Saturday, June 12, 2004

POPOBIT: Graeme Kelling, the guitarist with Deacon Blue, died on Thursday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He'd been ill for four years.

Deacon Blue took their name from a Steely Dan song, and first emerged into the public as a support act for The Waterboys. Several hits followed - including Fergus Sings the Blues, Dignity and Cholcoate Girl - but the band split in 1994, frustrated by an inabilty to turn their UK chart action into a worldwide. Although not an original member, Graeme had been a fixture and rejoined when Deacon Blue reformed in 1999, after Ricky Ross' solo career went nowhere and Kelling had spent some time co-authoring a guide to the best of Glasgow, called, um, Glasgow the Best.

He leaves a wife, Julie, and two children, Alexander, 5, and Grace, 2. Graeme was 47.

RACE HOBBLES IDOL AGAIN: After a bad-tempered run of American Idol, with accusations of racially-motivated voting throwing the integrity of the competition into doubt (okay, "integrity" might be a bit of an overstatement in this context), another race row has erupted around the format - this time in the Czech Republic. According to BBC Monitoring, Martina Balogova, a Romany who got through to the later stages of the singing competition, was facing almost cliff-face odds and a great deal of sniping, which she took with almost Franciscan grace:

On the programme's web site chat room, viewers can talk to the contestants but the Romany candidates often find themselves fielding questions their ethnic background.
Q: "What is it like to be a Gypsy?" Balogova: "What is it like to be a Czech?"
Q: "You will not win because you are a Gypsy, what do you say to that?" Balogova: "I won't mind at all, people must be able to lose, life is not just about winning."

The Pravo newspaper was in no doubt that public vote didn't show the Republic at its best:

"Out of the EU's post communist newcomers, the Czech Republic - along with Slovenia - seems to be causing least trouble. Still - did anyone in this country actually believe that the Superstar contest would be won by a girl who - without a shadow of a doubt - most deserved to win but who is a Romany?
"Let us hope that she will get the chance to cultivate her talent in the future and not just in a contest where not quality but subconscious feelings of sympathy and antipathy were clearly the decisive factor.
"This case illustrates one of our weaknesses and there is no point in trying to cover it up."

LATER... THAN YOU THINK?: Michael Jackson will be pleased, on returning to the BBC for the top job, to discover that some parts of his Late Show grand projet still remain, like the remains of a greater civilisation. It's a coincidence that the two surviving chunks of the old cultural warhorse - The Newsnight Review (nee The Late Review) and Later... With Jools Holland - now hunker down next to each other at the twilight end of BBC Two's Friday schedule, much as they used to do on Thursday nights when both were in their infancy. Newsnight Review occasionally touches on new releases, and last night's show sampled The Killer's album, but it's not entirely clear why: Germaine Greer hardly strikes me as someone who keeps her CD rack topped up with new releases, and as such, her dismissal of the album came across less the sort of knowledgeable dissection of the subject ballet and movies receive on the programme; more a parent asking that the noise be turned down. There is room on television for an intelligent music review programme, but Newsnight Review isn't really the place for it.

Nor, of course, is Later... With Jools Holland, which is now in its 390th series. There's some suggestion that the programme has worn out its welcome a little now, and while nobody would want to see it axed for the sake of it, it does give off a feeling of being just a bit grating. The opening titles, of Jools pointing at pictures of The Great Acts of series past, should only be watched alone as they appear to have been specially designed to raise the desire of the audience to punch someone repeatedly; the swirl-around-as-all-the-bands jam would work as a way of introducing the bands if Jools didn't then dance around the studio and do it all over again; and then, of course, there's been the attempts to lend the show some atmosphere by having an audience of celebs and hangers-on. When the programme started, there wasn't this strange bunch of figures hovering at the edges, like a cross between woodland creatures peering from the fringes of the forest and a Top of the Pops during the fuel crisis, and it really doesn't make the show any better having them there. Whistle Test got some really great performances simply by not having any audience at all - for a lot of artists used to grandstanding, taking away the gallery they're usually playing to sets them free to give the show of their lives. Other programmes, with a proper audience, at least manage to build up a sense of feedback and connection. Later's halfway measure doesn't do anything - a few chums and a couple of sub-Hello faces creates the feeling that the band are doing a quick turn at their secretary's leaving do and hardly brings out the best in anyone. Worse, it gives Jools an excuse to do some interviews with the faces who've turned up - so in this edition, we got to hear from Edith Bowman and Colin Murray - Bowman, with her homecut fringe and gardener's shirt looking more and more like the daughter Harold Steptoe never had; Murray coming across like the husband she'd got married beneath herself to.

Still, there's always the music, and even a mixed bag guarantees some delights. If you can ignore Jet - it's easy to forget in fingering them as a feral Oasis that they also have horrifying spells of sounding like Lenny Kravitz, and Charlie Musslewhite and Eric Bibb - sorry, if Chris Rea is busy, why not just leave the slot empty? - there's a lot here to enjoy: Hope of The States sounding like a melodic Cardiacs; Donna Summer, looking a great advert for either homophobic uberChristianity or Dr. Scalpel's No Questions Asked Face Boutique, and sounding wonderful despite being pressganged into Jool's contractual 'I'm playing the piano' piece; and Toot and the Maytals, who must spend an awful lot of time wondering why the world embraced the Wailers instead of their superior sound.

Oh, and I know this is probably heresy, but Bebel Gilberto looks rather over smug for someone who appears to be doing little more than singing Agadoo in Portuguese.

Maybe it's time the show gave itself a bit of an overhaul; the lets-do-the-show-right-here gimmicks that were so charming in the first series sit awkwardly with the flogging of DVDs and Cds and the whole cottage industry grown up round the show.

[This post also appears on Blogcritics]

LOVE TURNS HERSELF IN: Our Internet Explorer window is headlining this 'Yahoo! News - Courtney Love Surrenders on Ass...'; but she didn't actually turn up on a donkey as far as we can tell. She's added another bail posting of USD55,000 to her pile of outstanding legal items - this is the torch and bottle incident, of course. But at least she's not been locked up, which must mean she's got a hell of a lawyer: anyone who can look a judge in the eye and persuade them that Courtney Love is unlikely to re-offend while awaiting trial deserves to have statues raised to them across the nation.

FREE DOWNLOADS: The awfully splendid Playlouder Singles Club has poked up some new tracks for June: less glittery than previous months, perhaps - Paul Weller-worshipping The Others, plus Tom Vek and David Wrench.

BACK ON THE WIRELESS, BACK ON THE GRAVEYARD SLOT: "I've waited twenty years to have a jingle like that - that's the first time I've heard my name slightly misprounced by over-paid session singers from LA..." Mark Radcliffe started his Radio Two show this Monday, kicking off his show with some fun at the expense of Radio Two's standard jingle package (it's never been entirely clear why Radio 2 has managed to overhaul its image so completely without doing anything about its station identifiers, which still sound like they're designed to sit in the Pete Murray show). Then he played True Faith by New Order ("if you don't like this, you don't like music").

The show owes quite a lot to the old Radio One night-time show - even down to Iain MacMillan and Simon Armitage doing regular slots - although for the first night, it was Shelley off Corrie doing the honours. It also boasts the first ever radio feature named after Wylie-Cope-MacCulloch's Crucial Three; Mac popped up on the first night explaining the legend of the band that never quite was to introduce the glorified three-in-a-row feature; his tale was slightly hamstrung by his unwillingness to even utter Julian Cope's name these days.

The programme is available through the delights of Listen Again on that there BBC Radio Player (as endorsed in those irritating 'World Wide Wonderland' ads) - Monday's debut show can be accessed by pasting into your RealPlayer (until the next Monday show, at least).

