Saturday, September 24, 2005


The band as a whole have posted to their website to put everyone's minds at rest. Cancelling the European tour and talking about taking a break isn't about breaking up, you sillies:

Dear worried and confused,

After reading all the bullshit out there about the future of Garbage, we felt compelled to write a few lines here to address the issue and set the record straight.

Certain journalists have taken the liberty of running wildly inaccurate stories in recent days about our so called "break-up". Made up out of cobbled together,out of context quotes to feed some perverse agenda of their own,these stories are nothing more than idle speculation and are completely inaccurate.

The truth of the matter is really simple and surprisingly hard to misconstrue. For more than ten years, we have been in a cycle of album-making and touring and for the first time in our history, we have made a decision to break that cycle and take some time off. What does that mean? We are NOT breaking up. However, we ARE taking some much-deserved time off to spend with our families and friends. How much time? We don't know.

This decision came as a difficult yet necessary one in order to preserve something we hold very dear. The last ten years have been an incredible experience for all of us and we appreciate all the freedom, love and support you have so generously given us during that time. We are eternally grateful to you all and we look forward to the next chapter in all of our lives with great excitement and enthusiasm.

True Love Forever,

So, there we are then. We expect a new album... well, this one took about three years, so two years off, say, and then another three year process... 2010? It's not like they've broken up at all...


Last week, the battle between the record companies and Apple over the pricing of iTunes went public when Steve Jobs suggested the RIAA owners were being "greedy" and shortsighted trying to force Apple to introduce premium charging for some songs on the network.

Yesterday, Edgar Bronfman Junior - the guy who bought Warner Music Group to play with - hit back, with his claim that content (which is what he calls songs) wants to be differently priced:

“There’s no content that I know of that does not have variable pricing,” said Mr. Bronfman at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference. “Not all songs are created equal—not all time periods are created equal. We want, and will insist upon having, variable pricing.”

We've always loved the music industry, whose best and first response to any challenge is to suggest that there's something organic about their solution. So, if you complain that the same record costs more in Newcastle than in Chicago, and you'll be told "lots of things cost more in the UK", as if that's an explanation. Now, Bronfman is hoping to pull a similar piece of wool-pulling with online prices. "I can't think of any other service that charges a flat rate for access, so naturally iTunes shouldn't."

The trouble is, not only is the logic here weak - a couple of years back there was no content that I knew of that was hobbled by DRM, but the music industry didn't seem to accept that that way of doing things should remain forever - but it's based on absolutey nothing. Hire DVDs online? It's a flat, all you can eat rate - no more for a new blockbuster movie than for a Guy Ritchie film. Fancy reading an old article from The Times? It'll cost you one pound - for a front page story or a news brief. Want a ringtone? Most comapnies will be set up so you pay the same, no matter what it is that is going to piss off your colleagues for the next few weeks. And so on.

But, of course, Bronfman isn't thinking of his own wallet. As in all things, it's the artist who he's thinking of:

“To have only one price point is not fair to our artists, and I dare say not appropriate to consumers. "

Ah, it's the poor artists he's worried about. And the customers, too. We have to be honest here - we've not actually met anyone yet who has been clamouring to pay more for their downloads. If I've missed a large lobby group pushing to pay more, or who feel ashamed by paying an inappropriate price for their downloads, I would like to apologise.

Bronfman, it seems, has confidence in the market:

"The market should decide, not a single retailer."

Ah, market forces, of course. Seeing the music industry insist the market be allowed to do its work is always a fine sight; it's like models lambasting Kate Moss for being on cocaine. The music industry was so afraid of market forces it colluded for years to prevent them from working in the consumer's favour - it took the intervention of the US authorities to point out that the labels were working together to artificially inflate the price of albums. And, in extremis, if the market value of music was allowed to settle itself totally unfettered, the price of a download would be much nearer to zero - it's only the artificial imposition of a ban on filesharing that stops the big four labels from crumbling.

Bronfman, though, is keen to see the market work...

“Some songs should be $0.99 and some songs should be more. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that $0.99 is a thing of the past.”

... but only in one direction. Surely if Bronfman is right, there should be quite a lot of songs that cost less than ninety-nine cents?

But Bronfman has more to say. He's pissed off about Apple not sharing the cash from iPods with his company:

“We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue,” he said. “We want to share in those revenue streams. We have to get out of the mindset that our content has promotional value only.

Well... actually, you're not selling your songs "through iPod", Edgar - maybe someone should wake him up next time he's got a person with a clue in his office carrying a flipchart.

Why should you get a cut of iPod revenue, when you're still making as much from a track on iTunes as you did from a track on a CD, despite massively reduced costs?

Why should you get a cut of iPod revenue, when your company hasn't paid anything into the R&D and taken none of the risk?

Why should you get a cut of iPod revenue, when you wouldn't expect Technics to send you a cheque everytime they sell a record player?

Why should you get a cut of iPod revenue, when without Apple building iTunes as well, most people would be filling their iPods with songs ripped from their CD and found on the net, meaning you'd also not be making shit from iTunes either?

Why should you get a cut of iPod revenue, when the market you value so much would happily allow you to develop, create and flog an alternative product yourselves? Why should Apple be expected to reward you because your company chooses not to enter a sector?

“We have to keep thinking how we are going to monetize our product for our shareholders,” added Mr. Bronfman. “We are the arms supplier in the device wars between Samsung, Sony, Apple, and others.”

No you're not, you silly old duffer. We've said before that there should be some sort of camp for anyone who cares so little about the magical importance of music they use phrases like 'monetize our product for our shareholders' when they're talking about it, but you're clearly not at home in this world anymore so we'll let you off. But you're not the arms supplier, are you? Because you deal with all sides - if anything, you're more like the red cross.

At this point, Bronfman wandered off onto another thought, fuming away that satelitte radio is robbing him blind, too:

“It’s now time for satellite radio to pay. We gave them a seven-year license at vastly below-market rate to allow that business model to occur,” he said. “There is no reason for their content cost to be one-tenth of what everyone else is paying and have this done on the backs of the music industry while they pay market rate to the NFL, Howard Stern, and Major League Baseball.”

But Bronfman... there's a difference here. There's only one Howard Stern (thank god), and so there's a market for his exclusive services, which forces the price up. If you decide to try and play "market rate" games with the satellite radio companies, what are you going to do to make it worth them paying more? Guarantee them exclusive access to your catalogue? And in doing so remove your songs from FM radio, and the marketing opportunity of selling to the FM audience?

No, you can't actually reduce supply enough to force the price up. You could try and compete in the other way - by offering to cut a deal where you and only your label provides music to a satellite station. But that would be in your favour, not the broadcasters, and would drive the price down.

The only way the labels can make their world come about is by getting someone to change the rules in their favour. Expect lots more large cheques being written to congressmen.


Eager to do his bit to help out after Katrina hit, Brian Wilson has offered to call everyone who donates USD100 - so far, he's made 15 calls.

With Rita doing her damage now, it's possible Wilson might be looking for a cheaper long distance carrier.

Meanwhile, Rita has forced the organisers of the CMT One Country benefit for Katrina victims. Kenny "I'm fine, really" Chensey, Willie Nelson and ZZ Top had been going to take part in the fundraiser; they're hoping to re-arrange.


