Saturday, March 06, 2004

AFTER GETTING ART, THEY'RE NOW MOPPING UP ALL THE OLD ROCKERS: In what seems to be a kind of desperate sweep to pick up any aging rocker they come across, New York Cops have felt the collar of David Crosby, arresting him at a Times Square Hotel. he's been charged with possession of dope and guns. Bloody hell, if he'd gone for fucking in the street as well he'd have had the full set.

Turns out when he'd left the hotel, he'd forgotten one of his suitcases and when a bellhop went through the suitcase to find if there was anything worth pinching ("loooking for something that would identify the owner") he came across an ounce of cannabis, an illegal hunting knife and a gun. If he's convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison - almost as long as one of Neil Young's solos.

BABS SLOW AT PAYING UP: Back in December, a judge threw out Barbra Streisand's USD10 million claim for damages against Kenneth Adelman, who had posted pictures of her house on the Internet, and awarded costs against her. To date, Adelman says she's not paid a penny and so is going back to court to force Streisand to cough up. And an extra USD15,000 on top of the original two hundred thousand he was supposed to get in the first place. This could get costly for her...

Friday, March 05, 2004

ANOTHER SHADE OF BLACK: Of course, the RIAA has already jumped over with the cease and desists, so we don't know how much longer it'll be around, but - following on from the Grey Album, it's The Double Black Album, mixing JayZ and Metallica's black albums together to create something new, something inventive, and something that will doubtless have the life crushed out of it by the buttockheads who sit in their plush offices issuing legal edicts.

OKAY, ENOUGH REUNIONS NOW: Clearly, every band that has ever existed has decided that it's time to get back together. Although the reuniting of the Blood on the Tracks team is strictly for old time's sake. A book project has brought the session musicians from Dylan's album back together from the places they'd wound up: Drummer Bill Berg had moved on to be a Disney animator; bassist Billy Peterson wound up touring with Steve Miller. Chris Weber had only gone along to the recording session to deliver a new guitar and has never been that grudging at his contriubtion not being credited. One day, we hope someone takes the time to reunite the artists who played on the first Oasis album in much the same way.

WHAT PART OF "BEING PAID OFF" DIDN'T YOU GET?: The Uncle of the boy Michael Jackson may or may not have fiddled with in the past - it never came to court, so we'll never know - has been talking about the experience of being targetted by Jackson supporters. Apparently someone drove a truck at Jordan Chandler, and the family received so many death threats even Gerard Houllier might have given it up as a bad job. Jordan's twenty three now, which makes us feel old. So old, actually, we doubt if we'd stand a chance of so much as an air kiss from Michael Jackson.

BACK TO THE GRAVEYARD SLOT: The new looks for Radio 2 and 6 have been announced, with Mark Radcliffe returning to the familiar sounding 10.30 to Midnight, Monday to Thursday slot for Radio 2, with Mariella Frostrup taking the same slot on Fridays to talk about arts, although to be frank she could talk about anything she chooses, it's fine by us. Over on 6Music, the new schedule moves Liz Kershaw to weekends, with the lunchtime dailies being taken over by Vic McGlynn. Steve Lamacq shuttles back to Sundays, and Mark "Lard" Lardyboy will be doing his new show on Saturday. The Music Week is being taken over by Julie Cullen and Mark "former editor of Melody Maker*" Sutherland.

* - a music paper from the olden days

EASYDOWNLOADS: As the number of companies jostling to offer UK legal downloads starts to grow almost like there'd never been a dotcom bubble burst, Wippit are suggesting they've found the key Unique Selling Point: price. They're proposing to charge less than 50p per download, which, with the current exchange rate and all, is less than the standard 99 cent fee taken by most of the big US services. Wippit's other big plus is that it doesn't require a credit card, and thus opens itself up to the under-18 markets. At present, it's signed up a bunch of indies and EMI, but is about to show off a new major label signing soon. The 'easyjet' style pay and go service will run alongside its established GBP6 a month unlimited service.

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: (Assuming it's allowed to stay up that long) The Kleptones are offering a hip-hop mixy-mashy of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots which might make a break from the B3ta stuff you usually spend Friday afternoons avoiding work with. Yes you do.

TAKE ME OUT TO BIGGER VENUES: Activity from the they-look-like-pixies-but-rock-like-nazis band Franz Ferdinand, who are bringing out a new single, Matinee on April 19th and have rejigged much of their tour itinerary in order to accomodate all the trend-surfers who are leaping on the bandwaggon ("extra demand"). The tour now does this:

Glasgow QMU (April 12-13)
Liverpool Academy (15)
Sheffield Leadmill (17)
Nottingham Rock City (18)
Leeds Blank Canvas (20)
Birmingham Academy 2 (21)
Brighton Concorde (26)
Norwich Waterfront (27)
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (29)
Manchester Academy (30)
Oxford Brookes University (May 1)
Bristol University (2)
Portsmouth Pyramids (4)
London Astoria (5-6)
London Coronet (7)

SPEARS HITS ARIZONA: Live Daily had a spot of trouble knowing how to describe Touch of My Hand, which you or I would say is Brit's Wanking Hymn. Live settled on "self-fulfilment song", which sounds more like the sort of thing Outward Bound would be encouraging than about flicking your bits. Clearly, Live Daily's Christina Fuoco was disgusted by the whole affair, which makes you wonder if she reads her own website's material, as anyone who'd seen any of the reviews of the opening night in San Diego would have struggled to be surprised by the set recurring in Glendale. Unless, maybe, they were thinking that backstage Britney had thrown a tantrum demanding the rubberwear be replaced by light, flowing cotton robes. Fuoco reported "stunned parents" leaving the auditorium.

In other Britney news, she looks like she might be losing her role as Daisy Duke to Jessica Simpson, which would make some sort of sense. It'd be hard to try and picture Britney pulling off that won't-but-might look which, really, we can see Jessica rising too. We're still hoping for Henry Rollins for Boss Hogg, though.

MORRISSEY, SO MUCH TO ANSWER FOR: We're a bit surprised that Sanctuary were so quick to agree to revive Attack Records purely to please and delight Morrissey - after all, the resurrection of the HMV imprint by EMI for exactly the same reason hardly lead to a glittering and happy time for all concerned. But, anyway, Mozzer has been talking about the process of making You Are The Quarry - and we know, deep in our hearts, that we're the only people who read the name as if it was being yelled out by kids in the 'We are the champions' style. He's worked with Jerry Finn, who is better known for hosing down the studio after work by ("producing") Blink-182 and Green Day, in pursuit of a "louder" sound.

Of the revival of Attack, Morrissey says that he has a Gregory Isaacs 7" on his fridge - ha, and you thought the ones that could send bluetooth messages were the last word; and, just as we were promised with HMV, the label won't be a single horse sort of affair, with claims that ElMoobo will be scouting other names to join him there. There's going to be something from Nancy Sinatra, which can only mean Sandie Shaw was busy, we guess.

