Friday, December 24, 2004

JUDGES BACK THE MACK: In what must be a first, a judge has come down on Mark Morrison's side. Morrison is, of course, in a battle with Everton player Kevin Campbell over Campbell's attempts to release a Morro record. A High Court judge refused Campbell an extension of the injunction preventing Morrison from releasing An Innocent Man on a label other than Campbell's 2Wikid. Campbell has threatened a breach of copyright suit against any other label which attempts to make the recording available, which, with the fairly small market likely for The Mack these days is going to make it seem less of a commercial boon.

A CHRISTMAS SONG: As it edges closer to midnight, we feel the need to commend Talen t In A Previous Life's rewriting of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Nicola Girls Aloud takes the Rudolph role.

THE MISUNDERESTIMATION OF THE BRAND: Things needn't be quite so bleak for Mariah Carey - as Celine Dion has demonstrated, when your market shrinks, you just find a way of squeezing more out of the top layer. But rather than admit she's become a Gold Station artist, and make do with playing venues where your audience can sit down and order a steak and some Tums while you play, Mariah seems determined to try and cling to the Teen Vogue market. Hence the appointment of Jermaine Dupri as producer. Because, rather than play her a couple of songs that would sit well on a Hallmark Christmas freebie album, he's telling Carey what she wants to hear:

"Her singing is something kids could follow. All those kids like Christina Aguilera, they looked up to Mariah when they first came out. That was the person they liked voicewise. In the studio, I'm telling Mariah, 'This is what you gotta do, you gotta get yourself back to what kids is following'."

I don't actually recall Christina or any of the generation-before-the-current one expressing admiration for Mariah myself, but we do look forward to the undignified spectacle of Mariah attempting to follow The Sisters Simpson and Hillary Duff's lead.

DONNAS PINCH FLUFF: SAVE LIVES: If it wasn't so near to Christmas day, the story that The Donnas once removed an out-of-date jar of Marshmallow Fluff from a food drive would probably blow clean away in the wind.

CELEB IN 'SPECAIL TREATMENT' SHOCKER: If you wondered whether it wasn't a little cosy the way Diana Ross got to pick and choose when she'd serve her sentence for driving about pissed off her head; the way she was allowed to clock up her hours in little pieces, the food delivered to her cell and the mobile phone she was able to keep with her. It was hardly Cell Block H. Well, you wouldn't be alone: the Greenwich Police Union were also mightily cheesed off with the way she seemed to get special treatment, and issued a 44-page complaint about how Ross appeared to be the boss. As a result, Police Chief James Walters has held a press conference to admit that, yes, he was indeed starry eyed:

"In the situation involving the incarceration of Ms. Ross, I made some poor decisions and accept responsibility for them," Walters said at a news conference Wednesday. He didn't say which decisions he regretted.

Walters said Ross and her lawyers told him that her two-day sentence could be broken into two 24-hour blocks. Without a female guard to supervise Ross, Walters said he thought it appropriate to send her home.

As for her cell phone, Walters said he never allowed her to have one and assumed a police officer searched Ross.

It seems the ordinary plods have some other beefs with the way Walters runs the police; the Police Union voted no confidence in him earlier this month. Walters has been officially scolded.

BLAME MANSON: It must be shit enough being a juror on a murder case which involves a horrible death of a young girl, even more so at Christmas time. But then to have to endure a Marilyn Manson DVD as well seems to be going beyond anything anyone should be asked to do. The prosecution case against Luke Mitchell, the 16 year old accused of murdering Jodi Jones, seems to revolve around Mitchell's ownership of a Manson video showing vanilla shots of writhy bonded corsetted models. Although forming part of the case against him, Mitchell told detectives he bought the DVD, The Golden Age of Grotesque, two days after Jones' body had been found; and it came from Sainsburys. The case continues.

VICTORY FOR BRITNEY: The Annual adding up of the Google requests for 2004, the zeitgeist report, has been tabulated (I know, I know, there's about two percent of the year left to run) and Britney Spears will be able to draw some comfort from the news that she's the most popular search term this year, beating Paris Hilton and arch-rival Christina at two and three respectively; Britney was also the most searched for woman in images. She didn't quite manage a clean sweep, though: she was only the fourth most popular person requested through Google News. George W topped; John Kerry came third, but it was a singer who separated the two presidential rivals: Janet Jackson's breast was the hot button issue for News Googling. If only the Democrats had got her nipple on the ticket, they might just have saved America.

