Friday, July 30, 2004

"FAIRLY SHIT" NEW NAME BODES ILL FOR NEW MANICS ALBUM: Is it just us, or is Life Blood a really, really disappointing name for the new Manics album? It doesn't suggest they're totally at the top of their game, does it?

Nicky Wire says of it:

"It's modern, shiny, pure pop, elegiac pop, It really is the poppiest album we've ever done. The mixer of Goldfrapp (Tom Elmhirst) has been working with us, and he's really given it a lovely sheen and a modern edge. We've been listening to The Associates, early New Order, Joy Division. It's 'The Holy Bible' for 35 year olds!"

Which isn't the most encouraging thing, either: by the time you're 35, you shouldn't needa The Holy Bible; and we're not quite sure how shiny, elegiac pop has a bearing on The Holy Bible, either, come to that. We know Manics albums tend to start off sounding a bit rubbish these days, then slowly creep up on you, but already, the distance this one has to creep over before it grabs us suggests it's going to have to pack sandwiches and find somewhere to stay the night halfway through.

ZERO TOLERANCE?: It's not often The Sharon Osbourne Show leaves you with anything other than a desperate desire to scrub your eyeballs clean, but her announcement that she would cheerfully have shot Ozzy when he was trying to strangle her does give us a curious pause for thought. Sharon seems to think that it would have been a terrible mistake to have offed him - geese/golden egg territory here, we suppose, but, nevertheless, it is a heartwarming story of money and exceedingly strong medication overcoming the family dysfunction. We're not sure what Sharon's message for the battered wives of America was actually meant to have been: don't fight back, you could end up with your own chat show? Take back your abusive dick-wipe husband, it can turn out alright?

"YOU'RE NOT MAKING CHRISTIANITY BETTER, YOU'RE MAKING COMPUTER GAMES WORSE": Oh, the humanity. Bible-bashing plod rocker Sonny Sandoval, from POD, has turned himself into a computer games mogul. He's invested heavily in Gamecaster and has been given a position as "music director" of the company, although we must stress you can always turn the sound off when you play their games.

Sandoval's big idea is to make video games a spectator sport, something that even Ted Rogers flirted with and gave up as bad job when the 'pong' segment of mid-period 3-2-1 ably demonstrated that watching someone hit a keypad is in way compelling viewing, and - as endless rounds of people playing whatever game it was on Debbie Greenwood's First Class was able to ram home - computer games are fun to play on, but rubbish to watch people playing. Hey, Sonny: have you ever wondered why there's no TV Network dedicated to pinball?

David MacIntosh, CEO of Gamecaster, trots out the tired old "nobody thought Poker would work on TV, either" line, except, of course, people did - that's why it's on television - and, more importantly, there are huge stakes involved in poker. Computer games are not like poker. You're not going to lose all your money in a televised computer game. You might, however, lose all your money investing in televising computer games. We can but hope.

THE STRONGER ARGUMENT DEFEATS THE WEAKER: Probably spurred on by the sudden interest in cycling, The Delgados have announced a new album and tour. The record is called Universal Audio and comes out September 20th; the tour comes in October:

Newcastle University (October 2)
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (3)
Bristol Fleece (4)
Manchester Academy 3 (5)
London Shepherd's Bush Empire (7)
Sheffield Leadmill (8)
Glasgow Barrowlands (9)

DARKNESS CANCEL BIRTHDAY GIG: The organisers of the 50 Years of Rock gig in New York aren't that upset that the Darkness have pulled - "we've got Ben Folds and Melissa Auf Der Mar" they say, consoling themselves. The Darks have cancelled either because they have to stay in and write some songs, or else because they realised what a horrible, not-available-in-any-shops, Time Life Presents sort of affair they'd got themselves muddled up in.

LOVE OVER JAPAN: We're guessing the real reason Courtney Love has been allowed to fly to Japan is because, secretly, America is hoping she won't come back and clog up the legal system any more. Japan's motives for issuing her a visa? We're beating she's being lined up for a guest obstacle on Takeshi's Castle.

Courtney is convinced she's going to be able to stay clean for eighteen months, as ordered by the court:

"I've been clean for a month. I can do this. It's easy. I did it years before."

Yes, but birth to ten years old doesn't really count.

THE BAD RE-TOUCH: Apparently, the Bloodhound Gang haven't circle-jerked themselves to death or choked or burned each other up imitating jackass, although there's still a month to go before they tour the UK, so there's still hope. Three dates have been lined up - London Astoria August 16th; Glasgow Garage 17th; Manchester Academy 18th.

... AS A ROW OF HOUSES: Following the recent breaky-in burny-down man found in their garden, reports suggest that the Beckhams are considering buying the house next door as well. Because nothing helps security like buying a house and leaving it empty, does it?

For younger readers: David Beckham used to be a famous footballer in the olden days. His wife, Veronica, was famous in her own right before marrying him, as 'the woman who is going to marry the famous footballer.'

MARIAH CAREY IN LOVE: Apparently, then, Mariah Carey is dating her official photographer, Mark Sudack. Presumably because he's the only person in the world she doesn't have to explain to that it's all done with kind lights and a lot of vaseline.

GOOD GOD, LET'S HOPE HE NEVER KILLS ANYONE OR ANYTHING: Justin Hawkins claims he had his cock pierced to punish himself when he split up with Sue Whitehouse. He's since got back together with her, which makes the eye-watering even more upsetting.

On this basis, we think police should be asking Zodiac Mindwarp exactly what he was trying to atone for.

ROSA PARKS IMITATES COURTNEY LOVE: A judge in Detroit wants Rosa Park's doctor in court to explain why he reckons she's too ill to appear for herself in the case against Outkast over the song which shares her name. Give you a clue, judge, she's ninety-freaking-one. There's been a twist in the case, too: if you felt a bit uncomfortable watching Outkast squirming in a legal battel against one of the touchstones of the American Civil Right movement, they're actually no longer involved in the case: the band members hadn't been named in the legal action, and OutKast had been spelled wrong, so they've got no case to answer. Which means, instead, it's just BMG. That's right, one of the big record labels is trying to drag a frail, 91 year old hero to the courtroom and won't believe her doctor that she's to ill to go. What absolute charmers they are.

ONLY IF HE TURNS OUT TO BE A LADY COULD THIS BE ANY MORE SOAP OPERA: Just a few days after getting all huffy that Robert Smith (not that one) had denied they were married, Brandy's got engaged - to Quentin Richardson, who's apparently a "pro hoopser", which means either he plays in a Liverpool rock band or does something to do with basketball. Oddly, Brandy doesn't seem to be that bothered about how she actually seemed to be still married to someone last week. Presumably she'll just announce that she forgot to mention the divorce, in the same way she'd fotgotten the marriage.

IT'S MAKE A DEAL OR DON'T: Following on from the success of confessing in the court this week - sorry, plea bargaining, which isn't the same thing at all - it now seems Courtney Love is seeking to cut a deal over the illegal possession charge as well.

It does all seem to be taking a bit of a toll on her...

THE FAR END OF FAME: Normally when The Weakest Link do a special, they usually manage to scare up a couple of current celebs - amongst the faded footballers or comedians who haven't worked since Seaside Special took down the Big Top for the last time will be a couple of people who still have a recognition factor, so there's some special talent at work that managed to produce a pop special where the biggest name is Belinda Carlisle - who is starting to look a little like she could be baking cookies.

So, who came forward to allow Anne Robinson to slap them with put downs? In the order they went out:

Ben Volpierre-Pierriot, who once of course was so hip he was in the launch ads for the Independent. Now, he's abandoned his trademark beret (proving that yelling 'what are you, Frank Spencer?' did have an effect) and was sent - inveitably - straight back down to earth.

Daniel from One True Voice. We actually liked Daniel, he was pretty self-deprecating (admittedly, the only workable option open to members of One True Voice) and if he'd just shave a bit more carefully, he could actually be quite cute. But he had to go. A terrible reminder of a dark period in our history, when OTV were taken seriously.

