Saturday, September 01, 2007

The recent stuff, it's unsurprising, Pete

Pity-me indie boy Pete Doherty has been bemoaning the fact that Kate Moss doesn't like his work:

The people that I thought I was in love with, they've never been a big fan of my music."

Which makes you wonder what she was doing singing on the Babyshambles album if she didn't like it much.

Twenty Years On

Dedicated to Tony Wilson, and worth your attention: Little 015 - NineteenEightyySeven. Nineteen bands from 2007 doing 19 tracks from 1987. One each, of course, it's not 361 tracks. Amongst those taking part are The Leatherettes and Beki & The Bullets; amongst the acts being updated are A-Ha, The Vaselines and - eek - Men Without Hats.

Winehouse: That Caribbean holiday's going well, then

The somewhat surprising decision to take a holiday in the sun rather than getting help seems to be working poorly for Amy Winehouse, as hotel staff report having to clean her suite of blood and vomit, and bloody vomit:

"It was sickening. They were horrified by the state of the room which looked like a bomb had hit it."

Presumably one of those bleeding-and-vomiting bombs that Hitler had been working on towards the end of the second world war.

MP3s to flow from Amazon, says source

The much-delayed launch of Amazon's MP3 service - the most plausible iTunes Music Store threat (if not actual killer) to date - could be happening in the next couple of week. The New York Post has read its runes and predicts a big switch-on for September 17th.

The birth is set to be troubled, though, as record labels seem to be more interested in setting unrealistic prices rather than helping create a proper rival to Apple's behemoth:

Amazon is expected to have at least two prices for individual songs: 99 cents for new and popular MP3s, and 89 cents for music from emerging artists and back catalog tracks.

Albums are expected to cost between $7.99 and $9.99.

That strategy is said to be rubbing some labels the wrong way. Amazon is said to still be negotiating prices with the majors.

Multiple prices for music, a concept known as variable pricing, has been a priority for the major labels, who have chafed at iTunes' one price for all songs, regardless of their popularity. But many large record companies want to charge more than $1 for songs from superstar acts, and possibly less for music from undiscovered artists.

You've got to love the way the music industry bleats for years about wanting someone to challenge Apple, and as soon as someone comes along who could, credibly, do so, they expect the appearance of competition to work in the opposite way in the download music market to how it behaves elsewhere in the world, bringing prices up rather than forcing them down. It's like an entire industry without anyone who understands business,

Aerosmith can't be arsed to choose their own songs anymore

Understandably, Aerosmith have now been going so long they can't be bothered to pick their own setlists nowadays: they're inviting fans to do that job for them, leaving them time to concentrate on the more lucrative field of sorting the merchandising.

Carey sets feminism, femininity back another 100 years

Oh, god. It sounds like Mariah Carey's new album is like those old Friends break bumpers for cheap white wine, only with more pink giggling:

"I sat in the hot tub the other night playing some songs for some friends and one of them felt that is was a very pro-woman thing.

"It's not that the songs are male-bashing. It's a fun record."

Now, we could be wrong. Perhaps the record is pro-woman in calling for equal rights, access to education, an end to female circumcision and suttee practices.

But we suspect it isn't.

Timbaland, The Game, and the uncleared sample

Timbaland and The Game (is there anything more stupid than a name which begins with "the", by the way?) are being pursued for copyright infringement. Saregama India claims the pair used a sample from one of their artists on The Game's 2005 album. It's not clear why it's taken two years for them to notice - presumably they couldn't stand to listen to the album more than a track or two at a time.

Kershaw arrested near Peel

The somewhat protracted absence of Andy Kershaw from Radio 3 - there was some muttering about him being "unwell" but then Lucy Durans' stewardship of the Monday-night programme seemed to be turning into a permanent residency - might be getting a bit more protracted yet: he's been detained on the Isle of Man for allegedly breaching a restraining order designed to prevent him going near the home of his former partner, Juliette Banner.

Andy has been remanded in custody pending a hearing this Tuesday.

Radio One More Time: Laura's First Love

Radio One never embraced drama. While Radio 2 fought bravely with Waggoner's Walk and even Piccadilly Radio in Manchester had a stab at building a soap with a series set in a taxi firm, the Nation's Favourite never felt the need. Perhaps the torrid excitement of Our Tune was considered to be enough for the audience, or maybe Dave Lee Travis and his tales from his farm were meant to fill the gap.

Which is why it never quite made sense for Steve Wright to launch a parody soap opera in his show. Even more inexplicably, the Wright soap, Laura's First (and Second) Love chose to take the piss out of US daytime and radio soaps which, while ripe for targeting, weren't all that familiar in Britain at the time. Perhaps in these post Sunset Beach and Ugly Betty days, the source material might be more obvious, but in the early 80s, convoluted plots about Nazis and "a certain Goldstein millions" didn't seem to be a deliberate over-inflation of an already campy genre, and just sounded like odd plotlines for their own sake. A parody reduced to a sitcom.

A pity, though, because it was a loving parody - clearly, Wright's salary had allowed for a lot of transatlantic holidays, the bulk of which had been spent following All My Children and Passions. In fact, relying on the audience having spent enough time in the US soaking up daytime television in numbers large enough to make what was a very extended joke work illustrated the same problem that DLT's "my farm" monologues did - Radio One's daytime DJs were, by their success and ability to charge a small fortune for personal appearances, doomed to always grow away from their audiences, to never be able to quite relate to the people they were broadcasting to. When they arrived at Eaton Place from the nursery slopes of local radio, new DJs would still dress like, live like, react like their listeners. But with a year or two of success, a recurring slot on Top of the Pops and a few Brentford Nylon ads under their belt, that common touch would be gone and, ultimately, be as impossible to recapture as that first love of Laura's.

50 Cent tries to enter politics

Presumably as part of his ongoing frustration at being bested by Kanye West at every turn, 50 Cent has had his people rustle up some political observations for him.

Cent has appeared to support the Iraq war in the past, popping over to help the troops keep their peckers up. Which makes his sudden conversion to being anti-war a little awkward:

"Me and George Bush were both born on July 6. He has less compassion than a regular human being.

"We are so different. I actually went to Iraq because I went to perform for the soldiers.

"Bush just sends people to war."

50 Cent, of course, is well known for his hatred of pointless violence and his disgust at the suggestion that guns and shooting and killing are cool and.... oh, hang on, he isn't, is he?

But turning to next year's elections, who does 50 Cent fancy?
"I'd like to see Hillary Clinton be president.

"It would be nice to see a woman be the actual president."

The actual president? As opposed to what, exactly? Are there fake lady Presidents we've been missing out on?

Still, you've got to applaud Cent's grasp of the complex political issues facing a Democrat planning a run in 2008 - he's able to identify which one has the skirt. Well done, Fiddy.

No connection

The T in the Park sister festival, Connect - intended as an event aimed at a slightly older audience - has flopped, with bands playing to nearly-empty fields.

Just 11,000 tickets were sold, with organisers choosing to blame bad weather rather than the massive over-supply of festival events on offer, which would make them unlucky rather than foolish.

Amy McDonald, who opened the event, tried to put on a brave face:

"It was a bit weird being on first and being at a new festival. You don't know what to expect but it was good.

"I only played to a couple of hundred but I like small crowds as well."

Because everyone wants to hoof over to the main stage of a festival and discover they could have played to more people if they'd done the snug of their local.

Love offers Winehouse light

As if having adopted the role of Official Spokesperson for Owen Wilson's mental health wasn't enough, Courtney Love has taken on the Amy Winehouse account, too.

Oddly, she doesn't seem to blame Steve Coogan for this one. Or hasn't yet, anyway. Instead - and you'll want to hold the front page here - she reveals that Amy Winehouse does drugs:

“Amy does more drugs than anyone I’ve known.”

“I’ve been with lots of people when they’ve taken coke, including stars like LINDSAY LOHAN and KATE MOSS.

“But I’ve never seen anyone take as much coke as Amy. Even I wasn’t that bad.”

Wasn't that bad? If Courtney proceeds with the re-writing of history this way, she's going to be revealing details of the Home For The Fallen Women she was running while married to Perry Como by the end of the year.

It's not clear what Courtney was hoping this intervention would do.

Mills not quite as evil as she once was

A year or so ago, Heather Mills had everything thrown at her: she was a gold-digging, child-corrupting, Diana-aping, lie-spewing harridan. Now, though, the papers are reduced to reporting minor parking infractions. By next year, it's going to be "Heather Mills double-dips."

Bobby Brown suddenly wants to be Father Of The Year

Thus far, Bobby Brown appears to have spent longer in prison for unpaid child support than he actually has under the same roof as any of his children, so it's something of a surprise to discover he's suddenly seeking custody of Bobbin Kristin Brown, his daughter with Whitney Houston.

And it is sudden - Brown hadn't contested the couple's divorce, which was made final in April. This gave custody to Houston. So why the sudden change of heart?

