Saturday, May 22, 2004

BLUESOBIT: Arnold 'Gatemouth' Moore, the first blues singer to appear at Carnege Hall, has died at the age of 90. Born in Kansas in 1913, Moore moved to Kansas City at the age of 16 and started a career singing in dance bands. Moore survived the Natchez Rhythm Club Fire, an infamous event which claimed the lives of most of his colleagues in Walter Barnes' orchestra. Towards the end of the Second World War, Moore's first recordings for local labels brought him to the attention of natonal labels - including National Records, who brought him to New York and Chicago for the sessions where he was to record I Ain't Mad At You, Pretty Baby, Did You Ever Love A Woman? and Christmas Blues, Moore's first major successes. He moved to King Records, but during 1947 started a new career as a reverened. He didn't abandon music, however, working as a gospel artist and dj. In 1977, Johnny Otis persuaded Moore to make a brief return to the blues for a Blues Spectrum album.

MISHEARINGS CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY: We were slightly disappointed when Paddy McAloon confessed that, actually, the name Prefab Sprout hadn't been created when he misheard Nancy Sinatra singing about "peppered sprout", so we feel a bit better discovering that Herman's Hermits should never have been called Herman's Hermits at all - Peter Noone, who's back and touring again, took his nickname from Bullwinkle and Rocky. Only he misheard the name Sherman. Or so he's claiming now. But how can we be sure it's not just more pretty lies?

MORE UNLIKELY RECORD LABEL BOSSES: We're not quite sure how swimsuit model and guest actor from 'Just Shoot Me' Lunden De'Leon actually came to be head of her own indie label, but she's certainly got the art of gushing press release down already:

"With Lunden's popularity, it was only natural for her to be named "One of the Most Beautiful Women in the World" by an online poll, Voted "One of the Top Rising Female Stars" by International Black Women Magazine and "The First Black Actress to Star in an Online Series" for her role in the internet television series "Sitcom".

Yes, only natural. But she's picked up some knowledge about the industry she's now cutting a swathe through:

"Since starting my label, I have a greater respect for labels like Def Jam, Bad Boy, No Limit and a number of other successful indie labels." ... I just shan't name any of the others. (Although, of course, Def Jam is part of Universal...)

Since you ask, she appears to have one artist, D H Peligro. No, us neither.

OUT OF EVIL COMMETH GOOD: We've not had many good words to say about Henry Rollins - a lot of fitting ones, but not many of them good. So it's nice to be able to say something positive about his plans for a record label - he's planning a series of reissues of classic, hard-to-find stuff. First up is early Trouble Funk. Doesn't mean we'll forgive him for what trailed in his wake - especially Fred Durst - but it's a first step towards reparations.

OH GOD HELP US ALL: The wheeling out of an all-out assault to try and relaunch Girls Aloud is almost upon us - we're promised the Girls will have a brand new direction, new look and new sound when they return on May 28th. We'll believe it when we see it. Although we hope they do have a new look - "My pimp went to Top Shop" is so passe.

Friday, May 21, 2004

WHAT YOU DO TO ME: BB King is having sleepless nights over his upcoming meeting with the King of Sweden. He's due to meet King Carl XVI next week to pick up the Polar Music Prize, but he's fretting already. It's not his first brush with royalty, mind: He recalls:

"I did meet the queen of England once and I shiver every time I think about it now."

Yeah, it's daunting, but if you pull the Duke of Edinburgh's car keys out of the dish, you've got to follow it through, haven't you?

NOW I'M ALL GROWN UP: Avril Lavigne reckons that she's matured and so have her fans:

"That's important to me ... writing about things I'm going through at the age I'm at. My fans are pretty much like my age."

Oh, yeah? What sort of twenty year old would go down the Mall to see a free performance from a teenscenster, Avril?

SMELL LIKE DIDDY: Puff Daddy has decided it's time to branch out one more time, adding a bottle of stink to his many businesses. Curiously, despite already having fifty-six names to choose from, it's not going to be marketed as Sean Combs or P Diddy or Puff Daddy, but it'll go under his trouser-making name, Sean John. The bad boy image is a bit undermined since he's hooking up with Estee Lauder to do the tricky bits. But god, do those Lauder folk know how to grease:

"Sean Combs is the Great Gatsby of our time" says Estee man John Demsey.

We're sure he meant it as a compliment, although if we recall Eng Lit classes, wasn't The Great Gatsby a man driven to do anything to gain money and social status, gathering all his wealth from criminal activities, and pretty much a vulgarian? It does sound like Sean Combs to us, but that seems an odd judgement from someone who's just gone into business with the fellow.

IS IT SIMPERING OR IS IT SIMPSON?: We suppose the one piece of positivity in Simon Cowell's denunciation of Jessica Simpson's career is that it's the first time we've heard him admit that there's something he doesn't actually know:

"The odd thing about the music industry is that here's a girl who's career wasn't exactly on fire and then she goes on television, pretends that she thinks that CHICKEN OF THE SEA is actually chicken and on the back of that sells two million records. It's weird, isn't it?"

Cowell believes that Simpson's inability to tell tuna from chicken was - shockingly - staged. Reality television faking its big moments? Surely not...

RADIOHEAD PLAY WET WET WET: Of course, the more accurate headline would be 'Radiohead cover The Troggs'- because they're joining up with Bill Nighy for a live version of Love Is All Around as part of a huge and special charity do at the Oxford Playhouse. It's all in aid of Helen House, the first children's hospice in the UK.

FRED DURST'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: It's been a while since Fred updated his blog - you know how it is with these fads, everyone signs up for a Blog, posts the first few dozen things that come into their heads, and then lose interest. So, we're forced to scrape the left hand nav bar of his site for today's thought:

"i love my son, daughter, music and films the most. i also love skateboarding and the culture of the skateboarder's whole existance.

WAR! uh! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?: Well, it'll keep Madonna out of your hair. It's probably no surprise that someone who's scared of ramblers has decided to axe her Israel gigs, but it's a pity she's doing it for the wrong reasons: "the political climate has made it difficult to plan such a huge undertaking" rather than "it's not really going to be big or clever to go and play in the capital of a country which is currently driving tanks through people's houses while there are still people in them."

DIDO "AMAZED" BY FAME: She says "It still amazes me what's happened. I can't really take it in, and I think there are so many ways that I still feel like I've got so much to learn. I've got an endless, endless life of learning about music, and that fascinates me." It amazes you, does it? Yes, we find ourselves scarcely able to believe it, too. If ever you're looking for a reason to hate Eminem, forget the racism allegations and the homophobic japes (all in character, of course) - if it wasn't for him, Dido would be wiping down tables in a BHS restaurant right now.

She apparently believes her live shows album is "more bombastic... sorta more extreme... there's extreme noise and extreme acoustic." Right, we're trying picturing her as Einsturzende Neubauten but somehow, it's just not working for us.

Can you spot the difference?

D PEARCE DISAPPEARS: So, that new Radio One schedule in full, then. Dave Pearce is kicked off daytime, with his empire now consisting of just the Sunday night Dance Anthems slot; an extra hour is stuck on the end of Sara Cox's show (currently being kept running by Scott Mills), and now Zane Lowe will be kicking off at 7.00 "to act as a bridge to the rest of the schedule". We're not quite sure how that's going to work, as he's now going to be followed by specialist stuff - how exactly does Zane's nosiy indie fest form a bridge between Sara Cox and Bobby Friction & Nihal's Asian beats show? Anyway, the 9 pm slot will be Lamacq Live on Mondays (surviving for now), The Lock Up on Tuesdays, Bobby Friction Wednesdays, Annie Mac with a new show on Thursdays ("Annie is a brand new DJ coming straight from The Zane Lowe show. She is going to present a snapshot of everything that is new and exciting in the dance world"). Peel gets his worst slot ever, between 11 and 1, Tuesdays to Thursdays. And we remember how happy he was when he was moved from 10 to 8 about ten years ago, confiding he got knackered by the end of the evening shows. From a listener point of view, though, it's not as bad as it could be - after all, there's the same amount of show, and most people use listen again for the Peel show these days, don't they?