THE LOST BOYS: These are Softcore:

They're a band from Salem via Norway, and they've just signed a deal with a
record label, which is kind of interesting in itself. But more interestingly, the label is half-owned by Kiefer Sutherland, out the Lost Boys. Oh, alright, and 24, if you must. I suppose only working for 24 hours out of a year leaves him a lot time to run side businesses.

STAGGERING, SIMPLY STAGGERING: We pity the poor sod who had to count 'em all, but not as much as we pity the people who have to listen to the buggers: Dido's now sold over 22 million albums worldwide - Life For Rent has gone seven times platinum in Singapore.

DRUGS ARE THE BUZZ: And more Britney Spears news: Last October, Britney spilled some Zantrex diet pills while going through Heathrow Airport; the delighted manufacturers Basic Research decided this was enough of a celebrity endorsement to run with (presumably using the slogan 'the diet pill in the easy-to-fumble package'); they were served with papers telling them to stop doing so - which they decided to counter with a small action of their own. The only problem is, they've been trying to serve papers since November but can't find Britney to give them to her. Since November? Have they not thought of having a look at the Rolling Stone gig guide? A high-profile international tour isn't that tricky to track down, you'd have thought...

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE HAIR DYE: Christina Aguilera seems to think that changing her image is as simple as, well, changing her hair colour:

"The funniest thing about it is, because I changed my hair colour to caramel, I'm reading these headlines, 'From Dirrty to demure,' and, 'From crass to class',' she was quoted as saying.
'It was cracking me up. Now Britney's the bad girl running wild and I am good girl in love, cleaning up. This is the new angle? We've changed roles, good girl and bad girl. It's so funny."

Except, of course, Britney has always been a bad girl; maybe it's just everyone's got tired of Christina confusing 'banging on boringly about how dirrty she is' with being actually, you know, deep down dirty.

Meanwhile, on the one-born-every-minute file, Britney Mobile Live allows you - for a small charge - to send a text message to Britney Spears. There's a vague promise that Britney might respond to selected messages but somehow, we find ourselves doubting that quite strongly. There are some messages that are meant to be from Ms Spears - I think we can see her hand in great messages like June 7, Britney: Happy Birthday Ellen! *Brit - there's no way a touching, personal message like that could have come from a flunky sat in a mobile phone company office, could it?

Friday, June 11, 2004

*STELLARSTAR DATES: They're coming to Europe, and this is where you'll be able to catch them:

Jun 27 UK Glastonbury Festival
Jun 29 UK Oxford Zodiac
Jun 30 London UK The Garage SOLD OUT
Jul 01 London UK The Garage
Jul 03 UK Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Jul 04 UK Milton Keynes Woughton Centre
Jul 06 Greece Theater of Petra Iggy and the Stooges
Jul 08 Norway Quart Festival Pixies, Franz Ferdinand
Jul 10 Scotland T In The Park Pixies, The Strokes, Massive Attack
Jul 11 Ireland Oxygen Festival

BPI INDULGES IN A SPOT OF LAW BREAKING OF ITS OWN: Two wrongs, it's been pointed out on many occasions, don't make a right , and so we're wondering what sort of action will be brought against the holier-than-us BPI, who spammed 175,000 instant message users with stuff about how illegal downloading is wrong. Unfortunately, so is spamming - in fact, it's illegal and carries the possibility of an unlimited fine. Which is a bit of an interesting fix.

NOT A MUSCLE: In the Seattle Weekly, Nate Partin speculates on the imagery conjured up by The Stills name: apparently, it's all about the vagueness. Because, you see, the band name could mean lots of things. But if that's what they were going for, wouldn't they have called themselves Set?

A HEALTHY LEVY: Next time a moist-eyed music business executive tells you that its just so damn hard feeding his wife and kids with all this piracy about, you might want to cough politely and point out that somehow the supposedly stricken EMI has managed to find the cash to award its Chief Executive Alan Levy a forty-three percent payrise, bringing his annual earnings up to a million quid a year, for fear that he might go elsewhere. We're sure the guys who've been sacked by EMI this year will be delighted that all that cost-cutting has gone to ensure the company can really remain competitive. At least as far as grossly over-paying its not noticeably talented bosses are concerned, anyway. Levy was quoted in The Economist a while ago saying "Most people in the creative world think they artists themselves." Not him, obviously - imagine him trying to keep himself in cream cakes and golf clubs on the few quid they pay their main body of acts.

A GRAND GIG DON'T COME FOR FREE: Good news for Londoners - you can while away time until that "inevitable" terrorist attack on the capital by going to a free* gig at the Hammersmith Apollo (if you can score tickets), which pits Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Rapture, The Stills and Kasabian all against one another. It's marked down for June 24th.

The Rapture. Ned Flanders not pictured

*Oddly, for a free gig, you have to pay a "handling fee" and some psotage on top, so it works out at about three quid a throw, which is still good value but isn't quite what we understand by 'Free'.

'BEST YEAR EVAH' SAYS JACK: Jack White doesn't seem too fussed that he managed to mangle a bloke's face, or, if he is, it hasn't stopped this year being his best year ever:

I've gotten the chance to play with or be on the same stage with Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Beck, Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Iggy Pop. These are things that would never occur to me that they would ever be possible, let alone have my favourite aspect be acknowledged and able to share that with an audience.

He went on to say that doing the Loretta Lynn album was the best of all:

"I couldn't believe they let me do it. We got really, really close to the real Loretta making that record."

Yeah, Jack, I think the whole of the internet heard rumours to that effect. We never did find out how Loretta managed to throw her back out, did we?

BITTER MEN OF POP, NUMBER 789 IN A SERIES: You'd have thought a man who was reduced to appearing on Hell's Kitchen (for readers who don't live within the orbit of ITV, a celeb reality show where the guests were less famous than the items on the menu, and a lot less entertaining), would have learned how to cope with humiliation, but apparently, even Matt Goss has his limits, fuming at having the piss taken out of him by Angus Deayton:

"He thought he was too cool. I've sold millions of records. What the fuck has Angus done?"

Erm... Angus has sold millions of records, too - admitedly, his Heebeegeebees sales in Australia were a long time ago, but Bros aren't exactly a name on everyone's lips at the moment, unless in the context of "Shall we sell this old Bros album at the car boot sale?" In addition, of course Angus Deayton has hosted many prime-time programmes, been an actor in the remarkably successful One Foot In The Grave and the critically acclaimed Nighty Nighty, was one of the team behind the landmark Radio 4 series Radio Active and did years and years of Have I Got News For You. Furthermore, he was asked to host a show featuring a load of celebs who, frankly, Soutport Pier would baulk at using for warm-up artists, rather than be stuck in the kitchen with them. In fact, Matt, your moaning is rather like a chimp at the tea party complaining about the guy with the microphone doing the commentary

The singer added: "Everyone has said to me he was the one thing wrong with the show. I don't like anyone that tries to be cool - it's boring.

Really? Because everyone I've heard talking about the show said the only thing that made it worth watching was Deayton's obvious and wittily expressed contempt for the people whose agents have such little faith in their careers they could only conceive of a humiliating role being shouted at by Gordon Ramsey for not being able to cook a sausage as being the only way to maintain any sort of profile at all. We obviously have different friends, Matt.

MAMA MIA! WILL YOU NEVER GO! WHEN WILL I GET TO TRY A CROWN ON?: Prince Charles has been off to see Mama Mia, the Abba musical, whcih reopened the Prince of Wales Theatre with a charity show. "I knew every word. It certainly dates me" said Charles, heading backstage after the show. No, son, what dates you is being part of the last vestiges of an archaic feudal aristocracy who's been handed large chunks of Cornwall, Wales and god knows what else just as an accident of birth. Compared to that, being able to hum along with 'Take A Chance on Me' makes you look as up-to-the-minute as a plasma screen TV.