POSTCARD FROM BLACKPOOL: We owe Matthew Lloyd from I Love You Trinny a huge, ribbon bedecked thank you. He was at Blackpool to see Pete Doherty, and he's sent us this report:

What Peter Did - Babyshambles In Blackpool

Last Christmas, Peter Doherty graced the cover of the NME dressed in tatty
Victorian garb fitting of Oliver Twist. One year on, and our favourite
Dickensian urchin that never was has seemingly taken his role to heart. Once
more cast adrift from the warming bosom of The Libertines, the little lost
boy of rock has stumbled into a dark underground of shady characters and bad
influences. The Artful Dodgers that are Babyshambles keep him from a
(relatively) calming family home. Fellow London bands take on the roles of
forgotten orphan thieves, veritable angels with dirty faces. So who plays
Fagin in this tale? The infamous Wolfman wouldn’t look out of place in any
pantomime, but perhaps the most damaging and corrupting influence in our
Peter’s life doesn’t take human form at all.

Babyshambles emerge on stage 45 minutes late, and bang out the intro to ‘The
Man Who Came To Stay’. Something of a relief, given the whisperings of a no
show that had been spreading across Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom. But
there’s still no sign of The Man We Came To See. A few minutes later, and
here he is. Cloaked in a familiar cream mac, Peter Doherty stumbles onstage
and lurches into his vocals. And they’re awful. Still, this is a man famed
for his, shall we say, unconventionality. Here is a man who named his outfit
Babyshambles, after all. The song peters out (no pun intended), and the band
gather around their frontman. It becomes apparent that there are rather more
road crew than usually necessary at the side of the stage. The events that
unfold over the course of the next few songs are absolutely astonishing.

It seems to begin when Peter jumps, or possibly falls, from the front of the
stage. He is frantically groped by the crushed and adoring throng as he
frequently lurches towards them. His eyes are barely open, and his skin a
peculiar shade of yellow, which does nothing to put off despairing girls who
attempt to push their tongues as far into his mouth as possible. Singing
takes on a background role for Peter, far behind the more pressing matters
of standing up and staying awake. As he clambers back onto the stage, band
members and road crew descend upon him, and offer encouraging hugs and pats
on the back. You can almost hear what they’re saying, ‘just keep it
together, Pete’.

While most of the crowd are growing tired of the rigmarole and giving a more
lukewarm reception to events, there are still the ever committed Doherty
acolytes crushed at the front, screaming at their hero’s every move. Then he
takes his coat off, to reveal a rolled up sleeve and a red belt tied around
his arm. A collective gasp can be heard around the room. Shortly afterwards,
guitarist Patrick throws his guitar to the ground and storms from the stage.
The look on Peter’s face is priceless, it sums up every event in the last 18
or so months of his life; he has no idea why his guitarist would leave. No
matter that he has already alienated one band in a similar situation; he
still believes he is a misunderstood innocent, a romantic poet who needn’t
be constrained by something as meaningless as convention. When Peter looks
in the mirror, this is what he sees, and not the dying face of a washed up
smackhead that stares out at us tonight. He lifts Patrick’s guitar from the
ground and attempts to play on himself, as the other two members of
Babyshambles mill around uncomfortably before following their guitarist from
the stage.

Similar scenarios arise throughout the gig with unsettling familiarity,
until it becomes a surprising feat that the entire band can be onstage
together. Announcements are made, Patrick disappears and returns, road crew
frequently take to the stage, and more items are thrown from the restless
crowd than if 50 Cent were to play Reading for a fortnight. At one point,
Peter is unceremoniously dragged from the stage in a headlock by the chief
roadie, to ‘have some water thrown in his face’, surely the understatement
of the year, as it’s unlikely that throwing acid in his face would wake him
from this drug induced stupor. Meanwhile, the crowd are subjected to the
sort of tedious, 10 minute ‘jam’ only a bass player and drummer can concoct.