Apparently, Brown is trying to convince the court he wasn't aware of the divorce proceedings:

Phillips said Brown believed the pair were working on their marriage and that Houston had told him not to worry about the divorce proceedings. She said the two had made an agreement.

"Who is he going to rely on the most?" Phillips said. "The woman he loves. He thinks they're working on their marriage."

Now, it might be that Brown is telling the truth - that he didn't bother about any of the legal notices saying 'you are being divorced by your wife' because she was saying 'don't worry, petal': in which case, he's probably not the sort of person who should be left in charge of a picnic table, never mind a teenage girl. Or he's just lying and that's the best reason he can come up with for not having responded earlier - which is even weaker.

Wonderfully, though, Brown has actually asked for the divorce to be set aside, and then reworked. This leaves the judge the power to simply undivorce the couple, and throw them back into their marriage. That, as my great-grandmother apparently would say, will larn 'em.

Lashes pick up from Winehouse crash

Bookmakers are reporting (okay, "press-releasing" might be more accurate) that support for Amy Winehouse as likely Mercury winner has collapsed as fast as, erm, she has: Bat For Lashes are now pulling ahead as the clear favourite.

Curiously, the trailers for the BBC Four coverage are focusing on the Arctic Monkeys and a 'can they do the double' approach.

It's noticeable, though, that Bat For Lashes' label are currently spending squillions on advertising Fur And Gold in high-profile slots at the moment. And that's probably not aimed at the back-to-school market.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Supergrass sleepwalk to disaster

In what BBC News undersate as a "freak accident", Mick Quinn out of Supergrass has sleepwalked his way out of a first-floor window and broken his back.

As a result, Supergrass have suspended all their dates until he's better - he is supposed to make a full recovery. The BBC have also had to ort through their photo library and - discovering no pictures of Quinn - put a brave face, and twisty caption - on the next best thing:

Danny and Gaz from Supergrass wished Quinn a speedy recovery

[Thanks to Duncan G for the link]

Thank you for your help, Bez

As if the intervention of MSN to Pete Doherty's health isn't enough assistance for one man to cope with, Bez has decided to offer the benefit of his wisdom to both Doherty and Amy Winehouse:

"Pete Doherty is talked about all the time but he's a fucking lightweight. He spends more time in rehab than he does taking drugs for fuck's sake.

"Winehouse is the same, she's got a lot to prove. There are too many part-time rock n' rollers these days. They should get out and have a good time. I've not spent a minute in rehab in 25 years and I'm alright."

True, assuming your definition of "alright" can encompass having a life based around being thought of as the sort of person who needs his mittens on string and probably shouldn't be allowed his own scissors.

As in the joke:
What's Bez's name short for?
To give him a half-decent chance of remebering how to spell it, probably.

Scion's friction

Son-of-Mick James Jagger insists he's not a model. Ooh, it makes him mad when people do that:

"I did one modelling job and got written off as a model forever.

"It was one job which paid a bit of money - I bought a car and was done with it. I really despised it and have regretted it ever since."

Yes, James, it must suck. You do a proper paid day's work for once in your life, and nobody will let you forget it. How cruel we are to the offspring of our titled classes.

Burrows effectively nods and mouths "you're right"

Although ContactMusic bills it as "hitting back", Andy Burrows' response to Tim Wheller calling Razorlight "terrible" is more of a yelp:

"I don't know Tim so I don't know what he said was out of character or not. I am a big fan of Ash and I think a bit of healthy competition is good."

"Out of character"? What does Burrows mean? Don't mind Tim expressing a harsh but fair musical judgement, he's not himself today, poor love.

And Razorlight seeing Ash as competition is amusing - they're not even playing the same sport, never mind going head-to-head.

Go to jail, MSN UK tells Doherty

James P sends us a link to MSN's UK gossip blogs with the observation that it's "the strangest thing I've seen in a while".

And it is somewhat odd - David Levin (writing, as a footnote stresses, in a personal capacity and not as some sort of Voice Of Microsoft) pens an Open Letter to Pete Doherty, suggesting he should go to prison:

Dear Pete,

Does this letter find you off your head, in and out of rehab, in and out of court, covered in filth and messing up supermodels’ lives? I thought so! That’s why I’ve given up on you. If you have any self-respect left, you’ll keep reading...

There's something touching about it - the desperate hope that, with friends, family, management and band members having tried and failed, just maybe an MSN writer sharing how disappointed he is in Doherty might be enough to get him to straighten himself out.

If MSN have stopped believing, how low must you be? For god's sake, Pete, sort yourself out before IDon'tLikeYouInThatWay turn their backs, too.

David's suggestion? Like Michael Howard, he believes that Prison Works:
It would be great to wake up one morning, pick up a paper, and see you. Not the filthy, wasted you, kicking photographers outside courtrooms, but a clean, smiling you, on the way to record some good music again (not with Babyshambles, they’re crap). And it seems like some time behind bars is the only way this might come true.

So for that reason, Pete, I’m gonna be hoping that the judge in your next case doesn’t go easy on you this time. It’s for your own good.

It's not entirely likely that Doherty will get clean while in prison - it didn't work before, and unless he's able to get on some sort of program like Prisons Addressing
Substance Related Offending, the chances of him finding help this time are slim. Rather, Doherty probably needs prison because at the moment, it looks like he's ignoring court judgements without consequence: there's a limit to the number of times a judge can say "try to do better this time" without starting to give the impression that non-custodial sentences aren't serious. Prison, in itself, won't do any good for Doherty. But neither is this perpetual judicial indulgence helping him, either.

Kevin Federline asks Britney to fund divorce

Who knew that money from making burger commercials wouldn't stretch? Kevin Federline is trying to get Britney to pay his expenses for divorcing her:

Mark Vincent Kaplan says his client has "no net income" after various expenses, and that Ms Spears is "clearly the monied party" in the dispute.

We'd love to see those "various expenses" detailed, but we love the logic that whoever had the money should pay the costs of court cases - Conrad Black could be made to cought up for his fraud trial.

Not too sure, Kevin, that if you're in a court arguing that you're best person to look after your kids that then saying "I have no visible means of support, can you get my soon-to-be-ex-spouse to sub me" will entirely help your case.

Stuart Murdoch wants you

Belle and Sebastain are getting into musical theatre. Or, rather, they're making a film musical.

The plan is to write a few new songs, but the storyline will be punctuated by Belle & Sebby's back catalogue. You know, like Queen's We Will Rock You.

Only without Ben Elton's involvement, as far as we can tell.

Stuart Murdoch fills in some of the storyline:

Stuart said: "It happened to a boy and a girl and a girl, in a city roughly the same size and population of Glasgow. Perhaps the canals were a bit grimier, the high-rise buildings taller.

The streets emptier when you needed them to be, and the beat clubs busier than the ones around here. But on the whole the city was this one."

The romantic protagonists live next door to each other in - inevitably - neighbouring bedsits:
"The boy was kind of flexible as nobody had shown much interest in him for awhile. So he went along, prepared to teach girl two all he knew about the steel-strung acoustic guitar that he cradled.

"Girl two wanted to learn, but more than that she wanted to sing to somebody, and tell somebody about what was happening. So she attached herself to girl one and the boy."

Murdoch is hoping to find someone to play one of the girls; everything else has been cast.

Radio One More Time: The Old Record Club

I am here, but I am not really here...

By the 80s, Jimmy Savile had long since completed the transformation from DJ to TV personality - obviously thanks to Jim'll Fix It, but also from promoting the benefits of train travel ("this is the age... [thumbs aloft] of the train") and of not being flung through a car windscreen ("clunk... click... every trip"). But he kept his hand in with dj work, too, presenting what in other hands would have been just a slightly dull Sunday lunchtime show working his way through old chart rundowns.

In Savile's hands, though, it became a surreal but slightly dull Sunday lunchtime chart rundown.

At first, the creation of a non-existent club setting - the titular Old Record Club - brought an element of oddness to the whole affair: who were these people, who gathered together on a Sunday (considering how difficult it was to get public transport anywhere during this age of the train at weekends) to play through the November 1964 top ten track-by-track? Was alcohol served? Was there a membership fee? Did the pretty young girls who sat next to Savile throughout the Club's operating hours actually exist, or were they part of a bizarre fantasy world that we were unwillingly being forced into enabling?

Stranger yet was the never-ending points battle. Sometimes, Savile would set the audience a question based around one of the songs - what, for example, would be the full title of the next song? Upon completion of the track, Jim would gurgle with delight revealing that the song in question had brackets in the title - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and, surmising that the audience would have not remembered the parenthetical portion, would delete millions of points from the listeners and award them to himself. It was never quite explained what these points were for - presumably, you could gather them up and the discover there was nothing of any use for which they could be exchanged, like the Green Shield Stamps which were popular at the same time.

Savile's love of marathon running then added another insane twist to proceedings. Like a proto-Liz Kershaw, Savile attempted to get away with pre-recording his show and passing it off as live. But in order to create the illusion of live radio, rather than adopting Liz's approach of getting friends to ring in to take part in competitions (that, presumably, would have introduced the extra confusion of trying to explain exactly what the points business was all about), Savile claimed that he was doing the programme at the same time as running a marathon. By, erm, having created a hologram - Hebert Hologram - to do the radio show.

