Saturday, January 24, 2004

PANIC ON THE STREETS OF, UM, AUSTRALIA: Kerry McChipshop, late of Atomic Kitten, had a thirty-six hour panic attack prior to taking her place on the team for the new series of 'Remember Me? I Was Famous'. It seems she's afraid that with her reputation for speaking her mind, she's afraid she might become the most hated woman in Britain after she's been on the show. Kerry, let us put your mind at rest. First: you're not ever going to be the most anything in Britain; you weren't even the most anything in Atomic Kitten. Second, if you do find yourself speaking your mind in the middle of the jungle, why do you think it would lead you to be hated? The contents of your mind seem to run as far as "do these shoes go with this pair of hotpants" and "which hole this time?", neither of which will make you hated.

In other "reality" TV/music crossover, Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra whored their wedding to MTV, but - and this comes as a bit of a shock - Dave suggests that there's no such thing as reality TV. He even reveals that you're always aware you have an eight man camera crew in your face all the time, and you change your behaviour accordingly. Can this be true? Does this mean the Salon doesn't really show a bunch of vapid no-brows wasting their time and arching their coco-pop light skils in a desperate bid to be talent-spotted, but merely people pretending to be so? It seems hard to credit.

THERE ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH BLOGS FILLED WITH DARK THOUGHTS: There are some artists who have a blog and you think "well, yes, they would" - Moby being in a case in port - and there are others who crop up in the world who are slightly surprising. Bob Mould, for example. It sounds like a Bob Mould blog would expect to sound, but its colourscheme, frankly, needs sorting out sharpish.

Talking of blogs and sorting out, we've done a spot of housekeeping on the list of 'other music blogs are available', down there on the left-hand side - because we tend to zoom in and out using favourites, we'd not really noticed how much link rot there was developing in there. We've lost the blogs that are no longer there, kicked out a couple which appear to have stopped totally; a few others we've moved down to the sleeping segment [shown by zzz>] because their archives offer a happy half hour or so in work avoidance; and we've generally buffed and cleaned and sparkled. It was inspired by a note from Nigel of the yes-no interlude alerting us that he's now amblongus. Blogs being what they are, we can't guarantee for more than 24 hours that the new 'other music blogs are available' list will work, but... for now...

And talking of other blogs, still, the voting is open for the 2004 Bloggies - in the music category, Popjustice is doing battle with Moby's personal journal (which we'd have said wasn't about music, just about Moby). Your country needs you. Or something.

HELLO MUDDA...: An interesting move from Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, who are launching a new Musicians' Union this Monday called Mudda (the Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists) - shouldn't the artists be uploading rather than downloading? - in an attempt to try and create an official representative body which has a bit of a grasp on the way the music world is now. He's chosen Davos to launch his brave new world, and it should be kind of interesting - the traditionalist Musician's Union has always regarded machines with a sort of paralysed fear; it'll be interesting to see what the Mudda relationship with the Majors will be.

PRIEST MAN CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED RAPE: David Holland, the former Judas Priest drummer, has been found guilty of attempted rape and five charges of indecent assault. A majority verdict from the juty at Northampton Crown Court rejected Holland's plea of not guilty. Co-accused Spiros Laouitaris was acquitted on three charges of indecent assault against the same teenager, a special needs student who was 17 at the time of the assaults. Laouitaris was cleared of a fourth charge on the directions of the judge. Holland was remanded in custody awaiting sentencing.

Meanwhile, Judas Priest have been doing their best to distance themselves from the affair. Their management co-ordinator Jayne Andrews clearly had a statement ready typed up, probably even face down in the fax machine with the distribution list numbers keyed in, as within seconds of the verdict, the "this has nothing to do with us" disclaimer was whirring down the wires:

"We are as shocked and stunned as everyone else by this news. However, we would like to point out that Scott Travis is JUDAS PRIEST's drummer and has been since 1989.
We have not seen or heard from or had any contact with Dave Holland at all since we parted company with him over 15 years ago."

Got that? It's fifteen bloody years since Judas Priest had a convicted kiddie-fiddler on the drumstool, and nothing to do with them.

HOWEVER YOU LOOK AT IT, THIS MAKES THE RIAA LOOK STUPID. ER.: It won't bother the RIAA, of course, because they seem not to have noticed that virtually the whole world holds them in a kind of shocked contempt already, but Pepsi's signing-up of some of the teenagers who have been sued by the American music industry for their superbowl ads promoting the iTunes freebie tie-up is another, high profile, chip away at the organisation's dignity and makes the RIAA seem even more petty than it did before. Of course, Pepsi make the nosies about how it's all in good fun, but it's clear they've decided the outlaws are the cooler side to be allying themselves with on this debate. And the fees they're paying will help wipe out the grotesque cash demands laid at the kid's doors by the RIAA - which means the message is: downloading music and taking on the Man? It makes you a bit of a hero, and you won't even end up out of pocket.

But just because a policy is unpopular and doesn't work doesn't mean that you should stop using it; indeed, it just makes it all the more likely that things will be ratcheted up. So it is, the general counsel of the IFPI [Interpol to the RIAA's FBI] is trotting round saying the lawsuits will be flying worldwide this year. Curiously for a man who works in the music industry, he seems not to have read many reports about the lawsuits, claiming "We are not talking about people who are downloading two files over their computer. All the people that were sued in the US are people that have opened their computer and are offering to millions of their closest friends substantial numbers of music files for distribution." Oh yes? Brianna LaHara had a "substantial number of music files", did she? Wasn't it about six? And the grandmother who didn't even have a filesharing network on her computer - how does she actually fit this reassuring profile?

Oh, and the description of the RIAA isn't total whimsy, of course - even leaving aside the claims that their grunts have been tricking themselves up like they were law enforcement officers rather than goons hired by a body with no more legal basis than the Little Rissington Traders Association, there's growing evidence that the Music Industry wants to be seen less as a cultural institution, more as one of the emergency services. They've now got the go-ahead to slap the FBI logo on the backs of CDs - and perhaps to even make it appear on-screen when a CD is slipped into a computer. Yeah, that'll work - after all, nobody's double-banked VCRs and copied movies since they started putting the FBI warning at the front of the tapes, have they? If the RIAA treated their customers with any more contempt, they'd have to have a bloke asking "why do you want that?" at Wal-Mart tills to stop people from buying CDs.

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN: Another small pile of legal papers to add to the growing mountain of court stuff at Michael Jackson's house, as Debbie Rowe launches an action to reclaim custody of the kids. In a buy two, get one free deal, she's also offering to take on Prince Michael II, the third child that Jackson somehow has some sort of fatherly connection with. Rowe claims that Jackson isn't a fit person to be in charge of children - we've not seen the official papers, but we're guessing it consists of the phrase "Did you see him dangling the baby?" in big letters. It's a sign of just how extraordinary every thing Jacko touches becomes that his own lawyer, Brian Oxman, is reported as saying in a matter-of-fact way ""You cannot sell children in America. So no matter how much money Michael may have paid Debbie Rowe, no matter what the wording of his agreement with her may be, if she decides she wants her children back she can go to court and fight for custody."

Friday, January 23, 2004

JETHROWN OVER: David Palmer from Jethro Tull has become Dee Palmer - same person, different body shape. Apparently David's wanted to become a woman since he was three, but decided to make the change after the death of his wife. He now gets to choose from a hell of a lot more shoes than before.

