Saturday, September 20, 2003

RING OF IRE: Ade Rixon, who does big bubbles, emailed to suggest it's odd that we didn't link to Louisa Young's Johnny Cash obituary:

Notable for this part, which shouldn't come as a surprise but sometimes we need reminding:
"This is how he's choosing to communicate, I realised. By singing. Which from a singer is not unreasonable - in fact it's possibly more right, more true, than answering interview questions."
(Although I realise that No Rock would lose most of its raison d'etre if
every inarticulate tosser in a band took this advice.)

Thing is, we'd been meaning to get round to collating a bunch of the best of Cash obits but... never quite managed it - since we seldom take the blame for anything unless we have to, we're blaming the lack of broadband at the moment... But, yes: splendid piece of writing. The Guardian also had a personal piece from Nick Cave, as well, which may be the best thing Mr. Cave has ever written (and this comes from someone who quite liked And the Ass Saw the Angel...)

OTHER MUSIC BLOGS ARE AVAILABLE: We were kind of delighted to get an email from themanwhofellasleep, especially since he's no longer hanging around Popbitch these days. In the course of this, he mentioned Underground, a crisply designed and spiffily written music blog which we think is deserving of wider recognition (i.e. it's good and worth reading).

Next week: sir_dennis_hodge chooses his five favourite restaurants

FENCING POST: John Dalglish writes:

Surely the reason that Glasto sells out so quickly these days is down to the fact that it's much harder to get over the wall?
I've never been myself, but anyone I know that has been never paid to get in.

I suppose that could be the case; and the security does have a whole lot fewer holes in it these days - one year just after I got back, I met up with a bloke who worked at the same place I did; he'd been down there doing security. He told me that next year he'd cheerfully photocopy a security pass for me and he'd tell me which hole to try in the fence to get in. (I should point out at this stage that I didn't take him up on his kind offer, which was more because I really didn't fancy being sucked into the whole dodgy-mutual-back-scratch culture he represented). They've changed their security since then. But I can't imagine that the fence-jumpers have all turned into good citizens overnight; and I'm not sure it explains why the event sells out so much more quickly than it used to.

This year, though, they had one central ticket seller, which must have sped things up; and I guess online sales are now commonplace in a way they couldn't have been in the mid-90's.

DRAWING THE PAIN: It's been done before, but the whole idea of getting a class of kids to listen to a record and draw what's suggested by it is one of the great journalistic ideas of all time (i.e. it's cheap, easy, and you're done by three-thirty). It's even better when Fifth graders are asked to draw radiohead. Apparently the kids started giggling when Thom started singing. Yeah, yeah: give it another five years and they'll be trying to get into girl's pants by claiming they always knew he was a tortured genius. [Thanks to Queen of the Ass Claire for the link]

IT'S A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE: Of course, there's nothing new about an online group dedicated to the hatred of one singer or another - is the Mandy Moore I s A Slut list still active, I wonder? - but ihatetoriamos is slightly different; it's almost like an Alcoholics Anonymous group for recovering Tori fans who find themselves caught in a relationship with the Ginger Pig-Suckler but who hate themselves for it. Curious.

Friday, September 19, 2003

GIRLS UNHEARD: We were prompted by the reports of Girls Aloud being deemed overweight by Louis Walsh to seek out a picture of them, which we were going to mutter about and caption in an arch, supposedly amusing way. However, we got distracted by doing an Images search on Google for the band... you get just nine responses, none of which are the band . (By contrast, Destiny's Child manage an impressive 991 returns - even say, The House of Love manage responses, some of which do spring back with pictures of Guy Chadwick's band.

In fact, you can even pull up more pictures of Louis Walsh than you can of his supposedly Popstarry band. Sort of suggests that it's not the slim possibility that the band might have a couple of extra ounces on them that's the problem they're facing, Louis.

C&WOBIT: Oh it's lonesome away... we're rather sad to report the death of Australian country singer Slim Dusty, who was one of the singers we grew up listening to when No Rock was tiny, and whose songs once made up the pre-set tape during a Primitives tour, to the bemusement of most of the audience. He'll be best remembered for A Pub With No Beer, which was one of those songs that sits atop the cusp between novelty and straight that only country singers can pull off with their dignity intact.

CREED CAN BREATHE AGAIN... FOR NOW: The lawsuit bought by fans of Creed because they had to stand through a frankly rubbish show has been dimissed by the judge. However, the claim was dismissed in such a way as to allow the complainants to have a second shot at bringing the action, which seems fair as it sounds like it took the band a good few goes to get through any of their songs on the night in question.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

THE TICKET LINE: Gareth Jones emails us with an interesting point:

interesting reading about the glasto ticket plans. i see the nme also mentions the 'priority for students' idea again as well.

what i don't really understand is the way the festival has grown over the last few years, i started going in 97, and apart from 2000 i've managed to get tickets easily. i didn't bother going in 2000, and i'm not sure if it sold out, and if it did it probably wasn't until quite soon before the festival started. even last year i managed to leave a few weeks before i got round to buying the ticket. this year i managed to get mine on the first day only as i had the internet at work.

maybe the way forward is to announce the entire line-up before the tickets go onsale. that might put a lot of people off, and that v04 would be better after all.

or maybe they could have another mudyear.