We know, we know, holograms don't actually make sound, but in the context of a show set in a club which didn't exist, pre-recorded live transmissions by three-dimensional pictures of the presenter made perfect sense. Mark Thompson wouldn't allow it now, of course.

On a couple of occasions, Savile did actually do the show from a marathon course, though sadly never from the London Marathon. (That, in the days before the BBC had a sort-of-dedicated sports network, fell into Radio 2's remit; they'd broadcast live from a milkfloat which chased the stragglers through the red-brick pavements of the Docklands developments district.)

Eventually, Savile decided he was getting too old for Radio 1, and so retired from the Sunday old chart show to give a chance to a newcomer. He was replaced by the older Alan Freeman, who promptly hammered the boards over the door of the Old Record Club and revived his Pick of the Pops format.

[Radio One More Time]

Ronson off the Winehouse?

We're having a bit of trouble buying the lead story in 3AM which claims that Mark Ronson is in a tizzy with Amy Winehouse:

Mark Ronson - who helped produce her multiple awardwinning album Back To Black - has vowed never to work with the Rehab star again after she pulled out of a video shoot at the last minute.

We hear that 31-year-old Mark "hit the roof" after Amy threw a sickie the day before.

What really upset him were the photos of her frolicking in the Caribbean with druggy hubby Blake Fielder-Civil on the day the shoot was scheduled to take place.

Do you really hear that, 3AM Girls? Would Ronson really rather than had a bloodied and tight Winehouse crashing about the set with her Mickey Pearce husband in tow?

He might be annoyed, but surely he understands?
So Mark ended up having to use an Amy lookalike in the '60sinfluenced video, which also stars former Jamiroquai star Stuart Zender wearing high-heels.

Our source adds: "Amy mentioned nothing about a holiday to Mark who feels totally let down by her. He has done so much for her but now it looks as if it's a one-way street."

A "one-way street" - as if Ronson worked with Winehouse in the first place as a Dianesque act of charity; as if her helping out with his album wasn't returning a favour.

Courtney continues calling Coogan

Courtney Love's decision that Steve Coogan is to blame for all the world's ills, up to and including the attempted suicide of Owen Wilson isn't one she's started to regret yet. Now she wants Coogan to go home:

"Hopefully the guy will leave us alone in this town and go back to Brighton or wherever the hell he's from… and stay there."

Clearly, while Courtney and Coogan were enjoying their tender moments, they never got round to talking about home towns.

Someone mentioned Coogan was muttering darkly about suing Love for linking him to Wilson's problems. Courtney doesn't care:
"There's nothing illegal or wrong with saying that someone's a bad influence."

Well... saying someone is responsible for another person trying to kill themselves would seem to actually be pretty libellous unless you can back it up. Can you back it up, Courtney?
"I could get into some very specific detail..."

"...that I'm not going to."


Courtney then turns the knife:
"He's not even known over here. No one knows who the guy is.

"He has bit parts in movies - that's what he does."

Well, if nobody knew who he was before, thanks to Courtney's tireless work, all of America will know him before too long.

And just think, as Owen Wilson tries to rummage around to get his life back together, how all this must be helping him. If only every suicide survivor could be treated to screechy, screechy blamey finger-point to help them.

Lies On Mars

Derek Bowie is denying that he's going to be in the next series of Doctor Who.

Presumably he's holding out for a cameo in The Ghost Whisperer instead.

On the other hand: Russell T Davies swore blind that the stories about Kylie's appearance were just media flummery. So you never know.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Grab! Snap! Sues!

The Projekt Revolution crowd-crush was nothing more than youthful exuberance - and probably some sugary drinks. When Tyrique Layne got crushed at a Lil Wayne concert, though, she alleges it was because Wayne had thrown money into the crowd. Now, she wants Wayne to throw some money at her. She's suing for a million dollars.

Snap! Snap! Snap!

Mosh pits can be pretty unforgiving places, but there was something especially unyielding about Projekt Revolution's Syracuse mini-festival. Somewhere between Placebo, Linkin Park and Taking Back Sunday, there were two broken arms and a broken leg. In all, 30 people ended up in hospital.

We might consider taking a broken toe for Brian Molko, but the rest of 'em barely seem worth a enduring a grazed knee for.

Winehouse scraps MTV awards

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Universal have cancelled all Amy Winehouse's upcoming US dates, including the MTV Awards:

"in a continued effort to support Amy Winehouse's well-being".

The "continued" is an interesting aspect of the statement, but let's be charitable and assume they've been working wonderfully behind the scenes. After all, most record companies are incapable of taking care of their healthy artists, so there's no reason to assume they've just been rubbish at helping out an unhealthy one.

And let's be even more generous and believe the cancellation of these dates really are to "support" her well-being and not merely bowing to the inevitable non-appearance.

One could almost feel a pang of sympathy for Kelly Osbourne

Almost, but not quite, as she's now reduced to doing ads for Woolworths. The Woolworths No Frills budget range, to be precise.

And despite sharing the advert with a dog and a sheep puppet, she's still giving the least lifelike performance of them all.

Linkin Park help out

We're usually rather a little dismissive of Linkin Park, with their unimaginative, derivative lyrics, spoon-footed music, beards grown like they're fourteen year-old boys trying to gain access to a nightclub, and general air of being dreamed up by a 46 year-old Republican with a flipchart and a subscription to the Suicide Girls website.

However, they are doing good things down in New Orleans, and it would be churlish not to mention it.

You're surrounded by the Sugababes: come out with your hands up

Apparently waking up and thinking she's Nick Ross, Heid Range has called for the killer of Rhys Jones to come forward.

After all, if all you have to worry about is facing a possible trial as an adult, a life sentence, being used as the face of Evil England by the tabloids and getting battered as an example by Jack 'Big Stick' Straw - who actually has "the Orwellian-sounding Minister of Justice" printed on his business cards - why would you not want to make a Sugababe smile by coming forward.

Tomorrow, Mutya's going to go to Iraq and say "please, make it stop."

Let's hope MTV have an understudy

Rather a brave choice for MTV, picking Snoopy Dog Dog to host this year's MTV Europe awards. Not because Dogg is "edgy" in the way he likes to believe, but with the recent spate of refused work visas he's suffered, it's possible he might not be able to set foot in Munich to do the show.

Still, he's keen, we'll give him that:

"Presenters in the past have been great, but this year I'm takin' it to a whole new level.

"I've called up the homeys from east to west and guarantee it's gonna be off tha chain, ya dig."

We love it when Snoop talks like he's street, even though these days the only thing he ever does actually on the street is take advantage of the kerbside check-in offered to platinum frequent fliers.

Sony caught installing rootkits again

You'd have thought after its record company dibision got into a lot of expensive trouble including a nasty piece of rootkit (software which installs itself and hides from the operating system) on its CDs, Sony might have learned its lesson.

Apparently not: it's started to include them on USB drives now, too. Oh, and is adopting the usual, blase attitude:

CNET reported that a Sony spokesperson said the fingerprint reader product is no longer for sale and no other versions of the MicroVault stick contain the rootkit.

So, erm, that's alright, then.

As James P points out when he sent us the link, it's probably the surest sign so far that Sony-BMG is taking the USB single format seriously....

You can't put your memory round your arms

Most people, if they wanted to see naked images of Nadine Coyle, would probably type "Nadine Coyle naked" into Google, before getting frustrated and collapsing in sobs of tears.

Jesse Metcalfe, thought, just rolls up his sleeve and looks at his tattoo. Since he got it done after they'd split, he probably collapses in floods of tears, too:

"It's not that I'm not over the break-up, it's just that I really wanted to remember what it felt like to be in that relationship so that I never really go there again.

"Everyone has had their heart broken but this is just a reminder not to let it happen again.

"I went through a hard break-up. Every tattoo is a memory. I chose to get that tattoo, especially with the heart on the arm, because I choose to wear my heart on my sleeve. "It fits with my personality. I really couldn't be happier with the tattoo. It's the best I have."

Isn't it going to be difficult when he finds himself in another relationship and has to explain having his naked ex on his arm? Or, more precisely, has to explain this:
[Nadine] Coyle, nude and lassoing a heart in front of a sun shaped like a map of Ireland

Radio One More Time: First Love

You were my first love
and first love never, ever dies

Much has been written about Simon Bates' Our Tune, the daily feature in which Bates would read out a letter about a love story which - normally - ended in tragedy and then, after a spin of the doomed couple's song (quite often something by Dire Straits of Will You, by Hazel O'Connor), the redemption:

So, you're looking at the radio now, saying 'what happened, Simes?' Well... Tony's leg never grew back, but his heart did...

