Saturday, April 03, 2004

IT'LL DO NO GOOD: There's nothing new in Rebecca Lieb's piece on the RIAA's assualt on the image of the music industry - indeed, it's a rerun column - but it's a timely and concise summation of just why the RIAA's actions over the last three years have made any impartial witness wonder if they were trying to burn down the store and claim the insurance.

THAT'S THE SET NOW, ISN'T IT?: Kelly Osbourne keeps up the family tradition, then, following Pop and jack into drug rehab. The thing that probably makes us feel sympathy for her - this is quite a day, positive things to say about Travis and Coldplay, and now sympathy for Kelly Osbourne - is the horrible, cold-faced way the grisly Sharon Osbourne seized on her daughter's problems as the perfect way to boost the flagging Osbournes series on MTV:

Sharon Osbourne said [on Larry King Live] Kelly entered Promises rehabilitation centre in Malibu "a couple of hours" before they appeared on TV.
"As usual with the Osbournes, you never know what's going to happen next," she said.

So, your daughter has just checked into a hospital (okay, a glorified fucking health club) and rather than cancel your appearance on a chat show to be with her, you fly off to take part on the telly show and turn her problem into a fucking commercial. Man, that's some nice mothering skills.

MELTDOWN AT GLASTONBURY: We've already said what we think the answer to Glasto's sale woes could be, but of course, it's Michael Eavis who gets to decide what happens in 2005. He's already thinking:

"The internet site went down in the night - the system overloaded. So we will need more equipment there next year.
We can improve the software, definitely - but is it a good thing to sell them all out in one hour?
We could have sold them out last night in five minutes. I'd rather string it out a bit."

Eh? Is he seriously suggesting that it's in some way better for people to have to sit up all night, pressing redial or throwing their eMac out the window in frustration as it stops the tickets from selling out too quickly? And what does he propose for next year, then? Only putting up tickets for sale in bunches of one thousand, thereby crashing the Aloud server one hundred and thirteen times? This doesn't seem to make any sense at all.

HOW, EXACTLY, DOES ONE PROVE A NEGATIVE?: Michael Jackson's lawyer claims that he's got hold of tonnes of evidence which proves the Michael Jackson didn't do it - it seems to mainly consist of stuff to rubbish the kid with cancer who says jacko touched him there. This is, of course, all part of the pretrial hearing, which may or may not be meaningless depending on what the separate grand jury inquiry comes up with.

NO BEACH BUMS THIS YEAR FOR SLIM: Norman Fatboy Slim Quentin Mister Zoe Ball has scrapped plans to hold another Big Beach Boutique on Brighton Beach this summer. Last year, quarter of a million people turned up which put a bit of a strain on transport services and the police, and it seems the so-called City of Brighton and Hove feels itself without the infrastructure to cope with a medium-sized event. Still, at least they're being honest and blaming the crappy train and bus services in Sussex rather than trying to use the "fear of terrorist" get-out.

That last Mark and Lard in full

THAT LAST MARK AND LARD IN FULL: We weren’t going to bother to do this - it’s last Friday’s [28th March] Mark and Lard farewell show from Radio One, play-by-play, - because the Real Media stream cut off before the end, so it wouldn’t have been complete. But they’ve fixed that now, and so we have been able to hear the lot:

0’ 00 Newsbeat closes with ‘Radio one’s tribute to Mark and Lard’, done in a Mark and Lard style - i.e. Chris Moyles team hollering along to a backing tune, in this case ‘have a Nice Day’ by the Stereophonics. It includes Andy Parfitt phoning in a line from a “management training course” in Brazil. Being trained to manage what, exactly?

The show proper starts with Mark complaining that the news has overrun ninety seconds - “Can’t these people back time properly?” - and playing a call from David Bowie, who claims to be in Tokyo and then remembers he’s in Osaka.

White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
Black Box Recorder - Facts of Life
hmm... could this be a theme? Will it all be colour bands through the show?

Apparently, at this point, the DAB ticker was reading “Bye bye Mark and Lard! We love you loads. From everyone at Radio 1”

12’ 00 Mark reads out a “small card” from Paul McCartney and warns Sara Cox “We’re anticpating finishing at three, within about twenty minutes. I’ve dropped eight records already.” The carnival atmopshere is only ruined by the announcement that Travis are in the studio to play live, something which will probably have Radio 2 wondering if they’ve done the right thing. Fran Healy is wearing a “Casey Jones” hat but has “now taken his four woolly coats off.”

Travis - Love Will Come Through (live)

20’ 00 Mark dedicates it to his wife, because he’d apparently never played a song for her on the radio before. It’s then Great Moments In Pop (“the last ever one”) but the winner has already been decided, as a compliance officer from Denbighshire had got the answer right on Wednesday morning in a pre-emptive strike. Clue one is people saying “it might be the highlight of my life” in the rain.

22’ 17” - “for the last time” it’s the Rabbi Lionel Blair, who reveals he’s more a Steve Wright in the Afternoon person. His spiritual message tells how he’s cramming homeless people into his coal bunker as “it’s a nice little earner”

25’ 25” - Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy drops in a ‘good luck’ message, probably aware it’s the last time his voice is ever likely to be heard on Radio One.

The Divine Comedy - Come Home Billy Bird (“our last ever record of the week.”)

30’ 35” “The problem is getting the records in...”

Ultravox - Young Savage (“they never re-released it”)

35’ 39” Man City players say ta-ra. Stuart Pearce requests Green Day and Basket case.

Janes Addiction - Just Because
Ten Benson - Mysetery Man (another act we suspect won’t be heard on daytime Radio One any time again soon)

43’ 00” - There’s thirteen people gathered in the rain outside the Oxford Road studios. It’s now time for the last ever Mystery Man, a face-off between a policeman from Woodstock and someone from Camberley playing hookey while pretending to be at the dentist. Mark tells Lard that this time there’s a real mystery celebrity - “I’m fed up with you always pretending to be the celeb.”

Blimey... it’s Thom Yorke. The policeman wins. Thom does a “big hello” to everybody and claims he’s just making “stupid noises” in the studio.

Radiohead - 2+2=5

53’ 09’ James from Starsailor say goodbye to the “most honest djs” and giggles a little bit too much

Starsailor - Good Souls (“a record of the year a couple of years ago”)

57’ 00” “It would probably have been wrong to have a last day without this guy...” Damon Albarn does a cracked voice farewell song.

58’ 02” A classic track from Roy Obese-one; his touching tribute to Britney Spears: “I got angry at fake pictures/ in the Daily Sport.”

60’ 00” Belle and Sebastian do a special song -”we remeber the day you first played our tune/ and now we are minted.” The chorus (“Mark and Lard”, repeat to fade is a bit shit, though).

Belle and Sebastian -

63’ 11” The Stereophonics drop in a slightly bitter sounding “we’re going to miss your witty comedy and slagging us off all the time.” They’re clearly trying to be the bigger men, but they can’t disguise that they’d rather be sticking pins in their eyes. “That took a lot” observes Mark.

65’ 08” - Jimi from Doves wishes the duo a happy future in their new careers “as nobodies.”

Doves - There Goes The Fear (“I think another record of the year... we should have checked these things.”)

68’ 55” - Lard’s Classic Cuts from his vinyl collection. Today he’s brought in Paul McCartney doing Mull of Kintyre (or “Mullo F’Kin tyre”). “Because CDs are rubbish, aren’t they?”
“Is that record hard to find?”
“In that condition, yes.”

73’ 04”
Travis - Driftwood (live) - chosen by Mark (“If push came to shove and you had to choose a favourite Travis track...”)

78’ 22” - Elbow send a message - to the tune of Without You. Almost.

Elbow - Powder Blue

82’ 55” - Fat Harry White turns up to provide a last slew of double entendre - “no problem getting up first thing... i popped inside for a quick nibble... not afraid of offering a man a full spread, is foxy... i spilled my cargo... the whole neighbourhood was watching me shoot my creamy load up foxy fiona’s entrance... me and Fat Larry had the two benders on the left... just a little tiddler to show for it... pulled the zip right down and thrust me tiddler between her flaps... i was sat there for half an hour with everybody looking at my stiff knob... i shot my mess over Radcliffe’s rump...” but, shockingly, at the end, it turns out Fat Harry White doesn’t exist, because it was just Mark Radcliffe with an effect on his microphone all along. How cheated and foolish do we all feel now, eh?

Johnny Cash - Hurt

90’ 42” - It’s the Cumbrian tight throat singing thing which never really worked as well as some of their other stuff.

94’ 06” - Newsbeat, with the wonderful Georgina Bowman. Maxine Carr turns out to have been Mark Radcliffe with an effect on his voice. The manager of Big Brvaz tries to explain that there’s a difference between smoking drugs in your house and taking drugs through customs at an airport, which clarifies the law no end for us.

96’ 36” - Kylie and Grandaddy say goodbye, although not together, which would have been better.

Grandaddy - The Crystal Lake

104’ 21” - “We’re already running late” observes Lard, because they’d forgotten to play an episode of Great Moments In Pop. Clue Two “Howling Gales, West Country accents, Emily, Dad... what could it be?”

Travis - After Mark And Lard Go (Live), a rewriting of the Keane song ‘Somewhere Only We Know.” (In the style of The Shirehorses.) It’s actually pretty funny and cute, and for a moment or two we quite warm to Travis (“meet the man who pulled the plug/ and I’ll show you Britain’s biggest mug...”)

107’ 42” - “what I like about that was Neil kept his head down and played serious like the other tunes...” The Shirehorses then reunite to do ‘Why Is It Always Dairylea?’ with Travis on backing (“it’s Jim’ll Fix it for you lads”) “processed cheese... what have they done? That bloody Philadelphia tastes like... come to the chorus now Why is it always Daiylea/ when in the contract it stipulated brie?/ I’ve got some nice red wine in/ I was looking forward to dining...”

