Friday, July 12, 2002

BITCHBITCH: In a bid to find the new Louis Theroux (and didn't the first one wear out quickly?), BBC Choice is giving Anna From Big Brother a go at going round and meeting 'interesting' people. In the first show, she met up with the supposedly shocking Rockbitch. The programme established two things very quickly indeed - first, the dinner party rule applies (a charming guest does not mean they'll be a competent host), and second - just how sad are Rockbitch? They claim what they're trying to do is "walk the talk" of rock music, which in a week where Michael Jackson has been talking in public came close to being the most stupid statement of the week. Every little two bit indie band lives the rock dream; even fucking Ned from Waste shags groupies and takes drugs. And at least most bands choose who they're going to boff backstage - Rockbitch throw a condom into the audience, and whoever catches it gets to fuck them. Of course, the problem with this is that the sort of crowd who'd be drawn to a gig on the offchance the band will get their tits out, and the possibility of getting a contractual shag will consist mainly of geek-headed boy virgins. Thereby increasing the chances the band's lucky condom will be caught by a geek-headed boy virgin.
What's laughable is how far the 'bitch have failed to understand exactly what the rock dream is about - for better or worse, rock is about being the King over your audience (unlike pop, where you play a big brother/sister role, replete with sexual ambiguity, and indie, where you're a mate, and sex is seldom considered). The rock walk is having roadies scour the audience for fans who look clean, or desperate, or drunk, to order, and then bringing them back to the hotel room to make them dance to your tune for an hour or two, before sending them naked out in the street to find their way back home before school starts in the morning. That is aggressive, sexual and shocking. Merely letting a random social inadequate hump you isnt shocking, it's as sad in its way as that story about Kerry Katona bouncing on a hotel bed going "whee." You're not rock's bitch, you're your fan's bitch. Rock Gods would keep their fans with them if they decided to do a set of Curtis Stigers covers. Rockbitch couldn't sell out a backroom in a bar if they said they were going to keep their tops zipped up. We could forgive them for not being shocking, for we're not easily shocked. The real problem is their attempts to shock are so dull.

SAY IT LOUD...: With about a month before the launch, 1Xtra has seized its heritage with pride - the website for the new station has abandoned its 'urban' tag and is proudly proclaiming itself "a new black music station." That's better.

INESSENTIAL: Very little surprise that Essential have pulled the London festival, after the trouble surrounding the Bristol one earlier this year. What's especially amusing is, once again, rather than 'fessing up that it's because of poor ticket sales, they're blaming the cancellation on the weather, and the state of the ground. "It was all mashed up by Mardi Gras" claim the organisers - blaming the gayers, see, rather than the fact that hardly anyone wants to stand on a football pitch watching roni size. The official statement reads:
"It is with very sad regret that Essential Entertainments are announcing the cancellation of the forthcoming Essential Festival due to be held in London's Hackney Marshes over the 3rd and 4th August.
Heavy weather damage sustained last weekend during the Mardi Gras festival has meant that our Health and Safety officer is not confident that the site can recover in time to host the event safely as well as in a pleasant environment.
This meant that the only choices would have been to relocate the site or postpone the event, which were not viewed as viable options.
Relocating the event would simply not have been possible at such a late stage, whilst postponement would have meant that many of the acts would be unavailable.
It is with very sad regret that after putting on ten Essential Festivals since 1991, Essential are having to cancel the event."

APOLOGIES IF KORN: While the No To Euro campaign try desperately to untie the knots caused by the Rik Mayall as Hitler advert (-'Its funny' - why? -'It's satire' -In what way is it satirical? -'It's a joke, you see, and it's about politcs, so it must be satire'), more Hitler-related trouble has hit the world with Korn's James Shaffer forced into a bumbling apology for saying that Hitler went to heaven. Trying to undo a stupid statement in metal hammer magazine, James has suggested that his comment - "I think this is true Hitler went to Heaven (if there is such a thing as Heaven really exists). He felt that what he did was right, and I think that if what you feel you're doing is right, in your heart, then you can't be wrong!" - read 'confusingly.' See, you might think that it meant that he believes Hitler, because he was doing what he believed in, so he was true to his heart and as a result went to Heaven. But, no, it's not that simple. Now, James is trying to make it clearer: "Hitler's fate and treatment in the afterlife is determined by a higher power, not me or anyone else. I apologise to anyone who was offended by my comments, which read confusingly in Metal Hammer." Now, this seems to be more confusing than the original comments - apart from how he thinks they 'read confusingly' - how thick does he think his fans are? James said he believed Hitler went to Heaven, because he believed in what he was doing. His retraction says that Hitler's fate would have been decided by God. This doesn't actually withdraw the statement that Hitler would have gone to heaven, does it? Or is that just me?
"Well-meaning Hitler? He'll be in heaven now..."
...but only if God let him. Will that do?

