Saturday, April 24, 2004

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Tommy Mottola has finally started to try and rebuild his position in the music industry by pushing a frightening act Hello, Paedos ("Not So Sweet Sixteen") - or NSSS for "short." You don't need to wonder what they look like - all pert breasts, crop tops and pouts like teenagers shopping with Mum in Asda. The press release pushing them is a minor classic:

Tommy Mottola Makes a Comeback With Not So Sweet 16
Tommy Mottola makes a definite come back with his new girl group
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 23, 2004 -- One of the most powerful record label moguls, Tommy Mottola does it again by signing NSS16 to his record label- CASABLANCA RECORDS. Not So Sweet 16 is already receiving highly acclaimed reviews by notoriously high ranking radio DJs Nasty Nes who broke Mariah Carey’s first record that went platinum, and Yoshi the exclusive Tristate DJ. “This joint is FIYAH!” continues to be the sentiments of the radio DJs across the country. DJ Yoshi reveals, "This is going to be a HIT!” This single is sure to be played at every club and radio station. The release date is April 20th, 2004.

It really is almost as if Tom believes there's a chunk of record buying people out there who give a shit about who the A&R person who signed an act is - "blimey, I hear Larry Greasespotnik signed this act, they really must be something..." -which is the only possible reason why the release focuses on him rather than the band he's supposedly selling. Having said which, there's so little to say about the band - "another bunch of Destinys Child would-bes, woefully short of a Beyonce" not sitting well in a release - you can kind of understand why they did it. It was worth a shot, but when the band is being sold on the bloke who owns their label, you might as well just unroll the black and yellow tape round the scene and call the coroner.

And the record is "sure to be played at every club and radio station" - maybe, just maybe, it's so amazing that there won't be a dancefloor complete without the tune. But even so, we're betting that there'll be loads of Classic Rock, AOR, classical and speech stations that don't decide to mess with their format to fit it in.

We're not sure why a high-ranking DJ would be "notoriously" so; nor what a "highly acclaimed review" would be - one that's exquistely written, we guess. Most puzzling of all is why a release to promote a record released on April 20th is dated April 23rd. Perhaps that explains why it reads like it was written in a total rush, without time for a check-through: later on, much is made of Mottola's back catalogue: Carly Simon, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez Destiny Child and Celine Dion. Now, leaving the punctuation for Lynne Truss to pick over, Destiny Child?

Oddly, the release finds much space to say what a top bloke Mottola is, and how good the band's manager is ("Not So Sweet 16 manager is GRAMMY WINNER- Greg Lawson. Mr. Lawson is responsible for hits such as Jennifer Lopez’s LOVE DON’T COST A THING, Ginuwine’s song, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Anastasia and many more." He was responsible for Ginuwine's song, was he? Does Ginny have just the one?), and to enthuse over the bloke who made the video. But nowhere does it find room to mention the names of the girls who make up the band. It all comes across as shockingly low-budget. And believe me, we know low-budget when we see it.

The last line, though, is the triumph: "Mr. Mottola will prove once again with this group why he has the respect from every artist and fan in the music and entertainment industry. " Now, that is just so factually inaccurate as to be a surprise anyone could type it with a straight face.

BACK TO SQUARE ONE: Apparently, that's where Whitney Houston headed as soon as Bobby Brown got all that unpaid child support business sorted, forgetting her whole going through rehab thing astonishingly quickly: As Eurweb tartly observes, "Things are pretty bad when someone's momma has a prayer vigil for them and they're still alive. Cissy Houston, praying mother of Whitney, held one for her daughter on April fifth."

A BIT EXTRA FROM THE ELLIS BEXTOR: Sophie Ellis-Bextor has given birth to a baby boy. The boy, Sonny, was delivered by Cesearian eight weeks early after doctors discovered Sophie was suffering from pre-eclampsia, a condition marked by dangerously high blood pressure. Both mother and Sonny are doing well, but are expected to remain in hospital for a while.

WHIGFIELD!: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong hasn't died in a car crash.
Sometimes, the internet lies.

WITH YOUR BRIEFS AND YOUR WIGS AND YOUR WIGS AND YOUR WITNESS BOXES: Dolores O'Riordan has taken the stand in the really ugly battle between the Cranberries singer and her former nanny.
She told the court that the nanny's suggestions her husband Don Burton drank excessively wasn't true - "he never drinks during the day... maybe in Hawaii on the beach, but not in the house." (Although we have to be honest here: when you've got a half bottle of Drambuie, everywhere's a beach in Hawaii). Dolores didn't deny making the suggestion that her child be dunked in cold water to wake him up, so that he'd sleep through the night instead, but claims it was an "idea that came out of joke." Her take on the events in Canada which lead to the shattering of relations was that Joy Fahy had announced she wanted to go back to Ireland, at what was an innoportune moment. Fahy claims Burton was abusive and drunk at this point; O'Riordon conceeds that Burton "gave out" to the nanny. (No, we don't know quite what that means.)

The case continues on Tuesday, with the cross-examination of Dolores.

Friday, April 23, 2004

ROCK SICKLIST: Get well soons to Griffin's Pete Beck, recently hit by a heart attack, throwing the Norwegian metallers into a period of cloudy futures.

Meanwhile, already having got well soon is ex-AC DC bassist Mark Evans, hospitalised this week after a taxi he was a passenger in got rear-ended.

HOW GOES THE WAR ON TERROR?: There's been some comment over the last couple of years suggesting that America's intelligence services have taken their eye off the ball somewhat, ignoring real risks to play Robocop on soft targets. Well, that's all changed, with the news that the FBI are cracking down on School District computers. Yes, you and I might think they'd have better things to do than lock up school admin offices while they seek out downloaded music files, but that would be why we're not in the FBI, wouldn't it?

In a dawn raid - dawn raid - dozens of FBI guys (all carrying guns and wearing those natty little jackets like Agent Cooper swarmed over the offices of Deer Valley School District, Arizona, sealing the building off from the public who paid for it, seizing computers and turning away staff. Fox jumped to the child porn conclusion, but it was part of a sweep ordered by John Ashcroft, a man with so little to do, he's happy to waste resources doing the record companies' bidding. There were over a hundred other raids around the world as part of the same operation, called Operation Fastlink.

GOOD NEWS FOR ARSES: Kiril writes to ressure us that they won't kick out the butt from New Orleans:

Have no fear, the ass will not be illegalized in New Orleans. The legislator in question is a first-termer from Marrero, a suburb of NO, who simply filed the bill to outlaw low-riding jeans and such. Marrero is, in fact, a style-less, soulless area of pawn shops and churches whose only saving grace is its proximity to Orleans Parish, though God wisely placed a toxic stretch of the Mississippi river between the two areas to limit cross-breeding. This is precisely the sort of proposal that no-name politicos put forward in an attempt to get priests and preachers to praise them in church during election years, and probably would happen with or without the traumatic memory of Janet Jackson's armored udder. Louisiana politics seems  strange to outsiders, I know, but this bill will not be voted on. I garr-awn-tee.

BAD NEWS FOR CRACK ADDICTS: New Orleans joins the post-Janet Jackson moral panic, by moving to outlaw low-riding trousers: on stage or even in the street. Bunch of arse.

OH, THAT'S CHEERED US UP NO END: The sun is out, the sky is blue, there's not a cloud to spoil the view, and then bloody Jet pitch up and announce they've got another album's worth of material ready to go. It shouldn't come as a surprise, I guess - it's not like they'd have to sit around waiting for inspiration. The good news is they're going to spend time in the studio:

"The only thing for me is whether we have time between albums to sit back and layer the songs, work them out, figure them out, so they're really comfortable."

Yes, you do that, boys. Make sure anything approaching a rough edge is smoothed away. Take your time, see how comfortable you can make them - like a pair of slippers, perhaps, or an old cardigan where the pocket has been slightly mis-shapen from the years of carrying round a bag of Werthers Originals.