DASH IT ALL: Damon Dash, friend of Victoria Beckham is apparently sick of being constantly linked to the wife of the England footballer. Dash, who produced Victoria Beckham's recent floppy single, fumed out loud at the way despite everything else that he's done, people only seem to have heard of him because of the work he did with the former Spice Girl. Dash - who mentored Posh Spice's botched move into dance music - seems to think there's some sort of shame that he's become little more than another part of the Beckham court. Unfortunately, his outburst came when one of the other things he does, promoting SAS, blew up in his face - the hiphop duo failed to show up for the big press conference he'd arranged for them. They'd probably found out that Victoria wasn't going to turn up.

GET OUT THE VOTE, MOTHERFUCKER: Wayne Kramer off of the MC5 hits Iowa to bring out the punks and make them vote, as part of the punkvoter scheme.

I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART: The "little watched digital channel BBC Four" (as the MediaGuardian would have it) is showing the Wilco film tonight at 10.30 in the Stroyville strand. Amongst the delights, you can spot No Rock's realf-life amazon reviewer Becky Bamboo in the crowd.

Of course, you'd already know about this if you were subscribed to zapsmart.

THE JACKSON STORIES KEEP COMING: We've only got his word for it, but Alan Masada, the highest profile member of the possibly-abused child's entourage, claims he's been receiving death threats. In a wide ranging interview, he also claimed that "representatives" of Jackson took the p-a c's mom's passport away when she was in Neverland and threatened to have her deported (clearly, the assumption was that Neverland was an independent state, like Vatican City or Andorra, and the law of the Jacko applied there.) He also reveals that it was he who brought Michael and the p-a c together. P-a c had been told he'd only a few weeks to live, and so Masada tried to organise his last wish. Which was to meet Michael Jackson. And Chris Tucker. And Adam Sandler. Which sounds like three last wishes to us - and an odd set. Jackson sticks out like a sore thumb there; we're imagining the kid was thinking "okay, got two of my heroes down. Maybe I should add that old guy who's got his own fairground... Jack Michaels or whoever..." If only he'd used his last slot for J-Lo, this whole unhappy episode might have been avoided.

BONO PROMISES NOT TO SWEAR: Last year, Bono caused problems when he accepted a Golden Globe on live US TV because he said "fucking." The FCC looked closely into the incident, and said it was alright, because it was an adjective, not to describe the sweet little act itself. Riled at this, a bunch of uptight ("right-thinking") lawmakers have introduced legislation to try and raise the maximum fine for letting a fuck slip through the airwaves from USD27,500 to USD3,000,000. Which would make it unlikely that Shaun Ryder would ever be allowed anywhere near a microphone on that side of the atlantic again. Bono, for his part, has promised he won't swear this time even if he does win a globe. Normally, we'd chuckle that perhaps they should give the prize to someone else, but Bono and his pals are up against Elton John, Annie Fucking Lennox, Eddie Vedder and Sting for the best original song category. Depressing, isn't it?

SONY ON THE RISE: Despite being in that cash-strapped music industry Sony Music is managing to scrape a living. Howard Stringer, who heads up the US foot of the Sony Entertainment leg of the business reckons this is down to the impact of piracy being "diminished by legitimate downloading." He then got poked with a stick to make some claim that those ridiculous lawsuits his company have been helping fund through their RIAA subs made, you know, an "impact" of some sort, too. Stringer, of course, is in Davos at the moment for the World Economic Forum. We hope someone thinks to ask him Sony's position on free trade across borders and how that squares with its membership of the BPI and its commitment to market segmentation. But they probably won't.

GLASTONBURY BALANCES: The ticket arrangements for this year's rich kids in the country spree have been announced, although priority seems to be given on the glastonbury website to making it clear that the Mean Fiddler aren't the power behind the event, just a power. Hmm. Anyway, this year, in a bid to try and stop the touts, there's been a whole new plan drawn up. Tickets only being sold over the phone or via; a restriction of two per person; tickets will be "personalised" and this will be stringently policed at the entrance - we're not sure how: DNA tests? Retinal scans? Stool testing? While we wouldn't want to blame Michael Eavis for trying to take steps to ensure that tickets go to the kids who want them for the going to Glastonbury value and not the resale value, we're still not entirely sure this system stacks up. Can parents not buy tickets for little Johnny as a treat for completing his A levels? Or will there be a way of personalising the tickets so that you can pass them on to someone else? After all, requires a credit or debit card, which will mean a lot of young people will need to persuade a responsible adult to buy tix on their behalf - what's been put in place to allow this to happen? And is there some way that will ensure people who buy tickets when they go on sale (April 1st, 8pm) and then have their circumstances change suddenly will be free to pass them on to someone else for face value?

By the way: This year, it's GBP112. Plus a booking fee on top of that. Plus Postage and "packaging". I know some of the profits go to charidee (although the arrangement with the Mean Fiddler suggests this is seen as something of a fixed cost - and if after the charities get their cut of the profits, forty per cent of the remainder goes to the Mean Fiddler, what happens to the remaining sixty per cent?) but if you're going to be raped on the price of a ticket, you'd think they'd at least throw in an envelope and a stamp for free, wouldn't you?

ONE ARMED BANDIT: We've always been worried by the health and safety implications of the Liverpool Royal Court, although they've filled in the orchestra pit that used to be at the front, haven't they? However, they've not made it safe enough for everyone - Ryan Adams has plunged from the stage and broken his arm. It's not known if that's going to have buggered the tour schedule up for him, but it's certainly going to have put a crinkle in his masturbation plans for the next few weeks.

MAYBE THEY FOUND SOMETHING WEDGED IN THE WALL OF SOUND: Much flapping over the mystery piece of physical evidence Phil Spector's defence are believed to have - which, obviously, they must feel proves in some way he didn't shoot Lana Clarkson's face off. The prosecution are fuming that they're not being told what it is; Spector's attorney Robert Shapiro had made one of those legalese "if we have something we don't think we have to tell you, but we're not saying we do anyway" pieces of nonesense.

CAN HE DO NOTHING SIMPLY?: There's now a lot of confusion over the plans to flog Michael Jackson's car, because the auction house is getting mixed messages from the crumbly-nosed one's management over if they're actually selling or not. (You may surmise the helpful influence of his new Nation of Islam chums can be discerned here, we couldn't say). The car on its own is worth GBP80,000, but "added features and its previous owner" could bring the value up to GBP275 000. More, if careful DNA sampling of the stains on the back seat pay off.

IT MUST BE LIKE REMOVING A VERY TIGHT CORSET: Jay Farrar has turned his back on, the never-quite-sure-where-its-boundaries-laid genre he helped to create with Uncle Tupelo. "We've moved on" he explains. Yeah, leaving us to clean up the mess.

ROS RETURNS: Sigur Ros are back in the studio, which isn't much in a ground-shaking way but gives us all something to look forward to.

