Saturday, August 07, 2004

JACKO LEGAL SPATS: AN ONGOING COLLECTION: We know that due process is very important, but we're a little bit bemused as to why so much of the Michael Jackson's defence team energies are being directed towards administrative anomalies. We know that matters like their latest beef, claims that the prosecution haven't handed over all the paperwork, have some impact on their ability to do their work, but surely they realise that getting the charges dropped on a technicality will do nothing to clear their client in that all-important court of popular opinion? They believe he's innocent, and provably so - and yet seem to be desperate not to be given an opportunity to make that fact plain, in public, in clear sight. It's a rubbish strategy.

DON'T SAY YOU WEREN'T WARNED: Carlos Santana is collecting new songs for a new album. He's more than a little pleased with himself, too:

"Most people only work with one level and stay there. Where 'I only do salsa, I only do norteno,' and they stay there. I only play music. Period. And that gives me a different spectrum that others don't enjoy."

Even Damon Albarn records across musical genres, Carlos. It's like waving around your dinner plate and saying "see... pilau rice and salad... I am so eclectic, me..."

A GAP OF TWO YEARS ISN'T A 'SPLIT'; SOME BANDS SPEND LONGER THAN THAT WAITING FOR THEIR MAN: They only broke up in 2002, but it seems that the Black Crowes are on the point of reforming. Is it just us, or is the concept of "breaking up" being a little tarnished these days? "Oh, we're breaking up" announce bands, even while they're booking tours in for the following Fall. Shouldn't there be some sort of rule made that if you split, you stay split. For at least, I don't know, five years?

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The following story contains these elements: Alice Cooper's thrashing snake and an unusual bulge. Those of a sensitive disposition, or anyone reading in Maryland, may like to skip to the next story.
What really happened, of course, is that Alice Cooper's on-stage pyhton chum managed to wolf down a 12-by-14 heating pad as a desert following a tasty live rat. Fearing the equipment might kill the snake - also called Alice, and apparently albino - an at-risk snake helper (and where would the music industry be without the sterling work of at-risk snake helpers?) was called in, who take the snake to a vet. (See, who else would have thought of that? Thank god there was a specialist.) The pad was removed, and an anaconda understudy joined Cooper on stage that evening. All's well that... hey, where's my kitten gone?

DON'T STEAL MUSIC, MMMKAY: Music teaching in British schools is in a very poor state - the few schools that have the spare cash to buy instruments find themselves so hamstrung by the demands of a central curriculum and constant testing, striving for the place in the meaningless league tables which can mean the difference between thriving and closure for a place, that kids don't get much time to actually use them. So we're a little bit surprised* that a company like EMI thinks that music lessons would be better spent teaching children that it's wrong to share music on the internet than actually encouraging them to learn how to play instruments with which to make new recordings:

While the Arts Council is planning a programme of visits for schools to national musical organisations such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the English National Opera, EMI said today: "We would like to see schools teaching copyright awareness so that pupils understand its importance not only to those contemplating music as a career, but to society generally."
EMI is planning a conference for teachers on the subject and working on lesson plans to explain copyright properly.

Of course, with no new musicians coming along, we guess EMI would then be free to just concentrate on exploiting its back catalogue - which would explain the extra importance the BPI and Hunky Matt Wells place on trying to get mechanical copyright terms extended. There'll be no new music in ten years... they need to keep the old stuff.

* - of course, we're not really. They're rubbish.

APT INJURIES: It's not just the audience who are having to sacrifice an arm and leg to see the current Madonna tour: a rigger who fell thirty foot preparing the stage for the Madonna date at Earls Court has broken an arm and a leg, too.

Friday, August 06, 2004

FUNKOBIT: RICK JAMES: The death has been announced of Rick James. The 56 year old - remembered as much for a staggering slump into drugs and crime as for 1981's Super Freak - died from natural causes on Friday morning.

Born in Buffalo, New York, and originally James Johnson Junior, James original career path seemed to be nautical. However, despite joining the US Navy at fifteen, he went AWOL. He fled to Toronto, where one of Rick's early tastes of music came in the group the Mynah Birds with Neil Young.He signed to Motown twice - once with a band in the mid-sixties, and then again in 1978. His solo debut Come Get It established him in his own right, and gave him the first taste of the highlife that was eventually to catch up with him:

"We were doing groundbreaking tours, and a lot of drugs and drank a lot. We didn't know anything about Betty Ford or addiction in those days. It's hard to reflect and remember those times. They are very vague to me - a lot of it is a haze."

The haze is understandable, when the sheer amount of crack cocaine he worked his way through is taken into consideration. In 1993, James was convicted of beating up and torturing a masseuse and holding a record label executive and sentenced to five years. Serving three, James emerged and married Tania Hijazi, his partner in those crimes, and launched onto a comeback trail. However, during a show in Denver he burst a blood vessel resulting in a stroke. Although he did continue to play live, James never fully recovered and his health was to take a worse turn in 1998 when he needed hip replacement surgery. His final performance came in June, where he also received a lifetime achievement award (for his music, rather than the beating women up achievements, we imagine.) Amongst other acts he gave a helping hand to were Prince - who had an early support slot on his tour, The Mary Jane Girls, Teena Marie, and MC Hammer, who built his own hit U Cant Touch This round the Super Freak riff. But you can't blame James for that.

Donations in his memory are being directed to the American Cancer Society.