Shirley Manson has had a pop at INXS for replacing Michael Hutchence on a gameshow, but we think she's really sending some sort of message to the rest of Garbage here:

"It isn't INXS without Michael Hutchence.

"I feel in life you have to be prepared to let go of something in order for new growth to occur in your life. And I think it is unhealthy to be constantly coming back to recreate the past.

"You should forge forward instead of being sentimental about things that have gone by."

But remember, kids: Garbage aren't splitting up. Oh no.


There is a slight buzz about the new Madonna album, it's fair to say: people are anxious to find out if it's just clapped-out, or if it's worse than that. We now know a little of what Confessions on a Dancefloor is going to be shaped like.

Imagine a blancmange.

"Confessions on a Dancefloor", Madonna's forthcoming new album, will run across 12 tracks in a continuous mix, her producer has revealed.

Speaking at the Billboard Dance Music Summit in New York last week, Stuart Price says the closing track, "Like It Or Not". Is indicative of the record's style. "Basically, it's Madonna saying, 'This is who I am. This is what I do. Take it or leave it,'" he said.

Oh, Jesus. Her entire career has been her saying that - does she really need to do a song banging on about it? Mike Yarwood used to manage it in one line...

Here's the track list:

"Hung Up"
"Get Together"
"Future Lovers"
"I Love New York'
"Let It Will Be"
"Forbidden Love"
"How High"
"Like It or Not"

Future Lovers is, by all accounts, a lame reworking of Seal's Future Love Paradise, which tells us exactly what sort of territory we're in here.


We've not got any respect at all for Keith Hellawell, (Tony) Blair's former "drug tzar" who seemed to do little but generate tabloid coverage for himself during his time sorting out the UK's drug problem - and you'll have noticed what a great job he did there, too; and, of course, his pronouncement on (Ian) Blair's focus on Kate Moss' drug use were more about reminding people that Hellawell is available for interviews, monographs and conferences than making a useful contribution. But even he isn't as grim-faced about it all as some seem to be, condemning Ian Blair's decision to use Moss' fame against her:

"It would be wrong to either let someone off because they are high-profile or prosecute them because they are high-profile," he said. "We ought to do what we do in every circumstance."

Mr Hellawell told Radio 4's Today programme: "Why would you focus on Kate Moss when there are thousands of people in London who are involved in this type of behaviour?"

Mr Hellawell also criticised the "celebrity arrogance" and hypocrisy surrounding cocaine. He said: "As soon as it's discovered and it can't be kept in the box, then everybody comes out with this outrage. I think those double standards are silly."

It's a pity he never actually said anything half as sensible when he was still at the heart of HM Government's drug policies.


We've had the cry for help, so this would be more akin to ripping out your entrails and trying to arrange them in the message "HELP ME", hoping someone flying overhead might read them and intervene: Mindy McReady has overdosed, again.

This time in Nashville, following a row with William McKnight, father of her soon-to-be-baby and man who, if we've got the story right, tried to kill her.

According to a police report, McCready and William McKnight were arguing on the phone about whether his parents would help pay for the pregnancy. He cursed at McCready and she became angry and took about 30 antidepressant pills, the report says.

After McKnight called her back and she didn't answer, he called police and an ambulance.


I know what you're thinking - rock star photographs = Nick Rhodes polaroids, right? But Nick Zinner's book is slightly less, well, foofy.

I Hope You Are All Happy Now
is more a photo-journal than an artbook; he's been carting a camera round taking shots of life on the road. It's only a whisper short of being photographs of every head he's had the pleasure to know, but it's worth more than a second look. We'd go as far as to suggest it's a great Christmas gift, rather than something you might buy for yourself.


We presume that the reason for the Beastie Boys announcing their career-spanning Best Of compilation, Solid Gold Hits, to coincide with their twenty-fourth anniversary is because they can flog some albums now, and then have special, silver-themed box sets to sell to the same people all over again next year.

Yes, twenty-four years. Not bad for a band who seemed to be like a one-shot outrage/joke novelty act. Good gawd, does this mean we can expect Goldie Lookin' Chain to still be going in 2028?


It would be wrong to jump to any sort of conclusion about the stories in today's Daily Mirror - just because they're sourced to a "former model" doesn't mean that the person who's been making a few bob off the blabbing is a bitter, shrivelled old failure; the word "former" might not have a hidden "jealous" attached to it, you know. Anyway, her testimony allows the Mirror to return to the Kate-drug-poker table. The Mirror opened with coke, The Sun saw the coke, and raised crack. And now The Mirror sees the crack, and raises:

She snorted line after line of cocaine and ketamine - known as Special K in drugs circles - after a night out at a London club.

So, what does the former model have to say?

"We were at a party at a lovely flat by the Thames. Kate used a credit card to cut up the powder then hoovered hers up first. She was quite greedy. She was like a machine.

"Then she wiped her nose and started jumping around the room like a mad woman. She was going on about Special K, saying how great it was."

How awful that Kate should feel the need to do this in a lovely flat, eh? There's a time and a place for horse tranquillisers.

Elsewhere in the Mirror, Bill Borrows suggests that - while Kate Moss should be given some sort of benefit of the doubt - Pete Doherty should be shot. Well, they shoot up horse tranquilisers, don't they?


Yes, of course it's more than cynical to assume that the nice things Christina Aguilera has been saying about Japan is to try and flatter one of the more lucrative markets - although when she says one night of her wedding celebrations will be Japanese-themed, she might just mean that she expects Gwen Steffani to show up with her pet Japanese girls.

Christina wants her wedding to go on for days - and, frankly, if we knew we'd have to go to bed with her Ben Elton-alike fiancee at the end of it, we'd be trying to spin the thing out ourselves.


Shrewd producers of crappy movies know the best way to get a so-so script attracting top names is to give apple pie types the opportunity to do a project which, they think, will reposition them in the public mind. The people behind Southland Tales have done well with their film-about-porn, attracting Justin Timberlake (okay, that's doing well in terms of names, if not acting skill), Mandy Moore (perhaps they're trying to stay true to the spirit of porn and elevating the shape of the cast above their ability to deliver their lines) and - holding it all together and hoping that people might think she's, you know, edgy...

... Sarah Michelle Gellar.

We don't know how much luck she'll have outplaying this:

Yep, that's the whole Buffy series from Xander falling off his skateboard to Anya being killed in one box.


Who knew that Status Quo would be such good value on Coronation Street? Happy enough to have the piss ripped out them, being protrayed as slightly deluded prima donnas (Rick Parfitt needing a roadie to take him from the corner of the Rovers to the toilets in case of paparazis hiding behind the hot pot was a classic) and borderline obsessive (apparently, Francis Rossi had been scanning the crowds for two decade, seeking the man who pulled him off stage and gave him whiplash in the 80s - Les Battersby, as it turns out).

Highlight of the evening, though, was drummer Matt Letley - as Chesney attempted to prove to a disbelieving Les that the Quo were in the Rovers by getting the band to sign his jacket, Letley leant forward to pick up the pen. "Who are you?" challenged Chesney.

"I'm the drummer" replies Letley, only to be rebuffed with a dismissive snort.

There was no lets-do-a-show-outside-Underworld schtick, and there aren't many bands who feel comfortable enough of their position in the public eye to greenlight a script which sees them driving off in a van while a regular character lies on the pavement, blood pouring from his nose, burbling "I've been beaten up by Status Quo."

