Saturday, June 26, 2004

A LONG DAY'S SOFABURY INTO NIGHT: The television coverage has really hit its stride today, deftly leaping between BBCs Two, Three and i, and severely cutting back the level of twitterage from Colin - Edith's actually been allowed to take the lead in some of their links, too, which is the sort of victory even the staunchest feminists had thought they would be denied.

Lots of talking over at the new bands stage, of course - BBCi is basically working like a big webcam for the duration, pointed at the stage for unbroken coverage, which gives Gill Mills a lot of time to have to fill. Of course, when you're wedged down the front of a stage, you can never be sure if the person wedged next to you is going to be a bore or a joy; Gill, it's fair to say, we'd happily be propped over the front barrier with. Today, she's been wearing something that appears to have been made out of a parachute. We think we're going to be having inappropriate dreams when we go to bed. More importantly, she's excellent at making the long wait a joy: her banter with Mark Radcliffe was the sort of meaningful nonesense Colin would love to be able to do. Radcliffe reported his experience watching the Black Eyed Peas - "two songs spun out to an hour and a half" and snickered that Paul McCartney's helicopter had been forced to land at Bristol airport because of the bad weather; Gill appears to ask him if he'd rather shag Macca or Liam and Noel and then states that she's not so desperate to fill until Zero Seven comes on that she's going to re-enact Linda McCartney jingles.

The Zero Seven come on, and you kind of wish she'd be back doing the Linda McCartney whistle. Incidently, isn't it some poor planning that sees Zero Seven headlining the New Bands tent, while something dancey is being served up in the dance tent, and Basement Jaxx are over on the Other Stage?

Basement Jaxx, by the way, are wonderful - there's about sixteen hundred people on the stage, all of them dripping sass and sexiness from every pore. And I'd totally forgotten just what an amazing single Romeo was. It's like having a bucket of still-kicking funk tossed over you. And the massaged in.

So, McCartney then. His first three songs on BBC Two are all Beatlesy covers - Drive My Car, Penny Lane and Get Back. This is his 3001st gig, and, to be honest, his voice sounds so shot that could well be his 3001st gig this year, rather than ever. And his backing band - which, doubtless, are all handpicked and well-paid and respected in their fields - sound more like midfield plodders than virtuousos (especially on Penny Lane; other bands would have been all the way up the Lane and into The Tavern tucking into their Mexican Breakfast before the Macca backers had got past the laundrette). The problem for Paul is that he's doing songs that are, these days, done much more like him by the thousands of fake Beatles acts that crawl the globe. You don't even have to go to the BeatlesFestival to come across them anymore; in the last week and a half Bargain Hunt and Ground Force have both shoehorned in appearances by the Mersey Beatles and some other bunch of duplicates-in-mop-top-wigs in the course of their usual BBC One business. Of course, there's a little bit of frisson from him being the bloke who was the songs, but based on a strict criteria of quality, he'd probably fail an audition to be in his own tribute band these days.

As Band on the Run starts, some tattered bright red banners drop down from the sky, although nobody seemed to realise they'd be slapping him in the face and flaunting themselves over the equipment. It's like we're suddenly live behind Claire sweeney's washing line. Then Back in the USSR. Does he do this every fucking time he plays live? He seems too, which is odd, since its a rubbish song, by any standards or measures you want to use. There's then some banter with the audience - we say banter, he actually started talking really oddly, like he thought we were the sort of people who couldn't really be trusted to make our own toast without burning the house down, but he was slightly scared in case we realised that he was thinking that: using an odd voice which sounded like a Brummie scouse impersonator and talking very slowly. Curious. Thank god he started doing Live and Let Die soon enough. We'd hoped he was going to back this with his other great spy movie theme, but if he did do Spies Like Us next, we wouldn't know as BBC Two and BBC Three swapped stages, so we got ver Jaxx and Colin got to pretend he was really, really excited by Paul McCartney.

Then, out of nowhere, comes the Jazz World stage - this year's poor relation, although not quite as poor as the acoustic stage which seems to have disappeared entirely; Phil Jupitus earns his fee by introducing Pressure Drop. When we reviewed the current series of Later, we were told we wrong to claim that Toots and the Maytals were a mile better than Bob Marley and the Wailers. We don't withdraw that; we just want to add a few extra miles to the distance they've always been out ahead.

BBC Two then return to McCartney, who's slipped on something of the wife's - not a leg, before you run away with yourself, it's a Ban Land Mines tshirt - the better to knock out Yesterday, Let it be, I Saw Her Standing There and - for a moment, my cycnical cold heart almost skipped a beat - Helter Skelter. Helter Skelter, of course, is meant to have lead Charles Manson to instruct his followers to kill. If he'd heard this shit version of it, he'd have probably done all the stabbing himself. Then its a little medley - if he'd have done Stars on 45, we'd have been impressed - and he's off, back to the Mull to feed himself a meat free cutlet. But not before setting off a small bomb full of glitter. They'll be picking that out of cow's hooves for months down at Worthy Farm. They'll be cursing him to high heaven.

Amy Whinehouse has just done something exclusive in the BBC Two studioette. She clearly wasn't that bothered about following on from Mr. Beatle, as she did very little to suggest she was trying. Perhaps we should just be thankfull she bothered to stand up.

SOFABURY: Hope of the States have been absolutely cracking: I'm not a great fan of fiddle playing in rock (Halfway To Eddy's left many, many scars; Violinski were used in place of punishment beatings in the town in which I grew up), and they had them way too high up in the mix. But even so, the enthusiasm and delight in the band's eyes was just a joy to behold. Starsailor were similarly just so happy to be there, and giving that same circle of happiness when the band play well, and the audience loves them, and the love feeds back.

SOFABURY: To be honest, with Strictly Come Dancing* on, and the threat of the fucking Frog Chorus, Glastonbury's going to have to work hard tonight. And you flick on, and there's Jamie Cullum, treating I Get A Kick Out Of You like it's a piece-of-shit scum off he's picked up on a street corner, jumping onto the piano to make a clannnng, singing it like he's a hostage reading his captor's demands, jumping onto the piano keyboard again. Good god, surely even The Sunday Times Culture section can see through this?

Soothing, soothing - Starsailor. We've got a soft spot for pudgy faced James Walsh and the Starsailor boys, and we especially like their little glance at U2-during-Live-Aid in-joke they did at the end of Silence is Easy. But boy, has James' hair gone to buggery in the Glastonbury rain. Solid-looking men with guitars has become a bit of a scary prospect, especially since Oasis went rotten so quickly; it's like something you once spent an evening puking after eating, it's hard to give it another chance, but Starsailor make it worth it. They're not just Embrace all over again. Promise.

The bbc wencam seems to have broken, as well, which means we've probably gone as far as we can with the glastocam. Unless someone fixes it.

* - Lesley was bloody robbed. Why on earth have the public kept voting to keep Christopher off eastenders in, week after week? That boy can't dance. His partner does all the work, he tends to either stand there or do a bit of walking about with buckled legs.

ETERNAL FLAME: After the Jubilee concerts, the Royalists took great comfort in the huge turn out - "people have come out in their thousands; it proves how much the British people love their Royal Family", they concluded. So what do we make of the enormous numbers who thronged the Mall for the pop concert to mark, erm, the Olympic Torch being rushed by on its way to Greece: that, despite a few flirtations with battery torches and camping gas stoves, the Brits still have a deep-seated affection for, and fascination with, fire?

The event itself was as awful as you might expect - Rachel Stevens' Some Girls is a great pop single (not as great as her last one, but it's still fine), but she came on looking like she'd decided to have an extra hour in bed instead of getting her hair done, and the camera work was dreadful. She was being backed, it seemed, by a Tribute To the Dove Soap Advert, and when they tried to do an Indian goddess style big finish, instead of getting the effect, the camera was on their side, so it looked more like a nasty spillage outside a prosthetic factory.

Worse was to come, though, as the big finish was Rod Stewart and either it was the cast of Tonight's The Night (the piss-poor Ben Elton scripted Stewart musical), or else a hen party organiser with a charge card from Ann Summers had wandered on stage. Nothing wrong with Rod, of course, except when he decides to do something from his songbook that even 80s era Eton John would have sent back as too cheesey. He kicks in. It's Sailing. Why? Why? Although they do have sailing in the Olympics, maybe that was the thinking behind it? Come to that, why was Rod the best they could find? Admittedly, Macca's tied up down Somerset doing his Glasto thing, but surely they could have found someone more... enticing? (Maybe Elton?) If this was meant to be part of the attempt to drag the Olympics to London in 2012, those of us who think trying to attract a cash-guzzling security and logistical nightmare to the UK capital need not worry - in a head to head with Paris, being noted as the country which can just about scrape together Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart and call it a party is going to make France a shoo-in.

