Saturday, September 29, 2007

But Sharon, how would you tell?

From the "this one writes itself" file, Sharon and Ozzy have a suicide pact which, apparently, should have been triggered by now:

"We believe 100 per cent in euthanasia, so have drawn up plans to go to the assisted suicide flat in Switzerland if we ever have an illness that affects our brains. If Ozzy or I ever got Alzheimer's, that's it — we'd be off."

So... if Ozzy shows any signs of mental deterioration, then it's off with the lights?

Wouldn't green-lighting this have been the Kool Aid moment?

The Boss versus The President

Bruce Springsteen used an appearance on NBC yesterday morning to throw a little White House baiting onto the networks:

“This is a song called Livin’ In the Future. But it’s really about what’s happening now. Right now. It’s kind of about how the things we love about America, cheeseburgers, French fries, the Yankees battlin’ Boston… the Bill of Rights [holds up microphone, urging crowd to cheer] … v-twin motorcycles… Tim Russert’s haircut, trans-fats and the Jersey Shore… we love those things the way womenfolk love Matt Lauer.

But over the past six years we’ve had to add to the American picture: rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeus corpus, the neglect of our great city New Orleans and its people, an attack on the Constitution. And the loss of our young best men and women in a tragic war."

When Fox claims that the US media is a liberal playground, you have to think how unusual something like this happening on television is to realise how paranoid they are.

Trouble is, Bush would have been too busy whooping to have heard the second half, but at least it's not Bono.

Caught in a Tricky corner

We've not heard a peep from Tricky for an age and a half, and we didn't really expect him to resurface wedged between the server files on TMZ, trying to explain what happened when he got caught up in some sort of fight:

"We got attacked, and I don't know why we got attacked ... I think he was a big bully ... but if he want a go straightener, come on man!"

Uh... right.

It's a pity nobody at TMZ thought to ask him where he'd been the last ten years.

Embed and breakfast man: Fiery Furnaces

A Saturday evening treat: This is the acoustic "work in progress" version of Japanese Slippers from Fiery Furnaces' forthcoming Widow City CD. The album version is somewhat less, shall we say, linear.

CSS tour dates

CSS are throwing some December dates into the UK pot:


Tickets are going on sale next week; MySpacers get a jump on non-friends of the band.

Britney: The troops rally

Yesterday, Ozzy Osbourne mumbled something about Britney Spears which sounded vaguely positive. Now, Rhianna has also added her support to the beleaguered pop star:

"You can't judge her performance [at the MTV Awards] without knowing what was going on with her personally.

"She had so much pressure on her for that one performance. It's not easy being on that stage. I performed for a minute and a half, and I was extremely nervous.

"To have the amount of pressure that Britney had? I don't know what I would've done. She did her best, so leave her alone."

Now, while we feel a degree of sympathy for Britney, what kind of contraflow-in-a-one-way-system logic is this?

Why should people feel obliged to take "what was going on with her personally" into judging a performance? If your plumber came in and bungled the flue on your central heating, you wouldn't still pay him because he had stuff "going on personally" and that ruined his performance. Until people start to hand back Grammys saying "I really don't deserve this, as when I made the record I was in love, well off and in perfect health so there was no struggle", I don't think we can really start to weight reviews according to the off-stage influences on the act.

Don't shoot the piano player, he's embroiled in a sub-prime credit crunch repossession.

Doesn't work, does it?

Doing the splits

Keisha Buchanan has - alongside some vague "oh, I was sucidial, sort of" chit-chat which sounds more like an attempt to pass off teenage angst as psychological depth - laughed off the latest round of Sugababes split stories:

"The band shouldn't be called Sugababes, it should be called Sugasplit. I've got used to it."

Yes, there are a lot of stories about splits in the ranks, Keisha. That could be something to do with, erm, the 66% of the band has quit and had to be replaced already, don't you think?

Shotter's Paradise

The story, boiled down, is this: with Kate Moss and Pete Doherty split, and Doherty busy cleaning himself up and uncontactable, management panicked about the use of an image of Moss on the Shotter's Nation sleeve and instead stuck a random photo of a woman in knickers on the cover instead.

Victoria Newton's starting something, mind:

KATE MOSS could go KP Nuts when she sees the cover of BABYSHAMBLES’ new album.

KP Nuts? Eh? We know what Newton's getting at, but it took us a couple of minutes to make the connection.

About six paragraphs later, Newton explains the reference:
I’m sure Kate — who sung duets with Pete under the name KP NUTS before their split — will be gutted to learn her face isn’t on the album after helping with those four tracks.

Will she, though? She's dumped him and moved on. Isn't it a bit more likely that either she'll be either relieved that he's not trying to flog albums with her picture, or annoyed that they've chosen a lookalike body double to try and imply her endorsement without getting into choppy copyright problems?

Order from AmazonThe decision to rip the head off the photo of the lookalike model is disturbing, though - taking a catalogue shot and making it pornographic (in the strict sense of the word) by removing the face and head of the model, leaving her a featureless and depersonalised 'body'. This is exactly the same thing that got Rain into trouble twenty-something years ago; you'd have hoped that a supposedly smart band like Babyshambles would have spotted that objectifying women might be a slightly more shameful outcome than falling into an argument with a knicker company over the copyright of an underwear advert.

We've had lots of letters

Well, one, actually, but it's a quite interesting one, from Andrea Pearson. Who she? She's with The Climb, whose song about Lana Clarkson somehow turned up on the ContactMusic site during the jury deliberations in the Phil Spector trial, and from there to here. Andrea offered her band's side of the story:

I genuinely did write the song with the best of intentions - what can I say? I'm a geek! I've written songs about Kurt Cobain's life, Marti Pellow's drug addiction, and Channel 4's Derren Brown! (PLEASE don't ever quote me on that!) Not that you'd know that any of those songs are about those people. The Lana song was a bit different. I called it just "Lana", and when it came to making a demo EP, I thought it'd make a change to actually point out the song was about a real person, so named it "Who Shot Lana Clarkson". It was actually a play on Who Killed Laura Palmer (from Twin Peaks) or Who Shot J.R (or even Mr Burns from The Simpsons). Although it's been sent out as a demo, I never thought for one second that Lana's family and friends would hear it. I just hoped at the time (autumn 2005) that some nice label would say "hey, this demo's ok, so let's give this band lots of money and help them record their songs professionally, because at the moment the demo sounds a bit ropey"!

As for my "long mediation on the guilt or otherwise of Phil Spector" the quotes were just taken from a private email that I wrote to one of Lana's friends - I'm hardly going to say I think the guy should walk away free! I swear I didn't know it was going to get quoted in a press piece. If I had, I'd have said that I actually think Phil Spector was a musical genuis (in his time), and that it was probably all a very nasty accident, but he should still be held accountable. I'm certain (from all I've read) that it wasn't suicide, and that she'd still be alive today if he hadn't insisted she'd gone home with him. I wrote the song because the story was tragic, not because I thought other people would find it interesting.

Anywhooo, I feel better for getting that off my chest. Maybe I have a "desperate need to be thought of as good-ish"! My band's about to get accused of being "too nice" on a reality-talent-show because we didn't argue with the judges and don't dress like rock stars. (All the other bands in the competition looked like they were out of a Wella advert.) Unfortunately that's the nicest thing they could say about us, as the rest of their comments were, um, really harsh! (Bad sound on stage, wasn't our fault, I swear!)

Unlike ContactMusic, we did check with Andrea before publishing this, by the way. It's interesting to get the context behind this story - especially the way it appears to have ended up on the internet in the first place - and the motivation looks a lot less cynical when put back into context.

You can make up your own mind - and hear more of the band's music - on the band's Soundclick page.

Something kind of EU jumping in my tutu

We've hit F5 and washed out our eyes with Optrex, but it still really does appear that today's Sun carries an article signed by ("written by") Nicola Roberts calling for a referendum on the European Reform Treaty.

Actually, let's really hope that someone else wrote it for her, as that way she can distance herself from the problems with it:

BEFORE the Government came into power they said everyone would have a say on whether we sign up to the EU Constitution or not.

But now they are saying it’s going to be the MPs who decide our future.

This was one of the main points Labour campaigned on during the last election.

When things like this happen, you wonder why you vote for anybody — as they don’t stick to their promises.

The only thing is, Nicola, the didn't actually promise any such thing.

The 2005 manifesto promised a referendum of the British people (not quite sure why the Northern Irish wouldn't get a say) if the government was going to join the Euro; if there was going to be a major change to Westminster government (effectively referring to the introduction of proportional representation) and on the acceptance or otherwise of the Constitutional Treaty. But the Constitutional Treaty is a dead letter - abandoned after being voted down by enough of the people of Europe (like in a democracy, oddly enough) to make it unworkable.

Now, it's easy enough to pretend that the Reform Treaty is the same thing as the Constitution, but it isn't. You only have to read the disappointed reaction of those who believe in a single-state EU to see that it falls short of being identical.

Equally, you could argue that if the Labour Party conceded the principle of a vote on the Constitution and that there's no reason why that principle shouldn't be applied to the Reform Treaty as well.