THROWING A SHATNER: Adding to an ever-expanding list of actors-attempting-to-turn-singer: Toni Collette. We love Toni Collette. We really, really do. We hope this isn't a mistake.

AND SHE'S NOT REALLY A HILLBILLY, NEITHER: The latest musician to come to grief over drugs is country singer Mind McCready.

She's been caught with, it's claimed, forged prescriptions for OxyContin, the painkiller that kills everything. She's been booked and released on a ten thousand dollar bond.

BIG NOISE? BIG BABIES, MORE LIKE: We were about to get all excited about Muse making new singles available for download on Oxfam's bignoisemusic service, but then we ran into a bit of a snag. Since we're not that keen on leaky old Internet Explorer, we use Mozilla wherever we can, which turns out not to be compatable with the service. More to the point, on the error page, there's this little bit of terse disinformation:

"Unfortunately, Big Noise Music is currently not available to Mac users because our service provider (OD2) is unable to obtain the necessary Digital Rights Management (DRM) software from Apple Computers Inc. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause."

Eh? We can see that - perhaps - not being able to get the code for DRM from Apple might mean that OD2 can't make its downloads available in that format, but, again, there's absolutely nothing to stop OD2 making downloads available in any other format. Like MP3, for example. OD2 are choosing to not make the charity tracks available to Mac Users, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with any side debate abotu access to iTunes DRM, surely?

NOT TO POSH TO PUSH STAFF OUT: Presumably as a result of what's been a pretty poor year for the Beckhams' image so far, their long-serving, long-suffering PR person Caroline McAteer has been given the shove. They now have a Balkans style interlocking team of PR people looking after their every need, which really seems to be reaping benefits for them. Yeah, they're still getting shit coverage, but it gives Vix and Dix more people to blame rather than having to take a look at themselves.

TOGETHER AT LAST: We've been made aware of a joint appearance on stage by Har Mar Superstar and Avid Merrion - just an Ali G short of the full set of Diminishing Sniggering Returns.

IT'S PROBABLY ALREADY SOLD OUT IN THE LAST HOUR AND TEN MINUTES, BUT JUST IN CASE: Tickets for the Pixies warm-up at the London Forum on Friday 20th August went on sale seventy minutes ago. They're priced at a slightly eye-watering twenty-five pounds, which, since the show is meant to be to allow them to warm-up and knock the rough edges off their performance, seems to be a little steep.

VIRGIN TAKES ON THE iPOD: The first court battle between old and new music retailers looks likely to take place in France, where Virgin Mega - the online wing of the Virgin Megastores business - is lodging a complaint with the French Comeptition Council that the iPod is anti-competitive. The Virgin beef is that Apple won't allow other companies access to their copy-protection technology, which Virgin says makes the iPod a block to free competition - although since iPods also play MP3s, there's nothing to stop Virgin Mega selling music for them, is there? It's just they choose not to.

JAMELIA'S BRILLIANT: You've got to admire Jamelia - not only does she have enough free time to have a feud with Peter Andre (which is like writing to the Sun letters page), now she's all pissed off with Beyonce:

"When I realised Beyonce mimes half to three-quarters of her show, that took a lot away for me. I thought: 'Well, are you an artist or are you an actress?'
I understand the quest to be an entertainer, but don't put yourself out there as an artist if that's not what you are. Britney came to England recently and mimed over every single track. How the hell can she do a whole show and mime it? I feel it's cheating the fans and I think it's disgusting. Pop culture right now is about having a voice in the studio and not having to cut it live. That's ridiculous."

No, Jamelia, what's ridiculous is thinking that there's something "false" about lip-synching. It's easy to sing live if you're just stood there making the eyes of emotion, but if you're doing a dancing spectacular, it's harder to give good vocals and do strenuous dancing - it's why ballet doesn't have vocals. To be fair to Britney (who did, actually, sing a few tracks live), nobody really expects her to be singing live anyway. She's taken the decision to make a show entertaining instead of "real", which would seem to be a good call for someone who is, yes, setting out to be an entertainer. Nobody expects you to play all the instruments on the records you stick out under your name, Jam, and the principle is pretty much the same.

And on Andre? Oh, god...

"Everyone knows it's rubbish, everyone knew it was rubbish 10 years ago, and it's still rubbish today," Jamelia told MTV in March. "I think (Andre) is the new Justin Timberlake. "I seriously do - in Croatia."
Yesterday, Jamelia was unrepentant.
"It's exactly what I said it was. It's a throwaway song. It's rubbish.
I felt bad because he wants to be friends. I'm like: whatever. And even though I apologised, I don't take back what I said."

That's a pretty interesting approach to an apology you've got there, James.

Puppet sent down

Cris Kirkwood has been sentenced for his assault on a security guard in the middle of row over a parking space. The former Meat Puppet has been given 21 months.

[Edit: Cris spelling corrected; reformated to match current No Rock format 10-06-07]

SOMETIMES, THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG: It's always nice to hear of a record company reluctantly having to admit that, actually, they'd be nothing without their artists, so the recent events at Avex Records in Japan are cheering, especially since it'll send a small shiver along the spines of everyone who works in management at a label.

Avex's board, concerned at falling sales, tried to bounce Masato Matsuura out of his post as senior managing director. Unfortunately, Matsuura was popular with the employees and artists of the label - like Koda Kumi - threatened to go elsewhere.

