Saturday, October 18, 2003

TEMPTING FATE: The closing arguments have been put in the Tweedy case - Cheryl sobbing as her brief said that she'd not "prayed in aid once" on her fame during the case; the prosecution saying that being famous doesn't put you above the love (that would be being rich, of course), but "what we do say is that on this occasion, intoxicated and full, I am afraid, of her own self-importance...she treated another woman extremely badly. Who do you think was behaving well or badly? The stone-cold sober lavatory attendant or the drunk Cheryl Tweedy who was frankly all over the place?" The case was adjourned until Monday, when we'll hear the judge's summing-up.

It might not have been the best time for the Girls Aloud people to be sending out this mail-out, then:
Its all happening with Girls Aloud this weekend, and you won't want to miss a thing. If you've already been getting jiggy with the wondrous 'Jump' sample on the site...

(We've never even heard of the word 'jiggy', ourselves). The feeling of all the activity they're listing is of a band desperate to cram a load in before Monday.

Friday, October 17, 2003

KRETZMER KVETCH: Possibly the longest delay in blogging history between something happening and the comment appearing here, but Herbert Kretzmer popping up on Desert Island Discs today has given me the chance to get this out of my system once and for all.

Back in 1986 or 7, Kretzmer was eeking a living being The Worst TV Reviewer ever for the Daily Mail - I mean, really bad; making Peter Grant's Liverpool Echo TV guide look like Clive James. And, as happens from time to time, there was a belief that Pop Music was Dead - oh, how little they knew - so the editors had got him to knock up a piece about how this might be the case. (Presumably Linda Lee-Potter was busy simpering). Kretzmer's thesis was that Pop Was Dead because it's All Rubbish Nowadays, and to illustrate just how poor songwriting had become, he plucked a bit of a Janet Jackson song out the air:

I never asked for more than I deserved
and that's the truth
You seem to think you're god's gift to this earth
I'm telling you no way.

Now, even if you don't want to question the methodology of dismissing an entire generation of songwriters on the basis of a single Middle Eight, there's something slightly riling about Kretzmer picking holes in a song. For Herbert, it was, who wrote Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren's novelty hits. As such, his contribution to the popular culture rose to the heights of

It goes boom-de-de-boom
Well, goodness gracious me.

And to this day, that nobody stood up and screamed "At least Janet doesn't sing 'What have you done for me lately' in a shit Pakistani accent, does she?" has remained as my working definition of injustice.

Next week on No Rock, we'll be putting right some issues with listings from 1978 editions of the TV Times.

HERE COMES BOGSHED: New York London Paris Munich suggests that we're in for a revival of the C86 stylings of the shamblers, which is excellent news - if only for the sweet joy of watching Primal Scream rejiggling their greatest hits package to include the stuff from the first two albums and trying to supress any claims that was ever any dance element to their music. Apparently, it's called retrogressive rock now - which makes me feel like I'm the bloody Ian Duncan Smith of music wanting to see it all come flooding back.

NYLPM also suggests that the Sarah organisation has spread itself far and wide through the fabric of British life, suggesting there's sleeper cells of Orchids and Tramway members holding down respectable jobs, waiting for the signal (we're guessing 'Summershine' being played in place of the 'Radio 4 UK Theme' one morning) whereupon they'll rise up, waving copies of photocopied manifestos and shooting collaborators in the CD wars on sight. We've still got our Are You Scared To Get Happys stored (of course) in a "Box marked 'box'" - we'll be fine...

FIGHTBOX: So it turns out that A Perfect Circle are about as democratic as the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Maynard James Keenan telling everyone else what to do all the time. We hope this dictatorial style is slowly sowing the seeds of the band's eventual demise. Mainyl because we can't wait that long for them to split up and shut up.

CAN YOU TELL THIS IS GRUDGING?: U2 cough up the cash to stop a Dublin sex abuse charity from going under - although only enough to keep it ticking over until the Irish government "do the right thing." But at least they've made a gesture, and they deserve praise for that.

