Saturday, March 20, 2004

AUSTIN BOWS TO FRANZ FERDINAND: They only just made it - Bob and Paul got held up in El Paso airport - but Franz Ferdinand's SXSW show has been a success, with hundreds more people trying to get to see the band than the venue, Buffalo Billiards, could cope with.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram was less impressed, though, sniffing that 80s music is making a comeback, is it? Mind you, the paper is spot on with their view of the Polyphonic Spree - a coke commercial in desperate need of some tunes. The Houston Chronicle seemed keen to avoid the hype of the FF bandwagon, raising an eyebrow at the concept of a band "few had heard of at 10 am" being "touted as the second coming of U2 by sundown." The U2 is just rude, you know. They did seem to like the The Thrills, though.

VINES ON THE LINE: Good news - The Vines have announced a load of dates. Better news - they're being supported by The Open and not bloody Jet.

Dates are - Manchester Academy, May 8; Glasgow barrowlands May 9; Birmingham Academy, 10; Southampton Guildhall, 12; Brixton Academy, 14; Briston Colston Hall, 15; Nottingham Rock City, 16.

Nobody likes them anymore, apparently, so there should be plenty of walk up available.

TWO AND TWENTY MISFORTUNES: Bad news for our favourite court-bound artists: The prosecution in the Jacko Kiddo case are considering calling the kid Michael paid off last time to give evidence at the new trial - which has the potential to unpick the fourteen million hush money; and Courtney Love injured another fan, this time by diving off a stage onto photographer Dara Kushner. Kushner's got a bruised and swollen neck, and is considering charges. That'll probably depend on if Courtney can find a slot in her other court appearances to fit her in.

THE NEW NAME FOR...: He might have had a couple of setbacks recently, but Boy George can take comfort from adding a new term to the make-up lexicon: Apparently 'the Boy George era' is that point in time when women pay more attention to covering their skin than caring for it. Presumably it ends when you find yourself colouring in your neck with a black felt tip and wake up to yourself.

Friday, March 19, 2004

... AND BOWIE'S ARSE DROPS OUT: A downgrading in the status of guarantor EMI's standing and the drop in record sales has lead to David Bowie's 'bonds' in his back catalogue being downgraded to Baa3 - which is just one notch above the Junk Bond rating. Looks like Dame David will have to hope a few more Nestle ads come through...

BRITNEY SNAPS HER LEG OFF: Okay, Britney's injured here knee and had to quit the Moline gig. She fucked up the dance routine, apparently, and it had a knock on effect making her cancel her Chicago date too. It's not known if she's going to continue the rest of the tour sat in a wheelchair barking out orders like something out of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE SHOOTING COMMERCIALS IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WHO DON'T LIKE MOBY: Lenny Kravitz is about to release a new album. It's apparently his first in three years, but since you only ever hear Are You Gonna Go My Way anyway we don't know why he's bothering. It's called Baptism, presumably because listening to it will be about as pleasant as having your head pushed underwater by someone who wants you to go to heaven.

S CLUB 7 MEETS CHUCKY 5: Hey, let's not be too quick to ridicule Hannah Spearritt from S Club 7 for having to take a role in the next Chucky movie. Just because it's the fifth movie in the Childs' Play franchise doesn't mean that Seed of Chucky is going to be a total dog; the horror-character creating carnage on the backlot at the movies plot isn't that creaky, really (first sighted in the 60s in the sequel to Psycho*?). It could be a really great movie. The co-presidents of the production company reckon so, anyway:

Having already achieved worldwide success and garnered millions of fans as part of S Club 7, Hannah is making the transition to acting with great charm and spark.
In the clever and outrageous new scenario that Don has cooked up, Hannah will be the lone beacon of sanity as Chucky and his family - and the equally creepy Hollywood phonies - run amok."

Well, it could be worse. It could be a movie with one of the Child's Play dolls as beacon of sanity while a resurrected S Club 7 run amok, couldn't it? Which would be rubbish and have singing in it.

* - No, we mean the sequel to the novel. Robert Bloch was so pissed off with the Hitchcock adaptation of his book he took his revenge by sending Norman Bates into Hollywood to splatter his way through a studio producing a movie about him. Obviously, the movies chose to junk this and Psycho II, the movie version, was that piece of fluff about Norman being released and going back to the Bates Motel.

WATCH THE RIAA GO DOWN IN REAL TIME: It looks like the RIAA site is down because of a Denial of Service attack. The good people at netcraft are now offering a handy guide to the response time for the RIAA website, and its showing no response from them at all since Wednesday.

YOU KNOW YOUR BAND IS IN TROUBLE WHEN...: When Rolling Stone suggests that your band's intellectual powerhouse is the drummer. What does that say about the rest of the Strokes?

I THINK THAT'S WHAT THEY CALL A RHETORICAL QUESTION: The Australian Daily Telegraph frets Is Courtney A Rock Tragedy in Waiting? The only question, surely, is the extent to which she's still waiting.

...BUT OF COURSE, IF THERE'S FREE STUFF ON OFFER: Lots of Europeans happy to pay just over a tenner a month for unlimited music downloads, says a new report. What's interesting, though, is that the ability to download is judged to be three times more popular than being able to access streamed music.

In other music download news, T Mobile have announced a new scheme which will let customers download songs direct onto their telephone. But only about ninety seconds of each track. Yes, that's going to pull the punters in - we can see T-Mobile customers wandering about, bemused, as to what exactly the Manics believe their children will do if they tolerate this, or desperately trying to find someone who knows: an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot what was she wearing? Thomas Gewecke, from Sony, T-Mobile's partner in the scheme, says that this is taking "mobile music entertainment to the next level" - although, frankly, we can't think of any other mobile music format in existence which tries to make a virtue of only offering bits of the songs.

YES! IT'S TIME FOR A NEW NEWSPAPER: A quick, warm welcome to the London News Review, which launches its first issue today. Radically redesigned since the sample issue zero, it looks pleasingly like a Southern German newspaper. It'll cost just a pound and is worth shaking your newsagent for.

YOU KNOW YOU'RE A BAD MANAGER WHEN EVEN THE FANS TRY TO SACK YOU: Shane McGowan is getting given advice by his fans - and they're telling him to sack his manager. Nealry 2000 fans have signed an online petition threatening to boycott McGowan's upcoming Popes tour unless his manager Joey Cashman is given the chance to explore other opportunities. In what might be unprecedented, the petition - even signed by Shane's Dad - says:

"We have noticed that your career has taken a serious turn for the worse in the last few years.
We have had to suffer shows being cancelled. We have had to wait, on occasions for two hours or more, at venues when you were due on stage. There are times when we have felt ripped off. Yet, we have continued to support you.
We are fed up of the way that your organisation treats us. We think, for the sake of your career, it is time you restructured your organisation."

That would be an intervention, then. By a couple of thousand people. Although blaming Cashman for the unpredictabilty of McGowan might be judged to be a bit unfair - like blaming Michael Fish for the wind this morning - it'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

Just for a quick, cheap laugh: hover your mouse over the picture that illustrates the ananova story - it appears Shane might have typed his own alt tag...

