Saturday, May 01, 2004

THEY'LL BE FIGHTING BACKSTAGE OVER WHO GETS TO PLAY DIFFERENT DRUM: We, of course, seldom venture outside our own frontdoors - the reward for striking out is having to beg your landlady to unlock the payphone so you can hook up a laptop for a few minutes and a fifteen mile tailback on the A34 - but if we did go out, Planet of Sound would tempt us - May 15th, at Asylum in London, it's a vaguely Pixies-themed one-off event dedicated to independent rock from the period when the band walked the earth. Of course, setting up "1987-1992" parameters not only guarantees a lot of good music (we can't help but shake the certainty they're just going to get everyone in a big time bus and take people to the Krazy House in 1993) but also there's plenty of scope for the indie trainspotter in you to wait and watch to see if the djs - Rory Phillips, Valeire Gayrimond, Nick Nyro and Sean Turner - slip up and play something from 1994 or something. It's like watching Troy to see if you can spot an extra with a digital watch on. Or something.

THE BAMBOO REVIEW: Over to our Californian at large, Becky Bamboo:

After sorting out some calendar issues (mainly related to me not being able to tell Tuesday from Wednesday from Thursday), I managed to make it to the city to see Evening/The Killers/stellastarr* on Wednesday.

Evening is a local band that I hadn't seen before, but had heard good things about. Well... good news first or bad? Good news: the songs started out very strong; all late Radiohead blips and bleeps and guitar noise. Very compelling and cool. And the rhythm guitarist and the bass player were pretty cute. Okay. The bad: after the cool openings the songs ended up mostly being just okay. Nothing really memorable. The guitarist playing the role of Jonny Greenwood was obviously aiming for a Dave Navarro look, with his black hair and goatee, but ended up just looking ridiculous with the addition of a handlebar moustache. Yes, actual twirled ends. Black Bart goes goth. Snidely Whiplash in eyeliner. Hee. The singer had a Ziggy Stardust mullet, but it wasn't orange so it was just bad and his voice was on the nasal and uncertain-of-pitch side of adequate.

The Killers, on the other hand, were excellent - start to finish. The club was nearly full when they took the stage and it was obvious that there were a lot of fans present. They may be young, but they have a tight set, never losing momentum or the audience. Their impeccable vocals and tight harmonies impressed the hell out of me; it's not easy to be note-perfect live. The songs are great - a little shallow lyrically - but fun, and they make you want to shake your ass. I can't wait to hear their album. (I forgot I was going to call my brother before I wrote this and see if he knew any of them from high school. Anyway. They're the best thing to come out of my hometown since Andre Agassi. Who knew Vegas had this good a band in it?)

And then stellastarr*. I saw them last year opening for The Ravonettes and was impressed enough back then to grab their CD. If anything, I was more impressed this time. I love how the female backing vocals provided a cool counterpoint to the theatrical, Robert Smith style lead and how they aren't afraid to completely freak out but never let things get too out of control. Great band to see live. Oh, and this time I remembered to stand on the opposite side of the stage so I was in front of the rather hot guitar player. Oh yeah.

WE HAVE STING'S MOVEMENTS: You'll have been aware that last year Mr. Sting published a book; now he's going on a tour of bookshops giving you the chance to meet him and bask in the glory of the man who saved the planet. We'd love to hear from you if you go and ask him how he squared doing the Jaguar advert with his tree-huggy sensitivities:

Borders, Trafford Shopping Centre, Manchester - May 8
Borders, Buchanan Street, Glasgow - May 9
Waterstones, High Street, Birmingham - May 12
Selfridges, Oxford Street, London - May 15.

DOESN'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT: Rachel Steven's next single is going to be for charity, to help those less well off than herself. Although quite where they'll scare up some people whose future is looking more bleak than Rachel's isn't clear - perhaps it'll be in aid of Martine McCutcheon? Actually, the people benefitting from Rachel's ability to shift literally several copies of a record will be Sport Relief, which is the charity telethon that's like Comic Relief, only without any jokes. Oh, hang on, that's not actually a distinction, is it?

Friday, April 30, 2004

MEANWHILE, IN ANOTHER COURT ROOM IN ANOTHER COUNTRY: Courtney Love has been arrainged on possession charges; although her lawyer believes that the case isn't going to trial - "We are in legal possession. I would imagine today will be her last day in court." Although that seems quite a brave statement, bearing in mind that she's also due in court on the smashing windows and screeching charges. And she'll need to try and sort out custody of Frances. And there's that unpaid condo rent going to be coming up soon, too. Oh, and there was that incident in the nightclub, too...

NANNY STATE: After the court case had been settled, Dolores O'Riordan's former nanny Joy Fahy had seemed pretty pleased with the outcome, saying that it proved the little guy could win. However, she appears to have done some sums since, and realised that her "victory" has left her with enormous costs, and so she says she's going to appeal. Oddly, her summation of her current fix is "I have been ruined before but I have been fine", which makes as little sense as Dolores' claim that the case had always been behind her.

