Saturday, August 18, 2007


Does anyone who reads this know Pete Waterman? If so, could you pop round and check that the old boy is okay? We're worried - seriously worried - as news reaches us that he's signed up the Sheila's Wheels advert women to make a proper single. It can only be a step away from Pete setting fire to the house trying to defrost his cat in the microwave, or selling his antique watches to a cold-caller for five pounds and a bag of fruit gums.

Not wanting to be cruel, but even by the standards of low-budget financial service adverts shown on daytime TV, the Sheila's Wheels girls had a the look of a casting session carried out against a tight deadline and a tighter budget. What is Pete thinking?

The only thing we can think is that he's trying to create The Reynolds Girls for a new generation.

Coco, the Coco Pops Monkey, has sent a demo CD to Pete Waterman's house, just in case.

Unsettling Sons

Paul Weller's son has, surprisingly, opted for a totally different career to his Dad. "I know that having a successful pop star as my Pop would give me an unfair advantage in the music industry, but really science is my thing. I want to be a molecular chemist."

Oh, if only. No, he's going into the family business , right down to the releasing not-very-good solo records bit:

"I am currently in the studio putting down vocals to a selection of gothic/ electropop tracks," Natt tells [The Daily Mail's Katie Nicholl].

"And my fashion style is kind of a mix between Victoria Beckham and Marilyn Manson."

Judging by the photos, he's taken the 'emperor's new clothes' aspect of Beckham and married it to 'six year old going to fancy dress party as Dracula' of Manson.

Are there any more at home like him, Paul? And if so, could you fix the childlocks on the front door?

Erm, yes, that'll help

We're sure it exists no more substantially than in the rum mind of the Daily Mail, but apparently Kate Moss is going to do a "tribute song" for Amy Winehouse.

To "cheer her up", of course.

And why would Kate do this?

Because, erm, she "listens to Amy on her iPod all the time".


'I'm not Uncle Disgusting'

Uncle Kracker has insisted that, despite being on a $75,000 bond for a second-degree forcible sexual offence, it was nothing to do with him:

"It's regrettable that someone would make this kind of an allegation, it's not the kind of thing that I'd do, as a father of three girls ... I'm saddened that anyone might think I'm capable of this sort of thing."

We're not quite sure why having three daughters makes you any less likely to commit a sexual offence - "congratulations, Mrs. Smith, it's a girl - now your husband will be a little less prone to being a rapist" - but obviously, he's entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Kasabian get our hopes up

We were thrilled by the NME headline:

Kasabian 'V Festival is the perfect farewell

But the detail was disappointing:
"This is the swansong for 'Empire'," guitarist Serge Pizzorno told NME.COM. "We've got some gigs lined-up but this these are the last big shows. Both these shows are the perfect farewell, it's the big 'thank you, see you on the next record."

This doesn't even make any sense - how can it be the farewell if you're still going to play it at a slew of gigs? It's like trying to divorce your husband but still schedule in some sex for the last few weekends of summer.

Death stalks the Prince of Darkness

Two deaths at the New Jersey Ozzfest date, both apparently caused by a combination of the heat and substance abuse:

Police are investigating the deaths of the pair, identified as Raymond Guarino, 26, of Forked River and Patrick Norris, 24, of Coram, N.Y.

After possibly taking drugs and alcohol, both passed out in separate incidents at the concert, went into cardiac arrest and later died. State police said the men were believed to have ingested cocaine, marijuana and alcohol before their deaths, and troopers who searched Guarino's vehicle found small amounts of both drugs.

Although both of the fatalities were adults, 59 of the 83 who were arrested were charged with underage drinking. Other charges included distribution of drugs, lewd behavior and providing alcohol to a minor.

So, it's clear what the Ozzy fans did with the cash they saved by not having to pay to get in, then.

V organisers have a private joke

With Amy Winehouse off not-getting-rehab-it-is-a-retreat to sort out her "problems", the V festival needed a big name who could be relied on to concentrate on the job in hand rather than getting lost in a haze of drink and drugs.

They called the Happy Mondays.

Surely, when gig bookers are suggesting that you;re less reliable than Bez, that has to be a wake-up call?

Robbie Williams is not easy to dislike

Ah, bless: Robbie Williams was Nigel Martin Smith's favourite:

"Robbie was my favourite because Robbie just wanted to perform," he explained. "If Robbie had ever come to me and said, 'Nigel, help.' Or, 'I'm having a problem with something,' I would have done it.

"If I had to do it all again, I'd do everything exactly the same, because I think it was all perfect. The only thing, personally, that I would do is spend a bit more time telling them how much I love them - which is probably what I didn't do, certainly in Robbie's case. I think that's where I went wrong."

So, there's a terrible tale: forget to tell your cash cow ("loved ones") how much they mean to you and they'll want to cut your eyes out with a Stanley Knife. A lesson for us all.

Shane Lynch: It's not easy being a boyband

Shane Lynch has decided to share with the world how terrible it is being successful and having everyone look at you:

"I can see why things go wrong for Britney Spears and other celebrities.

"And I have sympathy for Robbie Williams when he is unhappy.

"No one gives you a manual on how to deal with this unreal life.

"I grew up to be a mechanic in Dublin and am still that same person, so when I lived in a bubble and went everywhere first class and had everything done for me I didn't know how I was meant to live.

"I never needed to know where I was because I would be driven or flown there."

I'm not sure how far I buy this "ooh, I was only a mechanic" schtick - it's not like he was Amish and had never travelled on an escalator, and it's not like "travelling in first class" is so very different from sitting in coach - your seat can tip back without spilling Tango into the person's lap behind, and the food is nicer and is picked from a menu rather than someone barking "beef or chicken" in your face, but it's not so much of a culture shock as Lynch makes it sound.
"My parents would tell you they called me and I couldn't say where I was," he said.

"I know it sounds stupid because on paper I was having an amazing life but I thought the only way I could survive was by not knowing what was going on."

How would that even work? Sure, if people shuffle you on and off of planes, it's possible to not know where you are, but this is one of those rockstar cliches that is somewhat thin - if you don't know where you are, why not say "where are we"? It probably takes a special level of dullness to not have the wit to to worry about what town you're in.
"I had champagne and private jets but they didn't do a lot for me.

"That unreal life nearly destroyed me."

But is this a problem with fame and success as such, or is it just that some people have such unenquiring minds as to have the door to the world open to them, but don't even want to look through it.
"We can have all the material things but we are just people like everyone else.

"I had a normal life before Boyzone and will always consider myself a mechanic.

"I had a million-pound house and Ferraris but I now know having lots of things is not the route to happiness."

As Jarvis once said: what's the point in being rich, if you can't think what to do with it, 'cause you're so bleedin' thick.

Wire cutters

It's been quite a while since one of Nicky Wire's predictable but amusing attacks on his fellow musical toilers, but he's back on form for the V festival:

Of Snow Patrol he says: "They are utterly deplorable, there is something irredeemably shit about them, you can't quite put your finger on what it is.

"It's a desperate form of music, the endless repeated lines, over and over, the same drab fucking little thing on and on.

Even Snow Patrol fans might feel a little aggrieved at being accused of repeating lines endlessly from the You! Love! Us! You Love Us! You Love Us! Oh, You Love Us, Yeah You Love Us bloke, but Nicky is already moving on to The Killers:
[B]randing their second album "truly dreadful," adding: "There's no authenticity in that record at all, extremely false and calculated.

"People might like it, but people with brains don't."

And how do the 3AM Girls describe Wire in the piece?

He would be :
"the eye-liner wearing bassist"

Describing Nicky Wire as wearing a bit of eye-liner is like saying Danny La Rue sometimes wore heels, surely?

Pete Yoghurty

We're not entirely sure we're buying the story that "Pete is now totally clean", but are still interested in the claims of Adam Ficek about the band's love of healthy fruit:

"The problem comes when they try to palm us off with concentrate, that's when windows get smashed. It's bad when they give us non-organic fruit when they say it is organic. You can taste the pH level in the soil."

Um... the acidity or otherwise of the soil is no indication of whether the product is organic or not, Adam, as different soils have different levels of acidity naturally. Still, we bet the dealers know that Pete only wants crack grown in natural nutrients.

Snarled-up Gnarls

According to this morning's Sun, the second Gnarls Barkley album is all lined up and ready to go but is being held up because Danger Mouse is too busy working on Underground Animals.

Although what sort of self-respecting album would be ready to go and not leaked on the internet we can't begin to imagine.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Are NME's friends electric?

Although the smaller, paper NME might be enjoying a stretch of gentle decline, there's hope for the title, if not the magazine, in the newly-published audited online circulation figures for It's claiming a sizeable 1,693,196 unique visitors for June 2007. Although the offered comparision ("Ten years ago, the site recorded just 51,669 unique users") might be a slightly spurious one, it suggests IPC have hit on a web strategy that's working better than the offline plans. The question must be rumbling through the accountants heads' as to what difference the extinguishing of the magazine and redirection of investment in the virtual edition would make. And if over one and a half million people are happily using the site without buying the magazine, has the NME now become a webservice with an old-media spin-off?