TOUR DE FORCE: So, Kraftwerk play their first London show in thirteen years, and who do they pull in as a celeb audience? Um, Dave from Blur, Ian Astbury, Grace Jones and Frank Skinner. Even Danny from Ladytron was elsewhere, his teutonic godparents unable to tempt him away from a lucrative dj slot on Liverpool's Albert Dock. The NME enthuses over the "visual imagery" - although the use of cyclists for Tour De France, cars for Autobahn and trains for TransEurope Express doesnt make it sound like they exactly knocked themselves out going through the Pathe catalogue, and, of course, robots replace the band for We Are The Robots, suggesting that ver Werk have a love of literalism that would frustrate a Southern Baptist.

For the Guardian, Alexis Petridis manages to work the word "febrile" into his review, pointing out that it's a miracle people care about the band so much when they look odd and have made only two slightly rubbish albums in the last twenty three years (a feat Alex Parks is, of course, halfway to completing in just twelve months). Indeed, he seems a little put out by how little the band have to do in order to get a reaction: "The quartet are virtually motionless: when Ralf Hutter intermittently nods in time to the music, the audience whoop, as if he's just slid across the stage on his knees and started handing out roses to ladies in the front row."

The Manchester Evening News had caught the show a couple of nights before, although unsurprisingly it was industrially controlled and identical to the one given to Londoners; Neil Snowdon sounds almost as if he's trying to convince himself he had a good time - it didn't matter there was no encore or movement or attempt to communicate with the crowd, there wasn't meant to be. Keep telling yourself that, or you might end up like a Bateman cartoon grotesque - the man who hoped Kraftwerk might wave, perhaps?

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney saw the band for the Financial Times in Glasgow, puzzling that the band had chosen to make this trip exactly at the point where their influence was starting to wane - but surely that would be the point where they'd have to work a bit harder? Ludo pins the appeal of Kraftwerk now down not to the futurism that they once suggested, but the slightly antwacky nature of their appearance - they belong to a past where the future promised robot helpers and flying through space, and now they're cherished as a kind of theme park from the space age. The Scotsman saw the same show, Fiona Shepherd concluding "Kraftwerk represent the ultimate in clinical obsession. This engrossing performance proved that contemplating the flawless can be fun."

But ultimately, none of the reviews sound much like people having fun: it seems that the attraction of this tour is that you can come away claiming to have seen one of the great twentieth century bands, not that you've had the time of your twenty-first century life. Perhaps that's why the celebrity count in London was so low - if you're a famous face yourself, it takes more to impress you than just seeing someone in the flesh?

Set list:

The Man Machine
Expo 2000
Tour De France 2003
Tour De France
The Model
Neon Lights
Trans Europe Express

Encore 1:
Numbers/Computer World
Its More Fun to Compute/Homecomputer
Pocket Calculator

Encore 2:
The Robots
Elektro Kardiogramm
Aero Dynamik
Musique Non Stop

SQUAREUSHER: He's heading for number one this week, and so Usher's been taking the time to set out his stall. He's apparently "proud" that David Beckham rates his music - although since David presumably mumbles encouraging things to Posh, we're not sure that we'd be that keen on such an endorsement. Although to be fair, Usher seems to have a better handle on modern soccer than Alex Ferguson does:

I'm proud to know a great artist like David Beckham respects my music. I've met him lots of times and we get on well. I didn't enjoy football until I saw him play. He invited me to watch him at Manchester United. Because of that game I became a soccer fan. I know he's a great player. I follow him as an entertainer - whether it's for his fashion or his football - I follow what he's doing. I have seen him play in Madrid and I'd like to go see him play more often."

Okay, you could ask how a man who had no interest in football would be able to tell that Beckham's a great player - have they perhaps started printing the wages next to the squad lists in the programmes? - but at least he's twigged that Beckham has more in common with Bruce Forsyth than Stanely Matthews.

Usher, of course, has just become a proud father - or, rather, a father - of a kid following what the tabloids rather cutely describe as "a relationship with a fan" rather than the more accurate "one night shag stand with a groupie"; this - perhaps unsurprisingly - has lead to him being dumped by Chilli from TLC:

"I know I hurt her, I know she hates me. I regret what happened. I don't know if I'll ever feel for a woman again like I did for her. I thought I had found my wife. My love was true and deep. But life goes on. These things make us the men we are."

"The men we are" being, presumably, a cheating scumbag who can't keep it in his pants.

Which reminds us, here's Usher on Timberlake:

"There simply is no comparison between me and Justin. He can't even stand in the same lane as me, ever. He cannot be compared to me as a vocalist, dancer, artist, multimillion selling star or anything. There is only one of me."

There is, indeed, which is probably why he felt some sort of genetic need to go round sharing his seed as widely as possible. We do like the idea of Justin and Usher standing in the same lane, though, and we'd like to suggest they might conisder the middle lane of the M6 just past Knutsford services if they want to put it to the test.

TEXAS POLICE PEPPER SPRAY AUDIENCE: The suitability of Austin as a venue for a major music event like SXSW has been called into question following the police's heavy handed handling of a gig that spilled onto the street. Grammy winning band Ozomatli took their SXSW show outdoors - as is their way - and wound up being arrested. Police intervened after the band lead members of the audience onto the street with drums and horns, telling everyone to go back inside. A scuffle ensued and two members of the band and their manager were arrested, before police used riot squad tactics to disperse the remaining crowd. It's probably lucky they didn't have a water cannon.

The Austin Police appear to have something of a reputation.

LATEST FROM SXSW: Music Industry belatedly acknowledges the internet probably isn't going to go away, but doesn't yet seem to have realised the existence of online music review sites, music email communities, music blogs, community boards...:

"All that content is out there but nobody's telling people what to listen to, what's next, what to buy, what to download," he [Don VanCleave, president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores] said. "You can have millions of choices, but without some kind of a filter it's very tough to get turned onto anything new."

Perhaps the RIAA and its friends has got such strong filters to ensure there's no bad file sharing happening within the music industry, it takes, like, five years for pages to download.

MTVOBIT: JJ Jackson, one of the first MTV VJs (as they were known back then) has died. The 62 year old had a heart attack on Wednesday while driving home. Starting out in radio, Jackson first achieved fame in Boston in the 60s, before moving to Los Angeles and KLOS in 1971. His experience in radio and wide knowledge of music quickly cast him as a rock in the schedules at the start-up upstart MTV, a network he stayed with for five years. After leaving MTV, he returned to LA and radio, most recently as afternoon host for KTWV. Divorced, he leaves a daughter and two grandchildren.

I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE: What could persuade Spandau Ballet to set aside their differences and reform? Could it possibly be the piles of money being tossed in the direction of Duran Duran? So once again, then, the Spands trot quietly along in the wake of the Duranmobile. It really is like the 80s are repeating themselves.

Winningly, their spokesperson says: "Spandau Ballet have seen the success of Duran Duran and want to get in on the action. They want a piece of the nostalgia pie. There have been bitter rivalries. But they are finally willing to put them to one side to work again. The five of them believe they still have a lot to offer. They are very keen to work on new material and not just become a tribute band to the 1980s."

Mmm... I'll have a slice of nostalgia pie, please, if there's any going around.

Jimmy The Hoover have so far been unavailable for comment.

