Saturday, January 31, 2004

HOW MUSIC WORKS: Atomic Kitten have managed to claw together just 200k each after five years of hits and flogging clothes in BhS. Which is, of course, a bit harsh but it's not like they actually wrote their own stuff which everyone knows is where the money is. And, to be fair, it's more than they'd have got if they'd been doing something a bit more suited to their talents - not many Tescos deli staff have got a nest egg of a couple of thousand to fall back on.

OF COURSE, WE'RE PLAYING THEIR GAME: To promote the new Pink single (God Is A DJ, of course, which we think is pretty rubbish when we know our girl can do so much better), they've created a game where you have to move Pink round a dancefloor - you see how it carries the idea through? Clever, eh? - only it's not as much fun as the Belle & Sebby game from earlier in the week. And neither of them are snood.

DON'T INK IT IN YET: Jack White seems pretty certain the White Stripes will be playing Reading/Leeds this year. That might depend on if he's doing hard time or not, surely?

Meanwhile, Jack and Meg are going to be sharing screen space with Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, GZA and RZA, Cate Blanchett and Steven Wright in jim Jarmusch's forthcoming multiple sketch movie Coffee and Cigarettes. Jack and Meg talk about life and science over a cup of coffee, apparently.

THEY MUST BE GETTING USED TO IT, SURELY?: Are Michael Jackson's family really so outraged by the Vanity Fair article? Can they really work themselves into a funk everytime something appears which suggests Mickey isn't like other boys? They must spend their entire life frothing at the mouth.

UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP ACCUSED OF DECEIT: Yeah, we know that record labels get called a lot, for a lot of things, but this time Def Jam is being sued in New York for fixing the album charts. According to her case, sales exexcutive Theressa Rossi was forced to front a promotion company, Giaco Entertainment, designed to inflate Def Jam's sale figures by perusading merchants to repeatedly scan cds barcodes in front of the Nielsen sale counter machines. Giaco offered bribes in the form of free CDs, it's alleged, and backed up the sweeteners with warnings of delayed shipments for shops which refused to play ball. The president of Giaco Entertainment, Joe Giaco has been named as defendant alongside Universal, Def Jam and Def Jam execs Kevin Liles and Mignon Espy.


Incidentally, I did some quick calculations and realised that this is the FIFTH time Wakeman has joined Yes. He's even beating out Jon Anderson and Steve Howe (three apiece). Is this a record for a "member" of a band, and will it go on for as long as one of their's? (obProgJoke, boom boom!)

Friday, January 30, 2004

PLAIN DEALING?: The Cleveland Plain Dealer manages to make it sound like Starsailor worked with Spector after Lana Clarkson was shot at his house, rather than before. Dealing, maybe, but no that plain, surely?

COME AGAIN?: During the hoo-hah over the last couple of days, the Rajar figures more or less slipped by unspotted, beyond the Radio One figures. But a closer inspection suggests their ability to measure digital radio listening must be open to severe question - Smash Hits Radio is supposed to have lost 600,000, or nearly two-thirds of its audience; The Hits is meant to have mislaid about a quarter, while Q has doubled. Of course, it's possible, but what it seems to show is that for the smaller audiences, spread out across the UK, for the digital stations the traditional Rajar methodology just isn't working.

YES, AGAIN: Ade from Big Bubbles somehow managed to sneak an email into our mailbox of MyDoom virus and holiday advertisements:

Reunion? What reunion?? The same line-up toured last year (including a show at the Liverpool Pops). Yes don't reunite as such, they just keep trying various configurations on for commercial size ("Let's try a young, hip guy like Billy are the sales? Still in decline? Right, dump the kid and hire an orchestra! Any joy? No...OK, bring Wakeman back...and spread a rumour that we're going to get Trevor Horn back to do a rap remix of 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'..."). The question is, can this line-up stay together for (even/more than) one new album?

As for 35 years of guitar solos: if you add the keyboard and bass solos, they must have played over a hundred years of music in 35 years. Which is actually what listening to their albums sounds like.

But I shouldn't laugh. I've got my ticket already.

November 2003 - Rolling Stone publishes a list of 500 Best All Time Albums
30th january 2004 - Ananova breathlessly reveal Rolling Stone has produced a list of 500 Best Albums

'ACTUALLY, I'M DELIGHTED: J-Lo's people are now denying either that she's borken hearted, or that she told Star she was, or something. It's not quite clear what they're denying, like it wasn't entirely clear what Lord Thingy was saying the BBC were apologising for yesterday. We're confused and may have to go and lie down for a bit.

STEADY, KELLY - THIS MIGHT BE ANOTHER NERVOUS BREAKDOWN IN THE MAKING: To the surprise of absolutely nobody who saw it, Sharon Osbourne's dreadful yammer show has been axed. For contractual reasons, the whole debacle will limp on until the summer, when American TV will close the door on her unique mix of autoegomasturbation, sickly children and gentle reminders that she was in some way connected with a family one of whose members once had some purpose. Apparently, Sharon's been trying to get out of the contract since she realised what an awful wreck of a disaster movie it was ("since Ozzy's accident provided her with a face-saving excuse").

DJOBIT: Philadelphia DJ Ed Sciaky, acclaimed with helping break Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and others early on in their careers, has died in New York. He was 55.

ROS AND ROLL: The mists surrounding Sigur Ros' new album are clearing; the band swapping to EMI for their European label and the likely release date now receeding off into the post-Christmas schedule of "sometime in 2005." But we're sure it'll be worth waiting for.

I AM TRYING TO RATE YOUR PAST: Wilco, preparing to bring forth their follow-up to Yankee Delta Juliet Bravo, have managed to shed another member. Leroy Bach, who's been playing many instruments for Wilco for five years, will now be exploring other options. This isn't one of the hissy, pissy Wilco style break-ups; everyone seems to be really happy about it all. Suggestions that he'll be replaced with Lord Ryder, reading out an insincere apology, are unconfirmed at the present.

CALLED THE COPS: Now, we here at No Rock have a lot of time for the police, and law and order generally. And we wouldn't really advocate the killing of policemen. But that doesn't mean we don't worry at little at Tower Records' complete capitulation to a demand from Arizona police that they censor records on sale in their Maricopa stores. Apparently, a cop discovered that Tower was selling a local CD which contained the schoolyard rap stand-by of demanding that policemen be shot, and so on. Rather than just figuring the guy was a bit of a jerk, the police decided to spend their time getting the record banned from the shelves, presumably because the track may have awoken a sleeper who had been primed to start gunning down cops at will. We're suggesting that Tower might like to circulate a list of topics that other people might find upsetting to its local branches, to spare people the (admittedly not great) trouble of bringing their own tastes and stances to bear.

SWEATY FAT BLOKE WATCH: Jimmy Iovine signs a deal that'll keep him at Universal Records for six years, and, ominously, gives him greater freedom to hook up with the movie arm of the company to create 'film projects' for his acts (Coming soon: Sheryl Crow on The Long and Winding Road and Fred Durst in a nu-rock remake of Look Back In Anger). Elsewhere, LA Reid is rumoured to be lining himself up a slot at Island DefJam.