Upon their return, Babyshambles launch into what must be said is a storming
version of latest single ‘Killamangiro’. But it’s too little, too late, and
the normalcy of awfulness is soon returned. Even ‘What Katy Did’, ever the
trump card of the Doherty cannon, fails to raise spirits. A few songs later,
and Babyshambles leave the stage with ‘Wolfman, one of the increasingly
disappointing batch of recent Doherty compositions. However, as the
houselights are raised, it becomes apparent that Babyshambles haven’t left
the stage at all. Or, more precisely, Peter’s still there. And so it is,
that the most lauded songwriter of recent years is reduced to caterwauling
through the songs of a band from which he has been cast out of for good.
‘What A Waster’, ‘The Delaney’, ‘Time For Heroes’, he trawls through them
all in the heartbreaking manner that only he can. Heartbreaking because they
are so appalling, so tragic, so fucking shit.

In a fittingly pantomime ending, a villainous manager emerges and asks the
crowd if they’ll be happy with ‘one more song’. The mob screams in
appreciation, like schoolchildren at a matinee performance of ‘Oliver’. A
girl nearby shouts to her friend, ‘best gig ever!’ And in the middle of it
all, a little lost boy with a guitar, too high to suffer the pain, too low
to feel any happiness, strums the opening chords of ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’. An
ending fitting for the start? Let’s just pray this is no ending at all.

HO-HO-HO: If you fancy a wee Christmas gift for yourself, 3Hive are able to point you in the direction of a Wedding Present download. Flying Saucer, in fact.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

WILL IN A DRESS: If someone had a picture of us in chickwear and it was described as "criminal property", we'd be really hurt. Even if we'd been a bit sloppy with the hemline or misjudged the tightness of hotpant our Christmas period butt could cope with. Having said which, the pictures of Will Young in a dress had actually been stolen. Sharife El-Whabe has been found guilty of trying to flog stolen stuff from Young's flat; the pictures (Young was preparing for a movie role) appear to have been part of the haul.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

YOU KNOW WHEN PARENTS USED TO WARN ABOUT HORSEPLAY?: There's a reason you're asked to not muck about, you know, as Kai discovered when he attempted to balance a bucket of water on his head in a New York nightclub. (He's a fashion designer, apparently, which is an answer to both 'who' and 'why' right there.) The b=icy water ended up going all over Bjork - and although she's from Iceland so shouldn't be that thrown by cold temperatures, she was upset and a whole fight broke out and everything. Bjork should carry a spare swan outfit with her at all times, just in case.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ALLEGED: As far as we can follow the Snoop Dogg case, some woman claims that he assaulted her, and said that if Snoop didn't give her piles of cash, she'd go to the National Enquirer, or maybe even tell a journalist. Snoop is now suing her, saying he wasn't part of any assault and she's little more than a common blackmailer. Now some poor judge is going to have to pick the bones out of it all. We're so glad we didn't study law.

APPLE SAUCE: Pissed off with rumours that Sony has been sitting on a finished album from Fiona Apple for a year and a half, and still have no plans to release it, Dave Muscato has built a website,, dedicated to petitioning and stunting until the thing comes out once and for all. Sony reckon the album isn't "commercial enough" to warrant making available. Muscato sees the title as being a victim of Sony's decision to concentrate on higher yielding pop and r&b slurry instead of music which takes a bit more nuturing; a "bottom-line" mentality that you'd expect with the company now being run by a man with no interest in music at all. (Sony's current head, you'll recall, is former NBC man Andrew Lack). The campaign to get Extraordinary Machine released is being based around sending apples to Sony's HQ.

BLUESOBIT: The blues legend Son Seals died from complications relating to diabeties on Monday. He was 62.

Born in Arkansas, by the time Seals moved to Chicago in 1971 he'd already built a reputation as a formidable drummer through his work for Stax: he backed Albert King on Live Wire/Blues Power. In the second city, he moved up to fronting his own act, quickly signing to Alligator records to release The Son Seals Blues Band and Midnight Son; it was the latter which earned him the plaudit of "the most exciting young blues guitarist and singer in years" from the New York Times. What might be described as an interesting relationship with Alligator's owner (and his own manager) Bruce Iglauer saw him quit the label for a while during the 80s, but he returned home during the latter stages of his career, releasing Lettin' Go in 2000. It was a period which saw him being adopted as a figurehead by younger artists, most notably Phish, with whom he toured in a support slot.

