Saturday, September 10, 2005


The case against Ray Charles' former audio engineer, in which Terry Howard was accused of pinching master tapes, has been thrown out by a judge in Los Angeles:

But Superior Court Judge Samuel Mayerson dismissed the charges after two days of preliminary hearings, ruling there to be insufficient evidence for a trial.

"I do not find that he, at any time, intended to permanently deprive the victims of this property, and I dismiss this case," Mayerson said in court.

Howard's lawyer told reporters that Joe Adams, the man charged with representing Ray Charles' legacy at "Ray Charles Enterprises" made no attempt to request the return of the masters - believed to be some eight million dollars' worth - and just reported the supposed theft to the police.


Showing the sort of sympathetic understanding of other people's feelings you'd expect from the family of one of the world's bigger cults, some bright spark slapped up a massive poster for Guy Ritchie's new movie Revolver on the spot of a fatal shooting last year.

Of course, it's not Ritchie's fault it happened - the high-profile member of the Kabbalah organisation merely made another dimwitted movie elevating gun-waving morons into some sort of latter day heroes; he didn't actually put the posters for the film up.

Oddly, Redbus, who distribute the film, also say it's not their fault:

The distribution company behind the film, Redbus, said it is sorry if it has caused any distress but added it is impossible to check individual poster sites.

Really? They're shoving up so many posters they can't check where they're putting them? Really? But if you can't guarantee your gun-romaticising poster isn't going to be going somewhere inappropriate, then should you be putting any up anywhere? Let's say, for example, we walked into a room with 1,000 cardboard boxes, one of which had the managing director of Redbus in it. And we had a gun. Would it be acceptable to fire a gun into one of the boxes, apoligising if we did cause any death and misery, so long as we explained that it was impossible to check if the box we were shooting into had the MD in it first?

Mind you, we think the Metropolitan Police might be worrying a little overmuch:

Sgt Greg Wakefield, of the Met Police, said the poster was sending out the wrong message to youths.

"If they saw this they would think that it was cool to carry a gun and shoot people," he said.

Generally, anything associated with Ritchie tends to lose any possible sheen of cool it may once have had.


It's nice to see another telethon romping out to raise money for those caught up in Katrina - because, heaven knows, after two weeks of watching kids who've lost their parents, old people dying in the streets, houses being smashed open by troops, people wading through a toxic soup of piss, shit, chemicals and oil to grab a box of lasagne, crying, pleading and human misery, it wouldn't be until Ellen DeGeneres tells a couple of jokes that I'd think "Hang on... maybe i should make a donation, here."

We're raising a curious eyebrow at the claim that viewers in 100 countries" could have watched the programme - we're pretty certain that it didn't air here in the UK, but maybe it did on some wilder shore of the Sky Digibox than we're accustomed to watching (hey, we were surprised to discover that Gems TV has a sister station now) - although we did see a couple of seconds on one of the US News Networks, so we don't know if that counted or not.

Kanye West appeared, but was made to stick to singing - his microphone was "broken" for a couple of moments at the start of his song; we guess that was someone testing the panic button a little too late. Having said which, producer Joe Gallen had pledged that anyone taking part who said something political would be left unbleeped:

"I think people know that politicizing will certainly not be a smart thing to do as far as inspiring people who want to call in and rally around this cause, which all of us in America are doing, not just the entertainment industry," Gallen said.

"If anybody has those kinds of feelings or are tempted to do it, I believe that's where they are going to channel their feelings, to inspire people to donate and leave the politicizing at home."

Of course, telling people that they'd be better off not speaking their mind, and leaning on them to suggest that there needs to be a massive charitable injection into a rescue effort in the richest nation on Earth, rather than, say, lobbying your senator to insist the plans to abolish estate tax be dropped and the money raised by doing that be used to rebuild Louisianan lives could, in itself, be thought as politicising things.

The Dixie Chicks were there, mind, singing their little hearts out. So, not entirely a politically neutered affair - because nobody ever sees the Dixie Chicks without thinking about Natalie Maines claiming to be embarrassed about coming from the same state. And, of course, when they did their Barbara Sawyer "clarification" interview, there was this:

SAWYER: Are you ashamed that the President is from your state?

MAINES: No.. I'm not truly embarrassed that you know President Bush is from my state, that's not really what I care about. It was the wrong wording with genuine emotion and questions and concern behind it…

MAGUIRE: I felt like there was a lack of compassion every time I saw Bush talking about this. I honestly felt a lack of compassion. And I realized ...

SAWYER: For whom? For ... ?

MAGUIRE: …for me…for people that are questioning this, for the people that are about to die for this on both sides…

Oh, yes. There's no way that having the Dixie Chicks on a telethon in this week could not be viewed as a gentle, political act.

Over on BET, a separate telethon was taking place (we're not entirely sure why black viewers had to have a separate fund raiser; perhaps there's a good reason we just can't think of - Diddy described it as "these are our people"), and another implied criticism of Bush:

Former President Bill Clinton called in to the BET telethon to express support and was asked by co-host Steve Harvey what his administration would have done differently if it were in power during the hurricane. Clinton refrained from criticizing Bush, but talked about the importance he placed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We always thought faster was better than slower," Clinton said.

If that's refraining from criticizing Bush, we look forward to when he's free to really speak his mind.

Meanwhile, Kanye's comments continue to... well, not ruin his career. With Bush's approval rating dropping to 39% and people still scooping up armfulls of West's new albums, it's not altogether surprising that Pepsi are more than happy to keep their commercial relationship with him going. The fact that one of the touchiest companies in the US is happy to carry on using him as a spokesperson (remember how quickly the dropped Madonna?) would suggest that they're finding that Kanye's chiming with the majority view, rather than dropping an enormous clanger.


Make your own music with the mighty WolframTones. Muck about choosing instruments, their role, percussive style and type of music and draw your own soundtrack out your PC.

To be honest, after a couple of minutes making a range of organs play the blues to a house beat, we started to wonder if we could find any solo stuff from the Atomic Kitten girls to clean our ears out with. Wolfram - only a Hart shy of their true, evil purpose.


Well, that's the end of that chapter - Arcade Fire have ruled out any further UK dates this side of a new album - and that could be quite a way off. Tim Kingsbury, the bassist, explains:

We want to start making a new record. We've got a lot of writing to do too. We've been touring these songs for a couple of years so we're ready to move on. Hopefully it will be out within a year but it's hard to say."

Disturbingly, they've got their own studio to work in so can spend as long as they please on the next record - which is great for them, but there's always a risk that without a meter running focusing attention on matters in hand, you're liable to end up with a Second Coming. Stone Roses style, not Jesus.