The lack of any serious radio audience research allowed Bates to make grandiose claims for this daily spot of mawkishness. Sometimes, this would take the form of tales of hardened lorry drivers being forced to pull over to the hard shoulder of the M1 lest their floods of tears lead to multi-car pile-ups (although that would, at least, provide a fresh supply of "Julie was trying on the wedding dress when a policeman called at the door - it was Jack, he'd been killed in an accident" stories to keep the feature going.) Always, though, there was Bates' boast at the end:

Tell me your story, and I'll tell eight million other people

It's interesting that, despite these enormous audiences hanging on every twist and turn, nobody has seemed much interested in attempts to resurrect the feature in Bates' post-Radio One life. He's popped up doing it on Sky One, TalkRadio and Classic FM but (adopts gravelly voice, fades up Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet by Henry Salomon & His Orchestra) the spark had gone and, although Simon was keen to try again, the audience... well, the audience had moved on, found other obsessions. And so the tantalising question remained: had Our Tune been popular because it was on during the day on the biggest radio station in the country... or could, as Simon seemed to believe, have Radio One been so popular because of Our Tune?

To be fair to Bates, as Out On Air in Radio 4's Archive Hour pointed out a few weeks back, he was open to all-comers for Our Tune, and did feature gay relationships, something still fairly unusual to hear about on Radio One out of the context of "this is a youth issue with a telephone helpline attached". On the other hand, the way he'd build up to these stories - building a protective zone of repeated warnings ("some of you might be shocked, there might even be complaints") rather than slipping them in in a matter-of-fact fashion - suggested that he wasn't entirely comfortable featuring tales of man-on-man heartbreak and was probably only doing the queer ones because he'd run out of "normal" letters.

So, yes, Our Tune is well known. Less well recorded, though, is Mike Read's similar - some might even say copycat - feature which ran in the Breakfast Show. While Bates appealed for stories of the biggest romances and largest disasters, Read slowly carved out a niche for himself which sought out tales of First Love. In place of the Love Theme from Romeo And Juliet, there were the Walker Brothers, and - by the nature of the stories - much was played out in classrooms, common rooms and playing fields, which sat well with Read's other big feature, Schooldesk. (This was little more than hoping Mike Read would read out the name of your school - simple pleasures in those days, kids.)

In those days, Read provided the only public outlet for people, looking back fondly on a love which had been strong, burned with passion, and - usually - had been ended by circumstance or puberty, never to be regained. These days, of course, Friends Reunited performs a similar function, but in place of a TeaHee mug and a chance to hear a song you once snogged to, you get a messy divorce and the chance of a disastrous old-time's sake bunk-up.

Kapranos calls the car vigilantes

Alex Kapranos appears to have been ripped off by the Beastie Boys:

[H]is prized vintage Mercedes has been robbed of its precious badge.

Alex had parked the G-registration Merc outside his Glasgow flat while he was busy working on new material with the rest of the band.

He was dismayed when he returned to find it stripped of its badge.

Alex said: "If anyone knows who snapped the badge off the front bonnet when it was parked outside my flat, can you give his balls a wee boot from me? Much obliged."

He's then at pains to stress that the car only cost him £250 - so "vintage" in the "old and knackered" sense rather than something Lord Montagu might be interested in.

Timelord fell wanking to the floor

Let's hope he's better than he was in Twin Peaks: David Bowie is popping up in the next series of Doctor Who.

Winehouse is, apparently, a TV affair

The Sun, of course, is keen to ensure that no part of Amy Winehouse's decline is missed, and so has two journalists out in "The Caribbean" (that's as specific as the byline gets), including, as you might expect for such a big story, a section editor.

Not, though, Victoria Newton. In fact, it's TV Editor Sara Nathan who has landed the oh-so-strenuous job of hanging out in the sunshine, alongside James Clench. Curious.

And so what have the pair managed to file from their sunshine trip?

Erm... a story about Mitch Winehouse praying for Amy at her grandfather's grave.

The Mirror's website this morning is reporting a "war" between the various in-laws in the story, but most of the Mirror's showbiz errors are bringing up 404 error pages (branded as, like some sort of screw-up down memory lane) so we're not entirely sure how the 'war' fits with Mitch's clear and repeated insistence that while he disagrees with the Blake-Fielders' proposed methods, he doesn't want to rise to the bait of blaming each other's kid for the mess they're in.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Courtney Love blames Coogan for Wilson's suicide tryout

If your life was going a little off the rails, and Courtney Love popped up offering advice, you'd surely see that as a wake up call.

Courtney Love. Thinking you're out of control.

Apparently, Love had been warning Owen Wilson about the dangers of hanging out with Steve Coogan shortly before Wilson tried to end it all:

"I went through it with Steve," rocker Courtney Love, who dated Coogan, 41, until an acrimonious split in 2006, tells Us.

"I was just out of rehab, and he was right there with the drugs," she says. "I tried to warn Owen. I tried to warn his friends ... I hope from the bottom of my heart that Owen stays the hell away from that guy."

This seems a little extreme; indeed, Coogan is rather upset:
"These accusations are unfounded, unhelpful and hurtful to all concerned," Coogan responded. "We are taking legal advice.”

Not entirely sure who he's planning on suing - surely Courtney Love can't be held responsible for anything she says or does, can she?

The new EMI

Obviously, anyone connected with the EMI which had run itself so badly into the ground it got taken over by a German cafe business has hardly covered themselves in glory over the last few years, so a change at the Terra Firma owned company wasn't unexpected.

Eric Nicoli, who's been with EMI for 14 years, is leaving the CEO role and the company; in charge now will be two Terra Firma managing directors:

Chris Roling has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of EMI Group and Chief Financial Officer of both EMI Group and EMI Music and Ashley Unwin as Director of Business Transformation for EMI Group and EMI Music.

Indeed, the direction of the company is going to be shaped completely by the private equity guys. It feels more and more like EMI have left the music industry altogether.

Blue wedge: Geography

We Are Scientists are plotting a huge UK tour this winter:

Mon 05 November Preston 53 Degrees
Tue 06 Whitehaven Civic
Wed 07 Edinburgh University
Thu 08 Leeds Met. University
Sat 10 Surrey University
Sun 11 Leicester University
Mon 12 Keele University
Tue 13 Norwich Waterfront
Thu 15 Peterborough Cresset
Fri 16 Derby University
Sat 17 Plymouth University
Sun 18 Southampton University
Tue 20 Swansea University
Sun 25 Oxford Brookes University
Thu 29 Bangor University
Sat 01 December Skegness The Big Reunion
Sun 02 Coventry Warwick University
Fri 07 Dundee Fat Sams Live
Sun 09 Inverness Ironworks
Thu 13 Northampton Roadmenders

It's called the Trivial Pursiut tour - presumably because it's coming out to entertain at Christmas time.

CBGBobit: Hilly Kristal

Hilly Kristal, the founder of CBGBs, has died at the age of 75.

Born in Manhattan in 1932, Kristal was performer in his own right, before turning his hand to managing a string of New York clubs in the 1950s - including The Village Vanguard. He opened his own club, Hilly's On Ninth Street, which over the years would move and change its name to Country Bluegrass and Blues. The titular music was quickly pushed aside, though, as CBGBs became the home of US punk in the 1970s.

Debbie Harry led the tributes:

I am very sorry that Hilly is gone. He was a big help to Blondie and to the New York music scene for many years. His club CBGB’s has become a part of New York lore and Rock n’ Roll history.

Kristal remained associated with CBGBs for thirty-three years. His death on Tuesday morning was related to the lung cancer from which he had been suffering.

Nokia launches iTunes/iPhone/iPod/eyePatch "killer"

Well, why not: everyone should launch an attempt at unseating iTunes at least once in a tax cycle, if only to provide a pile of receipts for write-off purposes. Nokia has launched a mobile music store, called Ovi, in the hope that you'll want to buy the music you already have on your computer all over again to listen to on your phone.

We know mobile phone companies desperately want to sell us music, but it's a bit like Seeboard trying to flog turkeys because people use electricity to cook them.

Pogues for Christmas

The Pogues have announced a mini-tour of big-venues for the Christmas season:

11 December - Glasgow Academy
12 - Newcastle Academy
14 - Nottingham Arena
15 - Manchester Central
16 - Birmingham Academy
18 & 19 - London Brixton Academy

Hmmm. Pogues doing Christmas shows. I wonder what the encore will be.

Not that I could care, your paper's full of shit...

Good bloody lord. Keith Richards is getting so needful, he's taken to writing to Swedish newspapers to moan about bad reviews.

Not that he's worried about himself, of course. Oh, no, Richards is worried that if the fans who enjoyed the concert read the review, it'll break their little hearts:

"Never before have I risen to the bait of a bad review.

"But this time ... I have to stand up ... for our fans all over Sweden ... to say that you owe them, and us, an apology.

"There were 56,000 people in Ullevi stadium who bought a ticket to our concert — and experienced a completely different show than the one you 'reviewed,'" the letter said.

"How dare you cheapen the experience for them — and for the hundreds of thousands of other people across Sweden who weren't at Ullevi and have only your 'review' to go on.

"Write the truth. It was a good show."