Kellee from Eternal went next. Anne seemed impressed that Eternal had gone on so long - six years, did she say? - and for once Kellee never bothered to mention that she once played for the Pope. That's a hell of a career slide, isn't it? One day, doing your thing for the leader of one the major world religions; the next, you're being beaten in a quiz by one of Appleton.

Belinda Carlisle. We know she's still gorgeous, so we're putting it down to the harsh lights.

Naimah from the Honeyz. We always liked the Honeyz, mainly, if we're honest, for the video for Won't Take It Lying Down where the corsetry is set up to create that odd flying bosom effect, but we think her appearance here suggests that contact books were being desperately flicked through with some desperation. We shall never know how close we came to having two of the Thunderbugs and the singer from Hepburn on prime-time TV.

Nick Heyward, have you been working out? During Haircut One Hundred, you could have been on your back if someone turned the pages of a newspaper too close to you. Now, you're very solid. It's impressive. Although you do dress like you provide tech support for Elbow. God alone knows how he made it through to round six, as he was as addled as a pie.

Martin Fry from ABC got the boot because Natalie Appleton saw him as her biggest challenge for the finals. He now has that air of a man who might wear a cravat and attempt to swindle your gran out of her life savings - all firm handshakes and twinkling eyes.

The final, then, was Natalie Appleton versus Lisa Scott-Lee: Natalie had correctly guessed that Lisa wouldn't be much of a challenge at all. She was surprisingly school marm, too, voting Nick Heyward off because he wasn't taking it seriously on behalf of his charity (it's a game show, Lisa, it's light entertainment; it's not a UNESCO budget meeting).

So, Natalie Appleton won. "I can't believe it" she cried, and, frankly, neither can we. Although she is a lot smarter than we expected, but nowhere near as smart as winning The Weakest Link would suggest. Maybe none of the stars were stellar anymore, but it was a pretty good edition. For a quiz show. They've all still got that entertainment spark.

PARTY DOWN WITH THE RIAA: Interesting report on the Creative Coalition party at the Conventions:

The Creative Coalition, a group representing Hollywood artists and musicians, is putting on some of the most sought-after events at the convention along with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), including a gala last night that featured the popular rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The group has legislative priorities as well. One is support for federal funding for the arts — a cause that has long been championed by Democrats but has been threatened at times by congressional Republicans.
The Creative Coalition also is trying to head off House-passed indecency legislation that would increase the fines on performers who spread obscenity over the airwaves from $11,000 to $500,000 for the most serious violations. [...]
Huey said that members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be talking about the importance of free-speech issues at the concert, which will be attended by some of the most important lawmakers and best connected staffers in town for the convention.[...]
The RIAA has sponsored some of the convention’s other A-list parties, including one Tuesday night featuring the hip-hop band the Black Eyed Peas. The RIAA’s president, Mitch Bainwol, served as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) chief of staff, but the group’s legislative goals have bipartisan support.

COMING SOON: TINY JERKY CHRISTINA IN YOUR PALM: In other words, 3, the mobile phone network (yes, they're still going) is going to offer videos through their network. We're not quite sure how this is going to work - most people who've used a 3 phone report that if you use the video feature it's jerky and you can't hear what they're saying, which seems to be a rubbish format for pop videos, and - best of all - they're going to charge GBP1.50 per video. Which, since videos are little more than glorified commercials, seems a bit steep. While you can choose to "store" the video forever on your handset, we're not sure you'll be able to get many videos onto a phone.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

THE SMILING VIPERS: Snappish Thoughts has got a cease and desist from the BPI. The almost funny bit is they're complaining about the presence of The Pogue's Birmingham Six on his server. Since we doubt if the BPI - even Matt Phillips, the BPI yammer-man who could be one of Busted - have a sense of irony, we're putting it down to coincidence that chose to throw their legal weight about over a track that details a miscarriage of justice.

NWS F TH WRLD PYS DMGS T PRML SCRM: The News of the World has buckled in and paid Kate Moss and Bobby Gillespie oodles of cash following its false claim that they were doing it, a story it illustrated with a picture of Kate Moss standing in front of Bobby cropped in such a way as to obscure the presence of Bobby's long term partner Katy England. And that she and Bobby were holding hands.

Still, we're sure the News is spot on with it's allegations about Timberlake and the model, and isn't going to find itself in another humiliating climbdown, is it?

NOT QUITE THE SAVIOUR OF RADIO ONE: A whole heap of new radio audience figures are out - although approach them with caution as they are from Rajar's stickers and felt-tip methods. Amongst the headlines: Radio 2 is now more popular than ever, with Johnnie Walker pulling five million in at drive time; Radio 1 has lost a few more, but is only 10,000 down overall. The Chris Moyles Brekfast Show has lost about a third of the new audience he brought in for the first quarter - down 140,000, but those people who are tuning in listen for longer. Zane Lowe, on the other hand, has added 200,000 for the period. Oddly, that's the same number of people who've deserted the Capital Breakfast show since Johnny Vaughan took over. And, even more spookily, the size of the total audience claimed for 6Music.

REINVENTION: Apparently, Jennifer Lopez is about to embark on "Phase Two" of her life. We're not sure quite what she means, but we're expecting hot flushes are involved somewhere.

LIVE MUSIC - THE SALES SEASON: Disappointing sales of gig tickets have lead to concert promoters in the US slashing prices for Cure, Korn and Ozzy dates. It seems that just after the punters woke up and realised concert prices were taking them for mugs, the promoters woke up and realised they'd been rumbled. A sign of the growing 'cut prices or we'll stay away' militancy amongst the public (or "the marks" as Ticketmaster likes to think of them) is Norah Jones being humiliated into dropping her tour to smaller venues. Oddly, Dave Matthews Band tickets are still selling as normal, but then that is to people who like the Dave Matthews Band.

GRIMLY FIENDISH: Back at the top end of the 90s, Primal Scream used to sell 37% of the tickets to any of their shows to people buying them for the chance they might have been able to say "Yeah, I was at the gig where Bobby Gillespie's heart finally gave out." Now, the generation who curse their luck that they were "too young for Tommy Cooper" are being offered a tantalising chance to see an artist grind to a permanent halt on stage, with Loretta Lynn insisting she's going to push ahead with her tour despite doctor's advice to get some rest. Even her own kids are mentally splitting up the estate on the back of this one, son Ernest saying "I'm not sure mom's going to make it" and wondering if he'll be able to fit that long-case clock from the living room into his condo. The fans - who Loretta says she doesn't want to let down - are even begging her to reconsider. Except the ones, of course, who as kids would pour boiling water down anthills.

FRANZ HEAD FOR THE DOCKS: Franz Ferdinand, presumably riding to US acclaim on MisTeeq's coat-tails, have announced a compact tour of the former colonies:

09-09 New York, NY - Roseland Ballroom
09-10 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
09-15 Houston, TX - Verizon Wireless Theater
09-24 Portland, OR - McMenamins Crystal Ballroom 09-26 Vancouver, British Columbia - Commodore Ballroom
09-29 Minneapolis, MN - Quest Club
10-01 Toronto, Ontario - Docks

THEY FIRMLY SLAP THEMSELVES: What we love best about the latest BBC Quarterly Complaints bulletin [pdf], besides the way the team producing it seems to have been drawn from Daily Mail reading old ladies - "Ooh, it was dreadful. We'll have a word with them" - is the coy way it talks about the Eminem incident:

Top of the Pops BBC One, 9 April 2004
The complaint
Twelve viewers complained that one of the performances included lewd and offensive gestures.
The performer had been asked to tone his act down after rehearsal but had ignored this request during the live broadcast. Although his gestures were part of the rap culture, they had gone beyond what is expected in a programme aimed at a family audience.
Further action
On the next occasion on which the performance was broadcast, an edited version of the recording of the dress rehearsal was used.

What's brilliant about this is the totally non-specific nature of the report. We know it was Eminem grabbing his crotch, but the way its worded, it could have been Dannii Minogue pretending to fist-fuck one of her dancers, or Cliff Richard flicking Vs.