"I didn't have sex with a woman until quite late. I thought I was gay" announce Chris from Coldplay on the cover of the new Q. Erm... do you want to tell him, or shall I?...

quickly, quickly, onto the nme, which has Liam on the cover - could they not find something nicer than a man who looks like a head-injured chimp wearing a potato sack? - and the shock claim that Oasis In A Park was even better than the last Oasis In A Park...

this claim is backed up by the news pages when 75% of people who were coming out of the gig at the end were asked. These people also believed Heathen Chemistry to be their best album to date. It's really a little bit like asking people leaving the Tory Party Conference at the end of the last day if they seriously believe that Iain Duncan Smith is a plausible potential Prime Minister. The NME spreads the gig thinly indeed - front page, three pages of 'news' coverage and a four page colour pullout in the middle. You have to wonder why: the band only managed to shift 200,000 copies of their own album; why expect them to add extra sales to the nme?...

other news - is it just me, or do you all get worried when bands describe their new singles as "awesome... vintage" and best ever? This time, its the Manics claiming their return to the path of righteousness is about to happen [forever delayed is released in october]; ozzy dolls hit the market; Michael Eavis claims that "as a whole the village found [Glasto] much easier this year - they're a lot happier with it than they've ever been" - you wonder how the 200 people rampaging through the village and the numerous break-ins managed to win the people over; and why they chose to show their contentment by having an often hostile public meeting shortly after, don't you?; theres two pages given over to the results of a drawing competition set in February - so, really slow news day...

on bands: weird war - royal trux and make up breed, have babies, eat them; thisgirl - emo from sheffield (like blues from southport?)...

hey! there's still some pages to be wrung from Glastonbury - here's some pictures taken by coopertempleclause and lost prophets. They both take the sort of jolly holly snaps that you would (i.e pisspooor)...

Japan. Only that can save us now - Boredoms, anyone? They - snark - once were going to blow up a cow on stage. And - whew - used *construction tools* as *instruments*. So far, so KLF meets Einsturdene Neubaten. And, erm, thats as far as it goes, actually...

so, forget Japan. Only Liverpool can save us now - The Hokum Clones, Tramp Attack, The Coral, the Mountaineers (erm, aren't they from Wrexham?), The Zutons, The Bandits, Danny Conors and the Crescent are all cited, and this time, they've got it right - despite what they'd like you to believe, the Lomax and the Picket don't mean shit to the people who actually make music in the city - it's great to see the Zanzi, the Masque and the Brewery get the attention they deserve. But then you turn the page, and there's an advert for Space's Greatest Hits Package...

that ultrasound spin-off minuteman are here - they'll save british rock from the US invasion by, um, wearing jeans and goatee beards and, um, playing nu rock... oh...

always a delight to spend some time with wayne coyne. flaming lips bloke reveals that Yoshimi, the girl who fights pink robots is actually a metaphor for... um, a girl. who fights pink robots...

reviews: albums - yoshimi battles the pink robots - flaming lips ("yet another benchmark", 8); space - greatest hits ("be warned - wrinkled noses are your long term reward for defining an era", 7); red hot chilli peppers - by the way ("not stupid. and, remarkably, not uncool, either", 8); weevie stonder - drawing on other peoples heads ("entertaining experi-mentalism", 7); pixies - pixies ("little more than a curio", 5 - and on cooking vinyl, too, we note)...

