Wednesday, January 21, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Chrissie Hynde's arse edition
What's the fascination with jack Black? Sure, he was good in High Fidelity, but so was Catherine Zeta Jones; it doesn't make him a genius. And while it's not unknown for actors (Hello, Ewan) to take a role in a commercial banker in order to earn the cash to let them do more arty roles, there's a limit, surely? Doing Shallow Hal to give you the commercial freedom to do School of Rock is hardly what Stanislavsky would have wanted, is it? We ask only because Word lauds the man today, although it does reveal in passing he was in Waterworld, which at least means that the Tenacious D movie can't be the worst thing he's been involved with.

In a piece about David Kitt, Word suggests he's for you if "you liked Tom McCrae, Ed Harcourt or David Gray" - which is like saying if you liked "love, happiness or cholera."

Should Ryan Adams be more self-editing, he's asked. "No" he snaps back, "because it's nobody's business." Erm... actually, Ryan, it is - the people who buy your records are your business, in a very real sense. Luckily you've managed to release some stinkers and still tempt them back for your returns to form, but there comes a point where you'll stop being able to do that so effortlessly. Ryan bristles when it's suggested to him that some of his fans are quite famous: "It's such a liability... have you noticed how there's some really talented artists come along, and if they align themselves with other fanous people it really reduces the credibility of them." This is revealing in so many ways - not least that Ryan is trying to simultaneously bask in the glory and shade himself from it - ooh, I have many famous fans, but one musn't be seen to mention them - and that he wants to be thought of, above all else, as credible. And yet every interview he does, he appears a wee bit more a jerk, and a wee bit less credible. It's a pity, his new stuff is certainly as good as anything he's ever done, but his interviews make him seem like the sort of person everyone pretends to that they're going home, so they can have a drink after he's left.

Linda Smith, winningly, talks about children as "its", compares motorway services to Edward Hopper paintings and is about to launch a campaign to get all the towns mentioned in Ian Dury songs to display the relevant lyrics.

Cher listens to Papa Roach; Will Self ha sbought some sort of walking boot; Chris 'Viz' Donald's wife is friends with Mary Coughlan and Ed Stourton loves NERD. This we learn from the celebrecommendation section; then, we discover that there's a Steely Dan song [Book of Liars] that namechecks Hello Kitty and that David Hepworth thinks Charles Lindbergh was the first celebrity. He wasn't, of course; "X is the first celebrity" is the sort of article you write when you want to do a feature on X and can't think of any other hook to hang it on - Jesus, Charles I, Ned Ludd, Elvis... you name 'em, you can spin enough justification for them being the first celeb.

Then to the main business of this month's Word, the battle of the decades. Five roughly ten-year shaped eras, five writers, many arguments. It sounds like it could almost be the sort of confection BBC Two is fond of on a Saturday night, but it works pretty well - not least because the writers are writers who could detail their last flossing and make it worth reading. It's such a simple idea - get a bunch of people who can write (alright, and Andrew Loog Oldham) and give 'em a really broad brief and see what they come up with.

So: Loog Oldham's take on the 50's is "the pre-Beatled time" and has the advantage of championing an era which looks so pre-Lapsarian as to almost not belong in a rock context. But it can't escape the fact that everything was still being bloody rationed.

Chrissie Hynde is generous enough to choose the 1960's; not the era when she was writing for the NME, nor the era when she was making music. It's not even the decade which gets illustrated with a picture of her arse (that honour goes to the 70s), but she knows why she's made her choice: "Nothing that I've experienced since has been as radical as the feeling I had in the 60s. Everything you heard in music at that time you'd never heard before."

Danny Baker (and why is it we only get an article on music by Baker every Preston Guild? It absolutely buggers belief that, for example, the Observer can launch a music monthly and not think to put in a call to him. Mind you, Radio Five Live need a replacement for the early football phone-in show and they choose to try out Christian Bloody O'Connell rather than bringing back the rightfull host. It's so lazy to sneer at the Bakester for his involvement with Chris Evans' TV productions, but has anyone stopped to wonder exactly what a horrible time TFI would have been if there hadn't been a sharp wit feeding lines to the half wit? Anyway...) Danny Baker does the 70's, telling the tale of the time he went to see the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, only to leave because "they were very noisy and it was hot."

Stuart Maconie is handed the double-edged ladel that were the 80's: "It was obvious that these were the last days of mankind. We were going down and we were taking the world with us. It would end not with a whimper, but the Bangles." His case, however, is weakened because of the existence of Live Aid, which would distort the music industry for decades to come (we've still got Bono as a result, and where do you think he learned to love polite applause?) but it is a rare thing to see the Icicle Work's Up Here In The North of England acknowledged as a piece of genius in print.