111’ 51” - “the only place to go is the big reveal on Great Moments in Pop”, which is the triumphant headlining of Glastonbury by the Shirehorses “Radiohead were on on Saturday night - in the dark...” when the stage sun

The Shirehorses - I Know Where We’re Going

118’ 52” - Peter Kay is on the phone, claiming that he was made by them - “You bought my mum a bungalow. I’ll see you in Jobclub.”

119’ 48” - Coldplay say goodbye to the tune of Candle in the Wind (“Radio One have got Edith Bowman in/ she’s younger, she may well talk about Busted...”) Travis and Coldplay being funny? It’s brought the best out in everyone

120’ 32” - “Last time I’ll ever put this on”, observes Mark, putting on the ‘bye-bye tune’ “...and bye bye about seventy grand’s worth of PRS money for Cornershop every year - sorry, lads... That, more or less, is it... [very long list of thank yous] Nothing will ever be quite the same again... the end of mark and lard on Radio One... hopefully we’ve gone with some grace and dignity today, not moping about. That’s why our last record is this:”

Kiss - Crazy Crazy Nights

129 ‘ 49’ - a creaking door, and Mark finds Lard alone “lets go to the pub, and you can buy me a pint”
“one last catchphrase?”
“half a catchphrase?”

Then, apparently, someone forgot to fade back up the London feed, so Radio One fell into complete silence, which seems somehow appropriate...

The full programme is available at

Friday, April 02, 2004

PINK V MS JACK WHITE: There's going to be a battle between two biopics about Janis Joplin (which we kinda think might be two too many, ourselves). One will have Renee Zellwegger in it, the better one will be directed by Penelope Spheeris and star Pink, which sounds a bit closer to something that will slow Janis' in-grave rotation.

MAYBE SHE REALISED SHE WASN'T ONE: Kylie Minogue has quit the MTV Diva night, being replaced by the even less diva-esque Eve.

THEY LIKE ANNOUNCING GIGS, LESS KEEN ON PLAYING THEM: Limp Bizkit are running out of excuses for cancelling gigs - we've had fear of terrorism, the old scheduling problems, in Poland it was a supposed bomb threat; this week they were meant to be playing South Africa but have pulled the gigs for "undisclosable personal reasons." Maybe Fred's just lost his hat and is scared of going on stage with his stately bald crown on display.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GLASTONBURY TICKET AND A EUROSTAR TICKET?: As rummaging reports, Ebay have no problem with people selling on Glasto tickets, but banned Eurostar tickets from being sold on last week.

NOT ON, YOU'RE NELLY: A bunch of protestors at pelman College in Atlanta managed to get an appearance by Nelly called off. They objected to his "portrayal of women." Hmm. But the appearance was part of a drive to encourage people to register as bone marrow donors. So, where does the greater good actually lay here? Getting the appearance caned isn't going to alter the way women are shown in rap videos and lyrics changed one bit; it may well have a small but significant negative effect on the number of marrow donors on the register. The protesting students can switch MTV off if it offends them; getting donors signed up isn't quite as simple.

WELL... YES, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT: Courtney Love slowly realises her behaviour might affect those around her:

During an appearance on US TV’s ‘The View’ yesterday morning (April 1), the star said her daughter had been "stigmatised" because of her recent behaviour.

"That's why I'm here. This is the first time she's been stigmatised because of me," she said. "And I just snapped. I'm ready to pop them."
She told the show’s hosts her recent antics were the reason Frances Bean, who is 11, had been refused a place at an exclusive girl's school.
"They didn't say it, but I can tell," she said. "I just know. They dissed her bad. And [Frances] called me, and she said, 'Mother!' Where did 'Mother' come from? It's not 'Mom' anymore? And she said, 'I'm outraged!' She tore up the rejection slip, and she put it in her dog's bowl."

Let's just park for a moment the delicious irony of Kurt Cobain's daughter even trying to get in to a cross between the school in 90210 and Roedean, and focus instead on this:

"If I need to dye my hair brown and come on this show every morning [to help Frances], then yeah, I'll do it... My kid is my first priority."

We're just looking back through the last eighteen months or so of press cuttings, and trying to spot exactly what form this prioritiziation has taken.

PICKET A GONER: Despite an attempt to rally support, the Liverpool Picket venue will close at the end of April. The People's Centre, who own the building, have confirmed they intend to sell the site - an old police station - and shan't be renewing the venue's licence which expires at the end of April.

Although having played a major role in nuturing Liverpool talent in the dark days of the 1980s, over recent years the Picket has suffered from smarter, more go ahead venues and had increasingly come to rely on its heritage as the main reason to keep itself going. It's probably cruel but fair to say that the loss of the Picket pub is going to be more of a blow to the city than the loss of the Upstairs venue. A disastorous makeover a few years back turned the bar area into something akin to an airport lounge, smoking was banned and the actual performance area hobbled by a shape that said "corridor" rather than "temple of sound." It's always a shame to see a venue go - especially one which had hosted a lot of great acts not so long back, even more so knowing it's probably going to be converted either into loft apartments or a theme/student bar; and while it makes more of a mockery of Liverpool's European Capital of Culture title, it's probably time.

Nice piece of boundary re-drawing in the Echo piece, though: "The Picket is known for nurturing local music talent. Cast, The La's, The Coral and Travis [our emphasis] are just some of the big names which have appeared on its stage."

"UNPRECEDENTED", PERHAPS. BUT UNPREDICTABLE?: Glastonbury have issued an apology for the screw-up, calling the demand for tickets 'unprecedented.' Well, we've got no way of knowing if it is unprecedented or not, although its the first time they've ever tried to flog the lot, in one go, through a single website. But saying "ooh, there were a lot of people trying to buy tickets" isn't really an explanation - surely the very fact they've gone to the trouble of building a million foot fence surrounded by killer dogs and men with lasers which shoot out their eyes, and introduced the 'need a gas bill' requirement to stop touts means they know just how high the demand is to get into Glastonbury? Blaming the number of people trying to buy tickets for the shortcomings of their own planning won't cut it, I'm afraid.

WHAT YOU DO TO ME: It's nice to see Norman Blake being interviewed, even if it's because Teenage Fan Club toured with Nirvana and not because they were great in their own right.

CLOG: Sky News correctly identify that limiting people to just two tickets at a time helped cause Glasontbury clog-up, as instead of going away satisifed, customers were then just turning round and trying again (kind of like trying to speed up the checkouts at Tesco by making them all 'Ten items or less').

This year, everyone is going to be sat in the Green Field swapping war storeis, aren't they?
"I know, I had to get my nanny to stay up for eight hours straight to get my tickets..."
"... don't tell me, my dear, my maid kept waking me up to ask me
to log her back into Jack's computer... it was a nightmare..."

BRUISER MARTIN FIGHTS AGAIN. STILL LIKE A GIRL, MIND: Is this the third or fourth time Chris Martin has been accused of attacking a photographer?. Alessandro Copetti claims "He kicked me from behind and I crashed to the ground. It was stupid, dangerous and violent. He seems to think it is OK for him to be violent to photographers because he is a celebrity." Martin's people suggest that the snapper tripped over his own feet, which sounds like the sort of explanation the police used to give for the death of people in custody back in the 70s.

They say he just knows his guitar,
but Johnny has his depths, a deep canal;
his knowledge of Raymond Carver
has got him on the 'New Generations' panel

Where Greenwood will judge
new poets; their metre, rhythm, hook
Radiohead and fellow judges
cogitate and weigh to decide who'll go into the book.

CARTER-CASH FAMILY RUN OF SHIT LUCK CONTINUES: After three deaths in a year, more gloom for the surviving members of the Carter-Cash clan, as Carlene Carter is locked up, apparently for failing a drugs test. She's had her bond - imposed after a heroin episode in New Mexico - revoked following the test, throwing her into prison at least until April 12th, and possibly until 2014. She's also currently being sued by the family of Howie Epstein, a boyfriend who ODed in 2003; they tried to take their shared home off her. Although she might not need it for a decade or so anyway.

PIXIES ANNOUNCE 17 NEW RELEASES: In a wise, pre-emptive move, the Pixies are planning to release every one of their North American dates as a limited edition live album. Of course, downloads would be better, guys, but it's a start.

"Avril wanted a very genuine thing to happen with her next record... She really knew that there was something real inside her that was going to come out."

So says Chantal Kreviazuk, who's co-written Avril Lavigne's new album (you know, the one Avril was writing herself?). Oddly, Chantal seems to be doing the early press for the record, presumably because she wrote the songs while Avril made suggestions for what they could be called, we suppose. The funniest thing? Just like Frasier's son Freddie, Avril reckons she's gone Goth. By which we're supposing: extra mascara, black tshirt, trying to deliver lyrics about how her life's shit without breaking into a grin at the thought of the big pile of money she has. Oh hang about, that's not Goth, is it? That's Durst.

A MODEST PROPOSAL: We did ask last year why Glastonbury didn't just accept that some people will want to pay through the nose for tickets and pass the whole lot over to Ebay to deal with anyway - and at least Ebay has the technology to cope with people buying stuff in large numbers.

It's easy to have the benefit of hindsight, but there was also a whole bunch of foresight that could see this way of selling tickets would be a problem. We'd like to propose some changes for next year.

First, remember that Glastonbury is meant to be a charity event, and take some steps to maximise the cash made for the charity. Place five hundred sets of two tickets on sale with Ebay (less than one per cent of the whole allocation) for the highest bidder. Thousands of extra quid thus raised would go to the charities, not touts.

Of the leftovers, split them into two tranches. The first half will be sold online, but instead of flinging them all up and deciding who'll be going by who can be closest to a computer when they go live, and who has the best refresh button, for a week everyone is welcome to apply for pairs of tickets. You leave your name, your credit or debit card number and after the week, a random number generating computer selects the lucky winner, debits their accounts and sends out tickets. To ensure the applications are genuine, every applicant pays a pound - all of which goes to the charities. The unlucky applicants records are kept for a second wave of selection after returns and rejected cards, etc, are taken into account.