GO OFF, GO OFF... GO OFF, GO OFF... GO OFF, GO OFF, GO OFF: Some people just won't take "piss off" for the subtle hint it is - like children's entertainer Gary Glitter. Twice he's been kicked out of Cambodia, and yet he's gone back and bought a house. The Cambodian Minister of Women's affairs Mu Sochua is worried that he might be planning on staying - the clue would be the whole buying the house thing - and that his continued presence in the country might attract paedophiles. Not as much as if Aaron Carter moved there, surely?

TOM WAITS FOR ALL MEN: Hopefully, the schoolhouse in Mississippi that Tom Waits is using to record his new album is one that isn't actually used as a school any more, otherwise there's going to be some well-spooked kids walking about down in the South. We like Waits because he provides his own punchlines:

"I’m feeling good about it all. There are songs about politics, rats, war, hangings, dancing, automobiles, pirates, farms, the carnival and sinning, Mama, liquor, trains and death. In other words, the same old dirty business".

MAJOR PLAYERS AGAIN: The Duran Duran revival continues - are we alone in kinda wishing they'd call it a day again now rather than carrying on like they were Pink Floyd or something? - with the Taylors, LeBon and Rhodes on the point of returning to the major label fold with a big deal with Sony. Duran are rumoured to be about to jump onto the nowadays almost boutiquey Epic imprint; although it's worth noting that EMI continue to control the stuff everyone wants ("the lucrative back catalogue.")

AXE-ULIERA: Hey, if the lady says she's done her throat in recording in the studio, and that's why she's pulled her entire tour, then who are we to go and poke about in the box office counting ticket stubs? Christina Aguilera has cleared her entire summer slate of dates on "medical advice"; that's twenty-nine gigs across the US gone. If only she didn't try to sing so many notes in each syllable, maybe it wouldn't hurt her so much?

We don't know if this will be fixed at any point, but it's worth noting that Launch have filed this story under "Justin Timberlake" rather than "Christina Aguilera."

AXE-ULIERA: Hey, if the lady says she's done her throat in recording in the studio, and that's why she's pulled her entire tour, then who are we to go and poke about in the box office counting ticket stubs? Christina Aguilera has cleared her entire summer slate of dates on "medical advice"; that's twenty-nine gigs across the US gone. If only she didn't try to sing so many notes in each syllable, maybe it wouldn't hurt her so much?

We don't know if this will be fixed at any point, but it's worth noting that Launch have filed this story under "Justin Timberlake" rather than "Christina Aguilera."

AXE-ULIERA: Hey, if the lady says she's done her throat in recording in the studio, and that's why she's pulled her entire tour, then who are we to go and poke about in the box office counting ticket stubs? Christina Aguilera has cleared her entire summer slate of dates on "medical advice"; that's twenty-nine gigs across the US gone. If only she didn't try to sing so many notes in each syllable, maybe it wouldn't hurt her so much?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

BY NEXT SUMMER, EVERY RECORD WILL FEATURE PETE DOHERTY IN SOME FORM OR OTHER: We like Pete Libertine, we really do, but the lamb's got to perhaps think about taking a rest, or sometimes saying "No", because if he keeps getting side gigs at the rate he's doing at the moment, he's going to wind up making a record with the Fimbles or Boobahs by mistake. His next trick is guesting on Client's Down To The Underground, b-side of their In It For The Money debut single. And who are Client, you ask?

They're Sarah Blackwood, who used to be in Dubstar, and Kate Holmes who did the girly vocal bits of Frazier Chorus many moons again (big favourites of Simon Mayo, of course, which probably accounts for why they never turned their promise into success.)

POSTHUMOUS RELEASE: Elliot Smith's final work is set for release, according to his Dad. Nothing's totally finalised yet - it's not even been set up with a label; but the plan is to put it out in September this year.

THINGS TO DO BY THE TIME YOU'RE THIRTY: Assuming the stalkers don't get her (another bloke has been caught breaking into her house, for the second time), Britney Spears has produced a list of things she'd like to do by the time she's thirty. This was for Marie Claire magazine, we suppose normally she just doodles puppies and flowers in the margins of her day book. Amongst the things Spears wants to do are get a puppy, and perhaps a child, buy a house in Spain (obviously spends afternoons watching A Place In The Sun, but it's nice to see that the change in government in Madrid hasn't put her off), make a movie with George Clooney, go to South Africa, be taken up the arse by Prince William and "to put rhinestones on people's phones." We made up one of those.

CRANBERRY JUICED: The distraction of the Dolores O'Riordan court case has come to a conclusion, with the Cranberries singer losing. Although not totally - the judge decided that Nanny Joy Fahy's allegations about Dolores and husband Burton were baseless; and that they'd not falsely imprisoned Fahy. And he rejected Fahy's claims for tonnes of cash and a car and a deposit for a flat. But he did grant her a thousand quid for some of her stuff that got "mislaid" and said that she was a cracking childminder. So, really, nobody came out of it all looking bad, and everyone seemed to be happy it was all over. Dolores, oddly, said "I'm relieved it is behind me. It has always been behind me", which doesn't make any sense however hard we think about it.