YOU DON'T THINK THE MOMENT'S GONE, THEN?: Oddly, it seems East West are desperate to sign Peter Andre - although we suspect the one million quid figure being bandied about is a bit over the the mark. It could just be a matter of weeks before Insania gets released as a record to buy, so it's not like trying to resurrect a joke that's already had its time and is quietly being forgotten, or anything.

KFC TO GO: In a move that will surely have time fall wanking to its knees, Buckethead has quit Guns N Roses, citing the band's inability to get to the end of a tour, or an album, or even a nice lunch at the Outback Steakhouse.

There's more: Buckethead is planning to go solo.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

NONE OF THAT SHIT: We're not going to jump all over a band for allowing their music to be used in commercials - heck, we'd be the most ass-wiggling whore if we were approached by someone who'd taken the trouble to calculate how much money it would take for us to compromise and then pitched an offer at ten per cent above that. But we did raise a curious eyebrow that Cornershop had re-recorded Good Shit as Good Stuff, and for Target of all people. You'll recall that not so long ago Cornershop were slamming Pop Idol for being over-commercial and anti-music, and yet here they are, happily working with one of the mass-marketers of music, a store who sells CDs as loss leaders like Christmas Candy or toothpaste. Worse, they're even compromising their art for the sake of a store which has helped squeeze freedom of expression in the music world, by embracing the Parental Advisory label system to such an extent that they won't stock CDs that carry them, leading some bands to have to bowlderise their own words or face being locked out of the market altogether. It's all a little curious, to say the least.

On the other hand, we'd quite like to hear the Devo sanctioned Whip It reworked for Swiffer (Swiff it good).

AFTER COURTNEY, HOW BAD COULD IT BE?: Presumably identifying Courtney Love's appearance as a nadir, Letterman has decided to invite Janet Jackson on. It's probably some sort of sign of the age that 'Letterman books Janet' is a headline - but we wouldn't take this as a sign that America is starting to get over the shock of nearly seeing a nipple briefly.

In fact, if anything, the signs are worse: MTV has just forced Fountains of Wayne to re-edit their video. The cause of offence? Ten year olds lip-synching to the song - and, apparently, that pushes it a bit too far, because one of the words of the song is "wine."

Thank God Britain is a bit more sensible - although The Daily Star managed to find room amongst its tits-out lovelies to run a quote from the director of MediaWatch (Mary Whitehouse's bunch of paranoid virgins) condemning both Footballer's Wives gay sex scene and the planned proper Corrie Gay Kiss. More space is found in the paper from the same stable as those endless porn channels at the top end of the Sky EPG for Doctor Adrian Rogers to claims that "70% of people will find this scene uncomfortable, shocking and distasteful." We find it difficult to believe that seven out of ten people in Britain don't actually set foot outside the front door ourselves, but we're sure the good doctor wouldn't actually be making up factstistics, would he? Britain is more sensible, though, and these people are left to quietly print up their handbills and make their websites, like that bunch who campaign against the logos in the corner of the screen, and aren't actually given the keys to the Ofcom offices.

OPEN MIND: Andy emails us to suggest that Minnie Driver as singer might not be too bad:

Minnie Driver making an album might not be as bad as it could be.
She actually sang and co-wrote (credited as River) a track called Tidal Wave on the Bomb the Bass album Clear. She sings beautifully on it and it's a great track, one of the highlights of the album in my opinion.

And I suppose there's no reason why being an actor means you must be a crap singer - it's just the precedents aren't that good - Robson and Jerome, PJ and Duncan, 50 Odd Foot of Grunts, Dogstar, The Kids From Fame, the kids from Grange Hill, Billy Bob Thornton, I the Robot... Mind you, Bill Tarmey's alright.

We'll keep our fingers crossed.

INDIGO GIRLS "WREAKING ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE ON A SCALE UNSEEN SINCE GODZILLA RETIRED": Or rather, the more-tree-hugging-than-thou duo are planning some Indigo Girl action on board cruise ships, which are like floating pollution spewing machines, says Blogcritic's Sandra Novak. Which is a fair point, but aren't all gigs, wherever they are, ultimately just noisy ways of polluting the planet? Except for those where everyone turns up on the back of a yak and plants a tree on the way home, of course.

JACKSON KEEPS KIDDIES: A hearing in Los Angeles has knocked back an attempt to get Michael Jackson's children taken into care. Gloria Allred, lawyer for the boy who Jackson gave millions to shut up last time, was seeking to have the Jacko Juniors made wards of court - it's not quite clear what her interest here was, besides perhaps answering the call that someone thinks of the children. Not unfairly, one of Jackson's lawers suggested there was a spot of grandstanding going on here:

"I think it would be best if people who have nothing to do with these proceedings stayed out of them rather than looking at Mr Jackson's case as a vehicle through which to engage in self-promotion."

Roy and Hayley Cropper are believed to have been on stand-by to look after the children had the bid been successful.

Just in case you're getting confused, there's a totally different bid by Debbie Rowe, mother of the eldest kids, to get custody which is being mediated by a judge.

OH SWEET FUCKING JESUS: They've got to be kidding, surely? Tell me it's a joke. Acting like people who've never seen the blind-orphans-dancing-through-a-minefield-on-a-cliff-edge that was America's Sharon Osbourne show, Channel 4 have apparently signed Sharon up to present a late night, live talk show in the autumn. A live one. Obviously, Channel 4 are upset that they've lost Graham Norton to the BBC, but why are they planning to punish all of us in this way?

THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER: The words "it'll be just like the Pistols signing outside Buckingham Palace" were almost certainly muttered prior to the decision to have Goldie Lookin' Chain sign their record deal with East West Must Destroy outside Parliament. Their MP Paul Flynn (Lab, Newport West) somehow got dragged along, too. Flynn seems to be a bit of an alright sort of bloke for a Labour MP - not that keen on the Iraq war, or GM crops, or coats made out of dalmatian skins. We just hope he doesn't find himself being pilloried in articles in the papers recalling Neil Kinnock's role in the Tracy Ullman video for My Guy and other MP-goes-hip events.

SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE BY...: It was a night for the stars plus one last night - Ash shared the stage with Brian Robertson out of Thin Lizzy for a performance of The Boys Are Back In Town in Islington (although we can't think of any place less suited to 'the Boys are back' - "if the boys wanna discuss the new threshold for inheritance tax and its likely effect on house prices, you'd better let them?"); meanwhile, Jack White clambered onstage with Bob Dylan. They did one of White's tracks. It's not clear if this was negotiated or if Jack threatened to beat the crap out of Dylan if they didn't do it his way.

And the first night of the nme Brit Pack tour also pulled out the stars with Gaz Coombers and Kevin Rowland trotting down to Brighton to see the 20-20s, Zutons and Ordinary Boys.

FOR THE LOVE OF...: Courtney Love arrested again, this time for striking a bloke with a microphone stand in the head (a rather Shane McGowan sort of thing to do). She's added a charge of reckless endangerment and third-degree assault to the growing pile of legal matters she has to deal with.

Earlier in the evening, she'd appeared on Late Night With Letterman and... well...

We're no doctors, but we believe that what David Letterman is displaying there is a medical condition known as a "rictus of fear."