BUT WILL ARNOLD BE THERE, TOO?: Tony Blackburn's Indian Summer continues, with the news that he's to rejoin BBC Radio London (or BC RD LDN or whatever they call it) to do a soul show on Saturday lunchtimes. We've always liked that Tony has a musical hinterland, and regardless of the shit he pumped out on Radio One actually had a passion for music nevertheless, and it's kind of funny that soul music seems to have got a small boost in the London market as a side-effect of the first series of I'm A Celeb. And if it helps him pay the rent without the need to do any more of those demeaning ads for the Daily Express, so much the better. We're just not sure that we'd agreethat he's "probably the best known DJ in Britain" - surely that's Wogan?

POLLY RETURNS: Like a gleam of pure joy in a dark winter sky, PJ Harvey is preparing to release a new album this summer, the first since Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea. Was that really four years ago? It's also rumoured she's going to be playing Glastonbury this year, which would be great for her as it's probably the only festival where you can get in a spot of fox hunting on the side.

ILLUSTRATED PULP LYRICS: NUMBER ONE IN A SERIES OF PROBABLY ONE: The guy who won GBP9 million on the lottery turns up for court:

"what's the point of ebing rich/ if you can't think what to do with it/because you're so bleeding thick?"

PIXIES... QUIXIES: There's a small thud of extra Pixies tickets for June 3rd and June 2nd just hit the web. Twenty five quid each. But be quick.

AH, BUT IS IT BETTER THAN SEEING DOUBLE?: Rachel Stevens has got a small role in Suzie Gold, the movie which might as well have the words "We thought 'lets make a British My Big Fat Greek Wedding, only with Jews, because, you know, it's similar, and Lesley Joseph was available - well, she's always available - and cheap'" displayed on the screen throughout. She's been letting daylight in on magic about the whole process:

"It was totally fictional."

Rrright... thanks, for that, Rach; we'll now know if we ever come across it on Living TV one afternoon that we won't treat it as a documentrary. But we're just being cynical, because she means compared to her previous body of work:

"It was really cool, it was very different, because in all the S Club stuff I played myself so it was nice to play something that was a bit different."

But weren't the S Club things about a successful, ballsy band making it big in America? Surely that was a bit more fictional, wasn't it? Anyway, this new role must be a major change, then. So, what is it?

"I play a stroppy pop star from a girlband called M5, and it's opposite Summer Phoenix. It's cool. I get to be all stroppy with her because she doesn't make my coffee right!"

So, yes, that's totally different from you in real life - because your band had boys in as well, didn't it? Stanilavsky will be proud.

"'HELL', SAID THE MAN, 'I WASN'T PLANNING ON SPENDING THAT KIND OF MONEY'": So, Lionel Richie seems to be heading for a second clean-out divorce, with the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Richie putting in a claim for USD300,000 expenses a month, including USD600 on vitamins - what, does she have a gold deficiency? - and USD20,000 for a monthly visit to her son's boarding school, which we can only conclude must be on Jupiter.

9/11 - AN UNANSWERED QUESTION: Since George W has already got himself in trouble for using September 11th as a campaign plus ("Right, Mr. President, we thought it would be a good idea to remind the people that you were President at the time of the biggest assault on American territory for fifty years, and we thought we'd run some pictures of you being heroic while the country was at its most scared. Only we couldn't find any, what with you rushing all over the country hiding, so we've found one from a few days later...") maybe someone should also ask why, when there was so much money sloshing about for wars, families of people killed on September 11th are having to rely on Barenaked Ladies playing benefit gigs to keep out the poorhouse?

CRISS CROSS: Despite having brought him back last year, Kiss have dropped original drummer Peter Criss for their forthcoming tour. Criss, understandably, is a bit pissed off about this, mainly because it looks like they simply didn't pick up his contract rather than actually tell him he was canned. Although we can't help thinking he may have been let go because of his amazingly rubbish stage make-up:

sorrry... image back soon

I mean, come on: you're in a rock band, not Face Painting Day at the Infants School Fete.

TOM WAITS FOR COURT VERDICT: Over in Spain, the Tom Waits versus Audi court case has begun; Waits claims the car company copied his music and impersonated his voice after he'd turned down their request to use his Innocent When You Dream for an advert. It's a pity the woman who played Phyllis Pearce is dead, otherwise Audi could have claimed it wasn't meant to be an impersonation of Tom, it was just her speaking in her everyday voice.

LET ME BE YOUR FANTASY: Apparently facing declining CD sales and reluctant to figure out a place in the digital future, Fantasy Records is up for sale. The label, based in Berkeley, mainly offers back catalogue from the likes of Miles Davis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Coltrane and Theolonious Monk, although it has a small roster of current acts - Sonny Rollins and Jimmy Scott amongst them. The price is USD100 million - a lot more than Grand Royale, then - although Billboard figures they'll be lucky to get three quarters of that.

SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY: You know you've probably slipped away from sexy when you've gone so far, porn stars start to be dressed up like you:

Adult Video News Insider recently spoke with porn star Krystal Steal about her patriotic layout for the July cover and centerfold of Hustler magazine, where she wore little more than the American flag. "They made me look like Christina Aguilera, it's kind of cool. They got her layouts from a magazine. They gave me her hair, her makeup and clothes. It's gonna be kind of wild," Steal explained. "Christina is a beautiful girl, but her makeup on me, I mean her hair looked great on me, but I didn't like her makeup."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

AND GERARD HOULLIER THINKS HE'S GOT PROBLEMS: Jennifer Ellison popped back to her native Liverpool for a fashion show (these days, she visits the place less frequently than she visits the charts) only for her and her fiance to be attacked by men with machetes. What we especially enjoy about the Echo's report is the desperate bid to try and salvage the occasion by the spokesperson from the club outside which the attack took place. "There were no incidents of any kind inside the bar itself" they say with a faint trace of a sulk.

Liverpool is City of Culture in 2008.

TOSSED OFF THE GROVE: You've got to love Beatles Fans. They raised the money for an elaborate plaque to commemorate George Harrison - and not one of your simple blue circles, an expensive thing; they carried out a massive worldwide poll to decide where it should go, picking Arnold Grove in Liverpool's declining Wavertree neighbourhood as an apt site - that being his birth place. They even organised a small ceremony to unveil the new landmark. The only thing they forgot to do, in fact, was ask the person who lives in the house now if they could stick their gaudy memorial on her wall. The outcome? The small bunch of fans got sent away with a flea in their collective ears, and are now thinking of another place to slap their plaque. Maybe they should ask before they go round with drills next time?