"It looks like we're gonna have that kind of time, because we've been successful enough to tell the record company how long we wanna spend in the studio. A lot of bands don't get that privilege, because for whatever reason they didn't sell enough records. Jet's not gonna be in that position."

And take full advantage of it, boys. We recommend that you spend at least seven or eight years in the studio. We'll send dinner over. And someone to check on you every week or so. Just don't come back out until you're really satisfied.

THEY MAY WANT TO HEADLINE THIS ONE "SATIRE": There's a pretty good Pitchfork parody over at Something Awful at the moment, although it's better for its list of Pitchforky band names - Polyp Basket, Placeless Faceless Scars and the wonderful Mars Needs Semen. [Via The Major Fall...]

WE'LL KEEP VOTING UNTIL YOU GET THE RIGHT ANSWER: So, as Britain tries to contain its excitement at getting to vote on a European Constitution, most people are just a little worried that if we don't deliver the answer Tony Blair wants, we'll be forced back to the polls every Thursday for another go. Certainly, the strongest argument in favour of a Yes vote (besides, of course, that it makes perfect sense and is a good idea) is because nobody wants to spend the rest of Blair's time as PM being berated for having rejected the idea. Because give people a free choice, and sometimes they'll fuck it up, as American Idol viewers demonstrated. Surely its the first time a vote has been so stupid that even the host starts to berate the people who called in? Ryan Seacrest started to admonish the audience after they kicked out Jennifer Hudson:

and left in Charles Kennedy:

Erm, John Stevens, whose sole saving grace was that he's a nice bloke. Of course, with such a bizarre decision being made, there's piles of conspiracy theories circulating: racism, obviously; but also Hudson's home town had been experiencing a storm which cut their phone lines and TVs while the show aired, costing her potentially thousands of votes in what was a very close call.

We're not sure, though, why the Americans are surprised that the blank, empty eyes of a nice-but-dim young boy are staring at the prize: surely they knew that was part of the format when they bought it?

I AM A LITTLE PIXIE: News of Bjork reaches us, delivered - as is the usual way - by tiny-little elf telegrams tied to the neck of some crows. She's planning to put out her new album, called The Lake Experience at some point in the Autumn so, um, beware the judder man when the moon is fat. She's also going to release a bunch of live albums, and we don't think we can better Pitchfork's assessment of these as being little more than an attempt to establish scientifically exactly how easily a fool and his money might be parted:

Employing similar strategies to those used by Lt. Robert Pollard to fell entire armies of pocketbooks, Björk is once again set to milk her rabid fanbase for every potential penny with no less than four live albums-- one for every album she's released. Slated to hit stores on June 1st, Debut Live, Post Live, Homogenic Live and Vespertine Live will feature live renditions of every song from their respective original LPs in the exact same running order. And for optimum dollar-fetching, the discs will be released individually, freeing them from the exclusive and intricate case design of her recent and massive box set. Additionally, those of you who enjoy listening to music in the smallest possible medium will be pleased to hear that the LPs are being issued on outmoded MiniDisc, for whatever reason.
This move comes on the heels of other meaningless fans-only Björk releases, which to date include nearly 60 slightly varying CD singles, a whopping seven box sets (some of which compile said singles), a greatest hits package, and like ten DVDs. There's satiating the endless needs of your fanbase, and then there's just being evil. Class-action, anyone?

MAKES YOU WONDER EXACTLY HOW USELESS THE OTHERS ARE: Anthony Costas has reckoned there's at least another two years left in Blue, and that the band would fall apart of Lee Ryan left. Yeah, a band without Smart Boy in wouldn't be able to find their own way downstairs in the morning, would they? Costas - speaking bent double, with his head wedged in a large pot of sand - dimissed the rumours:

"It's just rumours that Lee is leaving or that we are falling apart. Nearly three-and-a-half years down the line it is still upsetting that people put out these rumours because people believe them. It's hard on the fans but we are still together.
If anyone left we would have to split because Blue are four. Westlife can get away with it because there are four of them left. If one of us left, it wouldn't work with just three of us. It's just not a nice number."

We're not sure he quite meant to say "it's hard on the fans but we are still together" - surely it's harder on everyone else? - and we wonder if he's ever stopped to think why the rumours are that Lee's always the one who's going to go solo? Does he stay up at night hoping that tomorrow's Bizarre column will have a small piece 'Costas to go it alone'?

We're also delighted by the mathematical precision that he's used in calculating the future. Three is "not a nice number" - if only he'd explain why. Although the Bee Gees do spring to mind.

He concluded by telling the Daily Record that he'd like to try acting "but he wouldn't rule out singing." Well, it'd make a change.

BIG BAND OBIT: Harry Babbitt, the voice behind Woody Woodpecker's laugh, has died at the age of 90 in Newport Beach. Babbitt provided Woody's laugh on the Kay Kyser Band's 1948 novelty hit; he also offered more conventional vocals on the orchestra's other hits. His high voice was put to good use on 'All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth'. it was with the band that he also made several movies. In 1964, Babbitt retired from showbiz and became a realtor, although he made a comeback in 1985 when he bought the rights to Kyser's band name and back catalogue from Kay Kyser's widow. He toured up until the mid 90s.

DARE WE SUGGEST THEY'RE JUST JEALOUS?: EMI are taking EA, the video games people, to court, in a slightly convoluted battle over uncleared rights. EA have apparently used a song on several of their sports titles which features a track which quotes lyrics from a song used by EMI (with us so far?); EMI claim EA tried to licence the words from them across 2003 but then went ahead and released the games anyway. It's worth noting in their deposition, EMI demand a slice of the "tens of millions of dollars profit" they believe the games have made - which might account for the sour grapes: A few titles from EA's sports catalogue are out-performing the whole of EMI. Bitter?

WE'RE NOT SURE HOW OFFICIAL THIS IS: ... but there's pretty much the whole of the Brian Jonestown Massacre back catalogue available for mp3 download at the moment.

LOVE HEADING FOR A SHACK?: Guess what? There's more trouble for Courtney Love, this time threatening the roof over her head, as the owners of her building claim Courtney's USD18,000 behind with rent and fees for her New York condo.

I SHALL CALL YOU MINI-ME... AND I'LL CALL YOU THAT, TOO. AND YOU: We're not entirely sure we're buying the story that Beyonce has hired fifteen decoys to distract the press from her holiday in St Tropez. For a start, where would you find fifteen women who looked like Beyonce?

ELLISON AND ON: Ridiculous lamb-faced "babe" Jennifer Ellison has been having a rough time of it since she quit Brookside to become a big singing star - the music world didn't really welcome her with open arms; a move to Hollywood (or at least Pinewood) wound up with most of her contribution to the Phantom of the Opera being left for the cleaners to sweep up; her boyfriend has managed to drag her deeper and deeper into Liverpool's placcy gangster "war", and now she can't even go and pick up the strings at Brookie, because the soap's been axed. There's only one option left (this side of a light porn career): Hollyoaks. They really deserve each other.

LEWIS CAROLS: Amid rumours that Keith Flint has quit, and with seven years elapsed since their last outing, the Prodigy need to pull something special out the bag to generate a sense of excitement about their new album. This is what they're pulling out the bag:
Yes, apparently Juliette Lewis is going to be singing on the new album.

As if to avoid the actress-turning-singer, at the same time Kylie is making it known she'd really like to pick up her acting career again. We're betting many years ago she promised her Mum she'd keep the acting up as something to fall back on if the music thing didn't work out. And now that day has come.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The Royal Mail keeps your promises edition
Boy George was grilled by readers of the Independent - nice for him, he loves talking about himself. And Clare Short, who he says is the sexiest politician. He’s asked why the American Critics didn’t like Taboo, replying “This is typical English misinformation. There were four or five really bad reviews and about 20 fantastic reviews. We had reviews saying it was one of the best scores on Broadway in 20 years.” Wonder where that “typical English misinformation” came from - could it be that feature, for example, in the New Statesman last November which dismissed the pile of bad reviews as being motivated by hatred of Rosie O’Donnell? That, of course, was Boy George’s diary.