ELVIS' JEWELS... GONE: In a flash raid, thieves broke into the Elvis-A-Rama museum and stole nearly 80 per cent of the Presley-related jewellery on display. Curious... the jewellery is distinctive, so it would be impossible to sell it without the buyer being aware where it came from; that suggests it would have been stolen to order by a collector. But what self-respecting collector would have the cash to afford such a crime, and yet would have such shit taste as to want to pay loads for a bunch of Elvis tack? We have no idea.

Instead, we just feel compelled to run this picture again:

OFF THE HOOK... IN FLORIDA AT LEAST: The prosecution in the Florida child porn case against R Kelly has dropped the charges, following the judge's ruling that the pictures that formed the basis of its case were obtained illegally. As we pointed out last week, this is a bit of a pyrrhic victory for Kelly, who maintained his innocence of the charges; rather than being cleared in open court, he's now not facing charges on a technicality which is always going to leave a bit of a bad smell hanging over him. Perhaps the Chicago case, which is still steaming ahead, will give him a chance to clear his name forever. Perhaps.

VOICES FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE: So, Kylie believes that Michael Hutchence talks to her from beyond the grave - we wonder what that conversation would be like? "Could you tighten the lid on my coffin a little more?"

Kylie also believes she's had more than one life, but she's not very advanced in the number of reincarnations she's had - which is almost certainly true, we reckon her career has flatlined about three times already and yet she's still around, although it's starting to look like her entertainment soul might have passed through its last incarnation.

DIGIMUSIC ROUND-UP: We know that it can't help trying, but Microsoft's bid to outgun the iPod seems doomed from the start, if only because Microsoft isn't a brand name that people really want to be linked with. It's the brand that drives your computer at work, it's the brand on Excel spreadsheets - it's never going to have the groove or cachet of Apple.

In other news, Sony picked up a huge gun and blew its own foot off at the knee by announcing that its music download service is going to use a Sony-only format linked in with its new generation of digi-walkmen. Do these people do even rudimentary research?

NOTHING CHILLS THE BLOOD LIKE: ...the words "actor turned singer." Minnie Driver, don't make us hate you.

POP IDOL DISCOVERS MUSIC BUSINESS BUTT-MEAN, EXPECTED TO MOVE ON TO 'RAIN WET, LOVE HURTS' IN LATER LESSONS: Normally, we'd muster a little bit of sympathy for a musician who had their dreams tramped all over by the music industry, and who discovered that all the money she thought she was earning was actually going to be sucked straight back by her record label. But when, like Tiffani Wood, they're just winners of Pop Idol show - she was part of Bardot, the first Australian winners, we find it tricky to even pretend our eyes are moist.

GLAAD HANDING 50 CENT: Following on his stupid comments, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have invited 50 Cent to their annual awards, hoping that he'll find out he has more in common with gay men than he might have thought. It's a touching idea - that spending an evening discussing work-out regimes and expensive underwear might turn 50 from a homophobe into a born-again tolerationist, but we can't see it working. GLAAD actually welcomed his statement that he doesn't like having gay people around him as being a first step for him in overcoming the desire to judge and overcoming prejudice, which seems an extraordinarily generous reading of his words in the Playboy interview - if acknowledging that you don't like gays is cool, will GLAAD be inviting those fuckwits who stand outside buildings with God Hates Fags banners to present some prizes too?

We hope 50 Cent turns up, though. He might, you know. There's going to be lesbians there, and as we know: Lesbians are cool.

IT'S FINE ALL OF THE TIME: Women with beards! Strap-ons! Collaborating with Iggy Pop! Who knows what Peaches will get up to on her three-date mini tour this April?

Dates are: 15th April - Edinburgh Liquid Rooms; 16th - Manchester Academy 2; 18th - London Astoria.

If you're going down the front, we suggest clean undies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The return of the Sheilds edition
The last time Kevin Shields did an interview, Kurt Cobain was still alive. He finally resurfaced on Friday in the Guardian review, laughing off his assumed mental illness - "The only advantage to being considered insane is, Shields says, that "people don't get as angry with you when you piss them off" - and claiming the reason why he left it so long between records was, well, "I lost it. I lost what I had and I thought, you know what? I'm not going to put a crap record out." See, Fifty Cent, that's quality control. Scrapping a few songs and re-recording them isn't anything to release a press statement about. You find yourself wondering how Island could have fucked it up so badly - it's not as if they didn't know that getting albums from My Bloody Valentine was like trying to get successful missions to Mars to send back pictures - and if it's true, as Shields claims, that they suggested he draw the dole while working on music for them, shouldn't they be investigated for attempting to force an employee to make a false claim?

You'll recall when Word launched it was sniffy about magazines which come with cover mount CDs. This month, the issue comes with a free magazine of photos, which looks almost identical to one we can remember getting with Q over a decade ago - even the subject matter, old pictures of old rockers - is pretty similar. We wish they'd taken a sniffy attitude to this tatty sort of add-on and gave us a record to play instead.

Still, the writing is spot on: there's the full text of Stephen Fry's speech at the Radio 2 Folk awards; Tears For Fears reflect on the 80s, Roland conceeding "The 90s did them much better... Britpop bands like Blur were better at making videos, they were better businessmen, and they had better haircuts."

Anastacia likes both Coldplay albums; Francis Wheen rates Andras Schiff and Mena Suvari rates the Black Eye Peas.

Stuart Maconie recalls his days at the NME - it's extracted from the soon coming Cider With Roadies, and it's very funny; we reckon that a film about the NME would be a much better use of everybody's time than the Almost Famous Rolling Stone wank-off.

It's not just Kevin Shields who's returned, another Great British Pop Eccentric [(c) everyone, ever] is wandering about again in the form of Andy Partridge. He's pissed off that he wrote songs for Sophie ellis-Bextor only to find out she'd already decided what songs she was doing on the album anyway. It seems like her manager was using her as, well, almost a stalking horse.

The main guts of this month's Word is 110 songs, nominated by 111 people - one song they believe everyone should hear. Alex kapranos picks Achoo by Sparks, Michael Faber picks Kissing The Pink's Greenham; British Sea Power's Eamon plumps for Oops (Oh My) by Tweet. Surprisingly, Simply Thrilled Honey is chosen by Will McDonald, former henchman of Chris Evans. John Peel casts his vote for Wonderwall. No, of course he picks Teenage Kicks - "I know, I know, nothing if not predictable." Both Matthew Bannister and Kate Rusby want Little Star by Stina Nordenstam. And yet, what does Julie Burchill choose? What does she believe is the one song that sums up music? No Good Advice by Girls Aloud.

A really young looking Julian Casablancas is on the front of the NME - I don't know what he's been eating, but he looks about twelve; that's followed up with a cracking big picture, of Benny from Benny and Joon turning up to plead guilty to punching the crap out of Jason Von Bondie. Jack White gave the nme a bemusing statement: "I regret allowing myself to be provoked to the point of getting into a fist fight, but I was raised to believe that honour and integrity mean something. And those principles are worth defending." There he goes again, describing it as a "fist fight", although, of course, Jason appears to have only used his face in the battle. As one of the parts of his anger management course, Jack's going to have to keep a logbook of his feelings. Got to be an album in that, surely?

