Saturday, March 29, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Return of Wener edition
The FHM which is just coming to an end of its life suggested that maybe someone might be looking for a new job - inside, there were pictures of Holly Vallance in fetish wear. For some reason, the cover announced this by means of a sticker slapped expensively on every issue. To us, it looks like someone forgot they’d got the pcitures resulting in a shabby last minute compromise, but we hope one of the designers left the Vallance off the cover on the grounds that she looks less like a fox and more like your mother going as Betty Page to a Vicars and Tarts party. The new issue has got Girls Aloud (already marked down from chart pop to desperate bikini shooters); doubtless if Cheryl Tweedy gets found guilty of being a racist fuck, they’ll be up all night again with the Avery Labels and the pritt sticks. They don’t have much luck with covers at the moment, FHM.

Maxim, meanwhile, has got tatu topless and embracing, claiming “we have sex three times a day!” If you needed proof that they weren’t a real couple, there it is - three years in, even sex-crazed lesbians don’t do it that much in a week, never mind a day.

We promised Louise Wener, and here she is: Metro, the station freesheet, “turned the tables” on the bloke who usually does the 60 Second Interviews and interviewed him (translation: had a column to fill in a hurry). Asked about his worse interview, he nominated Lou, who - apparently wary of getting her ‘gob on a stick’ reputation renewed on her book tour - he couldn’t get a usable quote out of despite two hours and rounds of drinks aplenty. We hope she was just having a bad day; a Lou Wener with nothing to say is as pointless as... well, that woman off MTV who was in Salad.

‘Immoral and unjustifiable’ were the words slapped across a picture of Mick Hucknall on the cover of the FT Creative Business supplement. Not a review of the new album, but Hucknall’s take on record companies. The new Simply Red album is, of course, not on a record label at all, but financed by three million of Hucknall’s own cash. It might not be very rock and roll - the decision to turn his back on the current business model was down to his manager doing a powerpoint presentation - but the mere fact that under his own control Hucknall is happier with the album, in control of the promotion, selling more copies and making much more money suggests that Mick is the leading figure in a revolution that is going to shake up music far more than any of the punk bands he used to gawk at down the Manchester Free Trade Hall all those years ago.

The trend for new music mag launches continues - Bang has an air of a project started with redundancy money, so crammed is it with ex-Maker staffers. If Careless Talk Costs Lives hosts the spirit of the tabloid-sized Maker, Bang seems to have inherited the glossy Melody Maker’s misfiring attitude. I say “seems” as, despite a heavy flyposting effort (those “its only rock and roll” teasers, which suggested something a little Radio 2, a little Later With Jools about the whole effort) they don’t seem to have managed to get the magazine into the North West yet, so my acquaintance with Bang has been a brief fumble in the Euston WH Smiths. If they sort the distribution, we’ll return for more detailed consideration.

Slightly less new, Word has reached issue two - a free mini-magazine about ‘the best of everything’. Now, last month they were loftily deriding the covermount CD; are they really suggesting there’s more honesty in a booklet suggesting we buy Shrek and Jamie Oliver than in a disc of music? Curious. Costello’s on the cover; Tony Wilson - sadly interviewed before his Fuck-loaded mid afternoon tirade on Granada; Ian Hislop also seems to think that Christine Hamilton came off best on HIGNFY?, which is odd - I mean, he was sat next to her and he thinks that her husband’s dubious abuse of the faith of his electorate and the prostitution of his office was in some way less reprehensible than a game show enjoying drugs and hookers; Lucy Williams from The Office says that when John Archer got killed off they had letters saying “couldn’t you have given him cancer so we could have got used to the idea?”; Nina Persson has just discovered Wire (the band, not the extruded metal); Piers Morgan’s PR told him to like Royskopp; Phil Jupitus talks abour what it’s like doing stand-up, although (like andrew collins on writing for eastenders) is a thing he doesn’t actually do any more; there’s a rather nice piece about how some media jobs are more welcoming of the gaysters than others and an amusing piece about how technology can take over your life with its seductive loveliness - “your life has one purpose - to feed the i-pod.” On its second outing, it’s still living up to the promise of its strapline - “something to read” - and already has found a voice.

X-Ray is onto issue three (although, again, we never saw issue two on sale anywhere) and it’s fast becoming clear that its strength is in its design rather than the writing; it feels more like those Japanese rock magazines which feel as if they’ve been put together using love, quality paper and photographers who know their f-stops and their f-beats. A Cd featuring The Darkness and tyhe Raveonettes doesn’t hurt, neither. Sadly, they blow it a bit by putting Coldplay on the cover, but then the magazine does function very much like the XFM from which its synergy-corpaate-stragtegy birth came; lots of big names to keep the advertisers happy, then sneaking in the goodies besides them (NYC she-rappers Northern State; Mankato; AudioBullys; Burning Brides). For some reason, their icons of female rap forgets to mention the Wee Papa Girl Rappers. Also many pages of brian molko, who gives the stalking advice that his house is in Old Street (“round there”, he adds desperately, hoping to confuse Address of Brian man) and says he’s very proud Sleeping With Ghosts has no drug references on it. “For many years I was a tart but there comes a point where that’s boring. If you have any depth as a human being you’re going to start looking for something else” says he.

If the nme was expecting their ‘we’re so good at music papers’ move of putting Avril on the front page was going to spark a furious outrage, they were wrong - NMEmail contains not so much as a single murmur. Maybe we’ve come to expect the nme to do things like like that. Next week they’re giving away an Avril pin-up. This week, it’s Interpol on the cover, an uncomfortable hook to hang a “rock star clothes” issue. A themed NME used to be buzzing with ideas, it felt like the culmination of a series of editorial meetings, weeks of research, a labour of love. Now it’s a couple of ill-thought out articles about - i shit you not - how to rip your jeans to look like the strokes and where to buy plaid shirts. Where to buy plaid shirts? How about any fucking clothes shop in the fucking country, you dipshits? Elsewhere in what is a rather thin edition, the Madonna anti-war video is written about in gushing terms - “Madonna’s always up for a bit of outrage”; we’ll be charitable and assume they’d missed the news that she’d capitulated and re-edited it to remove any possible sting that it might have held; clearing the content and leaving merely the bandwagon and they re-run the White Stripes album review. Make Up The Breakdown by Hot Hot Heat gets nine out of ten; single of the week is Mew’s comforting sounds. The editors may want to think twice about their slapping of “1st NME review” all over the place, by the way: drawing attention to that its taken this long for the paper to actually write about what Mew sound like doesn’t make the paper look so much cutting edge as left behind.

Sorry for the delay in pop papers this week - hopefully back to Wednesday evening next week...

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