Son put his skill down to his father's method of teaching - sweating the details over showy elaboration: "My father taught me everything from the start. Tuning the guitar, fingering. Where I wanted to be riffing around all up and down the neck right away, he'd keep me on one chord for hours, until I could feel in it in my sleep. I'd get up the next morning, grab the guitar, and I'd be right on that chord."

Iglauer recalls it was talent, rather than looks, upon which Seals built his reputation when he first reached Chicago: "Son didn't look like much in those days - a skinny young man straight from the South, with unkempt hair and pants that didn't reach his shoes. But he played and sang like his life depended on every note and word."

Seals is survived by fourteen children.

TALKING OF PISSING AWAY LEGACIES: The thing about the plans to do a Queen tour with Paul Rodgers at the microphone is that it shows just how absolutely deluded some people can be. If it was merely a case of pulling something together for the second big Mandela aids bash (46664 mark 2 is going ahead at Fancourt Hotel And Country Club Estate on March 19th next year), you could perhaps put it down to goodworkforcharity whatfreddiewouldhavewanted howcouldyousaynotomandela; but it's not: it's a warm-up for a full tour. Brian May clearly nourishes a warm belief that people saw Queen as some sort of musical partnership, and not merely onstage catnipper Freddie Mercury and some plodding blokes behind him. It's the only way May can suggest him, Roger Taylor and some bloke singing is in any way "Queen" with a straight face. If cheese and crackers comes back together, only with jam instead of cheese, no matter how hard you insist that it's cheese, it's never going to be, is it?

GIVE US THE CASH, MOTHERFUCKERS: Another unseemly tussle over band heritage is kicking off around the legacy of the MC5. The wife and kids of singer Rob Tyner are suing the reactivated remaining members over rights to the band's name and image, as well as cash-related stuff like royalties and so on. It's unclear if this is merely a pocketbook action, or if Rebecca Derminer has heard just how shit the current MC5 are and wants to step in and stop the pain, the pain.

PITY IT WASN'T PAXMAN, MIND: At least Pete Doherty went into his Newsnight interview knowing he wasn't going to be the most mashed rock star to appear on the programme this year: there wouldn't be enough drugs in the world to turn Doherty/Wark into a rematch of Esler/E. Smith from the day Peel died; and it seems like he kept it together pretty well (we're not in a place where we're able to watch the footage right now; we're hoping it's going to be working its way through bittorrent for when we get back to Broadband). It sounds like Kirsty gave him the sort of grilling he probably needs:

When I asked him about the trail of destruction and violence that accompanies heroin's journey from the poppy fields to his body - particularly the plight of mainly female drug mules - I don't think he'd given it any thought.

Naturally, there's a lot of debate flowing in the wake of the appearance: Drowned In Sound have a thread: Tobyj muses on how the Libs have grabbed the posh media:

Endeacott scored a first radio play ever for the Libs (I think) on Radio 4's Today Programme, while being interviewed about something else. With hindsight it seems oddly consistent with Doherty ending up 3 years later on Newsnight - true rebellion maybe being the capture of the posh media. David Baddiell discussing Pete on R4 probably stretches their audience much further than an NME cover.

... and you can see his point; although this is a process that started with Suede a decade ago, where The Independent, the Late Show and the South Bank Show latched on quickly; presumably because by the start of the 90s these programmes and papers were being edited in part by people who had bubbled up the media from a fanziney/NME route and who had both the knowledge and the passion to communicate about slightly-more left-field music in a way other than "Punks! Hide yourself!"

DOWNLOADY HEAVEN: Secretly Canadian recording uber-lord Jens Lekman has established a Department of Forgotten Songs to carry free downloadable mp3s of rarities and obscurities. Canadians are nice people.

HIS MODEM'S VOICE: We really aren't keeping a list, but maybe we should: we could have sworn that HMV had already got some sort of music download system in place; or maybe we're just surprised that it's taken them until 2005 to get round to it. Now, though, they've announced the intention to pump ten million quid into establishing an online music store. It's going to be pushing WMA files onto a stumpy public, so it's not that exciting at all, really. Just another name with the same framework underneath.