R KELLY GOES CAMERA-SHY: Having had a good few months to think up a plausible explanation for incriminating photos, R Kelly's lawyers have decided that it's going to be less effort to try and argue the possible kiddie porn photos on R Kelly's camera were discovered by an illegal search and thus, inadmissible in court. We're not sure this is such a smart move - clearly, R will be looking to leave court without a stain on his character; the only way to do that would be to provide the explanation of why the images don't show what a lot of people assume them to do so, in open court, under oath. Getting the pictures ruled out-of-order won't stop the rumours circulating; indeed, it's likely to make them even wilder (after all, why get in such a funk if they're sweet and innocent photos?) and leave them hanging around Kelly's neck regardless of the court verdict on the stuff he is prepared to talk about.

SWINE BEFORE PEARLS: The Vines are going to tour Canada and North America. The great news is they're being supported on all dates by the knuckle-scraping stereophonica of Jet, so there's plenty of time to park, get to the bar, have a couple of drinks and meet with old friends before The Vines come on.

YES... YES... YEEEEEESSS...: Yes have confirmed a reunion tour to mark 35 years of guitar solos. Or possibly just 35 year-long guitar solos.

MEDICAL CASEBOOK: Kelly Osbourne confuses 'being a bit upset' with 'having a nervous breakdown'. Kelly, love, a nervous breakdown isn't something that happens to you, like having a touch of flu or stubbing your toe; it's not something you recover come from after a weekend in bed and a couple of aspirin. And if you really found it so utterly terrible having "everybody in the world judging me", might we suggest that you should have taken the option exercised by the only smart Osbourne and not sought the spotlight with a determination that would have shamed the young Madonna, while being a complete void of any real talent that would have shamed the current Madonna?

YOU SAY 'A BREAK', WE SAY 'WE'RE NOT HOLDING OUR BREATH': Atomic Kitten deny they're actually splitting, saying that they just intend to have an extended break after the current tour. Well, yes, fair enough - we don't doubt that they'll be back in 2024 for the 'Remember the BBC?' Hear and Now nostalgia tour, but that wouldn't really count as a break, more like deep stasis. Shall we settle on 'Atomic Kitten to be cyrogenically frozen until scientists discover a cure for drooping sales?'

MR BROWNE AND MS SMITH CHECK OUT: Jackson Browne has quit Elektra and Patti Smith has switched from the beleagured Arista to Columbia. Browne, especially, seems to be pleased at the end of his old contract - talking about his time with Elektra he claims "it would have been easier to go through the process of finding a new label each time." These would be the record labels who partly justify the cost of recorded music because you're paying for the care they give to recording artists, you'll remember.

WE ARE THE LONGPIGS: Brett Anderson, former director general of Suede, is recording solo stuff which, apparently, sounds like Johnny Cash (we're presuming this isn't meant to be taken as meaning it sounds like the work of someone who's been dead for six months). He's working with Richard Hawley who's best known for being a Longpig in a previous life.

WASN'T IT THE OTHER ONE WHO WAS MEANT TO BE DOING THE COMMUNITY WORK?: Nicola Roberts spends an afternoon doing some work in Asda - of course, in a couple of months this won't be a news story about charity collections, but her Wal-Mart timesheet.

WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKEN HEARTED?: The J-Lo says that breaking up with Ben Affleck has left her "broken hearted" but, you know, she needs to put her professional life back together. That's the ticket, Jenny; you could actually capture your tears in a small bottle and use them to make a special edition of your perfume. Oddly, Ben refused her "ultimatum" to set a date for the wedding - which we find so strange, most men usually respond so well to that sort of thing.

NOT ENTIRELY SHOCKING HEADLINES OF OUR TIMES: "Magazine article accuses [Michael Jackson] of bizarre behaviour". We're also a little bit concerned that Google Ads - which works by selecting an advert that fits with the content of the page on which it appears - is serving up an advert for a Michael Jackson story which reads "Help educate children" - the lesson that lasts a lifetime?

KITS SPLIT: Noooooooooo! Just when we needed them most, Atomic Kitten have announced they're calling it a day, mainly because Natasha has decided she wants to spend more time with her family. We're sure that seeing Kerry Katona getting more press than they do has probably helped swing the decision, plus the slowly dwindling sales graph. But you have to tip your hat to them - for a band who had been dropped and whose label had to sramble to pick them back up again, they've not done badly, and they've been able to have the luxury of choosing the date of their own destruction. Of course, they've not had a decent single to slaughter since they kicked Andy McLuskey into touch, and they never quite rose to the levels of the songs they were attempting - we're still waiting for someone to release a properly performed cover of Whole Again and clean up - but you can't take the pile of records they've sold away from them.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

MOS-TLY HARMLESS: You sass that Mos Def? There's a guy who knows where his towel is. Or, in other words, Mos Def is apparently onboard for the movie version of Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galalxy, playing Ford Prefect against Martin Freeman, an excellent choice for Arthur. No word yet on who's going to take Peter Jones' role as the book, but we'd suggest Stephen Fry, oursleves. Or maybe Clement Freud.

NOT GONNA HAPPEN:" Mariah Carey says she's not recording with Jennifer Lopez. But not, we'd imagine, as emphatically as J-Lo is saying it.

OOH, I'LL BET HE'S SCARED: The incredible world of Fred Durst's wonky connection to the rest of the planet continues: Now, Durst has got so outraged that someone asked him a question that wasn't 'how great are you?' Jordi Meya from Rock Sound magazine asked Durst 'You have a knack for pissing people off, why is that?' - which is a fair enough question we'd have thought. Indeed, doesn't Durst revel in the fact that a lot of people think he's a great big gnat? But it seems having the temerity to point out that he's a bit an arse is a step too far - Durst rants away:

It not only amazes me that this guy was picked to interview me, but that he is a journalist for one of the most popular music magazines in Europe.
He had the wits to remind me, 'People here are still pissed off about you guys cancelling the show here a couple years ago.'
The event he was referring to was the 'FestiMad' show, which was a large festival style concert in Spain that we had to cancel for safety reasons. Jordi was implying that we let fans down by not performing.
Jordi, since you don't have any regard for constructive or objective journalism, kiss my ass and try to be front and centre at the concert next month.

Let's hope nobody ever asks Fred why he's a fortysomething bloke pretending to be eighteen - he'd probably invite the poor thing onstage.

FIRST CUCKOO OF SPRING: Computer games and Belle and Sebastian seem to go together like integrity and a ministerial car, and yet they come together, allowing you to play a Belle & Sebby game. It's called I Am A Cuckoo and you are, um, a cuckoo. There's prizes on offer, too, so you can write it off to trying to win a trip to Barcelona rather than mere time wasting.

SOMEONE'S GOT TO GO: Following on from Kelvin McKenzie's wristwatch ratings yesterday, the official RAJAR audience figures are grim for Radio One, with a further loss of a million listeners from the station since the end of 2002. Losses like this can't carry on unchecked, and surely someone fairly senior in the BBC should be axed to pay for the poor performance. Greg Dyke Must... oh, hang on...