And when we come to think of it, he's got a good point. The first time we went to Glastonbury in 199something, we got our ticket the Tuesday before; the coach station was flogging tickets (legitmately, we might add) on the day we travelled down. And the last time we went, when it was muddy, even then we bought our tickets only a couple of weeks in advance. We suppose the sell-out culture is tied with the move from the focus of the event being music and charity to being a BBC Two, Guardian endorsed type affair. But we like the idea of releasing the bill to dissuade people buying tickets - they could also start a rumour Fred Durst will be playing.

CAN I GET AN UPGRADE TO THE BACKSTAGE TOILETS?: We were a little surprised how they underplayed the genuine scoop the nme had about Glastonbury's plans to go ticketless by 2005. The idea, apparently, is to make touting impossible by taking the physical ticket out of the equation and going over to an airline system where you have to turn up with ID and your credit card to claim your wristband and entry into the muddy event.

And this is a good idea why, precisely? Airlines can cope with such a system because each ticket point is only dealing with, at most, a couple of hundred people at a time; and there are large waiting areas for those who still need to be processed. Even so, anyone who's ever checked in to a flight will know that its mostly a miserable process of shuffling forward a few inches at a time for a very long period. Even if you can process the ID and Credit Card information in, say, ten seconds, we calculate that it's going to take twelve days for a crowd of 100,000 to get through a single checkpoint; since there's only a finite number of entry points to the festival site, that's looking like a hell of a clog up on the Thursday nights when everyone starts to arrive. And ten seconds assumes that the system works, and works swiftly. Any need to rescan, or someone whose card doesn't register, or who wants to argue the toss, and the schedule is going to go to hell in a handbasket. If the computer network gets overloaded and goes down completely, you're looking at a major crisis - would the back-up plan be getting the doorchecks to scan through 100,000 names on a piece of paper? (These systems can and do fail even where they've been in use for ages - ask British Airways).

Even assuming the major logistical stumbling block can be overcome, is this a desirable way of handling tickets for Glastonbury? It means that someone has to have a credit card to go. At the moment, if Jimmy (aged 17) wants to go to the festival, he can get his Mum, Dad or other nominated adult to buy him a ticket on their credit card. In the new world, he'd only be able to do that if his Mum, Dad, etc accompanied him to the festival itself. Got mates who you've block booked with coming from elsewhere in the country? Up til now, you could send them on their tickets, and arrange to meet on Friday morning in the Green Field. Now, you'll all have to convene outside the festival so you can arrive along with the person who paid for the tickets. And if you bought tickets and then fell pregnant/burned your fingers on a microwave meal/committed suicide live on stage, you can't just sell your ticket to a mate who can make use of it - or even gift it to them. There'll need to be a big cancellation/refund kerfuffle. While nobody likes touts, why shouldn't people be allowed to pass their tickets on to friends if they so wish?

Airlines need security like this because of the dangers of planes crashing into people's soft heads. It's not clear why Glastonbury thinks that it's like an airline, unless it has dreams of becoming the Ryanair of the Summer.

WHO WANTS TO DIE FOR ROCK AND ROLL?: We've been at gigs where suicide has seemed a rosy option ourselves - (not another bloody Travis encore, please...) - but as far as we know there haven't been any recorded instances of preplanned suicides onstage before. That's about to change, as Hell On Earth plan to use an unfortunate fan as a stooge in a publicity stunt ("are to invite a terminally ill fan to die on stage at one of their gigs.")

One of their fans happens to be terminally ill and so Hell on Earth are going to allow him to "die with dignity" in the middle of their set in St Petersburg. The fan's name hasn't been revealed and apparently the suicide method is still being kicked about - the favourite option is a plastic bag over the head, apparently. So, that's dying in front of a bunch of heavy metal freaks by slow suffocation, before the band kick into 'Raped by the Virgin Mary.' Thank god he's chosen to die with dignity rather than going out as some sort of freakshow exhibit.

Leaving aside the certainty that this is going to put back the cause of euthanasia campaigners by about three hundred years, have the band actually thought through the implications? Costume and set changes are bad enough, but have they considered quite how much having a suicide is going to slow the show down? What if he doesn't go quickly? And there's going to be mess to tidy up. If it's midset, how are they going to work round a body on the stage? If it comes at the end, would that be before or after the encores? And what are the crowd meant to do - does one cheer a suicide? A slow handclap if the death is drawn out? Modern life is so confusing.

