Thursday, August 07, 2003

A PARTING GIFT: We're leaving you with this: Mariah Carey's message from the time when she wasn't nuts at all, oh no. This comes from the wonderful April Winchell site, a big glorious bargain bucket of MP3 oddities and, ahem, rectal x-rays.


THE LONG WEEKEND QUESTION: We're not going to be around tomorrow, so we're leaving you with a question. For us, it's Brass In Pocket. But what music is just pure sexy - not because of who's singing, but because the song just hits you in your bits? xrrf-sexy@bothsidesnow.co.uk


FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE: Ben from A1's lady admirer has been back in touch. It's only fair we share this with you:

Hes as bright as they get, have u seen his results from his education!! People just think bcuz hes in a boyband and sings pop music he is thick but hes not hes neva got a bad word 2 say about any1 and im meetin him soon so just wait till I tell him!



Hmmm... bright as they get, eh? See, we don't think he's dumb so much because he's in a boyband, but more because he does seem like a supermarket whose bread counter has been cleared early to us. We do think he's cute, and we're actually sure he is a lovely, sweet guy. But we wouldn't want to have him in charge of our quartermastering.


OH, GOOD, ANOTHER NME SCURVEY: This time they're worrying about the fate of Radio battling with the "continued growth" of MTV2, apparently - 'sfunny, we could have sworn that MTV2 was pretty stagnant and not growing very much at all. We wonder if they picked them out because, say, they're hooked up together in that meaningless chart show?

The survey itself is shite beyond belief. "Do you listen to commercial radio - what is your favourite commercial station - Kiss/XFM/Capital/Talk/Smash Hits/Other" - so, no mention, then of Virgin? Or - ahem - Kerrang? But that's not so bad. What comes next is more interesting:

Do you own a digital radio - Yes/No?

Now, I don't own a DAB set, but I have lots of equipment which is capable of receiving a digital radio service. I think they're looking for me to say No, but in my heart, I think the answer is 'yes'

Next question: How much does a digital radio cost on average? £10 / £50 / £100 / £300 / £500

Eh? How the bloody fuck should I know? I know that the cheapest you can pick up a digital radio for is £100; but the average price? How would anyone be expected to know this anymore than they would the average price of a washing machine or a sofa? They're available at all levels of prices; do they want the average price paid per sale, or the medium point of the range of prices, or the modal price?

Next: How do you listen to radio? Standard old radio set / Via the Internet / Through digital TV /Digital radio

You can only choose one, mind. Now, I listen to all four (although I think they meant to put 'DAB radio', which is a type of receiver, rather than Digital radio, which is sort of radio which broadcasts across a range of platforms) so what am I meant to choose here? (And, frankly, the time I spend on FM, through Sky and through the computer is roughly equal, so i can't even pick out a 'favourite' easily)

A couple of questions on, you get 'Would you rather listen to the radio or watch music TV?'

When? On the train in the morning? Right now? How are you meant to answer such a stupid question - it's like saying would you rather read the nme or a good book; it depends on the mood at the time.

What one change would make you listen to radio more? It's not like this is a skewed survey, but the assumption has been made we're choosing to not listen to radio when we could be.

Moving on to radio 1, the low-aiming nme reader is now not even given a box to nominate John Peel as their favourite Radio 1 dj, although a box is given for Sara Cox. Write in Peel, for god's sake. You're then asked to choose your least favourite, and *then* to rate them out of ten. So, in effect, you're asked the same question twice.

Then it's "Radio 1's musical policy", a subject which has never been discussed in the nme or on nme.com since about the time they sacked Janice Long cause she was an unmarried mother. Why you're asked this if you don't listen to the station isn't clear.

In effect, then, a good opportunity to try and take the temperature of what people are listening to has been turned into a poorly-thought out, almost meaningless series of questions. Go, nme.com.


HOW DO YOU GET DANDRUFF ON YOUR BRA, ANYWAY?: Regardless of the truth or otherwise involved when Billie says her marriage to Chris Evans is strong , or the "it'd be cool to have a baby" comment, like giving the world a new generation of Evans would be on a par with buying a nice raincoat or trussing yourself up in a shiny black corset, we're delighted that the 'Related stories' provided by Ananova is the announcement of the imminent relaunch of Billie's musical career. An announcement made over a year ago.


THE NO ROCK REVIEW: Some people have sent us some stuff to review. So we're reviewing it:

Yellow Kid - The Ballad of Holy Joe/ Ambrose Tompkins - So Fine
Regular Beat regularbeat.com 7"


We actually feel quite bad here, because we promised to review this but what we didn't realise at the time was that it's a vinyl release. Which wouldn't have been a problem a while back, because we clung so firmly to the vinyl dream in the face of the march of the CD we managed to survive until the mid nineties without having a CD player in the house. Since that time, though, several cats feet, a badly damp flat and - let's be honest - some cat urine conspired to kill our turntable and so, as such, at the moment, we're not able to play the record. Normally, of course, this wouldn't bother the reviewer who'd just cobble together a review from the press release and the sleeve, and would hope that would do.

But we do think they deserve better than that, and so at some point we'll get Morag to give the record a proper review as her turntable still works (she's got a broken arm at the moment, mind, so get well soons her way.

In the meantime, we're going to suggest you should buy a copy of this anyway. It's a new label, and Yellow Kid coalesced in Penny Lane, but take their cues from Guthrie (Woody, not Robin) and Houston (Cisco, not Whitney). They say it's a fine slice of alt-country pie, and we're not going to disagree.

It's available in Probe and in Fopp, but if you want to get a copy try emailing the label and offering to send some money.

Large Number - Spray On Sound
WhiteLabelOnline CD album


When Add N to (X) split, it seemed - so much like a unit they seemed - that they'd reached the end of the personal musical journeys. Spin-off projects seemed to be less likely to reach us than 'Gunther: After the Coffee House' had of making it to the screen.

Yeah, we're wrong again. Ann Shenton is back with her new project, Large Number and while, as with +N2X the band wouldn't get very far in a powercut, they're a totally different proposition. The genius of Add which the world chose to ignore was to create tracks which took the pessimism about a mechanical future found in Hazel O'Connor and Gary Numan and figured a way that mankind could come to an arrangement with it - the set-up of Metal Fingers In My Body was just Are Friends Electric with a strap-on. But Large Number isn't trying to work round machines - either musically or philosophically - but instead harks back to the optimism fifties - machines can be fun; automatons can be friendly. There's also a much wider range of styles explored - Pink Jazz comes on like Kellis garrotting Johnny Dankworth; classical music gets a chrome makeover; country and even barnyard sounds get a look in too. It's like the early days of motoring - taking the range of possibilities opened up by technology. It's not just a great debut, but a splendid reclaiming of white heat of technology for the purposes of better living; machines not for their own sake, but for what they can do for you; cake mixers rather than The Matrix. Breathable and splendid.

Various Artists - Feedback to the Future
Mobile Germany Compilation CD


Ride - Waves
Ignitions BBC Sessions CD


As the era of shoegazing got crushed by the in-rush of the first stirrings of Britpop, the new generation were quick to deride the scene which had celebrated itself (even, in Blur's case, to deny they were part of the scene at all) and as such, the music of the time has been quickly dismissed as being little more than a night-time effluent from boys who were such big girl's blouses they didn't even have the guts to wear big girl's blouses, and girls who wore glasses.

