, going all Uncut style with Madonna, Prince or apparently someone else on the choice of three covers. Even more dubious, the covermount which goes with the theme has got Joy Division on it. Joy Division? You sick fucks - he wasn’t dancing, he was an epileptic.

The Guardian Saturday Review made space for Philip Horne’s review of Alluding to the Poets by Christopher Ricks, a study of the poetic tradition of reheating forbear’s words, often without attribution; interesting from a music point of view both aurally and lyrically - of course, nowadays, rather than smiling and saying “ah, Ashcroft is referencing Loog Oldham there - how clever” the reaction is to send a stiffly worded solicitor’s letter. “It’s a means of lightening what Walter Jackson Bate recognised in the 1970’s as ‘the burden of the past’ which has hung over the English poet since Dryden and Pope, the sense that everything has already been all too well said” writes Horne, demonstrating that even the Manic’s most famous war cry - “we know we’re derivative, but what else can we do? Everything’s been done already” - was itself a rip-off.

The Economist is virtually a pop issue, taking time to consider both Pete Townshend and The Music Industry In General. In the first case, the ‘mist slides into the same trap as most of the other papers in confusing the facts of Pete T and Matthew Kelly’s trouble with the cops. Kelly is being investigated, but has not been charged with anything, and as such the treatment of him as a soiled, boy-buggering monster is at best contemptuous of fairness and quite possibly a contempt of court. But Townshend - also yet to be charged with anything wrong doing - has been happily admitting his law-breaking, and conducting a loud and public defence in mitigation. As such, he’s moved the courtroom out into the wider press; his admission of downloading kiddie porn and forking out cash in return makes it unlikely that he’d plead Not Guilty in court and so the question is up for consideration by a judge who - surely - are selected to be above such tittle-tattle anyway?

Happily, because it’s more about figures and the sorts of things you can do with an MBA, the economist is better on the question of why the Entertainment Industry is wobbling. It pays lip service to the download boogerman, but then turns its fire where its surely more deserved - with management eyes being so busily fixed on convergence and content and all the geegaws of the brave new world (the paper doesn’t add “fighting their own customers”, but it could), the music industry has lost sight of how to produce stuff that people actually want. It points to the slow turn in EMI under Alan Levy, who’s split the pocketbook from the soul with the new regime at Virgin Records. One guy to sign the music, one to make sure the figures add up. At least there’s a place for creativity in that set-up. What’s truly disturbing in the way the Industry is trying to build fences round its copyright past is that it suggests that that’s all it sees itself as ever having that’ll be worthwhile to work with.

So, no longer hungover, our newsagent was able to pass us an NME - an NME so light that we almost thought it was missing something. But it’s not. Datsuns on the cover.

When is that woman from the Daily Star going to turn up and do something for the news desk? At the moment she’s still being a Bitch - whose quality Private Eye points out included running as “spotted” “the queen, leaving Buckingham Palace in a car” - one step away from “Huw Edwards, reading the news - on the telly.” Still, we’re sure games will be lifted when she’s running the nme news desk. On the other hand, when its leading on the news that Noel has re-recorded Wonderwall - what were we just saying about how you start to cherish the past only when there’s not much bright in the future? - you wonder if she’ll need to bother.

Other things on the news page: What fans thought of 8Mile - um, unsurprisingly, being fans, they liked it; you can use a voucher to get cheap CDs at Virgin (this isn’t news, this is an advert, surely - and the fact that Page 41 needs a big up on page four raises the question - how far does the average reader make it through these days?); Didz from the Cooper Temple Clause got an infection when he had his appendix out; you’ll remember that last week the Home Secretary was going to impound our ears and only allow Blair-approved tracks to be listened to - there was a big spread in the nme all about it? Well, this week the cloud seems to have totally blown over - two letters in angst and a quick interview with Jay-Z (he’s asked a stupid question: ‘do you feel responsible for violent crime in the UK’) and Corey Taylor, for some reason, who says “The notion of government approved rock music is like military intelligence, an oxymoron.” Well, it’s good that you’ve at least listened to some Michael Franti, Corey, but ‘government approved rock music’ isn’t an oxymoron; it may be unpleasant but it’s not actually contradictory in itself. Somehow, then, last week the paper was telling us to get to the barricades, now it seems to have made some sort of retreat; Oooh - kelly osbourne *got* *drunk*. Who says she’s not a rock rebel, eh? If you want to measure how bright KO fans are, there’s a comp in an ad for her new single - the question is “Who is Kelly’s famous dad?” It’s a multiple choice. Dude, anyone who has any interest in Kelly will only have that interest because of her famous dad. Why not just ask “What is the name of Kelly Osbourne?” Courtney rings the NME to say that whoever started the rumour about her throwing herself on Joe Strummer’s casket “should be shot, with the gun and bullets then being mysteriously wiped clean of any prints.” Okay, we made the last bit up. More funeral news, as Maurice Gibb’s being laid to rest is interrupted by Lulu throwing herself on the casket, wailing and gnashing. She had to be pulled off by Angus Deayton and Helen Shapiro.

The Thrills get a turn to burn a imaginary CD, choosing Al Green, Dexys and Gladys Knight. We suspect they may spend their evenings compiling CDs to be covermounted on New Woman magazine.

The Polyphonic Spree - are they still here? Apparently.

There’s an almost fanziney feel to the Interpol piece - good work, people. Carlos has compiled a list of their obsessive, neurotic fans - Lego Girl, Gerbil Boy, Children of the Corn Girl. They have “Rock Band Found In Pieces By Lake” written all over them.

New Zealand is a hotbed of garage rock - apparently even those singing cows from the anchor advert have adopted an edgier sound. But kudos to Sylvia Patterson who has the cojones to ask Dolf “It would never cross your mind to be ground breaking? Original? Create the dawn of the absolute new?” Dolf’s response - “who says you should progress?” Which, in a way, is even more dispirting, and soul destroying, than that time the Stereophonics admitted to being a meat and potatoes band, and seemed quite proud of the fact.

zwan - mary star of the sea - “for the first time in nearly a decade, [Corgan’s] egotism seems valid”, 8
pale - how to survive chance - “a band with no care for sniping fashion”, 4
more fire crew - more fire crew cv - “destined for success [a year ago]”, 7

sotw: the warlocks - hurricane heart attack - “scrapes your brain”
easyworld - junkies - “indie so faceless it couldn’t be identified by its dental records”
tatu - all the things she said - “the russians are coming. quite literally, too.”

flaming lips (“a genius of goodwill”) and british sea power (“genuinely distracting”) - glasgow barrowlands
the get up kids - london ulu “growing up, but at least gracefully”

its funny because it’s true: an nmemail writer says “i was once the sort to quote Urusei yatsuri B-sides to people, but NME started me on other stuff... like music where the musicians have girlfriends.”

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