SPICE RENEWED?: So, we're at the stage now of both Take That and The Spice Girls where the members who could do with a quick boost of funds and fame from a reunion go public in a bid to try and bounce the recalcitrant colleague into agreeing to do the comeback: Mel B is talking up the chances of the Spices getting back as a five-piece to "write a new song" - so, not like old times at all in any sense, then. Good god, maybe Victoria would even sing on it.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Tim Burgess knocks up a few pieces to order edition
First up, a quick look at the locals: The Express & Echo is hugely excited about the prospect of a Busted and McFly double at Powderham Castle, although we're not quite sure to make of its wider coverage of the Powderham festival: "the summer ends in suitable style with Status Quo." What does that mean, exactly?

Meanwhile, Taboo - so cruelly shunned by the Broadway critics - has found a fan in Jackie Butler, the Western Morning News' theatre reviewer: although down in Plymouth, the musical is seen less as a glorious celebration of how great Boy George is; more a testament to the follies of the big city: "a brash and honest snapshot of a gloriously self-indulgent London..." That even the furthest flung provinces just go "oh, guys in frocks" undermines further George's desperate desire to cling to his status as outrageous; instead of throwing up hands in shock, even Britain's most venerable local newspapers rate the accuracy of the Steve Strange impersonator.

A while ago, we used to plug No Rock with a picture of Billie Piper Evans and the words "... because, one day, she'll try to relaunch her career." Don't say we didn't warn you, as the best PR team a rich husband can buy swings into action in a bid to try and make the girl from the Smash Hits ad seem like a credible crack at a British Nicole Kidman. It's interesting to note that nearly all the coverage she gets mentions the Chris Evans connection; we wonder if he's decided that here will be his project - that Vernon Kay gameshow might have croaked; Channel Five's TFI retread stank with Chris Moyles and stank stronger with Christian O'Connell; Terry and Gaby may have sunk without trace - but hey, turning an irritating teen pop starlet into a major force on the British stage? Maybe that's the way to show he's still got it. It certainly might explain why he's centre stage in all the coverage: Elle Girl's Billie interview is about "the love that wasn't meant to last" and is straplined "In Praise of Older (Ginger?) Men"; while a bit in OM gives her the chance to say how much she loves "a man with a big belly" (perhaps Danny Baker's still in with a chance?) Did she have any qualms about the age difference? "I did register that perhaps not everyone would get off on it" she says, before launching into some pro-Chris schtick: "everyone should meet him. He's so inspiring." Just not on a Friday, of course.

Funnily enough, Vernon Kay turns up in the same issue of the Observer supplement. "God help whoever cleans my house... my first cleaner, I wrote a him a letter, describing everything I wanted him to do. And he wrote back to me saying 'I cannot match your high standards, so I cannot take this job.'" And he reckons he'd never do pantomime. We give it two years before he's Buttons in the Skelmersdale Playhouse.

It's an Observer Music Monthly week, too. We get the top ten music destinations - unfortunately, since they're tied not just to place but time as well, it's going to be expensive to get to them, but the ones in the present (Paris, Dakar and St Petersburg) are all a little Kershaw, don't you think? And no Manchester at the start of the 90s?

The secret life is Diana Ross - her secrets include her rather public arrest for being pissed behind the wheel. We think the claims she had a scene with Fozzie Bear is a bit of a fib.

Record Doctor Peter Paphides does a consultation for Diarmuid Gavin, although a man who can lead Primal Scream astray (sneaking Throb and Duffy into the Blue Peter garden) probably needs little help. Prescriptions include Minnie Ripperton ("exceeded all my expectations) and the Go Betweens ("bowled over") - so expect Baby Stones to turn up soundtracking some path laying on Gardeners World sometime soon.

Mike Skinner is the big interview. His theory is that Hip Hop has a problem with second albums far more acute than that of rock's "difficult third album" syndrome: "It all hits a wall... when you listen to 50 Cent, you imagine you're hearing a guy who goes around getting shot, and he doesn't... well, he did, but now he's doing pretty much the same as I am: being interviewed; collecting awards; going to parties. And the big question is, how to hang on to that excitement you had before, without pretending you're still doing things you're actually not."

Some "pop stylists" are brought the other side of the camera to be grilled about how they come up with the idea of putting boys in jeans and girls in low-cut tops. Kenny Ho is caught trying to make Myleene Klass straddle rock and classical - "she still wants to be current and sexy" he explains. Too late to start now, surely?; Cynthia Lawrence John isn't just a dresser for the Sugababes, she's "like their big sister" - she suggests they get "slagged off in the press because they don't play the pop-tart game". Maybe big sis should watch the Round Round video. Or the Numan mash-up one. Or... but you get the point; Ashley Elliot does Starsailor, which must surely be no more demanding than giving them twenty quid and the address of Millets?; William Baker is Kylie's "Creative Director", which we take as meaning trying to get her arse into shot without showing the scaffolding; Harris Elliot dresses athlete - which is odd, because we could have sworn they look like their mam dressed them. Spitefully.

Kitty Empire takes a punt on Eamon having a long career in front of him. Yeah... we're sure he'll be presenting the Grammys in 2008, and he won't fade once the novelty of Rude Kid has worn off. It's not like he's the Viz of rap, is it?

There's an EU-enlargement report from Poland - could we be about to see Polish pop rule the world? (No.) - and also some old photos of Nick Drake. Well, new ones would be pretty gross, probably.

If you're keeping score: the Morrissey album gets three stars ("until you start addressing the pitfalls of endowment mortgages, you're saying nothing to me about my life.")