Over at the Guardian, a week of guest editors for G2 kicked off Monday with Franz Ferdinand offering a naked cock on page three. Thing is, it was a very horrid cock, like a skin tortilla, and not attractive at all. It didn’t go down well other readers, either: someone wrote to the letters page to complain that it was all rather adolescent.

The Face entered what might be its final furlong (apparently there are potential new owners gathered round, although nobody has yet had their money accepted - we’re kind of hoping they’ll put it onto bidup TV, where Peter Simon can take charge of the whole process.) So, the current issue doesn’t actually acknowledge explicitly that this could be the last time, but there’s that general air hanging over proceedings. The whole thing comes with a booklet celebrating “The Face versus Sex”, claiming to be a collection of the sexiest pictures the magazine has run; the cover of the box it all comes in has a permatanned Giselle wearing some tape. It looks not unlike the bag the Loaded Tenth Anniversary issue comes in (also women wearing just tape), except the Loaded covers look like they’re trying a whole lot less. Which sums up part of the Face’s problem - it used to be really sexy, effortlessly so; now it’s reduced to flashing neon lights and putting cards in phone booths.

The magazine proper also has that end of era feeling - there’s a rapprochment between Neil Stevenson on behalf of The Face and Jason Donovan, which is on a par with the NME-Morrissey summit. It’s a curious piece, a great read but almost too perfect a collapse-of-the-hellmouth ending: Donovan explains that the reason why the Face’s allegations stung so much was it was the magazine he most craved approval from, he wanted that kiss of cool. And now here is, being given that kiss - while playing the lead in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s what he once wanted, but does it mean anything now?

There’s also about nine thousand pages of pictures of training shoes. Even The Times does fashion better these days.

The NME has finally come through the postal service - Mike Skinner on the cover, and a delightfully gory picture of the Matt Bellamy incident for the big picture - blood pouring down his face, the similarities with Andrew WK’s fake photoshoots are drawn. In other news, there’s a picture of Pete Doherty with writing all over him, kind of like Willow in the season four finale, but with biro. And it’s not in Greek.

The pick of the news pages, though, is the arrival of Matt Phillips of the BPI to offer comments on the downloading survey from a couple of weeks ago. It’s funny, you know, we could have sworn it was a massive, angry rejection of the BPI’s methods and attitude to downloading, but Matt seems to have read something completely different, thanking the NME for “highlighting the threats downloading poses to new music.” He then trots out the usual mix of emotive language (“stealing”), attempts to counter spin (“Our campaign is not about ‘arresting people for listening to music’”) and talking bollocks: “the good news is that there are already well over 300,000 tracks available legally” - not if you use a Mac, there aren’t; “Of course we want more music to be available to buy. It can’t all be put in place as quickly as we’d like” - why not? The only thing that’s holding up the European launch of iTunes is record company quibbling; the only thing stopping all the big label’s back catalogues being available to buy is the big labels - after all, they’ve had five bloody years to get their systems ready; “It’s disappointing that eighty five per cent of your readers think that downloading doesn’t damage artists. How could it not?” Erm... because, as has been established time after time after time, downloading stimulates sales, in the same way radio play does. There’s then this absolute doozy: “If filesharing continues in the way it has... the industry can only react by investing in fewer artists.” Which would make sense, except that EMI made healthy profits of eighty million quid, and promptly dumped one out of every five of its acts. So why should anyone expect that buying a record is going to in any way lead to investment in new artists?

Razorlight burn a CD, using only illegally downloaded tracks from Serafin, The Undertones and The God Machine.

Peter Robinson takes on Eamon, which is a bit like letting Bamber Gascoigne have a go at Jordan. Sample:
“Do you think there is any sense in which your single could be construed as being lightly misogynistic?”
“Uh... you kill me with these words. I don’t know what these words mean, man.”

“From day one, since I was a sperm, I’ve been the strongest.” That’s Jentina, who’s the British Kelis, says Radar. British because she was born in Woking, but she’s actually based in Miami.

“I dont like there being drugs I haven’t tried. I’ve done GHB ... it’s like drinking a Stella that’s more pilly.” You don’t really interview Mike Skinner, you just transcribe, but John Mulvey has an interesting perspective on why the Streets work, despite enough contradictions to short circuit a laptop in a bath: “All the impulses he displays ... aren’t that special. This is the way we are. It’s just that, unlike Mike, most pop-stars over-simplify their lives when they sing about them.”

The second half of the Morrissey interview is accompanied by a photo of him looking more like Terence Stamp than ever. He also offers Alex Needham some advice on his love life, and its bad news: “Buy yourself a nice budgie. That’s my advice to you... you’ve been roaming the planet for 29 years, and if [love] hasn’t struck you on the head by now I think you’d just better really get used to that television set and get yourself a nice comfortable armchair. You see, when you’re a bit younger you constantly think ‘It’s bound to happen. I’m bound to turn around a certain corner and be faced by life everlasting.’ And it’s a trick of the light, I’m afraid.” Clearly, Mozzer’s revenge for the decade and a half in the wilderness is to crush all hope from the lives of nme writers.

The Bees are kinder to the nme, though, offering thanks for being called ‘dance-craze’, while Goldie Lookin’ Chain share a spliff (more accurately, a Brendon) with the paper and the Zutons piece is done as a cod-Poirot investigation (‘who killed the Zutons’, see?). Two of these three bands are part of this week’s scene, Shroomdelica, which is another one of those that we think won’t be on everyone’s lips in a few weeks (wasn’t it Scouseadelica a few months back?)

pixies - minneapolis - the scariest thing is Frank Black could sit in for Frank on the desk at ER now, and nobody would notice the difference - 9
young heart attack - manchester roadhouse - “cheap, sleazy”, 7
d12 - shepherds busg empire - “the dirty dozen just aren’t dirty enough”, 5
yeah yeah yeahs - glasgow barrowlands - “there’s magic at work”, 8

prince - musicology - “something like form”, 6
patti smith - trampin - “it takes an old master to administer a kick up the arse to the young pretenders”, 8

sotw - the streets - fit but you know it - “a glam-urban lager race of a choon”
the von bondies - tell me what you see - “underlines why they are one of the most average bands in rock & roll”

And finally, Wolfman loves Marvin Gaye.

BRETT'S VANILLA DANISH: Brett Anderson, having kicked both heroin and Suede, is embarking on his solo career by playing a gig in Copenhagen to, um, celebrate the Royal Wedding. Even more oddly, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will be taking part in a gig planned to mark the union of these two:

she has a Pat Nixon coat

Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson. Mary, charmingly, has already had some traditional sealskin clothes made - we don't know if she chose the animals to be bludgeoned to death herself, or left it up to the experts. Um, anyway, back to the music: Brett's planning to do some new stuff as well as the things everyone wants to hear. Apparently. The gigs, called Rock and Royal (a lesson in why you should never try and pun in a foreign language) are seen as a way of involving the ever-elusive young people in the celebrations. All we got when Diana married Charles was a bloody mug, and Frank Bough on the telly mid-afternoon. Hardly seems fair.

MTV SLAMS SELF INTO REVERSE: Having spent the last few years concentrating on producing more and more local output across its global empire, MTV seems to have decided that that's too much like hard work and has announced plans to basically use the same formats and programming worldwide. Hence, there's to be a 'global' edition of its Dismissed dating show, bringing together contestants from all over the planet (that's going to lead to some very successful romances - 'Your place or mine?' 'Well, yours is a fifteen hour flight with two layovers away, and mine is in the heart of a war zone. No, you choose...'); 'international' stars will get the chance to do Cribs - so we'll cut from Ghostface Killah showing us "his" gold-plated home and seventy-nine armoured assault vehicles to Belle and Sebastian giving us a tour of their Galashiels Council Flat - "We've got two lifts... we don't actually collect them, they're just sort of outside the door. Only one of them works, and the other one... [sniffs] yes, it smells of wee and puke..." Amongst "new" ideas is 'Meet & Eat', where fans get the chance to meet their heroes, butcher them with a giant cleaver, and cook their flesh - or perhaps just cook a meal for them, it's still in development.

