Friday, October 31, 2003

TECHNICAL KNOCKOUT: Christina Aguilera has said she's disappointed not to be named the Worst-Dressed Celebrity. Of course you've not been, Christina; you'd have to have been dressed at some point to qualify.

She seems to think that being ridiculed for not being able to choose clothes that suits you is "making a statement" - yes, yes it is - it's making the statement that "I have no idea what looks shit on me", in the same way that shouting at buses is "making a statement" about something, too.

DON'T DREAM: IT'S OVER: The Dreamworks masterplan lays in ruins. The Spielberg/Geffen and... someone beginning with K* plot to create a multi-media combine has run into the sand and, as a result, Dreamworks Music arm is being flogged off to Universal. The Music bit, which is still owned by Vivendi, the French drains company, not the other bit, which is now owned by NBC and fridge manufacturer General Electric. It's curious to us how the record industry keeps telling us they're really, really strapped for cash because of all this downloading, yet at the same time think nothing of splashing out a tenth of billion dollars on buying up what is, to be frank, a bit of a bobbins label: Who's their big hitter? Papa Roach? Nelly Furtado? The Shrek soundtrack? Where do Universal think they'll be making the money back on this deal? From the Alien Ant Farm back catalogue? It seems to have been a purchase purely done so someone at UMG can sit in a chair making all the Dreamworks staff dance dressed in paper knickers while they laugh. An ego-buy of an ego-combine.

* -Katzenberg. We were pretending.

NOT IN FRONT OF THE AUDIENCE: Oh, yes, they stepped in to stop a chap topping himself at a gig, but where were the authorities when Mia Tyler used an Aerosmith gig to marry thedrummerfromPapaRoach? Really, watching people do terrible things to themselves in the name of entertainment is a bad thing.

This is Mia Tyler:

This is Dave Buckner, thedrummerfrompaparoach:
he's a bloody drummer, what are you thinking?

NOT SO SLICK, RICK: How American Justice works: As part of the War On Terror Paranoia fest, Slick Rick has been locked up in prison for months - he'd been given leave to stay despite having served a prison sentence a while back, but then got arrested again when he tried to get home after an overseas trip for almost a year now while they try and work out what to do with him - does Tom Ridge really think Slick Rick is a threat to the American way of life? Now, all this would be galling enough, but at the same time, a bloke called Steven Glenn has assumed his identity, stalked his wife and ripped people off using Rick's name - and yet he won't face any charges.

So: someone who's made no attempt to lie about his identity - risk to national security, must be locked up. Someone who has faked their identity - go on, go about your way, just don't do it again, you cheeky monkey, you.

No, seriously, they even have a department that's meant to be looking after the security of its people there now, and everything.

MUST BE TERRIBLE, DEREK...: It's been a bad week for quiet men. Not only has Iain Duncan Smith found himself heading back to... where was it he came from?, but now David Sneddon is going to quit being a popstar. Yes you do, he won Fame Academy. No, last year, the one before Cyndi Lauper's daughter won it. We're not entirely sure how one goes about quitting being a popstar - although we suspect the first step should really have been coming one - but David says that now he's going to concentrate on getting all the short date-coded butters right to the front of the fridge display ("songwriting".) Curiously, as he sends the throngs of screaming girlies home and lays off the chap who was employed to fluff the plumes of his feathery stage costumes, he sounds slightly bitter:

"There is a film across the front of the music industry which is hard to break through and that is all about making money. There is so much crap in the charts that I have to go out there and compete with. The majority of it is rubbish."

Hang about... the music industry is a money making concern? Really? Why haven't we been told this before? Poor David, turning up at the music factory one morning thinking he was going to be joining some artistic concern, only to discover that he'd in fact joined a multi-million pound business instead.

What puzzles us, though, is if what he's having to compete with is all the crap in the charts, and all of that crap being rubbish, how come his singles have been selling so poorly? Isn't he kind of saying "My music isn't able to beat the shitty stuff?" And why does he think being a songwriter is going to be any different to being a singer? It's like saying "I've had enough of working in the retail industry - Asda's crap, so I'm going to work for Boots instead."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

SCIENCE TURNS TO THE INTERNAL JUKEBOX: It wasn't going to, but it couldn't get it out of its head.

SO...: It turns out the 'it's a boy' farrago was because the Daily Mirror ran with the story early and everyone assumed that Piers Morgan wouldn't run a story it hadn't checked...

WE'RE OPENING THE BOOK: On what the mystery virus Simon from Blue has been struck down by actually is. Please - for the sake of clarity - either express your answer in latin, or pounds per gramme.

TURNS OUT IT WAS THE DOCTOR'S THUMB: So, now it seems that they've had another look and Paul and Heather have had a girl, not a boy.

INTO THE PETRIDISH: Following on from last week's Best 40 US acts, Alexis Petridis did a webchat a couple of days ago to defend the list. He actually came over as more likeable as the chat progressed, but he started by giving his opinion on the current state of the pop papers:

I think the current music press is OK - pretty much everything seems to get covered somewhere. It's pretty easy to criticise the music press in England (I do it a lot myself), but you see the music press in America and it's absolutely shocking - really conservative, really badly written.

It depends what you're looking at, though, surely? America has got Punk Planet and Maximum Rock & Roll, plus the Onion AV Club (which is more adventurous than anything in the UK); if you want conservative, you don't have to go airside in Heathrow to see Classic Rock, Mojo, Uncut - any number of titles which exist solely to service the concept of a Rock Canon.

Then there's a nice little two-way between Petridis and DucdePommfrit , who suggests that The Guardian should leave behind America and Britain and concentrate on "anywhere that doesn't stink of rock." Challenged that music is all a bit pants now, he does his best to be positive but " it has to be said, there are fewer good new bands this year than last year. I like The Fiery Furnaces though.