But Roberts doesn't - she just conflates the Constitutional and Reform Treaties as the same thing, and calls the government on breaking promises they hadn't made.
Young people — especially school-age teenagers — need to be educated about political issues and how they could affect their lives.

Roberts writes this in The Sun. You might ask what contribution the Sun makes to educating young people about politics on a daily basis.
Our democracy will be eroded if Gordon Brown goes back on his promise and fails to deliver a referendum.

Eroded? Really, Nicola? What of the plausible anti-referendum argument that passing this sort of fine-detail choice direct to the people is a rather large constitutional change in its own right?

Roberts - unsurprisingly - turns out to be one of those dour Little Englanders who is vaguely against a Europe she clearly doesn't understand:
Personally I’m against us signing up under the terms being suggested because it means we will be handing over so many powers to unelected representatives in Europe.

It will mean they could bring in new laws and dictate the way we lead our lives in Britain. That’s why I think that, if we do get a referendum, we should vote No.

Of course, Roberts is entitled to her ghostwritten point of view, but if she really believes that what is crucial is that the right of the British People To Decide Its Destiny, then should she really suddenly change tack and start campaigning for people to vote one way or another? It's like a campaign for electoral reform running adverts going "Single Transferable Vote Now, and uses yours for the Green Party", and makes "Roberts" insistence on a referendum look a lot less like someone trying to ensure that the people are heard, and more like somebody trying to get their way through any means necessary.

Roberts clearly hasn't read the Reform Treaty which has abandoned the Constitution's provision of the primacy of EC Law and replaced it with a system of watered-down directives and regulations instead of legislation. In addition, of course, the voting system under the Reform Treaty is much more strident than that proposed under the abandoned Constitution.

Or maybe she has read it, and is just happily ignoring the facts to bolster her case.
Do we really want to end up living in a country where we can’t make our own decisions based on what is best for Britain?

That's a fascinating question, especially in the context of the Sun using Churchill as an icon for its campaign. After all, if making decisions based on "what is best for Britain" should be considered the prime motivation, then Churchill surely let us all down a stinker by continuing the war against Hitler - better for Britain, surely, to have not bothered about the French and Belgians and Czechs and Poles, and settled for a prosperous peace that accepted the economic benefits of a friendly Nazi Europe. I'm quite proud that my grandparents' generation made a decision not based on what was "best for Britain", but best for the people of Europe as a whole.

Still, it was nice to see the server sending adverts to this page on the Sun website had a sense of humour about it all.

The curious Top Shop question

Beth Ditto was a guest in last night's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. There was much of the "you ate a squirrel" type of stuff (indeed, that's the official clip on YouTube) and what is presumably the first mention of Ladyfest on prime-time BBC1.

But there was one very odd exchange.

Ross asked Ditto if she'd consider designing a fashion range for Top Shop - specifically Top Shop - to which Ditto replied "yes, but...", stipulating that they'd have to make ranges large enough to fit her.

Obviously, Ditto knows that she's told the press more than once that she's turned Top Shop down and, presumably, while Ross' research team were digging up the squirrel story, they'd have come across this.

And even if they hadn't, wouldn't it be slightly strange for Ross to have plucked Top Shop out of all the high street brands from thin air?

And even if he had, why did Beth not mention that she'd already turned them down?

It's all somewhat curious.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Malaysia tells Beyonce "not dressed like that, you're not"

Beyonce's planned Malaysia date has been axed after local religious groups pushed to have her act sanitised in line with local sensibilities.

Gwen Stefani - who faced similar restrictions in August - complied with the rules, deciding that it was more important to open up the large market and make some money ("more important to bring her music to Malaysia") than to worry about the implications of having her dress style dictated to her by a religious group.

Kracker pulls a deal

Uncle Kracker - Kid Rock's dj and solo artist of surprisingly little merit - has done a deal following his attack on a woman at North Carolina club. The deal keeps him out of jail, which is good news for him, if not for the rest of us.

Oddly, we're not sure how Kracker's grateful acceptance of a fine, probation and alcohol treatment squares with his squeals of innocence back when the charges were laid:

"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."

Who knew that the courts no longer accepted "I am fertile" as a defence in a case?

TV Hits closes

The thinning out of the pop-and-star magazine shelf continues with news that TV Hits is closing like a venus fly trap in a mosquito swarm. Of course, there's the usual burble about how the magazine is, actually, not closing but going off to live forever on the internet:

Essential said the magazine would "take advantage of the enormous online potential by investing all their resources into a relaunched digital presence".

The company said it would be able to offer fresher, more detailed content on its website, which was overhauled in April this year.

Well, yes: you could offer fresher content online, but... really, what's the point? It's not really as if the website holds much value beyond promoting the magazine - if there's no magazine to push, is there much point in pouring money into supporting a defunct brand?

Mariah doesn't like an audience

Women who had blamelessly doing what it is that women do backstage at the VH1 Music Cares event were surprised to be approached by bouncers keen for them to leave:

Two women already there say her security tried to evict them, but they refused to leave. Says one: "One of the bodyguards said to us, 'If you're going to stay, you better not watch Mariah pee.'

If Mariah really wanted privacy so badly, though, could she not have just closed the cubicle door?

Britney Spears: You know you're in trouble now

Things have to be bad when not only does your behaviour manage to penetrate Ozzy Osbourne's consciousness, but he worries for you:

“I think [the media] are very unfair to Britney Spears … give her a break. I don’t know what the inside story is, all I see is this broken thing on TV every night.

“She’ll die! She might kill herself! I hope she doesn’t. She’s got a mother and two kids, give her a break.”

Since the problem with Spears seems to be less the award of "a break", more inability to control her life, we're not sure giving her a break would help. Indeed, since the only way Britney can possibly answer the "what the hell did I do last night" question is by waiting for Page Six to publish and tell her - it must be so handy being able to rely on the gossip columns to tell you where you left your car/knickers/youngest child the night before - withdrawal of media coverage might break the last link Spears has with the world that the rest of us live in.

Jackson remains a bachelor

Raymone Bain, the person charged with the thankless task of handling Michael Jackson's press relations, sighs and denies the marriage gossip:

"Wide-spreading reports regarding Michael Jackson being married are not true," the statement said.

"Documents stating otherwise are a hoax."

We can't believe the romantic dream is over so quickly.

Hitting a nerve

Oddly, while there's cash sloshing around Liverpool for 'approved' projects, the training-ground arts and culture magazine Nerve* is reduced to holding benefit gigs to keep going. Still, at least it means there's a solid line-up of acts to enjoy with Alicia Rose, Campbell Todd, Greedy Jesus Band and Neo-Con augmented by DJing from Si Mack and Pete L. It's at Bar Fresa, Friday 5th October.

* - Not the erotic publication of the same name

The decline of DRM

MIC, a Norwegian webservice selling a selection of 100,000 downloads, has announced that it's going to abandon DRM controls in its products by the end of the year.

Madonna now officially "a monument"

The clearest signal so far that Madonna's creative days are behind her, and she's in the ossification phase of her career: She's being considered for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Also fighting with her to get the induction, and a large display explaining to people why they used to be popular are Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, Chic, the Dave Clark Five and Afrika Bambaataa.

We're starting the campaign for the Dave Clark Five right here.

Pretend that we're cred

MediaGuardian's Monkey column reports on Alex Zane getting all overcome with excitement at the recent Royal Television Society Futures event:

Zane wants more live TV where you don't quite know what's going to happen next, citing as an example the edition of The Word where a member of L7 threw a tampon into the audience.

Erm... except, of course, that never happened. Donita Sparks did drop her pants on the Word, and she did lob a used tampon into the crowd at the Reading Festival, but somewhere in Zane's fevered memory box these two incidents have become conflated.

Cat crack-feeder kicked by Moss meets Fab Wacky Macca Thumbs Aloft

The good people at the Observer Music Monthly will be delighted by the lush coverage of their meeting between Paul McCartney and Pete Doherty given by this morning's Mirror:

"He was overwhelmed by meeting Macca. They had a real heart to heart - at times it was like a father talking to his son.

"Pete promised Paul he was serious about getting clean, was through with the drugs, and said he never wanted to fall back into his dark days again.

"They spoke about everything from music, other singers and even touched on the subject of women - but that was strictly between the two of them."

The thought of Doherty falling quietly into the queue of people "overwhelmed" by meeting McCartney is hardly surprising nowadays, it's still disappointing to see him join those who fawn at the pantheon. Time for your parent's heroes, eh?

Radio One More Time: Goodbye

So, we've actually made it through forty brief essays on Radio One, and what way more apt to finish than looking at some of the exits from the station?

The most famous, of course, would be DLT's "changes being made which go against my principles" on-air resignation - a move which might have been slightly braver had he not known he had only ten weeks left to run on his contract and Danny Baker was already measuring up for curtains.

Andy Kershaw's departure from Radio One similarly had an eye on remaining contracts - Andy Parfitt offered him an extra three months in May 2000, on the strict understanding that after that his slot was going to be turned into a dance show. Kershaw elected to not bother with a twelve week goodbye, and disappeared in a burst of Bhundu Boys and chat about the TT Races.