Ten years on, and the era is starting to come to the surface of pop archaeology again. These two albums provide a handy starting point for those too young to remember the times when stage invasions were feared because they might disrupt the effects pedals and for the greybeards of scene to correct some self-imposed gaps in their collection(all of whom were still clinging madly to vinyl at the time - Shoegazers were the 'Japanese units deep in the jungle' of the Format World War II, fighting on, refusing to believe the war was lost).

'Feedback...' rounds up eleven shoe tracks from 91-92, and they're pretty well chosen. As ever with these historical snapshot things, there's room for argument - Drop Nineteens had the spirit, but were American and as such, in a special way, didn't quite count; Blind Mr Jones were always more Camden Lurch and, more to the point, rubbish; Swervedriver only ever really qualified as being part of things because they came from Oxford and one of their Dads wrote for the Oxford Mail, a crucial factor in nurturing the Thames Valley focus of the not-quite-a-genre. Including them here is a shrewd move, though - through Craig Vines tshirt, they're probably the most well-known of the acts on this compilation amongst the downlaod generation. No Boo Radleys? And, to me, the lack of a contribution from the Charlottes seems like a snub, even although I guess it wasn't.

But as we step inside and bravely read the tracklisting - all those people, all those dreampops, where are they now? Adorable, Slowdive, Pale Saints, Telescopes, Ride... behind the fringes there were some real talents, many of whom continued to make music but few of whom ever troubled the feature pages of the Melody Maker again. A compilation is great, but it really makes you yearn for a reunion.

If the scene had a big name, it was Ride. I'm biased - I used to sleep on streets in a bid to see as many Ride gigs as I possibly could (one lovely night behind a hotel in Paddington; another the good people at Oxford Police Station let met overnight in their waiting room) - but the combination of pretty faces and chimerical music took them far - unfortunately, too far, into a doughy, proggy, heartbreaking misdirection, interneccine warfare and eventually, splitting. Mark Gardener continued on solo; Andy Bell surprised us all by forming the bellicose Hurrican Number One and then joining the even-more-bellicose Oasis. But before it all went wrong, they were special, and this collection of Peel Sessions (a great chance for me to replace my wobbly off-air taping) shows just how special. Most of the material is alternative versions of stuff available elsewhere - Like A Daydream, Chelsea Girl - but there are a couple of real gems; most notably 'Sight of You', their Pale Saints homage. Yes, incestuous maybe. But that's why they called it the scene that celebrated itself. See?


CURSE BLOGGER: We wanted to be first with this The Church Of Me's valuation of albums based on their worth rather than the list price but blogger wasn't working at the time, and then we lost the link, so we're actually coming along last. Ah well. Still worth reading if you've not seen it already: But a tenner for George Benson? You've got to be kidding.


DRIVETHRU DRIVEBY TELLSLIES BYEBYE: You'd think with all the porn and free music on the net, people would have better things to do with their time than Instant Messaging people claiming to be from Drive Thru Records and offering them deals. But someone is. We don't want to teach you how eggs are best sucked, but... generally, if someone is using AOL IM to offer you a deal, you might want to check their bona fides before ordering the big car.


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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

KEITH RICHARDS: [writes Simon Tyers, who really shouldn't know this] ...was on the NME cover dated 8th July 1995, which for some reason is in a pile of 1995-97 issues I have here. Brendon Fitzgerald (assistant editor under both Kelly and Sutherland) did it to coincide with the Voodoo Lounge tour reaching the UK, and it's there that the slightly famous story about Richards grabbing a gun and roaming the New York streets looking for Mark Chapman on the night he heard Lennon had been shot originates.


WHEN PEARLY DEWDROPS DROP: A Boston celebration of sixteen years of Cocteau Twins. Boston? Is there a big etherealpop community there?


WE RECEIVED THIS:

From: "[NAME]" <[EMAIL ADDRESS]>
Date: Wed Aug 6, 2003 8:47:58 am Europe/London
To:

U have no idea wat u r on about ben is lovely and sweet so leave him alone hes the best. Sum people have no clue do they


We suspect this is a defence inspired by what we said, somewhere, once about Ben from A1, but what's really scary is the address suggests the person who rose to him works for a government agency... and yet can barely spell...


WITHOUT PETEY: Becky Bamboo saw the Libertines, the non-Pete version, in the States. (Warning: Contains nudity)

The Living Things were the first band up Sunday night at Slim's. They had the screen lowered in front of the stage and it gradually rose while a recording of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance played. Right, so, vaguely political songs and intermittent rants about the state of the government were in store. Too bad the sound was muddled. Either that or the singer mumbled, making the politics inaudible over the screaming guitars. They gathered scattered applause from the sparse early crowd with easy potshots at Ashcroft, Cheney, and Bush, but they nearly lost that support when they went into a brief anti-California speech ("Home of the nip and tuck") before they realized that sort of thing would actually find a better target in Southern California and backtracked (something about none of us having fake boobs and that we were the cool ones. Yeah, whatever. Get your California stereotypes right, man: Northern - tree-hugging hippies and/or gay. Southern - plastic industry types and/or gay). Anyway. They were enjoyable and passionately energetic about whatever political stand they were taking, but I was distracted by wondering if I'd ever seen skinnier guys and where they bought pants that tight.

Adam Green (of The Moldy Peaches) came on next. Now, I like the Moldy Peaches. I saw them open for The Strokes a while back and they were very appealing and entertaining. Solo... well, there was something missing. Maybe it was the sense of humor that accompanied the best MP songs, or (more likely) it was an audience unprepared for the nonsense lyrics, silly dancing, and 60's psychedelic pop style music (I seemed to be in the middle of a particularly hostile section of the crowd). I don't know exactly why, but the poor guy didn't get a very good response from the audience. I was actually pretty surprised because before this I hadn't been to a show where there was outright anger towards a performer onstage. San Francisco hipsters are usually too ironically detached for such comments as "Do you have anything I can throw at him?" and "Get off the stage!" They usually prefer the more passive aggressive technique of ignoring the band and talking over the music. I guess this wasn't the usual audience.

Okay, the countdown to the Libertines taking the stage began. At the 45 minute mark the lights finally went down on a very restless crowd and a couple of minutes later the band came up the stairs. Over 45 fucking minutes! At Slim's! That's totally unheard of. Whatever. (Side note: I totally forgot to mention that my musician radar is still impeccably accurate. At one point between the two opening bands I looked over to my right and pegged the guy standing there drinking a beer as a member of one of the bands. Turned out to be Carl. Am I good or what?) It was worth the wait though, as they swung immediately into "Horror Show" and beat a mad, headlong rush to the abrupt finish, turning the crowd into a mass of jumping bodies and upraised fists. The whole show was like that really; one song after another drawing a huge response from the audience who was obviously there to rock. The Libertines obliged with no time for anything approaching a ballad. And there was no wasted time on stories or introductions either, other than a quick "This is Anthony" (filling in for Pete on this tour) from Carl at the beginning of one song. Carl handled all the vocals and honestly, having never seen them before and not being sure who sings what in the first place, I didn't notice anything missing other than the occasional harmony line. Okay, so I may have been distracted a bit... See, after the first song Carl ditched the scarf from around his neck and a few songs later lost the black zippered jacket he was wearing as a shirt as well. Add to that the drummer not even bothering with a shirt and you have quite a respectable percentage of sweat-gleaming partial nudity onstage. May I just say... yum. And me without my camera. After less than an hour of all out rock and a furious encore of "What a Waster" and "I Get Along" they sent the audience into the night, panting and wanting more. Or maybe that was just me.