Amongst other music-related complaints were Sybil Ruscoe getting ticked off for saying that "a lot of misery... came out of the Thatcher years for a lot of people" - apparently, this was partial because it wasn't "accompanied by any acknowledgement of more positive views" - so next time, Sybil, remember: "a lot of misery came out of the Thatcher years, unless you were an overpaid fatcat who got their pockets stuffed with our cash as the evil cow flogged off every national asset she could lay her hands on, or the manufacturers of novelty helmet pencil sharpeners who found demand increasing as she closed down as many mines as possible destroying any hope of a future for entire communities but creating dozens of opportunities for Mining Heritage Centres to open."

Also, Colin Murray was made to squirm again over his accidental "fuck" on air "in a moment of excitement." The producers have pledged to ensure that it won't happen again, and to be fair to them, we haven't heard a single moment of excitement on the Colin and Edith show since.

WELL, THAT'S RUINED OUR DAY: Jimmy Eat World are about to return. We've tested it, and there's no aching void anywhere on the planet that their new album will fill. Jimmy, get the hint: it's three years since you last released an album, and nobody has come searching for you in all that time.

LAWYERS OBJECT TO BREACH OF COPYRIGHT IN PRODUCTION OF BLOATED, HUMOURLESS FLASH ANIMATION: Doubtless your sides have barely recovered from seeing that pisspoor pisstake on Woody Guthrie that's been cluttering up the few inboxes not totally spasmed out by My Doom.O this week. The good news is, in a rare instance of lawyers actually doing something positive for humanity, the guys behind the sledgehammer satire on Bush and Kerry have been ticked off for not asking permsission to pinch This Land Is Your Land before making the animation. JibJab haven't yet taken the song down, claiming that it's a parody and as such falls under fair use. The lawyers say it isn't:

"You can't just take someone's copyright and use it for some other purpose. A true parody is a work that uses a portion of a copyrighted work in order to criticize or comment on that work. It's the same principle under which you can quote a book, if you're writing a review of a book, without getting a license. Something is not a parody when there is no function of critique or comment on the original work. I think it's clear here that that is the case in the JibJab version of This Land."

We're a bit puzzled why attorney Paul Liscali thinks that a parody work is the same principle as fair use for review purposes - we ain't been to no fancy law school and we can see the difference.

FAME, FAME, FATAL FAME: The continuing court case featuring Will Young's brother has taken an interesting turn - Rupert Young seems to think that he's in some way famous, which, erm, seems to be his defence. "At times I have been called gay and shouted at by builders. In fact, myself and Will were attacked in a club once." No, petal; Will was attacked. You happened to be standing by. He then goes into a long explanation of how he was so pissed he fell over and passed out, and that after he left hospital as a result of this self-inflicted injury, his alleged victim had come towards his party "chanting and waving his arms." So, of course, he had to hit him, because he's the brother of someone famous.

The case continues.

THAT WOULD BE ITS SPIRITUAL HOME: Of course the godawful rocktwitch We Will Rock You Queen/Ben Elton musical is tranferring to Las Vegas, although we do worry that some residents of Vegas might find the whole thing a little trashy and garish for their tastes.

SONY-BMG MEGANOPOLY GETS APPROVAL: Frankly, we're shocked that the American Federal Trade Commission said 'oh, go on then' to the Sony-BMG merger, almost as if the chaps on the panel were in total thrall to big business. BMG spokesbots praised the EU and US investigations into the union, describing them as "diligent", although they spoiled the effect somewhat by putting their hand over the microphone, turning round and saying "although they never found that stuff about..." before being poked in the ribs by executives making fevered throat-cutting motions.

KIM: STILL NOT GUILTY: Although Lil'Kim had already pleaded not guilty to the charges relating to the shooting incident outside a radio station and how much she knew about it, kim was dragged back in to enter a fresh plea following the expansion of the case to include her business manager. She's still pleading not guilty, mind, and her lawyer Mel Sachs says it's all just "celebrity bashing", which sounds like a wonderful sport that we're going to recommend takes the place of fox hunting.

AND AWAY WE GO...: Much as we love Misteeq - and we do, they're generally a good thing - we're not quite sure what they mean by telling Americans they're going to "break the mould" of girl groups. How is that, exactly? Because by the time they used it to cast you it fell apart after the strain of casting TLC, Destiny's Child, Eternal, the Honeyz...

BAD NEWS FOR GIRLS WITH SLIGHTLY LOWER STANDARDS: But good news for Aaron and Barrett and Molly Terrence: the singer with Reel Big Fish and his "aspiring actress" bride have got married. Just because it was in Las Vegas doesn't make it any less touching. RBF bassist Matt Wong is also due to get married in the next fortnight.

NICK OLIVERI: A HARD MAN TO PLEASE: Nick seems to be having some issues, which is a polite way of saying "e's a fackin nutter"; apparently, during a German gig with Mondo Generator, Oliveri showed his displeasure with a soundman by beating the shit out of him, an event which seems to have resulted in the rest of Mondo Generator deciding to carry on without him, or to quit the band entirely, depending on how you choose to interpret it.

FANS ATTEMPT TO PLAY ROLE OF MOTHER: It'll be causing sweaty palms in her management office that the planned Britney Spears nuptials are going down poorly with the fans. However, if they're shrewd, they'll seize the merchandising initiative back and launch a Just Say No, Britney range of tshirts of their own. The fans don't think Kev is good enough for Britney, it seems. They think he's someone without any prospects, which is just unfair. In about eighteen months he'll be instructing lawyers to negotiate a massive divorce settlement, which we reckon is a pretty good prospect indeed.

IT'S PROBABLY ABOUT PAYING COUNCIL TAX: There was Chrsitine McVie, happily retired since her last work with Fleetwood Mac in 1997; now, all of a sudden, she's come out of retirement. She says it the muse, forcing her back to work, although we suspect it might actually be unpaid bills under the clock. Whatever the cause, there's a new album, In The Meantime, out in September.

HA! NOW, LIL BOW WOW FANS, THE BOOT IS ON THE OTHER FOOT: One of the pains of music in the last couple of years has been scanning pages on the internet and going "Hey! Bow Wow Wow are back toge... oh, no, it's only that prepubsecent shouty Lil Bow Wow bloke." However, now, Bow Wow Wow have got back together - or at least Annabella Lwin and Leigh Gorman have reunited, and pulled in No Doubt's Adrian Young to bang the drums around.

Even now we're not sure if we'd go to prison for looking at Lwin's bottom.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Fuck Charlotte, Fuck Her Over edition
We were a bit disappointed to discover that Joan Armtrading's first article for the Radio Times was about music rather than newsreaders. That's another urban myth biting the dust, then.

In a slightly unpleasant cover shot, Pelle from The Hives is given a glorious close-up. His face actually looks like it's made from something plasticky when you look at him that near, and we can't really see this issue leaping off the shelves. It's probably lucky this wasn't the one that Courtney took into court; waving that face at a judge would probably count as a form of terrorism.

Pete Doherty's fuck-up of the week was helping create chaos out of an NME photoshoot - although, to be fair, it was Selfish Cunt's Martin Tomlinson who started the trouble, throwing shit around. And you know how Pete really wants to give up the shit. There's a bunch of posters of the Libertines this week, too, promoting the exhibition of shots somewhere in London at the moment.

Justin Hawkins seems to be hinting that the Darkness are having trouble writing new material, saying that he's sure everything will be fine when the band get a chance to relax. Sure, Justin. It's that you're a bit stressed at the moment. That's fine. It happens to everyone. Look, we don't have to have a whole new album right now. It's just as much fun to have a little ep. Or even a small download on iTunes. Seriously, it doesn't matter.

NME is predicting a Mercury win for Amy Winehouse, based on the shitness of recent winners, more or less.

Brandon Flowers meets Peter Robinson. Rather than having to spring a surprise on him, PR reduces Brandon to directionless burbling with a straight question about the band's new video. Brandon says it's got a message; asked what it is, he says "Er... it's a positive message, that's all I really know. It's positive. A positive thing going on..."

