Saturday, October 09, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The catchy rhythm makes this a first class track
Attempting to switch gears from Madonna appearing on Will and Grace to Chrissie Hynde on BBC Four's Pop and Politics, Sam Wollaston hit on what he thought would be a easy jump - suggesting that it'd be impossible to imagine Hynde ever doing something as fluffy as a cameo in a sitcom. Erm... surely the Guardian TV critic should know that Hynde was probably the first star of any profile to do a self-send-up guesting on Friends?

Comparing the cover art on Joni Mitchell's new album, advertised on the inside front of the October Word, and the drawings of Madonna done by "fans" featured in the same edition, it's hard to decide who has been least well served by the pencil-weilders.

Amongst those being canvassed for the Word of Mouth celeb recommendations are Alison Moyet - who looks so incredibly delicious in her little picture we're planning spending what's left of the year living between her wheelie bin and her shed in the hope of getting adopted - and Jonathan Coe. Moyet chooses Elizabeth, but sniffs that it's not very historically accurate; Coe comes across like a man trying depserately to not drop names.

We're not sure what possessed the editors of the usually doughy and doughty journal to run two pages of pap shots of celebrities on holiday - we'd like to think that maybe its a cultural exchange and readers of this week's OK are puzzling over three thousand words on the legacy of The Incredible String Band, but somehow we doubt it.

There's a jolly interview with Nick Cave - who worries that questions that imply he keeps making music because he doesn't have anything else in his life might lead the q&a to become a little depressing. His most recent collaborator Marianne Faithfull is interviewed as well, which falls in to the trap of banging on too much about old times instead of today: who wants to read the Daily Herald when there's a much more interesting story breaking in The Independent?

Fantasy Live Aid tries to imagine what a 20th anniversary remix would look like - Jamie Cullum in the Bryan Ferry slot; The Darkness where Judas Priest were, or The Datsuns if we're unlucky.

Nancy Sinatra tells of the perils of meeting with the man currently President: she went to the Oval Office with a veteran's group (I think she means old soldiers rather than what remains of Fleetwood Mac); next thing she knows, she's getting hate mail from her gay fans who think she's crossed over the side of darkness: "If they don't understand I'm a screaming liberal, fuck 'em. I can't write back to everybody."

David Hepworth gives the DaVinci Code a well-deserved kicking - not because he's got a thing against pot boilers, but because it's a 50 watt hotplate that couldn't smoke a kipper, much less boil a pot.

Stuart Maconie turns in the sort of appreciation of Yes that he used to do for Blur back when Select was being published; if only Damon had half the charm of Rick Wakeman.

David Crosby - currently charging about on a mock Presidential campaign - stops to consider drugs: Pot is fine, but the other stuff? Terrible. Graham Nash - his running mate - agrees; it's not like the old days, now it's all blood and uzis behind it all. Over at the real Presidential campaign, Word looks at the involvement of pop stars. It's mixed feelings time: obviously, anything that gets people out to vote has to be a good thing, but is a democracy which needs posters of Christina Aguilera with her mouth sewn together to guarantee participation one that's worth saving?

You'll know we think that Apple make lovely things. But having said that: six pages of iPod add-ons? It's too much. It's only a fucking tranny radio.

It's Esquire's Music issue. And which musical figure has been invited to grace the cover? Erm, Juliette Lewis. Now, it's fair enough that otherwise it might have been Duran Duran, and Simon leBon doesn't look quite as good in skimpy pink panties, but we're not yet convinced that Lewis can really count as a music icon in quite the same way. We know her version of Rid Of Me was okay in Strange Days, we know that she's serious about it, but judging by her involvement in the new Prodigy album, it's all a lot of enthusiasm and good intentions. And a pair of skimpy pink panties.

We're also far from convinced by the piece suggesting that the issuing of bonds by artists (David Bowie) was a smart move on the part of the Dame. The details would probably need someone far smarter than us to spell out, but the purchasers had to make a 7.9 per cent return on their thirty million investment every year, which appears to have left David forced to indulge in some rather undignified actions to ensure the cash continued to flow - the hawking of his past images in the interests of selling bottled waters for Nestle, for example.

Unlike the clearly PR-briefed Tories lined up to claim a love of Pulp and Dido at last week's Tory conference, when Boris Johnson says he loves The Clash's Sandinista, you know he almost certainly does, even though he clearly tuned out the lyrics. More oddly, he reveals that Joe Strummer became a penpal in his later years. Everyone loves Boris, yes, but the frontman of the Clash trading bonmots with the man who would later hold the arts brief for the philistines of the right? Bloody odd.

Esquire takes out a shoe, reconsiders, selects a hobnail boot and takes aim at Q's 1010 songs you must own special issue by providing a list of 1010 songs you can safely delete off your iPod to free up valuable space. Included are "any Blur song where an actor (or a mayor) provides guest vocals" and "anything played on Parkie's TV chatshow".