sotw - the streets - weak become heroes ("rave proust, no less"); also up - the coral - goodbye ("thankfully shanty-free"); beyonce knowles - work it out ("the record the faithful Kelly and the confused Michelle have been dreading for years"); primal scream - miss lucifer ("between breathtaking and breathtakingly daft"); beth orton - concrete sky ("vaguely trendy and quite nice")...

live - yeah yeah yeahs at the royal festival hall"a s much fun as is permissible under local byelaws"; nerd in shepherds bush ("already an expert live act")...

finally, angst has more on glasto - a letter from Neil Sharma of Accrington reports that he felt safer at Glasto than ever before. Erm, until he had to go to his car at 1am, when security wouldn't allow him to go out of the gates because of "in the stewards' words 'riots' going on just outside the fence..." Still, the villagers seem to have loved it, so that's okay, eh? Maybe we'd forgotten - fences don't just keep people out, they keep people in. Would it be too cynical to wonder how upset the traders and sponsors inside the ground are that people are being actively encouraged to not leave during the festival?

NOT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN: Music telly updates - Danni Behr is being dropped from the Saturday Show; assumptions seem to be is its because she talked about shagging and appeared in magazines in her bra and knickers. We'd say: Oh, yeah? Danni had basically shaken her money maker in every magazine already, so its not like she pulled a sudden Charlotte Church; if the BBC was so concerned at the revelation that Dan had had sex, why was she allowed to carry on for the whole year?; and, crucially, if she's unfit for the young eyes, why is it strongly rumoured she's about to become a regular on another kids series? Seems more likely they've just decided the car park shagging has taken it out of her too much, and she isn't a morning person. Joe Mace is also going; he's got other things to be doing, apparently.
Look at a lovely picture of Dani - although the accompanying text saying "when she was still famous" must hurt...
ALSO... V2002 is going to be carried live on ITV2 this year - the poor man's Glastonbury on the poor man's BBC Choice. Nice synergy

THE CHIP SHOP GIRLS: Back when we were in charge of Liverpool Hoopla, we used to call our local starlets Atomic Kitten The Chip Shop Girls. Now, we don't want to be cruel, but this picture would suggest we were only wrong with the end of their career at which they'd be doing the Lyndsey Corkhills. (Actually, former Kitten Kerry 'Up the duff, out the band' Katona was chosen as the face of the Chip Shop of the year contest. Which isn't that far...)

BLUE, BLUE, ELECTRIC BLUE: Blue - the boy band who are so lame they're sometimes suspected to being secret alt-rock agents sent in to finish off any residual feelings of respect for pretty-but-thick singing pecs - are facing the biggest challenge of their careers. The only thing they have is their brand, and when their shadowy Mr Big put them together, it seems he was too busy teaching them to stand up and talk at the same time to notice that, erm, there already was a band called Blue. Who've been going donkey's years. Morally, the scots seem to be in the right - but since when did morality play a part in legal decisions?
Newsround reports - probably touch and go whether
the band or the court case will last longer

SHAREHOLDERS TUT LOUDLY: We thought maybe we were being predictably outraged at the enormous payouts EMI made to its former rubbish managers, but it seems its not only us. The National Association of Pension Funds - the people who basically own EMI with your money - are urging its members to block the reappointment of Alan Levy as head of recorded music and his henchman Roger Faxon at finance when the shareholders meet on July 19th. They're outraged at the terms of the contract for the two men, which would see Levy trousering about three million quid if his contract got ended early because of takeover. The NAPF point out that, since companies which get taken over tend to be the rubbish ones, this really doesn't give Levy and Faxon much in the way of encouragement to be all they could be. Normally, the NAPF don't vote either way on matters at AGMs, so for them to actively campaign for a 'No' vote shows just how unhappy they are with the way EMI is drawing up contracts - it's akin to the Queen telling a girl with a bunch of flowers to piss off...

HENDRIX COURT VICTORY: Just in passing, nice to see Hendrix's family won back control of some of the rights to his work in the High Court last week - according to the FT Mr Justice Buckley ruled that the family should be entitled to future royalties from the music, but not past royalties. He also granted the family an injunction restraining future releases of some recordings, although PPX has rights over 33 "permitted" recordings, set out in the 1973 agreement. PPX is the group run by Ed Chaplain, who claims to have discovered Hendrix.