Life imitates light-hearted joshing: Chorley FM gets a five year licence. Although it's not the same one that Peter Kay made up - that really would be taking a spin-off too far. But they're not afraid to use the Peter Kay joke station as a way of sliding their profile upwards:

Chris Mellor, cultural services manager for Chorley Borough Council, said: "The radio station will help promote Chorley's distinctiveness and raise our artistic profile, too long in the shadow of oversized Bolton comedians."


If there was ever a pop brawl we could find ourselves unmoved by, a battle of wits between Velvet Revolver and Doug Robb of Hoobastank was alwasy looking to shape us a flat one. And so far, it seems that Scott Weiland are as unmoved as we are by Robb throwing down a gauntlet: he's written a song which attempts to draw moral parallels between Velvet Revolver and, um, striking ice hockey players:

" 'If I Were You ...' was really inspired by, um, the NHL strike. Not like 'Oh, I'm going to write a song about hockey!' but watching all that — and going on tour with Velvet Revolver — you see all these guys who have so much and don't appreciate it," he said. "They seem to have forgotten where they came from. Actually, let me rephrase that: Four of those guys were the coolest ever, one of them is just in his own world. And I'll leave it at that."

It's a little unfair to blame Weiland for forgetting where he's come from - the man has got so much shit sloshing around inside his system it's a miracle he can remember what way round to put his trousers on in the morning.

But getting a lecture from Hoobastank? Damn, I'll bet that really makes him sit down and think some serious thoughts about his life.


Garbage aren't splitting up, apparently. According to Shirley Manson, anyway. She says the big cancellation of all the European tour is simply because the band just needs a bit of a nap now:

"I've been on the go since January, and I think we all just feel a little burnt out" Manson says. "We came to the conclusion that we shouldn't carry on without having a break. Any stuff that you read about our future is bogus, because it's completely undetermined as yet."

Hmm. Although, actually, that doesn't quite have the same definitive "the band will go on" as we might have been looking for, now we come to think of it. Although since a split Garbage probably just means a solo Shirley Manson, it's not especially unsettling - we're not going to cry ourselves to sleep at night worrying about if we'll ever hear another record with Butch Vig on it.


George Bush doesn't, we imagine, relax with very much Korean folk singer as he slips off his shoes and enjoys a good, stuff drink of a late afternoon. Which might be just as well, as the US comes in for a bit of a bashing from the genre. Park Seong-hwan has just released a song calling General MacArthur a murderer, calling for his statue in Icheon Freedom Park to be pulled down.

The statue is currently a totem for trouble, providing a focus for groups still fighting over the legacy of the Korean War and the role played by foreign powers in the conflict; it's not entirely surprising that Park has decided to get involved. Back in 2002, when the US Army crushed two teenage girls to death in a sort-of accident, Park released a single called Fucking USA. His demands for the statue to be removed are based on a quote from MacArthur which he repeats in a spoken passage in the new song:

"Seize Seoul. There are girls and ladies there. For three days, Seoul will be yours -- UN Commander Douglas MacArthur, September 1950."


Even though he might do a Tin Machine or an Absolute Beginners from time to time, it's reassuring to know that David Bowie is still around and working. Though a lot of what he might do is pretty poor, it's a side-effect of his commitment to trying new things. So, it's good to hear that after his heart problems, Bowie's back playing live again. And, now he's fully fit, it's starting to come out just how serious his heart attack actually was. Apparently, the thin white duke was very, very pale at one point.

He's mostly pissed off that he'd given up smoking six months before the coronary:

"The funny thing about it is that I'd given up smoking six months before the heart attack.

"I was fed up with having to go outside for a smoke once the baby was born as it was cold. You can't smoke anywhere in New York so it made sense to give up.

He shrugs. "And then six months later I had the heart attack."

He's also not keen on letting Chris Martin steal credits he feels he deserves:

Explaining why he decided to make his comeback at a fashion event in the States, Bowie said: "I told them I'd do it only if they got Arcade Fire to perform. They're fantastic."

Laughing, he said: "I discovered them a year ago. Coldplay's Chris Martin has been saying he's discovered them first, but I did. So there. Na na na na na!"

Doubtless Martin will be complaining how such finger pointing and taunting really, really hurts him.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Every so often, we decide to send email to people in the hope of getting a response. Generally, we just get ignored - the Chart Company never responded, for example, when he asked for their opinion on the story about Louis Walsh having a large number of CDs in the boot of his car, for example.

But it's always worth a try, so we've sent Flo Clucas an email to try and get to the bottom of the Liverpool City Council's plans to demolish Ringo's house. Here's what we've asked her:

I'm just trying to get some background on your claim that the building is not of historical significance.

Firstly, if the building is of no historical significance, then why does it draw busloads of tourists despite not being a scheduled monument or regularised tourist attraction? Why are they visiting a building that is not significant?

Secondly, did Liverpool City Council believe the Cavern Club to not be of historical significance when it bulldozed the place in the 70s?

Thirdly, will the City Council be making any profits from the development of the site?

We'll let you know if we get a response.


That last refuge of the desperate, politics, seems to be beckoning for Ms Dynamite. Or so she says:

"My main goal is to help make a change to millions of things that I see wrong within society," she said. "…and if my journey takes me into politics in order for me to be able to fulfil that then that's what I'll do. Whatever it takes I'm ready for it"

You'd wonder why, if her main goal is to make changes to society, she's wasting time promoting a musical comeback.


One of the areas that the media has more or less forgotten in the mess after Katrina seems to be what happened to the convict population of New Orleans? We saw some footage of prisoners stood waiting to be picked up in the first couple of days after the levee broke, but then - nothing much.

Amongst those being held in jail in Louisiana prior to Katrina was C-Murder, Corey Miller, serving time for his part in a a nightclub shooting. His brother, Master P, hasn't heard from him since:

"We don't know exactly how they've been treating the people that's been incarcerated. I know they said some inmates fled, some inmates was killed, some inmates they was transported to somewhere else.

"Even though these people are inmates they still have loved ones out here that are definitely worried about them. He's still fighting a case right now, which is a mistaken identity... He's fighting a battle right now."

Maybe this is something the networks might want to look into - even if they don't care much about the fate of prisoners, the hint that some might have escaped during the tragedy could get them interested.

Update: C Murder has turned up, safe and well in Angola


The long silence from the Darkness camp is about to be broken - One Way Ticket, a single, is due on November 14th [not a cover of The Ten Benson single, we suspect]; then comes an album - unnamed as yet, but slated for November 28th.


You'd have to at least praise the cojones of the security guard who tried to stop Nick Cave going on stage with his fags and beer when they played the Aly Pally last week.

Cave wasn't impressed, mind:

"Nick just said 'Fine, if I can't take a beer on with me, I'm going back to my dressing room. You can go out there and tell some jokes to entertain the crowd for three hours'," a source on Cave's tour told the Independent.

"Then the band turned on their heels and marched back up to their dressing rooms."

