Saturday, October 26, 2002

EXTENDED REST: Rhett Miller has not - repeat has not - left the Old 97's, he's just taking an extra long holiday from them. Wasn't that what they said about Graham Coxon and Blur? More seriously, over on zapsmart, there's speculation about John Peel's future at Radio One, heightened by the Great Man's plans to take an extended motoring holiday through the US next year. The phrase "semi-retirement" has been raised (albeit not by him).

POP PAPERS: A RESPONSE: We've kicked the comments off for the time being, as Ennetation wobbles quite a bit and so we're giving it a bit of a rest as we look for somewhere else. Meanwhile, of course, we welcome any contributions to ongoing debate via email ( Which isn't quite how becky bamboo came through with a riposte to this week's pop papers, but anyway - here it is:
Whatís funny about Blender is how like Q it is
have you seen the revamped rolling stone? it's got the sidebars and questions and charts of Q. they got a british guy to take over there too and it shows.
On, then, to the nme, which has Queens of the Stone
Age - neither interesting or attractive - on the front page...

hey. I like QOTSA.
'kay - I've got problems with this bit:
news: how desperate is this - oasisí hopes for america ever giving a fuck about them is now resting entirely on Stop Crying Your Heart Out appearing in a scene in Birds of Prey.
um, really? birds of prey? if so, I didn't hear it. I heard an oasis song during the last scene of "red" on smallville though. did they get their WB superhero shows mixed up?
Radiohead benefitted from inclusion in Smallville
this is just laughable. for the reasons you listed,but also because they NEVER played any RH songs. EVER.
lex offered clark RH tickets (and the use of his limo) so he could go with lana. that was it. (from omar's recap: "Lex tells Rosycheeks that he should ask Lana to go with him to the Radiohead concert in Metropolis the next night. And, because he's a game-show host now, Lex tells him that if she says yes, he'll throw in the concert tickets. Now, I don't know if you know what it's like getting Radiohead tickets, but let's just say that Lex is definitely pushing my buttons right now.")
they could use the same equally laughable argument about weezer. but then how to explain the countless alt crap rock songs they've used that have rightly vanished without a trace?
Queens of the Stone Age come across as rather likeable, amusing young men - they just look like twits and play turgid music, thatís all...
turgid? not really the word that comes to mind when I listen to them. assuming there's a negative connotation there. and I don't think whasshisbucket - the redhead - looks like a twit. I think you're tarring them with the awful nu metal brush and it's not deserved, si.

Hmmm. Well, it's QOTSA weekend on MTV2, so maybe I'll go and see if I'm wrong about that...

Friday, October 25, 2002

AGE SHALL NOT WITHER THEM: We can appreciate the need to make Remembrance Day relevant to a generation whose experience of war consists of a dim grasp of the Gulf War and whatever's going to happen the week after next, but S Club Juniors launching the Poppy Day Appeal seems to be taking things a bit far...

WOMEN IN ROCK: THE - ahem - CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR SPECIAL EDITION: Actually, full heapings of praise to the CSM who manage to knock up an article about 'women in rock' that says, basically: 'yes, Rolling Stone. there are lots of women in rock. Well done for noticing. Now, isn't rain wet?' And also prove themselves far cooler than RS by interviewing the Donnas. And there's this, for the "How record companies work" file, from Bonnie Raitt: ""I've never listened to any record company.... They can never pick my material or comment on it. Luckily, I signed with people that respected me, and if they ever said anything about what I wore or what I sang, I would just say, 'It's not your place to tell me that.' But on the other hand ... because I wasn't accepting their advice, they penalized me by not promoting my records."

UPDATE: Stuart Murdoch raised a healthy GBP4000 from flogging his car. The Friends of the Earth adopted a wobbly mouth accepting the proceeds...

THE FLESH THAT YOU FESTIVELY FRY: Quoting extensively from a Morrissey PETA interview (office safe, but be warned: there's a picture of Mozzer in which he looks more like Russ Abbot, Eric Olsen in the Home of the BlogCritics takes issue with the central contention of Meat Is Murder. Now, we know from experience over on bothsidesnow that nothing polarises opinion (a polite way of saying 'can turn a warm place into an icy shouting match') like the whole meat-not meat debate, but we think that Olsen's reasoning (meat isn't murder because only people can be murdered) is as flaky as Morrissey's (it's death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder - can i just say, as a vegetarian, that even i can see the reason why people kill pigs and sheep - it's to eat them, isn't it?). Anyway, this is more to bring attention to Olsen's tales of how the Smiths were funked up for the American market, which folds interestingly with Morrissey's contention that meat needs a lot of spicing and preparation before its ready to eat...

IT'S FRIDAY, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES: We're still pretty excited that Ladytron are playing a homecoming gig at Electrovoodoo next month (well, partial homecoming), but if that wasn't enough, the Emperor Norton Records has got Quicktime versions of the whole of Light and Magic, the new album and reubens' dj reconstruction of the work. Light and, of course, magic.

OF COURSE, THIS WOULD PLEASE THE RIAA: A diverting tale of a musician attmepting to sell his own music only to be told by Ebay he can't, because he's violating his own copyright doing so provides another example of how the RIAA and Hollywood Studio axis of "me, all" is crushing the life out of the creative sectors beyond their snaky little grasps. Of course, although the guy involved feels like Ebay is picking on him, it's not, really. You can't really expect that a company like Ebay with its millions of listings and tiny staff are going to be able to process each advert by hand, and, rather than be kicked again and again by the RIAA, they've erred on the side of caution and set up a script which sees the words "CD-R", panics, and then delists the item automatically. The serious issue that's pointed up is that - just as the boot of copyright trampling down on filesharing doesn't just stop illegal and morally grey downloads, but chokes off everyone's rights to use the system for anything, because EBay live in craven fear of Hilary Rosen, they're turning away people who have a legitimate use for their network.
Of course, the RIAA could approach now and talk to ebay about a way round this to allow legitimate independent labels to auction their own music if they want to. But we bet they don't. Because, almost by accident, the big labels have found another way of frustrating acts who don't want to sign up with them.

HERE'S AN IDEA: In the latest Rajar audience figures, Mark and Lard have added three quarters of a million listeners, while their breakfast show colleague Sara Cox continues to bump along the bottom. Clearly, the answer would be to give Mark and Lard the breakfast show... oh, hang on.
What's especially amusing is that clearly Radio One don't have a clue why one of the few DJs to actually like music and act like its a privilige to be on the air is the only one whose audience is growing - "maybe its because students were tuning in during school holidays" muttered a spokesperson, thereby ignoring the facts that students don't have school holidays and, besides, since when did students having lectures timetabled stop them being at home listening to the radio? That the explanation "An upsurge in the number of alt-rock ads in the chart has probably helped tempt back a lot of Radcliffe's natural constituency" hasn't occured to them is interesting.

HERE'S AN IDEA: In the latest Rajar audience figures, Mark and Lard have added three quarters of a million listeners, while their breakfast show colleague Sara Cox continues to bump along the bottom. Clearly, the answer would be to give Mark and Lard the breakfast show... oh, hang on.
What's especially amusing is that clearly Radio One don't have a clue why one of the few DJs to actually like music and act like its a privilige to be on the air is the only one whose audience is growing - "maybe its because students were tuning in during school holidays" muttered a spokesperson, thereby ignoring the facts that students don't have school holidays and, besides, since when did students having lectures timetabled stop them being at home listening to the radio? That the explanation "An upsurge in the number of alt-rock ads in the chart has probably helped tempt back a lot of Radcliffe's natural constituency" hasn't occured to them is interesting.

PEACHES PINCHED: Moldy Peaches go into stasis, but tell RollingStone its not forever.

WE LIKE THE CHARTS PEOPLE: We've often wondered what the people who compile the Official UK Charts must be like - do they sit in a small room with a large abacus, a TV blaring The Box - for fun - and posters of Abs on the wall? Do they smile everytime they write "Gareth Gates" in copperplate handwriting on the rundown form? Is the thud of mail reporting a surge in popularity for Atomic Kitten's album enough to make them need to wee with delight? It seems perhaps not. The links page from the Official Official UK Charts Official website suggests that - rather - the staff must feel their jobs to be akin to being Adolf Hitler's butler. The band whose sites qualify for links from the OUKC site are Gomez, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Everything But The Girl, Haven and Mel C. Not a Nelly amongst them. Curious, eh?