HEH HEH... BY GIVING AWARDS TO THE DARKNESS, WE SHALL CONTINUE TO RUB THE NME'S NOSE IN IT: So the Kerrang awards nominations shortlist is out and online. Oh, sod it, here they are:

Best British Newcomer
The Darkness; Funeral For A Friend; Million Dead; thisGIRL; Winnebago Deal

Best International Newcomer
Evanescence; Finch; The Mars Volta; Poison The Well; The Used

Best Single
Electric Six 'Gay Bar'; Evanescence 'Bring Me To Life'; Foo Fighters 'All My Life';
Good Charlotte 'Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous'; Linkin Park 'Faint'

Best Video
Audioslave 'Cochise';Electric Six 'Gay Bar'; Foo Fighters 'Low'; Marilyn Manson 'mOBSCENE'; Murderdolls 'White Wedding'

Best Album
Deftones 'Deftones'; HIM 'Love Metal';The Darkness 'Permission To Land'; Metallica 'St Anger'; The White Stripes 'Elephant'

Best Live Act
The Darkness; Murderdolls; Iron Maiden; Reel Big Fish; Sum 41

Best British Band
Feeder; Hell Is For Heroes; InMe; Muse; Stereophonics

Best International Band
Good Charlotte; Metallica' Linkin Park; Red Hot Chili Peppers; System Of A Down

Event Of The Year
Download; Glastonbury; Reading & Leeds; T In The Park; V2003

Now, the hugely astute amongst you will notice that two of the Events of the Year haven't even happened yet. And, of course, the Stereophonics have been nominated Best British Band despite not having released a record worthy of consideration for an award in either the singles or the albums categories. Which is a bit odd when you think about it, isn't it? What are they being judged on to make them worthy of consideration, then? Their press interviews? Looking a bit odd? Not having smashed themselves in their ugly faces with 1950's style bakelite telephones?


WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Seven hours early edition

As the issue with Beyonce (a-list sexy) is removed, the new Elle replaces it. Britney in little black pants. And the Britney haters aren't happy. Apparently this is derivative, see? "Christina was photographed in her knickers with her arms crossed over her breasts" wails an email list, apparently in the happy ignorance that, just maybe, it was Chris who came up with this pose, either.

It's a quick voyage around the UK this week, as Sound Nation and Product come our way. Sound Nation is Welsh and free; despite enormous levels of funding (lottery, Edinburgh council, the arts council) the Scottish Product is a paid-for title. Obviously, the difference can be seen in layout and paper quality, but it does make you wonder what Sound Nation could do if it had half as much support from the public purse.

It is a magazine with a lot of ideas - very gossipy, a fruit-cake chunk of practical advice and a healthy interest in the industry as well as the music itself. It also has a wordsearch, which you don't get enough in the pop papers these days. And an interview with Guto Pryce of the Super Fury Animals - "Phantom Power isn't about doom and gloom - it’s about the way those thigns seep into your everyday life. Musically, though, it's probably our happiest album." You can probably still get them to send you a copy (of the magazine, not the album - www.soundnation.net )

While SN is hugely patriotic and supportive of its local scene, Product isn't quite so much. Ironically, there's a piece on Radio in Scotland which complains about the lack of homegrown, alternative music shows, and yet the edition it appears in, the Music Issue, has given the cover to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Yes, they're a fine looking band, but there isn't even an interview with them inside, and with all that funding sloshing around, there must be more than a few local acts wondering why they couldn't practice what they want the local radio to do, and support a local artist.

The YYY piece itself is a bit weak, too - to try and cover the fact that their cover stars won't talk to them, they, erm, interview The Black Keys instead. Not surprisingly, the Keys are a bit bitter at being given a platform, only to discover that they're there to discuss Karen O instead of their own music. Victoria Segal calls Karen O "the anti-Blondie" into the bargain, which doesn't make a great deal of sense (it's supposed to mean that when Karen dances around with duct tape on her tits, it's because she's in charge, whereas when Debbie Harry poses in a pair of white shorts - with, ahem, her arms crossed over her breasts - she's being manipulated by men). Even if you agree with it, does this mean the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the anti-Debbie Harry, or has the sloppy Dad's error of confusing the singer with the band been replicated in the hot hot heat of the moment?

Michael Faber considers whether lyrics can be treated as poetry - "we tend to be convinced that the first half-decent lyricist we stumble across is a poetic genius. Are we always wrong?" he frets, giving a quick nod to the usual types (Nick Cave) and asserting that Patti Smith and Janis Joplin are polar opposites (obviously something about Product which makes the writers look for matching oppositions everywhere). In the end, he decides that, yes, it's okay to treat lyrics as poetry. Providing it's Chuck D.

In an experiment, visual artists are encouraged to produce responses to musical stimuli. Beagley and Ramsey suggest the Bee Gee's staying alive is two men with combover wigs holding onto naked plastic men with scary cocks. (Actually, everyone knows that it is actually Tim Brooke Taylor wearing pants with a carrot on the front).

Hannah McGill turns in a splendid review of Barney Hoskyn's The Sound and The Fury, a forty-year trawl through rock journalism. She takes issue not so much with the book itself, but the belief at its heart that pop now is nothing - "a snack between meals" - churned out for kids who know nothing of its past and just want some quick kicks. "Thrill crazed teens with no respect and no sense of history aren't the enemy of pop music. They're it's source and its target audience." Splendid. This single review makes the magazine worth its existence, and you hope that the writers of the other chin-strokey pieces in it read and carry the lesson with them for the next music issue.

Oh, and there's a wonderful free Chemikal Underground CD with Arab Strap and a Cha Cha Cohen video on it, too. And a Bay City Rollers piece.

Why, it's pondered, do the Bay City Rollers lack any sense of charm when viewed with the distance of years? It’s concluded that its because their failings were lumpen rather stylish; they didn't even manage to make themselves seem sinister like the Stones did. But who - really - cares about the Rolling Stones these days?

Keith Richards is on the front of the NME.

We wonder when the last time Keith Richards was on the cover of the NME was? We're guessing not for these last twenty years - or "as long as we've been reading it", we realise with a sinking heart. This, people, is the 'Rock Decadance' issue (or 'summer filler', which wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have autumn filler, spring filler and winter filler too).

News is lead off with The Strokes playing Casablanca - Julian looking like a man with some teenage skin, it has to be said as part of a festival. "The Strokes blew everyone else away" said a Strokes fan, unsurprisingly. There's a pull-out poster section comprising lots of Strokes pictures, which is fine if you like that sort of thing.

The coverage of the Robbie shows try to make it something we should be interested in (The Darkness did play, after all) but this means they have to give space to Kelly Osbourne. "Not everyone's here to see me" admitted Kelly, which is half right, except for the mistaken impression it gives that maybe some people had gone these because the squealing haircut from the Doritos advert was on stage. The nme review seems to be strangely brown-nosing too - it doesn't actually say "Give us an interview and an extra 10,000 copies" but it points out what a stinking hypocrite Williams is before saying "but he admits it, so we don't seem to mind" as if that makes it any better. Alex Needham also seems to think that the Americans might have trouble with Williams' cultural references - "like karaoke" - which suggests that Needham has never seen the episode of the Simpsons where Homer thinks he's going to die and Bart and Lisa sing Shaft. Or the Sesame Street Karaoke Video. Or Disney Karaoke. Or... Having made our point, we'll move on.