DEATH AT THE FESTIVAL: A twenty-four year old man from Lancashire had died at the Glastonbury medical centre. Two women from Swindon have been held in custody on suspicion of supplying.

BEULAH BLOW OUT OF HERE: Friends, Angel, Frasier... this year is seeing a lot of long-runners come to their final curtain. Joining them on the pile are Beulah, playing their farewell hometown gig tonight, and then doing an outdoor final show on August 5th, Battery Park, New York - the music equivalent, we guess, of a clips show followed by an hour long double edition.

The San Fran Guardian worries that the Beulah bow marks the end of something - a gentrification of indie, the genre reaching a point where it decides to put its feet up and not spend so much time hanging about in noisy bars of an evening, which is a curious perception: indie alt-rock stuff has been around for so long now surely it's easy to see this as merely a shading from one generation to the next? Alt-rock didn't die when The Damned or the House of Love stopped making records, so there's no reason to start packing away the wah-wah pedals and tambourines just because the current generation has had enough. You can't stop people arsing about with guitars - we're not sure if a "thank god" or "unfortunately" is appropriate here - and while it's sad to see a soldier down, the fight will always go on. Angel would understand.

I AM THE LAW. NO, REALLY: Thursday night was a big night for DMX, it seems - at least to judge by the charges filed against him: crashing his stupid SUV through a parking lot gate at JFK, pretending to be a government agent (something he was helped with by having sirens on his car), ordering a bloke from another car, trying to manhandle that bloke out of his vehicle. And, breaking the unwritten rule of recreational drug users everywhere (don't draw attention to yourself if you're carrying), DMX had some drugs in the car, too - crack cocaine, since you ask. It seems to have all been a tribute to that episode of Frasier where the two Dr Cranes get in a tizzy over having to pay their parking fee.

Splendidly, DMX - whose mother calls him Earl Simmons - has also been charged with criminal mischief, which is the best name for a crime ever.

MEN WORLDWIDE SIGH, DECIDE TO SETTLE FOR THE LEAST WONKY OF THE OLSEN TWINS INSTEAD: Britney's gone and got herself engaged - and this time she was sober when she did it. She's picked up Kevin Federline, and promptly marched him off to the shops to buy him some decent clothes. "Hey babe, don't try to change me" protested Federline as they went towrds LA's Maxfields store, "but if you do, could you try and change me with something in natural, flowing fabrics?"

Federline. She's going to become Britney Feeder Line, which sounds like something Mark Lamarr might offer Phil Jupitus on Buzzcocks.

OASIS, STOP TRYING. YOUR HEART'S OUT: Well, the first headliners of Glastonbury have been and gone, but the headlines this morning won't be great reading for Noel (sorry, for some reason I seem to have woken up as John Inverdale this morning.) In the Guardian yesterday morning, Alexis Petridis ran through the position they're in - they've got a solid (as in polite word for "unthinkingly blinkered") fanbase, they haven't made a decent record since, well, the first really, but that doesn't matter because they have a bunch of classics to roll out. This in itself is debatable - while Live Forever will remain, whatever happens, a classic purely on its own merits, would anyone turn up to see a show that was only going to be building, say, to Roll With It?

Emily Eavis even told Petridis that she believed the reason why Glastonbury sold out "so quickly" was because people had heard the rumour Oasis were going to be there, which suggests either her own love of "brilliant" oasis is blinkering her, or else she perhaps isn't the best person to have taking more and more responsibility for the line-up of the biggest festival of summer. We may be wrong, though, and now the Gallagher set has gone, the M4 may be full of people returning home who had no other interest in the weekend than to see two barely coherent men on the cusp of middle age knocking out some pub rock songs.

That's not to say that the Oasis people aren't dedicated - the BBC Oasis messageboard has started to clog up with cloggers stung by the Glastonbury site's description of their set as "lacklustre." Gareth in Shannon grunts for many of them:

muted preformance really!!! i watched last night at thought aquiesce was fantastic as well as every other song we saw! what do people expect....liam to be dancing on stage!!! not going to happen one of the band of my generation without doubt defined an era and paved the way for guitar led rock and roll to be cool again, granted they have slipped away recently but lets hope the new album is a classic, because genius "lives forever"

You see? Who says Oasis fans can't do snappy word play.

The NME seemed more impressed though - a triumph is the early verdict. They report Liam dedicated Stop Crying Your Heart Out to the England Team (not that they are, actually, Beckham seems quite content with their performance, and how they were only defeated by a wily hole at the penalty spot). They neglect to mention what a knob he looked:

Friday, June 25, 2004

MAMBAZOBIT: One of the greatest memories we have of the first Glastonbury we went to - we're guessing it would be 1991 - was towards the end of the last night, a little demob happy and full of warm memories and hot chocolate, we made our way through the campsite overlooking the Pyramid Stage, avoiding the drunks and the fires, to an almost deserted area right at the top; our journey was accompanied by the sound of Ladysmith Black Mambazo drifitng across the hillside. That happy memory adds even greater sadness to the news that Ben Shabalala has been shot dead in Durban. The events behind his murder seem unclear at the moment; the rest of Ladysmith have pledged to continue with their current tour in his honour. Ben had joined the band in 1979; in 1993, the year they accompanied Mandela and DeKlerk to the current and future South African presidents' Nobel Prize Investiture, Shabalala quit to spend more time with his family - an old cliche that, in this instance, was actually grounded in the truth. The best-known isicathamiya band in the world, they took their name from Ladysmith, their home town, Black - in honour of black oxen, the strongest of all the beasts of burden, and Mambazo, a type of chopper, illustrating their ability to "chop down" any competiting acts. Having helped out Paul Simon on his (aparthied sanctions busting) Gracelands album, Simon repaid the favour by producing their 1987 collection Shaka Zulu. Their first US release, it also won a grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album category.

Jospeh Shabalala, founder of the group and Ben's brother, said:

"Ben was not just my brother, but is a part of my history. He is a part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's legacy. While his life has ended in this terrible way, his voice, his memory and his spirit will continue on with Ladysmith Black Mambazo."

SOFABURY: Watching the Glastonbury festival through the BBC isn't entirely unlike being at Worthy Farm for real, of course: you nip out for something to eat, and come back to realise you've missed P J Harvey (but, at least, there's the option to catch the set later on Listen Again); you find yourself at the wrong stage at the wrong time; and you have to share your time with some horrible, horrible people.

If you're at the Festival, you can at least sidle away pledging an urgent need to join the cashpoint queue. With BBC Three's coverage, though, you're stuck with the empty eyes of Colin Murray and the downtrodden Edith Bowman - she's like Cinderella played by Jo Wylie. Introducing the Rapture (Rolling Stones Go To The Indie Disco) she showed sparks of enthusiasm and excitement; the real thing, we mean, not the spray-on scent of 'excited' that Murray wafted over himself whenever he trailed the Oasis headline set - look, anyone who cares that much about Oasis would either be at the festival or still stuck desperately in 1995 trying to figure out text messaging; we're at home, and we don't give a fuck about them anymore. You're there, and you know deep in your heart you're not that bothered. We suspect, to be honest, that even most of Oasis view their commitment to play last on the Pyramid stage this evening as little more than an irritating gap between drinking and bedtime. Let's not pretend that it's an event the whole world is waiting for.

The other big irritant of the BBC coverage is its inability to hold its attention for long - Goldfrapp are on stage, Alison in thigh high boots, with a horse's tail swishing from her ass; poledancing deer are on behind her. It's good, but they're suffering from the curse of festivals: some bands just don't work in open air, in daylight. But before you get a chance to consider this, we're off to see Colin hanging about in a field - "ooh, Oasis in less than TWO HOURS", he squeaks, which is also a handy countdown towards last orders, of course, and then, boom, we're in the middle of the Kings of Leon. Without the beards, they've gone from looking like Tom in Reggie Perrin to looking more like puritans awaiting persecution. But - hang about, we're off again - back to Goldfrapp. (For whom, by now, the sun is setting, and who are really hitting their stride.) Then it's another track from the Kings, and we're off again to have an interview with Nick Moran. Why? In god's name, why? You're at the premier music festival in the calendar, you've got cameras trained on three or four stages. What's the point of padding out coverage with interviews?

Then we hit ten o'clock - BBC Three has cleared the schedules tonight, even the News and Strictly Come Dancing have been cast aside to make way for the festival (hey, they need the time to cram in some extra interviews with the likes of Nick Moran) but nothing can stop the Eastenders juggernaut in its tracks. So the coverage slides behind the Red Button.