DULL MAN BUYS DULL ALBUM: This story - Chris Martin makes midnight trip to buy David Gray albums - is just a Geoffrey Howe away from being the most dull thing to ever appear on the internet. We've often wondered what the point of David Gray is, and we're no nearer an answer.
What does puzzle us, though, is why HMV decided that Chris Martin deserved to be given his copies of the album for nothing? "He's probably the richest person here - let's not charge him for the albums, then; sod the people who've queued for hours in the pissing rain..."
Anyway, good marks to Chris Martin for giving the cash to the HMV staff to have a drink anyway. It's a reasonable thing to do, vicar.

MAYBE IT'S SOMETHING ABOUT GLASTONBURY: Hot on the heels of the usual annual licence problems down in South Mendip, and Manchester having to pull a stage show based on Glasto, now plans by the family Eavis to bring a charity event to the London Astoria looks like going implants-up as the Astoria has lost its licence. Now, we're no big fans of Mean Fiddler (as regular readers will know) but to close a venue down because there was a shooting incident outside the venue a year ago seems to be especially unfair and ill-considered.
Of course, last year Westminster City Council closed down Home over some sort of "Young people take drugs there" panic; and while the Council claims that its objections to the Astoria's licence is about ensuring the safety of people going to the venue, you have to wonder. Earlier this year, the leader of Westminster, Simon Milton, said "I recognise that it is ludicrous to ignore the fact that drug taking does occur but to implicitly encourage it by providing adequate supplies of drinking water needs careful consideration. " - or, in other words, the illegality of drugs means that a simple, effective safety measure should be denied them. But then nobody would be surprised at a Council which sold its graveyards for fifteen pence being mealy mouthed...

IT'S LIKE THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME TURNED INTO A COMMUNITY CENTRE: Well, we were wondering a while ago what had happened to the plans to revive the woefull National Pop Museum, and now we've found out. It's going to be turned into a Polytechnic Common Room. Fifteen million quids worth of lottery cash gone to create a subsidised bar and a pinball machine.
We're still not sure how the people behind the Pop Museum managed to get it so wrong, so quickly, so badly. We never liked the idea of putting it in Sheffield - "Def Leppard and Pulp came from here" always seemed like flaky logic to us, and as anyone who's ever tried to hitch to a gig there knows that its the most difficult city in the country to reach. Plus, Sheffield's last attempts to burn through an obscene amount of public cash in the shortest time available - the Student Games back in the 90's - had been such a dub that we were surprised they were being given a second go. But, as the mighty National Film, Photography and Television Museum in Bradford shows, provincial museums which have a clear subject and sharp ideas can thrive, even in places which Londoners might have trouble pointing to on a map. The conclusion can only be that the people in charge of the Sheffield collection didn't have a clue what they were doing. We do wonder, idly, where the people behind the project are now, although we expect the answer is "advising other cities on how to use regeneration funds" rather than "attempting to atone by doing community service."
And if you need proof that pop can work in a gallery context, we offer the wonderful Remix collection at Liverpool Tate earlier this year, and the British Library's celebration of fifty years of number ones.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES: Yesterday, we reported Christina as saying she won't do naked magazine shots because "there isn't a moral or visual reason for it."
Today, the new Rolling Stone is available online.
Can anyone explain the moral or visual reasoning behind this?

STILL, AT LEAST THEY DIDN'T HAVE ROBIN BANKS LET HIMSELF IN: The Charlotte Observer offers a cautionary tale of what can happen when you let a computer pick your music for you - WRFX-FM's syndicated John Boy and Billy show came out of the breaking news that the sniper had killed again into Another One Bites The Dust - thats except for affiliates, of course, who have a different set of songs dropped into the flow by a computer.
The executive producer of the show - Randy Brazell - regrets that it happened, but points out that the decision to play the song at that point had been taken "weeks ago."
What this shows, of course, is how letting computers do all the work is creating radio that doesn't have any connection with its audience, its market, or even its own programming. Now, of course, there's room for humans to execute human errors - such as in the Billy Connolly tale of a young Scot who attempted to play a tribute to the just-died Bing Crosby, forgetting the first line of Cheek to Cheek is "heaven, I'm in heaven" - but there's less room than when the show has been pre-programmed by a Windows PC weeks and weeks in advance. "When it played, I didn't even catch it" explains Brazell - and who can blame him, as simultaneously, the show was also playing Toby Keith and JJ Jackson. Obviously under such circumstances, you can't blame the show for not knowing it had dropped an enormous clanger - they've clearly got no interest in what they're playing, and couldn't care less about the quality; why would they be bothered about apropriateness as well?
There's nothing wrong in principle with syndication, nor with hard-disk playout. But shows that aren't even aware what music they're playing? Doesn't that smack of total contempt for the listener?

A CASE OF THE JITTERS: We liked the Milwaulke Journal-Sentinel's interview with Neko Case, even if the "alt-country singer can't sit still" headline sounded like a complaint rather than praise. But it's nice to read an article that explores how she avoided making a Giant Sand record rather than relies on the topless anecdote.

POP PRESS EXPANDS: Apparently the first ever A5 music magazine (obviously, fanzines don't count. Nor does Barfly. Or Bring It On) X-Ray is welcomed to the shelves by MediaGuardian. The answer to 'what do you get if you cross SleazeNation with X-FM almost certainly wouldn't be the magazine, but they are the two teams behind it. We'll put it in pop papers if there's ever a copy sighted in the North West.

ANSWERING OUR OWN QUESTION: Hang about, here's something worse than Tom Jones. Holly Vallance moaning about constantly seeing semi-naked pictures of herself, but then saying she won't stop doing it as "that's what got all the attention in the first place." If you get sick of seeing pictures of your perky breasts, lady, how do you think we feel? They're money in the bank to you, while all we get from them is a slightly dirty feeling - and not in a good way, either.
Later the same interview, the woman who's just admitted that her entire career is based on flashing, then defends miming rather than singing because "singing and dancing at the same time is too strenuous." Try taking some clothes off - that might make it easier...

NOT OFFICE SAFE. OR INDEED, ANY WAY SAFE: Can there be anything more unedifying than Tom Jones upbraiding women who throw unworn knickers at him on stage?
Am i the only one feeling a mite queasy?

I'M NOT SURE THIS HELPS: Spizzazzz offers an explanation for why nelly wears a band-aid on his face - apparently its "for his little brother who is in prison." I'm not sure the logic behind this unravels that easily in my mind - is he suggesting that those incarcerated in the US Prison service aren't allowed the luxury of sticking plasters, and so he is wearing an Elastoplast so that his brother might feel some sort of fraternal empathy working on some sort of postule? Is he suggesting that having a slightly itcy oblong of gum on his face means that he's suffering side by side with his brother? Is this like tying a knot in a hanky as an aide-memoire? "Yo, Nelly, where's your little bro?" "Hmm... can't remember... has he gone to the shops? Has he popped off for a fishing holiday? [Rubs face in thought] Oh, now I remember, he's in prison..."