What is exciting, however, is the picture BBC News Online is illustrating the story with:

WILLIAMS BEATEN BY CHUBINDIE: Who would have given odds on Keane having the best-selling album of 2004 at the start of the year, eh? This is on the basis of HMV sales, of course, so when the official chart comes out positions might be reversed, but there's something warm and satisfying that a debut album can outsell a solid banker like a Robbie Williams singles compilations. Sure, they might not be the most excitingly daring of bands, but for a bunch of unknowns to triumph in the marketplace - it does give you a warm feeling about the record-buying public, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

THE SUICIDE RE-SOLUTION: 2005 is setting itself up to be a bumper year for the reissue and the return, with the news that not only are Suicide preparing remastered resurrections for A Way of Life and Why Be Blue? and a small tour; but also that Bowie is reissuing his afficiando-only live albums David Live and Stage. We're not entirely certain, but we think these aren't only the first releases of these two on CD, but that they've been off the catalogue so long they probably skipped cassette release entirely.

Those Suicide dates are:
January 15 New York Knitting Factory
22 Rome Villagio Globale
24 London Electric Ballroom
25 Paris La Locomotive

YOUR CAREER? OVER BEHIND ELECTRICALS, NEXT TO THE FRESH PIZZA COUNTER: From the illustrated "mighty long way down rock and roll":

The Cheeky Girls doing a signing. At Asda. In Swindon.

LAT ENTRY FOR THE MOST CYNICAL MOVE OF 2004: We're sure there's absolutely no connection at all between Destiny's Child telling fans to not try and copy their bodyshapes (Kelly Rowlands saying "We feel it's important to speak out on young girls being body conscious. Eat. Don't live to eat, eat to live. You find so many cases where kids are obese or don't eat, and you never know what's going to happen. Love yourself. If you don't love yourself then how can you expect the rest of the world to see what's so beautiful about you? Everybody on this earth is made differently.") and their role as spokespeople for McDonalds. Another McFlurry, Beyonce?

FANTASTIC MR FOX: Well, we thought we'd never see anyone more likely to put people off the whole idea of fox hunting than the puffy red faces of the "we're not really toffs" brigade at the Countryside Alliance, but then the world is always full of little surprises: Korn's Jonathan Davis has issued a considered defence of setting dogs onto foxes to rip their necks out:

"Fox hunting? That's fucking bullshit. That's an old fucking English tradition. You don't fuck with that. I'd fucking go fox hunting anyway.

"How is some cocksucker going to come and stop it?"

... which, oddly enough, is exactly the Countryside Alliance's official policy, although they say "dicksplash" rather than "cocksucker." We really do look forward to Davis being invited to join a ride-out on Boxing Day; it's always nice to be reminded of the quality of thought and philosophy in the pro-slaughter camp.

TIME OUT: Apparently, Kerry McChipshop has got a really hectic schedule (Doing what? Posing for Heat magazine? Writing a book on Churchill's record as a social reformer?) that medics have ordered Katona to take a break from the spotlight. I'm not a doctor, but that sounds like a bloody good idea. Could I suggest a course of about twenty years?

DRUGS, DO YOU SEE?: Ah, to have the soul of a poet: every time Elton John flies over the Alps, he thinks: snow-capped... snow is another word for cocaine... like cocaine... drugs... I used to do drugs. Or at least that's what he's told a German magazine, Neon, the thought process that leads him to link the alps to his coke intake is; we suspect it might be "a mountain-sized pile of white powder" that does it.

BET HE WENT OUT WITHOUT A PULLOVER ON: That bronchial-pneumonical thing that has been sweeping the UK has claimed another victory - sorry, victim - with the forced cancellation of a Status Quo gig in Edinburgh. Francis Rossi, bless him, has got the ague. The date planned for Thursday has been shoved off back until February.

PRESUMABLY YOU WERE ALSO SICK AS A PARROT?: You'd imagine the one positive thing that could come out of sending a songwriter to Sudan, to see the horrors unfolding, is that on his return, as someone whose business is the marshalling of language, he would be able to offer powerful testament to what he'd seen.

