Saturday, March 10, 2007

Brown gets a tomb at last - but it won't last

After all this time, they've finally given James Brown a resting place. Not his final resting place, of course - even the months of legal wrangling since he died hasn't been long enough for a fittingly gaudy public mausoleum to be pulled together. No, this will be his temporary tomb until something a little more loud and, inevitably, proud can be found for him.

They tried to make me pay for rehab, I said no, no, no

Courtney Love, being Courtney Love, can't even get clean without making a mess - she's accused of not settling the bills from her 2005 rehab stay:

The action, filed at Orange County Superior Court, alleges Ms Love paid $10,000 (£5,177) up front to the Beau Monde before entering the facility but failed to pay the remaining fees.

"Although demanded multiple times by plaintiff, orally and in writing, none of the balance stated has been paid," it says.

Now, we don't want to be cruel, but the only other person we can think of whose famous for not paying their health farm bills is Bubbles DeVere - surely that's not company Courtney wants to be keeping, is it? Now we think of it, DeVere has a pretty open attitude to public nudity, though...

MORobit: Brad Delp

The lead singer of Boston, Brad Delp, has been found dead at New Hampshire home.

The Beatles were the galvanising force in Brad's life - he bought his first guitar after seeing the band on the Ed Sullivan Show; for the last thirteen years he'd been playing in a moptop tribute act called Beatlejuice

Delp joined the band after a period making the heating coils for Mr Coffee machines by day, and singing in Boston club bands by night. Winning the lead vocal role in an audition, Delp proved the crucial element in securing the band a record deal - previous attempts by Tom Scholz to gain interest in his band's demo tapes had come to nothing. Epic offered a deal, and although Scholz went along with a lot of the executive's demands - dumping original drummer Jim Masdea in favour of Sib Hashian; hiring bassist Fran Sheehan - he pulled the wool over their eyes where it mattered most to him. Ignoring their insistence that the debut be made in a proper studio, MIT grad-geek Scholz recorded almost all of 1976's Boston in his home studio.

Delp remained on board for 1978's Don't Look Back and - when founder member Barry Goudreau jumped ship to make a solo album - helped out there, too. Scholz was less than thrilled by CBS choosing to market the resulting album as "almost Boston". The bitterness and bad feeling dragged the band to the edge - Scholz claiming the label was trying to cut him out in a bid to up the band's workrate; CBS/Epic launching a lawsuit for breach of contract - but somehow Delp managed to remain onboard; keeping himself going by working on Keith Emerson's soundtrack for Best Revenge.

MCA bought the Boston contract and the third album, Third Stage, finally got an eventual official release in 1986. Some twenty years before it became a concept, Scholz took the decision to tour the record by playing it, track for track, in the order they appeared on vinyl; ahead of its time, the audience wasn't satisfied with an explanation that the songs formed a story that had to be told in a specific way. They just wanted the big numbers.

After the tour, Delp started to concentrate more on Goudreau's new band, RTZ (Return to Zero). Brad formally withdrew from Boston in 1991 when his tour commitments to RTZ would have made it hard for him to work with Scholz. The record company somehow forgot to mention during the promotional work that Delp wasn't on Walk On - fans only discovered that his voice (for most, the defintion of the band) was missing by peering at the credits on the inner sleeve after hearing the vocals of Fran Cosmo coming from their speakers.

Luckily for the band, Delp quit RTZ when their label, Giant let them down - rather than going through the hoops of signing for a new paymaster, Delp chose to stand down. This meant he was free to join the tour for Walk On, although space was also found for Cosmo. The dual-voice Boston that emerged would remain in place for 2002's Corporate America album.

The bivocaled band continued to tour - successfully - until last year when Fran Cosmo quit. Delp, once again, became the voice of Boston, working on a new album and planning for a tour later this year; appearing in Beatlejuice in between.

Police were called to Delp's home early yesterday afternoon by his fiancée Pamela Sullivan; he was dead when they arrived. Although the cops are describing the death as "untimely", their press statement rules out foul play:

On March 9, 2007 the Atkinson Police Department was requested to respond to Mr. Delp's residence for an untimely death.

Mr. Delp was apparently left alone in his home at his time of passing.

The cause of death is still under investigation at this time. There is no indication of foul play involved with the passing of Mr. Delp.

This case is still under investigation by the Atkinston Police Department and the New Hampshire Medical Examiners Office.

Delp had two children from a previous marriage; he was 55. Tributes in the first 24 hours after his death focused as much on the charitable works he performed in his community as on his musical career.

Drink yourself to death to Jimi Hendrix

The unapproved use of musicians names and likenesses always causes a bit of upsetment, but it takes a special kind of stupid for a drinks company to pick someone who killed themselves with booze and pills and to slap their name on a bottle of vodka. The Hendrix estate is now taking legal action to try and get Hendrix Electric Vodka taken off the market.

Indian Summer to be moved to, erm, summer

I think we're all familiar with the concept of an Indian Summer, being a period of warmth which comes after the end of summer proper, right? Throwing linguistic sense to the wind, though, are the organisers of Scotland's Indian Summer, which this year will be held in July, on account of how last time round no actual Indian Summer turned up for the event, and they figure there's more hope of getting some sun in Glasgow then.

... but they don't like to talk about it

Let's now spend a while considering the generosity of the super-rich, as the Sun opens the accounts of the Beckhams' children's charities:

DAVID and Victoria Beckham have given £600,000 to kids’ charities in four years, latest accounts show.

Now, any donation is better than none - but... over four years?
Figures for the 12 months ending April 2006 show they donated £140,000 that year.

And this, of course, isn't actually their own money - this is the money they make through The Victoria and David Beckham Children’s Charity, which flogs tickets to the parties and so on. So it's not even coming out of their own pockets. Even if it was - considering David is going to pick up around $10million a year in profit-sharing from his LA Galaxy deal, funnelling just over half a million in four years to children's charities starts to look a little mean. Especially since the publicity the charity events generates for brand Beckham is probably worth double that alone.

Ditto: Spears' mental illness "empowering"

We're not sure we quite follow Beth Ditto's delight at Britney's illness, but see if you can:

Beth also says she is proud of troubled pop pin-up BRITNEY SPEARS for shaving off all her hair.

She said: “I’m loving it. If you think what her hair meant to her and what it did to a generation of little girls — she did really turn out a generation of little Britneys.

“And for this to happen is one of the most radical things ever.

“It’s sad and she is sick, but it can also be amazing and empowering. I am going to post her a copy of Rebel Girl lyrics by US punk band BIKINI KILL.”

We suspect, to be fair to Ditto, that the "US punk band" was slipped in by Sun subs, anxious that casual readers might have seen the words Bikini Kill and thought there was a swimwear illness spreading through the nation.

Even, though, if you leave aside the worrying notion that Ditto says, in effect, "yeah, it's a shame you've got a serious mental problem which may result in you losing your family and have, apparently, tried to take your own life, but you're so rad, girlfriend" does she really believe that Britney shaving her own hair off is "one of the most radical things ever"? If only Trotsky had invested in a Remington Home Barber kit, eh? Martin Luther shouldn't have bothered with nailing his demands to the church door - he ought to have just cut out a picture from HairStyles Today and asked his salon to do it "a bit like that." Black Panthers? Chartists? Luddites? Stonewall? Knocked into a cocked hat by ten minutes with the clippers set to number one.

For an act to be radical, doesn't the revolutionary need to be aware of what they're doing? If the Luddites had stood next to a mashed-up Spinning Jenny muttering "well... I thought it was full of lice", wouldn't that somewhat undercut their radicalism?

Not going quietly

To be honest, the spat over the sacky-dumping of sacky-dumpling Louis Walsh from the X Factor looks like it might deliver more in the way of top entertainment than the show itself ever did. Louis is not happy:

I was really shocked, I have to admit that. I did feel like I had been stabbed in the back.

“With Simon, it’s all about work. He told me, ‘It’s nothing personal’.”

Cowell, of course, has denied he sacked Louis at all:
“Much like Coronation Street, we have to make changes to a long-running hit show — and sometimes, the most popular people have to go. Louis has been in discussions about the commitment he could offer, and he was so busy with his management career.

“It just worked out that it would be better if we got a new judge.

“So this didn’t come completely out of the blue.

“Louis is not unhappy, I spoke to him and he’ll be very much part of the X Factor as he’ll be managing all the new talent and the winner.”

Curious that Cowell - asked to react to how unhappy Louis is about being dumped - tries to insist that he's not unhappy at all.