Actually, and just to step away from our usual remit here, the sacking of Greg Dyke (or enforced resignation or whatever you want to call it) is a mighty shame for anyone who cares about the BBC, quality broadcasting or independent journalism. I'm still not entirely sure how Lord Hutton could have sat through the same evidence as everyone else and come to the conclusion that all the blame was on the side of the BBC. Obviously, it helped that he decided he wasn't going to let himself be detained by the whole question of just what went into that dossier - Hutton appears to have changed his terms of reference from being 'the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr kelly' into an investigation into the BBC complaints process - turning what we were told was meant to be an investigation into the death of senior, respected scientist from a sudden and untelegraphed 'suicide' into an investigation purely into complaints by Downing Street against a broadcaster who dares to treat the government correctly - as our servants. I don't think anyone was expecting anything useful to emerge from Hutton, but I think everyone's been totally shocked at the extent to which he couldn't even be arsed to pretend it was anything other than a snow job. I'm told the published version has an epigram 'To Tony - Will this do?'

Greg Dyke's BBC has brought us 6Music,, the wonderful BBC Four and many, many delights besides. Tony Blair's government has brought us more tuition fees, rising gun crime, councils that are having to raise their taxation rates by ridiculous amounts, and a war where we shouldn't have been, where our troops were sent in without the proper armour. You'd have to say the wrong man has stepped down.

And, just to make it clear: We believe Tony Blair lied to the country and parliament to try and rally support for an unpopular war. We believe Alistair Campbell, as his director of communications, played a part in the deception. We believe Colin Powell lied to the UN. We believe the Labour front bench lied. We believe George Bush lied. Because the alternative - that they really believed the intelligence - would make them all very, very stupid indeed. We know the Labour front bench continue to lie about the reasons we went to war.

But with that, we return you to the usual business of the day...

DARKNESS STARES INTO BLACK EYES: Despite having got off to a frosty start, the relationship between The Darkness and Black Eyed Peas has bloomed into full-on collaboration. Justin Hawkins has been singing onstage with the BEPs, and it's possible that there may be a Darkness/Peas crossover on record at some point in the future. See? People can learn to overcome their differences. It's a lesson for us all.

THAT'S GOT TO HURT: It's almost as if nobody takes American Idol acts seriously - it turns out Justin Guarini (season one runner up) found out he was being dumped through an article in Us, and then had it confirmed through... um, a Saturday Night Live sketch. Well, you get the job on the telly, getting the poke through the telly seems apt, doesn't it? Meanwhile he's hired a whole new management team to help him seek out exciting new opportunities. No, we thought it would be something like "My name is Brenda, Mr. Guarini, and I'll be dealing with your claim - now, have you filled out a form for housing benefit?", too.

RAPPER FACES RAP: Tad Virgil, the rapper known as Turk from the Hot Boy$, has been charged with shooting some policemen who went to arrest him in a search for drugs. Which is what they're usually searching for when they call round. The DA says he's not looking to cut any deals.

IF YOU WANT TO DEFEAT METALLICA, SING THEIR TUNE (OR SOMETHING): Is it just us, or is there something a little bit unfair about Ticketmaster having a secret presale of Download Festival tickets? But apparently it's possible to rush up to the front while the rest of Joe Public has to huddle in virtual sleeping bags in the cybersnow outside the eticket office waiting for it to open on 9.00 Friday morning.

"YOU CAN GO, BUT KEEP AWAY FROM THAT JACKSON BOY": A judge has told R Kelly he can go to the grammies, but he's got to keep away from Michael Jackson - which is odd, because the prosecution never mentioned Michael Jackson, and it's hugely unlikely that Jacko would even have been thinking of turning up. And besides, wouldn't it have made more sense to tell him to keep away from Mandy Moore and the other young ladies?

AS EXPECTED: The "band x have added an extra London date due to demand" has become the encore of the tour announcement, as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Franz ferdinand both stick an extra one on the end of their tours. Who knew that two such popular bands would need to do that, eh?

... AND ANOTHER: James Brown has been held in custody over allegations that he "shoved" his wife Tomi Rae Brown during some sort of row. And only a couple of months after George W Bush was saying what a top bloke he was, too.

SO MANY COURT & LEGAL STORIES...: Following the spot of driving off the road, Daniel Bedingfield is being charged with careless use of a motor vehicle. Bedingfield, of course, has never passed a driving test.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

LOCAL GIRL WRITES LETTER: We're not quite sure how quiet is Hunstville, Alabama, but their local news channel sends out a camera crew because an eight grader got a letter in the paper. They're impressed with her bold, brave stance, bravely saying that getting married and then getting your wedding annulled isn't, you know, cool:

"My name is Jordan Stephens, and I am an eighth-grader at Huntsville Middle School. I recently read an article about Britney Spears’ so-called “quickie” marriage. She impulsively married a longtime friend with little, or no, thought about what she was doing.
No one knew, not her friends or even more importantly, her family. After only a few hours of being married, she had already filed for an annulment.
Spears may think that she is a role model for thousands of people around the world. Her Las Vegas “marriage” showed that she is a famous pop star with poor judgment. Spears made marriage look like a joke. That is not correct.
One set of my grandparents is coming up on their 65th wedding anniversary later this year. The other set has been married for 52 years. My parents have been married for 17 years. These 134 years of commitment tell me that marriage is no joke.
Spears is no role model for marriage or for me. I’ll take my parents and grandparents any day.

Yeah, and when gramps releases a pop song as great as Oops I Did It Again, so will we. It's about time someone stood up and slapped Britney down for this - apparently, since her drunken slip, literally tens of thousands of teenagers have been turning up at Las Vegas, getting married and then seeking annulments, just like Britney. Damn those role models.

PIXIE JINXED?: The nice people at Playlouder have heard rumours that the Pixies reunion might already be a disunion because the non-Black Francis members are a bit pissed off at the share of the cake Mr. Black will be receiving when the money is split up. Rumours is all at the moment - and nobody ever thought that this was going to be easy, did they?

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Snow day edition
Monday's G2 had a couple of interesting features on the crossover between music and violence. An interview with Jason Stollsteimer uncovered that the recent pasting he received at the hands of Jack White (if that is what the court decides happened) wasn't the first time he's been physically attacked by him. Apparently, one night, while Stollsteimer was sleeping, the door went and Jason went down, in his boxers, to discover Jack there. Attempted strangulation is alleged to have ensued.

Back in Britain, a visit to Lisa Maffia provides another opportunity for trudging over the still unsettled and unsettling links between the So Solid Crew and guns. "Certain people in the Crew" explains Lisa "have made mistakes, but we're actually a bunch of naive kids." While this may explain away the stage school kids getting banged up for waving guns at traffic wardens, is it really "naivety" to smash a fifteen year old girl's face because she refused to have sex, as Skat D did? And the closing of ranks behind Skat - was that an act of naivety? Lisa, to her credit, at least attempts to address his actions: "There's a reason for everybody's actions; I would never say 'so what?' if a fan was assaulted because it's not 'so what'. But once it's done, it's done. You can't stay on that for the rest of that person's life." Earlier, she'd been providing some edgy street background - ooh, people from where I live get murdered and raped - and so we can only presume that Lisa believes that when killings and rape take place, well, once that's done, it's done, too.