Then, of course, there's this: "As I reached my thirties, started considering marriage and fatherhood, I found myself inexplicably drawn to Dire Straits. I began to regret that I'd got rid of my copies of Making Movies and Love Over Gold in a fit of indie puritanism circa 1987 and became curiously excited whenever I heard Sultans Of Swing on a gold station. I think their music affects part of the male brain once you hit 30. You can't fight it.
And have you ever seen the video for Romeo And Juliet? - it's the greatest piece of music-related cinema ever made.

Which is just wrong. Romeo and Juliet is an okay song, but everything else Dire Straits did reeks of small pubs in towns off the A5. I thought when Sultans came out that they must have been about forty-five, but they weren't, were they? They were actually young-ish people. It's incredible. The real sin is not that Petridis wants his Making Movies back, it's that he ever had the bloody things in the first place.

He salvages himself by describing The Mars Volta as a jazz-prog jam band, mind. And he puts in a cracking defence of including Pink in the list - when challenged that he won't be writing about her in 2013, he responds "I should hope not" and makes the obvious point that right now she's more significant than Springsteen, say. (Although in that case, why no Britney in the list?). And he scores the pub quiz pedant's point for pointing out in BLOCK CAPITALS that the REASON NEIL YOUNG wasn't on the list of best US bands was his Canadianism.

Coming soon: The Best 40 Music Writers ever.

TAKE THE NEEDLES OFF THE RECORD: A University of Texas study claims that drug references in songs are nowadays more likely to be negative than positive. I was going to put together some smart-ass rebuttal of this claim, but then I got high...

LEAN PERIOD: So, the next Paul Weller album will be Weller does the covers - although apparently Summer Nights isn't on his agenda, so we won't get to hear him do 'weller, weller, weller, ugh, tell me more'. It seems his decision to stick out a sweaty middle aged bloke does karaoke album is because he saw Rod and Elt rake it in from a similar sleepwalking exercise ("it allows his a crack at the classics") and, ten years after the rest of the world he's noticed that his once mighty songwriting talent has withered and barely produces anything worth writing down, much less recording, these days ("he fancied taking a break from songwriting").

IT'S GREAT WHEN YOU'RE STRAIGHT... ERM...: Last week, Scott Weiland got a pat on the head from a judge for keeping his nose (and veins) clean. At the time, Scott took the opportunity to tell us how great not being on shit and shit is: "Sometimes God offers you circumstances that fall in your lap that you wouldn’t happen (sic). Getting busted spurred my desire to get back into recovery.

It seems God has changed his mind, as cops in LA followed a trail of car-smashed parts and tyre skid marks and found Mr. Scott Weiland, sat in his car, apparently driving under the influence of Diana Ross.

HMV STONE COLD: Music chains across Canada have pulled Rolling Stones product from their shelves in protest at the band sign an exclusive deal with Best Buy and Future Shops for their Forty Licks DVD. This is akin to them only knocking out the title through Currys and Comet in the UK, although Best Buy is a far bigger presence in the North American music retail sector than any of the British fridge-to-telly stores. We can uderstand HMV and the others being royally pissed off at the move, but we're left wondering if they're not just being a little nose-cutty face-spitey here - sure, it's a pain that they can't sell the new DVD, but its shit and of the Old Stones. They should really make a feature of it, and push the stuff they have on their racks by the Young Stones - they could call the campaign 'Want your kicks? Stick to their under-40 licks' and I bet they'd do a bomb; they'd be making a point far more sharply, getting a jibe in that will hurt the band a lot more, and they'll still have something to sell. As it is, people will turn up, ask for the DVD, be told no. And then they'll say "Oh… well, have you got any other Stones stuff? I've always quite fancied getting Their Satanic Majesties on CD… oh… no rolling stones stuff at all? Oh… goodbye…"

PREMATURE EJACULATION: To Heather and Paul McCartney, a baby boy, Joseph, born by emergency Caesarean a month early. Rod Stewart was heard to grumble that he'd be kept waiting the full nine months for a baby, but Sir Paul just flashes his knighthood and gets one before anyone else.

WELL MEANING, BUT…: In light of recent war-related events, is it perhaps not slightly ill-advised for Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliot to be rewriting 'We are the World' and calling it 'The World Is Ours'? This time round, it's going to be for people in Africa who are dying from the Catholic Church's policy on contraception and Mbeki's dogged belief that he knows better than specialists ("living with Aids"). Besides Elliot and Timberlake, Timbaland is also involved (let's hope they also get Timbur gess on board), and he's remarkably humble about the whole concept, saying "It's only a small gesture, and to be honest, I expect it'll do more for our images and egos than it will for people with Aids in Africa. But if we can make a small difference, I think it's down to all of us to try. I only wish it would be possible without the publicity. Hey, maybe we could just give some of our mighty fortunes instead?"

Okay, actually he said "I see this as a passing of the torch. I will use the legendary model of We Are the World, but update it in a way that works for the trends of the music industry today. Just as Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson did, we will create an anthem with today's most talented artists to produce a song that will bring the world's attention to the Aids pandemic." - which is almost as humble, don't you think? I mean, he didn't actually just blurt out "this will have us knee-deep in Grammy nominations", did he?

YOU SAY 'HELLO'… AND I SAY GOODBYE: Lionel Richie's wife has filed for divorce. There are absolutely no rumours that she discovered him with someone else, or that Lionel sputtered "No… she's blind, too… and this model is going to be of all my body… that's why she was getting a feel of it…" as the door slammed in his face.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

MYSTERY RESOLVED: Graham Swallow writes:

I've just neatly adjusted my pop-geek trivia moron hat ready to pick up on a question you posed in the above article. You ask why Nat 'King' Cole perennially includes inverted commas, whilst TAFKAP does not. The answer is simple Nat 'King' Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Cole, therefore the King is an add-on. However TAFKAP (who is nowadays KAP) was christened Prince Rogers Nelson (an unfortunate name amongst the gay community perhaps...), hence no requirement for inverted commas.