Tim Burgess enthuses over New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies: "I felt I knew more about them than any of my friends, and that can be what makes music matter at a tender age."

Peter Robinson's Back Pages (you know it should be called that, and it should have a pop trackword by Clive Doig) has got a picture of his very own can of Steps spaghetti shapes; which is followed on the next page by Jon Snow interviewing Hugh Masekela. Which is how every magazine should be. Even Horse and Hound.

Gideon Coe was suggesting the other day that Franz Ferdinand might be about to become a little over-exposed; indeed, the Panther Mac OS has got a keyboard short cut that saves you from having to type the name out in full (Apple + CTRL + SHIFT + |) and we don't think we've seen a band taken to the proper paper's hearts quite like this since Oasis (of course, Radiohead pick up a fair degree of coverage in the broadsheets/compacts, but they had to spend three years busking outside Canary Wharf tower before the Telegraph would even piss on them out the 23rd floor window - and piss hurts when it hits you from so high up, let me tell you.) So, it's a difficult time for the band, but the NME has rightly chosen to celebrate them. The big picture this week is them in a car park, busking, followed by a report from their secret gig (as the Black Hands - take out your notebooks and write that down under Three Imaginary Boys and Bingo Hand Job); and they've discovered possibly the first example of someone adopting the Alex Kapranos hairstyle. It's another of those weeks where the cover has been given to a band without an interview to stack it up.

The Darkness lay into Quentin Tarantino, which is a bit unfair cause he's only a little guy, innit he? But apparently he cut one of their songs from the Jimmy Kimmel show, or something.

Peter Robinson, wearing his other hat (or, rather, his giant hand of Stop) takes on Boyan Zuton, and asks him if he'd fancy some gayboy sex: "It's something that scares me... I don't want to be putting my dick into an exit. Not a fella's exit." So, if he was a gayer he'd be stuck with just blowjobs, then; but if he was a baker, he confidently predicts that he'd be opening up at two in the afternoon.

Radar band is potential webpage breakers Yourcodenameis:milo - they're so diverse in their musical tastes they each have their own iPods, you know. And there's a set of three free downloads, which obviously you have to go online to get; they don't tumble out the magazine. But they're all pretty good.

Paul Moody attempts to solve the enigma of 'who is wolfman?' and concludes he's the latest in a line of "rock grotesques" stretching back to Screaming Lord Sutch. His manager reckons his next single will be the "most outrageous thing since the Pistols", which means we can expect Wolfman: The Musical to be playing in Penzance in about fifteen years.

There's a feature on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which isn't interesting in itself but could be a sign that the paper is thinking of bringing back its deeper coverage of movies.

"Babies are usually hideous, aren't they?" points out Stephen Merritt, before claiming all heterosexuals are Imperialists, secretly.

The Kasbian boys aren't impressed with the British music scene - "Where are the fucking balls in England, man? Roses, Mondays, Gallaghers... where the fuck has it gone?" Although they start to answer their own question when they fret about the current way kids are reared: "We're turning kids into spoilt little shits that don't learn what's real and what's fake."

Seven Morrissey posters might be pushing it a bit, although it's a bit of a shock to see the 1985 Smash Hits back page popping up in the NME; although they've cropped it badly so the Weller-reading-1984 bit is cut off.

Bloc Party - London Metro - "just, well, stars" (9)
Goldie Lookin' Chain - Bristol Bierkeller - "funny... fast... furious", 9
the needles - kings cross water rats - "rock and growl"

the streets - a grand don't come for free - "oh bollocks, the broadsheets were right - a poet", 9
the icarus line - penance soiree - "a stratosphere all of their own", 8

sotw - kaiser chiefs - oh my god - "watch the decks, southern scum"
auf der maur - real a lie - "Courtney, you've been shown up by your old compadre"

Tim Burgess pops up enthusing in the NME as well (he's got a side gig as a columnist by the looks of things), talking about his love of Bob Dylan. He has 500 Dylan bootlegs. Let's hope the RIAA don't come a knocking.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

WHO COUNTED?: We're more than a little amazed that George Michael has been declared "most played artist on British Radio" in the last twenty years - but no more amazed that George himself was:

"I can't believe it. I've only made six albums in 22 years so I don't know how this happened. I'm the luckiest writer on earth.

George considered his luck as he picked up his award from the Radio Academy - and it's probably his willingness to pick the thing up that lead to the figures coming out in his favour. Because, come on: Michael played more than Queen, say? With all the times Bohemian Rhapsody gets pulled out of the record library?

HELL FREEZES OVER: FROST GETS DEAL: The new era of solo Atomic Kittens has begun, with Jenny Frost being the first of the scouse sugababes to sign a deal. Apparently, the reason why she's gone with a tiny label run by her manager is because she wants to be in control of her image and not, as you might have thought, because there weren't any double-length bargepoles knocking around in the London labels. Curiously, although she is relishing the chance to seize control of her own destiny, the label has called in Keith 'did something with Kylie in 94' Blackhurst to, um, tell her what her own image might be. The plan, you'll be surprised to hear, is to market her as a "sexy, edgy diva", right up there with our business plan to try and establish a silk purse manufacturers using the porker ears left over from the Walls Sausages factory. You can stick Frost in a pudena-skimming skirt, and push her breasts up so high she can pick boogers out her nose with her nipples, but it won't change the fact that she was in the twenty-first century's dumbed down Bananarama and is edging into the mutton-dressed-as-lamb sector. Of course, they could try and sell her in a more dignified way, as a long-haul torch singer or a new Streisand, but that, of course, would require a greater investment than a wonderbra and a bucket of Oil of Olay. And a bit of talent.