It's a pity that Parfitt didn't have the courage to carry his plan through to the logical conclusion - if Zane is meant to bring audiences through from daytime to night-time, what's the point in him starting after everyone from daytime has switched off and gone to watch The Simpsons? He needs to be on at Six. Then, bring Peel back to 8 o'clock, and put the specialist strand at ten - it's a great move to put these into a more mainstream time slot, but we're not convinced they're the right ones.

Annie Nightingale is given a much better slot - Radio One's other great survivor swaps the four am on Sunday, desperately-trying-to-pretend-that-after-clubbers-are-tuning in, for 1 in the morning on Fridays. Mary Anne Hobbs Breezeblock shuffles to the same time on Tuesday morning (why do Radio One seem to under-rate her programme so much?).

The interesting thing is 3 am, Monday to Thursday, which is set aside for an hour of "experimental" with a vague promise to be "dedicated to showcasing the new and unusual from the worlds of music, comedy and art." It would be being overkind to suggest that it's a curate's egg of a schedule, but it's not quite the stinker it could have been.

DANNI DOWN DUMPER: Latest casualty in the ongoing label clearouts is Dannii Minogue, who has been given the elbow by Warners.

no, dannii - toaster/bath or gun/head

Not that she's downheartened - she has simply thousands of songs ready to go, and hopes a less fussy ("smaller") label will pick her up. And, you know, maybe they should. We're not a big fan of the lesser Minogue, but we can't imagine that a properly run record label could actually lose money on her - she's a boutique market, for sure, but control the costs and she'd surely be able to pull in a few quid for a backer?

We love the quote in the Sun article from a "label insider":

"These are tough times for pop acts and I’ve a nasty feeling there is more of a clear-out to come."

Ooh, I wonder what gives them that feeling?

ITEM 372... ANOTHER SHIRT; BLACK, AGAIN: We've heard tales that at Einstein's autopsy, the gathered scientists scrummed around trying to grab bits of the great man's innards, like old ladies at a jumble sale. The image returns to haunt us with news that Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's estate is sticking a load of their stuff up for auction. Amongst the stuff coming under the hammer at Sothebys' glorified boot sale are clothes, hats, insturments and notebooks.

It's probably the notebooks which are the greatest problem - it's understandable that the heirs might have no wish to hang on to some old boots and banjos, and auctioning them off is as good a way as any of dealing with them. But to fling unpublished lyrics and photos into the saleroom seems to be a bit of a betrayal - it sounds like a collection that, to do justice to one of the greatest musicians of our era, should be kept together and presented to an institution that would preserve it and make it available to everybody. Breaking it up and flogging it for rent money is a bit short-sighted. Maybe we should be offering thanks you can't put someone's musical stature up as a lot.

WHERE IS THE LOVE?: Not in Berlin, that's for sure, as this year's Love Parade has been cancelled. The annual traipsing of face-painted luvdup sorts through the streets of the German capital has been struggling for a couple of years - since it was stripped of its status as a political demonstration when, in 2001, Berlin council realised "let's put on jester's caps and go listen to rave music" wasn't actually a political platform (although it's a more plausible one than the UKIP has got). The upshot of that was the Parade organisers became responsible for cleaning up the Parade's own mess and, coupled with falling numbers, the inability to find sponsorship has lead to cancellation. Spin-off Love Parades will still take place in San Francisco (September 25th) and Tel Aviv (August 27th). Yes, that Tel Aviv.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

NOT WHAT IT SAYS ON THE CAN: Napster are really, really, trying to pretend that they're still a peer to peer network, rather than a library: Brad Duea tells the BBC:

"Often, when people are describing peer-to-peer, they are really describing the desire to have the ability to share music, to look at other peoples' collections, to communicate. And we deliver that."

Erm, except the sharing piece of the equation - these files are .wma, and so have DRM tying them up as tightly as the girls from The 411 in their corsets. And, frankly, to pretend that what people liked about Napster was the ability to send instant messages to other Busted fans is just brazen. Sure, it was great being able to browse what other people had - because you could then download it from them. You can't do that any more.

DEAD CAT BOUNCE: has gone live - somehow, it's already managed to put together a top ten downloads chart, being headed, gormlessly, by Avril Lavigne. If you run a search on a band, and they don't have the band, the box claims they're "working on getting [band name] on Napster" and they seem to have got hopelessly muddled between Heavenly (the Oxford post-Tallulah Gosh cuties) and Heavenly (the rock band).

The little bit of history makes interesting reading, too:

In 1999, teenager Shawn Fanning's Napster software revolutionised the concept of distribution of music over the Internet. Due to the climate of the music industry at the time, Napster was shut down before a deal could be made to compensate the artists and songwriters who produced the music.

"Due to the climate of the music industry at the time...", eh?

Napster seems to want to take control of all the music - "all the non secure WMAs and MP3s you have" - on your computer, and they're trying to make out the secret advantage of Napster is that you can see what other people are listening to - back in old Napster, this was handy, as you were relying on other people having the tracks before you could download them; now all the music is held centrally, it's not entirely clear what the advantage of the community is, beyond creating some sort of chart. It's interesting, but no more interesting than reading music blogs or joining a YahooGroup, which can be done for free. The non-community version sells just the songs, not the neighbourhood. And here's the rub: A pound and ninepence for a single song. Everything except the rebellion and the value, then.

IS THIS JUST FANTASY?: Never mind the claims that the new Belle and Sebastian single is the "indie Bohemian Rhapsody", although we are sure it'll be just as over-rated, yea, even unto the point where you start to hate it because everyone signs up to the "it's quite good" line like front benchers falling behind the party line, nor that it's supported by a track created by "the band just jamming", what's really interesting about the release is it's coming weighted down with multimedia goodies - a video game, a remix, and other gubbins like that. A video game? It's like the Amish launching a Mr. Whippy machine - however benign the product, it's never going to feel quite right.

BRANDENOMICS: We don't have any real problem with EMAP stretching their brands over various platforms - or knocking up telly services out of magazine titles - it's just the way they go about it that drives us mad. Fr'example, does Q on the telly really come across as a moving, singing version of Q magazine? To us it seems like something else - Select trying to make a mix tape for a family car journey and remembering to include something for mother TV, perhaps. It's a problem at the heart of all EMAP's cross media adventures - Smash Hits does seem to have translated well, but only because Smash Hits (the magazine) had been detoothed and a gang of men in bright yellow suits had carefully removed anything that had even the merest hint of personality about it. Now, Kerrang is about to become a proper radio brand - it's got a proper frequency rather than just living in the digital universe, which means it's going have some investment made into it.

Kerrang TV does do a pretty good job of bringing the core Kerrang values to the screen - it's noisy, it's off-putting if you're not in the clique, it's full of the sort of sexy that would arouse a paranoid virgin and anger that strikes a chord with people whose only real beef with the world is that their Mam won't let them have two Orange top-up cards a week. And it's a success. However, while the niche market works on multichannel TV, a niche of grumpy fifteen year old boys and teenage girls who've not-quite discovered The Bell Jar isn't going to support an FM radio network. Even in Birmingham.

So Kerrang has been stretched - it's no longer playing the noises of suburban outsiders, but speaking to the "little bit of rock inside most of us." You can almost hear the panic in the voice of the marketing director, Lisa Blower:

"It's important that people realise that Kerrang! 105.2 is not a niche station. Our music will be a lot broader than some people think. Just because you wear a suit by day, you're not excluded from Kerrang!'s world. Kerrang! 105.2 is about music with attitude rather than straight age demographics."

