Saturday, July 23, 2005


We could have sworn we'd already heard a story about Sophie Elliss-Bextor getting married to Richard Jones a few months ago; maybe they'll just keep on having secret weddings until someone notices.

However: all the best, Sophie, chuck. Any chance of making an album sometime soon?


Based on the information presented to them yesterday, the Judge overseeing Courtney Love's rehab reckons she's "progressing well" - at least according to her lawyer.

Love was taken to hospital earlier this week, of course, because she was "feeling faint" - and which of us doesn't run off to A&E when we feel slightly light-headed? It's not like we'd just step outside for some air, is it?


We raised an eyebrow when the Electric 80s compilation CD rolled up with a big barcode as its cover design - it seemed to be such a GCSE Art project idea, and we're sure it's been done about sixty-five times before anyway. But, at least, they'd take care to make sure the design wasn't a proper barcode, wouldn't they? Because otherwise, you'd get some shops scanning the design barcode instead of the actual barcode. So, obviously, they'd have someone check that out, wouldn't they? Wouldn't they?

No, it turns out: not until Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams started racking up extra sales and people shopping at Tesco found they were only be charged for the Johnson album (less than a tenner) instead of the compilation LP (nearly fifteen quid). Now, as well as the money lost on the cut-price sales, the label is having to cough up for a cover redesign, reprint, and redistribution. These are the people who are meant to be the experts, remember.

Still, the error seems to have been confined to the supermarkets, as our old chum Gennaro Castaldo from HMV has popped up to point out this hasn't been at issue at their shops:

"Someone would have to be pretty stupid not to recognize that," HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said.

"The proper barcodes are always done on the reverse of the CD," he added. "All our staff are aware it's the cover artwork, and if fellow retailers and supermarkets are doing that, it just highlights that they're not really music specialists. We've not had any issues."

While we're delighted to see the hardest-working PR man in the music industry doing great work here, we're not sure this is quite the coup he might think - isn't he saying "the chances of getting an unexpected bargain in HMV is very low indeed"?

ROCK SICK LIST: DiFranco Needs Hands

It's not taking her out of the game completely, but worsening tendonitis in wrists and hands has forced Ani DiFranco to take a year off touring. Her last studio album, of course, would have been...

Knuckle Down
. And now, hers are having to be. Happily, she's got a lot of plans ("with guest artists") lined up to keep her busy until she picks up touring again in a year or so.


The dragging of Jim Morrison's memory through the mud (and, let's face it, to do that takes a special sort of insult) by the touring of a version of the Doors with goth-at-c&a Ian Astbury taking his role seems to be at an end. An LA Court has ordered Ray Manzarek and Ronny Krieger to stop calling their band The Doors, as it breaks an agreement with the other surviving Door, John Densmore, to not use the name unless all three of them agree. Densmore brought a legal action in partnership with Morrison's parents, and the parents of his ex-wife, and is happy that justice has been done by the dead guy in the bath:

"I'm just so happy that the legacy of the true Doors, and Jim Morrison in particular, has been preserved by this decision."

Somewhere in LA, there are three blokes sat round a flipchart, brainstorming:

"How about the Early Doors?"
"Louvre Doors?"
"Fridge Doors?"
"Hey... what about The Cult Doors? Or Southern Death Doors Cult?"
"Shut the fuck up again, Ian, and go get us some bloody doughnuts..."


We're a little fazed by the reports that the reaction of Michael Jackson fans to his decision not to go to his Dad's birthday party was to dress up like him and crash the hotel - nothing says "we love you a little too much" like trying to pass yourself as your idol's kid at his own birthday. Meanwhile, Jermaine, still revelling in the glow of being the highest-profile of Joe's kids not to have brought shame on the family, has been acting again as his brother's spokesperson:

"He was very tired and he's resting," Jermaine said. "His case tore him apart mentally. He's very strong mentally, but he needs his rest right now."

So, he's very strong but in pieces, mentally, then. We can just about picture that, we think. But what of his fans - the people for whom the phrase "Never actually, actually been convicted" is fast moving from mantra to catchphrase. What on earth made them turn up dressed as Jackson to his Dad's party?

Alexander Greve, 25, who arrived for the party decked out in a single glove, black wig and sparkly silver jacket, said he spent six days standing outside the courthouse in Santa Maria, California.

"I even shook his hand. That was a really great feeling," Greve said, adding that it was obvious Jackson would be too tired to travel to Berlin.

So... then... why... did... you... dress up? And fly to Berlin? But, obviously, for the Jackson fans, it's all about them, isn't it?

But others, such as Kayhan Ayden, 28, held out hope their hero would still make an appearance.

"Maybe he'll surprise me and still show up," Ayden said.

"Hey, Michael, glad you could make it"
"Well, Dad, I thought it would be a nice surprise for Kayhan person-I've-never-met if I did"
"You truly are a sweet person, Michael. Now, put the bellboy down..."


Ah, bless - there's nothing like a happy ending, is there? All the signs ("tabloid gossip and rumour") suggests that Liam Gallagher out of Oasis and Nicole Appleton out of... - no, don't tell us; it'll come to us in a minute... Appletong, wasn't it? - are planning to get married in a blaze of publicity ("in Hopetoun House around Christmastime"). Of course, nothing at all has been booked yet, and no plans have been laid, but luckily there's a source on hand to say exactly what those plans would be if they had been made:

"Liam and Nicole want to lie low when it comes to their big day. They really hate fuss and attention."

The couple's four-year-old son, Gene, will be a pageboy, according to the source, and the guests will dine on fish and chips.

"They're ordering a red marquee and there will be a red and gold theme throughout the day.

"Fire-eaters have been booked and there will be a bouncy castle for kids."

So, that's avoiding fuss by hiring one of the largest houses in Scotland, hiring carnival acts and an enormous, vibrant marquee.

We're thinking of this as a wedding gift:

No, just a minute... hang on...

Liam Gallagher "really hates fuss and attention"? Liam Gallagher? Hates "fuss"? Hates "attention"? Are they sure they're talking about the same people we are?


Keane have just completed their slog around the festivals, but they're not planning on spending the summer strolling along the prom prom prom, where the brass band plays tiddly-om-pom-pom; they're going to spend the summer working on their second album before people start to lose interest.

Tim Nice-Family reckons they've already got some of the stuff together:

“We’ve done bits and bobs already, but we start in earnest now. It’s a bit pressure and a bit worry at the moment, but we’re excited about getting stuck into it.”

We love that he describes it as "done bits and bobs", like he's talking about fixing up a conservatory or something.

Friday, July 22, 2005


The death has been announced of the pioneering British R&B artist 'Long' John Baldry. Baldry - who got his nickname on account of his 6' 7" height in stockinged feet - established himself in the 50s as a force on the then-young British jazz scene, finding himself in an excellent position to act as one of the midwives to rock when the genre hatched in the UK. His influence and patronage touched virtually all of the great figures of the first wave of Britrock: The Beatles got to know him when he was a regular at the Cavern, and invited him to appear on their Around The Beatles 1964 TV Special; he fronted Bluesology, with a young Elton John on keyboards (it was from Baldry that Reg Dwight took his stage surname); he was upfront for the Hoochie Coochie Men, the band where Rod Stewart found his feet. And the list goes on - Eric Clapton credits Baldry as the reason he got into music; the Rolling Stones cut their teeth working as his London warm-up act in 1962. Ginger Baker, Jeff Beck and Brian Jones all worked with him. Alexis Korner added him to the line-up for his Blues Incorporated band.