THE MARCH OF THE BITTER MEN OF ROCK: It's taken him a while, but Stuart Cable has finally started to take his disgruntlement with being kicked out of the Stereophonics public. Which basically has just brought him into line with right-thinking people everywhere, as his attack on the band consists of pointing out they're bland and little more than a bunch of yes-blokes doing Kelly Jones' bidding. (We're not sure why he didn't notice this while he was in the band, nor for the first six months after they canned him - has he been sat at home listening to The Bartender and the Thief over and over going "Is it just me, or is there something missing?") He hasn't yet spotted they look like a permanently confused bunch of thugs who dress like they got second choice at an Essex jumble sale, but it's still early days.

CULLUM ON QUEER STREET: Jamie Cullum says he's flat broke, because, duh, that million pound record contract didn't mean he was getting a million quid. Next week, he'll be sharing the insight that when you're being dumped and people say "It's not you, it's me" they really mean "It's you, because you're rubbish and you make me feel like I ought to be prodding your stupid face with those pointy barbecue tools." It turns out that all that mugging on television, the eviscerating of Love Cats on the Brits, and that stupid advert with Jamie slapping the piano in a way that spookily echos the way we'd like to slap Jamie with a piano - all of that - has only made Jamie twenty grand. This means, clearly, that if we can scrape together thirty thousand, we can outbid his current label and pay him NOT to make any more rubbish records, and to refrain from appearing on TV. The urgency of this can't be stressed enough, with a new series of Later With Jools looming on the horizon. Anyone fancy a spot of fundraising?

RIAA - HELPING SMALL PEER TO PEER NETWORKS GROW: The latest bunch of findings from Pew into the online habits of Americans will make grim reading for the RIAA (although we're sure they'll be busily spinning some sort of positive out of them.) Of course, most of these surveys are way too selective to be much use for getting the whole picture, but the music industry is fond of stats gathered by clipboard so it's worth keeping an eye on them. Pew reports that the main effect of the RIAA legal action against its customers has been people shifting from the well-known services to smaller peer to peer networks, and using the fare-less-traceable IM and email technologies to share around samples of music amongst their friends. In effect, the RIAA has been helping iMesh, BitTorrent and eMule build their market share, rather than putting people off filesharing.

Worse from the Big Music Industry's point of view, the number of Americans filesharing is on the rise again. Bainwol and his buddies might take some comfort from sixty percent of people who have never shared a file saying that it's the fear of the RIAA lawyers which stops them, but to be honest, people who'd not got round to downloading music for free before the RIAA had started going to court were probably not likely to have been ever joining the download free-for-all anyway; it might be the thought of explaining themselves to a judge which puts them off now, but we guess hitherto they'd have stuck to proper CDs for fear of viruses or child porn or whatever the scare before last was. If the RIAA plan had been to pour millions into scaring off the most timid, we guess it's working. If they wanted to change the habits of the more serious downloaders, they've fucked up. If we had shares in a major record company, we'd be asking why our money keeps being pumped into such an inept industry body.

RIDING THE RAVE: Although it's unlikely to trouble the inside of stores until next Winter, plans are already well underway for the next Raveonettes album. The follow-up to Chain Gang of Love is going to be different, says Sune Rose Wagner:

"'Chain Gang of Love' was a strange take on American culture - very '60s and '50s. This record is probably going to deal with more universal issues that more people can relate to. 'Chain Gang of Love' was more a like a movie, fiction. Even though it has a lot of personal references, it has a funny sort of twist to it."

Well, they've only got forty tracks written for it so far, so you can't expect anything much clearer than that, can you? Happily, the 'nettes aren't so uncertain when it comes to comparing themselves with their current tour mates The Stokes. Sharin Foo:

"It seems like a good match even though we're quite different bands. Stylistically they have a more retro sound whereas we use a lot of samples. We're a bit more noisy and we're a sexier band as well - the music is much sexier."

DID MAVERICK TEACH YOU NOTHING?: Despite the sizeable hole put in Warner's bottom line by allowing Madonna a record label to play with, the big companies are still so desperate to cling on to artists at any costs, they're still letting their big names launch questionable vanity projects. Blink 182's drummer (drummer) is the latest to get the have-a-train-set treatment, being allowed to create La Salle Records, with Atlantic picking up the actual dirty end of getting records into shops. Even "better", it's going to provide a home for his supergroup The Transplants, where he and Tim Armstrong "get it out their systems."

WHERE SIEGELS DARE: Beanie Siegel has won a temporary reprieve from his court worries, with the judge in his attempted murder case declaring a mistrial - although it's not yet been decided if the prosecution are going to insist on the case being heard again. Jurors couldn't decide on where the truth lay in the case - his defence had thrown doubt on the credibility of the shot guy; the judge had wanted a decision by last Thursday but the jury hadn't come up with a firm opinion by yesterday. So the judge went "bored now" and sent everyone home. It's believed the jury were having trouble because they couldn't figure out how someone could be guilty and be supported by the lovely Beyonce.

