Wednesday, August 27, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: For some reason, the busier we are, the earlier it seems to appear, but it'll be back to it's live at 10 pm slot next week edition

The main problem with Word, of course, is the cover choices - okay, Dido is a step up from Weller, but it still screams "Your Dad's magazine is here, Tarquin." I mean, even if they had some sort of cover gimmick - star dressed as a favourite character from literature, for example, although it's be four Alex from a clockwork orange a year - would be a better indication of the imaganitive appraoch inside.

And what's inside? Gabby Logan, defending rhythmic gymnastics which is "as much a sport as darts or golf" (so, not in any real sense of the word 'sport' then) and reporting that she once got Barry Venison to warn off a proto-stalker.

There's some interesting maths at the heart of the Mercury Music Prize - the entry fee is GBP200 a disc, the prize fund is GBP20,000. Many, many more than 100 CDs are entered each year. The prize may be increasingly without honour, but there's sure some profits.

Jewel loves being told "you're dressing sexier" because she thinks it raises the question "can you be sexy and smart at the same time?" - although this seems to take for granted that people think she's smart, surely?

HMV is having to tighten its returns policy in light of the sheer weight of people who had been bringing discs back having ripped the MP3s off them. We guess the 'No Risk Disc' policy has been dumped, then.

Things you didn't know about Randy Newman (perhaps): he arranged 'is That all There is' for Peggy Lee, and was nominated an energy-sapping 16 times for an oscar before he finally won one of the blighters.

"If you're afraid of your boss" says Mary J Blige "that means you have disrespect for him." Yes, Mary, that's it - if you're working for a sadistic, evil bastard, the fault is with you for not showing 'nuff respect. Did Whitney tell you that, dear?

It's curious that Dave Tyack, one of the early toasts of Twisted Nerve, managed to go missing in Corsica with barely a murmur. He's still not returned.

George Melly has a wonderful anecdote, as is his MO, about Sir Roy Strong's friends getting the balls to tell him he name-drops too much. Without missing a beat, Roy replies "You know, that's extraordinary - the Queen Mother was saying much the same thing the other day..."

Tim Burgess is, unsurprisingly, listening to Gram Parsons and loves The Catcher In The Rye, as does Ricky Gervias, who also loves the Darkness.

In his Dexy's piece, what William Shaw manages to do is, for the first time, manage to make the isolated Dexys myths make sense as part of a coherent whole; so even the master-tape stealing seems logival, if not exactly sensible. Presumably he's aided by Kevin's more accesable attitude (and by not being part of the Established Music Press), and as such is able to document Rowland's fall the way it actually happened; a slow slide into addiction and misery rather than the 'drop from a clear blue sky' that it's usually repackaged as. Rowland's dole officer seems to have been a sweetheart, by the way, suggesting that he signs up for a sound recording course, to give him the 18 month waiting time as a breathing space.

Less successful is the So Solid Crew piece, which seems to miss what, with hindsight, is now blindingly obvious - the records were merely the chart equivalent of the gas explosion in Family Affairs; a quick and effective way of launching a slew of new characters at once. The early days of the So Solids saw them approached as if they were a coherent lump; in effect, they were merely a musical box of Celebrations.

"Nobody ever used 'I' at the NME - it might have made us seem less credible as a governing body of musical taste."

It's nice to see themanwhofellasleep getting a double page spread (Popbitch has been lacking something since he left, don't you think?)

In the Dido piece, there's one telling piece of information - when she was a new romantic, her favourites were Spandau Ballet (she cites the suit-era, too, rather than the admittedly sexy naked men smearing paint over themselves period). Oh, and it was The Police who inspired her to make music. We didn't see any mention of how much she respects Annie Lennox, but we're betting its there.

In the reviews section, The Coral's Magic & Medicine is "Captain Pugwash meets Captain Beefheart" and Broadcast live "in a Narnia of their own making."

X-Ray might want to cut down on the 'XRay can reveal' catchphrase in their news section; in a monthly your news couldn't be any colder if it had a haddock and chips in it and, besides, we don't believe that you haven't just copied it down off your radio sister service. Having said which, the magazine is settling down into a fairly readable groove now; it's a lot less of a hectic read and they seem to either have abandoned some of the regular features or at least toned them down a little. Together with the cover mount CD, it's still a nice little package.

This month, Franz Ferdinand say "this guy once said [we] reminded him of an acid house party - that attitude, only with rock and roll music." We're not sure this is a compliment - isn't it merely saying "listening to you made me feel I was in a warehouse surrounded by a mix of gangsters and people off their cakes, with very little attention to health and safety being paid?"

Jason Pierce admits, with a sigh, to having sometimes called his hometown Drugby. In the Jamaican Black Country, presumably.

Frank Black hates stickers. So do we. They're the crappy end of pop promo material - Frank reckons they're worse than graffiti and we tend to agree with him. At least graffiti you have to be able to write to do (a little), but where is the input into removing the backing and slapping a piece of paper onto something? You don't even need paste and a bucket.