The second half allows Glastonbury to reconnect with its roots, and allow people who don't have access to phones, credit cards or the internet to be in with a chance. Each Oxfam shop in the country is given a number of tickets (probably in proportion to their turnover, so busier stores get more than the quieter ones.) The individual stores are allowed to decide how to work with their tickets - they could sell them at a small mark-up (perhaps an extra GBP20?), or arrange a raffle for them (providing they can ensure they'll at least break-even on the deal), or use them to promote the store's other services - if you want to buy a pair of tickets from Oxfam's Leicester store, they might charge you the face value and ask you to do eight hours volunteer work. Any tickets unsold by the end of, say, a month before the festival would be passed back for random allocation to the people who applied for the second tranche.

We think this would work well - people with more money than sense could still get their tickets through waving their cash about, but it would go to good causes, not Private Walkers; individual branches of Oxfam would get a boost in terms of people visiting the shops, and could choose to raise money or volunteers, genuinely helping the efforts of Oxfam branches nationwide; and nobody would have to stay up until five am constantly hitting redial or refresh - the online ticket distribution would still be random, but everyone would have an equal chance of getting the tickets. Plus, all those quids would make even more the charities concerned.

All the technology to do this exists already. All that's needed is the will. Of course, if we've misread Glastonbury and it is now a huge cash cow designed for making money for ticket agencies, then it's just foolish to even hope anyone would implement this system. We also believe the side effect would be that the cross section of people you'd get at Glasto would be a lot more interesting than the broadband and credit card monkeys who'll be there this year.

THEY'RE ON EBAY ALREADY: Glastonbury tickets have turned up on Ebay before - apparently - the festival has sold out, as the break down in the sales process has generated a massive army of people wanting to get tickets at any cost, which they can be sure of having. Equally quickly, Ebay Vigilanties have swung into action placing false bids of over a million quid in some well-meaning but hopeless attempt to "punish the touts." Before the market got distorted, there were a couple of tickets where the price had been pushed up to GNP920, which would suggest that Eavis and the Mean Fiddler have managed to create a system which instead of killing off touts altogether has made a few touts able to make enormous profits. Good work, chaps.

FOLLOW THE TICKET TRAIL: If you're seeking the latest on the Glasto ticket balls-up, Technorati can pull together the bloggy coverage on one page for you.

THAT'S ODD: According to the graphic on BBC News Online's report about the tenfold rise in legal downloads in Europe over the last year [from bugger all to whatever ten times bugger all is], people would appear to be downloading Beyonce and Prince's duet at the Brits... surely that's not legally available anywhere, is it?

OD2 report the following as the being the "Top Ten legal downloads" in the UK in January-March:

1. Hey Ya - Outkast
2. Shut Up - The Black Eyed Peas
3. Milkshake - Kelis
4. All This Time - Michelle McManus
5. Mysterious Girl - Peter André
6. White Flag - Dido
7. Amazing - George Michael
8. Leave Right Now - Will Young
9. Stacy's Mom - Fountains of Wayne
10. Somewhere Only we Know - Keane
11. Red Blooded Woman - Kylie Minogue
12. Where is the Love? - The Black Eyed Peas
13. It's my Life - No Doubt
14. Thank You - Jamelia
15. I Miss You - Blink 182
16. Sunrise - Norah Jones
17. She Wants to Move - N.E.R.D
18. Crazy in Love - Beyoncé
19. Left Outside Alone - Anastacia
20. Jump (for my Love) - Girls Aloud
21. Somebody to Love - Boogie Pimps
22. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
23. Life for Rent - Dido
24. Superstar - Jamelia
25. Powerless (Say What You Want) - Nelly Furtado
26. If You're Not the One - Daniel Bedingfield
27. Not in Love - Enrique Iglesias (featuring Kelis)
28. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns 'N' Roses
29. Hole in the Head - Sugababes
30. Harder To Breathe - Maroon 5
31. Don't Know Why - Norah Jones
32. Behind Blue Eyes - Limp Bizkit
33. Hey Mama - The Black Eyed Peas
34. Love is Only a Feeling - The Darkness
35. On the Radio - Michelle McManus
42. Yeah - Usher featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris
37. The Voice Within - Christina Aguilera
38. Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack
39. Too Lost in You - Sugababes
40. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

What is especially interesting with the appearance of Keane and Fountains of Wayne in the top ten, and Sweet Child O'Mine turning up in the forty.

GLASTO TICKETS: Ticket buyers reaction upgraded from 'frustrated' to 'fury' as BBC News Online starts to buckle under the weight of people complaining about Glastonbury.

UNLIKELY OPENING LINES OF NEWS REPORTS OF OUR TIME, NUMBER ONE: E! Online kicks off the news that prosecutors in Arizona aren't going to make her serve her jail time all over again with this jaw-dropper:

Diana Ross is not a diva who demands, nor receives special treatment.

Oddly, this is on top of an article which details the bizarre behaviour of the jail which was, apparently, so understaffed "they made it impossible for her to serve 48 hours consecutively, which was her full intent." Eh? We know that sometimes prisons have trouble keeping people who don't want to be inside within their walls - Jeffrey Archer heading off to have drinks and nibbles with top Conservatives while he was meant to have been in prison for perjuring himself when he denied having had sex with a hooker that time, for example - but how on earth would low staff levels prevent someone from being inside a prison when they "intended" to be there? Unless the prison in Conneticut is in some way tidal, washing its inmates out twice a day, and there simply weren't enough warders to help ensure the gaoled didn't wind up back out on the streets.

QUICK, QUICK, QUASH THAT POPBITCH STORY: Panic! Panic! Link Robbie Williams with any woman you can think of, quickly, dammit. Rachel Hunter? She'll do.

60% SOLD ALREADY: 60,000 of the 100,000 Glastonbury tickets had been sold by 8 am - just twelve hours after they'd gone on sale. Michael Eavis had hoped that the new system of sales would mean tickets wouldn't sell out in 23 hours like last year - indeed, they won't; it'll probably be a lot quicker than that this time around: Five Live's breakfast show was taking complaints from people who've been up all night trying to get tickets and being able to get only engaged signals or frozen websites.

Intrestingly, BBC News Online reports "The 8pm start [of sales] was an attempt to dissuade touts and allow people who are at school or at work to buy tickets." Which is odd, since people who are at school all day would be too young to have a credit card anyway; and even if they did, how many schools are going to be delighted at having half their history class missing because they stayed up all night trying to log on to the Glastonbury website?

Any up on Ebay yet? Remember, only buy ones offered with an old gas bill alongside.

ON THE SPOT WITH BILL AND SIAN: We love Fridays, best of all the Breakfast shows. That's the day when overpaid Dermot Murnaghan and Natasha Kaplinsky get to stay in bed, while Bill Turbull and Sian Williams take the stage - a much more relaxed pair, with far better chemistry and the ability to ask questions which suggest they know more than a two minute briefing paper's worth about the subject in hand. Thus, Bill was quick to pick up on Gary Jules' explanation of why it took three years to get round to releasing Mad World - that it had become popular through British "people downloading it and requesting it on the radio", leading to the eventual release.

"So" says Bill, "Downloading actually created the sales?"

Gary sqirums really, really uncomfortably on the big red sofa, weighing his likely record company's reaction. "Well... it didn't create sales, but it did get people interested and lead to the demand..."

So, that would be creating the sales, then? Because without downloaders, there wouldn't have been a single for anyone to buy, much less being the Christmas number one. Downloading, in other words, was the sole reason behind one of the biggest sellers of 2003. And yet they'll still tell you it's killing music.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

AGNETHA'S BUM-RUSHES BOOKED APPEARANCES: There's three artists who you'd be surprised to see back doing a promotional tour - four, if you count Richey Edwards. Kevin Shields on Live At Johnny's? Unlikely. Kate Bush singing over the closing credits on This Morning? We'd be surprised. Agnetha Falkstog on Parkinson? Actually, that nearly happened - the one out of Abba who my Dad had a thing for had been booked to do the Barnsley misanthrope's chat show as part of the promotional tour for the new album My Colouring Book. But only nearly, as Agnetha has pulled all the promo she was going to do, much to the annoyance of Warners. It also looks like that her decision to suspend all plans will knock the 30th anniversary Abba reunion on the head. Maybe in 2014, then.

IT'S YOUR DAD: Garrison Keillor prepares golden days of rock stage show, decries modern music, concedes "there is one song by the White Stripes that was 'not so bad'."

DARE BRITNEY FACE THE CURSE OF PLAYING CHINA?: Last year, when Suede announced their intention of playing a gig in China, we begged them not to go, since the China gig is the kiss of death to any act - Space, Wham... even Mariah Carey. The list of those who've played China reads like a Bands Reunited researcher's wet dream. Suede didn't listen to us, and in six months they'd disbanded and Brett Anderson found himself calling up Bernard Butler to see if he fancied a pint. So, it's not so much that China should be deciding if they want Britney Spears to play Peking - Britney should be thinking if she dare take the risk of doing so at such a delicate stage in her career. Send Christina instead, surely.

Interestingly, the above-linked AP report observes that "Spears would be one of the biggest international pop stars to play here since the communist state was established in 1949" - presumably, then, before the second world war China was constantly playing host to international pop stars.

PIZZA HUT, PIZZA HUT, KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN AND A PIZZA HUT. THAT'S ALL FOUR RE-ASSIGNED, THEN: The most surprising thing about the fast Food Rockers splitting is that it kind if implies they were a coherent, proper band in the first place. We're worried about the one in the dog suit, ourselves.