Writing in the Readers Digest last Christmas, Rod Stewart recalled Baldry's unique position in British music: "In those days, the only music we fell in love with was the blues, and John was the first white guy singing it. In his wonderful voice, it was the true blues and everyone looked up to him."

In 1967, Baldry cut loose from the various bands he'd been working with and had a solo number one, Let The Heartaches Begin, but although he followed up with an album collection of pop standards, Baldry was never one to settle into a rut and quickly pulled together a bluesy album, It Ain't Easy. Indeed, nearly all of his 17 albums in the last 40 years have been different from their predecessors and each other. Baldry's personal favourite was 1973's Good To Be Alive, a concoction of folk, blues and roots-rock. That album's title track was co-written by Colin Allen and one of UK rock's other undersung heroes, Zoot Money.

A small breakthrough in the American market with his Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll persuaded him to cross the Atlantic to try his luck. It took a while for him to find his feet in the Americas, and John had some miserable times in New York and LA. eventually he would take up Canadian citizenship. While turning over a pleasant enough income through music, Baldry found a more lucrative sideline as a voiceover artist - the voice blues hailed by Rod Stewart would also put words into the mouth of Sonic The Hedgehog's nemeis Dr Ivo Rontonik and Komplex in Bucky O'Hare. And some of his highest-selling recordings would be readings of tales of Winnie The Pooh for Disney.

He continued to tour right up until his death, and had been planning another major tour for September. In 1993, he released his first new collection in years - in a tip of his hat to his earlier work, he chose the name It Still Ain't Easy.

Baldry had been ill for sometime - he'd been fighting a chest infection for the last four months. He was 64.


Peter Andre, the former singer, has been banned from driving after being caught doing 49 in a 30 zone. Andre begged Brighton magistrates to let him keep his licence, because he needed it to drive Jordan around - and their new son Junior (they called it Junior? Isn't that like calling a cat Kitten). Of course, it's in every other kid's interests that the sort of tosser who drives at 50 in a built-up area be removed from being behind the wheel; especially one who already had eight penalty points for not having insurance.


At last, Nick Lachey uses his fame and connections to get a job he's worthy of: delivering packages with UPS. If he doesn't screw up this week, they might let him have a go alone soon...


We're not sure if Kate Moss is the Yoko Ono of Babyshambles, or if that would be a crackpipe, but it seems that Pete Doherty is seriously considering dissolving Babyshambles in order to concentrate on making records with Kate Moss. Oh, and he's been scrapping with the Shambles manager - the Mirror reports that James Mullord tried to persuade Pete to turn up at the studio to do some work on the album, but ended up having a "scuffle" instead.


Curious goings-on in Los Angeles, with Courtney Love turning up at a hospital, feeling faint, says her publicist Jill Fritzo:

"She was at a party, felt faint, went out for air, a friend called an ambulance for precaution, they took her to the hospital and she was released immediately."

So, nothing to worry about there. It's a pity, actually, that she was feeling a bit faint, or she might have seen some excitement going on at the same time at the Roosevelt hospital:

A Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said officers called to the Roosevelt shortly past midnight took a crime report under the name of "Courtney L," but she declined to give further details, saying the report was confidential.

A city fire department spokeswoman, Melissa Kelly, said fire personnel responded to a drug overdose call at the Roosevelt at one minute after midnight and transported someone to the hospital.

Kelly said her records did not indicate who the victim was. She added city police were routinely notified of any drug overdose reported to the fire department.

It would have been really cool for Courtney to meet this other Courtney L , wouldn't it? Only it couldn't have been her, what with her due in court today to give feedback on how her court-enforced rehab treatment is going.


We've no idea how legitimate it is, but Torr's weblog has got a sneak preview of the new Depeche Mode single, for the listening to thereof.


The jury in the Ashanti breach of contract case has decided that she did break the contract with her original producer, Genard Parker. Parker had claimed Ashanti had broken promises to draft him in to help on tracks and help him share in the career he helped create; the jury agreed and awarded him USD630,000.

Naturally, as we've discussed before, famous people never actually lose court cases, and that's true in this case, too. Ashanti's lawyer Harry Stokes didn't actually think he'd lost, merely that the jury had been puzzled:

"We think the jury got confused somewhat, particularly on the damages," he said. "We feel confident when this is said and done we won't have to pay out anything."

Ah! The poor, confused jury didn't find against you and your client - they just blurted out the wrong verdict. I see.


Well, this has got to be a first: a nightclub contest for women where the prize won't automatically go to the one with the largest chest. The Element, in Okanagan, is holding a contest where the prize is new breasts. Or at least a payment towards the cost of implants - if the woman wants a decent doctor who doesn't just use a hoover switched to 'blow' and a bag of kapok, she might find the prize only stretches to having one done.

We're not sure this is the great idea the management of the place seem to think it is - the obvious response is to wrinkle your nose and wonder about a place of entertainment that encourages its customers to mutilate themselves and present invasive surgery as something to be entered into after a couple of Bacardi Breezers rather than following serious consideration; and amongst those who don't take a anti-cosmetic surgery line, their take away thought will be "that's the nightclub full of flat-chested women, innit?"


Plans for Billie Jo Spears to play Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall and a handfull of other dates in the UK have been scrapped. Spears, who has been unwell for a while, had planned a few July and August dates as a farewell tour for the UK; now doctors advise her she's too ill to leave the US.


... and not a word from Omarion. Is he alright? Does he need us to pray for him again? Why won't anyone tell us?


Of course, anyone with a plausible face and a photo of themselves as a pretty young thing from the 1980s is going to try and sue Michael Jackson for touching them, whether it happened or not. The latest legal case for Jacko - who seems to be set to die a death of a thousand small suits - comes in Louisiana, Texas, where a chap called Joseph Bartucci claims Jacko lured him into a car and sexually assaulted him. In 1984. Yeah, we know, it sounds more like he's thinking of Kevin Bacon in that movie than Michael Jackson, but even so, they want to hear the case - only nobody from the Jackson case turned up. The 24/7 Jacko Kid Fiddle defence team blame an administrative error - and with so many lawsuits involving Michael, sometimes things are going to fall off the plate, aren't they? - which has left Jackson now looking at a possible contempt of court charge as well.

Brian Oxman - who does the voice of Jackson for the media these days - sighs:

"Michael Jackson has had many such lawsuits and each one has resulted in him being exonerated or the case being dismissed. This is part of the magic and burden of being Michael Jackson."

Eh? "The magic" is having all the world thinking they've got a half-decent chance of convincing a jury that they had Jacko's clammy hands down their boxer shorts at some point in the 1980s? And we thought Ali Bono's magic was crap.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The debut from Justin Hawkins offshoot, British Whale, is a pretty standard run-through of Sparks' This Town Aint Big Enough For the Both Of Us - chosen, we guess, to show off his high vocal register to best effect. The video - available for looking at on the web - features both Sparks and Phil The Power Taylor. It's a dart thing; we wouldn't understand.


The good people at Madam Tussauds, acting as a barometer of popular taste, are thinking that maybe it's time to axe Geri Halliwell from their line-up of famous wax effigies. Which is being kind - they could have just made the skirt an inch shorter and relocated it to the chamber of horrors.

Of course, they don't melt down all of the past-it figures - they only do the body, keeping the head in some sort of store. (They used to display this second XI of heads in Wookey Hole, which was quite an eerie experience - you come out of the caves and suddenly find yourself in a room with the faces of Edward Heath's cabinet staring back at you. Geri would feel quite at home amongst them, we're sure.)