FINGERS... NOT THE FINGERS: If we were Mylenne Klass and someone asked us to insure our fingers for a million, we'd be awaiting a visit from a hired heavy with a crowbar and a record company plan to recoup their investment. Mylenne's digit-protection plan came about when she burned her fingers taking an item out of a microwave oven - yes, those Veg Lasagnes for one can hurt in so many ways, can't they? - which doesn't suggest that she needs an insurance policy so much as a good pair of oven gloves. "It's GBP100,000 a finger" she calculates, proving that she's not a dumb as people might like to think - although to be accurate, that suggests that her palms are totally without value.

If you own stock in an insurance firm, pray that she doesn't come into contact with unguarded threshing machines. And hope her managers keep a stock of ice nearby.

TUNING IN THE HEAT: We know that EMAP loves to stretch its brands in all directions, but what exactly will the new Heat radio Station be doing? Presumably describing Geri Halliwell's arse in lieu of showing pictures of it? We really can't wait for a 24-hour service on radio updating what's happening on the 24 hour coverage of Big Brother, mind...

NOVOBIT: You might have trouble with the name Sheb Wooley, who's died from leukemia at 82, but you're almost certain to know of his most famous work, 1958's The Purple People Eater, if you ever listened to Junior Choice. Wooley also appeared in Rawhide and what's listed here as "various" movies.

AND THEY ALL DRESSED UP IN COMEDY OUTSIZED SUITS: The Problem Drinker reminds us that, as with so many trends, David Byre was doing it years ago - he did a children's book in 1987, when Stay Up Late, the Talking Heads song, got repurposed as a nursery text.

Meanwhile, we notice that Amazon gives the measure of Madonna's English Roses, suggesting it's a perfect partner for the Sarah Ferguson books.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: New-look edition

It's a week for re-invention - Andrew Billen, TV reviewer of the New Statesman, doesn't seem to be knee deep in irony when he applauds Billie Evans-Piper's 'new' career in acting, praising her for her depiction of a whiny, self-obsessed minor pop starlet in Canterbury Tales last week. Meanwhile, Billie is on the cover of New Woman, under a strapline which reads: "The Sex? Chris has shown me things I never knew existed." Yeah, ginger pubes can be a real puzzler the first time, can't they?

The main reinvention, though, is that of the NME, entering another relaunch which come along now about as often as a major religious festival. This time, though, it's different - there's a quite expensive TV campaign being lined up, and the whole thing gets a double page spread in the Media Guardian, with a large picture of Conor McNicholas, who is looking more and more like a lost member of the Frank and Walters these days - which we assume is the closest you can get to Justin Hawkins on an IPC paycheque. Comparisons are made to the time NME went punk overnight, and the suggestion is made that this time, the nme is finally ceasing to be a pop paper and becoming a proper magazine. We're told the photography is going to be the amazing extra factor. This, we're lead to believe, is Year Zero.

Not quite. There's a lot of tidying up been done, and the layout has been given a shake up - lots of extra design elements and that text is a lot smaller than it was before. But it's still basically the same product as it was before - the newsprint is much cripser, much whiter, but it's still newsprint. The photography doesn't grab any more than it used to - and slightly less when the title had tabloid pages to play with. In fact, the shaving off of a couple of extra centimetres and the addition of more visible design just makes the whole thing look incredibly cluttered. Oh, and the cost of the revamp is being passed on to you, the punter, as the whole thing's jacked up another twenty pence. This time round there's a CD - tracks supposedly chosen by the Strokes, although we guess they didn't do the clearance stuff themselves - to try and ease the pain.

So, what's new? Nothing earth-shatteringly original, but they've revived some ideas that should never have been thrown overboard in the first place - the contents page has been restored, also finding space for a letter from Conor McNicholas and a small picture of him, still looking like a happy busman; singles have gone back to being reviewed by a single writer and the format's been given more flexibility to escape from each title getting the same length of consideration (this week, the SOTW is Outkast's Ghetto Musick, by the way). Fred Fact is back in the guise of the 'All Knowing NME Brain' but the questions are a lot simpler ('Is Paul McCartney really dead?'; 'Was Damon Gough in Doves?') Other 'new' features smack of stuff they hope we've forgotten from other places - an artist directory, which is that thing Smash Hits does where they list a load of bands who haven't actually done anything newsworthy with a little gloss of their latest doings are so that they can say "Yes, we've got Justin inside this week" and it's only a little fib. Except its Travis and Radiohead rather than Justin and Nelly; a competition where you get to choose a member of a fantasy supergroup week-by-week (this week, you get the choice of singers) which is like every football magazine, ever, and something not entirely unlike the big 6Music competition from a couple of weeks ago; like the now defunct Select and the now defunct Melody Maker there's a pull-out poster section in the middle; the Classifieds have been renamed 'the message board' and like the Observer Magazine there's little articles inspired by the small ads. Oh, and there's 'Agenda', which is a listings service that we always wondered why the nme wasn't copying back when the Hit did its HitList back in... what, 1986? There's even a 'Me and My Spoons' style 'Why I Love...' (this week, Carl Libertine on The Velvet Underground).