Lisa I'Anson's bemusing period filling in lunctimes with the observations such as her back announcement for Garbage's Only Happy When It Rains that "that's really odd, because I like it when it's sunny" was halted when she enjoyed herself during a Radio One Ibiza weekend to the point where she didn't turn up for her show.

The launch of Virgin 1215 proved a magnet for many of those who felt uncomfortable at being asked to play records that listeners under the age of 90 might enjoy. Gary Davies jumped ship, with a lot of nudge-nudging of a "I can't tell you where I'm going, but, oh, is it quarter past twelve already?" nature, while Tommy Vance also headed off to the perpetually reformatting AM rival.

Steve Wright supposedly quit when he tired of being told what records to play during his short-lived breakfast show - that would be "some" records, presumably, judging by the low number of tracks he usually managed to get in between the chatty bits, and his decision to join TalkRadio. (That, in itself, was a cause of some grief as the BBC maintained he still had three months contracted to them to work through.)

But perhaps there is one name, above all others, who should be remembered for his departure. Duncan Johnson, the first man to be dumped from Radio One, after just three months on air. Jordans crime? He was considered too old for the station. His age? A crinkly 29.

One last farewell: Janice Long, who failed to return from maternity leave. She later told the NME that, having been presenting a daily night-time show at the time she left to have the baby, management suggested on her return she downsize a little: "They asked if I could manage being a mother and presenting a half-hour programme every week." The show she was offered was Radio One's weekly round-up of its best bits - a podcast before podcasts were possible. Its name, of course, was Radio One More Time.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

I tawt I taw a pudding cut

If you wait long enough, eventually the world catches up. Liam Gallagher says that even he can't stand to listen to a lot of Oasis back catalogue:

“I hate my voice on all them records. I sound like fucking Tweetie Bird.

“I mean, they were good at the time, it’s the best I could do, but I prefer it the way it is now.

“When I hear Slide Away, I think, ‘That’s a vocal’. Supersonic, that’s all right.

But certain songs, Live Forever, some of the high bits I just think (head in hands), ‘Aw, fuck that’. I was young. I hate that vocal on Whatever. I despise it. It’s s***.”

Naturally, he's managed to single out some of Oasis' half-decent work and - since his voice has got worse rather than better - it's surprising that he appears to be suggesting that, say, Blackbird has a fine vocal on it.

This is what we've waited for, this is it boys, this is war

The Sun is very excited about the return of Strict Dancing to the Saturday night tv tussle, calling Strictly versus X:

the biggest TV clash of all time

Oh, yes:
BITTER rivals X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing will go head-to-head next week in the biggest TV clash of all time, we can reveal.

We love that "we can reveal", as if they've been sifting secret documents and talking - under strict deniability - to some sort of schedule deep throat, rather than just typing 'strictly' and 'factor' into the search box at

But while this is a fairly large battle, is it really "the biggest TV clash of all time"? Surely that time Corrie stuck two episodes together to try and spoil the launch of EastEnders on Monday night was bigger?

" of course, I 'ad to 'it 'im..."

Kid Rock has revealed that he had little choice but to punch Tommy Lee (or was it the other way round?) at the MTV Awards because, of, um... you know, reasons:

Kid told The Sun he did "what any man would have done".

The music star said: "Tommy was always just a pain in the ass.

"There was a lot of years of disrespect but I was a part of his kids' lives.

"So I wasn't going to be disrespectful about him around his kids."

Luckily, though, the kids didn't go to the MTV Awards, so they didn't see him doing the punching. Unless, you know, they have a television. Or an internet connection.
"MTV put the three of us in a room probably hoping something would happen, so they got what they wanted. I came back from the bathroom and the guy was sitting pretty much in my seat.

"That was it.

"I did the same thing any other man would have done."

"Hopefully that's over.

"I hope he understands the level of disrespect that was there, and that's it. If you're going to be a man about it, be a man, so, that's the story."

So, he deserved to be punched because of a high level of disrespect and sitting - not quite - in Kid Rock's seat. I suppose Tommy Lee must be pleased he hadn't made a humming noise behind Rock's back, or they'd be fighting a duel right now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lavigne & Christina "duped" by Amnesty, says group

One of the many US anti-abortion outfits, the slightly shady Rock For Life, is seeking to draw attention to itself by noisily condemning Amnesty International for including Avril Lavigne and Christina Aguilera on a fund-raising album for survivors in Darfur.

Why, you might wonder, would even a slightly barking group object to raising funds to help people who've survived terrible events? Well, in RFL's blinkered worldview, Amnesty International aren't a human rights organisation, they're a "pro-abortion organisation":

Erik Whittington, director of Rock for Life, said: “The human suffering going on right now in Darfur is horrific. To add insult to injury, however, using this tragic abuse of human rights to raise money for a pro-abortion organisation is hypocritical and beyond belief.

“The manipulation of musicians to fund this hypocrisy is maddening.” He added: “We are writing to all the artists to ask for their views.”

What's that? Oh, yes. Rock For Life haven't actually been asked by Aguilera or Lavigne to intervene on their behalf; and haven't, in fact, even bothered to ask them yet before issuing this press release.

Indeed, despite having a very long list of bands who they name as supporters (none of whom, except perhaps POD and Bryan 'the mass parades and the flags' Ferry, you're likely to have heard of), neither Lavigne nor Aguilera are listed.

Now, even if your views on abortion aren't liberal, you might spot there's a slight tang of hypocrisy here: A group condemning an organsiation for "duping" artists into supporting a cause that those singers have happily signed on for, using those same names for their campaign without seeking their permission.

Neither Aguilera nor Lavigne have said anything, but Lavigne's management has managed to make a statement which demonstrates the sort of half-synapse powered thinking that Lavigne specialises in:
An aide to Lavigne said: “I don’t think she would want to comment on this. But what has abortion to do with Amnesty? It’s for a lot of different things such as prisoners of conscience and human rights.”

Yes, why would there be any link between human rights and the right to make your own reproductive choices?

We also love this entry from RFL's "pro-abortion" (they mean pro-choice) bands:
Le Tigre: often seen giving Gloria Steinem the mic

The third Mrs. Jackson

According to some US tabloids, who saw it in some documents that were leaked from an estate agency, Michael Jackson has got married for a third time, to his nanny, Grace Rwaramba.

Knowing how shaky Jackson's finances are these days, lets hope Grace got a watertight prenup.

Assuming, of course, there is a marriage at all.

Ella... ella... ellla

Umbrella. Everybody's singing it. Well, Charley Shouty-boots off Big Brother and Becky from Roy's Rolls. And now: Tegan and Sara:

Nash for no cash

Oddly, considering the easy-filing system which posts Kate Nash as being "a bit like Lily Allen from an outlet shop", Nash has now had an echo of Allen's problems with US visas. Instead of coming home and posting an incoherent rant on MySpace, though, Nash went ahead and played New York - but wasn't able to accept any money for the performance. She was, however, rewarded with cookies from Music Snobbery blog.

Shit doesn't hit the US fans

The cancellation of ShitDisco's US tour hasn't exactly created a great cultural shudderin. Joel's illness sounds pretty unpleasant, though, judging by the management statement:

On Sunday afternoon, Joel became violently ill. An ambulance was called & he was kept in hospital overnight for tests, the doctors unsure of what was wrong. The next day he was discharged and went back to Newcastle to recuperate, but on Tuesday it started again and he was taken back to hospital.

This has happened before and everytime the doctors have been unable to pin down the cause. In the past it has been written off as nervous exhaustion, but this time the doctors think there might be something else and they're trying to figure it out. He has been moved to another hospital and today underwent exploratory surgery.

Unfortunately all this means we are left with no option but to cancel our North American tour. We are deeply sorry to anyone who was planning to come and see us, we'd been looking forward to this one for awhile and its a damn shame this had to happen when it did. Hopefully the doctors can figure out what is going wrong this time so Joel can make a full recovery.
Our thoughts are with his family.

It's actually quite scary when they're doing surgery without knowing what they're looking for, so lets hope they find a reason. It's a pity one of the few British acts to actually manage to get a US tour visa have still had to cancel.

At least she didn't compare him to Bono

Donda West, mother of Kanye, is very proud of her son. Very, very proud indeed:

I do know that yes, I do think that Kanye is a voice that can definitely be used and should be used not only in hip-hop but across the arts, period. I think he is broader than a genre. … I think he has a calling to reach a number of people. Kanye keeps it real. He touches the people. You never know how words can save a person's life, physically or otherwise. People like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or, in my view, Barack Obama, or Jesus Christ — people whose job it is to tell the truth — I see that in Kanye. Now, people like you are gonna go, 'Oh, Kanye's mom said he's like Jesus!' but … when you have a gift, you didn't get it by yourself. … Your truth is your truth.

We love the way that, in a bid to try and take the sting out of suggesting that West was like Jesus, she just subtly hinted that God had singled him out to be special.

It's true, though. Jesus was an absolute nightmare that time he missed out on an MTV award.

Going a bit Bowie: Bianca Casady

Bianca Casady has announced an art show in New York: Lil Girl "Cosmic Willingness" Pipe Dreamz A Revelation runs at the Deitch Gallery between the 6th and 20th of October. If that's not enough for you, Casady will be giving numbers a boost on the 19th of October with a Coco Rosie set.