WELL, THAT'S GOING TO TAKE THE FUN OUT OF COTTAGING: We'd advise you to put down your corn dog before you read much further here. George Michael has been telling the world that he still does casual sex. Giving Marie Claire more information than they could have wanted, he says:

"Neither of us practices monogamy. Well, if one of you does, it's really sad, isn't it? And yes, it works.
There's no getting to know someone you're sleeping with. There's no dining, no going about the social graces, whatever. You have people on the side when you need sex. Simple as that.
No jealousy. After eight years I can walk out the door and tell him I'm off to get my end away. And there's not a piece of him that worries. And vice versa."
He says he and Goss are driven by a desire "for the unknown. Which is what drives men's sexuality."

Well, maybe. We suspect what drives Goss is the desire for a shag that doesn't end up with having to listen to George Michael yakking away at the end of it; and we're a little bit surprised that George's strongest motivation for fucking strangers seems to be that you save on the cost of a meal for two at Bella Itallia or the price of a pair of tickets for the back row of the Bethnal Green Odeon. We're wondering if the whole thing isn't actually a heavily hidden public health campaign:

'Warning - If you are a man who has sex with men, you're putting yourself at risk. Unknown to you, the bloke who looks a bit like an old version of that tosser out of Wham who is giving you head may actually be that tosser out of Wham. And he bloody could have afforded to buy you a Campari and Orange first, the tight git.'

[INSERT PICTURE OF KYLIE IN FRENCH MAID COSTUME HERE]: Kylie Minogue says she'd love to have a day off to do some dusting. Well, Kylie, checking the way current sales are going, we'd reckon by September you're going to have enough time to polish all the silverware and do the curtains, too. Better lay in the Mr. Sheen.

ANANOVA ON HIGH ALERT ON APRIL 1ST: Maybe they're stull smarting from having run the 'Metallica sue over copyrighted chords' story without checking it first, but can that alone explain Ananova's careful wording of its report on Aaliyah winning 'sexiest vampire'?:

She was nominated for her performance in Queen Of the Damned, by Hollywood movie mag Femme Fatales.
According to [our emphasis] the film is based on Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.

- and no amount of cross-checking with IMDB is going to convince them it's not all some sort of plot.

MR. WRITER: Kelly Jones out the Stereophonics has written a film script and wants Ewan McGregor to star in it. Listen, Kelly, we've been sending Ewan scripts for years, and he's not ever taken us up on a single role (as a highway who robs people in the nude; as a pirate who sails the sea in the nude; as a jolly butcher who chops meat in the nude; as a naked man chained up in the basement - he took legal action after that one, actually, but to be fair that wasn't a script we sent that time so much as a suggestion) so I wouldn't hold your breath that he'll be getting in touch to appear in the role you propose - as Britain's last hangman or something. And without wanting to prejudge your efforts, if you film shines in the way your songwriting does, could we suggest 'The Film What I Wrote' as a title?

LESS COOL THAN A RENAULT: Liberty X's astonishing run of success despite being made up of the dropouts and deadbeats from one of the Pop Idol shows (or was it they all turned up to do Kylie on Stars in their Eyes?) looks to be slowing, with Renault dropping them as spokespeople for their cars because they're not "cool enough" anymore. From the people who make the Megane, that's got to hurt.

On the plus side, it might push them to get the PVC out again.

TWO GUYS NAMED JOE: Stereolab - back in business following the death of Mary Hansen - are readying a double CD retrospective type affair with videos and stuff like that; meanwhile, Laetitia Sadier is about to release a second collection of solo-side-project Monade. All of which is good. Meanwhile, Tim Gane has been explaining the new shape of the band:

There's seven of us now. Obviously, there's no Mary now, and there's no one that's going to sing, apart from Laetitia [Sadier], but we've got... two guys named Joe. One is doing some harpsichord and a computer and some synthesizers, and the other one is [harmonizing with Laetitia using] lots of brass, like cornets and flutes. It's just to bring out the texture and timbre of the instrumental music because we knew there would have to be something different now. It's become hideously complex compared to the old days, but we're trying to make it work naturally... like, flow."

DOWNLOAD UPDATE: Hey, it turns out that copyright theft isn't copyright theft at all... or, rather, A Canadian judge has rejected the CRIA's claims that offering files was any sort of copyright breach, observing that all the accused were doing were putting their files into a folder than can be accessed (you might recall we pointed this out about thirty five years ago) and that the CRIA (like the RIAA, but mounted) hadn't actually proved any copyright breaching had happened. Justice Konrad von Finckenstein said in his ruling:

"No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorised the reproduction of sound recordings. They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a P2P service- at least under Canadian law. I cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory linked to a P2P service."

And so he rejected the CRIA's attempts to force ISPs to reveal the names of people using peer to peer networks, on the grounds that they didn't have good enough reason why. See, this is exactly what pisses off Americans about Canada - they're so bloody careful about their rights, they just don't let any big corporation ride roughshod over them. Have you any idea how frustrating that is?

The IFPI, meanwhile (who are the international body that hooks up music biz cartels worldwide, but basically it's like NATO - North Americans Telegraphing Orders) is playing on with its stupid and pointless plans to sue a couple of Danes and some Italians in a bid to make the continent quake. That's going to work so well - it's a fact that most Europeans love American corporations and will do everything they can to see that they and they alone determine what's acceptable behaviour in their states. In fact, the IFPI might want to think about doubling its Christmas Card orders, so many friends is this activity going to win them. Despite all these global court cases, targetting as many as one in every million file sharers worldwide, the number of files being shared is on the rise again. And worryingly for the Big Inudstry, a lot of that is down to people trying to go straight, and finding that the constraints of the service make it useless:

But most ominously of all, a survey by Ipsos-Insight reports that 22 per cent of US downloaders over 12 had bought music last year. Which shows that people have tried the new 'legitimate' online DRM music services and found them wanting.

And having got them to try once, it's going to be a whole heap harder to tempt people if they ever do sort out the DRM and make it possible to choose what you do with the music that you pay for. Like the man said, you only get one chance to explain the strange smell and the flies buzzing round your kitchen; fuck it up, and you'll never get Jennifer Lopez to come back for dinner again.

Meanwhile, not looking so much like the fatally flawed business it actually is, MusicNet has announced its plans for a UK office and almost instantly got sold to US Dixons-alike (in Dixon's dreams) Circuit City.

AS IF WE'VE NOT DUMPED ENOUGH CRAP ON AFRICA OVER THE LAST 300 YEARS OR SO: How best to fight the growing menace of Aids in Africa? Why not send in someone currently being investigated for child sex abuse? That's Congress' new big plan. Bobby Rush has announced that Michael Jackson "is going to lead the global effort against Aids" - oh, really? How could the incredibly compromised Jackson do that? Who would take him seriously if, for example, he made a speech rejecting the belief that sex with a child will cure Aids? Not that he seems likely to actually make any such speech - during the launch of this plea to get him a passport to head off to Africa, he spoke only once, to complain that the applause which greeted the announcement "wasn't loud enough." Is that how he's going to lead the global effort? A spot of smiling and nodding, and just the odd words to ensure he's getting the kudos he thinks he deserves? If Jackson is really serious about wanting to help turn back the rising number of HIV infections in Africa, he should withdraw. Because right now, wherever he goes, whatever he wants to be the story, there's only one headline which is going to cling to him. He couldn't lead a global convention of Diana Ross lookalikes, never mind a global fight against one of the biggest health threats of our times. He's just a distraction.

NOT SO COOLIO: Coolio, sweetness, calm yourself down. It's understandable you want to do well and win some obscure competiton for the washed-up on a minor cable channel in Germany, but let's face it - trashing a dressing room because the audience voted Smokie and someone from Caught In The Act (no, us, neither) better than you only draws the world's attention to your plight.

FROM TITSCRAPE TO MIXTAPE: To be frank, if someone had snapped us sucking Courtney Love's left one, we'd be trying to decide if we could wipe out the shame by dedicating the rest of our life to helping blind, orphaned kittens, or if it would just be a case iof a sharp knife and a farewell note. However, Kofi Asare is clearly made of stronger stuff and is attempting to bounce a career out of being photographed with Courtney's tit in his gob. He's releasing a rap mix-tape off the back of it, called either Milk Money or All I Wanted Was Some Chicken Nuggets. We'd have gone with "Mmm, you can really taste the uppers."

NME CHART SAVED FOR THE NATION: Right in the final frame, MTV has given in and negotiated a deal with the indie labels to keep smaller companies' videos on air. MTV had been threatening to bypass the collective bargaining body and deal with labels on a one-to-one basis, but had to backtrack when it realised this would have left it without anything to show on MTV2 and its sister channels.

THIS ISN'T AN APRIL FOOLS GAG: Tickets for Glastonbury go on sale at 8pm tonight. But to use the tickets, you'll have to show a utility bill at the gate. Yes, really. Never mind that the sort of people in households who go to Glastonbury are less likely to be the name on the electricity bill, what sort of potty idea is this? Are people really going to be held up at the gates waiting for someone to fish the Powergen bill out their handbag? And what about people who pay their bills online and don't actually have bills sent to them?

AND, FOR TEEN READERS, TIME FALLING WANKING TO ITS KNEES: Someone's taken a bunch of early Bowie songs and turned them into a kid's book. We presume that to turn Love You Til Tuesday, say, into a coherent story takes a bit of tweaking, but, hey, it's got to be better than Madonna's book, yes?

INDIES BAND TOGETHER: If the RIAA have a moment to think away from trying to keep their website online - because if it's not there to prick our consciences, we might start going into shops to steal CDS - they've got a new threat, as American independent labels are forming their own trade association, which could form quite a sizeable and vocal group offering a counterpoint to the major label's body. Representing about one-fifth of the total music industry, and 30 per cent of online sales, they'll be large enough to offer a credible, alternative voice to that of the RIAA. If nothing else, it'll stop the RIAA carrying on like they're the only voice of music.