Marvellously, stupidly surreal.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Further trouble which can be blamed on Kate Moss, or Pete, if you'd rather: the people drawing up the fresher's week fliers for Garlands nightclub in Liverpool thought it might be amusing to make an arch reference to Moss' troubles, and put a gentle crack onto the leaflet:

"You look like the type of person who would have a ball at Garlands! You must take your documents with you, ie NUS card, money and any narcotics you wish to take on the night!"

Not, perhaps, very funny as jokes go, but then it's a nightclub flier - you wouldn't expect great belly laughs. But there were less than that when the Echo got hold of the ads. They were thinking of the children:

The flyer was handed out to the city's students, many of whom are just 18 and had only been away from home for a few days, during freshers week.

Well, yes. You don't want to be encouraging students to take drugs - the idea wouldn't, say, have been occuring to them naturally about three seconds after their parents had unpacked the last box into their Halls of Residence room. Jesus, we spent a year of our lives living in Lady Mountford House, and we could understand any tennant of that or a similar flatpack uni room rushing into town on the 86 to find anything to take the edge off. Not one of the drugs which makes the walls close in on you, though - the architecture has already done that for you.

The Echo, though, was hot under its collar. It called the police for a comment. The police called upon the licensing committee to investigate:

The chief inspector for the city centre, Jon Roy, said: "I will be asking our dedicated licensing team to investigate and we will seek to prosecute the individuals responsible. We will be taking a robust stance. This is completely contrary to all the work we have been doing in the city centre. It is irresponsible. Students need to be aware that if they are caught with drugs we will arrest them."

We're not sure quite what the robust stance would be - we picture something with shoulders back, legs apart. We're also not entirely sure what crime Roy thinks has been committed here - incitement?

But the Echo had more calls to make. What do the council think? They, too, want the licensing committee to investigate:

Last night, Cllr Richard Marbrow, executive member for community safety, said he would be asking the licensing department to investigate."

For some reason, the Echo didn't bother to call on the licensing department to find out what they think - "we're calling on ourselves to investigate," probably - as they had to talk to someone who knows about drugs. They actually had trouble breathing when they were told:

Diane Bird, chief executive of Liverpool Lighthouse, a support centre for drug users, said: "It is breathtakingly irresponsible and sends out a very dangerous message."

Or, perhaps, it was a bit daft and sends out a silly message that nobody would take seriously. Liverpool Uni students - and, we're fairly certain, most John Moores students - would be able to decode the joke on the flier, rather than thinking "Blimey, I'd better get some crack cocaine before I go there, then."

But, as with Kate, the paper wants an apology. And so manager Paul Connolly shuffles forward to give the paper its money shot:

"Two junior members of staff have admitted printing the leaflets as a prank. These members of staff have been suspended indefinitely. The people concerned thought it would be funny to include the comment as a jibe at the Kate Moss revelations.

"This, of course, is totally unacceptable and both will be dealt with in an appropriate manner. As our customers already know, Garlands operates a zero tolerance policy where drugs are concerned and in no way condones the actions of so-called role models or organisations in the promotion of the use of drugs."

Note at the very end of it, Connolly attempts to shoulder-off the blame from his two "junior" members of staff (interesting to hear that Garlands puts its publicity in one of the key weeks of the year into the hands of junior staff members and doesn't appear to have even a sign-off by a more senior member of the team before the fliers go out) onto Kate Moss...


Unfortunate (for Apple) conjunction of editorial and advertising on The Register website at the moment. "The Ipod Nano has a $100 mark-up and scratches easily" says the text. "Ipod Nano - find out more" tempts the ad...


You think that because you're good and pay for your CDs, the music industry likes you? No, they don't - not if you moan because they've made your disc unusable. Tommi Kyrra, from the Finnish branch of the IFPI, really thinks what the music industry needs is to bring its customers into line:

"Now, we need to understand that listening to music on your computer is an extra privilege. Normally people listen to music on their car or through their home stereos... If you are a Linux or Mac user, you should consider purchasing a regular CD player."

There's two big points here. In reverse order - actually, a Mac CD tray is a regular CD player - it's the discs which have been hobbled with DRM which aren't "regular" (and, quite often, have trouble playing in in-car CD players come to that).

More crucially - if you want to play a CD you've paid fifteen quid (or whatever the equivalent price is in Norway) on your computer, you should bloody well have the right to do it. If you want to hack your toaster so you can play CDs on that, you have the right to. It is, you know, why you pay fifteen quid for a little disc of plastic. If the IFPI really does believe that it's a treat to play our CDs on whatever equipment we choose - and that by screwing with the CDs they sell us so that we can't, because it's a privilege, not a right, you start to see the depth of the structural problem the industry has. Some industries would be really excited that the development of IT has suddenly dropped a whole new segment of market into their laps - now huge swathes of offices have all their workers with their own PCs, who can stick in headphones and listen to music while they work, you'd think the music industry would be rushing to embrace this potential. Think of all the extra CDs you can sell now that people could be spinning discs while they work. But, oh no, the response from senior members of the body who are meant to be helping the industry develop to its fullest treats the very idea of playing a CD in your computer CD player as some sort of kooky misbehaviour that should be bred or beaten out their heads as soon as possible.

Remember: these people are leading the companies who your pension fund could be investing in.


You can almost feel sorry for Dundee police - as they saw Pete Doherty careering around the streets first thing this morning, they must have thought they were about to get an easy tick on their clear-up sheet. But Pete wasn't (noticeably) on crack, smack, cake or hake, but - happily - he was drinking.

It's illegal to be drinking in public in Dundee. Even before breakfast:

A Tayside Police spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that three men were stopped by officers in the Nethergate area of Dundee city centre at around 8.45am.

"They had alcohol taken from them, which was disposed of. They were given a warning and were allowed on their way."

[Doherty's] spokesman said that the singer was probably unaware of Dundee's city centre ban on drinking.

Almost certainly - he seems to be unaware of the British ban on crack, heroin and cocaine, and quite often of his surroundings.

He also seems to be unaware that he's not actually married to Kate Moss:

In an interview with Dundee's Radio Tay, Doherty said: "A lot of people basically are obsessed with the missus and I don't know really ... she's just a bird from South London."

He later added: "I can't get my head round it really."

Well, not if you're drinking Special Brew before your morning shower; you're going to have trouble getting your head around anything.

Meanwhile, Sienna Miller is nudging her way forward to try and take over Moss' Burberry contract - that's going to make any lesbian threesome romps with her frosty the next time; having said that, Mario Testino, who's due to shoot the campaign, is threatening to walk in protest at the treatment of Kate.

Burberry are having crisis talks:

Burberry's designer director, Christopher Bailey, confirmed: "Yes, Mario and I are going to meet next week to discuss the campaign. But I'm afraid I can't tell you any more"

Developing story still, then.


The Friday Guardian food column clearly isn't enough for Alex Kapranos; he now seems to be hoping for the Cyril Fletcher role in a That's Life revival.

Yes, Kapranos has become the first man in a generation to hurl the insult "jobsworth" at a council employee. Specifically, in this case, the council guys who made Franz Ferdinand turn their sound down at their open-air Princes Park gig:

"You have that immense space to play and you have some tosser sitting there with his sound gauge being a total jobsworth."