When it became clear that the label stood to lose a sizeable chunk of its top artists (Hitomi put messages of support on their website, Hiro from Exile announced that he wanted to work with Matsuura), the board was forced into a panicky fire-fighting exercise. Shares in Avex fell, and Matsuura was invited back, with a brief to manage the company in his way. Sometimes, musicians are more than just the content makers.

SOMETIMES, THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG: It's always nice to hear of a record company reluctantly having to admit that, actually, they'd be nothing without their artists, so the recent events at Avex Records in Japan are cheering, especially since it'll send a small shiver along the spines of everyone who works in management at a label.

Avex's board, concerned at falling sales, tried to bounce Masato Matsuura out of his post as senior managing director. Unfortunately, Matsuura was popular with the employees and artists of the label - like Koda Kumi - threatened to go elsewhere.

When it became clear that the label stood to lose a sizeable chunk of its top artists (Hitomi put messages of support on their website, Hiro from Exile announced that he wanted to work with Matsuura), the board was forced into a panicky fire-fighting exercise. Shares in Avex fell, and Matsuura was invited back, with a brief to manage the company in his way. Sometimes, musicians are more than just the content makers.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

CLICK ME OUT: What with the Franz Ferdinand tickets going on sale tomorrow morning at 9 am, you might want to bookmark the link or links for the shows that you're interested in now, just to be ready:

11-Oct Belfast Ulster Hall

12-Oct Dublin Olympia

13-Oct Dublin Olympia

15-Oct Glasgow Barrowlands

16-Oct Glasgow Barrowlands

All other shows:
17-Oct Wolves Civic Centre
19-Oct Northumbria Uni
20-Oct Exeter Uni
21-Oct Bradford St Georges Hall
23-Oct Portsmouth Guildhall
24-Oct Leicester De Mont Hall
25-Oct Manchester Apollo
28-Oct London Brixton Academy
29-Oct London Brixton Academy

DYNAMITE BLOWS BACK: The most eyebrow raising element of the latest stunt by Blur's artist in residence Banksy - a not especially inspired statue depicting Justice in frilly knickers and thigh high boots - is that his statement at the stuntue's unveiling was read out by Ms Dynamite. The corporate voice of Pepsi and the spokesperson for subversion, eh? That's quite a double role to pull off.

The knickers are meant to imply prostitute, which in turn is meant to suggest that Justice is untrustworthy, although both the leaps of interpretation you have to make are pretty dodgy: most working prostitutes don't actually wear kinky or fetish wear, do they?; more significantly, if you want to condemn justice as being peopled by "thugs, thieves, bullies, liars, the corrupt, the arrogant and the stupid", then why pick on women who are in a difficult trade to represent them? Aren't prostitutes just as poorly served by a criminal justice system which treats their rapes and assaults as lower-class incidents, which criminalises their activities but not those of the people who pay for their services, which harries them into working in ever less-safe environments? Or do they not count, Banksy? Or did you not really think it through?

OH, MOTHER: Charlotte Church's mum has lashed out at you, and, yes, me, in our role as members of the public. It seems members of the public are often rude to Ms Church, much to Maria Church's disgust. "Name calling" she informs us "is the lowest of the low." Which we can only take to mean that, during those long, burning rows over Charlotte dating Steve Johnson, she never resorted to calling him names. Of course.

BONO'S FRIENDS: Is anyone else surprised at the reports that Bono sang at the funeral of Susan Buffett, wife of arch-Capitalist and world's second-richest man Warren Buffett? Of course, while it could just be a touching gesture for a fellow AIDS activist, it underlines again exactly how close to the people who control the world Bono has made himself.

JABBING BACK: Turning around and biting the dog, JibJab have reacted to threats to sue them over their Bush/Kerry skit based on Woody Guthrie by launching a legal challenge of their own - they've filed a suit with a Californian judge asking him to rule their version of Guthrie's This Land song is fair use. They're taking a bit of a risk, since the site's defence of parody depends on the judge accepting that you can use any artwork as a basis for a parody of anything else: Ludlow Music, the people who own Guthrie's songs, contend that as the other This Land isn't setting out parody their This Land, but to parody the two men fighting it out for the right to choose the Oval Office cushions, the 'fair use' clause doesn't cover them. JibJab's pre-emptive strike could see them heroically in the clear; on the other hand, they might just be funding the first stage in their own prosecution.

DMN RIGHT I GOT THE BLUES: The agency booking the tour later this year by Sherman Robertson is currently hosting a competition inviting British people to drop off their own lyrics for him to sing when he's over here - to provide a spot of local colour, as it were. It's not entirely clear what you might win.

POLICE INVESTIGATE COMPLAINTS ABOUT PUFF DADDY'S MUSIC: It's claimed that Hush Puff Daddy was playing music too loud on his yacht off Ibiza. Six police went to investigate. It's not known if he was playing his own music, but I think we can guess.

BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS SOMETIMES, IT SEEMS: We're surprised Holly Vallance feels she's in a position to be sniffy about what roles she takes as she slinks back to acting after the collapse of her music career. Nevertheless, she feels able to turn down a guest slot on Nip/Tuck.

She said "no" when she found out she was going to have to - oh, the horror - play a character who has a threesome. But then we guess she has her image to think of: why, FHM probably would never again ask her to appear on its cover in her pants if they thought she was that sort of girl.