Blimey, Benny's let himself go a bit... although not as much as Agnetha.

Actually, that's Camilla, of course, who observed of the musical that "it's got what you call the feel-good factor - you come away feeling good." There's certainly no denying Charles goes for the bright ones, is there?

* - try singing it to the original tune. It works

FRED DURST'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Oh, yes, Fred's back online:

in the grand scheme of things a typical human life is like a blink of an eye. the days that seem like an eternity become so insignificant when looking at the big picture, but what is the big picture anyway

FIRST MOZZER, NOW BRUCE: George W must be wondering if he has any friends left - not only has Morrissey wished him dead, but now Bruce Springsteen has broken America's playing-at-Diana Reagan truce to run the text of a speech by Al Gore on his website. It's actually a pretty good speech, too - better than Gore's guest slot on Futurama would have lead you to expect. We doubt if Bush has any stump speeches planned which will take in DeSade, Goethe and Freud. And it cuts very firmly to the chase:

"There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with. But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.
He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us. And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name.
President Bush said in his speech Monday night that the war in Iraq is "the central front in the war on terror." It's not the central front in the war on terror, but it has unfortunately become the central recruiting office for terrorists. [Dick Cheney said, "This war may last the rest of our lives.] The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict " has arguable focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition." The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks.

Not all of Bruce's fans are able to follow this - presumably the ones who thought Born In The USA was an anthem, and Springsteen has been careful to clarify his position:

"People come to my shows with many different kinds of political beliefs; I like that, we welcome all. There have been a lot of questions raised recently about the forthrightness of our government. This playing with the truth has been a part of both the Republican and Democratic administrations in the past and it is always wrong, never more so than when real lives are at stake. The question of whether we were mislead into the war in Iraq isn't a liberal or conservative or Republican or Democratic question, it's an American one. Protecting the democracy that we ask our sons and daughters to die for is our responsibility and our trust. Demanding accountability from our leaders is our job as citizens. It's the American way. So may the truth will out."

Mind you, he's not carrying all his fans with him on this, as some of the threads on the official message board demonstrate; although we doubt if Bruce will be too upset that he's no longer going to sell records to the sort of dickwad who believes "99% of terrorists are Muslim."

IN THE LEGAL ZONE: Britney hasn't shaken off that lawsuit over the use of In The Zone. A San Diego company, Lite Breeze Inc., claims that it came up with the In The Zone "idea" first - which is like proudly claiming that putting "No sweat" on a tshirt was an inspired idea; somehow they seem to think it's cost them USD10million, so that's what she's being sued for. Because, of course, Britney Spears would be passing herself off as a small tshirt company; you can see where the confusion would set in. Lite Breeze feel that the decision to call her current tour the Onyx Hotel tour was because the Spears camp knew that they were in trouble with In The Zone, but trying to have it both ways, they say "by releasing her CD entitled "In The Zone" and its promotional tour, now entitled "The Oynx Hotel Tour", Ms. Spears has taken Lite Breeze's brand and equated it with what Rolling Stone Magazine has stated 'offers strip-club, 1-900 sex, accommodating and hollow.'" Is it just us, or is that a little tenuous?

What we do like, though, is Lite Breeze's use of Britney's work for the RIAA thought police against herself:

Ms. Spears' unauthorized use of the trademark is in direct contradiction to her 2002 public service announcements warning people against music piracy and theft of intellectual property. In those announcements, Ms. Spears stated that downloading music from the Internet is the same as going into a CD store and stealing the CD. See Spears Warns Against Piracy, BBC, Sept. 26, 2002.
In the lawsuit, Ms. Spears is accused of stealing the intellectual property, i.e. the trademark, of Lite Breeze. If Lite Breeze is successful in its lawsuit, Ms. Spears and the other defendants could be ordered to turn over all profits earned for Spears' In The Zone CD, the related tour and merchandising, and all damages to Lite Breeze.

Jeez, those ads keep coming back to bite people in the butt, don't they?

Lite Breeze is seeking all the earnings from the In The Zone CD (despite, erm, their not making CDs) and drools at the prospect that if the Court believes the infringement to be "wilfull" (yes, that's so likely) it could get three times the damages.

Britney Spears hasn't commented publicly on the case; her new single, Umbro, is released later this month.

I'D SAY THAT WAS A RATHER RADICAL INTERPRETATION: We're ninety-five percent certain that Nick Cattuci has his tongue in his cheek when he worries that "genuine" acts like Britney Spears are losing market share to "joke" acts like Franz Ferdinand and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but there's still five per cent doubt that he really means it:

But what is more real--more tangible--than bad costumes, truckloads of lights, shrieking fans, and astounding sums paid to songwriters and beatmakers? And what's faker than kids who form a band to be cool?

We're not sure a man who can't see any difference between electroclash and Franz Ferdinand can be trusted. And can anyone be taken seriously if they write this:

"There's also a part where he fantasizes about being interviewed on BBC2 by Terry Wogan, whoever the fuck that is, and Wogan kisses his ass."

I've spent a good part of the last five years sighing quietly, and saying "actually, Americans do understand irony." It seems I might have been wrong.

WHY WE LOVE PATTI SMITH. STILL: Another mailout reaches us from the Divine Ms Smith:

But back to Venus. To view this slow moving but miraculous event please don your dark glasses or protective eye coverings. I myself will most likely miss it as i will be busy preparing for our own transit by bus to places known and unknown. I have to stop at the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I only bring this up because it's something i avoided for a long time and i implore you not to make my mistake. Your future will be brighter, to say nothing of your teeth, if you invest an hour of your time once or twice a year taking care of this matter.

I know i have juxtaposed chocolate syrup and dental care but this was entirely unpremeditated. In any event my other mission for tomorrow is to purchase several pairs of overpriced socks to pack for the tour.

I can't express the joy of laying out a new pair of linen socks wrapped in tissue on the motel bureau for the next day. It has been the key to many a transcendent night in places like st. louis and dallas and knoxville. Oh wondrous socks. So uplifting for one trampin from town to town.

Footwear, astronomy safety advice, dental care - what other rock queen cares so much for her fans? When was the last time Joan Jett recommended you an osteopath?

GOOD NEWS: NO PROBLEM CATCHING LAST BUS: Zorkmudsson sends us an email which actually makes the prospect of going to a Dido gig sound attractive:

cappucino songstress dido will be visiting ireland this summer. my white flag is at the ready. however, it is the support ("special guests") that caught my eye. the one who is kind of in faithless will be joined by scissor sisters and aqualung. is this a record?

To which, of course, we're contractually obliged to say "No, it's not a record, it's a gig."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

BLUESOBIT: Ray Charles has died at the age 73. He died at 11.35am local time, in Beverley Hills, from complications from liver disease.

Charles' career was remarkable - amongst many awards and titles, he received a Star on the Hollywood Blvd walk of fame, a bronze medal from the French people, twelve Grammy awards, induction into the Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll halls of fame - as well as the Playboy one - and the title of "genius" from Frank Sinatra. But it was a difficult road he followed. Blind since the age of seven from glaucoma, and from a background of extreme poverty ("Even compared to other blacks. . . we were on the bottom of the ladder looking up at everyone else" recalled Charles), his first musical work was slogging around Florida clubs with what would these days be tagged a Nat 'King' Cole tribute act. His fortunes changed when he moved to Seattle, where he shortened his name from Ray Charles Robinson to Ray Charles - to avoid being confused with Sugar Ray Robinson - and met Quincy Jones. His first hit came in 1949, with Confession Blues, which did well in the R&B charts; three years later his contract with Swingtime was bought out by Atlantic. Abandoning the last remenants of the Cole style, Charles created a new style of music by fusing gospel and blues. By 1955 he was crossing over into the pop charts with I've Got A Woman. Eventually, Charles tired of Atlantic's focus on the R&B market, and jumped ship to ABC-Paramount, where he enjoyed perhaps his strongest run of success - Hit The Road Jack, Ruby, Unchain My Heart, followed by the Adventures in Country and Western set, featuring You Don't Know Me and Can't Stop Loving You.

