Saturday, December 23, 2006

Trying to recapture Virginity

If you were in a band "best known for a Kenny Everett jingle", you might conclude there's not much to comeback for. But that's not going to stop Iron Virgin, reuniting some thirty-two years after calling it a day.

Apparently, there's public demand:

Lead singer Stuart Harper, 57, who is now a designer and artist for a tie company in Portobello, said he was "amazed" by the surge of interest in the band.

He said: "I'm quite shocked at the fact that our song is on glam rock compilations and there's an interest in us now. When we were playing, things just didn't work out for one reason or another, so to get some recognition 30 years on is quite something.

"I've looked back at some of the old photos and can't believe how flamboyant we were. I was probably wearing more make-up then than my daughter wears now.

"Thankfully I don't have that 'No Entry' codpiece any more."

Presumably one with two planks nailed across and Keep Out painted on would be rather more apt.

Are there no bands which just stay broken up any more?

My eyes... my beautiful eyes

What could possibly be worse than a picture of Pete Doherty naked? How about Pete Doherty, nude, cuddling with Shane McGowan.

Shane McGowan also bollock-naked.

Thanks, Mario Testino. Shane tells what happened, but... well, it's not really an answer to 'why':

“I had my photograph taken with Mr Doherty recently. It was by MARIO TESTINO.

“Nothing particularly unusual, except he asked us to be naked together, which was pretty unexpected. What’s more unexpected is that we obliged.”

Let's hope that Testino at least had the kindness to not ask McGowan to smile. The teeth as well might have been too much for one photo.

GMex? That won't do nicely, any more

It's never been the most comfortable of names for a venue, the GMex, but at least it made sense: The Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre. Now, though, they've decided it's time for a change, retitling themselves the Manchester Central Convention Complex.

Snappy, huh?

To ring out the old name, Morrissey is swinging into action. He played as part of the first musical event there, back when he was in the Smiths. Now, he's in the middle of a two-night residency which will be the last gigs under the GMex banner.

Morrissey, of course, is the first choice for a cheery send-off.

Arise, Sir Bono of Rotterdam

There can't be many people who still think that Bono is an outsider, speaking truth to power - after all, his little photo-op for Bush during the midterms was a clear indication of what the tax-sheltering, Wall Street property millionaire saw as his duty. But if you still need convincing that Bono is windowdressing for the status quo rather than a challenge to authority, he's happily accpeting an honorary knighthood from Tony Blair:

We understand that Bono is 'very flattered' to be honoured, particularly if the honour - like its French counterpart - opens doors for his long standing campaigning work against extreme poverty in Africa.

Aah! You see: it's nothing to do with Bono's love of shaking hands with heads of state and smiling modestly as lists of his many achievements are read out in public. It's not because it'll look good on the headed notepaper of his venture capital company. It's not even the thought of the rinky-dinky medal. It's just to help with all his campaigning work.

We're a little curious, though: could Bono elaborate on the doors which are currently closed to one of the world's most famous and tireless self-promoters which would suddenly be opened by a knighthood? Are there, perhaps, drug companies which give an extra ten percent discount on presentation of the medal?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gennaro Castaldo watch: His most wonderful time of the year

If there's a point where Gennaro Castaldo really comes into his own, it's the annual race for the Christmas Number One. It's likely that, were he to be on Mastermind, this would be his specialist subject.

Of course, with that one off the X-Factor running away with it this year, there's not much room for analysis. For Gennaro, it must be like being called in as a pundit prior to a match between Manchester United and Rushden and Diamonds:

"It is absolutely no contest," said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"If sales reach 750,000 that would make it the second biggest single of the year after Gnarls Barclay's 'Crazy'," he told Reuters.

"It is already the fastest ever music download in Britain. She sold 100,000 in the first two days," he said. "She [Leona] is outselling everyone else by a margin of about 10-1."

"The market in singles is ebbing away. But after the X-Factor, mums and parents go out to buy the winner. At 3.99 (pounds) it's a no-brainer as a stocking filler," he added.

Actually, we're a little confused as to how, if the market in singles is ebbing away, this isn't the best selling single of the year, especially since Crazy was a proper single by a proper group and not a TV-spin off.

Sadly, Gennaro wasn't given room to discuss the story slightly closer to his office, HMV's bleak Christmas. It seems that not even Gennaro's tireless appearance in any and every article about Take That has managed to persuade people to enter their increasingly tatty and poorly laid-out stores:

The music and bookshop owner said it expected the high street environment to remain difficult for the rest of the year as it reported group like-for-like sales fell 1.3 per cent during the 12 weeks to December 16.

Chief executive Simon Fox said: "We recognise we face very tough and rapidly changing markets and have to work hard to offset this."

Which will probably mean they'll hide the music CDs even more next year.

Oh, good, another singing actor - just what the world needs

Of course, it might turn out that Halle Berry has a wonderful singing voice and the album she's preparing is not merely a vanity project.

But the question, of course, is if you're such a great singer, why are you making your money acting?

"I've always loved to sing and my album will show people that I can do more than act."

Yes, it'll show people you can persuade record companies to take still take a punt on actors who wish they were something else, despite the words "Keanu Reeves" acting as a great warning to all who dare.

Has the festive fruit punch gone to his headline?

According to Victoria Newton in this morning's Sun, Tom Meighan has been going round telling people that Kasabian are going to "headline Glastonbury" next year.

Victoria trills that she "can't wait", although prehaps she should have waited a little to check the news - because either Tom is confusing the second and main stages, or else Glastonbury has really, really lowered its standards for the coming season.

Pour myself a cup of ambition

It's probably for the best that Jessica Simpson has asked for her "contribution" to the Kennedy Centre tribute to Dolly Parton to be wiped.

After all, how, exactly, does someone pay tribute to a genuine legend by getting some flittering half-life to do one of her songs? "Hey, Dolly, we love you so much we're going to make you sit through the ritual humiliation of one of your tunes." It's a bit like throwing a tribute to a great chef by hiring McDonalds and telling Ronald to ensure it's cheeseburgers all round.