And, of course, there's the 90's bringing it up, championed by Andrew Harrison: "We even got to see DLT and Simes marched out behind the chemical sheds and shot in the back of the head."

It's a cracking read. In the end, we think the 70's win, but that's mainly because Chrisse Hynde does have a lovely butt.

Onto the NME, which has Funeral For A Friend's street preachers on the front. It also promises "amazing" court pictures of the Jack White court appearance, which turns out to be a fairly standard snap of Jack stood next to an attorney. We've looked and looked, and can see nothing amazing about it. If it was from a British court,it might be, we suppose.

Kelly Osbourne is listening to Wham these days: "people say Andrew Ridgeley as the talented one, but then again, where's he now?" she says. We've looked and looked, and don't think she was trying to make a joke.

Tim DeLaughter looks even seedier than ever - less like a man who would try and persuade you to get into a camper van full of nubiles, more like a bloke who'd drag you into his Mondeo. The new Polyphonic Spree album is "like the earth giving birth", apparently. A lot of screaming and an outpouring of magma, then?

The NME is promoting some sort of connection with a talent contest of some sort where you could win something or other.

Air burn a made-up CD: Primals and Kate Moss, Suicide and Outkast.

Peter Robinson takes on Jamie Callum, which ends up with a debate on if the queen would have to use a strap on. You can hear the creaking of Callum's fixed grin. Perfect.

Mr. Robinson is also in charge of the letters bag this week, where he deals with a letter from someone who suggests Sid Vicious was a bit of a tosser: "if people thank that [his article last week] glorified Sid's lifestyle rather than presented it as a cautionary tale, they missed the broader point of the article." And, fair enough, he pulled no punches in detailing Sid's fairly shitty ending. But in the context of the front page image and headlines, the give-away poster, the point was blunted by an air of celebration of an empty lifestyle and the dressing up of a broken failure as some sort of hero - in the same way that Liam's every word is hung on, be they ever so slight. It's not surprise that the paper namechecked Liam in the strapline for the Sid piece; chose poses which pre-echoed Liam's favoured photocall stance (the flicking of the Vs). While Robinson's piece detailed the fuck-up, it got wrapped in a large slice of applause. Even this week, on page 48, Sid gets described as "the greatest rock and roll legend of all time." That's in a plug for a book, which gets a further plug a few pages later, which claims that Sid didn't kill Nancy ('ee loved 'er, see) but in fact, a conveniently also dead smack dealer called Rockets Redgrave did. And then - aaah - Rockets managed to get unusually pure heroin to Sid so that he'd OD before it all came out. Even although Rocket didn't give Sid his fatal dose - apparently, says author Alan Parker, he gave the almost 100 per cent pure stuff to the bloke who usually supplied Sid because he knew it would wind up in Vicious' veins. It's just lucky he did all this in New York and not Midsomer Punkton, otherwise Jim Bergerac would have had Rockets banged up in no time. In order to get the paper to carry this piffle, Parker has donated a signed Sex Pistols single for the NME to offer to a lucky reader.

The Open, the Radar band, have a favourite king and name drop Ultravox. You don't get that often.

Funeral for a Friend's Matt got into music when MTV came to the Welsh valleys. They had a punk rock weekend (this was back before MTV had spawned a thousand mini-MTVs, of course) and Matt was hooked. He also quit seven years of straight edge with a pint of Strongbow.

"We haven't been mistaken for a Christian rock band yet" say the Rapture, a little disappointed.

"The worst people are those who take drugs because they think it gives them a cool cachet" observes Franz Ferdinand's Alex. That would be the whole of the shoegazing scene, then.

This weeks posters are all offstage shots - karen o, jack white, brody dalle and, erm, another one of those bloody Kings of Leon backstage images. Enough.

live - scissor sisters - new york - "this isn't just any old party", 7
my chemical romance - night & day - "a full blown extremo hero", 8

air - talkie walkie - "deeply unfashionable", 8
the cure - join the dots - "save your money for the reissues", 6
martin scorsese presents the blues - "exhaustive", 10
the church - forget yourself -"space rock odysseys", 8

sotw - spektrum - kinda now - "clincal crispness"
pink - god is a dj - "tirte meaningless bollocks"

and, finally, Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk loves Jimi Hendrix. Yes, they're still going. Yes, still wearing the stupid helmet.

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