WHAT CDS ARE WORTH THESE DAYS: Not that much... Prince is giving away Musicology to anyone buying four tickets to see him live. Those of us with not-especially-long memories recall when live shows were the loss-leaders to promote albums.

R&OBIT: Gene Allison, one of Nashville's key R&B artists, has died from liver and kidney failure in a Tennesse hospital. He was 69. His first breakthrough came in 1957 with a gospel reading of Ted Jarrett's You Can Make It If You Try, a track which crossed over onto the Billboard Pop 40 and which would later be covered by the Rolling Stones. So impressive was Allison's phrasing and ability to wring emotion from a single note even Sam Cooke was impressed, once saying "I wish I could sing like Gene Allison." Although You Can Make It If You Try was his biggest hit, he went on to have two more R&B success before his star started to fade in the early sixties. He had been considering a comeback in recent years, and had contributed to the Country Hall of Fame's Nashville R&B exhibition, due to open on March 27th.

CLEAR CHANNEL TAKES THREE QUARTER MILLION SPONGE SOAKING: Following the Bubba the Love Sponge "outrages", Clear Channel has accepted a USD755,000 fine, apparently treating it almost like a self-flagellation. The company seems so keen to position itself as part of the new, covered up not-nuddy media, it's a miracle it didn't beg the FCC to round it up to the million mark.

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE...: Renee and Jack are getting married... although she didn't mention him at the Oscars, so they've broken up; But Elton John and David Furnish are definitely getting married, except they're not.

UM...DERCOVER: We're a little bit puzzled at Undercover's coverage of the Darkness going Gold in the US. The Australian music site dismisses the certification on the basis that the band have only had half a million copies of Permission To Land shipped to stores, but has so far only sold just over 300,000. And your point, Undercover, would be - what, exactly? Since the Gold, Platinum and other certifications are given as a recognition not of sales (that would be the chart) but of orders placed by retail outlets, in what way would the announcement of Gold be "premature"? Even more oddly, the report mutters that "units unsold are always returned back to the label but the certification is never adjusted" before conceeding that, erm, The Darkness are on route to sell half a million copies in the next month or so. Now, we're not about to suggest that cynicism is bad, but this is on a par with moaning that a venue claims a gig to be a sell out before we see if all the ticket holders actually turn up on the night.

ONE MORE TIME: Threesomes, PVC catsuits, masturbation, bondage, bisexuality... all staples of the big tour, but not usually onstage. Of course there's been something of 'who's the most in touch with their sexuality' battle between Britney and Christina raging for a little while now. Christina has always looked to us about as comfortable as Laura Ingils-Wilder at a wife-swapping evening, but Britney? She comes across like she could well live it, given half the chance, judging by her Onyx Hotel set. Of course, doing all the sweaty on stage leaves you with just a glass of warm milk and a quick flick through the latest Vogue before bedtime for when it's over. She even had had a good line written for her: "There's a lot of cute guys here. Who knows, maybe if you're really lucky I might marry you."

oh, my

The tour's first date hasn't been welcomed much, though. USA Today reports the San Diego Tribune as suggesting the opener featured "contrived attempts at tawdry sensationalism that suggested what might happen if Penthouse magazine was edited by Beavis & Butt-head." MTV pointed out the problems of performing in skintight catsuits - although not everyone is going to consider the large monitors showing Spears sweating like Niagara a minus point. We're not sure if the choice of verb to describe the crowd's reaction when she revealed a flesh coloured body suit was ill-judged or spot on, but they decided to go with "the crowd erupted." Of course, though, the generally approving tone of MTV's review may or may not be connected to the MTV sponsorship of the tour.

The Arizona Republic was less than delighted with the jazzy version of I Did It Again and One More Time: "Things got worse when she subjected two of her biggest hits, "Oops! … I Did It Again" and "… Baby One More Time" to lounge-lizard treatment as part of the "Onyx Hotel" shtick." You can hear the paper tutting and being slightly thrilled at the same time: "By parading around in lingerie at length in the show, Spears crossed a line that existed in years gone by when she teased concertgoers but left more to the imagination" - and it might be this desire to not seem like it's being all hormonal while feeling the need to fan itself with its concert programme that leads it suggest that Britney isn't sure which side of the innocent/kinda slutty side she wants to come down on. (Which seems odd to us, because we can't really see any evidence of her trying to palm herself off as Milly Molly Mandy at all).

The Glasgow Daily Record suggested that she'd shocked America by singing in front of giant monitors in a rubber outfit - which seems to have slightly overstated America's reaction.

Missing the point somewhat, the New York Times compares support act Kelis' slightly out-of-breath delivery with Spear's unerring ability to hit the right note every time, even when she knocked her microphone off, before ending on a sniffy-but-accurate observation that "at least she's already prepared for her future in the casinos."

NOW THIS IS JUST FREAKY: Senser... the Pixies... now, after a decade of "family turmoil" Anita Baker has signed a new deal with Blue Note and expects to release a new single before the end of the year. She's going to be jazzier than before, though, as a flick-through of MTV made her worry she might not fit in to the current R&B market.

LIFE WITHOUT JAY: There's quite a sad little interview with Run DMC's Jam Master Jay's mom on life after her son's murder, which is an aspect of rap-death you don't come across much: usually it's just the other rap stars who mourn in public, with a Sting sample or two and some extra bling. But most of the fallen have families, too, who don't have any part of the business, and have to cope with grief that isn't merely barked up to shift a few thousand copies of a tribute album.

Mrs. Jam Master didn't even know her son was famous at first; it was the local kids who told her. "I didn't know anything about that. He was Jason to me."

GRUESOME TWOSOME: Blink-182 and Cypress Hill on a co-headling tour of the states. There's a backstage area we don't want to visit: "Who's spilled beer on my skins?"

MAKE YOUR OWN GRAY ALBUM: Or perhaps you could combine it all with Elvis Costello's Almost Blue to make Almost Black. Or produce something like the Black House Painters, or meld in some orb to make Little Fluffy Black Clouds. But if you fancy a crack at making your own re-doings of the Black Album, the Jay-Z Construction Set is doing the rounds of the interweb and p2p networks, comprising all the bits that make up the album, nine variations on the Black Album itself and a whole host of other bits to redo JayZ in your own image. We're just going to come up with concepts to amuse ourselves and never get round to making them - how about splicing in Jay K's Virtual Insanity and calling it Fear Of A Black Hat?