The venue decided that they'd better stick to their strict health and safety guidelines, and so sent the security guard onstage to fill for three hours. His reading of the HSE regulations was a surprise hit, and he's expected to headline the second stage at the V festival next summer.

(Okay, the climbed down and let Cave take his fags and lager onto stage. They did mutter that the smack was pushing it a bit, though.)


After a busy week, you would have thought auto-opinionater Gennaro Castaldo would have wanted to take some time off and go and stick his press cuttings in a big book with "My Press Cuttings" pasted to the front of it.

But, no, for in Croydon, Vanessa Layton-McIntosh (apparently someone off of Big Brother) has decided to release a single. And, of course, that means there are records to sell. And Gennaro can't let a record-selling opportunity go by. He shouts his opinions into South London:

"Her success will really depend on the quality of the song. Big Brother is a huge show and does have a big fan base but it's whether they can accept Vanessa as a serious musical artist.

"If she's going down the catchy pop song route then that's more commercially viable whereas doing rhythm and blues is quite courageous because there's a lot of competition.

"Undoubtedly she'll get a lot of coverage for her first single because of her connection with Big Brother, but whether she can turn from being a novelty into being a proper singer we'll have to wait and see."

In other words: If she does a good song, it might sell a lot, because she was on a popular TV programme. Singing popular music might help, because that's more popular. Because she was on a popular TV show, she will get attention but really... who knows?

We wish we could do insight like that.


We were prepared to dismiss out of hand Chris Martin's claims that the new X&Y has been influenced by porn. We bet that he even switches off the DVD when Gwyneth Paltrow's tits appear during Shakespeare In Love.

But then we thought about porn - a bunch of vaguely painted charcters working through a plot which seldom has any subtance; delivering words that have been knocked together three minutes before the microphone was switched on, going through a mechanical process without any real sense of passion or drama while a musical backing churns on apparently played by a machine; the same thing repeated over and over again until a disc is filled. It's then packaged with a cover which attempts to disguise the contents as something unpredictable, and bought by people who take it home in the hope it'll spark some romance in their lives only to discover that there's no money shot, leaving them feel cheated, disappointed, dirty and ashamed.

So, pretty much the same thing as a Coldplay album.


We're not sure if a city has ever had its proposed City of Culture status stripped from it before, but surely Liverpool is heading to make itself a historic first?

Never mind that most of the projects which were at their heart of their bid are disappearing, being scaled back or dropped altogether - The 'Fourth Grace', the tram network, the big shiny new arena. Never mind that yesterday they announced that one of the city's big claims to manage its cultural heritage, the Museum of Liverpool Life, is going to be closed for at least three years, including its big City of Culture year. It's more the way the City is bulldozing away its past.

After a brief "consultation period" stay of execution - which seems to have been used mainly to cook up a form of words which explains away the decision - the Council have announced they're going to bulldoze Ringo Starr's house anyway. It's not, you see, a significant house:

Flo Clucas, executive member for housing, said: "Ringo Starr lived in the Madryn Street house for about three months before he moved to Admiral Grove, where he lived for about 20 years.

"John Lennon and Paul McCartney's childhood homes were preserved because they spent a significant part of their lives in them. The house on Madryn Street has no historical significance."

Oddly, for building with no historical significance, it attracts busloads of visitors every week.

There's no real economic justification for the demolition of the houses - the idea seems to be to create space for developers to build new houses rather than to improve perfectly fine homes that are already there. Profit-maximising rather than the public good.

One of the campaigners to keep the neighbourhood doesn't seem convinced the council really used the consultation to period to do much consultation:

Jeremy Hawthorn, who had campaigned to save the homes, said he believed the council had made its mind up months ago. He said: "They want to clear working-class families out of this area to make way for expensive housing for richer people. I'm not surprised at this decision, but I am disappointed."

Onward, progress marches.


After the week we've been through, we wonder if 50 Cent was aware that launching an attack on Kanye West would make him sound like a wannabe tilting at a hero, rather than the champion putting down the opposition?

"He puts together witty phrases and he's a great talent as a producer, but I still don't know who Kanye West is when I listen to him," 50 said recently in Miami. "By listening to the record, I don't know who he is — I know he's been in a car accident, that's what I know. I feel like Kanye West is successful because of me. After 50 Cent, [hip-hop fans] was looking for something non-confrontational, and they went after first thing that came along. That was Kanye West, and his record took off."

Ah, yes, Cent - because your conforntation has really put a nation into a political debate, hasn't it? Forgive us, but is West is so non-confrontational, then how come the First Lady is being forced to respond to his criticisms?

Laura Bush described as "disgusting" comments by rapper Kanye West and Democratic chairman Howard Dean blaming her husband for the disproportionate number of black hurricane victims.

"I think all of those remarks are disgusting, to be perfectly frank, because of course President Bush cares about everyone in our country," the first lady said Thursday in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.

"And I know that. I mean, I'm the person who lives with him," she said. "I know what he's like and I know what he thinks and I know how he cares about people."

Laura doesn't seem to have considered that since her job is to be married to George, she might not exactly be the least biased person to comment here. And besides, if she lives with him and knows him as well as he that made him, how come she's not able to offer any more light on how a single pretzel left him so badly damaged that time?

In other Katrina-related news, Crash Music is to donate 15% of all its online sales during September to the American Red Cross to help with disaster relief.


Every so often, someone floats the idea of an internet-connected fridge; swearing that within a year your kitchen will be plugged in to the world wide web. It never happens, of course, because it's a shit idea. Just because you can put a piece of technology into a bit of equipment, doesn't mean you should.

Which you should bear in mind as you learn that Coca-Cola is going to try drinks vending machines which offer music downloads. The idea being, of course, that while you buy a bottle of soda, you can also select a song to be sent to your wireless device (i.e. your mobile phone).

We've yet to have it convincingly explained to us why you might want to hoof it off down to the nearest drinks machine to get a song onto your phone when you could, you know, dial up a download service from your handset without the need to march across town, but we expect they've got a reason.

After all, the company that tried to flog us tap water in bottles isn't going to pour billions away on a hare-brained scheme, is it?

We were going to end with a waspish comment about MyCokeMusic here, but what struck us was that the Digital Music News weblog post ended with this:

While selling digital music may seem like a stretch for a soft drink company, Coca-Cola has a long history in retail vending and has the money to back up a move like this. That’s as real as it gets. If Wal-Mart can do it, why not Coca-Cola? So drink up, and listen up.

If even an excellent web-savvy journalist like Michael Bloom has totally forgotten Coke runs a music download service already, it doesn't really suggest that the drinks company is being especially successful at promoting itself, does it?


What a wonderful industry it must be to be in - The British Music Industry, beacon of the world. Here in the UK, we buy more records than anywhere else in the world:

Consumers in the UK buy more recorded music per capita than those in any other country, according to figures released this morning by a record industry trade organisation.

The findings in the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Recording Industry in Numbers, 2001 report reveal that the UK accounts for an average four record purchases a year per person.