IT'S A PITY: Of course the current Today feature suggesting Brian Eno is remixing the Archers theme is an April Fool's hoax, but what a pity... that would be kind of cool...

And nice to hear Eno taking part and sending himself up a little.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

THREE BANDS, THREE GIGS, ONE BILL: - together at last. And second to last. And third to last. brighton Concorde2 tomorrow (April 1st), Bristol Fleece (4) and the Astoria (5).

CROWS GROUNDED: The Counting Crows have pulled a tour of Australia, following the death of singer Adam Duritz's grandmother. Duritz says:
"I know a lot of you made plans to be here in Australia and I realize this is going to be a pretty disappointing bit of news, but I feel like I've let my life be governed by the rules of the road over all else for the past ten years. Just this once, I'm going to be where I'm supposed to be. My mom has always been there for me. This time I'm going to make sure I'm there for her as well."

TODAY'S THE DARKNESS STORY: Every day, we bring you something about the Darkness. If you clip each one out of the screen and store them in a book, you'll soon have built up a collection of Darkness stories. Today's Darkness news is Justin Hawkins has lost his voice and had to cancel last night's gig. Probably all that screaming at that nice Mr. Eavis from the farm didn't help.

CUT AND PASTE FROM PAXO: Lifted from Jeremy Paxman's Newsnight mailout:

Finally, Barry Pump e-mails from the University of Iowa, with news that the pop star Jessica Simpson was invited to visit the White House, before attending a fundraiser for Ford's Theatre in downtown DC.
While on the tour, Simpson encountered Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Simpson, an astute political observer is said to have remarked to Norton:
"You've done a wonderful job decorating in here."

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK GIRLS ALOUD?: We've just got this exciting email from the Girls Aloud people:

Ever wanted to ask the Girls a question? Now's your chance!
E-mail your questions to And the best ones will be picked and put to the Girls.
The answers to the winning questions will be on the CD for the Girls' forthcoming single later this summer, and if your question is picked, you win a signed poster from the Girls themselves and a namecheck on the CD!
So come on! Get your thinking caps on! Dare to ask the questions no-one has ever asked Nadine, Cheryl, Kimberley, Sarah and Nicola before! But hurry, you've got until 12th April to get them in.

So many questions, and so little time - obviously, if they let you have until May, the girls would be so busy answering questions like "And will you need a form for housing benefit?" and "What would be the minimum weekly wage you'd be prepared to accept?" to answer other questions. Who's brave enough to ask "What did you feel when you realised the jury thought you were lying on oath?" and "So, what were the pair of you doing in one toilet cubicle in the first place?"

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Kurt's being dug up edition
We had an odd sense of that deja-vu stuff when we heard that some of the Loaded launch team are planning a new magazine launch, Golfpunk. You can imagine it, I’m sure, pitched as a Golfing GQ, but it’s really just an Bizarre with tees - Sarah Michelle Gellar playing golf, goofing playing golf, and probably pictures of great golfing injuries. It took a moment before we remembered where we heard all the ‘bringing the Loaded ethos to a traditionally staid market segment’ - it would have been the short lived Eat Soup, the Loaded food spin off. Trying to sell haute cuisine to a readership that lives off burgers and beer was a non-starter, and somehow I can’t imagine who in the crossover market between the lads mags and the golf titles would want all their eggs in one basket. Good luck, and we’ll see you in two years launching ‘Attack Antiques - auction hounding for the Loaded generation.’

Blimey, it’s ten years now that FHM have been doing their 100 sexiest poll, some sort of definitive list of, um, the most stroked to women on the planet. And, once again, the title has been taken by a pop person - Britney is straight in at one, followed by Rachel Stevens and Beyonce. Probably surprised to find themselves on the list will be Alicia Keys (60) and, bloody hell, Dido (89).

It’s a cracking NME this week, as at around the same time as FHM was marshalling its first list of Sexy Women, Kurt Cobain was sticking a gun into his mouth and ruling out any chance of a Nirvana reunion in 2024. The ‘ME is pulling out all the stops for this one, as Kurt is recently enough dead for the younger end of the readership to know who he was, and yet has been dead long enough to have acquired the patina of genius. And, there’s none of that awkwardness you get with yer Buckley or your Parsons - people actually bought his stuff when he was alive. It means the Scissor Sister’s debut front page actually doesn’t appear on the front (oddly, you turn over from Kurt’s face and find yourself looking back a further ten years still, straplined by the claim that “we’re the new saviours of rock and roll.”) The extra cover is actually a pair of art prints - Nirvana in front of a sign reading "men don't protect you anymore" while Dave Grohl eats a bread roll and Kurt playing a guitar. The real joy - if that's the correct term - amongst the mourning is perhaps the best CD the NME has compiled since, ooh, before CDs. Thirteen tracks from Kurt's collection, it kicks off with Mudhoney's Touch Me I'm Sick, and includes PJ Harvey doing Dress, Bad Brains, Gang of Four and The Slits. The only quibble is that there's no Raincoats, but even so: the NME has covermounted The Vaselines and the Butthole Surfers in 2004. This is like Top Gear suggesting we all go out and buy Escorts this weekend, except absolutely brilliant. The first three minutes of the album should account for at least thirty percent of Coldplay fans realising the error of their ways. And this, by the way, is the warm-up for next week's issue, which is the real special Kurt edition.

The big pictures shows the Hives in their new Modern Romance get-up; news has Reading and Leeds line-ups while Mike Skinner runs through the new Streets album ("I wanted to make an Alfred Hitchcock film in a song"). The tricky business of reporting on the MTV war with the indie labels is dealt with delicately - the paper mentions that MTV2 carries the NME chart show, but doesn't quite make space to acknowledge the joint ads sales house that unites their parent companies (and Capital Radio) a little closer than that.

Hal's front man Dave Allen does the CD thing - the Beatles and Bob Dylan are invited along.
Peter Robinson meets Neil Hannon, and asks how much it would cost to rent his life. Hannon reckons it's a couple of grand a week, which seems to be a rather harsh mark-up for a couple of nice suits and the adoration of a few dozen slightly balding men.

Signs that you're probably too old to read NME: If you had to headline a piece about the Swedish collective The Concretes, you'd go for Concrete Blondes, wouldn't you? But they went for The Polyphonic Swedes. We prefer ours, to be frank.

So, Scissor Sisters, how are you going to save rock and roll? "They've tried to pigeonhole us, calling us the pop Darkness or art rock. They tried to call us the Village People which is, like, 'oh fuck off.' Music to me is rock and roll above all else." Well, yeah, you whinge about pigeonholing like 'proper' rock acts. But the desire to push themselves free from the charges of trendiness or being fashionistas doesn't quite convince.

Posters are singers who act - Snoop, Presley, Madonna - no, really - and Prince.

Wolfman - who is he? What does he do? Well, really, he's just another Pete Doherty single delivery system, but he's not a real werewolf. Let's clear that up now.

the brit pack tour - "lots of boys with guitars"
courtney love - bowery ballroom, new york - "even her burn-out is inspiring to watch", 9
the murder of rosa luxembourg - London Needles - "short, sharp shock"

delays - faded seaside glamour - "there's a bit of rough in these diamonds yet", 7
ben kweller - on my way - "we think he'll like you", 6
tindersticks - working for the man: the island years - "adoration of this band should be mandatory", 9

black wire - attack! attack! attack! - "make being in a band seem the best idea in the world"
seachange - news from nowhere - "jo whiley indie"

And finally, as if kicking the issue off with a whack of Mudhoney wasn't enough, it closes with Tom Delonge of Blink 182 enthusing about Fugazi. If you'll excuse us, we're off to below "suffer your in-ter-pre-tay-shun of what it means to BE! A! Man!" at the top of our little lungs.

ERM... DIDN'T YOU SAY YOU WEREN'T BOTHERED ABOUT AMERICA?: Yes, Robbie, you did... which makes Mr. Williams signing with an LA Talent agency all the more puzzling. Surely you weren't trying to put on a brave face on the way Americans couldn't give a toss about you?

EMI DOUBLE-DECIMATE: EMI have announced 1500 job losses worlwide, the vast majority coming as they outsource CD production in Europe and America. At the same time, they're going to drop one in five of their artists - mainly "niche" and "underperforming" acts (but what happened to the record labels investing in bands that didn't sell very many? Wasn't that the justification for the exhorbitant cost of CDs?)

It's worth remembering that EMI is expecting to make a profit of about GBP300 million this year, and saw its share of the growing US market increase by one percent. So this isn't the actions of a company on the ropes - it's actually a simple cost-cutting at the expense of the workers move. Alan Levy, head of music at EMI, is expected to take home 20 million quid this year.

LOOKSLIKE A NEWS STORY. JUST: Every newspaper loves a lookalike, usually running a picture of some gimp alongside the celeb they share a vague resemblance with. Hats off to the Peninsula Clarion, Alaska though who decided that Kelly Keating-Griebel decided a little more coverage than that, running several hundred words on the woman because of her slighty facial similarity to someone else. So it must have been a huge star to justify that, then, yes? Nope. Kelly looks a little like a contestant on American Idol.

Do you look a little like someone who's been Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Have you been mistaken in the street for a contestant on Fred Dineage's Gambit? The Kilroy team wants to hear from you...

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

WE'VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: Thanks to everyone who takes the trouble to drop us emails of stuff that might be of interest; we've got a small pile of things thus collected to bring to your attention.

First, Joris fromStereo picks up on last week's Pop Papers mention of Jesus Jones' odd reunion, pointing out the Guardian arts pages has given this matter some attention in the past.

Next up, Gary M has been looking through the BPI's defence of its plans to send highly trained hit squads of lawyers into seize computers owned by filesharers:

My favourite bit of their press blurb was this:

"If America protects its music better than we do, then we will get American music on our radios day and night and I don't want that to happen," he added.