MAYBE NOT THE BIGGEST AFTER ALL: Q's last set of circulation figures looked a bit scary for the music paper leader, but they're going to get worse. Turns out publishers EMAP made an "error" and had included a large number of giveaway copies in their ABC figures. It seems Q and Smash Hits could see their figures marked down to a large degree, while other titles in the EMAP stable will see smaller drops - if this will affect Kerrang's supremacy in the weekly market over NME isn't yet clear.
Meanwhile, CD:UK, the magazine tied in with the pisspoor Chart Show replacement of the same name, is to be folded in to TV Hits as interest in the title has slipped away as swiftly as Ant and Dec.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Transatlantic Edition
Slightly later than usual, but we're sick, so sorry. And there's a lot, too:

tipping a hat of thanks to kellie, we’re able to flick through the current Punk Planet (Kellie sent it to us ages ago, it’s just that this is the first time since then we’ve been ill on a Wednesday and so are able to peruse properly). The frankly bemusing Vagrant Records debate/battle rages on on the letters pages - it seems to have become the Schleswig-Holstein question of the Punk World, only with slightly fewer people understanding the finer points. More entertainingly, Al Burjan reports on sharing a flight with Gwen Steffani and Gavin Rossdale - “Although their presence on the flight does not itself lessen the statistical probablitiy of a hijacking, it makes the possibility of a hijacking that much more exciting and entertaining-seeming.” There’s a twentieth anniversary appreciation of Cometbus (and, without wanting to slide into our usual bemoaning of the UK music writing scene, can you imagine a British zine staying round for a two decade party? In the 80’s, the answer would be “No, as the good writers get snapped up by the pop papers sooner or later”; now, it’s just a sad shake of the head. Sarah Dougher - ex-Lookers, solo artist and now - authour of a book on gays and lesbians in music, to make “artistic gay life accesible to young people. More music writers need to know about gay history in rock. It’s really important, especially in the punk movement.” (We guess this might be a cross-Atlantic cultural difference; is it possible to not be aware of the bi, gay and lesbian input into British pop?) As if to illustrate the point, Limpwrist’s Andrew Martini is asked a few pages on “How did a gay hardcore band come about as a concept”, as if being gay was the gimmick, and the expected answer should be “we were a band for six years, then we thought - gay! So, we buggered each other, and...” Jeff Guntzel delivers a twelve page report from Jenin - of course, you wouldn’t get that in the NME, but then you wouldn’t get it in the NME’s labelmates at Time, either. DeeDee Ramone is remembered with affection: “He said ‘I only play root notes, no runs, no scales, and I play them in a very violent style.’ Asked if he played any other instruments, he said ‘I have a keyboard, which i play in a very violent style.’”...

at the glossier end of the us market, Pink is on the cover of Maxim Blender, wearing what appears to be a Toto-Coello binliner cast off. Why is it in the UK Maxim spins off crappy health and fashion magazines, and the US edition spins off a music title? Could it be that the US readership of Maxim are actually mainly straight? Of course, Blender knows what its doing - with a former Q bloke at the helm and Felix Dennis’ money, it’s basically a Q with some the chin stroking replaced by women without much on - so Coldplay, and the new sassed-up Mandy Moore, then. It’s a mix that does sort of work. It reports that Bob Nastanovich, one time member of Pavement, now fills his days as an owner of thoroughbred racehorses; meanwhile, as one of NSync tries to become an astronaut - and that shows how far you have to go to top a colleague who’s shagged Britney - six NASA astronauts are attempting to travel in the opposite direction and have formed a band, MaxQ; Scott Strap, of god-rockers Creed, is asked if he’d let his son buy the Eminem Show: “No, absolutely not. Nothing against Eminem on a personal level, or the way he expresses himself, but i wouldn’t want my son listening to him.” Right, so you don’t actually have a problem with his material, but you still wouldn’t let your son have his album. Now, we’re not experts on parenting ourselves, but if our kids brought records we thought were unhealthy, we’d sit down and ask them why they wanted it, and explain why we’d rather they didn’t listen to it rather than issuing a blanket ban. But then, maybe we’d have kids that grow up with minds of their own, and that can be tricky, can’t it? Jennifer Love-hewitt says “I don’t drink, i don’t smoke. I’m an awful rock star” - she forgot to mention that she doesn’t make decent music and doesn’t do it except as a sideline , although those are more pressing reasons; “If you like the Strokes and the White Stripes, you’re probably working for the NME” (oh, alright, it really says you’ll also like Blondie and The Fall, which we wouldn’t think would neccesairily be a given); there’s the 25 Most Dastardly Rock Villains - amusingly putting the Wright Brothers at 24, for their part in the downfall of the likes of John denver, aaliyah, Buddy holly and so on, although it points out Orville Wright invented an automatic record changer. Number One villain is Mark Chapman, although they offer in his defense that he’d just finished reading The Catcher In The Rye, which, though true, isn’t as strong as “spared us the Beatles 25th Anniversary Reunion Tour.” The very thought that every Clear Channel Exec wanks with those words on a big poster in their mind’s eye is worth it...

and a big Pink piece, too. “The following morning some unexpected good news arrives - Lenny Kravitz has lost his voice”, starts one paragraph. That really is our idea of good news. Clearly, Pink thinks Kravitz is a bit rubbish; of their tour, she says “Its more of a double headliner - I’m too big to open for anyone these days.” She reveals her youthful obsession with Jon Bon Jovi - which explains why she used to hate herself in High School, or perhaps how. And, of course, there’s the gay question: “I did kiss a girl once. I was 13 years old. It was nice, but she left me for my brother... Anyway, I like Carey’s thing too much, so that pretty much rules out the whole lesbian thing, doesn’t it?” Perhaps, but how about the half-lesbian thing?

What’s funny about Blender is how like Q it is - the new band segment is called “New To Blender”; familiar names like April Long, Ben Mitchell and even Alexis Petredis pepper its pages; the review columns even look like Q Review. The “Who does [x] think she is’ column (in this instance, Marianne Faithfull) might lack the “who the hell” punch, but since they allow her to announce that her favourite cussing is “fucking cunt”, we don’t imagine that its a knee-bow to the Bible Belt readership) and the spine has a cryptic message competition. Indeed, if the cover had a picture of Bono or him out of Coldplay on, it would be Q...

back in Britain, and newcomer Snug has already got a spot of publicity off its revelation that Jarvis is going to move to France. This is a concept mag - although not a high concept: “Just as the Big Breakfast was a TV show broadcast from a house, Snug is a magazine from a pub” explains editor Nick Bradshaw - apparently happy to evoke a series axed due to a major lack of interest and to imply that most journalists don’t spend all their time in a pub anyway. Snug might have more problems, too - if the concept of a Snug has to be explained to the readership in the first issue, it might not have been the wisest choice of name (it’s a pity that other stalwart of northern pubs, the Select, has already been a magazine which has gone down with all hands.) More disturbingly, we found snug tucked between Investors Chronicle and Your Money on the Current Affairs rack, which can’t surely be the place to strike up a casual relationship with a reader...

So, the lad’s mag grows up, then. But not too much - There’s a picture of Denise Van Outen in her pants; there’s one of those articles that are clearly more fun to research than to read (in this case, some sort of Making Boats Out of Beer Cans thing); a photospread that struggles to not homoeroticise amateur boxing in any way; there’s four pages on Lisa Rogers in which she says “FHM is basically a jazz mag for teenagers without the guts to reach the top shelf” while leaning forward so we can see down her blouse...

So, what does Jarvis Cocker have to say besides “I’m off to France”? Actually, he’s charming on the subject of his wedding; and not being able to get the band to move through and start playing. They wanted coffee first, apparently...

On, then, to the nme, which has Queens of the Stone Age - neither interesting or attractive - on the front page...

news: how desperate is this - oasis’ hopes for america ever giving a fuck about them is now resting entirely on Stop Crying Your Heart Out appearing in a scene in Birds of Prey. “Any music used is set to become a cult hit” predicts the nme, missing the point that Oasis need more than cult status right now. “Radiohead benefitted from inclusion in Smallville.” Um... hadn’t the band already become favourites with Rolling Stone, Creem, the International Olympic Committee, the world and everyone in America first? And if being featured on a cult series is the key to mass market success, why the hell aren’t K’s Choice bigger than Shania? More importantly, bad cess to the nme news team for describing Batgirl as being “confined to a wheelchair”

other news: even more desperate than Oasis’ bids to get saved by Batgirl, the diminishing marginal returns on legs that are Fischerspooner are hoping that turning themselves into Glen Ponders to Kylie’s Alan Partridge is going to make someone care about them, too; Charlatans to split? possibly, possibly not; there’s coverage of the death of a fan at a Nelly gig; apparently the new Nirvana video is “genius” - although it looks like a clips show to us; oddly, the nme prints the West Yorkshire Police appeal for ‘have you seen these people’ with their faces blurred out; there’s a possibility that Norman Cook may yet do a third party on Brighton Beach if the fire and theft can be sorted out; Missy Elliot claims her weight loss is due to medical advice; Escapology is out on the internet; we think the nme are telling us so we can avoid it like a computer virus. And, yawn, yawn, Robbie Williams apparently recorded some of the tracks in the nude - unleashing his cock in more ways than one, then; Audioslave have sold their name to a “supergroup” consisting of Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden types - hmmm, interesting that: the hugely anti-capitalist RATM falling back on sending lawyers with chequebooks to discover the Liverpool Audioslave’s price...