THE SLIGHTLY HARDER TRYING SPAM BANDS: Shame on Dirty Vegas - now, this isn't going to be a Bill Hicks style rant on how letting your music be used for adverts makes you no better than Moby, but once you've become the Biggest Selling Artists in the World (or whatever), surely its time to ask your over-enthusiastic street team to disband? Or at the very least, suggest that it might be a wise idea for them to remove the link from their "unofficial" site to the PR company who're rewarding them for their work?
Meanwhile, Gaffer - a band from Canada email details about their tour of Canada to our colleagues at Ink Magazine, the Merseyside arts listing magazine. Even without fox hunters blocking the M53, it'll be a bit of a haul for an evening out...

UM... MICHAEL?: Poor Al must be wishing he'd never invited Michael Jackson along to his racism in music debates. Not content with launching personal attacks that seem unsupportable, and certainly reeking of sour grapes, now he's blown his credibility totally by suggesting that people started to call him "weird" because he was successful. Michael, sit down. You were in the Jackson 5, yeah? You were successful. The world went cute. You sold 45 million copies of Thriller, and the world loved you. Then you started to wear a face mask. You had surgery that made your face look as if you'd given the surgeon a picture of the cake in McArthur Park and asked "Can you do me that?" You shared a bed with small children, and made allegations of child abuse disappear by writing cheques. You set up a household with a monkey and the daughter of Elvis Presley. You threatened to take action against radio stations which neglected to call you the King of Pop. And you made some terrible, terrible records. That was why people started to call you weird, mate. There is no level of underattainment where trying to buy the skeleton of John Merrick is going to be called anything other than weird as fuck...

I COLLECT, I REJECT: More fun in the world of star-themed junk - Kylie Evian water, anybody? No? How about Def Leppard address labels, then?

Thursday, July 11, 2002

ONE OFF, ONE BACK: Top-end snob channel Artsworld is going to switch itself off and go and find something else to do with its time. The channel that seriously believes the best Costello album is the Juliet Letters only came into being 18 months ago. Not perhaps gone bust over-estimating people's intelligence, as being over-hopefull in persuading them to pay for it. Toffs will be pleased to hear, however, that D-Classics is to go subscription-free pretty soon.
Meanwhile, Rapture is back. The strange dance and probably some skateboard channel which had packed up its tools and shuffled away has returned to Sky Digital - you'll find it under the general channels now.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

AND YOU'LL HELP US WITH E-COMMERCE HOW?: The RIAA may fight through the courts and more underhand methods with the hard-drivers, the hackers and the napsters. But what of the British record industry? How placed are they to assist people in this country with their problems and questions in a fast moving sector? Erm... not that well placed. Their email server and website have been down for a week, which seems to be unforgivable for any major industry's representative body, never mind one in the communications sector.

GLASTOCONCLUSIONS: Now that everyone's had a chance to shake the mud off their boots, a clearer picture of what The Fence meant to Glastonbury is shining through. Clearly, the festival was safer, it was a success, its been secured - all of these are good things. However, what difference did the first Fortress Festival in the UK really make? Melvin Benn, the Mean Fiddler chap brought in to oversee security on the site, was quick to condemn the trouble-makers outside the gates: "The people who turned up and caused trouble outside the event were the criminal element, not festival-goers." Fair enough, but what about the trouble caused inside? For example, according to Avon and Somerset Police's website, three official security guards were charged with robbery and affray. When the festival is having trouble ensuring the behaviour of its own staff, you have to wonder how they intend to deal with the people locked out of the festival this year. Michael Eavis has promised to "resolve" problems outside the fence - this year, a group of two hundred marauded through the neighbouring village, with reports of a number of homes being broken into.
However, the general level of crimes the police became involved with did fall considerably inside the festival grounds, which should prove reassuring for the 2003 licence application - although £80,000 worth of stuff did manage to go astray, and the tighter entrance security has created a new wedge of ticket thievery outside.
More disturbingly is the nature of what that event will be. Talking to Music Week, Eavis observed that "we're attracting a more respectable audience. The amount of 17 and 18 year old students was grossly reduced. I can see a change going on that iw ish we could avoid, but you can't have the nice kids without the bad kids, so there was no choice, really." So, what does that mean? It seems to be the first admission that the price of tickets was determined not so much by operating costs, but to keep out an 'unwanted' element. The implication that students have been the trouble makers at previous festivals is worrying - I'm not sure, but I don't recall the guard who got beaten up in 2000 saying he was hit around the head with a copy of Proust in translation; the blanket ban on teenagers regardless of whether they're a threat to order or not would be worthy of Blunkett, don't you think? Why is it impossible to come up with security that allows happy, polite, friendly 17 year olds kids in to have the time of their lives, and keeps the tent-thieving scum out? And why is it as soon as people pass their 19th birthday, it's suddenly possible to tell the bad guys from the good guys? Of course, a polite, greying Glastonbury is a lot quieter, makes security a lot easier, and upsets far fewer people. But why not come clean, rather than excluding kids by the back door of ramping up prices?