Convincing... but what of Duke Ellington and Count Basie?

What the pop papers say: Brody distilled edition

So, while we reel from the news that John Lydon is calling in the lawyers to stop a punk compilation using the phrase 'Do you ever get the feeling you've been cheated' for it album - based, of course, on the preposterous belief that he, and his chardonnay swilling LA lifestyle doesn't neagte his role as arbiter of punk - we turn to the Guardian Weekend and Zoe William's echoing of the phrase: how did the whole Blair Britain cease to be cool? This, of course, requires you to believe that the we all voted Blair in back in '97 because of his credentials and fell for his spiel about being in a young country and a Vanity Fair cover story; that when we saw Noel enjoying a joke with the Prime Minister that we thought "hey - there's a couple of cool guys" rather than "hmm... which is the bigger of those two cocks, then?"

"What would have become of River Phoenix?" - had he not died - worries the Friday review, to mark the tenth anniversary of his doing his last speedball. Everyone seems to think that he would have gone on to become one of the Hollywood greats. Yeah? We suspect had he not died from a speedball in the Viper Lounge that night, then... he'd have died a couple of nights later. Or a year later. Failing that, his drug use would have seen make worse and worse films, to the extent that if the drugs hadn't killed him, he'd probably about now be being Buena Vista to fund The Santa Clause III.

Elsewhere, Alexis Petredis counts down the top 40 American artists right now. He strikes some bum notes - Fannypack (40), for example, who must be brilliant if you never heard the Yeastie Girls, but are still running on a tank roughly the size of that of the Fast Food Rockers; Madonna at 15 - the list making equivalent of the fuck for old time's sake - but generally, it's a pretty sound list, acknowledging Bright Eyes(28), Calexico (25), Pink (18) and crowning the Flaming Lips as the Best Current American Band, which seems about right to us. But Christina instead of Britney?

The Sunday Times Style section knows better, sending the godlike Jane Bussman to meet Britney. She kicks down some rumours - she's not getting email from William "but would love to" (oh, yeah? ask Paul Burrell) and calculates how lucky she was to get away with sharing a stage with a tiger (in this post-Roy mauling age, 'never work with animals' is less a showbiz dictum, more an insurance stipulation.) Of course, Britney is (whisper it) a little bit thick, but she doesn't pretend to be anything else. She chats about her sex life, but doesn't treat it as an extension of her day job. There's no attmept to claim that her 'oops, I'm naked' photoshoots are any attempt to carry forward the flame of Sylvia Pankhurst.

In Music Week, Andy Peters - the man who is making Top of the Pops into The All-New Top of the Pops - claims that nobody under 24 remembers TOTP being on any day other than Friday. Oh, yeah? Obviously, I'm too old to hold this up to any sort of proof, but on a similar basis, I shouldn't be able to recall when Emmerdale Farm was on during the day, or when ITN's main lunchtime bulletin was presented by Leonard Parkin, or Peble Mill At One at all.

The NME has got Brody Dalle on the cover - we're not entirely sure about her yet, you know: she has a hanging air of a second crack at making a Kelly Osbourne. She's even got the same hair and stands in the same way. Hmm. The big news picture is , oddly enough, Kelly and Ozzy, who are for some reason sat in the White Lodge from Twin Peaks - maybe as an explanation for why Kelly sings like that dream sequence dwarf. Elliott Smith gets a coverline, which again goes to prove that for artists not on the purple list, there's only one way to get am mention in the paper these days. In the report, they manage to get quotes from Moby and E and, of course, usher in the Buckley/Drake comparisons.

Other news: Cooper Temple Clause going down well in New York (which, by the standards of most British acts in America probably means they didn't get turned around at immigration.)

The NME seems to have been cooling on the Darkness - after weeks of trying to get back in their good books, they seem to have to decided to cut straight to the backlash, giving platform to the (actually quite understandable) pissed-off Liverpool fans who spent an hour waiting after the support bands only for the band not to show up; and the less understandable Londoners who seem to be bearing a grudge that they're not AC/DC.

The Electric Soft Parade do the pretend CD - Edan, Actress Hands and The Customers.

Peter Robinson takes on Josh Homme - he asks him what he makes of American Idol; he replies "A bunch of people judging music. That sounds like The Press." Yeah, except the press are a bit more amusing than Simon Cowell.

Matt Davies from Funeral For A Friend loves Million Dead - "they're really, really good live" - and the radar band is Eastern Lane, from Berwick, a place where public urination makes the local papers.

The clearly made-up 'nme brain' letter this week is "I've heard of a music movement called C86. What is it, and what's it got to do with NME?" Meanwhile, the open letter from Tim Jonze to the Strokes ticks them off for not saying anything of any interest in their interviews. You might be better off, Mr. Jonze, sending a memo to your editor suggesting that the next time The Strokes don't have much to say, it might be better off not spreading the interview over two issues.

So, Brody Dalle, then. It's clear The Distillers is little more than the cart that she's riding (in the full page photo, she's in colour, the lumpen backing band are in black and white; Andy describes their role as "hired extras"); she has - oh, pass the smelling salts - a Fuck Off tattoo. But what really makes us wonder is the sense that Brody seems to be desperate to try and give a sense that she's somehow kicking against something - the tour is called The Most Hated Woman on Earth; she insists that "boys don't like it when you play with their toys, especially when you do it better"; Andy claims that everyone sees her as some sort of novelty - but it's just not true. Nobody is treating Brody as an oddity breaking out her gender; nobody is putting obstacles in the band's way; everyone is opening doors and writing enthusiastically. The lack of struggle matched with Brody's desperate desire to be treated like she's an outsider forcing her way in is hilarious - it recalls the Not The Nine O'Clock News Sketch where Mary and Joseph turn up in Bethlehem, fixated on giving birth in a stable, only for the innkeeper to offer them their choice of rooms, with the hot and cold and the full ensuite.