Promoter Dave Corbet stuck up for the party poopers:

"This kind of thing is normal practice at outdoor concerts and there are all kinds of rules and regulations that you have to meet over sound levels and so on. The band's production manager didn't seem to be aware that this happens and told the band what had happened, but the fact is these rules are always in place at concerts like this.

"He was apparently warned once that there was a breach, but it was no big deal. The council officials are usually pretty good about it and it's not like it used to be, when they were a bit less subtle about this kind of thing."

The council - whose words should be read out by Glynn Worsnip, perhaps wearing a peaked cap with "council" on it - said:

"During pre-event discussions, agreements on noise requirements are essential and are included as a condition of the licence issued by the council.

"We have a duty to protect the amenity of local people and other businesses when licensing events. There has to be some control over noise levels or events like this would not be possible."

We hope all this ends with the Frannies recording a cover of the classic That's Life Jobsworth anthem ("Jobsworth! Jobsworth! It's more than my job's worth/ I don't care/ rain or snow/ whatever you want, the answer's no...") and perhaps even presenting some sort award...


They may have split up and gone their own separate ways, but there'll always be a connection between Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears - not least that, if Now Toronto is to be believed, neither of them should ever be let near the see-through end of a film camera. Timbo, it seems, is every bit as wooden as Brito:

I'm not sure I'd use the word "prestige" for Edison , the laughably bad closing-night gala with a performance by Justin Timberlake that should ensure him a Razzie nomination.

And it all seemed so promising when he played 'fairly cute boy in a tshirt' on Saturday Night Live.


Mary Whitehouse and Norris McWhirter used to be members of a group Moral Re-Armament, who were so afraid of everything that, besides developing a right-wing worldview which would make Pat Buchanan blanch, they would insist that members sleep with their arms outside the bedclothes, so they couldn't inadventently masturbate while they were sleeping. And what made us think of this?

The IFPI, actually. They've just launched some software which you can stick onto your computer to prevent accidental file sharing, in case - in your sleep - you might start to download the new Madonna album.

It's unclear if this is merely a reverse version of those programs which throw off all the spyware stuff you accidently stick onto your PC when you download a filesharing program, designed to remove kazaa and allow those advertising and keystroke grabbers free to do their stuff.

IFPI chairman John Kennedy said the program was an educational tool aimed at "making life easier for people who want to enjoy music responsibly and legally on the internet".

"This initiative comes at a time when downloading music legally has never been easier, with over 350 sites offering over a million tracks," he said.

We're not entirely clear how a piece of software that throw stuff off your machine is "educational" - nor, indeed, why the IFPI is pushing something that's blunt enough to wipe off the very same software that some labels are using to legitmately share music through, via, say, the likes of the Playlouder ISP.

The FAQ guide (which most people won't read, of course) does make some grudging noises that there are legal uses for filesharing programmes. But even there, the wording is a little, well, skewed:

If you want to go a step further, you can use Digital File Check to search and delete individual files from the "shared folders" part of your computer. Keeping any copyrighted material in these folders is likely to be illegal.

Hang about a minute... have we missed something happening in Congress that makes merely possessing a file - regardless of how you came by it - in a folder which could, potentially, be shared to be "likely" to be illegal?


Moby has, to be fair, got a record of being less-than-impressed with the current US President, so the news that he thinks Bush is the worst president in history won't be sending W back to the Jim Beam (although the National Enquirer suggests he's already there.) Still, Moby doesn't mince his words:

"He was a wealthy child, not very bright, and had everything handed to him. When he invaded Iraq he thought it would be as easy as ordering pizza at Domino's.

"As an American I feel like I have to apologise to all Latin American countries that I visit for the exploitation of American foreign politics."

Clearly, Moby has never tried to order pizza from our local Dominoes, where they get confused between the jalapenos and the green peppers, never spell your name right, send it off in the little car when you've told them you'll be collecting, and just look scared when you yell "how dare you use your profits to support rabid anti-aboritionists, eh?" Whereas, of course, the actual invading of Iraq was pretty simple - bomb the fuck out of everything and roll in. It's the stuff that comes after that's proving to be a little more tricky.


Of course, the planning for a wedding takes forever and ever, and right now Pink is in the middle of planning for hers. She thinks she's going to go for a princess bride look, which is a bit unfortunate, as she's getting married to Carey Hart who isn't, really, going to look right as a prince.

Mind you:

"It's a full-time job - and we haven't even decided who will wear the dress yet!"

She's too good to waste on skateboarder, isn't she?


Ian Blair, London's top rozzer, will be delighted this morning that the press seem to be lining up in favour of his intervention in the Kate Moss drug affair. We'd suggest it was like shooting fish in a barrel to go after what the Mirror is calling the Mossy Posse, but what with the Met's recent record for shooting people for carrying table legs and not wearing heavy coats on the tube, that might not be the best visual image.

Apparently, the Met is going to interview everybody they can think of, presumably sitting in an office cutting up back issues of Heat and sticking the photos of known associates up on the whiteboard. The Mirror reckons all of Babyshambles, Sadie Frost, Mick Jones and Davinia Taylor will be sitting in a windowless room while someone bangs the table and yells "what do you know?"

Again, we have to ask: how much is this costing Londoners? And with such a wonderful distraction, does this mean the terrorist alert is over?

Last night's Question Time (now sporting surprisingly retro 80s graphics) spent some time worrying over cocaine and if Kate should be punished, what with her being a "role model" and all. Nobody pointed out that Moss hadn't actually been advocating taking drugs, and indeed had gone out of her way to stop these young folks what look up to her knowing (or at least, really knowing) that she takes drugs, although Bonnie Greer did mention that Moss has hardly ever stood up to condemn drug-taking or sought public office to tell others how to live.

The oddest moment came when Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail sketch writer, issued advice to Kate that she should drop Pete Doherty. When primetime BBC1 is being used by a parliamentary journalists to offer relationship guidance to a supermodel is the point where we wonder if the whole thing - out of control for over a week - is actually going to drag the nation to a point of madness.

Meanwhile, Pete Doherty's role as public enemy uber alles has been ratcheted up in today's Sun, which attempts to paint him as borderline paedophile. The paper reports that Doherty was at the centre of a search for a missing 16 year-old girl.

Pals said Doherty had fondled the teenager against a wall after the show on Tuesday.

She jumped in a car with the Babyshambles entourage and they then headed off to the Scottish leg of the band’s tour, it was claimed.

Her mum Gillian was told by Natasha’s friends she was on the road with Doherty, 26, and she called police.

Blimey. Except the girl was at her aunt's in Strathclyde. But that gets buried quite a way down in the story, as it kind of spoils the effect.


After announcing that Garbage were going into a Walt Disney style deep-freeze on Wednesday, Shirley Manson rushed round on Thursday trying to take it all back:

"We have discussed this and I don't think anybody is interested in breaking up," she told Australia's National Nine News. "We feel that this has been a really great tour and we feel that we have really muscled through and produced a great record, and we just want to take some time off while things are really good between us."

Yes, while you're getting on is the perfect time to put things on hold. Like that phrase... oh, what is it? "Quitting while you're ahead."


Just enough gay to get the coverage without scaring off the core demographics: Ashley Judd has had a twenty-year crush on KD Lang, and once sent her a necklace made out of clover. We guess the plant rather than the butter substitute, as the last thing D would want is to get a necklace that would leave her dripping a gooey mess everywhere.