With such a success rate, you'd have thought the IFPI would have been keen to encourage the other nations to follow the BPI's original response to file-sharing (moaning and stomping and wagging fingers) rather than forcing the BPI to legitimise the RIAA approach of punitive lawsuits.

You might also notice these figures date back to 2001, when, supposedly, Napster was crushing the life out of the entire industry.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Here's a hint for rap singers just starting out: for god's sake, choose a name you can live with. There's nothing worse than, three or four years down the line, someone whose stupid name you've got used suddenly standing up and saying "actually, you know, maybe my name is just stupid."

Latest to revert to what's on the birth certificate is Jay-Z, who wants to be known as Shawn Carter from hereon out.

Apparently the new name (or, rather, the old one) is because he's "exploring business opportunities in the UK." And because being called by a radio call sign is sucky, of course.


Some nice work over on the Digital Music Weblog, which was surprised to hear Madonna tell the masses at yesterday's Apple announcement that she was giving her music "exclusively" to iTunes because she was "so tired of not being able to download my own music". Because all her work, except one singles compilation and Like A Prayer, are, erm, available on rival network Rhapsody.


We're also not sure why Madonna would want to be downloading her own music - is she really that vain? (Okay, stupid question.) But... why is she going to want to load her computer with DRM-hobbled versions of the songs that she shares the copyright ownership on anyway?

KATRINA: The uberpost

We didn't really think there was going to be much point in a post to keep track of the Katrina material, because there seemed to be not much to say in a music-related blog about such a horrible event. But then, of course, Kanye West made it very on topic, and stories about benefits came in, and musicians losing homes, friends and family.

We know that The Minor Fall... has a point:

but we have a hard time getting worked up over the fact that some celebrated New Orleans musicians are missing. It seems a bit crass what with all the other New Orleanians missing as well; what's the story here, "Famous People Not Waterproof Either"?

... but, on the other hand, we tend to record when former members of Sigue Sigue Sputnik develop bunions, so it'd be odd not to mention the near-washing away of Fats Domino. Added to which, it's really hard to get an idea of the scale of what's happened - an accurate, firm, sense of the scale, more than "big" or "fucking huge" or "bugger, that's big"; "areas the size of the United Kingdom" and "cities somewhere between the size of Birmingham and Sheffield" are useful but don't really work for us (is a Sheffield a proportion of a Wales?). The growing list of musicians who've lost their life's posessions is a starting point to giving a scale: double that, for builders; double again for bakers and bankers; double again to take into account lube merchants, burger flippers, librarians and florists...

These are the stories so far; we'll keep updating as more come in.

Thursday 1st September
Britney prays, Green Day plays
George Bush plays the guitar as New Orleans drowns
Fats Domino missing

Friday 2nd September
Domino found; Celine offers a million
Alex Chilton missing

Saturday 3rd September
Kanye West departs from the script: George Bush doesn't care about black people
CD Baby rallies to the cause

Sunday 4th September
More Kanye West reactions, while Macy Gray rolls sleeves up

Monday 5th September
Celine Dion - not your normal political beast

Tuesday 6th September
George Bush Sr and Barbara: black people love our son
Michael Jackson announces plans to announce plans to announce plans for a charity single

Wednesday 7th September
Britney offers to auction placenta; Kanye silenced by NFL; Prince makes downloads ready
Alex Chilton is safe
Jay-Z, and Louisianan artists back West

Thursday 8th September
Republican Biloxi residents 3 Doors Down say 'no more blame'; Ray Davies ignores them

Friday 9th September
Laura Bush: Kanye West is disgusting
C-Murder goes missing; is found

Saturday 10th September
Telethon take two; Pepsi keeps fizzing for Kanye

Sunday 11th September
Displaced by Katrina, Gatemouth Brown dies in exile

Tuesday 13th September
Additional benefits: Motley Crue and Linkin Park link up
Jackson: is he actually getting a record together?
Usher defends Kanye; Kanye talks with Ellen
TV On The Radio make statement with free mp3

Wednesday 14th September
Oasis make ill-considered tribute
Telethon audiences somewhat low
Doctor John scoffs at Harry Connick

Monday 19th September
Benefit round-up

Saturday 24th September
Brian Wilson makes that call

Tuesday 18th October
GOP students protest against Kanye

August 2006
Mos Def arrested outside the MTV awards


Upsetment in London, as - despite having given him and most of their audience the push to make way for Jamie Theakston - Heart are refusing to release Jono Coleman from his contract to allow him to take over (the word, so clearly, isn't "replace") from Danny Baker on BBC London.

Meanwhile, Neil Fox has announced that he's finally going to get a breakfast show of his very own. Having been passed over when Tarrant left Capital, Fox is now going to be waking up London types on Magic, the pipe and slippers station.

Obviously, very little of this would be of any interest to you if you were outside London. Actually, we're outside London, too; we're just reminding ourselves of another reason to be delighted to be living in the glories of Milton Keynes.


Perhaps the most waspish thing on the internet right now - the caption on their story about Fab Macca selling his soul to Fidelty for a pile of cash simply reads:

Sir Paul sang All You Need is Love with The Beatles

ROCK SICK LIST: Clarkson a bit chesty

Claiming bronchitis, Kelly Clarkson cancelled yesterday evening's appearance at UC Irvine in Orange County.

Image hosted by
See, your mam told you to take a cardie...

The date has been re-arranged for a week today - which is extraordinary - even acute bronchitis lasts for at least seven days and can last for up to ninety, and yet Kelly is going to be fighting fit in just a week. Goodness, almost as if it was just a cold.


It's an easy mistake to make, of course - you think you're being clever, but in fact, you're being a holy show. So, Guy Ritchie's confusion is understandable, of course, when he talks about his accent:

Ritchie admits his Cockney (east London) accent doesn't reflect his background - but he claims it stems from his fascination with the "lower classes".

He says, "It's kitsch, I'd like to think I'm taking the p**s.

"It's obvious what I am. I am a middle-class lad, who has been exposed to various aspects of the English class system.

"I happen to be in the middle, but the bottom end interests me and the top end interests me, because that's where the characters are."

Well, he's right that his social class - we're not sure where it comes in the National Audit Office accounts these days, but we've got him and his wife pegged as GCAs (or Grasping Clueless Arrivistes) - has got nobody with anything interesting to say in it. But why would it be "taking the piss" to talk like the people he seems to think are "beneath" him? We'd have thought the word he was looking for wasn't kitsch - patronising, surely?



Come with us into the world of Gwen Steffani, as we discover where she gets her crazy deisgn ideas from:

"Tony just broke his finger and he sent me the X-ray. So I'm doing a T-shirt that says 'Broken' and it's going to have his X-ray on it."