When Ozzy met Tony

A meeting of minds: Tony Blair coming across Ozzy Osbourne:

"I met Tony Blair a couple of years ago, and he said to me, 'I was in a band once, and I could never get the riff to 'Iron Man' right,'" recalled Osbourne. "I thought, 'Why are you telling me about 'Iron Man' when there's a war going on?'"

To be fair, though, Ozzy, he's hardly likely to ask a man who sleepwalked his way through a reality TV show about non-endogenous growth policy, is he?

Bono prays for... something

To be fair, Bono seems to be one of the few in the rock world to actually bother to even mention the now-being-extinguished rebellion in Burma, so it'd be churlish to focus too closely on just how vapid his contribution has been:

"It is extraordinary to see the Buddhist monks isn't it? Their non-violence may, I pray, win out over the ugliness of the situation.

"There is jeopardy. I slept uneasily last night and I'm sure everyone else that watched did too."

It's hardly a clanging call to action, though, is it?
Bono says he admired the imprisoned pro-democracy leader Aung san Suu Kyi, adding, "I've always followed her progress and that of the Burmese people. "She is a study in grace and they are a study in patience."

Bono's support for Suu Kyi is, indeed, both in public record and on record: he wrote both the song Walk On and an article for Time in 2004 in her honour.

But what's noticeable is that Bono stops short of actually calling on the squatters in the Rangoon government to step aside; it's lovely to praise grace and patience - oh, so much patience - but where's the fire, Bono?

Indeed, rather than calling out the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Bono takes the opportunity to once again heap praise on his friends at the heads of Western governments:
"In Britain, Gordon Brown has shown some leadership as has George Bush. Everyone should keep their fingers crossed and say your prayers for them."

The most important thing, then, is that Bush has come out of this looking good. Clearly.


Unbelievable but, perhaps, inevitable: EMF are reuniting for a gig at LaScala on December 18th.

It has yet to be confirmed if they'll still be wearing big comedy shorts for the occasion.

So, that's Shed 7, MC Hammer, the Inspiral Carpets and EMF all on tour in the UK at roughly the same time. No wonder nobody's bothered to invent time travel; there's nothing bloody left in the past to go back and visit.


In all the to-and-fro of bands coming back and going, we're now totally lost as to whether the Inspiral Carpets had already reformed, and are just continuing, or if they've got back together again for next year's tour.

The dates:
Glasgow ABC (March 7)
Oxford Academy (8)
Sheffield Leadmill (9)
Northants Roadmender (10)
Frome Cheese And Grain (12)
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (13)
Manchester Academy (14)
London Shepherd's Bush Empire (15)

Disappointingly - considering this is the band that made I Want You, So This Is How It Feels and Joe - the NME has decided to classify this as news about Noel Gallagher.

The Pumpkins in sorrow

Following the death of a man at the Smashing Pumpkins Vancouver date - reports now suggest that he might have been trying to crowd surf - the band have released a brief statement:

"The SMASHING PUMPKINS were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of a young man who attended their Vancouver show Monday night. As they and everyone else await news from the investigation into the nature of his passing, the band want to express their sincerest condolences to his family and friends."

Doherty: 31 days straight

We hear that on their arena tour, Babyshambles are going to have a sign a bit like the ones you get outside American factories, proclaiming "XX Days without the drucks". At the moment, Doherty's claiming 31 days clean.

He's thanked fans for supporting him during his "battle" with drugs. Which is fair enough, as without them having presented a market gullible enough to make the Journals a saleable proposition, he'd probably have had to support his own drug-taking by turning over Barat's flat again.

Bedingfield showers Madge with respect

Natasha Bedingfield - the woman off the shampoo advert soundtrack - has had a crack at doing Ray of Light for that Radio One at 40 album, and didn't find it easy:

"I have so much respect for Madonna after learning how hard it is to sing that song. She has an amazing voice - the range you need to sing the song is incredible."

Actually, Natasha, it's a fairly easy song to sing if you're a professional singer. What you're saying is not that Madonna is unbelievably talented, more that you're just a person who can sing a bit.

Capital of Culture: With the Beatles

If we remember the early days of Liverpool's Capital of Culture bid clearly, one of the great drivers was proving to the world that there's more to the city's culture than the Beatles.

Now they've announced the key event for the festivities, and it turns out to be a Beatle. Paul McCartney, in fact, playing a gig at Anfield.

Anfield's a great choice, in fact - visitors can enjoy the gig, then wander two streets down to see the shamefully-treated terrace streets that are being left to rot, before enjoying a few minutes in the glorious Victorian gift to the city's people, Stanley Park. Assuming they avoid the bits that are being dug up to build a football venue for Liverpool FC.

There are some interesting events on the block, though - the 2008 Electric Proms are coming out of London "for the first time" (i.e. they haven't done it in the first two years) and there's a musical based on Erics scheduled for October.

That the content might be being spread somewhat thinly, though, across the twelve months is suggested by the Echo billing "the World Firefighter games" as one of the biggest events.

Kate Moss: love Kills

Let's not throw around phrases like "unseemly haste" or "more rebound than a Brighton and Hove striker hitting the crossbar", shall we, and just wish Kate Moss and The Kills' Jamie Hince all the very best on their engagement.

We can't wait for the wedding, mind, which will probably be loosely themed on the video for Steps' version of Tragedy.

Radio One More Time: We can't play this

Much of what we think we know about what Radio One would, or wouldn't play, is reflected through myths and urban legends. The BBC, of course, maintains that it's not in the business of banning records, but merely suggests producers think more carefully about whether they should play them or not.

The pinnacle of not-exactly-banned records, of course, is land inhabited by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. After several weeks of playing Relax quite happily, one morning Mike Read happened to hear the lyrics. Spluttering tea from his TeaHee mug, he proclaimed it "overtly obscene" and pledged to ban it forthwith. It's never been clear why, if the song was so overt in its obscenity, he'd managed to spin it quite a few times before noticing; but the rest of the BBC duly fell into line, helping Frankie slide up the long shaft of the Top 40, and leaving Top of the Pops feeling unable to play the number one single.

We say the rest of the BBC; as Number One gleefully pointed out, not only was the then-newcomer Janice Long still playing Relax on her Saturday night show, but she was choosing the Sex Mix.

It's not always sex, of course: advertising can also see music banished from the network. Earlier this year, of course, there was that nasty attempt to try and pass off a slogan for some sort of hair product as a single; the manufactured band, Shocka, were rumbled and kicked off the airwaves. Oddly, though, Robin Beck's Diet Coke ad was able to find airtime despite being little more than an extended commercial soundtrack. First Love, true, didn't mention Coke; but then Style Attract Play didn't mention its hair product in the lyrics. It gets rather confusing.

Back when Doctor Hook released The Cover Of Rolling Stone, BBC executives nixed the very idea of playing the track - advertising Rolling Stone? The very idea. A group of pluggers, though, realised that Radio One in those days had no trouble pushing the Radio Times (you'll recall the "it's out today... the new Radio Times" jingle being a daytime staple back before competition in the listings markets meant they could no longer get away with it). So a recording session was hastily arranged, with the pluggers bellowing "Radio Times" every time "Rolling Stone" up in the lyrics.

The first Iraq war also shook some tracks off the airwaves - Carter's Bloodsports For All was deemed unsuitable for broadcast - although the chances of any daytime show making space for a song about bullying in the forces would surely have been slight, even during peace time. Massive Attack managed to keep on the radio, though, by the simple expedient of dropping the word "Attack" from their name for duration of hostilities. Kind of like when they took the Liver Birds down during World War Two, it's unlikely it fooled anyone but the sense of fake sacrifice was considered important.

Ten years ago, Diana Spencer's failure to use a seatbelt led to a sludge of instrumental, empty music pouring out of Radio One. Funnily enough, the only letter I ever had read out on Feedback was during the early 90s, when I asked if it was true that the death of a royal (we were all betting on the Queen Mother going first, of course) would lead to a period of funereal music on all networks. A BBC executive denied that was the plan; September 1997 proved that to be a half-truth - it might not have quite been funereal, but we did come close to death by ambience.

One small break in this po-faced parade, though, was Jo Whiley, who slipped There Is A Light That Never Goes Out onto her show. Whether we'd have got more apt-but-awkward songs during the week, we never found out, as Jo went off sick shortly afterwards.

Our favourite story about Radio One's tolerance for songs also features The Smiths. At the time of Shoplifters Of The World Unite, John Walters used his diary slot to tell Janice about the meeting convened to decide if the track was acceptable for daytime play. In the end, the pro-Morrissey vote carried the day, but only after convincing stragglers the repeated mantra of "hand it over, hand it over" meant the song was to be understood as an injunction to shoplifters to give back their ill-gotten gains.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

James Blunt is a lesbian

Now, you know that round here James Blunt is about as popular as a bluetongued midge on a cattle ranch, but we feel we have to defend him against - yes - Victoria Newton's claim:

James Blunt's Ellen blunder

POP heart-throb JAMES BLUNT tried to chat up US TV host ELLEN DEGENERES on her show - even though she is gay.