Roots Manuva chooses ten tracks which he could, you know, burn onto a CD, providing its for his own personal use - Barry White, Nate Dogg, Mobb Depp...

In the quotes column: “Some things can just knock you out, and a girl is one of them” says Chris Martin. Hotgwen, we knew you were a wuss, man, but you get beaten up by girls?

on bands: dj/rupture (um, a dj. with a rupture.) and kill city - primals supporting return of Lisa Moorish...

either craig nicholls talks more than the rest of the band, or the nme has decided that, really, we’re not that bothered about the rest of the Vines. The nme is, of course, right. Asked about his first girlfriend, Craig replies “That’s really hard.” What, was it dark?...

the lamest of all desperate journo questions - “where did you get your crazy name?” - is stretched out for an entire page; even asking The Streets and the Foo Fighters where their names come from. Next week: Where Do Stars Buy Their Plectrums?...

Cave In might be supporting the Foos, but they don’t let it go to their heads: “We still change our own guitar strings before every show.” Hey, keep those feet on the ground, lads - new strings *every* show? What are you, rockerfellas?

Queens of the Stone Age come across as rather likeable, amusing young men - they just look like twits and play turgid music, that’s all...

“I think the music we make means more to people like me than someone like Coldplay ever could” reckons Gary from The Bandits - well, yes, but since you’re in the band, you’d expect that, wouldn’t you?...

review time: lps:
nirvana - nirvana - “not closure, but nor should it be”, 9
lupine howl - bar at the end of the world - “one eye on self-destruct”, 8
holly valance - footprints - “lack of ideas and duff ballads”, 6
puressence - planet helpless - “more reminiscent of vegan rockers James than Manchester heavyweights”, 4
manic street preachers - forever delayed - “like remaking A Clockwork Orange without the the ultra-violence” - 0 (“for becomings your enemies”)
add n to (x) - loud like nature - “a real throbbing ehadache”, 5

sotw - pearl jam - i am mine - “oddly refreshing”
others - moby - in this world - “just another punk who sold out”
madonna - die another day - “no tune, only the distant echo of a once-great career tumbling into the abyss”

live - liars - las vegas - “something subversive slithers”
supergrass - nottingham rock city - “the cartoon supergroup are back”
death in vegas - glasgow qmu - “you wonder how Fearless could let his group become so one-dimensional”
british sea power - liverpool uni - “the sheer beauty is inescapable”

in angst (oh, alright, nmemail) someone points out that pete from the Libertines looks like lousie from sleeper. Except, we’d image, with a smaller cock...

and finally, next week it’s the 50 coolest people in music. if Bono is in it, we’re taking Kings Reach Tower like Chechen rebels...

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

BJORK BJORK: We're not sure if its self-aggrandising to the nth degree, or a serious attempt to be comprehensive, but Bjork is set to release a six CD boxset stretching back to a time long, long ago - before John Leslie appeared on Blue Peter, before The Sugarcubes even. The PR puff uses phrases like "experiments in rhythm" and "wrote when she was a fifteen year old girl", so we're imaginging that it'll be one for the most serious fans.

SHIVER, IT'S TIMBERS: Justin Timberlake tells all about his music to BBC News. It is, of course, sadly hilarious. Asked about tabloids reporting his love life, he spurtles< font color=purple>"It's real hard having your private life written about and speculated on by total strangers but as I've grown up I've learnt to not let it bother me and to concentrate on my music. People will write and believe what they like but as long as they appreciate me musically, that's all that counts." Mmmm. Is this the same Justin Timberlake who recently traded Britney Oral Sex tales for plays of his dreadful single?
And what advice for young people, Timbers - what should they do? "I think it's important to follow your dreams and obviously most importantly to believe in yourself. " Right. Shagging the most famous female star of her generation is a big one, too, though, isn't it? If Timberlake is hoping the BBC are going to be a staging post in his route away from the shadow of Ms Spears, he's going to have a cow when he reads the piece - there's three photos; two of him and Britney; the other is of Chris Martin. And the standfirst starts "Justin Timberlake - the man formerly known as Britney Spear's boyfriend..." It must be a cold life - when most people sit at home wishing they could be lapping at Britney's Spears inner thigh, it's a pipe dream. When Justin does it, it's a rememberance of things past. And everywhere he goes, no matter how much he wants to talk about his new song - ((Just a guy, chilling out, hanging with his friends, I wanted to keep it real and focus on the dancing and club vibe.) - he still gets played as 'Britney's ex makes a record; description makes it sound like a Budweiser ad' as the result. Apparently, he's fronting up some anti-drink driving campaign, and he falls into the usual sleb trap there, too: "I really hope it makes a difference. I feel that if we can change one person's views or save at least one life then it will have been a success." really? You're putting in all this time , other people are pouring money into the campaign, and your only target is "changing one person's views?" If that's really all you wanted to do, why not take the cash, go down the nearest city centre, and say to the first guy about to climb into a car on a pub carpark "We'll buy your car off you; you get a taxi instead." Surely, if you're bringing in a person with a high profile (you have, after all, seen Britney's innards) and buying up media space, the very lowest aim should be to change hundreds of people's attitudes - otherwise why bother with a mass media campaign at all?

MAKES THE ROBSON GREEN COMEBACK SEEM LIKE A NEW ALBUM FROM RIDE: Sainsburys and Friends Reunited are trying to engineer a return by the St Winifreds School Choir. The St Winfireds, of course, did the Christmas Number One There's No-one Quite Like Grandma, which sold purely on emotional blackmail alone (If yer granny didn't get given one for Christmas, it would have been the equivalent of sending her a small, gift-wrapped box saying 'My heart is dead towards you, old lady') and provided the mysterious backing on Brian and Michael's Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs in 1978. For some reason, this song - which took perhaps the greatest exponent of British visual folk art and reduced him to a comedy northerner who didn't paint properly - had the gangly toothed kids repeating "alley-alley-o" in the background, suggesting that the song had probably been written originally about Turner, and as such made some sense to refer to 'the big ship sailed on the...' Why do Sainsburys want to reopen these old wounds? I almost feel like ripping up my Nectar card in protest.

ERASE AND REWIND: The dream of an expensive, clunky new-ish technology that would make us buy all our collection over again is - seemingly - at an end, with Dataplay's local paper the Rocky Mountain News reporting the RIAA-favoured It Does What We Let You format-manufacturers have filed for (security-protected) bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Phil Spector has been told he doesn't need to pay any royalties at all to the Ronettes by a New York Court. Yes, Phil, you have no legal obligation at all. But presumably you wouldn't want to be forever remembered as a tight bastard, would you?

AIN'T NOBODY: And while Janis Ian (see below) frets over the delivery methods, it's fallen to Chaka Khan to lament the quality of content. Talking at a press conference in Malaysia, Chaka Chaka Chaka Khan suggested that the modern music industry is so much soup, so little meat: "Sometimes I wonder what business this is I'm in today - is it a circus, a fashion show or what? It's like anybody who has a look can be a singer or entertainer now. The talent is almost not necessary anymore. I think a lot of people are out there making videos, singing and making a lot of money based on nothing but a cute shape and a pretty face."
Christina Aguilera was, presumably, unavailable to claim her right of reply.

JANIS IAN WRITES FOR YOU: Almost by accident, it seems, Janis Ian has become the Naomi Klein of the music-download community. Yesterday, she even got to contribute a piece to USA Today, attacking the music industry's "falsehood" that they're fighting the battle against file-sharing on the artist's behalf. Familiar enough to anyone who follows these things, but nice to see the attack against the RIAA moving beyond the web into traditional media.

MORE ACCURATE THAN REPORTED: The apparently dim-headed stage play based on Glastonbury (someone on one of the review shows at the weekend said it was apparently written by someone whose experience of the Festival extended to watching a few hours of it on BBC Choice) has suddenly got given a burst of extra veracity. The local council's banned them from putting it on.