By now, Charles was heading up his own company, while still recording for ABC, and dabbling in movies: on screen for Swinging Along; providing soundtracks for 1967's In The Heat of the Night and the Cincinatti Kid (1965). He recorded duets with a staggering range of collaborators, including Cleo Laine, Hank Williams Jr, Eric Clapton, George Jones and - for Any Which Way You Can - Clint Eastwood.

Of course, nobody has success without a downside, and Charles fell for that old fall back, smack: after an arrest in 1964, he admitted he'd been using heroin for twenty years. As part of his clean-up, he developed a passion for chess, and recently had been attempting to gently air-brush his addiction from the record.

The man might be best summed up in his own words: "Music is nothing separate from me. It is me... You'd have to remove the music surgically."

GIVE US THIS DEUS: Deus are perhaps stretching the truth just a little bit when they call playing mostly festivals a "European tour", but they're wonderful, so we'll forgive them, especially when they've announced they'll be showcasing six or seven new songs. And they've got a new single coming quite soon, too.

The "tour in full":
04-09-2004 Independent Days Festival, Bolonga, Italy
03-09-2004 MusikFestWochen, Winterthur, Switzerland
29-08-2004 Reading Festival, Reading, UK
28-08-2004 Liquid Room, Edingburgh, UK
27-08-2004 Leeds Festival, Leeds, UK
25-08-2004 Two Days A Week Festival, Wiesen, Austria
21-08-2004 Lowlands Festival, Flevopolder, Holland
20-08-2004 Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium
13-08-2004 La Route du Rock Festival, St Malo, France
12-08-2004 Rock Oz'Arènes Festival, Avenches, Switzerland
08-08-2004 Sudoeste Festival, Zambujeira, Portugal
06-08-2004 Haldern Pop Festival, Haldern, Germany

[Thanks to Aaron S for the tip-top tip]

STREAMING JOY: If you like Ryan Adams, you'll be either twitching with excitement or already reduced to little more than a blob of bubbly ectoplasm with the news that he's stuck an entire album's worth of demo tracks online If you don't like him, you'll be bored, we guess.

CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THEY BRED?: No, really... just don't even think about it...

Tina from S Club and David 'Ross from Friends' Schwimmer - apparently a real-life reuniting of the bottom of two TV series' shaglists.

IT DEPENDS WHAT YOUR DEFINITION OF ENTERTAINMENT IS: Personally, if I'd paid to fly first class, and found the whole of the flight was disrupted by Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake playing silly beggars, I'd be demanding my money back. Apparently they were going to Australia where they intend to play golf every day. So, that's two major rumours disproved: one, that Diaz had dumped Timberlake; two, that he is in any way rock and roll. Golf?

NOT QUITE A VICTIMLESS CRIME: The Association of United Recording Artists has discovered a bit of a hole in its books, having just dismissed its director Peter Horrey citing "significant financial regularities." The company, which gathers royalties from radio play, seems to have been diddled out of seven hundred thousand quid, according to chairman Stephen King. That's quite a huge figure, seeing as it only takes in about two million a year, quite an large proportion to disappear without anyone noticing. Amongst the people who may find they've been ripped off is Robbie Williams, which is the silver lining in the cloud.

HOUSEMAID'S KNEE: Bad news from the Britney Spears camp, where she's put herself on the sicklist by injuring her knee. Spears went from a videoshoot to hospital on Tuesday, where she was discovered to having a floating cartilage. She's had arthroscopic surgery on the injured limb, but it's not known if the leg will be working in time for her to writhe about near-naked on stage for the next leg of her US tour, due to start on the 22nd June.

AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU...: Despite it having been ruined, ruined, ruined by Whitney Houston treating it as an opportunity to grandstand her ability to wedge more notes in a song than any one tune needs, Country Music Television has decided Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You is the greatest love song ever. The full top ten they came up with - and, remember, they're Country music television:

1. I will always love you - dolly parton
2. you were always on my mind - willie nelson
3. sweet dreams - patsy cline
4. forever and ever, amen - randy travis
5. hello, darlin' - conway twitty
6. unanswered prayers - garth brooks
7. amazed - lonestar
8. she believes in me - kenny rogers
9. I cross my heart - george strait
10. golden ring - george jones and tammy wynette

No Nanci Griffiths, we note.

MUSIC TO LISTEN TO AND LOVE: Fancy a spot of Scottish mumbling rock? Those lovely Arab Strap boys have got a collection of MP3s and .wmv format videos available for download on their site. You might need to get your girlfriend to dump you for the full effect. [link via 3hive]

WHO HAS THE MOST HORRIBLE FANS?: It turns out that death metal fans are pussycats compared with Westlife fans, who are accused of punching, kicking and spitting on two women at a Belfast gig. Readers of a gentle disposition may wish to move on to the next item rather than read the following description of violence involving a plastic glo-stick:

"[F]our girls were sharing two seats between them and the whole way through the concert they were digging Emma in the side and trying to push her out of the way because there wasn't enough room." said one of the victims, Frances Stroud
She said one of the girls, who was aged about 13, was swearing at her and her sister and pushed 18-year-old Emma.
"The two of us went flying out of the row and she then punched Emma in the side. We asked her to stop, but she then hit me a full dig on the nose and whacked me round the side of the face with a plastic glow stick. I tried to take it off her, but then her friends got up and started to punch me in the face."
Frances said two security guards pushed her and Emma into the row.
"I said: 'I can't move in, because there is no room for me to move into'. The security guard screamed in my face: 'If you don't get into the row I'm going to throw you out'."
She told the security guard about being punched in the face and being hit with the glow stick. She said the guard told her "he was not really bothered".
Another member of staff asked to see their tickets and was satisfied they were in the correct seats. However, when the younger girls said they did not have any tickets for the seats they were just told to squeeze up.[...]
Frances said that in a further bout of aggression from the young girl, the security guards "were all standing there laughing".
"I went over to them and asked were they not watching this, and one of them said: 'We don't really care - cheer up and give us a song'.
The girl was spitting in my face and I put my arm up to stop her from punching me - I couldn't hit her back because she was only young - and she bit my arm." The girls said the security guards dragged them out of their seats and rushed them out of the Odyssey just before the end of the concert.

Apparently the venue seems unable to shed any light on any of this - they told BBC News Online that "the lady who took the incident report is off for a few days", which suggests the management of the venue is taking it about as seriously as the security guards. Perhaps the worst aspect of this is the way security threw the alleged victims out before the end of the show - almost as if they were afraid there might be comeback from all of this. Time and time again, security staff forget they're there to protect everyone and spend too much of the night trying to cover their own arses. There are some great front of house staff, but the whole profession is let down by the sort of people who'd rather throw innocent victims out rather than deal with a few thirteen year olds who shouldn't have been in the venue in the first place.

TALK ABOUT FORGETTING WHERE YOU'VE COME FROM: Sheena Easton - who owes her entire career to appearing in an Esther Rantzen documentary about wannabe stars, The Big Time, is planning to play the Simon Cowell role on Fox TV's new poor man's American Idol, Give Me The Mike. Let's hope she doesn't overdo the nasty remarks, though:

After all, Sheena, it's not fair to judge people on their first ever appearance singing on TV, is it?