PERE OBIT: The death has been announced of Lacy Van Zant, the whitebeared father of Ronnie Van Zant. Van Zant junior founded Lynyrd Skynyrd and, after his death in the 1977 plane crash, his role was taken over by another of Lacy's children, Johnny. A third boy, Donnie, was a member of the band .38 Special. Despite having committed the grevious sin of stunt-naming his kids (Ronnie, Johnny, Donnie?), Lacy was well-regarded and viewed by many as the "father of Southern rock." In the early days, he underwrote Lynyrd Skynyrd's activities, acting as unpaid driver, hosting rehearsal sessions and even stumping up a spot of cash when required. The 89 year old died from a pulminory illness.

LED ZEP DID SOME WORK FOR CHARIDEE - BUT THEY REALLY DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT: You'd have to have a heart of stone to try and block a recording of you at the Most Famous Charity Event in the world appearing on the official DVD of the event, but Led Zeppelin don't care - they don't want their set on the Live Aid DVD. Apparently, they're grumpy about it because it was a "sub-standard performance" (not something that seems to have bothered any of the other participants). Of course, this preening is more than just empty cock-rock posturing, it's also totally self-defeating: the impetus to produce a proper DVD has been the circulation of unauthorised versions for the last few years, so it's not like anyone who was interested can't see the performance; besides, something like twenty five billion people were meant to be watching the programme around the world, so it's not like the Zep are trying to supress a stinking performance nobody would have seen otherwise. And besides, can anyone remember a time in the last twenty years when Led Zep didn't suck? Thought not.

IT'S UNLIKELY THE MAIN PLAN WAS TO CHASE PINK OUT OF TOWN, BUT...: Pink's reputation as a hard-as-nails ass-kicker has taken a bit of bashing after she fled Prague after an itty-bitty little car bomb went off.

Admittedly, she had been supposed to be playing the place where the car bomb exploded, the Royal Casino; it's believed that the owner of both the venue and the car, Assaf Abutbul, was the target of the explosion.

ALL TOMORROWS OFFICE PARTIES: If you find the usual pre-festive gathering a depressing, dank place - having to share a small glass of house wine with the twattish overpaid consultant who's undermined your company so badly you'll all be out of work before the summer, desperate fumbles with Sven round the back of the cleaner's cupboard, enforced jollity - maybe you need to change your job. Or, on the other hand, you could find something else to do in December, like go to the Christmas special All Tomorrow's Parties between the third and sixth of December, down in Camber Sands. Choosing the music will be - gulp - Jake and Dinos Chapman, so we imagine if you're connected to your twin sister at the groin, you might be able to negotiate a discount on the GBP120 entry.

CHRISTINA AGUILERA BLAMED FOR ALL SOCIAL ILLS, SEVERAL DISEASES: "Graffiti is not art, it is crime" warned a grumpy Prime Minister, lending his weight to Keep Britain Tidy's campaign against scribbles. KBT have no doubt who is to blame for the spread of unsightly, poorly spelled words all over the place: it's Christina Aguilera's fault:

"Stars such as Christina Aguilera fill their videos with graffiti images to convince you they're in touch with the streets.
In the real world, all graffiti does is add to the sense of squalor and makes people feel unsafe."

Now, while we wouldn't neccesarily disagree with a suggestion that Christina adds to the sense of squalor, there's a bit of a wobble in the logic there: if she's using graffiti in her videos to make it look like she's "of the street", then surely the street has to already have grafitti over it, doesn't it? Shouldn't the campaign be to stop graffiti artists doing their work and making it seem to Christina that it's cool and copying it, rather than the other way around?

BRITNEY: COUNTDOWN TO XANADU: Pop star plans unlikely marriage, builds funfair in backyard. Is Britney really copying the jacko playbook so closely?

SPLISH, SPLASH, I WAS TAKING A BATH: The good people at Baxi have correctly guessed that doing a survey about what people in Britain like to singalong with when they're taking a bath is a way to get some cheap publicity during the summer season. Well, it's less dull that the ongoing bore-a-thon about who may or may not have had sex with a secretary at the Football Association. The results? Well, when you look at them:

Women chose:

1 Robbie Williams (22.3%)
2 Kylie (10.3%)
3 Beyonce (9.5%)
4 Frank Sinatra (8.4%)
5 Elvis (8%)

and men chose:

1 Elvis (14.9%)
2 Robbie Williams (12.1%)
3 Frank Sinatra (10.8%)
4 Kylie (7.1%)
5 Beyonce (4.3%)

which indicates that, actually, they weren't giving people a free choice but showing them a list of names and getting them to pick. In other words, we still don't really know what people like to sing along in the bath with.

SEATTLE... ARE YOU READY TO ROCK? I SAID: ARE YOU... SHIT, OUT OF TIME. YOU'VE BEEN A WONDERFUL AUDIENCE: Due to someone somewhere shitting up the plans, Muse are getting to do a six-song set on the current Cure mini-festival tour of the US. Or, really, less than you'd get in some in-store appearances. They manage to squeeze the following in:

New Born
Butterflies and Hurricanes
Time Is Running Out [we're sure this is a somewhat wry choice]
Stockholm Syndrome

MORE BAD NEWS FOR POSH: It's been a tough year for Victoria Beckham: people trying to burn her house down, bringing down an entire record company, looking more and more like the sixth member of Girls Aloud and now: children laugh at her dancing. Trouble viewers have chosen her as the worst dancer in girl pop. Peter Andre lifted the male award, as even young people know that removing your shirt and rubbing your ribcage doesn't even count as dancing in a gay club.

