Saturday, January 10, 2004

Re: OUR GIG AT DEPTFORD ABYSS: Surprising that Pete Townshend still surfs the net - you'd have thought he'd had enough of the technology after recent events. But apparently he does, taking time out to email the Rocky Mountain News to complain about a review of a Who re-release. Although, to be fair, he does seem to have a point - the Super Audio CD remix of Tommy was difficult to balance out because Keith Moon's drums were recorded in Mono and thus there's no way of reproducing the sixteen track lushness of percusssion sound the modern listener might expect - this sentence shows just how boring his point is, and suggests that it might have been better telling his cat about how unjust the review was, rather than going to the trouble of sitting down and firing up the PC to dash off an email to "correct" what the reviewer heard. Mark Brown, to his credit, sits down and considers again the album in light of this information, but this misses the point - if an album sounds shit unless the producer sits down and gives you a fifteen page email telling you what to listen to, it's a shit album. Period. Or, rather, it's not meant to be heard in this format.

THERE WAS A RABBI, BRITNEY SPEARS AND MICHAEL JACKSON IN A HOTEL ROOM: No, it's not the start of a joke, apparently those are the circumstances in which Rabbi Shmuley Boteach met Britney a couple of years back. Now, though, he's felt the need to send Britney an open letter, tutting over her behaviour. Apparently, she's the reason why "religiously-minded people" feel the need to "cut their teenager daughters off from popular culture" (apparently, then, the children from religious homes aren't the sort who can be trusted to come to their opinion in these matters - whereas you or I might sit down and ask our kids what they think when they see Christina butt-fucking her way around on television, and if they understand why it's inappropriate for little girls to copy her style, apparently in a house where you might expect the children to have been taught how to decide what's appropriate, in fact the kids just can't be trusted to realise the risks of such behaviour so must be protected from even knowing such worlds exist. Religious kids can't be trusted to do the right thing, and must be protected from any form of temptation. "Jesus, you're not going out to the wilderness - if the devil's there, you'll be selling him your soul in a few minutes, never mind no forty days and forty nights. Tell him, Joseph..." . Curious.) Oddly, the Rabbi tells Britney she should smile more and says that she's famous "one step above a porn star" before saying that all that's wrong with his old mucker Michael Jackson is that he's a kind hearted and humble spirit bereft of a normal life. So, a man who pays off little kids to derail legal investigations into allegations of child abuse; a man who has been accused of interfering with kids; a man who cannot see anything wrong with sharing his bed with other people's preteens - he's a friend. But a woman who chooses to wear slightly revealing outfits and consort with consenting adults; she's someone to hate. Righto. Rabbi, it's people like you who make me feel I should shield my daughter from religious culture. And I don't even have a daughter.

IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD A PORSCHE FOR YOUR MIDLIFE CRISIS...: A massive increase in sales reported at the House of Guitars - but it's all middle-aged men. Including Martin Bashir - so maybe his long term plan was to wreck Michael Jackson's career so he could have a clear run at the Top 40...

IRISH EYES NOT SMILING: Figures from IRMA (the Irish record industry consortium) suggest that music sales in the Republic fell 20 per cent by value, but only ten per cent by volume. (Interestingly, Business makes a Freudian slip and calls IRMA the RIAA during the course of this report.) Of course, this is due to illegal downloading and not because, perhaps, Irish consumers are ordering their music from elsewhere in Europe where it's cheaper. In fact, isn't it a little bit ridiculous to be measuring the Irish market alone when it's part of the Eurozone? Isn't it like giving a read out from the North Carolina market, say?

Meanwhile, back across the Atlantic, there's mounting concern over claims that the RIAA are dressing their staff up as police and pretending to be a law enforcement agency. They also appear to be deciding that anyone selling any records who isn't stood in a shop with a barcode scanner and a department given over to Playstation and XBox games must have pirated records - from the report here, at least. This shouldn't come as a surprise - remember the Industry tried to stop Amazon from selling second hand records, and if they've got a bunch of hired goons out hunting down pirates, it won't hurt any if they try and close off a few legitimate businesses if they're harming the RIAA bottom line, too. We're just wondering how long it'll take for the RIAA to start up its own army.

WANT TO JOIN THE RIAA?: You can buy a not-quite fully functioning record label, as Grand Royal, the Beasie Boy's old outfit, is being auctioned online. When we last checked, nobody had yet made a bid - but since they hold Sean Lennon's masters for a lot of his records, we wonder if his Mam hasn't thought about buying it for him? The lucky winner will also take ownership of several Luscious Jackson masters as well, which makes it seem a little less like an actual pig-in-a-poke.

OLDS NEWS: Rhett Miller and the Old 97s are touring round this month, shaking their new stuff out for an airing before locking themselves up in a studio in New York state to record a new album.

As is the way with all stories involving anyone from the alt rock world, the "link with either Lips or Stripes" box is being ticked; this time because co-producer will be Mark Neil, the man who built the room where Elephant was recorded.

THERE'S INSECURITY, AND THERE'S INSECURITY: Now, while we wouldn't touch Brian McFadden out of the Westlifes if we were wrapped up in three inches of lead, we're a little bit confused as to why he thinks Dean Gaffney is any sort of competition. Brian's wife, the spectacularly dim Kerry Katona, is due for the next series of "I used to be famous, but since quitting Atomic Kitten I've yet to find another employer as forgiving of my complete lack of aptitude for any task at all; in fact ITV2 dumped me because I was making them look bad, and that's a network which is happy to consistently employ Mark Durden-Smith; however, in some vague way I was once a celebrity, get me out of here" alongside the smelly EastEnders bloke and Brian imagines the two of them fucking underneath some tropical tree somewhere. We, of course, are trying very hard to imagine anything but.

EVERYTHING MUST GO: We're not sure if there's any direct correlation between Lauryn Hill's quiet period career-wise and the sudden transformation of her official website into a buy stuff from Lauryn... please ecommerce site, but we're considering making her an offer for her George Foreman grill and the curtains in her bedroom. Well, with the pound against the dollar the way it is at the moment, we'd be getting a bargain, she'd at least be able to have a hot dinner tonight.

RE-SPOTTING THE PINK: Is it just us, or is it extraordinary that Pink hasn't done a headline tour yet? All that changes next month, of course, when she sets out on a National Lampoon's European Vacation stye itinerary:

Feb. 19: Dublin (the Point) 21: Belfast (Odyssey) 23: Brussels (Forest Nationale) 25: Hanover (Arena) 27: Stuttgart (Schleyerhalle) March 2: Frankfurt (Festehalle) 4: Munich (Olympiahalle) 5: Leipzig (Arena) 7: Berlin (Max Schmelling Halle) 10: Oslo (Spectrum) 11: Stockholm (Hovet)13: Hamburg (Colorline Arena) 15: Cologne (Arena) 17: Paris (Bercy)18: Rotterdam (Ahoy) 20: Birmingham (NEC Arena) 21: Nottingham (Arena) 23-24: London (Wembley Arena) 26: Manchester (Evening News Arena) 27: Sheffield (Hallam FM Arena 30: Newcastle (Telewest Arena) 31, April 1: Glasgow (SECC) 4: Vienna (Stadthalle) 5: Budapest (Arena) 7: Munich (Olympiahalle) 8: Nuremberg (Arena) 10: Oberhausen, Germany (Arena)

"The first album, I had a DAT and dancers. The second album, I had a live band and no dancers. This time I have it all. I love theatrics. It's not going to be an $18 million stage, because I still believe in the rawness of just music, but it's going to be awesome." We think this means there will be a man with a guitar stood behind her, and some chicks in rah-rah skirts. But no fireworks.