MORRISSEY AUDIENCE CONFUSED, APPARENTLY: If the reports of Morrissey's Saturday gig in Dublin Castle are accurate, then the Mozzer audience is a bit confused about its demon - they cheered when Morrissey announced the death of Reagan, but then - in the words of mens news daily - "went into a tizzy" when he said he wished it was George W Bush instead. Because, yeah, a 93 year old who can't even remember his own name we're better off without, a dimwit with access to enough bombs to kill everyone twice who believes in a Rapture endgame - he's untouchable.

HAZELWOOD, IZZARD, COCKER AND MORCHEEBA: The new Lee Hazelwood album is going to be called Cake or Death because Hazelwood loves Eddie Izzard; featuring collaborations with Jarvis Cocker and Morcheeba ("We'll try everything the young people come up with but they forget that I'm not a singer"), he says it might be his last, what with him being 75 and all. Which is only a year younger than the queen.

IT'S STILL THREE FEWER THAN THE TINDERSTICKS ARE DOING: Nelly is going to be releasing two albums on the same day, when Sweat and Suit get a simultaneous release. SweatSuit? Why not Track Trousers? Or Velour Pants. But don't think this is a marketing ploy to get people to buy two full-price albums instead of a single, slightly cheaper double album, or to artificially boost the number of units shipped. Oh, no, it's a creative decision: "I had so much material that at first I thought about releasing a double CD, but then I thought it would be better to release two albums separately to show fans the best of both sides of 'Nellyville."

ARE LESS THAN JAKE BETTER THAN EZRA?: Less Than Jake must have finished pasting cuttings in their scrapbook, as with their spare time they've put together an album, B is for B-sides, which is due out in a few short weeks. Although, to be honest, "an album of Less Than Jake songs which aren't quite good enough to stand alone as singles" could describe any Less Than Jake album.

THE KING OF WINES: In the never-ending crazy world of rock merchandising, everything is possible - damn, you can even get a plastic toy that looks like Fred Durst which makes angry poses. But who would have thought that Elvis Presley would become a wine, just like Jesus? We're not quite sure why they're Elvis wines, because they're 2002 and 2001 vintages - i.e. long after he picked up the Racing Post and said "Just off for a dump, guys" for the very last time; they come from California and not Memphis and they're made from fruit rather than lard. But, hey, they're official, so they must be Elvis somehow.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

MORE ON CAVE: We have more details on the new Nick Cave stuff (thanks to Jana K from Radio One in Prague):

""Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus" was recorded by Nick Launay at Studio Ferber in Paris in Spring 2004 by The Bad Seeds line up of Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler, Martyn Casey, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos, Warren Ellis and James Johnston.
The new album is produced by Nick Launay and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds and is being mixed at Astoria in London.
The band will be touring the UK in November. Tickets are priced at £25 in advance (subject to booking fee) and are on sale from Saturday 12th June.

DOES THE THEKLA STILL HAVE GIGS ON IT IN BRISTOL?: We ask only in passing, while mentioning that !!! are going to be playing a gig on a boat in New York later today - in roughly a couple of hours, in fact: they'll be on board the Paddlewheel Queen at 8PM, local time, for what's being billed as probably the last chance to see them in a small venue. If we weren't on the wrong side of the Atlantic, we'd go.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY GOES TO OXFORD, BUT CAN'T AVOID THE FOOTBALL: We found ourselves in Oxford at the weekend, and were surprised and delighted to discover that the city supports not one, but two free music magazines. Neither are exactly suffering altitude sickness from high production values - both are A4 sized and very cheaply printed, but, of course, that's probably half the secret of how they keep going. We're guessing that the two probably don't hate each other, but have a mutual grudging respect.

First up, the clumsily title Oxford Home for Music [also online at] - which reminds us of when our dad used to call himself the OMOM, or the Old Man of the Mountains, something that's probably only distracting to us). It's mainly given over to reviews - Rachel Smart informs us that The Mission's music "is still as vibrant as when it was written", despite having confessed to only being "about three" when the band formed - and the odd interview (Patrick Currier of Days of Grace says that he tries to send small presents to the people who created a fansite for the band before they even released a single, which is sweet).

Nightshift is a slightly grander affair, with adverts and everything, and feels a bit like the sort of thing you get in American cities; running news and an interview with Sextodecimo ("an average gig tends to involve no more than four or five songs, each weighing in at the ten or fifteen minute mark"); record reviews (Bridge - So Sue Me "is currently doing battle with the theme tune to Balamory inside Nightshift's head"); a commodious gig guide and equally spacious live reviews section - although they seem to have given the Mission a miss and a demo section that's not afraid to trample its boot into the upturned, hopeful face of a newcomer, although it seems Twizz Twangle is a regular irritant so probably not surprised at being damned.

Oh, god: a glance at next week's Radio Times shows just two episodes of Corrie next week, which can only mean one thing: Football. And, inevitably, the NME is getting swept up in "football fever", which wouldn't be a bad thing if it merely meant that they were going to hang a couple of flags from their office window and organise a sweepstake, but no, we're lumbered with a Euro 2004 rocks special. Now, I'm not certain, but I don't think Shoot! bothers running with a Glastonbury special, and I'm certain that I've never seen Match getting excited about the Morrissey comeback, so why does NME feel it has to sign up for the hoopla here? Apart from presumably pissing off the Northern Irish, Scots and Welsh readers by running almost entriely with Eng-ger-land, why the christ does a music paper want to be about football? Even under Danny Kelly, a man who loves football so much he could be mistaken for one under Second Division floodlights, the NME never decided it was going to turn itself so wholeheartedly into a footie rag. I know I'm odd, in that I spent several minutes removing the extraneous sports garbage from The Guardian on Monday morning, and I do welcome the NME going beyond the strict boundaries of its music remit, but I'd rather see Jet and Andrew WK on the front page forever than having to endure page after page of football. It's all so tenuous: Razorlight naked and swathed in the Cross of Saint George - which actually is doubly distracting, as they're not that sexy naked, either; Delays Aaron Gilbert giving his opinion on each of the teams in the tournament (about as fascinating as hearing Wayne Rooney rating the new Nick Cave album); a two page spread about 'rock and roll football stars' - compunded by being the bloody posters as well, and one of whom is Gazza. Gazza - who was so bloody rock and roll he recorded a novelty song with Lindisfarne and made a party singalong album. If he's rock and roll, then Martine McCutcheon is the fucking bitch queen of all music, ever; and there's something lifted from bloody Shoot (pity Tiger and Scorcher folded, eh; we might have got Mike's Mini Men) where footballers are asked about their favourite CDs, which just proves that music and football don't mix - Wayne Bridge: "I had Morning Glory by Oasis, then a friend told me about the 'Definitely Maybe CD, which is now my favourite." Since these overpaid bozos don't give a shit about music, why are we supposed to be even vaguely interested in them? It's like running a feature on Dave Lee Travis.

Incidently, the CD question was also put by the London Evening Standard to the London mayoral candidates - Steve Norris, the Tory, replied "I don't buy CDs - they bore me rigid. I never get a chance to listen to them in the car anyway because I don't travel by car." Now, we wouldn't presume to tell the people of London how to vote, but: a man who is bored not just by rock or jazz or Gregorian chants, but all music, all CDs, and who can only imagine CDs being of any use as something to do during a car journey? Could anyone seriously place their home town in the hands of such a man?

The news picture is that Liam Gallagher has grown a beard again; in other news, page 10's secret news that the Distillers were going to pop up at the Reading Festival would only have been news to anyone who hadn't read, erm, page six which had the same news; The Music are back, with a song that rips the shit out of people who think that where you're born forces you to adopt some sort of knuckleheaded devotion to the place ('Welcome to the North').

