Saturday, March 13, 2004

SAVING FACE: It seems the threat to The Face is very real indeed, but the magazine isn't going to let EMAP close it down without a fight. They've used their magazine mailing list to rally the troops:

Dear friends and readers

THE FACE is under threat of closure. Profits have been down, and our parent company Emap is currently reviewing the future of the magazine.

THE FACE has always stood for discovering and promoting the best in creative talent within British and international pop culture. You can help ensure it can continue to do so.

We would like you to write a letter of support, addressed to the editor, Neil Stevenson (email it to: We will pass your letter on to the Emap executives.

A two-line letter is enough, but if you're feeling creative, please email a small digital photo of yourself holding a copy of the magazine. If you would rather we didn't republish your letter, please say so.
We need our letters by the end of Tuesday 16th.

Thank you,

Now, we don't think The Face has been at the top of its game for a while, but it's had a really important position in British culture - there was nothing quite like it before it arrived, and we believe there's have been no Kate Moss without it, for a start - and we like to think it's got life in it yet. Perhaps the best it can hope for it EMAP sells it on rather than closes it down, but surely got to be worth a try?

WHAT PART OF THE LEGAL PROCESS IS IT THEY MISS?: Is it something about being a musician that causes them to have a shift in their left-brain/right-brain functions so that when they're found guilty of misbehaving, they think that it's clearing their names? Cheryl Tweedy, of course, came out of her conviction for viciously punching the crap out of a toilet attendant like she'd just saved Calais for a grateful nation; Jack White this week issued a statement which - had you not known he'd pleaded guilty to the attack on Jason Von Bondie - might have lead you to think he'd left the court an innocent man. Now, Wes Scantlin has decided he's been exonerated in Ohio, despite pleading no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct in a plea-bargain deal:

"I was innocent from the get-go, but, you know, they wanted to make an example out of something or someone, so they picked me, and, you know, there ya go, man. I got arrested for nothing, and it was publicized all over the freakin' planet Earth, and I really didn't do anything wrong to anybody, really. I said I was sorry probably 10 times."

But, Wes, if you're innocent, and were "arrested for nothing", then why did you not stand up in court and declare your innocence? Isn't it odd for an innocent man to cop for something they didn't do?

Oh, and on the not doing anything wrong to anybody... you might want to ring round the people who'd paid their hard-earneds to come see you only for you to clatter onto the stage like a drunken elephant, hurl insults at them and tell them they weren't getting the show they'd paid upfront for. It might take more than a probable ten apologies to clear that up.

FROM NOW ON, I'VE NEVER HEARD OF WATTASHAW: The World Guitar Congress has been set for June. We expect them to announce plans to seize control of all democratic and political institutions across the globe, and to spend a plenary session nailing the 'flying V versus the Strat' debate once and for all.

THERE WERE OSMONDS, LITTLE OSMONDS, EVERYWHERE: What happens when the FCC cracks down on obscenity on the radio: You get Marie Osmond presenting radio shows instead. And here's what she's promising:

"It's safe radio. That's one of the things we're going for is to be safe, and funny and clever and quick-witted without getting to the blue side. It's informative and it's fun and we're a little crazy but it's something you don't feel like you have to explain to your 6-year-old later in the evening, and try to fill her in on information that she's too young to understand."

Mmm... safe, and "a little crazy." If only we could get the show here in England, it sounds so good I'd be following Britney into the bathroom with a big bottle of Calpol.

If you need an example of what Osmond views as "the blue side", you have to look no further than her description of the Jackson/Breast incident:

"We all have choices. You have to be 21 to be able to go into a strip bar. Why are you bringing the strip bar into my living room?"

Maybe in Utah, the strip bars do go no further than a quick flash of a demurely covered nipple. But I'll bet they don't do much business.

SMELLS AND SUICIDE: Mixed day for Britney spears, then, with the annoucement that's the hooking up with Elizabeth Arden to turn Spears into a smells-and-make-up brand; an odd choice of partner, since we've always thought of Arden as being an old lady type brand; products you use atop of an over powdered face recalling when the GIs found you quite the peach. And as such, Aguilera would surely have been a better match. Apparently Britney is "personally involved" with all aspects of developing the product - although more at the sniffing a sample and going "that's quite nice, I suppose" end than the squeezing monkey cocks to get the ingredients bit.

Less happily, she's got herself in a mess with the video for her next single, which was supposed to depict her committing suicide (or, if you believe her people, an accidental death) after having to avoid the paparazzi and putting up with all the stresses of celebrity. What's caused the outrage is not, as you might expect, the 'poor rich famous me' storyline of the video - which reeks of the sort of thing Robbie Williams would inflict on us - but the suicide at the end. Oddly enough, both Kidscape and Sane rushed to condemn a promo that isn't even being shot until today.

Now, Sane do a lot of good work, but we have to raise a weary eyebrow at the statement from their Marjorie Wallace:

"It's profoundly irresponsible to show anything that hints that you can take your own life. I know how influential pop videos can be."

Eh? It's now wrong to even hint at the existence, the possibility of suicide? Apart from buggering the Manics career, isn't there at least some merit in the video showing Britney being dead at the end, rather than the usual soap-opera approach which is of last minute rescue? At least Britney wasn't copping out with a cry-for-help-gets-heeded ending, which would have been pretty irresponsible. Unless Wallace really does believe that there are people out there who don't realise its possible to commit suicide, in which case she might want to reconsider her position working for a mental health charity - or she might want to turn her ire on, for example, those Samaritans campaigns which hint that you can take your own life. It's also somewhat unforgivable for a person to express an opinion on a piece of work that not only has she not seen, but hasn't even been made yet; is that her usual practice?

But, in the panicky capitulation world in which we live, the problem has gone away, as a smoothy-smoothy statement has been made, the storyline rejigged, everything made a little safer:

"[Spears] does not endorse [suicide] as a solution to any individual and fully recognises that people who go to this length need assistance and advice and should contact their local suicide prevention organisation."

Hear that, kids? If you're going to commit suicide, make sure you get some help.

Friday, March 12, 2004

FACE FALLS?: It looks as if The Face and Just Seventeen could be on the way out, as owners EMAP start a wide-ranging review of its radio and magazine business. The shake-up is also likely to lead to a clear-out of staff across its Big City and Magic radio networks, although it's hard to believe those changes will affect on-air staff which have already been pared back considerably in the last few years.

IF YOU'RE KEEPING COUNT: Popular, the FreakyTrigger spin-off that's reviewing every Number One from the birth of the singles chart to it's end, probably - certainly it looks like it'll be going long after the single has finished - has made it to 1959 and Russ Conway.

AND TONIGHT, MATTHEW, I'M GOING TO BE LEAVING...: It truly is the end of an era, as Matthew Kelly announces his intention to quit lookalikey-karaoke show Stars In The Eyes after tomorrow night's live grand final. Kelly took over the show eleven years ago, following the death of host (and answer to the best trivia question ever 'who is Phil Lynott's father in law?') Leslie Crowther, and has been in charge of putting people at their ease before they disappear through the doors ever since. Except for the short period where he was laying low during the kiddie-fiddling investigation, of course. Now he's stepping aside to concentrate on his acting career - he won an Olivier award this year, and we're sure Channel Four would love to revive his Holding The Fort spin-off Relative Strangers - leaving a gap at the helm of the show. We're hoping they give it to Davina, if only to spare us Love on A Bloody Saturday Night.

PERHAPS JACK WHITE HARRY'ED THEM?: Blogcritics report on an altercation between Jack White and the Von Blondies...

Because, of course, we never make spelling mistakes here. Sometimes our spelling isn't correct, but that's probably because we've chosen to spell badly. Anyway, since we've been through the Blogcritics initiation rites ourselves - I'm not at liberty to reveal what they do, but I can tell you I was using camomile lotion for weeks after - it's probably only fair to balance this piece out with a link to something else - Andy's pertinent question: when does 'influenced by' becomes 'ripping off'?

NEW NICK DRAKE MATERIAL: Being dead doesn't mean your artists have to stop producing - little Nick Drake has got a new tune out, thirty years after misjudging the dose. Toe The Line turned up somewhere, somehow, and is being touted as the main reason to buy I Was Made To Love Magic, a collection of rare and alternative versions of his classics. At least he's not got a Sean Lennon/Natalie Cole style offspring "reworking" his stuff, I suppose.