Jack White admits "I can't do anything creative" - although only because of his bad finger. Apparently the way its broken has meant the healing process is moving bones apart rather than knitting them back together, and so he's having metal screws put inside his hand. Ewww.

NME attempts to leap onto the Popbitch otter bandwagon by establishing a forest to be a haven for wildlife. They want you - the reader - to pay for it. (Yes, yes, we know, but times must be hard at AOL Time Warner if they want the readership to underwrite the cost of their promotional work).

Pete Libertine has started a new band. They're called, um, The Libertines. It has to be, apparently, because he's got the name etched on his arm so that's that, then. The paper asks him if he's taking hard drugs and - after wittering on for a long time - he points out that he's not taking heroin there and then. He's not very well, is he?

Turbonegro do the CD: Ozzy Osbourne, David Crosby, Dennis Wilson and Fleetwood Mac. Hmmm. Well, they are shock rockers, and you'd have to agree that's a bit of a shock.

"We hear you're mates with Interpol" kicks off the Stills piece - to their eternal boredom. "We don't want to be known as Interpol's mates..." which is a bit ungrateful. The 'pol are, after all, the band with the press connections in the UK.

Keef confirms he once stayed awake for nine days, that he felled a stage invader to save Charlie's drum kit and offers to take on Liam Gallagher. For that last one, he should be honoured. There's a full colour picture of him now inside, by the way, so don't open it in public when there are kids round.

More survivors: Janes Addiction - Dave Navarro started to do heroin because, erm, Hendrix did it. And if Jimi leapt under a bus, young man...? Oh, and Perry Farrell buys cheese on the black market.

There isn't even a real hook to hang the page about rock weddings on - Dave Grohl might get married, Bobby Gillespie might be thinking about it - and there isn't anything you don't know already. And they miss out the splendid Sean Penn - Madonna nuptials, too.

Reviews
albums
dashboard confessional - a mark, a mission, a brand, a scar - "Chris has finally accepted finishing first", 8
chris korda - the man of the future - "monumentally crass", 6
the hiss - panic movement - "brace yourself for the big bad noise", 8
the bumblebeez - white printz - "doesn't go anywhere. that's not important", 8
ride - waves - "BBC sessions from the shoegazing charlatans", 4
spearmint - my missing days - "saint Etienne-ish", 7

singles
sotw - razorlight - rock n roll lies - "testes-trembling Television tribute"
kings of leon - mollys chambers - "enterprising"

live
lollapalooza 2003 - "might not be what it once was, what Janes say is timeless"
secret machines - London Camden barfly - "as much intergalactic rock magic as possible without six feet of hair"

and finally, some supposed Libertines fan writes to NMEmail to suggest that, since he's been charged with cat burgling, the decision of his erstwhile friends to tour without him has been vindicated. Not for a moment the thought that maybe the being kicked out of his own band has made him worse, not better, of course.


LET'S KICK THE MAJORS SOME MORE: In 2002, one-quarter of all Platinum records were on indie labels. This would seem to suggest that the ability of the Majors to spot and nuture talent isn't quite what it was, wouldn't it?

Not that indies are all great, mind - visit their association, AIM and try to find their angle on this great occasion, and you'll find yourself looking at a list of press releases untouched since January.


IS IT CAPONE THEY WON'T PUT A CAP ON?: If you need to spot the difference between the RIAA in the States and the BPI in the UK, you only have to spend a couple of minutes looking at the two organisation's websites (assuming you can visit the RIAA when they've not been hackjacked). While the RIAA bangs on and on about illegal downloading, the BPI seems to be concentrating its efforts a lot more on the flogging of actual, real world, pirate CDs. In the course of this Ars Technica debate, a couple of plausible reasons for the RIAA's shying away from taking action against Proper Pirates are floated: the first is that CD-Rs in the states are mainly a product of organised crime, and either because they're closely snuggled up with the industry, or because they're scared, the major labels are trying to leave the whole nest of vipers alone. Or else, the RIAA is trying to choke off the development of an alternative to a national distribution system which they currently control. The non-conspiracists suggest that maybe they're not bothering pumping cash into stopping fake CD sales when they know downloading will make all CDs - genuine or otherwise - obsolete in a couple of years anyway.

If you look at the RIAA piracy pages, they trumpet stopping 1.5m CDs in 1998, and, ahem, 100,000 in "the first half of 1999" (while the problem was supposedly getting worse). There are no figures after that, and under 'what the RIAA is doing', almost the entire page is given over to spidering the internet and saying the web offers no hiding place. You need to send out a lot of robots through the web before you'll find a guy with several CD burners in a back room in Chesapeake. Compare this with the BPI's record, which took part in 125 raids and 700 court cases in 2002, and in a single raid in May managed to get 3000 fake CDs, which makes the RIAA's 1999 efforts seem even thinner.

It is curious, isn't it?


REGGOBIT: Sister Mary Ignatius has died (admittedly back in February). She created and nurtued the Alpha Boy's School in Kingston where boys who otherwise would have been left to fend for themselves were given an education and an ability to develop their talents. As such, the school is credited with being the place without which reggae as we know it would never have existed. [via rocktober]


THREE WEEKS TO LIVE / BUT AT LEAST I'M NOT IN JOURNEY: You wouldn't think there'd be much risk in going to an REO Speedwagon and Journey gig, would you? Think again - Joe Rumbley was almost knifed to death at one. There's an extra little easter egg with this story, because the page is headed 'Wayne County News.' Clearly, they didn't bother to change their name when he became Jayne, then.


WELL, HIS CAREER COULD DO WITH A BOOST: Apparently Will Young tried to enter this year's Pop Idol competition but, being a bit dim, put his real address on the form: Judge Nicky Chapman said "He put music as his interest but got caught out when we saw his address." You'll note that claiming he was interested in music was deemed to be an effective way of Will Young disguising who he was, of course.


I'M SO BELIEVING FRED DURST: Apparently, Britney broke his heart. Awww, poor sloppy Fred, eh? Sorry, that should read: Can you believe how much of a cock-wart this guy is?

"Things were getting out of control and Justin was calling her and freaking out. He had never seen her with another guy before. I have run into him a couple of times since then but nothing was said about Britney. My whole time with Britney was really good for me. For two weeks we were hanging out all the time. I fell for her, what can I say? The aftermath was the ridiculous part. She took advice from somebody and started lying about us. It really annoyed me. I have spoken to her a couple of times and she apologised about the way things happened. She feels really bad."
"I met [Geri Halliwell] on a TV show and we got to know each other better. We hung out and went hiking a couple of times. We were teasing with the idea of getting together. I thought she was very cute. She was staying at GEORGE MICHAEL’s house and that was crazy. I have always been a fan of his. I haven’t talked to her for a while. We weren’t dating. It hadn’t reached that point but anything can develop, you know what I mean?"
"I had my mind set on Angelina [Jolie] for a long time. couldn’t stop thinking about her but it’s just not going to happen. We exchanged a few words a couple of times and I sent her flowers. She was really cool about it. "
"My love life is a real mess. Am I ever going to have a soulmate? Where the f*** is she?"
The foul-mouthed star may not have a soulmate but he does have a one-year-old son called Dallas with ex-girlfriend JENNIFER ROVERO — who he dotes on. He says: "I am a much hipper, cooler dad than most others. When you have a child, you have this unconditional love and forgiving for them. It’s amazing to see this innocent, clean slate of a brain absorb new things everyday. He’s so beautiful. I don’t know if I deserve him."


