Wednesday, April 14, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: 'Okay, we'll refrain from asking if you hate black people; you revoke your demand for Danny Kelly to be handed over; and neither of us mention Southpaw Grammar. Deal?' edition
There’s a really disturbing picture of the Strokes in the new edition of Word. Disturbing in that, high upon an Edinburgh hillside, they look just like Tenpole Tudor.

They also rate the new Morrissey album, track-by-track, for potential controversey. The flashpoint, it seems, is going to be All The Lazy Dykes. Although we can’t see shiftless lesbians getting up in arms about it, somehow.

Eric Clapton is constantly harrassed by a woman who thinks he’s stealing ideas from the inside of her head. So, either she’s completely mad, or she’s been responsible for Clapton’s last few records, in which case she’s dangerous. Either way, she needs help.

Nice piece compiling some the odder reviews: they’re rather harsh on Anne Frank, who “does nothing but complain”; but she gets off lightly compared to whoever bought Trout Mask Replica: “I am now perified to sleep in my own bed.”

“Keane originally formed as school friends in 1997” informs a get-by-in guide to the proudly pudgy pompadors, which seems an odd way of putting it. Drummer Richard tells a story about how he recognised the audience from Top of the Pops on the way home, which is quite sweet.

The closure of Just 17 is more than a media there-but-for-the-grace-of-god moment for David Hepworth, because he helped give birth to the magazine. He reckons the death of the title is a side effect of the death of the teenager, which makes you wonder who it is buying all those copies of Bliss.

Now, where are we up to with that 80s revival? Duran have had their reunion, Five Star have coughed up a remix, the Spands have flirted with getting back together, George Michael is confessing to being in Wham and KajaGooGoo have reunited and already kicked Limahl out again. That means about now, Martin Fry should be... why, yes, here he is. He’s got a theory about music: you can’t be any good at it without having had a miserable childhood. He’s also got a past to live down: his kids used Google to track down pictures of him during ABC’s ill-advised cartoon period.

What people like: George Michael loves West Side Story and Cabaret (well, duh), the never-actually-funny Jimmy Carr claims to be a long-term Lloyd Cole fan (so, that’s why the long face, then). Katie Melua makes the odd claim that “censorship isn’t as tight in Georgia as it is here.” Mmm.

In the report of Shaun of the Dead - Simon Pegg’s new movie - it’s revealed that they had to get permission from the artists whose records they used to decapitate the zombies. Sade said yes; Mark Knopfler refused to allow Brothers In Arms to help save human lives.

“I thought my pain was greater than yours; but the truth was I was just a junkie, so I couldn’t deal with the usual shit everybody else has to deal with. I really believed I was different.... There were points when I mistook lust for love. Like with some of the people I married. Most of them, actually.” Steve Earle, as it happens, but you just knew that it was a country singer, didn’t you?

There’s a big cut-and-come-again fruitcake of an eBay article; it’s disguised as a beginner’s guide, but the real pleasure is from the recognition of yourself in some of the behaviour.

The supposedly exhaustive guide to musical genres doesn’t have Raggle-Taggle or New Wave of New Wave. But there’s lots of headings for cover boys Franz ferdinand to choose from, although when asked they instead place themselves “somewhere between Boyzone and Joy Division.” (i.e. like everyone except Robbie Williams and X, then) Word identifies the band’s strength as being they don’t pretend to be thicker than they actually are. You might want to compare this with Blur, who did try and disguise their smarts; then, when Graham Coxon left taking the clue with him, the residue suddenly started to show off in the hope we wouldn’t notice their bottom had shot.

Clark Collis goes to see The Passion of the Christ, the film based on The Bible (I wish they’d kept the name of the book; I hate it when they do that.) He worries that Gibson’s work will look like a first shot in a fundamentalist war when viewed beyond the Christian world - if only we were still back at that stage.

Talking of those that died for your sins: What, more Kurt Cobain? At least this piece is by David Cavanagh, although you do wonder if he’d not been better off keeping it back for the twentieth anniversary rather than the arse-end of the tenth. “It all seems a long, long time ago” concludes Cavanagh, without the hindsight of all his readers who will have spent the last month feeling like they’d only just tripped over the corpse.