Can punk rock bring down George Bush? is the question that Radar sets itself, by way on introduction to a piece about Me! Erm... illegally invading Iraq, allowing a budget deficit to spiral out of control, managing to piss away the goodwill and support of the planet after September 11th, lying about WMD... none of these things have brought down George Bush, so it's not looking good for a bunch of sweaty blokes from Florida, to be frank.

The Hives report that they see each other naked every day, which is just an image you don't want to be conjuring with when you're thinking about your tea. They're also asked who they think the worst-dressed band is, and they damn the entire grunge scene, which is a little unfair - for all her other faults, Courtney was also well turned out.

Charlotte Hatherley relates a tale about having a one-night stand with someone who turned out to be "a tourist" who stole her guitars and stuff, which seems a little bit unfair: like those heroes in myths who get given an audience with the gods and then pinch the treasures of the heavens. We're not sure, and we're not asking, but we'd put Pete Doherty in the frame here.

the futureheads - newcastle labour club - "the's fucking brilliant"
madonna - toronto - "the good outweighing the garish"
belle & sebastian - somerset house - "a cover of Madness' embarrassment"
polysics - ICA - "only one recognisable tune, My Sharona"

red hot chili peppers - live in hyde park - "absolutely self-serving", 7
pearl jam - live at benaroya hall - "absolutely altruistic", 5
ella guru - the first album - "a shimmering cloud of a record", 7
ffa coffi pawb - am byth - "the thrill of listening to someone deliver regulation 80s welsh indie soon palls", 4
skinnyman - council estate of mind - "bound together by a fucking scary narrative", 8

sotw - annie - chewing gum - "so chirpy it makes britney sound like Patti Smith"
charlotte hatherley - summer - "instant nostalgia tinged with melancholia"

and finally, Ross Millard of the Futureheads loves Kate Bush. Although marks off for saying she was a fox back in the day. Still is, son. Still is.

THE SHRINKING MUSIC INDUSTRY. AGAIN: Whenever the RIAA sends out people pretending to be cops to look at CDs for sales, or the BPI gets someone locked up for selling recordings of old Pink Floyd gigs, they remind us they're being forced to these extremes because of the serious trouble the record industry is in. Of course, the problem is that, actually, the music industry is in rather rude health in terms of sales: Sony's music division has just posted a 1.5 percent growth in sales. That they manage to make a USD9.9million loss on sales of USD1.1billion suggests that they are suffering from poor management rather than effect of all those music downloaders.

BORIS JOHNSON ALREADY IN NEGOTIATIONS: Apparently, the Libertines are developing into the musical equivalent of post-Angus Have I Got News For You, and pulling in a series of guest vocalists. Let's hope they get Charlotte Church and close the loop. Although if you ask Charlotte Church "would you like to replace a drug-addled loser?" she tends to automatically respond "but Mum, we really love each other."

FRED DURST'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Fred Durst has added a new entry to his blog, suggesting that he's had trouble with his TV remote and got the coverage of the democratic convention muddled up with The Greatest Story Ever Told:

we don't need a new president. we don't need the old one either. we need a true leader. someone who speaks for us as humans sharing a planet with many breeds of the same. when a true leader walks our land we will know, we will listen, and we will follow effortlessly. there won't be any campaigns and there will be no marketing. this leaders presence, words, values, integrity and heart will be desired by all of the world. the power of faith this man will obtain, not only from people in america, but everyone around the world, will be the reason our governments will feel threatened and take actions to remove this person from our quest for humanity.

Yeah, Fred... you know them damn governments, always trying to prevent humanity from going forward by holding enquiries into how girls get crushed to death at gigs. We're not quite sure how this chap will have such a powerful presence that he'll be able to unite people of all races and religions without the need for so much as a single campaign meeting or a five minute Party Election Broadcast, and yet somehow the people in government will be immune... are you saying that governments aren't being run by people, Fred, is that it? Oh my god, it is the lizards, isn't it? Thank the lord Fred's there to spell it out for us.

this leader will speak from his heart and be adored by all walks of life. this leader will become so powerful that our constitutions will be over ridden and rewritten to reflect a society once dreamed of and now forgotten in our corrupt universe. people like JFK and Martin Luther King were these types of leaders.

As we recall it, JFK had to campaign pretty hard to get to be President, didn't he?

if they were left in peace to continue their journey through life we may have seen such a thing, but they were removed from existance because they were too powerful and considered a threat to the people behind the government.

Well, at least we now know why Fred keeps his baseball cap on at all times. It's the foil lining which is keeping him safe.

these people do not want this leader to exist. they want us to choose our president from their shady "he's better than the other two guys" roster.

That's right, Fred. They - the mysterious lizard-puppet-masters - wanted to ensure that we stuck to the two-party system. That's why they killed JFK, who threatened to destroy the Democrat-Republican duopoly through, um, being a Democrat, and... um...

out of all the people in the world we are left with two or three human beings to settle with as our savior? of course. this is the way it works for them.

Eh? Getting a bit lost here, Fred - are you saying that there have been loads of potentials, but the government have killed them? And there's only a couple left? So the Lizard government are, what, like the First in the last season of Buffy, going round wiping the potentials out, one at time? Man, this heavy shit, Fred. You should be taking this to Fox. Or at least MS-NBC.

so weigh out the pros and cons and make your decision. this is pathetic. i love america. i love the whole fucking world. i love the idea of world peace.

You know what, Fred, if you're into World Peace, then I am too. Is there a tshirt? A website?

this leader will walk amongst us very soon. it will be undeniable. people will follow. people will talk. a following will rapidly build into a voice like we have never heard before.

Uh-oh, you're heading off into Ned Flanders land again,Fred. Is there going to be a sign? Could, you know, this saviour dude be wearing - dare I say it - a red cap of some sort? Can you be a bit more specific about this voice, though? When you say it's a voice like one we've not heard before, do you mean like Janet Street Porter's?

this leader will not have chosen to be the one and will not be trying to convince anyone of his heart and intentions. we will know when that time has come. the more our technology can cause awareness, the more it will be too complicated for our government to erase this leader.

Yes, hurrah for the internet! Two dozen blogs and a YahooGroup - that'll make it really tricky for the Lizards to blow up this strange-talking leader. (Actually, having said that, Osama Bin Laden has apparently got nothing more complex than a Boots CR50 cassette recorder with condensor mic, and that seems to have made him more or less immortal).

everything happens for a reason.

Man, it's like we've been reading the same fortune cookies! I got that one. I also got 'The overtakers make business for the undertakers', which is kind of spooky.

we have become victims of a corrupt government that is thriving on the ignorance they insist we are made of.

Yeah, but we've got you, Fred. All the while there's loads of kids with skateboards punching the air chanting 'rollin' rollin' rollin', we'll have the knowledge to beat them dudes on government hill, or the white... thingy... place.

we have to get perspective and look at the big picture

Yesss! Like those magic eye pictures. Hey... they usually had dinosaurs in them, didn't they? Big bloody lizards... I get where you're coming from Fred. I understand

we are the playing pieces for a game of control and power played by the people who see humanity as something disposable.

You said it, Fred - you're a piece, you are. A disposable piece.

as for the presidents, i will always have hope in the chance of that leader actualy being one of the candidates.

Yes, because, after all, with six billion people on the planet and two or three possibles for saviour, who wouldn't cling to the odds that John Kerry is going to be one?

if it is so then let it be and i will know in my heart that it is the one. this leader will not need to be re-elected because he will rewrite the book on how we govern our societies and remian our leader until he is no longer a leader.

Didn't Nixon remain a leader until he was no longer a leader?

maybe i think too much. maybe i don't think enough.

Never say that, Fred. You think absolutely plenty, in the precisely the right measure. If you thought any more - why, then the lizard people who killed JFK to stop him being the President might come after you. And, Fred, what would the world do without you, Fred? Fred?

i have never been so concerned about our well being as a world as i have become today. i am a dreamer and have hope. that's a good start for me. i think i am making no sense sometimes when my mind is in utopia.

You're mind's in Utopia? I aint never been to any of the Mid-Western states myself, but I hear they're nice.

it's time to be aware. think about your decisions. go with your heart. things can only get better, right? let's go vote.

