Saturday, March 29, 2003

WE CANNOT GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF THE CANOE: Old Trafford - the cricket ground, not the football pitch - has had to pull the Bruce Springsteen gig because councillors are afraid about the disruption it would cause. So, apparently, they can cope in Manchester with the Commonwealth Games being held during a time of massive international tension and threat of terrorism boom-making; they can deal with international football matches and cricket tests; but the thought of fifty thousand middle aged men and women wearing suspisciously clean blue jeans in one place is just too much for them. Maybe the fear is that all fifty thousand might just nip out to call the babysitter at the same time, putting untold strain on the carpark?
Ridiculously, the crowds at Oasis are being cited by licensing authorities as the justification for the ban - do they know the difference between the two audiences?

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Return of Wener edition
The FHM which is just coming to an end of its life suggested that maybe someone might be looking for a new job - inside, there were pictures of Holly Vallance in fetish wear. For some reason, the cover announced this by means of a sticker slapped expensively on every issue. To us, it looks like someone forgot they’d got the pcitures resulting in a shabby last minute compromise, but we hope one of the designers left the Vallance off the cover on the grounds that she looks less like a fox and more like your mother going as Betty Page to a Vicars and Tarts party. The new issue has got Girls Aloud (already marked down from chart pop to desperate bikini shooters); doubtless if Cheryl Tweedy gets found guilty of being a racist fuck, they’ll be up all night again with the Avery Labels and the pritt sticks. They don’t have much luck with covers at the moment, FHM.

Maxim, meanwhile, has got tatu topless and embracing, claiming “we have sex three times a day!” If you needed proof that they weren’t a real couple, there it is - three years in, even sex-crazed lesbians don’t do it that much in a week, never mind a day.

We promised Louise Wener, and here she is: Metro, the station freesheet, “turned the tables” on the bloke who usually does the 60 Second Interviews and interviewed him (translation: had a column to fill in a hurry). Asked about his worse interview, he nominated Lou, who - apparently wary of getting her ‘gob on a stick’ reputation renewed on her book tour - he couldn’t get a usable quote out of despite two hours and rounds of drinks aplenty. We hope she was just having a bad day; a Lou Wener with nothing to say is as pointless as... well, that woman off MTV who was in Salad.

‘Immoral and unjustifiable’ were the words slapped across a picture of Mick Hucknall on the cover of the FT Creative Business supplement. Not a review of the new album, but Hucknall’s take on record companies. The new Simply Red album is, of course, not on a record label at all, but financed by three million of Hucknall’s own cash. It might not be very rock and roll - the decision to turn his back on the current business model was down to his manager doing a powerpoint presentation - but the mere fact that under his own control Hucknall is happier with the album, in control of the promotion, selling more copies and making much more money suggests that Mick is the leading figure in a revolution that is going to shake up music far more than any of the punk bands he used to gawk at down the Manchester Free Trade Hall all those years ago.

The trend for new music mag launches continues - Bang has an air of a project started with redundancy money, so crammed is it with ex-Maker staffers. If Careless Talk Costs Lives hosts the spirit of the tabloid-sized Maker, Bang seems to have inherited the glossy Melody Maker’s misfiring attitude. I say “seems” as, despite a heavy flyposting effort (those “its only rock and roll” teasers, which suggested something a little Radio 2, a little Later With Jools about the whole effort) they don’t seem to have managed to get the magazine into the North West yet, so my acquaintance with Bang has been a brief fumble in the Euston WH Smiths. If they sort the distribution, we’ll return for more detailed consideration.

Slightly less new, Word has reached issue two - a free mini-magazine about ‘the best of everything’. Now, last month they were loftily deriding the covermount CD; are they really suggesting there’s more honesty in a booklet suggesting we buy Shrek and Jamie Oliver than in a disc of music? Curious. Costello’s on the cover; Tony Wilson - sadly interviewed before his Fuck-loaded mid afternoon tirade on Granada; Ian Hislop also seems to think that Christine Hamilton came off best on HIGNFY?, which is odd - I mean, he was sat next to her and he thinks that her husband’s dubious abuse of the faith of his electorate and the prostitution of his office was in some way less reprehensible than a game show enjoying drugs and hookers; Lucy Williams from The Office says that when John Archer got killed off they had letters saying “couldn’t you have given him cancer so we could have got used to the idea?”; Nina Persson has just discovered Wire (the band, not the extruded metal); Piers Morgan’s PR told him to like Royskopp; Phil Jupitus talks abour what it’s like doing stand-up, although (like andrew collins on writing for eastenders) is a thing he doesn’t actually do any more; there’s a rather nice piece about how some media jobs are more welcoming of the gaysters than others and an amusing piece about how technology can take over your life with its seductive loveliness - “your life has one purpose - to feed the i-pod.” On its second outing, it’s still living up to the promise of its strapline - “something to read” - and already has found a voice.