Ha! Blunt must be, like, a blundering dimwit, right?

Erm... no:
DeGeneres, who dates actress PORTIA DE ROSSI, asked the 33-year-old singer if he was seeing anyone.

He replied: “I’ll give you my phone number afterwards.”

He added: “I am actually very effeminate.”

Clearly, Blunt was making a joke. It might not have been a great joke, but what it certainly wasn't was a blunder.

Mark Owen pulls a bloke's leg

Mark Owen made some sport when he bumped into a chap at a party and claimed he was Tom Cruise's stunt double. Victoria Newton enjoys the joke too - fancy someone being so dim as to fall for that. And where did this happen, Victoria?

Mark tried to dupe the dopey guest at a party on Tuesday celebrating 50 years of cinema. It was hosted by electronics firm Pioneer.

Fifty years of cinema, eh? Quite an achievement, that. But... what were people watching in those big rooms before 1957, Ms Newton?

Here we go again, then

The judge in the Phil Spector trial might be ruing his firm line on not accepting a manslaughter verdict from the jury; with them unable to decide on murder, he's had to declare a mistrial and is now thinking what to do. He'll announce his decision on October 3rd.

As you survey the circus, it's worth remembering that Lana Clarkson is still dead.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Warners: The Northern Rock of the music industry

Hypebot reports on the woes facing Warner Music Group. With its plan A - merger with EMI - off the table, the label is suffering from a lack of investor confidence. Its shares are down to a shade under ten bucks; back in autumn of 2006 they were over $25. The smart money, it seems, thinks that Bronfman doesn't really have a plan B.

Pistols try to respark

The dispiriting Sex Pistols shake-down continues: they're going back into the studio to re-record Anarchy In The UK. For a computer game.

Lydon, remember, has a go at Sting. But at least Sting has been fairly consistent in his tosserdom.

The on-off pregnancy

So, apparently, she hasn't miscarried at all: naturally, we know this because of Max Clifford:

"After further examination it has been revealed that Kerry Katona is still pregnant. Kerry went back into hospital for a medical procedure last night. "However, a blood test revealed surprising results - her pregnancy hormones had gone up, not down."

Mind you, Clifford did also once insist to the papers that Katona "does not take drugs and never has. It's totally untrue, total lies."

Cuts and cuts again

Coming on the 22nd November: A remastered and repromoted Return Of The Giant Slits, the band's 1981, second and final record.

The press release promises a second disc:

The new package is released with new artwork, photos by Anton Corbijn and a bonus CD featuring rare dub mixes, B Sides and an American radio interview from 1980 that initially came on a freebie 7” single with limited copies of the album in ’81.

Richard Desmond: all heart

Kerry Katona's desperate rush to share her life with the gossip rags has had a nasty bump this week, with OK! Magazine hitting the streets with a front page strapline that looks a little grim in light of her miscarriage:

Oh No! I'm pregnant again

Of course, the loss of the foetus between the issue going to press and reaching the newsagents is beyond anyone's control (although running a story of a pregnancy that has only just been confirmed, and only six weeks in, is always going to be a bit of a risk).

What's surprising, and incredibly tacky, is that Northern & Shell let the adverts for this issue to go ahead during tonight's Coronation Street. Not pulling the issue is understandable, but to trumpet a pregnancy that's failed in front of eight million people seems the height of poor taste.

Death at the Pumpkins

Grim news from the Smashing Pumpkins Vancouver date, where a man who was found unconscious in the auditorium before the Corganites came on stage has died in hospital. There's no word yet on what the cause might have been.

Emma Bunton still endorses pasta sauces

It could have been so awkward: Emma Bunton announcing details of her "no whites" diet (i.e. Atkins without the name of the dead guy attached - no pasta, no bread) while advertising pasta sauces.

Her cultural patron, though, Prego Pasta sauces, is relaxed about the whole affair. After all, it's not like they make pasta, why should they worry?

"There are many alternative methods for Emma to use the Prego pasta sauces without the pasta. She can have pasta sauce over meatballs, use over sandwiches, and many other fun and creative recipes that Prego offers."

When life hands them lemons, they'd probably just invent a lemon-based pizza topping. We're not sure we quite can believe someone saying "I'm on a diet, so can't have this sauce on pasta, pass me that meatball sandwich instead..." is a scenario that would ever happen, though. They could have suggested that she slathers herself in the sauce and invites her partner to make like he's pecorino. It might not have sold many jars of mechanical pasta sauce, but it would at least have been more plausible.

Simian immobilsed

The planned Simian Mobile Disco/XX Teens gig at Leeds has been axed, afted James Ford injured himself playing a team sport of some sort.

"Not many people know, but I invented reality TV"

Turning the programme into something of a pension scheme for PunkCapitalists, Malcolm McLaren looks set to follow Lydon onto I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Will I Am introduces the MP3 blog which pays for itself

An impressive turning-on-head of the way webleaks work: Universal is offering a player for embedding in blogs and so on with an obligatory piece of sales widgetry; bloggers get new Will I Am music to offer to their visitors, and, if they spark a sale of a download, get cashback, too.

It's a virtuous circle, apart from the idea of people buying Will I Am tracks at all.
Billy thinks it's a whole new world:

“People are still making music like they're making vinyl and CDs and then the music ends up on the internet,” he says.

“When MTV was launched people made videos for MTV why aren't people making an experience for the internet? This will be the first time someone does that.”

It's not, of course, as it's just an embedded player with affiliate marketing, but what's new is the slightly more conciliatory approach of the record label.

Radio One More Time: A King In New York

Considering that much of its daily business is related to an artform born in the United States, the modern Radio One doesn't bother itself overmuch with what happens in America. Oh, sure, Newsbeat might keep a watching eye on the Kanye West - Fifty Cent battle, but these days the actual detail of the American charts are of no interest to the station.

It wasn't always so, of course: right through the 1980s, Paul Gambaccini would pop-up, week-in, week-out, filling Saturday afternoon with a run-down of what was doing well in America. Despite Gambaccini's enthusiasm for the music, and his natural skills as a broadcaster, he never shone, being forced to work with one of the most depressing source materials known to man. The Billboard Hot 100 was as dull then as it is today, and you'd find yourself sitting through an awful lot of music inappropriately filed as "radio-friendly rock" to get to anything even as appetising as a Bangles or a Go-Go or a Til Tuesday.

That the drabness wasn't Gambo's fault was shown when he got the chance to break free from the chart chains - sitting in for holidaying jocks, or hosting The Other Side of the Facts, the bizarre spin-off from his Rock God Hagiography series for Channel 4, The Other Side of the Tracks. This Sunday afternoon confection, co-presented by his Guiness Hit Singles colleague Tim Rice, was little more than an illustrated Did You Know...; the atomic trivia-powered brains of the pair lifting the programme way above the sort of well-worn factoid that you'd get on the Steve Wright in the Afternoon show.

There was another regular slot dedicated to Americana around the same time, too: A King In New York. Probably the shortest programme ever to get a regular slot on Radio One, this was the pop culture answer to Letter From America, with Jonathan King taking the role of the essayist. We'd love to know how many BBC producers it took to persuade him the first word of the title should be "a" and not "the".

It's worth recording that, with his knowledge and passion for all things American, King's weekly short could actually stand shoulder to shoulder with Alistair Cook's and was much more than a simple radio precursor of Entertainment USA. Indeed, the decision to end the programme came from King himself rather than any negative feedback from audiences - with a typically self-aggrandising flourish, in the last programme King explained that he was travelling around the world so much, either he'd have to give up the programme altogether or change its name weekly to reflect the fabulous locale in which he found himself at time of recording. To the audible relief of the typesetters at the Radio Times, he chose the former route.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Pete Doherty: Love rat

This story originally surfaced in the Daily Star, with all that implies, but they reckon Pete Doherty has attempted to woo Kate Moss back by, erm, giving her a bracelet with a "dead rodent" hanging from it.

Apparently he got the idea from Courtney Love. Not because she's a decaying rodent dangling from the Nirvana back catalogue, but because she apparently she thinks this sort of thing charming. To be frank, we might be able to stomach the dead creature, but the thought that our ex was taking pointers from Courtney on how to woo me back might be the dealbreaker.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Talking of weak puns...

There's some sort of new pun low in the headline over a photo of Rod Stewart wearing his CBE in Bizarre:

You wear CBE well, Rod

The subtle word-play involved in replacing "it" with, erm, CBE is a thing of beauty. It makes you wonder what the rejected headlines must have been.

Nazi times for Posh Spice

The ability of The Sun to take an amusing thought and beat any life out of it is demonstrated this morning, where a picture of Victoria Beckham in a tightly-belted grey jacket and stupid hat must have led someone in the newsroom to say "she looks like a Nazi".

Which should have been enough, but they have to drag it out, pulling in Tom Cruise, and his Nazi film, seemingly just so they can make a pun ("fuhrer enough") that would probably have been better off not being bothered with.