Adding insult to the original hospitalisation of an idea, Jessica Simpson was attempting to sing Nine To Five. Jessica Simpson singing a song about day-to-day wage-slavery. No wonder she couldn't get the words right - it must have been like singing in Polish for her.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2006Music: We could have just done this post and slept all year

It's been a bit of a threadbare year, all round. You only have to look at how people have been trying to convince themselves the Arctic Monkeys (off the internet) are heart-stoppingly exciting rather than the sort of band you wouldn't mind seeing as support sometime to get the sense of a year in which the pickings have been fairly thin.

Not, admittedly, as thin as the dire attempts to try and create some interest by barking up a "war on emo", mind. We're pacifists here, but even we can't find it in ourselves to protest against a supposed war on middle-class American boys who are a bit shit at putting on eyeliner. Especially when the "war" boils down to little more than Kasabian having a pop. Kasabian against My Chemical Romance. It's like being made to read a match report from a Conference match that isn't even on the pools coupons, isn't it?

With indie filling up the doldrums, the doldrums are going to have to find space to build a holding area for the grey sludge of PR-created singerish-songwriterish who are showing the supposed democratization of MySpace up for what it is: Keith Allen's daughter and Sandi Thom comparing Ugg boots over the face of humanity, forever.

Mind you, it's not fair to blame it all on Rupert Murdoch's MySpace. The axing of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops have created a world where even if we did get a decent pop star, we wouldn't know what to do with them. And who would want to be a popstar, anyway, when it's becoming clear the lack of a proper pension scheme promises nothing more than an old age devoid of dignity?

Boy George had a taste of cold, hard reality as he got stuck into cleaning streets as a return for wasting police time back when he got confused about all the cocaine in his flat; then, he had to watch as Culture Club hired Sam Butcher to take his place in the reunited band. Having decided they couldn't take to the road with the street-sweeper, they instead chose some sort of binman version of the real thing.

Still, at least the other 80s George managed to keep out of court, although his habit of being so "tired" he has to stop his car wherever he is. Even in a busy intersection. There's no actual law against cottaging, but George's trip to Hampstead Heath could still see him heading to his solicitors - he's threatened to sue photographers who invaded his cruising privacy.

Taking a slightly less cold version of reality, Steve Strange cut hair to get himself into the Guinness Book of Records on Celebrity Scissorhands, while Jason Donovan claimed he'd allowed himself to be humiliated in the jungle to allow his kids to see a different side of their Dad. When that side is a man prepared to risk eating kangaroo bollocks in order to promote a comeback tour, you wonder if the kids might not be better off living unaware of those depths.

The winner, though, when it came to 80s popstars on reality TV was Pete Burns who - despite having a face like a badly-inflated beachball and arriving in a police-time-wasting "monkey" coat - triumphed on Celebrity Big Brother. No, he didn't win it, of course - Chantelle did, taking Ordinary Boys singer Preston as her prize. Preston was elevated to Ok! Magazine status, and his band promptly relegated from third-generation semi-serious mods to plodding background workhorses for Christmas market balladry which would shame the Andre-Jordan massive.

Burns might not have won, but he left with his star reascending and his dignity more-or-less intact. The star continues to ascend; a run of substandard digital TV programmes and a spell in the big house suggests the dignity burnt up on re-entry.

Pete Burns, of course, hasn't been the only pop star to have legal woes this year. The Bulgarian Madona has been
fighting for her very (made-up) name; Procul Harum took a disagreement about royalties to the bench;

Snoop Dogg's 21 inch baton caused a minor airport hullabaloo, although nothing to compare with his Heathrow ruck. Spike Lee has had more than enough of Snoop's sexism and general bad behaviour - but now that Tony Blair feels comfortable balancing his "respect" agenda with overlooking Snoop's caution under section 4 of the Public Order Act in order to share canapes with him.

But then it can be hard to throw off the allure of rubbing shoulders with the stars for politicians, can't it? Did George Bush feel upset when U2 and Green Day recorded a Katrina benefit single and made a video with a very slight suggestion that the US could have done more? Or would the sting have been soothed somewhat when - as Rolling Stone pointed out - Bono popped down for a photo-op with the President while he was campaigning during the mid-terms in the seat formerly held by Mark Foley, the page-flirting former Republican congressman?

It's been a crazy year for Bono, of course: he discovered he was Dutch, happily allowing U2 to avoid paying taxes at the higher Irish rate. "Who wouldn't want to pay less taxes?" asked The Edge, apparently without thinking through what it would mean for the One campaign's call for governments to direct 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid. Not easy if people avoid their taxes, surely? But then Bono seems happier suggesting that we can all just spend our way out of poverty, hilariously launching the Red campaign which wants people to use a credit card to buy stuff to 'help' Africa. The idea really does seem to be that we should remove the problem of third world debt by taking on a small portion of it as our personal debt instead. Of course it doesn't make much sense, but then he's been busy trying to force an unwanted tower on the people of Dublin to help channel more cash out of the Irish economy towards the Dutch one, and he's had the strain of that court case about his trousers to worry about. It's too much for one man, dammit.

Another man keeping busy was Pete Doherty: in between popping in and out of court, Doherty has managed to fight a photographer, kick a reporter and, apparently, stick a syringe into a comatose girl in the interests of art. Back in April, Pete's cousin was left comatose in the street outside a building in Aberdeen; this month, Pete absented himself from the scene as a man lay in the street. This time the ambulances didn't make it in time.

At least his mother has managed to spin quite a lucrative book out of the turmoil, so it's not all bad.