X-Ray is onto issue three (although, again, we never saw issue two on sale anywhere) and it’s fast becoming clear that its strength is in its design rather than the writing; it feels more like those Japanese rock magazines which feel as if they’ve been put together using love, quality paper and photographers who know their f-stops and their f-beats. A Cd featuring The Darkness and tyhe Raveonettes doesn’t hurt, neither. Sadly, they blow it a bit by putting Coldplay on the cover, but then the magazine does function very much like the XFM from which its synergy-corpaate-stragtegy birth came; lots of big names to keep the advertisers happy, then sneaking in the goodies besides them (NYC she-rappers Northern State; Mankato; AudioBullys; Burning Brides). For some reason, their icons of female rap forgets to mention the Wee Papa Girl Rappers. Also many pages of brian molko, who gives the stalking advice that his house is in Old Street (“round there”, he adds desperately, hoping to confuse Address of Brian man) and says he’s very proud Sleeping With Ghosts has no drug references on it. “For many years I was a tart but there comes a point where that’s boring. If you have any depth as a human being you’re going to start looking for something else” says he.

If the nme was expecting their ‘we’re so good at music papers’ move of putting Avril on the front page was going to spark a furious outrage, they were wrong - NMEmail contains not so much as a single murmur. Maybe we’ve come to expect the nme to do things like like that. Next week they’re giving away an Avril pin-up. This week, it’s Interpol on the cover, an uncomfortable hook to hang a “rock star clothes” issue. A themed NME used to be buzzing with ideas, it felt like the culmination of a series of editorial meetings, weeks of research, a labour of love. Now it’s a couple of ill-thought out articles about - i shit you not - how to rip your jeans to look like the strokes and where to buy plaid shirts. Where to buy plaid shirts? How about any fucking clothes shop in the fucking country, you dipshits? Elsewhere in what is a rather thin edition, the Madonna anti-war video is written about in gushing terms - “Madonna’s always up for a bit of outrage”; we’ll be charitable and assume they’d missed the news that she’d capitulated and re-edited it to remove any possible sting that it might have held; clearing the content and leaving merely the bandwagon and they re-run the White Stripes album review. Make Up The Breakdown by Hot Hot Heat gets nine out of ten; single of the week is Mew’s comforting sounds. The editors may want to think twice about their slapping of “1st NME review” all over the place, by the way: drawing attention to that its taken this long for the paper to actually write about what Mew sound like doesn’t make the paper look so much cutting edge as left behind.

Sorry for the delay in pop papers this week - hopefully back to Wednesday evening next week...

Friday, March 28, 2003

DON'T FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM: Madonna has slagged off the new generation of younger, prettier, more-nice-without-gloves stars, sniping that it's wrong to want fame for its own sake. Is this, by any chance, the same Madonna Louise Ciccone who talks of how she "went to New York, I had a dream. I wanted to be a big star, I didn’t know anybody. I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing, I wanted to do all those things, I wanted to make people happy, I wanted to be famous, I wanted everybody to love me, I wanted to be a star. I worked really hard and my dream came true.” Presumably she didn't want to be famous just for its own sake, but for the opportunities it offers, such as being photographed having Vanilla Ice enter you from behind, and marrying the man who made Snatch.

HANG ABOUT...: The mystery bloke suing Snoop is known only as 'John Doe'? Isn't that the name this week's Popbitch mailout reckons Keanu uses for his signing in to hotels pseudonym?

ZOMBA: DAWN OF THE DEAD: Nearly 400 of the people who made Zomba the force it is making it so attractive to BMG as a takeover target are getting the poke for their trouble."We have made it a priority to preserve Zomba's unique culture and identity," BMG chief executive Rolf Schmidt-Holtz said in an internal memo - although, of course, not such a priority to preserve the staff who created that culture.

NOTFRITWATCH: Oooh, isn't Cher brave?. She doesn't worry about terrorism, you know, she even flew on a plane just a month after sep'ven without giving it a second thought. Well, until she thought "I should let people know how terribly brave I am." Yes, because it's not like the hyper-security of autumn 2001 was the safest time to fly anywhere since the days of Kitty Hawk, with people being turned back for attempting to board planes with paperback books and sixteen security guys to each passenger, is it?

GIRLS ADJOURNED: The charges against Cheryl Tweedy, the Girls Aloud person, have been reduced, although unfortunately for her the "racially aggravated" bit is still in the mix. The case has been adjourned until April 4th, when Tweedy will face the charge of racially aggravated common assault.