RE-SPOTTING THE PINK: Is it just us, or is it extraordinary that Pink hasn't done a headline tour yet? All that changes next month, of course, when she sets out on a National Lampoon's European Vacation stye itinerary:

Feb. 19: Dublin (the Point) 21: Belfast (Odyssey) 23: Brussels (Forest Nationale) 25: Hanover (Arena) 27: Stuttgart (Schleyerhalle) March 2: Frankfurt (Festehalle) 4: Munich (Olympiahalle) 5: Leipzig (Arena) 7: Berlin (Max Schmelling Halle) 10: Oslo (Spectrum) 11: Stockholm (Hovet)13: Hamburg (Colorline Arena) 15: Cologne (Arena) 17: Paris (Bercy)18: Rotterdam (Ahoy) 20: Birmingham (NEC Arena) 21: Nottingham (Arena) 23-24: London (Wembley Arena) 26: Manchester (Evening News Arena) 27: Sheffield (Hallam FM Arena 30: Newcastle (Telewest Arena) 31, April 1: Glasgow (SECC) 4: Vienna (Stadthalle) 5: Budapest (Arena) 7: Munich (Olympiahalle) 8: Nuremberg (Arena) 10: Oberhausen, Germany (Arena)

"The first album, I had a DAT [pre-recorded backing tape] and dancers. The second album, I had a live band and no dancers. This time I have it all. I love theatrics. It's not going to be an $18 million stage, because I still believe in the rawness of just music, but it's going to be awesome." We think this means there will be a man with a guitar stood behind her, and some chicks in rah-rah skirts. But no fireworks.

"OUR IDEA IS WE WANTED TO CREATE A FLEETWOOD MAC FOR TODAY: Shadowy, faceless songwriting production string-pullers The Matrix are about to relase their own album, except, of course, being shadowy and faceless they're drafting in two humanites to front up the whole project for them. "The organic life-forms will appear to prevent our robotic true selves from alarming people" said The Matrix, in a voice rather like Voyager's from the Star Trek movie. Okay, they didn't actually, but some of their genuine quotes: "We are going to cut some of the tracks live to keep it more organic", "We're not going to try and be too hip for the room", "melodic songs with a little bit more of an edge" and "what is this emotion 'love' of which you speak?" do sound just as mechanical.

THE SMALLEST WEDDING PARTY: The best, or perhaps saddest, aspect of the Britney Spears wedding weekend is that after the couple had signed their annulment papers, they had a de-wedding reception at the n9ne steakhoues; the guest of honour was Lance Bass. (Or maybe he was serving; the report on MTV wasn't clear.) Bah. Even Amy Studt would be able to bark up a BeeGee and maybe one of Busted for her "the wedding didn't really happen" party.

LEARNING FROM PAST MISTAKES: Back at the start of the computerisation of everything, Apple made a huge tactical error. Rather than licensing its window-icon-mouse-pointer Mac operating system to a range of manufacturers, it kept its technology to itself. Had it shared its OS around, we'd all be using Apples now apart, probably, from a few designers who'd be insisting on the superiority of the Microsoft operating system. Anyway, Steve Jobs isn't about to repeat the errors of history, and so HP are being allowed to sell iPods under their own brand. Far more significantly, they're going to preinstall iTunes into all its consumer PCs and desktops. Very good news for Apple indeed, that from power up anyone with a new HP machine will have access to its music software and, of course, its music shop.

Friday, January 09, 2004

FLASH! AH-HAAA! HE'LL RELEASE EVERY ONE OF US: Latest star-turned record exec is Grandmaster Flash, who's launching his Adrenaline City Entertainment label in a couple of weeks at MIDEM. He's shrewdly not hooking himself up to being a hip-hop label exclusively, either, reckoning he'll release anything. Although he doesn't appear to have signed anyone yet.

MADONNA PICKS CLARK: Madonna has weighed into the 2004 Presidential Election, with an endorsement of Dick, sorry, Wesley Clark for President.

She does seem to feel as if she's just swung the election, mind:

I've never done this before. But life is about taking risks is it not?
I know that people seem to pay attention to everything I do. Big or Small. Ridiculous or Sublime. So I am hoping they pay attention to this:
I am supporting General Wesley Clark for President.

She seems to have confused herself with the Queen, for whom endorsing a politician would be a historic step...

Not only as a "celebrity" but as an American citizen and as a mother. I want my children to grow up with the same opportunities that I had – to know and understand what's going on in the world and to travel that world safely and with pride.
Now I'm asking you to join me.
I am writing to you because the future I wish for my children is at risk.
Our greatest risk is not terrorism and it's not Iraq or the "Axis of Evil." Our greatest risk is a lack of leadership, a lack of honesty and a complete lack of consciousness. Unfortunately our current government cannot see the big picture. They think too small. They suffer from the "what's in it for me?" syndrome. The simple truth is that the current administration has squandered incredible opportunities to bring the world together, to promote peace in regions that have only known war, to encourage health in places that are ravaged with disease, to make us more secure by living up to our principles at home and abroad. The simple truth is that the policies of our current administration do not reflect what is great about America.
Thankfully, there is now a candidate running for President who is committed to ensuring that our country lives up to its promise and its people. He is a decorated soldier and a respected diplomatic leader, who has already given 34 years to his country. He is smart and he is good. He has worked hard to get where he is and he is a national hero.
A perfect example of the American Dream.
I've never aligned myself with a presidential candidate during the primary season. But this time, the stakes are too high, we have too much to lose and there is so much work to be done.
I'm supporting General Wesley Clark in 2004 and have committed to do all that I can to help his campaign in the coming months. I ask you to visit his website today to learn about his candidacy, his vision for our nation and the many ways you can get involved.
I've looked at all the Democratic candidates. I respect them all for their dedication and patriotism. But I'm supporting Wes Clark because in him I see the qualifications, character and vision that we so desperately need.
We are a country with incredible promise. As Americans we enjoy opportunities like no other. Unfortunately we take these opportunities for granted. You may not agree with everything I say or do, but whether you're rich or poor, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, I know you share my concern and recognize the need for change.
Even if you've never been involved with politics before, please consider joining with me. If you can give, give generously. If you can volunteer time, get involved now. And if you can vote, this time…make sure you do.
Wesley Clark has asked for my support and now I'm asking for yours

PS: Please spread this message to everyone you know.

So, there you are... Madonna thinks America needs another ex-soldier at its helm; she wants someone who won't be preoccupied with the war on terror, and yet she's endorsing a candidate who believes that the attack on Iraq was "the right call". Although Clark was a critic of Bush's war on Iraq, his concern was not over its ethical dimension or even the very basic policy, but over the plans for the fighting. Clark also believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and that these were a threat in some vague way to the American people. And to suggest that Clark might be some sort of touchy-feely, heal the world leader is preposterous - the man wrote in The Times (the London one, where, you know, Madonna lives) "The campaign in Iraq illustrates the continuing progress of military technology and tactics, but if there is a single overriding lesson it must be this: American military power, especially when buttressed by Britain's, is virtually unchallengeable today. Take us on? Don't try! And that's not hubris, it's just plain fact.". It's also kind of funny that Madonna calls on gay people to join her at Clark's side: He's not exactly a cheerleader for homosexual equality: when asked about 'don't ask, don't tell', he gets all flustered and won't tell what his opinion is; and, of course, he's equally uncomfortable about the gay marriage question. It's touching that Madonna wants her kids to have the right to understand what's going on in the world; maybe it's time she started to exercise hers.