Hang about... has someone got there first?


One of the things that was very striking watching the ITN coverage of the rubbish terrorist thing today was just how effective the Hard-Fi posters are - bright yellow, striking text, simple, punchy. Not the most complex piece of promotional work, and probably screamingly inappropriate in most neighbourhoods, but they seemed to really leap off the urban backdrop. All of which is merely by way of introduction to the Hard-Fi huge autumn tour dates:

14 Bristol Academy
15 Bournemouth Old Firestation
17 Northampton Roadmenders
18 Oxford Zodiac
19 London Electric Ballroom
20 London Electric Ballroom
21 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
23 Aberdeen Moshulu
24 Glasgow Garage
25 Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
26 Newcastle University
28 Leeds Irish Centre
29 Liverpool Academy
30 Manchester University

November 1 Norwich Waterfront
2 Cambridge Junction
3 Brighton Concorde


In a photo session for Interview magazine, Britney Spears and her turkey-baster husband Kev have had a crazy "let's pretend" world where they gently take the rise out of their trashy image:

... except for Kev, of course, who seems to have dressed up for one picture...

and then changed back into his usual clothes. As did Britney:

We're starting to wonder if there's something happening behind the scenes with Spears - what if the PR chaps in the music industry have got so sick of the likes of us calling them that they've decided to show what would happen if popstars lost their "people" telling them what to do - like in that fairy tale where the princess persuades the cooks to show her father the value of salt by removing it from their dishes. In a few months, we expect to see PR people holding up these photos, saying "we might be odious, over-paid and wearing nasty, nasty shoes... but see what happens without us?"


To tidy stuff up after their Reading & Leeds festival dates, the Pixies are playing a smattering of extra gigs across the UK:

August 28 Edinburgh Meadowbank Stadium
30 Manchester Apollo
31 London Alexandra Palace

It's not quite as astonishing and exciting as it was last year, but... you know, still pretty nifty.


What is going on with Eminem (look, you could at least look like you care...)? Obviously, he had been rumoured to be on the point of retiring and putting all his attention into resident's committees, organising outings and so on; indeed, his manager Paul Rosenburg was happy to confirm that the current Encore tour is "certainly the cap on this part of his career" - and it's, you know, called Encore, like what you do right at the end. But Eminem? He's rubbishing the idea from his allotment - sorry, stage:

"How many of you all read the tabloids? Cause there's some shit goin' around that I'm retiring."

According to SOHH, the rapper addressed the Detroit Free Press article while onstage, noting the story ran next to a piece about the moon "to blow up today". He then added, "I'm retiring? Then I guess the moon just blew up" before mooning the crowd.

I believe this is what's known as "seeing his arse."

So, we're putting the collection for the clock on hold, but you can still sign the card if you like. Just in case.


As part of the continuing grim "everything's alright" coming from Afghanistan, Kabul hosted its first major international gig since the Taliban was dissipated off to the mountains and across the border yesterday. The gig - by Indian singer Sonu Nigam - proved to be incredibly popular, attracting over 10,000 fans; the police elected to deal with this overcrowding by beating the shit out of anyone trying to get in, if they had tickets or didn't. Then, unfortunately, the stage collapsed and everything was off again. It seems that Afghans have forgotten how to throw a gig:

Some people argued that Afghans "are not yet ready" for such concerts, others were critical of the security forces for failing to maintain order.

"Afghanistan is still far from hosting a great singer like Sonu Nigam", one of the fans, 30-year-old Bashir Ahmad, told the BBC.

"The country and its people have spent many years grappling with war and isolation. It is difficult for them to give a proper welcome to foreign musicians."

To be fair, Sonu didn't seem to be holding any grudges:

"We Indians like Afghans", he said at the beginning of the concert. "It is the news of insecurity in Afghanistan that prevents Indians from visiting. But on my return, I will tell Indians that Afghanistan is secure and we can feel safe amongst Afghans."

... although that was before the stage fell down.


Sorry to hear that Jason Pierce (Jason Spaceman as was) has been at death's door, although his partner's posting to the Spiritualized forum says he's on the mend:

So nearly dying twice in the last 2 and half weeks jason has now and fantastically made an alarming and brilliant recovery and is due home today.
He is still fragile and really weak weighing in at maybe 8 stone but love and happiness on his side.
weirdly he is still jason though no thoughts about how lucky he is just mentioned how mad it is that his record is written almost like he was ill beforenot that he's into esp and stuff just in the most beautiful way
love to all and everyone who sent him get well wishes cos he needed it and must have heard it and thankfully he's here and back and coming home


Jack White knows why people grew to dislike him back in Detroit - it wasn't because he was striding round like the cock of school, bashing the living daylights out of Jason Von Bondies and acting the great I am - oh, no; the people of Detroit took against him because they were jealous:

“A lot of extreme behaviour was going on. I was fighting a lot of losing battles. My mistake is I continued living where I'm from, Detroit, after I got successful. You're not supposed to do that.

"I lost a lot of friends - a lot of people burned us. It seemed like the family of musicians that we'd found, that I'd loved and that had embraced us, had in some cases turned its back on me.”

As breakingnews reports, he continued: "I wanted to know why they hated me so much. I couldn't just say: 'Hey, it's their problem.' "

Yeah, Jason Stollsteimer - it's your problem, right?


We might have been a little more keen on the idea of the Telegraph's microquiffed Neil McCormick releasing a single - even one called People I Don't Know Are Trying To Kill Me, even one rush-released after the London bombings, were it not for appearance of Bono in the story:

Not unusually, there was a song going around my head. It was something I had started writing months before, after reading headlines about the terrorist threat to London. I bashed it out in rough form on an acoustic guitar to my friend Bono one night and he became very animated.

"This is a song that needs to be heard now," he insisted. He even suggested that U2 might record it as a B-side. So finally, when I got back to London on Thursday night, I finished it.

Apparently, the idea he originally had was to do a Ferry Aid style group singalong - in aid of charity, of course - but although David Gray offered a studio and Jon Moss turned up to drum, the celebrities were busy elsewhere. But, of course, that didn't matter - Bono said the song must be recorded, and so recorded it must be:

Gary Farrow, a music industry heavyweight who runs his own PR company, The Corporation, told me: "It's going to take a month to get a bunch of celebrities together to sing this and by then the moment will have passed. You should do it yourself." This was advice I was receiving from all corners. It was the song that was important, not the singer.

We're not sure quite what the idea behind the single is - Neil says that it's supposed to show that the optimstic spirit of Live8 hasn't been blown away by terrorists, and in that sense it can't be a bad thing; it's just a pity that the piece reads less about the redemptive and comforting power of music and more like a litany of famous mates being hugely impressed by his song. Remember: it's what Bono wanted.


Is there anything more stomach-churning than the thought of a man spending a million pounds on a watch? How about a man spending a million pounds on a watch with his own face on it?. Step forward, Usher, you squalid little man.

Actually, if you've got some cash left over, can we interest you in a watch that has a pretty accurate summation of your career on it?

UPDATE 30-09-2012: This story has suddenly become popular again this week, so to celebrate, here's a picture of the watch in all its, um, glory:


That would be the definition of "unsung", then - we raised a quizzical eyebrow, you know the way that we do, when we heard Bonnie Raitt was being given a humanitatian award, but it turns out it's not a bad idea to recognise her track record:

Raitt, 55, has campaigned to stop war in Central America, participated in the Sun City anti-apartheid project and performed at the 1980 No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden. She's also worked for environmental protection as well as rights for women and American Indians.

