Thursday, April 22, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The Royal Mail keeps your promises edition
Boy George was grilled by readers of the Independent - nice for him, he loves talking about himself. And Clare Short, who he says is the sexiest politician. He’s asked why the American Critics didn’t like Taboo, replying “This is typical English misinformation. There were four or five really bad reviews and about 20 fantastic reviews. We had reviews saying it was one of the best scores on Broadway in 20 years.” Wonder where that “typical English misinformation” came from - could it be that feature, for example, in the New Statesman last November which dismissed the pile of bad reviews as being motivated by hatred of Rosie O’Donnell? That, of course, was Boy George’s diary.

Over at the Guardian, a week of guest editors for G2 kicked off Monday with Franz Ferdinand offering a naked cock on page three. Thing is, it was a very horrid cock, like a skin tortilla, and not attractive at all. It didn’t go down well other readers, either: someone wrote to the letters page to complain that it was all rather adolescent.

The Face entered what might be its final furlong (apparently there are potential new owners gathered round, although nobody has yet had their money accepted - we’re kind of hoping they’ll put it onto bidup TV, where Peter Simon can take charge of the whole process.) So, the current issue doesn’t actually acknowledge explicitly that this could be the last time, but there’s that general air hanging over proceedings. The whole thing comes with a booklet celebrating “The Face versus Sex”, claiming to be a collection of the sexiest pictures the magazine has run; the cover of the box it all comes in has a permatanned Giselle wearing some tape. It looks not unlike the bag the Loaded Tenth Anniversary issue comes in (also women wearing just tape), except the Loaded covers look like they’re trying a whole lot less. Which sums up part of the Face’s problem - it used to be really sexy, effortlessly so; now it’s reduced to flashing neon lights and putting cards in phone booths.

The magazine proper also has that end of era feeling - there’s a rapprochment between Neil Stevenson on behalf of The Face and Jason Donovan, which is on a par with the NME-Morrissey summit. It’s a curious piece, a great read but almost too perfect a collapse-of-the-hellmouth ending: Donovan explains that the reason why the Face’s allegations stung so much was it was the magazine he most craved approval from, he wanted that kiss of cool. And now here is, being given that kiss - while playing the lead in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s what he once wanted, but does it mean anything now?

There’s also about nine thousand pages of pictures of training shoes. Even The Times does fashion better these days.

The NME has finally come through the postal service - Mike Skinner on the cover, and a delightfully gory picture of the Matt Bellamy incident for the big picture - blood pouring down his face, the similarities with Andrew WK’s fake photoshoots are drawn. In other news, there’s a picture of Pete Doherty with writing all over him, kind of like Willow in the season four finale, but with biro. And it’s not in Greek.

The pick of the news pages, though, is the arrival of Matt Phillips of the BPI to offer comments on the downloading survey from a couple of weeks ago. It’s funny, you know, we could have sworn it was a massive, angry rejection of the BPI’s methods and attitude to downloading, but Matt seems to have read something completely different, thanking the NME for “highlighting the threats downloading poses to new music.” He then trots out the usual mix of emotive language (“stealing”), attempts to counter spin (“Our campaign is not about ‘arresting people for listening to music’”) and talking bollocks: “the good news is that there are already well over 300,000 tracks available legally” - not if you use a Mac, there aren’t; “Of course we want more music to be available to buy. It can’t all be put in place as quickly as we’d like” - why not? The only thing that’s holding up the European launch of iTunes is record company quibbling; the only thing stopping all the big label’s back catalogues being available to buy is the big labels - after all, they’ve had five bloody years to get their systems ready; “It’s disappointing that eighty five per cent of your readers think that downloading doesn’t damage artists. How could it not?” Erm... because, as has been established time after time after time, downloading stimulates sales, in the same way radio play does. There’s then this absolute doozy: “If filesharing continues in the way it has... the industry can only react by investing in fewer artists.” Which would make sense, except that EMI made healthy profits of eighty million quid, and promptly dumped one out of every five of its acts. So why should anyone expect that buying a record is going to in any way lead to investment in new artists?

Razorlight burn a CD, using only illegally downloaded tracks from Serafin, The Undertones and The God Machine.

Peter Robinson takes on Eamon, which is a bit like letting Bamber Gascoigne have a go at Jordan. Sample:
“Do you think there is any sense in which your single could be construed as being lightly misogynistic?”
“Uh... you kill me with these words. I don’t know what these words mean, man.”

“From day one, since I was a sperm, I’ve been the strongest.” That’s Jentina, who’s the British Kelis, says Radar. British because she was born in Woking, but she’s actually based in Miami.

“I dont like there being drugs I haven’t tried. I’ve done GHB ... it’s like drinking a Stella that’s more pilly.” You don’t really interview Mike Skinner, you just transcribe, but John Mulvey has an interesting perspective on why the Streets work, despite enough contradictions to short circuit a laptop in a bath: “All the impulses he displays ... aren’t that special. This is the way we are. It’s just that, unlike Mike, most pop-stars over-simplify their lives when they sing about them.”

The second half of the Morrissey interview is accompanied by a photo of him looking more like Terence Stamp than ever. He also offers Alex Needham some advice on his love life, and its bad news: “Buy yourself a nice budgie. That’s my advice to you... you’ve been roaming the planet for 29 years, and if [love] hasn’t struck you on the head by now I think you’d just better really get used to that television set and get yourself a nice comfortable armchair. You see, when you’re a bit younger you constantly think ‘It’s bound to happen. I’m bound to turn around a certain corner and be faced by life everlasting.’ And it’s a trick of the light, I’m afraid.” Clearly, Mozzer’s revenge for the decade and a half in the wilderness is to crush all hope from the lives of nme writers.

The Bees are kinder to the nme, though, offering thanks for being called ‘dance-craze’, while Goldie Lookin’ Chain share a spliff (more accurately, a Brendon) with the paper and the Zutons piece is done as a cod-Poirot investigation (‘who killed the Zutons’, see?). Two of these three bands are part of this week’s scene, Shroomdelica, which is another one of those that we think won’t be on everyone’s lips in a few weeks (wasn’t it Scouseadelica a few months back?)

pixies - minneapolis - the scariest thing is Frank Black could sit in for Frank on the desk at ER now, and nobody would notice the difference - 9
young heart attack - manchester roadhouse - “cheap, sleazy”, 7
d12 - shepherds busg empire - “the dirty dozen just aren’t dirty enough”, 5
yeah yeah yeahs - glasgow barrowlands - “there’s magic at work”, 8

prince - musicology - “something like form”, 6
patti smith - trampin - “it takes an old master to administer a kick up the arse to the young pretenders”, 8

sotw - the streets - fit but you know it - “a glam-urban lager race of a choon”
the von bondies - tell me what you see - “underlines why they are one of the most average bands in rock & roll”

And finally, Wolfman loves Marvin Gaye.

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