Oh, and they've started to spell Carl Barat's name with the little hat over the second 'a'.

Also new is 'My new favourite band' (Karen O - The Darkness) and 'Peter Robinson versus', which shows some of the commitment the paper says it wants to show to building its writers, although the article (Bruce Dickinson) isn't so much 'versus' as 'loves' - Bruce suggests you can never have too much cowbell and admits he fell asleep during an S Club gig. Well, surreptituous masturbation can really take it out of you, can't it?

The fictional CD thing has survived (Girls Aloud choosing Blackstreet, 'Nsync and Destiny's Child); Holly Demo Hell hasn't (in fact, with this and the renaming of the Works, the last of the Melody Maker elements have gone for good). On, which had become Hot New Bands, becomes Radar (dj Mark Ronson this week); Angst, which had been NMEmail is retitled Go Postal and has moved to the middle of the paper - McNicholas told the Guardian this was because he wanted "the readers at the heart of the paper", which is clever, but we think so much flim-flam.

The Big Picture seems to be a regular - leading off the news with an, erm, Big Picture (this week Chris Martin staring at a cow's arse - no Gwyneth jokes please) before settling down into the news proper - Matt Bellamy inadventently twatting Dominic with his guitar smashing frenzy; Karen O and Har Mar going to record a song together - that's what they call it now, do they?; and, incredibly, Glastonbury are thinking about introducing an airline-style ticketing system.

There's Anti-News, where the stuff that frankly would never have made the grade to get into Thrills is dumped. Although we do wonder if the thing about Cadbury's Dreem Eggs is a sly glance at pat Kane's legendary piece on the sensual aspects of chocolate (No, we know it's not).

Surprisingly, there are some strong, long features in this weeks issue - we had suspected that this latest redesign would have seen the writers being told to turn in even fewer words, but that's not the case; and - seemingly aware that this is a big day - the quality of the writing generally, across the magazine, is better than its been for ages.

You can understand the paper needing to select a band for the first issue of this format who summed up exactly what the paper is, what it stands for, what 'an nme-type band' means in 2003; we're not sure if that band should have been the Strokes, who get several pages given to their interview, with another large chunk to be served up next week. It's not clear from the new album that the band have anything staggering left to play to us; it's not clear from the first piece of the feature that they have anything much to say, either. Asked why artists go off the boil, Julian muses that there comes a pont where you're established and can't "help but believe how good you are." Hmmm, presumably at that point you release a just-about b-side as the first track from your second album, do you?

Snow Patrol aren't given as much space, but have even less to share - frankly, the only time we want to hear drunken on the road tales about this band is when they don't pull their heads back into the coach just in time.

The real heart of the paper - and the brightest sign that just maybe the nme isn't about to go the way of Record Maker Sounds et al - comes in a four page detailing of the Libertines rise and sudden fall from grace. Of course, the writers can only write about bands like this when there are the bands to write about, and you're not going to get given a Libertine every week to fill the space, so we hope the passion and emotion and connection can continue to flow in this direction on slightly less stellar weeks.

At the other end of the feature desk is a piece on Suicide Girls - yes, the dot com that simply everyone was talking about months ago; even with the benefit of an awful lot of hindsight they piece does little more than regurgitate the site's own myth, claiming "these are the sort of girls you'd see in the moshpit" and failing to pick up on the truth - these are the sort of the girls you'd see on the Salon, only they've dyed their hair red and got a couple of piercings to appear edgy. It's slightly depressing that they've spent all this money on new printing stock but haven't bothered to get a new battery for the bullshit detector.

Never mind, Peaches is also interviewed, explaining that her song 'Back it up boys' "is about fucking guys in the ass, whether theywanna be gay or whether you use fingers or a dildo." "To her" writes a still-sore Dan Martin "it's a human rights violation that so many blokes are denying themselves the anal probe." He bravely tries to suggest that maybe some men just don't like it up 'em, and the shrift he is given is so short it would need stacks in its heels to see over the windowsill.

Live - now with added marks out of 10...
Kings of Leon - Bowery Ballroom, New York, "up to the task", 9
Thursday, The Garage, "just stop", 2
Spirtiualized - Dublion - "it also looks dazzling", 8

Limp Bizkit - results may vary - "None of it (the trapping sof fame) was making him happy; now none of it can make us happy, either", 4
Big Star - big star story - "a ragbag", 5
Beth Orton - pass in time - "late treasure trove", 6
Thursday - War all the time - "a very serious man", 6
Dexys Midnight Runners - Lets make this precious - "all 18 unforgettable tunes", 9

So, that's it then. There's still a feeling that the latest shake-up is driven more by desperation than by desire, and frankly it looks a little over designed now. But there are signs of a paper that's attempting to find a role for itself again, and is starting to try and stand for something.