You have to feel sorry for her - she's been given a station with a strong brand attached to it, and now she's caught trying to actually explain that the station is nothing like the brand, not at all. The way they've been trying to do this is with "retuning" sessions and - oh, help me, Lord - "rock aerobics" in Warwickshire offices. The most telling quote is this:

"We have had to design a creative [campaign] which will be considered cool by the Kerrang! aficionados whilst also being exciting but unthreatening to the wider audience."

Kerrang: Unthreatening. Something's gone awry there, hasn't it?

IT'S ALL A FIX. OR A CON. OR SOMETHING. IT'S SOMETHING BAD: More woe over at American Idol, where the AP attempted to vote in the final of the current series. Surprise, surprise, all they got was busy tones. They managed to connect just four of the hundred calls they tried to place. Of course, telephone voting is a tricky thing to organise - back when British Television first tried it, the BBC weren't allowed to display the numbers on screen for the first few weeks of Bob Says Opportunity Knocks, until British Telecom were satisified that the wave of viewers eager to vote for that bloke who did the animal impressions wouldn't cause the entire British phone network to collapse. If you wanted to dial in early on, you had to buy the Radio Times to get the numbers.

The trouble is that anything like American Idol is going to generate an enormous number of votes, but they'll all come in a small envelope of time - so investment in the infrastructure to cope is never going to happen. (See also: selling all the Glastonbury tickets at the same time). It all adds a random element to the polling which, frankly, is probably better than leaving it Simon Cowell and Joe Six-Pack. They could just as well spin a large wheel to decide the winner, which would be prettier, but wouldn't raise as much cash for the networks.

RICHARDS SHOPS: Keith Richards has pulled together the power of his own position, and strapped it to the can-do internet, to allow the Wingless Angels CD to become available again. A November 1995 side project, Richards produced the collection of tracks by the seven members of the Nyabinghi Rastafarian sect from Steer Town mainly drumming and chanting. We're guessing he's putting it out because he's relieved to find out that it wasn't all a dream, and if he ever turns up the tapes of the time Marc Bolan sang to him from the inside of a Charles and Diana Wedding Memorial teapot, he'll be issuing those, too.

ELTON REPAYS HISTORICAL DEBT: We have a sneaking regard for Elton John, when he's not singing at funerals, and so we're not going to be catty in any way about his million quid donation to the Royal College of Music, the place where he learned to play pianer as a wee nipper. Although the phrases "loose change" and "rather late in the day" do keep trying to force their way into the text.

"LOOK AT ME... PLEASE, LOOK AT ME": Further evidence that time has moved on and left Madonna looking more than a little desperate comes with the news that she's planning to make her new stage show "the most shocking yet" - we think she means shocking as in "good god, that's shaking the very foundations of everything I hold dear", but it looks more like it'll be shocking as in "the state of traffic in Brighton city centre these days is just shocking": Simulated lesbian sex (yawn), images of war on a big screen ("note to self: see if Bono has finished with Zoo tour video"), Madonna being strapped in an electric chair (hands up who else liked No Doubt's It's My Life promo) and "a parade of scantily-clad pregnant women" - one for Patrick from Coupling there, then.

If you needed any more proof that Madonna isn't Madonna any more - they're having to leak the details to the papers in a bid to try and get anyone interested at all.

AFTER PITT ON RADIO TWO...: It's now Jerry Springer on Capital Gold. Just for a week, mind. And in the off-again, on-again world of 'sitting in for', BBC News reckons that although it started as a joke, Elijah Wood really has now been offered a fill-in slot for when Peel next takes a break. Which, depending on where Parfitt shunts Peel off to in his schedule makeover, may be a more or less attractive deal.

ONLINE DOWNLOAD PRICE HEADS, um, DOWN: Much as the music industry wants to start forcing the online price of music up, the proliferation of competing download companies and formats seems to be kicking off a miniprice war. OD2, the company which does the work behind the MyCokeMusic, Wanadoo and Virgin wrappers (amongst others) is hoping to draw some of the pain away from the launch of Nice, Industry Approved Napster by doing a half-price bundle. You pay them twenty quid up front, it'll go twice as far. "You're getting forty pounds worth of music for twenty pounds" is their claim, although the truth would be closer to "You're only paying about double for your music instead of quadruple." But its all sign that the unseen hand might yet stop the Big Labels from squishing our wallets too badly.

THE KNIGHT RIDER RETURNS: You might want to take this slowly, otherwise your brain will still be squeaking at the discovery that Ice-T is david Hasselhoff's neighbour when you discover that T has appointed himself producer for David's first hip-hop album. T insists that David will come across as "Hassle the Hoff", which we're not sure is a good thing.

DID ANYONE AT THE DAILY MIRROR CHECK THIS STORY? AT ALL?: June Brown - who plays Dot Cotton - has offered to fly Pete Doherty to the Far East to help him beat his addictions. And while it'd be tempting to say "well, she wasn't any good for her Nick, was she?", the story isn't quite as far fetched as it might seem at first. June apparently loves the Libertines, and she established a charity doing this sort of thing after her godson Tim flew off to a Thai monastery to kick a crack habit.

Doherty appears to have chosen to remain at the Priory instead, presumably because it's got a broadband connection.

IT'S NOT REALLY NEWS, BUT...: We just loved the way this story about Will Young was worded:

World News > Gay singer Will Young, craves for a boyfriend!
New York, May 19 (ANI):
Pop star Will Young whose preference for men is no secret now, after a newspaper unearthed that he is gay, has revealed that he has yet to taste the delights of true love.
The singer has never had the exalted feeling of being in love irrespective of the fact that he is rich and famous. His good looks too add to his charm.

We might write all future No Rock stories in this style.

THE ECONOMICS OF THE MADHOUSE: We're sorry, but however Michael Jackson's people try to slice the raising of a USD10 million loan against the Neverland ranch - "hey, he must have a good credit rating" - it's hard to see this as anything more than another sign that Jacko's financially on the ropes. This seems to have been a deal cut to get the Bank of America off his back in the short term, although it's being spun as "taking advantage of falling interest rates to consolidate his loans." Apparently he was watching Countdown when this advert for Ocean Finance came on, and...

GOO ON THE LABEL: When artists set up record labels, it's not so much 'poacher turned gamekeeper' as 'whore turned pimp', isn't it? Pulling on the metaphorical wide-brimmed hat and sharp suit now is Robbie Takac, out the Goo Goo Dolls. His Good Charamel label is about to release its first three records, from Klear, Last Conservative and the Juliet Dagger. It must be some sort of mission to collect the worst-named bands in the entire universe in one place.

KEATING'S EATING BEATING: Enormous becocked singer Ronan Keating collapsed on the floor just seconds before he was due to sing at Vienna's Life Ball for Aids charity bash. He was rushed to hospital - people are always rushed to hospital - where they diagnosed severe food poisoning. They pumped his stomach, and then they found sixteen different types of sperm in there... oh, hang on, wrong urban myth. Surely nobody would be so cruel as to lace Ronan's strawberries with salmonella to stop him playing, when they could have just cut the electricity?

BRITNEY TEARS: (That's as in 'rhymes with Spears' and not a suggestion that any part of her is ripped). Thanks to our mysterious tip-off for prompting us to bring you the Britney flees end of German gig in tears story. We did wonder if it was just being barked up that she must have been in tears because she left straight after the gig. See, that much we can understand - we've spent too much time backstage after gigs, and generally it's pretty dull, and we've never quite got why so much is made of people hanging out for hours after they've finished work. After all, when a bloke comes to fix your boiler, when he's done it, he goes home - he doesn't sit around in your kitchen for hours with a couple of other boiler-fixers talking about his jobs for tomorrow, does he?