Buju Banton has been formally charged with assault following his alleged involvement with an attack on six men in a house in Kingston. According to reports, several men burst in and beat the people inside, yelling homophobic taunts. Banton denies the charges.


And while we're on the subject of those crazy, crazy 3am Girls, you have to wonder what their knowledge base actually is. Take this bit on Franz Ferdinand this morning:

FRANZ Ferdinand are one of the coolest indie bands around and the Scots foursome certainly have some obscure tastes in music.

Well, they do - reviving The Fire Engine's career isn't the most obvious thing to do, and you can hear jackdaw pieces of all sorts of things in their music. So, what's prompted Jessica, Eva and Bruce to "reveal" this?

They've asked not-notably-trendy Radio 4 for permission to use the Sailing By theme from the 00:48 shipping forecast on their upcoming tour.

Sailing By "obscure"? It's one of the most famous pieces of music in the nation, surely? And if Radio 4 isn't "notably trendy" how come one of its programmes is being tipped to provide the toy of the year this Christmas?


Actually, although the Mirror's 3am girls think that it must have been "humiliating" for Kanye West to be turned away from Chinawhites because the doorguy didn't recognise him - but surely that sort of thing is more humiliating for the bouncer, whose job is to spot the voguish and known and allow them to enter, thus winning the so-last-year club glowing press coverage? Apparently he let Makosi (off Big Brother) straight in, too. Yes, it shows Chinawhite doesn't know its stars from its irritants, but "you can rub shoulders with someone off a gameshow rather than the hottest star in rap" is humilating for them, not him.

Talking of humiliation... this is the photo the Mirror are using:

It's captioned PALS: Kanye and 3am's Eva and Jessica. Pals? If they're such good pals, why are they crowing over their buddy not getting into a nightclub? And if they're such good pals, how come the photo looks exactly like the sort that a teeanger from Tring might get his mate to snap if he bumped into someone famous in Tescos?

Thursday, September 22, 2005


With things looking increasingly grim for Kate Moss, she's decided the best way forward is to pull a televangelist play and thrown herself on the public's mercy. Step one: an apology:

"I take full responsibility for my actions," she said in a statement.

"I also accept that there are various personal issues that I need to address and have started taking the difficult, yet necessary, steps to resolve them.

"I want to apologise to all of the people I have let down because of my behaviour which has reflected badly on my family, friends, co-workers, business associates and others."

She said she was trying to "stay positive" with the "invaluable support and love I have received".

A wonderfully waffly and flabby piece of nothing - we wish she'd actually decided to come out fighting, but we guess the millions of quid disappearing from her grasp were too frightening to allow anything more than the donning of the sackcloth. We wonder which of her "friends" she feels she's reflected badly on - the braying Babyshambles crew hurrying her up chopping out lines? And co-workers? What sort of supermodel has co-workers? (Apart from Janice Dickninson, of course, although we think they're more properly termed care workers.) And no mention at all of Pete Doherty - but then we'd imagine part of the strategy involves trying to keep a distance.

So: rehab Monday; Parkinson mid-November?


Some unfinished business from the Michael Jackson sideshow: Jeffrey Borer and Arvel Reeves have been indicted on conspiracy, witness tampering and intercepting communications charges. The indictment suggests the pair used two cameras and a microphone to tape "a professional entertainer and his attorney" as they flew to Santa Barbara in November 2003: in other words, Jackson as he went to hand himself in.

According to the indictment, Reeves purchased the video and audio equipment from three electronics stores in San Bernardino County and, with another suspect, secretly installed the equipment in a concealed part of the airplane's cabin. The indictment did not identify the other suspect, listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The microphones were allegedly installed between passenger seat cushions.

Borer instructed Reeves to obtain and install the equipment and later contacted news companies and offered to sell the recordings, the indictment said.

In April 2004, according to the indictment, Reeves told a suspect to lie to FBI agents by saying that the video equipment was installed in an attempt to catch someone who had been stealing alcohol from the aircraft.

It's not yet been revealed if they had a fall-back position - perhaps plans to attach a small camera to a bird to film through the plane window? Should Jackson be on the lookout for birds getting too friendly?

Meanwhile, Jackson's pledge to have his song ready to go to help Katrina victims within twenty-four hours seems to have been a deadline which has passed; indeed, with Rita getting ready to blow through Texas, it might be more timely to adapt the song to help the next bunch of victims.


The split of Blink 182 meant, we'd hope, that the world of drudge-punk would become a less scatalogically-obsessed place. Not to be, unfortunately, as Tom DeLonge has returned with Angels and Airwaves and... well, a crying need for a decent daiper:

“I didn’t want Blink to go on hiatus, but it had to. You all will learn why very soon, but I swear to God, I am two songs from finishing the best fucking album anybody has heard in 20 years. It is so much more powerful, emotional and melodic than Box Car Race and Blink 182 put together, that I am currently shitting my pants and your pants as well. I love my fans and I promise I will not let you down.”

Don't worry about letting us down, mate, just promise you'll pop on some clean pants.


Apparently, the team who produce the Final Score sequence for Grandstand are big Fall fans, which explains why they've invited Mark E Smith to read the results on Saturday 17th November. However, they clearly aren't that big a fan of the Fall, otherwise... well, they'd have seen Mark live, or on Newsnight, or read one of his "I know you and Swells are giving it to each other-uh!" NME interviews, and might have decided it would be better to give him something with less potential to be thrown off course if he turned up, shall we say, pre-enjoyed.

My Grandmother, I'm told, used to weep with frustration during the period when Wilfred Pickles read the football results on Sports Report - "can't he just do the scores without all the messing about?", she'd cry, as her hopes of getting eight from eleven had to take second place to his bits of business. If she wasn't dead these last three decades, she'd be spinning in her grave waiting for Smith to work his way through to the "telephone claims required" finishing line.


Yes, it's true - Take That are getting back together, although not to do anything useful like making music that Robbie Williams only plays a gurning podium-dancer's role in. And they're probably not even going to be in the same room at the same time. But the band - whose main gift to the nation's culture was being the first band split ever to lead the Samaritans to issue a press release - are all going to appear in a special ITV documentary timed to promote the pre-Christmas retrospective CD-DVD release.

Let's hope the researchers got it right and didn't book a random Harold Donald or anything.


Yes, that Lemar, the one off Fame Academy. We're gently surprised too, but then the keynote of this year's prizes seems to be a very, very conservative approach to dishing out the prizes. The winners in full:

Best Album - Lemar / Time To Grow
Best Hip Hop Act - Sway
Best R&B - John Legend
Best Single - Lethal B / Pow
Best UK Newcomer - Kano
UK Act - Lemar
Best Reggae - Damien Marley
Best African Act - Youssou N'Dour
Best jazz - Rhian Benson
Best "world music" Act - Daddy Yankee
Best Video - Snoop Dogg - Drop It Like It's Hot

Well, at least Joss Stone didn't win anything...


There hasn't been a festival at Spike Island since, well, The Stone Roses did their thing there. But Halton Borough Council are nothing if not go-ahead, and so they're proposing a Spike Island 06 festival to fill the gap left by Glastonbury bailing on us next year.