The surprising aspect of the report, though, lays in some backghround detail. The So Solid management team have always been very keen to disassociate the band from the guns which surround them. And yet, on the walls of their management offices, a framed cover of the Evening Standard reporting, erm, Lisa Maffia's proximity to a shooting and an NRA style pro-gun slogan (the one about how if guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns). Curious mixed messages.

Quiz question: How is Lauren Booth, who filed a report for the New Statesman about her appearance on Richard and Judy to condemn Page Three's "crass sexism" related to Luscious Lozza, the writer for crassly sexist wank-lite magazine Front?

Elsewhere in the Staggers, Richard Cook frets over what you lose when you squeeze tracks into an iPod, saying "stick to vinyl"; oddly, Andrew Martin files a broadly similar piece, only decrying the CD. He has some extra evidence for the rubbishness of CDs, because people string CDs up in the garden to scare birds. Um, Andrew, that's probably more to do with the number of CD ROMs sent to houses by AOL than anybody deciding that their fidelty is less than acceptable.

Onto the NME, then, with the Coral all over the front, promising "the maddest interview ever." For a moment, it seemed as if a band from Liverpool might have got up enough speed to break through the "cheeky chappy laughing through their scouse tears" barrier, but... it's not to be, is it? Look at them in their wacky, wacker tennis gear. And sob.

The Big Picture is Albert Hammond Organ and Cam Muncey from Jet sharing a fag, a way of clearing the air after the recent war of words where The Strokes suggested Jet were shit and Jet suggested that The Strokes had lost all credibility. Clearly, they've both decided that they're right so the war is over.

News: the shortlist for the nme awards has been announced - mostly Radiohead; Chris Martin is attempting to bring the joy and funk of R&B to its knees by bringing his grey, grim fingers over a collaboration with Jamelia; Graham Coxon reckons staying in Blur would have killed him, and bats back claims that Damon wnats to build bridges - "if he does, why do I read about it in the NME?"

Peter Robinson takes on Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters - but the tables are turned as Jake demands to know if Peter thinks he or Eminem is sexier. Before announcing that he doesn't even have time for a wank, so he's stocking up a big load to blow when he gets back to New York. He hopes - don't they stop you taking fully loaded bollocks onto planes now in case you spunk your way into the cockpit?

More fallout from the unfortunate timing of Jimmi Lawrence's suicide co-inciding with the Live Fast Die Young poster pullout on the letters page; this week it's Mark Beaumont who attempts to mop up - apparently, the posters headlined "Live Fast Die Young" was a "celebration of the lives of a bunch of genius musicians who were snatched away from us way too soon." Which, again, may have been how it intended to come across, but the whole "Live fast - die young" packaging doesn't really point in the direction, does it?

Keane are the radar band: when they play, cows gravitate towards the studio. Clever beasts, cows.

Rob harvey and Phil Jordan of The Music loves the Zutons.

So, what is the Coral's worldview? It's very wonky - Blair's a good bloke because "how can he tell Bush to fuck off" (erm, because without the support of Britain the US would have at least been forced to admit they were going it totally alone) "At least Blair sticks up for what he's into" (education, education, education?) "and makes his own decisions... I don't even want to know about that shit..." Er... yeah, thanks, Guys. "All the people who whine that the war is about oil, they'll be the same people going on protests when we run out of oil..." Or, equally, James, they could be the same ones who go on, you know, pro-environment protests. And what on earth would be the point of going on a protest after oil has run out? "What do we want? Blair to make more fossil fuels! When do we want it? Well, to be fair it's going to take a few thousand years..." Cheeky, chirpy and thick as Jerry Lewis' neck. Why must all Liverpool bands turn into Cannon and Ball when they hit the Top 40?

The NME thumbs its nose at the BPI and runs a full page about sources for free music on the net - including the illegal ones - although there is an odd claim that if you right-click on a streaming .wma file you can save it as an mp3.

Twenty reasons why John Lydon is more punk by going on I'm a Celeb than when he was a Sex Pistol, anyone? 18. It's unlikely that the cast will reform in 20 years for some piss-poor karaoke reunion concerts.

Are Snow Patrol the new Coldplay? What sort of question is that to ask in public - you might as well say "Does Gary Lightbody share a hobby with Michael Jackson and tie him to a lamppost on a Plymouth Council Estate.

"I was a smackhead at 16. Who cares?" spits Johnny Borrell from razorlight. He's choosing between following Tom Waits, Rimbaud or U2's career paths (please, don't become Bono) - doubtless if you asked the Coral if they wanted to follow Rimbaud's career, they'd say they didn't fancy the bit fighting in Vietnam but the ammuntion belt is cool.

Eight White Stripes posters, sitting in a row. We're using each one to form the basis of our "Go Solo Now Meg" campaign. There's also a review of the Alexandra Palace show (the place where the now-defunct BBC once broadcasted from, of course) - sometimes they drop to the merely "quite good", 8

other reviews
the zutons, oxford zodiac - "a solar system of their own", 7

scissor sisters - scissor sisters (nicely headlined snip snip hooray, as a pisstake of the sun's pisspoor headline on Shimpman's suicide, we presume) - "unique, yet uniting", 9
bobby conn with the glass gypsies - the homeland - "a manga dave lee roth", 9
lostprohets - start something - "the real sound of progress", 8
sid vicious - too fast to live - "all this moronic empty yabbering should have been buried many years ago", 5

sotw - the von bondies - c'mon c'mon - "rare and brilliant, makes the nme call off it's retro witch-hunt"
shirokuma - moonlight in the afternoon - "makes us want to have sex in dressing-up clothes"

And, finally, what left-field band has Luke Jenner chosen as his "Why I love" band? Nirvana. Apparently you might want to consider buying a record called "Nevermind."

"NO MORE MR LO-FI": - apparently, Graham Coxon's chosen not to call his fifth album that, which is a pity, but probably not entirely unconnected with a certain Mr. Albarn's horrible punning Democrazy release. What he will be doing, though, is releasing a bellweather single - of course it's 2,500 black vinyl seven inches, this is Graham Coxon after all.

EVANS JOINS THE DRUGS SQUAD: The ever-growing list of artists facing drugs raps continues to expand, with the addition of Faith Evans to the pile of artists arrested for their stash. Faith and husband Todd Russaw apparently had blow and coke. And speeding motorists think speed cameras are the law's equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

"I HAD THAT CHRIS MARTIN IN THE BACK OF MY CAB THE OTHER DAY...": A nice little tale from Mark E Smith:

"I got this taxi in America, and I always say I'm a building engineer if anybody asks, though I told this particular driver I was a sound engineer.
And he said, 'How's business?' and I said, 'It's alright apart from musicians.' And he goes, 'It's funny you should say that because I picked up three guys the other day, three British guys like you, and they were going on about 25 per cent this and 25 per cent that and five per cent this and they looked pretty scruffy.'
So he got them to where they were going and said, 'Have a good day, hope you have a good stockbroker meeting,' and they go, 'What's that? We're Coldplay!' And he goes to me, 'Have you heard of Coldplay?' I said, 'Yeah, they're big in Britain.' And he said, 'I thought they were fucking three fucking stockbrokers.' And I said, 'You're damn right.'"