ELTON WADES IN: Elton John has clambered down from his special tower to pass judgement on the American Idol audience - and he's not pleased. Following last week's dumping of one of the few contestants who can sing, Elt has condemned the voting as racist. Which may or may not be - it's not clear how he expects his admonishment to change things anyway, and it's not entirely obvious how he's able to definitively explain the motivation of the hundreds of thousands who voted. Hmm... expressing kneejerk opinions on things you only know about because you've read a brief news story about them? Elton, have you considered getting a blog?

THEY COULD HAVE JUST BROKEN INTO HIS GRAVE, CUT HIS HEAD OFF WITH A PENKNIFE AND USED IT FOR A GAME OF KEEPY-UP: You have to wonder what Ivor Novello did to the organisers of the award that bears his name. Supposedly some sort of mark of songwriting excellence, this years nominations include Will Young and Dido. They're up for best song (Leave Right Now and White Flag respectively), although Belle and Sebastian have been nominated for that one, too, for Step Into My Office Baby, so actually possessing a small degree of talent can't be an absoliute bar to taking part, then.

Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne are up for a prize, too, being nominated for Changes - yes, we know it was written in the time of Cesear, but that doesn't seem to matter. Oddly, its been nominated in the best selling category - but surely something either is best selling or isn't? Will the panel actually be counting sales before holding a vote on whether their or Gary Jules' title has sold more? How could that work?

Obviously, because its the law, Robbie Williams is listed in the nominations (Feel - best international hit) and so are Coldplay, who should be assured of picking up the 'most performed' title for Clocks since it's been slapped on every trailer and advert produced by a dull, uninspired creative in the last twelve months (i.e. most of them).

This is all like the Olivier Awards being given to Ben Elton or something. Doesn't Novello have relatives or someone who could complain?

AND WE'RE BACK, HOPEFULLY...: Due to being in the middle of Devon, yesterday all our posts went awry and appeared under the wrong date. And it was our wedding anniversary, so we had other things to do rather than sweat a fix. Apologies...

Monday, April 26, 2004

CUTTING OFF THE FACE: EMAP have weighed and sifted the applications from would-be suitors seeking to take The Face off their hands, and decided that none are good enough. So, the current issue will be the last, with EMAP holding the trademark with the possibility of a revival at some point in the future. Because, of course, nothing succeeds like a revived magazine - look at the stellar performance of the returned Nova, closed again within six months, or Al Fayed's pisspoor Punch; or the time the BBC brought back Number One for reasons we can't even begin to understand. Probably the only de-mothballed title which didn't stink up the place was when Marxism Today was demerged from the New Statesman, but that was only ever intended to be a one-off issue, so it wasn't exactly setting itself any difficult targets.

JIM CARREY FOR WILLIAM REES-MOGG?: For some reason, HBO have commissioned a film version of the Rolling Stones 1967 drug trial - which is like looking at the career of Ernest Shackleton and choosing to focus not on the climbing bit, but the time he had to rush back to move his car from an expired parking meter before a traffic warden got there; it's interesting in an anecdotey way but we're not entirely sure it's going to be full enough of dramatic tension to sustain a movie. They have booked Nigel Havers to play his own Dad, though, but it's the casting for this fellow which is really going to be most fun:

Sir William - now Lord - Rees-Mogg

William Rees-Mogg was editor of the Times at the time, and it was he who penned the famous 'Who Crushes a Butterfly on a Wheel' editorial. This was back when the Times was a proper newspaper rather than part of an entertainment company, as well. In fact, we're guessing that the movie will wind up being called ' Butterfly on a wheel', although because everyone's considered to need to have everything spelled out for them these days, it'll be subtitled 'The Rolling Stones On Trial.'

GOING WELL, THEN, MICHAEL?: Jacko rejigs his defence team; pledges to sort out on-deck seating arrangements on Titanic by mid-afternoon.

ACTUALLY, BILLY, WE'D RATHER WALK: Human accident black spot Billy Joel has had his third car-related hurting in three years. Joel, who must rank as some kind of Jonah of the automobile world, was in Long Island on Sunday when his car left the road and hit a house. Joel - jeez, he must have really pissed off a wizard of someone - escaped serious injury, getting a cut on his finger. The police say that there's nothing dubious about the crime - the road was wet, Joel was sober and straight, and he must just have not bought some lucky heather or something. They were going to give him a lift home, but felt kind of weird about having him in the patrol car.

SHE ALSO HAS SOME DAVID BOWIE LPS: Britney Spears arrives in London tonight, bringing with her obviously a lot of half-naked dancers, some skimpy pants, some backing tapes, and lots and lots of boxes of merchandise. She's expecting to knock out GBP5.6 million worth of souvenirs during the European leg of her tour, half of which goes straight to her organisation. During the US leg, she was flogging over USD150,000 worth of tat with her name on it, including the apparently very desirable "Onyx Hotel Fashion Jersey" (no, we don't have a clue). Blokes in the street with badly printed posters of Britney with last year's hairstyle are also expecting a bumper pay day, planning on flogging a few dozen copies at three quid each, very little of which will be passed to Britney.