More families sticking together, as Madonna headed off to Malawi to adopt an orphan and came back with one whose father was, inconveniently, still alive. The obvious solution was to nip onto the television and tell the world that, when David's father said he went to visit, that simply wasn't true. She also claimed that she'd broken no adoption laws, as there were no adoption laws, before also insisting that she'd complied with the non-existent laws completely. Still, at least Maddy's trip to Moscow date went off relatively
quietly, after the venue was shifted on the bemusing grounds that the original site ran the risk of tempting students to fall out of windows.

Still, at least the baby accessorising saved us from her earlier attempts to remind us she existed: Back in March, she was reduced to trying to remind us about that time she kissed Britney.

Not that kissing Britney is that difficult. Paris is getting a go. She'll take all-comers. Except Kevin Federline, obviously.

That oddest sensation, sympathy for Heather Mills, ran through our veins as The Sun launched an attack on the woman it desperately wanted all of us to call Lady Mucca (the lame-ass nickname was so misjudged even Paul McCartney would blanch at using it.) The paper spent several days showing pictures of Heather from a sex book, frothing about how disgusting it all was, while making the pictures available online so that its readers could be disgusted in private at a time of their choosing. The paper never quite explained why it was bad for Heather Mills to appear in sexy photos, when a lot of News International business plan relies on the appetite of British public for buying pictures of young women in sexy photos.

The sympathy, though, can only run so far, and as McCartney and Mills-McCartney have continued their public war of attrition, you find yourself hoping the judge will give them a divorce and pass custody of the money to a foster family.

David Cameron's attempts to reinvent the Tory party as something other than a bunch of in-fighting toffs started to come apart when he launched a bemusing attack on Radio One for encouraging knife crime by playing hip-hop. Lethal Bizzle wrote to him to suggest he might look like a white, upper middle class member of the ruling classes by making a sweeping generalisation about music coincidently enjoyed by young black men; Cameron didn't reply but instead damned Bizzle in the Mail on Sunday on the basis of, erm, someone else's lyrics.

Cameron better watch his back: Dickon Edwards of Fosca stood for the Greens in a council election this year; surely Number Ten deserves its first reformed Romo PM? Come to that, does Jessica Simpson's departure from music hint at freeing up time for a run at the White House in 2008?

Robbie Williams was as successfully not gay this year as he's been every year of his life, although his inability to let go of the past got him into trouble when he wrote a song slagging off Nigel Martin-Smith. Victoria Newton gleefully printed the lyrics in her Bizarre column, and then not quite so gleefullly ran an apology. Newton had also claimed that Williams was going to turn up at the Take That reunion concerts. But he didn't.

Indeed, without a Robbie to ruin what would have been a perfect reunion, the band decided to do it themselves. By sticking around afterwards, doing grown-up ballads. Thank God the public sent All Saints packing and East 17 sent East 17 packing double swift.

Away from all this creative activity, the RIAA (and its client organisations like the IFPI and the BPI) have been quietly pursuing their strange new businesses. The lack of anything approaching investment in music by the record labels suggests they have embarked on a new business model of trying to get money from suing kids, bringing lawsuits and then admitting they don't have evidence, trying to force songwriters to receive less from records and even even persuading Microsoft to pay them a tax on sales of the Zune and a slice of YouTube revenues from Google.

We don't know if the RIAA companies are currently employing more lawyers than musicians, but it seems likely. They could even get them to make the records, as it can't be worse than watching musicians trying to offer legal advice. Mick Hucknall's bid to pass off copyright extension as a "socialist" measure shows where that would lead us.

Perhaps that accounts for the slightly dispirting 2006 - if you want to make it in the music industry in 2006, you're better off studying IP law than trying to learn how to play a guitar.

2006Music: Surf through the year

As a way of wishing you a Merry Christmas, here's our annual round-up of the year on No Rock and Roll Fun:

Our review of the year
Other people's best-of lists
Some of the music we've liked this year
The year in musical obituaries

A week-by-week trail through the year:

