Wednesday, January 05, 2005

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Special mopping-up the time I've been away edition
So, there's three previous NMEs to work through, covering four weeks. The issue before Christmas was Muse, which is pretty much all we know about it.

Then came the Christmas and New Year double issue - with, oh god, U2 on the cover. Presumably they pinched it from Uncut. Socially concerned Bono is spraying a bottle of expensive champagne all around. Nice to see a careful approach to the world's resources then, and a sharing attitude towards not flaunting excessive wealth. Bono shares his views about Band Aid 20: "I think the piano hook is really great. It's much more... it's much more... I prefer it. I much, much prefer it because the music is a little more about the lyric. It feels more tense, which I think is what some people don't like. It's not sugar coated." Oh, Bono... besides clearly scraping together an opinion on the slot with all the elan of George Bush on the stump, the reason why people hate Band Aid 20 is that, two decades on, the only attempt to try and make the lyric anything more than a load of Imperially confused cliches was the addition of Dizzee Rascal's career-ending rap. Nobody was going "ooh, it's a lot more tense than when Bananarama were on it; that must be the presence of Dido ratcheting up the tension."

Elizabeth Goodman, the New York correspondent, used her Xmas column to say farewell to Guided By Voices, which means we're placing ourselves forever on call to carry her shopping bags whenever she has the urge.

Nathan from the Kings of Leon met up with Peter Robinson, and came down on the side of a Boots vouchers over M&S - something that i wish my Uncle who always used to give me Marks & Spencers every year had realised. Mind you, back then M&S had little more than sensible pants and chickens and Boots had a record department. Now, M&S has really nice pants and booze, and Boots doesn't even do homebrew. Nathan's view of the balance of christmas vouchers is as relentlessly 70s as his beard.

Lisa Moorish was allowed on the pub golf tour this year, as was Charlie Simpson from Fightstar (not Busted, remember, that's just his day job). Also turning up were Eddie Argos, Simon Neil and Maggot. Oddly, though, it was the best one since Johnny Cigarettes gave up judging.

Carl and Pete both get interviewed, separately. Carl complains he used to give the Libertines mouth organs for Christmas but they'd just leave them lying around - although, as we know, Pete would later help himself to other "gifts" instead. Pete Doherty, for his part, reveals that the bloke in the room next to him in the Thai monastry kept playing Room On Fire over and over. With hindsight, then, not surprising he went into town to look for smack, is it? And, if you're waiting for the judgement of the winner, Ana Matronic, of the Scissors, offered a choice between Pete or Carl, plumps for "Carl, Carl, Carl."

Johnny Borrell, interestingly but inadvertently juxtaposes Blair lying about Weapons of Mass Destruction ("a disgrace") with slipping out that the German tour wasn't totally cancelled because of a bad throat but more because he'd got "fucked up" with valium and prescriptions - "a big night of downers and champagne."

Simon Pegg, Nadia from Big Brother, Elton John and Daniel Radcliffe pass their judgement on the singles from the year just gone. Nadia ponders the deeper meaning of 'Your Mother's Got A Penis' - "it's a very 21st century woman they're referring to" - while Elton enthuses over Franz Ferdinand. And Morrissey. And Scissor Sisters. And The Others. And The Libertines. He does however, nearly, slag off Kelis - Milkshake got on his tits - but, of course, he actually likes her.

There's a Courtney Love ramble - she gracefully announces that she'll let Frances spend Christmas with Kurt's Mom, for all the world like she had a say in it; then she rambles a bit about how she's off the drugs now, before lurching into a years-old piece of schtick about Trent Reznor's dick being small.

The back page is given over to Paul McCartney, for a spot of festive scouse thumbs alofting - "we always have a good new year's eve in Liverpool" he trills - but still finds time to call the apparent re-election of George Bush "terrible". On the other hand, America has much tastier Linda McCartney products than the UK, so maybe he's just fibbing and really he loves the Republicans.

The NME staff still slumped over the three bottles of Grolsch and small glass of Drambuie that they got from the Time Warner Christmas Party, the latest edition has been handed over to Franz Ferdinand to guest edit. Which, at least, can't be as bad as the Goldie Lookin' Chain experiment.

There is some good news coverage of the collapse of the babyshambles UK tour: covering the Ebay spat where someone was trying to flog a stolen effects pedal from the Astoria gig, they quote the seller as justifying themselves by suggesting "Pete Doherty is the REAL thief here..." - erm, well, yes. Taking things he didn't own was what he went to prison for, wasn't it?

Dick Valentine from The Electric Six (now "the year before last's Scissor Sisters", of course) takes on Peter Robinson. He claims he always gets a chocolate pony for Christmas. He lies. Lies like a snake.

The first fingerprints of Franz in the issue are on the Letters Page. Alex offers the following points in response to reader's concerns: (I) Kasabian are going to surprise us one day and it's not nice to slag them off because they're inarticulate (surely, though, articulation is the very essence of being in the performing arts?); (II) nobody should be shot like Dimebag; (III) They didn't have to decide if they were going to do Band Aid as their passports were in the Japanese embassy in Germany (we don't know if it was a "quick, here comes Ure... throw the passports over the wall of the nearest embassy and/or consulate" move); (IV) Junkies (like Pete D) are boring.

In the opinion slot, Alex Kapranos then suggests we should listen to independent labels instead of the majors, although suggesting that Alan McGee (twice sold off Creation to the highest bidder) is a shining example of the independent ethos is a little stretching. More interestingly, we think the footing at the bottom of Pete Robinson's piece is the first ever open acknowledgment of his life at by the NME.

In the celebs ask Franz questions, Wogan demands to know why the band said Wogan was on BBC Two. Their answer is that it scans better. This might be Wogan's first appearance in a pop paper since he told Smash Hits criticising Crossroads was like kicking a cripple, but we can't be sure.

Then the Ferdies go on to recommend the Buzzcocks (Pete Shelley revealing those perfect three minute pop songs were that length because of the speed the band played at, which is both physics and magic) and The Blood Arm (who have a song that's based on a John Cassavetes movie).

They also revive NME coverage of fanzines - probably for the first time since 1991 - with plugs for Black Velvet, Homelovin', Vanity Project, REPEAT, and Robots and Electric Brains.

There's a second bit of that U2 interview. Bono rightly does snort at the story of Kristen Pfaff overdosing and her Dad telling TV she was having trouble coming to terms with "signing to a major", although he doesn't remember her name; he then maintains that there's "never been a more independent group" than U2 - hey, you know, when they bend over for Island, they're still insisting how much vaseline - and keeps repeating it. Rather like the thought was on a shuffle-repeat on a limited edition iPod, or in the firm, manly handshake grip of George Bush.

kaiser chiefs - camden barfly - "wonky indie [turned] bona fide superstars
manics - brighton centre - "after a decade trying to struggle free of the past, the Manics might have a future"
the beat up - manchester night & day - "the coolest people turn up late"

oceans twelve - soundtrack - "swagger", 8
the martini henry rifles - superbastard - "scurvy-ridden Welsh", 7

totw - death from above 1979 - "howling into the gale"
client - pornography - "Goldfrapp reduced to cheap instruments"
snow white - bored somewhat detached - "Lord of the Flies kids into Black Flag"

And just when you thought things could get no worse than a two-part U2 feature... next week: "The return of Coldplay." Good god, it's a rubbish year.

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