This sounds likely enough, although we're wondering how many taxi drivers ask Mark E Smith anything, beyond "You know there's a fifty quid clean-up charge for this cab, pal?"

CAN SUCH A THING EVEN BE POSSIBLE?: Court documents filed by Debbie Rowe claim that Michael Jackson had nothing to do with the sperm and the business which created "his" children. They also show that Roy and Hayley are getting off lightly with giving a few measly thousand to Tracy for a baby; Jacko paide Debbie USD6 million and threw in a luxury house, some clothes, a signed copy of Thriller plus a reduced-price subscription to Awake!. Typical of Jacko's kookiness - entering into fatherhood, but he skipped the only bit of the process that's guaranteed to be fun.

RYAN (IN PLASTER OF) PARIS: Ryan Adams reckons he "could have been paralysed" when he fell off the Royal Court stage - if he'd have fallen differently, and harder, from a greater height, onto a different surface, admittedly, but even so... close run thing, there.

RADIO ONE DOWN FURTHER?: As if the BBC doesn't have enough to worry about, what with Hutton and preparing a dressing room for Graham Norton, Kelvin McKenzie and his alternative radio ratings system suggests that Radio One's audience has slumped some more - his figures claim that Radio One's weekly reach of just under twelve million, a loss of million on the previous quarter. McKenzie claims his magic wrist-watch method of counting listeners is better than the official method - getting people to tick little boxes in a book - employed by Rajar, but it's not clear if his figures include people listening to Radio One programmes through the 'listen again' features (a large number of marginal listeners - such as Peel's audience - seem to be doing this more and more; since they don't tend to listen to other shows that has the potential to damage the network's apparent reach); and it suggests that nearly seven million people listen to Talk Sport, which seems to anecdotally unlikely.

LOVE FURTHER DELAYED: The judge in the Courtney Love case has postponed her hearing for the second time, saying that "further investigation" is needed into the charge of Courtney having drugs she wasn't meant to have. He's probably just seen that edition of Q where she was running about starkers, then.


only the koala has its dignity intact

- John Lydon actually appears to believe he's somehow undermining the whole concept of celebrity culture, rather than fulfilling the role of village idiot and shoring the whole edifice up. Interestingly, in the past, the makers of I'm A Celebrity have approached Charlie Wheelan - yes, Gordon Brown's former spin doctor - to go into the jungle. He twigged they wanted someone who'd apppear to be 'not that sort of chap' to provide some much-needed grit in the mix and declined politely.

A FIFTH CAREER CHANGE: Having realised that guest vocalist on Daddy's track is the best she's going to achieve as a musician, Kelly Osbourne has elected to join in the other Osbourne family business, that of making incredibly, incredibly bad television. ABC are adapting Melvin Burgess' Doing It - and, yes, taking a frank and intentionally coarse novel and converting it into a prime time US network drama isn't a dog of an idea in the first place - and Kelly is giong to appear in it. The Hollywood Reporter suggests it's Kelly's first foray into scripted TV work, but they've obviously forgotten The Osbournes already.

MADONNA IN COURT: A court date has been set for the compensation claim against Madonna and Guy Ritchie being brought by Vincent 'not the one off Law & Order' D'Onofrio who claims it was his idea to make the remake of Swept Away. We're not sure if it was our idea we'd be wanting to share in the blame, ourselves; it also makes us wonder to what extent pointing at someone else's movie and saying "let's make that again" can really be considered an "idea" in any sense of the word at all. D'onofrio's attorney is seeking USD10 million in damages, although surely it should be an attempt to share in some of the movie's enormous losses?

YOU KNOW YOUR PARTY IS IN TROUBLE WHEN: Jon Bon Jovi turns down the invite - although he seems to be implying that he'd been invited to host the Brit awards - surely he was only being pencilled in to present one of the awards? The BPI might be a peverse organisation, but they're not likely to want to spend several hours listening to Jon stumble through an autocue, are they?

CORGAN GRINDER: Oh, good, Billy Corgan is starting work on his first solo album. This time, he says, there won't be anyone there to try and channel his baroque ideas into anything half-way appealing to the listening audience and he can make a record that's totally unlistenable (he says "I am excited to work on this music because for the first time in my life it will be my tunes with no compromises to anyone or anything".) Still, all the while he's making a godawful album, it means he's spending less time on threatened book of poetry.

PRIZES ALL ROUND: Dionne Warwick's picked up an American Citizen Honour Award for her work raising funds for Aids research - for some reason at the American embassy in Singapore, while Isaac Hayes has been given the trumpet. No, we'd not heard of them either but apparently they've been going twelve years and are presented by Turner Broadcasting Systems to mark achievements by black people in a variety of fields. But not sports. We can understand giving trumpets to musicians, but the significance of providing "casino owner Don Barden" or "District court judge Horace T Ward" with a trumpet is sort of lost on us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

QUICK QUESTION FOR MUSIC BIZ EXECS: The music industry believes that drops in sales are down to piracy. In which case, how many extra downloads would have had to have been generated in order for the drop in Australian CD sales to just 16.3 percent of their level the week before Christmas to be caused by copyright theft?

ANYONE CAN MAKE A MISTAKE: MTV Dance experienced a bit of a cock-up on the onscreen channel identification front, apparently calling its audience "fuckers" by mistake. According to the first edition of the Programme Complaints Bulletin from new enormo-regulator OfCom, at some point during the afternoon of November 26th, the usual onscreen "DOG" fell off the channel, and somehow, upon manual re-insertion, the "wrong graphic" got stuck in. Unfortunately, it said "Fuckers", which does raise the questions how could someone not realise that that wasn't the name of the channel, and, more to the point, why would MTV have a DOG with that on sitting about on its system anyway? Is Viacom planning to launch channels in competition with Richard Desmond's all-tits services further up the Sky EPG? Anyway, MTV Dance apologised repeatedly on air, it was all a genuine mistake, and, hey, what's important is we learn and grow, isn't it?

CONTAINS VIOLENCE, SEXUAL VIOLENCE, PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE, PSYCHOSEXUAL VIOLENCE AND ADULT THEMES: In other words, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are releasing a retrospective DVD at the end of March; followed by a B-sides and rarities comp at the end of April.

YES, YOUR COKE, YOUR WAL-MART, YOUR BEST BUY... NOW THE SMITHSONIAN CRASHES DOWNLOAD MARKET: The Smithsonian has announced plans to put its folk music archives online as paid-for downloads (99 cents a pop, if "pop" isn't the wrong word), making material from the Folkways archive more widely available - which means stuff from Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and loads of others. At this point they don't have any plans to offer anything by Beyonce.