PUNCHING AND SLAPPING AND OH, MY: Reading the details of Janet Jackson's supposed nightclub brawl, we're not sure why the bloke she tried to punch was the one who got thrown out. But we're proposing a celeb boxing bout between her and Cheryl Tweedy anyway. Apparently, Janet was pissed off because she overheard some chap saying Michael Jackson was a "fucking freak." She's going to be doing a lot of punching in the coming months.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

BJORK LISTENS TO PUBLIC DEMAND: The next Bjork album, Medulla, won't have any instruments on it. Now, all we need to do is persuade her to drop the vocals as well and we might be in business. It's meant to be oh-so-cutting-edge, but we can't help but think the whole thing sounds like The Kings Singers, that bunch of poshos who used to pop up on light entertainment programmes in the 70s doing acoustic versions of popular tunes. Or, to be even more cruel: ba-da-da-dum/ba-da-da-dum/ba-da-da-dum/ba-da-da-dum. Bjork has turned herself into the Flying Pickets.

WE MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT: Were it not for Talent in a Previous Life, we might not have actually realised that Jennifer Ellison has had a single out and, with all the publicity and sharing of diet tips in the 60p magazines, and claiming to be bezzie mates with Minnie Driver, she managed to make number 13.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Q Revamps, and we're now just five years shy of a Libertines memorial fountain:

EMAP is having a bit of a redesign of its portfolio at the moment, slightly fiddling with the shape of FHM and Empire and, of more interest to us, having a(nother) Q relaunch. This time round, they're reverted to that messy lots-of-cover images that they did at the start, and, whereas in the 80s Q was the CD magazine, it's set out to try and carve itself a niche as the house journal of the download. And, yes, there's a manifesto from editor Paul Rees at the front: "Our aim is a simple one: to point you in the direction of the very best music of all styles and from all eras." Hmm. Q mk 7 (or 8? we lose count) has dedicated its first run out to the 1010 songs you must own. The 1010 tracks isn't a totally arbitrary figure, it's supposedly the number of tracks you can fit on a mini iPod. Although since you can choose to encode tracks at different rates, and they're all of different lengths, that isn't an entirely fixed figure. But we quibble. We could also point out that buying 1010 tracks for your iPod would cost about eight hundred quid, and so only the most flush would be in a position to obey Q's injunction. Especially since they've got popstars to draw up a list: Dave Grohl includes Master of Puppets by Metallica; ?uestlove picks Beasts of No Nation by Fela Kuti; Basement Jaxx click on 'buy' Tito Puente's salsa salsa; Jeremy Vine insists on Animal Nitrate by Suede being in there ("I wish Suede could have made another album like the first"); Travis Barker (asked to pick 'Punk') comes up with 12XU by Wire; homophobic fuckwit Beenie Man chooses one of his own songs (probably afraid if he picked something else he might choose a bummer by mistake and everyone would think he was gay or something); Lucinda Williams includes Dusty Springfield's Breakfast in Bed on her selection list; Tim Westwood chooses some real rap; Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane is given the pop brief and picks, um, Nick Drake and Ella fitzgerald; Kaite Melua suggests you really should have 50 ways To Leave Your Lover on your iPod.

Justin Hawkins delivers a pottymouthfull to someone who's sold a promo version of I Believe In A Thing Called Love for fifty quid on Ebay - "if you're that much of a talentless fuck that you have to leech off our fans, that's fine, but don't expect a pat on the back from me." Erm... but nobody forced anyone to buy it on Ebay, did they? And, scarily, Frankie Poullain reveals they've been talking to Roy Thomas Baker about production on the next album. In other words: the bloke who produced Bohemian Rhapsody.

In one of those 'duh' online polls, 88% of Q readers said they wouldn't buy a CD if they knew the profits were going to terrorist groups, which means there are 12% of them who would happily fork over a couple of quid to Bin Laden to get the new Beta Band LP. Clearly, EMI are viewed as worse than Al-Qaeda.

In the Postcards from The Edge series, Mr. Edge opines that creating a great song is like making a perfect salad dressing. Which would make the last U2 album what? Value Mayonnaise?

Natasha Bedingfield wanted to prove she was a smart blonde, so she took up a university place to study psychology at Greenwich Uni. She didn't quite make out the year.

Where are Opus now, you might have been wondering? Herwig Rudisser, the singer, um, still sings for Opus. Yes, they're still going.

Sweetly, despite having driven by him into bankruptcy, Lol Tolhurst sent Robert Smith a little list of reasons to let bygones be bygones. It's not recorded if 'you're a long time the living dead' was on the piece of paper.

Kayne West isn't a gangsta rapper, he says. "I'm just an ordinary man." The splendid thing is, of course, he clearly doesn't believe it, and equally doesn't realise that gangster rappers are amongst the most everyday of men, no matter how much jewellery they drape themselves in.

Q's bid to catch up on the Libertines bandwagon was never going to manage to work with the demands of a monthly publishing schedule; meanwhile, Jet's Chris Chester brags that he's never met a band that drinks harder than they do. Well done. That's quite an achievement.