Next month, they’re putting the Smiths on the front, which again might look less like a good idea since it’s starting to look like by May we’ll have had enough Morrissey to bring down Mr Happy. But for now, it’s still a novelty to have him back - especially on the cover of the NME, which neatly plumps for a stripped down front-page, echoing the classic no-words-at-all cover of, ooh, years ago. After a couple of weeks of Kurt and now this, it’s looking increasing like the NME has decided that its long, illustrious past is an asset, not an embarrassment. In fact, with a Mozzer front and an advert for Prince on the back, it’s only the glossy paper that makes it clear you’ve not picked up a 1986 back issue.

But, hey, bang up to date is a small throwaway section sponsored by O2 to launch its download service. What would the stars download on to their digital music players? they ask, not apparently aware that, erm, everyone’s got a digital music player already. And the first star they ask is Conor McNicholas, the NME editor. Star? He’s not even been on ‘Today’ for the last couple of weeks, dammit. It seems this is going to be a monthly giveaway - like that one that used to be sponsored by Miller beer which disappeared without fanfare a while ago. Cameron from Jet is taken off to one side to be asked questions. He’s currently reading a book about John Lennon. Of fucking course.

In the NME proper, Nic out of Jet has been taken to one side, and given to Peter Robinson to play with. If he could put anyone on top of a mountain, he’d stick Chad Kroeger up there. Presumably because Nickelback’s rock for people who don’t like music is direct competition for Jet.

Okay, okay, one final Kurt thing, and then we swear we’ll be so over it: A fan called Natalie announced she’d come to London especially to mark the tenth anniversary. “And then we’re going to the Hard Rock Cafe to look at his guitar. He’s a huge influence on everyone we know.” Really? And yet none of them mentioned that marking his death by going to a burger to gawk at his guitar, displayed like a trophy, might be the closest you could get to pissing in his heroin and making him record Time For Teletubbies?

The big picture is Jack White and Loretta Lynn, which is just stylish.

Keane - here dubbed “Brit Pack anthem makers” (look, nobody’s using that, you know) do the CD thing: Charlatans, Radioehad and, um, Michael Jackson.

radar band are the dead 60s - they’re label mates and management share with The Coral, but they swear blind they’re not part of the Cosmic Scouser Bandwagon Zanzibar scene. Specials Meets the Clash is the verdict (although that sounds scarily like Beat spin-off General Public to us)

So, the return of the Manc, then. Firstly, we don’t want to be shallow but he’s got more hair than he had last time, hasn’t he? His quiff used to be sat like a small, silvery lemur balanced atop his skull; now, there’s a luxuriant abundance of black hair. Morrissey had been refusing to speak to the NME since August 8, 1992, when the whole ‘Are you now, or have you ever been a racist’ thing got out of hand - oh, how much could have been prevented with a simple ‘no’ - but now he recognises that “the people who are at NME now are a different breed; not the old, crusty geriatrics who were there in the early to mid 90s.” So that’s why the detente. That and because the crusty old guard are now in charge of the music pages of the national press and if he doesn’t plug You are the quarry in the NME, it’s going to be a jostle for coverage in Saga and the Oldie. But its good to have him back, you know, pointing out that Tony Blair is turning into Larry Grayson, and chatting about the whole decade that he skipped. It’s kind of how we imagine Blair and Gaddafi’s meeting would have been, only with slightly less farting . He reckons nobody has offered him so much as a pound to reform the Smiths. And just as things are warming up: end of part one. More next week. Well, we’ve waited about six hundred issues, we can wait another seven.

Karen O seems to have disappeared recently, but she’s back as well, talking up the soon-come Yeah yeah yeahs tour; going in the opposite direction are Razorlight, off doing that cracking America thing. Good luck to them, but why do bands always set themselves that goal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just concentrate on, say, cracking Rhode Island first? Anyway, they kick off the live reviews, too, scoring 8 for their New York gigs. Then...

Kasabian, Islington Academy 2 - “edgy, euphoric, electrifying”, 8
Part Chimp - London Metro - “pain that reminds you you’re alive”
selfish cunt - whitechapel rhythm factory - “London’s finally burning again”, 10

the zutons - who killed the zutons - “waiting to pounce”, 7
syd barrett - radio 1 sessions - “sounds like its been under water for a thousand years”, 6

sotw - franz ferdinand - matinee - “is this what they mean by a win/win situation?”
Pink - last to know - “murderous, corkscrew wielding, hungary for man-blood...”

And finally, who do you reckon Dangermouse has chosen for the ‘why I love’ column? If you said REM, then curse you: you must have peeked.

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