But why, Fred? You've just told us that the True Leader will not need elections and campaigns, and that the people the lizard-government put up are just to distract us. Surely we should wait at home until we hear the unusual voice coming to rip up the constitution? Fred? Fred...?

AGIT-PROP POP POSTERS: It's only a pity that it's now too late for them to add in John Howard Is A Filthy Slut, but the line-up of covers on the Poster Children's political covers album is pretty strong, nevertheless:

01 Clampdown (The Clash)
02 We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang (Heaven 17)
03 Let's Have a War (Fear)
04 The New World (X)
05 Divide and Conquer (Hüsker Dü)
06 Complicated Game (XTC)

You know, it's funny, but we never really thought of Fascist Groove Thang as really being a political statement for some reason: maybe it was just difficult to believe that a man with cheekbones had a political agenda. (This was the 80s, remember, and most politicians looked like John Prescott in those days. We still remember the day in June, 1994 when they allowed MPs to smile in the chamber for the first time). We're a little disappointed there was no room for any Crass in there, but then you can't have it all. Or any Redskins. Or Billy Bragg. We'd have really liked to have had the Neurotics' This Fragile Life on there, too, what with that possibly being the best political song of all time.

FIELDS ON FIRE: The Magnetic Fields are planning to make clocks stop and compasses go crazy in Europe with a big tour of Europe (which seems to consist mainly of England and Spain):

October 02 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
03 Stockholm, Sweden - China Theatre
04 Oslo, Norway - Rockefeller Music Hall
06 Hamburg, Germany - Fabrik
07 Berlin, Germany - Passionskirche
08 Stuttgart/Schorndorf, Germany - Manufaktur
10 London, England - Royal Festival Hall
20 Lisbon, Portugal - Aula Magna
21 Bilbao, Spain - Teatro Barakaldo
22 Madrid, Spain - Palacio Congresos
23 Barcelona, Spain - Teatre Principal
24 Valencia, Spain - Palau de Congresos
26 Edinburgh, England - Queens Hall
27 Cambridge, England - Cambridge Corn Exchange
29 Coventry, England - Warwick Arts Centre
30 Manchester, England - RNCM
31 Dublin, Ireland - Olympia Theatre

We've just cut and pasted these dates directly from Pitchfork, and would suggest that anyone from Edinburgh, England who has a problem take it up directly with them.

PRESUMABLY SHE WOULD ALSO BE SPANKED WITH A SLIPPER: We knew there was something cartoony about Ashlee Simpson, but it turns out we might not have grasped the full horror - it seems she's a character from the Beano or something. Young Ashlee - who's trying gamely to pretend her existence on earth is something more worthwhile than providing a spare kidney for Jessica "just in case" - claims that she was so annoyed when her mum refused to let her go to an Alanis Morrissette gig she swore, leading to her mum washing her mouth out with soap and water.

To be honest, Ma Simpson, if your daughter wanted to go to see Alanis, you might have been better off using the soap and water on her ears.

NOW IT'S POP SOCKS: There's a certain pleasing element to the news that Kylie Minogue is to lend her name to a range of hosiery - after all, many a sports sock has already been christened Kylie by slightly sweaty teenage boys, alone in their bedrooms, with a chair under the doorhandle. The genuine Kylie stuff will be overpriced stockings, tights, and those plastic foot covers you get when you go to look round Barrett Home Developments.

LOUSIE WHOUSEDTOBEINETERNAL HAS LITTLE MAN REMOVED FROM BELLY: Congratulations to Lousie, who has managed to avoid the worst of childbirth by delivering a small child, Charlie. It's not known if father Jamie Redknapp was present at the birth, although we understand that most Premiership players try to not be around when they know Charlie is about to be delivered.

Apparently, Lousie had "postponed the release of her next album until after the birth", although we suspect the release will continue to be put back, covering "until Charlie sleeps through", "when he starts nursery", "not before his first day at school", and, ultimately, "sometime after his eighteenth birthday."

WOO-OOOH... YOU GOTTA GO BACK TO SCHOOL: We always have mixed feelings when popstars return to their old schools - as with The Darkness' visit to Kirkley High School in Lowestoft. While its a nice gesture, and usuallly involves the handing over of some goodies of some sort (this time, some instruments), we can't help feeling every one of these occasions is little more than an attempt to make the careers teacher feel about two inches tall by providing a demonstration that, actually, 'rock star' is a proper profession after all.

DON'T COME THE COWBOY WITH ME, SONNY JIM: A long-awaited round-up of Kirsty MacColl's career is due in October, when EMI release a box set of MacColl stuff under the title 'From Croydon to Cuba'. Besides the stuff you'd expect, there's England 2 Columbia 0, an abandoned Euro 2000 cash in ("tie in"), and unreleased tracks Camel Crossing ans Sticked and Stoned.

WE'RE GONNA DIE/ IT'S GONNA COME FROM THE SKY/ WE'RE GONNA DIE, DIE, DIE: Hot the heels of Dio forcing Dios to change their name, now Canadian new bloodsDeath From Above have had to append a '1979' to their name following complaints from Noo York producers DFA, who say they own all the rights to anything to do with Death From Above. George Bush might have something to say about that.

BECK AND BRAWL: Beck seems to have been laying pretty low since all that business where he tried to use a rabbit as a competition prize, but it turns out he's just been working on a new album, apparently calling in top street fighter Jack White to help on some tracks. Of course, this being Beck, there's no schedule of release, or album name, or anything. But he's at work, and that's what counts.

"I'M GOING AS THE B-52S... OH, HANG ON": Amongst the cluster of dates announced by the Scissor Sisters for their UK tour this October is a Halloween Fancy Dress event. It's not clear if people failing to turn up in fancy dress will be barred, but probably best not to take the risk. Those dates in full:

Bournemouth International Centre - October 15
Reading Rivermead - October 19
Swindon's Oasis Leisure Centre - October 20
Wolverhampton Civic Centre - October 21
Manchester Carling Apollo - October 23
Edinburgh Corn Exchange - October 24
Glasgow Barrowlands - October 25
Doncaster Dome - October 27
Blackpool Empress Ballroom - October 29
London's Brixton Academy - October 31, fancy dress required; November 2, come as you are.

LOVE SENTENCED: This isn't the end, or the begining of the end, but we're finally starting to get to sentencing in some of the Courtney Love cases. Judge Patricia M. Schnegg has ordered Love to undergo 18 months of drug rehab. Apparently Courtney showed her disdain for the court this time round by turning up fifteen minutes late, and sitting down and thumbing through NME. This sentence is the result of the plea bargain which saw her plead guilty to being under the influence of a controlled substance after she tried to break into her ex-boyfriend's house.

The worrying thing for Courtney, though, is the terms of the rehab order - she's forbidden from going to any place where alcohol is served, which is going to make touring pretty much impossible.

JACKO GETS TO SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH A COURT CASE HANGING OVER HIM: Hmm... when you put it like that, the delay the defence has got for the trial doesn't sound quite so hot.

RIAA SORT-OF-VICTORY IN COURT: A judge - actually, New York based Denny Chin - has told Cablevision they must reveal the identities of alleged file-sharers to the trade body to allow them to sue. However, Civil Liberties Union attorney Aden Fine points out that the judgement doesn't quite give the RIAA everything it hoped for:

"It's not a victory or a defeat. The important part of the opinion is that it emphasizes that accusations saying an individual is engaged in illegal speech don't mean the First Amendment provides no protections."

HE'S NOT HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER: The trial has started of Rupert Young, brother of Will, who's been charged over his part in a massive unprovoked attack on Kawa Ghareeb, an Iraqi Kurd, last May.