Instead, Fran Healy returns from Sudan and how does he describe what he's seen?

"I'm gobsmacked at what I saw in Sudan."

What makes this flat reaction even more disappointing is that Healy thinks it's more than enough:

"As a famous person the thing you can do is go to a place and report on it. A singer like myself is able to talk freely and express an opinion."

We don't know if we're more crushed by the words "as a famous person", or by Healy's belief that "it's gobsmacking" is a worthwhile use of the platform and profile. And you can only picture Africa, as a continent, being delighted with this sort of attitude:

"I was naive before I went - thought Africans were needy and desperate. But they're the strongest people I've ever met who are surviving against all the odds - I don't know how they do it."

Cliche and the replacing of one stereotype with another, eh, Fran? I never thought I'd say this but: you really should get back in the studio and start making some new Travis album.

DON'T DO IT, KIDS: Record labels getting pissy about online leaks isn't anything new - but what is different about GSL's complaints about the Mars Volta leak is that they're worried the quality isn't up to it, not the lost sales:

"The collective GSL staff and certain members of the band think what you are doing is f*cked. You should honor the band's wishes and take the songs down. Leaks suck, and are an unfortunate evil of the Internet. It sucks even more when it's such a bad copy as what is being passed around right now. As much as the hype that's swept over the internet for this release is amazing, no one wished anyone to hear such an amazing album in such piss-poor quality this side of the 70s."

Monday, December 20, 2004

FEAT OF CLAY: Poor Gareth-Gates-lite Clay Aiken, suffering so because of his American Idol victory. It's terrible never being taken seriously because you're seen as a reality show whore he wails, as he promotes his "inspiring" autobiography tracing his journey from nobody to nobody with a PR agent, Learning To Sing. (We hope the title is what he plans to do next.) As you'd expect in the current God-sucking US, he's added a healthy dose of The Man Upstairs to his tale, even kicking off his slim volume with a quotation from Exodus. The Bible one, not the Marley one. Clay's people's choice was "the Lord will fight for you; All you have to do is stand still." Which we hope is advice he remembers if the crosswalk lights change while he's in the middle of a six lane highway sometime.

Although Aiken acknowledges that American Idol was a great "sidestep" to fame, he really does get riled that people see him as a flash in the pan just because his fame is based on a gameshow and he has absolutely no secure fanbase to fall back on. Like most people who win these things (and, indeed, the people who don't), Aiken is carrying a belief that he was predetermined to be famous and the gameshow was just a short-circuit to the adoration that he would have achieved anyway. We're expecting a second book, "Buttfucked By Reality", sometime round Fall 2005.

BAD HAIR DAY: Oooh! Avril Lavigne got all hissy because she'd had pink paint tossed all over her for a photoshoot and it took ages to get out. Not quite sure what she's so upset about - she's spent the best part of the last two years desperately trying to be Pink, hasn't she? Beware what you wish for, Av...

BLUE PHIXX: If you love rather lame gayboybands, and adore Blue Peter's Matt, you've probably already downloaded the song Matt Baker wrote for Phixx, haven't you?

MIGHTY MIGHTY: Not only were we surprised to hear of a new album from The Mighty Lemon Drops - a 1988 radio show being lovingly released under the name 'Young, Gifted and Black Country' - but we were equally surprised to find out they were still a going concern as recently as 1992.

YG&BC has got "all the hits" played for Deidre O'Donoghue's SNAP radio show, and, to top things up a little, the Like An Angel EP. We remember loving the band at the time, but we're fucked if we can remember how any of the songs go right now.

I AM THE ONE AND ONLY: Everyone's third or fourth favourite celebrity show-off series, The Games, is returning in the new year, and, as ever, it's a handy chance to benchmark which pop celebs careers have really accepted that that's it as far as their credibility and career goes, and are cramming in the last few minutes of screentime. You won't be surprised that Chesney Hawkes is there, nor Kevin Simm out of Liberty X. But Lisa Mafia's acceptance of a starting place alongside the bloke who was Tinhead in Brookside and Jonathan Morris out of Bread might come as something of a surprise.