LIBERE TIBET (Oh, bollocks, there goes our access to the Chinese market): Yo La Tengo, David Byrne and Bright Eyes are all taking part in a benefit concert for Tibet. This is the 14th annual bash at Carnegie Hall, but it's never been more pressing. It's vital Tibet is reinistated as a sovereign state before Paul Simon turns up at the Dali Lama's house. Only statehood and a decent passport control can spare the Lama from having to join in with several round-the-campfire choruses of The Boy in the Bubble.

JACK WHITE SLIPS A SEVEN INCHER YOUR WAY: White Stripes figure they can get away with releasing another track off Elephant if they do it as a seven inch single. There's No Home For You Here will be out on March 15th. Vinyl record players can currently be purchased from the back of Sunday colour supplements, where they appear to have passed from being at the hub of home hi-fi to existing on a par with snuff boxes and plates painted by world-renowned animal artist Helena Grooseldorf.

WE'RE NOT YOUNG/ ANY MORE/ OUR PROG PHASE/ PROVED A BORE/ WE RELEASE GREATEST HITS/ AND IT'S ALRIGHT: A young No Rock once stood in a bar in Oxford chatting to an even younger member of the Jennifers who was wearing a big, shapeless brown pullover and was so endearingly shy you could have just eaten him without whipping cream and chocolate sauce. And if you'd told us then that Supergrass would still be going after a decade, we'd have said "Who are Supergrass?", and then you'd have explained they were the band who The Jennifers would transmute into within eighteen months, and we'd have made some sniffy remark about naming yourself after Comic Strip movies and wandered off. But, regardless of this, Supergrass have made it to the ten year mark and are celebrating with a Best Of and plans for a DVD compilation this year.

Incidently, was it just us or did Jack Black look like he was auditioning for a part in Supergrass at the Golden Globes? Not that he looked half as bad as Johnny Depp and Diane Keaton, who seemed to have come in fancy dress as the tramps from Doonesbury.

GUSTAV PRINCIP EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE NEAR-IDENTICAL TOUR SOON: Franz Ferdinand have got a whole bunch of dates lined up for Springtime. While the little lambykins gambol, they'll be lugging equipment on and off vans, standing bored going "one two... one two... two two two" and then sending roadies out to ask the prettiest girls where the best local chipshops are at these locations:
QMU, Glagow (April 12); Academy 2, Liverpool (15); Village, Dublin, Ireland (16); Leadmill, Sheffield (17); Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (18); Cockpit, Leeds (20); Academy, Birmingham (21); Concorde, Brighton (26); Waterfront, Norwich (27); Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh (29); University, Manchester (30);
odiac, Oxford (May 1); Fleece, Bristol (2);Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (4); Astoria, London (5)
Again, if they don't add a second night at London, we'd be surprised.

BAR HUMBUG: The Barfly people are hooking up with a bunch of bands to present a charity bash that takes the groups 'Back to the Bars' putting them in the sort of small venues they won't have played for years (except in the case of Starsailor and the Divine Comedy, who probably won't ever have seen that many people in a room at one time). Actually, in the case of Atomic Kitten the Sugababes 'back to' is a bit of a misnomer, too, since they hardly dragged themselves round the toilet circuit to begin with, but let's not quibble. It's all in aid of War Child and Shelter; the other artists involved are David Gray, The Cure, Travis, The Darkness, Ash, Badly Drawn Boy (apparently a favourite amongst the young folk of Weatherfield), Craig David, the Super Furry Animals, Gary Numan, Supergrass, Big Brovaz and Elbow.

Gigs will be sprinkled across the Barfly's network of venues nationwide. And tickets? Ah, here's the rub - you enter a free comeptition by text message, but at the same time pay GBP1.50 on top of the text fee. All entrants are mixed up in a great big cybertombola, and the lucky winners get tickets. And the GBP1.50 is a donation to the charities, right? Erm... not quite - whatever's left after the deduction of "direct event costs", VAT and "network operator costs" will then be split between the two good causes. There's no indication of what a direct event cost might be, or how much of the GBP1.50 will be left after all that whittling. But some of the money will wind up with two well deserving causes, and we guess that's what counts. And you've got to admit that the random element in assigning tickets is a lot fairer than the 'first come, first served, albeit through a telephone network which doesn't offer equality of opportunity' principle embraced by Glastonbury. If you are determined to go at any price, though, there's still a chance as a few tickets are going to be held back and auctioned off. How much would we pay to be close enough to stare angrily at David Gray?

ROBBIE WILLIAMS IS KING OF EUROPE: Airplay figures for 2003 show that Feel by Robbie Williams was the most played track across the entire continent's radio. The full top ten was:
1. Feel - Robbie Williams
2. White Flag - Dido
3. Rise and Fall - Craig David ft Sting
4. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
5. I'm With You - Avril Lavigne
6. Where is the Love? - Black Eyed Peas
7. Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word - Blue ft Elton John
8. Family Portrait - Pink
9. Crazy in Love - Beyonce
10. Bring Me to Life - Evanescence

Which suggests that if you want to catch the pulse of the continent, writing something fairly slow and dreary worked like a charm over the last twelve months. Jesus, I know there was a war on, but apart from Beyonce the chart is just so full of gloom and doom.

There's another interesting stat in the light of the French CD market shrinking by fourteen percent over the year, too: the share of "European" (i.e. from the bit that gets cut off by fog in the channel) artists in the 200 most played songs fell from 38.6% in 1999 to just under a quarter in 2003.

NME-INATIONS: The nominations have been opened for the NME awards and you've got the chance to vote online for the overall winners. (The nme awards have gone a bit crazy in the last couple of years; you vote for the shortlist, then vote again for the overall winners). Best single is being fought between
'Seven Nation Army' - White Stripes
'There There' - Radiohead
'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' - The Darkness
'Don't Look Back In To The Sun' - The Libertines
'Hey Ya!' - OutKast

- what, no Beyonce?, while the really unsatisfying UK - International split for the band award means that we're denied the chance to see Radiohead fighting The Strokes. Instead, the rest of the world XI is represented by
The Strokes
Kings Of Leon
White Stripes
Queens Of The Stone Age
Foo Fighters

while the Duchess of Norfolk's team will be selected from
The Darkness
The Libertines

- The Libertines do pretty well for nominations , really, considering they spent most of the year sending each other to prison. Amongst the other awards, Ricky Gervais gets the opportunity to add two Brats to his two Golden Globes, with The Office nominated in best TV and his XFM show in the radio category; oddly, I Believe In A Thing Called Love gets nominated for best video, despite the Darkness making frankly horrible promo clips. And we don't believe for a single minute that anyone really nominated Gonzo for a TV award. But anyway: vote early, vote often, but don't vote for Jet as best new band. People will despise you for it.

SMALL LABELS CRASH THE WEDDING: The proposed merger of Sony-BMG has attracted its first major (or rather, not major) opposition, with Impala, an indie labels association, filing an objection to the union. Impala's concern is a Beyonce to Timberlake concern would just take up too much airplay and control too much of the market. The EU's competition commission is planning to consider the application on February 12th.