CAN YOU NOT TAKE A HINT?: Frankly, Napster is starting to become the Rolling Stones of the dotcom world, and doesn't know when its best to just take a bow and leave the stage. Billboard is reporting that "the troubled music swapping service" ([c] every journalist, ever) has got a USD200,000 loan approved which will allow it to limp on for a few more weeks before someone else buys up the assets of the company - which must surely by now consist solely of three Penitum II computers and a file marked "Grumpy letters from Lars." Look, we loved Napster, every little bit of it, and it was fun. But now we're at the stage where it's like having to admit you need to put your parents in a home. Accept it - napster's place is on the Wayback machine, not in the future.

JUSTIFFICATIONS: Missing the point that the main problem with her new video is that its bland rather than sexy, Christina Aguilera has told Yam (German magazine) that her video is "indecent, not pornographic" and that she's "not interested in moralists." Although, oddly for someone who's not interested in moralists, she says she won't do naked magazine shots because "there isn't a moral or visual reason for it." Actually, Christina, there is a visual reason for it, it's so people can see your body. She continues "At the end of the day I am a musician, an artist and not a model", which also seems to be curious - which of the two Christinas - the musician or the artist - is sititng on the chair giving the blow job to the water bottle in the Dirrty clip?

IS THE WORD THAT YOU HEARD: Okay, who held the monkey's paw and wished for a third part of Grease? because it looks like its going to happen now, according to Undercover. Olivia Newton John and John Travolta are both pencilled in, providing the script is up to at least the high standards of Grease 2, and it seems ONJ is quite excited by the prospect. The only thing that we're not able to work out is Undercover say the film is "set in the present, 25 years after from the original." But 25 years ago when the film came out, it was set in the 50's. So, either the film has to be set forty odd years after the original, or else in the 1980's. And, frankly, the thought of having it set in the era of big hair and red braces and just is too much humanity to contemplate...

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

THE WORLD MARKET - CONSIDERED: As ever, the gap between what the record companies tell you as they smash down your firewall and poke about in your hard drive for illegal mp3s, and what they tell each other as they sit in "Mercedes with heated seats which make you feel you've wet yourself" (as today's FT put it) can be a wide and scary place. Take, for example, the IFPI Recording Industry In Numbers. Obviously not the whole thing, that would be too much knowledge in the hands of a mere consumer, but even the abstracts make interesting reading. Something not mentioned much in the fretting of how poorly the multinationals are doing is the growth of local acts - in France, in 2001, 17 out of the top 20 selling acts were French, and in America, ninety-three out of every hundred records sold were by an American. Across our little blue planet, 67.5% of music bought was locally made - up from 64% in 1997. Maybe the age of the international act is drawing to an end? This seems to be backed up by the figures which show the Top 10 music markets are now buying 84% of all recorded music.
Further backing up the seemingly obvious that DVD has eaten into CD sales at least as much as downloading has, the music video market is described as "soaring" - fifty per cent of these sales on DVD.
While Britain may be falling behind on selling records overseas, there's no let-up in our rate of buying them - in 2001, records bought per head in the UK was the highest anywhere on the planet - four discs for every man, woman and child. Next came Americans. Now, to someone who can't understand the concept of going into a record shop to buy a record (rather than some records), four may seem a bit on the mimsy side. But bearing in mind that my Dad hasn't bought a record since I persuaded him that Isn't Anything by My Bloody Valentine was all I wanted for Christmas, that doesn't sound quite so bad, really...

HERE, MY DEAR: An interesting thread over on the RollingStone message boards debates the best Break Up albums of all time, ever. Some of the choices border on the peverse - Linkin Park? Isn't emotional trauma bad enough? It reminds us of the time that we got dumped, moped home, and stuck on the Smiths, only to realise that she wasn't worth that much upset and so downgraded to The Wedding Present.

NORTH COUNTRY BOY: There's what the nme describes as "speculation" over the future of the Charlatans following the announcement of tim Burgess' plans to record a country-tinged album with Linus of Hollywood. Maybe it is the end for the Charlies - we hope not, but they've always behaved like men who knew what they had to do, and so if they decide there's no more, then that's fair enough; although it will mark the final conclusion of the Baggy Adventure if the band David Quantick described as being "left to carry the bag" call it quits.
Amusing that Tim goes at just the same time as one of No Rock's other favourite sexpixies, Cerys Matthews, makes a similar musical journey...
(By the way, can anyone explain why the Charlatans photo album on the nme site includes a picture of Penny Smith and Nick Kent?)
Anyone in New York, by the way, can pop down to see Tim djing at the Union Square megastore, where he'll be showcasing the best of British Talent, apparently. We're assuming this won't be Atomic Kitten.

KISS-OFF: Those of us who've been trusted with keys to the office at some point have all snuck in late at night, haven't we? Normally its to have a wee before the cab queue home, but when Robin Banks found himself in town, refreshed, late at night he opened the doors into Kiss FM, pulled off the tape that was playing out, and started swearing and blearing and beering. His future doesn't look that bright right now.

BEYOND 100: Somehow, in our coverage of the musicians in the 100 Greatest Britons yesterday, we neglected to mention Cliff Richard. This wasn't intended as a slight - although the goodwill left after Mistletoe and Wine and Saviour's Day is patchy to say the least. Let's instead remember Cliff as the way I'm sure he'd want to. Called to appear on Comic Relief's live show with the cast of the Young Ones, Cliff obliges. He's later shocked to discover the live video which is released featuring him has swearing on it, and insists his part be excised for further pressings. Never mind the cost, and never mind this is all in aid of charity. And never mind that the works of Mayall et al were already well known for being swear-heavy. His saintliness was far more important than that.

Further beyond: We made a frantic note to mention this before, and then ignored it - but how grinding must Costello's teeth have been to have heard his version of 'She' being used on the Thatcher segment? The man who wrote Tramp The Dirt Down must have been slightly pissed off, we'd suggest.

EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES TURNS TO GOLD?: Interesting piece in this week's FT Creative Business supplement, when the man behind Atomic Kitten and Blue's label, Hugh Goldsmith, settles on their big interview sofa. Apparently he's really nervous about 'fessing that he is the shady figure writing for his own acts pseudonomously as I. Hope - he claims there's no conflict of interest in choosing his own songs to go on albums that will sell a lot because, erm, Blue actually really like his songs.
The FT suggest that he's the greatest A&R person in the UK is probably true, which is worrying - Billie just about broke even; Atomic Kitten have survived through luck rather than judgement (let's not forget they were dropped and then hastily undropped as Whole Again became a sleeper hit); Martine McCutcheon was a no-brainer, short-termer and, let us not forget, he signed Jonathon Wilkes - Robbie William's flatmate. So, one jewel in the crown in Blue, then. And this is the best A&R man in the country - is it any wonder the major labels are in such poor states? And lets not even get into how many copies of records his stars have sold in the US, shall we?

AUTUMN OF '02: At least Tegan and Sara know that someone's reading their tour diary on Chartattack, although since its Sara's mum the likelihood we'll get the real juicy as they tour the States with Ryan Adams is low. Still worth reading, nevertheless.

WHALES TAPDANCING: Why, when the BBC has the beautiful Music site does the team at BBC News Online feel the need to try and run a critical piece on new rock? Hung on the not especially topical discovery of a two month old issue of Rolling Stone proclaiming 'Rock is back' (on this basis, expect BBC News to be running 'Women make music' sometime round Christmas), the nme's James Oldham claims that the musical landscape has changed. Oh, if only... But the nugget reviews of the bands shows that the landscape hasn't changed at all, or at least not yet. (If it had, then why would there be a news story suggesting that mainstream music has morphed? Surely it'd be as redundant as reporting 'It rained in manchester?'). "Did the music for an advert with Kylie in", "supported the Rolling Stones", "spawned a top 30 single", and "does head-stands on stage" are amongst The Best Things They Can Find To Say. Yes, these bands are excellent, yes, they're doing great things - but there's no seismic shift yet. Otherwise you'd not fall back on saying "the nme writes about them" - it'd be "they're on the cover of Newsweek/ never out the Mirror."