CAN'T ANYBODY LEAVE IT ALONE?: As so often happens when the acting jobs and tabloid scandal have started to dry up, another semiceleb has decided to have a go at a "pop career" - after all, how difficult can it be; it's just like taping yourself doing karaoke, isn't it?

Yep, Amanda Holden, who is famous for having sex with the bloke from the Homebase advert and Boon while married to the guy who used to do the impression of Mavis from Coronation Street. Apparently, Amanda thinks that having a spell as a pop star will be a great way of "taking a break from the limelight" (so, at least she's being realistic about how much interest there's likely to be in her singing) and to give Chris Hughes as chance to have the spotlight taken off him for a while. (No, not the one from TV Cream; apparently she's going to marry this one - and, coincidently, he works in... oh, the music industry. Presumably if she was marrying a butcher she'd be mulling a career arranging her chops in a shop window.)

WASN'T IT THE PIES?: We don't often have much in the way of good words to say for Robbie Williams, so in the spirit of the season we'll offer a small smattering of aplause for his honesty in the reason why he took drugs: because he enjoyed doing them. It does make a refreshing change from cleaned-up celebs who suggest the whole thing was just hell from start to finish.

He does blame the drugs for his enormous weight gains and bad judgement calls, though, which seems a little harsh on the drugs: surely pies and ego played their part?

... BUT THEY'RE LYING: Jimmy Nail has successfully thrown more good money after bad, having had an appeal for an increase in libel damages against Rupert Murdoch's News of the World and Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins thrown out by the court. Nail had won thirty grand after the two sister companies of Fox News published fibs but - because he'd turned down an earlier offer to settle - hadn't got his costs awarded to him. Now, he's having to not only fund the two grand for the first hearing, but he's going to have to find fifty thou to cover the appeal as well. A re-release of Crocodile Shoes is not out the question.

THEY'RE NOT REPLACING HER, OKAY?: TLC have issued a hurt denial that the whole reality TV search for a new member is about "replacing" Left-Eye. They're not looking to replace her at all, you see. Just find someone to be a temporary third member to top up the numbers while they crank out a greatest hits pension package. That's hardly the same thing at all, is it?

PROBABLY WON'T NEED YOUR JUKEBOX MONEY ANYMORE: Another small detour on the rock trail has disappeared with the news that the original Love Shack (as in the B52s song) in Athens, Georgia, has burned down. Police are exploring the possibility that it might be arson; a 24 hour guard has been posted outside the Rock Lobster's home as a precaution.

VICTORIAN STYLE EXPLOITATION OF ROSY-FACED CHILDREN: It's odd that the NUT managed to allow the somewhat dubious message of What I Go To School For pass unchallenged, but they've finally decided that Busted have pushed them far enough: the teaching union has complained loudly about Universal Records pressganging kids into pre-teen street teams. Universal, of course, see little wrong with the concept of forcing ten year old kids to hand out flyers and put up posters, arguing that "they've been doing it for two years" (which isn't really a stout moral defence) and that "the kids enjoy it." Pretty much the same attitude the Victorian mill-workers took towards the kids getting their arms caught in spinning machines, in other words. Still, it all saves the record label a few bob, and doubtless someone at Universal has decided: if they're old enough to be sued, they're old enough to work, dammit.

But at least the Victorian chimney sweeps got paid for their efforts...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

DISCOBIT: The death has been announced of Burt Reid, singer and sax player with the Crown Heights Affair. Reid, 48, died from lung cancer on December 12th.

Part of the first wave of disco, Crown Heights Affair first hit with 1975's Dreaming A Dream. A string of hits - including Foxy Lady - followed, with Reid eventually leaving the band to concentrate on writing and production as the disco glitterball burst in the early 80s. His production credits cover work with a range of acts, including Raw Silk and Denroy Morgan; he also continued to make music more directly, putting in studio time with Louie Vega.

MAYBE WE SHOULD BE ASKING NOT 'WHY NOT AMERICA' BUT 'WHY ANYWHERE': There's an interesting piece by Bill Lamb over on Blogcritics right now pondering why America hasn't fallen in love with Kylie and Robbie:

Is it misplaced nationalism? Puritanical morality? 2 left feet on the dancefloor? Regardless of the reason, those of us lacking in American nearsightedness will continue to enjoy the music and personalities that are Kylie and Robbie and welcome them with open arms when the barriers finally come down.