Bubba Sparxxx squares up to Peter Robinson, but is soon bested, as PR talks him into looking up Stuart Cable for a jam session.

Thirteen Senses want to shoot Fred Durst in the penis, they tell Radar. By accident, they've created the exact opposite of 'hitting a barn door.'

Yikes... NERD have glowing eyes, like in that horror flick... the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart. Chad describes The Darkness as "Queen... but with respect."

Blanche have things to say, once you tunnel past the "they know Jack White" wrappings; they muse on how "death has become a taboo but in the Victorian ages talking about pain was embraced." But the point, surely, is that in the Victorian era death was constantly at everyone's elbow, either as they were about to fall into a spinning jenny's workings, or on the field of some colonial battle - if death has been distanced from our minds, then surely that's because it's been distanced from our lives? Sadly, no room is found to explore this.

Hurrah! At long last, the 'ME has revived its pisstake of bands with crap names - how those long cold nights waiting for Britpop to come and rescue young men's hairstyles were brightened by the crushing of Mung Bean Jesus and Who Moved The Ground? In 2004, the bands who chose to call themselves Mumcuss and Help She Can't Swim get held up to public ridicule. It's time the cudgels were taken up again against crap band names, and we'd like to help wield a cudgel, if we may.

graham coxon - stoke sugramill - "he even manages to riverdance like a camden pixie"
hundred reasons - nottingham rock city - "proudly uncool, unfashionable"
keane - ulu - "all about melody, romance and massaging ears"

nerd - fly or die - "they really, REALLY do rock", 8
fragile state - voices from the dust bowl - "chill-out, unreconstructed", 6
blanche - if we can't trust the doctors - four mentions of Jack White in one review, 8
lou reed - animal serenade - "Reed has mistaken his rock and roll for hight art", 4

sotw - love is all - make out, fall out, make up - "scruffy, ragtag, indie as fuck"
nickelback - feeling way too damn good - "so Nickelback and Andrew WK are a joke and the Darkness aren't?"

Jason Stollsteimer loves Otis Redding. Can we get a "Man, that's Otis?" Thank you.

And finally, someone writes a letter that tries to explain why Franz Ferdinand signing to a record label makes it "like September 11th never happened." Obviously, they fail. These people walk the street.

[The Kevin Sheilds interview is online at The Guardian website]

50 CENT SCRAPS ALBUM: He says it's just not good enough, but we hope someone told the homophobic tosser it sounded like it had used a sample of a gay man somewhere on it. Let's hope he keeps throwing his albums away.

PJ RETURNS TO SITE OF CATSUIT TRIUMPH: It's been confirmed PJ Harvey are going to be playing Glastonbury. Good news if you're planning on going, better if you're planning on using BBC Broadband to watch it.

Pinkcatsuit - some form of PJ Harvey online email community affair

ARE THINGS REALLY THAT BAD IN AMERICA?: While we don't totally disagree with Something Awful's assessment of the music scene, we can't really throw our weight behind it, either. There's no imaginable world in which things are so bad Oasis' mid-period is going to sound any good. Yes, if Oasis were brand new now, they would sound like the best new band, the brightest hope - precisely because they wouldn't yet have made grinding eye-goober like Roll With It or Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. They would, however, still be scheduled to become an awful, painful disappointment by the end of the year, though, because it would have been programmed into their DNA.

The other disturbing aspect of the piece is that the description of what's really needed comes out for them as sounding like it's Huey Lewis, whereas we thought they were going to be pushing The Darkness.

NOW, HERE'S THE STORY BELOW, THIS TIME WITH PARANOIA SWITCHED UP: Could it just be coincidence that the man suing Kazaa claiming they stole his code for their p2p system is currently an employee of Microsoft, a company currently betting its not inconsiderable farm on its Digital Rights Management system, a piece of technology rendered almost pointless while peer to peer networks happily churn material without a thought of rights ownership through the web all day?

STRAIGHTFORWARD VERSION: A Romanian-born gentleman is suing Kazaa claiming ownership of the original code used by thefilesharing system. He's seeking USD25 million compo.

MEL C: ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN US AND A SPICE GIRLS REUNION: Of course, if you're really paranoid, the reports that Mel C has turned down ten million pounds to reunite the Spices (a band whose Greatest Hits album is currently being fattened up, like turkeys [note to self: maybe 'duck' or 'capon' would have been kinder] for the Christmas market) would have you sitting there wondering how long it will be before we have the 'Mel C slaughtered by insane lone fan; copies of EMI annual report found near body' headlines. Mel says that "no amount of money is more important than my integrity", which makes you wonder if she wound up on that reality game show last year to make some sort of statement - we've typed the words 'melanie c wrestling gail porter' to try and work out what that statement would have been, but our spellchecker keeps suggesting we want the word 'naked' at the end of the sentence.

We're wondering if all the Spices were offered the same cash figure to sing with the band again, or if Victoria and Geri were offered double on the understanding they didn't sing.

KERRY BUSTED: Poor Kerry McFadden - although Lenin and Saddam eventually had their statues pulled down, at least they managed to get them built in the first place. Not so Kerry ex-Kitten, who has had her proposed statue in hometown of Warrington rejected - on the grounds that hardly anyone knows who she is. Her mother is - well, the word aghast can't begin to describe it:

"There are a lot of old fuddy duddies in this town. But on the other hand there are thousands of kids in the town who idolise Kerry and don't have a clue who George Formby is. Everyone knows where Kerry is from and she's proud to be an ambassador for Warrington."

Except, of course, that while a few people know who she is at the moment, it's unlikely she'll have the same degree of brand recognition as George Formby - Warrington's most famous son - has managed decades after his death. On the other hand, George never did photo shoots like this [NOS].

TOWER TOTTERS, DOESN'T FALL DOWN: The now-just-American music store chain Tower has emerged from bankruptcy - just. After an almost record-breaking period of time in Chapter 11, the company's parent MTS Inc has reached a deal with its creditors - but at a cost. 85 per cent of the equity is being handed to the creditors, who in turn will write off USD80 million in debt. The biggest creditor - and, presumably, now the largest stockholder, is Boston bank Corporate Trust Services, who'd put up the cash for the ill-judged 1998 expansion programme.

We're far from convinced the creditors have any real interest in running a music store - we're guessing that while Tower think they've saved a music business, the new owners think they've got their hands on some prime real estate.

THERE'S BATS IN THE BELFREY/ THE WINDOWS ARE JAMMED/ THE TOILETS AIN'T HEALTHY/ HE DON'T GIVE A DAMN: Fourteen top forty singles, and a number one album. That's the legacy of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. That, and people chanting "you fat bastard" as if it was the wittiest idea in the world. Now, the history of one of the most ridiculously beshorted bands in music history has been written down, and someone's published it. Goodnight, JimBob: On the road with carter the unstoppable sex machine, written by JimBob hi'self and published by Cherry Red. We hope This Morning will invite him on to promote it, reuniting him with Philip Schofield.

