Wednesday, July 21, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Golden Brown Edition
We were excited to hear that Robert Hardy had been asked by the New Statesman to review Shhh... Sounds In Space at the Victoria and Albert Museum; and that excitement was only slightly dulled when it turned out to be the Franz Ferdinand bassist rather than the actor from All Creatures Great And Small. The best part seems to be Gillian Wearing's interview piece with a man who, as boy, would cry because he hadn't been born in the past.

It's Observer Music Monthly week again, which means one thing - another dodgy chart. This time, it's the top ten books for the beach. It chooses Right From The Start by Gareth Gates, which undermines the whole point. There is no plane hostage crisis long enough that anyone would have time to kill reading Gareth's ghost written "autobiography".

Athlete Darren Campbell gets visited by the record doctor. He hits the eject button double quick when Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party came on.

The OMM has signed up for the Juliette Lewis Career Shift Plan - actor to musician in five colour supplement ads. "What is it with Hollywood? Why can't they just judge us on the music?" she wails. Maybe, Ju, because most riot grrl bands have to play roughly seventy five billion gigs before they'd be given a five page spread in a music monthly. The price of a little extra scepticism in return for the fast-tracking of attention is probably worth paying, right? Ask Kathleen Hanna if she'd be prepared to swap places. On the other hand, Lewis' plea to be judged on the music alone might backfire: Ryan from The Rebels pops up to deliver just such a verdict - "Juliette Lewis just vomits on stage. I'd rather stick a finger up her ass than hear that again." (We're assuming from this that Ryan has hygiene issues - after all, most sane people would happily insert a digit up Juliette's butt, surely?)

Zoe Smith plays Kitty Empire in the flash-forward slot, crying "look out, here come Deepest Blue." To us, they remind us totally of Blue Mercedes, so we'll pass, I think.

Badly Drawn Boy files a 'what i did at Glastonbury' spread, which is an interesting approach to bringing a fresh angle to the now well past festival. Gough calls McCartney "at best, karaoke Beatles"; Franz Ferdinand fret over if anyone really liked their set. And there's a picture of him pissing, but - thank the lord - only from behind.

Peter Paphides takes a tour of the doughty record shops of Old Albion, holding fast in the face of iTunes. You'd have to suspect that a store that's held on in the face of Asda and Virgin must have a pretty good chance of keeping going through the digital future, but a list which praises Picadilly in Manchester over Probe in Liverpool? You'd have to question the research, wouldn't you?

Brian Higgins is a Phil Spector from Kent for the 21st century, apparently - we'd advise eastenders actresses to not take him up on the offer a quick nightcap, then. He's really, of course, a more photogenic Pete Waterman - he's got the requisite dodgy past (member of Motiv8) with the dash of cred (extra wibblings for Pulp) and the knack of turning out a tune that even a clubfooted bunch of bus queuers like Girls Aloud can't fuck up. Totally.

Tucked away in the reviews is the news that Ella Guru have finally got their first album out - they were one of the few bands which made my period as live reviewer for Liverpool's then premier listings magazine Ink bearable; in a sea of boys who believed they were every bit as good as Oasis (and who usually were, but no better, and that was their tragedy), Ella Guru stood out like Morse in a field of Shoestrings. If there's any justice, they should now be adopted as heroes by all passers-by, and the Zutons can head back for retraining.

Paul Morley spends too much time worrying about Girls Aloud - "whenever I spot them on television, they look like they are in agony... [they] lethargically gyrated and tightly gripped onto their glossy smiles as if they were performing for a bunch of crazed soldiers a few miles down the river from Colonel Kurtz."

So, round the front of the magazine, you've got Juliette Lewis pretending to be a pop star. Up the rear end, it's Kirsten Dunst playing at music journos, interviewing Rufus Wainwright. She seems incapable of accepting that he's really gay, first undoing her shirt a little to see if there's any reaction; by the end, she's stripped herself naked and rubbed baby oil into her tits, standing on her hands with her legs splayed screaming "I don't believe it... tell me you don't wanna munch. Tell me. TELL ME!" Oh, alright, she asks him who he most wants to cover one of his songs. He chooses Bjork, on the grounds that "anything even breathed on by her has the permanent seal of hipness." Which is instantly disproved by Einnar Sugarcube, surely?