Dashboard Confessional get really snippy when itsd suggested there's something teenage relatinships breaking up about their music. "The median age at our gigs is around 24, 25... first year of college age" snaps Chris. Thus his weak spot is revealed - something to file away and use later.

There's an article on Friendster. How very now. Next week it'll probably be Ebay or something.

Why? Why? Kiss; Tom Baker; Jamie Reid; Bowie; Bruce Lee; Bobby Moore & Pele and Marc Bolan posters this week - it's the 70's, see. But they seem to have paniced that their readers might not know who these people are, so unlike last week, you get a little bit of text explaining them. Apparently Pele isn't just the guy who knows what he'd do in the event of erectile dysfunction - turns out he's a footballer.

the warlocks - king tuts (the third week running the first review has been from King Tuts) - "aloof to the point of boredom", 7
red hot chilli peppers, LA - "enough tunes to soak up the screams", 6
super furry animals, newport - "they do give a fuck", 8

coldplay - live 2003 - "he dances like a loon", 9
ryan adams - rock n roll - "one brilliant desperate failure", 7
bmx bandits - down at the hop - "as wet as a September shower", 6
liz phair - liz phair - "hot white wank", 3

sotw - desert sessions - crawl home - "dripping with sweat and psychodrama"
the hiss - back on the radio - "roll with it"

Stuart Braithwaite loves My Bloody Valentine - their records are "the dirtiest I own because all the songs are about shagging." Not totally true, that: quite a few were about death.

[UPDATE: Headings and tags added 20-09-08]

A FLUTE IN YOUR BONE: The Lord of the Rings III soundtrack is to be lead by... an Annie Lennox/James Galway duet.

No, really. We're not making this up. Annie Lennox and James Galway. They really have twigged that if you can flog someone some elf-related tat, there's really no end to the endless junk they'll part with their hard-earned cash to obtain; no level of half-assed toss that they'll be prepared to accept is in some way art. Normally, we'd chide the entertainment industry for their mean exploitation of people in this way. But... with Lord of the Rings fans, we rather think they bring it on themselves. It's the fanbase that has hung the words "bleed me dry" round its own neck.

IF YOU HAVEN'T A CLUE... IF NO-ONE ELSE CAN HELP YOU... AND YOU CAN AFFORD THEM... MAYBE YOUR RECORD LABEL WILL HIRE THE MATRIX: How much more cash is going to be pumped into the bleeding corpse of Kelly Osbourne's musical aspirations? Now, The Matrix have been pulled in to write a song for her. It's called No Apologies, apparently: "It's basically about how I go through my life," she says. "I make mistakes, I do what I do, and I don't apologize for it because it's part of growing up." Hmm. Interesting little philosophy there - you don't need to say 'sorry' if you hurt other people providing you can write it off to growing up, eh? Fascinating. We'll know what excuse to use if we ever make her cry, then - "I'm not sorry, Kelly, it was just a late surge of puberty." The other interesting aspect of this all is, if this is Kelly's "philosophy" (I know we're stretching the word almost to its fullest extent there), then why does she need The Matrix to express it for her? Isn't this a bit like Bertrand Russell sending off a bunch of half-considered scribbles to the bloke who wrote the Beckham book and asking him if he could just put it into a slightly more New York Times Book Chart friendly format?

THE CURSE FOLDS BACK: Mogwai, so long happily spreading their curse amongst unsuspecting record buyers, have been bitten on their own butt, it seems:

We greatly regret that Mogwai will be unable to play at Thursday's Live Radio 1 Broadcast in Brighton due to one of the band being very ill.
I'm afraid it was doctor's orders for John who has been really sick for the last few days. Hopefully he'll be OK in a few days but there is no possibility of him recovering quickly enough for Thursday's show.
As we also have a Japanese tour beginning very soon, it is essential that John is rested before the travelling begins.
Mogwai would like to apologise for these unforseen and uncontrollable events. As it's the first cancellation Mogwai have ever had in the 8 years of playing together, we're hoping that everyone affected understands our situation fully.

[Taken from]

SOMEBODY IN THIS ROOM IS A THIEF: Nelly reckons that he's had a million bucks-worth of jewels pinched from his hotel room - which, judging by the chunky, cheap-wannabe-flash shite he wears (do Elizabeth Duke have a Gangsta range yet?) must be all the jewellery he owns, ever, wrapped up in a ten thousand hundred dollar bills. Someone - perhaps the same evil thief - pinched Michell Branch's computer at the same time. Major James Ingram also reports he lost several items from the hotel that night, and has put in insurance claims for seventeen missing ivory cigarette cases, two tonnes of uncut diamonds, the original print of Casablanca and a suitcase "about the size of a hippo" stuffed with tenners.

THANKS A BUNCH, ERNIE: Apparently, Sting's entire music career might never have happened if he hadn't walked in on his Mum getting a pint of gold top from the Milkman. Obviously not the milkman who was his father (who, of course, we learned recently, taught Sting all about hard work), but a different milkman entirely. We're not entirely sure we buy this story - surely the housewife getting a little something extra from the dairyman is merely an urban myth - but he tells the story in his autobiography, so it must be true. And who's to say that Sting is wrong to out his mother as having taken a lover all those years ago? Mr. Sting is a totally devoted young man who would never stray from his Trude, and so has a firm right to a moral high ground on this one.

Mind you, we're now a little confused - the other week he was saying how great his dad was, heading off every day except christmas at the crack of dawn to work, work, work... now it seems that maybe he was letting things slide on the home front. We live in confusing times, don't we?

IT'S A: Agnetha - who we always thought of as being the first of the two As in Abba - is back with a solo project. It's her first record since 1987. Confusingly, Ananova claims she lives on an island "outside Stockholm" - we'd have thought it would be more likely to actually be in the sea somewhere.

DOT SWAPS AGAIN: For what seems to be the sixth time this week, Dotmusic has changed hands again - this time BT has flogged it to Yahoo, who seem incredibly vague about what they're going to do with it, what with their already owning Launch and all.