Quite why Richards feels that the experience of not-being-at-a-gig could be cheapened by reading that the gig you weren't at wasn't worth being at in the first place is as bemusing as this suggestion that readers of the Expressen and Aftonbladet will suddenly feel that the evening they thought they enjoyed wasn't enjoyable at all, rather than thinking "I disagree with what I, as an adult, understand is merely the subjective judgement of one person."

Perhaps if you've spent the evening having sex, the discovery that somebody else in the room has given the experience a negative review might lead you to think back and find the flaws in performance, casting a gllomy new prospect on your recollection of events - but, Keith, it's not the same with gigs.

We knew there'd be trouble if he ever started to remember them.

Good mental health

Considering that Kerry Katona was being "treated" for "bipolar disorder" at the Priory, her description of her mother is a bit, well, odd:

"My mum's not well in the head. She's a nasty piece of work. She's a very jealous, callous woman.

"She doesn't care who she hurts in the process. She just wants to make money. And I'm her money train.

"She wants me and Mark to split up so she can get her hands on my money.

"She was never a good mum.

"Letting your daughter watch you slash your wrists or feeding your daughter drugs isn't what a good mother is.

"I just want to get on with my life. Why can't these people leave us alone?"

Yes, fancy someone trying to make money out of your tragic life, Kerry. Apart from you and the top-slice for Mr. Clifford, of course.

Radio One More Time: The Radio One Roadshow

Holiday, holiday, holiday time
Holiday, holiday, holiday time
with the Radio One [plonk] Roadshow

Once, a fixture in the British summer as immovable as donkey cruelty and bingo, the Radio One Roadshow could be seen as an object lesson in the BBC connecting with audiences - back before that became the sort of thing the BBC felt it should be doing. Indeed, back in the Roadhsow's 70s and early 80s heyday, a suggestion that any other part of the BBC should roll up its trousers and go and down to Margate to share chips and a Who Can Put The Most Spaghetti Down Their Trousers contest with licence-fee payers would have gone down about as well as pitching a programme called Fuck Me I'm A Hairy Woman.

I never got to go to a Roadshow - for some reason, Radio One's journey along the South Coast would visit Eastbourne rather than what might have been thought of as the more obvious Brighton, and by the time I was old enough to announce plans to go along to Eastbourne unaccompanied the attraction of seeing Gary Davies on stage was no longer strong enough to tempt to me. I have to take it on trust, then, that the "fun starts at ten" as the traditional preshow trailer would have it. For me, the Roadshow never really started until it was "on air at eleven".

Yes, the greatest gift of the Roadshow was to cut down some of Simon Bates' airtime.

Summer after summer, Skegness after Blackpool, year after year, the Roadshow would follow its own rhythm through the summer. Each of the daytime DJs would take a week, and, consequently, the stretch of coast that happened to coincide with that week. For reasons that we could never quite figure, the Roadshow never ventured inland, apart from on Bank Holidays when it might deign to try out a country park for a "special". Maybe BBC bosses believed that the only way you could holiday in the UK was if you went to the seaside.

Each presenter would get to make the week their own by having their own mini-competition - if Steve Wright was involved it would probably feature a bucket of gunk - but the main competitions were set in stone.

There was, of course, the Smiley Miley one, where four audience members would be given the chance to guess exactly how far the Roadshow caravan had travelled since the last programme. I used to fantasise about following the lorry from one location to the next as a cunning way of cheating on this competition, although since the prize was a Radio 1 goody bag, it might not have been the most sensible use of petrol.

"Smiley Miley" was also the name given to the producer of the events - part of the vast panoply of semi-fictitious characters who do the work on Radio One - who, in between making the Roadshows, seemed to be fighting a never-ending war with the presenters to see who could pull the biggest stunt. This always seemed to end with Mike Read's car being dismantled and reassembled in his hotel room, a pointless feat that served only to point out that there are some things that simply don't work on radio.

The main competition element on the Roadshow, though, was Bits And Pieces. So crucial was Bits and Pieces to the success of the Roadshow that it's probably the only feature on the station to have warranted its own trailer - "One more record to Bits And Pieces."

It was nothing more than ten small snatches of recent records, edited together, which four audience members (every participatory opportunity on the Roadshow called for four competitors) did their best to identify, with the winner - of course - winning a goodie bag. The contents of a Roadshow goody bag were shrouded in secrecy, but it's a safe bet they were slightly thinner fare than you might expect in, say, an Oscars goody bag. (They did, of course, provide the inspiration for Mark Goodier's network nickname.)

The classic version of Bits And Pieces would be heralded with a jingle featuring the 1964 hit from where it took its name, allowing my Mum to develop a running joke of yelling out "The Dave Clarke Five" as her first answer every day through the Summer holidays. See, it wasn't just fun to be at the recordings.

Nowadays, Radio One chooses not to connect with the bucket-and-spade tradition, preferring instead the grand sweeping gesture of One Big Weekend, or endless trips to Ibizia - the latter having a sense of being less about getting in touch with the Radio One audience, more about choosing somewhere nice to broadcast from. And, yes, it's undeniable that with cheap flights from EasyJet and expensive flights from Ryanair disguised as cheap flights when you strip out the hidden charges, your average Radio One listener will now have a much wider playground to choose from for their holidays. But it would be nice to think the network could still find it in their budgets to go and do something for the people stuck at home in the seaside towns they forgot to shut down.

[Radio One More Time]

Winehouse: Families at war

Following on from yesterday's attempts by the Fielder-Civil family to place the blame for Blake and Amy's co-dependent downward spiral on Amy, people who buy her records and her record label, today, Mitch Winehouse has just been on BBC Breakfast rejecting this. His message was that Blake and Amy have only themselves to blame. While being more accurate, still isn't quite true: record labels, like any employers, have some duty of care to the people who work for them, surely?

Let's hope the Sun is wrong on this one

If their report in today's paper is correct, Malawian authorities have not only ignored their own and the Africa Union guidelines on adoption, but they're now adopting a cash-and-carry approach to parcelling out the kids:

Madge, 49, has told her lawyer in Malawi, Alan Chinula, to “cover all legal bases” before she collects Mercy next April.

Madge insisted she wanted to adopt a sister for David “to redress the balance”.

We can only imagine what having a boy had done for the feng shui of her many houses. But hold on - if David's adoption is approved, wouldn't he, erm, already have a sister? Lourdes?
She “had her heart” set on Grace, but the tot’s extended family objected. Madge has been back several times since and was said to be “thrilled” to be told she can take Mercy.

She will file papers in February, a month after David’s adoption is finalised.

Now, I don't want to sound like a boring old bureaucrat here, but wouldn't it be better to wait until the papers are filed - and, indeed, until it's decided if she's a fit person to be "looking after" David (or, more accurately, paying the nanny to look after him) before telling Madonna she can "collect" another child?
Mercy has some family, including an aunt, but they were too poor to keep her, so left her at the orphanage.

Ah, so rather than the complicated adoption last time, where Madonna could have reunited a child with his family by offering a small sum of money, but instead yanked him off halfway around the world, this time it's "uncomplicated" because Madonna could have reunited a child with her family... oh, hang on.
She is healthy, unlike David who was desperately ill after arriving in England.

The source added: “Mercy is a beautiful baby girl. She’s so joyful and happy and giggles every time she’s picked up. Madonna just loves the way she claps her hands and laughs constantly. She has huge, dancing eyes. Madonna calls her her smiling angel.”

So, a healthy, happy child who smiles and laughs a lot. Thank god Madonna's going to rescue her from that, eh?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lou Reed enters Sinatraesque 'pisspoor duet' career twilight

Lou Reed has signed on to appear as a guest vocalist on the next Killer's album.

At least when Sinatra reached this point of his career, he did it with the real Bono rather than a pretend one. It wasn't dignified, but it was a smaller indignity.

Monkey trotters

Having been offered the opportunity to repeatedly hurl down a "beat that" challenge opening for the Arctic Monkeys on their US tour, with a consequent reshuffling of their own American dates.

Prepare to drop Shields?

The appearance of My Bloody Valentine on MyBloodySpace - complete with classic line-up - has fuelled the talky-guess-network that is the internet with rumours that the band are going to play Coachella.

With the Mary Chain having got back together for this year's Coachella, it's clear that they're engaging on a slow-motion replay of the Rollercoaster tour. Blur with Coxon and Damon's penis on-stage for 2009, then.

More woe Diddley

Bad news from Florida this evening: Bo Diddley has had a heart attack. What makes the news especially worrying is that he had the attack while getting a medical check-up, which suggests someone who is very ill indeed.

My Copyright Left Me

Normally the BPI and the Chart company gets very excited when a historic entry enters the charts, but this week's vaguely historic moment has passed by largely unmentioned. There, at number 19, is My Baby Left Me, by Elvis Presley. A single whose recording is out of copyright.