AMERICA CRACKED. WELL, SCUFFED A LITTLE: BBC News trumpet The Darkness' mighty leap up the US Album charts, rattling from 173 to, erm, the all-important 92 position in just one week. Although, seriously, they've been awarded pacesetter status, which means they've had the biggest percentage increase in sales or something. Darkness - you have permission to enter the lower reaches of the Top 75.

VASTNESS: It's like all the people from the olden days are turning up at once - VAST have announced details of their first [US] release for four years, Nude. Due the end of February, it's the bellweather release for 456 Entertainment, which is Carson Daly's new label. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but Richard Branson is a cunt and he managed to put out some great records in his day. Jon Crosby says he's now a lot less worried about getting everything Super DVD-Audio perfect: "I don't feel like waiting any more. I don't plan to wait three years to release a retail record. I used to be more about perfectionism, quality being better than quantity. In the end I realized I'd rather put out more work. It seems like my favorite artists don't wait too long between records." Yeah, and if there was a danger of Carson Daly turning up while we were in the studio, we'd be keen to crack on and get out of there as soon as possible, too.

I HAVE FORGIVEN MORRISSEY: Morrissey's guitarist, Alan Whyte, reckons New Mozzer disc You Are The Quarry is the best thing he's done. The edge is slightly taken off this by the rider that he means its the best thing Morrissey has done solo, which means there's still quite a gap between what we can expect and the worst Smiths stuff. On the other hand, if we take Mr. White at his word, we can look forward to "a cross between Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I." Which is like putting Red Rum out to stud with a knackered seaside donkey, we'd have thought, but it should be fun.

This is Morrissey's first record since, oh, around the end of World War II.

EXPLOITING BACK CATALOGUE LIKE AN ALBANIAN PROSTITUTE: The Music Industry has come up with another way of flogging back the same stuff to people all over again ("has latched on to a new market sector") as the Greatest Hits album is reborn as the Number Ones Album. After The Beatles released theirs, and then Elvis did his, now Diana Ross and The Supremes are the latest act to have an album dedicated to their chart toppers, raising the inevitable prospect of a stream of albums from any act which has had more than two number ones in their careers - mmm, can't wait for the Westlife one. Naturally, one wouldn't want to be caught carping at any move which reminds people just how brilliant the Supremes were, and any record which will direct some cash in the direction of the surviving BeeGees and perhaps spare them the indignity of wanking for coins on shows like Fame Academy has to be a positive move. But don't say you weren't warned.

APPLE MAKES RECORD COMPANIES LOOK BAD. AGAIN: Having swept aside all the Major Label's half-decade of prevarication and panic, proving that music downloads can work in a legal context, Apple has now made the Big Five look like pieces of cheese once again. When the music industry were accused of keeping prices artificially higher in the UK than they are in the visa-protected US, the record labels made some lameass statement about "everything costing more in the UK", as if that made supernormal profits somehow alright. However, when people complained about the price differential between the American and British versions of the Mini iPod, Apple said "You're right" and announced an immedeate review. Can it merely be coincidence that everyone loves Apple and hates EMI, Universal, Sony Music...?

FAMILY VALUES: While we suppose if you're going to have a Ramones tribute band, it might as well have a Ramone in it, we can't help but think "Pete Best's Beatles" when we see "Marky Ramone and Friends."

I'M NOT A GUITAR PERSON: Much speculation has been raging about who, exactly, provided the inspiration for Kings of Leon's rubbish ("distinctive") visual image. We can reveal the truth, which is that they've based their image on Tom, Reggie Perrin's well-meaning but irritating son-in-law:

parsnip wine on the rider, please

OBSESSIONS AND DELETIONS: The tracklisting for the Suede fan-only farewell album has been announced. And some of the tracks to be included on See You In The Next Life will make grown men drool like a hot dog:

1. 'She' (strings intro)
2. 'Elaine Paige'
3. 'La Puissance'
4. 'Lazy' (demo)
5. 'By The Sea' (acoustic version)
6. 'Indian Strings' (Protocol demo)
7. 'She's In Fashion' (Protocol demo)
8. 'Simon' (demo)
9. 'Beautiful Loser' (Parkgate demo)
10. 'When The Rain Falls' (Stanbridge demo)
11. 'Untitled' (Stanbridge demo)
12. 'Attitude' (Mick Jones remix)

The record will be made available exclusively to members of the Suede fan network, who will then dump a shitload of them onto Ebay within minutes.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

WRITING ABOUT MUSIC WRITING IS LIKE, OH, SOMETHING ABOUT DANCING AND BUILDINGS PROBABLY: There's an interesting post over on clap clap blog about music criticism, suggesting that if you write about songwords and nothing about the music itslef, all you're producing is literary criticism. Eppy believes this could be because we don't have a vocabulary to describe pop music, whereas classical music has a much more precise set of terms - your cadences, credenzas and so on. But I'm not totally convinced this totally holds water - a lot of music writers do try to describe the music, but the reason they don't use strict music theory terms to do so isn't because there's a difference between a rock cadence and a classical cadence; more that when you review pop, you're writing for a much less specialised audience for whom the terms are less likely to hold meaning than saying "the guitars are like horses screeching in a thunderstorm."

THE HOME OF THE HITS: In a year crammed with rock anniversaries, the Daily Telegraph gets in early to mark the 50th anniversary of Tin Pan Alley Studios in Denmark Street. Oddly, for a place that witnessed early punk and the Stones when they meant something, space is found to make mention that Hall and Oates once came to see the place and were surprised how basic the place was. Even more oddly, the paper calls it "a rock and roll crocodile" for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

GET OUT... STAY OUT: Good news on the gigs front: Distillers add dates in Glasgow, Birmingham and Leeds while The Vines confirm a single date in London. And "goth-tinged androgyous glam rockers" Placebo have added an extra Brixton date.

SHE LOOKS LIKE A PAINTING... ALTHOUGH NOT MUCH: Stone Roses chap John Squire is getting an exhibition of his Roses cover art at the ICA in London next month, so you can go and look at them, if you want. Or you could peer at a Jackson Pollock postcard through some dirty glasses. The effect would be pretty much the same.

MEL C GOES PROPERLY SOLO: Mel C is going to become Mick Hucknall - not through a series of operations to create a tiny penis, some out-of-date-code red hair dye and a month and a half of beating herself in the face with a large spanner, but through the slightly less painfull process of following the Simply Red new model of releasing her own singles without the need for a record label. This follows her being kicked off the Virgin roster - "after an agreement on all sides that it was 'best to part ways'" (we assume along the lines of Virgin told her to empty her locker, whereupon Mel decided leaving would be a good idea). Apparently she started to write songs before Christmas but has now gone on holidays instead. See, that's the trouble with self-employment: you start with great intentions, but before you know it, it's getting up at half past eleven and stopping work for the day when Countdown comes on.

TAKE YOUR PICK OF AMUSING PUNS ON 'NEEDLE' AND 'TRACKS': Tenille Chaffin, co-owner of No-Slippin Records, sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for his part in "Western Pennsylvania's largest drugs ring."