BLITZKRIEG BOP KNOCKING ON KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR: There's a lot of interesting facts thrown up by the Cover Songs Database, an almost certainly doomed attempt to record details of every cover song committed to vinyl* (and "committed" is usually right). It turns out that - as you might expect - the Beatles are the most covered act by quite a distance. Bob Dylan comes in second, which might be less expected. The Ramones are third, which completes a top three you couldn't have got odds on. Popular wisdom - by which we mean 'pub quiz bores' - would have you believe that Yesterday is the most covered song in music history, but facts tell a different story, listing six songs that have been hammered harder - Eleanor Rigby claiming the title with 86 covers against Yesterday's 47; who'd have thought Blackbird would be the Beatle's second most copied work, pulling in versions by Sylvester, Justin Hayward, and, um, Canadian Brass. (Ah, there's nothing like a Canadian Brass; they're proud to do bilingual). And who'd have thought that Ray Charles What'd I say would have had 29 people convinced they could do better?

Another click and you can find the most covering artists - George Thorogood and the Destroyers offering 91 songs by fifty other people, while Michael Bolton has kidnapped and tortured 29 songs from their rightful homes. We suspect the sampling data is an area they're still pumping data in for, although James Brown as most-sampled sounds about right (Vangelis is at number nine) and DeLa Soul are revealed as king magpies, although we're not sure how they could have sampled 79 songs and 141 artists...

Anyway, go and have a look. We suspect you'll piss away as much time as we did.

* - or solid-state memory chips, or something.

JACKSON FAMILY SECRETS: The chap who spent ages trying to be allowed to sell his big pile of Jackson stuff has finally offloaded tonnes of Jacko tat and tack to a European buyer who, for what we assume is understandable reasons, wanted to remain anonymous. We're hoping it turns out to be Macca, getting his revenge for Jackson's purchase of the Beatles catalogue all those years back. The bloke who sold them didn't do so before building a scary website to showcase the gubbins, which claims to reveal secrets about the Jackson family. We've not been daft enough to pay for access, especially since the free tour gives a hint of the littleness of the revelations - "Was Janet married?" (erm, yes, to James ElDebarge)... "see Janet's personal daytimer... every juicy detail of her day" (what - '9.30 - hairdresser'?)... "un-retouched pictures of [LaToya's] body" (now, that's just going to give us nightmares, and you know it) and although "what does a guest at Neverland ranch get?" sounds crunchy, we'r ebetting it's going to be some pictures of cleansing wipes and a map rather than a picture of... well, let's just all write our punchlines, shall we?

Even more disappointingly, there's no mention at all of Jermaine and the stuff we might get to see that relates to him.

SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE: Can anyone think of a more depressing indictment of the British music scene than this sentence:

Katie [Melua] knocked Dido off the number 1 spot in January and stayed at the top for three weeks before she was temporarily deposed by Norah Jones

Apart from if it had the words "Jamie Callum" in there?

BOB STEPS IN: Bob Geldof took time out of campaigning for whatever it is he's over-excited about these days to report a bloke selling Live Aid DVDs. They were, of course, pirate copies, but we're a little confused as to why Bob was quite as "sickened" as he claimed to be - it's not like they were taking sales from official Live Aid DVDs, and even if people had bought the tracks featured on the DVDs on official releases, none of the money would have gone to starving Africans anyway, so surely pirating Live Aid is no worse than pirating, say, live footage of Status Quo. Only with two Phil Collins sets on them.

Actually, of course, Bob's big beef now is with teenage girl's magazines. We notice that his own daughter is writing for one.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Two royal gigs edition
A new tribe has been born, and while we're usually waiting at the door with our best baseball club with rusty nails for anyone who turns up bearing sightings of new socio-economic groupings - what did you think happened to Peter Yorke? - since the Fifty Quid Bloke has been identified by David Hepworth, in a piece in this Monday's Guardian, we'll be slightly more welcoming. The fifty quid bloke is found in Borders on a Saturday afternoon, a couple of drinks inside, a loose tie out; buying a couple of CDs, a DVD and perhaps a book; he's then trying to figure out ways to explain this away as an investment to his partner, and, apparently, it's him that's keeping the music industry afloat right now. He's to blame for Norah Jones and Katie Mewla. If you spot him in Borders next week, please lead him over to the magazine sections and show him some other ideas.

But not this week's NME, which has given the cover to the Australian Oasis, Jet. We know there's only two options here: either the NME is right, or we are. And since the first option is almost unthinkable, and the second just unlikely, we've got believe that in a year's time, everyone will be looking back and wondering just why the NME is wasting covers at a time when there's a supply of sexy, lithe, interesting rock stars to feature. It's an abundance we've not had for a very long time and makes the decision to waste time and space on a band who make Heavy Stereo seem like a good idea even more puzzling.

The big news picture is of the metal bit welded to Ryan Adam's wrist to stop his career from ending (and to aid him fighting crime, we think); it also shows his rubbish tattoos; a rare occassion when the double spread has been well used. Courtney Love has given away her guitar to a "hardcore fan" (who hadn't bothered to, you know, buy a ticket) - sadly, it seems Love has other guitars so it can't be taken as a sign of retirement. Franz Ferdinand are doing well in New York, we're told - they've done a lot of interviews, although we're not quite convinced that's the same thing. Perhaps someone in NY could tell us?

Belle & Sebastian do the CD: the theme from Van Der Valk and Brandy, but Stuart Murdoch says that if he'd been making the tape for a girl (yes, he insists on "tape") he'd leave off Eye Level. Apparently, the dutch tec theme was one of the inspirations when they were putting B&S together - which strikes us as amusing, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs citing the Kojak theme or something.

Ah, now how's this for a bout: Peter Robinson versus Michael Eavis. Asked who'd win a fight between him and a cow, he fancies himself, because he can run faster. But equally, he admits that working with cows makes you slow down. Which might be why he doesn't take down PR's list of what he wants Macca to play at Glastonbury this year. There's also an interesting and serious point, where Eavis claims that the idea behind not letting people buy tickets on credit cards is because "you can't have more than one debit card." Erm... yes, you can. Told that Mr. Robinson has three debit cards (jesus, what are IPC paying him?) Michael admits that maybe he's been given a bum steer by the banks on that one.

So, then... tell us your ten step guide to "breaking the rock sound barrier", Chris Jet. "This is a hard drinking band, and that's why I love it. Sometimes we're great, and other nights we're lousy, that's how it is. If people can't understand that, fuck 'em." Right, so, it's fuck off to anyone who might feel aggreived that you're playing shit because you're pissed? How about we all do that? "Yes, sorry, Mr. Jet, sometimes I do a really brilliant liver transplant, sometimes I poke it in the wrong hole, depending on how drunk I am." Paul Moody then tries to convince us their reputation for boorishness is unfounded. "There's always another gig, another party, more drinking." I suppose we should offer up some sort of thanks that there's someone who has finally made the Stereophonics look like the rather dull local act they are, and maybe if i was twelve I'd find the whole "we drink lots of beer, and, erm, that's it" stance really exciting. But even Nic from the band hints that he's finding the whole two dimensional nature of the band has a rapidly diminishing grasp on people's attentions.