One concern, though: back in the Media Guardian, the editor suggests the paper in the past has felt too much like a clique, full of in-jokes that the occasional reader wouldn't pick up on that easily. Well, yes - from 'the three dots' to 'The Man' and Billy Anfield and Where is Beatles Band... there have been a lot of them, and they've mostly been weeded out over the last couple of years. But its noticeable that when the paper was at its most like a secret club, it was selling almost a third more than its managing in its more accessable phase. Other titles have attempted to shed the weight of personality - Smash Hits when it killed Bitz and the Black Type; Q, when the "if you will" circomlocutions were axed - and every time, the magazine does succeed in feeling less like something that readers collude in. It may make it easier for new readers to wade straight in, but equally, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for the old readers to wander off - it's like "one day she cut her hair and I stopped loving her." The thing that was attractive to me as a fourteen year old boy was precisely that reading the paper did feel like I was being led into a secret world, being taught handshakes and gestures with which I would recognise other fellow travellers. Because that's also what loving a band is like. An all-inclusive nme is no nme at all.

We hope they think of that when they do the Spring '04 redesign.

HE ALSO CREATED THE STROKES, AND THE WHITE STRIPES: Simon Tyers has been in touch with an observation about the BBC Press Release promoting the new Alan McGee show:

[It] attempts to prove that his influence continues by citing that "McGee is chief of the Poptones record label and music maestro behind acts such as The Hives, Oasis, Jesus and Mary Chain and more recently The Kills, D4, Kathryn Williams and Mew." That's Domino's Kills, Infectious' D4, EastWest's Williams and Epic's Mew, is it?

SIT ON MY LAP AND I'LL TELL YOU A STORY: An email from Emily reminds us that the rock star/children's book trend had an early sign-up with R Kelly, who obviously was too busy shagging minors to actually write a book himself but gave his blessing to I Can Fly, the R Kelly Story, told in rhyme and with the sort of pictures you usually find in books about Jesus. Jesus, of course, also suffered the slings and arrows of a hostile press, so perhaps it's appropriate. Any sightings of The P Diddy Story retold for classroom quiet time very, very welcome, of course...

CYNICISM WILL EAT ITSELF: Of course Pop Idol rejects end up working for McDonalds although, strictly speaking, not like this. A bunch of people who shuffled into the most peripheral of the nation's visions by being shit on New Faces have been snapped up to sing a song for the beef-pattyfying company. And they're going to stick the jingle out as a proper song. In America, they get Justin Timberlake; in Britain, it's a guy called Bananaman and a woman with a large chest who looks a bit like Jilly Goulden.

More worrying is that its starting to matter less and less how far you get in Pop Idol before you're allowed to run amock in a recording studio - at least Darius and that plump chap, Rik Whatsisface managed to scrape into later rounds; now it seems that merely turning up to queue for the first audition gives you a crack at making a proper record.

SNAP: Mel C's leg injury in the bizarre We Are The Champions - Big Brother hybrid The Games last week might mean that she won't be able to walk for eighteen months, apparently. She had her knee ligaments snapped for her during a judo bout with Miss World. Yes, we know - Mel C and the current Miss World grappling in pyjamas does sound more like a daydream we once had than a proper TV programme, but we swear to god it happened. Now, she's had to put back the release of her next single by a few weeks. So, it's an ill wind, then. We're thinking we should send Miss World off to see what she can do to stop Bunton next.

YES, WE LIKE HER TOO, BUT...: We're a little worrried that Ananova's obsession with Rachel Stevens is starting to verge on the stalkery. Ever since her new haircut, the news site has been finding slim excuses to carry pictures of her without much on. First, they had this:


which was a report on, erm, Rachel having her photo taken. Then, a couple of days ago, there was the news that she was going to be the official breasts ("face") of knicker makers Pretty Polly; reason (barely) enough for this photo:


Of course, it's not every day that Rachel is going to be getting a job modelling underwear. So, today Ananova have had to fall back on the news that a poster advertising her new album has been put onto a billboard. There's some attempt to suggest this is proper news by claiming that it's "driving motorists to distraction", although there doesn't seem to be anything in the story to back up this claim. Never mind, because it gives Ananova a chance to carry the same picture not once:


but cropped and in close-up, a second time:


We'd love to be at an ananova news planning meeting - "so, in what way is 'Rachel Stevens wears bikini' actually a news story, then?"

We're not sure if they realise this isn't her:


Interestingly, talking about the big poster, Ms Stevens says that she's never seen herself in a large poster before. Like the rest of the country, she must have overlooked the promotional campaign for S Club: Seeing Double, then.