Actually, we'd been a bit pissed off to discover that the much-mooted Red Button didn't have anything available before ten pm - we suppose the interactive streams had all been prebooked by BBC Sport for Wimbledon and Euro2004 and so they can't stick Glasto stuff on until all the boys are off getting showered down. And, awkwardly, despite Colin and Edith telling us to press red to leapfrog onto the service, at this point, the thing isn't working, so you're stuck with a spot of button pushing and cursing until they reappear. Then, bucking the trend for leaping about like Pogo Patterson riding on Spring Heeled Jim's shoulders, the coverage sticks with The Bees. For their entire set. They really are Ocean Colour Scene all over again, down to the dull, faultless but passionless music and the Oasis support slots.

With the main features back on BBC Three proper, the world of Press Red is left in the hands of Gill Mills. Mills is actually a pretty good presenter, in a 6Music sort of way, despite two distractions - very, very pronounced nipples which are so low and to the side they look set to meet up with her butt cheeks at any moment; and a faint suspiscion that she might actually be Ro Newton, back from a jungle she was abandoned in many, many New Years Eve Whistle Tests ago. She's left with a thankless task, trying to fill the gap while Spiritualized take forever to get ready on the New Bands stage, but she fills like a trooper - aided by having access to John Peel, who can ramble an anecdote out to the required length in the most agreeable fashion. Although even Peel is starting flag (second time with the "come across something you've never seen before" piece this link), so long is Jason Pierce taking to get his wah-wah peddle re-aligned.

BBC SCHEDULE: The BBC have released a schedule of the stuff they're definitely covering over the internet thsi weekend:

Confirmed acts for Friday are:
PJ Harvey 19.20 - 20.35
Goldfrapp 21.00 - 22.10
Franz Ferdinand 22.30 - 23.30
Elbow 23.50 - 00.50
Confirmed acts for Saturday are:
Keane 19.15 - 20.05
Lost Prophets 20.25 - 21.10
Starsailor 21.30 - 22.30
Basement Jaxx 22.50 - 00.20
Confirmed acts for Sunday are:
Belle & Sebastian 19.00 - 20.15
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 20.45 - 22.00
Orbital 22.30 - 23.50
Muse 00.05 - 01.20

... and we believe they'll be adding to that list as well. BBC Coverage can be found via this page - although it's going to be left up for a month after, so there's no rush.

"BATTY BOYS" BEAT BEENIE MAN: Beenie Man has pulled off by the management at the Ocean venue following an upstepping of activity over his tiresomely homophobic lyrics. Mr. Man had been due to play the Hackney venue at the start of a UK tour, but his arrival in the country got off to a bad start when he was questioned by Scotland Yard and asked to explain his advocacy of violence against gay men and lesbians. The police had been alerted by OutRage, who are also believed to have contacted Ocean and persuaded them to axe the date in the "interests of public safety."

THE CHILD RETURNS: Although we love Beyonce's solo stuff, and Kelly Rowland released a couple of good tracks, and nobody packs a supermarket bag like Michelle Williams, we can hardly contain our joy at the news that Destiny's Child are finally getting back together to do a show as the perfect three-headed (and, as Jeff, late of Coupling, would point out, "six-breasted... at least...") beast on Spetember 12th. They're also somehow involved with that pepsi-backed gameshow where a chimpanzee or something might win someone a billion dollars.

The new album is out in November - probably in bob-a-job week.

JANES SPLIT; GET BACK TOGETHER, JUST DON'T TELL PERRY: So the fourth, and probably final, split of Janes Addiction has been followed by Janes Addiction reuniting, only without Perry Farrell and under a new name. Which would suggest that the tensions that have lead the band to implode every so often weren't so much 'intraband' as 'between Perry and the others.' The vocalist in the as-yet-untitled bunching is going to be Steve Isaacs from Skycycle (yeah, we bet choosing to quit them was a tricky choice. Isaacs is firm that he isn't stepping into Farrell's shoes:

"Dave, Stephen, and Chris and I are just taking some time to do what is the most fun thing in the world to do -- make music and write songs."

Plus, of course, you ain't no Perry Farrell, are you?

[For those of you who like a spot of light nudity on a Friday, click here to see a little more of Perry Farrell. [NB: Not office safe]

LONDON RECALLING: Some "recently rediscovered" demo tapes from the recording sessions are forming the heart of the otherwise not really required reissuing of The Clash's London Calling. Included amongst the tapes, which turned up in Mick Jones' "storage facility" (I'm not making this up), are some songs which didn't survive the brutal cull of forming the tracklisting - presumably because even in a rough, demo form, they were deemed to be to weak to be worth perservering with. Why they've suddenly gotten any better since 1979 is anyone's guess. There's also going to be a DVD, as there has to be these days. It's what Joe would have wanted. Or, at least, could have been persuaded into signing up for.

GLASTOFACTSANDRUMOURS: Jamie Cullum apparently lost his virginity at Glastonbury, he's told 6Music - we're presuming when he said "I lost" he meant "I hope to lose"; everyone seems convinced that Oasis are going to be shuffling on stage when Macca headlines tomorrow night, proving that it is possible to go down from the worst thing you can imagine; it's also being suggested that Liam and Noel are insisting on being kept as far as apart as possible in the VIP area. Ah, brothers...

You might also be interested to know that tonight's Roundtable on Six Music (6pm) comes from Glastonbury and includes Mark Gardener, the one out of Ride who didn't opt to join Oasis.

365 HAPPY RETURNS: The song-a-day joy of the 365 Days Project has been reactivated and given a new permanent home - on the Ubu site - allowing you to relive the sweet joy of their quirky and curious tracks whenever you choose.

GLASTOCAM: We've played about with the webcam images from to put together a brief Glastonbury movie - we'll update it during the day, assuming we get bored enough.

click here for glastocam

(We hope this, erm, works - it's a flash movie, by the way)

EMI DENY SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT'S BEEN ALLEGED: EMI have responded to the online complaints about the unrequested software on the non-US/UK versions of To The Five Boroughs by telling New Scientist:

"There is no spyware on the discs."

Which actually misses the point somewhat - the original complaints weren't about there being spyware on the discs, but the discs installing software without giving the owner of the computer any indication something is about to added to their machine. Which is viral malware, however sweet and innocent EMI might think it is - they claim all it does is "provide the start, stop and volume buttons" needed to hear the non-standard format the tracks are encoded in. We're a little puzzled here, as EMI report that the player itself is stored on the disc and never actually downloaded onto the PC (which seems in itself to be a scientific nonesense - how does the CD process it? Surely it has to be copied to the PC before it will work, even if only while its running) - so why do the start and stop buttons need to be separated out from the player? EMI also says "the software is uninstalled when the CD is removed", which we just don't believe - and again, software uninstallation should be a transparent process, not something happening in the background.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

MTV SWALLOWS VIVA: Viva, the German alternative to the might of MTV Networks, has been swallowed by its international rival. Viacom, MTV's parent, is paying about EUR300 million for a majority stake, which is a cheap way of obliterating the competition in one go. MTV has pledged not to muck about with the "cultural identity" - Viva mainly focuses on German artists and German language music; it's also picking up sister stations in Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary and Switzerland. Everything needs to be given regulatory approval, and before we cry too much at the loss of independence, hitherto nearly half of the channel was held by Time Warner and Universal.

STUNTED!: So, with the papers full of Blackburn, and the news that he - and Cliff - are back on air at Classic Gold - the whole thing smacks heavily of a stunt, doesn't it?

It might have backfired a bit, though: many of the comments we've seen on the sacking seemed to think that Blackburn had been suspended from Capital Gold rather than Classic Gold, presumably because nobody's much heard of Classic Gold.

SEE? YOU CAN BE POLITE WHEN YOU TRY: Linkin Park managed to play a gig in Singapore - likened by Chester Bennington to "going to Grandma's for dinner" - without upsetting anyone.

Bennington said "Well, frankly, all the cursing and spitting is just play-acting anyway - why would I be angry and sweary the whole time? I'm making a mint, I got a job I love. I've absolutely nothing to be angry about."


SEE? YOU CAN BE POLITE WHEN YOU TRY: Linkin Park managed to play a gig in Singapore - likened by Chester Bennington to "going to Grandma's for dinner" - without upsetting anyone.

Bennington said "Well, frankly, all the cursing and spitting is just play-acting anyway - why would I be angry and sweary the whole time? I'm making a mint, I got a job I love. I've absolutely nothing to be angry about."