It's not clear why MTV has changed its mind about imposing cookie-cutter American output onto its worldwide stations - although we're betting it has a lot to do with cutting costs. The 'local-focused' policy had been instigated as a response to the original music network getting its arse kicked all over Europe and the East. Maybe they should just go back to showing videos; like they used to; like they used to be good at?

CURRY SAUCE FOR CHIPS: Remember Kerry McFadden? Go on, try a litttle... that's right, she used to be in Atomic Kitten, and then she was on I'm A Celeb, and since then, she's stood watching her moment bobbing out to sea again. In a desperate bid to remind people that she exists, she's been mulling doing nude photo shoots again - only with curry over her privates. We've been living with this image for a couple of moments, and we're sorry for asking you to do the same, too.

LET'S HOPE HE DIDN'T PULL THE 'I HAVE NOTHING TO DECLARE BUT MY GENIUS' STUNT: It shouldn't really surprise anyone that Morrissey had trouble getting through US immigration - nowadays they seem to be making it tricky to get into the US unless you leave your first born with customs as a sureity - but we're not inclined to believe that anyone could really confuse Mozzer with a terrorist, could they? Unless all that stuff about Maggie on the Guillotine has been noted down somewhere by the FBI and the CIA...

On the other hand, it could just be they didn't believe the man with the lush, black quiff stood in front of them matched the passport photo of a silver-tinged chap with a receeding scalpscape.

ORBITAL POWER DOWN: After fifteen years, Orbital have decided to call it quits and are going to bow out after the next album, Blue. To mark the end of mission, the band are headlining Glastonbury's second stage for their final gig. "This will definitely be our last ever live show" Paul says on the Loopz website, "although I'm sure Status Quo keep telling themselves the same thing."

Highlights of Blue include a collaboration with Sparks and an attempt to recreate the feel of Walter/Wendy Carlos. The brothers are ending it on good terms: the band are winding up not because of musical differences, but because they feel Orbital has "run its course." Something the Gallaghers might like to mull over.

THAT BACK? OVER MY DEAD BODY: Or, at least, we can hope - Robbie Williams has snorted at Gary Barlow's suggestions that Take That are going to be doing something together this year. Williams is reported as saying there's more chance of hell freezing over, which means one of five things:

I) Barlow was drunk and made the whole story up to impress the journalists. It's possible.

II) It's a done deal, just whoever pulls Williams' strings these days hasn't bothered to tell him yet, in much the same way they don't bother to warn the donkeys at Weston-Super-Mare that they'll be back on the beach next month.

III) It's a done deal, but Williams is a bit ashamed that the best he can do for Christmas is going back to the family, so he's trying to pretend it isn't going to happen.

IV) It's not a done deal, and the That camp are trying to bounce Williams into going along with it - after all, who wants to be publicly outed as the reason a reunion fails? (Apart from Agnetha Falkstog, obviously).

V) It's a done deal, but they've realised that people would enjoy seeing the rest of Take That without the whole show being spoiled by William's bounding ego and so they've just not bothered to ask him

WE COULDN'T BE ARSED TO SPEND TIME COMING UP WITH A GOOD HEADLINE: WILL 'I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED KEYHOLE SURGERY' DO?: Justin Hawkins, out of the Darkness, is going to have some work done on his throat. Apparently he gets a thing called acid reflux, which has buggered his oesophagus; he's having "the smallest tube possible" for the keyhole surgery, because there's concerns that the op could impact on his stage performance. Although we're not sure why having a throat op would affect your ability to strut about in a leotard, ourselves.

SOMETHING TO UH-LISTEN TO: We've not had a chance to listen to this yet, but Mark E Smith was a guest on The Cherry Blossom Clinic, and the whole thing is available in either streaming Real or streaming MP3 - even without MES the playlist seems to be worth the dial-up, mixing Pink Grease with Eddie and the Hot Rods. And Dead Moon and Beans.


Nicola from Girls Aloud leaves a KFC

If you do get a job with them, could you try and persuade the Colonel to introduce mashed potato into his British franchises?

EVERYONE WILL BE FEELING SLIGHTLY DIRTY THIS MORNING: Or rather, everyone who's been taking part in that Musical Mystery quiz that's been responsible for 73% of all Google music-related searches this last couple of months. Despite everyone having decided it was George Michael behind it all, thousands of people will be waking up this morning to realise they've been taking part in a Marillion marketing scam. We'd drink a toast to their genius on this one. If we knew any of the names of the people in the band these days. Mind, if we'd known that, we'd have probably won the thousands of pounds in prizes.

HANNETTWEB: It's always nice when something pops up on the internet that makes you wonder why it wasn't there before, and the martin hannett biography project is one of those things. It's seeking any contributions from people who know, or think they know, something about Hannett to help build a huge, collaborative website celebrating the gone-too-soon producer who worked with everyone from Crispy Ambulance to the Kitchens of Distinction, back through New Fast Automatic Daffodils and Durutti Column to New Order and... but you get the point.

BOONE CALLS FOR CENSORSHIP: We were surprised that Pat Boone was still alive, ourselves, so our brain was already swimming before we read what he had to say. The daft old stick is calling for more censorship of artistic works. Things would be different, dammit, if there was a President Boone:

Mr. Boone said that if he were in charge of standards, there would be stringent controls on material.
"It must be majority approved ... voluntary ... and self-imposed," he said, clad in a yellow blazer, black slacks, a canary yellow tie and white leather shoes. "Censorship is healthy for any society, and that goes for arts, entertainment, anything. Self-imposed means that the majority of people say that is what we want, and it can be changed if people's attitudes change, which is how a democratic society works."

We're not quite sure quite how this is meant to work - if censorship is going to be imposed democratically, wouldn't everyone have to see the thing to be censored to be able to make a decision on if it should be banned? And we'd be curious to see if someone who was staunch Reganite would have the same understanding of a "voluntary" system of censorship as, say, us.

In his Washington Times interview, Boone also tries to explain away how a devout Christian who believes in restraining artistic licence came to be doing the theme tune for the fuck-filled swearfest that is The Osbournes:

 "[Ozzy] told me he was trying to attract a family audience," he said.

So, that's alright then.

THE VERY DEIFINTION OF GRUESOME TWOSOME: Last year, Duncan from Blue was given the job of MCing the Party in the Park, the annual charity push for the Princes Trust. He did quite well, and it's always a successful event, raising the sort of money that Prince Charles could only dream about - it's excellent to see someone without much themselves helping out others, isn't it? Anyway, this year, he's getting a co-presenter. Geri Halliwell. Apparently they have "great chemistry" together - yeah, so does sodium and water - and agents ("friends") hope it could lead to "bigger things" for the pair. The only problem is, of course, that Halliwell is totally devoid of talent, and has proven again and again that she doesn't work well in situations which require her to be both thinking and talking. It's also far from obvious why an event aimed at young teens is inviting Geri, 48, to play Cilla Black. One for the parents?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

MAKES YOU KIND OF WISH FOR IAN BROWN TO BE SAT NEXT TO YOU, INSTEAD: There's a long history of pop star misbehaviour on planes, from The Charlatans touching down to be met by cops with guns to the mild-mannered one out of REM trying to play CDs on a drinks trolley and yelling 'I am REM, I can make up a story and get you sacked' (and still being acquitted of air rage charges). The latest bout of a singer making an exhibition of themselves on board a plane, though, is being planned - Sheryl Crow is going to do a gig in the sky. She's doing it to promote the new SonyDigiWalkMan and Sony's download service. Luckily, it's only an internal flight so she'll not be able to play for long.