WE MIGHT HAVE A WINNER: Jon Meyer, from the rather wonderful Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, writes with a suggestion about the horroscope album Acme were looking for, and it sounds like they're probably on the money:

Having seen your comment about how Acme Music Blog is searching for information about a zodiac album, I have sent them the following suggestion:
Is the album called "Signs Of The Zodiac" by Mort Garson? It is on

I have never heard it but an album answering that description was played by John Peel on his last ever Perfumed Garden programme on the offshore station Radio London on 14th August 1967. I have also seen it referred to as being by Cosmic Sounds (or even Cosmic Hounds in Mojo but that might just be a mis-print).

You think Mojo's bad now? Wait till they merge Just 17 into it...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

FUNKOBIT: The death of Edmund Sylvers, lead singer with 70s funk-soul act The Sylvers has been announced. He died on March 11th after a ten month struggle against lung cancer at the age of 47. The family act he fronted were compared at the time with the Jacksons, but despite hits in the US like Boogie Fever and Wish That I Could Talk To You, the band failed to turn their early success into something more lasting. In 1980, Edmund attempted to launch a solo career with the album Have You Heard but the follow-up Take Me Over was never released by his label Arista. He's survived by both parents, eight of his brothers and sisters and eleven children.

COURT IN COURT: Anyone who spent their childhood avoiding school by watching Crown Court will know there are certain things that go down really badly with judges - turning up later, talking out of turn; that sort of thing. I don't recall ever seeing an episode where the accused sacked their brief on the spot, and then rehired them, but then Courtney Love never turned up in Fulchester Crown Court. She did all these things and more - turned up two hours late, blathered on about presecriptions and, yes, Courtney even sacked her attorney mid-case and then rehired them.

Let's hope she doesn't need to throw herself on the mercy of the court.

FIGHT THE POWER: The line-up for the long-awaited progressive radio network in the states has been announced, and one of the co-hosts of the morning show is to be Chuck D. He'll handle the timechecks. Because he knows what time it is. (Janeane Garofalo is hosting the John Peel slot).

"DID YOU HURT YOURSELF WHEN YOU BUMPED NAOMI FROM THE BRITS PRESENTATION?": Jamelia's complaining that she never gets any attention from men, which she puts down to her being so famous that she scares people off. Because, of course, that's what being famous does: it makes you unapproachable. Unless you're Vanessa Mae, of course, for whom even a combination of fame and court orders cannot protect from her stalker.

A GAP BETWEEN MONEY AND SENSE THAT CAN NEVER BE BREACHED: Vicoria Beckham and her husband Dennis are to build their own ruin. If they really wanted something faked up but which looks run-down and broken-up cluttering up their gardens, why didn't they just buy some patio furniture and invite Geri round?

WE COULD SEND LETTERS: Or, on the other hand, we could just a post a thing here: ACME Music Blog is trying to find the name of a "proggy" album where each track was named after a sign of the Zodiac. We know of only two such albums, neither of which were very proggy at all - Harvey Sid Fisher (who also wrote an album about golf, if memory serves) had an album called something like Astrology Songs, which Peel played through on a serial basis during his stint on Saturday teatimes; and Russell Grant, who also produced an album of tracks, each one inspired by a different sign of the zodiac.

(SLIGHTLY) BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES: Happy Birthday to Sly Stone, who turned sixty yesterday.

NME-MTV-XFM: In a belated bid to rise to the challenge of EMAP stretching its brands from newstand to radio to TV, Viacom, IPC and Capital are creating a cross-media sales platform. Called RSVP, for Real Sound, Vision and Print, it's planned to offer advertisers packages across Capital's radio stations (including X-FM and Century), Viacom's TV output (MTV, VH1) and IPC's Ignite titles (NME, Loaded, Nuts and so on). While primarily pointing at the sales end of the businesses, it's likely the alliance will see the businesses moving their brands closer together - more so than already, where, for example, there's already a lot of crossover between MTV2 and NME. The problem may come in fields where the businesses are already heavily involved with a different partner - XFM's XRay magazine deal has recently expired, but XFM still provides a lot of support to The Amp, including a chart which is a direct competition to MTV2's NME chart. All this sort of thing is so much easier for EMAP to deal with, as it owns everything and can just force itself through its own chain of command. We're not expecting to see XFM rebrand as NME radio anytime soon, then.

V: PLENTY FOR MUMS AND DADS: The consolation prize festival, V2004 has announced its line-up, which is astonishingly hit-and-miss, offering the Strokes and the Pixies alongside Jamie Callum and - oh, lord help anyone who'd sleep in a tent for this - Dido. Dido seems to have one of those magic ego-petting contracts, whereby she's told she's headlining, despite the fact that after she's finished, Muse will go on and, um, headline. It's going to be tricky for Muse: how does one tell when Dido has finished? Will there be a team of experts waiting by the stage, with experience in discerning the difference between 'barely there' and 'nothing at all'?

Other bands hoping to tempt people to Staffordshire and Chelmsford on 21st and 22nd of August include Massive Attack, Kings of Leon, Primal Scream and Pink.

UM... REALLY?: We tend to automatically distrust anything we read or hear from Fox News - did you see their squalid little commentator daring to call the Spanish people "appeasers of terrorists" for exercising a democratic choice to choose the government they felt most safe with last night? - and so we're not surprised at the flaky report on the Beatle's plans to sue Apple over iTunes. Their supposed showbiz insider Roger Friedman even concludes "Meantime, the Beatles' songs are just about the only ones not carried on the iTunes service. Now you know why." Um... because the Beatles never rush forward to embrace new technology, Roger, surely, and nothing to do with lawsuit - in fact, you can't get The Beatles from MyCokeMusic, either. Or is Yoko planning an action against them, too?

CHUBBY CHUFFED OFF: Ah, the plight of the one-man protest; like that bloke who used to stand outside the Daily Mirror building complaining about cigarettes, or that twat who dressed up like spiderman and fucked up everyone's journeys by sitting on a crane. Joining the list of the lone pissed-off is Chubby Checker, who staged a one-man vigil outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions. He's not hacked off that he's not been inducted himself - he says a photo would be nice, but other than that, he's not arsed - but he's fed up that he doesn't get to hear ("the sound of money clattering into his account when") The Twist and his news material played often enough on the radio.

VICTORY OF GREATEST OVER DEMOCRACY: The attempts by Axl Rose to get a legal block on the Guns N Roses Best of have been thrown out of court. It seems the judge had more sympathy for Geffen's observation that it's funny Axl is worrying that the Greatest Hits release might hinder the Chinese Democracy album, what with how they've been waiting seven years for him to finish it and yet he always finds a reason why he hasn't.

TURNS OUT PRAYER DIDN'T WORK: Despite her happy assuarance that she'd kicked drugs and shit through the power of prayer alone, Whintey Houston has checked into drug rehab. We wish her luck with her clean-up (something that's going to be akin to dredging the Manchester Ship Canal) but her sponsors are going to have a difficult time getting her to acknowledge there's a greater force than herself.

Monday, March 15, 2004

FURTADO IS PORTUGESE FOR 'FOOTBALL': Apparently, Nelly Furtado is "an obvious choice" for singing the Euro2004 theme tune. Why? Because she loves football? No. Because she plays football? No. Because, erm, she's half Portugese. Well, I suppose its more than the Welsh squad relies on. But Nelly was worried - after she'd had it explained to her that it was all to do with that sock-ker game:

"I used to play a little bit when I was a kid and all my family and cousins that have grown up loving football and crying when their team loses so I understand the passionate side of it and the romance of the game. When they asked me to do the football song, I went 'Oh, how am I gonna do it without being corny?'"