DO YOU LOOK LIKE KENNY ROGERS?: Oh, sure, it's a sexist question, but Kenny Rogers wants to know. He's trying to track down some of the people who appear on the self-explanatory site, in order to use them in some sort of Saddam-like bid to confuse the authorities and flee from justice. (Oh, sure, he claims he wants them to take part in some sort of skit for his upcoming tour, but we know what he's planning - there's going to be a befuddled Chief of Police in some town puzzling "But... that's the fifth crime Kenny Rogers is reported as committing in the last ten minutes... and yet he's already locked in the cells...")

IT'S LIKE A PRESS COMPLAINTS COMMISSION ALL OF ITS VERY OWN: Thank God someone's prepared to defend Michael Jackson from the outrageous slurs on his good name - after all, he might have dangled a baby from the balcony, and admitted sharing his bedroom with young children, and paid off a person who called him a paedo, and recorded Heal The World, but that doesn't make him a bad man, does it? Oh, and the inability to laugh off the Jarvis Cocker incident. And the whole insisting on being called the King of Pop nonesense. And the floating the giant statue down the Thames and spoiling everyone's view. Plus, the whole millennium gig debacle, and buying the Beatles catalogue behind his good mucker macca's back. But it seems that some people make things up about him. That's why his fans have set out to prove that love is blind by building a page to collect the lies and negative stories about him. Although, oddly, they only seem to have found about fourteen, which suggests they're not that tireless in their searching - maybe they're too busy making banners? They're also on the look out for positive press, too. Well, Thriller was quite good, if it helps, guys.

DREAMING OF THE BRITS: The Liverpool Echo has gotten itself all hot and bothered over the thought of The Brits or maybe the MTV awards coming from the city; they even phoned up the people who do the Brits and asked them how about it, then?

The BPI's Maggie Crowe didn't let them down:

"We are not London-centric so of course we would consider bringing the Brits to Liverpool. The city is a cultural hub - not just in the arts - but in the live music sector. Liverpool is a very up and coming place and we have a strong link with the city through our support of LIPA. We are lucky as our main sponsor is Mastercard so we don't rely on partnerships with arts councils in potential host cities -we can go wherever we want - and that could be Liverpool in the future."

Interesting that Maggie seems to think "the arts" is a subset of live music and not the other way round; it's also surprising that someone from the BPI thinks that a city with no venue capable of taking more than 2,100 is a live music hub. Let's take the BPI at the word that the Brits aren't London Centric - because they've held their awards outside London on a staggering no occassions - and just ponder, where would the Brits be held? What venue on Merseyside is going to be able to offer an Earls Court sized experience? Added to which, how many of the Record Industry lags - for whom the Brits is the prime winter jolly, keeping them happy until Midem - are going to want to drag themselves up to Liverpool and back? It's noticeable that In The City never bothered to repeat their Liverpool experiment, despite having promised the now-defunct Merseyside Music Development Agency they'd trial Liverpool twice.

GLIDING INTO YOUR EARS: We don't think we've mentioned the good people at Glide Magazine and their fortnightly downloads feature, but we should have - currently on offer they've got Wilco, live in Pittsburgh earlier this month, and a 1998 set from the Beastie Boys. All mp3, all the time.

HEADLINES THAT AREN'T AS INTERESTING AS THEY SEEM: e were truly startled to see Ananova claiming Air 'to take over from Ash', but then found out it wasn't



taking over from

TOMMY LEE - RUBBISH DJ?: With the Tony Blackburn story all over the papers today (looking more and more like a stunt, then - he even popped up on this morning's 'Today', which also featured, in a different context, an interview with Asian Dub Foundation) there's news of another DJ getting the poke halfway through his job - Tommy Lee was doing a dj set at a Las Vegas nightclub for father's day. Depending on who you believe, either he was rubbish and the club got security guards to throw him out; or the club wanted him to play different music so he walked out in disgust. There's also some disagreement over whether he kept ordering (but not paying) for USD800 bottles of champagne or not.

THE RIGHTS ARE ALL WRONG: Of course, the great thing about mp3s is that they developed away from the record companies and the technology making arms of the record companies, which is why attempts to try and block off the format have failed so miserably - Sony came late to the table, too late to crush a format which is refreshingly difficult for them to control. They're trying to avoid that happening again, so it seems any new leaps forward are going to be built round the Digital Rights Management. So it is that Sony's new ebooks wipe themselves off after 60 days. Regardless of if you've finished or not. Imagine if you went to Waterstones to buy a copy of, say, Gravity's Rainbow and the shop said "Okay, madam, but make sure you read it quickly - the paper disintegrates after two months..."

RINGING ANY BELLS?: Oasis have done their warm-up show for Glastonbury, and, good as their word, was there to hear what they're up to. For those of you who care, here's the setlist from this mighty event:

’Fuckin’ In The Bushes’
’Rock & Roll Star’
’Bring It On Down’
’Morning Glory’
’A Bell Will Ring’ (similar to Songbird, apparently. We had to take Quinnine to stop the shuddering)
’Stop Crying Your Heart Out’
’Little By Little’
’The Hindu Times’
’Cigarettes & Alcohol’
’Live Forever’
’The Meaning Of Soul’ (written by Liam and "reminiscent of Bring It On Down" - we're not actually sure we can remember how that goes, to be honest with you)
’Champagne Supernova’
’Don’t Look Back In Anger’
’My Generation’ (Yes, the Who song... how... inspired...)

MACCA WRECKS HERMITAGE: Following the astonishing 3000th McCartney gig in St Petersburg last weekend, the director of the nearby Hermitage Museum is really pissed off that all that shaking and noise damaged the museum's artworks. Mikhail Piotrovski told the BBC they prepared for the gig as if the world itself was screaming:

"We prepared for this concert like we would for a flood, all the museum's departments were put on alert," Mr Piotrovski said. He said "we do not ship any of our paintings by airplane" because of the danger from vibrations. The sound levels during the McCartney concert were "incomparably more powerful than that of any airplane," Mr Piotrovski said.

Just on the side, surely if vibrations from planes are damaging, wouldn't going over bumps on the road or being tossed about in a windy sea be equally bad? How do they normally transport the things - hot air balloon?

ANOTHER FESTIVAL, ANOTHER TIME: We've only just come across the photos from the Isle of Wight festival on BBC News Online - two of them are quite, quite extraordinary:

That's Kelly Jones... yes, of the Stereophonics. Like he doesn't realise the Straksy and Hutch movie has already been cast, filmed, released and forgotten and he's hoping he might be in with a shout as Huggy Bear...

And we really hope that James Dean Bradfield has just been caught at an unflattering angle/light combination here - we make it three chins, with a possible fourth developing later...

FESTIVAL OPENS TO DOWNPOUR, TRICKLE: The gates to Glastonbury are open, although there's not much of a rush to get in yet. A festival spokesperson described the not-entirely-overwhelming grand opening: "it was very slow in the first hour, so much so that it was a bit worrying,' the spokesman said.

Worrying? Why would that be, exactly? It's not like they're exactly relying on walk-up, is it? "Oh god, what if nobody shows up? Will McCartney be playing to an empty field?" It's not as if the weather was great - how many people are going to want to take an extra day off work simply so they can camp in the pouring rain for an extra night?

Mind you, wouldn't it be funny if nobody did show up? We did notice during Colin and Edith's live Glastonbury Calling last night that there didn't seem to be many people wandering round the field yesterday evening, either.

PINCHED NERVE STEALS SHOW: David Bowie's having trouble with this tour, isn't he? As if the lollipop in the face wasn't bad enough, he had to cut short his Prague show due to the pain coming from his shoulder. (Did anyone else just flashback to the Dancing in the Streets video when you heard the phrase 'a pain at Bowie's shoulder'?). He did manage an hour of the gig before he took a short break, but then threw in the towel a couple of songs later. Lucky he kept going for long enough to avoid an awkward 'do we get our money back' crisis, eh?

I OWE YOU NOTHING... OH, HANG ON, A MILLION, YOU SAY?: What we find extraordinary is not that Bros are planning a reunion gig (yes, Ken and all), but that Matt Goss expects us to believe somebody's offered them a million quid to do so.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Pre Glasto edition
Of course, any one of those definitive lists of anything is produced mainly to be a demonstration of stubboness and wrong-headness, and the Observer Music Monthly 100 Greatest British albums of all time really seizes the opportunity to make people shake their heads and tut. The Stone Roses is at number one - a handy measure of whereabouts the receeding hairlines and expanding waistlines of the Madchester generation have reached. Of course, Revolver is number two; London Calling at three. Further down the list there are, of course, surprises - three Roxy Music albums (although Phil Manazera was one of the judges), ABC's Lexicon of Love (Martin Fry had a polling card, too); four Smiths albums, riding the crest of the Morrissey revival (Mozzer was a judge, but he only nominated one album. Pentangle are in at 82 (Steve Davis wasn't on the panel). Cut - yes, The Slits, is in at 58. There's no room at all for Travis, and Coldplay barely scrape in (93, which suggests if it had been left six months they'd have slid beyond the barrier.) It's not as bad as some lists of its sort, and certainly the lower reaches are more refreshing than you'll find in, say, The Rolling Stone exercises of listmaking.