Amongst Q's reviews: The Prodigy - always outnumbered, never outgunned - "a warning to Axl Rose", 2
The Libertines - the Libertines - "a tune that would have sent Benny Hill running free", 4
juliette and the links - like a bolt of lightning - "the curse of the actor pretending to be pop stars has struck once more", 2
dimitri from paris - cruising attitude - "satisfyingly cosmopolitan", 3
mash out posse - mash out posse - "no brained charm", 3
charlotte hatherley - grey will fade - "a minor key triumph", 3

alex kapranos issues ten commandments - ten is "never be an arse-kisser", although he doesn't rule out a cheeky lick.

Now, to the NME. Mike Skinner's achieved a key point in his success curve, now being popular enough to be able to appear on the cover without the need for them to stick a CD over his gob or anything. Or, indeed, for him to do an interview, oddly enough. His eyes are now starting to look a little, well, buggy.

There comes a time when everyone must take a stand. It might be votes for all, the abolition of slavery, or, in the case of NME, to save the Mushroom. In a piece which combines both the Third Summer Of Love and Schroomadelica (if they could have worked in Raggle-Taggle they'd have got a bonus for a full line of scenes that don't exist anywhere beneath the 24th Floor of Kings Reach Tower), the paper worries over what the future might hold if there's a crackdown on magic mushrooms. A price rise, presumably, and the influx of magic mushrooms cut with toadstools.

A page is cleared to give space for Libertines fans to talk about what the band mean to them - they tend to suggest that they're a Nirvana for our age, but really, to be frank: they come across like those people who took plastic-wrapped flowers to Kensington Palace in 1997.

Graham Coxon picks tracks for one of those old-fashioned CD things, like the Monochrome Set and Love are on it, you know?

Peter Robinson takes on Matt Busted. Matt Busted must have won, as Pete's picture has disappeared from the top of the page. On the other hand, Pete gets him to announce the band will split. Someday. And he calls himself a cunt for flogging blow-up guitars for nine pounds a time to the little girls, which at least is self-aware.

radar band are The Departure, who come from Northampton; it's the sort of place where they're called poofs, which gave them enough encouragement to get the hell out.
There's a big spread on this new London scene thing that's meant to be going down - the photocall outside Buckingham Palace where Selfish Cunt and The Libertines went fist to fist was leading up to this. And, like every other scene, there's something missing: Thirty-three faces, two women, and don't even ask about how representative of the big, multicultural capital this new scene manages to be. If this is the true sound of the arse-end of the city, it's as much a white male club as the top echelons of The City.

Your posters this week would be yer great british mavericks: Roxy Music, Jarvis, Bolan, Dexys, the Kinks, Syd Barrett and a naked arse, and Joe Strummer.

the hives - new york irving plaza - "pelle's over-confidence flatters the audience... we're all in on the joke"
ian brown - claremont landscape garden - "so why look back? The Roses were about living in the moment"

the libertines - the libertines - "a once-in-a-lifetime album", 9
hayseed dixie - let there be rockgrass - "storing an ex-lover's shit in a jar", 7
brave captain - all watched over by machines of loving grace - "serial laptop abuse", 4

sotw - the libertines - can't stand me now - "get well soon"
biffy clyro - glitter and twisted - "constant tempo changes"
preston from the ordinary boys loves stevie wonder. not like that. although he does say it's an unhealthy obsession.

And finally, a spot of perspective: the son of a junky writes to ask Pete to pull himself together while his kids are still young enough not to resent him. Keeping us free from amoral music, are you, Pete?

YOU'LL FIND 'PITY ME' IN DURHAM, PETE: There are two sides to every story, at the very least (apart from most eastenders plotlines) and here's Pete Doherty (the man with a thousand justifications) take on the Barfly gig:

well hello everyone.. you certainly find out who you your friends are in times of trouble, and right now it's clear their are many who just can't wait for me to fail and appear a flaky junky, unreliable and fucked up on drugs. The fact is that there was no way in heaven or hell I could have played the barfly gig after the bullying and bastardly dastardly bouncer done what he did. Throwing his weight around for no other reason than that he could. If this website wasnae so slow in uploading downloads then I'd put up the frontline video footage that Anne took at the time and you could all see what went down. I apologize to all those who lost out, but given some of the reactions, I'm glad that a few of you have been inconvenienced. In fact, I'll eek out all of the gits until I can be sure I'm playing to a crowd who trust me, beleive in me , and don't turn on me at the first chance they get. You want clockwork, amoral live music? There's plenty of that about. What I did I did for you.. and the response is quite heartbreaking.
Friday's barfly gig goes ahead on the promise that bullyboy won't be present, and we're gonna do a special gig at the great eastern hotel beachparty for those with ticket stubs from mondays fiasco.
The tour continues apace though, and I'll see you in Bristol/ Shrewsbury as planned. bonjour. peterx

It would be awful if people got the idea that Pete was a flaky, unreliable, fucked-up junky, wouldn't it? Thank God he's not been behaving like he is for the last six months.

GOOD NEWS FOR JENNIFER ELLISON'S BOYFRIEND: Tony Richardson has had the charge against him dropped, although unfortunately only the one relating to the robbing of the Minidisc player. The charge relating to the parking in Liverpool will be dealt with in another time and place.

REPORTS OF DEATH GREATLY, AND SO ON: Hurrah! Ananova Pop is back!