In the end, she decided not to worry - it's not like anyone in America's going to hear it. Or in Europe, come to that.

HOBBLE 182: Travis Barker from Blink 182 has broken his foot and so the band have had to pull their Australian tour. It's not going to affect his ability to drum, but it would have been impossible for him to drop his trousers on stage what with the cast and all.

HOW TO EAT A BANANA: "What I like to do is break off the end, peel it a little bit and then just suck on the end of it for a while until it gets nice and mushy. And then, basically, after sucking on the tip for a little while, then I just go at it and gobble it down." - Thanks for that, Karen O.

APPLE HALF UNEATEN: While iTunes selling 50 million songs in a year is bloody impressive, they're probably kicking themselves that Steve Jobs gave the "one hundred million by 28th April" hostage to fortune which will manage to make a successful service look like it's somehow failed to do something.

We're a little worried about the prominence given to the logo and webaddress on the above BBC report, too - we know that there's a good reason for illustrating the story with something other than a standard picture of a CD or a computer, but the fact its always MCM that appears illustrating legal download stories - even in this case, where the logo is on the page twice for a story about iTunes - starts to look a little ill-advised. Isn't the phrase undue prominence?

JACKSON IN TROUBLE AGAIN: Elsewhere in the crazy world of media regulation, Ofcom have come down like a tonne of bricks on Sony Records and Michael Jackson after a fan complained that he'd bought a DVD which he'd seen advertised with footage of the Smooth Criminal video, only to find when he got it home that Smooth Criminal wasn't on the DVD at all. Personally, we'd have offered up a small thank you to the Lord and sent Sony Records a basket of fruit at this point, but instead this chap complained; Sony apologised and was told off for breaching advertising guidelines by airing a misleading ad. Something similar happened with a Cher CD, but I don't think any of us give a shit about the details on that one, do we?

AT LEAST HE DIDN'T MENTION THE POPE: Lots of quick apologising gets ITV off the hook over John Lydon's swearing on I'm A Celeb - although Sky Sports One were also given a 'don't let it happen again' over an incident where a greyhound owner sang "fuck the pope and the IRA"; oddly, though, ITV insist that they had to introduce a seven second delay system for the rest of the series - telling Ofcom how their mighty engineers had struggled through the night to make sure such a system could be in place before the next live segment. Erm... surely they must have had something like that in place anyway, so they could drop out sound on the ITV2 Live coverage when Jordan decided she was going to start claiming to have fucked the whole England team?

MTV WITHOUT THE INDIES?: The ongoing struggle between MTV and the independent sector looks set to escalate in the next couple of weeks, with the indies threatening to boycott the networks rather than accept Viacom's much-reduced cash offer. As we've said before, while MTV contains virtually no music, lest it causes too long a gap between programmes featuring rap stars muttering incoherently about the things they own, trying to program MTV2 or VH2 without access to the likes of The White Stripes or Sanctury Records' roster of artists could prove to be a bit of a challenge.

\m/: Calm down, David Draiman, calm down*

The world wants rock bands to be idiots. The world wants rock bands to be these bumbling buffoons, these morons who made fun of themselves and their music and their art and don't take themselves seriously in any way.
It's all supposed to be a joke. And it's funny. I heard that they have decided to start slinging shit in our direction and that we are an example of one of the bands that they're completely against.
That to them we symbolise this whole wave of nu-metal that is near its death. Are you fucking kidding me.
The irony is that they opened up for us in London at Brixton Academy and here they are talking shit about us.
I like the single, it's a catchy song, but it's not metal. It's pop-rock. How dare they call themselves metal. That's not metal. It'll never be metal!
Don't claim to be something you're not. Don't claim to be metal. Don't claim that you're authentic and we're not. Fuck you!"

Of course, while The Darkness are amusing and slap a smile on a face, they're nothing like as funny as watching a sweaty man make the veins bulge on the side of his head as he insists that he is the authentic face of ROCK. We're sure Draiman's little paddywack is nothing to do with that whole their old support band now the toast of the known world while they're still left slogging away playing smaller venues and dreaming of getting a date. We wonder when he actually came to the realisation that, basically, most of the world only tolerates rock for the chance to point and poke and giggle at the spandex and the posturing. And we wonder if that made him cry a little inside.

* - the lead singer of Disturbed. That you have to ask will only make it worse.

WHO SAID YOU HAD BEEN?: Interesting that Holly Vallance is being so quick to insist she's not been dropped by Universal. And, to be honest, she doesn't actually seem quite so convinced herself:

I would say so, yeah. I mean, so much is happening there at the moment, a lot of things are moving around and changing.
"I've always had an excellent relationship with the people there. I just feel positive about it, even though internally a lot of people are leaving, new people are coming in.
"Whether that's going to affect artists that are signed, I'm not sure at this stage. But I'm not worried about that either, because there's always going to be other things. I'm still young, a lot of people have stories to tell from their early days of ups and downs.

So, she runs from insisting she's still a part of the big Universal family to shrugging being dropped as a funny story she'll laugh about one day in about the course of a minute [recalls how faltering Vallance is in interviews] in the course of five minutes. And she's right, of course, a lot of people do have stories to tell from their early days - many's the time I've been regaled by tales of being dropped by a major by the chap I'm buying shoelaces off of.

PEOPLE WHO BUY OVERPRICED TROUSERS DISLIKE TAKE THAT: Diesel's long and over-complicated worst record poll has made the unlikely claim that Take That's cover of Could This Be Magic is the worst record ever. Which is obviously wrong, because it's not even the worst Take That record, bearing in mind they worked with Lulu. The same poll - which relied on people handing over the rubbish record in some sort of twisted parody of the Firearms Amnesty - discovered Rabbit, by Chas and Dave, to be the eigth worst single. Which means, unfortunately, that for all its expensive sexy advertising campaigns, Diesel clothing appeals to the sort of person who has a copy of a Chas and Dave single within easy reach. We're switching back to George at Asda in a bid to try and salvage some self-respect.

MTV SWELLS SCOTLAND BY NINE MILLION: In one of those figures that only consultants can come up with, SQW has decided the MTV Europe Awards put GBP8.9million into the Scottish economy last year, most of which was probably the costs of putting Christian Aguielra's people up. MTV has "congratulated Scotland on being a world-class destination", which sounds a little bit double-edged to us: you wouldn't say that to London or New York, would you?

HOW FAST THE ATTRACTION FADES - II: Peter Andre tickets not exactly dancing out of the booths, with just 17 people swapping cash for the chance to see him in Leicester's booming, cavernous DeMontfort Hall. He can take comfort, though, that he's sold more tickets for the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall than Iain Duncan Smith had managed by this stage - 127 against 67.