So, that's not really being inspired, is it? That's just seeing something and doing something. It gets worse:

"I'm stupidly crazy for old movies. I (record) them so that when I'm doing my makeup in the morning, I have them on. I can be like: 'Look at Jane Russell in that shiny leopard dress - I'm copying that.'"

The great thing is, of course, people pay her for this, and pay her well. Surely it's time for her to try writing a book - you know, picking up someone else's book, sticking it on a photocopier, and getting her people to talk contracts.


We've already had Live Aid redux, and now we're also getting a reworking of the Warchild Help album project - bands are already cluttering up studios across the world for the A Day In The Life project. The work started at noon, and it will continue until noon tomorrow, after which time there should be an album's worth of gubbins ready for downloading tomorrow from 2pm. And then a CD like you used to get. Here's what we can expect:

* Antony and the Johnsons - Happy Xmas War is Over
* Belle & Sebastian - The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House
* Bloc Party - The Present
* The Coral (produced by Portishead's Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley) - It Was Nothing
* Damien Rice - Crosseyed Bear
* Elbow - Snowball
* Emmanuel Jal - Gua
* The Go! Team - Phantom Broadcast
* Gorillaz - Hong Kong
* Hard-Fi - Help Me Please
* Kaiser Chiefs - I Heard It Through the Grapevine
* Keane and Faultline - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
* The Magic Numbers - Gone Are the Days
* The Manic Street Preachers - Leviathan
* Maximo Park - Wasteland
* Mylo - to be confirmed
* Radiohead - I Want None of It
* Razorlight - Kirby's House
* Tinariwen - to be confirmed
* The Zutons - Hello Conscience

Hmm, there's a few things there that make us a little curious (and a couple that, really, make us feel like saying 'there's no rush').


To mark the point where he'd have been getting free travel on the Merseyrail network, John Lennon's 65th birthday sees the release of a definitve compilation of his post-Beatle solo work. It's definitive as in "definitively proves how poor most of his half-assed work was". Double Fantasy? About as much fun as double math.

In other ringo-carried-them new, Paul McCartney is set to appear in a series of ads for Fidelity, a financial services company. Obviously, Paul must badly need the money.

Still, we look forward to his ideas for how we might make our money go further - we wonder if our idea, a redistributive tax system that would take 90% from multi-bilionaires shilling for a few extra bob and use it to fund hospitals, has occured to him?


Ray Davies knows a thing or two about New Orleans, as that's where he was shot and wound up spending time there getting his health back. His criticism isn't reserved for George Bush - although there's an element of that - but for the way the city had been left to rot slowly for years before:

"Why didn't the people who are supposed to be experts on this stuff react sooner? The problem we all know by now is money. Budgets. America's preoccupation with wars overseas. Nobody cares about the poor. Etc, etc," he said.

"It was clear to me ... that something disastrous was on the cards."

During another trip, he was driven to see the pump houses, and noticed that "the whole infrastructure was very fragile".

"The levees seemed insufficient for the amount of water surrounding the city. The roads were uneven and the tap water pressure in most houses was weak," he said. "The whole system appeared improvised."

The singer, who had friends in New Orleans when Katrina struck, added that the city is no longer just an American responsibility.

He said: "Whatever we think of George W Bush, we cannot take it out on the poor and needy in Louisiana and Mississippi. He won't be there in four years. They will."

Meanwhile, there's been no evidence of a national consumer backlash against Kanye West for his NBC telethon Bush critique (or, for those of you convinced he's a moron "his rant"). Far from it, in fact: His album Late Registration has debuted at number one on the US chart; with 800,000 sales that's over double the first week take of his previous album. That's greater than 600,000 more than the second place album, Tony Yayo's Thoughts of Predicate Felon.

Which, of course, will lead to West being accused of publicity stuntage.

As the clean up slowly gets underway, more musicians are sharing their stories of what happened to them. Juvenile's St Tammany Parish house and all his possessions were lost; more grimly, many of his relatives are still missing.

Chopper, who'd been part of Puff Daddy's Making The Band reality team, lost his house; two of his school friends died:

"Two of my high school friends drowned and a couple of my homies got shot out by the police," he said. "I ain't gonna lie, it's a hurtin' feelin'. It's hard for me to cry, but I shed a tear with this one."

And 3 Doors Down - from Biloxi - have had homes destroyed and are still waiting for news of relatives. The Republican band are, like most strict Republicans, trying to move attention away from what went wrong:

"I think we should focus on salvaging the city and worry about pointing fingers later," he said. "We just need to get them out of there. It's a really difficult situation. I don't think people realize how many bridges are in the South and how many bridges go into all those cities. Biloxi, New Orleans, all of the bridges [going in] are gone. It's hard to maneuver in New Orleans anyway. It's just an old-designed city."

Ah, so it was the bridges being down that meant FEMA couldn't think of anything better to do with volunteer firemen than tell them to give out leaflets with a telephone number on or crowd around in the background of Bush's photoshoots, was it? It was the tight corners of the French Quarter that left Mayor Dayley of Chicago frustrated that nobody showed any interest in his offers of help? It was the old architecture of the city that persuaded the government it should lock people in the Conference Centre in the dark, and refuse to let people out the city - or rescuers in?


The most surprising aspect of Iron Maiden launching a competition to find a design for their Christmas cards is... well, that Iron Maiden send Christmas cards at all.

Apparently there are great prizes on offer. And, no, we wouldn't recommend doing Eddie in Santa robes - we suspect that most, if not all, entrants will do that idea.


The Noise Next Door - "teen punk band", it says here, although they look more like children's entertainers to us - have changed their songwords in a bid to get played on the radio.

Not that the song is Fuck Forever or anything:

The line "I don't want to sleep with dirty girls tonight" has been changed to "I don't want to be with flirty girls tonight" and the opening "My libido has gone walkabout" has been cut.

The song had been called Dirty Girls. It's now called Miss U. It's unclear if they've also taken the chance to address the other issue that threatens to keep the song off TV and the radio, that of it sounding rubbish.

We love this level of panic over a gently spicy song. It reminds us that we were watching an advert for Pride and Prejudice - the new version, with him out of Spooks in it - the other night, and where the caption warning "Contains sex and violence" usually pops up, they genuinely carried a warning to parents: "Contains mild innuendo."


Hard to recall that a month ago the right was calling for the head of dangerous radical Mick Jagger, as he popped up on Today [audio will be online after the programme comes off air] chatting with former Prime Minister and breathtaking hypocrite John Major ("two lords of the realm!" chortled the usually not that easily impressed Jim Naughtie) like old buddies.

Of course, it was all about the cricket - Mick revealing his plans for following the ball-by-ball commentary despite being on tour. At least the two old toffs can claim to have been long-standing cricket fans, I guess, because who knew that were so many cricket supporters in England otherwise? It's funny how everybloodybody we meet and everybloodybody we talk to somehow neglected to mention their astonishing passion for the game until the country came within a sniff of winning something.