ILL-CONSIDERED HEADLINES OF OUR TIME: White And Stollsteimer To Meet At Awards Bash

CAREY-LESS: The theatre-goers of London will be sorely disappointed, as remembertheeighties are reporting that Mariah Carey's "London stage debut" in the Prince and The Showgirl has been put on hold because she's rubbish and nobody is interested ("the production is behind schedule"). It's now looking like the thing will never see the light of day. Don't worry, there's always that Rod Stewart musical, if you're looking for a slow suicide.

AIN'T NO UPPER BODY WORK OUT: An email reaches us from K, with a question about Liberty X and their tour cancellation:

OK, so this is just plain bitchy, but... if Liberty X are so successful in 'the far east' that they have to cancel a tour, how come someone I know saw one of them in a gym in Bedford last week? She pointed him out to me tonight getting off the train with the rest of us weary commuters...

I would say which one it was, but I've just looked at their web site and they both look like him. Please don't make me look at any more of their pictures.

BACKSTROKES: Get out your diaries, cross out where you've written "New Strokes Single" on the 12th and write in 'Strokes single now out on Feb 9th' - apparently there's some complications with the artwork causing the delays. Probably the designer keeps writing "Last Night" on the front instead of "Reptilia"...

BACKSTROKES: Get out your diaries, cross out where you've written "New Strokes Single" on the 12th and write in 'Strokes single now out on Feb 9th' - apparently there's some complications with the artwork causing the delays. Probably the designer keeps writing "Last Night" on the front instead of "Reptilia"...

CANNOT OFFER PROTECTION FROM DRIVE-BYS: At long last, someobody's decided to "pioneer the integration of condoms and "Hip Hop Kulture" (their - presumably non-ironic - quote marks and poor spelling).

JimmieHatz are hoping their logo becomes synonymous with responsible sexual behaviour. But when I look at it:

lil bow wow

... for some reason all I can think of is Princess Anne and the fate of the Queen's corgi.
[Warm thanks to Rufus for the, erm, tip]

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

WHAT I GO TO 'POOL FOR: The purists who grumbled their way through some of the too poppy bits of Liverpool's now annual Summer Pops event are going to be more pissed off than ever, as this year Busted are playing the Merseyside Big Top. Tickets on sale - via that there link - from Friday morning, though not for very long, we'd guess.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Facts and Fifty edition
It's been a week where most of mainstream coverage of matters pop has been little more than a straight copying out of press releases - thus, almost every paper that covered it reported as fact the claim that "music downloads have almost halved as a result of the RIAA fines", despite this being wrong in almost every respect, not least of which the "falling by half" claim - a survey of one and half thousand web users in the States is a patchy sample for an activity apparently enjoyed by six million Americans; the RIAA has settled out of court with some filesharers but nobody has actually been fined yet; and if illgeal downloads are falling, it might be as much due to the novelty wearing off or the entry of legitimate services as the RIAA legal action. But that, of course, would require an element of reportage rather than cutting and pasting from press releases, so it went largely unremarked - although, to be fair, the Christian Science Monitor did make a half-decent hand to trying to be balanced.

Likewise, back in Britain, the changing of the lard at Radio One's breakfast show was met with a general willingness to accept the standard line: Moyles has replaced Cox because Cox's audience was falling. Which would be fine, although, as Sara Cox pointed out in her Observer interview, in the last quarter Moyles' drivetime figures tanked far worse than her morning audience had. Indeed, you could argue that Radio One has moved Sara Cox to teatime in a bid to try and save the 3.00 slot. Not that many of the papers seemed that bothered - the Daily Express even reported as news Moyles' claims that he was "the saviour of radio one", despite him banging on with that catchphrase since he first pitched up on the nation's favourite. Curiously, under his saviourship the network's audience has seemed to be plummeting.

On his first morning, The Guardian ran a large interview with Chris, in which he explained how he insisted to the boss (Andy Parfitt) on being able to do what he wanted in the breakfast slot: "I said, 'You need to be able to trust that I'm not going to drop you in the shit.' And Andy said, 'No, I've already thought about that.' I've proved to him that I'm not just some maverick little upstart disc jockey from Leeds." Rather a bold claim from a bloke who's featured more frequently in the Broadcasting Standards Commission Complaints Bulletin than he has in the music press - including being slapped down for offering to take Charlotte Church's virginity when she reached sixteen.

If they'd really wanted a safe pair of hands, they should have moved Steve Lamacq up to the Breakfast Show - in his Guardian diary this week he reveals his struggles to ensure he didn't accidently correctly back announce Selfish Cunt on his Monday night show.

In an NME which still smells strongly of "here's one we prepared well before Christmas", we're promised fifty (fifty, count em) amazing new bands. "New" is a slightly stretchy term - it seems to mean in some cases "quite well established bands we've been too busy with Jet to give proper coverage to", but it'd be churlish not be smile a little to see Franz Ferdinand on the cover, even if one of them is wearing a very horrible orange shirt.

The big picture is, erm, some people at a Libertines New Year's eve gig (you can just bet they were hoping Jack White could beat the shit out of someone else before press time) - as it is, they have to make do with White's mug shot. The Prosecutor bringing the case against him suggested that his attack on Jason Strollsteimer "would have continued had several of the bystanders not pulled him off." Probably a quick peck on the cheek would have done, but I suppose you don't get many opportunities when Jack's so preoccupied with what he's doing to get the chance.

Great news for the Beagle2 project: they might not have heard from their space probe yet, but sometimes patience can pay off: Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler have just had their first contact after ten years of silence - and lets not forget the frozen wastes of their working relationship made them more distant than merely the next planet along. Suede insiders are begging everyone to leave them space to get used to each other again. So far, the Daily Mirror and The Sun have both respected their wishes.

Peter Robinson this week meets Richard X. "It's me watching some schoolgirls on TV, with my sausage dog." Hmm. Mr. Robinson needs to have a word with whoever subbed his piece, though, as the NME's hitherto unknown Woolies Ed interjects with the claim that "Woolworths has always been a US company" - not in the UK, actually; the UK business was bought from the American parent company in 1982.

Useful fact in nme letters page shock: the last Travis single only got to 48. Indeed, it made such a small plop, we and nobody but - apparently - Frank Black of Paris noticed. There's also an angry gay man letter from Gareth Howe of Worthing, angry that Scissor Sisters were described as "gayer than Graham Norton having a picnic on Clapham Common with Elton John" and angry that the Bo Selecta piece was just full of jokes about anal sex. Alex Needham doesn't quite send him packing - in fact, if it wasn't for Alex being able to open his response "As a gayer myself...", then his pay off of 'how can we be homophobic? We voted Rufus wainwright's album sixth best of last year' might have just made matters a million times worse.

Peaches turns up as NME's new sex therapist. Although, unfortunately, rather than real problems it's all "GG from Bradford" talking about having fucked Jordan and so on, so Peache's usefull advice - "free the lactating woman! the ear is the new ass!" which would be more fun if they were real people's problems she's solving. C'mon, Smash Hits lets the likes of bloody Liberty X offer advice to real readers... Although I think we can now, basically offer a summary of Peache's standard response to every problem: If you ain't got a dick to fuck it better with, you need a strap on.

So, fifty bands, eh? Last year, the nme was recommending Kings Of Leon, Sleepy Jackson, 50 Cent and, um, Clipse. So, who do we have this year? Deep breath...