Maybe, Bill, it's that America has more than enough mid-weight talents of their own without the need to import Robbie Williams; more seriously, both Kylie and Robbie exist not as singers (one is passable; one is like passing petrol) but as celebrities, and in the UK the doings of the pair creep up to newsworthy mainly because it's a small nation without very much going on its borders to fill the gossip columns. In an America which has stars shooting b-movie actresses, driving into the back of busses and getting married and divorced to each other all the time, it's hard for Kylie and Robbie to break through to get any notice at all: "Australian girl quite charming; gives name to pants line" and "Thicky McThicky moans about how bad life is - again; gurning pictures page 5" isn't really going to cut it. They're left to rely on their talent alone. And that's a problem.

ON THE ROCKS AND ROLL FUN: We're still not quite sure we've got the whole Gwen-Pearl Spam-Gavin problem straight in our head: surely if it happened before Gwen and Gavin got together it's not the marriage breaker the now-defunct Sunday People claims it is? "They don't even stay in the same hotel" claims the People - but surely that is as much down to them being in different places as anything?

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday reckons that Jack White and Renee Zellweger have called it a day (this is about the ninth time, right?) because Jack wanted Renee to give up acting (we all want that, love, after seeing the latest Bridget Jones) and move to Detroit - probably so she can be on hand to help out the next time he gets into a bar fight.

ONLY ONE THING CAN SAVE OUR EYES NOW: Oh, Victoria Beckham, however much you're paying your PR, you can't afford it. We loved the idea that anyone would believe that Vanity Fair - the American Vanity Fair - would be entertaining the idea of paying you a million bucks to put you naked and pregnant on the cover of the magazine. Because not only did they do that with Demi Moore years ago, and probably don't need to revisit the idea, but why would they want you on the cover at all, much less naked? Perhaps if you paid them a million, you might be in with a shout - but where would be the logic of a magazine shelling out large sums in order to have a derivative covershot of someone nobody in their market even remembers any more?

In other news: Geri Halliwell turns down Time magazine's "kind, kind offer" of Person of the Year title.

A BUSY MAN: Extraordinary that with all his other problems, Michael Jackson felt he had to make time to issue a statement about the rumours that there are tapes of him taking the piss out of his fans. The claims say that Jackson was caught at the time of the HIStory tour back in 1996 (when he had more fans to badmouth) ripping the piss out of people who hadn't deserted him even although all his talent had. Jackson's statement begs fans to pay no heed to the rumours:

"Recently, there has been a rumor circulating where I am accused of bad-mouthing my fans. I was deeply hurt when I heard about this. As an artist and performer, the most rewarding part of my work is to know that I have such loyal and supportive fans. I would never resort to any such negativity. Like so many other allegations, this is a lie. I love my fans and appreciate you all so much. I would never take that for granted."

"...there, that should satisfy the little fuckers; they'll lap it up like the credulous little shits they are. Hang about... if the red light is on, does that mean it's still recording? Shit... shit... bugger. What one? The third button to stop it?"

ANOTHER SHAMBLESHSAMBLES: It's actually more newsworthy that Babyshambles managed to make it through their Sheffield gig unscathed than the inevitable no show of Doherty at last night's Astoria date, prompting a riot after fans - kept waiting until 2 am - reacted badly to the news that Doherty had fucked up again. Police were called after a stage invasion, although no arrests were made. reports that there were rumours Doherty was actually in the Astoria, so presumably he was just too cooled up to play.

THE WAR ON BITTORRENT: While the RIAA concentrate on the relatively soft p2p targets like your Bearshares and Kazaas, clouds are starting to form over the much more significant Bittorrent network - and the main push seems to be coming from the MPAA. In Finland, a local Bittorrent site has been raided, with varying reports of the number of arrests; meanwhile, has closed up for good - possibly ahead of the planned strikes on the operators of networks being threatened by the Movie Industry. Of course, it'll be impossible to close down bittorrent, but then American corporations seem to enjoy pissing away their resources in a non-stop war of attrition against ghostly enemies.