Now, if you'd listen to Cliff Richard and the BPI the idea of records having expiring copyright 50 years after they're recorded is right up there with emptying phials of foot and mouth serum into rivers, or testing make-up on toddlers. But here's an example of the good that allowing old tracks into the public domain can do: clearly, Priscilla and family aren't going to find themselves short of cash for the gas meter this winter - indeed, RCA's 'official' Elvis releases are doing rather well despite the competition from unofficial Elvis; the writers of the track (or their estate) are going to get a sizeable payment they wouldn't have received had the song remained locked in a vault; Elvis fans get the chance to hear something they haven't grown heartily sick of from the official imprints. Everyone - except those of us who despair at the chart getting cluttered with half-century old songs - is a winner.

The sky hasn't fallen. Andrew Gowers was right.

The return of Annie After Dark

Break out those copies of Fish-heads and Is That All There Is: as part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Radio One, they're reviving - for one night only - the Annie Nightingale Request Show.

We'd be very surprised if she doesn't include Echo Beach somewhere in the two-hour special.

Boycott Amy Winehouse

We shouldn't buy any more Amy Winehouse records. Obviously, we never have and never would, but it's nice for a media campaign we can feel like we're joining in with. Blake Furtive Squirrel's mum has called on us, the record-buying public, to refuse to buy any more of Amy's records:

The mother of Amy Winehouse's husband Blake Civil-Fielder [sic] and her husband Giles have urged fans to stop buying her records, and the record company to cancel her contract - until she seeks help for her drug and alcohol addictions.

We're not quite sure what the signal will be that it will once again be acceptable to download Rehab from iTunes: will the Fielder-Civils issue another public proclamation, or will there be a live TV link-up showing Amy happily guzzling J2O?

Still, it's nice to know that it's being made our fault for giving Winehouse the money to drug her eyes out of her head rather than the two individuals who are cracking themselves downwards being expected to take any form of responsibility for their lives. Perhaps Winehouse should think about suing her record label for letting her make money in the first place?

Fish returns to spawning grounds

The Hobble on the Cobbles might not be the grandest of the UK summer festivals, but Aylesbury did manage to claim a tiny piece of history: a one-off, one-song reunion of Fish out of Marillion, and Marillion.

Aylesbury being where the band formed, and so appropriate for what Fish makes sound like a last hurrah:

"It was great. It was just a load of fun. But nothing should be read into it. I think it just proves that we're actually friends.

"There's always been these rumours that there's some sort of animosity between us but that went a long, long time ago."

He is, however, still trying to write that love song. He says it'll be finished by Friday.

Lily Allen's Kray twinge

Lily Allen has discovered the hard way that not everyone wants to work with her after she crashed Bobby Kray's Notting Hill Carnival set:

"Lily looked very drunk and was talking in a bad Jamaican accent. Then she just pushed him off," a carnival-goer told the Sun.

"He wasn’t happy. He grabbed the Guinness from her and threw it over her head. Everyone cheered and she ran off embarrassed."

We fully expect an 'explanation' for this to turn up on Allen's MySpace within a few hours - perhaps it wasn't really Lily Allen: maybe somebody hacked her?

Radio One More Time: Walters' Week

Travelling through space and time with the mingle-mangle music

John Walters is, of course, remembered as John Peel's producer, the man who had to "ring up Mrs. X and ask if her Overlord wanted to come on the programme." He also was a member of the Alan Price Set, scoring a top ten hit in his own right. But he also had another role - that of Radio One's arts correspondent.

Sort of arts correspondent. Presumably on the basis that he turned up at the studios carrying a paper you had to fold to read on the tube, John Walters was assigned the job of going to galleries and other events, and reporting back for the audience. Originally, he did this in a stand-alone programme, Walter's Weekly, in a slot which created a no-man's land between Night-time and Daytime programming. When this timeslot disappeared as part of a schedule shake-up, he became a roving reporter for Janice Long's show, delivering a Tuesday night Walter's Week slot, and a Thursday pop papers review. At the next schedule shake-up, when management created a buffer between night-time and daytime, Walters Weekly was revived for a short while. The final programme promised there was going to be another series, but it never happened before Walters retired.

Sort of arts correspondent. There were reports from openings - often enlivened by the presence of Quentin and Dave, respectively the Critic's critic and the People's critic, who sat on his shoulders whispering into his ears, in much the same way small angels and devils would attempt to influence the behaviour of characters in comics. Walters' great strength as an art critic was that he could understand the multiple complex levels being unravelled by Quentin, while retaining sympathy for Dave's view that a kid of three could do better.

But, generally, Walters used his time for discoursing on things he found interesting. There was much about the Archers - including his journey on an Archers themed tour where the coach visited places that, obviously, weren't in the made-up Borsetshire:

They'd say 'there's the cathedral where David and Sophie are going to get married in a few weeks - and you'd think, no, no it's not, that's Salisbury... a milkfloat overtook the coach at one point and the woman behind me said 'that'll be Mike Tucker' - and you just think, no, no, don't do their job for them...

once even composing a poem calling for more Grundy action in Ambridge, bemoaning how it's

It's Archers, Archers, all through the week
(Looks like Kenton will be up before the beak)

Then there were the "is it me" pieces, about breaking wind in apparently empty breakfast rooms only to catch the eye of a waitress who had been hiding round the corner, or being offered a slice of hot buttered something, or trains being full of screeching infants:

People stay at home trying for babies, then as soon as they're successful, they start to come out again, taking their babies to places where I am...

It's hard to disagree with a man who sees a sign outside a pub reading "Families Welcome" as a warning rather than an advertisement.

Then there were the frequent not-really-covert plugs for his arts series on BBC2's opt-out North-Eastern service, Northern Lights (or "ahem-hem-hem Northern Lights") and the obsession with the lack of people visible from the train when it went through Riddlesdown. Riddlesdown - City of the Dead spawned a feature in its own right, where Walters would take up the challenge of other towns to be similarly depopulated.

Much as we loved both iterations of Walter's Weekly, and the second's multi-tracked human brass band theme tune, it was the time he spent on the Janice Long's show which worked the best. Even the most natural raconteur works best with an audience, and Long's willingness to corpse on air made for a great partnership.

John Walters had the knack of turning the small print of daily life into wonderful stories; it's a pity his retirement proved so cruelly short at a time when he was available to other broadcasters to turn in work which walked the dangerous tightrope between whimsy and student-revue standard observational comedy.

We never did find out what happened to Alan, the furry soap cat, though.

[Radio One More Time]

Male nannies? Whatever next? Female milkmen?

The Mirror has got itself all excited by the news of Madonna hiring a bloke to be nanny for David Banda. Yes, a man. Can you imagine anything more unlikely, apart from that dog that was a district attorney?

The paper seems impressed with the terms and conditions:

He has been hired round the clock and is being paid a generous £1,600-£2,000 a month for the job.

Apart from being incredibly vague - a hundred quid a month difference between the top and bottom level there suggests that someone's just found the usual rates a nanny could charge - it sounds less generous when you factor in being "hired round the clock". Even if it wasn't Madonna's perpetual beck and call that one was at, you might consider that a poor deal.

And that's before you hear the rest of the alleged working conditions:
"The manny has been told he will only look after David, not the other children.

"Madonna is very strict with her rules for whoever looks after her children as she wants the best standards for them.

"He will be a live-in nanny and need to be available 24/7.

"The manny has been given specific instructions never to bring a girlfriend back to the house and not to bring home any women younger than 30.

"She has also banned him from watching TV in the house, having a TV in his room and reading newspapers or magazines at at home."

So, he's been banned from any contact with the outside world and the people he spends his time with is being strictly controlled - perhaps they should throw in a couple of facile tasks every week and stream it on E4 as a replacement for Big Brother.

Still, nice to hear that Madonna is leaving the bulk of the care of that child she was so desperate to adopt to, erm, somebody hired in for the purpose.

Rootling about in Kylie's ovaries

Oddly, the tawdry story about Kylie Mingoue's fertility (a couple of quotes from "friends" about plans for some unspecified "pioneering" operation and, apparently, a willingness to be a single mother) has been filed by the TV team rather than Newton's team - despite describing Kylie as a "pop princess" in its opening sentence. Perhaps - with the television writers now getting front page stories about singers - this also explains why Bizarre is looking so empty these days.

Newton's conclusions

Today's Bizarre is, if anything, even thinner than yesterday's holiday service: the second story is, erm, a single photo of French and Saunders dressed up as Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears.

Even Newton struggles to explain why she's placed a promotional picture for a clapped-out TV series as her second story, coming up with this:

FRENCH and SAUNDERS are keeping tabs on my Wino Watch campaign.

The comedy duo are back on TV next week decked out as AMY DECLINEHOUSE and BRITNEY SPEARS – and here’s how they look.

Yes, Victoria. But for your coverage of Amy Winehouse's addiction problems, it's unlikely French and Saunders would have heard of her.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nails slash Pumpkins

Trent Reznor wasn't especially thrilled with this year's Reading-Leeds, especially the company he was asked to keep:

"I was never a big SMASHING PUMPKINS fan back when they were the PUMPKINS, not to shit on Billy or anything but I don't hear anything that would make me want to care. I think trying to resurrect the name SMASHING PUMPKINS... it's all a bit corporate for me."