The Futureheads -"cybermen"; Kasbian - "mad"; My Red Cell - "eccentro-energy"; Hope of the States - "post-orchestral"; The Zutons - "zombie soul music"; MC Shystie -"grime-rhymer"; Lady Sovereign - "teeny-tiny"; Lloyd Banks - "razor-sharp"; Supercat - "rizzle jamaican shizzle"; Kiley dean - "Britney backing"; Kayne West - "seeringly soulful beats"; Wiley - "eski"; Dios - "obsessed with the Beach Boys"; Icarus Line/Ima Robot/The Bronx/The Fuse/The Stitches/Hello Fever/The Rolling Blackouts//The Fallen/Irving - LA is the new Detroit/New York; The Ordinary Boys - "to 2004 what the Jam were to 1979"; Eastern Lane - "raucous"; Yourcodenameis:milo - "post-rock geordies"; Chikinki - "evil electro-punk"; The Glitterati - "signed"; The Open - "out"; The Engineers - "and about" (some of the write ups are very vague indeed); Thirteen Senses - "fellow Pack newcomers" (oh, yes, did we mention "The Brit Pack" as a coinage for a new scene that isn't?); The Killers - "near invincible"; VHS or Beta - "daft punks with live instruments"; Selfish Cunt - "racket"; Hot Chip - "gameboy R&B"; HAL - "MOR"; Keane - "recalls Tears For Fears"; Grand National - "sounds like the Police" (um... have we suddenly switched to listing bands who sound as if they should have instruments removed from their persons?); Lil' Jon - "crunk" (southern hip-hop, since you ask); TI - "crunk"; Bone crusher - "crunk"; David Banner - "Citizen Kane to crunk's animal house"; Young Bloodz - "more crunk"; The Bronx - "party hardcore"; Part Chimp - "loudest band in the world"; The Constantines - "Fugazi/U2"; Rye Collection - "New Jersey"; Unlce John & Whitelock/ The Owsley Sunshine/Dogs Die In Hot Cars/Sluts of Trust/Kain - Glasgow is the new Madchester or Oswestry or wherever - and - roll on the drums - Franz Ferdinand, the "best new band in Britain": "camp-as-Christmas disco-drill".

In the midst of all this, there's a report of a growing underground campaign to try and force Shed Seven to reform. Seriously, boys, it won't require all this effort of dolphin masks and chanting - a thruppence increase in the price of strong lager and the work down the builder's yard drying up, and Rick Witter will be on the phone booking the back room in the Roundhay Park Tavern before you know.

We wondered last week who the hell would want eight Oasis posters. This week, it's the musically gifted but physically repulsive Kings of Leon given all 8 full-page glossy shots - and they're rubbish backstage candid snaps too. it's the poster pullout equivalent of being shown someone from your office's snaps of their ski-ing holiday in Vail. But with beards.

the libertines - kentish town forum - "raise a glass to them now", 9
mondo generator - mean fiddler - "like slipping on somebody else's puke and falling downstairs onto a pile of broken glass", 7


ryan adams - love is hell part one - "at times flirting with cliche", 9
ryan adams - love is hell part two - "... sometimes even flirting with other people", 9
the ladybug transistor - the ladybug transistor - "you do yearn for a hint of red meat, but...", 7
grimspoon - new detention - "only a few notches down from 'I like the pope, the pope smokes dope tshirts", 5

sotw - franz ferdinand - take me out - "super fantastitisch"
kinky disco - runaway together - " [has] ambitions to be a ladytron single when it grows up"

Karl Hyde from Underworld loves... Lou Reed and says 'New York' (which we think is the best thing the grumpy old git has ever done, ourselves) is a major factor in how he writes words.

And, finally, thanks to Johnny Dee for the kind words in this weekend's Guardian Guide. Now I feel even more guilty for never quite getting round to ordering Especially Yellow...

IT'S ALL PART OF THE HEALING PROCESS: George Harrison's doctor is in trouble again as he's now being sued by the estate over claims that he took photos of the dying Beatle and got him to sign autographs and a guitar while on his death bed. This is supposedly against George's will, but we're not convinced... how would you slip it in like that?

"Mr Harrison? We need your signature on this legal release before we operate... there... and there... and now on this drug chart, under where it says 'patient', could you sign and initial?... and on this sheet, sign there, and write 'to my snookybums'... and then sign next to the X on this document... and then alongside the fretboard on this one..."

Still, there's good news for Dr. Lederman - if he comes to sell the guitar on Ebay, he's going to have tonnes of proof of authenticity.

IT'S TINY AND IT'S SHINY: Previewing at the MacWorld expo, shipping to the US in February and the UK in time for Easter: iPod minis. Smaller, prettier, cheaper, and still holding three days' worth of music.

We know iPods aren't about music so much as wrapping people up in a world where they think of Apple as the only choice for portable electronic gubbins so that when they come to launch a handheld mini-super-computer not only will people not remember Windows CE, but also won't remember Newton, but even without that element of stealth, these things are quite, quite gorgeous.

At the same time, Apple have announced Garageband, which claims it makes making music as simple as iDVD has made authoring DVDs and iMovie has made splicing films together. In other words, Liam Gallagher could use it. Classy.

THEY REALLY ARE UNBELIEVABLE: As if their assault on CD Wow isn't enough, the BPI are striving to make themselves even more unpopular and to look even more stupid and petty by launching an investigation into Amazon. The BPI is worried that Amazon is providing its clients (i.e. us) with records from the US and not the more expensive but identical product they offer in the UK. The BPI claims that this is all routine, which really makes things worse, not better: they regularly check out to see where Amazon's stock comes from?

Let's not forget that if the BPI is really that concerned that Amazon is able to undecut the prices charged on the highstreet by sourcing records from the US, that would be because British CD prices are ridiculously enormous and that Amazon buys most of its CD stock from America's major labels - who are also Britain's major labels, and as such the basis of the BPI. So if it really is a problem, rather than getting the blundering charlies of the BPI to poke about in boxes outside the Buckinghamshire headquarters of Amazon, why don't the members ring up their American counterparts and tell them not to sell to Amazon?

Well, obviously, because the British heads of the international labels are on a par with the people who make sure the photocopiers are full of toner in overseas HQs. But that's not the point. What this case is about isn't anything to do with the companies being poorly treated, or even criminally deprived of their income. What Amazon are able to do is charge a fair, floating market price for music product - and the labels are scared shitless at losing their power to dictate terms. We'd guess HMV and Virgin are putting heavy pressure on the distibutors to cut the cost of the CDs they buy wholesale, to give them a fair chance of competing against the online companies (and supermarkets, who don't care about making profits on a couple of albums, providing people buy a shedload of Shreddies and Dog Food at the same time). And rather than comply, the BPI response is to try and artificially force online prices up instead. The music industry isn't just trying to force genies back into the bottle; they're so scared of the modern world, we'd imagine they'll shortly be bringing legal action in a bid to reversethe results of the Big Bang.

HELLO, JOE: As part of their forthcoming second-reunion-album, Blondie pay tribute to Joey Ramone with a song called 'Hello Joe' (although, of course, the most touching tribute anyone paid to Joey was to lay down on the floor of our local winebar the night he died).

Talking of Mr. Ramone, we're indebted to Dave McIntosh for his review of the Joey Ramone "action figure" (i.e. doll - there's no shame in calling it a doll, you know):

It fucking rocks.

We don't think he means in the way a Weeble would.

X OFF: It looks like the surprising afterlife of the Popstar Rejects band Liberty X could be coming to an end, with the pulling of their February Tour. The arena dates have apparently been canned "due to unforseen circumstances" and and, even more ominously, there's no indication of when, or if, the tour.

