Wednesday, March 17, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The return of the Sheilds edition
The last time Kevin Shields did an interview, Kurt Cobain was still alive. He finally resurfaced on Friday in the Guardian review, laughing off his assumed mental illness - "The only advantage to being considered insane is, Shields says, that "people don't get as angry with you when you piss them off" - and claiming the reason why he left it so long between records was, well, "I lost it. I lost what I had and I thought, you know what? I'm not going to put a crap record out." See, Fifty Cent, that's quality control. Scrapping a few songs and re-recording them isn't anything to release a press statement about. You find yourself wondering how Island could have fucked it up so badly - it's not as if they didn't know that getting albums from My Bloody Valentine was like trying to get successful missions to Mars to send back pictures - and if it's true, as Shields claims, that they suggested he draw the dole while working on music for them, shouldn't they be investigated for attempting to force an employee to make a false claim?

You'll recall when Word launched it was sniffy about magazines which come with cover mount CDs. This month, the issue comes with a free magazine of photos, which looks almost identical to one we can remember getting with Q over a decade ago - even the subject matter, old pictures of old rockers - is pretty similar. We wish they'd taken a sniffy attitude to this tatty sort of add-on and gave us a record to play instead.

Still, the writing is spot on: there's the full text of Stephen Fry's speech at the Radio 2 Folk awards; Tears For Fears reflect on the 80s, Roland conceeding "The 90s did them much better... Britpop bands like Blur were better at making videos, they were better businessmen, and they had better haircuts."

Anastacia likes both Coldplay albums; Francis Wheen rates Andras Schiff and Mena Suvari rates the Black Eye Peas.

Stuart Maconie recalls his days at the NME - it's extracted from the soon coming Cider With Roadies, and it's very funny; we reckon that a film about the NME would be a much better use of everybody's time than the Almost Famous Rolling Stone wank-off.

It's not just Kevin Shields who's returned, another Great British Pop Eccentric [(c) everyone, ever] is wandering about again in the form of Andy Partridge. He's pissed off that he wrote songs for Sophie ellis-Bextor only to find out she'd already decided what songs she was doing on the album anyway. It seems like her manager was using her as, well, almost a stalking horse.

The main guts of this month's Word is 110 songs, nominated by 111 people - one song they believe everyone should hear. Alex kapranos picks Achoo by Sparks, Michael Faber picks Kissing The Pink's Greenham; British Sea Power's Eamon plumps for Oops (Oh My) by Tweet. Surprisingly, Simply Thrilled Honey is chosen by Will McDonald, former henchman of Chris Evans. John Peel casts his vote for Wonderwall. No, of course he picks Teenage Kicks - "I know, I know, nothing if not predictable." Both Matthew Bannister and Kate Rusby want Little Star by Stina Nordenstam. And yet, what does Julie Burchill choose? What does she believe is the one song that sums up music? No Good Advice by Girls Aloud.

A really young looking Julian Casablancas is on the front of the NME - I don't know what he's been eating, but he looks about twelve; that's followed up with a cracking big picture, of Benny from Benny and Joon turning up to plead guilty to punching the crap out of Jason Von Bondie. Jack White gave the nme a bemusing statement: "I regret allowing myself to be provoked to the point of getting into a fist fight, but I was raised to believe that honour and integrity mean something. And those principles are worth defending." There he goes again, describing it as a "fist fight", although, of course, Jason appears to have only used his face in the battle. As one of the parts of his anger management course, Jack's going to have to keep a logbook of his feelings. Got to be an album in that, surely?

Bubba Sparxxx squares up to Peter Robinson, but is soon bested, as PR talks him into looking up Stuart Cable for a jam session.

Thirteen Senses want to shoot Fred Durst in the penis, they tell Radar. By accident, they've created the exact opposite of 'hitting a barn door.'

Yikes... NERD have glowing eyes, like in that horror flick... the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart. Chad describes The Darkness as "Queen... but with respect."

Blanche have things to say, once you tunnel past the "they know Jack White" wrappings; they muse on how "death has become a taboo but in the Victorian ages talking about pain was embraced." But the point, surely, is that in the Victorian era death was constantly at everyone's elbow, either as they were about to fall into a spinning jenny's workings, or on the field of some colonial battle - if death has been distanced from our minds, then surely that's because it's been distanced from our lives? Sadly, no room is found to explore this.

Hurrah! At long last, the 'ME has revived its pisstake of bands with crap names - how those long cold nights waiting for Britpop to come and rescue young men's hairstyles were brightened by the crushing of Mung Bean Jesus and Who Moved The Ground? In 2004, the bands who chose to call themselves Mumcuss and Help She Can't Swim get held up to public ridicule. It's time the cudgels were taken up again against crap band names, and we'd like to help wield a cudgel, if we may.

graham coxon - stoke sugramill - "he even manages to riverdance like a camden pixie"
hundred reasons - nottingham rock city - "proudly uncool, unfashionable"
keane - ulu - "all about melody, romance and massaging ears"

nerd - fly or die - "they really, REALLY do rock", 8
fragile state - voices from the dust bowl - "chill-out, unreconstructed", 6
blanche - if we can't trust the doctors - four mentions of Jack White in one review, 8
lou reed - animal serenade - "Reed has mistaken his rock and roll for hight art", 4

sotw - love is all - make out, fall out, make up - "scruffy, ragtag, indie as fuck"
nickelback - feeling way too damn good - "so Nickelback and Andrew WK are a joke and the Darkness aren't?"

Jason Stollsteimer loves Otis Redding. Can we get a "Man, that's Otis?" Thank you.

And finally, someone writes a letter that tries to explain why Franz Ferdinand signing to a record label makes it "like September 11th never happened." Obviously, they fail. These people walk the street.

[The Kevin Sheilds interview is online at The Guardian website]

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