It's also interesting that Cowell - who, we're lead to believe, is so good at telly - thinks that Coronation Street ever actively drops its most popular characters. Sure, the Hildas and Enas and Freds do depart, but I can't think of a single occasion where a popular character has been axed by Granada; it's always at the actor's request (or, at a push, because the actor has become impossible to work with, Len Fairclough.)

Walsh, though, seems to know little about TV, either, predicting that the removal of Kate Thornton (the Connie Clayton of the X-Factor) will have consequences akin to scaring rooks from the Tower of London:
“It was a bad move sacking Kate. She was like a mother figure for all the acts. She will be a big loss.

“It was made worse because Simon and ITV kept telling Kate she was safe, that she’d be staying. But it would seem Simon’s word is NOT his bond.”

Cowell, for his part, claims that he argued for the pair to stay, but ultimately it was ITV's decision. Although we can't think of the last time ITV made a decision that wasn't one the BBC had taken six months before.

The X-Factor may be graced with Chris Moyles as one of the judges next season - one of the "names in the ring", says Cowell. Surely it's incompatible for a Radio One dj to be choosing Magic FM friendly bands and singers, isn't it?

Of course, this exciting scuffle offscreen is a handy diversion from the questions about the premium-rate voting system used for the series? Who wants to look too closely into how that worked when you could watch Simon and Louis having a row, eh?

Friday, March 09, 2007

First night: Arcade Fire

Back when I was a kid, you couldn't take cameras into gigs. Of course, you could, but you had to smuggle them in past bouncers with all the cunning of a mule crossing the Thai border. Now they're integrated into phones, it looks like the battle to keep them out has been lost, and nothing happens on stage without someone making a jerky video. So it is that much of last night's opening of the Arcade Fire UK tour in Manchester has already appeared on YouTube. Only trouble is, this eyewitness footage is somewhat less exciting than the testimony in print.

For example, the NME suggests that there was something of massive stage invasion:

Arcade Fire fans invade the stage
Band joined by all-dancing crowd for euphoric Manchester opener

- which sounds more exciting than the footage looks, to be frank.

Shine Like A Spoon wasn't impressed - what looks like an impassioned moment of inclusion to one person can be another's health and safety nightmare:
Arcade fire was... a fucking fiasco. It was all going well till the last song of the main set - I don't even remember what it was - when the singer decided it would be fun to open the gate and let some fans on stage. I was on the barrier, and should have been safe where I was, towards the centre, but one idiot decided he was going to push through instead of going to the side. I'd decided to stay exactly where I was - if I get a barrier, I'm not leaving it, even if it IS to go onstage. Anyway, I ended up with probably twenty or so people on top of me, by which point my ribs were crushed against the rail and if I didn't do something, I was about to have several broken ribs to contend with. So I did the first thing that came to mind: gripped the rail with both hands, pushed the flats of my feet against the barrier and pushed back with my shoulders as hard as I could. I did this a few times until I'd cleared about four foot behind me. Of course, the guy then got (even more) aggressive and started punching Neil in the head, and me in the back of the head/neck, while firmly pushing my spine, ribs and shoulderblades, crushing me to the barrier again. I know Neil got at least one punch in and I know the guy next to Neil pushed the guy backwards quite hard by his forehead. I also know a bouncer sent him flying in the same way, and I suspect quite a lot of other people got hits in, too. I don't know - I was, by that point, slumped over the barrier trying to remember how to breathe and operate my legs. He managed to hit me in the part of my back that stops everything else working.

It sounds a little like music editors came a little too close to having to write "Funeral"-themed headlines.

Away wi'ye, Hatherley... Charlotte reveals split truth

Over a year ago, when Charlotte Hatherley and Ash went their separate ways, we were told it was mutual and amicable and everyone agreed it was for the best.

Only... it turns out it wasn't quite like that:

"In the end it was the boys' choice. They wanted to go back to being a three-piece. They knew I wasn't happy in the band any more so they assumed that I'd be fine with the decision.

"I did find it was a bit weird. I left the conversation thinking: 'What just happened there? Did I leave or was I fired?' But it was all very nice and there were no hard feelings."

It was, of course, our old friend, Musical Differences:
"The boys were really in love with American music and with America. After years of touring the States they were listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, stuff I've never really been into.

"I found recording 'Meltdown' really difficult. Basically I coldn't relate to it. Things were getting a bit stale and I think we all needed something to change."

To be honest - and fond as we are of the new Ash stuff - we think she probably came out best of it all; her solo stuff has the sense of freedom and experimentation that can come from a change, while Ash... well, they may have a very nice furrow, but sooner or later they might want to think about turning slightly, surely?

Posh bosh and no clickers

The Mail's got a point when it suggests that the original push of Beckham fever in the US seems to have come to a dead stop - presumably the "and what do you actually do?" question caused problems. Oddly, once Victoria isn't stood next to Tom Cruise, nobody in America seems to even be able to see her.

Having said that, the paper is just trying it on with this:

If imitation is the best form of flattery, Victoria Beckham should be feeling very flattered indeed. Within weeks of her appearing in a fitted silk bomber jacket, Primark has produced its own leather-look version. And it is flying off the shelves.

Now, we know very little about fashion, but - aside from both being black and having arms and zips - in what way is the Primark leather jacket a "copy" of Beckham's? Beckhams looks less like a leather jacket, and more like some sort of velour leisure suit. It's probably just lucky that it wasn't brown.

When life gives Britney lemons, Kevin Federline mysteriously announces plans to open lemonade stall

Who knew the kinder, gentler Kevin Federline would turn out to just be a guy with his eye on the bottomline. His manoeuvring to ensure the kids could have a place to go to while Mummy is sorting out her... well, her everything turns out to have been a cog in a masterplan: he's reportedly pitching a reality show focussing on his struggle as a single parent.


I Wouldn't Change A Thing

Michael Jackson - taking a break from working on that Katrina benefit single, we presume - has been talking about his career:

"I've been in the entertainment industry since I was six years old. As Charles Dickens says, 'It's been the best of times, the worst of times'. But I would not change my career."

Really, Michael? You wouldn't even change it so it didn't run into the sand sometime around 1992?

Still, it's interesting to see Michael choosing the French Revolution as a metaphor for his career - as we recall, that ended rather badly when someone started to decide he was some sort of monarch, didn't it?


If you've often hankered for a hard-disc full of top-notch kraut-rock, but can't be arsed to go down a record shop, purchase the CDs and then rip them to your Mac, here's some good news: the whole backcatlogue is getting digitised and will be available for download from March 13th.

Of course, you could get it for free now from Bittorrent, but that would be like stealing teacups from the Hermitage, wouldn't it?

The hand that rocks the cradle spills the beans

The thought of discovering all the unwashed, unvarnished details of Madonna's private life has us reaching for the seltzer rather than the eye-glasses, but it looks like we might have no choice: Former Madonna nanny Melissa Dumas is pitching a book around publishers.

Splendidly, she claims that the non-disclosure agreement she signed wasn't actually entered into until after she left the Ciccone employ. So, presumably, she's free to tell all up until the bit where Madge opens the window and yells "just a moment, Melissa, come back a second..."

Well, at least they're not all drummers

Peter Hook is working on a three bassist supergroup with Mani and Andy Rourke.

It's called Freebase, which presumably is the only thing you can to do get through an album with three bassists on. (Yes, yes, we know it's really a rather weak pun.)

Van Halen tries to wean himself off reunion plans

Eddie Van Halen has gone into rehab - not, you'll understand, for himself. But for all of us:

In a statement addressed to fans Thursday on Van Halen's Web site, the guitarist said he decided to seek treatment because "at the moment I do not feel that I can give you my best."

"That's why I have decided to enter a rehabilitation facility to work on myself, so that in the future I can deliver the 110 percent that I feel I owe you and want to give you."

Since Van Halen have been churning out less than forty per cent - on a good day - since about 1984, that's going to be quite a long time he'll be in there.

Victoria Newton hasn't published a card for us to send him, yet.

Sandi Thom does a lot of good work for charity

To be honest, we'd have thought that the time to announce a charity concert is when you've organised it, rather than when you're thinking about doing so, but Sandi Thom knows the PR industry better than we do:

"I'm organising a gig for EDA, the only charity associated with eating disorders."

The only charity? Apart from SWEDA, of course. And Anorexia Bulimia Care. And the British Nutrition Foundation. And the work MIND does, too, of course.