So, what is it keeping the band from fulfilling the dates? A desperate bid to try and shore up the act by scrambling round the Far East ("sudden unexpected success in the Far East creating a whole new load of commitments"), apparently. Oh, yes? Not large, unexpected piles of unsold tickets, then?

THE SUE BARKER: So, despite having had their methods ruled out of order in the Verizon case, the RIAA are still going to push ahead with suing everybody in the world, ever, according Achy Breaky Cary Sherman. As p2pnet points out, though, this is a risky process for the cartel to carry through: so far, its "victories" have been scored over individuals who received the summons and elected to settle out of court rather than face the five-headed beast's hugely overpaid legal team. Now it looks rather like everything will have to go through the courtroom first, which means not only will the supposedly cash-strapped industry be having to burn through millions, but also will have their methods - dubious as best - explored in open court. 2004 might be fun.

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR... ACTUALLY, DEATH SOUNDS MORE FUN: Having fucked-up at music and television (Victoria's Secrets, anyone?) Victoria Beckham is now planning to spread her talents out in another direction. This time, it's Posh: The magazine. Although she's planning to call it Liberty, after, um, her niece or something. We're not certain, of course, but we're expecting something closer to Bunty than Scientific American.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

GOSPELOBIT: Jake Hess, four-time Grammy gospel winner, has died at the age of 76. Hess was a former member of the Melody Boys and the John Daniel Quartet. It was Daniel who gave him his first name - prior to that, Hess had been known solely by the initials W. J., given to him by his sharecropper parents. It was while lead singer with the Statesmen that Hess performed at Hank Williams' funeral; he also performed at Elvis Presley's.

Laying down the roots of a style which would eventually lead to modern Christian music, Hess faced the sort of criticism (devil's music and so on) that still plagues the genre today, but went on to be regular on Bill Gaither's Homecoming Friends.

He played music up until his death, despite a really rotten record of ill health: four heart attacks, two open heart surgeries, two ops against cancer, diabetes and some kidney problems on top: "I go into these churches and auditoriums, and people say, 'Well, Jake, how are you doin'?' ... if I told them all my 'isms', which takes quite a spell, I'd have to hear all their 'isms.' So I've been saying 'nothin' but fine' about 40 years, just to conserve time, and it's become such a habit that I can't give anybody a straight answer anymore!"

DRAWING ON THEIR BEST ASSETS: Well, we stand corrected - we'd assumed that Tatu's life was going to be continued through a series of stunts taking place well off camera, like their tilt at the Russian Presidency. But it turns out that other great stand by of a franchise which has lost its actors - turning to animation - is being utilised for the comeback. Jannyanko emails us with more:

there'll always be a place for tAtU... well, apparently. if anyone thought their particular ploy wasn't tailor-made for the Japanese market, well, they're quite seriously deluded.
Check it out- there's going to be a tAtU anime. The official site is linked below, and mentions that it's to be a movie, which seems to be some sort of sci-fi/magical girls type thing, from the description. The character designs don't look bad, at least.

There were, of course, plans being laid to keep the Buffy world flowing by using poorly-drawn stand-ins; and that cartoon version of Star Trek wasn't too bad - although we never quite worked out who the goat-like man was meant to be in that. Choosing Japan as a target market seems equally shrewd - a country where Shampoo are still worshipped as goddesses* is probably going to be a good bet for Tatu.

On the other hand, cartoon lesbian lumpen-punk is a genre that's already achieved its apex. And Tatu are no Maggie and Hopey.

* - I know in my heart that Shampoo probably don't mean anything in Japan, and probably never meant very much at all; I suspect that young people in Tokyo are told similar tales about Shonen Knife's popularity in the United Kingdom to the ones we were spun about Shampoo's fabulous life in Japan. But it's a nice fiction, isn't it?

BLIMEY, THEY SAY MARRIAGE AGES YOU, BUT...: Since that's a picture of the husband she's holding, are Ananova trying to tell us that Britney has found the wedding business a bit of an ordeal?


Okay, so it's really Jason's grandma... who appears to live in Vera Duckworth's house...

THE BIG TIME: We're not sure if Andrew Collin's biggest mistake was getting so pissed when he went to review Ballam and The Angel, or admitting he liked them in the first place.

NOT SO RIGHTEOUS: The post-mortem findings on the death of Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield reckons he was off his face on coke at the time he died. Apparently, the report that Hatfield had eaten enough cocaine to kill a small-ish pony was delivered to the splendidly name Dr Richard Tooker, Kalamazoo's Medical Chief, on Christmas Eve, but out of concern for the family, he sat on it over the holidays. Bill Medley is surprised at the news - "I never saw him take cocaine, and if I did, I'd have said something to him" reckons Bill. Yes, probably something like "Will you pass some of that over here, Bobby?"

COULD DO BETTER: We're delighted that TimeWarner have invested some money in the Uncut website, but a bit sad they couldn't have found, you know, some more money to make a website that didn't look like it was put together in 1978. We know they're a bit like that at Uncut - one of the subeditors refuses to use any technology invented since the start of Punk; the bulk of the magazine is produced using Word for Windows "because that's what Nick Drake would have wanted" - but even so...

RUN FOR CUSTOMERS: If you want to see - and hear - the Japanese Demolition Company song we were talking about yesterday, well, now you can [Takes a little bit to load - click on Break Out when it appears in the black box]. Safe! Danger! Limit! Apparently the company employs Transformers, and at one point they appear to blow up Vodaphone's headquarters. Don't tell Tom Ridge. [Thanks to Eleanor Goldsmith]

RE-ENTER THE DRAGON: Urge Overkill, who split when it became clear they'd find it hard to shake off the Pulp Fiction Band tag, are reuniting - at first to dip their collective toe back in the fame bath with four US dates.

WE WISH WE COULD BELIEVE IT WAS ALL A POLITICAL STUNT: Letters to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Britney's brief period as Mrs. Alexander (these take second place to the question of local sewers) raise the tenuous possibility that maybe Britney's wedding was all a subtle ploy to throw into sharp relief the American right's claims that gay marriage would undermine the sacred sanctity of marriage between heterosexual couples.

No, we know it was just a couple of pissed youngsters getting carried away, but it's a nice thought, isn't it?

The now former Mr. Spears was on the television this morning, one thing visible in his face: "Dude, if I had thought ahead and kept her drunk all the time..."

MEMO TO MS BECKHAM: From The New York Times:

Here's a word of advice: If you or a friend are ever signed to a record label, and the company schedules your CD for release the first week in January, find another record label. With the offices of major record labels closed and no one around to promote the music, it means that your label just doesn't care whether you succeed or fail.

COULD WE HAVE THAT MONEY BACK, PLEASE: Some sideshow fun in Korea, where Park Ji-yoon and JYP Management are having a little tussle over 230 million won's worth of advance. Park severed her contract with the company about a fortnight early last year, following a row about sexually provocative lyrics. It now looks like those two weeks could wind up costing Park GBP100,000. Or at least a long courtroom tussle.

LISTEN TO YOUR FATHER: Got a problem? No-one else can help you? Ray Davies CBE busy elsewhere? Then why not launch a Task Force. The usual Labour solution to tricky situations - creating a pointless cross-agency partnership body - has been wheeled out to "help" the live music scene (something that wasn't having very much in the way of problems until that new law came in insisting that any place which wanted to put on any live music would have to have an extra licence). The body - led by Fergal Sharkey, from the recently disbanded Radio Authority - will have "a range of experience and expertise to help us [...] identify the barriers to live music being played and find out why some areas thrive while others do not." explained Estelle Morris, the government minister who felt unable to cope with a "proper" department like education but who gamely battles on with the apparently less tricky Culture, Media and Sport portfolio. So, it's not just a bunch of well-fed toffs driving round the country in a bus popping into pubs, then.