SHE'S JUST BEING NICE: Sheryl Crow mealy-mouths that Robbie Williams is "too camp" to be big in the US: "American men don't want to see anything that's burlesque or vaudevillian, they want to feel that their artist is brooding and macho." Yes, that'll be it - it's why Marilyn Manson often finds himself playing gigs in the US where he can see the back of auditorium (if he squints through a telescope) and it also explains the complete failure of REM to sell more than a few hundred million records there. But we suspect Ms Crow is merely trying to salve Robbie's feelings - she could also have thrown in how "Americans don't get irony" and they're used to driving on the other side of the road.

run for your lives

SOMEONE'S PUT A ROCKET UP HER: While we don't attempt to make light of people firing fireworks at Jennifer Ellison's home, we're a little bemused at the Mirror's reporting of the events. Firstly, "a second terrifying attack" - but the first incident they didn't even realise had happened until they saw a couple of small bullet holes in the doorframe, which is hardly "terrifying." Secondly, they're quick to link it to a gang fued, but Liverpool is rotten with dickheads letting off fireworks all over from the end of August until well after Christmas - there's a phonebox on Windsor Street that has been razed every year since about 1864, for example. Third, "police called in army bomb disposal experts" - oh, yeah? They called the barracks to send someone round in case there was an still-lit catherine wheel? Bollocks. But finally, and most bemusingly of all - "Blast at Pop Star Jen home" - if one pisspoor song a pop star makes, then that makes Sid Owen a pop star too, doesn't it?

JEAN'S NOT HAPPENING: Curiously, although Wyclef Jean had been in America for at least 36 hours before he came down with food poisoning, his people are putting it down to "something he ate in Europe." Well, you know us with our single currencies and dirty kitchens. Mind you, handy new excuse for Kelly Osbourne to add to her list of reasons for not coming back to the UK.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

NOW - THAT'S A FAIR PRICE: While record companies try and demand fifteen quid for an album download, it's falling to a coffee shop to try a more realistic price. Beanscene, a Scottish coffee chain, has started a label called Luna and - without having any historical pricing structure to support - is offering Wild Strawberry's new album at GBP3-99 (or 50pence per track if you don't want the whole thing.) We don't know if the music is any cop, but we love the prices.

SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY EMI. ASSUMING LONDON BRIDGE UNAVAILABLE: Jim Fifield is, apparently, putting together the money to launch a bid for EMI. Mind you, he's got a few bob - he's the chap who somehow resigned himself to a massive GBP12million in "compensation" from the company back in 1998 - the way EMI chucks large sums of money at failures is something to remember when the company frets over internet downloads costing it money, of course; wouldn't it be sweet if someone buys the company for a song having leeched cash out of it just five years ago?

THE CAREY CURSE CONTINUES: Having been responsible single handed/double breasted for EMI axing thousands of staff, Mariah Carey's new home Universal has now announced hundreds of job cuts.

Still, despite her new kiss-of-death status, she's not totally without friends - it seems Mariah has one showbiz chum she can rely on. A small cat with no mouth. But we suspect even Hello Kitty is just doing it for contractual reasons.

BE FAIR TO BONO: There's no need to damn Bono with evils that he hasn't created - he's not suing nancy Sinatra. There's no need to hate Bono for that.

On the other hand, there are plenty of other reasons to hate him. Here is just one of them:

giving a flip to the Bush re-election campaign

WE CAN THINK OF 5,999,999,999 PEOPLE WHO WE'D GIVE IT TO FIRST: Apparently Sting has been voted person of the year. We can't start to imagine what criteria have to be used to put him at the top of such a list.

ME? LIE?: In the ongoing trial of Cheryl Tweedy, Nicola Roberts (the other Girl at the scene of the punching) has denied she lied about the incident. Roberts claimed under oath that she'd "never lie for anybody", and stood by her story that it was the nightclub attendant who threw the first punch.
Tweedy denies racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm and assault causing actual bodily harm. The case continues.

NOW, THAT'S NUTTY: Darren H brings the following newsclipping from Mojo to our attention:

Tribute band Ultimate Madness has been asked to pay GBP500 for copying the group's 'Nutty Train' dance by Chas Smash's brother Brendan, who invented it in 1979. They've also been told to pay GBP100 every time they use it. The group countered that they only get GBP200 a gig and will seek legal advice.