"I heard the lineup for another day and that sounded a lot better than the lineup on the day we are playing, so I doubt you will see me on the side of the stage for FALL OUT BOY!"

It's a pity. They could have done with someone with Reznor's aim in the crowd.

Ailing Cure fixes schedule

Reading between the lines, the main impetus for The Cure pulling their US tour dates is that even they're bored with themselves:

"We want to remodel/rework the live show for North America," they wrote by way of excuse on their website. "Change things around, incorporate new songs... and we need time and focus to do this."

They'll hopefully be slightly more interesting in time for the rearranged dates, which will now take place in the Spring.

Jared Leto confuses shiny prize with credibility

It's almost heart-breaking to hear that Jared Leto feels winning a Kerrang award confers some sort of artistic credibility on 30 Seconds To Mars:

"We've been working hard for a long time for people to accept the band. It's a wonderful feeling now they have."

If that's what you want to believe, Jared. If that's what you need to believe.

Who knew we would all live this long?

Tonight, on University Challenge, one of the questions asked students to identify the Fierce Panda logo.

They failed.

Smashing Melons? Corgan rewinds to 1959

We don't know if Billy Corgan is thinking of joining Focus On The Family anytime soon, but judging by his remarks at Reading, he'd fit right in with anyone who shares their views:

Midway through the set stage cameras panned the crowd, which included a scantily clad young woman, about whom Corgan commented "There's something about a girl who's willing to take her top off so quickly."

"American girls are sluts too," he added. "See - isn't it great to be alternative - You can say all those things."

Erm... no, Corgan. Being "alternative" is not having those sort of views. Seeing women as sluts is more of a mainstream attitude. But even in the mainstream, blurting out that sort of shit is frowned upon these days.

Madonnadoption back on track?

The Malawian official whose inspection visit to see how Madonna and Guy are getting on with David Banda has been given approval to fly to Britain after all, with the Ministry giving permission for Penstone Kilembe to travel:

Kilembe dismissed the suggestions he asked the pop star for a ticket.

"What we had with the minister was just a misunderstanding and that has been resolved. Madonna herself has been informed about the new proposed dates because she has been looking forward to this so that her adoption process is not hampered," he said.

Interesting that Kilembe seems to think the adoption process is "hers" (i.e Madonna's) rather than David's.

Questions that might answer themselves

The Daily Mail is fretting about Charlotte Church:

Why is Charlotte Church hiding away from the world?

Security cameras, 16ft fences, panic buttons - even her own private ambulance on permanent standby. As the big day approaches, just why is the normally extrovert Charlotte Church hiding away from the world?

That's what the paper asks before sharing with its readers a long, detailed listing of the recent troubles of the heavily-pregnant Church.

That might be the answer to the question right there, then.

Go solo, Borrell, pleads the rest of Razorlight

Oh, sure, Andy Burrows' suggestion that Johnny Borrell consider a solo career sounds polite:

"I really wish he would do a solo record. He's got material coming out of his ears, that guy," Andy told the Daily Star. "He does not stop working. He writes on tour, he writes in his sleep, he writes all the bloody time. There's so much great stuff."

He added: "If Johnny did a solo album I'd like to drum on it. But, if not, I'd have absolutely no problem if he wanted to do a solo album - that would mean I could go on holiday for a while."

It does have the phrase "give us a rest" written all over it, doesn't it?

Radio One More Time: Five forty-fives

In recent years, the role of the early evening slot after Newsbeat has been the opportunity for daytime to wind up, slowly thinning out the familiar so that, by the time Zane Lowe comes on, the audience won't be too spooked by a bearded man suddenly shouting at them while he plays something loud and alarming.

It wasn't like that when Peter Powell ruled the roost - coming out of Newsbeat at 5.45, he'd then launch into the Five forty-fives slot. Five new releases, played back to back. A solid twenty-minute chunk of records the listeners would be unfamiliar with. On a programme presented by a man so wet he apologised for having to play Cardiac Arrest by Madness during a chart rundown as "it must be terrible to hear that if someone in your family has just had a heart attack."

You have to remember this was back before the internet, when songs generally weren't known the world over the minute the final mix was signed off. It was even before record labels attempted to make "the first play" of singles into an event in their own right, strictly juggling embargoes on U2 songs to make sure that Chris Moyles gets the rights to be the first presenter to crash the vocals on the track. Back before new releases get sent to radio stations so far in advance of the day they arrive in the shops that Gnarl Barkley's Crazy felt like an oldie before it had registered a single sale.

Five records, back-to-back, which people were unfamiliar with, on what was still - technically - a daytime Radio One programme. And, by the law of mathematics, there had to be a lot more Hollywood Beyond and Modern Romance type acts than there were Duran Duran and Japan tracks in there. Considering the 1980s are generally seen as something of a conservative period for the higher-profile Radio One djs, this was quite a brave feature, putting the commitment to music and discovery ahead of the audience's comfort factor. Does any show on today's Radio 1 - or even 6Music, come to that - schedule such a large chunk of records that listeners will be hearing for the first time, back-to-back, today?

Of course, new music has always played an important role in the programming - the Breakfast Show's Record of the Week which seemed to survive most changes of presenters for the first couple of decades, where a new single would be given the honour of a daily play.

And there were review programmes: Roundtable - grudgingly listened to by Norman Fletcher at the insistence of Lenny Godber - which (aptly) took the 5.45 slot on Fridays for ages, most famously under Emperor Rosko's command; Singled Out; Collins and Maconie's Hit Parade, which took the basic Roundtable format and poked into gaps between David Quantick dismissing something he'd read in the Melody Maker as "arrant wasp toss". But even these shows soothed the shock of the new by inviting the likes of Debbie Harry, David Grant and Steve Wright (Roundtable) or the drummer from Kenickie, the news editor from Select and, oh, David Quantick's here anyway (Hit Parade) to contextualise the new singles.

Even if you tried to do something similar these days, the format of "here are five records you won't have heard before, listen to them and decide if you like them" would be bastardised by the inclusion of instant texts from Spandau Ballet fans. It's almost as if the more seriously Radio One management took music, they less they trusted their audience to cope with it.

[Radio One More Time]

Kylie has marginally different hairstyle

So excited is Victoria Newton that Kylie Minogue has got a 'new' hairstyle it's the second story on this morning's Bizarre. Which is a bit weak, even for a Bank Holiday Monday.

She doesn't seem to connect with it being a throwback to Locomotion-era Kylie, but does manage to achieve a new low in punning:

We can’t see what make of car our curly girlie got out of.

But our guess is she travelled in a Roller!

Neighbours, everybody needs good Neighbours

According to The Sun, Winehouse and Fielder-Civil have fled the country. Winehouse's family seem to think this is a "good thing".

To the casual observer, this looks more like the sort of "good idea" when Factory sent the Happy Mondays overseas to record a drug free album. How did that work out, again?

Still, the poor sods who've been unlucky enough to have the pair sharing their hotel will probably be delighted they've gone. A New Yorker who was at the Sanderson tells the Mirror:

"There was all sorts of commotion coming from the room - screaming, doors banging, all sorts. It was really scary and so inconsiderate to everyone else. I had to ask to be moved and the hotel put me in another room."

After they'd moved to the Covent Garden Hotel, Fielder-Simple amused himself by playing knock-down ginger.

If we'd been staying there, we'd have just sent them a sack full of heroin in the hope it'd shut them up.

From Big Brother to popstars?

According to this morning's Sun, Sam and Amanda - the Big Brother twins - are "set to become the next Cheeky Girls".

Really? Or is this just a made-up story based on them having sung for yesterday's task?

The blonde twins, 19, are being lined up for a music deal targeted at the teen market, according to BB insiders.

A source said: “They are cute and fun — and appeal to teens. They could do a lot better than the Cheeky Girls.”

The twins sang dressed as glamour girl Jordan in a BB task at the weekend. Brian wigged up to play Jordan’s hubby Peter Andre.

Ah. So it's just a made-up story, then. The key detail, of course, is that during the singing yesterday, one sang very poorly, and the other was much worse. Even The Cheeky Girls were able to carry the odd note.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hutz now too grand for festivals

Eugene Hutz apparently doesn't care for the entertainments of the young people any more, not now he's had a sniff of the a-list and their top table:

He told a reporter from the Mirror backstage [at Reading], "I preferred the gig I did with Madonna at Live Earth."

Presumably because, as he was with Madonna at Live Earth, he was kept well away from Mirror journalists when he was backstage.

... and talking of good use of public funds

If the Environmental Agency really had the funds and resources to lower a river three inches, was the most appropriate use of that to drop the Thames three inches on behalf of Festival Republic?

Policing the festivals

So far, police have arrested 25 people across the two Reading/Leeds festival sites, mainly for drugs offences.

However, there have been over 108 thefts in Leeds alone.