MONKEY SPUNK?: Liam Gallagher has spewed some over-excited denials at the circulating rumours that Oasis are on their last legs:

The rumours are bollocks, man. Complete monkey spunk. The new tunes are the dogs bollocks. I mean the dogs bollocks. People are going to be very surprised when they hear it.
Oasis are rocking. Every band has the odd bust-up and we sacked our drummer, but that's no big deal. It happens. But we are strong and ready to take on the world.
Me and Noel work well together. I know I piss him off sometimes and he pisses me off, but that's the deal and in the long run it works."

Leaving aside the curius question of how something be can simultaneously meaning 'total rubbish' and 'excellent' - English is a puzzling language, and simply putting 'dogs' in front of 'bollocks' appears in the Liam dialect to change the meaning - we're not sure why anyone's bothering too much about Liam's opinion on this; it's like asking a Tesco Checkout Operator about a proposed boardroom reshuffle.

THERE IS NO PUNISHMENT TOO CRUEL, NOR UNUSUAL ENOUGH: We know the 'blame culture' isn't a constructive way to work, and 'naming and shaming' is the sort of thing that leads, inevitably, to small pictures of David Blunkett on every lamp-post with a request for citizens to remain vigilant for enemies of the state at all time. But, really, we do feel that an exception has to be made for Sharon McLouglin of Birmingham. The courts have just banned her from owning a TV, stereo or a radio in response to her habit of playing Dido at unacceptably high levels (in other words, audibly).

Having said that, though, we're a little puzzled if Judges can actually ban people from owning TVs and Radios - isn't the current bout of official terrorism paranoia insisting that, should something nasty happen, we all go indoors, switch on the radio and wait to die ("for further information")? Isn't there a strong argument that Ms McLouglin has been put at a greater risk of death by being barred from access to the government's chosen mode of communication in the event of a national emergency? Isn't there a possibility that banning her from having a radio could lead to her dying a horrible death from nucleated anthrax bomb-parcels? Even for a Dido fan, that seems a bit excessive.

POP OFF?: It looks like a bit of an end of an era, as Ananova bring in Sky News to provide its entertainment news service, marking the end of its pages of pop. It's all a bit rubbish now.

HE'S SORRY. AGAIN: Pete Doherty has issued something almost like an apology for not playing the Barfly the other night:

"Pete Doherty would like to apologise to everyone who turned up to The Barfly in Camden last night (Monday the 2nd of August). Pete turned up at the venue at 11pm with his guitar tech and encountered problems at the door. A doorman refused to let the tech in and…a number of fans who had gathered at the entrance.
Pete said: "We have played at venues up and down the country on this tour, some of which had no security, and have encountered no problems. I simply asked the bouncer last night to apologise for his behaviour, and he refused. I was very upset at his attitude and…I'm very sorry for letting everyone down."

It might be considered that turning up at eleven o'clock could have been the root of the problem there, of course, but at least it's an apology of sorts. And, hey, bet that showed the "rude" bouncer, eh?

WITHIN WEEKS, THEY'LL BE RE-OPENING THE SHIPYARDS: So, the nme had already got the scoop on the big warchildmusic launch - the big kick off is going to be the first online availability of the 'Help' album from 1995, which we're not sure is such a hot property ten years later, because although we're delighted to be able to to get our hands on some rare Boo Radleys and Suede (Shipbuilding) tracks, the pulling factor of Terry Hall and Salad and, uh, Terrorvision might not be quite as great as it was. But at GBP3-50 for the whole album, you can't really complain, can you?

The tracklisting, in full:

* Oasis and Friends - 'Fade Away'
* Boo Radleys - 'Oh Brother'
* Stone Roses - 'Love Spreads'
* Radiohead - 'Lucky'
* Orbital - 'Adnan'
* Portishead - 'Mourning Air'
* Massive Attack - 'Fake The Aroma'
* Suede - 'Shipbuilding'
* The Charlatans - 'Time For Livin''
* Stereo MC's - 'Sweetest Truth (Show No Fear)'
* Sinead O'Connor - 'Ode To Billy Joe'
* The Levellers - 'Searchlights'
* Manic Street Preachers - 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head'
* Terrorvision - 'Tom Petty Loves Veruca Salt'
* The One World Orchestra - 'The Magnificent'
* Planet 4 Folk Quartet - 'Message To Crommie'
* Terry Hall and Salad - 'Dream A Little Dream'
* Neneh Cherry and Trout - '1,2,3,4,5'
* Blur - 'Eine Kleine Lift Musik'
* The Mojo Filters - 'Come Together'

It's worth remebering that "Oasis and Friends" and "the Mojo Filters" are various Gallaghers, Wellers and so on.

ELLISON'S BOYFRIEND ARRESTED: It's not especially surprising that it didn't take very much provocation for a police woman to arrest Tony Richardson for threatening or abusive language. We do cherish the quote from Jennifer Ellison's agent:

"Jennifer was surprised at the WPC`s actions, to say the least. She had never seen handcuffs whipped out that quick before in her life."

Clearly, she likes there to be at least ten minutes of foot and shoulder massage before getting to the light bondage.