Elton Joihn put through the Baltic Mill

It's a sensitive story - clearly, the picture taken from the Baltic in Gateshead has upset someone, even although it's hard to believe that if the picture had been a pornographic image of a child, that it would have been there in the first place. But we live in a strange age, where the merest hint of an inappropriate motivation will send cops rushing into galleries. And the famous owner of the artwork in question? Well, that just increases the need for careful handling of the facts, as there are some implications you'd just want to leave untouched until more facts are known.

Unless you're the Sun, of course, when you'll just go with:

Child porn cops grab Elton pic

The paper prepares its readers for a shock:
[The artist Nan] Goldin, 54, is famed for her pictures of couples having sex and young, semi-naked girls.

But then so, of course, is Deirdre's Casebook.

The paper suggests that John might be flung in the slammer:
Last night cops were probing if the withdrawn image broke the law, or whether the publishing or displaying of it did. A spokesman said: “Who owns or owned it is also part of the investigation.”

If the picture is ruled as illegal, anyone in possession could face prosecution under the 1978 Protection of Children Act.

Well, yes. In the same way that, say, if those images of page three girls dressed in school uniform were ruled illegal, anyone in possession could face prosecution.

The Sun also hints that Goldin has form:
One [of her picture] featuring naked and semi-naked girls was withdrawn from London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2001. Police investigated but no one was charged.

Except the picture wasn't withdrawn from the 2001 exhibition, and the reason why nobody was charged was, erm, because after investigating, police discovered therethere was no "propsect of securing a conviction". On account of no crime being committed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Framestore CFC tell Creative Review about making fish dance for the Chemical Brothers - and the fakery:

For Sammy, who is a squirrel fish, we also went to the fishmonger and bought fish that we then scanned for scales and textures. This is because we struggled to find any good reference for squirrel fish. So we scanned a red mullet chosen mainly because of its size and colour.

Trembling Blue Stars post an in-depth interview Bob Wratten gave to Supernova:
I also, think of The Field Mice as being like baby pictures; we were learning and it's not something I really want to look back on.I'd never want to listen to a Field Mice record whereas although I'd rather not I could stand to listen to a TBS record if I had to! If I were to be judged on anything I'd want it to be TBS. I think the songs are better and the records are better produced and more adventurous.The Field Mice was all over so quickly. From the release of our first record to our last gig was three years.It was very concentrated.Now things are much slower; there are three years between each album!

Vivendi: 70 per cent rake-off isn't enough

Perhaps we should just embed Depeche Mode doing Everything Counts in the blog and have done with: Vivendi have decided that there is something "obscene" about Apple taking 30 cents in the dollar from every iTunes sale - despite, you know, having built the store, developed the market, carrying the distribution overhead.

Although on the average CD retailers and distribution costs, and making the physical product, accounts for about 60% of the retail cost. So from keeping 40 cents in the pound, the record company is now getting 70 cents - and they're making that on ancient back catalogue as well, the sort of songs that they'd be lucky to sell for ten-for-a-dollar on CD, if they even bothered to activate that catalogue. And no money tied up in stock, either.

We're not quite sure where the obscenity is, apart from the idea of a greedy company demanding even more.

Oh, what the heck:

Someone still loves you, Fiddy Cent

We're sure that he'll take no little comfort from this: 50 Cent has finally bested Kanye West in a chart battle, beating him to the all-important best selling album in Europe title for this week.

Please, let's not call this some sort of wooden spoon. Even though the people of Portugal have admitted they only bought the album because they felt sorry for him, and a large portion of German sales were down to some confusion that the record was priced at, rather than by, half a Euro.

Clear Channel starts the long, slow fade-down

The evilest radio media empire in the US, Clear Channel, is starting to smash itself to pieces. It's shareholders gave approval for the sale of itself to a private equity partnership, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC, with a plan for the new CC to slim down by selling off its television holdings and 440 of its smaller radio stations - roughly a quarter of its total. It still owns more stations than anyone else, but at least there's a bit of room for some plurality now.

Travis try a little Prince action

Yes, Fran and his team of other-members-of-Travis are hoping to be a little bit like Prince. Obviously not by making a funky record, but by giving away their new single with the Mail On Sunday.

Curiously, while the Prince giveaway angered the retail music stores, nobody seems that bothered by Travis giving away tracks that the shops haven't, well, been able to give away. Yes, they had a new album out last May. Nobody much noticed, did they?

Chips for free

EMI is offering a deal: you give them some information, they give you a new Hot Chip track for free. Of course, you could choose to give EMI a bunch of useless information, and they'd never know. Which might be wise as the privacy statement seems to boil down to "we won't give your name to anyone else, except if we think they could make use of it."

Amazon MP3s slightly watery

Early sales from Amazon's MP3 store have mostly been to geeks anxious to make the files shake out their secrets. Wired's Listening Post reports that there is watermarking on some of the tracks, but only identifying the source of the file. In other words: it says it's flowed down from Amazon, but not who it was sold to.

Trent doesn't care how many records he sells

It might be kind of obvious from his embrace of industrial metal and songs about buggering pigs and S&M imagery, but Trent Reznor isn't exactly in it for the sales:

I felt very strongly about the whole process of this record. I didn't care if it had singles on it, or got played on the radio; I don't care about MTV... at all. I don't care about how many records I sell — I mean, I hope people like the record and I hope people get the record, but I'm not doing this just to make a product that fits into a mould that a record label would like to make, there's enough people doing that. I don't feel like doing it [laughs] so I approached the whole thing with a kind of 'Fuck it, I'm going to do what I think is cool.' And some of it was... every time I sat down I was concerned about someone preaching to me, 'It has to have a strong melody, it has to have a bridge and...' Fuck all that. It has that button and it makes a noise that sounds cool to me. Nothing wrong with that."

Presumably this is just his way of ruling himself out the next series of Dancing With The Stars.

Akron/Family have their stuff pinched

Noo Folklsters Akron/Family have had their stuff nicked off them after their Toronto gig on Sunday. The scummy light-fingered bastards got away with a haul including 1 Deering Siera Banjo with Hard Case, Dark and a Pick-up; 1 Reverend 6-String (Olive Green, Semi-Hollow) in TKL Case; 1 Fender Jaguar Baritone 6 String Sun Burst; 1 Minidisc recorder in grey bag.

If you're approach by a hollow-eyed scoundrel with a banjo for sale, contact akronfamilyvalues at

Amazon launches download store

It's been rumoured, it's been predicted, and now: it's live. Amazon have put their US downloads store onto the internet, with something under a fanfare - you wouldn't know it was there from the front page.

The Amazon blog explains the pricing structure:

We've got over 2 million songs by more than 180,000 artists from over 20,000 major and independent labels, so there's plenty of great music to discover. Since our top 100 albums are priced at $8.99 and our top 100 songs are priced at 89 cents (unless marked otherwise, like, say, it's a double album or something like that), you can score high-quality mp3s from artists like Kanye West, KT Tunstall and Spoon at low prices.

You'll find more than just the bestsellers at those prices, though. More than 1 million of our 2 million songs are priced at 89 cents and most albums are priced from $5.99 to $9.99. We're bringing great selection and great prices to digital music.

We say explains; we didn't say it explains it well. Smells Like Teen Spirit can be yours for 89cents; the Lucksmith's World Encyclopaedia of 20th Century Murder is 99cents.

There's also a "downloader" tool which pledges to make downloading "even easier" - although we're not sure how complicated right-clicking and saving as can be.

It doesn't feel quite as pleasant to browse as the iTunes Music Store, but it's no worse than the usual sometimes-frustrating Amazon shopping experience. And, of course, it's not available in Britain yet. But this is the first download service which feels like we might have a duopoly ahead of us.

Geldof misses the joy of Six

Naturally, we all wish to know the views of the man whose production companies gave us The Big Breakfast and The Word when it comes to the current rash of TV and radio fakery stories, and Bob Geldof doesn't disappoint. He's not bothered at the 6Music claims:

"No one listens to BBC 6Music anyway."

Words that might make the next Ten Alps pitch to Radio 2 a little trickier, what with Lesley Douglas controlling both the networks.

More surprisingly, Geldof is outraged by Blue Peter fudging the name of the cat - he compares this to God lying to you, and pledges to send back his Blue Peter award, if he can remember what it is:
"I am going to hand it back," he fumed. "It is a Blue Peter mega thing. I got a huge thing. It was an annual thing. I will send it back in disgust."

The Blue Peter Mega Thing Annual Prize. Blimey, nobody's ever been self-important enough to send that back.

Of course, Bob knows a thing or two about inaccuracies carried on the BBC, because he's been responsible for a fairly big one himself, when he told Jonathan Ross that the island of Lampedusa had buried "thousands" of bodies of fleeing Africans, running out of space in the graveyards and sending for container ships to take the bodies off the island. At best, this turns out to have been a grotesque exaggeration.

Must we fling this filth at our pop kids? Again?

This, in pop video terms, must be the equivalent of covering one of your earlier hits: Duran Duran are making an x-rated video (well, 15, anyway) with naked breasts and probably some mild S&M.

The theme is inspired by ("ripped off from") Steven Meisel's models in rehab photoshoot; presumably this means we're only a handful of months away from Duran doing a rape as weapon themed-video, too.

Don't you wish your career was hot like ours?