An attempt is given at allowing Clear Channel a fair hearing - James Craven, the International Communications Director of the UK branch of the organisation points out that at the moment, Clear has no radio interests in the UK at all, having sold its minority stakes it held in JazzFM and Switch Digital; but that's like Dennis Nielsen trying to convince us he's changed because he's not got any human flesh in his freezer right now. But Craven's keen to put the record straight, because he's worried about the perception of Clear Channel. Perception? The company which has an increasing monopoly in many radio markets in the US, which has been accused of refusing to play artists on its radio stations who book tours through competitors to its promotions business, whose founder crows "we're not in the business of providing news and information [or] well researched music; we're simply selling our customers' products", who bought up stations across the Mexican border and pointed them back to San Diego to get round the ownership rules and whose tiny news operation means each station can call on just one third of a reporter should a story break - 110 bureaux struggling to support over 1000 stations? That one? Yeah, it might stink a little. But Craven wants to point out that it wasn't a Clear station which destroyed Dixie Chicks CDs in the wake of Natalie Maine's comments about Bush. Not that he's worried for himself, of course - it's the little guys he's worried about: "Clear Channel has thousands of employees in the UK. It seems wrong that they have to read so many distorted stories. The guys that cleanthe bus shelters - they get up in the middle of the night. They go out and clean bus shelters because the roads are quieter then, and they pick up their Sun newspaper, or they pick up The Mirror and they sit down and they read about Dixie Chicks CD burning ceremonies, and they think 'Oh my God, do I really work for a company like that?'" Actually, James, chuck, guys who are dragging their bodies from bed before the sun rises to scrub the sick and smashed glass out of a Bus Shelter on the side of the B3022 probably aren't doing it out of any sense of corporate loyalty, and probably would neither know nor care if Clear Channel was found to be exporting nuclear children to Iraq to be fed to an angry dragon. People in shit jobs with bad companies probably have quite enough bile against their employers all of their own.

Can you spot the flaw in Simon Cowell's argument here? "I judge everything on what I like, funnily enough, rather than try to guess what the public want [...] All my biggest deals happened because I picked up on things I read about in the Sun."

So, as you may have guessed, the NME came late again this week - although on this occasion we think it might have been rejected by our letterbox for a couple of days because, for some reason, it's been guest editied by the Goldie Lookin' Chain. The whole guest editor thing has been done to death anyway, but at least when Blur were invited to have a go there seemed to be a sense that they might have a few ideas to share. Asking GLC to fill the pages is risky, because they clearly ran out of ideas two-thirds of the way through their first song. Still, we're sure it seemed like a great idea at the time. Right up there with those other great ideas which end in a shame-faced visit to the proctologist.

Of course, it's also back to university week this week, so there's a student guide which comes sponsored by, um, Top Man. When we went up to university, as it was still called in those days, the NME cover had Bananarama on it, which prompted letters to Angst the following week suggesting the paper had lost its mind, its sense, and possibly its bladder control. Clearly, though, it knew exactly what it was doing - yer first night in a strange bed in a boxy halls of residence room, the 'rama would provide a sort of comfort a bunch of one-gag Welshmen couldn't hope to reach. The main irritating bit of the student guide is an interview with Kat Fletcher, NUS President, who says that university "can be one of the best experiences of your life" - although since she's only known school and university, and school is rubbish, she's not calling on very much experience to make this call, is she? All the guides to the various student cities suggest you should avoid the same sort of place: anywhere where locals go of an evening.

Back to the remnants of the NME still under proper editorial control, and Hot Hot Heat claim they're just like Nirvana - presumably they mean their singer stinks like he's been dead a decade and there's no prospect of them ever making a decent record ever again; Tom Vek is the radar act and the Concretes are interviewed: Victoria Bergsman reveals she owns 23 wigs, one for every mood.

Lost amongst the dayglo tracksuits and hokey jokey tokey shorts lurks an interview with REM: Michael Stipe reveals that his stance on Iraq isn't just another Hollywood hackage: he's got a relative in the armed forces who's about to be sent out to try and stem the bleeding while Bush decides what to do. He speaks about how he knows that celebs slagging off Bush isn't actually going to work in the Kerry campaign's favour: "but my great fear for a second term might be, internationally, falling on our faces." This plays second fiddle to some polaroids of passers-by with 2Hats from Goldie Lookin' Chain saying if they like their trainers or not.

the music - cambridge corn exchange - "they could be called the dog's bollocks and nobody would think them bigheaded"

the dears - no cities left - "could become the truly special band they promise to", 8
gisli - how about that - "so now, it'll be stale tomorrow", 5
le tigre - this island - "never sounds like Newsnight", 7

sotw - scissor sisters - mary - "I'm not crying... I have something in my eye"
help she can't swim - beano v bunty - "Happy Shopper Pulp"

and finally... today's Daily Star came with a free CD with Suede and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy. Some poor sod had to write a brief introduction for each track to go in the paper. So Animal Nitrate is "this much loved British rock band at their best"; Television, Drug of the Nation was "a big hit for the multi-cultural hip hop duo." After some sucking of the Desmond pencil, The La's There She Goes gets "sing along to this all time popular classic", but best sleeve note of all time - maybe ever - is reserved for Elastica's Connection: "The catchy rhythm makes this a first class track."

1 comment:

Robin Carmody said...

A surprising number of Right-wingers like the most unlikely music, which I suppose proves the extent to which most people practice a kind of apartheid of the mind, a mental compartmentalism where they put their politics here and their pop-cultural tastes there and keep them utterly distinct and seperate from each other (a position I cannot even begin to understand, but then I have an unusually un-bounded mind). I know someone who keeps banging on about how Labour are "destroying the British state" who cites "Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols" (yes, the one with "God Save The Queen" and "Anarchy In The UK" on it) as one of his favourite albums.

As for Pulp, I have got into trouble on at least one forum for stating that their most famous song is an unintentional statement of agreement with the High Tory position - you can easily imagine Nicholas Soames calling a student like the one in "Common People" a "class traitor". The sort of people who now dominate the Tory party don't really care about such things, however; if the young middle classes can make more money through popular culture than they can through the "traditional" professions of their social class then the currently dominant wing of the party will cheer them on all the way.

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