Fingers on buzzers, now... Who Am I? "I've got dry and clean and things don't seem so bad any more. I spent my 20s being a contrary fucker... I was dragged all the way around the fucking world on someone else's megalomaniacal trip.. that was how it felt at the time... I won't rejoin the band. I was given an opportunity to leave and I took it. I know it sounds corny, but being able to play and perform on my own is a dream come true." If you said Graham Coxon, award yourself twenty points.

In something of a journalistic scoop, they've got an interview with Dangermouse, where he clearly contradicts the claim made in EMI's cease and desist letters that he never wanted Grey Tuesday to happen. Interestingly, the NME also gives an URL where the BPI-RIAA baiting album can be downloaded from. We wonder what the EMI beast makes of that.

Continuing a good week, the pull out posters are all Pennie Smith shots, although it does mean that bloody Paul Simonon shot is in there again.

the vines - camden electric ballroom - "mere glimpses of original brilliance isn't enough" - 6 (oddly, now the gigs aren't nme-sponsored they're giving them scores again)
mad action - highbury garage - "supply teachers look... songs beyond ordinary" - 7
explosions in the sky - belfast pavilion - "all a bit too quiet"
brian wilson - royal festival hall - "maybe radiohead should have waited for 37 years before they released Kid A"
motorhead - royal opera house - the review is actually written by a cartoon made-up toff (Mark 'binkie' Beaumont, see), although they should have said it was the bloke from Chapterhouse who used to do the piece in Thrills.

the vines - winning days - "the same terrain as its predecessor without getting anywhere near its heights", 5
mr airplane man - cmon dj - "pretty uneven", 6
tompaulin - everything was beautiful and nothing hurt - "I hate you, tompaulin (not really), 6

sotw - the vines - ride - "explodes into a napalm chorus"
j lo and r kelly - baby I love you - "about as erotic as jamie cullum..."

and finally... Alison Goldfrapp loves Serge Gainsbourg. You could tell.

HE'S THE MAN WHO'S GOT THE BEST MUSIC: We're mainly suggesting you read ACME's half hour with Mark Goodier because it's illustrated with a picture of Jane Wiedlin. I mean, it's good in its own right, but there's nothing that can't be improved with a picture of Jane. Okay, fair enough, sticking her photo on the cover of a Coldplay album wouldn't work. Almost nothing, then.

SHARING THE MISERY CONTINENT WIDE: Belle and Sebastian have announced an "extensive" European tour - although it doesn't take much to count as an extensive tour; considering the size of Europe eighteen gigs doesn't seem to stand much chance to covering the whole of the place, even if you just count the current EU members. Anyway, here's where they will be:

03-08 Paris, France - Grand Rex
03-10 Madrid, Spain - Divina Aqualung
03-11 Madrid, Spain - Divina Aqualung
03-12 Valencia, Spain - Palacio de Congresos
03-13 Barcelona, Spain - Razzmatazz
03-14 Bilbao, Spain - Teatro Arriaga
03-16 Clermont-Ferrand, France - La Cooperative De Mai
03-17 Milan, Italy - Alcatraz
03-18 Munich, Germany - Muffathalle
03-20 Hamburg,Germany - Docks
03-21 Cologne, Germany - Live Music Hall
03-22 Berlin, Germany - Columbiahalle
03-24 Copenhagen, Denmark - Store Vega
03-25 Gothenburg, Sweden - Tradgarden
03-26 Oslo, Norway _ Rockefeller
03-28 Stockholm, Sweden - Munchenbryggeriet
03-30 Brussels, Belgium - AB Club
03-31 Utrecht, Netherlands - Vredenburg

Sorry, Portugal.

BOYS AND SISTERS: We wonder what the Pet Shop Boys remixed by the Scissor Sisters will sound like. Or, more to the point, if you'll notice any difference from a usual Pet Shop Boys track.

By the way, the answer to the competition we never got round to setting was "Will Young is apparently the only gay artist never to have been approached to work with the Pet Shop Boys."

WHY?: They're releasing a Kelly Osbourne DVD.

ZETA-JONES TOLD TO GO FAX HERSELF: It's always nice to report on someone with the bollocks to stand up to an incredibly rich, insensitive person, and even more so when that person is Catherine Zeta-Jones*who objected to someone running a business next to a house that she doesn't live in and hasn't even been built yet. Apparently, the fear that someone delivering a parcel to the building next to her parent's future mansion might glimpse a visiting CZJ was giving her kittens, and she demanded that the neighbour be forced to close, or move his business. We don't think she cared very much what happened to him, frankly, as he had no Hollywood connections. Happily, the planning committee at Swansea Council decided not to give in to Zeta's bleating, and the bloke is going to be allowed to carry on earning a living.

Of course, if Catherine really wants to make sure nobody spots her as she goes about her daily, hugely important business, she could consider relocating somewhere less busy. We would suggest the moon, but she'd probably want to stop anyone looking into the sky.

* - yes, unfortunately she does count as a pop star; surely you've not forgotten her wonderful duet with David Essex?

THIS IS OUR ART: Annie Lennox and Sting have been 'explaining' their oscar-nominated tracks, in case you're a thicky-thicky two trousers who can't quite work out something as complex as The Fucking Theme From The Fucking Lord of the Fucking Rings. Lennox, who was given an award once reserved to mark some level of cinematic achievement but now, apparently, ladled out in response to the sheer weight of popcorn consumed by audiences at a particular film, talked about the ever-precious process:

"Everybody was exhausted when I first came in because it was just before the edit, and Peter had this horrendous job to cut four hours of footage down to three, and I had the privilege of watching that."

Jesus, you mean Comic Book Guy actually left some stuff out of the bloody thing? How on earth could he bring himself to do something as awful as edit his project down? (Oh, hang about, if all the stuff was wedged into the cinematic release, what would they have had for the Bloated-To-Buggery DVD Special Edition release?)

Of course, if we were Sting we'd be gnashing our teeth that the best thing we've done since, ooh, Synchronicity lost out to Lennox's vapid warble.

AN EVENING WITH MR. MORRISSEY: "Some of you have iPods; I have Meltdown" explains Morrissey as it's announced that he's going to curate this year's Meltdown festival. Yes, very nice, but it's hardly as practical, is it, lugging the whole of the South Bank Centre with you when you want to go out for a stroll round LA. Plus we've heard that the battery life is rubbish.

It's all part of the reintegration of Mozzer into ordinary life - there's this, there's a new album; he's rumoured to be mulling an offer for I'm A Celebrity IV* - and the mention of iPods suggests that he's even been brought up to date on some of the developments in the modern world. Just watch his little face light up when someone shows him the A Taste of Honey DVD.

* - no, of course he isn't. As far as we know.