BRUCE GOES TO BAGHDAD: Bruce Cockburn's just got back from Iraq, where he found Iraqis less than impressed with the new regime. The real reason why we bring this to your attention, though, is the splendid caption to the picture that illustrates the story - which shows Bruce, finger tips pointing together: "Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn gestures in this 2001 file photo. " It captures a moment, don't you think?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

PARADE OF PANDA POPS: Fierce Panda have made it to ten years of operation, and are celebrating by sticking out an album with some of the best FP tracks and one by Coldplay. The album is called Decade, which seems a bit uncharacteristic to us - shouldn't it be something like I Have Heard The Angels Ninging, or Ning When You're Ninging, or something? Anyway, the track list is like a fine all you can buffet at an especially nice Chinese restaurant (apart from Coldplay):
ASH ‘Punkboy’
SUPERGRASS ‘Caught By The Fuzz’
PLACEBO ‘Bruise Pristine’
KENICKIE ‘Come Out 2nite’
3 COLOURS RED ‘This Is My Hollywood’
EMBRACE ‘All You Good Good People’
LO-FIDELITY ALLSTARS ‘Diamonds Are Forever’
IDLEWILD ‘Chandelier’
SEAFOOD ‘Porchlight’
COLDPLAY ‘Brothers & Sisters’
BRIGHT EYES ‘Arienette’
EASYWORLD ‘Hundredweight’
THE MUSIC ‘Take The Long Road And Walk It’
SIX BY SEVEN ‘Bochum (Light Up My Life)’
KEANE ‘This Is The Last Time’

We think the sweetest part is the Ash-covers-Helen-Love track ("don't he look cute in his 80's track suit? I wish i hadn't thrown mine away...") but there's enough classic stuff to make up for the fact there's coldplay on the album.

WINTER DRAWS ON: The limited edition of 500 copies of the new Spiritualized single, Cheapster, will all have unique covers created by Jason Pierce. Which is all well and good, but we remember a few years back when the Wedding Present did something similar - the first few are usually great, but patience and inspiration run out fairly quickly so, if you're getting three hundred onwards, chances are you'll either have a perfunctory 'X' marker penned onto sleeve, or else it'll have been done by a passing tramp in return for a nice cup of tea and a sit down in the warm. Only 99p, though, so you can't grumble.

I CLIT: Christina Aguilera has "decided" to remove most of her piercings after a record company focus group reported she was looking ridiculous ("after a backstage experience made her realise she might be frightening children"). She's going to leave her clit piercing with a bit of metal in, though, presumably because she thinks it makes her come across as some sort of sexual outlaw, rather than the sad reality which is people picture her panties as being like a handbag full of nails.

I HIT: We've got a spot of advice for young Chris Martin. Honeybunches, if you don't want nasty photographers taking your photo, rather than punch them like a girl, why not keep away from events that are designed purely to create photo ops for the paps, like, say, Kate Moss' 30th birthday party. Not marrying a Hollywood star might also have helped, you know. But if you are going to carry on traipsing round the free champers and ice carved swans scene, you might want to try getting used to having your picture snapped. Because a few more three-year-old style tantrums, and you'll discover the press will turn on you incredibly.

I QUIT: Jessica Simpson has quit the miming on stage wing of the music industry, saying she didn't enjoy the sexy photo shoots (because you won't be called on to do those as a semi-talented actress, will you?), the live performances (yeah, opening and closing your mouth at just the right spot on the backing tape can drain you) and, we presume, the ever downwards pointing red line on the sales chart.

BECAUSE EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE/ EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE/ A FOLK SINGER: Late at night, Avril Lavigne slips out from her apartment and goes to hook up with Chantal Kreviazuk, the Canadian folk singer. Avril and Chantal write songs together. Nothing unusual in that, you might think, but curiously, "I'm in charge of my music and my life" Lavigne simpers "We had so much fun because I didn't tell my manager or record company." Which sort of makes all those claims about having autonomy over what she does seem a little odd - why not just say "Mom, Dad, Head of A&R, I'm going out to write some folk tunes." Curious.

LULU - NO OOH LA LA UNTIL IIL Complex roman-numeral headlines ahoy it is, then... Lulu has revealed - in this case to Closer, but we'd imagine "anyone who'd listen" - that she didn't find out sex was fun until she was 48. Not much of a compliment for Maurice Gibb or John Frieda, her former husbands, then. We're not sure what happened seven years ago which made her change her mind; mercifully, it's eleven years since she worked with Take That so we can at least reassure ourselves that it was Howard Donald who taught her the joys of a screaming orgasm.

... AND DAVID DOES THE COLOURING IN?: Victoria Beckham has settled on the idea of becoming a fashion designer "because I like drawing." I guess we've had a narrow escape - she could have plumped for architecture, although we guess she knew you'd need a ruler for that.

HOW COULD A LIGHT THAT BURNED SO BRIGHTLY...: New York Cops pull over Art Garfunkel and smell dope, so now he's looking at a GBP55 fine for marijuana possession. Since the British government are planning to spend a small fortune on a campaign to tell kids that just because it's been reclassified as a Class C drug, smoking dope isn't cool - I'd imagine a big picture of Art with his perm and the words: "This man smokes cannabis" would do the trick. Perhaps with Bright Eyes as the soundtrack.

DOE? OH, DEAR: The RIAA has launched an attack on 532 further individuals, only this time they don't even know who they're attacking. Considering how their pursuit of twelve year old girls and grandmothers who don't even have file sharing packages blew up in their face, you'd have to give a moment's admiration to an organisation desperate to blunder on with a bunch of totally blind cases. The legal judgement which stopped ISPs having to pass subscriber details to the unelected, unrepresentative business organisation has left them with no choice but to issue the lawsuits in a mixture of "John Doe" names (the legal equivalent of 'TBC') and online identities. Well, we say no choice: they did have the option of abandoning the whole process, but they seem now to be driven on a mixture of addiction and spite.

For more - much more - check out the full Google News listing for the story.

INFLATION RUN WILD: Spot the odd quote out here, in reference to the BPI refusing to allow CD Wow to take advantage of the world marketplace for CDs:

"It is hugely disappointing," said Philip Robinson, director of CD Wow. "It is very much the consumer who loses out."

"It's terrible news," said Phil Evans, principal policy adviser at the Consumers' Association. "We are back to Fortress UK and Ireland. "It's just a travesty that an industry is allowed to segment the global market and charge higher prices in some parts than others. What is the point of global free trade?"

"It is not the consumer that will suffer, just CD Wow's profit margins. They made a lot of money out of cheap CDs," one [BPI] insider said.

[All quotes taken from the Financial Times, with thanks to Alan C]

Of course, it's interesting that the record industry spokesperson claims that "the consumer won't suffer" - eh? In what way is having to pay an extra two quid for a Dido disc not suffering? (Okay, Dido a bad example, since you could argue her fans deserve to suffer a bit, but the point remains the same) And the implication that CD Wow "made a lot of money out of cheap CDs" from someone who works for an industry that makes obscence piles from expensive CDs caused us to choke on our breakfast brownie. Maybe we should all buy our CDs direct from Singapore?

ARE YOU CALLING MY LEADER A PUFF?: "Tony Blair is a very good guitar player, but that's not synonomous with 'having a puff'" - David Blunkett, Today, about five minutes ago

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Chrissie Hynde's arse edition
What's the fascination with jack Black? Sure, he was good in High Fidelity, but so was Catherine Zeta Jones; it doesn't make him a genius. And while it's not unknown for actors (Hello, Ewan) to take a role in a commercial banker in order to earn the cash to let them do more arty roles, there's a limit, surely? Doing Shallow Hal to give you the commercial freedom to do School of Rock is hardly what Stanislavsky would have wanted, is it? We ask only because Word lauds the man today, although it does reveal in passing he was in Waterworld, which at least means that the Tenacious D movie can't be the worst thing he's been involved with.

In a piece about David Kitt, Word suggests he's for you if "you liked Tom McCrae, Ed Harcourt or David Gray" - which is like saying if you liked "love, happiness or cholera."