Uncle Disgusting

We're not sure quite what constitutes a "second-degree forcible sex offense", but apparently that's what Matthew Shafer has been charged with. Shafer is - marginally - better known as Uncle Kracker, who had a brief chart dalliance in the first days of the century.

Immediate Future of the Left

Future of the Left are going to be busy. There's a new single, Small Bodies Small Bones, or Small Bones Small Bodies, or something like that; Curses, the album, following a couple of steps behind like a mortified teenager, and then a tour:

6 - Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
9 - Brighton Engine Rooms
10 - Exeter Cavern Club
11 - London Madame JoJos (single launch show)
14 - Hull Adelphi Club
15 - Leeds Faversham
17 - Glasgow Barfly
18 - Newcastle Head of Steam
20 - Birmingham Barfly
21 - Sheffield Casbah
22 - Coventry Taylor John’s House
24 - Newport Le Pub
25 - London Water Rats
Friday 26th September - Oxford Wheatsheaf

Plus ones for Minus The Bear

Considering the new received wisdom that albums are little more than adverts for tours, there still seem to be loads of artists out promoting their albums with tours. Minus The Bear are leaving chilly Seattle for a UK tour this December:

6 Yeovil Orange Box
7 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
9 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
13 Manchester University (Academy)
14 Birmingham Barfly
15 Oxford Academy
17 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
20 London Mean Fiddler

The album getting the support is next month's Planet Of Ice.

He's Beck, Beck, Beck!!!

Actually, the headline's a bit of a fraud as we can't find it in ourselves to be excited by the prospect of a new Beck single, even one getting a digital only release. With each new release, Loser starts to seem ever more like a lucky, weak Butthole Surfers rip-off, don't you think?

TW on the TV

Tony Wilson's last music TV programme, The New Friday, is getting a tribute broadcast this evening. Originally a pilto for a series that, in the end, Wilson was too ill to make, The New Friday was filmed at Urbis and includes Brian Molko, Enter Shakari and The Silent Parade. It airs on Channel M (Sky Digital 203) at 8pm tonight.

Brandy faces the power of four

With police still puzzling over what exactly happened in the Brandy death-crash, the civil law case against Brandy is gathering pace. The four parties suing her have been given the go-ahead to join together into one superlawsuit, starting this January.

In what shouldn't be seen as an attempt to influence potential jurors, lawyers representing the husband of the dead woman, Awatef Aboudihaj, has tsked over Brandy's apparent lack of contrition, expressed through continued partying.

Method Man offers to help out

Method Man has taken a deal to do community service after his legal-run in when he was stopped with dope both in his car and his bloodstream at a Brooklyn tollbooth.

His people are trying to spin it, though:

Defending his client's reputation, his lawyer Peter Frankel, tells the New York Daily News, "He's never been in trouble with the law before. This is a guy who flies in the face of all stereotypes about rappers."

Nice try, but only someone who'd smoked as much dope as Method man would buy that. Fly in the face of the stereotypes? He was so high, he could have flown over the Tollbooths.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Currybetdotnet recalls when Record Collector ruled the second-hand music industry:

If you've got an interest in music and music marketing, and have never read a copy, then you should grab one and have a look. Each month the magazine features in-depth articles and discographies of a range or artists from the fifties to (in my day) the nineties. There are a huge number of bands and artists that I know a wealth of information about because they were featured in Record Collector during my tenure at Reckless.

They often used freelance writers who were real specialists on one band or artist through being chairperson of the fan club or an ex-manager or something like that. I used to hope that one day I would get to write the definitive Record Collector article about one of my more obscure favourites, like Slab! or Globo or Tot or The Wolfgang Press or Clan of Xymox, but sadly that call never came.

And it is funny how you always seem to remember crushing blows to your ego many years later.

Bob Stanley delivers an overview of DRM and the persistence of vinyl in The Times:

Pop consumers, teenagers, have swung back to the spiritual beauty of the 7in-single, the album. To walk to school with one under your arm is a badge of honour. Downloads, by comparison, are so uncool.

The industry may dismiss this as a fleeting trend, but one group is taking it very seriously indeed. Having decided that no digital format is stable enough for posterity, the Church of Scientology has been pressing the collected thoughts of L. Ron Hubbard on to futuristic, nondigital, unbreakable, good old-fashioned vinyl.

Meanwhile, BBC News celebrates the 25th anniversary of the CD:
Jacques Heemskerk, who was one of the senior engineers involved with the optical side of CD players, said the team knew they were building a revolutionary product.

"It was revolutionary in many fields - the optics were new, the disc was new. At the start of development there wasn't even a laser that would work well enough for our needs.

"The most advanced laser at the time had a lifespan of only 100 hours."

He said the company had always planned on the format lasting at least 20 to 25 years.

"That was the model we had in mind although it seems that CD is going to last a lot longer than that. For many people the CD is still the original format, with others being derivative or back-ups."

Reading lists

None of the pop papers have had a good time in the latest round of ABC circulation figures, with the best performers Uncut and Mojo being able to point to just mild circulation drops year-on-year.

Q still leads the pack, but it continues to lose readers: down to 130,179 now, and perhaps thinking that the decision to drop CD covermounts might have been a little hasty.

In the weeklies, both Kerrang and NME lost sales, but - as they declined at similar rates - K! remains the world's biggest selling rock-weekly, with 83,610 copies aginst 68,151. NME's circulation is starting to get dangerously close to that of largely obscure monthly Classic Rock.

Amy flicks off the V

Amy 'no actual drug problem' Winehouse has confirmed that she won't be at V this weekend.

Meanwhile, her and her husband Baked Fresh-Daygoods have been to "pick up a guitar":

Winehouse and her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, were followed by 30 photographers on Thursday night as they visited three pubs in Camden, London.

Fielder-Civil told reporters the couple would be returning to a rehabilitation clinic after their night out.

Speaking to BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, he said: "We only came back to get a guitar, but of course in the paper that's interpreted that me and Amy are both so weak we left after three days."

It's not entirely clear why the guitar was in three pieces at three different pubs, nor why, if the guitar was so important, they couldn't have sent someone else to pick it up.
Before the couple were picked up by a waiting car, Fielder-Civil said recent newspaper reports that Winehouse was addicted to heroin and cocaine had been blown out of proportion.

"I wouldn't believe it no. I would say there are a few problems there, but certainly not the magnitude that my mum was falsely quoted as saying."

He added: "The main thing is that me and Amy are getting better. Don't worry, she's being looked after.

"We're going back to this retreat. She's determined to get well. It's not as bad as everyone thinks but she's fine, she's loved and looked after."

Being looked after and getting better, even although nothing was wrong. That makes sense, then.

MTV boots Allen

According to the 3AM Girls - with all the health warnings that go with that - MTV have dropped Lily Allen from this year's awards shows, worried that she won't get a visa:

"MTV were desperate to get Lily and they're furious with her visa situation. They've decided to pull the plug because they didn't want to leave it to the last minute to find out if she could or couldn't make it."

Allen's chances of getting a visa might be receding further. The same piece claims she's hiring lawyers to fight American demands that she take blood and urine tests as part of her re-application process:
A source tells us: "Lily's desperate to fulfil her September tour in the US, which included going to the MTV Music Awards in Vegas on September 9. But it's been much trickier than she's imagined - in particular being asked to take the tests which she considers irrelevant and unnecessary.

"She is determined to fight the system every way she can and that means hiring the best lawyers available."

That'll go down well - the American immigration department are well-known for the way in which they love to engage in debates about the quality of their rules.

We have some sympathy for Allen - the US seems to have replaced the idea of border security with pointless democracy - but much of immigration is "irrelevant and unnecessary", like people born in the last half-century having to pledge they weren't involved with Nazi Germany. But it's quicker and easier to jump through the hoops rather than pissing off the man by asking him to get rid of the hoop. After all, it's not like your blood or wee has anything in it it shouldn't have, eh?

Madonna's birthday do

Victoria Newton seems convinced that Madonna's birthday party was "traveller-themed", seemingly solely because Eugene Hutz played some music. Unfortunately, it's a theme she warms too a little too quickly:

I NEVER thought that MADONNA would spend her 49th birthday with a bunch of gipsies.

But the Queen Of Pop — who has millionaires BRAD PITT, GWYNETH PALTROW and STELLA McCARTNEY as friends — slummed it on her big day yesterday with a traveller-themed bash for 20 close pals.

The Sun doesn't have the best track record when it comes to Travellers - they ran a 'Stamp On The Camps' campaign a while back, and one of their journalists apparently opened an interview with a traveller by asking "where did you get the money for that television", so it's perhaps unsurprising at the tone of Newton's piece. Just try imagining her opening gambit with, say, "Pakistani" or "Germans" or even "taxi drivers" in place of "gipsie" - why does Newton feel able to suggest that spending time with people of any race would be "slumming it"?

It gets worse, though - the piece is headlined:
Madge gives her pals some gip

Even if the idea of rich people playing at being gypsies - on a par with blacking up, or that "African" party they had at Windsor Castle a year or two back - doesn't make you feel queasy, the use of 'gip' surely will. Newton's defence of a racial slur would presumably be it was meant in a punning way. Although since the other meaning of the word is pain, it doesn't make sense as a pun, either.

Madonna at least has the defence of being known for her well-meaning condescension; Newton really should know better.