01 January 2006
08 January 2006
15 January 2006
22 January 2006
29 January 2006
05 February 2006
12 February 2006
19 February 2006
26 February 2006
05 March 2006
12 March 2006
19 March 2006
26 March 2006
02 April 2006
09 April 2006
16 April 2006
23 April 2006
30 April 2006
07 May 2006
14 May 2006
21 May 2006
28 May 2006
04 June 2006
11 June 2006
18 June 2006
25 June 2006
02 July 2006
09 July 2006
16 July 2006
23 July 2006
30 July 2006
06 August 2006
13 August 2006
20 August 2006
27 August 2006
03 September 2006
10 September 2006
17 September 2006
24 September 2006
01 October 2006
08 October 2006
15 October 2006
22 October 2006
29 October 2006
05 November 2006
12 November 2006
19 November 2006
26 November 2006
03 December 2006
10 December 2006
17 December 2006
24 December 2006 (after it happens, of course)
The year in awards and events:
ITV Greatest Hits
Grammy nomimnations
NME cool list
Children in Need
Radio 1's new late-night line-up
Jackson at the World Music Awards
AMA nominations
MTV European Music Awards
Q awards
Mercury Prize 2006
Reading-Leeds and Creamfields
V Festival
T in the Park
Kerrang awards
BET US awards
Ivor Novello
Robbie Williams first night
Morrissey first night
Madonna first night
Manchester Passion
MTV Australia
NME Awards
Winter Olympics opening ceremony
French NPR
Take That partial reunion in full
For those of you who like charts, these are the twenty-most read individual news pages from No Rock over the last twelve months:
1. Heather Mills McCartney's educational porn shoot returns to haunt her
2. ... and haunt her some more
3. What does KT Tunstall's braces tell us about her sexuality? (Nothing, actually)
4. McFly go to GAY, get naked
5. Rumours of a more recent Heather Mills nude photoshoot
6. RIAA ask for more time to find the evidence it claimed to have against one of its victims
7. Paul Walters, Terry Wogan's producer, dies
8. News of the World predicts its picture of Pete Doherty shooting up will persuade Kate to drop him
9. Britney Spears offers to take off clothes for Hollywood role
10. Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne's 2004 spat
11. Purplemelon seek publicity by asking Heather Mills to flash them
12. Celebrity Big Brother: Preston who and Pete Burns what?
13. Anti-aboritionists unveil statue of Britney giving birth
14. When Heather Mills tried for a soft porn career
15. Vince Welnick - no longer grateful, but actually dead
16. SXSW line-up in full
17. Peel memorial round-up
18. Martin Gilks of the Wonderstuff dies
19. The Levellers turn property tycoons
20. Chris Martin insults a fat woman
The stories we highlight on the top left are pretty randomly chosen - sometimes they're things we're especially interested in, sometimes they're not, and sometimes they remain unchanged for weeks on end while we actually write stuff. But, for the record, these have been the 2006 left hand highlights:
Madonna: Jesus loves me
Arctic Monkeys not on MySpace
Coming soon: K-Fed the movie
Madonna gets shop job
CIA to track MySpace
Pete chooses Portugal not court
JJ72 give it up
Corgan moves in with Love
Geldof unimpressed with G8
Noel gay "in a manner of speaking"
The end of Penny Lane
Rivers: Weezer no more
Tom R defends Bob G
Lance Bass comes out
Murdoch's beach blanket Bono
Arthur Lee dies
Mansun prepare best of
Ashlee Simpson's nose runs
U2 turn Dutch
RIAA to dead: 60 days to pay
Jarvis podcasts
Robbie reckons Louis would
Kevin Shields plans a trip out
Guy turns Madonna off
Sandi Thom collapses
Heather Mills - naked in 2006
Doherty v the middle class
Not that Brian May
Mos Def beats Bush
Be Your Own Pet split
Brix Smith's house
Bunnyman on trial
Arab Strap split
Green Day support Bono
Noel banks cheques, sobs
Lily Allen swears for kids
Preston drug zombies
MTV: give us content, trust
Embrace disengage
Liam ends DPT gig
Embrace tightens
Robbie: No hug for Moyles
Fatboy says no to Dave
Kate kills Babyshambles tour
Kate kills Babyshambles?
Madonna: Jesus loves me
Arctic Monkeys not on MySpace
Coming soon: K-Fed the movie
Madonna gets shop job
CIA to track MySpace
Pete chooses Portugal not court
JJ72 give it up
Corgan moves in with Love
Geldof unimpressed with G8
Noel gay "in a manner of speaking"
The end of Penny Lane
Rivers: Weezer no more
Tom R defends Bob G
Lance Bass comes out
Murdoch's beach blanket Bono
Arthur Lee dies
Mansun prepare best of
Ashlee Simpson's nose runs
U2 turn Dutch
RIAA to dead: 60 days to pay
Jarvis podcasts
Robbie reckons Louis would
Kevin Shields plans a trip out
Guy turns Madonna off
Sandi Thom collapses
Heather Mills - naked in 2006
Doherty v the middle class
Not that Brian May
Mos Def beats Bush
Be Your Own Pet split
Brix Smith's house
Bunnyman on trial
Arab Strap split
Green Day support Bono
Noel banks cheques, sobs
Lily Allen swears for kids
Preston drug zombies
MTV: give us content, trust
Embrace disengage
Liam ends DPT gig
Embrace tightens
Robbie: No hug for Moyles
Fatboy says no to Dave
Kate kills Babyshambles tour
Kate kills Babyshambles?
Bono "hates" U2
The iPod thriller
Mick Hucknall hails "socialist" BPI
Britney dumps Federline
Madonna's shoot kills lights
Don't look at Mozzer
Borrell unsure - Razorlight or solo
McFly make rubbish girls
Timberlake quits music

Lest we forget: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001

2006Music: What we heard

As ever, attempting to list everything musical that made us put our pants on our head and dance around like herbally-enhanced monkeys would prove impossible; these are just some of the highlights of the highlights:

Cansei De Ser Sexy - Cansei De Ser Sexy

Their music is our hot, hot sex

Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo To Anywhere

To be absolutely honest, Carl Barat doesn't seem to miss Pete as much as Pete seems to need him

Fields - 7 From The Village

If they fail, we all fail

iForward Russia! - Give Me A Wall

Punctuation, off-timing, numerically themed titleage: who, seriously, wouldn't send iFR! one of your kidneys in a jiffy bag if they asked?

Gene - Peel Sessions

A fair collection, although it does confirm they really only had two great moments which they milked repeatedly

Giant Drag - Hearts And Unicorns

Quite possibly the final Giant Drag album, and even if it's not you should cherish it like a love letter from your sixth form days

Nanci Griffith - Ruby's Torch

The widest-eyed heir to Patsy Cline delivers a collection of torch song magic

Luke Haines - Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop

Long-awaited return of Mr. Haines, now dressed as the man from Del Monte for reasons we can't quite figure

Hot Puppies - Under The Crooked Moon

I say we'd better put them in/I hear they use a theremin

Howling Bells - Howling Bells

An Amazon reviewer claims "This album will appeal to you if you like bands such as Coldplay", which is a bit like selling the best sex you've ever had as "appealing, if you're fond of sweating"

Jarvis - Jarvis

He's not Jesus, though he shares the same initials. And now he's been resurrected to save us all.

Joan As Policewoman - Real Life

The far, far more appealing string-driven sidekick of Antony and The Johnsons

Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home

We suspect, from the little skip our heart does every time, medical evidence alone would finger this as our album of the year

Cerys Matthews - Never Said Goodbye

Interestingly, she gave this one much more of a push than Cockahoop - and it feels more of a finished product, too

Tift Merritt - Tambourine/ Bramble Rose

Perfect 'start here' double-pack re-release

Metric - Live It Out

Still trying to shake off the "new Elastica" tag, although there are worst tags and you've got to love the shaking

Joanna Newsom - Ys

Five tracks, no waste, the unmistakable stamp of confidence that comes with Steve Albini in the booth... surely Turner Prize material?