Should Ryan Adams be more self-editing, he's asked. "No" he snaps back, "because it's nobody's business." Erm... actually, Ryan, it is - the people who buy your records are your business, in a very real sense. Luckily you've managed to release some stinkers and still tempt them back for your returns to form, but there comes a point where you'll stop being able to do that so effortlessly. Ryan bristles when it's suggested to him that some of his fans are quite famous: "It's such a liability... have you noticed how there's some really talented artists come along, and if they align themselves with other fanous people it really reduces the credibility of them." This is revealing in so many ways - not least that Ryan is trying to simultaneously bask in the glory and shade himself from it - ooh, I have many famous fans, but one musn't be seen to mention them - and that he wants to be thought of, above all else, as credible. And yet every interview he does, he appears a wee bit more a jerk, and a wee bit less credible. It's a pity, his new stuff is certainly as good as anything he's ever done, but his interviews make him seem like the sort of person everyone pretends to that they're going home, so they can have a drink after he's left.

Linda Smith, winningly, talks about children as "its", compares motorway services to Edward Hopper paintings and is about to launch a campaign to get all the towns mentioned in Ian Dury songs to display the relevant lyrics.

Cher listens to Papa Roach; Will Self ha sbought some sort of walking boot; Chris 'Viz' Donald's wife is friends with Mary Coughlan and Ed Stourton loves NERD. This we learn from the celebrecommendation section; then, we discover that there's a Steely Dan song [Book of Liars] that namechecks Hello Kitty and that David Hepworth thinks Charles Lindbergh was the first celebrity. He wasn't, of course; "X is the first celebrity" is the sort of article you write when you want to do a feature on X and can't think of any other hook to hang it on - Jesus, Charles I, Ned Ludd, Elvis... you name 'em, you can spin enough justification for them being the first celeb.

Then to the main business of this month's Word, the battle of the decades. Five roughly ten-year shaped eras, five writers, many arguments. It sounds like it could almost be the sort of confection BBC Two is fond of on a Saturday night, but it works pretty well - not least because the writers are writers who could detail their last flossing and make it worth reading. It's such a simple idea - get a bunch of people who can write (alright, and Andrew Loog Oldham) and give 'em a really broad brief and see what they come up with.

So: Loog Oldham's take on the 50's is "the pre-Beatled time" and has the advantage of championing an era which looks so pre-Lapsarian as to almost not belong in a rock context. But it can't escape the fact that everything was still being bloody rationed.

Chrissie Hynde is generous enough to choose the 1960's; not the era when she was writing for the NME, nor the era when she was making music. It's not even the decade which gets illustrated with a picture of her arse (that honour goes to the 70s), but she knows why she's made her choice: "Nothing that I've experienced since has been as radical as the feeling I had in the 60s. Everything you heard in music at that time you'd never heard before."

Danny Baker (and why is it we only get an article on music by Baker every Preston Guild? It absolutely buggers belief that, for example, the Observer can launch a music monthly and not think to put in a call to him. Mind you, Radio Five Live need a replacement for the early football phone-in show and they choose to try out Christian Bloody O'Connell rather than bringing back the rightfull host. It's so lazy to sneer at the Bakester for his involvement with Chris Evans' TV productions, but has anyone stopped to wonder exactly what a horrible time TFI would have been if there hadn't been a sharp wit feeding lines to the half wit? Anyway...) Danny Baker does the 70's, telling the tale of the time he went to see the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, only to leave because "they were very noisy and it was hot."

Stuart Maconie is handed the double-edged ladel that were the 80's: "It was obvious that these were the last days of mankind. We were going down and we were taking the world with us. It would end not with a whimper, but the Bangles." His case, however, is weakened because of the existence of Live Aid, which would distort the music industry for decades to come (we've still got Bono as a result, and where do you think he learned to love polite applause?) but it is a rare thing to see the Icicle Work's Up Here In The North of England acknowledged as a piece of genius in print.

And, of course, there's the 90's bringing it up, championed by Andrew Harrison: "We even got to see DLT and Simes marched out behind the chemical sheds and shot in the back of the head."

It's a cracking read. In the end, we think the 70's win, but that's mainly because Chrisse Hynde does have a lovely butt.

Onto the NME, which has Funeral For A Friend's street preachers on the front. It also promises "amazing" court pictures of the Jack White court appearance, which turns out to be a fairly standard snap of Jack stood next to an attorney. We've looked and looked, and can see nothing amazing about it. If it was from a British court,it might be, we suppose.

Kelly Osbourne is listening to Wham these days: "people say Andrew Ridgeley as the talented one, but then again, where's he now?" she says. We've looked and looked, and don't think she was trying to make a joke.

Tim DeLaughter looks even seedier than ever - less like a man who would try and persuade you to get into a camper van full of nubiles, more like a bloke who'd drag you into his Mondeo. The new Polyphonic Spree album is "like the earth giving birth", apparently. A lot of screaming and an outpouring of magma, then?

The NME is promoting some sort of connection with a talent contest of some sort where you could win something or other.

Air burn a made-up CD: Primals and Kate Moss, Suicide and Outkast.

Peter Robinson takes on Jamie Callum, which ends up with a debate on if the queen would have to use a strap on. You can hear the creaking of Callum's fixed grin. Perfect.

Mr. Robinson is also in charge of the letters bag this week, where he deals with a letter from someone who suggests Sid Vicious was a bit of a tosser: "if people thank that [his article last week] glorified Sid's lifestyle rather than presented it as a cautionary tale, they missed the broader point of the article." And, fair enough, he pulled no punches in detailing Sid's fairly shitty ending. But in the context of the front page image and headlines, the give-away poster, the point was blunted by an air of celebration of an empty lifestyle and the dressing up of a broken failure as some sort of hero - in the same way that Liam's every word is hung on, be they ever so slight. It's not surprise that the paper namechecked Liam in the strapline for the Sid piece; chose poses which pre-echoed Liam's favoured photocall stance (the flicking of the Vs). While Robinson's piece detailed the fuck-up, it got wrapped in a large slice of applause. Even this week, on page 48, Sid gets described as "the greatest rock and roll legend of all time." That's in a plug for a book, which gets a further plug a few pages later, which claims that Sid didn't kill Nancy ('ee loved 'er, see) but in fact, a conveniently also dead smack dealer called Rockets Redgrave did. And then - aaah - Rockets managed to get unusually pure heroin to Sid so that he'd OD before it all came out. Even although Rocket didn't give Sid his fatal dose - apparently, says author Alan Parker, he gave the almost 100 per cent pure stuff to the bloke who usually supplied Sid because he knew it would wind up in Vicious' veins. It's just lucky he did all this in New York and not Midsomer Punkton, otherwise Jim Bergerac would have had Rockets banged up in no time. In order to get the paper to carry this piffle, Parker has donated a signed Sex Pistols single for the NME to offer to a lucky reader.

The Open, the Radar band, have a favourite king and name drop Ultravox. You don't get that often.

Funeral for a Friend's Matt got into music when MTV came to the Welsh valleys. They had a punk rock weekend (this was back before MTV had spawned a thousand mini-MTVs, of course) and Matt was hooked. He also quit seven years of straight edge with a pint of Strongbow.

"We haven't been mistaken for a Christian rock band yet" say the Rapture, a little disappointed.

"The worst people are those who take drugs because they think it gives them a cool cachet" observes Franz Ferdinand's Alex. That would be the whole of the shoegazing scene, then.