Dotmusic was originally a heady attempt by Music Week to launch something that tapped into the public's desire to spend money on online, but never really took off. We always put this down to the shit name - we remember listening to an expensive promotional campaign on local radio which struggled to make clear it was and not or dotmusicdotcom. First rule of your internet, innit, that you need a domain name which is easy to verbalise to someone - nothing with tricksy spelling or confusing punctuation (are you listening, orcado or whatever you are?). Up til today, the whole shebang had been sitting as part of the BT empire; they'd bought it when they were getting excited at being content providers rather than just the people behind the copper wire, but its position had looked shaky ever since they admitted they were shit at that sort of thing and invited Yahoo to take over their pootling portaling.

BITTER MEN OF ROCK: As regular readers will know, we love nothing more than a spot of unfathomable bitterness on the part of rich, successful rock stars - especially those whose mansion and flash car count far outweighs the levels that would seem fair based on their actual talent. And so, Rod Stewart's interview with the Radio Times is something we shall be treasuring like a latter-day Mappa Mundi of Bitterness.

Bearing in mind that Rod's merely barking up interest for that hole in the road of creative endavour, the Ben Elton-written musical based on his songs (Has anyone been to see this yet? We're shuddering at how Elton will have drag-and-dropped Do Ya Think I'm Sexy into the proceedings), the horse that Stewart is on is admirably over-high:

He was troubled by the fact that "they never have a go at Paul McCartney for marrying a younger woman", he said. "He's 60 and Heather is 34, but they kill me because of Penny." The star told the Radio Times it may be because of the knighthood, "a wonderful little honour to be bestowed on one".

So, Rod, you don't think that the press don't need to hit McCartney over the head about Mills' age because they're too busy slapping him with the story about the game of hunt-the-engagement-ring, or poking him with tales about what a harridan she's meant to be, or punching him with tales of how all the kids hate her, or using the lace garrot of 'we thought Linda was irrereplacable, and yet you seemed to fill the vacancy rather quickly considering?' - and, in light of this, "oh, and she's young enough to be your daughter" might be considered over-egging the egging? Do you really suppose that there are meetings in Wapping where they hold up a page proof with the words "Hopalong is a bitch - Stella" on it, where they suck their teeth and say "ang about, this para here about the age difference; we should take that out, with him being a Sir and all?" You see, we might have thought the reason why McCartney doesn't get the nudging about having a younger woman on his arm and you do, Rod, is because McCartney hasn't happily cultivated the image of a serial-shagging Jack The Lad for the last thirty years.

He also said he was mystified why he had never been honoured by the Queen. "I do my bit for charity. Maybe it will come along - the OBE: Ordered Out Of the British Empire," he said.

Wailing 'I do my bit for charity' at the doors of the Palace is, of course, the equivalent of 'do you know who I am' at the doors of a nightclub - the mere use of the phrase renders its subject - selfless work, celebrity - totally invalid.

It's not just the Queen who's given him the bum's rush, either:

And he was "astounded" that he had never won a prestigious Grammy award - but "they tend not to give it to the British unless you're Sting... Mr Serious who helps the Indians."

Now, the funny thing is, we 're much, much fonder of Rod's solo work than we are of Sting's, but we can at least acknowledge that Sting's workrate and - perhaps ill-advised - experimentation and expansion of his musical grammar is the sort of artistic development which is catnip to the Grammy Awards. Bouncing around in tight pants for thirty years booming out "I'm out of milk and sugar/Thats okay honey, we can watch the early movie" may be somewhat less-so.

But lest you think Stewart to be a bitter, wizzened old man who sits in his palace muttering darkly about how he fails to be recognised for the good that he brings to the planet - we're sure, had there been time, we'd have heard his gripes that he's never been given shit by the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party and that it's astonishing the Nobel people have yet to call - well, you couldn't have got him more wrong. It's all water off a duck's arse to our Rod:

"I'm not upset by what people say, except when it's personal," he said.

And, apparently, when it's not "and the winner… is Rod Stewart."

MORE WORLDWIDE-ROCK-THEMED PROTEST NEWS: Doctor, doctor - can't you see I'm burning, burning? Maybe it's because of all these damn genetically modified products... Alannah Currie, the hat-wearing glockspieller from the Thompson Twins, is apparently leading the campaign against GM in New Zealand. Last month she removed her top in parliament as a protest against big businesses fucking with the genetic make-up of plants. Aaaaah. When we were 12, we used to dream of her stripping down to her bra, but somehow, it doesn't quite have the same allure these days. (Probably because when we were 12, we used to dream of anyone at all in possession of a bra stripping down to it - even Alf Roberts, if that was what it was going to take.)

... AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: John Feldmann, from Goldfinger, has gotten himself somehow suspected of ALF vandalism and wound up on Celebrity Justice. The press release for his appearance on the show reports:

Goldfinger front man and animal rights activist John Feldmann and his wife Amy, were featured on the syndicated television show, Celebrity Justice, last week.
 The segment dealt with an incident that occurred on October 3rd, when the couple's Los Angeles area home was raided by over 30 law enforcement officials after they were falsely suspected of taking part in an act of vandalism against the home of Jerry Greenwalt, the General Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services. The Feldmann's home was searched for over three hours.
Greenwalt has been targeted by animal activists in the past several months. More information on the campaign against Greenwalt can be found at
According to news media, Greenwalt's home and car were vandalized and the letters "ALF" were allegedly scrawled on the property, which is usually associated with the Animal Liberation Front, an anonymous underground organization that liberates animals  and engages in economic sabotage against animal abusers.  Traditionally, these actions are "claimed" by the ALF by contacting  animal rights groups, but so far no one has claimed responsibility.
 The Feldmann's have admitted to taking part in a non-violent protest outside of Greenwalt's home and they believe that they were mistakenly singled out after a witness wrote down Amy's license plate number as she was peacefully passing out animal rights literature and flyers in the neighborhood, preparing people for the event.
 On the day of the incident, a spokesperson for the couple issued the following statement: "The Feldmann's have no idea why they have been targeted, but they maintain their compassion for all living beings. This unfortunate event only emphasizes the fact that law enforcement continues to support the abusers, while terrorizing those with compassion for all life. We will not stand by and let this continue to occur."
Law enforcement officials have yet to identify the actual suspect and the case remains open.