Lookalike won't like a look at lookalike

The Sun gets quite excited this morning that Chanelle, the Victoria Beckham worshipping clone off of Big Brother, flew to LA to, erm, not get to meet Beckham:

WAG wannabe Chanelle ditched a chance to go back into the Big Brother house and jetted to LA this week in a bid to meet her idol.

Chanelle even tried to make a splash by turning up at LAX Airport in identical clothes to those worn by Victoria when she arrived early last month.

The ex-housemate was greeted by a few photographers — a far cry from the hundreds that turned up for Posh and hubby David’s arrival.

Yes, a newspaper did think that 'paparazzi don't turn out for a lookalike's arrival' was some sort of snub worthy of coverage.

If the paper's interested, there was a David Beckham lookalike round our way who failed to get picked for the England team. Hold the front page, everyone.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Not Elvis: Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes

Perhaps the most important contribution of Elvis to popular culture: If it hadn't been for his fame, then Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes would, almost certainly, have been called something else. This is their video for Grand Hotel:

A thirtieth anniversary worth celebrating

It's 30 years since the Mekons first came together - and I seem to remember back in 1987 Mat Snow writing a piece that totted up they'd had sixty members or so already crash through their ranks by then. On that basis, they must be up to several thousands by now. One of their every-so-often albums is now just-about-due, and indeed, Natural is going to 'drop' as they say, on August 20th.

There's going to be a small US tour in September to celebrate. Although the support is coming from Chumbawamba-turned-soloist Danbert Nobacon. Perhaps, if we're good, we'll get a tour too. Possibly without Dan involved.

MTV prepares to pimp itself

Could MTV be about to embark on a woeful new re-branding? Judging by a leak to Gawker, the network could be about to throw music out of the window altogether:

We're all scheduled to attend a mysterious "What does M stand for" MTV meeting at Milk Studios on Monday. No one has any idea what it's about. It's so weird, there are brightly-colored posters all over the halls with big letters saying "What does M stand for?" People have been defacing them by adding their own creative answers to the questions. My fave: A picture of (Ricardo) Montalban.

Any bets on M being suddenly reinvented as "My"?

Dave Gahan goes format crazy

Dave Gahan is, according to Side-Line planning a new single. It's going to emerge as a download on August 27th.

Then, in October, it will also come out as a seven inch.

And a 12" single.

Oh, and a CD single.

And a Maxi-CD single.

And a picture disc 7", too.

It's like the glory days of the early 1980s - we wonder if he's thought about releasing the 7" singles in a range of different-coloured sleeves as well?

Josh Homme notes reality tv star is not musician

The only-mildly-diverting war of words between Josh Homme and Sharon Osbourne has burst into something approaching life again. Homme has elected to not get syphilis or die, as requested by Osbourne:

"I don't know what she is or what she's done. Has she ever made any music? No. I don't know why her name is Sharon. She ain't sharin' anything."

To be fair, Mr. Homme, you don't appear to Josh overmuch. Who knew that characters didn't tend to reflect words that sound a little like your name.

Presumably Sharon will return in about a week and a half with an equally witty comeback.

Not Elvis: Public Enemy

Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me...

Twelve years after Presley's death, and Public Enemy start the fight to take it back. Obviously, it's all going to end badly - in Sideshow Flav's case, in a career-end as embarrassing as anything Elvis managed in his rhinestone finery. But for a moment...

Allofmp3 cleared

In a bad loss for the music industry, a Russian court has cleared Denis Kvasov, head of Allofmp3 of charges relating to copyright theft. It seems, under Russian law, payments to ROM count, even if ROM is not affiliated to the RIAA-IFPI:

Kvasov always said he was within the law because the site paid part of its income to ROMS, a Russian organisation which collects and distributes fees for copyright holders.

The judge agreed with his defence.

"Everybody who uses soundtracks has to pay a certain amount of their income to the rights holders and this company has done that," she said. "MediaServices has paid a certain amount of money to ROMS."

The IFPI has announced plans to appeal - really, it has no choice now, as its actions so far have turned a grey area into a legal acceptance of Allofmp3's business plan. And it's not just the labels who will be hoping this judgement gets reversed - Visa might find itself in a bit of an awkward position if it has to explain why it stopped processing credit card payments for a perfectly legal business.

More Thurston Moore

It's been so long since Thurston Moore's last solo album, you might be forgiven for thinking it never happened. But it did, in 1995. He's finally got round now to doing another: Trees Outside The Academy is due out on Ecstatic Peace this September; there's a tour but you'll have to be American in the US to go to it. Because that's where it is.

Adams gets clean

Ryan Adams has quit drink and drugs, possibly through a 2-for-1 cleaning deal at Bollom. He's quite proud:

"I'd wake up, work, go for a drink or two and be exhausted," he told Rolling Stone magazine about his former habits. "I would have drugs to keep my physical being going in order to never have to stop working in the night."

"Think about falling off a bicycle and smashing your nuts on that bar, or the most horrible sports accident you can think of," he continued. "That doesn't cover what it would be like for me to imagine drinking or doing drugs again."

This proves that there is scientific need for you to have an implant provided for you by the money earned from your girlfriend's supermodelling jobs.

It's not clear if Adams will now release fewer records, although the smart money is on him no longer churning out six or seven records at a time.

Not Elvis: Felt

Continuing our day of Elvis-sideways videos:
"There ain't a lot I can do about it, though/ force-fed your so-called heroes". Lawrence from Felt demolishes the very idea of there being a Pantheon:

Less Than Capital

The latest set of radio audience figures are going to make grim reading for GCap, as their flagship station, Capital, has sunk badly. The once-impregnable FM network is now the fourth-placed commercial station in London, having been bested by not just Magic and Heart, but also by Kiss. Johnny Vaughan's breakfast show is feeling Neil Fox's Magic breakfast snapping at its heels. GCap's Fru Hazlitt is trying not to panic:

Fru Hazlitt, the GCap London managing director, said Capital was still in the process of transition from "the Capital of the past to the Capital of the future".

"The positive is that we have done pretty well with 15- to 34-year-olds. We have shed a number of our 45-pluses," said the former Virgin Radio chief executive who joined GCap three months ago.

"It is not an easy process to transform a station that has basically become your parents' brand into a contemporary hit music station. The fact that actually we are still up there is testament to the power of the brand.

"There is no easy path and I knew that when I joined."

To be fair, she has a point - Capital's malaise is down to years of not being quite sure how to refresh the network, but we don't remember her announcing her plan as being to destroy the place before rebuilding.

Not Elvis: Dread Zeppelin

With so many Elvis tribute acts, you have to do something to stand out. Briefly, Dread Zeppelin - who did reggae covers of Led Zep songs with an Elvis impersonator on lead vocals - stood out, although possibly not in a good way. This is Immigrant Song:

Radio 1 is Wonderful

To mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Light Programme, Radio 1 has effectively copied the NME's 40th anniversary celebration by getting current artists to record tracks from the last forty years.

Victoria Newton is excited:

KAISER CHIEFS kick off the album with their cover of the first track ever played on Radio 1 — Flowers In The Rain by THE MOVE.

Um... second track, Victoria. As every schoolchild knows, the first track played on Radio 1 was Beefeater by Johnny Dankworth, which was Tony Blackburn's theme music.
One track I can’t wait to hear is THE GOSSIP’s version of GEORGE MICHAEL’s Careless Whisper.

Really? You can't wait to hear it? Alright then, go to YouTube.

We're just surprised that there's anyone left alive who hasn't heard them do it, what with it being a live favourite. This performance is from, erm, Radio 1's Live Lounge. But it's also available on iTunes, Victoria. Wait no longer.
It is great to see KYLIE back with her first recorded track since recovering from cancer.

The jilted singer recorded Love Is A Drug by ROXY MUSIC, which could be a nod to her relationship with OLIVIER MARTINEZ.

Or, perhaps, Victoria, it's a reference to the drugs she took while recovering from cancer? Or, just maybe, it's a song that she'll be able to do a corking cover of? Oh, and it's Love is THE Drug.
JO WHILEY’s Live Lounge show has been a pioneer in getting bands to perform cover tracks outside of their comfort zone.

Yes, nobody ever did an "unexpected cover" before the Live Lounge (which is a feature, not a show, Victoria) - why, I'm sure none of us can remember Peel introducing a session track with "this is a cover, and maybe not one you'd expect" or words to that effect on dozens of occasions.