Placebo - Meds

Obviously, to accept this a return-to-form, you'd have to accept the form to which Placebo returned so splendidly this year was form worth recapturing. We do.

Rails - Life's A Lonely Road [Myspace]
Kind of the place where REM were prior to Dead Letter Office

Rishi Rich - The Project

Packed with collaborative, imaginative goodness

Riz MC - Post 9/11 Blues [Myspace]
The heart of political pop is, thank god, still beating

Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

The next person to even suggest she's "like Alanis or Tori" gets it, I swear

Tilly and The Wall - Bottom of Barrels

The Pipettes, only without the gimmickry and all the better for it

Various - CD86

Valiant attempt to celebrate 20 years after by collecting stuff from names we've got etched in hearts: Siddeleys, Hurrah, The Hit Parade, Another Sunny Day...

Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked

They say they do not fuck around. They aren't joking.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones

We don't care what anyone says: Karen O is still the coolest person in rock

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You...

If you must have your ass kicked, who else would you want to do it?

2006Music: Valette

This year's collection of musical obituaries:

Sanders Barber Junior : Doo-Wop pioneer

Syd Barrett : Genius

Keith Bender : Man killed by Proof in nightclub shooting

Robert Broudie : Brother of Lightning Seeds' Ian

James Brown :Godfather of soul

Ruth Brown : R and B singer who fought Atlantic for a fair deal

Darren "Wiz" Brown : Lead singer with Mega City 4

Lumumba "Professor X" Carson : X-Clan rapper

Janette Carter : The last of The Carter Family

Ian Copeland : Promoter and brother of Stuart Copeland

Billy Cowsill : Cowsill Family member

Ivor Cutler : Genius

Brian "DJ Swing" Daley : Club DJ

Desmond Dekker : Reggae giant

Robert Dentith : Kerrang radio dj

Tara Devi : The Nightingale of Nepal

J Dilla : Rap producer

Sabine Dunser : Elis singer

Freddy Fender : Tjeano, country and gospel singer

Danny Flores : The "Tequila" man

King Floyd III : New Orleans based singer

Alan "Fluff" Freeman : Pick of the Pops and Rock Show presenter

Freddie Garrity : High-kicking leader of the Dreamers

Bruce Gary : The Knack drummer

Martin Gilks : Wonderstuff drummer

Lynden David Hall : Mobo-lauded soul singer

Lula Mae Hardaway : Songwriter and mother of Stevie Wonder

Bryan Harvey : House of Freaks guitarist

Joseph Hill : Culture singer

DeShaun "Proof" Holton : Eminem protege, D12 member and gunman

Johnny Jackson : Jackson Five (but unrelated) drummer

John Junkin : Writer and Beatles film co-star

Eugene Landy : Brian Wilson's psychiatrist and mis-advisor

Arthur Lee : Genius

Henry Lewy : Joni Mitchell's legendary engineer

Pio Leyva : Buena Vista Social Club singer

Peter Ling : Crossroads creator and Matt Munro songwriter

Arif Mardin : Producer and record company executive

Andy McGoldrick : Dirty Do-Goods guitarist, manager and club promoter

Kim McLagan : Model, wife of The Face's Ian McLagan and former wife of Keith Moon

Grant McLennan : Go-Betweens singer-songwriter

Dick Nolan : Canadian country singer overshadowed by early novelty hit

Tony Ogdon : Musician behind the World of Twist

Gordon Parks : Civil rights photographer and film score composer

Wilson Pickett : Soul legend

Jesse Pintado : Napalm Death guitarist

Gene Pitney : Singer now permanently 24 Hours From Tulsa

June Pointer : One of the Pointer Sisters

Billy Preston : Silky-smoothed voice singer

Israel Ramirez : Busta Rhymes' bodyguard

Lou Rawls : Gravelly-voiced singer and civil rights campaigner

Andy Richardson : Fan beaten to death trying to protect friends at a Korn gig

Jockey Shabalala : Ladysmith Black Mambazo singer

Charles Smith : Guitarist with Kool and The Gang

Quinshae Snead : Ashanti's assistant

Mark Spoon : German DJ

Nikki Sudden : Singer and former Swell Map

Alan Synter : Cavern Club founder

Joaquin Tavares : Faith and Disease keyboardist

Ali "Farka" Toure : Farmer and Malian legend

Tony Tyler : NME journalist

Paul Van Valkenburgh : Man who claimed to have written Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny... but hadn't

Phil Walden : Manager and founder of Capricorn Records

Paul Walters : Terry Wogan's producer

Vince Welnick : Last of the Grateful Dead keyboardists

Jack Wild : Teen idol, Artful Dodger and HR Pufnstuff's mate

Johnnie Wilder Junior : Gospel singer

Hard-Fi keep Londoners hailing, healthy

We're not sure that, while it's obviously great that Hard-Fi are fronting a campaign to try and persuade people to stick to proper taxis during the festive season, who the campaign is aimed at.

After all, if the danger of being driven down a side street and raped or murdered isn't enough to put you off getting into some rusty old car driven by a sweating no-mark, is it likely "Richard Archer told me not to" is going to change your mind?

Anyway: if you're in London, and text HOME to 60835, you'll apparently be texted back with a list of proper cabs in the area.

Borrell does his bit for England

What will cheer up the England team as they try to come to grips with being rubbish?

God alone knows. But what they're getting is a gig by Johnny Borrell, which he seems to think is to lift their morale but seems more like a fitting punishment for pisspoor performance to us.

Interestingly, Borrell is going to do the gig solo - not that Razorlight is in its last few days or anything.

Blue: You too?

What with the lumpen new album and the "me too" reunions, maybe it might have been better if Take That hadn't got back together.

Latest band to try and reverse their post-split fortunes is Blue, who are reuniting despite only having broken up a few months ago. Apparently, it was seeing Take That counting the money ("performing") which persuaded them, reveals Lee 'elephants are dying' Ryan:

"SIMON (WEBBE) and I went along to An Audience With Take That.