We cringe for poor Dallas - there's nothing worse than a Dad who thinks he's hip (leaving aside the fact that his father is Fred Durst, which is going to be a hell of a lot to live down at school to begin with).

In a week when Walter Mitty has been mentioned more often than he perhaps should be, we're reluctant to throw his name around again, but we suspect heavily that Durst might be living in the same sort of fantasy world. Certainly, he seems to think that this sort of detail is going to mark him out as cool, but instead it makes him sound like a really, really paranoid little virgin, fixating on any woman who smiles at him - "she must love me! I'm in love! We're going to live together forever in a big house!" which - if he wasn't such a stinking kebab-head - would be sad to watch. The oddest thing here, though, is not the whole Geri Halliwell thing (try not to imagine Durst's sweaty ass as it wobbles up and down while he pumps drily away at Halliwell's liposuction scars, please) but that he outs himself as a George Michael fan. We're cyncial, of course, so it comes as no surprise to us. But there's going to be a few of Durst's thirteen-year old fans checking out this George Michael guy their King of Rock is namechecking; we imagine tshirt burnings will be taking place across the US this week.


WHAT DO HUEY LEWIS AND GARY BARLOW HAVE IN COMMON?: Okay, besides the whole clinging desperately to fame that has slipped away from them somewhat deal. And looking awful in lycra. Turns out they've both got Farmer Giles, Get Orf Mi Land tendencies when it comes to anglers. Back in 1998, Gary pissed off his local angling club when he kicked them off the lake on his grounds they'd been using for fifty years; now Huey Lewis is trying to close a slough on his land which is also popular with fishermen in the area.

The twenty-first century is a scary place: who would you side with in a battle between country sports enthusiasts and Huey Lewis?


ADVERTISED INTENT: There's no real reason why a celebrity shouldn't sell his soul for advertisers - we know what Bill Hicks said, but they do have to put food on the table. It's more the choice of product which is the grounds for concern (Kenneth Williams once said he was doing the talking toilet spots "not for the money, but in the interests of hygiene"). So, "He'll always be Lil to us" Bow Wow hooking himself to Campbells Soup - is that a wise choice? It is soup, which seems to be about as far from the street as you can get, but, on the other hand, it is Campbells, which always has the Warhol connection to raise it above the level of general mush.

However, the clinching argument is that that other great kid's cartoon character, Yogi Bear, endorsed a competitor's product when he did the Heinz Big Soup campaign. Which means that Lilly Bow Wow has probably thrown his hat into the wrong ring.


WE GIVE IT FIVE MINUTES: If you're going to get married, and flog the pictures to Hello for a million euro, wouldn't you gussy yourself up a bit? Not Westlife's Nicky Byrne who turned up in jeans and tshirt and (ye gods) a baseball cap (which is a no-no at any time) to marry Georgina 'daughter of Bertie' Ahern. And they left by separate exits, too. Ah, the power of romance. Mind you, at least he's not marrying One of Atomic Kitten, which we thought was the law for the "straight" ones out of Westlife.


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

THE PRICE OF VANITY: So, in the end, then Carly Simon got fifty grand for the secret of who You're So Vain is about - Dick Ebersol, who as head of NBC Sports has that sort of money to burn - is going to have to share the secret.

For free, Carly has told us all the subject has an 'E' in his name. So, magnus magnusson can sleep more easily tonight.


JACK UP: They're overhauling Jack magazine, apparently; the magazine that nobody reads is going to be made bigger, so that it can give more space to the photography it seems to think it has a reputation for (erm...?)

What should scare the staff is this: "Steve Read, who oversaw the launch of Trash, the new style magazine being produced by Conde Nast on behalf of Ministry of Sound, is joining Jack as creative director. Before Trash, Read spent three years working on Tina Brown's Talk magazine in New York."

In other words, Steve Read is going to try and kill off his third magazine in twelve months. Blimey. (The rumours are that Trash isn't going to have a second issue).


DEAD IN THE WATER HEADLINES: Ananova - Moss to pose nude. Kate Moss posing nude isn't exactly news, is it? More to the point, why have Ananova got this on the 'music' section of their headlines - is she now a pop star by injection?


OH GOD... THEY'RE REALLY DOING IT: Yes, EMI confirms new singles structure - GBP1.99 for a two-track, GBP2.99 for a version with some spurious 'extras' and GBP3.99 for releases that people might actually want to buy - 'Blockbuster' artists, as they call them. The practice of heavily discounting singles in the week of release will be ended.

EMI chairman Tony Wadsworth told industry magazine Music Week: "There is confusion among consumers about pricing. They see singles at £1.99, £2.99 and £3.99 and don't know why."

And so, to stop this happening, EMI have introduced a system whereby the consumers will see singles at, erm, 1.99, 2.99 and 3.99. But do they really think that people are so stupid they don't twig that the cheap singles are special offers? And how does ramming up the price of the best stuff actually improve the situation, while making the deal for people who buy lots of singles a sight worse (they tend to buy on the first week, when its discounted - so they'll be getting a whole load less for their 1.99?) is going to just drive sales down, isn't it?

If we didn't know better, we'd say that EMI have cooked this confusing, unattractive system up to kill the single off for once and for all.


'I TOLD YOU SO': Theodore Dalrymple measures the decline of British manners from Lady Chatterley to Marilyn Manson. Yes, my precious ones, you know and I know that Marilyn isn't British, but let's not let the fact that he's not stand in the way of a good argument. Not that it is a good argument - Dalrymple correctly identifies that DH Lawrence wasn't a very good writer, but completely misses the point of the Penguin case - they weren't trying to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover; it was about re-issuing it in paperback. The case was not about the book; it was about whether the book should be read by the masses, a totally different proposition. It was a democratisation of the erotic, and if Dalrymple thinks a 'guilty' verdict in the Chatterley trial would have meant the arresting of a chain reaction which lead to Marilyn Manson's ringpiece, he's living in a city of his own imagination. That case merely recognised that you can't have two levels of culture; that mass production meant that there was no longer an elite and a mass. If it hadn't been paperbacks, it would have been videotape, or CD-Rs, or the Internet, which brought forward a test case. The control over what was produced was slipping - and let's not forget that more than stopping bums and fucking censorship and obscenity rules were there to stop the political order being questioned - and the Chatterley trial was an acknowledgement of that.

Dalrymple could have spent his time more wisely, wondering just why Manson - by all accounts a clever man - chooses to waste his hard-won freedoms on making pop videos about - hee, hee - goths taking over cheerleaders birthday parties or pretending to have sex with cold meats instead of doing something useful with his art. But to pretend that Mazza is in some way an emblem of what our culture produces is to give him the sort of over-importance which usually only his only ego would accord him.


HOW ABOUT JUST MAKING RECORDS GOOD AGAIN: Unbelievably, one of the ideas being floated to "save" the single is cutting CD singles back to two tracks. Maybe the singles market wouldn't have been in quite as much ordure as it is now if they'd not cut the number of tracks on CD singles from four to three (if I recall correctly, it was because bands like Westlife were having trouble coming up with enough material) without dropping the price of the single at the same time. Is a 33% drop in content really the way to suggest to people they shouldn't just go off and download the track for free?