Peter Robinson is hammered onto the football theme, by taking on Christian O'Connell, who's responsible for one of those bloody football singles. It's all about flags, you see: "when I'm abroad, I see foreign flags I don't feel excluded" says O'Connell, from across the understanding gap. Perhaps it's because the Belgian tricolor has never been hijacked by the far right. He also gets a bit pissy when Robinson brings up an incident where O'Connell managed to play a record with the word "cunt" in seven times. He pleads that he'd got the package from Chris Morris - which should have set alarm bells ringing for any slight media figure but "I listened to a couple of seconds, put it on air, and snuck off for a cheeky piss." So, he gets a record from a man well known for pushing the boundaries, doesn't listen to it beforehand but just flings it out on air, and then leaves the studio. O'Connell thinks this is "an accident."

MIA is the radar act - probably the first Tamil-language rapper they've ever featured.

the ordinary boys - newcastle global cafe - "a blur of inspiration"
the datsuns - manchester hop and grape - "like they never went away"
!!! - London 43 Feet East - "genuinely revolutionary"

beastie boys - to the 5 boroughs - "Fuck me, the music", 8
ikara colt - modern apprentice - "brash, classic energy"
blondie - singles box - "not everything could be considered neccesary - five versions of Call Me?", 7

the radio department - why won't you talk about? - "makes me want to expire with joy"
portobella - covered in punk - "screechingly awful spew... Seb Fontaine and Pete Tong love it"

Will South from Thirteen Senses loves Psychedelic-era Beatles - "I'd jump off a cliff if the Beatles did it", he pledges. Okay, go and tell the Americans you're more popular than Jesus and then smuggle some dope through Japanese customs. And have sex with Yoko.

NOW, THAT'S WHAT I CALL A HAPPY ENDING: The Tears for Fears comeback campaign has been derailed - possibly because the slipstream from Gary Jules' mad world cover has evaporated, and partly because of record label mucking about, Arista have dropped them in the US even before their triumphal return album made it to the shops. As you'd expect, TFF are being testy about the whole business.

PINK TURNS APPLE BLUE: Pink has got Apple FM into trouble. The station - a satellite service, it seems - has been criticised by Ofcom for playing a version of God is a DJ with the f-word in it. Apple blustered that they checked all songs for rude bits, but tried to shift blame onto someone else - they told ofcom they were appealing to record companies to include a warning on record covers that some tracks might contain explicit lyrics.

Which is all well and good, except...

Parental advisory

... there is a warning on the record cover that some tracks contain explicit lyrics.

LYNN BACKS OFF: Loretta Lynn has cancelled her tour due to a recurring back injury. Not, in itself, remarkable, but - having just had a pop at AP - we feel we should congratulate them on being the only news service in the last twelve months to get through a story about Loretta without mentioning the words "Jack" and "White" once.

COWARDS OF THE COUNTY?: The Associated Press has a nice piece on the politics of country music, which considers the oddity of how only pro-war country songs have hit during the "War on Terror" era; it turns out that despite some big-ticket artists releasing songs that are sceptical about Bush's policies, radio stations aren't even bothering to test these with their audience, sticking to the simpler pro-armed intervention flagwavers. AP seems to interpret this as suggesting that country music fans are, as a bloc, pro-war, although it seems slightly more likely that it just demonstrates country music radio stations are, almost to the point of being, you know, politically unbalanced.

AP quotes a poll which shows "country music fans" are "firmly behind the war" - which turns out to be 54% of them; hardly a rousing majority in such a small sample (845 people) - and the sort of figure which might have been easily reversed if the stations they listened to had chosen to give dissenting voices a space on the airwaves. In fact, to barely manage to creep above half approval amongst people fed on a diet of nothing but 'go army, go guns' suggests something of the struggle the Bush White House are having in taking the people with them on their adventures - and would actually hint that AP missed the real story here. But then, they say in their report that Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town is about the Vietnam war, when "that crazy asian war" mentioned in it is clearly Korea.

Kenny Rogers, however, isn't convinced that it's the politics of the anti-war artists which is keeping them off the radio:

I don't know of a successful song that has said 'We need to stop this,'" he said. "But I do think if one were written well and had an honest thought process behind it and was not strictly politically driven, radio would play it."

A call to stop a war that isn't "politically driven", then. Yeah, that would make sense. You could also try writing a Christmas Carol that isn't religious at the same time.

THE FALLEN: We discovered through Chrome Waves that Glamorama has been seeing making its way to the exit clutching a small box of personal effects and a card signed by all the staff. Remaingin behind is an archive any music-and-culture blog would be proud of, and it has certainly has left a very pretty corpse.

AT LAST! A CHANCE TO FLOG THE UNSOLD *NSYNC FRUIT SNACKS: *Nsync, the band who lived its life as a permanent footnote, are reuniting. Okay, they're just doing the national anthem at a charity baseball game, but with Justin Timberlake at a bit of a loose end since Cameron Diaz dumped him, who's to say the boys won't decide to turn it into a fully-fledged reunion tour? Or at least do My Country, Tis of Thee as well?

THERE'S NO AYE-AYE IN TEMA: Tatu are back! Again! Or something. Only this time, they're not called Tatu, they're rebranding themselves tEmA, partly because former pervmanager Ivan Shapovalov owns the Tatu name, and partly because they're coming out as straight and so This Girl Loves That Girl doesn't really work as a name any more. Yes, they weren't lesbians at all - can you believe it? Apparently the girls are keen to be seen as serious mus... no, sorry, for some reason I just completely lost interest.

PICK UP 'STICKS: Good news for those of us who are fond of a maudlin, late night, last-bottle-of-wine sound, as The Tindersticks are planning on releasing five albums in one day. It's not exactly new material - they're the studio albums they made for Island - but each will come with expanded, extra stuff - demos, rare and deleted stuff, the sound of chuckling, that sort of thing. Amongst the goodies are a duet with Isabella Rosselini and a remix by Adrian Sherwood. Hmm... who shall we choose to illustrate this piece?

Sorry, Adrian - better luck next time

MY THAI: Talking of "mental and physical exhaustion", Pete Doherty really has gone to Thailand to try and get it out his system. Alan McGee - wearing his manager of the Libertines hat - has been talking about it:

We flew Peter to Thailand last night. To be honest his mum, Carlos and myself can't believe he did it but he (is) a man of many surprises. If he's going to get clean permanently anywhere it's in this place.
We kept him at The Priory under a different name this last week to avoid people staring at his recovery but deep down we knew he wasn't buying. We cleaned him up as best we could and he went of his own accord agreed to go off to Thailand.
What happens to the group in the long term who knows as in any event the man we sent out there will come back a different man. He wanted to change and has done something about it. All we ask of you people is keep the faith in Peter Doherty and The Libertines.
Carlos last night told me Peter's health comes before the band and again you have to love the man left in the UK. The (tabloid press) will no doubt be all on our case today but to say we all jumped for joy last night when his escort texted me and said we are on the plane and all systems are go would be the understatement of this year.
The man may be away for a month, he may even reject the west and not return. Who knows. All I hope for is he kills his demons and gets better and finds a happy life in The Libertines or in Thailand or wherever happiness lies for him. To be honest his health is the most important thing to everyone involved."

Let's hope it does him some good. He might even get to collaborate with some monks while he's there.

VINES PULLED OUT: The "mental and physical exhaustion" that hit the Vines in Sydney has now lead to Craig Nicholls and the boys pulling their entire US tour.


It's not known if they'll have got the exhaustion out of their system before their planned UK festival appearances.

COURTNEY LOVE: IN TROUBLE AGAIN: Well, it's been a couple of weeks without an arrest warrant for Courtney Love, and we were just getting worried and thinking about sending round a neighbour to check on her when we hear that Courtney is accused of attacking a woman with a bottle and a "torch" at a party. We're not quite sure what she'd have been doing with a torch at a party - besides, obviously, beating a woman round the head with it. We can't decide if she was planning to make shadow animals on the wall, or just that the bugs under her skin are telling her to be really, really scared of the dark.