NOT TONIGHT: Once again, Royal Mail has let us down and so, with no NME, What The Pop Papers Say is going to be appearing this week on Thursday night instead of Wednesday. Sorry.

NOT THE FACE... PLEASE, NOT THE FACE: It is tempting when hearing that Shane McGowan has got facial injuries after being beaten up in a pub to reach for the obvious gags, but actually it sounds like the attack was really nasty - two blokes jumped him in The Joiners Arms toilets in Soho and set about him with metal sticks. Nobody knows who they were, and nobody knows why they did it. Not pleasant at all.

GREAT NEWS FOR PETE DOHERTY: Patsy Kensit has pledged she'll never marry again. The entire rock fraternity breathes a collective sigh of relief. It's incredible that someone who could put up with Jim Kerr decides Liam Gallagher's the final straw, mind.

UNFAB: Gary Hall has published a book that suggests the Beatles aren't all that. Of course, nobody is allowed to suggest anything from Liverpool isn't the greatest without the Liverpool Echo getting up a great huff and puff, and so the newspaper has sought out the great and the good to say exactly why Liverpool's Beatles, from Liverpool are the best thing in the world. Geoff Davies of Probe Plus suggests that they can't be all bad because "even Nigel [Half Man Half Biscuit] likes them"; Stuart Maconie suggests that not liking the Beatles is an "affectation" - apparently because they churned out stuff in so many styles, there should be something there that fits your taste. It's an interesting point, but there are clothes of all styles in TK Maxx, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to hate the place, surely? A lot of the contributors make similar suggestions, that they did so many different sorts of music that nobody could possibly hate it all - Andy McCluskey says "as I got older and less angst ridden I looked back at the Beatles catalogue and realised the quality and quantity [our emphasis] of the stuff was amazing." We understand Barbara Cartland wrote a lot of books, too.

Perhaps the saddest claim comes from Gerry Marsden: "What people have to realise is that if the Beatles hadn't come out of Liverpool no one else would have." Oh, Gerry, could you be more wrong? If the Beatles hadn't happened, then Liverpool wouldn't have spent thirty years desperately trying to break out of their shadow - and there might have been a little less arrogance amongst Beatley sounding bands from the city; if the Beatles hadn't come out of Liverpool, who knows who might have done?

THERE ARE MANY GREAT THINGS ABOUT CHICAGO: The band from the place that shares its name doing Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry (oh, you know we're right); Chicago Town Pizzas; the movie version of High Fidelity. One of the less great things about the place, of course, is its where Billy Corgan was born - the birth was quite fast, but it took three days to persuade the ego to make an appearance. And, worse, Corgan has kicked off his solo live career by performing a bunch of songs about Chicago in Chicago. Short of saying "Please don't hit me, I've got diseases" can anyone else think of a more calculated, please-like-me move?

Now, if he did a cover version of Hard To Say I'm Sorry: then we might start to see if we could respect him.

LONDON CALLING IN A DIFFERENT VOICE: Yesterday, we mentioned the War Child download scheme; today's focus on file-sharing for charity is London Booted , a remix album from Culture Deluxe. It's taken The Clash's London Calling, and given it a thorough working over using a team of highly-trained remix types including Miss Frenchie and Pop Razors. It's all available for download, and all they ask is that you give some money to one of their nominated charities if you fill your bootlegs. Seems fair enough to us.

IS THAT IT?: ABC claims its seen the sort of stuff Michael Jackson's been actually accused of. Waving around documents it reckons are leaked psychologist's reports on the boy at the heart of the case against the now-deposed King of Pop, it details the dirt:

The 45-year-old pop star reportedly gave the elder boy wine to drink and on at least two occasions the child passed out

He reportedly touched the boy inappropriately after he had passed out

He reportedly surfed the internet on a laptop computer with the boy to find images of naked women and asked him to tell people, if they asked, that they had been watching The Simpsons

"Jackson once stood in front of them naked for a moment, as they were watching TV," Mr Katz was quoted as saying

Mr Jackson reportedly played with a mannequin of an 8- or 9-year-old girl in a sexually suggestive manner in front of both boys

It's not quite the latter-day Soddom we were being prepared to believe, is it? Maybe Jackson was wrong to condemn the stories as a big lie - it's more a medium-sized tale, whether true or not.

PERHAPS GUY COULD HELP HER OUT WITH A FEW BOB: Ah, so that's the reason for Madonna suddenly announcing another world tour when she's not really got anything to promote - court documents have revealed the depth of the hole her vanity label Maverick has managed to get itself into. Despite actually managing to sign some proper acts - Muse, Michelle Branch, the Morissette woman - Maverick lost a whopping USD66 million; for Madonna to keep control of the label she's going to have to whistle up nearly a hundred million from someone, to cover unpaid fees, that huge loss and a big loan. If she doesn't cough up - and, frankly, we're not betting she's got that sort of cash just sitting under the clock - Warners will seize control of the label and squeeze it and squeeze it to get their money back. The release of this is all part of the ongoing tussle between Madonna and Maverick, who want to be free to see other parent companies, and Warners, who seem to wish to be shot of the whole thing but desperate to cling on to Alanis.

BACK FOR... WELL, NOT GOOD: Gary Barlow is suggesting that the original Take That line-up in full (i.e. including Robbie Williams) has got plans to reunite in time for Christmas. The project is described by Barlow as "not strictly speaking a concert" - which could have been said of every date the That turned up to mime and dance at during their glory days, of course.

While it's clear what's in it for Gary Barlow and thesweetestmaninpop Mark Owen, it's harder to see what Williams hopes to get out of the regrouping, unless it's a desperate bid to say "Look, I wasn't always a total cunt." And for Jason Orange and Howard Donald, making time in their busy schedules for a comeback date must be quite demanding - perhaps the night it happens, people will just have to get their own damn towels.

BAD COMPANY: Of course, it's always good news to hear that Crawley's finest The Cure are preparing a new album, but it's slightly disappointing that they're reduced to appearing on Ross Robinson's label - Robinson being noted for his work with Korn and Limp Bizkit. It's a bit like Bertrand Russell having a book published by the head of LWT Light Entertainment.

CHRISTIANS! HIDE YOURSELF! (II): Last year, Glastonbury and Leeds managed to avoid repeats of previous mayhem throughout their neighbourhoods. So, it seems that festivals have moved on from their reputation as being major causes of misery for the people unlucky enough to live near the sites. Except, that is, for one of them: The Christian Greenbelt Festival, which is starting to get a name for itself amongst people living around its Cheltenham Racecourse venue as a bit of a nightmare. In 2003, complaints were made about "unruly behaviour" of "apparently drunk people"; to say nothing of the traffic and litter. It's worth remembering that the people who share their area with Greenbelt aren't, like the residents near Glastonbury or Leeds, unused to a spot of disruption - after all, the Cheltenham (horse racing) Festival is held at the course, also attracting large numbers of people, many of whom would enjoy a drink; for the people attending a Christian Music Festival to be so poorly behaved as to try the patience of people used to that is quite something.

CHRISTIANS! HIDE YOURSELF: You just can't trust anyone - anyone - when it comes to filesharing, as it seems a load of God-lovin' youths have been seeking loopholes in the seventh commandment, assuming that filesharing Christian Music is spreading the gospel rather than actual stealing. The Gospel Music Association's John Styll doesn't see it quite that way:

"I’m surprised and disappointed that the behavior isn’t that ardently different between Christians and non-Christians."

It's slightly different, John, as the non-Christians are sharing better music. Barry Landis of Word Records has short shrift for people who try to defend what they're doing as evangalsing:

“That’s convoluted logic,” said Barry Landis, president of Word Records, a major Christian label. “You would never steal Bibles to give them away. You shouldn’t steal Christian music to give away either.”