OTHER MUSIC BLOGS ARE AVAILABLE: Although its more, strictly speaking, of a diary straight than a blog. The BBC have got Larry from Hundred Reasons to contribute behind the scenes reports from the band's hectic touring schedule. It's illuminating, if only because it's entertainingly detailed and rather well written. The latest installment comes from inside the Glastonbury Festival

GET WELL SOON: While we're normally happy to glory in any and all setbacks that occur to Travis, obviously when something as genuinely nasty as a broken back hits, we're big enough to set aside our animosity and issue our best wishes for a swift recovery to Neil Primrose, Travis' drummer. Neil's about to undergo an operation to see if breaking his back in a swimming pool accident yesterday has caused permanent damage. We hope it goes well, and that he's back having our vitriol hurled at his drumming and his band soon as...
NME reports - and, seriously, respect to the rest of the band for fishing him out

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

SHAZAM, BAM, THANK YOU, THE MAN: There's been a lot of excitement over the beta launch of Shazam, the service that uses your mobile phone to tell you exactly what that track is, but we'd been wondering exactly why. We could see what it would do for us, the people - no more would we have to wait three singles lenght for a back announcement from a dj which never comes; and we could see that maybe a couple of extra cds could be sold as a result. But that hardly accounted for all the excitement. Now, we see what we were missing, as we've stumbled across a Shazam Tag Chart, which lists the top ten pre-release tracks that users have been asking about. All of a sudden, the whole service's value to music owners has made sense - this could be the strongest way of judging reactions from listeners to new music yet. Potentially, the shazam chart could be the closest thing to the noises trapped in listener's heads. It's very exciting - even if Coldplay are currently number one in their listing.
shazam - now we need a service that'll tell us who their scary models are

CATCH THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL: And while their fifth number one album might give Oasis something to shout about, the underlying trend of their first week sales is still downwards - Heathen Chemistry managed just 230,000, comapred with Standing on the Shoulder of Giants' 311,000; 345,000 for What's the Story and an remarkable 813,000 in the first seven days by Be Here Now. In fact, only Definitely Maybe's first week sale was lower - 86,000 - and that was when the band had yet to break. Away from studio albums, Familiar To Millions has finally after seventeen months managed to squeeze past the 200,000 sales mark, but only thanks to Woolworths virtually giving away copies to people buying the new album. However you stack the figures, Oasis don't even count as reliable warhorses any more.

COMPILING: We'd managed to let the release of a Juliana Hatfield compilation, Gold Stars, slip by. Part old stuff collated, and a few new bits and pieces, it looks like it is as much a handy one-sitting catch up as an easy entry point for people who want to see why it's important that there's more to life than Tori Amos and more to rock than boys. We're still slightly shifty about providing links to buy stuff we talk about, but if you're going to get it anyway we're happy to point the way.