This weeks posters are all offstage shots - karen o, jack white, brody dalle and, erm, another one of those bloody Kings of Leon backstage images. Enough.

live - scissor sisters - new york - "this isn't just any old party", 7
my chemical romance - night & day - "a full blown extremo hero", 8

air - talkie walkie - "deeply unfashionable", 8
the cure - join the dots - "save your money for the reissues", 6
martin scorsese presents the blues - "exhaustive", 10
the church - forget yourself -"space rock odysseys", 8

sotw - spektrum - kinda now - "clincal crispness"
pink - god is a dj - "tirte meaningless bollocks"

and, finally, Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk loves Jimi Hendrix. Yes, they're still going. Yes, still wearing the stupid helmet.

JACKET RIPS: Danny Cash and Johnny Quaid are quitting My Morning Jacket - in a proper, "the secret of a good life is knowing when it's time to go" style, rather than an Alan White, "if you don't sling your hook you'll be thrown into the back of a fast moving van and driven to Saddleworth" fashion. The band will continue to do what they used to, presumably in much the same way.

MORE PUFF, DADDY: The ex-wife of Sean "Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Ken Doddy/Piff! C'est Doggy" Combs is demanding a rise in child support , on the grounds that he's paying less for his official kid than he is for the one he created while shagging around outside the family home. Which is a fairly compelling argument, when you think about it.

MORE PUFF, DADDY: The ex-wife of Sean "Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Ken Doddy/Piff! C'est Doggy" Combs is demanding a rise in child support , on the grounds that he's paying less for his official kid than he is for the one he created while shagging around outside the family home. Which is a fairly compelling argument, when you think about it.

EMINEM: HE RAPS BACK: Eminem has decided to respond to the Source's constant pushing of his nasty, racist rap with a new rap:

Oh, sorry, yo so sorry, whoa
But that was a long time ago
When I was a Joe Schmo
Rapping in Joe Blow's basement
I apologised for it before, so
Either accept it or you don't
And let's move on
If I ain't shown that I've grown
You can get the bone

So, there you are... it doesn't matter that he was a bit of a jerk-off in his past because he wasn't famous then; an interesting get-out clause should those BPI council fuckwits ever come to their senses and decide to try their hand at grown-up politics.

Eminem demonstrates just how far he's grown with this bit, later in the rap, when he turns his attention to the Source's publishers in this not-at-all-childish portion:

I got a riddle
What's little and talks big
With midget arms and creamy filling in the middle?
That will do anything to throw dirt on my name?
Even if it means walking the whole Mediterranean?
Isn't it Albanian? Armenian? Iranian? Tasmanian?
No it's Dave, Raymond and a ho'.

Now, we know this isn't anything more than a throwaway rap Eminem's produced for a side project but even so - how rubbish is that? It doesn't even make any sense. Some of it would have done if he's been insulted by a magazine owned by Vanessa Feltz, Jordan and Jeremy Beadle but even then the list of nationalities seems to be there just to rhyme with Mediterranean, which doesn't actually need to be there in the first place. He might have the moral high ground, but in claiming it, he's starting to just look lazy.

LET'S NOT WAIT AWHILE ANY MORE: How exactly did Janet Jackson flip so amazingly from 'let's wait awhile', no sex before at least a decent meal girl to shagzilla? Whatever caused it, she's on the point of releasing what's claimed to be the sexiest Janet Jackson thing ever. The new album (aptly, she doesn't even know its name) is, according to producer Dallas Austin, "easily the most sexy thing she's done." And that's quite a claim for someone who's done James El Debarge.

Dallas warms to his theme - a little too much: "Guys won't know what to do with themselves after this." That's going to call for a special parental advisory sticker, isn't it? Austin reckons the new record is her equivalent of Prince's Dirty Mind: "It's a really sexy record, but not in a sensual way. It's bold, it's fun, it's really positive. Nobody's sad, nobody's mad. It's just really fun songs where she happens to be talking frankly about sex." Of course, you have to be impressed that someone's brave enough to release an album about sex in 2004. It's a market-bucking move.

BPI BULLYING PAYS OFF: The BPI have successfully bullied CD Wow into raising prices, with the cheap CD retailer opting to stop sourcing material from outside Europe; leading to a likely increase of a couple of quid on all its stock. We can understand CD Wow choosing to settle out of court, but we're disappointed that the principle hasn't been tested in court - why should CD Wow be forced to source its stock from within the EU simply because it suits the British Record Industry for it to do so? And how dare the BPI dictate to us where we should be buying our CDs from. e've said it before, we'll say it again, if the BPI wants people to stop buying cheaper imported CDs, make the price of CDs fair in the UK.

I'M NOT YOUR MAN: Despite his sudden resurrection as a National Treasure, Shane Richie has been unable to replicate his chart and TV success in the cinema - his movie, Shoreditch, managed an opening on a massive two screens and played to 300 people. Clearly, British cinema-goers have more taste than the record buying public.

A CLARIFACTION THAT PROBABLY ISN'T: Thanks to Alan for questioning our claim about citizens of the Irish Republic also being able to claim British Citizenship (and apologies that we haven't written directly to you - you wouldn't believe our email crises this week). The thing is, we were being very basic about a hideously complex situation, but in effect, a citizen of the Irish Republic can travel to live in the UK without a passport; once they're there, they can apply for British citizenship. So it's slightly less easy than we might have implied yesterday - but there's none of the complexity involved if, say, a Canadian tennis player or South African athlete might want to do the same thing.

COMING SOON...: Top of the Pops on demand... Later earlier in the day... as the BBC plans to introduce a 'watch again' feature to work like the 'listen again' feature.

MIS-PLATED: It might be more than the neck brace that keeps Daniel Bedingfield in New Zealand for a while. The local press are raising curious eyebrows that Bedingfield was driving on a learner's licence when his car accident happened. Although providing he was travelling with someone who's held a full NZ licence for two years and had L plates on the car, there's no problem. Of course, Bedingfield couldn't use his British licence in New Zealand because, erm, he doesn't actually hold one, having failed his UK driving test twice.

COLD AND ANGRY: Amy Lee of secret Christians Evanesence has had to issue an apology following her decision to announce that Cold is all finished because Cold's guitarist has leaped upon the 'sence's downward spiral. Oh, and also for blabbing that Scooter, Cold's singer, has been "in and out of rehab."

Her apology:

"Dear Cold Fans, I'm sure the last thing you want to hear right now is more of me running my mouth, so I'm going to make this short and simple. It was not my place to make any statements about the status of Cold- Cold is not my band. I apologize. I've never claimed to be perfect and I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong. To the band: Sorry guys, I didn't mean to hurt anything for you. I'm new at this and I still sometimes forget that the world is listening"

Don't worry, Amy - give it six months or so and the world won't be listening any more.

THEY ARE ROCK AND ROLL FUN: Obviously, this website feels a great deal of affection for Sleater-Kinney, having pinched its name off of them, so we're delighted that a big van drew up down the street and an official Sleater-Kinney website moved onto the internet. Apparently it's not happened before now because the web "didn't feel like a place where conectivity could happen" (eh?) but the best news of all is that you can actually download You're No Rock n Roll Fun on mp3.