Ricky Wilson: Tripadvisor

For decades, hotels have been at the mercy of touring bands.

Now, the hotels are fighting back:

Ricky [Wilson] said: "I thought I would do the right thing and have an early night but it was really noisy and I couldn't get to sleep until about eight in the morning.

"I was at the Radisson. The windows were expanding and creaking and banging. It was really weird."

He could have tried the time-honoured fix of putting a TV set through them. Then he could have got some rest.

Robbie Williams is not taking it easy

Robbie Williams: straight out of rehab; straight into a nightclub.

Still, got to be better than that Spiritual Walk at the clinic.

Winehouse, wine shop, sick room, no show

Amy Winehouse pulled her Shepherd's Bush show last night due to "unforseen circumstances."

The Sun smells... well, not so much a rat as a nice chianti:

The Rehab singer was snapped in her local North London supermarket at 11am studying the booze selection.

Shortly afterwards she cancelled her gig at Shepherds Bush Empire.

Which is a pretty thin basis for what they're implying - now, if they'd seen her down Threshers at half past five, filling a trolley, that might be a little more conclusive.

Her PR doesn't exactly help:
Amy’s PR told me: “Her management said she was ill.”

Still, it gives Victoria Newton a chance to use her favourite (i.e. only) Amy Winehouse Joke:
Her management company tried to make her go to rehab but she said: “No, No, No.” I hope she said the same after her morning trip to the wine store.

Otherwise it may be time she said: “Yes, Yes, Yes.”

Ha-ha. Yes, "no no no." Like in her song. We get it.

And it didn't take any calls to a premium rate phoneline

It'll still be dreadful, of course, but the next season of the X Factor is going to be shorn of Louis Walsh and Kate Thornton. They're having a bit of a desperate-sounding revamp, including "lowering the age limit" - Sharon Osbourne and the MiniPops, anybody?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Shea watts? Stadium lined up for green gig

The choice of revolutionary communist basketball park Che Stadium as venue for the American end of the Al Gore versus the oil industry event seems to be an open secret, although nobody seems to want to confirm it.

Interesting choice, Shea Stadium - apparently a perfectly functional venue for an international event, and yet not good enough for the New York Mets. While pop stars stand on the stage at Shea trying to persuade us to save energy and stop raping the planet, their landlords can pop over to Citi Park to see how their new home is coming on. Even as Al does his introductory speech, lorries will be hauling limestone and granite - quarried from a hillside somewhere, anywhere - to Citi Field. And, a few months after Sting has called for us all to reuse our plastic bags, Shea stadium will be taken down, generating more waste and burning through more fossil fuels.

Hold your eco-friendly gig in a disposable stadium. Curious idea.

It seems, by the way, that Save Our Selves has disappeared from the event's title: it's now Live Earth, the Concert For A Climate In Distress. Apparently.

Guns N Roses fans actually have a breaking point

Having waited thirteen summers for a new album, and even bought tickets when the band featured a guy in a KFC bucket in the line-up, Guns N Roses fans have finally decided enough is enough, and shuttered GNRonline. With a message:

"The lack of respect, clearness and mutual loyalty are just some of the reasons that has brought us down to this painful conclusion...we just can't afford the waste our heads on a project that has never even taken us into consideration.

"We still want to believe in Axl Rose and his record and we greatly wish that 'Chinese Democracy' would see the light of day before February 2008. If that will be the case we will make our best effort to re-open the site otherwise our domains will be lost and that will be the end of it."

Well, if the interest of the world, the need to make some money, the pressure of record industry executives and the desire to right the impression that he's little more than a half-assed buffoon isn't going to focus Axl's mind, the deadline imposed by the expiration of a fan's domain name will certainly give him something to work towards.

We wish they'd actually nailed two planks and painted "Go away - KEEP OUT" on the front of the site.

Ditto and so on

Beth Ditto and The Gossip were on 6Music this morning. [Real Audio, 1 hour 40-ish in; expires in seven days] It showed her at her best and worst - the music was sublime, including the version of Black Lines. The interview? Well... it was amusing hearing TopShop's reaction to her pointing out that she couldn't really do a line for a shop which doesn't sell clothes in her size, but there were some other bits which were just puzzling:

"The underground is so much more underground in big cities"

Really? In larger cities, with larger populations, the underground is more hidden? I can show you a "become a transvestite in two hours" stores by Euston Station that suggests the exact opposite.

There was also a moment where her recent pronouncements about how much cooler she is than all the people who never won the NME cool list, and how she was thrown into a battle with Kate Moss, and how Noel Gakllagher thinks she's great, bounced off this:
"Pretension is the most useless waste of time. People in the music industry can be so ridiculously full of themselves."

Do you think, Beth?

Charlotte shove-crimes

Joel Madden, who pretends to be a punk in the sitcom Good Charlotte, has had a bit of a run in outside a restaurant in LA. Apparently he's accused of shoving a photographer who tried to take pictures of his girlfriend, Nicole Richie, leaving a restaurant called Mr. Chow. It's not clear if Joel was upset at the thought of pictures being taken of her, or pictures not being taken of him.

Nicole Richie in a restaurant called Mr. Chow? What, couldn't they get seats at Lord Pick? Was Duke of Nibbles closed for refurbishment?

Pope versus Pope

The current Pope, never one to be confused with a children's performer, has grunted his disgust that the last Pope, the one that everyone liked, shared a stage with Bob Dylan:

Pope Benedict says that he “doubts to this day whether it was right to let this kind of so-called prophet take the stage” in front of the Pope. He admits that John Paul did get across a spiritual message that was otherwise largely “ignored by the entertainment industry”.

This has tied us in a bit of theological knot, here. Because the Pope is infallible, so to question the Pope must be heretical. And yet here's another Pope, suggesting the Pope was fallible. So, since the current Pope can't be wrong, the previous Pope must have been wrong. But the previous Pope couldn't be wrong, so the current Pope must be.

Unless, you know, it's all a load of old tosh that old guy gets to be always right simply by rising to the top of an organisation. There is that possibility.

Still, if Ratzinger thinks that Dylan is bad, he should try that Bryan Ferry covers album. Now, that is unholy.

Next week, H from Steps cuts off a leg to investigate ramps outside libraries

Across 90 minutes of prime-time ITV last night, Louise Redknapp "investigated" the increasing incidence of eating disorders amongst young people driven by size zero by... going on a crash diet to try and become size zero.

Did anyone read the proposal twice? Investigating an illness by making yourself intentionally ill? Turning self-abuse into a prime-time spectator sport?

Did Louise not stop, when meeting girls being treated for anorexia, and think "maybe my approach of deliberately aping what they cannot control is a little ill-advised?" Did she not watch the rushes of her meeting with Mel C - someone who has had eating disorders for real - and notice that starting with an "I'm a little bit hungry" might be a jarring note?

The intentions - a Down To Size Nowt In Paris and London Fashion Weeks - were honorable, and there was no questioning Louise's passion or involvement. But have we really come to the stage where ITV so undervalues its audience that it thinks they might not get that starving yourself to death to fit someone else's idea of looking good is a bad thing, unless they have a celebrity act out for us? We don't need a sugar-free, low-calorie lolly to suck.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cocker: No Pulp reunion

Hopes that there might be a reactivation of Pulp sometime soon have been sat down and told off by jarvis cocker:

"Hell would have to freeze over first! No, I don't know. The members of the group are all in touch with each other and all friendly, there have been no deaths that I know of.

"So there is no barrier other than the fact that at the moment I can't really see a point. If it was to seem like the right thing to do then there's no reason why not, but I am certainly not planning it at the moment."

We can think of one point, in that any album which isn't made by Kasabian or anyone like them has to be a good thing. But Jarvis knows the value of cherished memory over the quick cash-in...

Lily Allen reworks song in non-existent langauge

Proving that there's little she'll not consider in the pursuit of publicity, Lily Allen has recorded Smile in Simlish, which, we're led to believe, is the language used by The Sims, to promote some sort of competition. Quite why Lily Allen would be considered perfect to promote a game featuring two dimensional characters whose entire lives are the creation of a single svengali using swathes of computer number-crunching designed to do little more than kill time that would otherwise be spent contemplating the vast, empty meaningless of life, we can't begin to imagine.

Waynes whirled...

The attractions of the Fountains of Wayne have always been a little lost on me, to be frank, but it would be churlish to not share the stream of their Yolanda Hayes single - a tale of falling for a woman who processes driving licence applications; a little bit "without your glasses and your hair down, you're beautiful, Miss Honeyfanny" all-in-all.