Even if you never bother with mp3 blogs generally, you really, really want to go and see the treat Jamies Runout Groove has for the world right now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


While the number of people outside of Brit Hume's close circle of friends and George Bush's immediate family offering to argue against Kanye West's comments on Bush's slow, apparently couldn't care less approach in the first few days after Katrina, there's no shortage of musicians backing his comments. Like David Banner:

"We've been screaming this for five years. You listen to your David Banners, Dead Prez, listen to rap music period. This is what rappers have been screaming all the time. The problem is America concentrates more on our cuss words. They don't hear the pain in the music all the time. You just finally had somebody who has the power Kanye has, who said it at the right time."

Like Diddy, who stopped being trivial for ten seconds:

"We can't wait around for the government to help. We're not waiting, we're taking action. We can find money to bomb people oversees, but not to help our brothers and sisters?"

Like TI:

"It's been seen that the government don't really give a fuck about our situation. All those people who are down there without homes and shelter, those are folks from the 'hood. That's the urban community."

Like Twista:

"I'm like, 'What is it?' " Twista said Tuesday. " 'What are we looked at as? Do you look at us as less than human?' The response said something. Any other people, people [suffering a catastrophe,] you get people from all over the world to come and jump right on [the problem]. But you get mostly poor and black people, and we get the slow response."

Like Jay-Z:

'I'm backing Kanye 100 percent,'' Jay-Z told Billboard by phone from London. ``This is America. You should be able to say what you want to say. We have freedom of speech.''

Jay-Z admits he shares some of West's views about the slow response to the disaster. ''It's really numbing,'' he says. 'You can't believe it's happening in America. You wonder, `What's going on? Why were people so slow to react?' I don't understand it.''

Maybe it is the case that George Bush really, really does value the poor and the black as much as he does the rich. But it's sure funny that so many black artists - notably, successful black artists - seem to share the impression that he doesn't.

Having said which, just as it'll be interesting to see if those who've finally found a voice and a reason to question the Bush White House will follow their initial reaction through once the news waggons start to roll away from New Orleans, it'll be interesting to see if the rap community keep this new, defined political edge for more than a couple of months, or if it'll be back to bling, birds, bang-bangs and booze by Christmas.

For now, as well as questioning the official response, the rap community (and those are words that don't often sit easily together) are also pulling their weight in other ways: Banner's Heal The Hood Foundation is work with TI, Young Jeezy and Juice magazine to distribute food and water in Mississippi:

"I called everybody's bluff who be talking all that ballin' shit," T.I. said. "Popping all them bottles in the club ... talking about how much girls and jewelry and cars they got. Let's see how much money they've got for a good cause. Basically, I told everybody to put their money where their mouths are, and if you ain't got no money to give to the cause, I don't want to hear that shit no more."


Rod Stewart's habit of keeping money for gigs he never plays has got him into trouble again - he's just lost his latest legal battle and been ordered to return a two million dollar advance. And interest.

Rod had said he should keep the money because - although he never turned up to play the Rio Hotel Casino due to throat surgery - he had offered to come and do some songs at some point later.

The jury foreman Stevan Jorgensen approached the case with something unusual to the music industry: a sense of fairplay:

"We felt it was only fair," he said, "that if Mr. Stewart didn't perform the concert that he should give the money back."

Rod intends to appeal. Presumably in the hope of getting an unfair verdict instead.


We're sure that when Mick Hucknall laments the state of the modern music industry, it's genuine:

"The nurturing spirit that was inherent in the music industry when I first joined has gone

"Look at the biggest band in the world, U2. They had time to develop their sound, but these days Bono and the boys wouldn't get past their second album.

"The idea of letting a band develop is no longer economically viable in the eyes of the industry. They sell it like soap powder on the TV - and you're going to pay the price for that culturally in the long run.

"I find what's called culture now is derivative of the 1960s and 1980s and, as a music lover, I want more than that. It's not all doom and gloom but I think everything is a bit of a cliché."

Of course, there was never anything in any way derivative in Simply Red's music, with its Motown covers and all. And we're sure that really irks Mick about modern music isn't that, well, there's not much place for him in it. Indeed, he might be expected to embrace the love of the 80s in the current music scene - after all, he sold a few records back then.

LAST MONTH I LIED ABOUT EVERYTHING AT THE HEART OF OUR RELATIONSHIP this month, will you marry me? Mark Feehily of Westlife and Kevin McDaid announce their engagement, which is quite sweet, although it's a big step for a man who a few weeks ago was still pretending to be heterosexual.

Apparently, the couple chose to get engaged to celebrate the fact that Westlife fans didn't react too badly to the news that Mark was gay:

"I've been over the moon since coming out and fans have been supportive, so I know they'll be happy for me. What better way to celebrate this?"

Kevin is going to adopt the Laura Bush position in the marriage:

Kevin who was in the band V says he is going to do his best to support Mark's career.

He said: "I'm planning to give up my career to support Mark. There is only room for one star in our family and it has to be him."

Kevin, sweetness, even with Mark in the family, there's still room for a star there. And while giving up being in V isn't too much of a sacrifice, doing it to be able to support Mark's career is a bit puzzling - unless you think filling out those housing benefit forms is going to be a two-man job?


In the same way that Michael Jackson's first response to a natural disaster is 'how can this help my image', Willie Nelson's starting point is to think about the farmers; he's now activated the Family Farm Disaster Fund to help family farms battered by Katrina.

Meanwhile, Jamie Lynn Spears claims she's going to head down to LA and volunteer for the Red Cross. With a bunch of her friends. We're not sure how she plans to help - her talents would suggest her gang might only be called upon if FEMA are arranging a performance of The Swish of The Curtain in Jefferson County - but it's the thought that counts.

Image hosted by

But she knows how it feels to suffer loss in this storm:

"It's pretty bad down there... It's not as bad where I live, but our yard is a total mess. It was pretty scary."

In news which will make your head hurt slightly less, it has been confirmed that Alex Chilton is fine and well.


While any new music service is touted as being the one which will stop iTunes from stomping on everything in its path, nothing seems capable of unseating iTunes as the world's first chocie for digital music.

In Japan, Sony had been attempting to frustrate Apple's empire building by refusing to licence its catalogue to them; the theory being that people would shun iTunes. It didn't work; now, Sony is belatedly scrambling to get its back catalogue onto the Apple network. But who could have forseen that the only people who'd be hurt by their not being on there at launch were their own artists? (Answer: everyone except music industry executives, it seems)


The cream of the British music industry gathered last night for one of the major awards ceremonies of the year. The rest, meanwhile, made do with the GQ Awards, which are given out everytime the magazine's circulation department manager has a heart flutter. This week's awards, then, will be part of the marketing effort of GQ, which has long struggled to make it clear in people's minds that it's not a magazine aimed at gay men.