THE LAMA CHARMERS: Paul Simon is off to see the Dalai Lama, doubtless to give the Tibetan spiritual leader a chance to chat with him about his divorce. He joins a list including Richard Gere, Sarah Ferguson, Steven Seagal and Goldie Hawn. You have to wonder if these visitors aren't actually all being sponsored by the Chinese government in a bid to persuade the DL to go back to Tibet as quickly as possible.

PASSENGERS:'s article claiming that the RIAA is suing passengers in cars with radios on the basis that the music is intended for the original owner of the vehicle only is a joke, but it's the sort of joke that makes us uncomfortable - it'll only give them ideas...

Even Business Week, a title not known for its love of the little guy in the margins is condemning the RIAA's tactics of continuing the "time consuming and costly" lawsuits as "big music's worst ever move." Indeed, the only people who seem to support the RIAA - outside of their Wolfram and Hart style offices - are people who need to keep the big labels sweet. So Keith Girard, Billboard's editor-in-chief, is positively creaming himself over the lawsuits: "We've maintained all along that the biggest benefit of the legal campaign has been its ability to raise the public's awareness and to send a clear message that there could be consequences. In hindsight, if the campaign has proved anything, it's that public education and relying on the goodwill of people simply isn't enough of a deterrent to change public behavior." Um... so the whole thing has actually been an "awareness raising campaign" because "public education" doesn't work? Isn't that a little contradictory? Is there now a whole new way of raising awareness that isn't educative? It's almost as if Keith is dredging up something positive sounding about unpleasant activities purely because they're being pursued by his advertisers, ridiculous as that might sound.

Monday, January 26, 2004

THEY'LL THINK I'M YOUR DAD/ AND YOU'RE MY DAUGHTER: Congratulations to Billy Joel, who's got engaged to his 22 year old girlfriend Kathie Lee. (At first we thought it was the woman who used to cohost with Regis, but no such luck.) Billy Joel, of course, divorced Chrissie Brinkley because he thought she was losing her looks. So best of luck to Kathie, then.

In other Billy Joel news - not a phrase we've had to over-use here - Twyla Tharp has taken a whole bunch of his songs and made a musical out of them. Clearly, the Queen, Madness and Rod Stewart cash cows has started a rush for everyone to try and grab a piece of the action - if Glen Gregory wants to get in touch, we've worked most of the tracks on Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement into a musical entertainment, which is more than Ben Elton managed to do with Queen's entire back catalogue. Twyla's story is something to do with people returning from Vietnam or something. It's called Movin' Out, and Joel is the muse singing the rage of Achilles, which would be your generation of American men. Some of whom come from Long Island. We hope that the whole audience is encouraged to sing along with We Didn't Start The Fire, and the music stops for the "JFK. Blown Away. What more do I have to say?" bit, but somehow we doubt it.

BACK YOU GO: Scott Weiland has been ordered back into rehab by a California judge because, well, he'd left and he hadn't been meant to. Honestly, that bloody rehab - they won't let him take drugs in, they won't let you nip out for drugs, and the breakfast bar? No drugs. And yet they expect you to stay there. It's worse than a Premier Lodge.

BELAFONTE BERATES BUSH: Someone who Chrissie Hynde may consider having round for dinner sometime is the equally plain spoken Harry Belafonte. A high profile critic of the war on Iraq, he's now turned his fire on the attacks being made on artists who dare to throw in a little bit of politics:

"Today it's almost a disease, there's some social flaw if an artist at any level dares to participate in political or social action, somehow you are out of your league, why don't you just shut up and entertain. It's somehow that we are not citizens."

Although we generally agree with him, we do think that when Michael Bolton is encouraged to appear at the Iowa primaries, it's important to stress: there are some artists who really shouldn't be reminded they're citizens.

IT'S TV ON THE RADIO: You're okay, it's not a Tommy Vance comeback, just the launch of Visual Radio by Nokia - basically a phone with knobs on that allows radio stations to transmit pictures (to people willing to pay for them) alongside the usual FM signal. It's more of a glorified webcam deal, to be honest - the pictures will be static shots updated every minute or so rather than glorious, full moving picture - but it holds out the promise of receiving images of Chris Moyles doing the breakfast show over your toast and macrobiotic coffee beans every morning. And if you want another argument against it, it seems to ignore that the main attraction of radio is that you don't have to look at it. Otherwise we'd all be watching the telly.

ROLLOUT FRUSTRATED: Chris Gorog, the head of the new Napster, has launched a blistering attack on the European music industry, which in summary boils down to "You've got such a bloody convoluted system here, and you're so bloody slow at trying to sort it out, that Napster and the other legitimate download services are kicking their heels, prepared to launch but frustrated by your bloody red tape. And every day we don't launch costs us money, but worse, it costs you money too. How can you even consider taking legal action against your customers when you're doing bugger all to give them an opportunity to pay?"

BOTTOMING OUT: New York University have finally got shot of the legendary Bottom Line club, which closed last week, leaving behind its furniture and a whole chunk of music history.

NAY, NAY, NAY, MR. WILKS: When your career has hit the buffers, when your love life has blown up in your face once too many times, and when people only mention your music career to get a cheap laugh, it might be time to quit the cruel, big city and relocate to the country. Which is presumably why Patsy Kensit is in talks to join the cast of - stop sniggering - Emmerdale. At the moment it's not clear just how large her part might be - it could be something that will really challenge her, like speaking, even - but you can bet the moment it happens, the Face will be airbrushing that cover story they ran on her out of their history.

Whatever would Sam Pearson say?

I STOLE MY SISTER'S BOYFRIEND. IT WAS ALL WHIRLWIND, HEAT AND FLASH. WITHIN A WEEK, WE KILLED MY PARENTS AND HIT THE ROAD: It's going to be a busy year for Sonic Youth, as they prepare a whole new album for the summer, curating one of the days at this year's All Tomrrow's Parties and rebirthing Goo as a double CD with extra liner notes, bsides, demos and other stuff like that, plus stuffing at least one and possibly several DVDs into our collective faces. And then there's all the side projects, too.

Kim Gordon is unlikely to be appearing in any forthcoming seasons of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

LYOR FLIPS OVER TO WARNERS: Lyor Cohen has quit Island Def Jam to take over as head of Warners. Cohen may have said "Blah blah fantastic opporunity blah blah growing my career blah blah working with Bronfman again blah blah blah huge pile of money blah blah no, seriously, like a fucking mountain of dollars blah blah all about to go tits at IDJ anyway blah blah" but we weren't really listening that closely.

I'M NOT SCARED: David Bowie says - to the relief of us all, I'm sure - that he's no longer "intimidated" by his own back catalogue. I suppose having someone else own it must help with that. It must have been fear of intimidation that had held him back all the way up until last year, when he was finally able to piss away some of his greatest moments in an advert for Nestle. But is he brave enough to face down The Laughing Gnome?