In 1988, she co-founded the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, which works to improve royalties and financial conditions for R&B pioneers.

The award, oddly, comes from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers - we're not quite sure how they came to be giving out a shadow Nobel prize.


According to research by Dr Victor Aziz and Dr Nick Warner, a growing number of people are suffering from a condition where they hallucinate music - not in the sense of having a tune stuck in their head, but actually seeming to have the music to come from somewhere outside of themselves. At the moment, it's mostly godly music:

In two-thirds of cases, patients reported hearing religious music; six heard Abide With Me.

"We speculate that people will hallucinate both pop and classical music in the future, because it is now more commonplace in our everyday lives," Dr Aziz said.

We're not sure, but this does seem to hold some sort of threat that the Crazy Frog might end up pursuing you to the end of your days. And nobody wants that.


Surely the Independent is better than running a gushing piece on "why Gwen Steffani thinks her new fashion collection is her best yet", isn't it? Or is it going to treat all star's vanity projects so unquestioningly from now on? Can we expect J-Lo perfumes slapped across page one?

Meanwhile, Cheryl Tweedy seems to be gaining ground in the battle for that all-important post Girls Aloud career - remember, only one can win - today, she's in the Star's fluff spot. (On the other hand, Kelly Brook has been on the front of the Star 2,337 times, and it's still not given her a career in anything other than standing around having her photo taken for the Star):

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


We could just about take Juliette Lewis - but Steven Seagal? Apparently, he's planning a 2006 release for a debut album called Songs From The Crystal Cave.

Apparently, the album is already out in France and features a surprising mix of stuff - guest appearances by Stevie Wonder, a spot of traditional Indian, some blues and... well, bits and pieces of everything.

We're expecting there to be a face-off with Hasselhoff over this.

He's going to spend some of the money he makes from his record defusing a Russian nuclear weapon; although probably not with his teeth.


After Charlie condemned him to a life of cheese toasties and PAs in student unions, James Bourne has come up with a smashing idea to keep the wolf from the door: he'll do a rock group, too:

"We still can't decide on a band name - we keep arguing about it!"

"The names we're fighting over are kind of embarrassing - they're not really that good."

"The music's like a harder, faster Busted."
(McFly, then?)

"It's me and four other friends of mine now, but it was nerve wrecking getting the people because I looked at loads of people and loads of really bad people turned up and I was really worried."

"But, in the end I got a really good band - they're awesome guys."

There's still a chance, of course, that Sting might be persuaded to take a role on lute.


The New Statesman once ran a competition to discover the phrase you'd least like to hear as you arrived at a party; the winner was "Come in, Sir Geoffrey's on sparkling form this evening...". Real life has now trumped that, with the words "You're just in time, Sting has got his lute out..." a real possibility. In fact, Madonna's fourth wedding anniversary sounds like a riot from start to finish:

Madonna invited her famous chums to her Ashcombe Manor home in rural England to celebrate her fourth wedding anniversary with director Guy Ritchie and asked them all to perform a song, a poem or a short acting performance.

Cheeky Martin and his wife rewrote the lyrics to American Life and renamed it American Wife - and performed it in the Ritchies' living room.

Madonna recalls, "Gwyneth did fantastic rap and Stella sang background vocals and, well, Chris played the piano."

Another musical interlude came when Sting performed on a lute and Madonna herself performed a scene from Restoration play The Town Wench Or Chastity Rewarded.

Good grief. Apparently the barbecue pits was still warm come dawn, and the air of self-satisfaction still glowed even longer.


Although, doubtless, she'll be getting the blame for Kelly's "issues" before long - apparently Cyndi Lauper refused to take any of Kelly Osbourne's nonesense:

"She was working out in the gym and my dad was there, and I guess I was being obnoxious or something, and she screamed, 'Could someone get this kid out of the gym?' And I started to cry."

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We don't know how long ago this happened - perhaps it's been recovered in one of Kelly's therapy sessions.


The advantage of Britney Spears being pregnant is that we're able to get the insight of the wise into the nature of pregnancy:

The singer says she wants to return to life as an entertainer, but she can't see her life ever being the same again.

"I'm sure there's going to come a time when I get back to work again," she says, "but it'll be a totally different way of life than it was before."

You're right, Britney - you won't believe how your life changes when you suddenly have two nannies and a baby nutritionist to schedule.


It's true... Madonna really is the new Annie Sugden:

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While we do feel a bit sorry for Genard Parker, the producer who set Ashanti on the road to musical stardom when she was 16, we're a little uncertain about his legal action against her. Sure, it does seem - at least from his story - that she treated him quite shabbily once the sale started to ring up, but we're not sure there's a federal case here. His lawyer opened the action with the observation that "this case is about abandoning the people that help us succeed", but that's surely about character rather than cash, isn't it? And can you sue someone for having a weak character?

There is money involved, of course:

Parker agreed to release Ashanti from her contract with him when she signed her first record deal with the understanding that he could produce two songs on her first album and receive a $50,000 advance plus royalties.

Ashanti's lawyers respond that Parker never came forward until she'd had two huge-selling albums, which is a bit of a lame defence. Decisions are expected by the end of the week.


Are we still beleiving that Pete is off the drugs? In which case, Doherty's announcement that he intends to star in a film of his own life can't be put down to coke-inflation, can it? Apparently, Pete believes that the media paints him as a tragic figure (we wonder why?) and he thinks that making a film all about himself and how great he is and everything will be a chance to "reconnect with his audience." We really hope that's a phrase that's lost something in translation, as we can take him as crack-smoking, lyric-forgetting, friend-burglarising, self-aggrandising fop, but if he's started to talk about himself as if he was a brand of processed cheese, it's really over.


Having admitted a while ago that he'd mucked up his whole internet strategy, Rupert Murdoch is now rushing to catch up, shovelling cash into the owners of Intermix. In other words, MySpace is now part of the Fox-Sun axis, and all those left-field acts who use the place to host their samples and blogs on the site's pretty-decent music area are now going to be generating revenues for the big guy.

We're not quite sure why Murdoch has been so keen to get into blogs - poorly expressed opinions presented as fact, half-researched rumour dressed up as journalism: doesn't his entire media empire do this anyway?


After seven weeks of quality nursing and care (after all, he wasn't an old lady in the Royal Sussex County), Brian Harvey has been released from hospital. But he's got a long journey back:

"He can't walk because he broke his pelvis in seven places," Emma B told OK magazine.

"He has a metal crossbar that sticks out of his pelvis which he's got to have on for 12 weeks. The ribs he broke are still quite sore but all the other injuries have mainly healed.

"Doctors told him that 99% of people with his injuries would have died, so it's a miracle he came through."

Hang about... Emma B? Weren't they meant to have broken up a while back? Wasn't that part of his circle of depression?

Emma B added: "Right now I wouldn't say he was suffering with depression. He feels lucky to be alive - he wants to live and be with me."

So, it's a happy ending then - Bry and B reunited, and OK interviews all round. If they could get him to do a single quickly enough, he could even get a Top 40 hit out of it all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


It's with a spot of sadness we hear of the closure of Teenage Kicks 3000, the Peel-collating blog "to prevent an anticipated and potentially unpleasant situation." The web is a slightly quieter place.

SKAOBIT: Laurel Aitken

The death has been announced of Laurel Aitken, the Godfather of Ska.