Adam Franklin, director of organisers Surprisingly Good Events, said: "We felt there was a gap in the market with there being no Glastonbury this year and Spike Island is a great location to have a festival for its natural defences and obviously, for its history."

We know that Reading and Leeds turned into something of a battleground this year, but choosing a festival site because of its "natural defences" - are they expecting Viking raids?

Adam said: "Nothing is finalised yet but the acts we're hoping to attract are as big as it gets. We're talking to acts that have had number one singles and albums."

Which sounds impressive - although you have to balance that against this pledge:

Organisers promise tickets would cost under £20 and concession stands would have to conform with strict price brackets to ensure the festival remained an affordable family day out.

That's a wonderful promise, but they might find it difficult to programme three days worth of "number one acts" on the budget they'd give themselves. ThisisCheshire have done the maths, and come to a conclusion:

Could Mel C be in the line up to play Spike Island?


Before you run away with a newfound respect for Britney Spears and the lengths she's going to keep her baby away from the snapping face of the paparazzi - hiring lookalike decoys (that'll keep Christina busy, then) and as many security as she usually uses on tour - it's not for the good of the baby.

Oh, no - Britney's just trying to preserve the value of the official photos of the bairn. Apparently, the US version of OK! is rumoured to have offered two million bucks for photos, but of course, if we already know what the kid looks like, that's going to be cut dramatically.

Having said which, we do know what the baby looks like - all babies look like Winston Churchill, although we suspect this 'un'll have a slightly more vacant stare.

The good news? Kevin Federline gets half, so he might be less keen on bothering with his rap career.
[None of this would be here without I Don't Like You In That Way]


On the basis that my enemy's enemy is my friend, Shirley Bassey should be expecting an invitation to the White House any day now, as she lays into Kanye West for "forgetting" to clear samples of Diamonds Are Forever for his Diamonds From Sierra Leone single. We've re-edited this quote from the Daily Mail to make it sound more authentic (by authentic, of course, we mean 'easier to read in a Matt Lucas doing his Shirley Bassey impression voice'):

"He didn't ask my permission to have me singing on his song, darling. Darling, I didn't even know it existed until I heard him performing at the Live 8 concert. I didn't even hear, darling, from his record company, which wasn't very nice, was it, darling? One way or another, he is going to have to pay me a lot of money."

It's unclear if Shirely would be willing to accept payment in diamonds, but we bet she would.


Presumably a working definition of "an ill wind that blows no good...", as Journey, Coldplay and Oasis cancel their shows planned for Houston this weekend. In the face of Hurricane Rita, of course; not because someone's just come to their senses.


Just in: Kate Moss' lawyer Gerrard Tyrell has issued a specific denial about the Sun's crack use claims. Again, what isn't being said here is what's most revealing.

The Met, meanwhile has also put out a statement:

Police have said they could not confirm they are to look into the latest claims but that an inquiry would consider all the "relevant aspects".

A spokeswoman said: "We cannot discuss any individual in any case. It would be inappropriate for us to comment."

Which is, of course, as it should be - it would be an enormous breach of process for the police to issue specific statements about people it is currently investigating, but has not yet charged.

Which makes this more odd still:

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, also got involved yesterday, saying he has been personally involved in the decision to investigate her possible drug abuse.

So, it's inappropriate to comment, unless you've got a knighthood, then.


Coming next month: Be Your Own Pet touring the UK, much of it as support to the Kills:

Birmingham Barfly (October 14)
Cardiff Barfly (15)
London Barfly (16)

then with the Kills:
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (19)
London Forum (20)
Newcastle Academy 2 (22)
Glasgow Oran Mor (23)
Aberdeen Lemon Tree (24)
Liverpool Academy - the university, not the old Lomax (26)
Manchester Academy 2 (27)
Stoke Sugarmill (28)
Sheffield Leadmill (29)
Oxford Zodiac (31)


The Mirror is starting to lose interest in Kate Moss now, leaving it to the Sun to take up the cudgels with which to beat this EVIL DRUG FIEND. What with it being open season, The Sun goes in for what it feels is the killer blow: SHAMED supermodel Kate Moss is a regular user of deadly CRACK cocaine, The Sun can reveal.

That's the Sun's capitals and bold font. Rimmel had clearly had been starting to panic about its decision to stick by Kate while all the other companies had been dumping her - these funky companies don't mind being bold, but they can't stand being alone - and The Sun's latest mildly-worse allegations have given them the excuse they need to fall into line:

A spokeswoman said: "Rimmel London is shocked and dismayed by the recent press allegations surrounding Kate Moss’s behaviour. We are currently reviewing her contract."

But it doesn't stop there - the fashion industry might grind to a halt if The Sun gets its way as it discover, shockingly, simply everyone is doing cocaine:

Our investigation into drug use at London Fashion Week found the Class-A powder at two out of three shows.

Tests commissioned by The Sun confirmed traces of cocaine in toilets used by top models and designers.

The results come just a week after Kate Moss was exposed as a cocaine user — and explodes the myth that the drug is not widespread in the fashion world.

The myth that cocaine isn't widespread in the fashion industry is one of those, like the belief that little men live in the television set, or that babies are delivered by storks, that it's high time someone set out to challenge, don't you think?

The Daily Telegraph - never a paper to hear of a pretty girl in distress without running a picture of her in a bikini - is desperate to know if you feel Kate's treatment is fair. Sara DeWinter is an early responder:

While I believe that any celebrity’s private life should remain just that, by placing herself in the position where her behaviour became public property, Kate should face the consequences. She has quite rightly become an icon for many young people, and is a 'personality' not just a nameless 'face'. This means that young people will be interested in, and possibly admiring of her behaviour. It is right therefore that she should be removed from fronting campaigns aimed at an impressionable sector of society which is currently struggling with these issues.

You can see where Ms DeWinter is coming from on this one, but it hardly seems fair to lambast Kate for publicly using drugs - after all, she was attempting to do it in private; she just hadn't checked that there were no Mirror journalists in the room first. "Thank God someone made public the fact she was using drugs so we can attack her for using drugs in public..."

Pete Doherty is unlikely to be adding his opinions to the Telegraph website, but clearly would be keen to ask for the press to be kinder to Kate; last night Greenock Town Hall gig he picked on photographers as a press-proxy:

The Babyshambles frontman threw a microphone stand at photographers in the front row of the concert held in the town hall and had to be held back by security guards.
After the performance he blamed the media for ruining the career of his former girlfriend, supermodel Kate Moss, who has been dropped by several major fashion labels after pictures were published of her apparently taking cocaine.

He also told the press in Carlisle that he's got some more granular problems with the coverage:

“I’m in the midst of a grand conspiracy. We’ve had a notoriously shambolic tour. This one takes the biscuit.

“That’s the thing about a lot of the tabloid stuff. They keep using the word junkie. It’s just not accurate.”

The current Babyshambles tour is Pete's "first in years I've come on not being a heroin addict" - you'll note, of course, the careful use of the specification of the type of drug he's not addicted to there.

Of course, now Doherty is no longer a smackhead, he won't need to keep to turning to petty theft to feed his habits, will he? Or, maybe not: he seems to have attempted to pinch a pastie and a cup of indifferent tea at Tebay services on the M6:

Tebay storeman SIMON HALL says, "Instead of walking through the till area, he went round to the back of the smoking (dining) area. He walked out and off to the bus without paying. One of our manager called him back. Doherty said he was in all this debt. £300,000 and they should let him off because he's famous."