Imagine if UK radio was dominated by american acts!

Next up, Cameron from The All New Ylbaveilebnu Dedrater Golb (sti ton yllautca dedrater ta lla):

Just poking through your blog, very interesting.? Read through the article on Radio Five, and it makes me wish we had something like that in Canada.? Right now we have?documentary station CBC Radio One and glorified?classic music station + other bits?CBC Radio Two.? There's also a "CBC Radio 3" (purely web-based) that appeals to it seems a trend-oriented section of youth (pop, hip-hop, essentially indie-centrism at its most overblown).? It always seemed to me that BBC Radio "gets it" by comparison.? As much as BBC might be shit sometimes it could be us by comparison.
Nothing against my own network, they put on some good shows now and then, but they're devolving badly as they seem to appeal less to a general audience and more to the urban-centric types that they've really always focused on.? It'd be nice to hear somethng a little bit more anarchic on Canadian radio.? It's either the American-esque formats, a terrible campus station and CBC Radio, nothing really great.? Then again, it may be me whining about nothing, I dunno.

I think the thing that has saved British radio has been that old licence fee that twonks like Jonathan Miller would have us abolish; even during the worst periods of bad management, most stations have kept some sort at-least token show to appeal a bit to everybody - I can't imagine there are many radio networks which would have allowed John Peel to have kept turning up playing sometimes almost exquistely unlistenable records, while simultaneously ripping the piss out of his colleagues. Obviously, nowadays sacking Peel would be like raping the Queen level of unthinkable, but there was a time when he could have been shown the door with barely any level of protest at all. Likewise, many of the BBC Local Stations harbour - or have harboured - almost insanely passionate left-field music shows amongst the traffic news and dedications.

A little deeper into the mailbox, Jake was inspired by Lowestoft's proposed Darkness Street to send us this:

One of the best thing about Milton Keynes is the Crownhill Estate, which features:

Darin Court
Vincent Avenue
Presley Way
Cochran Close
Mercury Grove
Fury Court
Marley Court
Lennon Drive
Cline Court
Crosby Court
Morrison Court
Bolan Court
Redding Grove
Valens Close
Monro Avenue
Hendrix Drive
Cogan Court
Chevalier Grove
Orbison Court
Gallagher Close

as well as:

Kinnear Close
Beckinsale Grove
(Rock?) Hudson Lane
Laurel Close (no Hardy that I can see)
Chaplin Grove
Garbo Close
as well as a couple of others that I don't recognise, including Drakes Mews, which looks a little bit like Darkness Mews from the corner of your eye. It's still pretty impressive though.

We've mentioned before the legacy of the short-sighted attitude to the Beatles taken by Liverpool City Council in the 80s, who not only destroyed the original Cavern but grudgingly named streets after the band members - choosing some obscure stumpy little cul-de-sacs on the edges of an unwelcoming estate next to Kensington (as in the Head's Streets of Kenny), and, of course, Norman Cook has a bus named after him on the streets of Brighton, but this does lead us to wonder if there are any other streets or things that have been named after musicians? We'll open the bidding with the Arthur Askey Rooms in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Any more?

The plight of record stores: Amblongus drops off this fromAustin Statesman [registration required] report on the closure of Tower Records in Austin, in the light of our earlier piece about how legal downloads might do more harm than the illegal ones:

And money, said UT graduate student Matthew Thomas, is a factor in buying decisions.
Thomas went to Tower on Monday to buy a CD of one of the small bands he prefers. But he found out that Tower wanted $17.
"The price here is pretty high," he said.
Instead of going to a big-box retailer, Thomas turned to the latest competitor to record stores: the Internet.
Thomas went to the band's Web site and bought the CD for $10.

Of course, based on how long it took the recording industry to wake up to the threat of Napster, we reckon bands have got four or five years to work this to their advantage before Mitch Bainwol starts to steal their guitars or whatever.

And finally, thanks to Andy for sending us the link to the file sharing study - we'd come across it before we read your email, but thanks for thinking of us anyway.

Anything to add? The usual address is waiting.

STATS ENTERTAINMENT: There's been a lot of material published on file sharing, most of it by the branch of the copyright industry that releases music, and much of it attempting to prove that file sharing will ruin sales, bankrupt musicians, make Christina Aguilera have to reinvent herself as some kind of cheap two-bit whore, leads to cancer of the head and limbs, blinds kittens in an indiscriminate fashion and was responsible, through some sort of worm hole in time, for the attacks on Pearl Harbour and the Maradonna 'Hand of God' fiasco. But there's not been much independent work done on the effects of people swapping music online, mainly because the file sharers aren't part of a few multibillion dollar industries with cash to spare to buy off a few dodgy Stats Profs. However, Felix Oberholzer of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf
UNC Chapel Hill
have done some research into the effects of all those bittorrents zooming about, and they've drawn conclusions that don't exactly match up with the RIAA's claims. The whole document is a bit of a wade-through, but the abstract is clear enough:

A longstanding economic question is the appropriate level of protection for intellectual property. The Internet has drastically lowered the cost of copying information goods and provides a natural crucible to assess the implications of reduced protection. We consider the specific case of file sharing and its effect on the legal sales of music. A dataset containing 0.01% of the world’s downloads is matched to U.S. sales data for a large number of albums. To establish causality, downloads are instrumented using technical features related to file sharing, such as network congestion or song length, as well as international school holidays. Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates. Moreover, these estimates are of moderate economic significance and are inconsistent with claims that file sharing is the primary reason for the recent decline in music sales.

Which seems clear enough to me.

FRANZ IN FRANCE... SWITZERLAND... EVERYWHERE: Oh, my, but the Franz Ferdinand tour is a big one. They'll need at least two suitcases for this lot:

April 12 Glasgow, Scotland - Queen Margaret Union to be broadcast live on Radio One;
15 Liverpool, England - Liverpool Academy;
16 Dublin, Ireland - Ambassador Theatre;
17 Sheffield, England - Leadmill;
18 Nottingham, England - Rescue Rooms;
20 Leeds, England - Blank Canvas;
21 Birmingham, England - Academy 2;
22 Paris, France - La Cigale;
23 Rennes, France - Ubu;
24 Bourges, France -Palais d'Auron;
26 Brighton, England - Concorde;
27 Norwich, England - Waterfront;
29 Edinburgh, Scotland - Liquid Rooms;
30 Manchester, England - Manchester University;
May 01 Oxford, England - Brookes University;
02 Bristol - Bristol University;
04 Porstsmouth, England - Pyramids;
05 London, England - Astoria;
06 London, England - Astoria;
07 London, England - Coronet (w/ The Beatings)
10 Berlin, Germany - Columbia Fritz
11 Oslo, Norway - John Dee
12 Stockholm, Sweden - Kagelbanan
12 Christiana, Denmark - Loppen
14 Hamburg, Germany - Grosse Freiheit;
15 Hamburg, Germany - Grosse Freiheit;
16 Hanover, Germany - Capitol;
18 Erfurt, Germany - Gerwerkschaftshaus;
19 Braunschwig, Germany - Jolly Joker;
21 Munich, Germany - Metropolis
22 Manchester, England - MEN Arena (w/ Morrissey and Damien Dempsey)
23 Vienna, Austria - Flex
24 Zurich, Switzerland - Abart Music Club
25 Fribourg - Switzerland - Fri-Son
27 Montpellier, France - Salle Victoire
28 Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Festival
30 Saint Brieuc, France - Palace Poulain Corbian
31 Landgraaf, Netherlands - Pinkpop Festival
June 04 San Francisco, CA - The Grand at the Regency Centre
05 Hollywood, CA - Avalon
08 Seattle, WA - Showbox
09 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theatre
11 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe
12 Chicago, IL - Metro
13 Detroit, MI - Majestic Theatre
14 Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre
16 Boston, MA - Avalon
17 New York, NY - Webster Hall
18 Brooklyn, NY - Volume
19 Philadelphia, PA - Making Time @ Shampoo
20 Washington, D.C. - 9:3Club
22 Atlanta, Georgia - Cotton Club
25 Shee?el, Germany - Hurricane Festival;
25 Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany - Southside Festival;
July 01 Lyon, France - Fourvieres (w/ PJ Harvey)
01 Roskilde, Holland - Festival Roskilde Festival;
03 Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter Festival
03 Belfort, France - Les Eurockeennes TBC
08 Kristiansand, Norway - Odderoya: Quart Festival
10 Balado, Scotland - T In The Park Festival;
10 Naas, Ireland - Punchestown Racecourse: Oxegen Festival;

HELP DEMOCRACY: The NME is running a poll on file sharing - vote early, vote, um, just the once.

MICHAEL EAVIS: MORE BEMUSED THAN ANYTHING: Woah, watch the spat spiral out of control like a not-entirely-well sealed mixing bowl. Earlier, you'll recall, Justin was reported as calling Eavis a cunt and so on. Now, talking exclusively to, Eavis has responded:

They were fantastic here (last year). We recognised their talent straight away. We weren’t looking for The Darkness this year. It’s rare for a band to play two years running. But we were right on the case there, we really were."
"(Last year) we recognised the fact they were really good and there’s no suggestion that we rubbished them or thought they wouldn’t make it. No suggestion of that whatsoever."
"I hope at some point I can get some kind of apology because he’s got it all wrong. I’d like to meet the fella face to face and see what his gripe really is."

He just sounds really bemused by the whole thing. We're assuming that someone's kept the jibe about Glastonbury being about wearing hats from him, though, because that would really have got the sparks flying.