There's also a frankly bemusing claim to greatness in the accompanying press release:

But FOW couldn't help enjoying the new-found attention as they began headlining bigger venues, topping charts on MTV and VH1, and appearing on a "Now That's What I Call Music" compilation CD next to the likes of Jay-Z, Nickelback and Black Eyed Peas.

We know it's meant to show they've crossed over, but claiming any sort of kinship with Nickelback is surely anathema to all right-thinking people, isn't it?

Touts exhibit Gallows humour

Here's a tricky question for the MPs keen to throw ticket touts into jail: what if the people buying from the touts are the band?

That happened last night when Gallows found their guest list at the 100 Club had been "accidentally sold"; with record labels and mothers on the way to see the band, they nipped out onto Oxford Street and snapped up tix from touts at forty quid a throw.

Jamelia the honest broker

Why do the 3AM Girls report every doing of Jamelia as if there was a public yearning to know what she's up to? Does she have shares in Trinity Mirror or something?

This morning, it's a lame story with little more to it than to try and remind people that a "mysterious Russian billionaire" wants her to do a gig:

JAMELIA is trying to get a Russian billionaire to invest in footballer boy friend Darren By field's club. The singer - who is set to per form for the dairy tycoon's daughter in Moscow - tells us: "He could even rename it Milkwall, so it would work all round." Looks like she's got all the angles covered!

Milkwall? What?

Of course, since John G Berylson has only just invested millions in the club and taken on the non-executive chairman role, it's a little unlikely. Maybe Jamelia didn't notice that happening, though - or maybe she won't believe it until Berylson renames the club Millfrisco or something.

More little Gallaghers

Happy news - if can pull your thoughts away from the moment of conception - from Noel Gallagher: He's about to become a father again with the news that Sara MacDonald is three months pregnant. Cue Victoria McDonald shoehorning in an Oasis pun so lame and pointless, we wonder if she was doing it for a joke:

[I]t was the lack of champagne or vodka in her glass which gave the game away. The pair have been dating for seven years. Most of that time they have been living the life of Riley, partying hard and travelling All Around The World.

She might have just got away with it if she'd not put it at the end of an equally meaningless sentence. (Is it even true? Doesn't Noel's ambit consist mainly of the posher parts of London?)

Meanwhile, Noel - presumably mellowed by fatherhood - has withdrawn his criticism of the Klaxons. It turns out he quite likes them:
"They think I hate them, so you can right this wrong for me. I like Golden Skans. "I don't know much about them, except I was with KASABIAN at Ibiza Rocks last summer, fucking it off, and got dragged in to see them and I was like 'What the fuck was all that about?' "We were happily breezing away on the dancefloor and the next thing they were on, so I wasn't ready for it. But I do like that tune."

Poor Noel, his head turned by Kasabian - who knows what they were busily talking about? Politics? The... then on came... Klaxon... Ibiza... zeeba... zebras first, I think...

Robbie Williams is not seeing rehab through

Apparently, Robbie just couldn't wait to see the cards people had sent Victoria Newton for him, and has flounced out of rehab. This, at least, has allowed Vixey to reveal an amazing secret:

It had been reported the singer was staying at the Meadows Centre in Arizona. But The Sun can reveal he was really at the £700-a-night Cottonwood de Tucson — one of the harshest centres in America.

Last night a spokesman for Robbie confirmed he had left and claimed he had completed his treatment.

However a source at the centre said: “Robbie was meant to be here for four weeks but left after three.”

He added: “There is absolutely no star treatment here.”

Hmm. Harsh? No star treatment?

With a swimming pool, library and basketball court, it might not be a resort destination, but it's not likely to be confused with a set for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. And with costs of an average of about forty thousand dollars - not to mention a special segment directed at top-flight lawyers with issues - you're not really going to be rubbing shoulders with carpenters or shopworkers.

Cottonwood De Tucson uses an awful lot of "spirituality" in its treatment - in other words, trying to replace the dependency on drucks or drinks with a dependency on something a little more socially acceptable. At the heart of the facility is a garden walk where you walk past giant pastel signage bearing the twelve steps, like a graveyard of sin. They also have "alumni meetings" - which might be nice for Rob; he might get to meet Ronnie Wood at one.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Something to listen to: Cat Power

Thanks to Rolling Stone, right now: five live performances from Cat Power.

Heather Mills gets it off her chest

Heather Mills really should spend more time practising dancing, less posting to the internet if she really wants the public to learn to love her. As it is, she keeps issuing 'press releases':

Heather is very saddened to be forced to respond to the completely fabricated article in the Sunday Mirror dated 4th March 2007. This is another prime example of an agenda to assassinate her character.

This report is a complete fabrication of proceedings in court on this day. It is designed in order to create a false History of events. They have no consideration to what Beatrice will read in the future.

None of Heather's petition was thrown out in court. Please would the tabloid media refrain from printing these lies and respect the wishes of the court. On the 1st March 2007 a Joint statement was drafted in court by Paul & Heather because of more lies printed in the Sun newspaper on the morning of the second days proceedings. Most tabloids have not printed this statement in full as it does not suit their agenda.

Statement in full

"Since the breakdown of the marriage there has been a significant amount of misreporting in the press, including this morning's report in The Sun of yesterday's hearing before Justice Bennett.

The parties both ask the media please to respect their privacy and the confidentiality of the proceedings, as they work to settle the outstanding issues between them in their divorce."

I cannot believe that the Sun newspaper has the audacity to print even more lies when Heather already has one libel case against them.

Here is a definition of character assassination from wikipedia

"Character assassination is an intentional attempt to influence the portrayal or reputation of a particular person, whether living or a historical personage, in such a way as to cause others to develop an extremely negative, unethical or unappealing perception of him or her. By its nature, it involves deliberate exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. For living individuals, this can cause the target to be rejected by his or her community, family, or members of his or her living or work environment. Such acts are typically very difficult to reverse or rectify, therefore the process is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can be life-long and more, or for historical personages, last for many centuries after their death.

In practice, character assassination usually consists of the spreading of rumors and deliberate misinformation on topics relating to one's morals, integrity, and reputation.

In politics, perhaps the most common form of character assassination is the spread of allegations that a candidate is a liar. Other common themes may include allegations that the candidate is a bad or unpopular member of his family, has a bad relationship with his spouse or children, is disrespected by his former co-workers, or routinely engages in disturbing, socially unacceptable behavior, such as sexual deviancy."

Perhaps, Heather, by suggesting that the Sunday Mirror's apparent misrepresentation is going to echo down the ages, in the way, say, Caligula or Lucrezia Borgia has had to take centuries of opprobium, might be slightly overestimating the interest of posterity in your life.

And going on Dancing With The Stars isn't exactly a move consistent with trying to minimise media interest in your affairs.

And Bobby makes three? Gillespie offers to take up Mary Chain sticks

Bobby Gillespie has indicated that he wouldn't mind joining in the Jesus and Mary Chain reunion:

“If they asked me I would play, I haven’t played with them since 1985 you know. It’s a long time ago, the last time I saw them play was 98 and then they split up 3 days later.”

Jim and William will probably be planning on having a drummer who can play more than one drum at a time, but we're sure they'd be happy to have Bobby along for some clapping.

Call to throw touts in jail

We're still puzzled at the rage generated by the idea of ticket touting - if we didn't live in a society that has embraced capitalism and garlands people who sell things at a mark-up with awards and influence, we might expect that MPs would get upset by the idea of someone buying something with a finite supply and selling it on for more money. But, as we've said before, we can't see any real difference between a speculator in fine arts or shares and a ticket tout, we're bemused as to why it's only the touts who are the unacceptable face of capitalism.

The subject came up in the Commons today:

Some websites offered tickets for the new Take That tour for twice face value before they even went on sale, John Robertson MP told the House of Commons.

"Is it not time the government did something about this ticket touting and make sure the people that do it end up in jails?" he said.

In jails? What? You don't think that what with your Home Secretary already struggling to find room in the prisons it might be a little foolish to send people to chokey for trying to make a few quid on tickets?

Robertson is a bit of a down-the-line Blairite with some choice views - he believes, for example, that nuclear electricity generation creates no CO2 - how do they mine the raw materials, John: with spoons? And what about the role of kerosene in making yellowcake? - and it's hard to believe that ticket touting is one of the main concerns in the outer suburbs of Glasgow. Robertson supports ID cards, of course, so was probably thrilled when Glastonbury introduced a voluntary ID regime.