QUICK! UPGRADE HIS CBE TO A GEORGE CROSS: Not content with having picked up a prize in the New Year's Honours, now Ray Davies has turned into a crimefighting good guy, pursuing a bloke who stole his friend's handbag down the streets of New Orleans. The Kinks' singer took a bullet, but the man was brought to justice.

A spokesperson for the Hallmark Channel expressed interest, but said they might change the central character to Paul McCartney for the TV Movie.

Monday, January 05, 2004

IT'S NOT FUN TO MOCK THE AFFLICTED: We like Wayne Coyne as much as you can imagine, but we have to wag our finger and say "Not fair, young man" when he says "I think everybody is wondering what's up with Jack white's mustache. He has this weird little John Waters thing going on right now, and I just want to go on the record saying that I think it looks marvelous." It would be kinder, on this occasion, to tell Jack White the truth, don't you think?

THE ANTI-BOB-THE-BUILDER: You've got to respect the Japanese charts, which found space for a surprise festive hit from the Nihon Break Kogyo demolition company. Somehow, the organisation's corporate song made it into the nation's charts at 22. Altogether now:

We will destroy houses.
We will destroy bridges.
We will destroy buildings.
To the east,
to the west,
run, run,
Nihon Break Kogyo.

We're expecting Posh to be calling the company with a view to a collaboration within the week.
[Thanks to Jana at Prague's Radio One for the link]

HAVE YOU HEARD THE MUFFLER MEN?: There's not been much music-garage mechanic crossover; something we put down to the twin blows of the 'you can't fit better than a KwikFit fitter' jingle and Matthew Marsden's short-lived pop career after he left Kevin Webster's side as Corrie's greasemonkey. But this Slashdot poster reckons that the music industry might have a lot to learn from car workers. In effect, the argument is that the industry has screwed itself by fixating on the high return Big Names, rather than trying to make a little from a wide number of acts, which makes a lot of sense. [Thanks to Alan C for the link]

STRANGE TALES: Jon Voight - the one from Midnight Cowboy, not the dentists - saves unamed rock star's daughter. It's not entirely clear what he saved her from - she was crying by the side of the road on a foul Christmas Eve in Beverley Hills, he pulled over and persuaded her to go home. So far, so "Coming up on Hallmark Channel". Except, of course, that it was apparently okay for the girl to get in the car with a strange man because "he told her he was a well-known actor with kids of his own." We're not convinced that someone telling us that would make us go "Ah... so you're not going to drive off into the Hollywood Hills and dismember my body, then."

The Sunday Mirror attempts to hide the child's identity, but... 16 year old daughters of British rock stars who live with their mothers in Beverley Hills... how many are there?

COVER SCHTICK: We've mentioned - more than once, actually - that someone should really start a listing system for songs similar to the practice of listing buildings, so that when, say, Girls Aloud announce their intention to cover The Pointer Sisters a panel of experts would ask them how they intend to improve on the original, and why they feel their version won't undermine the status and standing of the original. We've always viewed this as being a process that would work akin to the odd householder wanting to put UPVC windows in Anne Hathaway's cottage. Now, though, we've got the equivalent of an entire village being bulldozed to build an Ikea: A bunch of modern acts cover a slew of 80s classics for the new Drew Barrymore movie. Thus, to aid 50 First Dates, we're being treated to Seal bringing his deep, deep emotion to Echo and The Bunnymen's Lips Like Sugar, 311 tinkering with the Cure's Love Song. We have to be honest and say we're quite looking forward to The Black Eyed Peas doing Spandau's True, but that cannot excuse Ziggy Marley retouching The Car's Drive or, most hideously of all, UB40's fish-finger cod reggae version of Every Breath You Take.

Happily, you can blame all this on Adam Sandler, who's also in the movie, rather than Drew herself. But we would like to ask her if she's happy with this soundtrack and, if she is, if that means she'd be equally laid back with someone remaking ET with Jim Carrey and Christina Applegate?

I DO, TOO: Britney isn't the only singer who got hitched on a whim over the New Year's Holdiay (you see what lengths you have to go to to fill time when you employ someone to take your decorations down?). Only Lou Rawls seems a bit more sure he's going to stay wedded.

WE'RE BETTING: Christina's grinding her teeth this morning, don't you think? Nothing much new in the Britney wedding story this morning, although we do know that it genuinely was a marriage, although it's going to be annulled this morning on thr grounds that it was unconsumated (i.e. although vows were exchanged, there was no photographer from OK present, and as such the wedding is invalid.)

TALKING TRASH: So, the sun rises on the new Radio One breakfast show - the swap between Moyles and Cox being delicately handled to try and counteract the impression that Sara Cox was dumped. So Sara Cox got a high-profile interview with Miranda Sawyer in the Observer, while both shows got a trailer for the telly. While Cox's was quite amusing, Moyles suggests someone in the BBC PR department offering up a hostage to fortune: DLT 2004 is shown running about with binmen collecting rubbish and doing his stuff from inside a skip. The rest, we think, writes itself.

Moyles has claimed he'd kick anyone's arse on breakfast, ever, which is quite a claim. When we tuned in a short while ago, his big idea was getting a very bleary Wes Butters to do some mental arithmetic and playing Avril Lavigne. We'd imagine shares in Capital will be holding steady.

Talking of Wes Butters, isn't it a little odd that - almost a year into his Radio One life - he's still only doing the chart rundown? If he's such a great talent that the parachuting into the plum slot wasn't a big mistake, how come they've not found anywhere else on the network for him to exercise those talents? And if it was a mistake, why is he still there?

I'M (STILL) RIGHT HERE: Amidst much muttering about her supposedly being dropped by Polydor, Samantha Mumba is adopting a Brentesque career-rescue position ("if a salesman isn't doin well, he doesn't start to turn up on a bicycle, he gets a bigger car"), signing a "big" deal with Hello and iinviting 300 people to her birthday party. If we were the Four Seasons hotel in Dublin, we'd be demanding the cash in advance.

LOAD DOWN?: There's a lot of RIAA-style excitement over the Pew survey that "shows" the lawsuits against ordinary joes is causing Americans to turn their back on downloads. It's worth noting that what this actually proves is that - following on from the high profile legal action against filesharers - if someone gets a phonecall out the blue from a stranger saying "Have you downloaded music in the last few days?", they will tend to say "Who, me, sir? No, sir."

TANKING: We're not just being mean to Posh when we say that this is the softest time of the year for record sales - in Australia, sales of the Top 10 singles collapsed by three-quarters in a week.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

CASHBACK: We've had this link sitting around in our inbox since before Christmas, but that its a few days old doesn't make it any less fascinating, we think: a breakdown of how Cowell, Chapman and Fuller squeeze cash from the Pop Idol franchise.

REVOLUTION IN THE RADIO-HEAD: The Zimbabwe state broadcasters hit on a novel idea: paying artists for the music they play.

WE'D LIKE TO MAKE IT CLEAR WE LOVE ALL SINGERS, EVER. JUST IN CASE.: We know that nobody likes a critic, but Louis Barone's response to a chap who heckled a nightclub singer seems a bit extreme - he shot him dead. Blimey.