JANET JACKSON: PANIC CONTINUES: Like a running battle to see who can over-react the most, now Disney have axed a Mickey Mouse statue that was "inspired" by Janet. Apparently someone had thought it was a good idea for a model of Mickey dressed in Janet's Rhythm Nation outfit - which just seems to have been not a good idea anyway, for a whole slew of reasons unconnected with her kung-fu breasts - but luckily they had a spare statue kicking about to replace it with.

MAKE THE SWITCH BACK: We were suggesting the other day that in the wake of the Pixies resurrection we'd probably see some odd reunions. We didn't know the half of it. Senser have reformed. Yes, yes, you do. "Switch... make the switch." That was their catchphrase.

The nature of their reunion is slightly confusing - they got back together as a one-off at the end of the 1990s and had such a good time they decided to make the regrouping permanent. Um, five years later.

IT ALL SOUNDS SO PERFECTLY FUN AND NICE: We're always happy to bring Madonna reviews to wider attention, so we think it's worth mentioning I Have A Snake on Madonna's the English Roses, especially because Daisy knows her shit on children books. And she's a goddess.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

METALLICA EMBRACE MP3: After all that, Metallica are now offering their fans MP3s of all their live shows - from now on. They say this is a logical extension of the process where they let fans bring tape recorders in to make their own bootlegs, only this time, they don't need to spend the gig with their hands in the air holding up a microphone. Now, we welcome this - we were wishing last night while we watched Placebo at Brixton Academy that we'd be able to pop a couple of quid into a web form and have an official bootleg - but we're spluttering at the ten bucks Metallica are thinking of charging. In effect, they're not actually treating the MP3 downloads (or FLAC format, also available) as replacements for sanctioned bootlegs, but as fully-fledged Live Albums, only without the usual post-gig work that you'd expect of a 'proper' live album. Oddly, after you've paid for a show, and started downloading, you're working against a time limit to complete the download.

Almost as a hsitorical jest, they're not using any Digital Rights Management on the file - the website says:

"As you can all see, we have chosen not to encrypt or shackle these files in any way. There is a certain level of trust associated with's operation.
You will have 48 hours from the time you start downloading to completely download each show you purchase. We'd be fooling ourselves to think that these files won't be shared by some friends, and there's nothing we can do to STOP you from doing so.
All we can do is to ask you straight up: Do the right thing. Please be cool and don't share your files."

I mean: could you imagine what shits Metallica would look like if they started to sue their own fans for sharing a few poxy music tracks?

TURN ON, TUNE IN, DOWNLOAD: GWR stations are pioneering a new system which will allow listeners to instantly download a CD quality version of the song they're listening to. This is one of those radical and exciting things which would be more radical and exciting if GWR's tranche of stations wasn't so timid and predicitible in its playlists - if we were tuned in to, say, Marcher and wanted to hear the song currently being played again, we'd probably only have to wait about fifteen minutes before the computer spat it out again anyway.

Although the record companies should be delighted by this innovation - in effect, what GWR have managed to do is monetise home taping; instead of pressing play and record when the new Dido comes on, you click a 'buy' button; the trade-off is you have to pay cash, but get the whole thing rather than the whole thing missing the first two seconds and with a reminder that coming up after the news there'll be a chance to take part in the 'What's That Funny Farting Noise' competition.

FXTC: XTC's Andy Partdrige has recorded a theme for a new series on Fox, Wonderfalls. The track won't appear on the first programme, but will then be used for week two, right up until Fox decide to can the show - which, judging by their usual behaviour, will be about two weeks later.

NOT AVAILABLE IN ANY SHOPS AT ALL: What's interesting about the America Will Always Stand Civil War album is not so much the content - Randy Travis, Darryl Worley, Ann Womack and so on doing Civil War era songs - but that it's the first time Time-Life Music has ever issued original recordings rather than just repackaged old songs and advertised them to death at 3 am on Challenge TV. Curiously, as far as we can tell looking at the corporate spaghetti that is the corporate structure of Time Warner, Time Life Music seems to be the only toe TW kept in the music industry water after selling off Warner Music. It sealed that deal yesterday; today it's barging back into the recording industry. It could all be coincidence.

PIG IN A POKE: Having realised that people aren't really that arsed about which bands play the backdrop for the burning of chemical toilets, the Mean Fiddler have put tickets for Reading and Leeds on sale before announcing the bands who'll be playing. It's the first time they've done this; but then it's also the first time they've booked Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, Val Doonican and The Kids From Grange Hill as headliners.

REM PLANS WORLD DOMINATION; ROLE FOR KATE PIERSON 'STILL UNCLEAR': They've been in the Bahamas, have REM, working on the next album and planning a world tour. The more we see of Bono, the more we cherish Michael Stipe, so this can only be good news. New stuff is either loud or quiet, with nothing in between, apparently.

RUSH FOR VICTORY: Afraid that a victory by the Democrats would make the set sound dated, Rufus Wainwright is rushing to get Want Two released as quickly as possible. Although some people from the Bush campaign looked up from stuffing pieces of paper into black boxes and said "ooh, don't you worry about that, boy..."

Want Two is a companion piece, obviously, to Want One, although a bit darker and bit more operatic. But you could say that about Michael Crawford's post-Frank Spencer work.

HERE COMES THE SMILING VIPER: The split-off of Warner Music from Time Warner has been completed, and now Edgar Bronfman Jr is setting out prove that he can run a record label, after all.

His first act has been to shove executives out of open windows, with Atlantic's co-chair Val Azzoli and president Ron Shapiro "stepping down", along with Elektra's Chief Exec Sylvia Rhone.

Of course, technically speaking, Warners is now an indie label.

DEEP DARK TRUTHFUL MIRROR: George Michael has launched a scorching attack on Tony Blair, calling him "an altruist who thinks he's doing everything for the best, but he cannot face up to his own ego." Luckily, Michael didn't add that he had a stupid permatan, a rictus grin, that all his best work came in the past and that he sold out his friends who stood by his side and helped him achieve his dream in the first place, otherwise we might be checking the spelling of hypocrite.

And like Tony Blair's going to be upset at being criticised by George Michael. Now, if it was Phil Collins - that would hurt him.

THEY FUCK YOU UP, YOUR MUM AND DAD: We'd like to issue an apology. When we were covering Britney Spear's wedding, we may have given the impression that her short-lived union with Jason Alexander was because she was ripped off her tits on cheap liquor. In fact, it turns out it was all Britney's parents fault. Britney says they're controlling and it's like living in a prison - although not even Jeffrey Archer found a prison that was willing to let him fly to Vegas, drink enough Cobra to knock an elephant over, and get married in a drive-thru Vow-a-rama. Not that Britney has any regrets, because "Sometimes it's cool to make mistakes. You learn a lot about yourself." So far, that list of lessons learned is: Red wine = headaches; white wine = vomit; gin = marry the first loser with a vaguely familiar face and annull it the moment he yells 'dude, I'm so going to be the one to pop Britney Spear's ass'.