WHATEVER: Another woman hard at work recording an album that nobody seems that bothered about is Shakira, aiming to have a new album on the shelves by Christmas. In the meanwhile, she's sticking our Live and Off The Record, which is a two and a half hour live DVD. If that isn't enough to swamp any possible desire for Shakira related material, it comes with a ten-track CD. Her breasts may be small and humble, but her DVD is anything but.

NO NO DOUBT: Gwen Stefani is getting down to producing her first dance album, the solo project she's chosen now No Doubt have split or gone or hold or whatever. This will, of course, be a vital chance to discover exactly what the blokes in No Doubt brought to the band, apart from a few extra ways to split up the cash every month. Apparently we can expect something that sounds like a cross between Lisa Lisa, Prince and Club Nouveau. So, something that sounds like Prince it is, then. Those of you who take notes will recall a lot of fuss about thirty years ago when Gwen announced her LAMB fashion label - apparently nothing has got to the shops yet, but is promised soon: "It is very exciting for me. It has been a project I have been working on for over two years. It is an interesting process because by the time the clothes come out they seem almost old to me." Yes, we're expecting to have a similar feeling, too.

Don't forget her handbag sideline, either: "I just signed on to do one more season with LeSportsac. I couldn'tÂ?t say no. It is really funny to see everyone with the bags." We're taking that as funny-ha-ha-people-actually-bought-them-for-money-which-I-get-haw-haw, rather than funnypeculiarr.

NOEL GALA-AHA: Roger Daltrey's Teenage Cancer Trust are going to have a big charity week again, featuring Alan Partridge and something that's being described as as a 'rock supergroup'. That would be Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher and Gem, with Zak Starkey on drums. So, in other words not quite all of Oasis and a session drummer whose main schtick is being Ringo's son. The word "super" really has become devalued in the last few years, hasn't it? The shop round the corner from us has upgraded itself from a MiniMart to a Supermarket, and on that basis we'd suggest that far from being a supergroup, what we're really seeing here is a minigroup.

KELLY PIX NIXED: The team defending R Kelly has managed to get fourteen photos dismissed as evidence in one of the two child porn cases facing him. The judge hearing the Florida accepted the defence claims that the pictures were illegally uncovered during a search for drugs, which prompted Kelly to announce "I've always had faith in our system of justice, and I do believe justice was done here today. As I've said before, I am confident that when all the facts are brought out, people will see that I'm no criminal." Which is all well and good, but sort of misses the point: if he's so convinced he's done nothing wrong, why is he afraid of the photos being used in evidence? Surely a person who knows he's in the right wouldn't be bothered by the photos - he might shrug and say "well, the police shouldn't have them, but... what the hell?"

The prosecution are appealing; Kelly still faces a further twelve charges in Chicago.

US ISSUES ADVICE TO STAY AWAY FROM GIG: While the warning to American nationals to avoid the Ibrahim Tatlises gig in Berlin could be put down to the US' hyper-jumpiness, it does seem strange that the American mission in Germany would be so specific in its prediction of "an act of violence" in a city where it otherwise accepts risk is "low"; in addition, when the Turkish singer appeared in Hamburg last month, someone let off a hand grenade in the crowd, injuring two people.

The US Government has yet to express an opinion on the Morrissey versus Go-Betweens question.

50 CENT: NOT FOND OF GAY MEN: Good news for lesbians - 50 cent thinks you're cool. But gay men? He won't have no truck with them. But he's not prejudiced, you understand. Confused? In a Playboy interview, 50 Cent explains it all:

"I ain't into faggots. I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I'm not prejudiced. I just don't go with gay people and kick it — we don't have that much in common. I'd rather hang out with a straight dude. But women who like women, that's cool.

It's OK to write that I'm prejudiced. This is as honest as I could possibly be with you. When people become celebrities they change the way they speak. But my conversation with you is exactly the way I would have a conversation on the street. We refer to gay people as faggots, as homos. It could be disrespectful, but that's the facts."

it's such a pity, though, because with his buff gym-fresh body and his habit of removing his shirt and grabbing his throbbing cock, he'd be so popular down the bath-house. I'm convinced we can turn him - he probably just hasn't met the right man yet. Let's hope that instead of the predictable protests, a smarter campaign is fought: maybe every gay and bi man should send 50 Cent's record label a photo and an undying declaration of love. Possibly with a description of how they'd like to introduce 50 gently, or perhaps firmly, to the arts and joys of man-on-man love. He'd appreciate that.

PUNKOBIT: Dave Blood, bassist for the Dead Milkmen, has committed suicide. His sister Kathy announced his death yesterday in a post to the band's message board:

This morning Dave Blood is no longer with us.
David is my brother. Since the breakup of the band David has never really found his niche in life.
My brother was a smart clever and talented person. Inner peace has seemed to elude him for the last many years.
Sometime last night David chose to end his life.
He left a note that I don't know all of what it said,he was not elaborate-but he said he just could not stand to go on any longer.

Our mother passed away at the end of January and maybe David just had had enough.

There will be a memorial service in a few weeks. I will try to remember to come to this board and post it.It will be in the Delaware County area.

Please pray for the respose of my bother's soul; that he now has the peace that seemed to elude him most of his life.

I want to say that one of the shiniest parts of David's life was being a Dead Milkman and having that claim to fame.And the fans who appreciated the talent and time that went into making the band rise above the ordinary-thank you all for making my brother feel and know that he was indeed somebody.

The Dead Milkmen had a ten year career, forming in 1983 and quickly attracting a cult following, which led to acceptance by MTV and a wider degree of success. They split in 1995, after which Dave Blood - born Dave Schulthise - had struggled to find a role. He'd moved to Serbia in 1998 to teach English, but returned to Philadelphia the next year when NATO started bombing.

Dave was 47, and leaves his father, David, brothers Joe and Kurt and sister Kathy.


The only trouble is... I saw the Go-Betweens at the Astoria last year and it was, quite frankly, dire. Admittedly, they were shunted to an 8pm slot to make way for a GAY club night, but even so... dire arrangements and a mediocre performance. Morrissey at the Albert Hall and then Brixton was, by comparison, triumphant - he started with 'I Want The One I Can't Have' and ended with 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out', but I still left both venues with the new songs in my head.

Then again, if by 'special guests' they mean Lindy will be drumming...

Ah, but you can't let a single dud show put you off for good - and playing at 8 pm to ensure that a club dedicated to putting on acts in the twilight of their camp can start on time would be enough to give anyone the hump. The trouble is, the Morrissey date is something of an unknown quantity - you might get Morrissey, Nancy Sinatra and Sandie Shaw. Or you could get a Lonnie Donnegan tribute act and a thirty minute declamation of Johnny Rogan. I'd want a Go Betweens ticket as a back-up...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

DROWNING WOMAN THROWN LIFELINE MADE OF VERY HEAVY ROPE: Clearly, the idea of bringing together the freshly dumped Lisa scott-lee with the dumper-bound Kylie is someone's idea of a cosmic joke. We're guessing that Kylie is viewing writing for someone else as her next career move, and sees Lisa as a chance to practice in semi-seclusion.

BABYMAKER: Congratulations and cigars all round to Sinead O'Connor, who's just given birth to her third child A nice big family - so, something you can agree with the Pope about, there. The baby boy, Shane, will share a birthday with his sister Roisin, who was eight on the same day. And presumably would have rather have had a pony.

Also fretting over the terry or disposable question will be Anthony Costa from Blue, whose ex-fiancee Lucy Bolster gave birth to a baby Emily. The child took forty-eight hours to be born, presumably waiting until she was sure the daily Mirror weren't waiting outside the exit with cameras.

In other Blue/Mewling child news, Lee from Blue has pleaded guilty to criminal damage and not guilty to assault. The charges relate to an incident outside a nightclub last December. He's due back in court in May.

K'S CHOICE: So, K emails us with this puzzle:

So the Go-Betweens are playing the Barbican on June 27th and I can get a ticket now... Morrissey is curating Meltdown from June 11-27... Do I wait and see who's headlining on the last night, or do I just try and find out which one Chris Martin's going to and do the opposite?!