It's Glastonbury this weekend, which means one thing: an NME that assumes you'll be going. Athough, of course, with pretty much everything happening on BBC i this year, it's a lot more useful to have this sort of guide now than it has been in the past. The cover, though, is a bit of a fright - some awful photoshopped 'invasion of the giants' thing, only they appear to invading centre court rather than Glasto, and Paul Mccartney looks simple. (Although since he's meant to be following Liam into battle, maybe that makes some sort of sense). Apparently, by the way, we're now into the Third Summer of Love, although I don't think we've yet firmly established which of the seven previously nominated 'second summers of love' was the actual, genuine one. And let's get this out the way really quickly: there are cut out "comedy" beards, eyebrows and signs you can hold up. Other great ways of making yourself look like a fourteen year old twat include not shaving even although it would take a month for anyone to notice, and pooping in the back of the acoustic tent.

Before the mud, the digital, and NME's recent love-in with Napster continues to sway the coverage of the rightclickporiums of the downloading world. Thus, the launch of iTunes is headlined "Franz and Stripes Refuse To Sell Songs Through iTunes", rather than the more strictly accurate "iTunes launches before signing agreements with indie labels". Then there's a letter from someone called Suki complaining about the amount of space given to iTunes (when, you see, bricks and mortar indie stores are closing - we should pretend its not happening) - nary a word about the acres of Napster coverage, which has generally been a lot more positive than iTunes reports; Barney Simpson sends an email complaining how "some download services don't offer so much as Hotel Yorba or Take Me Out; someone else grumbles about the disparity in price. Obviously, there are lots of valid points here, but we wonder if the free sticker wrapped up with paper a couple of weeks ago had been an Apple rather than a cat with headphones, the coverage might have run in a different direction.

Peter Robinson takes on Simon Ratcliffe. Out of Basement Jaxx. He didn't know that Orbital were still going, and doesn't think it matters so much either way so long as the records still exist.

Radar tips five of the best new bands for Glasto: Goldie Lookin' Chain, The Duke Spirit, The Open, Chikinki, the Subways, if you're taking notes. The Kings of Leon pick the best way to enjoy the festival: Nathan suggests bringing wet wipes because "the toilet paper's horrible", which makes us wonder what festivals he's been to where there's toilet paper on offer. Morrissey - prepare yourself for this - hasn't played the festival for twenty-one years; Muse are looking forward to him, but Matt's pissed off they're playing at the same time as Orbital's "farewell" because the 'tal were one of his first ever live experiences. And Emily Eavis does the 'why I love' - and chooses... Oasis. They're so versatile, see: when they played in '94, they were "brilliant." In 1995, they were "just brilliant." Noel? "Noel is brilliant." And his relationship with Liam? "It's a brilliant act." So: Oasis are brilliant. Not a bunch of over-rated chancers who had one decent album which they've been living off ever since, as you may have thought.

Next week, of course, it's the reviews. Ten pounds to anyone who spots Emily Eavis saying Oasis were brilliant.

Reviews this week, though:
red hot chili peppers - murrayfield - "Brandy gets buried under all the soloing and anvil-on-the-testicles face-pulling"
isle of wight festival - "its BOWIE! Fucking David Bowie"
pj harvey - new york knitting factory - "the more diverse she gets, the more unified she sounds"

razorlight - up all night - "more tunes than Franz, more spirit than the strokes", 8
lilys - lilys - "the most English-sounding record ever... from an American band", 6
goodie mob - one monkey don't stop no show - "banging beats, big noise, abundant wit", 7

sotw - the open - just want to live - "It is big. It is impressive"
Mocky - how will I know you - "earnest jazz-funk"

And, finally, Jennifer Ellison tells Sneak about the lengths she'll go to protect her family. They oddly don't seem to include dropping her plastic gangster boyfriend, which seems a little bit like trying to save yourself from being stung on the cock without stopping pouring honey down your pants.

BEASTIE BOYS: TROJAN HORSES: It seems that the 'copy protection' that Ad-Rock and the other Beasties had been trying to stop appearing on the non-US and UK versions of the new album is actually worse than it seemed at first: To The Five Boroughs actually installs a virus on computers it's played on, reports users of the BugTraq forum:

It seems that Capitol Records has some sort of new copy protection system, that automatically, silently, installs "helpful" copy protection software on MacOS and Windows as soon as you insert the CD into default systems. I'm not sure exactly what it does yet, but I am sure regreting actually purchasing said media now... they don't deserve my money if they choose to pull stupid stunts like this. Installing software without your permission sounds like viral malware behaviour to me. I certainly hope the AV companies put signatures into their products for this crap.
They include some sort of uninstaller buried on there for Windows, but I see no such thing for MacOS. If anyone has disassembled the aforementioned malware already and can save us some time with instructions on how to remove it... thanks in advance.

TONY BLACKBURN THROWN OFF CLIFF: Tony Blackburn has got into trouble for playing too much (i.e. any) Cliff Richard on his Classic Gold Digital breakfast show. There seems to have been a long-running spat between the UBC head of programmes, Paul Baker and Tony. He'd been told not to play Cliff, he carried on, prompting Baker to issue another email. Then Blackburn played more Cliff, and got sent another sniffy email:

We shouldn't be playing Cliff Richard. As I said on Monday, we might carry out research on him, but for now we have a policy decision that he doesn't match our brand values, he's not on the playlist, and you must stop playing him. Requests is [sic] not an excuse."

Blackburn read the email out on air, ripped it up and played We Don't Talk Anymore and Living Doll back to back. Quivering, John Baish, the managing director, sent a 'see me in my office' email:

"Tony, Please call me straight after the show. This is really serious now."

And followed up with:

"You're consistently breaking the station's music policy. We've made our position as clear as we could. I've got no option except to suspend you until the situation can be resolved."

He might make an unlikely rebel, but more power to Tony Blackburn. After all, he's been working in radio for nearly forty years so you'd think they'd give him some credit as to knowing what the audience want to hear. It says a lot about just how straight-jacketed the people in charge of radio are these days that they fly into a squawking rage as soon as someone dares to play something not dictated by the computer print-out. What sort of response is "We might do some research on Cliff Richard?" Good god, grow a pair, why don't you? What are you doing in the radio industry if you can't figure out if your audience will like a song or not without employing some ladies with clipboards to ask questions outside the local Woolworths? And why isn't "requests" a legitimate reason for Blackburn to play something a little different from the churned-out diktat playlist? Don't you think that perhaps someone who's cared enough to seek out Classic Gold Digital and write a letter or an email to ask to hear a particular song - one that does seem to sit with the professed format of "songs that people know and love from the last 40 years" - might deserve to hear the song they've requested. And how can Summer Holiday or We Don't Talk Anymore not fit that format anyway? It's not like Blackburn was trying to sneak The Rasmus or Vivaldi onto the air. Have there been reports of people switching their radios off snarling "I expected to hear some nice middle of the road pop tunes, not Cliff Richard..."? I doubt it. Could the problem actually be that Tony understands the needs of your audience better than you do, because he relies on his instincts and experience rather than choosing records by pie-chart?

On the other hand: A few years back, Billy Butler and Wally Scott were "suspended" from Radio City for playing Cliff Richard against management wishes. Except that turned out to be a publicity stunt in the end.

THESE WILL BE PENCILLED IN, THEN?: The Libertines have announced details of their second album which, all being well, and providing nobody flogs the mastertapes, be out on Rough Trade on August 30th, titled 'The Libertines'.

Meanwhile, Pete Doherty has said he'll be playing a couple of gigs in London soon - "with friends" at Filthy McNastys and with Babyshambles at the Rhythm Factory; he's said on the babyshambles website that he's back in the pink of health, but we're suggesting you might want to leave these gigs to walk-up, rather than buying tickets in advance. Doherty has also claimed that he can see the Libertines festival dates being re-instated. Which must make a nice change from seeing a giant baby crawling across the ceiling.