Is mopping up some low-level drug users really the best use of police resources when the people who are paying for them to be there are having their stuff nicked?

Is Mel C coming to her senses?

If - as seems possible - the management of the Spice Girls reunion had hoped to hammer Mel C down into accepting her role as one of the money-makers, it's not going well: Mel C is having none of it, reckon The People:

An insider revealed: "Mel C still wants to be seen as a solo singer and she's told pals she's tired of being ordered around.

"Things are so tense she hasn't even spoken to Mel B, Victoria, or Geri since June."

That must be making for fun rehearsals. There's a slightly more solid piece of evidence that all is not well in the comeback camp: Mel had pledged to put her solo work on hold for the reunion; now, there's going to be a Mel C single just before the Spice's magical one.

B list squared

Professional half-wit Lee Ryan has, apparently, managed to have half a date with Chanelle who walked out during Big Brother. Most humiliatingly for Lee, the Sunday Mirror reports this as if 'failed game show contestant' was pulling out of his league.

The value of biding your time

Back when the News of the World first ran its story about Dannii Minogue mucking about with strippers and getting caught on video. Dannii Minogue was just the less-popular Minogue sister. Now, though, she's a judge on X Factor, and thus every bit as famous and important as Piers Morgan.

Wisely, Janine Marshall has waited until now to come forward to sell her story to the News of the World. It's actually the same story the Screws ran back in February 2006, although with a name on it and some pictures of a stripper to illustrate it.

Oh, and some "personal testimony":

"She was calling out for me, so I sauntered over and squeezed my breasts as I danced seductively in front of her," said Janine.

"I've got a three-foot rule — I never go closer than that with clients. But with Dannii it was different. I pushed the boundaries more than I would with other clients because she's a woman and I felt safe.

I gyrated between her legs and that sent Dannii even wilder — she kicked her leg out in sheer excitement."

Probably would have been better to have kept to that three-foot rule if Minogue's legs are shooting off all over the place, we'd have thought.

Actually, is it possible that Dannii was lashing out rather than getting excited?

Janine then explains - for the innocent News of the World reader - what a stripper does when she's at work:
"I teased down my skirt and was dancing in my panties and halter-neck bikini top, which I unknotted.

"My boobs fell out of my top and I peeled off my knickers before stepping out of them."

We've never found the concept of "peeling off" knickers to be very sexual, with its overtones of them being stuck to your skin.
"Dannii admired me. She said, ‘Wow, look at that body.' I knew I looked fantastic. At one point she grabbed a curl of my hair and twiddled it around her finger. And she said, ‘You've got such sexy hair'.

Sexy hair? Are you sure you heard that right?
"Dannii adored my boobs and couldn't believe they were natural, so she reached out and her fingers played with them gently. I kneeled and my hands glided up the side of her waist.

"She kept leaning forward to nestle her face in my breasts. I turned around to face a mirrored wall and as I arched my back my bottom pushed out towards Dannii," she recalled.

"And it felt so sexy when she put her palms flat against my butt cheeks. I could see her through the mirror grinning at her boyfriend, like a cat that had got the cream."

And so on it goes, with Janine really using the opportunity to suggest that she was, you know, the woman with the best breasts and best butt and best stripping technique in all of London. It's almost as if it's all about her.

After more - much more - of this sort of thing, Minogue and her boyfriend then paid for her to sit and talk with them:
"Dannii said she loved watching me dance naked and admitted she'd had pole dancing lessons herself," said Janine.

"She said she enjoyed pole dancing and it made her feel sexy."

This is something we've never quite got - if you take pole dancing out of a sex club, doesn't it just become a very monotonous form of gymnastics? Pole dancing in a gym or in your own living room - by yourself, or with a teacher - surely is only like performing a sex show in the same way that undressing for bed is like being a stripper?

Still, it's nice to hear that when the story brokeover a year ago, Dannii did get in touch with the woman to ask if she was alright, which is quite sweet.

Janine was outraged at the time, though:
Janine admits she was shocked and upset when the CCTV stills from her dalliance with Dannii became public.

"It hurt me that I was exploited but I'm running my own dance academy and teaching regular women the art of seduction and pole dancing."

"I've moved on with my life."

So hurt and upset she, erm, sold her story to the paper which "exploited" her, and moved on with her life so far she, erm, selling her story to the newspaper. That'd be, um, closure, would it?

Radio One More Time: Steve Wright's Fridays off

Legend tell us that it was Chris Evans' demands to be allowed Fridays off that led to his departure from Radio One - Matthew Bannister feeling that having a different breakfast show on Friday morning would be a something of an oddity. Evans insisted it was either Fridays off, or he was, and so he went. The sudden vacuum in the network's key slot sucked in Mark and Lard and made the uproar over Danny Baker seem like the polite mutterings of disgruntled parish council.

However, Evans' request wasn't quite so odd set in the context of some of the network's earlier schedules, not least the inexplicable time in the 1980s when Steve Wright was catapulted from his "in the Afternoon" slot into Sunday mornings. To make up for the horror of having to get up at, ooh, eight o'clock, Wright's hitherto Monday-to-Friday programme became a Monday-to-Thursday affair.

You can almost see the logic at work here - Fridays have always been slightly different on Radio One, with a weekend-starts-here approach, but the traditional switchover usually came in early evening - Andy Peebles banging on about sport instead of Kid Jensen, the Friday Rock Show where you'd normally find John Peel, Roundtable in Peter Powell's shoes. Pushing the start of the weekend schedule back to 2pm on a Friday gave the sense of arriving way, way too early at a house party.

It also meant Radio One had a problem trying to work out what to do with the slot - it was still a prime, daytime programme, so needed someone with enough profile to carry the audience along; indeed, with only one programme a week at this time, the challenge was to find someone capable to connecting quickly with the listeners while making up for the disappointment of the usual host being away. Trouble was, there wasn't a great deal of spare capacity in the network's presentation team - which is probably why they'd needed to get Wright on to Sundays, with his "we've just got back from the church" jingles and all - and so, at first, they tried propelling Early Show host Adrian John into the mid-afternoon. Our memory suggests that he used to do the early show and the afternoons on Fridays, but surely this can't be right, can it?

John tried to make the slot his own - his Beadlesque It's Only A Wind-Up could be quite inspired, as when he took advantage of scaffolding on Big Ben to ask tourists what they thought about the new digital clockface being installed - but it always felt like he was a housesitter.

After John, the Friday vacancy was used as a testing ground for new presenters - some with a degree of success (Mark "meMarkPage" Page) and some without (Paul Jordan, who eventually returned to Red Rose's deconsecrated church studios in Preston) before the idea that Sunday mornings were the new Friday afternoons was quietly dropped and normalcy returned.

This week just gone

Seven days on No Rock and Roll Fun:

The ten most-read individual stories are:

1. The court wants to watch R Kelly's sex video
2. We almost wish we'd never put Lily Allen and naked in the same story
3. Dannii Minogue's supposed slightly-lesbian secrets video
4. Beth Ditto removes her clothes for that evil old NME
5. Is KT Tuntsall a lesbian?
6. Johnny Headlock remembers: Oh, yes I had sex with Amy Winehouse
7. Akon presents kids with free vibrators
8. Priscillas hijack a Klaxons b-side
9. Edith Bowman's topless paparazzi nightmare
10. Darren Hayes in alleged "racist assault" mystery

Also this week:
Amy Winehouse got more messed up; Ticketmaster and LiveNation fell out with each other while Antigua requested the right to ignore US copyright; Britney Spears considered fleeing to London; Beth Ditto revealed she didn't think all gay men were starving women to death, only some of them and, in our brave new world, USB memory sticks made the grade for the charts.

You can read the whole week on one page or
skim the week before in one post

Five years ago:
Eminem fought with a puppet at the MTV awards; the pointless DataPlay format launched, after burning through some extra fifty million dollars; Radio 1 inadvertently called for queerbashing; Graham Coxon went missing from Blur while the NME suggested that Pulp were about to split; and the Leeds Festival ended in riots - possibly due to heavy-handed policing

Challengers, the new New Pornographers "more mature" sound

The incomparable Mekons offer their first in three years

MIA turns in another solid 8/10 performance which will get reviewed as a 10/10

... while Sevara Nazarkhan offers a different globally-mashed take

Caribou's Andorra marks Dan Snaith's move to City Slang

Jenny Lewis returns to the day job with Rilo Kiley for the difficult 'now we've got a profile' album

The experimentation was wrong, so they've reined it in: Liars get back to basics

Minus The Bear's Planet Of Ice "Nurturing a bold stylistic shift towards progressive and psychedelic rock Planet of Ice is loaded with hooks" says the press release, unpromisingly

Dirty Space Disco: Sylvester, Conrad Schnitzler, Clara Mondshine...

Clogging On Again: New Model Army manage a tenth album in 23 years - and they say there's No Rest

From back in the days when 'being gay' was a career in itself: An evening with Quentin Crisp

Chris Martin gets a chance to sing on the new Kinski. No, not that Chris Martin