The list in full:

1967 – Flowers In The Rain (The Move) by Kaiser Chiefs
1968 – All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix Experience) by The Fratellis
1969 – Cupid (Johnny Nash) by Amy Winehouse
1970 – Lola (The Kinks) by Robbie Williams
1971 – Your Song (Elton John) by The Streets
1972 – Betcha By Golly Wow (The Stylistics) by Sugababes
1973 – You’re So Vain (Carly Simon) by The Feeling
1974 – Band On The Run (Wings) by Foo Fighters
1975 – Love Is The Drug (Roxy Music) by Kylie
1976 – Let’s Stick Together (Bryan Ferry) by KT Tunstall
1977 – Sound & Vision (David Bowie) by Franz Ferdinand
1978 – Teenage Kicks (The Undertones) by The Raconteurs
1979 – Can’t Stand Losing You (The Police) by Mika
1980 – Too Much Too Young (The Specials) by Kasabian
1981 – Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie) by Keane
1982 – Town Called Malice (The Jam) by McFly
1983 – Come Back And Stay (Paul Young) by James Morrison
1984 – Careless Whisper (George Michael) by The Gossip
1985 – The Power Of Love (Huey Lewis & The News) by Pigeon Detetives
1986 – Don’t Get Me Wrong (The Pretenders) by Lily Allen
1987 – You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate) by Stereophonics
1988 – Fast Car (Tracy Chapman) by Mutya Buena
1989 – Lullaby (The Cure) by Editors
1990 – Englishman In New York (Sting) by Razorlight
1991 – Crazy For You (Madonna) by Groove Armada
1992 – It Must Be Love (Madness) by Paolo Nutini
1993 – All That She Wants (Ace Of Base) by The Kooks
1994 – You’re All I Need To Get By (Mary J Blige) by Mark Ronson
1995 – Stillness In Time (Jamiroquai) by Calvin Harris
1996 – No Diggity (Blackstreet) by Klaxons
1997 – Love Fool (The Cardigans) by Just Jack
1998 – Ray Of Light (Madonna) by Natasha Bedingfield
1999 – Drinking in LA (Bran Van 3000) by The Twang
2000 – The Great Beyond (REM) by The Fray
2001 – Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus) by Girls Aloud
2002 – Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake) by Maximo Park
2003 – Don’t Look Back Into The Sun (The Libertines) by The View
2004 – Toxic (Britney Spears) by Hard-Fi
2005 – Father & Son (Yusuf & Ronan Keating) by The Enemy
2006 – Steady As She Goes (The Raconteurs) by Corinne Bailey Rae

Surely KT Tunstall should have been disqualifieed from doing Lets Stick Together on the grounds that it was a cover?

Jamelia throws it in 3AM's faces

Despite 3AM having covered every move Jamelia has made for the last couple of years like she was Britain's Britney, Jamelia has only gone and given the launch interview for the Greatest Hits collection to The Sun.

Where's the gratitude, eh, where's the... hang on: Greatest Hits? Has she really got enough tracks for a Greatest Hits?

“It seems the right time to put out a Greatest Hits and have all the best tracks I’ve recorded from the past ten years on one album.”

So, that'd be Superstar and... well, there was probably a remix of Superstar.

Embed and breakfast man: Not Elvis

It would be foolish to suggest that Elvis Presley hadn't been responsible for some great pop moments. It's just he wasn't directly involved in most of them.

Today, then, by way of tribute, some of the peanut-butter-greased fingerprints he left on popular culture.

First - appropriate for today - Elvis Is Everywhere by the great Mojo Nixon:

more listed here today
Dread Zeppelin's reggae Led Zep fronted by Elvis routine
Felt - Middle of the Road
Public Enemy - Fight The Power
Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes - Grand Hotel

Thirty years on

Even although I was very, very young at the time - still hadn't worked out that the summer holiday was some kind of trick - I can still remember hearing the news about the terrible, pointless loss of life in Memphis that August day thirty years ago.

Oddly, though, it's not Elvis' death which has stayed with me across three decades, but the reports on Radio 2 News about the two girls killed outside Gracelands when a car ploughed into the mourners. Elvis himself? That was just Top of the Pops cutting a song to fit in a "tribute" - pointless, as it turned out, as death was about to float him up the chart again, carrying him aloft, like Styx. Only with the Estate rushing to get the pennies off his eyes.

It's not that I disliked him - frankly, he hadn't made much of an impression on me before he took his final trip to the toilet (he was no Carpenters, say) and my young mind didn't think there was much point in paying to attention to him now. I'd done death already - it meant grandparents stopped popping round once a week with a bag of shopping they'd picked up, so it seemed that this Mr. Presley dying meant that we'd not be seeing him around any more, either.

That turned out to be wrong.

History is littered with people who built things, and people who were first to do things. Both are noteworthy, in that their names are noted, but it makes sense to reserve your awe for the man who built the bridge, rather than the bloke who went across it first of all. Elvis, I think it's fair to say, was a bridge-crosser, not a bridge-maker, a man who followed a route rather than plotted a map.

It's telling that he's known as The King - a title handed down to people by accident of birth, signifying wealth built on the exploitation of others. An honorific, not an earned title.

That the TV today will be full of people in white suits screwing up their faces and going "uh-huh-huh" shows that he wasn't even inimitable.

He did make some great records - he had an excellent ear, he had access to the work of legendary writers, he was surrounded by people who either knew what they were doing, or had the luxury of being able to make it up as they went along.

He was the first of his kind. But let's not confuse first with best. Had he lived, we'd probably find him a little embarrassing nowadays, like Cliff Richard, uncertain how to balance the respect for what he was with against the awkwardness of what he's become.

Raise a drink to Elvis Presley, and his memory. But don't make the toast "The King".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Did the festival result on an increase or decrease in your business turnover?

Interesting: Mendip Council is attempting to measure the impact of the Glastonbury festival on the local economy. It's inviting local businesses to complete a survey which, once the numbers are crunched, will discover the extent to which the festival helps, or hinders, the all-important local economy.

Of course, if Mendip Council has both its wits sharp and its heart in the right place, it would be using this as a starting point to discover how much of the cash generated from the festival is spent locally - if the amount is high, that would imply the festival is taking a sustainable approach; if large proportions of the money floats into Somerset and then floats out again, that would suggest Festival Republic might be generating a much larger carbon footprint than it should. But let's not pre-judge.

Presumably this means no 'Britain's Got Talent - On Ice'

The much-ballyhooed 'satirical' musical based on American Idol has proved to have an even shorter shelf-life than Kelly Clarkson. It's closed after one night.

Sadly, it hasn't taken Simon Cowell down with it.

Pink dots, black circle

The Legendary Pink Dots are lining up a hyper-limited, gorgeously presented, vinyl-only rerelease of their 2004 Alchemical Playschool album. The CD version was limited to just 400; the vinyl edition will comprise just 250 copies. The free poster they've chucked in might just be over-egging.

From both sides of the smack-tunnel

It's truly cheering news to hear that Shack are about to release a best-of, hopefully going some way to plugging the gaps in their back catalogue generated, mostly, by their wobbly pasts.

There's also a tour in support:

Leeds Faversham - October 15
Oxford Zodiac - 16
London Bush Hall - 17
Nottingham Rescue Rooms - 19
Brighton Concorde2 - 21
Birmingham Barfly - 24
Liverpool Academy (old L2) - 26
Sheffield Leadmill - 28
Glasgow Classic Grand - 29
Newcastle Academy2 - 30
Manchester Academy - 31)
Stoke Sugarmill - November 2

There's your Daz doorstep challenge for you

In a bid to raise money for Trekstok, Johnny Borrell is auctioning off his stupid white jeans.

Presumably, like Mickey Rourke in 9½ Weeks, Borrell has a wardrobe squashed full of identical outfits, and these aren't the only white jeans he owns. Otherwise the next time he's live on the telly, it's going to be him bouncing about in a tiny g-string, like the lovechild of Prince and Big Bird.

V festival bill continues to crumble

Winehouse is probably out; Allen says she's in, but you can't be sure. Bright Eyes have gone. They're predicting it's going to tip down.

And now The Bravery have pulled out of the V festival.

There's no explanation as to why and, since they've been replaced by the-not-exactly-similar Robyn, it doesn't seem like V organisers could even be bothered any more.

There's lots of discos in the South of France / I'm too shy to speak, but I can manage a dance

Where do you suppose Liam Gallagher has gone on holiday?

St Tropez, that's where.

Something to consider the next time he starts lecturing the world about what is, and what isn't, "rock".

Another unpaid legal fee

It's quite touching to discover that Michael Jackson apparently applies the same standards to services as to goods - the taking without paying, of course. He's being sued for unpaid legal bills for the second time this year.

Wonder if he just walks into the lawyer's offices and goes "woo-hoo!" like he did with that tatty furnishing store on the Martin Bashir documentary?

Doherty meets Robinson?

Sadly, since it's sourced from the Daily Express, we're not convinced that Pete Doherty is trying to get on The Weakest Link. Even though we'd love to believe he thinks its the way back to Kate Moss' heart:

"People might not realise it but I am well educated and well read,” explained Doherty. “I can prove to people there is more to me than just drugs."

What 'people' would not know that Doherty had a good education? Presumably if you were unaware of his upper-middle class background, you might be slightly surprised that he went to good school and achieved a trilby-hat full of certificates, but Kate Moss, surely, would already know this? And if you wanted to prove your brains, wouldn't you aim for something slightly higher than the pub-quiz level of The Weakest Link: a Mastermind, maybe, or a stint on Radio 4's Round Britain Quiz at the very least?

Even if Pete did win the Weakest Link, he'd still be fighting the aura of stupidity created by telling the Daily Mirror how horrible Moss was would be the way to win her back.

If Elvis had really died, he'd be turning in his grave

It's possible to divide, equally, by ten, the number of years since Nixon-hugging drug-addled man mountain Elvis Presley waddled off to meet his maker - an anniversary which no true money-grubbing marketeer ("fan") would want to pass without note.