Now, we'd normally say Go Betweens, no question. But with the rumours that Mozzer is lining up Elton John to do a tribute to Jobraith (according to this week's Popbitch), and assuming that would be the final night - it's got to be a close run thing. Our advice, for what it's worth, is buy a Go Betweens ticket, which will almost certainly have a resale value anyway. Trade up to a Mozzer pass if you decide it's worth it. Mind you, we're no Alvin Hall... anyone got any other advice?

THE LAST JOURNEY: Alf Bicknell, the Beatle's chauffeur and inspiration for 'Drive My Car' has died in London at the age of 75.

"SUE ONE BY ONE, OR NOT AT ALL: Another setback for the RIAA, as Judge Clarence Newcomer tells the Music Industry if it wants to sue 203 unnamed internet users for illegal file sharing, it's going to have to bring 203 separate cases.

In other words: to stop everyone sharing files by going through the courts, the RIAA would have to bring at least six million separate actions. We'd imagine their lawyers are the only people who'd even dream of such an action.

BONDIES REACT TO JACK'S PLEA: In an exclusive statement to, the Von Bondies have given their collective opinion on this week's court case:

"Unlike Mr. White, we have been consistent and unwavering in our statement of December 15, 2003: Jason Stollsteimer was violently attacked by Jack White in an unprovoked incident at the Magic Stick nightclub in Detroit on December 13, 2003.
As a result of this incident, Mr. White was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery. Mr. Stollsteimer was never charged with any crime.
Now, the facts and evidence have been presented. Mr. Stollsteimer did not, at any time, lay a hand on Mr. White, but was a victim of Mr. White's rage. On March 9, 2004, in ‘People vs. John A. White’, Mr. White pled guilty to the charge of assault and battery on Mr. Stollsteimer. We are glad that the truth has finally been told and that justice has prevailed.
As one of his penalties, Mr White has been ordered to attend anger management classes. We are relieved that this chapter has finally come to a close; Mr White will address his anger issues and both The Von Bondies and Mr. White can get back to doing what they do best: making music."

I WON'T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME: We know Alan's worries about the likely hash Macca will make of closing Glasto are real and genuine, but can we just put his mind at rest: Nobody minds who closes Glastonbury, or how they do it. All the sane punters are only likely to hear the set in the distance as they edge out of the carpark.

On the other hand, we'd quite like Paul to do an entire set of Bowie covers. But, of course, he won't.

DETROIT OFFICIALLY 'OVER': Hey, daddio, where's it at?Pittsburgh, according to Esquire, who have filled an empty issue with a half-assed list of places bands might come from ("launched a special issue dedicated to nominating the Cities Which Rock.") The brief was to avoid picking "the same old cities" - so quiet musical backwaters San Francisco and New Orleans manage at last to get their place in the sun. Amongst other towns named were Denver, Minneapolis, Raleigh, and by the time we get to Phoenix you'll have stopped reading anyway.

PEARL JAM GIVEN SOME SORT OF AWARD: Pearl Jam are to be given some sort of award. (For contribution to the 'pacific northwest area's music scene', apparently. We guess it was either them or acknowledging the work of Kelsey Grammar bellowing over the closing credits of Frasier.

THAT'S WHY MUM HAVE COME FROM ICELAND: In search of cheaper beer and nights that don't go on for a year and a half, Mum leave Iceland for a massive tour of Europe between April 14th and June 6th. There are a lot of dates - the UK stretch is
04-22 Brighton Old Market
04-23 Liverpool Academy 2
04-24 Oxford Zodiac
04-25 London Old Vic Theatre
04-27 Leeds City Varieties
04-28 Glasgow Tramway
and then
04-29 Dublin, Ireland - Vicar Street
We love the idea of playing the Old Vic one night, and then the Leeds City Varities for the next date; it's almost enough to cause Max Miller to appear as a ghostly presence.

AT LAST! THE SING BLUE SILVER YOU CAN FREEZE-FRAME ON JOHN TAYLOR'S CHEEKBONES WITH: Duran Duran set to knock out Arena and Sing Blue Silver on DVD. The extras include interviews and commercials and... well, you know what they stick on CDs as extra materials. You don't need me to spell it out.

AND THIS WOULD BE HELPING?: Royal Opera House rush to clarify their stance: they're not saying Deborah Voigt was too fat to appear on their stage at all, just too fat to appear in Ariadne on Naxos. For some reason, it's not an olive branch Voigt is rushing to accept.

MUSIC EXECUTIVES ARE PEOPLE, TOO: Buckman's Magnatude Blog records the reaction of a music executive passing by their MIDEM stand who realised the implication of their claim to be "not evil" - that Magnatubne were implying the rest of the labels are the spawn of satan. He was, you know, hurt. Like the human emotion.

HUMANOID... WE CALLS IT JAZZ: For some reason, Toyota have invented a robot that can play the trumpet. We don't see this catching on, though: a cold, unfeeling automaton that can add little more to music than a pre-selected range of limited movements? It'd be like having two drummers in a band.

HOW OLD ARE STONE ROSES FANS NOW?: Here's a clue: Ian Brown is playing a National Trust fundraiser. (Claremont Landscape gardens, Esher, July 25th)

KITTENS FAIL TO HOLD IT TOGETHER: Of course, team Atomic Kitten are desperate to try and make the forthcoming split seem like a break rather than an actual break-up, but the news management effort is going to fall apart if the three Kittens can't keep the band together for their last few appointments. It's suggested (by the tabloids) that Natasha Hamilton has had a Sugababes style row with the other two - and didn't even turn up for the final photoshoot. This could be the first recorded case of a band that had already broken up breaking up again before they got as far as the break-up.

ROSS RETURNS TO PRISON: So, Diana Ross tried to serve her two days in jail. But she couldn't quite get her head round the concept, and kept popping in and out of the jail. She did manage to clock up 22 hours inside at one point, but Judge Cranshaw says that's not enough, and says she's got to go back and do two proper days. Ross' lawyers are appealing, saying "the terms of the sentence" weren't made clear enough. What part of 'two days in prison' is cloudy, exactly?

YOG'S GONE OFF: Of course, it could just be a thing that he's saying as he promotes his new album, but George Michael claims that Patience will be his last album, and that he intends to retire from making records. His future plan, he says, will be to put his music on the web for free, and if people want to make a small donation to charity in return, well, that would be nice. If he really is going to adopt a Women's Institute Bake sale approach, that would be absolutely astonishing - a pop star saying "I've made enough money, now I just want to make music" isn't totally unprecedented, but for one with the profile - even now - of George Michael to do it, coupled with the web's ability to let him put any music he does make straight into his audience's hands, could really shake things up.

On the other hand: he's only just signed a new record deal with Sony, and we're not ready to believe that it was phrased in such a way to let him get away with that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Think of it like a powercut edition
The nme's big picture this week is from the Libertines live gig, with Carl and Pete apparently creating a shaft of light as they touch. It's a bit of a grimey photo but could have been worth it for the little gimmick of the flashpoint. But for some reason, there's also a grimy Libertines live shot on the cover of the nme as well; all horrible and indistinct and a bit forgettable. It's probably tied in with the paper's slightly odd claim that the 'tines are "the 21st century Sex Pistols", which means - what, precisely? They're a bunch of low-aiming puppets being moved around by a trouser salesman? They'll be squeezing their bellies into bondage trousers in fifteen years for an ill-advised comeback? Pete will be on Celebrity Squares sometime just before Peak Oil meltdown? The curiosu thing is we think the NME means it as a mark of praise, but coming so soon after their issue supposedly dedicated to reminding everyone what a fuck-up Sid Vicious was, it ocmes across as slightly double-edged. As is, to be honest, Alan McGee's claim in the main article that the Libertines are "the most culturally significant band I've ever worked with." (Althoug maybe he's going to be their Mclaren. Pete deals with that pretty well: "Has there ever been a musician of cultural significance who's been aware they're significant?" (Um... BB King? Billi Holliday? Even Ringo must have a had an idea?); he goes on to make an interesting suggestion as to why The Libs are being embraced so warmly: "Maybe we romanticise what our parents wanted to escape from. We've reversed the idea of living out a fantasy. We're, like, fantasising out a living."

Other news: Noel Gallagher has sacked Death In Vegas from production duties on the new Oasis album - so, he's now producing as well as drumming. The construction of a giant plywood plane is expected to begin any day now; Hope of The States have announced they intend to carry on despite the death of Jimmi Lawrence; there's a really confusing story about the discovery of some songs that john lennon had on a jukebox that they've tried to say is its like finding his iPod.