CLAPTON DROPS CHILD: Eric Clapton has chucked a couple of his songs out of his setlist. "Slowhand" - as nobody ever actually calls him - says he won't play Tears From Heaven and My Father's Eyes anymore because he "doesn't feel the loss" of his son now. Or rather, we assume, in the same way he did when he wrote them.

Monday, March 01, 2004

MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF: Blimey, Scott Walker's signed for 4AD. Let's hope he takes the chance to do some Pale Saints covers.

THE BLONDE BEATING THE BLONDE: The Atomic Kitten catfight continues to rage. Jenny Frost had already had a go at Kerry McFadden over what Kerry said about Jenny while she was on Celebrity, but she must either have had one of those moments where you wake in the middle of the night and go "What I should have said was..." or else someone's written her some better stuff:

It's obviously not true that I mimed but I really don't care if she feels the need to drag other people's names up to cause a bit of controversy. There were two versions of Whole Again one that Kerry recorded and one that I recorded. There were two videos, one with each of us. If she thinks the video I was in had me miming over her voice, that's impossible. I mean, just listen to it. It's in tune."

In tune in your head, maybe, Jenny. Of course, this battle may be taken to a whole new realm, as Jenny's preparing some solo material following the collapse of the Atomic Kitten brand, and - ha! - Kerry McFadden is about to record some stuff, too. Jenny might be comforted to learn that Kerry has "booked a course of singing lessons." We don't know, but we're guessing she'll have invested in a few push-up bras, too.

THE SWEET TASTE OF VICTORY: We're delighted that Liz Phair is pleased with her Matrix-made album. No, seriously, we are. She tells the SanFranCron"I'm always the type of person that is wary to say, 'We did it!' But we certainly did accomplish a lot with this record. I kind of knew we would." Since the sales of the title were a little disappointing - you sell your soul to Avril's team of Satans, you surely expect a little spot of world domination in return - we're not quite sure what the "it" she did was - merely getting the album out? On the other hand, she's seen people enjoying her music at the gym, which is, perhaops, significant in some way:

"When I'm at the gym and I hear my song come on and people are bopping around to it, I know what it means," Phair said. "I get it. And I take great pleasure in that. Whether they know it or not they've been infiltrated by a thinking, complicated human being. If you buy the record based on the single, I'm going to hit you with some complicated issues"

Ah, yes, the old 'I've made a pop single, but it'll bring people in to the album and then - ha! I shall pull of my mask of pop and reveal my true self' angle. The trouble is, when Liz removes her disguise on the album - and most of the time she just winks through the Matrix mask - the few people who came in because of the hit single are just going to thumb the forward button anyway; more importantly, hitching your skirt and making your face to tempt a new audience is a risky move anyway. Amazon reports that people who bought Liz Phair also bought Michelle Branch, Radiohead, Fountains of Wayne, Dido, Sarah Mclachlan, Jewel and other Liz Phair stuff. The only real difference compared with cross-purchasers of her other material is she seems to have lost the PJ Harvey fans in their entirety. Certainly, there's little evidence that Fred Durst groupies or Britney-ettes have crossed some great divide in buying art rock.

'BETTER THAN BEYONCE': Ooh, that Kylie Minogue had better watch her claims. While playing GAY, the elephant's graveyard of music careers, Kylie claimed from the stage that she was better than Beyonce. Now, while that can be put down to the heady effects of two thousand people listening to you sing - a crowd she's barely able to pull togther through record sales these days - she later ripped into Christina Aguilera and Britney, snorting that their videos and image are too raunchy. "I'm not doing that. I've always been on the right side of the line."

Here is a file photo of Kylie remaining on the right side of the line:

look, you can't see her minge

IN THE UK, IT WON'T BE RECORD INDUSTRY PLAYING COPS, IT'LL BE THE REAL COPS: The only computer experts who drink over at NTK have got some disturbing news that suggests the main reason why the BPI haven't bothered to bring lawsuits against filesharers - they've been waiting for the real cops to be empowered to do it instead. Why should they waste their funds on bringing legal action when they CPS will do it for them? And, yes, you could make a good argument that the police might be better off catching real criminals than people who've got the odd copy of that Placebo french re-recording of Protect Me on their hard-drive, but at least it'll give them something to do on the days when they're not illegally detaining people for having opinions that run contrary to the government.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BECKHAMS AND THE ARMY?: The Army eventually runs out of tanks. Not so Victoria, whose desperate attempt to whore her kids to try and boost her sales has failed as The Real Beckhams DVD has managed to sell just 7000 copies since February 2nd. It's currently climbed to the ninety-fifth position on the DVD charts, prompting a bizarre defence by the Beckham camp:

"The DVD is about the Beckhams based on the TV documentary shown at Christmas. It features a soundtrack by Victoria, gives fans additional surprises, 30 minutes of unseen footage and photos of the Beckhams. It is not a music product."

Eh? Are they trying to suggest that it would have sold better if it had been a music release? And if they are, then why the hell did they bother to release the DVD?

LET'S HOPE HE'S BETTER IN THE WITNESS BOX THAN IN THE DJ BOX: It's one of those battles where it's hard to choose a side to cheer for: Boy George versus EMI, as Culture Club sue Virgin Records insisting they should, surely, have had more money than they'd got from the compilation and greatest hits albums, and US sales. The Boy reckons that Virgin has refused to show him the accounts. Knowing how shoddy most record label practices are, and how it seems everyone from the 1980s has had to sue their label in order to see any cash back, we're probably going to have to wish George well on this one, but boy, that smarts.

EYE ON THE BALL: "[Bruce Springsteen] must hear everything, mustn’t he? We had to pay him £100 for the song [Born in the USA], which we like to think will tide him over for the winter."

It's a pity that the Ballboy interview only seems to have appeared in scottish editions of The Sunday Times.

MRS. BROWN: Susie Brown, James Brown's mother has died in an Augusta nursing home of heart failure. She was 87 and had been ill for some time.

EXPENSIVE SHOES TURN BACK TO PUMPKINS. OR SOMETHING: You know those shoes Alison Krauss was wearing to do the Cold Mountain songs at the Oscars last night?. Two million bucks worth, they were. Not that it helped, seeing as the law stated the Lord of the Rings had to win every prize, even in the music category. We can only conclude that either the entire Academy is thirteen years old and/or still virgins, or else they thought if they didn't load Peter Jackson down with prizes, he'd be tempted to have a crack at doing The Hobbit as well.

THE DAY OFF ALBUM THAT TOOK THE DAY OFF: So, apparently, John Hughes was afraid the music on the Ferris Bueller soundtrack would make for an album "too diverse" to sell. However, there's now the instructions available online to bake your own. Surely, though, the Flowerpot Men track on the soundtrack isn't the version from the Janice Long sessions, is it?