Amongst other ideas is - go figure - that maybe releasing singles for radio play up to thirteen weeks before they're in the shops might not be the most sensible business model to stick to. It falls to Johnny L, though, to gruffly point out the best thing they could do is to stop releasing a pile of cack and wondering why it's all going to landfill.


HEADLINES WHICH ARE MUCH, MUCH BETTER THAN THE STORY THEY HOVER ABOVE: A short series:
Dixie Chicks Rev Up Gaylord


IT WASN'T ME: There's a curious little tale here, about Steve Wariner, a country singer, and an 'overzealous fan', supposedly responsible for sending an MP3 and a badly worded press release to a radio station to try and help his hero. "He had no idea of music business protocol" wailed the singer's real publicist, presumably worried that it looked really bad to send a record to a US radio station without first buying reams of spurious research from that station. It's not clear whether the 'overzealous fan' was also responsible for the appearance of Steve's bio and photo on an internet dating site - maybe he's got no idea about dating protocol either?


A MIGHTY LONG WAY DOWN ROCK AND ROLL: The Waltham Forest Guardian is proud to report the triumphant return of its local heroes, East 17. They've booked a headlining tour of Butlins'. Co-headlining, actually, as they'll have to share the stage with bingo, won't they?


SLIGHTLY PUFFED-UP PEOPLE IN ROCK: Third wheel 'announces resignation from' band that hasn't been active since before Napster opened ("Pras quits Fugees")


CAN YOU TAKE A HINT, MOBY: Moby confused over release schedule of next single - due in June, not out yet. Hmmmmm. I wonder what that could possibly mean, Moby?


OLD MEN ILL: Mick Jagger falls sick, cancels live date; Lynyrd Skinner tour put on hold because Gary Rossington needs some rest after heart surgery. Would editors of all newspapers please remember this the next time they feel the need to fill space with "They're getting on, but they can still rock like young 'uns round the clock" articles?


WE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN IT A NAME WITHOUT 'WEEKEND' IN IT, REALLY: More 'best opening lines ever:'

Adam Bonin - known to you (and me) as the force behind throwingthings blog (and if you haven't read his comparison of the lives of Jesus and Suge Knight, make time to do so now) offers these hefty openers:

From Prince's "When Doves Cry" -- "Dig, if you will, the picture/Of you and I engaged in a kiss" The "if you will" aside is just priceless. Or "I was dreaming when I wrote this/Forgive me if it goes astray" from "1999", another nice little narrative twist.

Bruce Springsteen, "Atlantic City" -- "Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night". Who's the chicken man? Why'd they blow up his house too? And who are they, anyway?

We do agree wholeheartedly about the Prince ones - 'You walked in/ I woke up' is a really great little couplet, too, let's not forget; the 'if you will' is, as Adam suggests, a totally under-rated construction in pop. Maybe if Barry Norman had been persuaded to make a few records we'd have seen it take its place right up there. Not too sure about Bruce, though... it sounds like he's trying just a little bit too hard to us. Although we are curious as to who the chicken man is - maybe it's Danny Kelly, who did do a fine Foghorn Leghorn impression as we recall.

The standard has been set high - can you match up? xrrf-lines@bothsidesnow.co.uk.


BLU INTO VIEW: Simon Tyers writes, further to yesterday's chart update:

You've kind of glossed over it, but what about Blu'n'Sean at number one?

After a week when usually very wrong Telegraph correspondent Neil McCormack and Radio 1's playlist clerk had a blazing row on 5 Live about the support the station gives to British acts - McCormack claimed that of 20 records on that week's A list 17 were American, when it was in fact 9 from 19, and if you add the B list it was still only 13 from 40 - the new number one by some distance is a record they didn't give a sniff to, even more unlikely when you consider Cantrell's one other hit was all over the station at the time and Sean Paul is a guaranteed A-lister. Additionally it's not been ripping commercial radio playlists or TV shows apart and I couldn't hum it to you yet this has beaten the unforgettable Lumidee - which shares a rhythm track with Wayne Wonder and the last Sean Paul single, of course. Frankly, answers on a postcard.

The whole 'Radio One is anti-British' thing was something we never really quite got round to mentioning - mainly because it seemed to be an extra stick being used to batter the BBC until something better (Sara Cox's figures) came along. We'd assumed that B&S had been picking up support from commercial radio, which we don't often get to hear - apart from when the office puts Virgin on. Could this be a genuine hit made in the clubs?


STROKES STOKED: Ooh, the moment where we decide if they're decadent treats or disappointing twats is looming, as The Strokes prepare their second coming (or maybe their 'Second Coming'). They've been telling Rolling Stone that it's a mellower beast, with overtones of Michael Jackson (by which they mean the drums on one track sounds like the Billie Jean rhtyhm, not that there's a lot of dashing about trying to head off lawsuits). And the neighbours complained about the noise while they were making it, which we take to be a good sign.


THE HOARY YAWNFLAKE (dyswwdt?): Taking advice from Three Counties Radio's third-biggest star might not be one of major priorities of Andi Peter's TOTP review, but just in case - and because these things drop off the page eventually, we'll fillet this from Media Monkey:

"Speaking on Christian O'Connell's Xfm breakfast show ex-BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis had some sage advice for Andi Peters as he takes over the helm at Top of the Pops: 'Remember, it's rock and roll, mate'. The hairy cornflake said: '[TOTP] has been over for the last eight or nine years...in those days it was fun. Radio and TV has to be fun and nowadays people take it all too seriously. It's not brain surgery, it's rock and roll mate...we had Legs and Co in our day, but now every female has to have her stomach showing and their arses hanging out and it devalues it, you need a little bit of this and a little bit of that.' Ah get off the fence would ya, DLT."


YOU SHOULD BE OVER THIS BY NOW: Hey, Nicholas Gully punched me in the belly when we were ten, but you know what? I've let that go. So why is Eminem still brooding over the school bully? And why is the school bully brooding over young Marshall? I'm sure this has something to do with the American habit of High School Reunions, whereby you drag yourself back to spend an evening making small talk with people who tried to set fire to your locker with you inside it like you liked them to begin with, and/or impress people who, if you had any sense, you wouldn't have ever seen again after leaving school anyway. I'm sure some Americans will be quick to point out that the British have our own problems (often nanny-related) but it's not like we throw parties in their honours. Anyway... the bully is trying to sue Eminem - most amusingly because he thinks being named on 'Brain Damage' has ruined his chances of launching his own music career. Eminem has now run to hide behind the dinner lady of the court, calling for the case to be dismissed. This happened in sixth grade.


Monday, August 04, 2003

SHE'S COME BACK: It's been way, way too long since we last had a review from Becky Bamboo. But she's back, clutching a review of the Lookout Records SF do:

Last week I went to the final night of the Lookout! Records (former label of Green Day and The Donnas) 15th Anniversary celebration at the Great American Music Hall. They handed out bags of goodies - some cds and singles they'd grabbed at random from the stock, and posters. My bag had a couple of split singles, a full length album by a band whose name I can't remember right now, and a double cd Lookout! compilation from, like, 1996. I listened to all of them on the way to Lake Tahoe and it's pretty cool stuff. I love getting free shit.