Highlight of this year's mawkish memorabilia-shifter - if "highlight" is the word for something so dark - is one of those frightening duets where they make a kid sing along with their dead father.

Yes, someone has taken In The Ghetto, and invited Lisa Marie Presley to honk over the top of it:

"We had two hours to lay down my vocals," she says. "So the next morning, I heard the rough ... and ... I've never cried when I've done anything ... ever ... but I just lost it when I heard it."

Hard though it might be to believe, she doesn't mean tears of a "forgive me Lord, for what I have wrought" nature.

Oddly, Lisa Marie is protective of her pop's legacy:
Lisa Marie Presley also talks in the interview about how she was offended to see her father's song "Viva Las Vegas" used in a Viagra commercial. "I find that revolting," she said. "Some songs we have no control over. I know we didn't license that one."

So, it's okay to take one of the songs and squawk over it like you're Kelly Osbourne, but using a song in an advert? Ooh, that's cheap.

Although knowing Elvis' love of drugs, both prescribed and unprescribed, he'd have probably have happily signed on the viagra ad himself in return for a shipment.

You've also got to love the idea of choosing In The Ghetto. At least when Elvis sang it, he was doing so with a background of having come from a poverty and desperation which must have seemed inescapable. Lisa Marie, somehow, won't be bringing the same perspective to it. It'd be like John Reid turning out a performance of I Enjoy Being A Girl.

The Osmond reformation

We can't be certain there was an ancient scripture warning us about the events that would flow from the reuniting of the Osmonds, but we can't help noticing since they got back together on stage, it's gotten awful windy outside.

"It's just a reminder that we're all one big happy family," Merrill Osmond said.

"We make a great shepherd's pie," added Jimmy, "with a pretty garnish named Marie".

Surely adding a woman as a garnish to a pie is more Sweeny Todd than Little Jimmy? And if we were Marie, we'd object to the suggestion that our contribution to the group was little more than an eye-pleasing dusting.

Mind you, it's still very self-aware of Jimmy to compare himself and his brothers to a shepherd pie - a dish made to try and give some flavour to leftovers, padded out with a lot of starchy potatoes.


Making Crimea's brief album giveaway look on a par with turning up at a Bring A Bottle party with the same half-bottle of Drambuie you pinched from the last one you went to, Ooberman are currently giving away their entire back catalogue.

For, like, free.

They're either very, very generous; very, very hacked, or have just drunk a half bottle of Drambuie.

The Fratellis: Where confidence becomes smug

Jon out the Fratellis has been putting minds of their fans at rest. They seem to have been worried about the second album:

"I can't help noticing a few of you are worried about the new album, where it's going, what it'll sound like and that sort of thing. Don't worry about it, we're not."

That's continuity, then, as the first album sounded like a band who wasn't worried about what it was going to come out like.
"If you don't have three albums written when you get signed then you're not worth the ink.

"The new one has been half-written since we did the first album. There's no great mystery to it, just write a bunch of songs that are better than the first lot, so we did."

This is all starting to sound a little we're so good at sophomore albums, isn't it?
"It'll surprise you but you'd have to deaf, dumb or just plain thick to be disappointed. Thankfully you guys seem to be none of them.

"I'm not going to make any great proclamation as to how good it is as it's all in the head at the moment. All I'll say is that it will be hands down better than the first one, and if this wasn't the case we'd give up.

"We'll play you some new tunes come the end of the month and they'll be thunderous."

We know Jon probably didn't mean to imply he didn't want people with hearing or speech problems to be part of his fanbase, but that's what he seems to have done by accident: "Thankfully none of our fans are deaf or dumb."

That might be the sort of thing that happens when you don't worry enough about your work.

Er, thanks for that, Kanye

We know you'll have been wondering what Kanye West is making of all this Amy Winehouse business.

No? Oh.

Well, for what it's worth:

I love Amy Winehouse. But she needs to stop the drugs. Should she go to rehab? Yes, yes, yes!"

You can see what it is he did there, of course.

McCartney on the South Bank

Luckily, the plans to turn the London Eye into some sort of giant, rotating billboard to promote a Paul McCartney DVD seems to be a temporary idea rather than a bid to make a permanent memorial, but oh my, it's set the 3AM Girls a-giggling:

Because we can exclusively reveal that the London Eye could be renamed the McCartney Eye.

No, wheelly!

We reckon tourists would flock to see Macca's 65-year-old eye projected on to the wheel - as it will probably be the only time the London Eye will have bags under it. (Only joshing Macca!)

Yes. Almost joshing.
Our source added: "If it goes ahead, it will be a massive boost for Macca to be associated with one of the most well-known attractions in London. "It's ambitious but his people are determined to make it happen and Sir Paul may even perform a one-off show in one of the pods to make it even more special."

Well, he was no stranger to getting high when he was a Beatle. At least this time it'll all be legal.

Enough! Enough! Our sides can stand only so much.

Victoria Newton tries a new acronym

Oh good lord. The Arctic Monkeys have decided they'd like to take their girlfriends off on tour of America, which is apparently enough to try and generate a class of musical hangers-on:

Scouse Katie [Downes, Jamie Cook's girlfriend] told me: “There is a big gang of us from Liverpool going over.

“We are like the WAGS of the band — but we get on well.

“I can’t wait to see Jamie, it feels like I don’t see him for ages when he’s away on tour.”

It would seem that way, Katie, because, erm, he's away for ages.

It's bad enough that soccer has generated this fascination with people who seem to have given up their own identity to be part of a circus of hangers-on; the last thing we need is for that to be shifted to music as well.

So, is Newton cracking down on it? Or encouraging it?

What do you think?
I’m now calling the girls the BAGS — Bands’ Attractive Girlfriends.

You do realise that actually made it into the final article, Victoria. Bags? Really?

If the Arctic Monkeys don't want to go the way of Noel Gallagher, they might want to suggest to their girlfriends they're better off remaining individuals rather than being subsumed into a meaningless Stepfordesque group.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The man hates NIN. Apart from the TV man.

Nine Inch Nails are going to have to try and pull of a difficult act, if Trent Reznor is simultaneously going to be able to trade on his edgy outside status and simultaneously successfully pitch a series based on the latest album.

We're not even sure how you spin a series off the back of an album, and we really hope that it doesn't become a common idea. The last thing we need is Back To Bedlam: The Series.

Eyes less bright

Conor Oberst has pulled the UK Bright Eyes gigs as he's quite overcome with a fever:

With regret Brght Eyes has cancelled this week's shows and appearance at V Fest (Bristol Aug 15; Liverpool Aug 16; Nottingham Aug 17; V Fest Aug 18 & 19). Illness has forced the cancellation. Bright Eyes would like to express their utmost thanks to all their fans and supporters and sincerely apologize for this unfortunate occurrence.

Poor Conor, lying in bed, sweaty, twisting, turning, unable to settle, his pyjamas sticking to his skin... uh... ahem. Yes. He hopes to be well enough for the forthcoming Alaskan dates next month.
-You do know, smiled Conor, that isn't the best place to put a thermometer...
- I know that... but I didn't say I was going to be using a thermometer to take your temperature. Now, turn over
- I'm sick, you know.
- I sure as hell hope so...

ITV: No cash to the hospices

Finally, ITV have confirmed it. They did run the Challenge Anneka programme as an opportunity to swell ITV's coffers:

No money was donated from the advertising sales. The charity money was raised purely through CD sales.

Which is, of course, a miserable two quid from the cover price.

We're not even going to bother asking if ITV made more selling advertising slots on the programme than the charity did from selling the CDs. Instead, we'll just point you in the direction of the Association of Children's Hospices website where you can make a donation without having to buy a record with Duncan James on it.

Is it only Ringo holding out now?

After Paul McCartney foisting Dance Around onto Apple as a peacemaking iTunes advert, now John Lennon's schmaltzy pop hypocrisy is coming to the store - so you can legally download that one about imagining no possessions onto your desktop, upload it to your iPod, and sing along with it as you drive to work.

And, actually, Ringo and George Harrison's solo stuff is expected to join their former colleague's post-interesting work on iTunes by the end of the year.

Mama takes the fiddle while the Fiddler becomes festive

Some horse trading in the live music market in the UK: Mama has bought the Mean Fiddler, rights to the trading name and its venue portfolio to add to the Barfly business. It plans to reopen The Mean Fiddler, and also bring the Garage out of mothballs.

Meanwhile, since the Mean Fiddler promotions company has flogged off its name, it's having to rebrand itself. Henceforward, then, the LiveNation promotional arm will be called Festival Republic. But since it was probably thought up by the same branding experts who came up with LiveNation, what do you expect?

Festival Republic will also continue to opereate the Astoria venues - although since the Astoria is due to be demolished to make way for Crossrail, that might just be until the Compulsory Purchase Order drops through the letterbox.

Game show man doesn't like the Spice Girls

Louis Walsh - who has brought us such joys as Westlife, Shayne Ward and... whoever won the X Factor last year - isn't impressed with the Spice Girls reunion:

"They have nothing else to do, nothing else is happening in their lives. One's just a wife of a footballer and the others are not on the radar. They're well past their sell-by dates. I'm sick of them, like I'm sick of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Let's focus on people with talent and the next big thing."