In her increasingly frantic efforts to try and shore up her American profile - in the wake of Radar magazine pillorying her and David as the "most over-rated couple" - Victoria Beckham is angling for a guest appearance with the Pussycat Dolls.

Although, really, she should be thinking about a small role in whatever panto the Krankies are doing this year instead.

If you tell us all the jokes, it won't actually be funny

Nice to see that while he won't take part in something useful like Stephen Fry's HIV documentary, George Michael is happy to turn up in any and all Christmas specials on offer: he's added Extras to Catherine Tate.

The Mirror has effectively rendered Michael's appearance pointless, by detailing what he's going to do in the programme in such detail they could use it as a DVD extra.

Radio One More Time: Keeping It Peel

You can't talk about Radio One without mentioning John Peel, in much the same way that you can't mention Peel without him being seen in the context of surviving on Radio One. For most of his time on the network, Peel functioned as the network's conscience. Nobody likes their conscience, of course, because without it, we could all live like we were in a video game shooting and screwing to our black heart's content. But we're also aware that without it, we'd probably end up in serious trouble. Like, being pelted with rocks and condemned in the tabloids, at the very least.

So it was with Peel: happily playing his music in a series of unlovely slots, as controllers knew that - although giving his six hours to someone a bit more showbiz might bring a listening boost - while Peel was somewhere not too close to dawn, they could always point and demonstrate their commitment to new music and supporting rock that would otherwise be largely ignored.

Peel's programme was, for the network, like going to church at Christmas - the bare minimum non-believers can do in case they one day need to explain themselves to Saint Peter.

His death, then, was something of a shock to the system. It's not so much that you wouldn't invent the Peel programme if you started from scratch, it's more that if you did create it, you wouldn't bother to pitch it to Radio One. So, what was the network to do?

It came up with the idea of Keeping It Peel, some sort of promise that John would function as the station's Saint Christopher medal. From this day forth, Radio One would be Peelie.

The first act of Keeping It Peel was to replace his show with three programmes under one banner, One Music, with the three presenters, Rob Da Bank, Ras Kwame, Huw Stephens and Rob Da Bank each taking a chunk of the sort of thing that Peel did under their belt. All three are excellent presenters, and all three shows are stuffed with delights, but this very Balkanization of musical styles suggested that somehow, the point of what made John Peel's shows different - the idea of there not being any genre-tramlines to keep within - had been badly missed.

Next came the big, showy event in honour of a quiet, shy man. The suggestion was that this was to be Radio One's equivalent of the Reith Lectures; a focus for continuing the founding father's work. And in year one, it was a fitting tribute. Last year - year two - it had already shrunk somewhat and had the atmosphere of an anniversary meal for a couple heading for divorce: everything was booked, all the elements for the evening was there, but a sense of going through the motions hung above the night.

This year, it's shrunk even further, and been co-opted into the Electric Proms, although you can still submit details of a gig you might want to do, to. And, as part of the 40th Birthday celebrations, Elijah Wood is presenting a programme called Keeping It Peel. This isn't totally inappropriate - Wood had been lined up as a guest host to cover what turned out to be Peel's final holiday - but the attaching of a Hollywood name to the Peel show demonstrates how far from "Keeping It Peel" the network has drifted.

Clearly, Colin Murray is seen as being a sort-of the 2007's John Peel. But we know in our hearts that he's just keeping it Campbell.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

It's all in the research

Victoria Newton has got exclusive pictures from Westlife's advert for the Post Office:

WESTLIFE have given a first-class performance in their debut telly commercial.

Debut commercial, is it, Newton? Presumably the 2006 Woolworths advert doesn't count, then?

Why are the Post Office using Westlife in their advert, though? They used to advertise with a series of crudely-animated ants with annoying voices, so I suppose the use of Westlife at least continues that theme. And if you're looking to get the public behind an ongoing series of closures for Post Offices, what better way to do it than to plant the suggestion that having a Post office in your village might lead to the appearance of Westlife in your neighbourhood?

Noel's perspective on childbirth

It used to be the way things were that fathers would be kept out of the delivery room when babies were being born.

Maybe, listening to Noel Gallagher, that could have been a good thing:

“I was there. It was all right for me but my missus was giving me a bit of stick afterwards, saying, ‘You never took your jacket off all the way through!’

“I was in my leather jacket, nodding ‘You’ll be all right — just get it out before Soccer AM finishes.’ I think the worst thing is that you don’t have any specific role. You just stand there and nod.”

For a moment, at least, he must know what it's like being a non-Gallagher member of Oasis. Couldn't he have found something to say that little Donovan might be touched by when he's old enough to... read... or something... nice... nice as pie. Mmm... pie...

Katona shares pregnancy news

Kerry Katona's position as the Jordan+1 service continues this morning, as it "leaks" that on top of her mystery illness, she's also pregnant. Apparently she's "put work on hold", although since her job consists solely of appearing in the papers, that can't be true, can it?

Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Ramones weren't punk" says Estate Agent

There's a strong piece on Stereogum this evening, which not only dissects John Lydon's tiresome "aaah! what a quixotic type I am" Spin interview (neither The Clash nor The Ramones were punk, apparently) but also digs out this:

Yes, that's Lydon on Judge Judy. Let's use that as our calibration point as we measure his words on The Clash:

I never liked any of the Clash stuff, though ... And I never considered the Clash punk. Joe was alright. He was very sweet-natured. But he came from a different music background. He'd already tried the pub-band circuit, so he hopped onto punk.

The best thing about the Judy piece is the caption which explains who Lydon used to be underneath his name.

Cool Thing would be a great special name for a Frappacino

Thurston Moore has - perhaps unsurprisingly - decided it's wrong to have a pop at Sonic Youth for tying up with Starbucks:

The Starbucks thing was our idea. It was born of frustration, trying to get our label to sell our records. When you're in a band like Sonic Youth that's not on the radio or on TV, you want to try to get your record out there. I saw Beck's record [in Starbucks] and other adult-contemporary CDs that aren't, like, No. 1 pop records, and I just thought there's a large part of our catalog that would be accessible to people. I thought, "Why don't we get some of the people in the media who name-check Sonic Youth to choose their favorite songs, and then put them on a CD?"

Sorry... did he just say "other adult-contemporary CDs"? Did we miss some sort of reclassification of Daydream Nation?
There's no difference between working with Starbucks and working with record labels like Universal and Geffen. It's a knee-jerk reaction from PC watchdogs. I mean, really, which long-distance company do you use for your cellphone? Are you on the grid? If you're off the grid, I'll listen to you.

But... if you're off the grid, you won't be able to contact him! Ha! He's beaten you.

While it's not that disappointing to see the Youth working with Starbucks, it's almost heartbreaking to see Thurston Moore throwing "PC watchdogs" around with a note of contempt, like he was Little Richardjohn.

After all, it's not exactly right to draw parallels between the majors and Starbucks; while the record labels tended to grow by buying out competitors, Starbucks' growth came at the expense of smaller operators, run out of town by the dual challenge of a company able to swamp cities with branches and the economies of scale just not available to small shops, and evil though most major labels are, they've not actively sort to screw the Ethiopian economy out of about ninety million dollars.

BBC2 brings back DEFII

If we sit here long enough, everything comes round again. The new BBC service for young people, Switch, is being built around a dedicated slot on BBC2 with a music show and other programming. Yes, it's just a Normski shy of Janet Street-Porter's DEFII, with Annie Mac's Sound playing the Snub TV role:

Live performances by bands appearing in Sound, for example, don't take place in a studio but in local parks before an audience of teenage passers-by.

This, apparently, has been decided following a bunch of research, although what questions you ask to get the answer "I'd like to see The Enemy playing in a bandstand as uninterested youths hurl their empty WKD bottles at them"?

Actually, I know what question you ask for that answer, as it's "if I can't force Towers of London into kayaking across the Atlantic, what else would you like for you birthday?", but you know what I mean.

Switch also blankets over Sunday nights on Radio One, where Annie "now apparently the authentic voice of 29 year-old teenage Britain" Mac will also hold court, pursued by Kelly Osbourne's scabies-and-drug-abuse show, Sunday Surgery.

No Young Pony Club

Tonight's Brighton date is off; the band blame a vaguely-worded illness. Reorganisation is the current plan.

Who's Courtney fighting today?

We're opening the September 24th window on the Courtney Love 2007 fight calendar, and find TV's Antony Cotton. He's just there replacing Sharon Osbourne, of course.

For it is Sharon who has got Courtney's back up - Sharon claimed that Coutney introduced Jack Osbourne to OxyCotin:

“My dislike towards her (Love) is very personal.

“I’m not saying Jack wouldn’t have taken it if she hadn’t given it to him, but I’m appalled an adult mother would give that to a 15-year-old boy.”

Presumably it would have been okay for a child mother to give drugs to a teenager. We love the idea that Jack Osbourne had lived a life sheltered from drugs until Courtney turned up.

Of course, Love denies it all:
I never did that. I would never give drugs to a teenager. Fuck you Sharon – as if I would ever give drugs to a teenager.”

Osbourne and Love screeching at each other. It's like Macaws in a firestorm.