PLUG ME IN, PLUG ME IN: Jupiter Research has been holding its annual Plug.IN conference, which seems to be the first attempt by the music industry to start pleading poverty over digital sales as well as physical sales. The message is: steady now. Jupiter are now saying that digital music sales will hit USD1.7bn in 2009, although last year they were saying USD3.3bn, so we're actually chalking this up to "We don't actually have so much as a single clue." They also unveiled frankly baffling research which seemed to suggest that nobody need bother increasing storage size on portable devices, claiming "77 per cent of consumers would want no more than 1,000 songs on a player at any given time, regardless of the size of their music collection" - which is the sort of statement that sounds like it was based on an idea they came up with in the taxi. So, a person with, say, a collection of 500 albums would rather have a player which they had to keep deleting and reloading tracks onto, rather than one which they could store all their collection on? Why would that be? We suspect there must have been a methodology that was pretty flawed.

In an interesting speech to the masses, BMG North America president/COO Charles Goldstuck made comments to the effect that the structure of the US music industry will be dictated by the CD and not the digital download for a long time yet - or, in other words, the record companies intend to try and prop up their lucrative dying format instead of investing in the way the consumer is heading. Good business choice, boys.

MMMNICE WORK: You have to take your hat off to Hanson. The one who used to look like a girl now looks like a disappointed spinster, it's true:

But they have a smart strategy - musically and vocally moving away from Mmmbop, while flogging the song to the chewing gum people to underwrite their new, less popular sound. It'll blow back on them, of course: if you're trying to make a break with the past, you don't want it to be stuck to the underside of every training shoe from here to Tuscon.

THAT WON'T DO NICELY, SIR: We've been passed Jim Derogatis' review of Morrissey's show in Chicago, which makes some interesting claims and points out that Indie Pop's former leading intellectual has started to become a charge-crad flogging, well, whore:

Morrissey was to have headlined one of the two nights of this year's Lollapalooza festival. Rumors continue to swirl through the concert industry that the notorious prima donna played a major role in scuttling that tour, pulling out because he was dismayed by lackluster ticket sales.
Within hours of the official word of Lollapalooza's cancellation, Morrissey announced this show at Chicago's House of Blues as part of an ambitious promotion for a major credit-card company. In the process of pulling out of what was once America's premier alternative-rock festival and downscaling to perform at an elite corporate event, he shut out thousands of listeners, casual fans and true believers alike.
I was hugely annoyed that his first show here in years was a $55 a ticket show that you could only purchase tickets for with an American Express card and the fact that it was held at the fakest venue ever, the House of Blues, did not help matters. Apparently the concert was a charity event, the money was all going to Chicago public schools (which is great and all) - but still, most fans would not have been able to attend this stupid

[Big thanks to Matthew M for this]

AUSTRALIA: WHERE YOU STILL GET NEWSPAPER COLUMNISTS RANTING ABOUT PUNK: Reading this article by Andrew Bolt - 'Rock's Filthy Shame' and you might think you're back in the early 1970s as he lists the lyrics of anarcho-syndicist punk songs on a record dedicated to the worthy aim of removing John Howard from office. Or at least reading a Daily Mail leader from the Thatcher era:

Once again, you may think I exaggerate their barbarity. And, true, this CD could seem almost mild to you, even with tracks such as Razel's The A--e Song, Toekoe's John Howard is a Filthy Slut, the Animals' Gun Him Down and the Persian Rugs' Half Wit.

Getting upset about hardcore punk lyrics is like writing letters to soap opera characters, Mr. Bolt. Even so, we really don't want your fucking war.

[Thanks to Christopher B]

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

KIRSTY INQUEST RE-OPENS: The inquest into the death of Kirsty MacColl has been reopend in Mexico. Kirsty's Mum, Jean Newlove, doesn't accept the claims that Juan Jose Cem Yam was driving the speedboat that killed Kirsty in 2000, and has been campaigning for the case to be reopened. Interestingly, it seems the boat was owned by Guillermo Gonzalez Nova, the Mexican supermarket owner (kind of Mexico's Dame Shirley Porter). Despite Juan Jose Cem Yam's conviction and GBP61 fine, the Justice for Kirsty Campaign has evidence that witnesses may have committed perjury and "someone else" entirely was in charge of the vessel at the time.

[left to right, Santiago Creel, Guillermo González Nova, Miguel Alemán Velasco y don José Antonio Ariza Canadillas]

NOW, THIS, YOUNG PEOPLE, THIS IS CLASSIC ALBUMS: The Go-Betweens finish off the re-releasing of the stuff they did before they split up the first time round: that's expanded and rebuffed versions of Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and Sixteen Lovers Lane. We'd queue like a Tokyo kid waiting for an iPod for this, although they're not out until September 6th in the US.

DIOS DIES: More Black Sabbath related stupidity, with the forcing of a name change on Dios by Ronnie James Dio, afeared that people might confuse the two:

"In May, dios received a curious letter from Ronnie James Dio (better known as DIO). His attorneys decided to serve the Hawthorne five-piece with a cease and desist order, threatening harsh consequences if immediate action wasn’t taken. The former Black Sabbath frontman believes it likely that folks will be confused. So, to help Mr DIO protect his trademark and avoid costly litigation, young dios would like to announce their new name.
After long nights of debate, twelve pages of crossed out lists, and hours of soul-searching, we are pleased to offer you this improved, DIO approved moniker: DIOS MALOS."

We wonder if Ronnie James Dio has thought through the potential problems if people confused him with Dido, though - surely she must also be made to cease and desist. We'd happily draft a letter for him.

THE GOD OF CHAOS BACKS DOWN IN THE FACE OF THE PRESIDENT: So, after all the fuss about Ozzy choosing to juxtapose Bush and Hitler (the sort of deft political satire seldom seen since Your Mother Wouldn't Like It stopped running on ITV), it turns out Black Sabbath have capitulated any edited it all out. Not because they're afraid that dissing Bush would harm that fifty million bucks Ozzy industry, oh no, no, no. The images have been edited out of the back projections because Bush-with-a-clown's-nose might be "distracting."

That's right. You can't really expect someone to concentrate on something as subtle as Black Sabbath's music if there's images of Bush in the background. Oddly, none of the other images are felt to be equally distracting. Curious.

VOTE... OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT: We kind of liked this trio of headlines from the Associated Press, which ticked out to us, one after the other:
Rapper Ja Rule Charged With Assault
Hip-Hop Stars Aim to Get Fans to the Polls
Rapper C-Murder Indicted in Shooting
Hey, when a hip-hop star tells you to get out and muddafukin' vote, you better move your skinny ass out there and get voting - and none of those hanging chads, either...

JACKSON UPDATE: To a certain extent, Michael Jackson's trial is going to hang a lot on less on if he did or didn't get kids drunk in a bid to touch their cocks, and more on the quality of the witnesses lined up on each side. The prosecution appears to have scored a victory by securing Ann Gabriel, a "Las Vegas based media entrepeneur", who claims to have seen the meltdown after Martin Bashir's documentary first hand. The defence counter that she never even met Jackson, and had been sacked for trying to push herself in front of the TV cameras too often.

Meanwhile, the defence's plea for the trial to be put back until next year starts to sound a little like they're trying to buy Mikey as much time as a free man as possible. Their motion reads like it was written by, well, a Michael Jackson fan rather than a lawyer:

"The scope of the prosecution's investigation is breathtaking. This is not a usual criminal investigation. It is an effort to take down a major celebrity. The expenditure of resources by the prosecution is unprecedented and extravagant."

NO DIGITAL PHOTOS: The 1,500 Tokyoites in the queue to buy the first of Japan's share of mini iPods were held up with an extra delay while the people at the front of the line refused to go in to buy theirs until the cameras went. Clearly, it's a case of "ringing in sick from work."

WHEN SIMONS COLLIDE: The only thing more fun than watching someone odious being taken to court is when they're being taken to court by someone equally odious, and every single cent of the good money being thrown after bad is being splendidly wasted by people who really shouldn't have all the cash in the first place. So we wish many long, tortuous, expensive days in court for the upcoming battle between Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller over who should sign up Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. Cowell - in his role as BMG rep - holds exclusive rights for the American Idol top two through the programme licensing deal; Fuller - wearing his 19 puffa-jacket - is trying to sign them in to a management deal. The best part? Nobody in the UK gives a flying sausage about either of the dull artists, so it really doesn't matter. But, what with the important principle involved, that shouldn't let the two Simons hold back from instructing the very, very best legal minds in the Kingdom.