Blink 182 do the pretend CD: Metallica, Buzzcocks and Frank Sinatra.

Peter takes on Peter as Andre struggles with Robinson. It's like watching that jellyfish thing at the end of Starship Troopers being caught in the big net: PR tells PA that he's got a mysterious grill; PA appears to miss the joke. He then introduces Andre to the concept of bagpiping. And Andre tells a tale about someone assuming Andre Agassi was his brother.

We're not sure about this Brit Pack thing - the union jack flying V guitar, the hackneyed name; it doesn't seem like much to get excited over. But the bands - 22-20s, Delays, Ordinary Boys, The Zutons - are something to get mildly frothing. Just as The Libertines deserve better than the sex Pistols, these bands should surely be getting a bit more of a pitch than something that sounds like the Select britpop issue rinsed out and given a second spin.

Signs of the NME's possible repositioning as a different sort of music magazine - offering more commentary than in the past - come with a feature on Bands Playing Shite Gigs (off the back of the Puddle of Mudd debacle) and an Independent-style, it-takes-five-writers spread on the Dangermouse Grey Album. Next week, we're promised 'Will Jack White Go To Jail' - clearly, Jack's guilty plea came as a surprise to them, too, then.

The best thing in the Gram Parsons feature is NME former hack telling a story about being mistaken for Nick Kent and having his shirt ruined. The shirt, you see, Roy had bought from a shop Gram had recommended and... hey, come back...

ash - oxford zodiac - "they get consistently better each time they come back", 8
stellastarr* - glasgow king tuts -"you could cut glass on shaun's titties", 9
big boi - camden electric ballroom - "furious staccato", 7

dangermouse - grey album - "a truly great pop record", 10
hot hot heat/ the red light sting - split - "the red light sting are here to save the day", 4
bumblebeez - red printz - "a sassier chicks on speed", 7

sotw 0 graham coxon - freakin out -"the quiet man with glasses has raised the bar"
bucci bag - more lemonade - "not a good thing"

and finally, Melissa Auf Der Maur loves Ric Ocasek, who apparently once told her "you're the woman I've waited for to sing Drive." Man, is an ego the size of Rhode Island mandatory for members of the Smashing Pumpkins.

And, finally, the radio times spends an entire page talking with Sharon Osbourne about her daytime chat show, and yet neither side thinks to mention it's been dropped like a burrito with a bug-ridden dog's eyeball peeking out of it.


We're having a few technical problems, so we've done the equivalent of moving into the next door studio - same content, slightly more downbeat surroundings... normal service to be resumed at some point, we hope...


DON'T CONFUSE US WITH OASIS: Jet are getting tecthy that everyone keeps comparing them with Oasis.

So, to help out, here's a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to the two bands:

Feature a pair of brothers, one with a slightly middle class name (Noel) and one with a short form of a working class name (Liam)
Scruffy in a slightly styled way
Make records that sound like The Beatles without the skills
Had a decent single once in the form of Live Forever
Quickly became apparent they were boorish assholes virtually devoid of wit

Feature a pair of brothers, one with a slightly middle class name (Cameron) and one with a short form of a working class name (Nic)
Scruffy in a slightly styled way
Make records that sound like The Beatles without the skills
Come from Australia
Quickly became apparent they were boorish assholes virtually devoid of wit

Hope that clears that up. So, let's hear less of the 'Jet (the Australian for 'Oasis') and so on. If we keep on like that, they might decide it's not worth coming to Britain ever again.

PUNKOBIT: John McGeoch, of Magazine and the Banshees, has died in his sleep. Although less celebrated than some of his generation, his guitar work appears on an astonishing range of British punk, new wave and new romantic landmarks.

McGeoch met up with Howard Devoto shortly after Devoto had quit the Buzzcocks, with Magazine growing out of the pair's songwriting sessions. Offering a more considered nature of lyric than their new wave competition, the band were almost certain to be doomed with being more inspirational than successful. A noted debut, Shot By Both Sides was followed by two albums Real Life and Secondhand Daylight, but by this time McGeoch was also playing with Siouxse and the Banshees and Visage. Finding himself spread too thinly, he left Magazine before the band's third studio album, The Correct Use of Soap.

McGeoch played on many of Banshee's best tracks including Happy House and Christine. After what some accounts suggest was a nervous breakdown in 1982, he quit the Banshees and was involved in post-Skids Smash Hits object of ridicule band The Armoury Show for a while, prior to joining - and helping rescue - Public Image Limited in 1986. Even being hit in the face with two litres of wine didn't put him off working with Lydon, and he stayed in PIL until the band went on permanent holiday in 1992.

Since then, McGeoch had been involved in some dodgy-sounding projects - a "U2 dance style" affair with Glen Gregory (ex-Heaven 17) and Pacific, which featured Spandau Ballet's John Keeble, but nothing much came of them, which might be for the best. He qualified as a nurse in 1995, but abandoned the career change and had spent the time since making music. His most recent projects have been instrumental items for TV programmes.

HASTA ARISTA, BABY: The shake up of Big Music continues with the end of Arista as a functioning label. Most of the artists are going to be shuffled off to other parts of the BMG empire and most of the staff will be facing other exciting challenges under the new masterplan. There will be a small rump of Arista surviving, but this seems to be more because CEO of USA BMG Clive Davis started the label and has an emotional reluctance to totally kill off his baby. The back office staff, he's not that attached to.

NOW... IT'S TOM JONES IN SLACKS: Mark Jones, the son of Tom Bloody, has banned his dad from wearing leather trousers and picking up knickers onstage. Jones Junior, who manages his pa, has scolded Tom for being a caricature of himself. Which is a bit like suggesting that Jimmy Sommerville is a bit camp. We're all for giving the family cushy jobs in the organisation, but a manager who thinks that Tom Jones without the gyrating and the slightly cheesey air of on-stage gusset bombardment surely has missed the point? Tom's going along with him, because he's afraid if he doesn't he won't get to work with young aritsts and producers, but it didn't seem to be a problem when he did the Reloaded album, did it?

LIFE IN PLASTIC'S FANTASTIC: Yes, this is also about Janet's breast: Now, you can recreate the incident in the privacy of your own home (careful to seal the curtains good and tight, mind) with Janet and Justin dolls. Available on Ebay, of course.

NFL AXES MORE FUN: Yes, this is still about the Janet Jackson breast - so afraid are the NFL at the possibility, even near certainty of unrestrained boobery, they've cancelled the opening-game concerts for the start of next season. What's more baroque than an uberoverrreaction?

THERE AINT NO JUSTICE - JUST US: By pleading guilty and copping a USD500 fine, costs and a course of anger management classes, Jack White has managed to avoid going to jail for his attack on Jason Stollsteimer; he's also able to keep on maintaining that he was "defending principles of honor and integrity", according to a statement he made outside the court. "I rgeret allowing myself to be provoked to the point of getting into a fist fight." Which is kind of strange, because all the witnesses reported White turned up and started pummelling Jason; and if he was - as he's still claiming - "provoked", why on earth would he feel the need to plead guilty? Surely he should have been able quite easily to prove that he'd been provoked and had no choice? And what happened to the self-defence defence that White was claiming just after he beat Stollsteimer so badly his eyes still water as a result of the attack?

WONDERFALLS: More on the Kylie album sales in the US: she's down to 122 after just three weeks.

In other Kylie news, her management have issued an odd statement denying she ever made the criticisms of Beyonce, Aguilera and Spears; indeed, the Daily Star has apologised for the report, and there'd be no reason for the Ok-HotStars-Express stable to apologise other than an acceptance it was wrong. And the statement is really heartfelt, too:

"Kylie is a fan of these artists and would never put them down. She has never been in the habit of criticising fellow artists, as anyone who had ever met her would know. It's upsetting for her that people would make such false claims, hurting not only Kylie but other artists as well

Kylie would like to clarify that she has never criticised Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé - or, in fact, any of her contemporaries - and wishes each artist the very best."