Anyway. I got there near the end of local band Communique's set. 2 songs was enough to convince me to get their EP and I'm glad I did because it has some great songs. They're less punk than a lot of the other bands on Lookout! and have some really pretty songs. I'll definitely go see them again.

Next up was The Oranges Band, who I knew I'd seen before because I recognized the name but I couldn't remember anything about them. As they started playing, I could see why they hadn't stuck in my mind. They were just okay, but I did like them more this time. There were even 3 or 4 songs that made me consider buying their album. They did better on the faster, more upbeat powerpop/punk songs than on the slower, wannabe arty stuff. Those songs just ended up droning on and on and got boring. Keep it snappy, boys.

All thoughts of Communique and The Oranges Band were banished though as soon as The Pattern started playing. Man, these guys put on a hell of a show. From the first note they blew everybody's hair back. Loud, fast, funny... wow. During one song the singer threw his mic stand down and hopped up on the drum riser, holding the mic, with his back to the audience. He stepped down backwards, tripped over the mic stand and fell forward onto the monitors and then into the crowd (who caught him before he hit the floor too hard) and NEVER MISSED A FUCKING NOTE. Seriously. He was so proud of himself, too. After the song ended he said, "I don't know how many of you know that song but I didn't miss a line!" He was a hoot onstage, pulling all these pouty, sexy poses and dancing around with overtly sexual hip thrusts and smouldering glances at the crowd. They put on a great show, all energy and sex and noise and sweat. Loved them.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists closed out the night. They had quite an act to follow and pulled out all the stops to keep the audience jumping and dancing around. They were fast and fun with great songs, about half of which were off their excellent album, _Hearts of Oak_, released earlier this year. The standout song for me was "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone" which Ted dedicated to Lookout! Records. What a great fucking night. All shows should be this good.


ROLL OVER, SIR TREVOR: We don't want to prejudge her (and Hayley's coming home tonight so we won't actually be watching it when it goes out), but Liz from Atomic Kitten as an investigative reporter? They're really taking the piss, aren't they? You can see the logic behind it: "Hey, how are we going to get kids to watch a current affairs show? How about we put one of Atomic Kitten in there?"

Next week: Jennifer Ellison examines how the resurgent right-wing have hijacked the Euro entry debate as a way of legitimising their politics of hate. In a bikini top and cut-off shorts.


HOW DESPERATE IS HE?: We can see the thinking behind Elton John's commercial activities - why bother pumping thousands into making videos which would only be shunned by MTV and Flaunt anyway when you can sign up to do an advert? They pay you, you're a star of such stature you can insist they use the new single, and instead of being lodged in the mire of some godforsaken digital channel, you get your new single in front of people at the break during Corrie. It makes a sense, of a certain type.

On the other hand, doing first The Post Office and then bloody Sky Sports suggests there is a flaw in this plan: viz. he's associating himself with some really duff brands. And in the current Sky new Football season advert, he also looks rubbish - in a cheap, baggy trackie, like he's nipping up to the Moby for a packet of Rizlas and a Picnic bar. Did they not have a mirror in the dressing room, Elton?


DEAD-IN-THE-WATER HEADLINES OF OUR TIME: An occasional series: Roxy Music guitarist hails Latin music


YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE: We've always thought of Robbie Williams as a weak balladeer. But it turns out that he's also got a weak bladder, too. Currently on Ebay, you can bid on his motorised toilet, a prop from his '99 tour. At time of writing, the toilet has failed to attract a single bid in ten days, which we're adding to our evidence for the propostion that Robbie Williams exists solely because everyone thinks that somebody else likes him, not because anyone actually actively likes him themselves. [Via metafilter]


EMI X-PLC: Interesting moves to take EMI off the stock exchange and back into private ownership. It might not happen, but if it does: What would a major label that doesn't need to keep shareholders and the Stock Exchange happy be like?


THAT WOULD BE ABOUT IT'S MONEY: Limp Bizkit to play a gig for a quid in. We still think that you're being ripped off, mind.


BURGERS: Justin Timberlake to be the new face, if not belly, of McDonalds. Since his career appears to have a little countdown clock running on it now, we're hoping they'll have used up all the POS material before he's actually working there.


PARENT, HEAL THYSELF: The Britney-wannabe debate continues, with Louise Chunn ("fashion editor and parent") worrying about how kids dress these days: "It may not lead to any increase in the rate of paedophile attacks, but I would have thought that seeing swarms of 10-year-old Kylie lookalikes turning up to school could still get a heated reaction out of a sizeable chunk of the adult male population. They just look too damned sexy for comfort." No, no they don't. If you find ten year old girls sexually attractive, and you're not a ten year old boy, you'll find them sexy if they wear a sack or dress like Season One Willow. If you don't, like the vast majority of males over the age of eleven, a ten year old in a crop top isn't going to suddenly turn you into a raging paedo because, precisely, they don't look sexy - they look like little girls dressing up. Indeed, the words of sense in the Guardian piece come from a fifteen year old: Anna, 15: 'Girls do grow up a lot quicker these days, but I don't feel that we are being robbed of our innocence. Girls as young as 10 look really silly in skimpy and revealing clothes, and older teenagers than me think that it's really sad.'


HAS ANYONE HERE HEARD KELLY?: Virgin launch evening-session-alike hosted by the godawfully named DJ Kelly. Virgin admit she's a bit of a newcomer to radio - which isn't a bad thing - but according to her current employers, she's mainly, ahem, the travel girl. The plan is for the station to show that they're not all about Genesis and Yes, says a spokesperson, by, um, wedging anything halfway new into a slot when everyone's watching TV. That'll do it, then. Maybe they could change the image of their station in some more active ways, such as not playing Avril Lavigne's three hits and You Oughtta Know every fucking day. We'll wish Kelly luck, mind, since doing travel doesn't always mean that you've not got a clue.


HIDING BEHIND GRANDAD: The Canadians are apparently unimpressed with the official Sexiest Man In the World, pelting Justin Timberlake with rubbish when he played the Toronto 'we're not poisonous' Sars date. Awfully, he had to be coaxed back on stage during the Rolling Stones set when Keith insisted the audience show him some respect.

The sad thing is, although Justin seems lovely, and isn't altogether ugly, his music does lack something special. Or, indeed, anything special at all, really. He needs some songs.


CHARTYRUNDOWN: Although he'll be gnashing his teeth that 'Something Beautiful' only enters the single charts at number three, it's still his biggest hit since 2001. The question is: just how widely popular is Robbie Williams? Sure, he managed to fill out Knebworth three nights running, but there's sometimes a sneaking suspicion with these mega-gigs that they're held as much because it's easier to sell out three big ones than a proper tour of medium-sized arenas; it's certainly a lot more impressive to have everyone in one place. We've long held a feeling that his big selling albums are often gift-purchases (everyone likes Robbie; you can't go wrong with a Robbie CD, can you?) and while we wouldn't try to pretend he's unloved, the fact that he seems incapable of selling enough singles to get to number one - even with all the coverage he gets - suggests that he isn't as popular as he'd like us to think. We can but hope.