GIVE OUT, BUT DON'T GIVE UP: As we were talking about the Cranberries v Nanny battle, we said we didn't quite know what Dolores meant when she conceeded her husband "gave out" to the Nanny. We had been hoping it was going to turn out to be slightly rude - not bukkake rude, but in that general area. We were a bit wide of the mark, it seems, as Neil tells us by email:

To give out - is to verbally chastise someone. It's a common expression in
[apols if this is the 94th email on this topic]

Nope, you were first, Neil - thanks.

HALFWAY TO OVERNIGHTS ON BBC THREE COUNTIES RADIO: It used to be that getting a TV show was some sort of pinacle of a career, a crowning glory usually accompanied by very special guests, the Brian Rogers Connection doing a dance routine, and a chance to do a sketch with Glenda Jackson. Now, thanks to the lower standards at LWT, any half-wit can get to do an 'Audience With...', and the likes of Kate Thornton and Emma Jones have demonstrated that TV has turned itself into little more than a holding cell, providing work and warmth for people who've fucked up elsewhere until they die. So it should come as no surprise that Andrew WK is about to launch a programme all of his own, initially to be carried on MTV2 in the States. [Thanks to Robert L for the tip].

DOMINIC LAWSON HAS HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: Thanks to Eleanor G for bringing this letter from yesterday's Sunday Telegraph to our attention:

Re: Quick read

Matt Phillips of the British Phonographic Industry - an organisation whose name underlines its prehistoric views - compares music copyright laws with those protecting The Sunday Telegraph (Letters, April 18). Presumably if the BPI ran the newspaper, it would cost £14.95 a copy and take only 45 minutes to read.

On the other hand, you, dear Editor, would be a very rich man.

Michael Hilton, Wilmslow, Cheshire

And, in addition, there is a kind of similarity between the paper and the downloading of music - the Sunday Telegraph could be rushing round suing anyone who copied a page of the paper to pin to the office noticeboard; instead, they take a relaxed view. There's a system where people can sign up for a licence to photocopy stuff, but it works more on the honour system than by having it policed; we imagine that the press feels that if someone sees an article from their paper pinned up on a wall, or distributed in a classroom, it functions a bit like free advertising. Sure, they'd like to get the money back, but they're not going to burst blood vessels and make themselves look like terrible cunts trying to scrape back a few pence.

DAMN, BEING A FAN THESE DAYS IS HARD WORK: It's bad enough that you have to turn up at venues at given times, applaud, buy singles and so on - but these days, the music fan is being handed more and more responsibilty for deciding the band's futures. So Westlife say that it's up to the fans to decide if the band has a future; Marillion make their lives dependent on fans going the extra mile in the record buying department, and now Keith Duffy is telling Boyzone fans that the band will get back together if the fans show enough interest. He doesn't explain how this interest should be declared - there could be a referrendum for all we know - but he does say the band would like to do it so they can "put a closure on the band." Yes, we'd really like to see a closure put on the band - preferably a big wooden one with brass screws.

Keith also says he's sorted out his differences with Ronan - "there is a fine line between love and hate", he hints, tantalisingly. And he does seem to at least appreciate the ridiculous nature of what he used to do for a living:

"It's taken me five years to lose the Boyzone tag. I'm not sure I want to ponce around on stage as a grown man. I think we'd all need to sit on stools and sing songs like five Val Doonicans in a row. We could hardly be called Boyzone anymore since we've all grown up. We'd need to change our name to something like Manzone but that sounds like a New York gay club."

Yes, Keith, whereas Boyzone sounds so butch and not gay at all.

Keith also reveals the mad excesses of the band in the past:

"We thought we knew it all when we were 21, but we've learned how to respect people more. We were children. Once we bought a load of remote control planes for £2000 each and just flew them straight in to a lake and left them."

Lucky the FBI didn't hear about that, they'd probably have had them down as being involved in the trials for September 11th.

BIT OF A BAD SHOW: It's probably an indication of how long it is since there's been a British band doing well in the US that the Darkness apparently had no idea the sort of questions they were going to be asked when they were guest panel members on American radio show Loveline - back in the 90s there was a small rash of Shoe and Britpop acts who appeared on the show giving advice on how to deal with small rashes and broken hearts - but it's kind of hard to sympathise with them for not finding out beforehand. Instead, they were taken by surprise by a caller who rang in to say she'd been sexually abused, and just walked out. (According to the Mirror, anyway.) Which seems a bit of a shitty way to deal with someone who's asking for help - would it have been too much to say "talk to a professional" before ripping off the headphones?

AND WHAT DO YOU DO?: Pity the lot of the younger brother of the sole male heir. Not only do you know that - barring some sort of mishap with an American Divorcee, or perhaps some awful hereditry disease - your chances of ever getting the big job are slim, but when the royal duties are being handed out, you're going to get the shitty end of the stick time after time. So it is that Prince Harry (or "Ginger Royal") is luimbered with doing the few polite words with Avril Lavigne after this summer's Party In The Park. Harry will utter a few pleasantries scripted by the Lord Chamberlain's department, Avril will respond with a few words produced specially for the occasion by The Matrix.