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

IT'S NOT THE MEN U LOVE, IT'S THE MENUDO: A long time ago, Neil Tennant used to claim that the Pet Shop Boys would follow the lead of multi-selling Latin act Menudo by simply replacing band members as they got too old with new, younger flesh. This business plan served Menudo well for twenty years (and was adopted by Rod Stewart in his marital affairs) and even managed to create Ricky Martin as a spin-off, but eventually, the group came to a natural end. But, what with 2004 being the year of the unlikely comeback, Menudo are being reactivated to offer "wholesome music aimed at the prepubescent fan".

I WANT MY MTV: You could be out of luck if you live in the US and want to see MTV or any of the other Viacom channels - including 16 CBS affiliates in big cities. Dish, the US equivalent of BSkyB, has kicked them off the air as a dispute over contracts. The last week has seen Viacom channels trying to carry messages to its Dish viewers begging them to try and intercede with Dish on their behalf; Dish responded by blocking out the messages with black bars. It's a high risk strategy for Dish, of course, who are still viewed as a second-choice carrier in the American market, where cable has a much larger share of the cake; knocking out one of the major networks plus the likes of MTV and VH1 is hardly going to make their product seem more inviting. It's all down to who blinks first.

Watching all of this with interest, of course, will be BSkyB and MTV Networks, who have had some issues with payments themselves.

LUCINDA PULLS DATES: Sorry to hear that Lucinda Williams' mother has died and that, as a result, she's pulling the rest of her current US tour.

DID I LISTEN TO POP MUSIC BECAUSE I WAS MISERABLE, OR WAS I MISERABLE BECAUSE I LISTENED TO POP MUSIC?: The Songs That Saved Your Life - 6Music's poll to discover the music that Britain mopes to has drawn up a top twenty of songs that are there when everything else has gone down. And it's a mix of infinity jumpers of misery to pull over your head and 'pull yourself together, a dance will make things better' tracks. And, somehow, Bowling for Soup are at number two.

Leading off the list, of course, is The Smiths, and I Know Its Over, and as you'd expect, Thom Yorke's in there, too:

1. The Smiths - I Know it's Over 17.55%
2. Bowling For Soup - Girl all the Bad Guys Want 12.68%
3. REM - Everybody Hurts 10.41%
4. The Cure - Pictures of You 10.06%
5. Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees 9.08%
6. Joy Division - Love Will Tear us apart 8.19%
7. Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb 5.85%
8. Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up 4.06%
9. Blur - This is a Low 3.43%
10= The Beatles - Good Day Sunshine
& Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge 2.49%
12. Tori Amos - China 2.27%
13. Portishead - Glory Box 2.24%
14. Al Green - Tired of Being Alone 1.79%
15. Mercury Rev - The Dark is Rising 1.65%
16. Lou Reed - Pale Blue Eyes 1.58%
17. Spiritualized - Stop Your Crying 1.3%
18. The Darkness - I Believe in a thing Called Love 1.05%
19. Faithless - Insomnia -1.02%
20. Polyphonic Spree - Light & Day 0.81%

Do people really put the Beatles on to perk themselves up? "I stick them on, and think about John being shot, and George having his doctor force him to sign guitars as his insides gave out, and Paul having to have sex with heather Mills, and Ringo... oh god, where's the Smiths?"

NEW SOUNDS, NEW STYLES: Meet some new acts: First, HK119. She's kind of what you'd get if you took a slug of Grace Jones and pulped it into a Peaches album. There's something a little like a Roxy Music album cover about her as well. Worth investigating.

It's not surprising that The Movement have got a spot on the Jude Law Alfie remake movie soundtrack; you could picture them slipping in comfortably in the background of the original. They don't fall into the usual trap of the mod-influenced of refusing to pretend that anything has happened in the music industry over the last forty years (usually, mod-flavoured bands come across like the Amish when offered a chance to update their sound). They're about to take back the rights to a record they made for a label that went bust and things seem to be on the up for them. Plus, they've got a very cute lead singer.

FLYING WITHOUT BRYNGS...: So, that's the big secret then: Westlife to limp on for a few more months, Bryan to stay at home. McFadden has decided that enough is enough, and will be staying at home with Kerry and his daughter, teaching her how to read.

What's most odd about the Westlife announcement is their claim that "In the tradition of all great groups - Westlife are now a four piece." Eh? What do they mean? That all great groups are four pieces? Are they saying that they've been rubbish so far then? Or do they mean that all great groups eventually become four-piece bands? Have they really got rid of Bryan to ensure they had the same number of members as the Beatles?

TOGETHER AT LAST: We here at No Rock can't start to tell you how excited we are by the prospect of a Sting and Annie Lennox joint-headlining tour. The phrase that keeps coming to us is "marshalling." All in one place, at one time.

Seriously, there is something entertaining about the prospect of the tour - they're going to some great named venues - Detroit's 'The Palace of Auburn Hills', Chicago's 'Tweeter Center' and the 'Sleep Train Ampitheatre' amongst them. At least the tour shirts will give everyone a smile.

UNCANNY MEANING SCARY: You might recall our picture of Pete Burns on Liquid News from a while back:

Sorry, we've had to remove Pete briefly - you'll have to use your imagination

Compare and contrast with this picture of Three's Company star Susan Somers:

Frightening, isn't it? Susan, for what it's worth, has been going round trying to bark up some sympathy for Martha Stewart. Because Somers knows what it's like to hear that door clang behind you:

"I will never get over it as long as I live -- the lack of freedom, the lack of rights. I looked at the hole in the floor to go to the bathroom and I thought, 'I don't know what I have to do in the rest of my life to never, ever find myself here again, but whatever it is, I'm never going to be here again. And maybe that's the point of it."

COUNT ME OUT: A croaky throat has led Illness Franz Ferdinand to drop their support slot with Belle & Sebastian in Paris. Alex's poor little throat was so bad the band didn't even fly to France. Luckily, there's still about a month for him to have Venos and Lockets and be fit and working again for the UK tour.

THUMBS BACK UP: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have released details of the rescheduled dates they pulled when Peter Hayes did snap his thumb clean off. The tour will now take place in May, and go thus: Sheffield Leadmill, May 9; Middlesbrough Empire, May 10; Preston, The Mill, May 11; Belfast, Mandela Hall, May 12; and Dublin, Ambassador Hall, May 13.

THE AGE OF DIDDY AT AN END?: P DeeDooDooDooDeeDahDahDah has hinted that he might not make any albums after the current one. Puff reckons that he wants to choose when he stops recording and not leave that decision to a record company boss or, as is more traditional in the rap world, a bloke driving by in a low-rider with an Uzi bought on Ebay. He's appealing for calm, though:

"I don't want nobody to just go crazy or nothing. It's not going to be as dramatic or traumatic as Jay-Z retiring."

Well, so far Western Civilisation seems to have taken the news pretty well - the NYSE hasn't opened down and there doesn't seem to be the sound of circling helicopters as the troops try and keep control, so we'll assume that people are saying "Of course it's not as dramatic, Combs is a wheezy old geezer whose entertainment value lays mainly in the many court reports he appears in, while Jay-Z is a young buck at the peak of his talents."

KURTIE'S BLOW: We have happy memories of a summer evening spent at the International 1 (or was it the two?) in Manchester, having slipped some money to the bouncer to gain entry to the Ultra Vivid Scene gig. We'll still tell tales of how Kurt Ralske is so tiny you could slip him into your pocket and carry him off, and we still maintain that regardless of the excellence of other contenders, Ralske is the greatest musician called Kurt ever. So it was with absolute delight that we found he'd posted to I Love Music; less happy was the news that he's given up on music:

Hehe, this is too funny.
Mr. Kurt Ralske here. A friend alerted me to this thread. There seem to be some ghosts from everyone's past lurking 'round here.
Interesting to read all your comments. FYI I gave up making music entirely a few years ago + now focus on making video art, which I've had some nice success with. I've completely forgotten about UVS -- it seems like some weird half-remembered dream.
My own take on the UVS records is...well they're for me personally embarrassing, because I don't really think "pop stardom" was anything I was ever suited for + probably should never have pursued. So I think of these records the way someone might think of their career as a former stripper, or something like that: a skelton in the closet. I can't bear to listen to the first album + don't even own a copy of the second. I do think the third has some interesting music on it, and it gets played once every year or two.
Looking for happy endings? Yes, why not. For what it's worth, I am much much happier now than when I made those records. Someone above mentions a my involvement with a Bjork-like co-worker...yes well we were married two years ago + are expecting our first child in June.
So, requisite warm fuzziness all 'round, and if you've ever enjoyed the music, wishing you continued enjoyment.