Matt Lucas is given a prize by Robbie Williams - Image hosted by

Yes, that didn't quite work, did it? We'll leave you to add the "I am the only gay in this photo opportunity" speech balloon, shall we?

As if to make it even more clear that GQ isn't a gay magazine, they elected Charlotte Church their woman of the year. Yes, just like, erm, Attitude magazine.

We're still waiting to hear the winner of showtune of the year.


Suge Knight has been released from the Miami hospital he was taken to after a "mystery assailant" shot him at the MTV awards party. Rather amusingly, just before the "mystery assailant" shot him, Knight has been bragging to XXL magazine about how bloody street he is:

"If you raised up or born in the ghetto, [watching your back] is what you do naturally. You don't choose the day you're gonna go," he said. "I don't walk in fear."

That's one hell of a finely tuned radar you've got there, Mister Knight.

Police are having no luck finding the "mystery assailant" because, despite Knight being shot in a busy room, the closest they can come to a description of the gunman is "a black guy in a pink shirt." Almost like he shot himself by accident and tried to cook up a story to cover up the embarrassment, isn't it? But if that was the case, he'd be wasting police time, wouldn't he?


Can anyone here mumble in Italian? has pulled together a Top 100 indie albums chart of all time - running from C86 and Shadow Factory at numbers one and two all the down to The Would-Be-Goods at 100. There's commentary on the albums, too, although, being an Italian site, you might need to be able to do more than "Bella, bella, Gregory" to extract full value.


Settling into the role he was meant to play - Queen of Las Vegas - Elton John is finding that it's a totally different world to the one he's used to:

"Before Caesars I'd never stayed the night here (Vegas). I don't go out much, but you do get stir crazy.

"So I'll go see what's in the shops now. Bob Hailey (Elton's operations manager) and I got chased through the mall. We were laughing so hard.

"Bob said, `We're being chased by 60-year-old women!.' And, I said, `Bob, we are 60!.'

The funny thing about Elton is that, while he has a reputation for being a difficult diva, he does come across well in interviews, without a hint of bitterness:

He also admits he's disappointed by the lack of success of last year's Peachtree Road album, but adds, "My time in the sun, as it were, is gone. I have to accept that.

"Was I disappointed? Yeah, because I put my heart and soul into it."

Presumably as soon as the microphone was switched off he went to throw some fresh cut flowers at a flunky.


The music industry reaction to Katrina continues with a mixture of the heartfelt and the photo op; it's the latter, we fear, which is making Britney Spears consider auctioning off her childbirth to raise her profile ("millions of dollars"). She'd really hate to have a camera there at the birth, but, she figures, she forgot to film the conception and it could do some real good for... uh, yeah, those people:

"Britney has been horrified by what has happened in new Orleans, she's a good Louisiana girl and she loves her home state. She's not particularly keen on filming the birth, but with all this talk of money she had to stop and think about what she could do with it. All she's concerned about is that the programme is tastefully done and she gets her privacy."

The producers are promising they'll ensure her privacy is maintained - they're offering to pixelate out Kevin Federline in every shot.

While Michael Jackson repeats the promises he never kept after 11th September 2001, Prince quietly goes into the studio, records a couple of tracks, and makes them available as a download from his website, and Fat Joe throws $25k in the hat and arranges a fundraiser for today.

Meanwhile, Kanye West hints that the NFL have made his participation in the kick-off concert dependent on his not being outraged by Bush's fumbled reaction to Katrina:

At a news conference publicizing Thursday's NFL Kickoff concert, West said it won't be until Sunday that he can "go down to you-know-where and help."

And he says until then, he "can't say anything about it or wear any T-shirts that say anything about it."

While we can understand a sports franchise being run by a bunch of opinion-squashing spineless morons, could they really have been so strict as to stop him from even mentioning Katrina?


In Australia, Sharman networks have indicated that they intend to appeal against the recent Federal Court decision which found the company guilty of encouraging copyright breaches through its Kazaa software. That, in itself, is not surprising. And the appeal will have to wait until early next year - that, too, doesn't surprise what with the speed of justice.

What is incredible is that the music industry intends to seek "billions of dollars" in settlement. Now, we know that the RIAA and its client bodies around the planet show themselves time and time again to be harsh in their demands - insisting that each illegal download is worth thousands, and so on - but this really shows them to be outside reality on such a grand scale we're not sure how they can find office space while they orbit Jupiter.

Clearly, the Australian music industry hasn't misplaced "billions of dollars" in the short time that Kazaa had been operating, so the demand isn't based on any real sort of loss, is it? It's a made-up figure.

And even if the billions of dollars were legitimate, surely even a record industry executive must realise, somewhere in the coke-fugged head, that Sharman wasn't selling illegal copies of the stuff; it's not like you're going through a robber's pockets to find the cash he got selling your DVD player down The Goat and Compass. Sharman simply don't have billions of dollars, because not only did billions of dollars worth of material go through their networks, but they weren't selling anything anyway.

Time and time again: The music industry don't live in the same world as anyone else.


There's a limit to the length of time you expect a bunch of poorly written kids books bearing the name of your prime convert to keep bringing the money in, so if you're a cult with a waning star at the heart of your marketing campaign, you need to think beyond the obvious.

Like this: Kabbalah's Madonna is set to turn her dreary moral books into a kid's clothing range. It remains to be seen how the books - which draw heavily on the Kabbalah Centre's reworking of Kabbalah although not, sadly, on any noticeable flair for writing children's books - will be converted into kid's clothes, but if other Kabbalah marketing schemes are anything to go by, they'll start with a price tag and just attach some stuff to it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


We're not entirely sure that it makes the greatest sense to hold the Mercury prize giving at some sort of dinner party event - it hardly creates a sense of atmosphere having your audience sat down tucking into soup and lobster while the supposed most shiny lights of the record industry are doing their thing; even the Brits organisers realised quite quickly that that didn't really work.

There's been nothing much to make people drop their bread rolls, either - KT Tunstall did nothing to stop that popular Google search term - "KT Tunstall gay?" - cropping up; she really is worried about being mistaken for Dido, isn't she?

A couple of the artists get away without doing a song - most notably MIA, who is merely left to make a speech as she accepts her shortlist prize. Curiously for the quick-witted communicator she's meant to be, she seems unable to string a coherent thought together; in the little film they showed of her, even with the aid of editing she wasn't really able to offer very much, apart from how much she loves herself and how absolutely real she is.

Coldplay don't even have to turn up for their little prize, but they get a bunch 18Wheelers to make a film to accept it on their behalf. We imagine this is meant to be showing their contempt for a whole process they really don't expect to come out on top of.

The Go Team kick some life into the event, but it's probably a bit too late as they're the final act, and Jools sends us over to watch Jo Whiley, Conor McNicholas and Mark Radcliffe to do some chat up on the balcony to fill in while - well, we're not sure quite what the gap is for; perhaps the judges are still deliberating.