Lining up alongside him is Pete Wishart, who used to be in Runrig:
Pete Wishart MP, a former member of rock group Runrig, asked: "Why is it being left to the music industry to try and address this problem?

"Surely the government should be doing more to protect music fans from this touting."

Perhaps the music industry is left to "address the problem" because it's not really a problem and if the music industry wants to allocate tickets in a different way, nobody is stopping it.

Happily, it seems like the Twilight World of Tony Blair has no plans to do anything about this:
Creative Industries Minister Shaun Woodward responded that ticket touting was "a very serious issue" and the government was working with the industry and the public "to achieve a clampdown".

But calls for touting to be outlawed have been rebuffed. Mr Woodward said fans did not want the government to "over-intervene".

"Members of the public, where it is fair, want the facility to be able to sell on tickets themselves," he said.

"We condemn the practice where it's wrong but it's also important to get a grip on how proportionate this is because it is only a minority who do this - albeit a minority we condemn."

A wonderful piece of empty nothing, there - "we condemn it when it's wrong" is such a bland rhetorical device, it barely even counts as a device; and I'm far from clear what "getting a grip on how proportionate this is" means - does Woodward mean "how often it happens"?

Still, soon we'll all have papers we'll have to present: the crackdowns can come later.

Project catwalk

It must be bloody galling being a fashion student - you spend years sharpening pencils, drawing cloaks, being shouted at and trying to persuade models to work with you, and are still lucky to get a job choosing the direction the zips will go in Peacocks' summer range of kids' trousers. But then, someone has a top thirty hit and before you know it, they've got their own label and a clothing range in the windows of C&A, which has specially reopened because they're great.

Latest muso-turned-designer is - and here, insult turns into a really nasty injury that could fester - Matt Helders. The bloody drummer from the Arctic Monkeys.

A whole pound from each of his limited-edition of 600 tshirts will be going to some sort of charity. It'll all be flogged through

Never, Ever no more, no more

The not-entirely required All Saints reunion has lived up to the underwhelming new material, with Parlophone and the band ending their assocation with a brave statement:

"Both the label and the group are proud of the album," it said in a statement.

"All Saints are excited about moving forwards with their career and Parlophone wishes them the best of luck."

We're not sure if you're meant to read that last sentence in a sarcastic or amused voice.

Glasto: 395,000 register

The Glastonbury pre-registration process, which has now closed, managed to get 395,000 people to share their faces and names with some unidentified computer server somewhere.

That should be just enough to see all the tickets sold, then, but that extra week open made all the difference.

The times, they have a-changed

Bloody hell. The midweek album chart has got Bryan Ferry's alarming album of Bob Dylan covers at number four.

It's like that David and Goliath story out that book Pat Robertson likes

Pat Robertson - failed Presidential candidate, homophobe, Liberian gold-mine investor, energy drink manufacturer, anti-Hindu, anti-abortionist (except in China, of course) and some sort of pretend Christian minister is a busy man. So he's apparently left it to his TV network to attack Welsh Christian singer Martyn Joseph.

To be fair, Joseph did start it, by writing a song about Pat. He performed it at Greenbelt last year:

He says he was surprised by the reaction of some after the Greenbelt festival, including one who called him “a misguided protest singer whipping up anti right-wing prejudice”.

He said, “I had a press review and a few letters about my language. As long as they also wrote to Pat Robertson to complain about him asking for certain leaders to be ‘taken out’ – which was my point – then that’s fair enough.”

Actually, it doesn't really look as if Robertson has lost very much money ("sleep") over this one, and he has other people to call for the assassination of.

Cranberries: Single serving

Dolores O'Riordan has been best known in the last few years for the whole nanny business, but now... well, now, she's coming back as a solo artist. She says she's all-new, like the Pink Panther when he had Crazylegs Crane on the show:

"My time after The Cranberries was a clean slate - no pressure and no contracts. It was the first time in my life I was a free agent. I had no inhibitions, which is how I felt when I first started out. That's all visible here.

"The album was an awakening for me in my life - a journey that I completed. It's like I crossed a bridge which is a great new plateau to be on. My life is different to how it was 10 years ago and there's a great sense of acceptance. It's a very exciting time to be releasing music again too."

"A journey I completed"? It's your bloody job, woman. And is it physically possible for a bridge to a new plateau? Or is this just the noise-making ramblings of someone who realises there's nothing very much to say about a nice-ish album of songs for dinner parties?

Christian comes out

This is Christian Chavez, one-sixth of RBD, who has become (apparently) the first out Mexican celebrity - although it's not entirely clear if he's outed himself or been outed. His public statement was released because pictures of his Canadian wedding had circulated, but surely you can't simultaneously affirm your love in public and be in the closet, can you?

"Certain photographs were released that show a part of me, a part that I was not prepared to speak of in fear of rejection, of criticism," he said in a statement on the group's website. "I don't want to keep on lying and lie to myself because of fear."

Oh. Apparently he hoped to.

Snow flurry

Mark McClelland, who was in Snow Patrol before Gary Lightbody told him they had creative differences, has prepared his riposte: Little Doses, which is a clunker of a name. (Does anyone else associate 'dose' with STDs? Just me then?)

He is aware that he'll be compared with the his former employers, but... well, he's setting his sights high:

"At first, reviewers will draw comparisons and take the Snow Patrol angle - and I can't help that.

"But once you've seen us play, you'll see we're a different proposition, we're a band in our own right. This is a new era; this is Led Zeppelin after The Yardbirds."

Well, to be fair, Led Zeppelin is an absolute clunker of a name as well.

Robbie Williams is not going to send thank yous

The cloying "cut out a rubbish card and send it to me to pass it on to Robbie Williams" stunt by Victoria Newton has generated a small flurry of responses from the sort of people you'd expect, and Victoria has published some of them today. (Oddly, Victoria seems to have forgotten to mention that she'd be printing the contents of the cards when she first requested the feature - doubtless nobody would mind, but it would have been nice to point out that you were opting in to having your simplistic messages held up to public ridicule ("shared with the public") by sending them via Victoria.

She also seems only to find space for four messages from the "sackloads" she's received. One imagines the must be small sacks.

Monday, March 05, 2007

(RED) figures

You'll recall project Red, of course, the initiative where Bono suggested we can hyper-consume our way out of global poverty? At the time, we did wonder if encouraging people to get into debt to help others caught in the global debt trap might not be a cosmic joke too far, but now it turns out that the charity itself has pitched in and run up some impressive debts of its own: Advertising Age reports that the initiative has raised an impressive sounding USD18million for the Global Fund.

Impressive sounding, that is, until you factor in that the companies involved in the campaign have spent, by some estimates, over USD100million on marketing. In other words, if the companies had halved their marketing budget and just handed that straight to the charity, it would have done nearly three times as much good. Except, of course, it wouldn't have given the companies such a wonderfully high profile at being so very, very good.

Pieces come off Machines

Secret Machines have split a little: Benjamin Curtis has quit the band, says their messageboard:

I am writing to make a couple of announcements. First of all I want to let everybody know that The Secret Machines have begun work on our third album. We expect to begin recording sometime in the beginning of May. Unfortunately, I also must share that after 7 and 1/2 years of playing music together Benjamin has decided to no longer be a part of the band. It is a sad day but also an exciting one as he prepares to focus full time on his new creative venture, School of Seven Bells. He has told me that he expects to be finished with a new record very soon as well as there being plans in the works to play some shows here in New York debuting the band. Of course Josh and I wish him all the best.

No word yet on if they'll replace him, or just hire in some cheap labour to plug the gaps. We're sending off a demo tape of us playing the mouth organ just in case.

Richard Park does Girls Aloud

This year's Comic Relief highlight, we're sure, is going to be the dream Eastend pairing of Danny Baker and Alan Sugar on the Apprentice special. Having said that, though, it was nice to see Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer getting screen time that didn't involve them in having to pretend to be interested in helping horrible people ruin perfectly nice neighbourhoods by moving in and complaining about traffic noise, although we can't work out why Comic Relief Car Booty didn't go the whole hog and do a crossover edition with Cash In The Attic.

Regardless, the bulk of the Comic Relief airtime is being given over to another celebrity version of Fame Academy, which means once again Richard Park has got hold of an idea that his musical opinions carry the weight of papal bulls in the wider world. This despite the two proper series of FA having delivered precisely that, in the form of Daniel Sneddon and Alex Parks.