Born in Cuba in 1927, Aitken's family relocated to Jamaica when he was eleven years old; it was here that he first started to carve out a musical career for himself during the 1940s. Always knowing how to please a crowd, Aitken was happy to follow the current trend for Nat King Cole style vocals, but also had the knack of adapting his voice to other types of music as well - R&B, soul, calypso and mento alongside his own favourite, boogie. During the 1950s, he turned his attention from live music to recordings, enjoying some minor success (most notably Roll, Jordan, Roll) before hooking up with Chris Blackwell. Blackwell had just started to pull together his idea for a record label, and so it was that Aitken came to be the first singer to release a single on Island records. Little Sheila was a massive hit in Jamaica, racking up eleven weeks at number one; more importantly for the course Aitken's life was to take, it opened up the chance for him to relocate to the UK.

The large Jamaican community in London had long been relying on dodgy bootlegs from the Carribean - something Aitken called round to have a word about when he found out. From that meeting with bootleggers grew a legitimate label, Blue Beat, which concentrated on the growing and lucrative expat Jamaican market; it gave Aitken a base from which he built a huge fan base; he was the only Jamaican artists to tour the UK regularly, and the numbers of copies of tracks such as Fire in Mi Wire, Bartender and Landlord and Tennant sold - although unacknowledged by the mainstream chart return shops - established him as one of the country's most solidly-performing artists across the 60s and 70s.

In the 80s, Aitken enjoyed a second wind, carried aloft by the enthusiasm of Two Tone artists - not only did he tour with Secret Affair, but he also worked with The Ruts (yes, those Ruts). It was during this period that the classic Rudi Got Married saw a reelase on Arista; if Aitken had a signature tune, it would be that. Even a part in ill-conceived David Bowie/Patsy Kensit film Absolute Beginners couldn't dull his shine.

Recently, Aitken had been living in Leicester; he'd suffered an extended period of ill health but had carried on performing - indeed, he had been due to play last Friday but pulled out on medical advice. During the onset of serious illness, he had married his long-standing partner Sandra. Talking to the Leicester Mercury, she said "Everybody loved him. When there was a piece in the Mercury saying he was in intensive care, there were so many well-wishing cards. We met in 1970, when he was on at a dance. I didn't know anything about him at the time but he was such a gentleman."

A tribute night is being organised for the Leicester Athena on September 23rd. His funeral will take place on Thursday.

[Thanks to Simon T for the news]


Oddly, the world has had a new Rolling Stones album more recently than we've had a fresh one from the Pixies - their last was in 1997; but now, it's time for a new one. They're calling the album Neo-Con, which is a jibe at Bush (although George claims he doesn't understand what people mean by Neo-Con) - why not call it something a little less soft, like 'Diebold Delivers Democracy' or 'Let's Only Count My Votes' or Hail To The Thief... oh, that's been done. Still, it's nice to see at least a little spine left in the arthritic band - and a sly grin, too (the first single will be called Oh No, Not You Again.) The world doesn't need a new Rolling Stones album, and hasn't for a long time, but anything that saves us from their patchier solo work has to be a good thing.


The most-rubbish named person in rap, Gucci Mane, has been arrested for aggracated assault following an incident - some say fracas, some say disturbance - as he was heading to a gig last Friday. A bunch of cops, feds, and people like that turned up and discovered enough guns to arm up a bunch of News of the World readers on their way to a lynching - not, of course, that in America there's automatically anything wrong with packing heat:

"They found a couple guns in the car," [Gucci Lawyer Dennis] Scheib told "The people checked the guns on the plane. These were security officers with licenses and a righteous reason to carry guns. Gucci didn't have a gun on."

We like the idea of there being "righteous" reasons to carry guns - presumably better than the self-righteous reasons most gun-rappers fall back on. The aggravated assault charge is connected with an ongoing dispute with an Atlanta promoter; the Gucci camp claim he threatened to tell police about an altercation at Gucci's label office if he didn't get given cash. Someone is going to have to spend time sorting that one out.


Largely ignored by the world at large, the legal action following the fatal fire at the Rhode Island Great White gig grinds on and on; the latest spat between the bereaved's briefs and the lawyers representing the State centred on if the families could have access to carry their own trials out on samples of foam from the nightclub. The RI attorney general has issued a sort-of-apology for threatening to only allow the foam to be released providing none of it was destroyed in the process of testing (obviously, testing the fame retardance of an insulation would require at least a degree of destruction, so it would have hobbled the investigations quite badly.

The civil suits seek compensation for the fire victims and their families. Three people have been indicted in connection with the blaze and await trial on 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. The criminal cases are before Darigan. Those charged are the owners of The Station, Jeffrey A Derderian and Michael A Derderian; and Great White tour manager Daniel M Biechele, who set off fireworks inside the nightclub. Prosecutors assert that the Derderians were criminally negligent when they decided to install the highly flammable polyurethane foam as soundproofing and then allowed bands to use pyrotechnics inside the club. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty. Their cases are not expected to go to trial until next year.


You might find it hard to keep your dignity when the best kicks you can get is having first go mucking out the prison farm, but even the little Lil'Kim might have retained she looks set to piss away with the news that she's responding to losing her perjury case by... suing the bloke who testified against her.

James Lloyd stood up in court and said that the two guys who did the radio station shooting were with Kim at the time; now, she's claiming that Lloyd intends to release an "unauthorised" DVD and wants USD3.4million in damages. To be paid, presumably, in snout. From what we can gather, the planned DVD was to be about, not featuring, Kim, which might mean she's going to start suing anyone for talking ab... ulp.


Poor Michael Stipe - apparently, now that the REM world tour has finished, he feels the need for a little bit of a sit down as the terrorist attacks in London awoke some 9/11 trauma for him. He suggests the rest of us just try to muddle through without him somehow, while he puts REM on hold. Of course, the trauma of having seen two terrorist attacks on the television must be too much for anyone to bear - and it's common knowledge that Stipe would often get the 30 all the way to Hackney, so you can well understand how he felt the breath of destruction so closely on his neck he's going to need some time to think about it all.


We're a little confused that Ms Dynamite is having to hoof round the comeback trail, as we could have sworn that she was on the Live 8 bill which Geldof said was reserved solely for the biggest artists on the planet, wasn't she? Anyway, she's chosen an auspiscious day to announce her plans (single, album... what were you expecting?), as the 2002 Mercury Award winner is a handy reminder from history that you shouldn't think banking quite a large cheque is on a par with arriving.


Good god, can it really be true that Gwyneth Paltrow wears the pants in her marriage with Chris Martin - "I am under the thumb" says Chris, in a break between hanging out laundry and nipping down to Dewhursts for some scrag end. We're now bracing ourselves for further revelations - "I sleep with the light on" and "Sometime Gwyneth hides my blankey", that sort of thing.


It's suddenly dawned on Robbie Williams that his rubbish tattoos actually make him look less like a rock god, more like one of those pads you get in Woolworths to test the biros on. Apparently, Williams is considering having them removed - sadly, he's thinking of laser surgery rather than a huge scrubbing brush and a bucket of bleach.

Meanwhile, take a look at this photo from Ananova - is it just us, or has age not merely caught up on Williams, but has lapped him once and is coming around again?:


It's not going to be Coldplay, is it? Not a bleedin' chance. But here are the records all - right now - with an equal chance of lifting the prize which almost guarantees that even if nobody can think of a thing to say about you, they'll always be able to call you Mercury Award-Winners:

· Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
· Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
· Coldplay - X&Y
· The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike
· Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
· KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
· Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
· The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
· Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
· M.I.A. - Arular
· Polar Bear - Held on the Tips of Fingers
· Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay

The surprising thing is that there are some halfway decent albums up for consideration - the Park, the Part, and the Fi; and it's nice to see that the Mercury Judges have behaved like everyone else in the world by treating the MIA album as a lot better than it actually is - it's a good piece of work but it's not historically important. KT Tunstall is there to show what happens if you let people bring bottled cider into the judging room.