THERE'S MONEY IN SLIPPERS: We can't help but be slightly depressed at the news that Ozzy Osbourne has sold USD50million worth of branded tat this year, although we think it says a lot about his current fanbase that slippers are amongst the best sellers. We wonder how much he would have made if they'd been able to shift those Jack Osbourne bobble-heads?

KASH BACK: You've got to give Andi Peters some respect for keeping going with Tim Kash for so long, despite it being obvious that he's unpopular, inept and has the sort of on-screen personality which makes Richard Whiteley look like Kenneth Clarke. However, even a mule must sometimes yield, and Tim Kash is leaving TOTP - not being sacked, you understand, just he can no longer spare the time what with all his MTV commitments (yes, those several hundred viewers won't entertain themselves). Fearne Cotton now gets first pick of the audience.

KING AT THE CONVENTION: The Democrats are pulling some top flight talent in their election campaign - Convention delegates from Washington and Idaho were given a rousing send off by Carole King. She told them the key to swinging the election this year would be to treat Republicans with respect. (That was Otis' song, though, surely?)

ONCE YOU START WITH THE CAMPAIGNS, YOU CAN'T STOP: He might not have stopped the war, but this hasn't stopped Damon Albarn pulling out his petition-making kit and fighting to save Notting Hill Post Office. From our dealings with Royal Mail, and their axing of branches in Brighton, we reckon he's got less than chance than he had of persuading Blair not to do what Bush told him to.

AI? NOOOOOO: It's pretty much an open goal: Courtney Love has been turned into a cartoon character. She approached Manga with the idea of a story about "a girl finding her place in the world", which meant, of course, a book about her. (Of course it's about her, everything's about Courtney in Courtney world). The character is called Princess Ai, Ai being Japanese for Love.

It's written by DJ Milky, but the poor, misunderstood me is pure Courtney:

"Courtney has had a long, glamorous yet tragic life, and along the way has had many people against her ... questioning her motives and scolding her.
"Courtney has proven herself as a flamboyant and talented individual, but has been personally hurt by the various attacks on her," Milky says. "In a similar fashion, Princess Ai is hounded by enemies in her world and even criticized by her own people, mainly because she is misunderstood.
"Her goal is to save her people, and the only way she can do this is by getting to know herself. It's something we all struggle with ... even though the consequences are not as epic."

Poor Courtney... all that scolding.

[Thanks to Darren H]

OFF THE RAILS AGAIN: Those of you preparing for the Reading Festival at the end of next month are probably thinking, as you roll up your tent and count your pegs, that whatever happens, at least it won't be a nightmare to get to like last year. In 2003, of course, the railway gods closed their service to Reading down on the only weekend of the year when anyone would want to go there. And you'd be right. There's going to be no problem getting to Reading to train this year. However, they will close the London-Paddington line on Saturday, until Tuesday meaning getting back from Reading will be a nightmare. Now, we understand that the railways need to have large engineering projects carried out; that doing them during the week isn't possible and so it has to be a weekend: but with so many Bank Holidays to choose from, why pick the weekend of Reading's biggest attraction two years running?

[Thanks to Aaron]

Monday, July 26, 2004

MADONNA URGES HER CHOICES ON BRIT: Apparently confusing the general feeling that she looks like she could have been her grandmother with actually being Britney Spears' grandma, Madonna has been trying to browbeat Brit into have a "Kabbalah-type" wedding. We've got no idea what a Kabbalah-type wedding would be, although we imagine a key element would be handed a large sum of money over to a plausible-looking gentleman with a big collection box, and doubtless Madonna's keen for Britney to get married under its in-no-way culty embrace so she and Guy aren't left as the only people still clinging desperately to last year's cult.

DIDDUMS! PUFF LOSES HIS BLING: The staff down at Elizabeth Duke are expecting a major payday any moment now as Puff Daddy calls in to replace his stolen jewellery. It seems the great lummox has managed to let what he claims is four million quid's worth be lifted from his building - although we're not sure if thats the amount pinched, or just what's going down on the insurance form, along with "flatscreen telly, PC, brand new pair of trainers" and the usual stuff which the Man From The Pru is told has been pinched. Diddy's meant to be really upset because some of his pieces are one off items, although we expect someone will explain to him that it's not too much effort for the work experience boy to string the letters P, U and two Fs onto a gold chain again.

C-C-MURDER: The aptly named C-Murder - already waiting to see if a jury thinks 'murder by name, murder by nature' in one case - has been indicted in a second murder case. He's now accused of second degree murder of a Baton Rouge club owner in August 2001. C-Murder's lawyers say that he'll be pleading C-Not Guilty.

DON'T YOU DARE: Another gallant competitor on the nation's newstands bites the dust, as BBC Worldwide axes Sneak-clone Dare after ten issues.

The magazine - with straplines of a 'Be Kool Like Avril/Is Your Boy GAY?' style - managed ten issues before someone remembered they were producing it and went to pull the plug.

POPBUSTED: We don't think a British pop act has done anything in the US since Edison screwed everything up by devising a way to let people hear what they sounded like before they went to see them, so it's going to be interesting to see how Busted fare in the States. They've apparently just signed a deal with Pepsi which might get their CDs into the hands of the young girls, although we take with a pinch the Sun's excited claim that "anyone buying a large cola in the States will get a Busted CD" - not even AOL managed to create that many free CDs in the most imperial phase of its bid to get everyone signed up to its nasty nanny state. And, boys, sort the eyebrows before you head out there next. They have standards in America, you know.

CHAIN WRAPS ROUND BRITAIN: Taking a punt that the joke will still be funny come October, the Goldie Lookin' Chain (who, it strikes us, may well be the Oscars to Polyphonic Spree's Felixes) have booked in a huge UK tour. That they're waiting until the students are back is possibly no surprise.
Cardiff University (October 2)
Reading University (3)
Oxford Brookes University (4)
Norwich Waterfront (6)
Newcastle University (7)
Aberdeen Lemon Tree (8)
Glasgow Garage (9)
Nottingham Rock City (11)
Liverpool Carling Academy (12)
Bangor University (13)
Manchester MDH (15)
Leeds Metropolitan University (16)
Birmingham Carling Academy (17)
Bristol Carling Academy (19)
Exeter Lemon Grove (20)
Portsmouth Pyramids (21)
London Astoria (22)

"LEGAL LOOPHOLE" APPARENTLY NOW JUST A LAW: The BBC have given a somewhat overfair hearing to the BPI's desperate bid to try and change the terms of copyright rules on recordings in their favour. The BPI claim that this is in someway "a legal loophole" which needs to be closed, rather than what it actually is - an existing, working piece of copyright legislation which they want changed. But why is it a loophole that the protection doesn't last longer? Why isn't the loophole that it lasts so long? Should we all start to pretend that laws that don't work in our benefit aren't actually laws, but legal loopholes?

The BPI tries to use the argument that the fifty year law could mean recordings coming out of copyright "in the artist's lifetime" - so? Leaving aside that they're using Elvis as the posterboy for the campaign, and unless they know something we don't, he's pretty dead ("How can we take away his copyright until the National Inquirer have accepted his death", maybe?) are they suggesting that it's unfair that artists should be disinherited before they even die? How many recording artists own the rights to their records? Hardly any. But, fair enough, if the BPI's main concern is that artists could still be alive and see the copyright expire before their eyes, let's fix copyright at the length of the recording artist's life. Have fun with those Eva Cassidy songs off Kazaa, now. Help yourself to a Lennon or two. We'd happily volunteer to bring all Jamie Cullum's work out of copyright right now.

Ah, but that's not the BPI's only worry. In America, copyright in recorded material lasts much longer. It's unfair to have a different situation in Europe to that in America. Now, we might have more sympathy for this were it not that the same BPI, when it's suggested to them that it's unfair that CDs are cheaper in the US than they are in the UK, snort and say "Yeah? Well, lots of things are different in the US. It doesn't mean we have to be like them.