Now, there are some mean-assed money grubbers, and then... there are some even more mean-assed money-grubbers. It's a bunch of people in a tight conga line, heavenhelpusbetsy - it's not like Brendan came up with the choreography for cats and has been ripped off. It's like Jerry Seinfeld claiming to have invented the umbrella twirl, isn't it? Five hundred quid and a hundred quid a throw? You could hire Fred Wedlock for that. (Yes you do, 'The Oldest Swinger in Town.' Oh, maybe you don't. Actually, just on a completely tangental point, on that list the bloke who coughed during Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Tecwen Whittock - and he's promoting himself as "the cougher." Isn't that making money off a crime for which you've been convicted?)

THEY DO OUR WORK FOR US: The great thing about Yoko Ono is that she's so busy trashing, slashing and burning any credibility the corpse of her hypocritical husband may still have contained that we really have to do no further work ourselves. Look... They're doing a John Lennon Musical with her blessing. With her blessing. The best thing is that even although he was a mercenary git who'd happily push his way to the front of a soup kitchen line and fill his pockets with the bread rolls, Yoko manages to ink deals that would make even him rotate with shame. Quite splendid.

HE SCARES ME, THAT'S FOR CERTAIN: We were surprised to hear Ronan Keating's been cast as a gangster in a new movie - I suppose if he was going to appear naked it might put the fear of god into some people, with his legendary penis which can seat four quite comfortably, but really, he's so twinkling and nice it's hard to imagine anyone being intimidated by him, isn't it? Can you imagine Ronan Keating running a protection racket?

Ronan: Hey, this is a nice shop. It'd be a pity if something were to happen to it
Shopkeeper: That's okay, we've got insurance
Ronan: Oh... but... you could pay me some money and I wouldn't smash the place up
Shopkeeper: [pause] Are you going to pay for that Aero?
Ronan: Um... oh... yes... there you go... forty-nine pence...

Then we discovered that the movie also "stars" Anna Friel and Vinnie Jones, so it became clear that it's not actually a proper film for people to go and see in the cinema, but just something to stop the other GBP2.99 DVDs falling over in the newsagents round the corner. It must be hearbreaking being Anna Friel - every day you go into work knowing you're just sweating over something that nobody will ever see. Like writing the definition for "at" in a dictionary.

NAKED LADIES: Daniel Bedingfield returned home to find a "naked stalker" in his bath, apparently. Daniel, she may follow you around, call you all the time and shower you with gifts, but that still doesn't make your mother a stalker, you know.

Inevitably, in the report of his meeting with the naked lady, there is the line 'A close friend of the 23-year-old told us: "He didn't know where to look."' Although he pulled himself together quite quickly so he does now know what a woman's bits look like, ensuring a lot of giggling the next time he, Will and Gareth are on the same CD:UK.

LOST TOSSERS: Radiohead lose headline slot on the toss of some dice - excellent idea for setting the position and length of a band's performance. If only someone had turned up at Knebworth with a double-headed coin and sought out Robbie Williams. Actually, there was an element of losing a bet going on there anyway, but I'm not sure what sort of gamble half a million people could have lost simultaneously that saw them having to trudge to the Midlands to watch a rotund gherkin-man honk his way through some of the most so-so hits of the last ten years as a forfeit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Re-crucifixion of Christ (cancelled) edition
Andy Parfitt, head of Radio One, had a big interview with mediaGuardian where he suggested that he doesn't feel that bothered about raw ratings because "the radio One of it's heyday bears no resemblance to today's station with its social action campaigns, bespoke news service, documentaries, new, specialist and live music." His implication being, of course, that Radio One does all this extra stuff and that's why it's losing numbers to the commercial competition. But the Radio One of its heyday did social action - the reason why so many thirtysomethings felt an unspoken resonance with Portishead is because that was where we used to send off our stamped, self-addressed envelopes for Which Way Now information packs; Newsbeat has just celebrated its thirtieth birthday, so bespoke news isn't that new - in fact, ten years ago the station had half an hour of news in prime time; Radio One has always done documentaries - the difference being that they used to last an hour and unfold over several weeks (25 Years of Rock; You'll Never Be 16 Again) rather than fifteen minutes poked away on a Monday night. New and specialist music has always been at the heart of the station - where does Parfitt think all the archive 6Music is making hay with comes from? - although less so now that he dumped Kershaw; and live music... that used to be Saturday teatimes, didn't it? So, apparently, Radio One now bears no resemblance to how it was when it was the Nation's Favourite despite being almost identical. Although to be fair, back then the breakfast show would tend to in the hands of a sweaty, overweight bloke who prioritised the sound of his own voice over the music, and now? Chris Moyles might actually fall under a bus before he takes over.