CUNTS BLOCKED: Following on from previous crap performances, the Barfly management have banned Selfish Cunt from playing their camden venue and so they won't be able to support the Fall any more. They were also blamed for Snow Patrol's equipment being sabotaged there, but we can't imagine that such selfless public service would result in a ban.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

TRY DANCING ON THE ROOF, DAVE - THAT MIGHT HELP: The trial of Dave Holland, the Judas Priest drummer accused of attempted rape and indecent assault has heard that Holland did, indeed, give the 18 year old fags and booze, but that the sexual allegations are "ridiculous." Holland claims that he discussed his own bisexuality with the man, believing "he was of the same persuasion as myself. He was very fond of me, the same as I was of him. He would even tell me I was his best friend. He would tell me that he loved me. It wasn't a sexual thing, it was affection. There might have been the odd hug or something like that. I know it is politically incorrect nowadays but kids like to be shown a bit of affection." The case continues.

COKE MINUS LIFE. AGAIN: As if the crate of publicity - best not served this chilly - over the belly-flop of launch day on MyCokeMusic wasn't bad enough, we've just this minute checked the site and it's displaying this:

Who left the bloody cap off?.

Obviously, it's slightly better than the "Experiencing technical difficulties" screen with a drawing of a bird on a spring bouncing out of Kent Brockman's head, but do they really want people to believe that every time they get the go-ahead to add a new track from Pretty Girls Make Graves, they have to close down the entire system? It gives the impression the coke music site is being run on a dial-up connection somewhere in Essex.

ODDLY, IT'S JUST LIKE A 'DREAM' WE HAD ONCE: Britney and Pink, dressed in skimpy armour-lite, fighting to the death. Mind you, in our "dream", it wasn't to flog Pepsi - we're not saying frothing sticky liquid wasn't involved, mind - and it certainly wasn't presided over by Enrique Freaking Inglesias.

WANT TO LIVE IN LENNON'S HOUSE?: The role of bloke or lady who shows people round John Lennon's old house is up for grabs. It's quite a nicely located house (this is a live-in position, of course), but the drawbacks are you have to cram yourself and the 21st century into one room as the rest is preserved as a time-capsule type-affair. There is a washing machine - it's hidden behind a period curtain in the kitchen - but there is no heating in the 50s style bathroom. And you'll have tourists traipsing through the house the whole time.

Last May, No Rock took a trip to see Lennon and McCartney's houses

PALACE OF GLITTERING DELIGHTS: Bonnie "Prince" Billy is readying a kind of best-of album, Greatest Palace Songs, which will be a bunch of his best songs (determined "Bob Says Opportunity Knocks" style through a popular vote) re-recorded and given a general buffing. Tracklist in full is 01 New Partner; 02 Ohio River Boat Song; 03 Gulf Shores; 04 You Will Miss Me When I Burn; 05 The Brute Choir; 06 I Send My Love to You; 07 More Brother Rides; 08 Agnes, Queen of Sorrow; 09 Viva Ultra; 10 Pushkin; 11 Horses; 12 Riding; 13 West Palm Beach; 14 No More Workhorse Blues; 15 I Am a Cinematographer. A must-have for everyone who likes beards.

RIGHT CLICK - SAVE AS: OD2 are reporting that three million songs were bought as paid-for downloads across Europe last year. Just think how many more would have been downloaded if OD2 actually sold downloads that worked on computers and didn't put the DRM before the BPM.

NO TO DRUGS, STAY IN SCHOOL, ONLY LOSERS TOTE GUNS AND... REGISTER TO VOTE: The increasingly long list of 'to do' items dictated to hip hop fans by their heros has got even longer, with the launch of One Mind, One Vote campaign in America. LL Cool J, Russell Simmons et al will be trying to get an extra two million names onto the registers by the time Presidential Polling Day comes round, and to top up the registers by twenty million in the next five years.

"I'M REALLY SURPRISED A BAND LIKE YOU LIKING AN ACT LIKE THAT": We were wooshed back to the days of the Mark Goodier era Evening Session with the news that Elbow have got a cover of Massive Attack's Teardrop on their new bside, and the tendency for every indie-schmindie-down-at-Syndrome band to trot up to the studio for an interview to say "actually, we really like Massive Attack, us"; always this would lead to Goodier (or, not much later, Jo and Steve, to wow in utter astonishment that a band with guitars would even consider listening to music that wasn't another band with guitars. There was a similar effect last year with Outkast, oddly enough. And Beyonce for the more timid.

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK: There's something sweet about Daniel Bedingfield's reaction to his clumsy neck-brace apparatus he's having to wear as a result of his accident:

"I have kissed eight women so far! This is the biggest chick magnet I've ever had in my life. I'm not joking! I get so much sympathy. I get SO much sympathy!"

This is a man who's had number one singles, and yet he's never before had an average of one kiss - one kiss - from women before. And he's only getting that because they know he's not in a position to take things any further. Bless.

THE SUN SHINES - BUT DIMLY: Bizarre, The Sun's pip-pap-pop column is questioning Dido's eligibility for a Brit Award. Victoria Newton (or rather, whoever prepares the column for her) can't get her head around why Dido is eligible for British (rather than the International) awards - not on the grounds that her music is so flat, featureless and ordinary it shouldn't be considered for awards unless they're being sponsored by Laura Ashley, but because she gives her nationality as "Irish" on some documents. This, concludes Victoria, is "dodgy". Has the Sun still not got its head round the Ireland Act 1949? It's had over half a century to understand the not-very-difficult situation where the United Kingdom doesn't treat the Irish Republic as a foreign country, and so anyone who is a citizen of the Republic is considered to be a British Citizen as well. Consequently, they can apply for a British passport - if they wish. The Sun admits that Dido holds a British passport (which they suggest is "lucky", rather than a right held by anyone who comes from her country), so we're not sure what problem they think they've found. She has a British Passport, therefore has British Citizenship, and therefore is as eligible for a Brit as Annie Lennox.

Monday, January 19, 2004

GROGAN AGAIN: Altered Images albums are being re-released on CD, with bonus material being slapped on to tempt those of us who've got the vinyl versions and might be bristling at shelling out again:

Happy Birthday
Released 26/01/04 - Diablo - cat no DIAB8048
1. Intro: Happy Birthday
2. Love And Kisses
3. Real Toys
4. Idols
5. Legionnaire
6. Faithless
7. Beckoning Strings
8. Happy Birthday
9. Midnight
10. A Day's Wait
11. Leave Me Alone
12. Insects
13. Outro: Happy Birthday
Bonus Tracks

1. Dead Pop Stars
2. Sentimental
3. Who Cares?
4. Happy Birthday [12" Dance Mix]
5. So We Go (Whispering)
6. Jeepster

Pinky Blue
Released 26/01/04 - Diablo - cat no DIAB8049
1. Pinky Blue
2. See Those Eyes
3. Forgotten
4. Little Brown Head
5. See You Later
6. Song Sung Blue
7. Funny Funny Me
8. Think That It Might
9. I Could Be Happy [12" Dance Mix]
10. Jump Jump
11. Goodnight And I Wish
Bonus Tracks

1. I Could Be Happy [7" Version]
2. Insects
3. Disco Pop Stars
4. Happy New Year - Real Toys [New Version]
5. See Those Eyes [12" Dance Mix]
6. How About Then (I Missed The Train)
7. Pinky Blue [12" Dance Mix]
8. Jump Jump - Think That It Might [Segued 12" Dance Mix]

So some nice things there - obviously Bite (the one with Clare goes Audrey Hepbrun on the cover) will be planned to follow; and as far as we know this is the first time Dead Pop Stars has been released on CD (we could be wrong) - so it's all very attractive indeed. Let's hope Diablo are working on whoever currently is sitting on the Clare Grogan solo album...