[Thanks to Barbara Flaska from popmatters for the details]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I DON'T BUY MY RECORDS FROM THE RECORD SHOPS/ I TAPE THEM ALL OFF TOP OF THE POPS: Pretty Girls Make Graves are covering C30-C60-C90 go on their new single, which is excellent news. It can only mean a Chiefs of Relief reunion is weeks away.

We could never quite understand why Annabelle Lwin was happy with the quality she'd have been getting taping music off Top of the Pops in the early days of home taping - she'd have had to have held up her cassette recorder to the TV speaker, so even if she didn't mind the fact the audience going 'rrrray' everytime Stuart Adamson kicked a balloon into them would be forever on her tape, she'd also have to put up with all her recordings having her Nan cackling "What are you doing, Annabelle? Get your head down, I can't see the screen. Is that a boy or a girl?" and so quietly, but inaudibly, in the mix. We'd have waited until Sunday and recorded the songs off The Top 40 ("the most-listened to show in Europe") if it had been us.

Maybe PGMG will be updating it anyway - Modem-LAN-ISDN-Go!

I still dream of Garbage doing Sexy Eiffel Towers.

MEMORIAL: Plans afoot for a memorial to Elliott Smith next week in LA - lined up are Bright Eyes, Beth Orton, Rilo Kiley, Radar Bros, Future Pigeon with Beck and Grandaddy doing the bill-topping off duties. Just goes to prove, if you want to know how influential you are, all you have to do is stab yourself in the chest.

THAT'S CHRISTMAS RUINED, THEN: The desperate attempt to try and refloat the idea of Kelly Osbourne being an artist in her own right - which even the NME has given up as a bad job - continues, with the news that Kelly and Ozzy are going to do a duet for Christmas. It's not the first time a daughter has sung with her dead father - Natalie Cole recorded a record with deceased pop Nat 'King' Cole a few years back, of course. (Why does the 'King' always have to appear in quotes? Is it to make it clear that he never actually was a hereditary head of state of any territory? And if so, why wasn't it TAFKA'P', and so on?).

Sweetly, they've chosen to cover a Black Sabbath number about, erm, Ozzy's divorce, but apparently the plan is to rework the lyrics to discuss the changes in the father-daughter dynamic as the girl grows up and the father grows so increasingly confused he can't be trusted to fetch his own slippers from under the bed. And, we'd imagine, to put tonnes of reverb on Kelly's vocals, which we fondly expect to be buried deeper in the mix than the good prize in a Primary School's Christmas Fayre bran tub.

AS A FUCK, SON, YOU SUCK: Today's Britney titbit comes from an interview where she says that Justin blabbing on about having broken her hymen made her bitter with men in general. After he'd bragged about having deflowered her, Britney got all confused (not, it pains us to admit, something that seems to take much) and stopped finding men attractive: "I'm like, 'What's happening? I know I'm not a lesbian.'". This of course throws up its own issues - how does Britney know she's not attracted to women? Is she basing this on the totally understandable feeling of revulsion having felt Madonna's Princes Paste lips pushed up against her, or is there something else? More to the point, why did she only do it the once with Justin? We suspect that her insistence it was just once - added to today's claim that it put her off men really badly - is a rather fine piece of news management. Timbers may have made the Cry Me A River video - which was about as subtle as an Its A Knockout costume - but Britney's people have put together a much better 'and the horse you rode in on' - the constant drip, drip of the implication that the boy who now sings for his supper at McDonalds is, in effect, a shit shag.

IS THIS IT?: Slightly ominous reviews coming from the Strokes tour, with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's man reporting not only that you can hear Julian's throat lacerating in front of your own ears, but that he was stumbling round the stage like a man with a serious dose of migraine. And it's not like they've set themselves that punishing a schedule, is it?

SONG SUNG BLUE: Pity poor Martyn Rowlands. He turned up, brimming with confidence, for the Welsh Pop Idol, s4C's WawFfactor. He's a member of a fairly-popular-on-the-pub-circuit duo Coaster, so he thought this would be easy. But he had a bit of a wobble, and hit a bum note. Now, to his horror, his bad note has become the trailer for the show. Oops. Martyn's now worried that people will see the trailer and decide that Coaster might be a bit of a liability.

One question: If Coaster are so shit hot, why was Martyn taking part in a TV talent show anyway?

DON'T SNORT YOUR OWN BRAINS: Simon Tyers reports from Leicester:

The Flaming Lips and others, Leicester De Montfort Hall last night:

It's official - the Lips are mainstream. Among the pretty much sold out audience are a kid of about eleven just in front of me (thanks to a cock-up on my part I end up seated in the rear circle right next to the mainentrance/exit) and just along are three people surely of senior citizen ticket qualification age. Wayne Coyne later says the show feels like an enormous birthday party, hence the mid-show Happy Birthday-singing ritual, but what attracts quite a few older people is less clear. The write-ups in Mojo, perhaps, or the Guardian reckoning on Friday that they are the best band in America. We shall see.

I arrive just as Steve Burns is introducing himself. A former kids' TV host from Brooklyn, reliable old Dave Fridmann produced his first album and it shows, spacey, tight guitar pop of a Lips-meet-Dinosaur Jnr bent with, when they're audible, clever lyricism. He's admirably self-depricating too, announcing one song as being "about nanotechnology... and love", and he has the Lips' eye for staging, not only borrowing Wayne's mike cam (and Steven Drozd briefly) but having the drummer wear a hard hat with a mini-camera embedded in the front for one song. And he makes his own slightly surreal backing films, Coyne appearing in the first one as well as being visible at the side of the stage for almost the whole set. The album's called Songs For Dust Mites, Burns has stuck all the tracks in a Shockwave application on and should a British distributor pick it up, watch those positive reviews fly in.