NEXT STOP: ED BALL FOR THE BREAKFAST SHOW: Radio One's new big idea is getting Alan McGee in to do a show in the hope that it'll boost the station's New Bands Credibility. Now, we do cherish a lot of what McGee did for music before he became Oasis' pimp, but we're slightly puzzled as to why a man whose glory days are behind him is being given a saviour role - Poptones has been a awful flop in business terms, and it's hardly a label whose name you drop trying to pass yourself off as a young hipster, is it? And even McGee must feel ashamed trying to pretend that the Hives are of the same order as the Mary Chain and Oasis. And from what we've heard of him on the radio before, he needs a co-host - badly, badly - to be an effective communicator. Still, nice to see that Radio One's slimming down of Lamacq's portfolio in order to make way for younger, more vibrant, more connected presenters is at last paying benefits.

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR: We've had an email, from Darren Hodgson in Tokyo:

I think you're wrong to slate this project [They Might be Giant's children's book] before it's even begun - at least They Might Be Giants have a proven track record with kids stuff - namely the album "No!" which I think started out as a piss-take of children's records, but ended up being one of the all-time best.

Which is fair enough, and we're happy enough to acknowledge that they're probably not bandwagon jumping at all in this case. And, to be honest, their project does sound a lot more interesting and well-thought-out than Madonna's effort: there's a tied-in CD and the Mouldy Peaches are somehow involved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

WORKING CLASS HERO: We might be being a bit thick here, but if John Lennon was such a big fan of peace, what the hell is aJohn Lennon Educational Charity doing giving free perks to squadies? Isn't making the army that much more an attractive place to be not quite the best way to promote a world of peace, love and understanding? Is it the money made on all those cutsey soft baby toys going to teach the Military Industrial Complex how to make records? Or is it a wan hope that if there's ever a revolution (in the head or otherwise), the soldiers will be on our side rather than the governments?

NOW, IT'S A TREND. STOP IT BEFORE IT BECOMES A RASH, OR AN EPIDEMIC: Even before the queue to return Madonna's ridiculous kiddies book had formed, another musical act have lumbered into view waving a half-assed kid's tome about. This time, it's they might be giants who have reckoned a kid's book is the sort of piece of piss that can be knocked out in a few minutes. Yeah, They Might Be Fucking Giants. I wouldn't let them hold a phone book, never mind write a children's book.

Of course, one of the Housemartins - the one who didn't go on to shag zoe Ball, or join the Beautiful South, or burn down his neighbour's house - now makes a living doing children's books, so it's not like it's an unprecedented move. But we just hope the current trend stops before R Kelly decides it's time for him to have a crack at doing a book for young ladies.

FUNERAL DOWNLOADS: Welsh miserablists Funeral for a Friend are the latest quid download offer-makers, dishing up a single for 99p off the web. It's a bargain, alright, although we're thinking we'd actually rather spend our 99p on a M and Ms Spluge from Burger King and when we get home and our mam asks us what happened to the 99p she gave us for a download we'll tell her the money fell down the drain. Or was stolen by a magpie. Yeah, that'd be it... a giant magpie.

DON'T FORGET ITS ME WHO PUT YOU WHERE YOU ARE NOW, AND I CAN PUT YOU BACK DOWN TOO: There's a hell of a curious court battle going on in New South Wales. Brad Willis from 'neighbours' is suing Holly Vallance for fifteen million bucks. Scott Michaelson, who was Brad (the character they wrote in to replace Henry Mitchell) got Holly her part in Neighbours and that, since she used that as a springboard to international fannying about in a bikini ("success") he deserves a chunk of her earnings. Vallance argues that, in fact, Michaelson was a shite manager and so he was dumped because he didn't know anything about the music industry. This sounds like a dodgy defence to us, since clearly the record industry is full of people who don't know what they're doing and being rewarded well for it.

ZWAN CANNED: Thank God for that - Too-serious Billy Corgan has axed his side project Zwan after just one album. Baldly Billy has clearly taken seriously our warning about the fate that would befall his family if he were to push our goodwill any further with that particular band. In the Pumpkins, at least his trying-so-hard-to-be-deep tendencies get checked by the other members. In Zwan, it was his name above the door, and there was nothing to stop his passion for being, erm, interesting.

ATTENTION, ATTENTION: YOGHURT EATING GRANDPA IS SEX KING OF THE BALKANS: Hey, it's easy to knock Mick Jagger, but, you know, we just don't know what it's like being a sex god, he wails:

"When you are said to be the fuck of the century it's a matter of course that every woman is disappointed after the first night with you. It is a fact that this adventure playground behind the zip of my trousers has myth status on the groupie scene."

Bless, his ears are obviously giving up on him - they said it's like fucking a centernarian, Mick, not that you're the fuck of the century. Nah, but seriously... who exactly has suggested that Mick might have been better than, say, Hendrix, or Prince, or even Jamie Redknapp? We're trying not to speculate that, if every single woman Mick has ever shagged has been disappointed, it might not be because of the reputation going before him, but maybe... just maybe... you're a bit shit, Mick?
Perhaps the myth that's spread amongst the groupies? Maybe that's why the council have put in an adventure playground which is, of course, a place that only represents adventure to someone who's rather green and has never actually had an adventure in their lives.