Anyway, Parfitt reckons the network isn't in the dire straits that it's claimed to be. "XFM's whole audience is about the same size as the audience for Sunday Surgery." Shh... don't point out that XFM only broadcasts to London and then to a niche audience, while Sunday Surgery is a mass audience programme on a national network.

Nice story in our new local freesheet MK news - earlier in the year plans for black metal festival in Milton keynes had caused massive consternation, especially when the organiser had warned that it "might turn into a black mass or a satanic orgy." Only the snizzily titled 'Re-crucifixion of Christ' has had to be cancelled because... none of the bands wanted to play it. Bless.

Vanity Fair has got its Music Issue - promising "Bonus: No Britney Spears interview", which is kind of self defeating for a magazine that's bragging about having "Avril" inside. They also seem a bit confused about why Liz Phair fans feel a bit queasy about her latest turn - suggesting that her fans were worried about her new clothing rather than seeing their favourite singer-songwriter buying in tunes by the yard from the people who produce Lavigne.

David Bowie pops up, of course - is there any magazine he's not doing a piece for these days? Has he got a slot in Anglers Times? - this time, he's choosing his favourite albums. The Red Flower of Tachai Blossoms Everywhere and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living in Paris, since you ask.

Asked why rock stars marry supermodels, Simon leBon responds "Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can." Which is charming for Yasmin.

The bulk of the issue, though, is about photography, and is mainly drawn from Annie Leibovitz's new book - everyone from the dixie chicks to the white stripes and all points in between. It's lusciously done, and shows again why the NME's attempts to become known for its photography is always going to be hobbled while it's on newsprint.

This week, for example, the Big Picture is of the Flaming Lips dressed as aliens - there's lots of colour, but it all looks flat and washed out.

The front cover, of course, leads on the relibertising of Pete Libertine. Apparently he and Carl spent the first day "having a few things out" (surely one of the few things Pete could have done while he was still inside?). And what has Pete learned while inside? "We search the heavens and the stars." Clearly the drugs problem in prison is worse than we thought.

How are the Strokes now? Have we lost them? We'll leave you to judge how U2 they're getting with this quote from someone at their first gig in the US: "Julian Casablancas reached down in the audience to bring someone on stage, and dragged up a seven year old kid wearing a Yankees tshirt."

The Cramps do the CD thing: The One Way Streets and the Wailers.

Peter Robinson asks Emma Bunton "You have remained in the place. Do you still like it in your face." Curiously, she doesn't actually answer the question.

The Radar band is 20/20 - or is it the 20/20 band is radar? - "Hendrix plays the White Stripes, apparently."

There's three pages of Jet, godhelpus. "I hate comedy music" snaps one of the band. He's referring to the Darkness, ad apparent;y he's not being ironic. The charges of misogyny (which nobody has seriously made) are considered and despatched, but the whole racist stink still hangs over them, and it's the nme who's trying to push it away: "Jet use words like bitch and nigger because they've noticed that rap artists are never questioned about their use of such terms so that must make it ok." Sorry, that's just bollocks - are we really supposed to believe that Jet are too thick to understand the difference between Snoop saying 'my niggaz' and white guys from a country that has a really poor record on race relations saying 'niggers'? If that's true, they shouldn't be given a platform in the nme, they should be given a couple of extra hours homework.

Funeral For A Friend's Matt gets really touchy about having it goaded out of him that he's a christian, but suggests that god is a big Go-Rilla Biscuits fan.