ONE DAY LADS, YOU'LL TURN UP LATE TO A PARTY AND FIND IT'S OVER: The Beatles are apparently on the cusp of signing a deal to bring legal versions of their popular tunes to the musical download world, allowing you to at long last have a not-illegal version of Maxwell's Silver Hammer on your PC. Should you wish to. Rumours about who they're going to do the deal with are flying, but since they don't get on with Apple, we'd imagine Steve Jobs isn't sat by his phone screening calls in an excited manner.

PLANTING MORE BAD SEEDS: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are readying a new double album. Very little is known about the Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus at the moment, beyond its planned September release date and the chances that it'll include songs about dead women and murders. Then, in February, it's going to be a bunch of bsides and rare stuff on an album of their own. Oddly, Billboard is reporting that Nick Cave appears on the Shrek 2 soundtrack, which we think can only mean that the Princess doesn't make it through the movie.

OH, GOD BLESS HER: It's almost heartbreaking to see Jennifer Ellison treating winning one of the least interesting celeb game reality shows ever as "a chance to relaunch her career"; especially since she's ruling out ever going back to soaps. Crushingly, even one of her biggest cheerleaders, the Liverpool Echo, has to admit that her pop career was a bit of a flop (though it reports she's planning to re-ignite her assault on what it calls "the lucrative pop charts.") The best it can do is describe her as "one of the nation's most sought-after model", although pushing up your tits for Zoo hardly makes you Kate Moss.

ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD: "So, let me get this straight, sir - not only was the car driving, but it was the car who called me 'a fucking pig bastard cunt', was it?" - David Hasselhoff pulled over for drunk driving

WILDE! GO WILDE! IN THE COUNTRY: We've always had more than a soft spot for Charlotte Hatherley out of Night Nurse and then Ash, and we're delighted that she's doing solo stuff now alongside the dayjob. And, insanely, she's giving away her debut single Kim Wilde as a download on her website.

MUSIC INDUSTRY IN CRISIS: Oh, hang on a moment, though: Sanctuary managed to turn a profit of GBP3.8million last year, oddly enough selling into exactly the same market as all the other labels. Admittedly, a chunk of the profits came from the buoyant live market, but even so, Sanctuary does seem to suggest that the difference between profit and loss in a record company is the difference between good management and mismanagement.

ROCK STARS ON THE HUSTINGS: Apparently, Peter Garrett, him what was in Midnight Oil, is being lined up to represent the Australian Labor Party - the party are making placating noises and cooing gently in a hope of attracting him to the fold - probably partly because they think he could have a Robert Kilroy Silk effect, but mainly because he's the sort of person who it's better to have in the fold instead of causing trouble outside of it - Garrett is concentrating on causing trouble over environmental issues at the moment, as Labor probably feels it'd be better to get him in Parliament and dumping something like arts policy on him to keep him in line.

DANNII DENIES IT ALL: The spare Minogue sister is quite good at releasing statements which offer a fresh perspective on news stories - you'll recall the one where she suggested that maybe her political viewpoints were just a little too subtle for the editor of the Independent to follow - so it's not really any surprise that she's rushed out a press release to deny being dumped by Warners. Oddly, despite Warners dropping a whopping portion of their acts, it was mutual consent:

"Contrary to the stories circulating in the press about Dannii's record deal being terminated by Warner Music, it was infact a mutually agreed decision to end their partnership. The decision came due to changes in personnel at London Records and the departure of the incredible team that Dannii had worked with over the past four years. Dannii has nearly completed her follow up album to the gold-selling Neon Nights , which will become her 5th studio album. Neon Nights was Dannii's biggest selling album to date spawning four Top 10 singles in the UK including I Begin To Wonder (No.2) and Who Do You Love Now? (No.3). The album also sold well across Europe and Australia (Gold) and a prominent breakthrough was made in the US. Dannii has already had interest from a number of record companies and is looking forward to releasing her new material very soon".

What we especially love about this is the dwindling level of evidence of just how great Dannii is doing - they mention an album which managed a couple of singles that did well, but they mention it went Gold in Australia - no such indication of it selling even as much as that anywhere else.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

GET WITH THE DEAL, ANTHONY: Marc Anthony popped up on Today (the US TV show, not debating the rise of the Ukip with John and James), but refused to confirm or deny his marriage to J-Lo. How out of date is he? Everyone else has moved on to Is Jennifer Lopez pregnant? rumours now.

PUNKOBIT: Sadly, 'Punk Rock Guitarist found dead of suspected heroin overdose' is one of the most overused headlines of our age, and it's been run again for Robert Quine, former members of the Voidoids, dead at 61. It's believed he was suffering from depression following the death of his wife and mother over the last couple of years, becoming withdrawn from his family and living a reclusive life in his Manhattan loft. Relatives said they were saddened but not surprised by the news.

Originally coming from the hugely inspirational punk training ground of Akron, Ohio, Quine had relocated to New York in 1971, joining Richard Hell in the Voidoids. He spent the 80s working with Lou Reed and, less predictably, Lloyd Cole. Lou Reed acclaimed Quine as "an original and innovative tyro of the vintage beast [of guitar player]", while his second cousin Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys stressed the importance of music in Quine's life: "Music was his universe."

Amongst other artists he had worked with were Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull and John Zorn.

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: Jesus, the Libertine's relationship is on-again, off-again more than Nathan Moore's left indicator light as he drives round Kings Cross. Pete Doherty, last heard of quitting a second spell of rehab and claiming "the band let me down" in a Sun interview, popped up again last night - on stage with the Libertines. He's still claiming he's about to head off for a spot of Dot Cotton Detox in Thailand, and he should be up in the air heading over there about now. We're not so sure the live reunion - during a Boxer Rebelion set - is a sign that everything is rosy in Libertine land again; remember last week he was offering to play a set for anyone who fronted up a thousand quid; maybe the set last night came at a price?

THERE'S ONE BORN EVERY MINUTE: Martin Scorcese is either a very brave man, or a very foolish one, as he's hooked up with Madonna to make a new movie, Hello Sucker, based on the doings of Texas Guinan, a 1920s bareback horserider. Despite Madonna having a Condolences Book instead of an IMDB entry, Scorcese has agreed to let her co-produce and, of course, she's cast herself in the lead role. There can be no escape, either, as she intends to do the soundtrack as well. Did Scorcese not see Evita? (Actually, probably not - hardly anyone else did).

PATRIOTISM THAT BLANCHES IS JUST MARKETING: Interesting that Simon and Garfunkel have dropped the ra-ra-ra movie about how great America is for the European leg of their tour. Apparently, according to Paul Simon, "It's not a political statement. It's a geographic reality."
Art Garfunkel said, "It's what an artist does when he feels the name of his country speaks too loudly and too provocatively (that) it pushes the music aside."

Now, this is odd - surely a piece is either going to be an accompaniement or it isn't? And isn't showing a pro-USA movie in the States going to be even more distracting than it would be in the UK. And if it's heartfelt, why shrink from what you believe just because you're away from home?

DAMMIT, WE THOUGHT THAT TRANSIT OF VENUS WAS GOING TO BE THE FIRST SIGN OF THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED BUYING A TICKET BACK FROM THE BACKWOODS OF OREGON ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON? ANYWAY, BACK TO BUSINESS: Brody Dalle might be a full two blocks cooler than us, but she's not quite got the hang of this secret gig lark, as announcing your secret sets at Reading and Leeds sort of blows the secret a little.

DAMMIT, WE THOUGHT THAT TRANSIT OF VENUS WAS GOING TO BE THE FIRST SIGN OF THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED BUYING A TICKET BACK FROM THE BACKWOODS OF OREGON ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON? ANYWAY, BACK TO BUSINESS: Brody Dalle might be a full two blocks cooler than us, but she's not quite got the hang of this secret gig lark, as announcing your secret sets at Reading and Leeds sort of blows the secret a little.

