Wednesday, February 25, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The Vines grow back edition
Another Observer Music Monthly clicks round, bringing Outkast on the cover and Peter 'what on earth are you doing writing about vegetables for the bloody Times, man' Paphides choosing the ten best novelty singles of all time. He suggests Bob the Builder is the best, but chooses Can We Fix it, which is wrong - of course, these things are personal but in that horrible week after the attacks on New York, one of the few things that provided any respite from the multi-channel non-stop Here Comes Armageddon 24 was the video for Mambo Number Five (the BtB version, of course). While not exactly Softest Sheep kissing our foreheads and promising Everything Will Be Alright Again One Day it was strangely comforting. Paphides' other choices include Right Said Fred and Jilted John, which is right, and No way Sis and Doop, which is just wrong.

Miranda Sawyer puts a foot wrong with her condemnation of Duran Duran as the enemy of Postcard and Rough Trade, concluding "Duran Duran were a great pop band, but they weren't influential", as if that was something that meant anything. Sure, they weren't as important as the Smiths, but they were a pop band. And when Pop Bands try to be important, you get Damon Albarn and you get U2. Duran deserve a lifetime achievement award, if only because Simon leBon and Nick Rhodes don't have the Pope's home phone number and their own seat in the UN.

"Some day he will come" they chortle about Will Young. Because he doesn't have a boyfriend, you see - geddit? Tom Cox's Lost Tribe of Pop on indie kids stuck forever in 1991 is to close to home and it's too near the bone for that joke to be funny anymore; Sam Taylor-Wood is prescribed Dolly Parton ("an instant hit") and the Scissor Sisters ("just great pop") by the Record Doctor.

The arrest (again) of James Brown has generated a "the James Brown I met a little while ago" piece by James Maycock.

"When I played a showcase for Island/Def Jam, about thirty seconds into the first song they flipped out. They were calling up lawyers to set up the paperwork before they left the building." That's feFe Dobson, who may indeed be the new Britney, but surely is an example of just what's wrong with the record industry - scrambling to sign people up on the basis of a thirty second snatch and with the business plan coming later, if at all. Apparently the record that changed Dobson's life was Silverchair's Neon Ballroom.

The author Helen Walsh files what's fast becoming a staple of the current market - the E-memoir. She shares her discovery of Legends in Warrington, traces the rise and then the fall, and the comedown after. It's a bit of a sad story, and a familiar one; what's really heartbreaking is that whereas the battle-wounded of previous youth cults tell tales of how they tried to change the world, but failed, the E-crowd's yarns for their grandchildren seldom get beyond the dancefloor and a bit of a buzz. They went one further than the hippies; they really did drop out altogether.

What are Outkast, you might be wondering, hand hovering over the pigeonholes. "I consider" explains Big Boi "Me and Andre to be Funkateers. We make a free-flowing type of music." They'll still be filed under urban, though.

There apparently is a real school of rock,in Philadelphia, where real kids study Jethro Tull. And, apparently, the head of the school, Paul Green, looks a lot like Jack Black. One day, VH1 came to make a programme about the school. A couple of years later, one of VH1's sister companies made School of Rock. Paul Green says "It's better, in a karmic sense, to just reap the rewards"; jack Black says "The film's not based on him. if he wants to sue, go ahead, Good Luck." Which would make Green seem the bigger man, but he makes his pupils dress up like Sergeant Pepper.

Ed Fosdyke wasn't keen on giving Oasis their first break on TV because the last edition of The Word went out three weeks before Supersonic was released and he though it might make the show look silly playing a track 'so long" before anyone could get it - how things are different ten years on.

Why Radio 2 is thriving: "What we [ the management] do is manage the heart of the running order but it seems to me that my job is to decide who were the right presenters, to make sure the right producers are with them, and trust them" says Lesley Douglas. And we really believe that making radio people want to listen to is that simple: choose people who love music, and trust them to play it. (Radio One, on the other hand, is giving Vernon Kaye another two hours a week to muddle through).

David Arnold interviews Ennio Morricone, and asks what the 25 year-old EM would make of the half-century older version. Ennio suggests he'd have a good opinion of himself, which from many people would sound smug - he knows what he can do, and what he can't (cook, apparently), and does what he does incredibly well.