But it does seem that she did blub a bit:

In other Britney news, some of the gossip sites believe they've cracked the mysterious "I have done what Janet's done" code of her recent interview, extrapolating that it was Britney's way of telling us with a wink that she's had some girl on girl fun. If you listen, what you hear is not cicadas, but people typing "Britney Spears Lesbian" into Google with even more determination.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: We could be heroes edition
The NME is in one of its experimental moods this week, constructing three covers from the 'Heroes Issue' concept - Franz Ferdinand and Morrissey get the cover proper, flip it out and there's The Ordinary Boys and Paul Weller (Weller looking bad - he's aged, but he's wearing Lynn's Mum's cataract glasses which doesn't help) and on the place which would be page three, The Strokes and Lou Reed - Reed looking better now than Weller.

As if that's not enough to be going on with, there's also a picture of Courtney Love's mass wedding for the Universal Life Church. Apparently Courtney has got the legal right to marry these people.

Young Matt Phillips from the BPI is back in harness again for the NME's debate about digital music. He talks the same crockload you'd expect, but mmm, ain't he tasty? Let's hope Cosmo get him in for their next naked issue. Meanwhile, here's Matt about the future: "[Filesharing] has gone up and up, and it's setting a very bad precedent if everyone can get their music on the internet for free..." - the BPI still talk like we're in 1998, like Napster is still just a word whispered between hipsters. You can see why the music industry likes the new Napster, though: Brad Duea insists that "it's not about making music cheaper, it's about a better experience for about the same value." First, why shouldn't it be cheaper, for all the reasons that everyone can list in their sleep; Second - "a better experience?" Seriously, anyone who works in the music industry who thinks that listening to an MP3 rather than a CD is anything to do with "the experience" really shouldn't be allowed to do anything more than choose tracks for New Woman compilations. Music is music is music. The experience is the emotion. If you don't get that, you have no right to even start trying to suggest what the value of music is.

In other news: Pixies official CD bootlegs are zipping about Ebay for a thousand bucks; Kasabian needed two sets of riot police to keep order at a hometown gig.

Meanwhile, two NME readers went off to LA to see The Darkness, having won a competition. Justin Hawkins mistook them for NME writers and tried to have them ejected. The girl started to cry, someone stepped in and explained they weren't NME writers at all and Justin apologised. What's interesting about this is it's the first time the NME has acknowledged that there's been a falling-out between the band and the paper - presumably pepped up by the rapprochment with Morrissey, it's now viewed as just a matter of time before it's all cleared up.

The slick Glastonbury ticket sell-off takes another twist, as Leisa Richards had been told she'd not been able to buy a ticket. Then 300 turned up with her name on. And a GBP30,000 bill for her trouble.

Thirteen Senses make a pretend CD - Grandaddy, REM and, oh, Coldplay.

Peter Robinson takes on Graham Coxon, doing what seems to be a phone interview while Coxon trots home from buying a pair of trousers. Worryingly, he tries to enter a debate on cucumbers and gherkins, which is the sort of discussion we know just ends in tears.

The Radar band is The Mean Reds - they all look about twelve, like the Senseless Things used to. And look what happened to them. Anthony says that his Mum doesn't like it when he talks about his penis. They've all taken their shirts and trousers off for the photo, too.

So, the Heroes thing, then: It's the Bowie/Brett Anderson "One day, son, all this will be yours" issue revisited and writ large. Morrissey asks the Franzes what the first album they bought was; when Bob replies "Michael Jackson's Bad" Mozzer blanches "I wish you hadn't been that honest." He then sounds a little disappointed to hear that they're all knocking thirty.

The Strokes come face to face with Lou Reed. Reed tells them the bit about walking down life's highway in I Found A Reason was meant to be a joke when he wrote it. And then there's a big piece with the Ordinary Boys and Weller. Weller complains that bands today don't have anything to say, and then The Ordinary Boys prove his point by moaning about Pop Idol.

The poster section continutes the theme, with more great meetings of minds: The Clash/Bo Diddley; the Datsuns/Metallica; The Libertines/Morrissey and The Beatles/Ali. Luckily they don't have to scrape about any further as the survey is in again.

Sam Delaney files a nice report from somewhere in MOR hell. The revelation that Joss Stone came off a talent show and was dreamed up by her management team isn't much of a surprise, but it's worth stressing.

princes trust urban music festival, earls court - "while the UK has much to offer, it is, for now at least, all about the US"
the fiery furnaces, kings cross scala - "colourful, twisted, hilarious"
funeral for a friend, newport city live arena - "not afraid to cut to the heart of the matter - or the matter of a heart"
the duke spirit, birmingham academy - "blissed out euphoria not heard since My Bloody Valentine"

slipknot - vol 3 - "an ambitious attempt to move things forward", 8
nick drake - made to love magic - "it's taken a death to give this stuff life - not a trade-off we should encourage", 6

hope of the states - the red the white the black the blue - "there's a storm in heaven tonight"
scout niblett - uptown top ranking - "by FAR the whitest record ever made"

and, finally, Greg Gilbert of Delays loves The Stone Roses, which would make sense, except he tries to pass them off as "the godfathers of shroomadelica", which is of course nonesense.

PLAY IN A DAY TV: It's been ages since you could switch on the TV and learn how to play an instrument - not, surely, since the glory days of Rockschool, in fact. (Not to be confused with Rock Goes To College, which was quite different and not merely a higher level of study). Now, though, the chance to top up your wah-wahs while you watch is going to be made available all over again, with the launch of M-channel, a new service dedicated to allowing people to free their inner Clapton (or, at certain times, their inner Fatboy Slim). Of course, it might just allow people to sit around drinking beer and watching people play instruments rather than actually learning how to play them for themselves, but you never know.

NEVER SHIT ON ANYONE ELSE'S DOORSTEP, EITHER: Twista has got some explaining to do, after his tour bus emptied raw, rap star sewage all over the street in Indiananpolis. Staff at a nearby hotel called the fire brigrade, afraid that rapper poop might count as a biohazard. Health Inspectors deliberated and allowed the fireteam to hose the stuff from the street. They've not decided on if they'll take any further action.

"THE MANAGER HAS THE FULL BACKING OF THE BOARD: The official Top of the Pops website is currently running a "news story" denying that Tim Kash is for the poke as presenter of the show, despite the drafting in of Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates to bring the presentation team up to at least half a clue at all times. Tim says "I love the show and I love the people on the show. We get great acts and I'm enjoying every minute". That's all well and good - but there's a difference between wanting to stay, and people wanting you to stay, Tim.

DANCE, DANCE, DANCE TO THE CELLULOID: The people (specifically Amy Hobby) who brought you Secretary are apparently touting round the idea of a movie of the life of Ian Curtis. Apparently Neal Weisman is also on board, and he's been telling anyone who'll listen in Cannes that Curtis was a "tragic romantic." There's a natural, knee-jerk suspiscion that this is more about feasting off the bones of the dead rather than trying to ensure Curtis takes a place in the pantheon alongside Shelley and Byron - we're getting a a sense of "right, Drake and Parsons are paydirt, who else is dead and interesting, with the possibility of soundtrack album tie-in?"; what makes it worse is the news that "musical advisor" on the film isn't someone you'd naturally associate with Joy Division - it's Moby.

ITUNES JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT BETTER: Thanks to hmyn, a nifty little device which allows you to remove the DRM which prevents you from moving the music you've paid for between your own computers and devices. It's not intended to allow you to give away iTunes music to people - and you'll still be identified as the source of the track if you do - but it does give the system extra flexibility.

PEOPLE? AAAARGH: So, is Morrissey doing the live appearance on Radio One this evening, or is he not? suggested Mozzer had pulled out of playing live, because he was unhappy at discovering Radio One had invited twelve people to watch him (we're not so sure why he's suddenly got so shy - he's doing a week as a musical guest on a US chatshow, so it's not like he's afraid of audiences); then they said that he would be "playing live and chatting" between eight and ten, which would seem to suggest just the Zane Lowe show and not the appearance on Peel as well that was originally planned. Frankly, we don't know. Somehow, it doesn't feel as bad as that time Wimbledon overran shunting The Smiths on Whistle Test off down the schedule.