WHO THE RUDDY CHUFF IS MICHAEL BUBLE?: A question we asked when we were talking about his trumpet. Jana from Radio One in Prague fills in the background:

as for "We don't really know who Michael Buble is (and, to be honest, he sounds like a grade-a chump)"
Well he is so boring this is no surprise. Pop singer, no hits, no recognizable voice, even no interesting stories, looks, no anything. Cannot imagine why someone listens to him. JXL aka junkie xl recently remixed a single of his. the record company that is releasing it told me that junkie xl can be called this (as he was when he was trying to become a dance music star) whereas when the same junkie xl remixed elvis he had to call himself only jxl as elvis family did not want the word "junkie" "connected to elvis. hehehe

A BIG BATTLE: Look at these two, and decide which side you want to take:

The top one is Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who's campaigning to become President of Austria. The lower, of course, is Pink, recently cast as Janis Joplin. And they could soon be facing each other across a courtroom. Ferrero-Waldner, currently her country's foreign minister, was caught having her people hand out leaflets implying Pink's endorsement for her campaign outside one of Ms Moore's gigs. Unfortunately for Benita, Pink isn't the sort of artist who'll simper and shrug that off, and she's instructed lawyers to take action.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

THE RETURN OF THE BAMBOO REVIEW: It seems like ages since we had a review from Becky Bamboo... let's put that right, right now:

The last time I saw Paula Frazer, she played for less than a half hour at the beginning of a packed Noisepop bill. Last Saturday night she got some time to stretch out and show us what she could do. I recognized her backing band as guys from various local acts (including Oranger and The Court & Spark) which either means we have a cool, supportive group of Bay Area musicians, or that the same 5 people play in every single local band. Anyway. Greg Dulli requested her specifically to open for him, telling us later during his set that she's a "jewel in our midst" (presumably not in the snaggle-toothed blonde yodeler kinda way, but in the undiscovered gem kinda way) and that she "sounds like motherfucking Kitty Wells." While I can't speculate on Ms. Wells and her sexual proclivities, I do agree that Paula Frazer is awesome. Her songs are mostly and blues, with some more poppier tunes sneaking in here and there. Her voice gets a little thin when she goes into her higher register, but that's just my nitpicky pet peeve from years of voice lessons and she sticks with her nice warm alto for most of her songs so it's not that big a deal.

The Twilight Singers (who were billed on all the notices as "The Twilight Singers featuring Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs" which makes it sound like he was, like, the bass player in a hugely popular band who is now going around trading on that bit of fame) were the headliners and the venue was pretty packed by the time all the incense had been lit and placed on the monitors and Greg's special mic stand with its ashtray and drink holder attached was positioned just right. I missed them last fall when I was out of town, and I've only recently discovered just how genius "Gentleman" is, so I was pretty excited to see them. They came out to big applause and jumped right in, getting the crowd excited and moving. You can tell Greg has been playing shows for years in the way he worked the audience ("Clap! Even the cool people. I'm cool too and I'm clapping") and the good-natured abuse he'd dish out ("Take your fingers out of your ears, sister, or get some toilet paper. I can't be lookin' at that shit all night"). His rough howl of a voice, combined with the style and tone of the songs, makes them all sound vaguely menacing. They toss in lines and verses from other artists, incorporating them into their own songs, making "All You Need is Love," for example, sound like a threat. Or segueing from the fantastic "Papillon" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit." They tossed out "Teenage Wristband" toward the beginning of the set, with an almost dismissive comment. It did receive a big response, but so did older, Afghan Whigs songs.

The liquor flowed freely on stage as Greg drank and chain-smoked his way through the show, at one point lighting a joint and going around exhaling smoke into each band member's mouth. And I must say, he has frighteningly good aim with a champagne cork (he nailed the roadie in the balls from across the stage). The first encore was almost entirely made up of cover songs ranging from Bjork ("Hyperballad") to Outkast ("Roses") to ABBA ("Dancing Queen") to Billie Holliday ("Strange Fruit"), the latter of which had Mark Lanegan come out to join with the band on vocals. They played for about two hours and it was one of those shows that sends you out into the night with more energy than you had going in. Awesome.

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?: The overcrowded download market is starting to really resemble the high street, with the launch of War Child Music, the equivalent of the box of vinyl tucked away in the corner of the Scope shop. Due to come onstream in June, the site plans to offer 99p downloads of exclusive tracks from artists (Badly Drawn Boy, Travis, Spiritualized - you know the sort) with the cash raised going directly to help War Child. The site itself is a cheeky spoof of the MyCokeMusic site, and the team behind it are determined that it's going to function as a music site rather than using the music as a way of bringing up issues. Good news for anyone who had to stand through one of David Icke's Glastonbury lecturettes back before he became Jesus. No word yet on exactly what format the music will be made available in, though; but it's going to be hard to complain about shitty Digital Rights Management systems when buying the tracks will be helping out small children who've got caught up in the NeoCon project.

In other online secure legal download news, Apple have pushed back the launch of iTunes in Europe, apparently because the record labels are proving reluctant to actually make their music available to the service, thereby providing a legal download option and helping stem the tide of illegal music sharing. Apple are trying to suggest the problems are more about tax harmonisation - "taxes vary across Europe" - but sales taxes in Idaho and Califonia are different and that does't affect the US iTunes. Could it be that Sony Music, say, is being told to squeeze Apple for as long as possible while Sony Electronics prepares its digital Walkman for entry?

THE EYES SAY NAY: BB King is cancelling his homecoming concert as - like No Rock's dad - he's got to have cataract surgery and it's been scheduled for the same time as the gig. Let's hope that doesn't stop the good people of Indianopola building a BB King statue in the BB King park outside the BB King museum.

FREE (SOME OF) ALL THE ANGELS: Ah, the sweet joys of the legal download - you can get hold of Ash doing Orpheus live in either the hideous Windows Media format, or the slightly more pleasant MP4 version; and it's all for free. Free, do you hear? Free.

MORE GOOD NEWS: The Mike and Bernie Winters of pubrock, Liam and Noel, could be about to go their separate ways. Yes, they're always fighting, but Noel's behaviour does seem to be turning ever more towards megalomaniacal eccentricity and he's probably realised that Liam's main contribution to the band is to take the spotlight off him, and to insist on recording some of the most awful, hamfisted songs committed to vinyl since McCartney said "Go on, Ringo, you have a crack at writing one." No less a source than heat are now claiming that Oasis are about to split.

Pity it's four albums too late to salvage their reputation.

WHY DOES IT ALWAYS PAIN IN ME: Bad news for Travis fans - and a tricky time trying to keep a straight face for everyone else - as the band are forced to pull their Japanese tour because wee Fran Healy is unwell:

It is with great regret that we must announce the cancellation of the forthcoming Travis tour in Japan.
Fran was admitted to hospital last weekend suffering from a severe viral infection. Following several days of tests, doctors have advised that Fran is unfit to travel to Japan and needs time to recuperate and receive treatment.
Travis would like to sincerely apologise to all their fans for any inconvenience this may cause."

The band had been due to play the Zepp in Tokyo this evening, the only music venue on the planet named after a fictional super space detective.

THIS ISN'T IRONIC: When Alanis Morissette wants to know if a relationship is doomed, doomed, we're all doomed, she takes a trip to Paris, sits under the Eiffel Tower, and waits for the metal structure to tell her. Alanis, sweetness, if someone dragged us halfway across the world, and sat under a monument listening to hear if the affair was at an end, we'd be already mentally working our way through our contact book to choose a new date for the weekend. It's no wonder you think la Tour has got it right every time - we're betting each occassion has been a "Yes", hasn't it?