DOWNLOAD THE LITTLE FELLA: Whatever Prince's worries about how God would view his back catalogue, he's happy to make quite a lot of it available in return for some cold, hard cash. Which he shall probably spend feeding the poor, helping the disadvantaged, and spary painting cows purple. Prince is putting his self-released recent stuff online for download at ninety nine cents a pop, leading to some to figure that that deal he's just made to Sony is his way of sticking it to what we still call round here "The Man." Theory is that he takes a single album to Sony, who invest heavily in promotion of the little funker - in short, paying for his advertising campaign for his own download store. Writing in the Boston Globe, Larry Katz takes this logic a step further:

"Imagine new CDs by Eminem, Norah Jones, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce made available online at each artist's own website. After all the talk about illegal downloading destroying the music industry, it could be legal downloading that puts the big record companies out of business."

NO FAGS: Southern Ireland has just banned smoking from its pubs and clubs, which is causing some odd concern that the new rules might harm indie music in the country. Derek Nally, who books acts for Wheelans and The Village in Dublin, frets that "people go to great lengths to see established acts and won't be put off by the ban, but smokers might think twice about going to see new acts now." Eh? If it was just gigs that were affected, you could perhaps see his point, but since you can't smoke anywhere in Ireland that is termed a "workplace" it's not like Johnny Cigarettes will think "I would have gone to see Liquid Greek tonight, but as I can't flash up a tab in there, I'll go to the pub instead."

In fact, the only real music-related casualty of the ban will be you'll no longer be down the front when some twat attempting to mosh with a blazing Rothmans in his or her hand keeps knocking into you, covering your clothes in those tiny little holes. Or, in summer, making your arms look like an obsessive Manics fan's. Now all they need to do is clear out the ubertwats who have a problem grasping the basic nature of liquids and why they're not acceptable in mad-dancing situations, and Dublin might become the only place in these islands where you can dervish yourself silly without wrecking your entire wardrobe with burnholes and lager stains.

DARKNESS VERSUS GLASTO: The whole 'why aren't the Darkness at Glasto' row isn't going away, although it seems to be more a case of the press poking both sides with sticks to make them growl. Justin Hawkins is reported in The Sun [so approach with caution] as saying:

Eavis is a cock. We don't deal with fucking arseholes. We were speaking to all the big events before Christmas and Glastonbury was on the list.
But Eavis said he thought we wouldn't be around for the festival in June. It's his loss.
Hawkins denied rumours the group had asked for £1million to play the Somerset event. "Our decision not to play Glastonbury is nothing to do with cash. Of course we asked for a lot - we're the best band around.
Michael Eavis is just annoyed that he missed the boat. He came back to us after he realised his mistake. But it was too late. We'd already agreed to do the Carling Festival for a lot less money. So he's lost out."
"Glastonbury is all about sitting in a field and buying funny hats. When I go to a festival it's because I want to see bands and like the line-up. I never went to Glastonbury until we played there. But me and our drummer Ed Graham went to Reading for five years on the trot as fans.
"I would say go to Reading, which is about the music. Don't bother with Glastonbury unless you want to stand in a field and be healed. Reading is about the rock. It's been one of my ambitions to headline Reading. It's part of British musical history. It's legendary. It's the big one."

Hmmm. Well, not really, it's the second one and really doesn't have the same cachet as Glastonbury does. And something about this doesn't quite ring true - doesn't Emily Eavis do most of the booking now rather than Michael? And while this time last year it might have been 50-50 if there'd be a Darkness in summer 2004, surely nobody "before Christmas" would have thought it a risk to book the band?

Hello to everyone from the Darklings board, by the way.

THE CAT IN THE TARTAN HAT: What, do you think, Jay Kay means when he says Scotland has "inspired" the new Jamiroquai album? It would be kind of cool if he meant that he's been listening to a lot of Josef K, Fire Engines and Orange Juice and had abandoned his tiresome rheummy-Kravitz funk in favour of a slightly more indie sound, but I suspect all it really means is he desperately needed to rush out a press release to remind everyone that he's still alive and the most interesting thing he could think of is "I've been to Scotland recently."

Although it could mean he's got bagpipes on the new record. Jay Kay knows all about puffed-up wheezy old bags, having once been engaged to Denise Van Outen.

Monday, March 29, 2004

VINES FAR FROM FINE: Judging by the Chicago Tribune review, it looks like the Vines could be half-way to screwing up another crack at America:

Watching a band disintegrate is not a pretty sight. But self-destruct is exactly what The Vines did Friday at the sold-out Vic in front of a dissatisfied audience, many of whom booed and stormed the exits before the group's brief 45-minute set came to a merciful end.
The Australian quartet made headlines two years ago for its bratty behavior and post-grunge sound. But the band's meltdown, which came only three days after the release of its lackluster sophomore album, gives credence to the notion that The Vines were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time, having gotten caught in the 2002 garage-rock maelstrom triggered by The Hives and The Strokes.
From the moment he set foot onstage, vocalist Craig Nicholls sounded and acted out of sorts. Though later in the show, he played martyr by claiming he was sick and yet still chose to perform, his prima donna antics and cavalier attitude were more indicative of desperation and drunkenness.
Nicholls' voice was in tatters, and his sloppy guitar playing came off like an obnoxious prank. He slurred words, intentionally sang out of tune, bleated like a sheep, laughed at himself and made up nonsensical lines. During a few songs, he failed to sing any actual lyrics.
All the while, his bandmates looked on in disgust. Trying to stave off further embarrassment, the rhythm section tried to keep a steady beat and some sense of composure. But with Nicholls berating the fans (he called them "disgruntled cows" and "[expletive] morons"), stumbling around, indiscriminately sticking out his tongue and head-butting the microphone, The Vines should have just apologized and aborted.
After Nicholls disappeared for a while, the group managed to return for four semi-coherent songs. But the most memorable impression wasn't musical; it was the sight of what looked like the parent of a teen concertgoer flipping off The Vines from the front row of the balcony.

This doesn't look good - and, frankly, we wouldn't take this from Puddle of Mudd so it's not clear why The Vines should be able to get away with it. Unless they pull together pretty quick, they're going to end up going nowhere - it's unlikely they'd get offered a third chance to burn through record company money in the US, and we calculate they'll have already alienated 18 per cent of their potential market beyond recapture. The worst thing, of course, is all this makes joint co-headliners Jet seem professional, and that's got to be wrong.

[Big thanks to Matt M for the heads-up]

TOO RUDE FOR DOWN SOUTH: More post-Janet ridiculous behaviour, with am Alabama music festival dumping Twista because the rapper is "too rude." The City Stages organisers were warned they'd lose their USD200,000 public funding from Jefferson County if they didn't drop Twista from their line-up. Faced with an all-or-nothing choice, the promoters had little choice but to bow to the demand.

NAMES FOR THINGS: Yesterday, The Darkness' Justin Hawkins had a street in their home town named after them. Today, their local Zoo has named a giraffe named after him. Tomorrow, inspired by Doonesbury's claims that Donald Trump was going to rename himself after himself, we're expecting Justin to announce that he's renaming the band Justin Hawkins.

DETOX DUMPED, REACH FOR THE BEERS INSTEAD: Dr Dre's four years in the making album Detox has been dropped, according to Dre who says that "I'm pretending it's been scrapped. Although maybe it never really existed in the first place. Perhaps I just made up the album in a bid to keep my record company happy and for the last few years I've been living a lie, telling them it's coming, but then not really having anything beyond an A4 pad with the words 'Drums from 'Hard Knock Life'?', Is Nancy Sinatra dead?' and 'Beyonce - could I use this as an excuse to get her to sing naked?' written on in ink. And a doodle of a bunny-rabbit with lasers coming out its eyes. I mean, I went into the studio, sure, and even switched some tape machines on - I've got a sixteen track loop of me spitting in a bucket and the sound of the cleaner screaming when I hid naked behind the door and jumped out on her - but nuttin' that adds up to a whole album. And then it struck me this morning - I'm Doctor Fucking Dre, if I don't deliver shit, what are they going to do? Can me? So I decided to say it's been scrapped. And this way, I can stick a CD of all the offshoots of Eminem and Busta Rhymes sessions up on Ebay under a false name claiming it's a genuine leak of Detox, and I'll be quids in." But in a really quiet voice, so we think only we heard him.

DARK, GREEN AND WHITE: The Reading/Leeds Toilet Burning Festival line-up has been finalised with headliners pegged as The Darkness, The White Stripes and, um, Green Day - which reminds us, whatever happened to Alien Ant Farm? Tickets costs a not inconsiderable GBP105 with a limit of eight per Ebay Tout ("household".) Day passes cost "just" forty-five quid.

WHY ALL OF BOYZONE ARE UGLY: If we're meant to believe Louis Walsh, Colin Farrell auditioned for Boyzone was scuppered by his obvious charm, good looks and warm personality. Manager Louis Walsh remembers: "It was obvious Colin would be the favourite in the group. All the girls were watching him at the audition. Colin certainly looked the part, even if he couldn't sing at all well. But then none of them could." No, seriously, they turned down Farrell because he would have outshone the already-signed Ronan Keating. That must have been one hell of an audition session, trying to find people who were less than Keating - what would the criteria have been? "We'll take the first four who don't clear their throats if we ignore them when they walk in?"

NO, IN GOD'S NAME, NO: So, you get in Russell T Davis to overhaul the writing; you try and wipe out the memory of Sylvester McCoy by calling up a proper, nuanced actor like Christopher Ecclestone to take over the role of the doctor. So why on earth would you repeat the Bonnie Langford error by picking Billie Piper to play Doctor Who's companion?.

There's a nice attempt at jiggling history in the BBCi report, which suggests that Billie has "shunned the music world in favour of acting." That would be "shunning" in the sense of sniffing "I'm so bothered anyway" when she turned up at Music Inc. and found her desk had been cleared, her door pass didn't work, the woman on reception wouldn't make eye contact with her and just kept mumbling "You'll have to speak to the management" and someone from accounts who happened to be walking through the entrance hall made some half-arsed mutterings about how "we'll have to do farewell drinks some time, only not this week as I'm playing squash with Charlotte Church."