STEALING A GUITAR FROM A BAND IS LIKE DOWNLOADING ONE OF THEIR TRACKS ON MP3: Someone has pinched four guitars from Creed. "What did God do about it, eh?" asks Playlouder. Answered everybody elses's prayers, surely?

THE MOST PLAYED SONG IN THE COUNTRY OF ALL TIME: If you do pub quizzes, you might want to make a note of this on the inside of your sleeve - the PPL rights collection agency have done their sums, and calculated that, if you add together radio, club, shop and jukebox plays, Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale is the most-heard song of the last seventy years. (My stubborn constant repeat playing of Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now on the Butlins', Filey, jukebox one summer doesn't seem to have a had an impact on the figures. Bohemian Rhapsody is at number two - although if you strip out plays to illustrate 'Listener's All-Time Top 100' charts, it'd probably wind up much lower.

That top ten in full:

1. Procul Harum ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’
2. Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
3. Wet Wet Wet ‘Love Is All Around’
4. The Everly Brothers ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’/’Claudette’
5. Bryan Adams ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’
6. Abba ‘Dancing Queen’
7. Elvis Presley ‘All Shook Up’
8. Rod Stewart ‘Maggie May’
9. The Beatles ‘Hello Goodbye’
10. The Beatles ‘Get Back’

Jesus wept - it's a wonder we don't have more people charging round shooting people at random in the streets. But is it only me who finds the presence of Hello Goodbye and Get back - rather than, say Twist and Shout - slightly odd?

LOLLOPING INTO BRITAIN: Sure, there's always been rumours that Perry Farrell is about to bring Lollapalooza to the UK, but this time round, it's looking like he just might. Or... we think that's what he means:

I'm not going to rush it because I want to [bring it over], I'm going to do it because all of a sudden the universe will open up and say, 'Go over there now! You should go there.' I just have to go slow. You gotta catch a rhythm. With music, it's funny, people will ask me a lot of questions about putting on festivals - what they don't realise is you're out there in the universe and music's out there in the universe and you have to hope that the music and you cross paths."

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE PHRASE 'HOSTAGE TO FORTUNE'?: We've never been showbiz agents, but if we were, the first thing we'd tell our charges, no matter how pushy and greedy ("ambitious") they were, was: don't do toilet paper ads, don't do hallitotis ads.

With the news that Jessica Simpson is going to promote bad breath products, we'll be letting her know we'd be prepared to represent her when her current contract is up.

WHAT U DO TO MTV: The FT Creative Business supplement carried an interesting piece this week about how Def Jam elected to avoid MTV Base for its campaign for the new Ludacris album, spending its cash on U instead. Not only is U not as tiny as you might think - it might only play to an average audience of 3,199, but MTV Base only leverages in 7,290 for all its superior EPG position and brand muscle - but, incredibly, MTV won't let you place ads on a specific channel - you have to buy space across the MTV families. Which obviously isn't going to be cost effective.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

DOWNLOAD FUN: Bhangra, bhangra, nothing but bhangra - all in lovely mp3 format. It's the music you need for the weather we're in. [Coughing politely to bring this to our attention: said the gramophone.]

SCOTT WANTS TO BE ALONE: Scott Weiland has issued a statement telling us that he wants us all to look the other way now, thank you. He says:

"I feel that I can no longer be a part of the rock "Press Type Thing". Although I greatly appreciate the respect our album has been given in review, it has become increasingly clear that in "respect" to me, the word journalism' is blurred with tabloid sensationalism and untruths. I will not stoop to the level of these mosquitoes in order to simply sell records. I won't play your f**king game. Velvet Revolver agreed a month ago to do a feature for Rolling Stone; I have already committed to this. In the past my relationship with R.S. has been an honest one for the most part. I have had a very positive and open relationship with one writer there over the years when S.T.P. has been featured on covers and so on. His name is David Fricke. If it could be worked out that he and I speak than I would feel more comfortable to participate in this last piece. This decision is not just about me. I have two young children, one of which is old enough to comprehend things, but not yet of the age to be able to distinguish the truth from outright lies. I understand that you guys may feel that you won't be able to crawl inside my head, and I am sympathetic to that, so I will contact you all through the website via Yoko every few days to keep in touch and answer questions. - Scott Richard Weiland."

Hmm... perhaps if you didn't keep behaving like a dickhead, people wouldn't run finger-pointing pieces about you, Scott. Still, nice to know that you're happy to still be interviewed providing you can choose the interviewer. Mussolini was a lot like that, you know.

AVRIL ADMITS: HER SONGS ARE JUNK: Avril Lavigne, our favourite artist, has been blaming all her angry songs on a poor diet:

"[I was] eating bad stuff, lots of sugar and carbohydrates, junk food all the time. It makes you very irritated. I spent some time with a nutritionist and learned I had low blood sugar. Now I eat accordingly."

We're not sure why her diet would have influenced her songs, since other people write them, but there you are. She's found out - at the age of 20 - that junk food is bad for you. And it took a nutritionist for her to make that leap. Hey, do you suppose they call it "junk food" because, it's, like, not good?

The funny thing is, we're angry a lot of the time, because we keep hearing Avril Lavigne songs on the radio and TV. Or perhaps its these burritos. Who can say?

OH, GOOD GOD, JUST STOP, WILL YOU?: Morrissey, for heaven's sake, there's a difference between being a caricature of yourself and a parody, and the whole "Goodness, what's this hop hip music" schtick is crossing the line - carry on like this, and you'll be turning up for interviews dressed as Quentin Crisp.

ARAB AWARDS LAUNCHED, HITCHED: The first ever Arabian Music Awards didn't pass off quite as smoothly as hoped on Sunday, when the Dubai Festival got hit by a range of problems - the show started two hours late, the hosts' microphones didn't work, causing an abandonment after eight minutes; and they lost the winner's trophies. Oh, and they ran so far behind schedule they had to axe the two biggest prizes. The event was also underminded a little by many Arabian music stars staying away, and they've not yet got round to updating the website. But at least they didn't have Mick Fleetwood presenting, and that's got to count in their favour.

Carole Samaha won won of the awards that dfid get presented - she was best female newcomer:

Egyptian rap act MTM won best modern Arabic act. Then Sarah Brightman came on to sing a song, which is probably why somebody broke the microphones. We're not sure why she was chosen - perhaps to remind the audience that Western music might not be all its cracked up to be, either.

GO JONNY GO GO GO GO: The BBC has signed up Jonny Greenwood to be its composer in residence (although he won't actually be bunking down in a corridor outside the Newsround studio), producing stuff to be played on the radio. It's a sideline - he'll be juggling it with his Radiohead work, but if Michael Grade can keep all his business plates spinning prettily, we're sure Jonny won't have a problem multi-tasking. The beauty of this role is that Greenwood is going to have access to a load of resources that usually would cost him a fortune to secure (or rather, which his label would usually charge him a fortune for) and that includes the BBC Concert Orchestra. Even the lead violinist. Of course, Radiohead are getting used to having the run of the BBC these days - Thom Yorke edited Today a couple of months back; the band programmed 6Music over Christmas, and Ed O'Brien is Deputy Head of Sports at BBC Three Counties Radio. Surely it's only a matter of time before Thom gets the vacant DG chair?