It's a great idea, Louis, although if everyone does that, what would be the point of the new series of the X-Factor, being as it's crammed full of people with no talent who aren't on the radar for a very good reason?

Liverpool bands plot Wilson tribute

Liverpool is set to pay tribute to Tony Wilson - who was, after all, their local newsreader too - with a tribute gig that might include The Farm, Pete Wylie, the Bunnymen and... oh, you can probably write this list yourself.

The bands have been paying their tributes:

Peter Hooton, from The Farm, told the ECHO: “We had wanted to do something when he was alive to show how much he was appreciated. It was because after John Peel died there was a great outpouring of grief and tributes which he obviously never got to see. It was all banter with Tony, it wasn’t vitriolic. He loved football and music.

“We played at the Hacienda with the Happy Mondays and were always skitting him in the press about how well dressed he was.

“I’m pretty gutted. He’ll be sadly missed.”

More tributes were today paid from people on the Liverpool music scene including singer Ian McNabb. He said: “I remember he asked me to play at In The City when Liverpool hosted it some years back and he did a wonderful speech about Liverpool music and the so-called rivalry between the two great north-western cities.

“He loved music, pure and simple, which made him one of us.”

Singer Pete Wylie said: “When you look around at what’s happening now with the Capital of Culture, you realise Liverpool needs its own Tony Wilson, a man who dedicated his life to promoting the arts in a city he loved.”

Extra points, of course, to Mr. Wylie for managing to find room in a tribute to a deceased Mancunian to have a pop at Liverpool City Council.

LCD Fire

We do love split records, and are delighted that in this age of downloady-digitilisation there are still bands willing to team up to do them.

Bands like LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire, who are coming together for an ass-to-ass 7". The LCDs will be doing Joy Division's No Love Lost while the Fire puts out Serge Gainsbourg's Poupee de Cire, Poupee De Son.

Heh heh... he said 'poopy'. Heh heh.

The thing will be available during the band's joint US tour, and on "various websites". Of which eBay will be just one, we suspect.

Holloways try to nab business class seats

Larks in the skies, with the Holloways having to be kicked out of business class seats booked by Kasabian during a flight back from a Japanese festival.

Mind you, it's a little bit surprising to discover Kasabian fly business class - surely Serge is way too rock and roll for a delicate eye-mask and a pair of complimentary airsocks?

Now, at last, she can go on stage barefoot...

Sandie Shaw has had some cosmetic work done: on her feet.

No, we didn't know there was anything wrong with them:

"I have always wanted beautiful feet, the kind that step out encased in dainty, diamante, strappy extravaganzas, that tick-tack across sun dappled marble floors, and from which expensive champagne is drunk."

"My husband says that when I was being created the design team did a great job until they got down to my ankles when they were called off on another job and a clumsy apprentice was left to finish me off.

"It is ironic that I am so well known for singing barefoot."

To be honest, we'd have considered keeping the feet and having some heavy work done on the husband if we'd have been in Sandie's position.

People are fragile things, you should know by now

We'd always wondered if there were people in Britain who lived in day-to-day fear of terrorism, convinced it's only the careful decanting of shampoo into 100 millilitre bottles before going through security that stops us from all being murdered in our beds.

We're really surprised that there are, and that Editors' Chris Urbonowicz is one of them:

"England is not a great place to be at the moment. I retreated high up in my flat. I tried to avoid everything that has happened."

Yes, Chris. Going to the top of a tall building - that's the best way to avoid terrorists.

Rumer has it. According to Rumer.

Rumer Willis, the frighteningly-now-18-year-old child of Bruce Willis is planning to follow in her father's footsteps by releasing an album of not-very-good music.

Of course, she might be brilliant, but we're not exactly holding our breath when she talks about it:

"I love a lot of different things. I really like acting, I really like music and I love photography. In a perfect world I could do all three.

"In the future, I would love to do an album. I have been singing since I was really little, which not a lot of people know about so it's one of those fun, personal things."

So if "not a lot of people" know about it, that means 'singing' as in wandering round the house going tra-la-la. We know she's got to fill in time before the inheritance comes through, but couldn't she at least think about getting a proper job?

Zap slapped

By-now-actually-venerable Brighton club and venue were fined yesterday after ignoring council warnings to keep their rubbish under lock and key.

The Zap was one of a number of clubs and restaurants - and Pizza Hut - hit with on-the-spot fines in a swoop (yes, a swoop) which saw Brighton and Hove Council make £700 in an hour. The Zap has previously been fined 31 times for flyposting - which suggests that they might not view the fixed penalties as much of a deterrent.

More from Edinburgh

The Playing Fields are doing a fringe gig this Thursday, at the Edinburgh College of Art. And then again the next night.

AT&T won't be bidding on the web rights

Michael Franti's annual Power To The Peaceful Festival is starting to take shape right now: 8th September in San Francisco, featuring Franti, DJ Spoony, the Indigo Girls, K'Naan and, as they say "more", along with political speakers, beautiful agitators and the understandably indignant.

Your exclusive Edinburgh Festival supplement

The lovely people who do Folkadot in Camden are heading north to the other capital, Edinburgh, for a week of special events at the Forest Cafe as part of the festival. Here's the rather splendid line-up:

Wednesday 15th August

Jonny Berliner
Kate Richardson
Daniel Fazzina
Angel Anderson & Leon Cave
Gideon Conn
Rescue Cat
Monster Bobby

Thursday 16th August

Daniel Fazzina
Kevin Molloy
William Nein
Gideon Conn
Kate Richardson
David Goo

Friday 17th August

George & Jonny Show
David Goo
William Nein
Rescue Cat
Monster Bobby
Sweet Chap

Saturday 18th August

Olly The Octopus
Kevin Molloy
Sweet Chap
Natty &
John Blood
Susana Lang-Lenton

Sunday 19th August

Monster Bobby
Jonny Berliner
Natty & John Blood
Paul Hinnrichs
Susana Lang-Lenton

I don't suppose I'll get a mother chance

Mum are doing a gig at the Museum of Garden History on August 29th, with a random element of ticket-lottery involved. Although, erm, they seem to have closed the entries off now. Bugger.

Bad Boys

George Michael has made a start on his community service, doing gardening at a homeless shelter in London:

"I'm just like everyone else. If you do something stupid, you have to pay the price. I've been doing some gardening and really enjoyed it.

"I'll do whatever they want me to do. I don't want any special treatment."

Putting George to work in the gardens is a great idea; his interests in herbs, especially, is well known.

And people think the Windsors are out of touch

Kanye West tells of a moment of terrible embarrassment with the Princes backstage at the Diana concert:

"One of them said 'I thought those glasses were bling' and the other one said 'It's Kanye West, they'd have to be bling.' I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'm the anti-bling."

What makes this timely is Jonathan Freedland's claims in yesterday's Guardian:
When Diana's sons strode on to the stage for that memorial concert, their ID badges hanging, roadie-style, around their necks, they bellowed: "Hello, Wembley!" Hard to imagine either their father or grandfather doing that.

Well, perhaps not onstage at Wembley, but there's a long history of royalty trying to seem at ease with young people by trying (and not really managing) to blend in - the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, The Prince's Trust, the Diana Concert are three generations of well-meaning attempts to connect with the kids on the street. And, as Kanye's anecdote shows, like their grandad and father, the Princes are willing to try to blend in - they're just not very good at it.

She said yes, yes, yes

After the roasting that the Sun's entertainment team got for being scooped on the Pete Doherty story by the Mirror, let's hope they've got a good explanation for why, when they're telling the world the answer to Amy's problems is gettting landlords to, erm, not serve her friends while the Mirror has a scoop.

They reckon Amy has admitted her drug use, and is flying off to a rehab clinic "recommended by Kelly Osbourne" - someone really should set up a rehab equivalent of TripAdvisor, shouldn't they?

Again, according to the Mirror, Winehouse and Fielder-Civil stripped off in front of their family to "prove they hadn't been injecting" - although if we had Blake's skinny frame flopping about in front of us, we wouldn't have the stomach to check his penis for track marks, and we're not even related.

Ah, yes. There's no pubs in the suburbs

We really hope that the story in this morning's Bizarre is just a spot of space-filling speculation and that Amy Winehouse's dad and manager don't think that the way to deal with someone who has serious addiction problems is to get them to "move out of Camden" and to "have a word with landlords in Camden":

"Ray has been to see the landlords of pubs in Camden to ask them to help keep Amy in check.

“He wants them to look out for hangers-on who might lead her into trouble."

Ah, yes. Because up to now, the people who run Camden's pubs would have been unaware that Amy was in trouble.

More to the point, what are they supposed to do? "I'm not serving you, you've got a hanger-on with you. You'll have to go outside if you want an acolyte..."

And if the landlords of Camden could somehow control Winehouse's drinking, then why would you take the trouble to move her away to another part of town where her manager hasn't had a word?

Still, having seen Newton's interview style on last night's Britain's Next Top Model, we're starting to see how this sort of thing might appear in the papers. The would-be models were put through a "task" where they were grilled by Newton on supposed scandals they'd been involved in; "I'm Victoria Newton from The Sun" sat asking them weak questions, wearing enormous sunglasses (I do apologise if Victoria had recently had a cataract operation before she'd filmed the segment.) How can you interview someone properly on a sex or drug scandal if you're unable to make eye contact with them? The whole piece was a bit stilted - the programmes quickly moved on to a bit with Joan Rivers and Max Clifford instead - but did include the comedy gold of Newton, in all seriousness, suggesting that showing your breasts might undermine your modelling career.