WORTH BOOKMARKING: Commercial Breaks and Beats is a nascent database of tracks used in British adverts, which is currently stretching back to 1996 and attempting to provide an answer to the question "what was the track in the advert for that car?" and "what exactly was it that Lisa Gerarrd was used to promote?" - the answer being the controversial MMR vaccine, strangely enough. Presumably because the fear of making your kid autistic wasn't scary enough without Lisa's otherworldly shivernoise over the top. It needs your help, and isn't ashamed to admit it, but it has the makings of something really useful.

GRUBBING FOR CASH: Beleagured music giant Vivendi Universal is finally starting to realise that people who download music off the web are a market and not a bunch of criminal scum, and are putting a nervous tow in the water of selling downloads. For a reasonable $9.99 a month, you'll be able to take as much as you want from the thousand albums in the pilot scheme, and will be free to burn them to CDs or whatever you choose. A freebie trial is available if you're happy to trust the company with your credit card details; fifty MP3 tracks can be yours.
All in all, a positive step, although we are slightly concerned that apparently one of the measures for the project's success will be whether it stimulates back catalogue sales in stores. Now, call us stupid, but why would being able to get the music you want through your computer, bought and paid for, lead to an increase in physical sales? "Having bought a legal, full copy of this record, I shall go out and buy it again" doesn't make a great deal of sense to us...
Read about it here...
... and do it here

MORE ON JACKO: The New York Post is reporting that Sharpton has been faster to disassociate himself from Jackson's personal attack on Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony who Jackson described as evil, racist, bigotted, etc. And no wonder, as the parade of black musicians and industry people lining up to say "Is this the same guy I know" has totally overshadowed Sharpton's 'Racism in music' meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Sharpton is now desperately trying to keep Michael's "personal issues" with Tommy separate from the "broader issues."

OASIS? WHAT CRISIS?: Glum days for Oasis that even a spot of polite queerbashing isn't going to improve upon, it seems. First of all, Noel's admitted that their publishers are less than impressed with the Songs Wot Liam Wrote and are insisting that Noel seizes back control of the crayons before any more sub-nursery rhyme ditties get stuck out - and, of course, its the publishers who really control the cash in music these days. Then, there's this from six music's Gary Bales, long-term Oasis fan, who went to Finsbury Park:
If you were a part of the mid nineties Britpop generation like me then listen up. You know that feeling you had before the release of the new Oasis album last week? The feeling of hope and excitement that the summer of '95 is on our doorstep again? Well forget it. It's over.
'Stating the obvious isn't he?' you might say. Well fair enough, but yesterday's Oasis gig at Finsbury Park sounded the death knoll of the greatest band to exist in my lifetime.
Oasis gigs in the mid-nineties were joyous occasions. You could feel the warmth and the energy from both the band and every single fan in the crowd. They were 'our' band, we loved them and they loved us. That summer of '95 was our very own summer of love. Liam, Noel, Bonehead and Guigsy were Gods.
Forward seven years to last night at Finsbury Park, the band's last gig of a three-night stay. That atmosphere of celebration, so evident when the band were at their peak, has gone.
It has been replaced by a feeling of tension. A feeling that at any time you could get hit in the face by a bottle of God knows what from a passing stranger and a feeling that if you reacted, you would probably end up in hospital after being jumped on by thirty thousand other like minded idiots.
It really was that bad. In the space of fifteen minutes I saw no less than five people being helped into the St John's Ambulance tent to have nasty head cuts attended to. It was like a war zone.
When Oasis eventually came onstage, the rush of adrenaline and excitement I used to get failed to appear. Instead all I wanted to do was stand at the back near the exit. I didn't want to jump up and down to Cigarettes and Alcohol just in case I bumped into some nutcase who would see it as a declaration of war. I just wanted to leave and forget it ever happened.
None of which is Oasis' fault. They were solid as usual. Acquiescewas brilliant, She's Electric better than I've ever heard it and even Hung In A Bad Place from the new album sounded good. The problem was the pure feeling of celebration that surrounded them has disappeared.
Oasis has turned into just another band playing rock songs. Even though Liam is still the best frontman in the business and Noel is as charismatic as ever, the magic has gone. Last night was, for me, the end of an era.