In the end, I suppose, what matters is that he's happy - wouldn't we wish that on all our heros? And that nobody can ever remove Special One, or Mercy Seat, or Staring At The Sun from our own private jukeboxes. Yeah, he might have been a stripper. But he was a damn good one.

DON'T LET OUR 5.1 SURROUND SOUND GO TO WASTE: The three members of Galaxie500 are readying a DVD for release on May 25th. Our eyes are going to go all glassy and far-off for a moment.

LOVE CASE DELAYED. AGAIN: This time, the start of the Courtney Love case has been held up because drug tests haven't been completed - we're supposing it just takes a long time to create such a long list. The prosecution filled in the time bringing an extra charge, this one of disorderly conduct. Which could apply to anything Courtney's done for the last fifteen years, but in this case is linked to the window-smashing.

PRESS CONFERENCE - FIVE PM: Westlife are holding a press confernce this afternoon to explain the reports they're going to split. Obviously, unless we're really lucky, they won't be actually telling us they intend to split up, sign a solemn pledge that they shall never record music again, and will destroy the master tapes of everything they have produced so far. But for today, we can at least spend time sending mental vibes in the hope that it will happen.

ZAPATA TRIAL STARTS: The trial of Jesus Mezquia, accused of murdering Gits singer Mia Zapata - has opened in Seattle. The prosecution opened its case saying that the resolution of the decade-old crime is a triumph of the advances in DNA techniques, basing its case on the presence of Mezquia's DNA in saliva found on Zapata's body; the defence contends that amount of saliva found in wounds on the corpse was "so small" as to make the DNA insignificant and will attempt to shift blame for the murder onto another man, who claimed after a memorial service for the singer to be responsible for her death. Prosecutors say that man was mentally ill and although investigated, could not be linked to the crime. The case continues.

TROUBLE IN EUROPARADISE: The path to Turkey isn't smooth this year; now James Kilbane, who lost in the Irish heats, claims that something was fishy with the broadcaster RTE's selection process. The problem seems to be that the winner Chris Doran had called in a producer who'd worked with Westlife and the Corrs to buff up his entry. Which really does sound as corrupt as British horse-racing - after all, who in their right mind would willingly vote for something that sounded like Westlife? We demand a recount, and so on.

BLAME IT ON THE BELLBOY: Kiril emails us in the wake of the David Crosby bust to lament the low standards of New York hotel staff:

I am appalled at the behavior of the NY bellhop who turned in David Crosby's bag of weapons and drugs. As a former room service monkey at a venerable New Orleans hotel, I am familiar with the protocol for handling forgotten bags, to wit--
1. Under the pretense of looking for identification, search the bag.
2. Anything illegal is yours.
3. Any dildos, pornography, etc., should be replaced on top.
4. When the owner returns, be present when the bag is checked. The look they give you when they realize their drugs are gone is priceless.
5. Shamelessly angle for a reward for finding the bag. If no consideration is forthcoming, say loudly that no tip is necessary, as the pleasure of a job well done is reward enough. At this point, the mark will momentarily stop walking away, but will not turn to face you, before continuing to the taxi stand.
6. Go hide in a supply closet and get stoned with the bartender.
And this is in the genteel South! Did Bloomberg confiscate New York's balls along with the cigarettes?

NAMES FOR THINGS: Good (and quick) response from Darren H following our observation about Death To The Pixels, bringing a construction company called Joinery Division to our attention. Any more?

THE BAMBOO REVIEW: Becky Bamboo wears out her espadrilles:

Let's run down the stats:
17 performances
15 different bands
6 trips to San Francisco
2 1/2 tanks of gas
All in 10 days. I'm a little tired.

So here we go:

1) Elephone. Local SF band. Sounds like Radiohead, but not the wussy Coldplay/Travis school of Radiohead. They're more the Pablo Honey, break out the power chords Radiohead. I was grooving to them, thinking they were a nice local band to follow. You know, decent, with a couple of pretty good songs... until...
Until they busted out with this absolutely *killer* song that I can't find anywhere on their website. I actually had to Google it to make sure it wasn't a cover, it was that good. I will definitely be following these guys. Plus they were selling tacky thrift store neckties with "elephone" in puffy paint written on them. I can get behind that.

2) On the Speakers. This was my second time seeing these guys and they are really good. Basically it's one of the main guys from Creeper Lagoon (another local SF band) and at times you can definitely tell their roots. I wasn't able to get their EP last time I saw them and didn't get it this time either because they just got signed and Universal is re-releasing it. Good for them.

3) The Stratford 4. Another local band makes good - they've been recording their second album for Elektra with Ric Ocasek. Shoe-gazer stuff, good, but I needed more muscle and excitement to keep me awake that night.

4) The Stills. These guys brought it. The rock, that is. I only knew two songs of theirs going in and they played them second and third into the setlist. Despite being incredibly hungry and so tired I sat in a puddle of beer and didn't even notice my ass was wet, I stuck around till they finished. Either they were really good or I was too fucking tired to get off the floor... well, you decide. I bought their cd though.

5) Henry Miller Sextet. Um, yeah. Next!

6) Pigeon. Surprisingly appealing. I guess you just don't get that many tiny Asian women in pigtails playing in a shouty Pixies/Faith No More type band. They're young and local and I might just check them out again.

7) 28th Day. REM with a chick in the Mike Mills role and songs nowhere near as good. Next!

8) The Wrens. So I bought the Wrens album, Meadowlands, in December and it hasn't left my cd player yet. They were incredible live. They were so fucking happy to be up there and that enthusiasm was returned by the sold out crowd, who obviously loved them. Each band member took a turn at lead vocals, with the bass player and the lead guitarist doing most of the singing. They never lost momentum, keeping the crowd engaged with band trivia and comments about New Jersey, and adorably - clapping for each other ("like dolphins. No, wait, do I mean seals?") when they successfully finished a difficult part of a song.

9) Communique. I love these guys. They're one of the best local bands around, in my opinion. They're currently recording their first full length album for Lookout Records and I can't wait to hear it. They played mostly new songs, with one or two from last year's EP, including "Evening in the City" which I love. Very melodic, great harmonies, not afraid to rock out... good stuff.

10) Low Flying Owls. Like the most boring parts of The Doors but without the leather pants and the prospect of seeing full frontal male nudity. I would've fallen asleep if it weren't for the singer's mother (I'm assuming) shouting out "more Owls!!" after every song. Next!

11) Dead Science. No shouting moms. I actually did fall asleep.

12) The Wrens. Yes, again. And on the same day. That's how much I love these guys. This show was almost identical to the afternoon show, with a song or two swapped out on the setlist, plus a song from Silver as a favor to label owner, Cory. They told us how no one would sign them until Absolutely Kosher came along (they rival Spoon for the underrated band woe-is-me tale). As Morag put it, "old guys shouldn't be able to rock that hard!" Beg, borrow, or steal their albums and go see them live if you have the chance. I'm street teaming hard for them, y'all.

13) Patrick Park. Like a cross between Elliott Smith (but without the fragile beauty) and Ryan Adams (without the asshole brilliance). He was okay, and there was one song that I really liked. I'm not rushing to the store or anything though.

14) Liz Phair. She had on a tight hot pink long sleeved t-shirt and an artfully tattered long, pale pink, silk Stevie Nicks-esque skirt over jeans. Bracketed by "Flower" and "HWC," the setlist contained enough fan favorites (and personal favorites) for us to forgive the newer songs which stuck out (and not in a good way).

15) and 16) Rufus Wainwright. Identical setlists both nights, with the exception of an extra two song encore after the second show. It wasn't the best I've seen him, but even a less than brilliant Rufus show is still very entertaining. Elton John stories! Seducing straight boys stories! ("Easier than you'd imagine. I think we're all a little gay." Hell, if I were a straight boy, I'd sleep with him.) Plus you get to watch hot guys make out with each other in the audience. Which is nice. I miss Martha though (she's off recording her own record) and I think the backup vocals suffered from her absence.

17) Alexi Murdoch. Do you miss Nick Drake? Look no furthur. Alexi's got the sound, the voice, the tunes, and the talent to fill that void. He has some gorgeous songs and even got the audience to sing backup for him. He has an EP out at CD Baby and had better release a full album soon.