WEIGH A PIE: Sitting around with nothing to do for a couple of hours, the American Film Institute decided to compile a list of the 100 best movie songs of all time, ever. Rather curiously, they called it '100 Years... 100 songs', despite the first chunk of those 100 years being, um, silent movies. If you think the list sounds kinda gay, that could be explained by Over The Rainbow coming top. It really starts to come apart with My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion's Titanic tune, coming in at 14 - although that could be a reward for its aptness; it really did make us feel like we were listening to the agonised panic of hundreds of steerage class passengers desperately trying to break out of their locked compartment in the face of imminent death. Shockingly, Jesus Christ Superstar and Oklahoma are both absent from the run down, although space is found for It Had To Be You, which seems like cheating to us. After all, the song had been going along quite happily before it got scooped onto the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack.

The top twenty in full:

1-Over the Rainbow-WIZARD OF OZ, THE-1939
2-As Time Goes By-CASABLANCA-1942
3-Singin' in the Rain-SINGIN' IN THE RAIN-1952
5-White Christmas-HOLIDAY INN-1942
6-Mrs. Robinson-GRADUATE, THE-1967
7-When You Wish Upon A Star-PINOCCHIO-1940
8-Way We Were, The-THE WAY WE WERE-1973
9-Stayin' Alive-SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER-1977
10-Sound of Music, The-SOUND OF MUSIC, THE-1965
11-Man That Got Away, The-STAR IS BORN, A-1954
12-Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend-GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES-1953
13-People-FUNNY GIRL-1968
14-My Heart Will Go On-TITANIC-1997
15-Cheek to Cheek-TOP HAT-1935
16-Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)-STAR IS BORN, A-1976
17-I Could Have Danced All Night-MY FAIR LADY-1964
19-Some Day My Prince Will Come-SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS-1937
20-Somewhere-WEST SIDE STORY-1961

SHE REALLY IS THE FAMILY DOLLAR BRITNEY/CHRISTINA, ISN'T SHE?: Following the format to the letter, Jessica Simpson has cancelled tour dates.

What you get if you ask at the dressing up store for a 'Britney'

Apparently, Jessica's got some sort of kidney infection, which has lead to her modish axing of a gig or two.

INTERESTING INTERPRETATION OF 'LISTENING': As the Associated Press picks up on the Aguilera refund story, they tell their readers that "Aguilera's management is listening." Yes, listening to the complaints, saying "that's nothing to do with us, try your credit card company." Hardly Frasier Crane, is it?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

RIAA THROW YET MORE GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD: Clearly, the RIAA really has too much time on their hands, as they launch another 482 lawsuits to try and save pure, virginal music from the dirty hands of the downloaders. You can probably write the rest yourself by now. It brings to just under four thousand attempted lawsuits from amongst the six million or so regular American downloaders - at this rate, they might have hit the one-hundreth of a percent mark by the end of next year.

THE LIBS ARE OUT: The Libertines (minus Pete Doherty) have been out and about again, turning up at the Mojo awards show. They're, apparently, leaving the door open for him, though:

"Ten minutes is a long time in the Libertines, so you never know what could happen. He is always part of the band, of course he is. The band wouldn't be the band if he wasn't. He's always welcome. Obviously his health is above all our primary concern. As soon as he sorts himself out he's more than welcome to join us whatever we're doing."

ON THE BEAK: We're not especially big fans of Jet, you might have noticed, but we have to say fair play for them in taking on Kentucky Fried Chicken - or KFC, as they like to call themselves these days. The band have written a letter to Yum brands, who run KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut calling on the company to treat their chickens a little better. It's not the lobbing their carcases into a greasy cardboard bucket that bothers them, but the shit way KFC look after their chooks before killing them. Jet want KFC to introduce a more humane slaughter process to ensire that the birds aren't conscious when they're scalded and killed. Item two on the list is the introduction of mashed potato to the non-US stores, but first things first.

LOST DOG: How on earth do you misplace a fifteen foot dog? Colin Macintyre, from Mull Historical Society, somehow managed to lose track of his giant pooch - with an electric blue wig - after a video shoot, and is now desperate to be reunited with his hound before T in the Park.
-Hey, Colin, have you put an advert in the paper?
-Don't be silly, large polystyrene dogs can't read.

AND THEN THERE WERE... THREE?: With those in the know betting that the BMG-Sony merger is going to be let through by the EU, eyes are already being primed for a likely union between EMI and Warners - on the basis that if regulators can live with one enormous, greedy, outsized union, how could they object to a second?

RE-RELEASED: It's not unusual for bands to reissue hit records - as far as we know, Primal Scream's rerelease of several old tshirts doesn't happen quite so often. You can pretend you were in to 'em years ago. Although not when they were fey; they've not brought back any All Fall Down era stuff.

OD2 DOWNLOADED: Peter Gabriel's OD2 company has been flogged off to US digital music distro Loudeye. OD2 provide the actual downloadedy bits for MyCokeMusic, Virgin, HMV and MSN, amongst others. We wonder if there's some DRM hidden in the belly of the company so that if Loudeye try to move it to a different city it'll cease to work. Still, it gives us a chance to see what OD2 is worth - it's apparently filling out deposit slips for USD2.5million a quarter, and its making a loss on that. Loudeye themselves aren't exactly profitable, either, so in some respect this is the wedding of two bums, pooling their negative resources. The price? Loudeye are paying USD38.6million in cash and shares. We hope, for Pete's sake, it's mainly cash.

OD2 DOWNLOADED: Peter Gabriel's OD2 company has been flogged off to US digital music distro Loudeye. OD2 provide the actual downloadedy bits for MyCokeMusic, Virgin, HMV and MSN, amongst others. We wonder if there's some DRM hidden in the belly of the company so that if Loudeye try to move it to a different city it'll cease to work. Still, it gives us a chance to see what OD2 is worth - it's apparently filling out deposit slips for USD2.5million a quarter, and its making a loss on that. Loudeye themselves aren't exactly profitable, either, so in some respect this is the wedding of two bums, pooling their negative resources. The price? Loudeye are paying USD38.6million in cash and shares. We hope, for Pete's sake, it's mainly cash.

WHAT, NO GIG AT ASDA IN GATESHEAD?: Avril Lavigne is coming to Britain - now, now, it's only fair that North America should have a chance to be free of her for a couple of months; we have to do our bit. She's got some European tour dates planned:

Munich Olympiahalle (September 26)
Dusseldorf Philipshalle (27)
Paris Zenith (28)
Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall (30)
Brussels Forest National (October 1)
Manchester MEN Arena (3)
Birmingham NIA (4)
Belfast Odyssey Arena (6)
Glasgow SECC (7)
Cardiff International Arena (9)
London Wembley Arena (10-11)
Sheffield Hallam FM Arena (12)

- and in addition she'll be doing Party In The Park in London, as well. Quite large venues, those, Avril. Best of luck.

LOOZA ENDS IT ALL: Lollapalooza, the wandering festival, has been axed, just three weeks before the first date. Besides New York, it seems none of the tickets had exactly been flying out of booths, and the management (including Perry Farrell, of course) have decided that rather than running up huge losses bussing Morrissey, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth and The String Cheese Incident round the US to play to virtually empty venues, they're better off knocking the whole thing on the head:

"On the average, the losses, had ticket sales not dramatically picked up — which they showed no indication of doing — the people involved faced losses in the mid-to-high six figures on a per-show basis."

It's slightly scary that a line-up like that couldn't move tickets - although the costs of mounting 'Looza are pretty steep, as you're looking at having a travelling circus even without the bands involved. We guess this must be a major setback to Perry Farrell's plans to bring the tour to Europe anytime soon.

WHEN BODYGUARDS RELAX: We imagine there must be a snug, somewhere in London, where bodyguards gather to share stories and compare notes. We picture a scene, with three musclebound types, each nursing a beer, discussing their most recent jobs.

"I had a bad time" says the first, "intruder downstairs at four in the morning, carrying a rape kit and a stun gun. I had to use a move to avoid him knocking me out, while bringing a chair up behind him to knock the geezer down. Then I was able to get his own gaffer tape on him until the police arrived."

"My last one was a nightmare, too" offers the second. "My boss had managed to offend the local triads. One of their guys attempted to force us off the road up on the moors. I struggled to keep the car on the road while getting up enough speed to evade the guys."

They turn to third, sat silently staring into his pint. "What about you, then? What have you been up to?"

"I don't want to talk about it." He stares deep into his pint.

"Go on, it'll help" says guard one. "Yeah, you know - we've all been there. We know what it's like."

The third guard shakes his head, grimly. "You don't. This is too much."