Monday, June 07, 2004

SLIPKNOT TO THE RESCUE: Slipknot saved the day - or ruined it, depending on your perspective - when their drummer Joey Jordison leaped into position to replace Lars Ulrich, who had been struck down by a mystery illness (we guess he choked on an iPod backstage) just seconds before Metallica were due to play Download. We're not sure if Joey wore a second mask so nobody would know it was him.

TWO MORE VIRGINS GIVEN UP: If Virgin isn't a radio station in a perpetual state of crisis, it's really not doing a good job of showing it. Last month's sacking of its Captain America slot at least made some sort of sense in the context of it's trudge towards drudge in the playlist, but the sacking of Daryl Denham and - even more oddly, the bemusingly popular Jezza, whose late night Confessions slot got the network tonnes of positive press. Mind you, Virgin keep insisting there's nothing desperate about the situation.

BECAUSE, OF COURSE, WHEN YOU INDULGE IN INSIDER DEALING, IT'S LIKE STEALING CDS FROM SHOPS - ONLY IT'S MONEY AND FROM PENSION FUNDS: We're sure, though, that the formal investigation of Vivendi CFO in an insider dealing scandal will give even a moment's pause to the RIAA's continued claiming of the moral high ground - after all, don't the very, very rich have almost a duty to defraud everybody else?

DON'T LOOK BACK INTO THE SUN: Being a friend of Pete Doherty must be wearing, with the constant lurches between getting better and then getting much, much worse: he's now quit rehab again - is that the second or third time?

GO OUT AND WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER: Gene Simmons probably holds the record for the most made-up businessman in history; he's kind of comfortable with that. Asked how come Kiss keep going when they've done so many "final tours" he replies:

"We did a farewell tour when it was clear that Ace couldn't continue. But after the tour was over, it became fairly obvious from fans that they wanted us to continue. Rock bands are a lot like football teams: If a guy is on drugs and messes up, get someone else who's proud to wear the uniform and be part of the team."

Yes... like a football team, or perhaps more accurately, a serving crew at Frisco Burger. It's kind of funny that he still goes on stage and sings 'Crazy Crazy Nights' when for him, a Crazy Night now would probably be not watching CNBC's Far Eastern share price ticker. In 2004, for Kiss, it's very much a question of 'how much can the market stand'? So, if there are complaints that there's too much Kiss merchandise, Simmons responds:

"Actually, we haven't put out enough, because a lot of it sells out. So whoever says there's too much Kiss merchandise is not a marketing expert."

Sunday, June 06, 2004

EURO2004 SONG IN NO MAN'S LAND: Of course, it's arguable that Altogether Now can improve its low number 10 position it achieved on today's chart - especially if England do well in the Football Competition - but even so, clealry not selling as well as stupid flags to hang from the back window of your car.

FILMS AND MUSIC AREN'T THE SAME - WILL ANYONE CARE?: Tucked away in the back of the Guardian, Jonathan Bernstein's column mentions that Soul Plane may have just worked its way into the history books by being the first film to have its entire audience wiped out by piracy; he makes an argument that while music piracy may, indeed, be victimless, film piracy is of a different stamp; it could have the power to wipe out any business a second-string movie could do if it's on sale in a crisp copy six weeks before its in the theatres (as was the case with Soul Plane). This may or mayn't be true, but it certainly sounds compelling - and the big worry is that the action demanded by the studios will lead to further strengthening of the record companies' case by osmosis. It's going to be a wan hope that the legislatures treat the two different industries in different ways, isn't it?

YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE HOW HARD I GOT IT: A searing investigation into why pop stars fuck up, Help me, I'm a pop star contains a curious nugget of information - of the 12,465 debut releases in the US last year, only 21 recouped their budgets. Sydney based music industry analyst Phil Tripp attempts to contextualise this by saying "last year in America, 24 people were killed by lightning" - but this is a rubbish comparison; he's clearly trying to suggest that having an album that recoups is even less likely than being smote by lightning, but 24 people out of the entire population of America is a much, much lower incidence than 21 out of 12,465. In addition, of course, much of the wasted budget would have been pissed up against a wall by the clueless marketing departments of the music companies; and while being hit by lightning tends to give you an instant result, debut albums have much more than a twelve month period to make their money in. We've heard rumours that The Beatle's debut is still making money.

SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO: A whole pile of extravagent generosity for Kate Bush fans can be found at Kate Bush in MP3, which collects and lovingly catalogues early Kate Bush material - including unpicked versions of the backmasking on Watching You Without Me. Amongst the other delights there are a Radio One Christmas Jingle and a wokr-in-progress Babooshka.

AMERICA: A NATION IN MOURNING: Americans are waking up today to the sad news that Jennifer Lopez has got married to Marc Anthony. It was all meant to be a secret, but the news somehow leaked out to US Weekly:

"She didn't hardly tell anyone. Everyone was surprised," another unidentified friend told the magazine.

If J-Lo (sorry, J-Ant) wants to track down who blabbed, we suggest she starts by going through the guest list to compile a shortlist of those from the South, then.

This is the new Mr. Lopez:

So, at least he'll be able to give up those demeaning beauty pagents now. Lopez has yet to stay married for more than eighteen months, so we're guessing we'll be looking at the next wedding sometime round Spring of 2006. Start positioning yourself now, boys.

PLANNED FOR 2005: URINE SAMPLES BEFORE BUYING A CD: The RIAA really is hoping it's going to be able to force future music players to require a fingerprint scan before they'll play music. No, really, we're not making this up. Swedish inventor-firm Veritouch has shown the RIAA technology that would make it impossible to play a track without having it verified that it actually belongs to you by touching a finger to pad - which is wonderfully practical if you enjoy playing music in your car, or happen to have your living room laid out so you don't actually sit on top of your hi-fi. We're certain that, as with virtually all the other security devices, it won't actually work, but that won't stop them trying. So, if you're in the bath, you can't ask your wife to stick on that Faithless album, because she can't; you can't buy music as a surprise gift for anyone, because you'd have to secretly cut their finger off and sneak it to the store and have it sneakily sewed back on to their hand before they'd be able to play it. Much more seriously, with biometric data being - however ridiculously - being used to underwrite passports and state ID, do we really want a bunch of bumblefucks like EMI and Warner Music holding a huge database of our biometric information?

MONEY FOR JAZZ: There's trouble brewing in Scotland, where jazz fans are pissed off that they receive a very small slice of the government funding for music compared to the number of people who like jazz (although there could be a counter argument that if jazz is able to delight 13 per cent of the Scottish population, it should be able to gather enough cash from them to keep saxophonists in Duraglit and reeds). Whatever, calls are now going up for the Scottish Arts Council to share its money out across more genres of music - at present, over half the bunce disappears into the back pockets of Scottish Opera, with the emphasis on "disappears." Of course, while being a bit fairer with the cash makes sense, you can understand the reluctance of the SAC to start giving more popular music state support - go down that route, and you'll end up funding one-man tours by Jim Kerr and Pat Kane from Hue and Cry.

AND THEY SAY THAT THE INTERNET IS JUST A GIANT PORN POT: We did worry that Severina Vuckovic might have been being a little over-hopeful when she requested that anyone who comes across the hardcore pictures, videos, screecaps, mugs and tshirts of her with her breasts out destroyed them and pretend they were never there. Either that, or the doubling of traffic to No Rock this week on the back of web searchs for "Severina Vuckovic + pics" (and so on) means she's got an awful lot of friends out there doing a finger-tip search on her behalf.

For those of you who are curious, this is what she looks like (with clothes firmly on):