Monday, August 13, 2007

AT&T snip the 'looza

AT&T made a pretty play for the young-ish, web-hip market earlier this month by webcasting Lollapalooza sets.

Up to a point: it turns out somehow AT&T's webcast mislaid Eddie Vedder's anti-Bush speech during Pearl Jam's set. (And yet they left the music in.)

Funnily enough, this is the same AT&T which happily handed over details of thousands and thousands of its customers private phone calls to the National Security Council, even although none of them were suspected of any crime and there had been no request through the courts for the information. By a strange coincidence.

It must be great being American

Or, rather, in America - because at the moment, Rolling Stone is streaming the new Donnas album. To people in America, though.

If you're American, perhaps you could have a quick listen and tell us if it's any good?

Drummer, singer, actor... artist?

Later this year, the Dallas Museum of Art is hosting Phil Collins: the world won’t listen, a video installation where Phil Collins invites Smiths fans around the world to contribute karaoke renditions of Smiths songs.

We can't make up our mind, though, if Rolling Stone really believes that the drummer from Genesis and the 2006 Turner-shortlisted artist are the same Phil Collins, or if it's just a joke. We fear they might be being serious, though.

For whom the bong tolls?

Curious. Earlier today, Pitchfork reported that Mike Skinner was pushing a bong-making contest via The Streets' MySpace site.

Oddly, if you follow the link they offer, you get this message:

This user's profile has been temporarily disabled for special maintenance.
The profile will be available again shortly.
Sorry for the inconvenience. 8/13/2007

"Special maintenance", eh? I wonder what that could mean.

£100 a pop?

The music industry dreams of being able to charge more for records, but no label has yet had the balls to try and demand £100 for a debut single.

Until now.

Record of The Day have founded an imprint - Victorious Kiam (named after Victor, of course) - to push The Thurston Revival's first seven inch. And, yes, they're asking £100. There's an element of stunt pricing to it, of course:

“But I’m not bothered if some don’t sell. The hefty price tag is a statement on the value of music in general. Music’s value is subjective. How much you love a song has nothing to do with how much you paid for it. Somewhere There’s an Angel is on my page on MySpace and anyone can hear it for free. Does that mean the song has no value? Of course not. Yet that’s what we’re constantly told.”

Hmm. Fair point, but we're not sure the economic theory quite supports the professed experiment.

First, the record is on a very limited edition, which, coupled with the press interest, means a lot of the value of the disc is going to be determined by both its scarcity and its curiosity value. Then, there's this:
10 acclaimed young British artists, including Jasper Joffe, Sarah Doyle, Cathy Lomax, Edward Ward and Harry Pye, have each designed a sleeve – there will be 10 of each – inspired by the song.

You might, perhaps, wonder if the sleeve by Cathy Lomax might be the call to purchase rather than the vinyl inside.

Record of the Day insists not:
“The value of the product is not in the artwork, it’s in the concept,” insists James Barton, commercial director of Record of the Day, the London-based music company that set up the show. “We wanted to help Dan because Somewhere There’s an Angel is one of the most astonishing pieces of music we’ve ever come across. If any pop song can remind people that music is art, this is it.”

Of course, it's all a stunt, but it's a lovely piece of marketing theatre and does raise an interesting question in an engaging way - more than a free ringtone with every download would, for example.

The choice of Victor Kiam for label inspiration, though, does carry a warning for those who would build their artist by making a huge splash in the press. As Kiam said:
You can hype a questionable product for a little while, but you'll never build an enduring business.

The cost of the second single is going to be down to the quality of the music, and the quality of the music alone.

Record companies only have themselves to blame

Even when she's not overdosing on, uh, exhaustion, Amy Winehouse is being talked about a lot. In the US, she's been nominated for MTV Video awards. It must be great for her label, Universal, who can only be shifting shedloads of copies of Frank in the US wiht all this publicity, right?

Erm... nope. They're thinking about seeing about getting a release for it in three months time.

Yep, November.

Unsurprisingly, what with the album having been around so long in the UK, black and grey market copies are swamping the US at the moment - figures suggest that 18,000 copies have been flogged in the US already.

Universal's response? Of course, they've rushed forward the American release, desperate to meet this huge demand for their product and capitalise on a... hang on, I'll read that again. Oh, no. They're trying to shore up the November release date by threatening to sue anyone selling grey market copies.

Apparently the music industry is in some sort of crisis, you know.

McClure waves fist at Borrell

John McClure, out of Reverend and The Makers, isn't impressed with Johnny Borrell.

John, honeycakes, nobody is impressed with Johnny Borrell. But do go on:

"He's a bell end, he doesn't mean anything he says.

"On one level I respect his self-confidence, in the way you might begrudgingly respect Hitler for building the autobahns. If it were matched up with a genuine talent and intelligence then fair enough, but he hasn't got either. He's just got a big gob."

We quite like Kirkby's House, but we wouldn't suggest that it was comparable with an Autobahn - more a pleasant B Road in need of some repair.

Allen has note from her Dad. Sorry, doctor

Almost as if she feels that Amy Winehouse has spoiled it for the rest of them, Lily Allen has posted a photo of her holding up her doctor's note which has signed off her performing for her next run of festival bookings:

I've got sinusitis and strep throat ( i don't even know what that is ) and have been advised to take a couple of weeks off by a doctor in LA and a doctor here .Before anyone starts trying to accuse me of neglecting my fans I want to apologise and say how sorry I am , but I cant risk causing any permanent damage . I hope people can understand and arent too angry .

It's actually rather a brave move - or perhaps we mean foolish - to put a picture of the note, as you can make out most of her doctor's name and the Primary Care Trust he works under. Mind you, with the new NHS computer system nobody's records will have privacy any more, so maybe we shouldn't be too bothered.

Religion, race and the X-Factor

There's a curious little story pushing the new series of The X-Factor in today's Mirror:

X Factor Muslim turmoil

Dannii Minogue says a Muslim X Factor contestant will be disowned by her family when they find out she auditioned.

New judge Dannii said: "One girl, a Muslim, was shaking."

Hang on a moment - why does the woman's religion even warrant a mention, never mind the headline "Muslim turmoil"? Surely the point of the story is that the girl went on the show despite her parent's disapproval; the religion is incidental, isn't it?

Doubtless Dannii would insist she was "only mentioning" the Islamic connection - in the same way she was "only mentioning" those Arabic street signs - but the whole thing leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, with a lingering suggestion that Islam is such a crazy religion, it even won't let its followers be insulted by Simon Cowell. Is ITV really comfortable helping foster this false sense of otherness? Wouldn't the story be strong enough to promote a silly game show without trying to wrap it up in some "clash of cultures" rubbish?

After all, what we really have here is a child rebelling against strict parents, which can happen anywhere - even in atheist's houses.

This becomes clear as Dannii continues:
"We said, 'What's wrong?' she said, 'My parents don't know I'm here. If they find out they'll throw me out and never speak to me again'.

"We said, 'Well, is that what you want?'

"She said 'It's my dream to be a singer. I've got to do it even though it means I'll never speak to them'.

"So we said, 'OK, let's go ahead with the audition'."

Her performance will appear in the auditions programmes. So, since ITV has not only chosen to broadcast the sequence, with the repercussions it will bring to her private life, but also use it for pre-publicity, she must do well, surely?
A show source said: "She did have talent but don't expect to see her in the final stages as her voice wasn't strong enough."

Ah. So they're going to cause a rift in her family life by sticking her on the telly, and then kick her off the show without so much as a Countdown teapot as a thank you.

Well done, ITV.

Madonna worms to the heart of the Big Apple

Victoria Newton gets all of a twitter with news of "secret" plans for Madonna to play Central Park to mark her 50th Birthday.

Newton suggests this would be a rare, special event:

SIMON & GARFUNKEL famously performed for free to more than 500,000 people in Central Park back in September 1981.

Blimey - so would this be the first gig at Central Park since then? In over quarter of a century?

Erm, no: as Last FM's Central Park gig guide points out, the park is full of venues and Madge will be following in the footsteps of acts such as Paul Van Dyk, Underworld and, erm, Slightly Stoopid, all of whom are playing the park this month.

Mel B's got a keeper

It's turning out that Stephen Belafonte is something of a charmer - he's "chosen not to contest" charges of domestic violence against his last wife, Nicole Contreras (in other words, not even having the balls to admit what he'd done) and now it turns out he beat a duck to death with a brick. Oh, and he's never quite got round to paying the fine for that one.

What a wonderful addition he is to our public life.

Prince a random element at Prince parties

In a bid to try and draw the sting of disappointment when Prince fails to turn up to his own aftershow parties, his official website has clarified that he might not be there.

Which is fine, although when you're selling tickets as a lucrative way of topping up revenue from the gigs, perhaps the time to stress this is before you take people's cash rather than after.