IS IT REALLY SO BLEAK IN THE MORNING?: The Nominations for the Sony Radio Awards are in, or out, or up, or whichever the correct preposition is called for here, and the most scary category is Breakfast. Now, we're Today people ourselves, except when we're able to listen to Danny Baker's London show (which requires us to be logged in to a computer, and the US not to be bombing the shite out of Iraq, as apparently lists of zip manufacturers have had to make way for John Gaunt and Rolling War From A London Viewpoint), but even so... amongst the five best music breakfast shows, we're asked to believe, is both Kev Seed's Radio City effort, which isn't even the best breakfast show in the Radio City Tower, never mind the country; and Christian O'Connell who's 'Hello Mr Ploppy' style of humour is also nominated as one of the five best entertainment shows on British Radio. Bloody hell, if the radio industry is so poor that obvious scatalogical jokes delivered with all the conviction of Saddam Hussein at an Amnesty International fund raiser is considered one of the best shows on offer, then maybe we should take it as a blessing that it looks like the communications bill is going to pretty much allow Clear Channel to come in and mop up (on the basis that the radio sector is unlikely to develop monopolies... erm, right).

FRITWATCH UPDATE: Kelly Rowland reorganises dates for September, so we can presume she's not as gloomy about the prospects for a swift end to the war as the Mirror; not as upbeat as Rumsfeld.

WHEN MIMSYS CLASH: We're not sure what to make of Liam Gallagher's attack on Chris Martin, over Coldplay bloke's mentioning the war during a teenage cancer benefit - we could point out the use of depleted uranium shells provides a direct link between the two subjects, but we think it just shows the limits of Gallagher's intellect - he's apparently unable to think of two things at once

BITTER MINX: Oooh, get Kelly Osbourne, who of course doesn't care that nobody bought her album, oh no, has slagged off MTV. "it used to be about breaking new bands" (really? when was that? when it was all 'Fly down to rio', robert palmer and peter gabriel?) "but now if you're not a rapstar, or singing about fucking fifteen year old girls, they're not interested." Hmmm. Maybe it's because they show fewer videos now, kelly, as their schedules are groaning under the weight of pisspoor one-gag fly on the wall docusoaps, like, for example... nope, no title springs to mind right now...

Thursday, March 27, 2003

BOOMBACK: Heads up to Simon Tyers for pointing out that Hot Hot Heat and Transplant's singles with inappropriate names for the first week of war are both, erm, back on radio one's playlist for next week. Does this mean that Radio One's other wartime measures - telling "DJs to cut back on the banter" - will also be on the way out?

FRITWATCH: Added to the list of stars whose lilly-livered fear outweighs their need for a public to demonstrate their love, Kelly Rowland joins the other Kelly in pulling out of travelling to the dangerously positioned next-continent-along from the Iraq war.

NO PRESALES: Hmmmm. What to make of Radiohead getting Ebay to pull sales of tickets for forthcoming gigs? On one hand, you can see they have a point - and it's not easy to complain about a band taking a move to swipe tickets from the hands of scalpers to keep the prices down. On the other... we're a little curious as to the claims in the NME that people offering tickets for sale on the site were told they wouldn't be getting any. Now, this might be sloppy reporting, but if it is the case that offering a ticket on Ebay means the seller won't receive their tickets to pass on, how will Radiohead know who these people are? Are Ebay going to hand over names and addresses direct to Mr Yorke and his friends? Are Radiohead setting themselves up as some sort of Karma Police?
Of course, Ebay isn't the only auction site on the net; sure, this might work as a stunt, but we suspect that the dedicated tout will probably sidle over to, say, QXL or and offer the tickets there. That's if the Ebay stunt is genuine anyway - when we checked, there were still sixty five seperate auctions online at the E.
Ensuring ticket sales are fair is a great idea, but frankly, unless you have someone stood in the street ensuring that touts are selling to walk-up at face value only (like that would happen), you're not going to do anything to change the fact that people with lots of money have a better chance of getting to see a gig than people with less money, and that there are going to be people who attempt to exploit that. Perhaps fairness would be better served by admitting that telephone sales lines are, basically, a lottery and don't allocate on first come, first served so much as earliest connected gets the tickets and that rather than leave the randomness of the telephone system to decide who can see Thom emote, make it a proper lottery. Surely that would make more sense than trying to\police Ebay?

TALKING OF A LONG WAIT: Zane Lowe finally to take over the evening show on Radio One, having worked through the end of his contract with XFM. This means that Colin Murray is downgraded further from 'awkward gap filler' to 'lame duck gap filler' before being shunted off to present a Saturday morning show with - may god have mercy on their souls - Edith Bowman.