Parks has, somewhat uncharitably, chosen to direct his ire at the two bands who have recorded this year's Comic Relief song, Girls Aloud and the Sugababes. Now, their version of Walk This Way is so pisspoor if it wasn't for charity you'd feel obliged to ask the Hague to convene a special panel to intervene, but both groups have back catalogues which contain some genuine pop gems. Not good enough for Park, of course:

he academy headmaster, known as Strict Dick, labeled Girls Aloud unoriginal and added: “As a head teacher of the Fame Academy I have to judge on voices and choose the best voices around.

“And I don’t hear a great deal of singing talent there.”

He continued to air his views on the Sugababes. “Well they came, they went and then they came back again. I feel they are an act driven by A&R departments rather than their own ability to sing.”

The really worrying aspect, of course, is that bit about being a headmaster choosing voices, as if he's not realised that his made-up school isn't a proper educational establishment, and, even if it was, Ofsted would have had it in special measures years ago. Even the bloody series has been canned, only getting a run out for Comic Relief because the event has been caught in an ever-repeating loop (even down to the 'entertainer goes to Africa and comes back with a documentary' element, now. Girls Aloud might be unoriginal, but - as Lenny Henry selects another crazy suit and Jonathan Ross prepares some slightly cheeky pre-watershed links - it seems we like the same again, please.

Bibby bibby kingdom come?

Now as much a regular fixture at Eurovision as the witterings of Terry Wogan and the UK having to cope with "double figures" as the best we can shoot for is the cross-border squabbling.

Israel's chosen entry for 2007 is Teapacks, whose song makes barely-covered reference to Iran's supposed plans for wiping their home country off the face of the Earth.

Not surprisingly, the organisers aren't exactly rushing to embrace this plan - not least because of the limited appeal of "let's hold the next contest in a country which believes it could be nuked at any moment". The song, they've decided, is political and as such breaches the rules:

“I understand this song is clearly political and the Eurovision Song Contest reference group will have to consider what action is taken,” said Heikki Seppala, executive producer of Eurovision 2007 at YLE, the Finnish broadcaster. “The future of the Eurovision song contest is in danger if there is politics in the show. It is not what people are looking for. They want good music and entertainment.”

To be honest, we're not entirely sure that the casual observer would be more surprised by a political tract in the middle of the show than they would be if they came across some good music.

Teapacks claim the song isn't political at all:
Teapacks are not happy at the prospect of being banned. Oz believes Push the Button should be allowed because it has the backing of ordinary Israelis.

“The song has a line that talks about ‘some crazy leaders’, but we didn’t mention names,” he told the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv.

On this basis, then 'Who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Hitler' would be out; a song clearly about Iran but not actually bothering to find a rhyme for Ahmadinejad should be in.

[Thanks to Michael Moran for the link]

Brains storm

Bad Brains are preparing their first album in four years: Build A Nation is done for us by the definitive Brains line-up of Dr Know, Darryl Jenifer, Earl Hudson and HR; it's being produced by long-term Brain fan Adam Yauch.

Talking of whom, a new Beastie Boys album, breaking a three year silence, is also due this summer.

From the man who brought you Jesus' grave

The increasingly curious world of James Cameron offers entertainments and delights. Last week he was running round telling anyone who wanted to hear that he'd found Jesus' grave; this week, he's pushing the idea of making pop videos in 3D. Interscope Geffen A&M Records has rushed forward to embrace the concept:

"When I saw what James Cameron was doing with his dedication and wizardry to the 3-D platform, it seemed like the perfect combination for us to do some groundbreaking work," said [Jimmy] Iovine.

Times, supposedly hard in the music business, not so hard as to piss away money on the sort of wonky concept that barely managed to amuse the simpler 1950s audiences for a fortnight and scraped together a half-hour of novelty in the early days of TVS. They've already poured cash into making a 3D video for a Gwen Stefani single (the video has never been shown) and so are thrilled at the idea of burning through more money making 3D live concert films.

And, yes, it does still require you to wear those glasses with the Quality Street wrappers in the lenses.

Jaws 3D, anyone?

Mars attacked

We're still far from convinced that Jared Leto has yet to do anything with 30 Seconds To Mars that tops his song "I Call Her Red" from My So-Called Life. But he's not without his fans, though: he inspired so much devotion last night that he wound up with a broken nose. This in El Paso.

Apparently, tour manager Kevin Lyman was alarmed:

"In all my 25 years of producing shows this was one of the scariest moments I have seen. We all hope Jared has a speedy recovery."

He wasn't that badly hurt, though - he even managed to make it to the end of the set and everything.

Kele: No good at Vice

Kele Okerke has started to have regrets about the deal Bloc Party cut in the US when they signed to Vice Records. It's more the parent company, really:

"That's one of the things that I most regret about our history. I wish I'd voiced my concerns at the time, articulated them more clearly.

"The people that we work with are lovely, and they're a separate company from the magazine, but Vice the brand just fills me with dread, really. It's a real kind of nasty vortex, where any decency and general compassion to other people has just been completely obliterated.

"I don't know if the magazine is still like that, but it certainly was very much so back then."

As Idolator points out, it's not like the magazine was recently bought out by the Barclay Brothers or something - it's been pretty much an amoral vortex for quite a while; certainly long before Bloc Party started to help underwrite their costs.

John Ashcroft: Will fight for food

John Ashcroft was Bush's first-term attorney general, and as such is used to having a degree of flexibility in his working life. You know, like being put in a position overseeing the investigation of campaign funding while claims that he abused his position in Missouri to fund-raise on State time (and stationery); and being the chief legal officer for a nation while simultaneously refusing to reveal contents of a memo allegedly offering advice to torturers on how to avoid being prosecuted for abusing human rights.

So, now that he's out of power - oh, up to a point - and looking to get involved in a little light lobbying, it's no surprise he's still spinning round like an elephant in a circle of mice. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ashcroft offered his services to lobby on behalf of XM, helping himself to the company's money ("helping the company through the regulatory hurdles in their upcoming merger with Sirius"). XM - perhaps worried about all that blood dripping onto their carpet - politely declined.

Guess what, though? Ashcroft has taken rejection on the chin - after all, he doesn't care about any of the policy implications, he just needs to top up his pocketbook. So now, he's helping the National Assocation of Broadcasters try to throw some hurdles in the way of XM's upcoming merger with Sirius.

It's not clear if Ashcroft believes anything at all; we probably can't afford the money it would take to pose the question to him.

You, Ah-Tube and the music: Mark E Smith

Today is the 50th birthday of Mark E Smith, one of the most doggedly cussed and brilliantly inventive musicians the UK has ever produced. Let's celebrate by looking at him as he does things:

A snatch of Cab It Up from a performance of I Am Kurious, Oranj, The Fall's collaboration with Michael Clark [NSFW if you work in a very strict place; video contains Brix E Smith on a giant hamburger]
Mark reads the football results on the now-defunct Grandstand
The now-legendary John Peel eulogy on Newsnight
Caitlin Moran interviews MES on Naked City from May 1994
Smith and Wilson on Granada's So It Goes in 1978
The Fall do I Am Frank on The Late Show - 1991-ish?
The Fall, apparently on The Tube, with John Peel presenting

Warners won't come knocking again

The sniffy reaction of the EMI board to what Warners saw as a perfectly good offer for its staff and offices and bits and bobs has caused hurt and upsetment.

Warners is now thought to be unlikely to up its offer, holding off until its seen the books before deciding if it's going to raise its valuation on the company. In teenage relationship terms, then, Warners has offered a couple of Bacardi Breezers and a bag of chips, but it's going to want to cop a feel before investing in a bottle of vodka and a bounce on the sofa in the back of it's elder brother's van.

The Moon's on with tunes

The geezerisation of Virgin Radio continues as the station's very studios trundle down towards Hackney: following the signing of Suggs, the network has now signed a big deal with Shane Richie. Shane was EastEnders' Alfie Moon, but is better known as having taken over the Daz doorstep challenge from Danny Baker and, of course, his seminal appearance on 3-2-1 with his sideway look at youth culture (i.e. he wore lycra and pretended to be bodypopping.) During that programme, Ted Rogers predicted that we'd be hearing a lot more from that young man, and how right he was. But surely even Ted couldn't have guessed that:

Richie will make his debut with an afternoon show on Easter Monday, April 9, which will be part of the station's "Great British Bank Holiday Weekend" celebrating "everything that's great and British".