Actually, as a grumpy teenager prone to drinking himself giddy on cider, it's quite possible that Harry likes Avril, although we're rather amused by the quote from "a friend of Prince Harry's":

"Not only will he see Avril sing, he'll also get to meet her backstage and will be able to take a few friends as well. Avril is no doubt very excited too about meeting a member of the Royal Family - and who knows what could happen."

Yeah, Avril's no doubt really excited about the chance to meet someone who's already faded down into his constitutional role as awkward, unemployable minor royal - the man set to inherit the Princess Margaret position in the nation's life as soon as he reaches twenty-one. It's on a par, we guess, with her excitement if she was due to meet the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of one of the larger New Universities. And we love the "who knows what could happen", throwing up the very toothsome possibility that it could lead to fucking, romance, dinner, a movie, an enagagement and a messy divorce (in that sort of order), in just the same way that The Queen used to wind up dating everyone she was obliged to meet backstage at the Royal Variety Performances.

WHY THE INTERNET IS BAD: Oh god, it seems that Marillion's desperate bid to harness the power of the web, and the increased purchasing power of their fans (most of whom are now divorced middle-managers) to storm the citadel of the Top Ten has worked - You're Gone is in at number seven, and it's not even bloody proper Marillion because it's not got Fish on it. (Marillion need Fish like a woman needs a bicycle. To compete in the Olympic cycling championship.)

Sunday, April 25, 2004

SAVING THE WORLD, ONE JEWEL CASE AT A TIME: Patti Smith told Sony that she wanted her new album, Trampin', released in a more environmentally friendly way. The label were happy to oblige, packaging the album in a more planet-thoughtful fashion. But then, missing the point somewhat, they made that version a limited edition, charging more for it, and produced a standard version, consuming the same pile of peak oil bringing irreplaceable resources. Nice one, Sony. See you at the meltdown.

ELEVEN YEARS IS A BLOODY LONG TIME COMING: It's taken that long since her last album, but Patti Scialfa is almost ready to release something new.
don't just sit there...
The new album is called 23rd Street Lullaby, and it's due to finally see the light on June 15th. Apparently it's an "intimate and powerful musical memoir", but that's what the record label say.

WU-IN' IT FOR THE KIDS: The Wu-Tang Clan are coming together for one last time, and then that's going to be it. NME reports RZA telling the BBC that the band want to give their fans closure, which is really nice of them - imagine the psychic damage caused if there wasn't a proper, final album. Although it's something we're willing to risk in the case of Oasis, to be honest.

STARR STRUCK: The news that Ringo Starr is having surgery on a bone spur on his shoulder allows us little more than the opportunity to dust down one of the oldest jokes in the world:

- Tell us straight, Doc, will he be able to play the drums properly after the operation?
- Oh, yes. He'll be able to play perfectly
- That's a bloody miracle, cause he sure as hell couldn't before.


CLEARLY HER TIME WITH MICHAEL HUTCHENCE TAUGHT HER SOMETHING: Kylie Minogue wanted to sound raunchy for her single 'Chocolate', and so - rather than just imagining being taken roughly from behind by Lee Chapman, or watching Ewan McGregor swinging his cock about behind the flames in Velvet Goldmine, she decided the way to do it would be to starve herself of water and fresh air. Apparently Kylie confuses 'orgasm' with 'choking', which is, in itself, interesting - that's what you'd get after dating Hutchence:
It was all about timing - how long I could go with little oxygen. I think it was worth it. It sounds really beautiful.

We'd really suggest that you don't try this for yourself. Unless you're Dannii, of course, in which case: it's gotta be worth a try, hasn't it?

A GREAT WAY TO MEET NORMAL PEOPLE: George Michael has told Attitude magazine that the reason he went cruising was because it was the only way he could meet "ordinary" people (although between the leaders of the Welsh Assembly and Hollywood actors doing the same thing, it's questionable exactly how ordinary the people you're going to be running into will be.) "It kept my feet on the ground" explains George - we think he means metaphorically rather than just that he likes it standing up - "and it meant I was constantly meeting ordinary people. How else could I have done that, in a weird way? And be on their level?" Well, George, if you really needed to rub shoulders with the commoners, and none of your gardeners or cleaners were about, you could have caught a bus, or gone for a pint in a pub. The advantage then would have been you could even have had a conversation with the "ordinary" types - not so easy when you've got your mouth full.

The pity of it is that George doesn't need to build this whole 'it keeps me in touch with my roots' schtick - you did it, George, not to keep in touch with the stout yeomen of Britain, you did it because you enjoyed having your cock sucked by complete strangers out in the open. There's nothing wrong with that - everybody's got to have a hobby - so why pissabout trying to make it something that its not?

BLOCK 'EM ALL OFF: We can see the new invention from Palisade Systems being right popular with Mitch Bainwol and the RIAA gang - it's software that identifes and blocks copyrighted songs. It can poke about in email, folders, Instant Messages, unecrypted peer to peer systems and just about anything to ensure that no copyrighted material at all is being swooshed about. The only problem is that it will also block perfectly legally obtained files as well. But, hey, that's gotta appeal to the 'destroy us to save us' attitude of the International Music Industry, right?