Of course, when you want to throw your weight behind a band to win the award, you have to consider your own motivation, and for that reason we're hoping the Kaiser Chiefs win. They would almost certainly be crushed under the weight of raised expectations suggested by such a prize, which would mean they'd split up while they're still an amusing distraction and nobody would have to develop a pathological hatred of Ricky Wilson. Bloc Part and Hard-Fi are better, but don't deserve the punishment of the wrong sort of success; Maximo Park are nominated two years too soon, so must be preserved.

The sort of people who are actually impressed by a Mercury Prize, though, are the sort of people who like Tunstall.


Norman Whitfield might be spending a spot of time today trying to flog stuff from a small table in his front yard as he gets to work trying to settle his massive tax bill. The IRS had claimed that Norman had been hiding his songwriting royalties from them for four years - presumably they'd heard that through the grapevine (I know, I know, we're killing you here) - and to avoid a spell in chokey, Whitfield had pleaded guilty, accepted home confinement for six months, and agreed to hand a million bucks over to the tax people.


First of all, the case details: this scumhamper called Paul Bryan Push came home drunk one night, and killed his family's pet parrot. He turned up for sentencing yesterday - drunk again, oddly enough - and when he was sober enough was banged up for five and a half months; sadly, they're not going to cover him with millet and make him share a cage with a dozen hungry parrots. What brings this to our attention, though, is the judge invoking Ozzy Osbourne while sentencing:

District judge Shamim Qureshi called Pugh the "Ozzy Osbourne of Wolverhampton", referring to when the rocker bit the head off a bat on stage.

Ordering him to serve four months for causing unnecessary suffering to the bird and a further six weeks of a previous sentence from which he was released on licence, the judge said: "The parrot had no chance of fleeing. You proceeded to kill the bird in front of your wife and child and it was a disgusting incident for anyone to have to witness. This has all the hallmarks of pop stars on stage. You are what might be described as the Ozzy Osbourne of Wolverhampton for the way you have treated this bird."

... which is, of course, a little unfair to Ozzy Osbourne - sure, he did once bite the head off a bat on stage, but he didn't actually know it was a bat; he'd thought it was a rubber one. Other than that, we can't really think of any other pop stars who might have killed birds on stage - we're betting without Norwegian death metallers here, of course - and it seems to be a bit harsh of Judge Qureshi to suggest that it's a "hallmark" of popstars on stage to do so. Having said which, we haven't seen all the footage of McFly at the Party in the Park from last weekend, so maybe we should hold fire.


What's worrying Joss Stone? Apparently, it's that The Gap are trying to pass someone else's arse off as her's:

From a large-screen TV, Stone's GAP commercial is airing, the one where she's hawking white jeans by crooning her version of "The Right Time" for a few cute friends during what looks like an impromptu backyard concert.

"That is so crazy," she says, as images of swaying bodies flash across the screen, everyone decked out in summer Gap wear. The camera pans to her pals, then to her face, then to what looks like her swaying rear.

"That's not my bum!" Stone screams.

"All these bum shots? They're not mine. They're like other girls. That's not my bum, I promise," she says, watching the screen with morbid fascination. "They totally make it like it is."

Good god, Joss - are you telling us that you didn't realise that The Gap are part of a fashion industry obsessed with a very narrow concept of what may be deemed "perfect" and are quite happy to lie, distort and airbrush anything to fit that concept before you signed up to do an ad for them? Presumably you've returned the large cheque in protest at this.

YahooMusic doesn't ask. But then, we suspect Stone might have had copy clearance on this piece:

The album also brought disbelief in some corners — that a white chick from rural England could sing like Aretha Franklin. That a mere teen could wrap her voice around the pain of soul.

Although, then again, if her press people had had the chance to review the article, perhaps they could have prevented this clunker from appearing:

"I kind of have two people talking to me. One says, 'That was really crap. You're the worst singer in the world.' The other says, 'Hold on for a second, Joss. You just stood up in front of billions people worldwide. Just shut up. Stop beating yourself up.' I'm like a schizo. I have two voices in my head."

Now, we're sure that Stone isn't really as stupid to believe that sometimes having self-doubt is the same thing as being schizophrenic, and we're sure that if she'd have thought about it for a moment or two, she'd have realised that it's a little offensive to suggest that a serious and debilitating illness is on a par with sometimes thinking that you've hit a bum note. We're absolutely certain about that.


This may get revisited in a subsequent pop papers, but, frankly, Madonna in Vogue deserves a segment all to itself - oh, yes, it's got everything. Conde Naste have been throwing their weight around, demanding fansites remove the images, so we'll have to ake do with the descriptions for now:

In the August issue of Vogue magazine, Madonna is featured in a lengthy interview and a photo spread at the English country estate she shares with her children, 8-year-old Lourdes (Lola) and 4-year-old Rocco, and her director-husband, Guy Ritchie ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels").

See? Some people thought she was using her kids as little more than fashionable add-ons; but it's not true at all - they're right at the heart of a full fashion shoot. And why worry about the implications of using your kids to bolster your image - it's going to be, ooh, two or three years before the tabs will start using the explanation that you'd put them onto the stage as a reason for pap-stalking them.

The photos include Madonna feeding chickens on the lawns of Ashcombe wearing a cream-colored Grace Kelly-inspired chiffon dress and cashmere cardigan and playing dress-up with her children in her sitting room while wearing a yellow cashmere cardigan and multicolored polka-dot silk dress.

Did you get the kids? Did you get the kids in the pictures? For I am - currently - a Family Woman. The kids are vitally important. You can't be rude about thiese pictures, there are kids in it. It's bemusing that she insisted a large chunk of the British countryside be deemed out of bounds to us yokels and servants to protect her family's privacy, and yet she's happy to piss that privacy away in a bid to cling on to the front of Vogue, isn't it?

She shares her wedding album with writer Hamish Bowles, finally allowing an outsider to see her in her gown, an ivory duchesse satin dress with an hourglass corset bodice and crinoline skirts. (Madonna and Ritchie were married in December 2000.)

Quick - show some interest, otherwise it'll be the book with the picture of her being shagged from behind by Vanilla Ice.

The 46-year-old singer-actress says she's different from the sexed-up star featured in 1991's "Madonna: Truth or Dare." In some ways, that film is hard for her to watch, she tells Vogue.

Well, in that we're in complete agreement with her - it's a bloody awful film; it took us three goes and a stiff brandy to get through it.

"I was a very selfish person. You go through periods of your life where the world does revolve around you, but you can't live your whole life that way," she is quoted as saying. "On the other hand, I kind of admire my spunk and directness!"

Good god - can you imagine how Madonna must feel looking at a time when she believed the world revolved around her? That must feel so strange. Thank god she's not like that now, eh? She'd be doing stuff like getting the map of the British countryside redrawn to suit her whim to live on a country estate, wouldn't she?

Madonna stars in a new documentary, "I'm Going to Tell You a Secret," that is due out later this year. She says the film "starts with the struggle of a dancer trying to get into a show" and ends with her visit to Israel.

We're not sure it's fair to second-guess a film, but we have a sneaking feeling that this film might be edited to make her look less like a demandy diva.