Another round, accompanied by chasers, and he's starting to loosen. More beer, more good whisky, and the third guard is feeling more comfortable sharing the details with his two friends. So much, that when the second guard settles back down from a trip to the lav, and asks "Come on - what happened on your last call that was so awful?" the third guard leans in to his buddies. Checking they're not being overheard, he whispers:

"First, I had to make the hot milky drinks, stirring the marshmallows just enough so they were soft, but not dissolved. Then I had to check there were no snakes under the bed, and fetch Mr. Bunny from the TV room. Finally, I did a quick tour of the room to make sure the Fimbles night lights were all working. Then I tucked Mr. Blankey tightly round the bosses' neck, kissed him goodnight, and got into bed."

His two hardened friends tried not to show their horror at the tale, but could hardly control themselves. And, inside, both gave silent thanks that they'd not been assigned the job of being Robbie William's sleepover security.

IT'S THE RETURN OF THE ZOMBIE FORMAT: The ultimately pointless "pocket-sized" three inch CD is to be resurrected by the necromancers at Universal, in a move that's meant, somehow, to try and prolong the life of the single. The only real difference from the original mini-CD is that there'll be some ringtones included on the disc, but that doesn't really seem to require a different size of record.

The mini-CD was originally launched shortly after the introduction of CDs, at a time when the price of compacy discs was astronomical and falsely inflated by record companies implying they required a factory on Jupiter and the expertise of blind Himalyan monks to produce. Shrinking down the size of the silver circle was seen as a way of creating a cheaper, more friendly format for singles - akin to the 7" and its relationship with the 12" album. Of course, it was a flop, in exactly the same way the 2004 return will be.

Firstly, three inches of CD is way too small - you don't want a record that could be swallowed by anything larger than kitten; they're tricky to store; impossible to browse easily and it's a bugger for them to be displayed on shop shelves. Secondly, the whole concept of "pocket" Cds is meaningless - you still need to have a normal sized CD player to hear them on, so it's not like you've suddenly created a wonderfully portable format for the good of all mankind. Indeed, that the 3" was laughed at first time round should have been enough to put Universal off; to try and bring it back in competition with the totally sizeless mp3 smacks of madness.

Good news from Universal, though: they're axing copy-protected CDs from Germany. Hopefully, the rest of their world will follow.

EXTRAFEST: As if it hadn't already turned itself into a stinking, over-sponsored horrorshow anyway, the Beer-Sponsored Reading/Leeds festival is releasing an extra 1000 tickets for each venue today at Noon. The catch? You've got to have an Orange Mobile, and know how to make WAP work, to get it to work.

ECHO AND THE NARCISSIST: Mariah Carey isn't the sort of woman to be pushed around - well, when she's not under sedation, anyway - and so when, in her first job, she was told "Mariah" wasn't exotic enough and she should change her name to Echo, she said it was degrading and quit her hairdressing gig.

How happy she must have been when she found a job she could do, and keep her dignity intact at the same time.

FOR SHAME: The Red Hot Chili Peppers gigs in London at the weekend sound like they were something special - you can still catch Sunday's gig for the next few days on BBC Radio One's listen again service - but apparently the even more wonderful Chicks On Speed were bottled off the stage on Saturday. The rudderless Daily Mirror sort of missed the point of what they'd seen:

Dire three-piece rock group Chicks On Speed's set lasted only 20 minutes at Hyde Park on Saturday, during which they were booed and pelted with bottles. After several direct hits they surrendered and stormed off stage screaming "f*** you". Charmed, we're sure.

Apparently, the 3AM Girls don't understand why anyone would be pissed off at being pelted by bottles when you're trying to do your job - let's hope that nobody takes the chance to demonstrate the next time the Showbiz Kittens are desperately trying to get into some club full of tossers.

NOW EVERY TWO BIT ONCE WAS WILL BE FORMING A SUPERGROUP: With Velvet Revolver doing well in the US, anyone who's managed to be in a band for more than three weeks is going to be rubbing their chins and thinking "Creaky old supergroups - that's where the future is." For example, here comes Cardboard Vampires, which is what you get if you put The Cult's Billy Duffy, Alice in Chain's Jerry Cantrell and Ratt's John Corabi in a room together and forget to take their instruments off them. Oh, and they're a covers band; mainly covering, uh, Cult and Alice in Chains stuff.

Monday, June 21, 2004

THE ARCADE OF THE MUSE: Fancy yourself as something of a keyboard king? Want to go to the V festival in Chelmsford for free? Want to work agression out of your system using some computer generated mayhem? Like Muse? Then everything you adore comes together in this Muse-flavoured arcade game with festival tickets on offer for the highest score. It's not really a patch on the Thompson Twins adventure game for the Spectrum, but it'll do for now.

HE MIGHT ALSO WANT TO ASK FOR THE FLYPOSTING TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION: Oh, we wail, how can the RIAA expect us to keep on the straight and narrow when they're so naughty all the time? Why, the former head of Vivendi Universal is being held by French police investigating financial misconduct at the record label's parent company. They're trying to get to the bottom of a massive sharebuyback, which Vivendi used to try and stop its share price from tanking in late 2001, an activity which, shareholder's group APPAC claims, decieved investors and caused lots of them to lose money - not just small investors having their hard-earned savings diddled from them, but pension funds, companies which look after charity incomes, and so on. All makes downloading a copy of an early Pulp song seem like small beer, doesn't it?

MADONNA DECIDES IT'S NOT GOING TO HARM SALES TO BE SLIGHTLY ANTI-WAR: When it really mattered, in the run-up to the war, Madonna made certain she was going to be inadvertently counted, pulling her American Life video on the grounds that it might look a little anti-war. It's clearly a sign how things are changing in the US that she now feels able to make some vague anti-Bush statements in interviews, chiding him for acting in an "irresponsible" manner. Phew, that's told him - bet he's off packing his bags and writing up a handover document for Kerry on the strength of that. Her reasons for not actually bothering to say anything back before George irresponsibled several hundred Iraqi civilains to death, and irresponsibled the US army into treating prisonners like shit?

"I have children to protect and I just didn't think it was the right time."

Yes, it's never the right time to try and stop a war before it happens - best to keep your head down until the opinion polls start to show it's getting a little more unpopular and then speak up. We'd be fascinated to hear your opinions on the Invasion of Hungary, Madonna.

But let's not throw sticks at her - she's pledged to become part of the order, rather than the chaos of society. What does she mean? She clarifies it for us:

"The stance of a rebel is 'I don't care what you think'. But if it's just for the sake of upsetting the apple cart, you're not really helping people. You turn the apple cart over and then what? Then everyone's looking at an apple cart that's turned over and they're like, well, now what do I do?"

Make cider? What's perhaps the most depressing thing here is that Madonna does seem to think that rolling about in a wedding dress and being butt-fucked by Vanilla Ice for a book is in some way the same as being a rebel, and her assumption that to rebel just means smashing up societal conventions - it doesn't seem to have entered her mind for even a half-second that sometimes, actually, rebelling can be a positive, active choice. Like in Burma, or Tibet. Or even the anti-war protests that, you know, she might have wanted to have been involved in if the time had been right.

Not that she's going to be rolling about in her pants anymore, either:

The 45-year-old mother-of-two said her days of shedding her clothes on stage or in front of the camera are also over.
"I thought I was liberating mankind but, like I said, I wasn't really offering an alternative. To a certain extent I was saying 'Look, you know, why do men only get the job of objectifying women in a sexual way? I want to do it too.' There was an element of that, but there was also an element of being an exhibitionist and saying 'look at me'. It wasn't that altruistic. I can admit that."

Hmm. Clearly, the decision to change her ways was taken too late to alter the content of the current tour, then [simulated lesbian sex, pregnant girls in their knickers dancing about the Papa Don't Preach, attempting to recreate the MTV snog with Britney, etc.] Maybe next tour, eh?

SATAN JUST EDGED BY SHARON OSBOURNE: In one of those dog-day page fillers, Kerrang have compiled their list of the most important people in rock - that Sharon Obsourne came top suggests that they missed out the word "self" after "most" when producing the press release. Satan is given the second place for the vague reason that "the devil has all the best tunes" - you;d have thought someone at K! would have heard enough Norwegian death metal to realise the falsehood at the heart of that cliche; Satan's minion Brian Becker of Clear Channel comes third.

We can't actually bring ourselves to mention who rounds off the survey, so please forgive the cut and paste job:

Rounding off the chart at number 10 was teenage singer Avril Lavigne "for turning a new generation of pop fans into fans of all things loud and objectionable".

No, no, we're not choking; that's hollow laughter.