Richie said: "I like to think of myself as voice of the people, friend of the stars. We're going to have a bit of fun here!"

We're looking forward to what Virgin might consider to be great about British things. The shortlist we've come up with is:

- Not Australian-born American-passport holding media moghuls
- Erm, that's it

Ricky Wilson: Your sinking heart is a liar

The Kaiser Chiefs are very proud of their new album, What Does It Matter? We Can Live Off Riot For Years. So proud, in fact, that Ricky Wilson refuses to believe anyone can think it's a half-arsed scrape together of a band which has run out of ideas. Indeed, should you play the CD with a gathering sense in the pit of your stomach that you've just handed over a tenner for a record whose contents would, frankly, have looked stretched as a seven-inch single, you're actually lying:

“I don’t want to sound big-headed, but anyone who says they don’t like the new album is just lying. It’s weird, we know it’s good.”

It's a great response to critics, though: rather than saying "No, I think you're wrong", tell them they're lying. Sadly, Wilson doesn't offer any explanation for why people might be lying. But if we take him as being correct, and the reviewers are refusing to admit their love of the record, that could only be because they'd be embarrassed at admitting they enjoy it. And does Ricky Wilson really think its better to be "too embarrassing to admit liking" rather than just "in a creative cul-de-sac"?

Hear Chris Martin and die

My old grandmother used to have a little saying: "You've got to eat a peck of dirt before you die." When I was little, I used to misinterpret this as meaning that before you were allowed to die, your cumulative intake of dirt had to add up to a peck across your lifetime.

I think of this as I hear Chris Martin insist he's written a song you have to listen to before you die, as I'm back to that confusion of my youth: does he mean that it's something you have to do to complete a life well-lived, or merely that listening to the song will kill you? I suspect the latter.

Martin seems aware that people think his band is a little boring:

"I think for a long time people felt like we were a band in black-and-white, and now we feel like because we have this incredible job, now we can do whatever we like and try all kinds of new things."

This would imply we should expect something that will challenge our very perceptions of what Coldplay is.

Or, on the other hand, that the record label has allowed them to have a full orchestra on two sweeping tracks this time round.
"In order for us to get excited about a new album, we have to have one song that we feel like everybody has to hear ... before we die, otherwise we'll be terribly depressed.

Well... that accounts for why they sound like a band on the point of a vodka-and-anadin cocktail the whole time, then.
"So luckily with this new record we're going to make, we have that one song… I can't tell you about it, but it's basically genius."

The burden of such self-doubt must be crippling for young Martin, don't you think?

Gallagher: When you're in love with a beautiful woman, you gotta watch your friends

In what seems to be a dispatch either from the 1970s or a particularly unpleasant nightclub, Noel Gallagher has been defending his wife from blokes what are lookin' at his bird:

“Everyone fancies my missus. Russell Brand is always asking after her. I have no doubt he would have a go if he got half a chance. But he won’t.

“Jason Orange and all the rest of them haven’t got a sniff either — I’m the one with millions in the bank.”

There's some sliver of self-awareness there - what have I got that Brand hasn't? Publishing rights on the first Oasis album - but... oh, charming... chattel... prattle... clear the coffee table off, we're going...

Francisco Santos invites Pete Doherty for a visit

We're always quick to slap The Sun around a bit here, so it's only fair to give it credit where it's due: they're starting a series of articles on cocaine by looking at the real problem the drug causes, in Colombia, instead of wasting time on a lot of hypocritical rubbish about the users at this end.

While Oliver Harvey is exploring the misery, ecological damage and violence cocaine production generates in the country, Vice President Francisco Santos invites Pete Doherty and Kate Moss to see the situation for themselves.

Harvey doesn't take the opportunity to ask about the curious "demobilazition" of the paramilitaries by the Colombian government, of course, and presumably thought it would have been rude to raise the murder last month of Yolanda Izquierdo, human rights activist murdered by army-linked gunmen. But it's all a start, isn't it?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Having helped to destory their own industry, the RIAA moves on

Internet radio. You'd imagine the idea of people streaming music on a small scale, to likeminded fans, would be popular with the RIAA. After all, it's a great way of promoting music; the streams without downloads would supply a lot of people with a music fix without soaking up their desire to purchase, and a properly-licensed service would also put some cash into the label's pockets. Virtue all round, right?

Nope. The US Copyright Royalty Board has just announced its rate card for the coming four years - oh, and retroactively for 2006, too. It's delivered what the RIAA asked for. At first, it sounds rather generous - a non-commercial organisation can get a licence for $500.

That's not overly generous - after all, $500 is quite a lot to find for someone who isn't commercial, but still, it's not impossible. However, if you're popular, and listeners clock up more than 159,140 "aggregate tuning hours a month", you're immediately classified as a commercial broadcaster - and will have to find the full commercial rate. Since, of course, a sudden surge in audience could suddenly turn a public service into one seen as a commercial network, you could suddenly find yourself having to pay a hefty sum - despite not having been able to make any money off the broadcasts as you were trying to stay non-commercial.

Even other organisations are going to have trouble - RAIN calculates, for example, that once you're popular enough to be able to sell advertising, you'll have to be paying for licences at a rate higher than you can sell commercials.

In effect, then, the RIAA has set up a system that is unworkable - and net radio companies will be faced with a choice of closing down, or shipping out of the US. Either way, by setting its demands insanely high, the US music industry has managed to throttle yet another potential revenue stream before it even starts.

Lightbody's evenings of heavy

Apparently, Gary Lightbody has stopped drinking because he was getting through thirty pints every evening. He was depressed, see:

“I started drinking at 25. I was being an arsehole. I was swearing at people, smashing equipment and acting like a dickhead. I loathed myself. At my worst I'd do maybe 30 pints of Guinness on a three-day bender. I've always got my finger on the self-destruct button. Drink's lost its appeal, to be honest. I don't drink on tour. I get very depressed and I lose my voice, which makes me even more depressed."

To be honest, we thought that being depressed was his thing - after all, how is he going to churn out primetime TV friendly downbeat droners if he's sitting chuckling to himself at today's Fred Bassett?

And we can't help wondering if the "thirty pints of Guiness" has more than a little in common with William Hague's 14 pints of beer, which he'd hoped would prove something about himself we'd find surprising.

Michael gazumps Muse

Muse had been poised to get a place in the record books - or, at least, a permanent walk-on part in pub quizzes - by loudly proclaiming themselves to be the "first band to play the new Wembley Stadium."

Now, though, it turns out they won't be: George Michael has snuck in and booked a date seven days before. He'll now get to test the acoustics - we're betting they're shit - on June 9th.

It's somehow fitting with our growing theory that Muse are everyone's favourite not exactly favourite band that they'll manage to be the first band, technically to headline Wembley, what with Michael being a solo artist and so on.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Stylus give you the basics to get by in sophsti-pop:

The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984) An inexplicable #29 hit in the US (Paul Weller’s first-ever taste of American chart glory—and his last), the Style Council’s definitive moment may be sophisti-pop’s, as well.

Seattle Trademark Lawyer breaksdown what happened when The Brokedown got a cease and desist from the The Brokedowns:
With 1,000 copies of their debut album already pressed, they went into “panic mode” and changed their name to The Broken West.

Village Voice meet up with Dean and Britta: once from Luna, now from, erm, Dean and Britta:
Another major change: Midway through the recording process, the longtime couple finally got hitched. I tell them that most couples like having that separation of work and home life; they reassure me that creatively, there's never any static. "I like that feedback," Britta says, looking at Dean. "There aren't that many people that if they said, 'I like it' or 'I don't like it', I would trust that."

Hour talks racism, music industry and intelligence with TV On The Radio's Kyp Malone:
"And I don't feel like being signed to a major is a prize," he continues. "The business end of music, it's ugly no matter what. Music and art is a social space that exists, and has existed, where black people helped create it - did most of the heavy lifting as far as rock'n'roll [is concerned]."

MP3Hugger provides a musically-illustrated guide to what happened to Slowdive after Slowdive:
Simon Scott played drums on most of Slowdive’s recordings from 1990 to 1994. On leaving the band he became a session drummer working with the likes of Chapterhouse and St. Etienne. His own band Inner Sleeve enjoyed a short existence on the Fierce Panda label after which Scott played drums with the much undervalued Lowgold. He currently heads up a shoegaze band named Televise who were formed in 2003 on foot of a brief sighting of Syd Barrett.

Boy George takes it online

Oh, Boy George, is this what you're reduced to? Sitting in front of a computer making tart remarks about pop celebrities?