Monday, July 18, 2005


When Shirley Manson suggested that Dave Grohl give Pete Doherty some advice about the drucks, we don't think she actually expected that Grohl would take the time to sit down and dish some out. But Mr. Grohl did:

"I mean, with someone like Pete from the Libertines, who I have never met, God, it's like a biography that you have read 10 times before. It doesn't have to be that way.

"I'm not one to preach to anybody. I've had my share of fun, too. But music is such a beautiful thing. I would hate to see it suffer to something like drugs. What a drag. What a waste. Such a bummer.

"In a way it is almost glorified, you know. 'Wow, he must be a bad ass, he is living the life.' To me it just seems like, 'God, don't do it.' It's such a cliched dead end. But at the same time I don't mind drinking half a bottle of whiskey every now and then with some friends."

Trouble is, from what it's sounding like Doherty's game plan is, telling him he's behaving like a bunch of rock legends from the past isn't actually going to persuade him he's heading in the wrong direction. Still, at least Dave tried.


You'd have thought that the youth of today would be excited - possibly even thrilled - at getting proper music lessons from a bona fide rock god. Not so, at least when Gene Simmons turned up at Christ's Hospital School in Sussex, the response was a slew of now-deleted, less-than-impressed blog entries:

n an entry, called the Barrel is Duly Scraped, a student critic treated the rocker as if he were 450 years old. "His tired looking face spoke volumes of his burnt out career and his desperation for some limelight." His trademark dark glasses were less a fashion accessory than an attempt to "hide the aged, wizened holes that used to be eyes."

"Yevgeni" goes on: "Poor Gene. In a school debate, he extolled the virtues of money worship and boasted of his '4,136 sexual conquests', and you could tell that even his PA hated his saggy chin and implanted hair. His own mother probably doesn't even like him. Thanks to the cast-iron self belief that the man actually had something interesting to preach from Stateside, the posturing continued for hours in a constant stream of verbose twaddle. Yes Gene, we have people like you in Britain too. They are locked away and given a healthy dose of medication."

The ranter lays into the RDF Media team making the film
[Of course, this is going to turn up as a 'real life School of Rock']. "The most irritating of them all was the camerawoman, her hair a worrying shade of puce, jabbering incessantly into her mobile and getting in the way of anything meaningful at Christ's Hospital."

The blogger adds: "Even the lucky young people done the favour of getting to meet old Gene seemed to hate him by the end of their stint. 'The Class', as they were dubbed, were nothing more than 'puppets for the TV peeps'. This escalated matters to a head at the Motorhead concert The Class supported. The whole 10 of them rebelled after Gene Simmons, preposterous clown extraordinaire, made one of the girls cry by telling her how deficient her swagger was, and why couldn't she just emulate Mr Simmons?"

It concludes: "You have to wonder about the sorts of oafs who drive the market for this drivel. Which braying, wide-eyed simpletons watch this stuff, and who finds it entertaining except for the bosses of RDF media, watching the money tot up? The peoples of Christ's Hospital should be outraged. The school have whored our good name to the media, and it only remains to count the cost to our dignity when the show airs over this summer."

[This is another one of those things that has been sitting in my inbox for ages - thanks and apologies to Adnan]


The people at Smalltown America are lashing together a Cancer Research (and The Connection at St Martins) benefit for September 17th. The line-up is pretty something, too, and if we take a deep breath, we'll share it:

Hell Is For Heroes
The Pipettes
Help She Can't Swim
Fleeing New York
We Rock Like Girls Don't
Boom In The Diamond Industry
The Young Playthings

It's all going to kick off at 1pm, which gives you a couple of months to buy tickets.


Trouble is brewing for Slash, as his former publicist Arlett Vereecke is dragging him off to court claiming that he owes her tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid fees. Vereecke had been representing all of Velvet Revolver, but after falling out with Scott Weiland had devoted all her energies to making Slash a success. She claims that Slash's marriage to Peral Hudson had ruined it all:

But Vereecke accuses Slash's wife, Peral Hudson, of coming between them, saying, "She's on a power trip. It's all about her. She doesn't want Slash to be involved with anyone but her." [...] His wife saw to it that she was tossed aside like a "third wheel".

We're not entirely sure you would toss aside a third wheel, would you? You might toss aside a used tissue, or a treat someone like they were a third wheel, but there's a sense of metaphors being mixed. Presumably she'd not have done that sort of thing in her press releases for Slash.


There was some suggestion last week we were using Banjos for cheap laughs - okay, even cheaper than usual - and so we'd like to bring some balance into the world by mentioning the Banjolele band rob. They sent us an email ages ago which suggested their covers of the likes of White Riot and the Cell Block H theme are "worth a listen just for a 1.43 second laugh", which is the sort of precision we appreciate. Certainly, they're more enjoyable than Hayseed Dixie.


Having noticed that even the most polite of people are finding it difficult to feign interest in his records - and perhaps that he's getting a little old to dress like a kid sitting on the fountain outside Boots - Marilyn Manson is now getting into making movies:

“The other night I took an eighty-year-old taxidermied monkey, set it on fire in the pool and filmed it from beneath with an underwater camera. It was beautiful, like the Titanic, the Hindenburg and King Kong all mixed into one."

Sounds more like a Charley Says Public Service Announcement to us, but if it keeps you happy, young man.

“I no longer want to make art that other people - particularly record companies -are turning into a product. I just want to make art."

Creating his own genre for his work, ‘horripilation’, the star described it saying: “It's horrifying, and it's depilatory. It will horrify the hair off of your legs."

Oh, really? [Checks watch] And what will you be doing to remove the hair off our legs?

The first set of films will be the four part ’Fantasma Gloria’.

"It's the visions of Lewis Carroll - in fact I'm playing Carroll", Manson told Rolling Stone.

Oh, well, that's breaking new ground isn't it? (Shh... nobody mention Tom Petty or Gwen Steffani...)

In the first instalment, the singer explores the origin of ’Alice In Wonderland’’s Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

He said: “I might add that the girls playing Tweedle Dee and Dum are twins who get to have real, genuine sex with each other. I like to make dreams come true."

Goodness, me, that will be upsetting and shocking. For anyone who's never seen Brookside, of course.

There is something about his burbling away that does, truly, put the fear of god into us:

“It's not like I'm going to stop making music and start knitting. I just don't think the world is worth putting the music into right now. First we're going to fix the world with horripilation."

Eighteen new songs, apparently. It's almost as if its taking him no time at all to come up with this movie ideas...


Everyone leans forward, interested, when they see the headline Charlotte Church Would Do Nearly Anything If Cash-Strapped. Then they read the article, and discover she rules out prostitution and is merely thinking that she might sell her autographs online, and they wander off to see if Hilary Duff's posted any photographs of her ass yet instead.


Cheryl Tweedy doesn't seem to have quite got the point about tribute bands - rather than being surprised that anyone would bother to form a Girls Aloud tribute band, she's moaning that they're derivative:

"It's all a bit tragic for them. They should develop their own sound."

But... uh, aren't tribute bands meant to sound like the other band? Isn't that kind of the point?

Is it real... or is it Memorex?

Of course, Cheryl's worry might be that if somebody sees another band of fairly-pretty young things doing note-perfect versions of someone else's songs, there might be difficulty telling the difference between them and the other band. Cheryl frets:

"...people may even think they've seen us and I'd hate to take away from the unique performance we give fans."

But if you're delivering such a "unique" performance, how could anyone confuse your show with anybody else's?


Presumably with the idea of getting a whole series of Cribs to himself, Ludacris now owns eight homes. In other words: he really does have more money than he knows what to do with. Apparently, he explains, "Real Estate is the thing these days." He truly is the rap answer to Phil and Kirsty.