And that's it, folks. At least until Thursday, when I have another three days of shows in a row...

Monday, March 08, 2004

CLASS: We've just caught the end of a Granada local documentary on Katie Melua, which was as weak as you'd expect, but were delighted to see the opening titles were produced by a company called Death To The Pixels. Right on a par with the Frodsham post-laundry services company trading as Ironing Maidens.

LIFE AFTER S CLUB: Hannah Spearritt is still in paying work, with a big role in the sequel to Agent Cody Banks (yes, they've made another one; no, we didn't know they'd made a first one, either). So, um, that's got to be worth some sort of oscar nomination. Assuming the cinematography is good.

SPIN OFF?: Lots of jittery management shuffling going on at Spin, America's number three music title, as it tries to stave off collapse. The smart money seems to be that it's reached the point of no return, and any changes now will fail to rally a title that's got that strange smell of death to it; the smell that the Melody Maker had around its transformation into an A4 glossy.

AS YOU READ THESE, IMAGINE BARRY TOOK CUTTING IN HALFWAY THROUGH WITH AN AMUSED "GO ON, MR. STRIP CLUB OWNER":* How on earth did people frame their complaints to the FCC over the Jackson breast incident? If you really want to know, the smoking gun has got hold of a whole sheaf of the complaints. If they weren't for real, they'd be hilarious. You'll be surprised how keen everyone is to stress that they're not prudes - "we do aerobics at the YWCA", "I run a strip joint" and so on.

*- you know, like he did on Points of View. When he was alive, obviously.

RAPBACK: First, the good bit: The Mayor of Boston has thrown his full weight behind Radio Log, a girl-powered station which chooses to not play tracks which reflect badly on women.

But how on earth can anyone claim with a straight face that "Rap has been criticised for its negative portrayal of women right from the start." The Guardian does try to back up its case by recalling "Artists such as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Ja Rule have attracted particular criticism - both were charged for use of indecent language back in 2001 at the SunFest festival in Jamaica." But should you be writing about rap if you believe that the history of the genre stretches back about three years? And while early rap could be a bit unelightened, wouldn't a more petinent question be how the genre became quite so bogged down in an obsession with guns and girls in g-strings with the ever-open, the come-hithers?

IS THE MUSIC CRITIC POINTLESS?: The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel ponders if there's a role for music critics in the modern, on-demand world. And who do they call in to give their opinion? A hairdresser. What's more, a hairdresser who defends Sarah Brightman against bad reviews.

THANKS FOR CLEARING THAT UP, KELIS: Kelis has brushed aside people who think that her turning up of the raunch-setting for the Milkshake video and sleeve is wrong. She points out that it's not, you know, real:

"It's a fantasy. I can't really sit on an enormous milk shake. It's not possible."

ROCK AGAINST RACISM: In the slew of comebacks we're currently experiencing, it's a bit of a shame that Rock Against Racism is having to regroup. But with the BNP - oh, sorry, you're not racist, of course, are you? - on the rise, a spot of anti-racism is probably timely and the Libertines are set to headline an anti-racism gig at the Astoria on March 16th. Also on the bill for Love Music, Hate Racisum are The Buzzcocks, 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, miss Black America and The Others. "For evil to triumph, all that is neccessary is that good people do nothing" warns Pete Doherty, although we suspect that might not be entirely his own thought.

On the other hand, Pete might have a few issues to work through first, having had what he called 'a bit of a strop' at the end of the Libs three nights at Brixton Academy. The silly boy broke his guitar, as well. They're not bloody cheap, you know.

SOONER OR LATER, THE MAN WITH THE BEARD COMES TO TEA: Not entirely unexpectedly, Richard Branson is bringing the Virgin brand to digital downloads, leaving just the catfood and female sanitary product sectors as the only parts of the market he's not meddled in.

The download company is to be called Virgin Digital, and, like a lot of Virgin stuff, is little more than a wrapper around someone else's product - in this case, the actual stuff is being provided by Music Net. Not that that makes Virgin temper its great claims: Zack Zalon, the president of VD (they might want to tweak the name before the August launch) says proudly ""We're not afraid not to be first movers in this space. We think that if we time it right, it will be the second movers who win.

Because, of course, the race is not always to the swift, and all that. We're not quite sure what the right time would be to move second and "win" - and as Freeview and Sky+ have shown in the TV market, sometimes the second guys do do nicely; but surely for second mover advantage it would need the services who were first to be rubbish? And since iTunes has been granted another six months of stitching up the market to itself, unless Virgin have something more to offer than the inevitable launch party photo op with Branson, it's hard to see why they think they can turn up late to the party and clean up. Oh, and it's going to be in WMA - so, a service that won't work on the iPod or MP3 player your probably already own.

Zalon's belief, though, is that having 100 million people traipsing through Virgin Megastores every year gives it "valuable market and customer preference information." Which is true to a certain extent - but that information is about people who slip on the driving gloves and head into town when they want to buy a record, which is only of limited use when selling single tracks over the net. And since the services that succeed are going to be the ones which have a sense of offering almost everything in one place, how the hell is knowing that White Flag by Dido is selling well in Cheltenham going to help? "Ah... we'd better order up some more copies of that, then"? And it's not like other online music services don't have access to their own sales data anyway.

We're a little surprised at Reuters sloppy, almost product placed mention of WMA:

WMA files work on a host of digital music players, except Apple's, which does not support WMA.

... which sort of implies that only the iPod won't work with wma files, whereas, of course, there's millions of players out there that find Microsoft's bid to build a monopoly on music as difficult to stomach as we do.

JUST GIVE US YER MONEY: Did the discovery of bootleg DVDs lead to the decision to release Live Aid officially, or was the decision the stimulus to pursue the bootleggers? We might never know, but it's got to be a good idea to make the performances properly available, thereby allowing U2 fans to sleep again at night without the fear of 'what if my VHS breaks' gnawing away at their insides like the effects of arsenic poisoning? We expect, though, that the finalised version will lack a little of the atmosphere of the genuine, taped off BBC2 and then BBC1 when they had to yield BBC2 to the Open University tapes. We're betting, for example, they'll leave out Frank Partridge's inexplicable 3pm news summary, and probably all of the rubbish bits from elsewhere on the planet. If they include the "Live Aid... from London... around the world" Radio One jingle as an extra feature, though, we'll be happy.

FASHION. IT'S A DIFFERENT WORLD: We're a little puzzled by the claim that "Meg White has inspired Vuitton" - "red tartan coats, bustled skirts and fur stoles with a vintage Victorian feel" doesn't really sound much like Meg to us - indeed, this is apparently the Meg White look:

this is meg?

Although she doesn't seem to be wearing a bra, so that would be right...

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS: Tom Morello out of Audioslave and RATM has been leading protests outside the hq of Taco Bell, in a protest against the way the company treats its workers - or at least, the workers subcontracted on Taco Bell's behalf. The not-exactly-failing Taco Bell business brings in about five million bucks in revenue a year, and yet the people who pick the tomatos which give is salsa the zip it needs haven't had a payrise in two decades.

This should actually be good news for the people who still are pissed off at the Pepsi/iTunes special offer. So far, the best reason anyone could think of for being against the deal was that Pepsi's cola is "slowly poisoning" everybody. Which is a bit rubbish, because, apart from anything, it's not true. The protesters also tried to suggest that there was something scary in the fact that if you left a tooth in a glass of pepsi long enough, it would dissolve. Well, yes, it would, but it's never been recommended that you fill your mouth with cola before you go to bed; leaving your teeth in your stomach acid would have the same effect. In fact, it's interesting that nobody actually bothered to point to the way PepsiCo treats its staff (Taco Bell is one of their brands) or, indeed, their cosiness with the Burmese government.

THE MODEST MOUSE: The news that Timbaland will soon give up on music completely is a bit of a blow, but probably not as much of a blow as he thinks it is. In Timbaland's mind, the music industry needs him the way plants need the sun:

I think producers are bigger than the artists. We're responsible for the sound that they have. We give them direction and bring something out of the artists that they may not realize that they have.
When I came [on the scene], I was one of the people who started bringing the attention back to producers. I bought the flavor back to the meat, and I opened a lot of doors for artists and other producers. My producing style is this: "I am the music." The artist is the frontman for the producer.