For Altered Images and Clare Grogan related email debates, you could do worse than choose the clare grogan fetish society

MYCOKEMUSIC: It turns out it's based on the crappy od2 network, which means once again it suggests I consider "up"grading from OS X to, erm, Windows 98 or later. Anyway, it means that the downloads behind the bright red front page will be the virtually useless ones that were hawked around on national download day. Pah.

I GOT MY EDUCATION: Thanks to Patrick for pointing out that, besides prize puncher Cheryl Tweedy and the Girls Aloud, Nestle Box Tops For Education is endorsed by none other than Triple 8, a band who have long since been sent back to the McDonalds University got retraining.

NOTMYCOKEMUSIC: It's finally lumbered onto the web, but unfortunately, apparently we've got a problem - we don't have the right "operating system" to see the pretty tracks on offer from the fizzy pop people. Oddly, we would have thought this was MyCokeMusic's problem rather than ours, but it just goes to show how wrong you can be.

SOME ARE RARE BECAUSE THEY'RE PRECIOUS; OTHERS ARE RARE BECAUSE THEY WENT TO LANDFILL: At the end of the month, Hush Music are sticking out an 80s compilation with a difference from most of the current slew we're getting. Firstly, it's not got Girls On Film on it. Second, it's not been crudely designed and titled in a bid to try and link it to Friends Reunited in the popular mind (something like 'Back To School' or 'Classes Reunited;). Third, it's actually a collection of rare and special and long-lost extra mixes - which might be a interesting approach for future labels looking to stick out something a bit more interesting than the usual decade-defining snapshot (we'd like to see a compilation of CD2, track threes ourselves).

Anyway, according to remember the eighties, Retroactive offers: A-ha 'Take On Me' Extended Version, Camouflage 'The Great Commandment' (Ext. Dance Remix), Erasure 'Blue Savannah' (Out Of The Blue Mix), Vis-A-Vis 'Shadowplay' (Shadow Mix), The Screaming Blue Messiahs 'I Wanna Be A Flintstone' (Ext. Mix), The Spoons 'Symmetry' (Extended Mix), INXS 'Burn For You' (12" Extended Mix), The Dream Academy 'Life In A Northern Town' (Extended Version), The Other Two 'Tasty Fish' (Pascal Mix 12"), Echo & The Bunnymen 'Bring On The Dancing Horses' (Extended Version), The Cure 'Boys Dont Cry' (Resung and Club Mix 86), The Beloved 'Your Love Takes Me Higher' (The Pod Went Pop Mix), Book Of Love 'I Touch Roses' (Full Bloom Version)

Apart from scatching our heads at a couple of these - Book of Love? The Spoons? (Our American Pet says 'huge songs in US clubs') and Vis-a-vis (Drawing blanks from both sides of the Atlantic) - we're hugely delighted and surprised to see The Other Two in there.

COKE GOES FLATTER?: MyCokeMusic was meant to be launching "Monday 19th January." It's five on that Monday, and the website is still a bouncing computer and a promise that it'll be, um, launching on Monday 19th January. Presumably "Europe's first consumer-branded doodah" is planning to launch at a more convenient time for Americans, is it?

QUEER EYE FOR THE MAIN CHANCE: Jai Rodriguez, off the inexplicably over-rated Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, is preparing his cash-in ("debut") album. On the poor guy's Trinny and Susannah show, Jai is the one who has the tricky 'culture' portfolio. In real life, he's done some stuff in musicals (Rent, need you ask?) and is desperate to be known as performer in his own right rather than just a gay bloke who tries to tell jocks about films. Yeah? Like Leon once said to Roseanne: "and I want to be Judy Garland…"

APOLOGY AND CORRECTION: No Rock and Roll Fun would like to apologise if we'd given the impression that it was possible that Michael Jackson had at least the means and motive to have sexually abused children who slept over with him at the Neverland Ranch. Our assumption - that it was possible, and that there must be at least a case to answer - was based on the decision by American Police to charge Jackson. However, we have since discovered that Uri Geller hypnotised Jackson three years ago and Jackson said he had never abused a child, and that's good enough for us. Under hypnosis, Jackson is alleged to have told his star-struck friend his relationships with children were not "sexual" but "beautiful," so there you have it: no case to answer at all.

BETTE'S ARE OFF?: Now, that's what we call a sticky situation. Bette Midler's been nominated for a Grammy for her Rosemary Clooney tribute album. Unfortunately, she's running against Clooney herself, as her Last Album is nominated in the same category. Considering that it's not much of a tribute to risk prising the a Grammy from the cold, dead fingers of the one to whom you would pay tribute, Midler looks like she'll withdraw herself from consideration for the award. It'll probably wind up going to Rod Stewart anyway.

THE BIGGEST RISK IN THE JUNGLE IS FROM THE SPEEDING CARS: As the most rock-heavy bunch of 'celebs' (John Lydon, Shane Lynch, Kerry Katona from Atomic Kitten) prepare for I'm A Celebrity, they might find something a little comforting in the news on the same page that tips their appearance that the German version of the show was filmed on the same set used by ITV and NBC for the British and American versions of the "Ha! Your career is over, we now put bugs down your bras and pants" show. Because, according to Bild, not only did the set have a massive great cover to keep out the rain, but was so "isolated" that they could hear cars speeding along the main road a few yards from their "jungle."

Yes, we know this is basically a 'reality TV not real' shocker.

THEY MUST RATE STARS DIFFERENTLY IN IOWA: The Iowa media is getting really excited by the 'stars' out in force for the caucuses: the drummer from the E-Street Band being just one of the, uh, huge names out and about to try and persuade enough people to go vote that the rest of the US might shut up about how the Iowa procedures are a bit rubbish.

Seriously, of course, some of the candidates ("Howard Dean - and Wesley Clark, if you count people calling it in") are calling on some fairly big names. Joan Jett turned out for Dean at the weekend ("Jett has played Iowa before" pointed out the Fort Dodge Messenger, lest we think the appearance of a rock star in the state is a total novelty). Now, we'd heard rumours that there had been a bit of pushing and shoving at an event attended by Joan Jett and Janeane Garofalo - there was a link to a news story on the local ABC affialiate but the story seems to have disappeared.

Dick Gephardt had the vocal support of Michael Bolton to contend with. Poor sod.

JACKSON ENTERS 'NOT GUILTY' PLEA: Not the first time he's entered an innocent, either, we'd guess. So, although Jacko saying "It wasn't me - again" comes as little surprise, the fringe festival surrounding the main circus is a little bit unexpected - really, does he have no advisors with any sense at all? The British tabs (and, we understand, their American counterparts) weren't very impressed with the dancing on top of a car business - since when did being accused of kiddie fiddling turn you into Bruce Forsyth anyway? - and Jackson's broad grin throughout. Then there's the sticky problem of the all-back-to-my-place party was a Black Panther recruitment drive muddying the waters still further. We're still not clear what the performance outside the court was meant to achieve - sure, it showed Jacko putting on a brave face (well, okay, he'd obviously put that on before he left the house - "lets see if we can get the nose to not slide off into the cheek today, shall we?") but what was there for him to be all jingly-dancey about? Either he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and is about to spend a very long time moonwalking round the exercise yard, or else he's been wrongly accused of a terrible crime - either way, grinning like a loon would only make sense if he was trying to shore up a 'not guilty by reasons of insanity' plea. And the sort of people who'd traipse up to a courtroom holding placards which read, more or less, "I Know Jackson is innocent because, um, I like Thriller and bought both CD singles of Earth Song" are hardly the people he needs to be working to convince of his general, all-round, good-guy-ness, are they?