Which is something Clinic are well used to. I've seen them three times now, and each time I've gone away with tinnitus. The setlist doesn't seem to have changed since they toured the last album, but only a handful of people seem to recognise the songs, even The One From The Advert which is thrown away third. Sticking in a B-side from their first single hardly helps that cause, but that's by the by. Having been in the studio for a long time there is an element of ring rustiness, especially during The Return Of Evil Bill where someone sounds slightly out of time with the rest of the band for most of the song, and their film is a looped go-go dancer, suggesting they only realised there'd be a video screen last week. Still, good to see they're still around, and back in the medical uniforms they briefly ditched.

I go out for a couple of minutes to stop my ears ringing and a tout outside the gates asks if I want a ticket. Given I've just come out of the venue, you mean?

You know what a Flaming Lips gig is like before you've been to one. There's going to be animal costumes, balloons, fake blood, mirrorballs, slightly unsettling videos, a nun glove puppet and a man in his forties punching the air and jumping around like he's had a shot of pure adrenaline. The factors that really stand out, though, although of course all that helps, are twofold. Firstly, there's Coyne himself. He has a way of bonding with his audience that allows him to pontificate, for want of a better word, in a way you wouldn't give others house room if they tried similarly. What works for him is he sounds like he believes what he's talking about, and you just know that's the case, hence you listen to him telling us to love each other more openly and it sounds like the most obvious piece of stage patter ever.

Secondly, and amid everything else this can get overlooked, are the songs. An odd mix too that seems like a Greatest Hits setlist, featuring four from Yoshimi, four from the Soft Bulletin, one each from Clouds Taste Metallic and Transmissions From The Satellite Heart, one from Chemical Brothers Singles - The Golden Path rendered in a Satellite Heart-esque way and creating an odd high-kicking chorus line from one side of the furry menagerie - and two covers, Seven Nation Army greeted as if it was their big hit rather than Jack and Meg's ("they were on crack and drove into a ditch, that's what happened, isn't it?") and the stratospheric closer of Pink Floyd's Breathe. Every song sounds immense, come to that, starting with a spectacularly joyous Race For The Prize and reaching a peak when Wayne dedicates Waitin' For A Superman to Elliott Smith and there seem to be quite a few people finding something in their eye by the end. By the end of Do You Realize? two of the OAPs are punching the air. The third looks like he doesn't approve, but that's by the by.

At one point Wayne comments that this will be their last tour for a while, adding that he's been surprised how we've taken to the show. It is true that if any more bells, whistles and confetti were added there wouldn't be a permanent stage big enough for the show, but everyone on stage is clearly having such a great time that it can't help but transmit to those in front of them. Best band in America, the Guardian said. The bizarre thing is, they might have underestimated them on this showing.

Monday, October 27, 2003

IS THERE SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW: We were slightly puzzled by this, which we grabbed from Ananova's report of the National Music Awards (the annual exercise which demonstrates why it doesn't matter who owns ITV):

Gareth and Will had obviously spent some time on the phone discussing outfits

JULIE CHRISTIE UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: H from Steps has quit music - probably in a pretty similar fashion to the way the Argentinians dropped their claims of sovereignty over the Malvinas, i.e. rather quietly after having been ejected from the place a few years before. So, what's his plan now? Well, you know how it is with career changes, you ignore the fact that your mum's circled the adverts for Short Order Chefs and Forklift Drivers in the local freesheet, and start to fantasise wildly.
Over to H: "I would really like to be an actor and I have enrolled in a one-year postgraduate acting course. I am really enjoying it. My friends think I am mad but I have always felt this is where my future lies. I would love to try for parts in films or plays like Billy Liar but not in musicals. I am completely over music for now."

The question is, if H always felt his future lay in acting, how did he end up in Steps? And, more to the point, when Steps exploded in mid-air and Lisa Scott-Lee had grabbed the only parachute, why did H not think then "Well, I've always wanted to be an actor, now's my chance?" Funny that he only remembered about this life-long dream when the man delivering the self-assembly solo career didn't show up at the front door.

LEMARRRRRRRGH: If there was any justice in the world, the amount of pain and sweat a bright-eyed youngster experiences on their climb to the top would be paid back in full by their success - hard work would, in an A begats B way, bring its own reward. In such a justly-arranged planet, Lemar, having slipped a disc making his new video, would be guaranteed a number one at the very least. He hurt his knee, too? Then a two-week stint at the top would be the bare minimum he could expect.

As it is, the world is a cruel and unforgiving place, so in return for his injury all he gets is a load of catcalls, finger pointing and giggling. I mean, he's no great shakes as a bloody singer so if he can't even do a dance without falling on his arse, what exactly is the point of him? He's little more than Jason Orange in outsized shoes. And it seems he fell down while he was trying to show off in front of some real basketball players, which surely must have ruptured his ego a little as well. Best of all, he had to limp off to hospital wearing half a million quids worth of diamonds, so his hobbling arrival must have looked like some decrepit octagenarian heiress turning up for her check-up. Tosser.