Kinesis, apparently, aren't a political band so much as an "aware" band.

hope of the states - king tuts - "a violin bow strung across raw emotions", 8
the darkness - cardiff USU - "if you want pastiche, look first to Jet", 8
andrew wk - ULU - "I was paid to be here, and I still feel ripped off", 1 - (Normally we'd be delighted at the sense that they finally seem to have twigged nobody likes him much, but... if clearing out WK just means more space for Jet, we think we've gone from the pan into the burner.)

sude - singles - they're up there with "oasis, the strokes, the stone roses and the smiths", 7 (yes... except what are oasis doing in that list?)
various - stop me if you think you've heard this one before - "yours for a fiver", 7
J Xaverre - these acid stars - "he atones for all Kenickie's crimes", 6

stow - chingy - right thur - "nice wurk"
yo la tengo - today is the day - "very autumnal, too"
pink - trouble - "tries to be feisty - and suceeds"

and, finally, in the "I love" bit, Alex White, given a world of music to choose from, decides to talk about Elvis. Inspired.

TEMPTATION LEADS TO COURT: Barrington Henderson, once one of the Temptations, is suing the rest of the band and record label claiming that he's owed millions - millions, do you hear? - for his part in the albums Awesome and Ear-restitable. Although, personally, if we'd been involved with a project that had such a crummy pun for a title, we wouldn't be bragging about it now. It doesn't even make any sense - why would anyone want a record that claims in its title that it's quite possible for your ears to resist it? It's on a par with calling your album "Mariah Carey Sings The Classics", surely?

REVERSED: No wonder Madonna's been reported as having thrown hissyfits during the filming of her part in the Britney video - apart from clearly the whole project smelling of desperation and charity on Britney's part; the premise of the promo is that Madonna and Britney are 'reverse images' of each other - so, Britney is young, popular, blossoming and alive. Which would make Madonna... well, a bit pissed off, we'd imagine.

PLOMLEY WOULD NEVER HAVE LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT: Boing Boing is right: Nick Hornby was smart in choosing an iPod as a luxury on Desert Island Discs, but it won't do him any good - he won't have batteries, will he? So he'll have a functionally useless piece of kit - you might as well take Christina Aggoolaira.

GO-GO GO KART: They admit it's a stunt, but the 80 000 hits in one second suggests Go kart has never had publicity before to match it's screw the RIAA download frenzy. What's curious is that the RIAA spokesnake's response was to say that the "It's having the choice [to offer free downloads] that's most important, and that's what we're fighting for." You could have fooled me - especially since RIAA members have been found guilty of price-fixing; I've never had the impression in the last couple of years that their aim was to ensure people could choose to give it away - else why would they have worked so much to try and close down the P2P networks, which meant that acts who did want to bypass the RIAA cartel wouldn't have had a platform to do it on?

POOOM! ANOTHER RIAA CHARGE BLOWS UP IN ITS FACE: The RIAA reckons Ross Plank was fileswapping latin love songs. Except he doesn't speak Spanish, doesn't like latin music and claims not to even have had kazaa on his computer when he was meant to have been colluding to prevent Ricky Martin from adding a fifth bathroom to his house.

Meanwhile, Senator Norm Coleman has called for new legislation to stop the RIAA demanding silly money from its sue-ees: "I can tell you that $150,000 per song is not reasonable, and that's technically what you can put in front of somebody. That forces people to settle when they may want to fight, but they're thinking, 'Goodness, gracious, what am I going to face?'"

Mind you, if O2 could get away with charging that for a music download, chances are it surely would.

SHAKE, BABY, SHAKE: So, since they're saying that Ozzy's involuntary shakes aren't Parkinsons, might we suggest that the reason why he's shaking is the horror of having to duet constantly with Kelly?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

TWEEDY HAS HER DAY IN COURT: She's claimed that she doesn't even know what a "jigaboo" is, and her story is that she was reaching in her bag to get a quid out to buy the lollipops, and as she was doing so Ms Amogbokpa punched her in the face. "I was shocked really because of what I do. I thought the last thing I need is a mark, I have a live television show today, the last thing I need is a mark on the face so I hit her back."
The case continues.

BANDS TIDYING UP AFTER BUSH: You'll feel your eyes start to bulge at the impressive line-up sonic boomerang have put together for their bread for the city benefit album. Entitled Wellspring, and with all and any profits going to help people in Washington DC who've fallen through the welfare net (or, more accurately, fallen off the welfare tightrope), they've got Cinerama, Bettie Serveert, Barbara Manning, the Mendoza Line and - inevtiably - others all donating sparkling new tracks (except Cinerama, who didn't have the time so gave an almost new track instead.) You might want to buy a copy, or else ponder how a country like the US needs to rely on benefit albums to feed its people.