LOOK AT ME: Somehow, we don't think that the movie world is going to be quite so appalled by Geri Halliwell refusing to do promo work for Fat Slags - The Movie alongside former shag-partner Jerry "You might recall me from Kangaroo Jack" O'Connell as we're lead to believe - mainly because we'd imagine that anyone in the film business who doesn't think of this as anything more than Easycinema fodder probably doesn't have any job much above sweeping the set; but also because Geri's not actually playing one of the Fat Slags, on the grounds that they'd just never be able to guarantee one half of the role's requirements on a day-by-day basis. She's merely in a supporting role - as is Naomi Campbell, which gives you an idea of the sort of quality we're looking at here. There's also a character called "Hysterical UN Woman." It does have Fiona Allen in, but isn't that the way with British films? It's like they cast on the grounds of finding someone talented to hold hostage.

Anyway, Geri and Jerry split because she though he had a immature sense of humour. That's the thing about Geri: she likes her men smart, as this file photo shows:

ewww. they did it.

In other Spice Girl news, it's being rumoured that they've found a way to persuade Mel C to change her mind on the question of a reunion - Virgin are threatening to force the band to buy out their contract if they don't get back together. Which - if true - could mean Mel C having to find two million quid to keep from going back home.

PIXIES NEWS - IT'S BEEN A WHILE: Just before the Pixies reunited, Frank Black was hard at work pissing away his birthright ("reworking old Pixies tunes in an experimental style") for an album that was to have been called Frank Black Francis. The label who'd signed him up for this project, SpinArt, so far hasn't been able to anything firm about when this might all see the light of day beyond the admission that the originally planned Spring launch was looking a little unlikely now. While we can live without hearing Frank and Two Pale Boys re-arranging the Pixies songs, the album was to have been a double affair, the second disc full of pre-Pixies Frank Black stuff, and we'd quite like to have heard that. Mind you, if someone had asked us if we'd like to hear Frank Black and Teenage Fanclub working together, we'd have said yes, and look how that turned out.

NIGHT-TIME RADIO ONE WITH... WHO?: So, it turns out the promise of Elijah Wood doing the Peel show - fallen upon with much fervour - was all spun from a joke he told Jo Whiley. Now, that's a disappointment, as in an age where Brad Pitt presents Radio 2 shows, it wasn't so very far fetched. And maybe it might just happen, with Andy Parfitt set to overhaul the nighttime schedules on the station.

Now, night-time is one of the few areas where Radio One has consistently excelled - partly because in the brief period where Peel was off doing weekend afternoons, Radcliffe was ruling the roost, and its at the edges that the network has been most consistently challenging - Kid Jensen, Janice Long, the Ranking Miss P, Lamacq. Obviously, it's got it wrong sometimes, although Nicky Campbell was at his least irritating when he was doing his time heading towards midnight with a session from the Emmylou Harris and an interview with the shadow minister for tourism. Just recently, its main line-up of Zane Lowe followed by Peel, with weekend evenings filled up with dance and stuff, has been sounding far healthier than the rest of the network. But, of course, Radio One is needing to shift its figures upwards, and an easy way to do that is to make the "specialist" slots a little less specialist. Not, of course, that that's what they're doing:

"All of those shows appeal to particular musical communities, I'm really pleased that they have credibility within these specific communities, but I think the job of Radio 1 - given that we are a national broadcaster - is that we can't just preach to the converted," said Mr Parfitt. "What I'm talking about is trying to arrange the universe of Radio 1 specialists in such a way that it matches people's lifestyles and moods. Frankly, there will always be some compromises because there are a limited number of slots and everyone would like more time."

What does that exactly mean - "arrange the universe of Radio 1 specialists in such a way that it matches people's lifestyles?" What timeslot would you put Peel in to match a "lifestyle", exactly?

"We are not here to dilute what any of the specialists do and make them more accessible. Our commitment to delivering at the cutting edge for all of these genres is absolute."

Hmmm. Well, that remains to be seen. What's interesting is that Zane Lowe is to be given twice as much time as he currently gets - we suppose this might mean the end of the Monday evening anomaly, where Lamacq still does Monday night - and could just mean that Lowe starts earlier. On the other hand, it could mean Peel being shunted back beyond midnight. We're going to avoid saying the new schedule's rubbish before we see it, but it certainly has the makings of being rubbish. Parfitt doesn't seem to understand the ecology of Radio One, which even Bierling managed to grasp - night-time has never been about "preaching to the converted", but more of a gentle progression - so, when I got home from school, Steve Wright would be finishing up, then Peter Powell would turn up, playing more freshly released stuff; he'd hand over to Janice Long for a spot of less-threatening indie stuff, before Peel would come on and pummell you with Sonic Youth - every day's schedule had feel of a 'learning curve' to it, gently shading from Smash Hits to The Wire through a spot of NME stuff. Lamacq used to say he took care to make sure that he started his version of the Evening Session with something that wouldn't scare away daytime listeners, holding that in reserve for later. It was a nautrally "inclusive" system. Any restructure that loses that would be a big worry for people who care about the growth of new bands in the UK, although not as much as it would have been a few years back when Radio One was the only breeding zoo in the game.

ANOTHER CLEAROUT: The major's claims that they have to charge a lot for the big hitters to underwrite the low-performing artists on their rosta looks thinner than ever with the news that Warner Music are about to drop nearly half of their artists from Atlantic/Elektra, and move Metallica from Elektra into Warner's sphere of influence. Third Eye Blind are among the bands destined to be shoved in a box outside the Warners HQ with 'Artists - Pleez Take One' on the side.

THE BALANCE OF NEIGHBOURS ACTORS WITH RECORD CONTRACTS HAS BEEN RESTORED: As Holly Vallance returns to "acting", leaving music to fend for itself, Natalie Imbruglia returns with a new record deal. She's signed to some new BMG imprint, who think they know where (other BMG imprint) RCA went wrong with her - trying to make her pop when "Nat's really a rock chick" - i.e. she's had sex with Lenny Kravitz, on which basis Victoria Beckham is a Premiership footballer. Seriously, though, we're pleased that Natalie's been rescued from the limbo of doing poor L'Oreal adverts - we always thought she was worth more than that, at least.

This also gives an excuse to mention the fulmination against in-jokes in Neighbours, with Billy bemoaning characters making jokes about Check 1-2 - "something which shouldn't exist in the Erinsborough dimension" (or, indeed, anywhere) and "one that almost made me consider hanging myself, [...] when Toadie said that Nina could be "the next Kylie".

MORE FUCK, A BETTER FUCK: If you're sick of the shock-sweary bum poo pants willy of Eamon and Frankee, and your heart yearns for a proper, mouth-filling oath, the P J Harvey official site has got the video for new track Who The Fuck available for streaming or hijacking right now.


"Idol' is an easy target, as (the contestants) are really just very simple children who are manipulated by truly awful grown-up people," he told the New York Post. "But I certainly think Britney Spears is the devil. The way she projects herself and the fact that she is so obviously vacuous. I think it's such a shame that she became so influential to very small children."

So, Morrissey and Avril Lavigne agree on something. Strange days, strange bedfellows, and so on...

NEW SOUNDS NEW STYLES: Normally, a radio station would be absolutely jazzed that their breakfast duo had picked up the Sony award for Breakfast Show of the year - especially in a year when Breakfast Shows also picked up a Gold Entertainment award (for Harriet and Jono - yes, Coleman, and, yes, I suspect the Sony panel has taken leave of their senses) and DJ of the Year (Christian O'Connell - you see? totally insane). But Key 103 will feel JK and Joel's accolade is laced with some bitter taste of something very bitter indeed, as JK and Joel have quit the station to go to Radio One, which would make applause a bit awkward. Instead of champagne, Key has been forced to re-jiggle its line-up, and in a bizarre twist, having lost its top presenters to Radio One, it seems to have signed up a load of old Radio One jingles for its new on-air identity. Our moles in Manchester can't quite believe their ears.