WHAT, NO METH: "Cocaine, Marijuana Found On Kid Rock's Tour Bus" reports Billboard. Which sounds to us less like a cop bust, more akin to poking about in the glove compartment.

TIT FOR TATCHELL: Aw, sweetgwen, we're having to stick up for Peter Tatchell again. Last Thursday's op-ed pages in the Guardian gave space to Dotun Adebayo to take a pop at Tatch and defend the roster of homophobic acts that come from Jamaica. He suggests that protesting outside the Mobos might not be the place to try and make the Jamaican government aware of the rampant homophobia in its nation, which misses the point terribly - Tatchell wasn't crusading (this time) against the brutality against queers in the Caribbean, he was protesting against the Mobo Awards giving prizes and kudos to acts who sing about murdering gay people. Under which circumstances, the choice of location was pretty smart, you'd have to say.
Adebayo continues " And I doubt Tatchell has the balls to go to Jamaica shouting: "I'm glad to be gay." Actually, you're probably wrong - since Tatchell has attempted to arrest Robert Mugabe, he's nothing if not a man to never back down from a challenge. And, besides, why would he need to fly to Kingston, when his protest at Canary Wharf led to a bunch of reggae fans throwing insults and violence at him?
Then, the piece becomes farcical, with a logic that runs 'Jamaica has both constitutional and cultural hatred of gays. These artists come from Jamaica. Therefore they should not be upbraided for reflecting that homophobia." So, recalling the wonderful night when Shabba Ranks was pilloried and humiliated on The Word by a razor-sharp Mark Lamarr, we're told "It's not only accepted but expected of a ragga MC. Ten years ago, ragga MC Shabba Ranks was asked on British TV to show his hand on the issue. Shabba took out his bible and began quoting scriptures, knowing that he could not return to Jamaica otherwise. On that occasion, Tatchell called for Shabba Ranks' music to be banned on Radio 1. It was, and the young Jamaican, who was then embarking on what would have been a lucrative career, disappeared from view, though at home in Jamaica he was hailed as a hero." So, what? We're meant to be upset that Shabba blew his chance because he found it easier to pander to queerbashers than his potential market? (Not that we should let the claim that the BBC banned Ranks pass anyway - they may have been less keen to include the works of man filled with hatred in their shows, but the idea that he was put on some sort of list not to be played is laughable. Indeed, Ranks appears on BBC Radio's beginner's guide to reggae, a feature on the site for Mark Lamarr's show - irony buttie, anyone?.)
"Tatchell would be better off taking the stance of Boy George, one of several gay men and women attending the Mobo awards. Boy George understands that it's not about reggae, not about Jamaicans and not about black people." No, Dotun, Boy George knows its all about having your picture taken at a swish awards do and bugger the buggers. See, your argument that Tatchell should write to the High Commission, and get the Jamiacan government to change the law, and then everything will be fine, is powerfully flawed. A government should only be the expression of it's citizen's beliefs, and if Jamaica is such a place that Buju Banton is forced to issue a denial that his US record company has apologised to gay men on his behalf - for fear of his life, as you claim - then there's work to be done. One way of getting the message across is to make it clear that calls to slaughter gay men in song are unacceptable; if it means that artists lose out on the chance to sell records worldwide, then so be it. Maybe that may persuade them to examine their consciences. A nations music can reflect the worst of a country, or it can help educate. Boy George applauding the nomination of murderous shite won't change anything. Maybe Peter Tatchell holding a placard on a windy street won't, either. But its clear who's making the more effort.

THE ORIGINAL WILL YOUNG RETURNS: Before Simon Cowell inflicted the Popstars people on us, he'd turned MFI-level actors Robson and Jerome into pop stars (often using the same bloody cover versions). Now, one half of the earlier beast he created is returning. Robson Green tells Teletext that this isn't a comeback, because "singing is something I do every now and then. I toured with the likes of Paul Weller," he says, as if it's something to brag about. The album is, of course, a load of poorly crooned cover versions including - oh, sweet chocolate ants - Me And Mrs Jones.
If you want us, we'll be filling our ears with praline over there.

"THIS MAY BE THE BEST VIDEO WITH URINE DANCING IN IT OF ALL TIME" Normally, we'd not plug a site that heads itself retroCRUSH: The barely legal pleasure palace, but on this occasion we're making an exception as the link gives a wonderful reading of the Christina Aguilera video. But probably best to avoid clicking if you're in an office, or somewhere like that.

GET WELL SOON CORNER: No Rock is feeling a bit crappy today itself, so we're even more sympathetic than usual when we send a bottle of lucozade to Karen O from the yeah yeah yeahs, who is tucked up with bronchitis.

CAN YOU SAY 'PUFFED-UP'?: Now, we like a laugh as much as anyone, but when someone off worn-thin gameshow Popstars says that she and her Stockport-signed boyfriend are the new "posh and becks", we're just being spoiled. David Beckham is the most gifted footballer of his generation. Victoria Beckham a member of a band that smashed chart records back when that meant something. You have made it through to the last few on a lottery-style karaoke show, your boyfriend plays for a team that even us Brighton and Hove Albion supporters poke fun at. Please ask the driver about self-awareness.

I'M THINKING: THE FIRST SNUFF POP VID: Moby is trying to get a video done on the cheap ("offering fans the opportunity to direct his next video") and is, says the nme, encouraging people to send him video treatments (email them to (subject line should be Video Comp, as they're apparently too cheap to go to the trouble of setting up a new email name for the project). Stern warnings against attachments of more than 2Kb, yer looking at a five grand budget - cheers, EMI - and you should include a short (fifty word) biog. And remember: the more humiliating, the better. (That's our hope, not an actual rule.)
Talking of Moby, we're setting up a drink for Justin from the Godless Reds for pointing out to us that when Moby sold We Are All Made of Stars to Intel, he not only broke his promise about cutting down on the relentless whoring of his music, but he went further, allowing them to cut the "people they fall apart" from the featured lyric. Next week, we expect to see Moby's artistic integrity as an item on ebay.
And, while we're on that Intel advert - Rob Walker writes about it in Slate, pointing up that Moby might actually sell records by being associated with an advert which seems to encourage music 'theft'...

SINCE YESTERDAY: People whose eyes still mist over at the mention of Strawberry Switchblade will be delighted with the latest overhaul at Deep Water, one of the too-few sites dedicated to the band that proved that goths can giggle, too.

Monday, October 21, 2002

EXCITING NEW REVENUE STREAMS: So, Alice Cooper is opening a haunted house, apparently. This first of all puzzles us - Cooper, surely, was never scary, not even in the way Slipknot or Ozzy affected to be, so its rather like McDonalds offering cooking classes in the first place - "ooh, it's a man who's not combed his hair; save me, mummy" - but then it puzzles us some more - why don't more rock stars open visitor attractions? Sure, you've got the Gracelands and the Dollywoods; and Noel Edmonds caught a cold with Crinkly Bottom (Noel being the drummer with Brown Sauce as well as an irritating TV and radio presenter, of course). But I like the idea that, rather than doing the things we can't bear to look at, Justin Timberlake could create a travelling show, with a big tent for his fans to climb inside and experience a Timbelake view of the world...

THIS IS SYNERGY: America, can you wait - as Time looks through the stuff it bought when it took over IPC, and mulls a US version of Loaded...

GREAT BRITONS? GREAT HAIRY BOOS, MORE LIKE: The BBC has been filling acres of empty air-time ("carrying out an important historical survey") to discover 100 Great Britons. Of course, trying to draw up a list of the 100 greatest people is difficult, especially when you're relying on people from the poorly educated ranks of the early twenty-first century Britons to vote for them. As a consequence, while, say, no visual artist made the list, there was a sizeable collection of music-related people in the 100-10 segment already decided. Even more scarily, John Lennon is one of the ten chosen to slug it out for the all-time title - although since Diana, Princess of Sunbathing is also there, it doesn't seem quite so incongrous somehow. Anyway, here's a rundown of the Great Musical Britons, for those of you who were too busy buffing your gun-metal cigarette cases last night to watch:

Bono - been a good month for Mr Hewson, having been claimed as the most influential person in music and now lauded as one of the hundred greatest people ever to have lived within the British Isles. We actually managed to pull together a list of several thousand greater people, simply by picking up the Liverpool - Residential phone directory and striking out every third name.