SHHH… WE'RE HUNTING WABBITS… BE VEWY VEWY QUIET: Beck's pet bunny is being offered as a prize to purchasers of the DVD version of Sea Change. Contestants will have to detail exactly why they're the right people to take control of the wabbit - the tiebreak is expected to be the choice of wine you'd serve with the rather delicious casserole.

THE CONFIDENCE OF SHIELDS: Kevin Shields has been nominated for a BAFTA. He's on the shortlist for the Anthony Asquith Award For Achievement In Film Music, and confidently predicts that he'll find out if he's won at the ceremony on February 15th at the Odeon, Leicester Square. We suspect he's rather more likely to find if he's won by watching on the television. Unless he can get a seat in the floral arrangements, or under a table near the back.

WHITEOUT: Are Oasis able to do anything without turning it into an unseemly squabble? Alan White's departure being a case in point - they're insisting White was "asked to leave" by "the rest of the band". Eh? You get asked to leave restaurants when your behaviour at the table is distressing other diners; bands don't have a polite word in your ear, do they? And "the rest of the band" - because if Andy Bell and the bloke from Heavy Stereo thought it a bit mean to kick Alan White out, they'd really have said "Actually, Noel, you run this group like you're some Stalin-meets-the-Pope infallible figure, we'd quite like Alan to stay", wouldn't they.

Noel will now do the drumming, too (oh, sweet Jesus) except when the band play live, when percussion will be provided by fans smashing their heads against the wall in frustration at their stupidity in buying tickets for the increasingly sidelined Gallagher Ego Circus.

Ms Dynamite, celebrity launching the Government's new magazine designed to encourage kids to abandon junk food
Ms Dynamite, well-paid spokesperson for Pepsi

A NICE LITTLE HOUSEWIFE WOULD GIVE ME A STEADY LIFE/ AND WON'T KEEP GOING OFF THE RAILS: Simon Cowell describes Madonna as looking like a housewife. Obviously, when one is a devastatingly handsome as Mr. Cowell, one can feel free to dismiss Madonna in such terms. But to criticise her for losing her looks is just odd - she's lost the knack of making catchy tunes, she's lost the plot, we'd not be surprised if she's lost her spectacles, but her looks? Of course she still looks great.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

CHARTFLASH: Franz Ferdinand in the singles chart at an indietastic number three; Beyonce will be having to hope that the number 11 entry for Me, Myself and I is down to everyone in the world already having the album. Michelle Pop idol remains at number one.

ANOTHER MORRISSEY STORY: Mozzer is boycotting the IAMS petfood company (which we guess means he doesn't feed his cat on brocolli any more), following reports from Peta that the food which makes your dogs and cats seem so much younger has been developed at the cost of the lives and comfort of other animals. Peta claims at least 27 dogs were killed at an IAMS contract lab, while others died of untreated illness. A long list of other jolly pieces of behaviour included dogs and cats being caged up, dogs having their vocal cords cut, kittens being washed down drains and the force feeding of dogs with tubes of vegetable oil, as would happen in the wild. IAMS, of course, deny that any such things happen. But we imagine that won't be enough to send Morrissey back to the petfood aisle.

THE BEAT GOES ON: Aaron Carter calls the cops when his mum breaks into her ex-husband's house and starts (it's alleged) to beat up Pops Carter's new lady friend. This is almost the sort of story which BBC Local News stories love to recreate - the young child having to dial 999 (or, 911 in this case) to save loved ones from danger.

JETHRO TULL FALLS SLIGHTLY SHORT OF DIXIE CHICKS: We know this was from before Christmas, but it's still an extraordinary tale: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull was forced into an awkward climbdown when he told a US paper he hated seeing the American flag everywhere. Suddenly realising he was looking at having his ass probed every time he passed through an American airport, he took to the web to back track:

"I really didn't understand - even after 35 years of visiting the USA on a regular basis - that this symbol had such fierce resonance for so many people as is now apparent to me."

Hang about... you're a sentinent human being, who hasn't spent any time in the last fifty years living chained to a radiator in Beirut - and yet you didn't realise that Americans cherish their flag that much? You didn't wonder for a moment why their national anthem was named after the flag rather than the nation? Why the US gets more upset when they see the Stars and Stripes being burned on telly than they do when it's limbs and gizzards of their troops? It's only just now occuring to you that perhaps Americans treat the flag which they spend every school day pledging their alliegance to with some degree of respect? You managed to notice that the stars and stripes is as common a sight in the American urban landscape as indecipherable graffiti is in ours?

THEY CAME IN SEARCH OF... TECHNO: And the perfect techno at that. Donald Wiltshire performs eye-watering operations on Jim Kerr in the name of science.

YEE-HAAAAW: So, Jack White on the Cold Mountain Soundtrack - is he deliberately going for "Deputy Dawg Sings Nick Cave", or did nobody have the guts to tell him?

AND THIS IS ME: This email nearly got chewed up (we've been having endless problems with the connections round our way) but we salvaged it - it's from K.:

I had a look at the NME's Morrissey story, and I'll probably be proved wrong, but while the 16-year-old inner me is ready to believe almost anything, don't you think the song titles are a little bit too, well, Morrisseyesque? Either he's taking the piss a little, or he's about to become the best Morrissey pastiche we've seen yet. Thinking about it, I'm not sure which of the two I'd prefer...

We love the idea of Morrissey becoming a Morrissey impersonator... which reminds us, we were surprised to read a review of Gene in this week's Guardian, still a going concern and, of course, still pushing the barrow of Morrissey-esque movements.

Talking of turning into a parody of yourself, how do you go from being one of the most vital voices of your generation to...

the time is... past

... flogging a novelty clock of yourself?

THE IDOL DESTROYED: As BMG runs through its offices throwing away stuff to get ready for the Sony merger, German Pop Idol judge Thomas Stein, the head of BMG's Swiss, German and Austrian operations has announced his intention to seek alternative employment. Stein's departure is apparently due to his inability to develop any long-term talent, although to be fair to him, in the current music industry climate nobody seems to be looking much beyond the next chart publication day.

MIXED BLESSINGS/ IT'S BLACK AND WHITE: Horrible concept albums of our time: Jay-Z's The Black Album mixed with The Beatles' The White Album gives Dangermouse's The Grey Album. They're trying to get permission to release it, despite it clearly being the sort of idea Drunk Gary used to come up with at half past four in the morning after the third bottle of vodka had been opened...

WORKING OUT WITH A FURROWED BROW: Suggesting that Hnery Rollins doing a workout video puts him on a par with Jane Fonda is, of course, to forget that Henry threw his weight behind an unjust war, rather than do something brave and take a moral stand.

What sort of workout routine will Henry offer, anyway? "Clench jaw, three, four... now, I really wanna see you get those veins on your temple pumping..."

AFTERMATH: Following on from last week's statement by Elliot Smith's girlfriend that his family "know the truth" about Elliot's death, his family have issued a statement that doesn't exactly clang with endorsement:

"Elliott's family has every confidence that the ongoing investigation will determine the actual circumstances of Elliott's death. Until such time as their investigation has concluded, however, and especially in light of the recently published coroner's report, neither Elliott's family nor anyone else can claim to know 'the truth' about Elliott's death, and any statement to the contrary mischaracterizes the family's position."