At the same time, Key has taken TV adverts promoting the new line-up of presenters, which is fine - except they decided to do it cheap, with a shot of the three daytime jocks. It looks like the meeting of a North West sales team for a pharmaceutical company. Mind you, it's not as bloody perplexing as BBC Radio Merseyside's current promo, which features Billy Butler doing bonsai and Tony Snell... now, is it Snelly or Billy who bounces on the space hopper eating jelly? Our notes are a little unclear on this.

The full list of Sony Winners is, of course, online somewhere; amongst the other highlights were 1Xtra's Ace and Invisible picking up best daily music show (Ace and invisible - could be an apt description of 1Xtra); Jonathan Ross getting best weekly music show; a 'thank god you didn't die' prize for Johnnie Walker. Radio 4 won what must be its first ever music prize, picking up a 'Music Special' gold for its Bob Marley feature; the similar but different Specialist Music went to Andy Kershaw for Radio 3's Kershaw in the Desert.

Monday, May 17, 2004

SONNY MAKES A DOWNPAYMENT: POD have had to pull a show in Columbus, Ohio, because, um, singer Sonny Sandoval "hurt himself in a fall" and wasn't well enough to perform. No word on when they'll be back on their feet. Or at least sitting up in a chair.

CAN YOU FIND THE STRAIGHTNERS?: How do you mark a low thirties entry for your single? In Pete Doherty's case, by heading straight for the Priory. Following what the NME describes as "a week of chaotic Babyshambles gigs", Pete's been dumped at the posh health club for a spot of drying out, straightening up and - if he's still there next Thursday - flying right, or basket making, depending on what he chooses.

Babyshambles gig-goers have been coming away from the nights afraid that Pete might be on the point of joining a Nick Drake and Kurt Cobain card school, and it seems his friends have decided enough is enough. is promising updates across the week.

It looks like the intervention might have come just in time, as Doherty was starting to resemble a German exchange student:

I DON'T THINK I'M SEXY: Britney Spears has apparently told German FHM that she doesn't think she's sexy in the least, which you can see in the way she takes the stage dressed in any old thing. She also claims to have "secretly been just as sexually active as Janet Jackson", which makes it sound like they're comparing notes or something. Unless "as sexually active as Janet Jackson" has become a new half-way staging post between virgin and slut: "I've broken my chastity pledge, but I won't sleep with just anyone. I'm only as sexually active as Janet Jackson." Spears elucidates further:

"But as far as sex goes, I've done similar things to what Janet Jackson has done."

Which we think means she's shagged James DeBarge, which is a frightening thought.

She's also given a heads-up to what she's looking for in a man. She wants a man who isn't politcally correct and isn't everybody's darling. We've run it through our computers, and would suggest this fellow:

FRED DURST'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Let us dip once again into the mind of Fred Durst:

"i am very sorry that you have to read all the attacks on me when you come here, but you have to understand that these people need a purpose. i feel special knowing that they spend so much of their personal time with us here at american aliens."

That's right, Fred - you're Mommy's special little boy, aren't you? Well done for rising above some the cruel things people can say. We understand that you're not angry, just sad that people have let themselves down so badly.

HELL IN PARADISE? MORE LIKE MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR: Remember Yoko Ono's Hell in Paradise? Really, you don't? But it was a mighty number twelve on the all-important Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart as recently as 1985? Surely you remember? You couldn't go into many Hot Dance Clubs without at least having a fifty-fifty chance of possibly hearing it back then. Anyway, the song is back - remixed for "today's club culture", according to Reuters.

Proving just why they're so great as a financial information company, Reuters are pretty excited by this resurrection, seeing it as timely:

Consider the song's first verse: "This is hell in paradise/We're all asleep or paralyzed/Why are we scared to verbalize/Our multicolor dreams."
Now, consider the song's second verse: "When will we come to realize/We're all stoned or pacified/While the boogie men organize/Their multilevel schemes."

Reteurs seem to have bought Ono's claims that the song is much more timely now than it was in 1985. Oddly, she admits that "when I wrote it, I wasn't sure what I was writing" but seems to have figured it out now - it's uncanny how she knew nearly twenty years ago that there'd be perfectly organized multilevel schemes. Why didn't we listen then? We could have stopped those damn boogiemen in their tracks. But no, we just scoffed, and now, look at us: When did you last verbalize your multicolor dreams? Not for a while, I bet. Please, this time: Listen to Yoko. When you're out shopping next, share a multicolor dream with the checkout girl, or a traffic warden. And please, at the European elections next month: vote out the boogiemen. Do it for John. It's what John would have wanted.

DION NECK STILL NOT RIGHT: Celine Dion's neck - sprained in what might have been a nasty "trying to get some grass growing outside the paddock" incident - still hasn't healed, prompting the cancellation of more Dion shows this weekend. Her neck is expected to be well enough to perform again on Wednesday. So if you fancy a nice trip to Vegas, we suggest you do it in the next 24 hours.

YES, THAT'LL QUASH THEM: The Contactmusic report on the Tatu pregnancy is quite amusing - it says Julia will be able to quash the "lesbian rumours." Yes, can't imagine where people might have got the idea Tatu were lesbians from...

KISS KISS OFF: In another stunning example of someone not apparently realising they don't have a job to quit, Holly Vallance has decided to turn her back on the world of music to "concentrate on acting" - curiously, she never appeared to be concentrating much when she was appearing in Neighbours.

Holly describes it as "starting over." Wouldn't worry, Holly - a lot of people have to embark on a new career by the time they've hit, um, twenty.

TOUCHED BY THE HAND OF GOD: We find something slightly endearing about Daniel Bedingfield's claims that God tipped off his parents three weeks before he his New Zealand car crash that he was going to be in a motor accident of some sort. Daniel doesn't share exactly what form God's tip-off came: angels dancing about singing, the Holy Father sidling up to Papa Bedingfield in a pub and whsipering "Your boy... should watch his speed." Or maybe just channeling through one of Living TV's psychics. There's a further possibility, of course, that it was just an anonymous note the parents assumed must be from God, and there's a chap going round with brake fluid over his hands shrugging "I tried to warn 'im what would 'appen if 'e kept taking business from Will Young." But let's assume for a moment that it was God - why would God be going round warning people of upcoming non-fatal car accidents? Does he do this sort of thing all the time? Does he often contact the Bedingfields about what's coming next - "Your daughter? FHM cover shoot- September; upskirt shot of her panties on the front of the Daily Sport sometime mid-October; disappointing first album sales; dropped by the record label just before Christmas and spending most of 2005 in a touring version of Cats."

Talking about the accident itself, Bedingfeld says "I'm not sure why I lost control of the car." Well, wasn't the summation of the New Zealand police that you weren't driving properly - isn't that why you're having to take those lessons now you're back in the UK, because otherwise you'd have been prosecuted?

A PREGNANT LESBIAN, YOU SAY? WHATEVER NEXT - GAY MEN GETTING MARRIED? TO EACH OTHER?: According to some sources - which might mean that it's something Tom Ewing made up in a queue - Julia Volkova of Tatu is pregnant. The poor staff of webindia123 have their heads spinning in puzzlement at this:

It seems that Julia Volkova and Lena Katina of the pop group Tatu may not be lesbians after all.
According to The Sun, Volkova is pregnant with the child of her long time boyfriend, Pasha Sidorov.
Apparently Sidorov is a karate expert and already has a wife and a daughter.
"Obviously we won't be celebrating a wedding," Julia was quoted as saying. The band plans to stage a comeback after she delivers the baby.

Tatu are obviously losing their edge - twelve months ago they'd have made their comeback while she was delivering the baby. We're still trying to puzzle out exactly why the reference to Karate was included in the report.