It was all a terrible misunderstanding, apparently:

"He had some food and didn't have any money on him. That's why someone had to go back to the bus. The meal came to £6.99. The person came back and only have a fiver (£5). They've only just gone on the road. Usually there's someone around to dish out the money.

If we found ourselves in this situation, we'd have said to the person on the till - "I've got to nip to the car, mate, to get a tenner" - rather than attempting to sneak out of the back door and saying... well... odd things:

Hall's co-worker RYAN McKENZIE tells British newspaper the Daily Star that Doherty was bragging about his millionaire model love, saying, "I'm 300 grand in debt. Why do you think I'm going out with Kate Moss?

Let's hope he's not counting on Moss to underwrite his Julie's Pantry bills in the future...


According to 6Music News, Garbage are going to do a Pulp style split - indefinite haitus but with a tiny possibility of a future reunion. Shirley Manson has apparently told Australian journalists they're "taking time out" after the Australian leg of the current tour and "I don't know if we're calling it a day."

We're putting that down as a "so, that's that, then."


Nice to report a big venue opening, especially one which isn't sponsored by a lager company: Revolution in Edinburgh is to reopen, transforming itself from a slightly dodgy nightclub into a live venue called GIG. Okay, it's not the best name, but it's heart is in the right place.


All that bravery about not minding that you don't sell as many as you used to - sooner or later, it gets to you and the mask slips. So Mel C - who normally seems to be the only Spice Girl who'd you'd be happy to leave in charge of a sharp item - has suddenly started fuming that the other Spices have wrecked her career:

"This year there's been the Live 8 cancellation, Victoria Beckham's never out of the press, Melanie B released an album that didn't do much and Geri Halliwell had an unsuccessful release - and that reflects badly. You're guilty by association."

Well, it's one possibility, we suppose.


Poor Jamie Cullum - he isn't a big hit with the ladies. Not that he minds, mind:

The 26-year-old, who is dating a Brazilian lawyer, was initially disappointed not to be bombarded with sexy advances from female fans.

But now he claims he's glad. He says: "I don't have to deal with that attention from women because it doesn't happen. Therefore it's very easy for me and my girlfriend to cope with."

Mind you, if it was us and our boyfriend was never off the bloody television, and he wasn't getting at least the odd pair of pants and a naked photo in the post, we'd be sucking a thoughtful tooth and wondering if, maybe, we'd made a decision without walking the full length of the counter. In a world where even Mike Read gets his own stalker, surely there has to be something especially off-putting about someone who gets no interest?


Yoko Ono will be delighted - having spent the last twenty years single handedly trying to wipe out any lingering credibility that may have attached itself to John Lennon (John Lennon baby blankies, anybody?), she's finally got some serious help. The The FBI have released their report on him in which they conclude he wasn't much of a threat to life, liberty and the American way:

A file on the former Beatle reveals he was closely watched in the US shortly before the Republican National Convention in 1972.

He wanted to extend his travel visa so he could "engage in disruptive activities surrounding RNC", an agent reportedly claimed.

But an informant told the bureau that although Lennon "appears to be radically orientated" he did not give the impression of being a true revolutionist, "since he is constantly under the influence of narcotics".

Added to which, of course, he was never going to endanger his lovely white piano by encouraging the seizure of private property.


Just how successful is John Lydon's estate agent's shop anyway? Not only does he seem desperate to turn a fee for appearing on any old tossy TV show that's offered to him, but now he's refusing to talk unless someone gives him a soccer shirt. Of course, you can't eat a place in history, but it's a shame to see one being pissed away, nevertheless.

Altogether now:

#I am a guest panel-ist
I'm on the celeb b-list
I know what I want
and I know how to get it
will drop pants for food
on ITV
cause I wanna be in


Let's hope Paul Rodgers isn't getting too cosy at the front of Queen, as Brian May appears to be lining up someone to replace him, at least on record. Yes, May has found some tapes of Freddie Mercury, and, like a wartime grandmother, he plans to make something from the unpromising ingredients:

"There are still some things in the vaults with Freddie messing about on vocals which fans won't have heard. There are bits of him tinkering around, which could be used.”

He told the Daily Star: "I expect they will get released at some point because I am sure people will want to hear them".

or, more honestly, "I am sure there are people who will be prepared to pay money for them."


Scientists are alarmed by the discovery of a melting in the permafrost of Paul Weller's heart, for the first time in living memory. His icy wasteland has warmed up to a point where he's started to gingerly play, slightly, in the Jam style again:

"There's so many young bands, in the U.K. at least, where you catch all the references to the Jam," Weller says. "So if anyone's gonna nick a bit, I'm gonna do it! It's a little cheeky reference that puts a smile on my face."

Weller Warming scientists say that it's too early to say if this melting is permanent, but warn unless something is done, the situation could rapidly deteriorate:

"It sounds an almost attractive prospect - cold, damp solo material slowly getting warmer, the odd cover of A Town Called Malice," said one; "However, as the Weller climate becomes more temperate towards back catalogue, there's a real risk that he'll start putting accordians on records again. It really is a serious threat to us all."


Nobody would stand up for DMX using his fist instead of his wits - even although, clearly, his hands are much bigger, but if even someone was cruising towards being pulped by a rapper, it would be Berliner Oliver Osterode. (He comes from Berlin, he's not been recently redesigned. Well, actually, he has, come to think of it):

"I wanted to go to the bathroom and met DMX,” Osterode told German newspaper BZ. “I told him that I think he's cool, but Lil’ Jon is better. Then he freaked out. He slapped me in the face, and then his bodyguards attacked us."

Osterode suffered a swollen eye, bruised ribs and other lacerations, while Schmidt reportedly suffered bruises to his abdomen.

Yes, an over-reaction to the tenfold, but even so: if you've got your penis in your hand and someone comes up to you to tell you that they much prefer someone else... well, you can imagine that going down quite badly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


There's an interesting story in the current Private Eye, of the Mean Fiddler's Melvin Benn selling two FA Cup final tickets to Mendip Council Environmental Officer Chris Malcolmson. Benn, of course, is the name on the Glastonbury Festival licence; Malcolmson is the man who reports to the council on the suitability of the Glasto licence application. The Eye raises it brow that Benn - apparently - sold the tickets for face value when they could have been worth two grand, suggesting this is rather a cosy arrangement. But the paper must have its story wrong - after all, doesn't Glastonbury look askance on people reselling its tickets - at face value or not - insisting that anyone who cannot attend return the tickets to them? In fact, in May this year, Benn was quoted in the Independent on Sunday bemoaning his inability to bring criminal proceedings against people who sold on Glastonbury tickets: " I have no ability to take action against touts. It [touting] is rank profiteering and hugely disappointing that it is not against the law." Hugely unlikely, then, that Benn would be pimping someone else's tickets, face value or not, to a third party.

There is, of course, one sort of ticket which is illegal to sell in the UK: tickets for football matches, a law brought in as an anti-hooliganism measure, and a model for the sort Benn would like to have at his disposal for music touts. We're sure he'd be first to turn in anyone selling FA Cup tickets to his local police station.