Still, fair play to him, he still lets the artists have their name somewhere on the record. Pretty generous, when you think about it.

BACH'S BACK: Sebastian Bach, once of Skid Row, has had to deny he's looking for a new label after an incident with a chainsaw. No, really. In fact, the story is so wonderful, here it is, in his own words:

"[This is] complete & utter BULLSHIT. I am really, really pissed off right now.
"Two Sundays ago, I was out on the back of my property with my brand-new chain saw, having some fun. A gigantic oak had been felled by a recent storm & my 10-year-old son & I decided to spend the day together, me chain sawing the oak & splitting the wood, & my son piling it up in the wheelbarrow & hauling it back up to the deck. We spent all day doing this & by nightfall the deck was packed with firewood with not an inch to spare. We had a gigantic fire that night & all was well with the world.
"The next day, I absolutely could not move. My back was out — I never have any problems with my back whatsoever & it is rare for me to be immobile. I thought it would get better in a couple of days, but by that Friday it was still not showing any signs of improvement. So I booked an appointment with Dr. Grabelle, my doctor for the last 10 years or so. Although it was an effort even getting out of the car & into the doctor's office, I got myself in there because I had to drive to Boston in the next couple of days to finish the DVD, & basically I have no time to be immobile right now. Dr. Grabelle came in the room & asked me about me what was wrong, filled out a prescription, & then immediately launched into a 20-minute history lesson about how his son was 'really big in the music business, too.' As I sat there, in pain, I nodded my head & rolled my eyes at my wife, who was in the room with us, as Dr. Grabelle went on & on about his son's record label, how much money he has, blah blah blah. To humor the man, & to get out of the Dr.'s office to fill my prescription to get some relief, I congratulated his son on his success & said jokingly something to the effect of, 'If he has a million dollars or so & wants to sign me up , tell him to give me a call,' as I hobbled out of the doctor's office & made the painful trek back to the car outside.
"Now there is a story on, a site that I enjoy & frequent regularly, about my Dr.'s son saying that I am looking for a new record label!!!!! Yes, being famous is fun, but I have to say that it is shit like this that makes what I do an extreme challenge sometimes. I think I should be able to go to a Dr.'s office & get medical treatment, like anyone else, right? BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I have to listen to complete drivel about bands & music & record labels I have never heard of, & could give a fuck less about, when all I want is a little relief for a sore back. And as far as 'doctor/patient confidentiality' goes, I guess if you a rock musician you are out of luck!
"For the record: NO I AM NOT LOOKING FOR A NEW RECORD LABEL. I am completely happy & content with the record label [Spitfire Records] I am signed to right now. You will see how happy I am on May 18 when the first-ever Sebastian Bach DVD hits the stores — the 'FOREVER WILD' DVD is something which I am %100 proud of & you will see why on May 18!
"Oh yeah — Dr. Grabelle — me & my 'super-hot wife' will not be requiring your 'services' anymore."

So, the message is clear, then - always take care when working in the garden. Or something.

THE GATES SWING SHUT: Pisspoor ticket sales - less than a third of his Newcastle tickets sold - has worried Gareth Gates to the point where he's considering changing his image. Actually, he'll find his image has aready started to change all for him, from a lucky git somehow selling shedloads of records to a person whose current level of sales is probably fair enough for someone on his talent; he's now on his way to permanently swapping 'the Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates' to 'whatever happened to Gareth Gates.' If we were him, we'd spend less time trying to do something new with his hair, and instead concentrate on how those key-cutting machines work. Little goldmines, those are.

GOOD GOD, WHY WEREN'T WE GIVEN MORE WARNING?: Lawks, it appears the Sugababes are on the verge of splitting, having pulled a Dublin date following a blazing row between the talented one and Heidi, which Mutya had to step in and break up. This was just before they were due to go on, of course.

The official line is that the gig was suddenly cancelled because two of the band "have acute laryngitis", which is probably true - all that screaming can take it's toll.

We're looking forward to Keisha's solo career, although we know in our hearts it'll be a number three, a number nine, two weeks in the low twenties, getting dropped and a slot on I'm Famous... And Frightened. But the costumes will be great.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

CHARTFLASH: You might have been lead to believe in some places that there was some sort of battle for Number One going on between Britney and Kylie. Clearly, as the new chart shows, there was no such battle. Britney straddles the chart with Toxic like some sort of unicyclist, while Kylie limps in at five, behind not just Britney but also new entries from DJ Casper and George Michael. George Michael has sold more singles than Kylie Minogue this week. That's the music industry equivalent of being handed a P45 and your desktop gonks in a black plastic sack.

SOME STORIES ARE A GIFT TO THE SUBS' BENCH: Hmm... the Royal Opera House has axed Deborah Voigt from a production of Ariadne on Naxos because she's considered to be not slim enough for the role. The only thing for the papers to do, of course, is choose between 'Fat Lady Doesn't Sing' or 'All Over For The Fat Lady Singing' headlines.

HEAR THE FALL: Thanks to Chuck for letting us know that you can hear Andy Patridge's theme for Wonderfalls on the Fox website; as he warns us, so we'll warn you: horrible flash site beyond that link.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE TAKE A RISK: Probably for the first time since Belushi left the studios, SNL are doing something a bit edgy, inviting Janet Jackson to host the show early in April. We're guessing they'll name it 'Saturday Night Fifteen Second Delay' for the occasion, but at least someone's prepared to be a bit grown-up about Ms Jackson. Let's hope her brother doesn't do anything embarrassing in the next four weeks.

(Although we wouldn't be surprised if her offer to appear is withdrawn in the same period).

UNRESTRAINED: JC Chasez is proving to have a lot in common with Geri Halliwell - not only is one of the less popular members of a mighty lobbed-together beast of a band, but he's also managed to piss off the mental health world. Halliwell, you'll recall, decided to call her solo album Schizophrenic, apparently believing the term to be a synonym for 'in two minds.' A predictable howl of outrage and she backed down, changing the name to Schizophonic, thereby missing the point of the complaints entirely. Chasez has gone one better, not only calling his album Schizophrenic, but appearing on the cover in a straight jacket. So, Justin was the senstive one in Nsync, then?

FEELING A BIT ILL? WHY NOT TRY AWARDS, THE ULTIMATE PICK-ME-UP: Now, we've nothing against Luther Vandross and are delighted that he survived his recent brush with the Big D. But are the NAACP people really trying to convince us that his Dance With My Father was so great it was the best single, album and video by a black musician last year? And that he was the best male artist of the year? Couldn't they have just sent flowers or something? (Amongst other gongs handed out at the ceremony, Outkast won best duo or group and best newcomer was Rubern Studdard. We've not come across him but we suspect might be slightly overweight since AP describes him as "rotund" and he sang sitting down. Ray Charles was induced into the Hall of Fame; again, he's not been looking well of late).

At least the German Music Awards, the Echo ceremony, didn't make up an award for Anastacia, but they do seem to have gone a little overboard with the 'thank god you're dead' applause anyway. The Echos are - apparnetly - the third most important music prizes after the Grammys and the Brits. For some reason, Robbie Williams won an award for best international male artist, despite doing little more during 2003 than playing a gig. We'd imagine Justin Timberlake must be feeling a bit miffed this morning. Robbie, naturally, couldn't be arsed to show up, accepting his award on a video where he made some sort of reference to how getting a prize in Germany proves his international stature. Yes, Robbie, but if the whole not making it in America isn't a problem for you, why did you sign your contract with EMI because they were going to make you a star in the States? And more importantly, why do you keep going on about it?

Shania Twain picked up the Echo for best female (again, making us wonder if it takes eighteen months for the lorry carrying records to make it to Germany) while Evanescece won best international band. What a strange place Germany is.

GO-GO BETWEENS: We believe that Coldplay like to cite The Go-Betweens as an influence, although it makes us wonder what exactly they took away from the band, since their deft instrumentation and clever lyrics don't show any echo in Coldplay's work - even Grant McClennan would have torn up 'they was all yellow' rather than showing it to other people. To show just how great the quarter-century career of the 'betweens has been, the Go-Betweens are playing a one-off special with guests and gawd knows what else at the Barbican on June 27th. Let's hope that Chris Martin will be busy at Mothercare that night.