The label of love this month is Wichita, and the chronicle is a bluffer's guide to Krautrock.

Lauren Laverne suggests the perfect back to school record is, erm, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. We love Lauren like the goddess she is, but if any schoolchildren do take her up on this advice, the number of Childline is available in the phonebook.

Peter from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club turns out to be the Edward Grundy of rock - he grew up on a sheep farm that went bust and then joined a noisy band. We don't think this means that Peter is the Ambridge horse ripper - although we suspect he'd be happy to give David Archer a hand killing any badgers that he might have left over at Brookfield. Then there'd be comments on the website, you can be certain.

The rapture admit to being over-hyped, while Chad from the Neptunes bristles so much at being accused of having been a Goth we can only conclude that he was one.

Tim Burgess is still the easiest interview in the world, wittering away from one topic to another (at one point comparing LA to Highgate Cemetary); he also pulls off what dave Gahan seems incapable of or unwilling to do; describing the restraints of being a member of a band without making it sound like its something you get sentenced to. He's still our boy.

The NME are desperate to makes ammends to the Darkness, aren't they? This is second cover without a supporting interview in about six weeks. Of course, we're damn near the 39th relaunch of the decade, and it's a reading/leeds 'souvenir' special, so it might be 84 pages long, but if the paper could feel any more end of term they'd be bringing games in and playing Hangman instead of doing album reviews.

News: the paper seems to think the well-covered story that Coldplay are going on hiatus is some sort of World Exclusive (hey, guys, robbie's thinking of chucking it in...); there's a strokes track-by-track preview - the nme says "worth the wait", although they have to believe in it because if it ain't great, bang goes the whole of their plans for October (November, December, 2004...)

Damon Albarn is asked about the Hutton enquiry. He waffles. The paper then challenge him on why he had a pop at Chris Martin for being anti-war when it was "fashionable" (i.e. when we were about to go to war). Albarn's answer is amazingly stupid - in fact, Alisatair Campbell would probably applaud his attempt to spin that what he really meant was that Chris Martin should have made his anti-Bush speech when he stepped onto the Brits stage, not just before he was leaving it. It's interesting that in Damon's mind, the anti-war movement became fashionable during the time that Coldplay were picking up their gongs - an astonishing coincidence - and that he doesn't seem to understand that if you're going to use live TV as a platform, you have to make sure your outburst comes when they're not expecting it; after the hand has relaxed on your microphone fader. It's a pity that Albarn represents the part of the anti-war movement that couldn't be happy winning people over, and just attacked the converts for having waited to be convinced. "We should be doing this [protesting] every year" he says of the Stop The War, failing to grasp that what was astonishing about the event was that it brought together so many people with so many clashing opinions out to protest a single subject.

Surprisingly, having near-naked Kate Moss in their video has landed the White Stripes all over the tabloids. I'll bet that came as a shock to them, didn't it?

That fucking Bowie & Bing strip is still there. It's COCK COCK COCK COCK COCK COCK.

The Bandits CD features Nancy and Lee, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Eek-a-mouse.

Fannypack are given the Hot New Band treatment, presumably because there's no regular 'one-joke novelty act' feature in the paper. Yet.

Franz Ferdinad are here too; they take knitted replicas of their girlfriends on tour with them. Presumably because the real thing would be deflated by the time they get home.

Do you think James from Starsailor has a pudgy face? We've been debating the point here. Rather unfairly, the band are asked to speculate on if they think their producer Phil Spector really did shoot that woman, although Stel does try and suggest that it's nice timing that Silence Is Easy has been released at the same time as Spector, erm, hasn't been.

For some reason the nme didn't just get Jack and Meg loosalikes but also Justin Darkness and, erm, Hank from Turbonegro instead. The Meg wasn't too bad but the Jack? Was he supposed to have died in the car crash? Meanwhile, a fan is asked what's so great about the yeah yeah yeahs and replies "it's really great to see a woman fronting a band", as if the whole of the last thirty years hasn't been knee deep in female-powered acts. there's posters and reviews too, and everyone gets at least one word. Just one word in many cases.

The Raveonettes are all tied up - it's a great photo, if a slightly flabby story-so-so-far article in support. We can't decide if Sune or Sharin are the prettier of the pair. That's a good sign.

the cooper temple clause - kick up the fire, let the flames break loose - "already an inferno", 8
scout niblett - I am - "reminiscent of Daniel Johnston at his best", 8
the neptunes - clones - "fuck the rap faggots", 8
spiritualized - amazing grace - "another truly great album", 9
anjali - the world of lady a - "knee-trembling", 6

sotw - trash money - you lied, satan - "genius"
dido - white flag - "as involving as an Argos catalogue"
tim burgess - i believe in the spirit - "a superfly declaration of empowerment"

pj harvet - st austel eden project - "more relevant than ever"
starsailor - london ULU - "the audience are occasionally flummoxed"
tim burgess - birmingham academy 2 - "'Play sproston green' shouts abloke. If only."

Sigh. Will Swells ever get to do the letters page again?

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