The NME has got one of those multiple cover things going on - we'd normally have snorted with disbelief that anyone thought a choice of Libertines covers would be a great idea, but having seen last week's Radio Times (horrible, horrible sub-warhol soap icons - "icons" stretched to include Spencer Moon and Angie Watts). Carl Barat - who, you'll recall, recently ejected Pete from the band - calls for Pete to come home. While Pete, dressed for offering a defence, whines "Why push me out, Carl?" Erm... probably the gallon of cheap hooker's smack in your bloodstream, Pete. the T in the Park survey asks if the Libs can thrive without Pete, getting a very on-the-fence 46-54 split just about in favour of 'Yes.' Which may harden Carl's resolve.

Naturally, the pair are interviewed apart - which gives Pete plenty of room to pull the pity me schtick - they coulda played Glastonbury, they did last year when he was in a similar place. He stresses that he doesn't inject the smack, like that makes a difference. Apparently, if he did, it would make him "more unreliable." The mind boggles. It's a splendid piece of journalism; it also marks a key point in the Libertines story - Pete's decline isn't heartbreaking anymore; it's frustrating, but he's burned through all the sympathy, used all his chances. It's hard to find any sympathy for a man who hasn't done a thing to help himself, a man seeking just the easy solution. As he trots out 'this time will be different' after half truth and self-serving recast of history, it just drains. Having flung so much goodwill back into so many faces, Doherty's now moved on from wasted talent to just a waster.

Which leaves Carl, of course: worried that the band are now the smack band rather than famous for their music. "I don't want to give the impression I've given up... there's always hope." He rejects notions that the Libs are the most important band of their generation on the wise grounds that "our generation isn't over yet"; this doesn't stop Mark Beaumont attempting to shore up the same claim over the following two pages. The witnesses in his defence - Alan McGee and a bloke who runs a Libs website - aren't exactly looking with fresh eyes; McGee makes the fatuous suggestion that "culturally, it's the most significant thing in my life since punk" (and Alan, if you really believe that, it's time to take up gardening). Beaumont at least has the grace to look sheepish as he attempts to place a label on the Libs and the bands supposedly riding in their wake (The Others and, um, the others) - The Paddingtons, The Cherubs or even, god help us, Urch. You turn the page, and there's an interview with Bloc Party, which doesn't just put the claim into perspective, but also shades it in and draws accurate pictures of running horses all over it.

Keane and the Darkness are having a fight, with The Darkness calling Keane "sheet-spoilers" (which isn't such an insult, is it, considering that sheets get spoiled in the middle of fevered love making) and Keane suggesting the Darkness are a novelty act. For some reason there's a Viz cartoon strip about it all, as well.

Keane versus the Darkness is but a playground squabble compared with the Elsie Tanner versus Ena Sharples that is Peter Robinson against Simon Popworld. In the end, though, they both turn on the smug, pointless, offensive, stupidly haired, badly beshirted, lumpen, porridgey Vernon Kay.

Willy Wonder. Tee hee. The Radar act has a vaguely rude name. And he gets to hang out with Conor Oberst and miss math class. Yes, "math". Which means, of course, he's American.

Modern Life Is Rubbish. Meat is Murder. Anarchy in the UK. All You Need Is Love.We Live In Urban Hell, We Destroy Rock & Roll. Fight The Power. Time For Heroes. The posters are, then, rock slogans - oddly, they've missed out Sex Is Good, But Not As Good As A Wank. Did These Animal Men die in vain?

Ikara Colt drop by with their art-rock manifesto, presumably for the next time they do the slogan posters: It's better to regret something you've done than... oh, you've heard that before?

the music - montreux - "ridiculous and sublime"
death from above - nme competition winner's front room - "two 13 year old girls discuss forming a death metal band"
goldie lookin' chain - ibiza - this writes itself, I guess

mark lanegan band - bubblegum - "'bombed is a snippet of raw, unhampered beauty", 8
tanya donnelly - whiskey town ghosts - "as bruised and bewitching as Belly", 7
WIT - Whatever It Takes - "18 months too late", 4
the (international) noise conspiracy - armed love - "mistaken R&B for the scream of revolution", 5

sotw - the futureheads - decent days and nights - "utterly thrilling pop music"
the golden virgins - light in her window - "wry, dry as a bone, flawless"

The cartoon strip ends with Noddy Holder spanking Justin Hawkins with a slipper.

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