"Simon turned to me and said we should do it. The next day we called the boys, and they were really keen, too.

"We've spent the last couple of days in the studio recording stuff."

Perhaps they should have gone to see an All Saints reunion gig before committing themselves to anything.

At this rate, Westlife will be reforming by March, without even bothering to split first.

Record companies discover another interesting way to waste cash on legal fees

While we're sure they have some really subtle game plan that means it's not just a bit of corporate cock-waving, the decision of the RIAA companies to sue Allofmp3 in New York seems to offer them little more than the prospect of buying more condos and cars for American lawyers.

While it's almost certain that the US courts will find in favour of the record companies, it's not clear what good a judgement would do for them. How, exactly, do they intend to impose the will of a Manhattan courtroom on a server somewhere in Eastern Europe?

So, if they win, they've got an expensive judgement that won't mean anything without a secondary case in Russia; and, in the unlikely event they lose, the record companies will have generated themselves an unhappy green light for Allofmp3's business. The end result will be either pointless or reckless.

You can just about see that taking direct legal action in Russia might have had some sort of sense to it, so it's curious that the labels haven't followed that path.

Can't be that they're no so certain that their interpretation of Russian copyright law is more accurate than that of Allofmp3's, can it?


More updates on the collection of other people's albums and tunes of the year, including the tracks chosen by Seattle's gay bloggers...

Tapes N crime scene tape

And at Christmas, too: Some asshole has pinched Tapes N Tapes stuff from a van in Perth. Just as they were about to fly home after their Australian tour, as well.

Amongst the stuff gone is a big muff with Gene Simmons face on it (or possibly a big face with Simmon's muff on) and a couple of Mac laptops. There's a full list on their MySpace blog of what's missing - let them know if you suddenly discover Fagin's gang are about to go on tour.

Robbie Williams is not popular down under

It used to be unfair to suggest that Robbie Williams, having failed to interest America much, was popular only in his homeland. His fans could point to large followings in other countries, most notably Australia, to build a claim that he had a global following.

Not for much longer, though, as lacklustre, through-the-motions performances on the Oz leg of his current tour saw "hundreds" choosing to take an early dart rather than hang around for the finale.

Still, there's always Germany, eh? We bet he's still well-regarded there. And maybe in Belgium.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rootkit: Sony settles with computer owners

The row over the dangerous software Sony-BMG forced purchasers of some of the label's CDs to install on their computers has reached its legal conclusions, with the company getting off lightly: it's going to compensate anyone who can prove its malicious code damaged their machines to the tune of a whole eighty-nine pounds.

Compare that settlement with the demands Sony-BMG makes when it believes it has some sort of evidence that people have been file-sharing some of its copyrighted material - the cost of making a deleted track available on the web is claimed to be thousands of dollars; yet Sony see leaving people's personal data open to attack and theft as being worthy of only a handful of coins.

[Thanks to David Scott for the tip]

A writer's faith is failed

Matthew Fisher, the organist who did the organ-y bit at the start of a Whiter Shade of Pale, has won his legal battle against Procul Harum to get a slice of the copyright:

Mr Justice Blackburne ruled he was entitled to 40% of the copyright.

Fisher, from London, had wanted half but the court decided lead singer Gary Brooker's input was more substantial.

Fisher's claim for back royalties - of up to £1m - was also rejected.

"I find that the organ solo is a distinctive and significant contribution to the overall composition and, quite obviously, the product of skill and labour on the part of the person who created it," the judge said.

And is Gary Brooker embracing the time of year and being a good loser?

Erm, not quite:

In a statement, Brooker said his former bandmate had no right to be credited as a writer of the song: "If Matthew Fisher's name ends up on my song, then mine can come off!"

He added: "It's hard to believe that I've worked with somebody on and off since 1967 whilst they hid such unspoken resentment.

"I'm relieved the trial is over, but my faith in British justice is shattered."

It's terrible when someone loses their faith in British justice, especially when it had managed to remain intact through the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, Stefan Kizcko and Colin Wallace cases. But the question of who wrote the first bit of a song is so much more important, of course.

Pink wants sheep's arses left untouched

If you're fresh out of ideas for Christmas gifts, and are toying with the idea of buying a sweater - perhaps with a reindeer on, or maybe a snowman - stop and think. First, don't do it, because it's a rubbish idea and the giftee will hate you and you'll have ruined their Christmas. Secondly, if it's made from Australian wool, Pink will come and kick your ass.

She's calling for a worldwide boycott of Australian wool products until the country bans the practice of cutting off the back end of its sheep without putting the sheep under first. The farmers do this to try and prevent maggots infesting the sheep's butts - look, we know you're eating, we're sorry. There seems something rather gung-ho about thinking "how can we stop maggots eating our sheep's bottoms? I know, let's cut the bottoms off, then there's nothing for them to feast on. Job done."

Australia is a little annoyed at Pink:

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said the practice stopped sheep dying of maggot infestations and was humane.

He questioned Pink's expertise, saying: "Pink is entitled to her views but at the end of the day would Australia's farmers take advice from Pink?"

Costello said that that mulesing was a better option than leaving sheep to die.

"Sheep are at risk of being fly-blown and dying... it's not a pretty sight," he said. "Mulesing is not a pretty sight either but it's a damn sight more humane than letting a sheep die fly-blown in a paddock."

You have to hope he never becomes health minister - "let's cut the kids' throats out - that'll stop 'em getting tonsillitis..."

Opik: It's not just his girlfriend who's Cheeky

What seemed at first glance to be just a curious melding of clapped-out novelty pop and brain-crunching politics is starting to take on a new shading, as Lembit Opik turns out to have been lobbying to keep Gabriela Irimia in the country.

Apparently, the Home Office had decided during the summer that The Cheeky Girls be denied further leave to stay in the UK; Lembit had a word with immigration minister Liam Byrne when he met him in a corridor:

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "Lembit acted with total propriety with regard to this matter.