The number one honours fall to Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul with 'Breathe'; in at two it's Lumidee with 'Never Going To Leave You', which is a fair summing up of the way the song's hook gets caught in your cerebellum. Beddingfield drops from last weeks' one to number three; Kosheen enters at seven with 'All In My Head', one place above Craig David with 'Spanish'. Although not a stellar performance, this is the fourth track off the album (yeah, us too - he really has trouble with his profile, doesn't he?) and so not bad for a well-worn track. Lisa Maffia will be surprised at only entering at 13 ('In Love') after a launch week whirl of front covers and media; Funeral for a Friend ('Juneau', 19) fare much better, proportionally speaking - although it seems the audience for nu-rock is starting to contract back to the graveyard hardcore. Having managed to build sales stealthily for 'Move Your Feet', Junior Senior find themselves back to square one with the follow-up Rhythm Bandits (22). Without the aid of Zia's breasts or a mobile phone campaign, the Dandy Warhols struggle to scrape into the 40 ('You were the last high', 34) and Hot Hot Heat's 'No, Not Now' makes an MTV2-sized debut at 38. Prophetically, Kaci claims to be 'Not Anybody's Girl' and only enough people to get her to 55 disagree - we're surprised London is still persevering with her, to be honest. Curiously, the two-month old Girl In The Moon sneaks back for Darius at 68.

We're not sure who's going to be more surprised that The Coral have deposed Beyonce at the top of the album charts - the scousers or the diva. 'Magic and Medicine' is the only album of new material to join the top fifty this week - collections from Yes (10), Bob Marley (20, re-entry) and Killing Joke (43) being the other debutantes in a steady chart listing. His joint number one single helps Sean Paul crack the top ten at long last (Dutty Rock, 7; up from 19).

Of course, we suggested the behaviour of Kim Marsh's Standing Tall this week (after its number 9 entry last week) would provide a good indication of where her career is going to be heading. Plummeting down to 25 would seem to give a large hint.

Further down the chart, Blu Cantrell's Bittersweet enters at 64. Proving that controlling the two charts, Beyonce style, isn't as easy as you might think.

[Done originally for blogcritics.org]


FIRST LINES: More responses to the question: What's the best opening line, ever?
Karl writes: I feel so sure of our love, I'll write a song about us breaking up... (Man O'Sand To Girl O'Sea - The Go-Betweens)
I must have walked past this doorway thirty times just trying to catch your eye (A Million Miles - my obligatory Wedding Present choice!)
You shake, I sweat, it stings (Lollobrigida - Cinerama - just in case one Gedgeism wasn't enough)
She broke my heart, so I ate her liver (Liver - The Hitchers)

And Terry writes again: Can I have another one? "Fell into a sea of grass and disappeared above the shady blades" - It's the 'above' that I like, for some reason. (From Summertime Rolls by Jane's Addiction.)

Keep 'em coming: xrrf-lines@bothsidesnow.co.uk


THIS SHOULD DRIVE ANDY KERSHAW NUTS: It's a little known fact that Andy Kershaw collects versions of Louie Louie. He'll presumably pay top dollar for bootlegs from the Louie Louie marathon. If you fancy joining in the nine-hour Louieathon, you can sign up online.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: "I want to die on stage" pleads Ricky Martin. He might want to clairfy that he doesn't mean right now.


BUNCHES OF ARSE: It's been a while since the UK tabloids have been so single-minded about their covers, but today, they all lead with but one thought (except the Express, who have paid half a million for last week's story, John Leslie being found not guilty of something, and are sticking with it, dammit) - or rather, one picture. Kylie Minogue has modelled some swimwear. Metro suggests that Kylie "seems determined to scotch rumours that the her latest relationship is on the rocks" (erm... yeah, fulfilling a lucrative contract really sends that message), while the Daily Sport helpfully crops a picture so you can see our arse cheeks hanging out of the costume without having to squint. Do Sport readers really have such bad eyesight? Maybe what they say about masturbation is true, then.

The good news about the complete coverage of Bikylies bikinis is that Williams is shunted away to down-page or further. The coverage of his weekend of concerts seems further confirmation that his days of being adored by the papers are well over. Some papers choose to report not that he played the supposedly biggest gigs ever, but that Mark Owen popped up on Sunday to sing a bit with him. Today's 3am Girls in the Mirror quote a fan saying "it was the best moment of the concert"; Mark managing to shunt Robbie out the headlines of his own gig. Meanwhile, Metro snorts that despite the size of the gigs, Williams couldn't manage a chart entry any better than three this week. The third night of the Knebworth gigs proved to be an even bigger organisational fuck-up than the first two - although shame on the Mirror for using the 'another Hillsborough' cliche. Herts police say that the situation was always "under control" - although people were leaving the site because they were scared, which suggests that although they may have had the situation under control, it didn't feel that way. Still, money in the bank, isn't it?


KRIST ON HIS BIKE: No No, No No No No, No No No No, There No No Novoselic - Krist is pissed off at being the member of Nirvana who nobody cares about. No, seriously, so he's quitting the biz we call music:

" "As far as the music industry goes, I quit. I can't deal. I can't read the magazines, listen to the radio or watch music television without feeling like I've just come in from outer space. I just don't get it and I probably never did. My lot in life is that every band I've ever been in just falls apart. That hurts but I've got a thick hide from years of conditioning. Now please take note that I haven't quit music, I've just quit the business. (I can't complain about the business side of Nirvana. I'm not crying a river by any means.) I want to play more with Curt and Bud, they're too good for me not to plug in my bass thus plugging into the cosmo-stream of transcendental rocking good times that those two charge me with. "I'm relatively young (38) and I want to follow my compulsions. I have big plans for 2004" he says. "Next year will be a pivotal year politically for every one of us in the USA and for myself, even more so. I've come off of nine years of political success and see some real opportunities to make change. You'll all hear about my plans soon enough. If you've been following my politics, you know that I will continue to work for inclusion, fairness and freedom. While Eyes Adrift is an artistic success, the commercial side is anything but successful. [That's true - we wouldn't have been able to name his current band if a pub quiz tiebreak had depended on it] I recall too many stories of people simply not being able to find the CD in stores. I know of many who just downloaded. Mixed reviews didn't help the fact that we really didn't sell many CD's. I can't honestly tell you how many we've sold but I can't imagine it's over 20,000 units. A flop? No way!!! At this rate we'll go gold in about a hundred years. Too long you say but isn't music eternal? I'm in no rush".
We're not sure, but it kind of sounds like he's going to be nader's running mate...


Sunday, August 03, 2003

MOTLEY DO: Vince Neil - the Motley Crue singer - apparently goes to a brothel and attacks a prostitute to avoid having sex with her. There are better ways of Not Having Sex With Sex Workers, Vince: Not going to brothels is one of them. Maybe he was just popping in to get make-up hints?


SOMETHING PLEASINGLY CIRCULAR ABOUT THIS: Primal Scream to support the Rolling Stones - we think that's the right way round.


FIRST LINES - FIRST RESPONSES: In response to our first ever Weekend Question, the early adopters prizes go to Terry and Barbara.

Terry writes: I hate Elvis Costello but I do like: "Oh I just don't know where to begin" from Accidents Will Happen, if only for the good use of "oh"

Mmm, and when you're talking about the very first syllable, you also have to consider the Wedding Present's Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, where Gedge manages to sum up the whole bitter-hurt-and-pissed-off song in his opening "Oh... (why do you catch my eye then turn away?)"

Barbara Flaska, one of the team behind the ever-excellent popmatters suggests: "The night was still / And the moon was yellow", the opening to Wilson Pickett's (amongst many others) Stagger Lee.

Any other suggestions for truly great opening lines to songs? Send 'em in to xrrf-line@bothsidesnow.co.uk.