HOW FAST THE ATTRACTION FADES - I: Bryan McFadden left Westlife a week ago so he could spend more time with his wife and family. Had enough of that; now he's decided he's going to write and co-manage for, um, a South African rockband instead. To further raise an eyebrow on the attraction of spending time with Kerry, he even discovered the act while he was on honeymoon. Oh, the band are called Franklin. Yes, we imagine that does give a good idea of how deep their inventive, creative streak runs.

ME AGAINST THE SHOEMAKERS: More trouble for Britney Spears, who's facing a legal struggle over the words 'In the zone'. San Diego's answer to Mike Baldwin, Rodd Garner, has been using the phrase for twelve years to help shift his sportswear, and is afraid that people will get confused now Britney's using it to flog half undressed slaves. His attorney claims:

"When people who buy T-shirts think of 'In the Zone,' they think of Lite Breeze. But now they may no longer think of Lite Breeze" when they hear the line."

To be honest, we doubt if (i) people who buy t-shirts with half-assed slogans think of anything much when they're making their purchases and (ii) if anyone ever thinks of Lite Breeze at all, unless it's in the phrase "Lite Breeze? Is that a still drink with real fruit juice?"

WHY RECORD LABELS FAIL: Despite operating "successfully", the new regime at Warners has effectively axed its New Zealand operation, planning instead to run its kiwi roster from its Sydney office. Of course, it'll save them money, but it'll also cost them a hell of a lot of goodwill and make it virtually impossible for the label to attract any NZ talent in the future.

SOMEHOW WE DON'T QUITE BELIEVE THIS: The Darkness want a million quid to play Glasto? No disrespect to the Daily Mirror - it's not possible to disrespect any more a newspaper produced by chat show host Piers Morgan - but we don't believe it for a minute. It sounds to us like the band couldn't play Glastonbury and have made a flip "it'd cost you a million quid, Eavis" gag which is now getting reported as a factual demand.

We're also a little bit puzzled by the quote attributed to a "festival spokesman" that "no-one gets asked back two years in a row" - how come Billy Bragg's there every fucking year, then? And, just off the top of our heads, we remember Gomez getting excited over their leap up the bill from one year to the next; and we're certain Pulp did it two years running, and we have no doubt if we sat down with a pen and paper we'd come up with a huge list of artists who have trudged the mud two summers.

BOYBAND SINGER IN A COMA: Owen Griffin, member of Idolize, is in a coma following a fatal car crash in Scotland. Colleague Coln Baker was injured in the crash, which also claimed the life of his four year-old nephew James Michael Hayes and David Thompson, a motorcyclist. The band had been due to support Westlife at their St Patricks special which, obviously, now they won't be.

DUBLINERS FORCE CLOSURE OF OUTLET: After forty years, Belfast's Outlet Records is to close. Struggling in the new music world, the labels' fate was sealed when it lost a dispute with The Dubliners over mastertapes, racking up GBP900,000 in damages and a whole heap of legal costs.

The label's most unlikely artist was Pope John Paul II, whose Irish tour was converted into an album by the Outlet Team. It's believed to have been awarded the only Gold Disc ever earned by the head of the Catholic Church. John Paul never got round to recording a follow up, although he has indicated a willingness to replace Limahl in the newly reactivated KajaGooGoo, providing Nick Beggs tones down the religion a bit.

THE MELODY KINDA LINGERS: Following on from the hiphop remake of Yoshimi, the acceptance of the Flaming Lips by all sides in the music wars continues with The String Quartet Tribute To The Flaming Lips, which takes some of the band's best tracks and recreates them in a posh wedding stylee. They do She Don't Use Jelly, you'll be pleased to know, and if you imagine hard you can hear it playing in your head.

I COLLECT, I REJECT: Looking for a little something for Mother's Day? How about a small statue of Britney based on the 'Toxic' video?

maybe not

Just imagine your grandchildren taking that to Antiques Roadshow in a few years time...

ALSO IN THE COMEBACK NET: I'm telling you, the way long-dead bands are returning we're going to need Buffy in here with her big, swinging axe to regain any semblance of control. Remember The 80s is reporting that the original KajaGooGoo line-up had such fun when they came back together for a one-off VH1 special, they've decided to make a whole new album. Only they've dumped Limahl again, so it really is like old times.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

SHELLEY WAS RIGHT: She got onto us almost as soon as we'd posted about Stars And Their Eyes and Matthew Kelly, suggesting that when we said Matthew Kelly had taken over on Leslie Crowther's death was wrong; she rightly pointed out that Crowther had retired when he had a serious car accident but he didn't die for a couple of years.

YOU CAN'T TRUST THAT WOMAN: Good Morning America are going to let Janet Jackson play a concert for its veiwers on March 31st - but, of course, knowing what she's like, they're putting a five second delay on, just in case she squeezes her breast milk at the camera or reveals her womanly areas. Or moons. Or denounces Bush.

Apparently, America is now so genuinely scared of Janet Jackson and the possibility that she might do something sexy and unexpected, she even has to have a five second delay when she appears on the CCTV security monitors at the local bank.

WOOD SMOKE: Ronnie Wood is surprised he didn't die twenty six years ago, at the same time as Keith Moon. Although it's actually possible that he did, but he's been so stuffed full of uppers, downers, sideway zoomers, depressants, repressants, happy pills, sad pills, purple hearts, green dragons, microdots, megapots, bloomers, horse tranqs and Capstan Full Strengths that he 'total system shut down' message has yet to make it through his nervous system, so his body just carries on ticking over like a car in Alaska when the owner's gone to bed.

Doctors have warned Ronnie that if he doesn't quit the fags, he could be dead within the year. Which is a hell of a brave statement to make when Wood has been confounding medical science since about 1960.

QUEEN FINDS SPIRITUAL HOME: There's something right about godawful Ben Elton/Queen "musical" We Will Rock You's plans to open in Vegas, which is conceeded by one of the show's supporters Jane Rosenthal: "When you think of Queen the musical, Vegas is the right place for us to go." We seem to differ from jane solely on the issue of if this reflects well or badly upon the quality of the endeavour.

ROSS CLEARS HERSELF: Diana Ross is going to contest claims that she didn't quite serve her sentence what with all the popping in and out. Police records insist that Ross didn't spend a twenty four period inside, as she was supposed to. Ross' lawyers counter that they have evidence that she did manage to keep in a cell for a full day without nipping down Dev's MiniMart for a packet of fags and a Take a Break. The stunning evidence which puts her in the clear? Her, um, totally impartial diary.

WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU CROSS MICHAEL JACKSON WITH CHILDREN'S TOYS?: Okay, maybe sometimes you'd get a federal case, but in this instance the answer we're looking for is the Thriller video, remade in Lego. [The website is in German, which isn't a problem; the video is in Windows Media, which is a shame.]

In other Jackson news, Lisa-Marie Presley has been talking about her time with Jackson, when the couple had a short-lived publicity stunt ("marriage"). Lisa doesn't actually say anything that's interesting in itself, but does flag up her intention to spill beans should the correct magic phrase be said (either "another million, Mrs. Jackson-Cage-Presley?" or "take the Bible in your right hand and..."):

Presley said she felt "powerless in a lot of ways, in terms of ... realizing that I was part of a machine, and seeing things going on that I couldn't do anything about," she said. "And don't ask me what sort of things, because I'm not going to answer. But just stuff."