FEMINISIM: CAUSE SET BACK TO 1972: The whole idea of women being equal to men - long considered by virtually anyone with the power of rational thought to long since have been proven - has been called into serious question by the decision of Oprah's scary Oxygen network to release an album showcasing female musicians. Apparently, this is the best track listing they could come up with for is this:
Dido, "Thank You"
Macy Gray, "Come Together"
Stacie Orrico, "Stuck"
Sixpence None the Richer, "Don't Dream It's Over"
Avril Lavigne, "I'm With You"
Kathleen Edwards, "Six O'Clock News"
Tori Amos, "Cornflake Girl" (Live)
Aimee Mann, "Calling It Quits"
The Pretenders, "I'll Stand by You"
Sarah McLachlan, "Angel"
The Be Good Tanyas, "It's Not Happening"
Sarah Harmer, "Basement Apt"
Erin McKeown, "Slung-Lo"
Oh Susanna, "Right By Your Side"
Martina Sorbara, "Withered on the Vine"

Good god - nearly fifty years of popular music, and over half the population of the planet to choose from, and that's what we get. Rather than a dramatic statement of female creativity, it's enough to make you insist that all recording equipment be slung into the back of those Gentleman's Clubs in Piccadilly to prevent women making records by accident. Even when they've chosen an act who doesn't blow on a scale matched only by the erruption of the Steamboat Geyser, they seem to have insisted on shaking down their entire back catalogue until they find the most insipid, pallid track they could (I'll Stand By You, we're thinking of here.) Where are the punkers, the R&B divas; where's the life and where's the affirmation that, actually, women's music doesn't have to sound like the closing theme to a Hallmark made-for-TV special?

The one saving grace is that Annie Lennox seems to have missed the invitation to tender.

ROSS SEEMINGLY DETERMINED TO DRAG OUT THE AGONY: Diana Ross is keen to find a new judge for her trial - we're not sure she's quite understood the way the legal system works; nor are we sure what she's looking for - one who has a love of showtunes and can demonstrate his sympathy to Liza Minelli, perhaps? A judge with a few Gloria Gaynor records? Mind you, she's also complained that the police who breath-tested her were acting in a demanding fashion - commanding, even. Police telling people what to do, you say? Perhaps her defence should be that she only visits our planet from time to time and can't be expected to understand our strange ways.

BOXTOPS: So, we asked Nestle last week about the future role Cheryl Tweedy would be taking in the Box Tops For Education campaign, in light of her stealing lollies and punching people in the face. We got a brief reply from the company of a "we'll get back to you" nature, but since then, nothing. It seems that Nestle are happy to have Tweedy's participation in the scheme though (maybe she'd make an interesting case study for Citizenship classes?), as they're still enthusing about the Girls on the Boxtops website:

[...]Second single 'No Good Advice' was a response to critics and meddling do-gooders, and turned the Girls' story several notches louder. It was the perfect successor to a single like 'Sound Of The Underground' - brassy, breathless, defiant and iconic, a scathing manifesto of self-determination and one in the eye for anybody who doubted the group would pull off two hits in a row.

They might want to lose the phrase "one in the eye" considering, of course, that's where the jury decided Cheryl had actually landed her fists in the nightclub worker's face.

And while they're closer as a group, those who've known the girls since last autumn's auditions will attest that, even with a global hit under their belt and several more on the horizon, the five girls have barely changed at all.

This might benefit from being rewritten, too, since it could be read as implying Cheryl's always been a bit likely to go off at the drop of a hat - whereas we're sure she said in court that the pressures of showbiz had been a strain on her, didn't she?

GOOD NEWS FOR DAVID BECKHAM: So, the Sunday Mirror claims that David is furrowing brow because he thinks that Posh is getting too close to Damon Dash. David, sweetness, if you're romancing someone, you don't go round telling people that they're shit at singing. We're starting to get confused with this whole thing - telstar brings in dash, dash says posh is rubbish, telstar won't pay dash, beckham thinks posh is doing it with mrs beckham, but dash is yakking away to all and basically ridiculing Victoria to within an inch of her waistline - is that the story arc? The highlight of the ananova report is that Telstar are apparently desperate to steer Victoria back to a 'pop' route - yes, because its not like her inability to sing and relatively advanced years is going to leave her a figure of total ridicule if she pitches back up onto The Saturday Show with a pop single, is it? Did these people learn nothing from the Emma Bunton debacle?

Sunday, October 26, 2003

ACCURACY IN THE SUN: You'll recall The Sun - and especially its "political editor" (a role akin to being the Business Correspondent on The Dandy) Trevor Kavanagh - took a very stern line with the BBC during the Hutton process. And as such, we can only conclude that the paper has decided, at some point in the last few months, to abandon its traditional stance of 'comment is sacred; facts are bendy' and to try and become something approaching a paper of record. As such, we're sure they'll be rushing forward at some point to explain how it is their quote from Beyonce on the Spears/Madonna kiss has turned out to be totally made up. The Sun reported her as saying "I have standards. There are things I will not do. I knew it was going to happen from rehearsals, but it was still a shock when they did it." Curiously, Beyonce seems more worried that this makes her look homophobic - which, erm, it doesn't - than the fact it makes her look incredibly stupid (artists do something they've rehearsed, and she's shocked?). The homophobic charge would only stack up if you assumed that she meant kissing women was wrong, rather than the more plausible interpretation that she thought giving a desperate publicity whore like madonna a shin-up into the limelight was disgusting and kinda icky.

But that doesn't really matter much anyway, since Beyonce's manager and father says she never said any such thing - her actual words, he says, were "I would never do that, but I thought it was a great performance." They're mulling taking The Sun to court.

BOSS COVERS THE BOTTOM LINE: Good news for The Bottom Line venue in New York, where Bruce Springsteen has offered to pay its debts to the university to allow it to continue in business. Broooce has an emotional attachment to the place, since its where he started his career. It occurs to us that the Picket might do well to approach a similar star who started out their glittering career on their Liverpool stage. The only problem is... we can't actually think of anyone who did.

C&WOBIT: More bad news for the Carter-Cash clan, as following on from the deaths of Johnny and June this year, June's daughter Rosey Nix Adams has been found dead, alongside her fiddle player Jimmy Campbell. The pair's bodies were discovered on a tour bus in Tennesee. They appear to have died from the effects of gas poisoning caused by propane heaters, and the polcie reports suggest that the pair had been using drugs before their death.