Ouch... sorry about that, we just got a beam in our eyes. Never mind, spot of Optrex sorted it out lovely. Where were we? Yes, unable to find a record deal, George has decided to promote his music online. Of course, rather than do this by putting his music online, he's instead recorded a video which seems to be little more than a run through of his last five years of bitching. Not, of course, that he doesn't have a point:

He said: "Nobody has actually bothered to investigate the Kabbalah attitude to gay people and I can assure you that I have investigated it, and they are homophobic.

"And I do think it's shocking that somebody who has made so much money out of gay people is now part of an organisation which is clearly anti-gay. Having said that I rest my sling-backs."

You'll note, of course, his Dittoesque claim that he, and he alone, has investigated the attitude of Kabbalah to homosexuality - although that simply isn't true, as he'd have discovered during his investigations, surely?

He then rolls on through his usual stuff, as time-worn as a Ben Elton stand-up routine.

Elton John? Doubleseat
"He treats people like accessories. I was invited to dinner and during the meal all he did was try and get me to bitch about George Michael.

"Because I knew he was trying to pull my tongue I wouldn't do it. After the meal he drove off in his Rolls Royce. He had given me his number and when I called it, it had been disconnected - surplus to requirements."

David Furnish? Doubleseat, doubleseat
And David Furnish followed me into the toilet and banged on the door and said 'Why are you so horrible about my boyfriend?' and I said 'Look, let me go to the loo and I'll come out and talk to you'. The next day they fed a story to the newspapers that I was cowering from David Furnish."

And so on, and so on. Don't worry if you miss it - it's sure to come round again.

Jo: I tried to die

Still maintaining that her racism and bullying was something that happened to her rather than being something she did, Jo O'Meara has been telling the News of the World that she apparently tried suicide:

She wept: "I wanted to kill myself. I'd had enough of that show and what it had done to me. I just couldn't carry on living.

"Channel 4 weren't there for me. They left me to die while they counted their pound notes and raved about ratings."

The tormented star revealed she:

# LOCKED herself away and refused to go out.

# FAILED in her suicide bid because a friend came home unexpectedly.

# BELIEVES she was too psychologically fragile to go on the show

# FEELS betrayed and abandoned by Big Brother bosses.

We're not quite sure how the "being locked away" squares with having "friends coming home". Rather aptly, the friend who interrupted her was called Cindy Lazarus.

Obviously, it's terrible that Jo feels such a mess, but part of her trouble seems to stem from her total inability to accept that her behaviour was bullying and racist - instead she maintains that things were "manipulated" and that she'd "come across" ina bad light:
Jo blames the editing of her conversations with Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd for making them look like bullies ganging up on Bollywood beauty Shilpa Shetty.

But this is just simply not true - the key incident, where Jade was honking at Shetty while O'Meara and Lloyd sat giggling in support, wasn't "edited" to make it look like the three were ganging up on Shetty. The ignorant pieces about touching food with hands, and being slim because they don't cook their food properly: yes, you could argue that the editing picked out the worst bits - but they didn't make them up in the edit.

Her tale is rammed full of contradictions:
"I was abandoned. I was simply chewed up and spat out by Channel 4. I remember when I left that house, and I was in floods of tears, they promised they'd take care of me.

"They know full well how much I've suffered in the last few weeks but they've done nothing for me.

That does, indeed, sound terrible. Except:
CBB makers Endemol sent a psychologist to visit her three days after her release. Furious Jo claimed: "He said I should never have gone on that show because I wasn't mentally stable enough."

So... Channel 4 have done nothing for you, but then where did this psychologist come from?

Channel 4, for their part, suggest they've tried to help:
A Channel 4 spokesman said last night: "A senior producer and the psychologist have maintained regular contact with Jo through her representatives. The psychologist has made additional offers of support which Jo has not yet taken up. Her fee is being processed."

Apparently forgetting that we've all seen the programme, Jo tried to suggest that a couple of weeks in the Big Brother house is on a par with Guantanamo:
"Some days they'd lock you in a room for hours to provoke reactions between people and then we'd be woken by sounds of babies crying, people vomiting or wailing animals. It was mental warfare.

"They control your lives like they are God. They knew we were vulnerable in there and shamelessly exploited it. I was put through the meat grinder and almost lost everything for this poxy show."

If only it had been on twice a year every year for the last half decade, you might have had some idea what you were letting yourself in for, eh?

We're stil a little puzzled as to how Jo has been unable to work and unable to go out, and yet has somehow managed to be together enough sell her story to the News of the World. Let's hope the payment saves her house.

Britney fears

It's not that unusual any more for supposed sister papers The Sun and News of the World to knock down each other's stories, but this morning's NOTW knock-down of the Sun's suggestion that Britney's on the mend has a violence that could leave a shed in pieces.

In short: she's not doing alright:

In a week of rehab madness the bonkers beauty wrote the number of the beast, 666, on her shaved head before running round the clinic screaming "I am the Antichrist!" at frightened staff.

"Later that night she tried to kill herself," a friend told us. "She attached a sheet to a light and tied it around her neck. Paramedics were called, but luckily she was unhurt."

We're still trying to work out exactly what sort of clinic needs to call paramedics to deal with a medical emergency - we suspect one that isn't the best place for someone with what sounds like serious mental health problems to be in, to be honest.
Her pal told us: "She is still very vulnerable. Last Saturday she said she had the number 666 written onto her bald head. She was crying, and shouting, ‘I am the Antichrist!'

"The clinic people just didn't know what to do. Then she started screaming, ‘I'm a fake! I'm a fake!' It must have been really frightening.

If you're frightened by the behaviour of someone with a mental illness, perhaps being in a career working with people with mental illness isn't the best path to have chosen.

Kanye West orders take out

This is just making us feel peckish: Kanye West has ordered a take-away curry. He's having the British Raj's chef flown from Rogerstone (near Newport) to New York with a massive fish.

Let's hope he can get the Cobra lager through customs.

This week just gone

The last seven days on No Rock and Roll Fun:

The ten most-read individual stories on the site:
1. Heather Mills' nude calendar - which never existed
2. McFly naked - they're doing that again in this month's Attitude, you know
3. Lily Allen swaps her clothes under the sea
4. R Kelly sex video to be played in open court
5. KT Tunstall - does she like girls?
6. Mariah Carey does Playboy...
7. ... which is more stylish than Heather Mills
8. American Idol camp. It's not a joke
9. Jo O'Meara brazens out her behaviour
10. Charlotte Church's ex-lover sells story to News of the World

The two most-commented stories this week were about Everett True and - following us being condemned on some sort of Ocean Colour Scene message board - the new OCS album. Boy, those OCS fans can be sniff so mean.

The big news this week was the NME awards, which saw Victor Spinetti ("Mick Jones") presenting Bobby Gillespie with a godlike genius award after Kate Moss disappeared.

Also this week: Beth Ditto loved herself and loved herself some more; and amongst the hats being thrown into the Eurovision ring were Justin Hawkins, Brian Harvey and Scooch.

Five years ago this week, Liverpool's much-loved Voodoo club closed; Music Week flogged off DotMusic to BT - who would eventually sell it on to Yahoo; and Oasis released The Hindu Times: "George Harrison playing 'Does Your Mother Know?' by Abba on a sitar. Possibly in his death throes."

You can read the last week on one page or
skim the previous week in a single post.

And we tried to push these onto you (not the 30 Seconds To Mars one, that was more for the joke):

Dean and Britta's second post-Luna album: now it's almost all sex, all the way

The first of what we hope will be a long line of MSTRKRFT albums - "lyrics use dancing to signify fucking and fucking to signify dancing" reports Pitchfork

Dalek: like the other Daleks, Abandoned With Language will take you to dark, scary places and chase you through mental caverns. It won't, however, kill you.

Disappointingly, the Bluetones BBC sessions only have bits, not whole sessions

Amazon are pushing the new Patrick Wolf with a video interview

30 Seconds To Mars - a little old for this sort of thing now, surely?

Is it really thirty years since my brother bought his double vinyl Out of The Blue in that small record shop in Oakham?

Just be aware: Owning Nico albums wouldn't really get you laid in the 1970s; it really won't in 2007

Former Sunday Correspondent correspondent Sean O'Hagan returns to the studio with the High Llamas

The second batch of Torchwood episodes includes that one set in a barely-disguised Little Chef

Come on - That'll Be The Day and Stardust in one pack? What more do you want?