Ach, the judges say it's not been easy to come up with a decision - they always say that, don't they? And, after Jools has been padding and overpadding his part, we finally get a decision - Antony and The Johnsons. Seconds before they went back to the prize giving, Jo and Conor were discussing how people don't like it when she plays his music on the radio, but to be honest, we suspect there was an inevitablity about this decision. It might have been more radical, and certainly surprising, to give it to Coldplay.

In his victory speech, Antony points out that the whole concept is like a competition between an "orange and a spaceship and a spoon" - which is a criticism you often hear of the Mercury, but seldom from someone picking up the sponsor's cheque.

We're not sure MIA's going to take being told she isn't the best album of the year that well; and, in the traditional post-award slot, Simon Frith reveals that, ooh, it went right down to the wire, you know - it so nearly could have been the Kaiser Chiefs. But then again, he also believes that there's no reason why the A&TJ album couldn't be the biggest selling album of the year - which suggests he might not know that much about music after all.

Conor McNicholas, meanwhile, suggests that Antony is "too weird" for the readers to be on the cover of the NME. Well, that'll be good news for Liam and Noel there, anyway.


Apparently, Embrace spent nine days writing the entire new album.

That's a bloody long time to do a dozen ditto marks, surely?


Sniffing another way to try and win his way back into our hearts, Michael Jackson has rushed out a statement :

"I believe in my heart that the music community will come together as one and rally to the aid of thousands of innocent victims," he said in a statement Monday. "There is a tremendous need for relief dollars right now and through this effort each one of us can play an immediate role in helping comfort so many people."

Oh... no, silly us. That was his statement on September 17th, 2001 when he announced his plans to record a charity single for those caught up in the attacks on the World Trade Centre, in order to raise fifty million dollars. And, sure, he might have been attempting to boost his profile and improve his public profile by grandstanding on the deaths of thousands, but if it raised fifty million, you can't complain, can you?

Except the single, What More Can I Give, never even got as far as a demo, and not a cent was raised.

Now, here we are - another tragedy, Jackson poking his potato-cake face into the cameras, trying to turn a couple of positive column inches out the deaths of thousands. This is what he actually said this time round:

Jackson will record the single, "From the Bottom of My Heart," within two weeks, and he plans to enlist other entertainers for the project, spokeswoman Raymone Bain said.

"It pains me to watch the human suffering taking place in the Gulf region of my country," Jackson, 47, said in a written statement. "My heart and prayers go out to every individual who has had to endure the pain and suffering caused by this tragedy."

He added: "I will be reaching out to others within the music industry to join me in helping bring relief and hope to these resilient people who have lost everything."

Michael Jackson announcing his plans


We're still staring agape at the email we got from the BBC News people, saying that President Bush is going to take personal charge of the investigation into the Katrina screw-ups. Now, we didn't expect an independent investigation, but at least they could have pretended - how can the head of an administration lead the investigation into claims that his administration was complicit in the deaths of thousands of its own citizens?

Meanwhile, hs Daddy and Mommy, who got him the job in the first place in a bid to stop him running any more businesses into the ground, have been on Larry King Live, attempting to answer Kanye West's criticisms of him. Of course, Larry King is little more than Wogan with a desk rather than a journalist; and BMW have considered using the phrase 'a softer ride than Larry King Live' to market its top-end motors, so you wouldn't expect much of a debate:

G. BUSH: Sure. I don't think -- certainly I'm not satisfied but I'm just talking about the blame game and there was one particularly vicious comment that the president didn't care, was insensitive on ethnicity.

KING: Yes.

G. BUSH: Insensitive about race. Now that one hurt because I know this president and I know he does care and you know what can he do? He can just go out and do what he's doing today, showing that the federal government is involved, has been involved, will continue to be involved.

That may well have been all he could do - which is why it's especially infuriating that he didn't do anything like that until Thursday, isn't it?

And also... isn't the White House line that the Federal Government would have loved to have helped people drowning in their own homes earlier, but weren't able to until they had some sort of formal invitation? It's odd that Pa doesn't mention that.

KING: How did you react, Barbara, when race was brought up and someone mentioned that your son doesn't care?

B. BUSH: I don't believe that. I really didn't hear it. I'm going to tell you the truth but I don't believe it. I know it's not true and of course as George says if you want to really get in trouble criticize my son to me.

KING: I know.

B. BUSH: But I really didn't hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said "God bless your son," people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives so I just don't hear that.

Of course you didn't hear it, Bush - like your son, you're living in a little bubble where you only meet carefully selected people who tell you what you want to hear. That's why you're on Larry King Live, a man so supine he can't even bring himself to say Kanye West's name and has to make oblique references to "someone".

Of course, we might find it easier to buy George and Laura's protestations of how much their family care for poor folk if... well, if it were true. But as Barbara Bush's comments at the Houston Astrodome show, they really don't:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this (chuckling) is working very well for them.

We suspect Kanye West won't, this evening, be drafting a letter of apology.


Feeder's record label (not, you'll notice, the band) have issued a statement denying the conclusions drawn that the band were about to split:

"Contrary to inaccurate reports in the press and on the radio, Feeder are not recording their last album, nor set to split.

"An over-enthusiastic reporter seems to have put 2 and 2 together and come up with 43. Indeed the group are looking forward to the release of new single ‘Shatter’/’Tender’ in October and a Far East and UK tour in November.

"They have already started writing new material for a Singles Album to be released in the New Year and a further studio album to follow the current album Pushing the Senses."

Hmm. That still sounds like "The band will see out their contract", to us. But we're sure that they're not just going through the motions now, and everything will sound fresh and exciting.


We know, we know, Andi Peters left TOTP through his own decision.

But we've only just noticed (we didn't watch it this week, we were leaping between the news networks for the whole weekend) that Hayseed Dixie were on again. Again.

Michael Grade, don't waste time having an investigation into a few jokes by John Humphrys. This is the sort of thing the governors should be stamping down on.


Who could have forseen that inviting the comedy rap act Goldie Lookin' Chain to do some songs before an international football match would all end in profuse public apologies?

The Welsh FA are really, really sorry:

"We couldn't do too much about the booing of the English national anthem, other than to implore Welsh supporters to respect it.

"But we can most certainly stop the sort of nonsense that David Beckham had to put up with before the game from happening again.

"I would like to go on record as issuing a public apology to David Beckham and the English FA and say this is a matter the Welsh FA are treating with great importance.

"People may say it was meant as a joke and maybe we're being fuddy-duddies. But we don't see it like that. There was a basic lack of respect involved here."

The GLC had dedicated Your Missus Is A Nutter to Victoria Beckham before the England-Wales match, in which, of course, David Beckham was playing.

And while nobody can doubt the honesty of the Welsh FA's reply, the obvious question is: what the hell did they expect?