Conor McNicholas this week picked up his pen and his Basildon Bond to send a letter to the MediaGuardian to explain part of the rationale behind this season's revamp of the NME: the idea is to try and build writers to rival those names that make old guys go weak at the tearducts by giving more prominence to the current crop of writers - so everybody gets a photo-byline now, not just in the week when it;s buggins turn to edit Angst; and the font showing who reviewed what has been boosted a couple of point sizes and emboldened. Having said that, though, the new look seems to be bigger on pictures rather than words.

This reworking finally slews off anything that remains of the NME of the 80s - every redesign of the last five years (and there have been quite a few) has left behind some taste of the paper during the Danny Kelly era, but this week, the only real thing that links to the classic design is that logo. Having said which, a more useful role for the paper's heritage has been found in the shape of a "tales from the NME archive" - this week, it's the Stone Roses at Spike Island, which is an oven that has been revisited many times before, and it'll be interesting to see what they start selecting once the obvious choices have run out - it could just be a boring older brother chanting "Pistols at the 100 club/Oasis at Knebworth"; but there's potential for it to be more like an interesting uncle. We'd like to see a re-run of Steven Wells going to Sellafield, but we suspect that's unlikely to happen.

Flicking through the magazine, we were convinced that the pages were bigger than they had been before - even getting down to measuring them against last week's issue; it took a while before it hit us what we were experiencing: the new NME bears a more than uncanny resemblance to the glossy Melody Maker, and being tabloid rather than A4, that was why it seemed larger. (Actually, the album reviews also have something of the Observer Music Magazine about them.)

Having made a decision to go with pictures, at least the magazine has the images to back it up with inside - The Big Picture has become Shots, with a slew of this-week photos; the main image appears to be of Kanye West showing Franz Ferdinand how to make their hands into a vagina shape (apparently this is "throwing a diamond", or making the logo of Roc-a-fella; we suspect you probably knew that). In fact, with so many great photos inside, it's curious that the cover of this year zero issue is a bit poor - the Killers all looking a bit ropey. Brandon looks less like his charming self than a really low-rent Brian Molko lookalike; surely there must have been a better picture? Mercifully, the bulk of page one is taken up with a CD; the sort of CD which the paper has a reputation for effortlessly compiling (Arctic Monkeys, BRMC, Boy Kill Boy, Arcade Fire, and a taping of that Reading Rakes/Bloc Party/Maximo Park/erm, Towers of London supergroup).

Peter Robinson is still there, taking on Rick Parfitt. Parfitt doesn't like Pete Doherty - "he's something beginning with 'P'" he growls. But... erm... Mr. Parfitt, aren't you something beginning with P, too?

Radar has been beefed up considerably: two bands (Five O'Clock Heroes and panda-eyed sweetthrobs Louis XIV); demo reviews (The Puzzle's Let The Sun Shine "has a harmonica"; a column about new music in "your town" (assuming you live in the town featured, which is Brighton this week, which means The Pipettes); something called The Buzz, which we're keeping an open mind on for now, and extra space for live reviews of new bands which used to get poked in the corner of the main review pages (My Latest Novel at the Camden Barfly - "Arcade Fire without the fire"). This is actually one of the most positive things we've seen come out of the NME in ages, and it throws into relief how poor the coverage of new stuff had become. It might free the paper from the diminishing number of keynote bands it was having to rotate over the weeks by building up a few more groups. To knock 'em down, of course.

There's an interview with Noodle from Gorillaz, which is only slightly ruined by the fact that, as a person, she's a two-dimensional cartoon, and as a character, has a couple less dimensions than that. The questions are pretty sharp, though: "You're Japanese, called Noodle and you're into martial arts. Do you, perhaps have a French friend called Fromage who likes eating snails?"

various artists - help: a day in the life - "succeeds where Live8 failed", 10
the dead 60s - the dead 60s/space invader dub - "they never lose focus", 7
ladytron - witching hour - "rather makes one want to have sex", 7

totw - arctic monkeys - i bet you look good on the dancefloor - "pure, seething TEENERGY"
death cab for cutie - soul meets body - "like something from David Bowie's Labyrinth soundtrack"
ms dynamite - judgement day - "actually reallty great"

coldplay - madison square garden - "looking at all these placid faces, is it really such a bad thing?"
mystery jets - london ICA - "defeaning enough to rattle the Palace crockery"

There's a new feature at the back, The Recommender, where a pop star gets their PA to pull together a list of cool stuff - Paul Smith, from Maximo Park, namechecks Life Without Buildings (who were actually bloody good - although we suspect their golden moment, The Lean-To, isn't going to be available on iTunes).

In a rather astonishing coup for the advertising sales department, they've managed to persuade Virgin Digital Downloads to sponsor the tracks pages, while HMV Digital Downloads has sponsored the free CD. There's probably a message about the plurality of voices or something there.

The small ads are back - although it's not 'send a letter to box number x' style any more, it's phone dating type stuff; oddly, none of the people searching for their soul mates through the music paper mention a single band they might like. Perhaps they're all Andrew WK fans?

So, all in all, then, it's not the most radical redesign of a music paper, and the changes seem to be more about a growing confidence about what the NME is doing and - and this has been lacking for a while - a firmer sense of what it stands for. We're sorry to see the ending of the two letters from America, but delighted Queens of Noize have been sent elsewhere. We'll give it a couple of weeks to see which of the changes take, but at least we're not looking forward to next week with a sense of dread.


Good news for Samantha Mumba: she had been in danger of losing her driving licence, but today had the charges against her struck out when she belatedly provided evidence that she had a licence and insurance. And paid the outstanding tax on her car.

The judge was happy to strike out the charges as she'd proved that she was insured, but still insisted she didn't believe that Mumba was ever a pop star.


It's all fun and games until somebody loses a Burberry contract: Morrissey isn't finding the Doherty drugs story amusing:

"I'm not sure he can cope. There's a desperation to him. I sense he's on thin ice.

"It's all very giggle-worthy for NME to report two hours after a gig that he's in a crack house in Glasgow but I don't find that amusing."

Meanwhile, Chanel and Burberry have decided they're not amused by it, either, and decided to end their connections with Kate Moss. Burberry, of course, will be especially worried about the effect on their business of being associated with someone taking cocaine - coke's image as the "champagne drug" will really play badly amongst the Elizabeth Duke set who choose to wrap themselves in their company's products, which has the look and feel of the sort of sticky-backed plastic we used to use on worksurfaces in the 70s.

SOULOBIT: Willie Hutch

The death has been announced of Willie Hutch, Motown singer-songwriter.

Born in LA and raised in Sallas, Hutch cut his first single in the early sixties; he released an album in 1964 but never really seized the public imagination as a singer. His big break came in 1970 when Hal Davis, impressed with his work writing and producing for other bands, called him to deliver some words in a hurry for a tune he'd come up with. Hutch turned around a lyric overnight, and the next day at 8 am the Jackson 5 took the song, I'll Be There, into the studio. Berry Gordy was so impressed with this - and his arrangements for Never Can Say Goodbye - that he gave him a permanent role at Motown.

His reputation secured, Hutch went on to work with all the big names on the label, producing Smokey Robinson's first solo album. Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and The Fifth Dimension all recorded his songs; he also scored the soundtrack for Pam Grier's Foxy Brown movie.

Although his production work overshadowed his singing career, Hutch did amass a number of albums of his own over the year, releasing two in the nineties.