JURY PICKING FOR DIDDY CASE: The nothing-more-american process of selecting a jury has begun in the case where Wardel Fenderson is suing P. Diddy for making him drive away from the scene of a nightclub shooting. Puff The Magic Daddy and Jennifer Lopez are both expected to be forced to turn up and give their side of exactly what happened back on that post-Christmas night in '99; Combs' people dismiss the whole thing as little more than an attempt to cash-in.

PERMISSION TO SWEAR REVOKED: Quick, time to rush for the big pair of scales upon which we weigh the evidence for the big question: Are The Darkness For Real, Or Are They Merely A Cynical But Admittedly Well Done Pitch For A Market Segment? With the news that The Darkness have recorded a second version of Permission To Land with all the sweary words replaced with non-sweary words. Of course, it's a shrewd move which will allow those wholesome sorts at Wal-Mart to sleep well at night, knowing their shelves are free of sweary words on the record racks. (Or, at least, allow them to get the sleepless nights a company which locks its staff in the stores and doesn't worry too much if there's a key there deserves). And it would be foolish of a band keen to make a go of it in America to not meet the WalMarts and the Targets halfway. But we ask ourselves: Would Phil Lynott have taken the swearing off his record? We suspect the answer is no.

"WE HAVE MORE OLD ROPE" SAYS DURST "YOU GUYS GOT ANY MORE MONEY?": Limp Bizkit have added a second date at Brixton Academy - they'll also be droning on and on on the 28th March now, as well. In other 'old men railing against the system that feeds them well' news, Metallica, the RIAA's lackeys in dirty denim, are playing the ultimately pointless download festival again. We stress they wouldn't like it if you went to the festival, taped their set, ripped it to mp3, and uploaded the whole thing to the web, and certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to view that as a challenge to have a race to see who can do it first.

OH! O HEAVEN: Yeah Yeah Yeahs to tour - briefly - the UK. The dates:

Glasgow Barrowlands - April 11
Birmingham Carling Academy - 12
Manchester Academy - 13
London Forum - 15

... and we're guessing the words "extra date added due to enormous demand" is already hovering over the London date.

SORRY, LOVE, WE NEVER PAY FOR IT: If you're a fan of George Michael, but don't really want to have to get involved with seedy, unseemly visits to 'record shops' to hand over money in return for something to satisfy your strange tastes, ggod news: George Michael has made his new single 'Amazing' available as a pre-release download thang. The more cautious amongst you might notice that the half-bearded one is charging a frankly shocking two quid for what appears to be just one track. And it might just be us, but we can't actually see what format we're meant to be forking the money out for here. Clearly, the pitch for the return to Sony was: "this time, Yog, instead of us ripping you off, we'll combine and rip off everyone else."

TOYS IS HER: The doll you've been waiting for - the Kylie - has finally been launched. It's like Kylie in every respect, except, of course, being a toy, it is several inches taller than the real thing.

LOST IN TRANSLATION: The splendidly named SNEP, the French music indsutry trade body, has turned up for the battle on filesharing. We're sure that it's just the translation of his words that give him the air of a much more laid back guy than his British and American counterparts, because chief Herve Rony sounds slightly less bothered than them: "It has happened very suddenly. Apparently, there is a link to the fall in the market and the increase in access to the internet" - it's like he's just got back off a really long holiday, isn't it? And while he mutters about perhaps needing to use the stick of legal action, he also warns that it's going to be a lot more difficult to convince the French authorities that extra legal protection is needed. That, and the fact the cheeses are so much better, makes us think that we might move to France.

SALES - A FEW MILLION v. v. good: Dido is cross. In a polite, you wouldn't really know it, background sort of way, but she's mildly vexed nevertheless. The reason? People keep calling her a Bridget Jones artist. Although she seems to take the tag as meaning her fans are all Bridget Joneses ("it doesn't make sense, there aren't enough thirtysomething women in the country") whereas we've always taken it mean that Dido's territory (love is quite nice... not being in love is a bit of a shame... ooh, I've had sex, that's a bit naughty) is pretty much Helen Fielding's, too. Although Dido has yet to write something where a thinly disguised Andrew Marr lets loose a tirade of expletives at her, so she's not quite as much fun.

And let's not try and make anything of Dido's claim that "I couldn't get through Bridget Jones' diary, myself" is any place to base a judgement on her intellectual capabilities. We're certain she meant she was so busy with Memories of Time Lost and Crime and Punishment she could never make time for it, and not that she was stumped by a collection of bite-sized pieces originally written for commuters to gulp down between stations.

SHAKE AND VAC, WOMAN: Can Britney really be demanding "an odour free carpet" as part of her rider for the UK tour? And if she is, does she not realise that a carpet that reeks of previous occupants is a vital part of the backstage experience? She's lucky she's not playing Nottingham Rock City, a venue whose carpet gives off the odour of pickled onions throughout the building.

PERFECT SKIN AT TWENTY: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions are reforming for a brief period in October this year having seen how well the Hear & Now bands are doing at the box office ("to mark two decades since they first got together"). They're also marking the anniversary with a double pack reissue remastered repackaged Rattlesnakes, an album so good we could almost forgive Lloyd Cole for turning into late period Marlon Brando in recent years.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

ONE OFF THE WRIST: As seemed pretty likely, Ryan Adam's shattered wrist has made him cancel his tour and head off back home. It's kind of spooky that the White Stripes and Adams would have both been touring Britain at the same time, a clash that had been caused by Jack breaking his finger; but another hand-related injury has saved that from happening.

ARE YOU BLUE OR ARE YOU BLIND?: If you're anything like us, you'll have spent much of the last month or so staring at the people who turn up outside the courtroom holidng placards and chanting in support of Michael Jackson, wondering "who the hell are they?" The New York Times has gone among the Jackson faithful to find out. The surprise is not that so many of them are clearly using Jacko as a prop for their own wobbly lives, but that so many of them seem aware that they are.
[Non-subscription copy of the article here]

STREISAND RELANDS?: Barbra Streisand is considering coming out of retirement for the first time since she fought Robert Smith in the Colorado mountains. And what is the mighty project that has persuaded her to put the whist drive and the WI bakesale on hold? Playing Ben Stiller's mum in Meet The Parents II. The Yentyl sequel can't be that far away, can it?

YOUR CHANCE TO TIME TRAVEL: It's one of the stock sci-fi stories: if you had built a time machine, would you go back in time to 1930s Germany with a rifle and knowledge of the whereabouts of Hitler; or perhaps back in time to save Franz Ferdinand, or at least perusade Paul not to go to the NME cover shoot with that shit moustache. Would you tamper with the timeline? And so it might be that in a few years time you find yourself wishing you had a machine that would let you go back and disrupt the creation of a "Scottish Westlife." Consider this warning of the auditions as your own personal Tardis. Apparently, BMG records are looking for good-looking, great singing, nifty dancing males between the ages of 16 and 24 - so not going to be totally like Westlife, then, as they've got to be good looking, sing and dance rather than just be young males of a certain age, but we're still scared.