David Bowie - if this was a list of Great People in Music, we might have been amongst the first to offer Bowie a glass of cheap supermarket champagne and a small plastic figurine. But when you've only got a hundred slots and several thousand years of history, we're not sure that Absolute Beginners, Laughing Gnome and the nazi salutes should not be enough to keep him out the finalists.

Boy George - ex-smackhead, Sunday Express writer, the singer on Karma Chameleon. He makes the list, George Orwell doesn't. That can't be right, can it?

Richard Branson - now, we - as I'm sure you know - can't stand the grinning PR gnome, but we're inclined to understand the reasons for his inclusion. Although Tubullar Bells and The Stereophonics are both on his rap sheet, for a while he headed up a record label which was prepared to take risks, and his bravery in allowing his gurning visage to be associated with a lot of rubbishy products (the cola, the Stereophonics, the trains) probably deserves some sort of recognition

Michael Crawford - we suspect that somewhere, there are is a sinister cabal of old ladies whose delight in getting The Phantom of the Opera into the 100 is only lessened by the failure of the Marti Webb campaign

Edward Elgar - it's not all pop pop pop, although music is curiously only represented by people working in the twentieth century (although you could stretch a point and suggest that Blake worked, unaware, as a lyricist). Elgar is the oldest of these, and perhaps the most popular. More importantly, he actually came up with something iconic in the form of Land of Hope and Glory

Bob Geldof - much as we wish this award had something to do with getting wanked off by Paula Yates in the back of a car, or even for I Don't Like Mondays, it's probably going to be more to do with Band Aid, isn't it? Nothing for Midge Ure, you'll notice. See, not swearing at people may make you liked, but it'll never make you popular, Midge...

George Harrison - had the good fortune to drop dead during the voting, otherwise he'd have been about as likely to make the final cut as Ringo. On the TV show last night they were clearly trying to drum up reasons why the one who didn't write any of the songs anyone actually liked should have been rubbing shoulders with the top table, and didn't really do any better than us.

John Lydon - admittedly, not the only self-aggrandising hypocrite on the list, but we think it says it all that he was also featured last night speaking up for Enoch Powell. Lydon clearly doesn't have the smarts he so desperately wishes us to see in him, but to make apologies for Powell's stinking "If I'm careful, I can make it seem like it it wasn't me stirring up trouble" speech just marks him out as the sort who was attracted to punk for the excuse to be nasty and brutish, in short.

Paul McCartney - This must hurt. Like a bloody knife, Lennon in the top ten and him left out in the cold of the lower reaches (although, a man who made Give My Regards To Broad Street must have much experience of languishing in the Isthmian, the Ryman, the DocMartens leagues.) It pains us to say it, but he's probably got as much right to be here as anyone else - you can't ignore the Beatles impact and aftershocks, even if you're not stuck in Yellowsubmarinepool. And as one half of the powerhouse behind, he'd have to be included we reckon. That's our teeth gnashing, that noise, by the way.

Freddie Mercury - Okay, I have to say, I really don't get it. Yes, popular at the time, and you can see why their pantomimic pop would have been pleasing, offering a slightly more macho version of glam/ less uninviting take on metal / briefer reworking of prog. But the continued dominance of Bohemian Rhapsody in Best Ever polls, and Dame Freddie fopping in next to Nye Bevan and Boudaceia -why, in God's name? How does anyone make the leap from 'fairly amusing musical act' to 'greatest person who ever lived'? And how do so many people make the shift that he actually comes so high up in the listing? Is it just that the teaching of history and the permanence of memory has eroded so far in the UK that 1976 is pretty much as far as people can grope backwards without fear of dinosaurs and getting lost?

John Peel - winningly, Peel popped up to say that he thought he was being set up for some sort of hidden camera show when he was told of his inclusion in the chart. I'd be tempted to put him on my list of the Greatest Living Englismen, and, yeah, given enough to choose, I'd certainly include him in an all-time list. While Lydon may have defined punk (albeit to a recipe dictated by McLaren, using ingredients made by the New York Dolls), Peel championed punk. However, Peel had already championed glam and rock, and would go on to champion a million other forms of music, while Lydon went on to become a club class, club bore.

Robbie Williams - the presence of Robbie Williams in the poll winners casts the air of credibility enjoyed by the returning office in Baghdad over proceedings. We suspect that the pile of votes written in sparkly gel pens on My Little Pony notepaper wasn't lost behind a BBC radiator simply to demonstrate how impartial and fair the process had been - "see" says the presence of Williams, "so equally was every vote treated, we even resisted the understandable and righteous temptation to anull votes for The Bloke Who Was In Take That and Sings A Bit in the interest of making the event seem a bit more solidly based." Well, that's how we're choosing to see it, anyway.

I COLLECT, I REJECT: Tiscali are currently hosting an auction of bronzes of famous (well, -ish) people's favourite bits in aid of a breast cancer type charity. Amongst the stuff on offer is a pair of Denise Van Outen's knees (expected to go for a lot, as it's unusual to find them together), Radio One breakfast scare Sara Cox's fingers doing a v-sign, the arse of Atomic Kitten and, erm, Meg Matthews tits. Keep repeating that its all in a good cause... a good cause... a good cause...

I M N IN XTC OF ST T: Delighted and excited to discover that Ecstacy of St Theresa not only are still a going concern but they've got a bilingual English-Czech website. The closing time Slowdive, the Portishead that cries sometimes in public, if you've not had the pleasure yet, nip out and get some fags and red wine and dive in.

RECORD COMPANY BEHAVES IN A NOT-EVIL FASHION: And, its our auld enemy Universal, too. Although the changes in royalty arrangements its making aren't entirely all plaques and ham, but let's not be churlish. Since the major labels screwed bands royally over CD royalties for so long (as late as the mid-90's bands were being asked to take lower rewards to help the 'new' format establish itself), a quick decision on fair recompense for online downloads is good news. So, instead of the measley single-level of roaylty, the musicians on UMG labels will take home an album rate instead - the exact value of this varies from contract to contract, but normally is an extra 25%; the 'new media deduction' has been removed (we're not quite sure what the logic behind this was in the first place, it seems a bit Window Tax style 'made up charge' to us) and the 25% packaging deduction has gone - okay, not especially generous since, erm, mp3s tend not to be wrapped up anyway very much.
So, what are they up to? The Daily Double thinks UMG is motivated to try and win artists round to the fight against Free Music Downloads - at the moment, many acts are making such small figures on legit downloads, it's not costing them anything to encourage Napsterites and Limewirers to sample their wares for free; so, by making the payments per download worth something to them, the logic runs, they'll start to become boring, hectoring sods like Bruce Dickinson and Lars Ulllllrich. We also wonder if the new contracts are being knocked together as a poison pill to discourage other labels from attempting to snap up UMG as the Vivendi-Universal fire sale starts to take hold.

TUNE IN TO DEREGULATION: The Observer is reporting that heads of Britain's radio companies are going to hold a "crisis" meeting with Tessa Jowell to moan and moan at the attempts of the Communications Bill to ensure that British Radio at least keeps some sort of inventiveness. Their main whine is that the Bill insists that each area in the country should have at least three distinct radio operators (not, as the paper suggests, services). Capital Radio's David Mansfield reports: "It's completely crazy. You've a situation where you have draft legislation that says the London market - which makes up 30 per cent of the national market - needs only one commercial TV licence but must have at least three commercial radio stations."
David, how long have you worked in broadcasting? Surely you realise that the reason there's only one commercial, local TV service on terrestrial television in the capital is because, by the time you make room for the BBC, Channel 4 and squeeze Channel 5 in, there's no space for an extra channel. Plus, of course, making TV is pretty expensive, whereas quality, diverse radio output can be made for a fraction of the cost. The broadcasters are caught pleading that they get "ony" six per cent of total advertising spend on their media, which makes us wonder why they've been trumpeting the onward rise of this figure to their shareholders for the last decade - headlines such as "Commercial Radio continues to grow ahead of the market" may have given the impression that the current, pluralistic situation was doing rather well. Indeed, for example, David Mansfield's name appears on the press release trumpeting "In line with our expectations, we anticipate that our like for like radio revenues for the six months ending 30 September 2002 will increase by 2% against the same period in the prior year." - not bad when the advertising world is caught in rictus, we'd think.
Trouble is, the proposals in the Bill don't work very much in favour of the listener, either - it would be better, in all seriousness, to have one owner forced to maintain three distinct services than three owners pumping out largely the same musical choice - it's possibly true that, in Liverpool, Magic 1548 and Juice are different services, but Magic plays a lot also played by Century; Century and City have a lot of common ground; and City and Juice are virtually interchangable. What we'd really like to see the Bill do is stop behaving like the current radio groups and seeing the wireless as a way of shifting money from person to till, and start to protect its position as a vital cheerleader for our culture.
When Chrysalis and Capital start to pretend they're promoting diversity, we have to pretend we're choking on our coffee.