SOMETHING VAGUELY BULLYING ABOUT THIS: Back when Take That released How Deep Is Your Love, some commentators suggested that the band were issuing a direct challenge to their fanbase: do you care enough about us to make it worth or while continuing? (A song with the chorus 'buy this, or the tubby one will become Britain's most tedious superstar' might have been a more effective single.) Westlife, though, aren't trusting their constituency to be able to work out such a subtle message, and are just coming out and saying it: Buy the new single, or we'll split up. Surely the first band to use the threat of group-suicide as a marketing tool; although we quite like the idea of Ronan Keating trying to flog his next one by appearing sat in a half-lit room with three bumper boxes of Anadin and a bottle of the Famous Grouse, muttering "Prove you love me... go on, prove it."

The curious thing, though, is we'd been lead to believe that the largest consumers of Westlife singles were their manager's carboot (incidently, we never did hear back from the Chart people when we asked them if they'd be investigating the claim in that Louis Walsh biography that he was driving round with a trunk full of Westlife singles).

In half-related news, like Dennis and Sharon: Marillion are encouraging their fans to buy three copies of the new single in a bid to get it to number one. C'mon, guys, you don't have to sell many to get to number one, but it's a bit hopeful thinking twenty-one copies is going to do it. Expect to see large-ish piles of the new Marillion single down your local Oxfam Shop next Monday morning.

RIAA AXES AMNESTY: Rather than face down a legal challenge, the RIAA has pulled its 'amensty for filesharers' programme. The scheme had attempted to spin converts out of the lawsuits against other filesharers, inviting individuals to come forward and sign written pledges that they'd been bad as Leroy Brown, promising not to do it again and wiping any dubious material off their computers. Proving that lawsuits do sometimes have an effect, the RIAA have told a California court they don't need to consider if the offer stunk as much legally as it did ethically, as they're going to quietly drop it. In the submission, they said that the number of people signing the pledge had slowed "to a trickle", although since they'd only got 1,108 pledges after six months (out of at least six million Americans with files on their machines), it doesn't sound like it was gushing much to begin with. The RIAA say they'll stick with the contracts they've already signed - which, judging by normal music business practice, means they'll be ripped up within the month.

HEALTHCHECK: We're a little puzzled by the current placing of stories reporting Michael Jackson's accuser is in rude health - are these being barked up by the Jacko defence to try and shake support for the boy? ("See? He's not even dying of his cancer... how can you trust him?") or are they the creation of the prosecution, hoping to trick Michael into blurting out "I told him it had curative powers"? We're guessing they're defence smears, judging by the references to the "new car" the boy's mother is driving. A new car and a son able to scale "eight foot walls"? Boy, what jury is going to believe them now, eh?

Monday, April 19, 2004

NOBODY WANTS TO READ OLD MEN TALKING ABOUT MUSIC: That would seem to sum up the attitude of the Cincinnati Enquirer, which has just canned its music critic Larry Nager after eight years. Nager's crime wasn't professing an affection for early Beautiful South, nor was he caught googling on the company network for 'Olsen Twins Naked'; instead, it seems all he did wrong was to turn fifty. And Nager isn't the only one, either - Joel Selvin had to get legally heavy with the San Francisco Chronicle before they'd restore his title of music critic, removed after thirty years. Let's hope John Peel never needs a job writing for the US papers.
[Discovered through Burned by the Sun]

KIM COURT DATES SET: Judge Gerard Lynch has set a date for Lil'Kim's trial, picking a start of November 15th - presumably as by that time the Courtney case will finally have been sorted and we'll need something else to keep us interested. If Kim is found guilty of the various charges (all of which relate to a New York shooting), she could be looking at anything from ten years upwards

IT SOUNDS NOTHING LIKE IT... NOTHING AT ALL: The usually-affable Graham Coxon is spitting mad at constant comparisons between his new single Bittersweet Bundle of Misery and Blur's Coffee and TV. He snorts that the whole thing is just rubbish:

"It’s not at all a resemblance," he said. "Rhythmically it is, but chordally it isn’t at all. Most songs are mostly made up of major or minor chords and there’s a lot of major chords in this like 'Coffee And TV' but the shapes of the chords are completely different."
"I had an awful lot to do with ‘Coffee And TV’. It was an adopted child to me. I started off as an acoustic Damon demo vocal, and I guess I took it the way I thought it would benefit, to write the lyrics and sing it. There will always be similarities between Blur and my stuff as I was responsible for quite a lot of the flavour of Blur songs."

So, that's: it doesn't sound anything like it, but even if it did it would do anyway because all songs are basically alike. Besides, I wrote them both so it would sound the same, anyway.

"IT'S WHAT JOHN WOULD HAVE WANTED. APART FROM NOT BEING SHOT, OF COURSE": Rabiah Seminole is flogging off John Lennon's last autograph (which also features his last ever piece of 'art'work) in order to fund her horse sanctuary. Now, we think it's a great idea - if someone is prepared to cough up the expected GBP180,000 for the bit of paper, that's going to buy a lot of hay, but it's especially nice to hear Seminole's justification for the sale: "I didn't want to capitalise on John's death but he was a nature lover and I think he would have wanted me to sell it for the horses." John's Beatle career did, briefly, call upon him to ride a horse, so that might be the case; we just think it's sweet that there's one person in the world who still feels slightly ashamed about the prospect of trading off John Lennon's corpse, even for a good cause. Yoko and, oh, I don't know, Liverpool Airport might want to stare at their feet for a moment or two.

ANOTHER NIFTY LITTLE TOOL: Looking for a specific CD cover? Afraid that if you try to search through Amazon they'll force you to answer questions about Leapfrog Teach-and-Read in return for a nickel? (Is it just me, or does that come across like being asked to dance naked for five bucks shoved between your asscheeks? I mean, I quite like that, but I don't expect it from Amazon). Anyway, now, you can just use Slothdog's Amazing CD and Album Cover Finder technology and get the pictures you want without having to feign interest as Amazon tries to show off its clothing and kitcheware.

Look, it's incredible: it'll bring you Strawberry Switchblade:

Dammit, it can even find you The Popguns:

Really, though, our other reason for mentioning this is that it gives us slim excuse to hang the following on:
Yesterday's Mail on Sunday had a big splash "LORD DIRT", outing John Birt as having been appointed director of a company which "processes payment for internet porn." Now, we're no fans of Birt, and would dearly love to see him being dragged through the streets from the back of a small Bedford van for the damage he inflicted on the BBC during his time in charge. But this was just the shoddiest piece of journalism we've seen in a long time - because the "internet porn payment processing" company Birt has been made director of is bloody PayPal. (Which, erm, you can use to give a virtual tip to Slothdog, see - we told you it was a slim excuse). Which is a bit like condemning the Daily Mail for being sold in shops that also flog Asian Babes.

OOH! SWEARING!: A few years back, a spot of mild profanity would be enough to condemn your song to oblivion: no airplay, no sales. Sure, there were exceptions - Frankie Goes To Hollywood were lucky because their song had already been played to death by the time Mike Reid discovered what cum actually was; the Sex Pistols could do a bit of mild swearing safe in the knowledge that the tabloid outrage would take up the slack of lost plays on the Paul Burnett programme. But, generally, self-censorship held sway. Voice of the Beehive even bleeped out 'fuck' on their album track 'There's A Barbarian in the Back of My Car', co-written with Zodiac Mindwarp. At the time it seemed odd: why bother getting Zode in if you're not going to give him his head?

Whatever, we're now in more enlightened times. Although you look at the humourless, please be shocked Eamon track that has outsold all other this week - someone's counted the 'fucks', there are twenty of them - and you almost wish we didn't. The only distinguishing feature of this record is that it says 'fuck'; if that's enough sell a record, then maybe we're not - as a nation - quite as grown up as we like to think we are.

And for the swearing in full, Acme's got the sweary bits, in order of appearance.

A NIFTY LITTLE THING: Want to search iTunes Music Store quickly and cleanly? iTMS-4-ALL is a little script which will let you. It's more than just a way of finding out really quickly that there's no Field Mice or Charlottes records available for purchase through iTunes; it's a part of the struggle against big music.