"A gentleman knows how to enjoy life's pleasures without talking about them. But if I go to a party and meet a woman and invite her to leave with me, there are usually pictures of me and her on the web before we have even finished doing the horizontal mambo in my hotel room. By the next morning the whole world knows what has happened."

Well, if you want to stop pictures appearing on the web before you've finished doing the (ugh) horizontal mambo, Mick, switch your bloody webcam off. Mind you, getting pictures up before you've finished is really going some - is there any FTP uploading software that's faster than Mick, we wonder? Even on broadband?

LOUISE WOMB UPDATE: We're not sure we really need to know about how Louise's womb is a bit wonky in quite so much detail, although when we saw the headline saying 'Louise can't get pregnant' we thought it was going to turn out that Jamie Rdknapp has been missing the open goal. Or something of that nature. Lousie said "we've tried everything - me sitting on the toilet seat after he's used it; swimming together without costumes on; even touching our underpants together. It just isn't happening."

Monday, September 15, 2003


CAN THEY ACTUALLY VERIFY THIS?: We note a banner for AOL currently cropping up on our screens as we click through websites which claims that "My AOL" is "where pop stars let their hair down" - do they have any actual evidence for this? Are they suggesting that if I use their messenger service I might come across, say Christina Aguilera looking for advice on how to get black dye out of your best bath towels? Or is this an unsupportable claim (or "lie", as we're fond of calling them.) I suppose it's not impossible that some people who are known for making music might use AOL as an ISP, but is there any proof that you'll find any pop star in any of the add-on services?

NB: If someone's claiming to be Britney Spears and saying they're sat there tweaking their nipples and touching their moistness, I'm guessing it's not really going to be them. This time, either.

THE KIDS IN THE HALL: It's the 79th most exciting awards in the rock calendar again, as the nominations for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have been announced. This time round, George Harrison is the front runner, despite already being in there as a Beatle. If he wins, it'll leave just Ringo without the duplicated entry, which sends a terrible message to drummers around the world, don't you think? We can see this leading to a whole drummer's strike unless someone nominates Ringo sharpish.

Also up are Jackson Browne who, let's remember, didn't do anything to Darryl Hannah; Prince - who has looked in danger of falling foul of the criteria by seeming as if he might still have a decent record or two left in him yet; and John 'where's the cougar, matey?' Mellencamp. It's the first time in the paddock for them; people who have been previously sent off with an F in their E's but prepared to humiliate themselves all over again include The Sex Pistols (shouldn't they be against this sort of thing? Oh, sorry, I was thinking of the characters they played for a moment...); Black 'Ozzy on MTV can't have hurt' Sabbath; ZZ Top, Gram Parsons and Lynryd Skynner. Yes, Aalyiah also died a tragic young death but she and Left Eye will have to wait for a few years before their premature blood converts into a 'coveted' place in the Hall of Fame. The Stooges are also up for entry again, on the grounds that nothing has killed Iggy so far so it's quite likely he might never die.

GOOD NEWS FOR RENEE ZELWEGGER: Jack White's hand is now well enough to allow him to play live again which means he can bloody well finish himself off tonight, Renee.

"... AND I THOUGHT IF BLOODY FERGIE COULD DO IT, IT MUST BE A PIECE OF PISS": Commercial spokesperson and actress Madonna (you might recall her recent comedy turn in the 'Britney kisses her grandmother' sitcom) has issued an audio statement explaining her children's books. Now, you might wonder about a supposed author not being able to write a statement like that and you may also think 'shit, if she can't write a kiddie's book that doesn't need further explanation, what sort of writer is she, anyway?' but that's a little unfair. Imagine the pain of those gnarly hands tapping away on a keyboard for longer than a ten minute stretch.

"Have you ever heard of the English Roses? Here is what they are not. A box of chocolates, a football team, flowers growing in the garden. What they are is this. The English Roses is the first of five stories I have written. It deals with envy and jealousy and how these emotions cause so much unnecessary suffering in our lives. I only wish I had read about some of these subjects when I was a little kid. I hope these children's books inspire kids of all ages, even grown up ones".

Hmm. Of course, we can't speculate as to why Madonna didn't read, say, Fifth Form At Mallory Towers, or any of the hundreds of similar titles that covered this sort of thing when she was a child - perhaps too busy shopping for Boob Tubes. How she's not heard of the thousands of titles that have been written since does puzzle us somewhat.

According to information released by the publisher, Callaway Editions, "The English Roses tells the story of four little girls-Nicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Grace-who are eleven years old and the very best of friends. "They are practically glued to each other at the hip," writes Madonna in her book, and they are all "a little bit jealous of another girl in the neighborhood"-a beautiful girl named Binah, whose seemingly perfect life makes them "green with envy." However, when a feisty, pumpernickel-loving fairy godmother takes them on a magical journey, they learn to their great surprise that Binah's life is not nearly as enviable as it had seemed. The English Roses is an inspiring story about the importance of compassion and the rewards of friendship."