Or, to put it another way, Oasis may have started out as Man City, but now they've become Man Utd - a machine for making noises to watch at; a thing to go to, rather than a force to love.
By the way, why doesn't six music archive its excellent music op-ed pieces? Surely, if the BBC can find server space for seemingly everything it's ever produced, there must be a bit of room for these think pieces?

TALKING OF LOU: Lou 'Not Ken' Barlow has apparently generated another side project, the Final Four, which might be taking rip and read to a logical extreme. A couple of tracks on, a tour, and that's it. For the jaunt, Lou is being supplemented by Stevo Matthewson and Steve Westfield, the most famous LoFi people you've never heard of.
The Final Four - this might be all there is...

HE'S BACK, HE'S RIGHT: Good news, everybody, with the return of Folk Implosion after a three year gap in operations. Lou Barlow is apparently promising tracks that are "a lot more Black Sabbath influenced than things I could do with Sebadoh" - which is understandable and regrettable. Understandable, because Bob the Builder is more Black Sabbath influenced than Sebadoh. Regrettable, because name dropping Oz is, like, the most obvious thing you can do in 2002, don't you think?
Rebound [Rolling Stone] - exactly how is the band Not Sebadoh right now?

HE'S BLACK, HE'S WHITE: Clearly, the Jacko reborn as panther stunt this week has been more about wounded pride at poor sales and the loss of the Beatles back catalogue, but let's try to take Jackson's claims about the music industry seriously - or as seriously as we can when a man holds up a placard marked 'the good, the bad, the ugly' and has chosen his own face to illustrate the first of these.
Jackson claims that the record company treats artists like shit. This much is true. He also claims that certain music industry figures are stinking racist scum. That is probably true; shamefully unremarkable. The problem comes when Jackson tries to special plead and claim that black artists are singled out to be shafted by the industry. That, of course, is bollocks. Go tell it to Courtney, to George Michael, to Michelle Shocked. Then try to tell it to Beyonce, to Prince (who at least left the race card underplayed in his record company dispute), to Dre, to your own sister. Jackson claims
"The record companies really, really do conspire against the artists. They steal, they cheat, they do whatever they can. Especially against the black artists." And, if it wasn't for that pay-off, you'd have to agree with him. But those five words are bitter little pills, designed to elevate what is a business dispute into a race issue. Jackson is trying to force Sony's hand in a boardroom battle by crying "is it cause I black?" No, Michael, it's not.
First up, it's as ridiculous as believing that Eminem sits down to answer his fan mail at a big desk to assume that the execs who make the decisions to crush their artist's dreams down to make some juice have any idea if the names on their pieces of paper are black, white, women or men - EMI, for example, axed one of its entire Scandanvian wings because it didn't even know it existed. Second, if the industry is so stinkingly racist, and shafting black artists, how did you make the money to buy Neverland, and to keep chimps in the luxury to which they've become accustomed? Isn't it a bit funny how the sudden realisation that you're working for the Klan coincides with really, really bad album sales? See, from where we're sitting, it looks like Sony have been incredibly supportive of you since Thriller, during a period of time when you've been doing Interesting things, accused of appalling crimes, and making mostly awful records. Sour grapes and bitterness are one thing, but to try to hijack an issue as divisive and dangerous as race to get your own back on a bloke you've fallen out with is disreputable.
Multi-millionaire Michael Jackson has something to say [Guardian] - it's not 1950 anymore, and you're no Billie Holliday...