SHE WANTS TO BE CLOSER TO JULIE BURCHILL: Britney Spears has "taken Madonna's advice" and decided to look "off the beaten track" for her UK home - so she's chosen, um, Brighton. Not that she's bought anywhere yet (if she'd like to make an offer for our Dad's house, we'd be delighted to open negotiations), but she fully intends to. The nice thing about Brighton is, of course, they name their buses after famous local residents, which means you could soon leap onto Britney Spears' top deck and ride her down to Whitehawk.

THE MORNING FIGHT IS ON: Interesting that Reuters report on the London breakfast show battle lists "other prominent UK breakfast DJs" without mentioning Terry Wogan, the most popular. So, Johnny Vaughan has finally taken over from Chris Tarrant at Capital; even the news team helped the push by getting an exclusive to lead with (albeit a fairly duff one: the chief of the Met promising to sort out police radios to make them work on the Underground.)

THAT'S ALSO GOT TO HURT: We don't really know who Michael Buble is (and, to be honest, he sounds like a grade-a chump) but, nevertheless, we're impressed with his trumpet player Justin Ray, who blew his instrument so hard he passed out and fell off the stage. That's commitment.

PULL ME OUT: Although we're not quite sure why The Guardian are describing their week of guest editors for G2 as "unique" (the guest-edited issue is pretty much a staple of the magazine world now, isn't it?) but their choice of editors is pretty impressive: today's G2 is brought to you by Franz Ferdinand.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

THAT'S SURELY GOT TO HAVE HURT: No British person wuld consider mucking about onstage with fire - we all grew up with Charlie the Cat instructing us that if we find matches, we should tell a grown up. Clearly, the public information films arenn't as good in Chile, otherwise Aldrin Montecinos of Megiddo wouldn't have been using fire as a centrepiece of the band's hard rock show. And then he wouldn't have set fire to himself as a result. [For the very ghoulish, there's a video too.] Apparently, though, Aldrin said he felt fine and will carry on using flames as part of his show. The band sing songs in praise of Satan during their set: maybe there's something in it. Or maybe they're just used to flames.

THIS IS NOW ABOUT FOURTH OR FIFTH HAND, BUT ANYWAY: We were recently passed this in an email:

Last week a rep from eMusicLive -- the company I wrote about here three weeks ago -- approached the Mekons during soundcheck at Maxwell's in Hoboken, proposing to record the show and sell CDs of it afterward. The band said no way: "It would've given us no quality control, and we can be particularly dreadful on occasion," says Jon Langford. "Then they were gonna sell these things and give us three bucks a copy, but they got to keep the rights and wanted us to sign a contract and all that." But it got them thinking, and when they took the stage a few hours later, they were armed with a Radio Shack tape recorder and a stack of blank cassettes.
Langford would push Record at the beginning of a song, then auction off the cassette at the end. Bidding went as high as $20 for some, and the band wound up making about $80. Business was good in Austin too, when the rest of the band backed Sally Timms for her SXSW set.
What they're now calling MeTunes will be in operation at their acoustic show at FitzGerald's this Saturday, March 27 (the technology's too crude, they admit, for the electric show at Double Door on Friday).

We gather the original source for this was Bob Mehr's Reader column, but we got it from Morag, who, those of you who got the Panini No Rock Sticker Book and completed the set, will remember as a semi-regular contributor. She's over in the States at the moment, and, as her blog Twangorama records, the devil-may-care attitude of Amtrak nearly did for her. She's on the mend after her train came off the rails, which we're obviously delighted about, and heading to New York to celebrate her birthday. We're sending her all the love.

NOTHING ABOUT THE MUSIC BUSINESS ADDS UP: Another email, this one from Graham S.:

On reading the Guardian Review charts page today I learn that Now 57 would have been the biggest selling album this week, but is ineligible for the chart. So then, Mr Record Label blames the drop in single sales on all the kids who are DLing or getting the ringtone (yeah right). Yet somehow a compilation of all these singles (which everyone presumably already now owns thanks to Kazaa) is outselling all the other album chart drivvel.
It just doesn't make sense...

Hmm, and, of course, compilation albums have been doing so well for so long, they had to ban them from the charts because it's not just the Now franchise, but for years everything from New Woman's All Woman W-O-M-A-N album to the second Trainspotting Album has been outstripping sales of 'proper' albums. It is curious, isn't it? But surely the record companies wouldn't have been the architects of their own destruction, would they? It can only be coincidence that the tanking in US single sales came at the same time as America belatedly imported the Now Thats What I Call Music masterplan back in 1998, can't it?

THERE'LL BE A BIND FOR EVERY KIND: There's a battle going on for the hearts of punks in the US, with punkvoter looking for the still beating ones, and intellectualconservative (there are so many oxymoronic names for websites these days, aren't there?) after the cold, leaden sort. StrandedLad sent us this:

Michale Graves of the Misfits has written an article for dissing, et al., for indoctrinating America's youth to hate America. First off, we know the site is run by a bunch of old, rich bastards because they describe the Misfits as a "legendary punk group," when: 1) the Misfits were B-listers with no heart and a good T-shirt artist (I mean, just look at the actual people that you know that listened to them. Think about it.) ; and 2) Graves is whoring for the same bastards that were behind suing real punk bands like the Dead Kennedys out of existence back in the 80s.
Actually, that second point is what's got me punching the wall. After all, the article presumes that punks need someone to tell them to hate America, when the history of America since the 70s has demostrated in no uncertain terms that it is the powerful in America that hate punks. But it's not America we hate. Yes, we hate rich people, Yes, we hate stupid people, So of course we hate the current regime. But mostly it's because they hate us, as they demonstrate by opposing things like a minimum wage hike so we can afford both rent and beer, and by their minions attacking us in bars (ever notice it takes a minimum three frat boys to take on one punk?).  And what do we do when someone hates us? We attack (rhymes with Iraq). And how is Punkvoter telling us to attack? By voting. (Lame, but true.) And here is Graves passing himself off as a punk, and acting surprised that punks don't want to vote for some rich, fratboy jock for Prez. Sellout bastard, go get something pierced if you don't want to feel old and left out. And fuck off.

SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO: James Brown is going to try and make some time in his busy diary to play a London gig this summer, adding a Hammersmith Apollo date to his Glastonbury commitment. "Hell," the godfather of Soul isn't reported as saying, "someone else'll have to shoot at the cops that day, July 2nd, I've got a gig to play. Oh, and I Feel Good. Will that do?" Somewhat uncharitably, Ananova haven't bothered to change the alt tag on the picture they use to mark the announcement, and so sneak in some reminders of Mr. Brown's past troubles.

IF WE ASK THEM NICELY, WE MIGHT GET A 'VOX' RETROSPECTIVE NEXT MONTH: Of course, the chances are you'll already be signed up to the TV Cream Creamup mailing list thing - the one that brings you a monthly pot pourri of things generally deemed to be, in some way or other, 'creamy', but if you're not, you might want to make good the shortcoming by reading the latest edition online [free membership required] as it's a Britpop special. Well, until about halfway down, anyway. With features on the Britpop alsorans (timely, now that The Longpigs are actually popping up on The Amp for some reason), Radio One's brief period as the nation's best radio station (when they actually dragged Gary Davies out the studio and shot him in the car park behind Portland Place, live on air) and, best of all, a loving history of Select, which tells you everything you need to know about the "Britpop Bible" as it seems to have forever been labelled, except that Kelloggs threatened to sue them over the first 'Magazine in a box.' The Coco Pops people were apparently convinced that passers-by might have assumed that a magazine about Pulp, for sale in a newsagents, really was a Kelloggs cereal product.

It's - as ever - a wonderful read that's just sidelined our plans to spend the morning typing 'courtney love +gusset' into the google news box, which is what passes for research round here and comes highly recommended.