I BELIEVE THE PHRASE IS 'WAKING UP TO YOURSELF': It comes to something when you even bore yourself, but Will Young has admitted that his new book (co-authored by Will Young) is dull. Nothing he says or does in 'Will Young: On Camera, Off Duty' comes anywhere near his comments about the book:

"The book is mainly pictures and polaroids. But do feel in that book I'm really pretty boring. I really don't have too much to say. It's totally true."

Of course, when he was accused of being too wimpy, he responded by making the Leave Right Now video, which showed him having a little tantrum at an art opening, so on this basis, we can expect his next video to feature him engaging his local butcher in an interesting conversation about EastEnders.

BALLADOBIT: 19 year old ballader Adan Sanchez has died in a car crash in Mexico city. Sanchez had followed his father Chalino Sanchez into the family business of recording Spanish-language songs and had been building a strong fan base over nine albums. His father died in 1992 after being kidnapped. The car Adan was riding in blew a tyre and rolled off the road, police reports say.

UNBELIEVABLE COMEBACKS CONTINUE: This time - it's the Neil Sedaka revival. Thanks, Clay Aiken.

LEGWARMERS OPTIONAL: Remember The Eighties has news of a whole shed of reissued, repackaged, repackaged stuff coming out again soon - the demand for the original Bucks Fizz albums (Bucks Fizz, Are You Ready, Hand Cut and I Hear Talk) even with extra tracks remains to be seen (although the picture on the sleeve of Are You Ready - Fizz in parachute gear - is oddly erotic; Adolescent Sex, Obscure Alternatives, Quiet Life and the compilation Assemblage come round again for Japan, although disappointingly with new artwork; The Lotus Eater's often overlooked No Sense of Sin and Landscape's so-so From The Tearooms Of Mars To The Hellholes Of Uranus are also being revived. Stray Cats entire back catalogue is going to be re-rolled while Bow Wow Wow get a new best of, Blondie have a rarities collection and best of all... Five Star's System Addict single has been given a 2004 makeover.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

IT'S ANOTHER LOCK-UP: Odd goings-on at the High Court, where the former nanny to Dolores O'Riordan and husband Don Burton's kid is suing her former employers.

The nanny, Joy Fahy, claims the couple falsely imprisoned her in Canada, by withholding her passport; that Dolores went into one big style (although she didn't use tanks and bombs) and that Burton made the following wonderful reference to Larry Mullen, who Fahy had previously worked for:

"You don't get it do you? My wife is Bono , she's not fucking Larry, she's Bono."

Which is true - she is almost as irritating self-satisfied as her fellow Irish singer.

Fahy is suing for ten thousand in the Dublin High Court, following an even bigger falling out:

Matters came to a head in June 1999 during a trip to Canada when she said she was asked to look after the baby alone for a week without a car, mobile phone and eight miles from the nearest shop. The property was next to an unfenced lake and there was no food except for a tin of pasta that was out of date.
When Miss Fahy told O'Riordan she did not feel comfortable with the idea, having only been with the baby for seven weeks, the singer allegedly "went ballistic".
Miss Fahy told the court O'Riordan grabbed the baby from his pram and walked off towards the lake "screaming and crying" followed by her mother, Eileen.
Mr Burton emerged from a drinking session with friends and demanded to know what had upset his wife.
When Miss Fahy told him, he allegedly replied: "You are going home. You're fucking fired and you know jack-shit about horses. You are fired and will get your passport when I feel you should."
She said she barricaded herself in a room until her passport was returned and flew to Ireland the next day.
When she returned to Limerick to retrieve her belongings Miss Fahy, from Batterstown, Co Meath, found some items in bin bags covered with fly repellent for horses.

Of course, this still makes Dolores a model parent compared with Bobby 'I thought I told someone to mail a cheque' Brown. The family deny her story and the case will continue next week.

OH DEAR, WHAT CAN THE MATTER BE?: You'd not expect much in the way of hell-raising on a Barenaked Ladies tour - perhaps a few unwanted pizzas sent to They Might Be Giants' studio, or some beds made apple-pie order. Which is why the arrest of Howie Day for locking of a woman in his bus toilet while supporting on a barenaked tour comes as something of a surprise. Day had apparently tried to hit on a lady and, when she made some response along the lines of "not if you were wearing Geri Halliwell's boots", he locked her in his tour bus toilet. Another woman tried to call the cops so, it's alleged, Day smashed up her mobile phone. Day realises this would be stepping over some sort of line, allowing "That was probably wrong of me. But I felt violated." Admittedly, the tablets of stone weren't entirely clear on whether or not smashing a mobile phone would be considered sinful, so Day's uncertainty is understandable. But you have to feel sympathy for him - which of us wouldn't feel it a terrible violation to have someone try and get the police to meddle in a perfectly innocent locking-a-woman-in-a-bus-bog event? We'd all feel a little violated, I think.

Day has been released on bail.

SURFOBIT: Jan Berry, the 'jan' in Jan and Dean, has died in LA at the age of 62. Still suffering brain damage after the 1966 car crash which effectively ended his career, Berry's wife reports that on Friday he had a seizure and stopped breathing.

Originally, the duo had been Jan and Arnie, with Berry paired up with Arnie Ginsburg. Soon enough, Dean Torrence returned from active duty and joined his old friend. In the early 1960s Jan and Dean had defined the surf sound with hits including Deadmans Curve and The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, the pair working extensively with the Beach Boys until their respective record labels stepped in to stop such hi-jinks.

Although - perhaps aptly - riding high on a crest at the time of the car crash, it's likely the Jan and Dean story hadn't had much left to run anyway. Berry had received the details of his draft to go and fight in Vietnam on the morning of his crash; ironically, he'd also been forced to issue his first solo single on the subject of America's war in Asia when Dean had refused to be credited on the 'Universal Coward' track Jan had created. A shocking piece of gung-ho attacks on conscientious objectors, The Universal Coward would probably find a lot of heads nodding in agreement in the modern White House, with its lyric suggesting that the USA has to be the policeman of the world. Besides being politically suspect, the lyrics were poorly written, suggesting that the coward would "run from an elf" purely so that there was a rhyme for the pay off that "most of all he's just running from himself."

THE DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN: Councillors in Lowestoft are running against the usual stereotype of fusty, rock-hating types by planning to name a Lowestoft street after Hawkins and co - although it seems more likely to plump for a Hawkins way than a Darkness Close, which isn't really going to go down well on a Barratt Estate. After the nonesense on the other side of the country when Brian Jones was deemed to be an unacceptable person to name a street in Gloucester after, it's strike back for rock-themed roads.

WORDS NOT PICTURES: On Wednesday, we told you the tale of a man called Dale who tracked Geri Halliwell down on the internet to show her his tattoo, which the Grimsby Telegraph had reported of as being "of her." Dale's been in touch to tell us that he doesn't actually have Geri's face in ink on his legs:

I am e-mailing you regarding something you have posted on your blog.
 It is dated Wednesday 24th March.  My name is Dale, im the boy you're taking the piss out off on your little website.
Please, get the facts RIGHT before posting?  The tattoo is her LOGO and is on my LEG, just above my ankle.
 There are alot of Geri Halliwell fans in the world, and yes, I am proud of being one of the biggest, if not the biggest.  Why is this a problem?!
If you want to comment about the story, maybe ASK me first, then post it.  Shit like that just blows ass..

We're sorry for blowing the ass of the shit, and are happy to make clear that Dale's tattoo isn't of a face but a word. We're still not convinced there are "a lot" of Geri Halliwell fans in the world, mind.

YOU’D NOT CATCH ME IN A TIGHT SWEATER, OH NO: Thank god someone’s prepared to stand up and say “enough’s enough” when it comes to raunchy pop stars. Jessica Simpson has had enough of Britney Boob-tube who, shockingly, has a sexy image:

"You don't need to be going there unless your career is based on that sort of thing, and mine certainly isn't.Unfortunately, in today's society, you have to be everything, and sex sells. I think she knows what works for her and what's gotten her to where she is right now. I don't think we see eye-to-eye on the situation, because for me, I would rather sell my music. I don't want it to be about my sexuality.”

It’s a difficult thing to stand up and be counted in this high-pressure music world, and so we’d like to applaud Jessica’s decision to not be sold on her sexuality. But we’re not sure she should be setting her sights on Britney as the worst offender - how about going after the pop strumpet who gave this interview:

Are you shooting for a sexier image with this album?
Well, it’s not like I sat down and said, “I’ve got to change my image.” I’m just more grown-up now, and I’ve become more sophisticated. I don’t think I’m any different than any other 21-year-old.
Do you feel sexier?
My sexiness comes from a newfound confidence. When you’re younger, you struggle with self-esteem, especially when pictures of you are everywhere. Once you feel that you’ve grown into your body and your mind, your confidence level goes a lot higher. I think my sexiness exudes from that. There are always people who think, Oh, that’s too sexy, and others that think, Oh, it’s not sexy enough. But it’s most important to satisfy yourself.
Do you think [your parents] attitudes might have had something to do with the fact that you developed early?
I remember when I was in fifth or sixth grade, my mom was, like, “Jessica, you have to wear a bra,” and I’d say, “But people are going to make fun of me!” So I’d wear a sports bra, all the way until junior high. Then I couldn’t hide them anymore. Guys would talk to me and never look me in the face. And they still keep me from wearing things that I’d like to. I just can’t fit into some things without showing too much cleavage.
Are you comfortable around men?
In general I like hanging out with guys more than girls. Guys are never competitive with you or giving you the evil eye from across the room. I’m kind of the opposite of most girls, because when I’m going out with other girls I have to wear my best outfit and a push-up bra. If I’m hanging out with a guy, I can throw on old jeans and a sweatshirt and be totally comfortable.

That would have been, of course, Jessica Simpson carefully not basing her career on “that sort of thing” in Maxim:

thank god she’s not selling herself on her body