Just occasionally, the NME serves up a cover which feels iconic. Or at least sexy. If last week they'd got rid of Thom and Alex Ferdinand, they might have had one with the Brody picture. This week, they don't bungle the return of the Vines, with a delicious, cut-a-hole and poke yourself through picture of Craig. With a butterfly painted on his face.

The issue comes with some art prints from the awards bash - luckily, instead of the Brody/Josh pairing they stick Josh with Melissa Auf Der Maur and give you a clean Brody shot; there's obviously a Kings of Leon one in there, too. There always is.

Now jet makes sense - there's a big picture of one of Jet and Liam, "passing the baton" from one generation to the next. And all becomes clear - Jet are a band for people who are afraid that liking music is a bit sissy; they are football hooliganism on a CD; pissing up against a lamp-post outside a nursery school in MP3 downloadable format. The picture of Chris and Liam might just be the ugliest thing the NME has ever printed. Although the self-congratluatory 'it was the NME wot won it' triumphalism of the piece on Keane's top ten hit comes close - while the paper's enthusiastic support has helped Keane storm the citadel of the chart, the slump in singles sales must also take a lot of the credit, surely?

Jim James of My Morning Jacket burns the made-up CD: 2Pac, Matthew Wilder's Break My Stride and Ray Charles' Dont Let the Sun Catch You Crying.

Peter Robinson takes on Mark Hoppus from Blink-182. He interviewed him once before, four years ago, when he said if B-182 failed he'd launch a magazine for people who make a living picking up dog shit. Instead he's still putting out music for people who... oh, you're ahead of us. He enjoys fishing, too, which we think is one of those signs that someone has no business being a rock star - angling and rocking are incompatable pass-times.

Radar band is Goldie Lookin' Chain, who are kind of a cross between Margaret Beckett and the Beastie Boys. We're not sure we're not already over them.

Hamish Rosser from The Vines has fucked so many groupies he says he's now "off sex for life" which, to be honest, is probably just as well. The band's line seems to be that the crazyness is passed, and that they've survived. Reading between the lines, we should cherish every moment the Vines are with us, because they won't be forever.

"I told the local promoters we [Tinker] would be opening for the Pumpkins and they were like 'fat chance'; then Billy turned up at the soundtrack going 'where's my friend melissa?' and the promoters crawled back with their tails between their legs! I was like 'told you!'" Sometimes, with her tales of Dave and Courtney and Billy, it would be possible to think that Melissa Auf Der Mar is a little up her own Mar. Reading her story, and listening to what she does under her own banner, the conclusion has to be drawn that she's actually a bit of a perpetual supporting actor; she doesn't seem to have anything pressing to say in her own music, and her interviews are little more than a list of people she's known.

John Squire rules out a Stone Roses reunion again, which we think means we're looking at Glastonbury 2011. He's praised for being "one of the very few artists to successfully combine pop and painting", which is a bit meaningless, like saying Churchill was one of the few politicians to successfully combine Prime Ministering with wall-building.

Posters of rock outrage, anyone? Pistols on Today, Janet's breast and, um, Lennon being shot and, double um, an 'explicit lyrics' sticker blown up huge.

reviews
live
the distillers - brixton academy - "boys left thinking wicked, wicked brody-shaped thoughts",
chikinki, islington academy - "a dancing canine of an underdog"
auf der maur, islington academy - "a grunge Farrah Fawcett'
sleepy jackson, wc2 astoria - "post-grunge paranoia pioneers"

albums
hundred reasons - shatterproof is not a challenge - "only one real clanger", 7
pony club - family business - "the cliche meter is on overdrive", 6
zero 7 - when it falls - "so what if pills are only a quid... it's time to change our ways", 3

singles
sotw no doubt - bathwater/ it's my life - "baked to perfection" (Is this only just being released? Wasn't it out months ago?)
we rock like girls don't - rock n roll freak - "from the L7 school"
i am kloot - from your favourite sky - "a bit like babybird"

and, finally, Bubba Sparxx loves... who? what band are we about to learn about that we might not have sampled before? Outkast.


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