To be fair, Ticketmaster did, in its cringe-encrusted promotional email for the events, try to point out Prince would only ever appear as an extra rather than a focus:

The agency's website promoted the "aftershow" as "the white hot place to hang for those still in need of some serious grooves".

Ticketmaster also stated: "Please be aware that Prince and the band are not guaranteed to perform, but as we all know with these cats - expect the unexpected."

But fans who forked out up to £75 have complained that the warning that you're more than likely to, uh, not see a grooving cat was buried. And "expect the unexpected" does sound like quite a big nudge-nudge, wink-wink that he'll be turning up more often than not.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fashion has no mercy

Investigations by The Sunday Times have suggested that the Kate Moss TopShop clothing range is being put together by workers in slave-like conditions:

Workers making [Topshop] clothes, many of whom were fearful of talking to a reporter, described how they are kept in crowded dormitories and work from 7am until late. “When I go to bed at the end of the day, I lay down and weep,” said one woman.

“There is a lot of pressure on us to get our targets. If we do not reach the target of 50 pieces [segments of T-shirts] per hour, then we are sent back to our dormitories and suspended,” she claimed.

The woman, a Bangladeshi worker at Compagnie Mauricienne de Textile (CMT), which makes clothes for Topman, said she had to work 12-hour days for £64 a month.

A worker at Star Knitwear, which makes T-shirts for the Topshop Kate Moss range, said they were paid £112 a month - equivalent to about 40p an hour. The T-shirts are sold in Topshop for £12.

Topshop's Philip Green said he took the allegations "seriously":
I sent inspectors to factories to look at the working conditions, to see that they are not working in sweat-shops, that the working conditions are good. I can’t stand there and count how many hours people are working. Last night I interviewed a woman who was there four weeks ago. She said the factory was in excellent shape.

“You are telling me that factories are happy to breach our code of conduct. I’ve got to look into it.”

Moss, meanwhile, was "unavailable for comment".

Imbruglia urges Winehouse to take care

Most of us can only imagine what it's like to suddenly zoom from being obscure to getting toasted on both side of the Atlantic, sought after by everyone from the South Bank Show to the Grammy judges.

Natalie Imbruglia, like us, can only imagine it, but she's having a crack at putting herself in Amy Winehouse's shoes:

Talking about Winehouse's situation, Imbruglia said that she doesn’t believe Winehouse is “very comfortable with this whole fame thing.”

That's the sort of insight you only pick up with a couple of years on Neighbours, isn't it?
“I think she's an incredibly raw performer and a very real person and I don't think she's very comfortable with this whole fame thing. It shows,” Imbruglia told yahoo music.

"She's just got this gift you know, often people who are that talented struggle with all the attention and everything.

"I hope she doesn't quit. I've read interviews where she's spoken about just wanting to be a mum and that's scary to think, that she won't make records.""

Although, really, wouldn't it better for everyone if she found a lifestyle which didn't turn her into a smackhead victim rather than one that does?

Abuse of trust

James Brown seems to have been as good at choosing trustees as he was at choosing partners: One of the estate's trustees had made off with a third of a million bucks. The money has been handed back - or, at least a cheque for the amount has been, so let's just pause until it clears.

More Wilson tributes

Amongst those adding their memories of Tony Wilson are John Cooper Clarke:

"He gave me my first television gig, actually. On his Granada show. He came out to see The Buzzcocks, and I was third on the bill, and ended up getting chucked out of the venue for something or other, but he noticed me and said 'No, give him a chance'. It really gave me a leg up - in those days it was really hard to get on TV, and it tripled my audiences overnight."

.. and Tim Burgess:
"(Wilson) put out records by my favourite bands - Joy Division and New Order - which made me believe I could be in a band and put out records," Burgess said.

"I feel like I felt when Joe Strummer died. It's like losing a musical dad."

Cerys: Airplane EP landing

Cerys Matthews is busily working on a Welsh-language EP, due this October on My Kung Fu records:

“This is my first EP since Catatonia’s first EPs in 1993 and it is extra special as it’s my first ever Welsh language-only release and because it’s being released on My Kung Fu, a label based in Cardiff, where I was born.”

And where Torchwood is based. Which isn't significant, we just thought we should mention it.

Cold rice

Talking of ITV... it's now two months since we asked ITV the simple question "did you pass the advertising revenue raised during the Challenge Anneka programme on to the Children's Hospice the show was supposed to be helping?"

It's still not been answered. Each day that passes starts to make it look like more like an awkward no, doesn't it?

Simon Cowell dumps six year-old

The always-doomed-to-end-in-tears idea of allowing a six year-old kid to compete for a "million-pound" record contract has, erm, ended in tears as Simon Cowell dumps that six year old kid who did Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Connie Talbot's parents tell the Sunday People how, you know, they know these things happen and nobody wants to cause a fuss but LOOK AT THE SOBBING CHILD WHO NOW THINKS SIMON COWELL HATES HER.

Meanwhile, Cowell tries to shift the blame to Sony BMG:

My views on Connie have NOT changed. I think she's a wonderful talent. But I was persuaded by everyone at Sony BMG that she is just much too young to beembarking on a recording career.

"When the time is right I will be delighted to see if we can make it work.

"My views on Connie are still exactly the same. She's an amazing little girl with a beautiful voice."

The record company, instead, blame Connie for not being old enough:
"There was some deliberation over the possibility of recording with Connie.

"However the decision not to proceed was made with the best intentions for Connie, taking into consideration her age and that it would not be right to do so at this time."

All of which raises the question: wouldn't they time for tellign Talbot she was too young to embark on a showbiz career be before parading her on television, and not after? Is it fair to make a kid go through all that on the promise of a showbiz career that she's considered too young for?

That would seem to be a question for ITV and the producer of the show... Simon Cowell, wasn't it?

Doherty turns up

Good news for the London Paper - they can go ahead and make up a review of last night's Pete Doherty's show at the Tap N Tin in Chatham.

He did He actually turned up for this one.

Winehouse: My - inevitably - drugs hell

Amy Winehouse emerged from hospital to talk about "her drugs hell" - most of the papers seem to have heard, although she doesn't seem to have spoken to any of them. The Sunday Mirror reports her saying this:

"I never want to feel that way again. It was just crazy - one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I've scared myself this time. I was all over the place. I know things have got to change. I have to sort myself out.

I'm fine. I'll be back at work on Monday."

Well, so long as you give yourself a Sunday to get over it.

Amy, according to the Mirror, has been the subject of an intervention. Unfortunately, it was a British intervention, and we don't do this sort of thing at all well:
Amy spoke out after her parents and in-laws rallied round in a five-star hotel to try to make her see sense.

The Sunday Mirror can reveal she fled the meeting with husband Blake Fielder Civil after blazing public rows involving her, dad Mitch and Blake's father Giles.

Taxi driver Mitch almost came to blows with Giles as tensions rose over Blake's influence on painfully thin Amy.

If you're planning to have an awkward attempt to persuade a loved one to take better care of themselves, our key tip would be to not do it in public:
An onlooker at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hook, Hants, said: "They were talking and then all of a sudden it got really heated and Mitch went mad. He just couldn't take it any more. He told her that she's ruining everything - her career and more importantly her life. He told her to look at what she was doing to her friends and family.

"It got to the point where they were screaming at each other. Amy told him to butt out - she claimed to know what she was doing.

"Then at the end, Amy just pushed him out of the way. She kept shouting 'No' and 'Stop it', running back to her suite in floods of tears."

Mitch, having failed to talk his daughter into getting some help, and perhaps inspired by Pete Doherty's use of the Daily Mirror to appeal to Kate Moss, decided to try and scare her straight by talking to the Sunday paper:
"She is skinny as anything and dehydrated and looks like she has just come from a concentration camp," he said. "She is barely eating. She is not sleeping. I try to get her to eat but that is easier said than done. I know that if she doesn't eat she will die."

Well, yes. Eating is quite important in the not dying.

Even the tabloid seemed to be a little queasy about the comparison between a rich woman sticking expensive drugs in her body and the millions brutally murdered in the Nazi camps, trying to make it sound alright:
Mitch, who is Jewish, told the Sunday Mirror Amy looked like a concentration camp victim.

It doesn't make it any better. If anything, it suggests Winehouse senior should know better than throwing that sort of comparison around.

Waiting for a Cure

Clearly, hanging around with Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson does no good for the creative process: Robert Smith has pushed the next Cure album back again. Originally due for May this year, it's now not going to appear before Spring 2008.

More Katona grief

Oh, good lord. Following on from the couple of weeks of Katona dirty washing in public, today's News of the World contains a shock - assuming you retain the interest or capacity to be shocked by the tawdry soap opera any longer - that Katona has been unfaithful, sleeping with her supplier.

That's Tony Ogden, her drug dealer. She's not having sex with Iceland, as far as we know.

Mind you, she might not be having sex with Ogden, eitherr - it depends on if you're more or less willing than the NOTW to accept the word of a drug dealer. Especially one who somehow managed to forget to mention it the last time he spoke to the paper. Perhaps he was just being discrete.

Tony Wilson's world: Durutti Column

The Durutti Column turned up on every iteration of Factory Records, which makes them either very, very patient or locked-in to some sort of soul-centred contract.

This is a BBC 2 performance of Jacqueline from 1988: