Thursday, April 29, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Tim Burgess knocks up a few pieces to order edition
First up, a quick look at the locals: The Express & Echo is hugely excited about the prospect of a Busted and McFly double at Powderham Castle, although we're not quite sure to make of its wider coverage of the Powderham festival: "the summer ends in suitable style with Status Quo." What does that mean, exactly?

Meanwhile, Taboo - so cruelly shunned by the Broadway critics - has found a fan in Jackie Butler, the Western Morning News' theatre reviewer: although down in Plymouth, the musical is seen less as a glorious celebration of how great Boy George is; more a testament to the follies of the big city: "a brash and honest snapshot of a gloriously self-indulgent London..." That even the furthest flung provinces just go "oh, guys in frocks" undermines further George's desperate desire to cling to his status as outrageous; instead of throwing up hands in shock, even Britain's most venerable local newspapers rate the accuracy of the Steve Strange impersonator.

A while ago, we used to plug No Rock with a picture of Billie Piper Evans and the words "... because, one day, she'll try to relaunch her career." Don't say we didn't warn you, as the best PR team a rich husband can buy swings into action in a bid to try and make the girl from the Smash Hits ad seem like a credible crack at a British Nicole Kidman. It's interesting to note that nearly all the coverage she gets mentions the Chris Evans connection; we wonder if he's decided that here will be his project - that Vernon Kay gameshow might have croaked; Channel Five's TFI retread stank with Chris Moyles and stank stronger with Christian O'Connell; Terry and Gaby may have sunk without trace - but hey, turning an irritating teen pop starlet into a major force on the British stage? Maybe that's the way to show he's still got it. It certainly might explain why he's centre stage in all the coverage: Elle Girl's Billie interview is about "the love that wasn't meant to last" and is straplined "In Praise of Older (Ginger?) Men"; while a bit in OM gives her the chance to say how much she loves "a man with a big belly" (perhaps Danny Baker's still in with a chance?) Did she have any qualms about the age difference? "I did register that perhaps not everyone would get off on it" she says, before launching into some pro-Chris schtick: "everyone should meet him. He's so inspiring." Just not on a Friday, of course.

Funnily enough, Vernon Kay turns up in the same issue of the Observer supplement. "God help whoever cleans my house... my first cleaner, I wrote a him a letter, describing everything I wanted him to do. And he wrote back to me saying 'I cannot match your high standards, so I cannot take this job.'" And he reckons he'd never do pantomime. We give it two years before he's Buttons in the Skelmersdale Playhouse.

It's an Observer Music Monthly week, too. We get the top ten music destinations - unfortunately, since they're tied not just to place but time as well, it's going to be expensive to get to them, but the ones in the present (Paris, Dakar and St Petersburg) are all a little Kershaw, don't you think? And no Manchester at the start of the 90s?

The secret life is Diana Ross - her secrets include her rather public arrest for being pissed behind the wheel. We think the claims she had a scene with Fozzie Bear is a bit of a fib.

Record Doctor Peter Paphides does a consultation for Diarmuid Gavin, although a man who can lead Primal Scream astray (sneaking Throb and Duffy into the Blue Peter garden) probably needs little help. Prescriptions include Minnie Ripperton ("exceeded all my expectations) and the Go Betweens ("bowled over") - so expect Baby Stones to turn up soundtracking some path laying on Gardeners World sometime soon.

Mike Skinner is the big interview. His theory is that Hip Hop has a problem with second albums far more acute than that of rock's "difficult third album" syndrome: "It all hits a wall... when you listen to 50 Cent, you imagine you're hearing a guy who goes around getting shot, and he doesn't... well, he did, but now he's doing pretty much the same as I am: being interviewed; collecting awards; going to parties. And the big question is, how to hang on to that excitement you had before, without pretending you're still doing things you're actually not."

Some "pop stylists" are brought the other side of the camera to be grilled about how they come up with the idea of putting boys in jeans and girls in low-cut tops. Kenny Ho is caught trying to make Myleene Klass straddle rock and classical - "she still wants to be current and sexy" he explains. Too late to start now, surely?; Cynthia Lawrence John isn't just a dresser for the Sugababes, she's "like their big sister" - she suggests they get "slagged off in the press because they don't play the pop-tart game". Maybe big sis should watch the Round Round video. Or the Numan mash-up one. Or... but you get the point; Ashley Elliot does Starsailor, which must surely be no more demanding than giving them twenty quid and the address of Millets?; William Baker is Kylie's "Creative Director", which we take as meaning trying to get her arse into shot without showing the scaffolding; Harris Elliot dresses athlete - which is odd, because we could have sworn they look like their mam dressed them. Spitefully.

Kitty Empire takes a punt on Eamon having a long career in front of him. Yeah... we're sure he'll be presenting the Grammys in 2008, and he won't fade once the novelty of Rude Kid has worn off. It's not like he's the Viz of rap, is it?

There's an EU-enlargement report from Poland - could we be about to see Polish pop rule the world? (No.) - and also some old photos of Nick Drake. Well, new ones would be pretty gross, probably.

If you're keeping score: the Morrissey album gets three stars ("until you start addressing the pitfalls of endowment mortgages, you're saying nothing to me about my life.")

Tim Burgess enthuses over New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies: "I felt I knew more about them than any of my friends, and that can be what makes music matter at a tender age."

Peter Robinson's Back Pages (you know it should be called that, and it should have a pop trackword by Clive Doig) has got a picture of his very own can of Steps spaghetti shapes; which is followed on the next page by Jon Snow interviewing Hugh Masekela. Which is how every magazine should be. Even Horse and Hound.

Gideon Coe was suggesting the other day that Franz Ferdinand might be about to become a little over-exposed; indeed, the Panther Mac OS has got a keyboard short cut that saves you from having to type the name out in full (Apple + CTRL + SHIFT + |) and we don't think we've seen a band taken to the proper paper's hearts quite like this since Oasis (of course, Radiohead pick up a fair degree of coverage in the broadsheets/compacts, but they had to spend three years busking outside Canary Wharf tower before the Telegraph would even piss on them out the 23rd floor window - and piss hurts when it hits you from so high up, let me tell you.) So, it's a difficult time for the band, but the NME has rightly chosen to celebrate them. The big picture this week is them in a car park, busking, followed by a report from their secret gig (as the Black Hands - take out your notebooks and write that down under Three Imaginary Boys and Bingo Hand Job); and they've discovered possibly the first example of someone adopting the Alex Kapranos hairstyle. It's another of those weeks where the cover has been given to a band without an interview to stack it up.

The Darkness lay into Quentin Tarantino, which is a bit unfair cause he's only a little guy, innit he? But apparently he cut one of their songs from the Jimmy Kimmel show, or something.

Peter Robinson, wearing his other hat (or, rather, his giant hand of Stop) takes on Boyan Zuton, and asks him if he'd fancy some gayboy sex: "It's something that scares me... I don't want to be putting my dick into an exit. Not a fella's exit." So, if he was a gayer he'd be stuck with just blowjobs, then; but if he was a baker, he confidently predicts that he'd be opening up at two in the afternoon.

Radar band is potential webpage breakers Yourcodenameis:milo - they're so diverse in their musical tastes they each have their own iPods, you know. And there's a set of three free downloads, which obviously you have to go online to get; they don't tumble out the magazine. But they're all pretty good.

Paul Moody attempts to solve the enigma of 'who is wolfman?' and concludes he's the latest in a line of "rock grotesques" stretching back to Screaming Lord Sutch. His manager reckons his next single will be the "most outrageous thing since the Pistols", which means we can expect Wolfman: The Musical to be playing in Penzance in about fifteen years.

There's a feature on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which isn't interesting in itself but could be a sign that the paper is thinking of bringing back its deeper coverage of movies.

"Babies are usually hideous, aren't they?" points out Stephen Merritt, before claiming all heterosexuals are Imperialists, secretly.

The Kasbian boys aren't impressed with the British music scene - "Where are the fucking balls in England, man? Roses, Mondays, Gallaghers... where the fuck has it gone?" Although they start to answer their own question when they fret about the current way kids are reared: "We're turning kids into spoilt little shits that don't learn what's real and what's fake."

Seven Morrissey posters might be pushing it a bit, although it's a bit of a shock to see the 1985 Smash Hits back page popping up in the NME; although they've cropped it badly so the Weller-reading-1984 bit is cut off.

Bloc Party - London Metro - "just, well, stars" (9)
Goldie Lookin' Chain - Bristol Bierkeller - "funny... fast... furious", 9
the needles - kings cross water rats - "rock and growl"

the streets - a grand don't come for free - "oh bollocks, the broadsheets were right - a poet", 9
the icarus line - penance soiree - "a stratosphere all of their own", 8

sotw - kaiser chiefs - oh my god - "watch the decks, southern scum"
auf der maur - real a lie - "Courtney, you've been shown up by your old compadre"

Tim Burgess pops up enthusing in the NME as well (he's got a side gig as a columnist by the looks of things), talking about his love of Bob Dylan. He has 500 Dylan bootlegs. Let's hope the RIAA don't come a knocking.

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