Anywhere and Nowhere: CD-Download hybrid store shutters

The confusingly-propositioned AnywhereCD business - which offered you a bundled deal of physical CD and download version of the album - is holding a firesale. It's following Virgin out of the market. It appears Anywhere's deal with Warners expires at the end of the month, and without any other big label on board, that's it for them.

What is it with furrowed-brow bands doing Christmas singles?

As if the Manics wasn't bad enough, we're also going to have to put up with The Killers entering the holiday fray with Don't Shoot Me Santa. It's for charity, of course - in this case RED - which might explain why Brandon Flowers is getting to grips with Santa, who is something of a slippery subject for Mormons.

Phishing for bands

In our experience, it's not difficult to get bands to send you their unsigned demo tapes, so god alone knows why SoonPlatinum has resorted to phishing-like tactics, apparently sending out emails designed to make them look like they're coming from Sony.

"Meg White sex tape" immobilises indie kids, Googlers

If you've ever had sex anywhere near a camera, mobile phone, cassette recorder or court stenographer, you might as well accept that it's going to wind up online sooner or later. It doesn't make it right, but inevitability is a bit of a cruel bitch that way.

What's claimed to be a video of Meg White having sex has turned up online, leading to further speculation that perhaps it's the existence of the tape which has caused the anxiety that led to the cancellation of the tour.

Only problem, of course, is that it looks like a sex tape featuring someone who could pass for Meg White in a half light, rather than Meg herself, and - frankly - she could do a lot better than the potato-faced boy involved.

We could be Heroes... just for one show

The Jesus and Mary Chain comeback continues to roll, but slowly: They've recorded a studio version of new song All Things Must Pass. But it's going to get a sideways release, plopping out on the soundtrack to Heroes next January.

At this rate, it'll be a full album by, oh, 2013 or something.

Good reason to buy a download of Breakfast In America

Apparently, Supertramp used to inflict acts of cruel, unwarranted humiliation on Chris DeBurgh, the likes of which a cold god might find uncalled for:

"We used to play tricks on him. Chris used to have a habit of running back on stage almost immediately after his set to ensure an encore. One time we grabbed him, put him in an equipment case, wheeled him to the middle of the stage and left him to climb out. I don't remember him being too amused."

And yet nobody has thought to raise a statue in their honour. Can this be right?

Everyone you'd expect nominated for MTV EMAs

The nominations for this year's MTV EMAs have been published, although publishing suggests too great a revelation for what is, in effect, just nodding at what you'd expect to happen:

30 Seconds to Mars
Fall Out Boy
Linkin Park
My Chemical Romance

Gym Class Heroes
Justin Timberlake
Kanye West

BAND OF 2007
Fall Out Boy
Good Charlotte
Linkin Park
My Chemical Romance
Tokio Hotel

Amy Winehouse – Rehab
Beyoncé and Shakira – Beautiful Liar
Mika – Grace Kelly
Nelly Furtado – All Good Things (Come To An End)
Rihanna ft Jay-Z – Umbrella

Akon – Konvicted
Amy Winehouse – Back to Basics
Avril Lavigne – The Best Damn Thing
Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
Nelly Furtado – Loose

30 Seconds to Mars
Depeche Mode
Fall Out Boy
My Chemical Romance
Tokio Hotel

Arctic Monkeys
Foo Fighters
Justin Timberlake

Bat For Lashes – What's A Girl To Do
Chemical Brothers – The Salmon Dance
Foo Fighters – The Pretender
Justice – D.A.N.C.E
Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around
Kanye West – Stronger

Avril Lavigne
Christina Aguilera
Justin Timberlake
Nelly Furtado

You'll note, of course, that in a bid to make the list more interesting, they've come up with funky names for the categories - although , clearly, by the time they got to solo artist they were as uninspired in titling as they were with their choices.

Look, Justin Timberlake is a lovely chap, and makes some pleasant enough music, but are we really to believe that he bestrides the arts world like some Magic FM mandated colossus?

Oh, yes, and the titling of Amy Winehouse's Back To Basics was an error introduced on the MTV UK website, although we do like the idea of Winehouse and John Major sharing a common interest in bringing back old maids cycling to evensong and warm heroin on tap in the local pub.

Babyshambles: an extraordinary promise

You'd have to be surprised at any band pledging they won't cancel any gigs ever again, but when it's Babyshambles making the blood oath, it's hard to keep your eyebrows on your face.

Adam Ficek, though, insists the days of the no-shows are over:

"It's a statement of confidence, we've let people down by cancelling gigs before,” Ficek told Teletext. “This is us saying that those days are over, that we know we can't muck about any more."

He also had an answer for those who suggest that the forthcoming arena tour might be a sign that they've gone for the quick buck:
The drummer also said that the arena tour shows that the band are popular enough to play bigger stages, although, he added that they still “prefer intimate venues.”

Aha! So, they're doing it to show they can do it. It's not a tour at all, but a proof of concept.

Although... erm, none of the dates have actually sold out yet. So maybe it's a disproof of concept.

DRM companies fear customers are ruining its business

It must be a terrible time being a company that produces DRM technology - after all, producing a product whose mere existence makes items without attract a premium price can't be much fun.

The industry gathered together for a conference, last week's Digital Rights Strategies event in New York to shake their heads and feel generally misunderstood.

They blame the record companies and movie studios for making DRM unpopular by implementing their products in half-arsed ways:

Movielabs’ [Jim] Helman said, could be a severe consumer backlash.

“We see a huge risk of a bad consumer experience from the inability to move content among devices,” he said. “The engine is not yet on fire, and the impact won’t be quite as bad as a plane crash, but there is definitely a huge risk out there.”

How measured of Helman to suggest that consumers rejecting products which replace their rights with a series of rules won't be quite as bad as people burning to death in a planecrash.

What's really interesting is that even the 'experts' don't really seem to understand what they've done. Brian Lakamp is currently president of Fluxe:
“DVD was an exception,” he said. “There, we started with a usage model—you can play any disc in any player—and then designed a DRM to support that model.”

Lakamp used to be an executive for Sony Pictures, and yet he seems to believe that you could play any DVD in any DVD player. Up to a point, that's true - but only if you worked out how to wrestle off the region-specific DRM implemented by manufacturers at the behest of the likes of Sony Pictures.

Justin Timberlake can't take his drink

It is, indeed, "refreshingly honest" for Justin Timberlake to tell the truth about his reasons for cancelling gigs in San Diego:

"Certain bloggers said I cancelled because I was hungover and they were right. I was."

Is this wise, though? While if he was ill - properly ill - people might feel a degree of sympathy, you might consider the expense of last-minute changing of plans to be the responsibility of the artist if he's admitted that, frankly, he just couldn't be arsed to turn up to work that day. Let's hope he hasn't left himself open to a class action suit...

Kershaw: The door is left open

During the past few weeks, while Lucy Duran had been sitting in for Andy Kershaw, and before it all went public, the Kershaw page at Radio 3 had been left untouched. Now, though, with Charlie Gillett taking on the Monday night slot, he's appearing in the listings as Andy Kershaw With Charlie Gillett (although it's a sit-in, not a double act) and the tracklists are turning up on the Kershaw page. It's as clear an offer of "come back when you're able" as you could hope for.

Plays No More: Virgin closes downloads service

Virgin is canning its windows media music download service, phasing it out over the next month. Oh, that does mean, of course, if you've been subscribing rather than buying, your music collection will stop working on October 19th. Surprise!

Which could be an illustration of exactly what people warned you about when you were thinking of hiring instead of buying outright.

The company has, however, apologised for "any inconvenience" that having your carefully-assembled music collection vanish might cause.

Radio One More Time: Johnny Beerling

Probably the most famous of all Radio One's controllers would be Matthew Bannister, who not only broke cover by rebuilding the network in public in the mid-1990s, but then went on to present radio progammes as well, most notably for Five Live. Andy Parfitt, the current boss, has also attracted attention - he's been handed the BBC's Teen Tsar job, which recreates the original problem his network had (the assumption that 'teenagers' radio' and 'pop radio' must be the same thing.)

But, for us, Johnny Beerling remains the personification of a Radio One boss, managing to be just that vital distance from his audience to give the sense of a proper, well-meaning but at-sea, management figure. Bannister you could imagine sitting down sipping a rum and coke at a Nirvana gig; Beerling, forever, occupied a similar mental position to that of Jeffrey Fairbrother at Maplins: somehow finding himself organising fun despite a built-in detachment.

Two Beerling incidents fix him in our minds. The first was his decision to not play The Boiler by Rhoda Dakar and the Specials, explaining that if you took the screaming out at the end, it was "useless" as a warning about rape, but if you left the screams in, it was unpleasant to listen to. He never, as far as I can recall, insisted that all songs played on daytime Radio One offered warnings about rape, nor explained how pleasant a song about rape should actually be to make it onto his network.

The other golden Beerling moment was when, after someone pointed out that there were no women on Radio One during daylight hours, was to claim that "listeners don't like to listen to women's voices." He did relent a little towards the end of his reign, although whether because he changed his mind, or simply because he thought on medium wave the audience couldn't tell, was unclear.

[Part of Radio One More Time]