FORMING AN ORDERLY Q: So, those Q awards, then - Electric Soft Parade as best new act and Hives as best live act translates pretty much as "You'll find the Hives are slightly rowdy, but ESP will be pleasing in your Ikea lounge"; while we think Pink's Get The Party Started is a wonderful track, we're not sure the video works in quite the way its meant to - unless you take it as a piece with the Don't Let Me Get Me, the fish eye lens, the cap and the air-cow-milking doesn't come across as the self-parody its meant to. Freak Like Me as best single is wrong - sure, it's a great single, but to suggest the best idea anyone had was a note-for-not cover version of someone else's cut up is as defeating as putting Diana in the Best British Person ever league. Coldplay as best album was obviously a shoo-in; they might as well have called it "Best Album as Voted For By Readers of Q" and have done with at time of release. Giving an award of anything - even Best Producer - to Moby and his ego is akin to providing the evil octopus with a ticket to an all you can eat seafood buffet. No complaints about the Inspiration award for Echo and the Bunnymen and songwriter prize for Jimmy Cliff, although there is an element of "what took you so long?' Doubtless they'll explain exactly what the innovation that Depeche Mode are being rewarded for is - 'songs about heroin' surely can't be a first, can it?; and, frankly, the only merit we can find in Q Merit Gong for Tom Jones is that he's never been Engelbert Humperdink. Radiohead best band? Well, you can see how they might have thought so. And making Cowell least wanted is tame, lame and predicatable. Now, if they'd blocked Bono from going, that would be worth doing...

THIS HOUSE BELIEVES...: Hilary is coming, Hilary is coming... proving they'll let any old sod turn up at the Oxford Union these days, the Oxford Union (who like to call themeselves 'The most famous debating society in the World' (the UN might have something to say about that), are spending Thursday night considering the proposition that "this house believes that the free music mentality is a threat to the future of music." The line-up for the proposition is Hilary Rosen of the RIAA, Jay Berman of the IFPI, Chris Wright of Chrysalis and, um, Bruce Dickinson. Taking the other side is Ronnie Gurr - who signed the Stereophonics to V2, so he'll be looking to try and make ammends; Nick King of Nielsen (setting up "nicking music" gags) and Chuck D. We're slightly concerned to see that Chuck - who, as a member of Public Enemy fears their presence in Europe would put their fans at risk - doesn't seem worried that this appearance might put the braying hordes of Oxford's brightest in danger.
We're disappointed to see that Dickinson's swallowing the record industry line - what is it about heavy metal acts and the need to crush the life out of music lovers? (Maybe that question answers itself, come to think of it). Bruce clearly must believe that the reason Iron Maiden hasn't sold any records in the last ten years is down to the invention of the PC.
We're hoping MP3s of the debate will be available almost instantly.

EVERY TIME THEY FLOG A PAIR OF JEANS, RONNIE SPECTOR DON'T GET A CENT: The New York Court of Appeal has decided that The Ronettes don't have any right to get cash when their music is played under adverts or in movies, because the contract in which they sold all their rights forever to Phil Spector for a measely USD14,000 didn't make any mention of them. The band had won USD3m in a lower court, which now Phil gets to keep and spend on making records with Starsailor, which might be seen as some sort of justice anyway.

OTHER MUSIC BLOGS ARE AVAILABLE: We're delighted to discover Nonstop Pop, which is kind of Jonathon Meade's restaurant column, only its about music, and it's not written by a chubby english bloke. We've been struggling with whether to mention The Minor Fall's usefull guide to music blogs, as it might come across as terribly immodest. However, if you're reading us plug it here, then you'll already have read us and made up your own mind so it's not us showing off as such, and the list is useful and, as is often the case with TMFTML, spot on.

ARE YOU GETTING IT NOW, NOEL?: Sometimes we do wonder if there might be some greater force at work in the universe. Oasis, who were so swaggery and gobby about September 11th, have pulled their Phillipines dates because they all of a sudden managed to find something in the world beyond Burnage to take an interest in when they suddenly noticed there were terrorists wandering about abroad.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

COLDPLAY VIDEO UPDATE: We've watched that Coldplay video again, and we've noticed that there's actually a major flaw in it that the wailing of Chris Martin had blinded us to before. See, the Pretty Girl is lying on the ground because she's been thrown through the windscreen. (Interestingly, she's shown as having to take her seatbelt off to put a jacket on just before the crash, which is interesting - she's not, see, a badass girl who doesn't live by the rules, she was just a bit nippy); anyway, as the video runs backwards the car is shown rolling down the hill sideways. For quite a few turns. So, erm, how did she come to be thrown forwards as it stopped? If anything, she should have gone through the side door. The video doesn't go back far enough to explain how she apparently behaves against the laws of physics - we can only assume that she's so anxious to avoid listening to Martin she throws herself forward deliberately to escape...

WOKE UP. HAD BREAKFAST. WROTE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SONG OF THE 1990s. FELT A BIT MISERABLE. SHOT HEAD OFF.: Or, in other words, with the launch of the Observer's serialisation of Kurt Cobain's diaries, we all get the chance to play pop psychologist. "I would only wear a tie-dyed tshirt if it were dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Gerry Garcia." Hmmm. Maybe not. But if you want a snap judgement on what Kurt writes, you still can't beat Courtney's review of his suicide note; when she snapped "He's lying" midway through some of his words, she angrily caught the shortcoming of Cobain; all conviction, no courage. So, on one page, summer 1992, he's damning MTV for retailing the 'pregnant Courtney is on smack' tattle, scrawling "The old generation is going down fast fuckface"; a few months later he's boosting the Viacom bottom line recording Unplugged. We'll wait for the dinosaurs to die, he promised, and then the Now generation will be in the ascendent. If he trusted in his vision, maybe he'd have hung around. If he'd lived through this with us, I guess we'd have died for him. But he decided it was better to chicken out than to struggle away. A bitter waste.

SNAPPED: Of course, we take no pleasure in the news that Cream have had the pictures of their last night as a proper club pinched, but there's something poetic that the official record of the event has vanished, leaving people to hold the night in their memory alone. Kind of the way the club proper has gone, and will now only exist as a thing that people will tell their grandkids about and experience calling across the years as their eyes droop sometime towards old age.
Of course, since club nights all look much of a muchness from the inside, they could have just dragged out some shots of Medication and passed them off - nobody would have been any the wiser...

FUN IN THE GOOGLE RETURNS: Bearing in mind that it's merely been added to scrape some undeserved publishing money, we think there's something more Freudian than mis-spelled in the search for "The Tide Is High (Get The Filling) Atomic Kitten." We know nothing about "Rhett Miller + Model Wife" - although we're curious, and equally our interest is piqued by '"Chris Martin"+"George Bush"+"TV Interview"' - that's gonna be one dull-ass episode of Leno, isn't it? Then theres 'Justin Timberlake is always linked to African-American women', which comes as news to us - Britney's obviously not been telling us something. "Sexy pictures of Atomic Kitten girls in school uniforms" is probably one request too far; "Pictures of Dave Haslam dj" is a lot more wholesome, we'd assume, although maybe the searcher was hoping the former Debris and Hacienda bloke would be wearing a gymslip as well. And, finally, a quick hint for the clothing industry - there's a massive gap for Shakira tshirts in the market, it seems...