"He did what any MP would do, and referred the matter to the appropriate Member of Parliament.

"At no stage did he lobby anybody on this matter. He simply referred the issue through the relevant and proper channels."

So, that's good news then: if any of you have any immigration problems in the future, it turns out the "proper channels" is to get your boyfriend (or girlfriend) to hang about in Westminster and to "mention" the case to any passing immigration minister. Because, of course, otherwise that would mean that Opik was using his status to get special treatment for his honeypie, and Opik is, of course, an honourable man.

As it turns out, Romania joins the EU on January 1st, whereupon the Girls' problems will vanish - rather like their recording career did. So, if they can avoid deportation for ten days or so, they'll be fine.

Meanwhile, Gabriele has denied there's anything strange about the magical romance:

"Our relationship is really genuine and it's not out of a pantomime or anything like that.

"We understand each other really well and we are looking for a long relationship here."

Only a cynic would seize on the word "here" as being somehow key.

Dylan tries to close down Factory

Bob Dylan has got the hump - or, more accurately, added to the size and range of various humps he carries with him, in the way greengrocers carry their coins and notes, in a large canvas sack-cum-apron slung round his waist. He's not happy that he's sort-of-being blamed for the death of Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl, the film of her life.

A character based on Dylan is depicted having a fling and then rejecting the Warholian satellite, triggering her descent into drugs and eventual suicide; Bob is believed to be fuming and threatening to call in some lawyers to make sure he doesn't have his reputation tarnished by the movie. Even although, erm, the movie doesn't mention him by name. Which means, to sue, he'd have to actually name himself as the person the movie shows triggering the descent - theoretically opening himself up to a libel action from himself.

I am beautiful, in the shape of a cigarette, probably

In what is being carefully described as "footage surfacing online" and, thus, is in no way a carefully-controlled PR stunt to promote next year's solo album, Brett Anderson has popped up on YouTube singing Beautiful. The Christina Aguilera song.

It's not thought that Brett often sits in front of a video camera bellowing about how beautiful he is. As that would be so out of character.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I still love you, but I've chosen darkness... again

I Love You But I've Chosen DarknessLong-lost, mostly, but oft-sought, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness' self-titled debut five-track ep is about to get a second wind. It's celebrating what's been a rather spiffing 2006 for the boys, and although the thing is mainly being shipped to US stores there should be a few finding their way across the Atlantic.

To tempt you, there's even an mp3 of When You Go Out, if you need any persuading.

Kooks hide behind Monkey shield

Stage school kid with his eyes full of stars Luke Pritchard has issued a public note of thanks to the Arctic Monkeys for sparing them the public eye:

"God bless the Arctic Monkeys, because if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have been so shielded. We were so overshadowed by the success (of Whatever People Think I Am, That's What I'm Not) that we crept in behind everybody's back.

"Arctic Monkeys shielded us from getting too much attention."

Luke... does it occur to you that what spared you from being in all the papers and on everyone's lips was not that people were talking about the Arctic Monkeys but... well, they just weren't that interested in you?

I predict an out-of-court settlement

You would have thought that Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs - remember them? - would have been pleased that Girls Aloud helped his bottom line by doing a cover of I Predict A Riot on their recent tour.

But he's not, because they changed the words. A teeny, tiny bit. "Borrow a pound for a condom" became "borrow a pound for a phone call":

"I don't give a shit if they don't change the words. But they did change the words," Ricky told the Daily Star. "I'm gonna cover a Girls Aloud song and change all their words but make them really filthy. They said 'Borrow a pound for a phone call'. What? It's illegal, Girls Aloud. We're after you."

It's not clear why Girls Aloud, who hardly are demure by any definition we've yet come across, would have felt uncomfortable singing "condom" - surely it'd be worse for people to think they don't have mobile phones than for their audience to assume that they actually have sex with people?

We hate it when our friends remain fairly well balanced

Pete Doherty seems to have turned up the heat on the simmering resentment he seems to have harboured since The Libertines were liquidated in light of his inability to keep appointments, having a girly attack on Carl Barat:

"Do I miss him? He used to get me good crack. That'll do 'innit? He's still really pissed off. But I know he's not like that. He's someone who likes drinking. That's the hypocrisy of it."

Because, of course, enjoying a couple of lagers is virtually the same thing with breaking into your friend's house, stealing his stuff, flogging it, and spending the cash on drugs to pipe straight into whatever vein you haven't already buggered up.

"I paid the price. I got kicked out of the band. And with nothing, no sweat from anyone, we got it together with Babyshambles.

"We really got it. All he's got is the fact that he was in the best band and now he's in the worst band. And he needs to sort that out."

Hmmm. Except, of course, it's not really true, is it? Babyshambles sound like The Libertines without someone to provide a sense of direction, while Dirty Pretty Things have the air of a person rediscovering life after a snap divorce out of a passionate but ultimately destructive marriage.

Robbie Williams is not going to bounce a young lad on his knee

Despite the widening opportunities for adoption by parents of all backgrounds in the modern world, Robbie Williams isn't going to have any children to call his own:

"I don't know if I want to be in a relationship. I don't believe that to be fulfilled you have to have kids.

"What's the point? I can't guarantee my child won't suffer pain - because that kid's going to be in pain at some point in their life.

"I don't want to see that. It's too much."

Well, if you keep them away from your last album, you'll be protecting them from the worst of it, surely?

Still, it's not all bad news:

"It's time for Robbie to go away in people's minds - not to be in Britain for a while."

See? Who says he can't take a hint?

There's nothing worse than begging for it

Yes, yes, your season of goodwill and all, but who can truly find it in their hearts not to throw at least a small festive snowball at Cliff Richard for begging people to buy his new record?

His website pleads:

"Cliff has a good chance of hitting the No. 1 spot this Sunday with '21st Century Christmas', but sales need to continue over the next few days.