EVERYTHING'S ALRIGHT... FOREVER: What's not extraordinary is not that Courtney Love's publicist is insisting that that whole overdose/arrest/looking-at-a-year-in-chokey thing has been blown out of proportion - it's that Courtney Love feels the need a publicist. Surely she does that all herself?

THERE WILL BE MORE IN '04: The licence application for Glastonbury 2004 is in, so they're planning on having one. The NME reports that some vague sort of "identity-tagged anti-tout ticket" will be involved, but... nobody quite knows what. Or how.

Monday, October 13, 2003

OH... IT WASN'T A JOKE, THEN: Barry Manilow and Bette Midler really have recorded a 'tribute' album to Rosemary Clooney.

Midler says that she jumped at the chance when Manilow rang her after a dream and suggested it: "I'm a big believer that coincidences happen for a reason. I just decided it was meant to be; there was no reason to pluck the idea to death and think it to dust." (Surely if something is happening for a reason, it's not a coincidence?) So, apparently, the timing was great because her record contract had "only just" expired (two years before).

Next week: Having dropped a tab on top of some Junior Lemsip, Sting has a vision and persuades Claire Sweeney to record the Alma Cogan back catalogue.

RETUNING: More changes at Radio One - Mark and Lard off to Radio 2; Vernon Kay to join from "early next year". It'll be Radio Fucking TipTop back if things carry on like this.

CTRL+ALT+DEL: SunnComm decide to drop lawsuit on the basis that it's suddenly realised that not only does it not have a case, it's basically just spent the last four days publicising that the expensive software it's sold to the record industry as a way to foil those pesky kids can be disabled by holding down a single key ("doesn't want to hamper academic research").

We don't want to hamper academic research, either, so since Sunncomm have no problem with it, the name of their driver is currently SbcpHid - we suspect they'll be changing that soon, and adding a line to the Terms and Conditions to the effect of "I won't hold down the Shift key."

SHIFT: So, Alex Halderman twigged that if you insert a CD with copy protection into a Windows PC but hold the shift key down, it disables Windows AutoRun facility and so the copy protection doesn't kick in. (It's hard to believe that something so simple could work, but apparently it does - there's your record companies' multi-millions of R&D going to good use then.

SunnComm, the people behind the copy protection system, have lashed out saying that Halderman's claims and conclusions are "erroneous" - which makes you wonder, if they're not true, why are SunnComm trying to sue him for USD10million?. Surely if his claim that their super-duper technology can be defeated by holding down a single key on the keyboard is "erroneous", everyone will discover that the first time they try it, so where's the problem?

Ah, but SC are also waving the US' DCMA act about, too - they claim that Halderman has broken the law simply by telling people the name of a program they might have had installed on their own computers (thereby allowing them to delete it). Just think that through for a minute. There's a law in the US which prevents you from being allowed to know what software is installed on your system, and criminal penalties stop anyone telling you. Hmm.

THAT'S NOT A SPLIT, THEN: Silverchair have rushed out a story to reject claims they'd split up - they haven't, okay: they're just not going to record together or tour together again as a band for, um, an 'indefinite' period. This, of course, means that the Reunion Tour won't actually be a reunion tour at all, we suppose.

The official statement says "It just means that after a really intense few years, they're each spending some time on non-Silverchair activities for a change. This is extremely common for bands who have been together for a decade." It's also extremely, extremely common for bands who hate each other's guts and never want to see each other's faces ever, ever again, unless they're distended and floating in a swimming pool.

AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN... HERE'S GRACE: So, Grace Jones has written a movie about herself (of course it's about her) but she's stuck for who should take her role - sit down, Naomi. We don't think it's much of a problem - Skin in a pair of built-up shoes would do - but we want to know: who's going to be Harty?

HERE'S ONE THEY MADE EARLIER: Alan Connor points out that the janes Addiction virtual tour isn't a first - The Dandy Warhols got there (or rather, didn't get there) before them.