Let's hope they get sent packing. Free Elvis recordings for everyone!

ROSES BLOOM AGAIN: At his National Trust gig in Claremont Landscape Gardens, Ian Brown did a full Stone Roses set. Oddly, he hired members of a tribute band - Fool's Gold - to provide the music, which meant it was a Roses live performance with the bit that made the Roses live such a rubbish experience (i.e. Brown's ropey vocals) but without the saving grace (i.e. the band).

AUSTRALIAN CHART MYSTERY DEEPENS: Curiously, Hillsong Church continue to return a strong showing in the album chart in Australia, despite selling only 614 copies in actual shops. The record is number 15 this week, almost totally on copies of albums the band sell themselves. Nice work if you can get it...

A RINGING VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: BMG records have denied they've dropped Gareth Gates. And they seem pretty certain about it too - no "as far as we know" or "yet" in their terse statement. Mind you, when your label has to even say 'we're not axing you' it's clear your time is starting to ebb away.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

REALLY? OR IS THIS JUST A BID TO TRY AND MAKE IT SEEM MORE EXCITING?: Sony Connect has been struggling to make any impact since its launch into the download pool, derided for a mixture of poor choice and the tracks coming in a format designed to be played on a range of portable equipment nobody owns. So the sudden announcement that Connect will be offering video downloads within a year might be little more than a desperate bid to try and find some sign of life in a stillborn child; on the other hand, if it is a genuine announcement, it'll doubtless stimulate Apple to set up their plans to do some march stealing.

MCCARTNEY 'NOWHERE NEAR RICH ENOUGH', SAYS WRIT: Next time you hear the RIAA bleating about how it's only interested in ensuring the rights of the artists are upheld, you might want to cough politely and ask them how an organisation so dedicated to making sure copyrights are respected can find its members up in court for copyright evasion so frequently. Latest legal tussle is between EMI and Paul McCartney, McCartney owns the rights to the musical Annie - oddly, the cash he made from writing Yesterday helped him buy up Tomorrow - and he reckons EMI never paid or asked to sample Tomorrow for What Da Hook Gon Be by Murphy Lee. Now, while we find it a bit sickening to see someone as rich as macca sweating over a few bob he's missed out on, it's even more sickening to see EMI, one of those enthusiastically dragging old ladies into court if they won't open their pocket books fast enough, playing hard and fast with the rights they pretend are their touchstones.

WHAT ABOUT THE POOR CHILDREN IN CHINA?: We know the Chinese government is a nasty, censorious, protester slaughtering type of organisation, but even with their piles of human rights abuses they've stacked up over the years, is it entirely fair to inflict Whitney Houston on them?. We're sure, though, that since Ms Houston believes that the children are our future, and that we should teach them right, she won't be turning up to sing for the Chinese merely for the enormous paycheque; we'll just bet she's going to be raising her host's treatment of, say, Wang Guofeng, detained in Shangqui for daring to protest at the pisspoor healthcare the state was offering to the HIV+ of the city. Or to suggest they may consider freeing Rebiya Kadeer, arrested and detained while trying to meet US Congressional staff on a visit to China five years ago, and still being held? We bet she will. Or, since Whitney has something of an interest in illicit drugs herself, she might want to ask after the fate of two Nepalese nationals who have been sentenced to death in China over drug-related offences. (Note to Whitney: you might want to try and get through your visit to Peking without any of your usual pick-me-ups).

PROBABLY CAN'T DO MUCH WORSE THAN THE RIAA DO: On the grounds that his daughter did well in American idol, Joe Barrino, father of Fantasia, has decided that after fifteen years of driving trucks, it's time to set up a record label. "We can do everything we need to right here" he says, "Lets be a Hollywood, let's be an Atlanta; let's be a New York. Let's be a Chicago. These are our plans."

PARENTING ADVICE FROM ROBERT SMITH: Young persons on the cusp of making that exciting leap from having sex for fun to having sex with the idea of allowing sperms and eggs to get all muddled and make little lives might like to ponder the advice of Robert Smith, who is happy enough having twenty five nephews and nieces and thinks this works better than having his own kids. In other words: you keep on the pill, just prick some holes in your brother's rubbers.

SHOCK TACTICS: A couple of weeks back, Channel 4 held an investigation into 'Who Killed Saturday Night TV?' Last night, it did its best to kick the corpse with a shoddy, predictable, wasted opportunity with its 'Videos They Tried To Ban.' It's not that the idea in itself was a bad one, but it's a topic - the moments in pop promos that caused outrage - which would easily lend itself to a sloppy, ill-conceived, poorly researched piece of half truths and wobbling breasts. Of course, there is a quick way to determine 'is this an attempt to try and examine a cultural trait, or just a lame bunch of clips, idiotic quotes from people who don't know what they're talking about, flung together without much of a thesis to hold them together?' And, yes, Gina Yahsere was indeed on board, so we knew it was the latter. It's a pity they didn't make more use of Mitch Benn, who can be funny about music and may have even pulled together a decent documentary from the subject.

It was never quite clearly established who the "they" trying to ban the videos were - indeed, a great many of them were never the subject of any concerted attempts to spare them from our children's eyes. Hit Me Baby One More Time, for all its school writhing, never had any serious attempt made to keep it off the screens; unsettling though Unkle's Rabbit In The Headlights may be, since it was never likely to pop up on CD:UK anyway.

Some parts of the programme were laughable - Jack Osbourne giving expert testimony on scandals which occured when he would have been six, the suggestions that Marilyn Manson's filmic recreation of the death of JFK was in any way a "raising" of the outrage level from Nine Inch Nail's genuinely nauseating S&M machine cut. Some were just plain wrong - was Justify My Love the first ever video single? Of course it bloody wasn't - what about Thriller, apart from anything else? Even more stupid was the claim that Like A Prayer was responsible for turning Madonna into a global star. Since the programme didn't make any mention of the main piece of fallout from her shagging-black-Mr.Jesus promo for this, that the video got her dropped like a burning cross from a Pepsi campaign, maybe none of the researchers knew about it. But the Pepsi contract itself would have been a major clue that Madonna didn't actually need any help broadening her fame at this point.

The lowest point, though, came in the section on the Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up flick. Treating this as anything other than a pisspoor Tales of the Unexpected with a few strippers in it is bad enough, but adding in Jack Osbourne discussing it like it was the cleverest thing ever was just cruel - like those hidden camera shows where they tempt dupes into pretending to have lots of insight about a totally made up person or place. For a film with a "twist" at the end to work, there has to be some sort of value in then re-watching the movie with the knowledge gained at the end of the first viewing; but since "girls get fighting drunk and some even have sex with other girls" would come as a surprise only to people who haven't set foot in a British city centre after six in the evening, even if you don't see the payoff coming in advance, once you go "oh, she's a woman", there's nothing more left to be said.

Not that that didn't stop the programme from trying - young Jack again pops up to say "How could it be misogynistic, because it's a woman doing all those things?" Yes, Einstein. The fact the video was made by a man for an all-male band with a largely male fanbase, in an industry predominately staffed by blokes, featuring hot lesbo action, the number one male voyeuristic fantasy of choice is neither here nor their. Because it's about a woman. On which basis, we'd advise any young girls not to bother with flicking through A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and stick to the doughty feminist text that is Razzle.

What's really frustrating, though, is that rather than trotting out Relax for the hunderth time (it's funny that, while there's no shortage of people happy to yak at the camera that Frankie made lots of cash from Mike Read's outrage, nobody yet appears to have twigged that Mike Read is enjoying a healthy income from appearing on shows recalling how he banned the track), there are some interesting stories about genuine attempts to ban videos that weren't ever touched on - Jimmy Saville's moral crusade against the video that had Sid Vicious riding a motorbike without a helmet, or the Madness one with an electric guitar being played in a swimming pool; the video for Undercover which The Tube were only allowed to show providing they cut away at the gunshots to scene of Muriel Gray watching the film. Instead, we got a few clips of Tatu kissing in the rain - surely 'The Videos Most People Yawned And Turned Away From, Bored' rather than 'The Videos They Tried To Ban'?