SOMEHOW, NO ROCK'S INTERNAL JUKEBOX IS BEING RELEASED ON CD: It's like the Indie Top 20 series of double albums never stopped happening, with the news that Rough Trade are about to release an album that defines indiepop. Look at this tracklisting and tell me you're not quivering:


1. Primal Scream - 'All Fall Down'
2. Modesty Blaise - 'Carol Mountain'
3. Popguns - 'Waiting For The Winter'
4. The Clouds - 'Get Out Of My Dream'
5. Sea Urchins - 'Pristine Christine'
6. Jesus And Mary Chain - 'You Trip Me Up'
7. Mary Lou Lord - 'Some Jingle Jangle Morning (When I'm Straight)'
8. The Monochrome Set - 'The Monochrome Set'
9. Felt - 'Penelope Tree'
10. Juniper Moon - 'El Resto De Mi Vida'
11. Shop Assistants - 'Safety Net'
12. V Twin - 'Gifted'
13. Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes - 'Splashing Along'
14. Television Personalities - 'Look Back In Anger'
15. Dressy Bessy - 'You Stand Here'
16. The Wedding Present - 'Once More'
17. Helen Love - 'Beat Him Up'
18. Pop Will Eat Itself - 'Black Country Chainstore Massacreee'
19. I, Ludicrous - 'Preposterous Tales'
20. Heavenly - 'Sort Of Mine'
21. Beat Happening - 'Indian Summer'
22. The Groove Farm - 'The Best Part Of Being With You'
23. Field Mice - 'Landmark'

CD Two

1. My Bloody Valentine - 'Paint A Rainbow'
2. Love Is All - 'Spinning and Scratching'
3. Josef K - 'Sorry For Laughing'
4. Talulah Gosh - 'Talulah Gosh'
5. Aberfeldy - 'Vegetarian Restaurant'
6. The Pooh Sticks - 'I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well'
7. This Poison! - 'Poised Over The Pause Button'
8. The Magnetic Fields - '100,000 Fireflies'
9. The Vaselines - 'Molly's Lips'
10. AR Kane - 'When You're Sad'
11. Darling Buds - 'Uptight'
12. Pastels - 'Truck Train Tractor'
13. Camera Obscura - 'Eighties Fan'
14. McCarthy - 'Should The Bible Be Banned'
15. Lush - 'Hypocrite'
16. June Brides - 'Every Conversation'
17. The Velvet Crush - 'Walking Out On Love'
18. The Flatmates - 'I Could Be In Heaven'
19. Marine Girls - 'Honey'
20. Bis - 'Icky Pooh Air Raid'
21. Razorcuts - 'Sorry To Embarrass You'
22. Eggs - 'Government Administrator'
23. Spearmint - 'Sweeping The Nation'

We think that's just made any mixtape we might have had cause to make obsolete in one go.

NOW YOU CAN MAKE YOUR 'NO SMOKING' SIGNS LOOK LIKE LENNY KRAVITZ: Or Metallica, or Oasis... is offering a lot of band logo fonts - sadly, not too many for the Mac yet.

YOU KNOW THE AMAZING THING? IT KNOCKED HIS EYE COLOUR BACK SO THEY MATCH AGAIN*: David Bowie's Oslo gig was all fun and games until someone lost an eye. Or almost did. Twenty minutes in, he got smacked in the eye with lollipop. The report says "an aide managed to free the lollipop", which makes it sound like it really got wedged in there, King Harold style, and, understandably, he had a bit of a go at the person who flung the sweet at him. The Sun reckons it's spoken to the person who owned the offending ChupaChup:

"I was dancing, holding the sweet up. Then I was pushed and it flew from my hand."

Hmm. Sounds about as plausible as those people who try and explain objects lodged in their anus with "It was a million to one chance..."

*This bit isn't true

KIM OUT OF KITTS: Oddly, US District Judge Gerard Lynch thought that Lil' Kim might elect to stay in the Caribbean instead of returning home to face charges of perjury, and has banned her from taking part in the St Kitts Music Festival. Sweetly, her lawyer had tried to argue that Kim wouldn't be a flight risk because she was "well known."

"Tell that to Roman Polanski" sniffed the judge, locking Kim's passport away in a box.

ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE SOUND OF THE CROWD: If we were part of the UKIP, we'd probably break off from hyperventilating about seeing foreign people and homosexuals in the street to bang on about how Europe's now launching an all-out attack on our tinnitus and ruining the fine old British tradition of going deaf. But, since we're not mad, we'll merely observe that this is the last week for anyone to raise points about plans to limit noise at work, under the European Directove 2003/10/EC. Now, if you're wondering what all this has to do with music, the new rules will cover all workplaces - including clubs and venues - and, generally, turning the noise down a little is probably a good move all round. We kind of wish these rules had been in place when we started going to gigs.

BEYOND THE GLASTONBURY FENCE: There's loads and loads of festivals which - though smaller in scale than Glastonbury - bring all the joy of fields and beer tents to various corners of the UK right across summer. If you're running one and would like a plug, email us with the details and we'll add them here. Or stick them in the comments.

25th - 27th June: Newport Pagnell Festival by The River - Brooklands/Ousebank Gardens: Fat Freddues Cat, the Ozarks, Cerry Williams & The River Band, The Ragged People, The Bullfrogs, Big Fiddle Band, Coup-de-Grass, Dodman, Acord, Irenes Country Band, Michele Welborn Band - FREE

3rd July - Park Life - Brooklands/Ousebank Gardens, Newport Pagnell - Auto, Dead on Holiday, Dust, FINK, Brads Blues, Chief Pequend, Dan Plews, Jack and the Lads Jazz - FREE

21st - 22nd August - The Green Man Festival, Baskerville Hall, Hay on Wye: Four Tet, James Yorkston and the Athletes, It's Jo and Danny, Adem, Joanna Newsom, The Fence Collective, The Memory Band, Fonda 500, Lucky Luke, Field Trip, Aidan smith, Fionn Regan, King Creosote, Pedro, Colleen, Faun Fables, Wigwam, Bit Map,  Charlotte Greg, The Bard of Ely, Alasdair Roberts, Daimh, M Craft, Jackie Leven, Lone Pigeon, Ella Guru, Clayhill, The Earlies, Drymbago, Crannog, Brave Captain, Chris T T, Elaine Palmer, Gravenhurst, Lucky Jim, Culprit One, Scatter, Jakokoyak, Sweet Baboo, My Latest Novel. Plus movies, djs, books and an acoustic stage. £20 a day, or £35 the pair - details at

TROY SOLDIERS: You actually feel sorry for Brian Johnson - his announcement that his Helen of Troy musical is just about ready could look like nothing more than leaping onto the running-plate of a passing trend, but he's been working on this for six years. However, it might be a bit more difficult to look on him kindly when you discover he wants Dolores O'Riordan to play Helen of Troy. A face that would launch a thousand ships? She'd have trouble getting the Harwich car ferry loose of its moorings.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

AREN'T YOU THAT GLORIA ESTEFAN?: Of course, what makes the Noel Gallagher mistaken for Damon Albarn story so funny is that, clearly, the person who made the "error" knew exactly what he was doing.

LESS STRIPPED, MORE ROLLED: Anger on top of disappointment for Christina Aguilera fans. When the tour was pulled at the end of April, because Christina was all croaky and couldn't sing, most fans got their refunds at the point of sale. Those who'd forked out for 'VIP' tickets, though, were told they'd have their cash re-credited to their credit cards. They waited, and waited, and waited. Then they discovered the company who'd been dealing with the VIP tickets, FansRULE (never trust a bunch of bozos who use pointless capitalisation - did the fArmERs bOys teach you nothing?), had gone belly-up and taken all the cash with them. What makes it worse is the VIP fans had been suckered into paying enormously inflated prices on the basis they'd have a vague possiblity of meeting Christina, so they've been royally rolled.

FansRULE is desperate to try and make it clear that it's not Christina's fault:

"What should be made clear is that the inability to refund payments made for tickets is in no way the fault of Christina Aguilera. We understand that this puts a great many of you in a difficult situation, and are hopeful for a speedy resolution to this problem."

Although the question is: why isn't it the fault of Christina? If the tour hadn't been pulled, there'd have been no need for a refund - perhaps even FansRULE might not have gone down. And how were the company in a position to sell these tickets anyway? Presumably they were doing so with the blessing of the Aguilera people; why shouldn't they be held to account for making a sucky choice?

Not that they're not, you know, quite upset about it all, according to the management statement:

"We are writing to let you know how sorry Christina feels that you have not received your refunds. Our expectation was that the refunds would be made by May 31. We have been actively and aggressively pursuing FansRULE to cause them to refund the money, but, as of this date, our efforts have been unsuccessful."

Here's an idea, though - if the fabulously rich Christina really feels that bad, why doesn't she dip into her pocket and pay her fans back the money they've lost because of her cough throat problems? Then the management could actually, actively pursue the FansRULE people with a little more self-interest, Christina would look like a good egg and her fans would be even more thrilled.