Monday, July 08, 2002

"HE LIED TO ME" CRIES NOEL: Something slightly sinister in Noel's outburst about George Michael's Walk The Dog single, don't you think? Noel seems to think that because George was in the closet for a long time, this means he's an unfit person to have an opinion on world affairs. Noel Gallagher, you might remember, popped in to show his support for Tony Blair just after the grinning head of the nation won his first election victory - a victory that owed quite a bit to Peter Mandelson, a man who would never be less than totally upfront about his sexuality. But why is Noel so concerned about Michael having "lied" about his sexuality? (As if, Noel, you couldn't tell - the hair? the leather jackets? the endless promotion of David Austin?) Did Noel have a little tiny crush on Wham when he was a wee boy with two eyebrows? Does Noel have a whole heap of issues here?
And besides: In what way is Noel fit to lay down who should or shouldn't have an opinion? We've not forgotten his and his brother's pointless yakking after the World Trade Centre which showed a lack of both perspective and understanding and, if we had to choose (and let's hope it never comes to this) I'd rather side with Michael's simplistic Blair-battering and strange world of polymorphus peversity than the gallaghers dull, little englander me tub thumping.
Both your latest singles are shite, mind.
Michael is also getting it in the neck for "not releasing" Walk the dog in the US, which is a bit unfair since he doesn't even have a record deal in the States at the moment, and sticking out a record in America which says "The UK is America's lapdog" would be seen less as satirical, more as accurate reporting. And, besides, in the UK we raise an eyebrow at George's claims to want to seduce Cherie Blair and say "Oh, really?", whereas in the US, they'd go "Cherry Bear? Was that one of the Care Bears?" The record is hardly appropriate for an American audience.
Charles Shaar Murray has waded in to defend Michael against Rod Liddle, Today editor and Guardian columnist. In The Guardian, Rod had basically suggested that he might not want to take political science lessons from the man who wrote Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Hitting back, Murray wrote in The Observer that Liddle was trying to stop 'outsiders' from muscling in on the political comment cake. This is a bit rich, especially when you consider that it was Liddle's Today which gave Gruff from the Super Furru Animals a platform one morning to talk about something; from which we learned merely that popstars don't do "before nine" well. CSM's bit also manages to find enough space to mention that Liddle allows Nick Griffin from the BNP onto Today, but strangely not enough to make it clear that this is because he believes that in a democratic nation, even nazi scum should be allowed to a platform, the better to hang themselves on their own vile words. Funny thing is, Nick Griffin's complaint about the media is that they deny platforms to anyone outside the political mainstream - exactly the same thing Charles is banging on about.

MORE ON VIBE: So, following on from the extra details provided by a passer-by in comments last week, we've found out that the artist who is the only thing on the show - variously called something like Alisee or Angel - is, in fact, the wife of Steve Bennett. Bennett made £37million offloading just before the dotcom sector collapsed like a asthmatic in a cloud chamber, and so has money to fritter away on trying to make his wife into a star. It turns out she's got form for this, as Chris Tomlinson related in passing when Bennett invested in a karaoke website; she once stood up at an Institute of Directors dinner and belted out 'I will always love you.' Steve, of course, could have made her a star more easily - with his cash, a spot of payola and chart rigging would have got her on TOTP faster than you can say "Isn't that sort of thing frowned upon?" rather than going down this route which does look somehow desperate, don't you think?
Besides... would you really want your wife to be in such a reprobate industry. No less a pop personage than Beyonce Knowles has told the, um, Radio Times that the whole music industry can mess your head up and make you sad. Even if your body is bootylicious.
It's a shit business, says Beyonce - don't put your sister on the stage, Ms Knowles. No, really, please, please don't...

POACHER TURNS EGG: As if he wasn't 'busy' enough elbowing his was into cartoon bands, and taking over Malawi like a latter-day Mark Curry, Damon Albarn has now decided to become a music journalist, too. he's going to write for the reactivated Songlines magazine, the official journal of noodling about 'world' music (or 'rest of the world music', to give it is more spookily accurate name).
Meanwhile, Saturday's Weekend Guardian featured a piece by Louise Wener, who used to be in Sleeper but is now a writer. She retold the Sleeper tale, and showed herself to be as good at prose as she was at fine tunes, although her grasp of research is a bit... um, flaky, shall we say? (T'pau contemporaries of Jam, Smiths, Blondie?). Still, it all bodes well for the launch of her book, although that too
Oi, Albarn... Noooooo - of course, Blur did once guest edit NME...
We always liked Sleeper - of course, their big mistake was in losing the square brackets from their name
We're cheap whores, you know - buy Goodnight Steve McQueen from Amazon
Sample from chapter 1 - actually, Louise, Winner Takes All didn't show the punters the prize, not in the classic Tarby years, it was in a suitcase at the end. And, erm, Millionaire did. In a big glass pyramid in the first series.