"Please buy copies for family and friends - let's all do our best to help him achieve that 'No. 1 in a sixth decade'!!"

Let's not even ask what sort of friend gives another friend a Cliff Richard single as a present - but just in case you harbour someone like that in your circle, you'd better get some practice in saying "Oh, how splendid" like you mean it.

Of course Cliff is keen to flog as many copies of this record as he can - even under the current copyright rules, he'll be earning off his performance until 2056. We're surprised he doesn't just ask for cheques made out to him personally and cut out the middle men.

Why not tell family and friends that, in place of gifts, this year you have chosen to make a donation to Cliff Richard instead?

Chinese Democracy: No, really, it's coming

If Chinese Democracy does show up, it's going to be a real shame - clearly, it's going to stink like a bucket of clams left in a glass elevator on a hot day, and there's no way it could be half as much fun as playing the "guess which date Axl is announcing next" game.

Axl promises the bucket will be filled on March 6th, 2007, confirming the belief that his promise of a 2006 release date was just a bit of hokum.

It's not clear what, after ten years of work, still remains to be done which requires three months further fine-tuning, but we have a feeling the to do list might still contain "write some songs" and "record some songs".

Gospels silenced

Patti LaBelle has axed her planned Gospel According To Patti tour, citing "differences with the promoters" - we imagine that's going to be along the lines of they hoped the gig would be playing to rooms full of paying customers, and she didn't think it that important.

The whole thing will be re-arranged, she says. Well, what's a gospel without a few miracles?

McManus dropped by local radio

We have to be honest: we didn't know that Michelle McManus off one of those shows where Simon Cowell shouts at people even had a job right now. But she does.

Or, rather she doesn't, as her Saturday night show on Clyde 1 has just been axed:

"Michelle has a special talent of connecting with listeners and she will be missed in our New Year schedule. But we have some exciting plans for the Clyde 1 line-up in January.

"Michelle leaves with all our best wishes and the door is always open for her to return to Clyde 1."

We love the suggestion that they're going to miss her so much, but be brave and will try to carry on, while they're nailing planks and painting "Keep Out" over her locker door.

Lady Sovereign's guide to staying safe

Crime. It's like a terrible beast, only a beast armed with guns and knives and tasers and polonium. We know, we've seen Tonight, Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

You need to stay safe. And how can you protect yourself from bullets?

Lady Sovereign recommends a good bra:

"I dodged a bullet once. It was at some awards in London.

"These people were shooting, and I heard the bullet go whooosh, like, literally past my ear.

"Then this woman, she got shot in her tit. But it hit her bra, so she's lucky.

"Men should wear bras."

Yes. Men should wear bras. Although the trouble you avoid by having a bra catch a bullet for you might not offset the extra trouble you attract by turning up at a Damon Dash night wearing a bra.

Too many broken hearts in the showbiz world

The usual fall-back when attempting to paint a picture of a person at sea with popular culture is to invoke that judge asking "What are the Beatles?"

But perhaps it's time to update the image - how about A Beatle asking "what exactly is a Jason Donovan?"

To be fair to Paul McCartney, Jason's not really done that much recently, and it's unlikely Macca's had the chance to watch very much ITV what with all the legal business and the flying back and forth and so on.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Peaches Geldof: Give her the full ten years

We're still trying to decide if Peaches Geldof is just incredibly dim, or actually accepts that she's not as well-known as she'd like to be.

Whatever the thought process behind it, she tried to get into Koko using a forged passport with a changed age on it.

That, of course, is a crime which could see her thrown into prison for the next ten years - by which time, of course, she'd be able to get into KoKo legally. So everyone would be a winner.

Snoozing Jack Flash

Pete Townshend has let slip a conversation he had with Mick Jagger recently, in which Jagger seems to be frustrated by his colleagues' declining work rate:

“I asked Mick, ‘How’s it going?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m still doing fucking everything.’ Ronnie and Keith’s big decision is whether to get drunk.”

To be fair, Mick, most men of Ron and Keith's age are starting to think about buying a small house in the Algarve and giving up work for good. That's the ones who haven't fallen out of trees onto their heads requiring a period of brain surgery, of course.

Opik meets Margrit

The Liberal Democrats are always full of surprises, aren't they? As if all their fun of 2005 wasn't enough, now Lembit Opik, the walking bad-hand at Scrabble, has ditched his wife-to-be Sian Lloyd in favour of... one of the Cheeky Girls.

No, us neither.

The Cheeky Girl's mother is delighted with the move, describing Lembit as a "very nice man":

Mrs Margrit revealed the MP has even befriended their pet Irish wolfhound.

She said: “It’s the girls’ bodyguard but Lembit bought him some chocolate treats and they got on really well.”

Isn't giving dogs chocolate as dangerous as, say, asteroids and meteorites hurtling towards earth?

Gabriella, for those of you able to tell the Girls apart, is thrilled to be dating the Lib Dem's intellectual powerhouse:

“I want to give him a great surprise. I’ll definitely dress up sexily for him!”

The thought that the great surprise might be the discovery that it's a buy-one-get-one-free deal is making us come over a little queasy.

Michael Jackson attempts to make Christmas a moveable feast

Having encouraged representatives to gather in some takers for a GBP1,700 party ticket, Michael Jackson has now decided to shift his Christmas do in Tokyo until, erm, March.

The following day will see something called a "fan appreciation event", which presumably will be for the fans to appreciate Jacko, and for him to appreciate their money.

Stick to Da, Da, Da

Worrying times as we enter the Christmas period, as the government discover that many of us aren't literate enough to read the words on the karaoke screen.

Thank God at last someone has found a way of persuading kids it's worth reading - "if you don't do your book learning, you'll never be able to sing Angels without mumbling through the difficult bits..."

Amongst other songs the government worry are too challenging are I Will Survive and Mustang Sally - which the report describes as being by "The Commitments". Proving that literacy and knowledge are two separate things entirely.