Is there nothing he won't besmirch? Having spent some time dragging the corpse of Frank Sinatra around, now Robbie Williams is going to buttfuck the memory of Bob Marley. Oh, yes, it's time for the tiresome reggae album:

A source said: "Robbie's been listening to a lot of dub and reggae and was inspired to try it himself."

The source added: "When he sang it for the first time, those who heard it compared it to a young Bob Marley. He has given the reggae sound a modern twist and his voice really suits the music."

Good god, what were the chances that someone could come along and make UB40 seem halfway credible?


The heaviest odds facing down the development of an indie online music distributor, of course, is that although the all-through-the-net model should make it easy for people to leap from source to source - everything is a click and a mouse gesture away - in practice, people tend to find a service and stick with it. But, for the adventurous, welcome Indieburn, a peer to peer network offering DRM free, paid-for downloads. Their aim is to help develop and feed artists - the musician gets fifty percent of all cash made from the selling of their music, which is great.

We do have concerns - they're trying to force people to buy full albums in one go (the pricing structure - a hefty four bucks for an ep against eight dollars for an album) points in this direction, but that's looking for quite a hefty cash commitment for a roster of artists who are unknown. It doesn't exactly encourage sampling. We know that it pains artists to think that people might want to choose just a couple of songs from them, and that they should be thinking of forty cents a pop max, but the longterm rewards in extra sales would probably soothe their brusied egos a little.

It's a good step in the right direction, but it's still making the big mistake of the majors - trying to impose the real world pattern of albums and eps onto a delivery service best suited for individual tracks. That it's being run by a former major label exec comes as no surprise.
[Tip of the hat to Tiny Mix Tapes]


Just before a quarter to three yesterday, Amy Greer downloded the half a billionth iTune track. She wins prizes, inclduing a chance to meet Coldplay.

Almost at exactly the same time, 4,000 people played air guitar in front of the Guilfest stage to claim the World Record for most people waving their hands in front of their hips while pulling a daft face simultaneously.


As the papers start to tire of stories about the determination of Londoners to stand up to terrorists, the Morning Star is the only one to find space on its front page for news of the London United gig:

Meanwhile, can anyone guess what the news story that brings Charlotte Church to the cover of the Star is? That's right: Girl Has Breasts:

Inside: Tits, hooters, baps and boobies also suspected.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Sometimes, people relocate and find they're starting a whole new life, and they feel like a new person. Others, they travel thousands of miles and can't shake off the miserys and disappointments they hoped they were leaving behind.

TOTP on BBC 2, it's safe to say, would be sat in the hotel restaurant playing with its mobile phone, moaning about the food, and looking dark as thunder.

They've drafted in the concept of the guest presenter, abandoned a few years back as being like opening a portal to a world where autocues are feared; although to be fair, tonight's guest, Phill Jupitus looked like he'd been created in a back room to present the show - it's supposed full-time girl Fearne Cotton who acted as if she'd never seen a camera before. Even the production team seem less than impressed with her, leaving in her fluffs as, presumably, it's just not worth the effort of asking her to retake.

They've got TOTP2 style captions to introduce the bands, for those unfamiliar with Paul Weller and, in an attempt to pretend the show holds an air of glamour and promise, the bands due to play that evening are shown stood on a stage, all coralled together. They look more as if they're expecting to be shot one by one than perform, but even so, it's a massive improvement on the starbar.

The new slot means the charts are hot off the computer printer, which you'd think would at least give some sort of air of excitement to the programme, but for some reason they've got an I Speak Your Weight machine in to do the rundowns. Considering for the first time in years there's a possibility that the audience won't have heard the news when TOTP gives it out, you'd have thought they could have found someone with the ability to at least give the Top Tens some lift - maybe Darren Betts could be drafted in to do them; an air of menace and impermanence would beat the current dull ticking off the records.

What of the music chosen for this not-actually-historic occasion?

First song up is Inaya Day's Nasty Day - ticking a couple of Jarvis Cocker's great pop TV boxes, she's got some sexy dancers backing up. They strip off their tiny tops at one point to reveal equally tiny tshirts - but since they're still showing the same portions of skin as before, this is much more tease than strip. It's at least half an attempt to create an event; but the problem is the tune is rubbish.

Next, 'Exclusive' performance from Paul Weller. Poor Paul - nobody told him the show went out four days later and it looks like he's been sleeping in TV Centre waiting for his chance to go on. His new stuff doesn't get any better, does it?

Take That appear, from the archive. This could be an indication of what they intend to do in the future - choosing the great bands from TOTP past, and then picking one of their more shit performances. So we get It Only Takes A Minute, one of the most Gary Barlow-heavy That songs. And, for some reason, they've superimposed a Pops logo, too, so that's two useless lumps dominating the screen which could have been used for giving time to Mark Owen.

Anastacia-meets-Halliwell follows, with Charlotte Church doing Crazy Chick (a single that, um, is going down the charts). Church is wearing a cummerbund - why, we're not sure - but this doesn't detract attention from Churches' big problem. The song not being that great isn't unfixable; and she can certainly sing. But she's not a pop performer - she can't put across the song through anything more than a slightly desperate bum waggle. She still looks like she's an opera singer doing rock for Faking It - and not fooling anyone.

There's then a really long interview with the stars of the Fantastic Four. Why? If there was any real point to this, surely they'd have got someone who can carry an interview to do it rather than Fearne? Our gut feeling is that TOTP should puff films when Film 2005 starts to invite Elton John to do a song or two. As if to try and prove there is a musical justification for this movie advert, they play Ben Moody and Anastacia's video from the OST. It's the sort of song that would have had Moody laughed out of Evanessence if he was still in them; Anastacia tries to spin something out of her backing vocal invite by doing a scary impression of Jennifer Lopez from back when she was liked.

Driving In My Car from Madness repeats the good band/crap song choice shown in the Take That segment - made worse by the demonstration of what a band trying to put on a show for the TV audience looks like. Their slightly-over literal interpretation of the song makes Weller's performance from earlier look like its got the passion of a mid-morning Woolworths instore.

Before Hayseed Dixie comes on, the two presenters are employed to give us an explanation of what it is the band do - like this was Tomorrows World and we were about to be introduced to chess-playing coffee machine or something. They use bluegrass instruments to play pop - we get it. It's not rocket science. They don't quite force Phil to use a powerpoint demonstration, but they might as well. Oddly, though, they don't find time to explain why something so horrible is being played on TOTP at all.

Bananarama at least are always worth watching - they've not been on the show for thirteen years, so haven't heard that you're not meant to be that arsed about it any more. We're not sure, but if we've interpreted their hankies correctly, one likes to be a dildo fuckee and the other enjoys being on top during 69. Either that, or their costumes had a terrible double meaning.

Due to be a staple of those It's Love valentine albums for years to come, James Blunt's Your Beautiful has someone managed to get to be number one. At least he's slimmed down the rate of overstaffing shown by most Coldplayesque bands.

In the next week slot, there's a threat of what appears to be a scary man on a bus. Oh, and they waste the closing minutes by playing the theme song again instead of something better (i.e. anything else).

All in all, it's a bit directionless - in a bid to have something for everyone they seem to have just trotted out a conservative selection of mid-market gush. Perhaps it's just feeling jetlagged, and it might wake up in the coming weeks. But for now, TOTP on 2 is staring whimsically at pictures of its old home, knowing it can't go back, and not sure it's able to go forward.