HE LIKES A BIT OF READING ON THE SUBWAY HOME: Some interesting nuggets from Remember the 80s this week - Andy Bell (the one from Erasure, not the one from Oasis) is due to release an autobiography in time for Christmas, and a solo album, and on top of that there's going to be more Erasure stuff; Nik Kershaw is on the point of bringing us two new albums (well, one's only new-ish, greatest hits plus new stuff) and A-Ha have signed a three-album deal in Germany, with worldwide aspirations. Although chances are it might be as rubbish as Cry Wolf. Morten might be able to buy a decent amp for his vocals now:

Sunday, May 16, 2004

A WHOLE NEW GALAXIE: The recording angels of the Galaxie500 world are reporting that an incredibly desirable limited edition single is going to be made available to the first five hundred (clever, eh?) people who purchase the new double DVD from Plexifilm. It's got live versions of Pictures and, wonderfully, Snowstorm on it.

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON BONO: Chris from doyoufeelloved writes about Bono's appearances in the belly of power:

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not asking you to like the guy, but I definitely think you're being unfair to him. For one thing, his appearance with George Bush (who, I might add, I hate with an unrivalled passion and who I will take great, erection-causing glee in voting out of office in November) HAS actually caused a large amount of money to start flowing into Africa to combat AIDS -- I'd always suspected it was an empty promise myself, but I was recently assured by Bobby Shriver, the head of DATA (and a registered Democrat) at a Q&A session in New York that the Bush AIDS relief plan has, in fact, begun to kick in, and is doing some good. And second, I'm not sure where your rancor at his appearing with the Canadian PM comes from. You seem to think that if Canada had already decided to up its AIDS budget, then there's no reason for Bono to appear with them -- well, maybe it's to say "Thank you"? That's still considered polite in most cultures. Granted, I don't think that Bono should make a habit of appearing with George Bush to say "thank you" -- now that he's got his money, I'm hoping he gives the man a wide berth and lets everyone else rag on him to keep it up for a change -- but the Canadian government is not as ethically questionable as Bush's is, so I don't see the harm.

Also, it bears noting that I am a twenty/thirtysomething U2 fan, and I'm sure as fuck not taking Bono's appearance with Bush as an "endorsement."

(And yes, I am a U2 fan, and not JUST a U2 fan, but a big one -- I write for in my spare time. So take this with a grain of salt, but I don't think I'm being terribly unreasonable.)

In response:

I can understand what you're saying, and it might be that without Bono these things wouldn't have been happening at all. And I can also go with the other argument that Bono is at least using his fame for something other than getting the best tables at restaurants, and I should cut him some slack for that and, yes, I suppose I should.

But, more specifically: What Bono did by appearing with Bush was to allow him to appear to be responsible for the rather miserly increase in the budget being sent to target AIDs in Africa - although one rise had actually already been approved by Congress, so it wasn't a Bush initiative at all; Bush actually just made an announcement about stretching money over three years, which in effect turned the "increase" into a slight decrease. Bono stood by happily while Bush claimed to giving more money when, in effect, he was cutting funding. Remember, Frist and Helms had been trying to increase funding to USD500million a year; Bush's White House has beaten them down to USD200m. [source: ]

And, yes, the money might be flowing in now (although it took quite a while to get going - Paul Davis of the Global Aids Alliance pointed out there had been three million Aids-related deaths while the bureaucracy was being set up) - but it's going where the White House wants it to go, rather than where it's needed. A lot of it is going through American contractors - almost as if Bush's initiative was to try and help American pharmaceutical companies to maintain income in the face of the push for generic versions of Aids drugs. The head of Bush's Aids initiative, is, of course, a former head of drug company [source: ]

The rancour for Bono's Canadian adventure really stems from his insistence that he wasn't playing a part in the Canadian election campaign - yes, a "thank you" might be the polite thing to do, but why do it in public? It's the same with his appearance with Bush - however much he might think in his heart that he isn't lending his weight to help the stature of these people, he is doing precisely that. Do you really think the Canadian premier thought "it's nice of Bono to come and say 'thank you'", or "Which side shall I have Bono on to show off my best profile?" Bono could say thank you in private, or by saying thank you on the 'phone. Whether you think it's an endorsement or not, sharing a public photo-opportunity and shaking the hand of a politician is buying in to what they stand for. If Bono had been making a vital difference, it might have been worth his taking that step. With Bush, certainly, he sold the allure of his celebrity incredibly cheap.

I know we're never going to agree on aspects of Bono's good work - I tend to see him as more of a 1960s housewife on a grand scale, doing good works to fill in the time and for the social buzz, and I know you'd think that is a little unfair. In the end, the results are what counts, and if Bono really does actively help save lives in Africa, that can't be a bad thing. I just wish he'd be a bit more careful whose hand he chooses to shake en route.

MY VENUE HAS A FIRST NAME, IT'S O-S-C-A-R: - although not for much longer, as the Oscar Meyer theatre in Madison is closing down next week. The venue opened at the end of February 1980 with a gig featuring Muddy Waters and Betty Carter. The venue is going out with a tribute to the local stars who play, but popping up alongside the Wisconsin legends will be Shirley Manson - but doing something out of the ordinary: two songs from the "American Songbook." We'd hope someone in the Dairy State has plans to bootleg.

PLAQUE FOR MOST: They've slapped a Heritage Plaque outside the old RAK studios, where Mickie Most made stars from the variegated qualities of Hot Chocolate, Kim Wilde, Herman's Hermits and many others. Kim Wilde actually bothered to show up, as did Mick Hucknall and Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber, who were Dempsey and Makepeace. Oh, and Bill Wyman was there. Quite an odd little gathering.

EUROVISION PROPOSAL: So, once again, the ritual of Cyprus giving Greece 12, Greece gives Cyprus 12 has been gone through, but as with the expansion of the EU, the centre of Eurovision gravity has shifted quite a way East as the Balkans and Baltics and Slavs share their cake amongst themselves. Of course, it doesn't really matter, and we're quite taken with idea of one night's programming a year coming live from the old Warsaw Pact ourselves. Certainly, the accension countries seem to put a bit more effort into it - maybe we'd have stood a better chance if James Fox had been dressed in a posing pouch with two girls in cages waving their stripper's tassles at the camera. Not as good a chance we've had stood if James Fox had been Clare Grogan, but a better chance nevertheless.

Anyway, it's clear that - just to stop the annual moaning about the votes being given out with one eye on the political realities of the modern Europe - something needs to be done. The problem of buddy-voting could be reduced if every voting country had to provide a score for every song. While Denmark and Iceland would still swap their highest accolades, having to provide some sort of scores for everyone would at least smooth out the effect of, say, all of the Yugoslav countries voting themselves big. The downside is sitting through a bilingual announcement of twenty-five scores from thirty-odd nations would prolong the voting to a point where even the keenest Eurovision fan might start flicking over to see what was on the other side (by this point, it'd be ITV Nightscreen).

So, we have a modest proposal. Keep the ten points to be shared out amongst the ten favourite songs per jury, but let's alter the jury system a little. At the moment, each nation has its own jury. What we'd like to see is juries comprised of more than one country. They could be regional, although that would have problems (Would the UK pair with Ireland? Does France go with Andorra, or should Spain do that?), so it would make sense for the partners to be chosen at random - I see something like the World Cup final draws, with a giant brandy glass containing all the names of the voting nations, drawn out two by two. Each country would still have a phone vote on the evening, but the totals for the pair nations would be combined before the points were distributed - so you might find that the UK and Russia had their votes added together. In order to stop the sheer volume of large countries swamping smaller pair partners, before the votes are combined they'd be altered to one point per percentage of the poll. Of course, this means that only half the EBU nations would get to have a presenter sat in front of a picture of their downtown capital (although they could get the pairs to co-anchor: "Now, the votes from the United Kingdom and Malta, with Lorraine Kelly from the BBC in Valetta..."), but on the upside it'd save them some cash. It wouldn't stop the good people of Spain casting votes in favour of their Portugese brothers, but it would reduce the distortion in the voting.

Now, onto item two: calls for the immedeate reinstatement of Colin Berry.