Sounds... erm... like Madonna's run a few Enid Blyton books through Word and merged them to us.

Madonna drew from personal experiences to write the book. "As a child, I experienced jealousy and envy toward other girls for any number of reasons: I was jealous they had mothers, jealous they were prettier and richer," she says. "It isn't until you grow up that you realize what a waste of time those feelings are."

We're wondering why she's never actually mentioned the whole magical trip-fairy godmother thing before (we're supposing this means she dropped a shitload of acid once, yeah?). It's encouraging to learn that, having grown up and become incredibly rich, famous and successful she realised that it was ridiculous to continue being jealous of a girl she once knew years and years ago who had had a pony or something.

We're looking forward to the end of the story, which will presumably have all the English Roses being photographed being fucked up the ass by Vanilla Ice thinking "that'll show Binah."

CRUMBS: So, Mottola has finally got round to showing us what he's going to be doing with his expensive toy record label, Casablanca. And his first big signing is the bleeding-eyeballs sound of... erm, Usher. Apparently it's very exciting and everything. We wonder if Tommy is going to be employing the same methods he used with his big success, Mariah, and making Usher wear long flowing dresses what covers his womanly assets instead of dressing like this:

So, Tommy's not stuck with a vanity label that's forced to pick up the leftovers from the proper company's activities at all, then. bet he's pissed off that sanctuary have picked up that unwanted Kelly Osbourne album.

SOSUMI. SOTHEYWILL: Every techgeek tempted out into the real world of pub quizzes and big cash prizes holds two facts that sometimes come up. One is "he took the space out of the name"; the other is "... because Apple Computers signed a deal with the Beatles that they could carry on using the same name as their record label providing they never got into the recording industry. So when they first put a musical note on an Apple, they called it sosumi. As in so sue me."

It's always seemed little more than a footnote in the history of computing, although, of course, that's always been underestimating the greedy, money-grubbing nature of At least one of the Beatles and/or their estates. The Beatles had sued once before, relieving Apple of USD 50 million and now, someone has decided that its time they shook the money tree once again. Apparently, Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney are short of cash ("the manufacturing of the iPod is an egregious breach of the agreement") and doubtless they'll get some more money to keep them out the poorhouse, despite the ridiculous nature of their complaint - how, exactly, is Apple infringing the trademark of a defunct record company? Is the marketing of the iPod really hitting sales of Mary Hopkin's back catalogue? The sight of the stinking rich suing to become even more stinking rich is a curious one - does anyone else wonder if the RIAA has gotten a chum to make things difficult for a outsider organisation who's made their members look really, really bad?

IT'S CALLED 'LOWERING YOUR SIGHTS. SOMEWHAT.': Opening paragraph of a Souht London Press report:

HE MIGHT have been rejected by both Pop Idol and Fame Academy, but singer Terence Surin is getting the adoration he craves - in Croydon.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

THE PROOF: BEING A THIN-SKINNED WANKSTEIN IS A HEREDITERY CONDITION: Did you know Phil Collins had a son, Simon Collins, who also has a music career? No, neither did we, so it's kind of ironic that Collins Jr is taking legal action against a Canadian TV show which suggests that his music career is more than a little reliant on his Dad's name. Simon is worried that his "pretty big fan base" in, erm, Germany might feel in some way bad if they somehow saw the programme (perhaps they'd all gone to Canada for the day?) saying such things about him. He then goes on at length to point out that he worked hard on his music and so on and so forth. He could also point out that being the son of man who is universally despised by all right-thinking people for being a sanctimonious and humourless git would hardly be the sort of connection that is going to open doors and make people like you, but chooses not to, for some reason.

Julian Lennon was unavailable for comment.

WH HAVE NOT SEEN THE WORST WHILE WE CAN STILL SAY 'VOTE FOR THE WORST': Channel Four are doing another one of those 'big polls of one hundred things' polls, and this time it's the 100 worst hit records. (Don't be thrown by the fact the title of the page is '100 Greatest TV treats' or the URL places it in the 'greatest' folder. We're, as ever, torn between admiration for anyone who wades into this sort of custard-sea, and worried about exactly what criteria are being used to determine the list of records we've been given to choose from. There's a world of difference in the way 'Candle in the Wind '97' is bad to the way, say, Hoddle and Waddle's music career was. And some of the tracks on the shortlist aren't even all that bad - why Child by mark owne, or c'est la vie? Or, come to that, Christina Aguilera's dirrty which - while not to our taste - does what it sets out to do and delighted all manner of forty year old men with subscriptions to The Box? Couldn't they just be a little more honest and call it 'the Most Hated' songs - then, at least, we'd all know what we were looking for.

Oh, and Channel Four: Wannabe is untouchable, okay?