POSH PUSHED OUT: It was cruel and cyncial of anyone to assume that Victoria Beckham's people had chosen this week to release her new comeback single because it's the soft, hanging underbelly of record sales - after the Christmas rush, the first week of January is a time where nobody releases singles, meaning that anyone who has any sort of following and profile who is brave enough to poke something out should have no trouble securing that vital number one slot. Only the pre-Yule records are there to offer any sort of competition, and they've already burned themselves out in the last days of advent.

This Groove / Let Your Head Go (not so much a double a- as a double b-side) has limped in at number three, outsold not only by Mad World, which has now had three weeks at the top, but also by Kelly Osbourne and Her Sainted Pa. What were your plans B and C, Vicki? Fashion and Acting? Better get the sewing machine out.

Also making a worrying low debut on the Coca-Cola Chart is S Club 8, who only hit number 11 with Don't Tell Me Your Sorry. The 19 Management team have clearly been stung by suggestions that the S Club Juniors are little more than kiddywinks offered up for the salivating paedo-masses, and have recently launched a cunning strategy of disguising the fact the band are peddling a bunch of children by dressing them up as if they were all twenty five years old.

NUGENT AND KEY: The latest spinning of the reality TV format dice has coughed up Surviving [Ted] Nugent on VH1 in the States. Clearly pitched as "Survivor meets The Osbournes", it smacks to us more of Bernard Falk's Now Get Out of That hosted by Brian May: A team of the-sort-of-people-who-only-exist-on-reality-TV go out into the wilds with Ted Nugent and try to live up to his challenges.

We now live in an age where Arm Wrestling With Chas and Dave doesn't sound like a satirist's wildest imaginings.

THE COMEBACK KID: It's almost as if he never went away, but even so: Kid Rock is attempting a comeback. Obviously, when we say it's almost as if he never went away we say this with a sense of regret as his stupid clumpy act seems to have been rammed into our face with a consistency that would have made Orwell think he'd underdone the 'boot on face forever' schtick. Although, despite his consistent presence in newspapers and magazines, we were never sure what he actually produced in his day job - we had a vague sense of something lumpen and, as the name would have suggested, rock (in the 'drinking cheap cider' sense of the word). Now, apparently, he's been reborn as "Motown's first Hillbilly artist", complete with a Kid Rock Christmas Special. We're still guessing his small place in history will be being listed as "amongst the other people who shagged Pamela Anderson were..."

Also back: Edie Brickell. She's just had ten years off to be mother to Paul Simon's kids, and now she's returning to a recording industry with a new album. Taking a decade off is a risk at any time, but since she was working in a segment alongside Tanita Tickaram, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Julia Fordham, she might find re-connecting with an audience almost impossible. It's like when you go back home after a decade and spend some time trying to work out which house now stands on the part of the playing fields where you used to waste PE lessons away - there's absolutely none of the familiar surroundings to give you context. Her new album is called Volcano, but I'll be what you really want answered is this: Yes, that Paul Simon.

GETTING BETTER, MAN: Good news from the Suicidal Tendencies camp, where Mike Muir reports on their official website that he's on the mend after a long time and two leg operations saw him laid up. The band still aren't back to work, but it sounds like they're getting there.

TEST CASE: Woe upon woe for the record industry, and the year not yet a week old. Test-Achats, the Belgian consumer protection body, is bringing legal action against the major labels, claiming the copy protection stuff wedged onto CDs infringes customer's rights. We're sure the defendants - EMI, Sony, BMG and Universal - will be delighted for the whole issue of "How dare they tell us what we can do with music we have paid for" to get a full airing in the European courts.

DJOBIT: E Rodney Jones, the Chicago and Baton Rouge discjockey who played a major role in popularising the blues and helped numerous artists, including BB King and Muddy Waters to mainstream, has died from colon cancer. He was 74. Sadly, his death on Friday came just a couple of days before a Baton Rouge benefit concert in his honour.

Jone's approach to radio was one that's been too often sidetracked in the current era of playlist-by-computers, scripted links and Clear Channel: "A good radio personality is being yourself and being versatile. When I say being yourself, I'm talking about personality. Be a personality and you'll win in radio. That's all I was, man. I was me, nobody else. That's what the people enjoyed. That's what they will forever enjoy with me if I can work my health up and get back to it. It'll still be me doing my thing."

BRITNEY SPEARS IMITATES ROSS FROM FRIENDS: Although we're not sure if Jason Allen Alexander (no, sadly, not George from Seinfeld) had cats whiskers drawn on his face when it happened, but the News of the World reckons that Brintey got married in Las Vegas. They've got a copy of the licence, but nobody's entirely sure if they went through with the seventy buck deal at the Little Wedding Chapel. But she did keep to some of the old traditions - she turned up pissed, apparently.

TAKING IT ON THE CHIN: We thought Brian May got off quite lightly on Channel 4's 100 Worst Songs - sure, there was a bit of sport at the expense of his and Anita's hair, and the dreadful crypt-raiding that was the [surviving members of] Queen and Blue was rightfully castigated - not because Queen are an easy target, but for good musical reasons. Nevertheless, Brian may is not happy and has taken time out of his busy schedule "adding his six penn'orth of guitar to resident rock axeman" in Madrid to fume off about the whole show, and anyone ever connected with it, and all of Channel 4 and, oh, the world is terrible:

The 100 worst songs...? my bowels heave with despair.... without even looking at the list you get this awful feeling of thousands of bitter little people sitting around smirking while finding something to vent their vindictiveness on.

We're not sure that we like the idea of Brian May's bowels heaving, with despair or otherwise, since any odd flatualent noise he makes seems to wind up being released sooner or later; especially if Ford are willing to pay for it.

Oh yes; the Great British Public, in another display of lame negativity ..... while the rest of the world seems to actually get out there and enjoy life, we Brits sit at home in front of the Telly, or down the pub, slagging off anything that makes us feel threatened, because being able to put someone down makes you feel big, don't it?

Yes, it's sadly true - that's exactly what the British are like. Where else could a song about how radio is shit these days, and how music is rubbish, not like in the olden days, would make the charts? "All we hear is... radio ga-ga"...

Do those dullards at Channel 4 REALLY have nothing better to turn their minds to ? What a pile of worthless Horse-Poo. (actually horse-poo is MUCH more useful - it makes flowers grow..) If "Candle in the Wind" is a bad song, monkeys are flying out of my ass at this very moment.

It's all about bottoms with you, isn't it, Brian? At the risk of helping spider monkeys flee from your buttocks, we'd have to point out that Candle In The Wind wasn't on the list - Candle in The Wind 97 was, and that was there for the perfectly valid reason that Elton John couldn't even be arsed to write a new song for the biggest gig of his life, but just plucked a tribute he'd written for someone else and changed a few words to get round the awkward details that didn't fit (like Diana wasn't found in the nude, and he'd actually been for tea with her whereas he never knew Marilyn, and so on). Even the Franklin Mint went to the trouble of making original horrible little plates to mark the occassion - they didn't just slap a new label on "Little Angels." Surely fair grounds to castigate Elton?

Grow up, people - find something worthwhile and creative to do with your time. If any of you had spent the equivalent amount of time WRITING a song, even if it was utter crap, it would have been a more worthwhile use of your energy than this pointless and utimately self-negating exercise.

Self-negating? A chart of the 100 worst singles cancels itself out? How does that work, exactly?

Oh, and Brian... you really want Jimmy Carr to write songs in place of presenting light entertainment shows? Are you sure?