POPPAPERS: My everyday secret identity ate my Wednesday, so Pop Papers is going to appear, probably, sometime Friday - Louise Wener gets a mention, if you need proof that the wait will be worth it.

Monday, March 24, 2003

STOP IT, MR YORKE, YOU'RE KILLING ME: Noted wordsmith Thom Yorke has revealed the name of the new Radiohead album. It's going to be called Hail To The Thief. D'yougeddit? What he's done is take... oh, you got it already? Oh.

NURSE, THE SCREENS: Radio One apparently ban Hot Hot Heat single because... it uses the word 'bandages' too much.

YOU WANT PROOF THAT THE RIAA IS EVIL?: The record companies are warning that buying fake Cds is the same as handing a terrorist your cash - 'your fake Cranberries CD could cost a life' they wail. Thanks to Just A Blip, you can say the same eighty percent of the major labels. Except, amusingly, EMI, who my generation were encouraged to give a hard time over when they part of the conglomerate that made the triggers for nuclear weaponry. Now they're all demerged and almost pious. [Thanks to need to know].

FRITWATCH: A guide to the stars deluded enough to believe they're targets, weak enough to pull the dates
Matchbox 20 have axed their European tour - not because of fears about themselves, of course, but - hey - they don't want to put their fans at risk by making them come out and see them when there's a war on. Meanwhile, the World Music Awards is being put back until October, partly because they know nobody's going to turn up at a time like this, but mainly because they've realised that all-important 3 am Thursday Morning slot on ITV has been pretty much block-booked by ITN for the duration. The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac took the decision to hold back the release of tickets for their US tours by a week - inappropriate to do something like flog rock tickets when people are preparing for combat, apparently; selling them while troops are actually being shot in the head by Iraqis doesn't seem to be so much of a problem - we reckon its a case of 'the blanket coverage will be over by then.'

TOM PETTY - IN ASSOCIATION WITH GUM: Maybe he's noticed that the only people who eat at the Hard Rock Cafe are tourists from the former soviet territories, which might be why the rules Tom Petty has introduced for ticket holders for his next set of shows have more than a whiff of Brezhnev-era Russian state bureaucracy about them, coupled with a slightly histrionic devotion to rationing. Presumably he's just waiting for the retinal scan technology to catch up with his plans for world domination...

AVRIL CONSISTENT: Lavigne tells Elle Girl this month she doesn't like being considered the 'anti-Britney':
Because I was so different, I became the 'anti.'  But I don't like that term.  I think it's very mean.  Every time she sees that, 'anti-Britney,'  you know what that must do to her?
"I may not like her music or her image.  but I've heard that she's really cool and nice. When I'm working on 40 minutes of sleep and going nuts, I think about her.  She's everywhere and she's been doing this for a long time, and I think, Britney Spears, damn!  And I..."
Admire her?
"I don't want to say that I admire her.  I respect her.  It takes a lot of work and it's her, all by herself.  And, meanwhile, she just broke up with her world-famous boyfriend and the fallout's been everywhere, and she has no personal life.  I can't imagine how she's getting through it.  She must be a really strong person."

Let's leave aside the fact that little miss write all my own songs thinks that 'admire' and 'respect' mean different things, and instead, let's consider what Avril told chart attack a while back:
""I mean, the way she dresses — would you walk around the street in a fuckin' bra?" she asks rhetorically. "I'm not trying to dis anyone, but with me, the clothes I wear onstage are the clothes I would wear to school or go shopping. I'm not gonna go up onstage and dress different. Britney Spears goes up onstage and dresses like a showgirl. She's not being herself up there because she's dancing like a ho. Is she ho? She says she's a virgin. Y'know, it's just not clicking. She's doing one thing and saying another thing, y'know? It's definitely not what I'm going to do."
Now, she does concede that she's said some "stuff" about Britney in the past, and that she has a problem "with the whole sex thing", but what does this actually mean, then? That she thinks Britney Spears is a whore, but a really, really hard working whore? That she thinks Britney is to be respected for the energy she brings to being a terrible role model for young women? Or could it be that, as we've suspected, Avril doesn't own a single thought that's ever completed an entire journey from occuring to her to being fully-formed?

Sunday, March 23, 2003

ASTORIA TRIUMPHANT: Westminster City Council - the body for whom Fun is a problem to be legislated away - have lost in their bid to close down the Astoria. Something to celebrate at last, then.

CURIOUS ROCK OBITUARIES: We're not quite sure what to make of this: Adam Faith's cock will be sadly missed - I suppose no man would be upset at being remembered that way. Insert the joke about trouble getting the coffin lid on here, if you wish.