Sunday, February 29, 2004

THE POOR SOD: Soon after a visibly lubricated Terry Wogan returned to our screens for the second half of the Making Your Mind Up show last night, it became clear that the people of Britain had chosen James Fox and his David Gray's Gone To Iceland one bloke and a guitar effort to carry the British flag into Eurovision proper. Like a British soldier sent to Iraq with no body armour and a gun made from two washing-up liquid bottles and clothes peg. Oh, sure, if the Eurovision Song Contest was being judged solely by legal secretaries from Basildon on their third bottle of Sainsburys white wine and halfway through a Thorntons Truffle Egg, he'd be in with a chance, but do we really expect people living in countries where Dido would be pronounced clinically dead to take a scruffy bloke in jeans burbling some halfsense about how we've got to hold on to our love tonight to their hearts?

The song is rubbish by most standards - why do they have to hold on to their love tonight? What's going to be different about tomorrow? Or is he suggesting that the relationship is like some sort of werewolf, during the day a lovely, snuggly thing, but as soon as the moon comes out it's all tempestuous and needs to have men hold the thing down with guy ropes and a giant tarpaulin?

James also explains that if he lost the object of his affection, he'd be helpless - not in the usual way, spending days staring slack-jawed at Gabby Logan, shovelling Pot Noodle into a mouth; no, James would be "helpless inside" - if his girlfriend left him, no doctor would be able to repair his organs from their multiple rupture. A little later, James explains that he is "changing - I can feel it inside." His insides again. Maybe he's getting love confused with indigestion? Perhaps that's why he's got to hold on to the love tonight, because tomorrow he'll get a pack of Settlers Tums and everything will be fine?

In short: horrid Athena man sentiments, no silly dance routine, no pretty girl. It might just pull off a Johnny Logan, and it probably won't burn in the way like Jemini did, but even so... the BBC will be relieved they won't be having to host the 2005 event.

In other Eurovision news, Jemini popped up on BBC Three complaining "If we won an oscar, we'd still be 'the ones who scored nul points.'" No, dears, you wouldn't be; indeed, the very fact its only a moot point what sort of success would allow you to put being judged the crapest song Britain has ever produced explains why you will always be the ones who scored nul points. If you want us to stop thinking of you that way, you could try going and being successful at something. Not giving lots of interviews about losing Eurovision would be a starting point.

BOM BOM BOM BOM BOM: Hang about, there's a comeback even more unlikely than Renee and Renato; Paul McCartney's releasing a sequel to Rupert and the Frog Chorus. Because he's too mean to pay to licence Rupert the Bear again, the new cartoon, Tropic Island Hum is about a oh, god Scouse Squirrel called will Domestos remove my eyes totally? Wirral. There's going to be a maybe if I just burn my head off and use tar to seal the stump new children's song to go with it.

BACK TO THE MALLS: We're a little surprised that the big launch for the second Avril Lavigne album is going to be Ms Lavigne clomping round some shopping centres - obviously, it's great for those fans who haven't outgrwon her yet, but the whole thing smacks of a launch for an unknown artist rather than the sort of thing someone who's already achieved a degree of success would have to do. It could be a desperate desire to give something back to her fans; on the other hand, it could be a sign that the record company is afraid her allure has started to wear off a bit. A back to basics, John Major on a soapbox type relaunch can never look good.

AMERICAN CHART BURST: If it's odd that Peter Andre is back at the top of the UK chart, odder still is the re-emergence of Teena Marie in the US; Still In Love has given her her first R&B/Hip Hop hit since 1991 and is expected to return her to the Hot 100 in the next couple of weeksa, a place she's not visited in sixteen years. Surely Renee and Renato must be expected to launch a comeback soon?

CHART ACTION: There's only one good thing about Peter Andre's useless Mysterious Girl hitting number one, and that is that it's stopped Westlife having their seventy-ninth number one - and even if Andre hadn't stopped them, Jamelia would have. Lemar's Another Day scrapes in at nine, making his recent Brit Award even more puzzling - does anyone actually rate him that much?

KELLY GETS SOME RESPITE: There's a little bit of good news for R Kelly, as prosecutors drop seven charges of soliciting a minor to appear in child pornography. R's PR team say this is the first "official acknowledgement of the weakness of their case", although it seems it could be more inspired by the crime not having been created at the time the video was made. Either way, R is still looking at fourteen charges relating to fucking little girls, so it could just be the prosecution have decided that if they're already throwing the book at him, tossing the appendix would just be a waste of effort. The next hearing in Chicago is April 2nd; Kelly is also facing kiddie porn charges in Florida.

COME UNDONE... BUT PAID FOR IT: Next time you hear Robbie Williams moaning on about how we just don't understand what life is like for him, and how it's all so terrible and unfair, you might like to cough politely and point out that the GBP17.5m payday he takes home might help a little. The figure comes from the first filing of Good Company, the Fat Dancer/EMI joint company which was constructed at the time of William's big deal with EMI.

While the cut will keep him in chips and pictures of women scratching their arses with tennis balls, the figures show exactly who has the whip hand in the partnership - and, to give you a hint, it's not the former Take That boy. EMI hoovers up 71.43 per cent of all Williams' non-recording profits, and every single razoo made by the website. In effect, then, Williams has mortgaged his future quite astonishingly. So, if he sticks out a single in a few years about 'made a financial deal/ cash up front for short term gain', even we might have a bit of symapthy for him.

KYLIE PLUMMETS: More bad news for Kylie, whose Body Language album continues to gather dust on American store shelves. This week, she falls from 42 to 83, as the disappointing first week sales of 42,000 evaporate to a barely moving 18,000. Of course, it'd be a brave man who writes Kylie off, but surely she should be picking up thousand of sales as wedding gifts in San Fran?

ELVIS WAS A HERO TO MOST/ BUT HE'D NEVER GET A GODDAMN BRIT FROM ME: Simon Tyers writes again to bring our attention to the ongoing Times letter page Elvis debate, with a George Edwards of Harrogate firing a riposte which suggests not only was Elvis shit, but there have only been four albums in the history of recorded music that were worth buying:

My daughter and I continue a competition to agree which albums contain a full quota of good tracks, justifying the cost of their purchase. To date we have identified only four: Rumours (Fleetwood Mac), Graceland (Paul Simon), International Velvet (Catatonia) and Bat Out of Hell (Meat Loaf). Presley, with his many appalling movie soundtrack albums, deserved no better than two awards.

I HAD A FALL AND BROKE MY LEG-AH. AARRRRRRGH: Somehow, Mark E Smith has managed to break his leg so the Fall have had to pull the remaining dates on their tour.