We prefer the sloths, ourselves

There's desperation, there's desperation and then there's... this. Matt Goss, who last week was saying that there wasn't enough money in the world to get Bros back together, has decided that a really good use of the scarce resources of the planet would be getting the blokes from the Specsavers advert to make a record. For people who live outside the UK, or who simply don't watch the commercial television channels, the advert features a huge group of girls waiting for their heroes to emerge from a hotel. The first three are wearing really 'cool' shades; the last emerges and - to disappointed gasps and a general floating away of the screaming girlies - puts on a pair of dorky shades. He should, you see, have gone to Specsavers. Apparently the "band", now called All Eyes, are going to give any money the first single 'She's A Vision' (do you see what the theme is here yet?) to Guide Dogs before following up with 'Shades'. What's most ridiculous about this, of course, is the band don't even sing in the bloody advert - at least if it had been, say, the "alien invasion/ what on earth are we going to do" band from the KitKat ad, or the woman who used to trill that "I'm a McCains Oven Chips fan/better for the kids and the old man/better than chips from a chip pan/twenty per cent less fat", they had some sort of musical bit in their commercial. I can see clearly now that Matt Goss has too much time on his hands, but he's obviously got stars in his eyes (continued page 64)

UPDATE: Please see an important correction to this story

DOWNLOAD PEACEFULLY SOON: The charity download service, has announced its launch date: August 9th, which is less than a week away now. Their almost unique selling point is their stuff will be stockpiling cash for kids whose lives have been fucked up by wars, which has to be a better use of your downloading cash than simply redecorating the head of Sony-BMG's office again.

BEENIE MAN DOES A 180: Following on from getting detained by police and having his UK tour pulled in light of his 'it's fun to kill gays' lyrics, Beenie Man has sort of apologised. Or rather, Virgin have stuck out a statement it says is in his words:

It has come to my attention that certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own.
While my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others, and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs.
As a human being, I renounce violence towards other human beings in every way, and pledge henceforth to uphold these values as I move forward in my career as an artist."

It's funny, you know, now we come to think of it, how could we have ever thought that "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays" was intended to hurt or malign others - and the mere thought that "Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man![...]Yuh see em to run off a stage like a clown, Kill Dem DJ!" was a call to kill gay DJs, simply because it said you should kill gay DJs. Poor, misunderstood Beenie Man. Outrage, of course, aren't taking a dog eared fax handled by some London PR types as being a genuine sign of contrition:

"Beenie Man's so-called apology is so vague that it does not even mention what he is apologising for. It could be an apology for anything," said Brett Lock of Outrage! "It contains no explicit regret for his incitements to murder gay people, and no specific affirmation of his respect for homosexuals and homosexual human rights."
Outrage! said it would continue its campaign against Beenie Man because he had not withdrawn the offending songs. "His apology rings hollow when he is still making money from his incitements to kill homosexuals," added Mr Lock.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

HOMETOWN PRIDE: He is, of course, the most famous son of the place, but it's proving something of a struggle for Aberdeen, Washington, to decide how to honour Kurt Cobain. It's tricky - what sort of statue would say 'it was this town that made him the man he was - the sort of bloke who'd want to blow his head off with a shotgun'? Amongst the ideas under discussion are a Youth Music Centre, or a billboard saying 'Come As You Are - the Birthplace of Kurt Cobain.' Of course, many people are snorting that building a memorial to a bloke who took drugs and said the F-word on the television might send out the wrong message - presumably that wrong message would be along the lines of 'Aberdeen is a cool place to live', but some of the sniffers seem to be getting won round by the argument that a monument of some sort might channel the Nirvana fans who otherwise wander round the town in an aimless, dazed fashion. It actually strikes us that that might be the perfect memorial for Kurt - a town tour that just takes people on a bit of an aimless wander for an hour and a half. They could make little signs and everything, and plan it so that just as its about to take you somewhere interesting, it disappears off down a one-way dead end.

NICK LESS THAN HAPPY: Following on from his being dumped by his own bunch of backing-monkeys in his vanity outfit, Nick Oliveri has been having a moan about the injustice of it all:

"Im sorry to have to cancel the accoustic show in Cervia. (Sorry Davide) I have never in 16 years of playing shows and touring canceled. I am extremely angry about this and will make it up to you. The truth is I was asked to leave the bus we have been touring on, and was left on the side of the road in Germany somewhere. Well, 24 hours later the rain has stopped and I am dry and alive in Zurich.(Awaiting the next show) I will see you in Italy at the Rock Palast Festival with my band Mondo Generator. Ciao..."

We're not quite sure how the band is going to get back together with their "leader" having kicked him out in the middle of nowhere, Germany, but he seems to be pretty certain they'll be around to say sorry sometime soon. There's something of the Napoleon about him at the moment, isn't there?

DO YOU KNOW ME? YES? THAT'S WHY YOU CARRY THIS CARD...: We did send round a memo, but perhaps it's time to refresh the important message. In light of Usher's launching of his own credit card (in that it's got his face on it, it's not like he's having a party because Capital One have let him have a little card with a great low interest rate which stays low) we repeat: There are some products that hooking up with a rock act work really well: tshirts, posters, stun guns and knickers. They are sexy. There are other products, and chief amongst them are banking sector offerings, mortgage packages and legal advice, which don't really work and only harm your standing. Usher, this time last week, you were someone cool who probably had lots of hot chicks and could bend the pizza delivery boy over a table and have him, there and then, and not even have to tip. Now you're competing with Sainsburys Bank and the Birmingham Midshires, and have an APR. That makes you seem, well, a bit shit. To be honest.

ABOUT 'LAST NIGHT': Do you consider yourself to be a Strokes fan? Are you interested in taking part in some academic research? The Keele University Psychology department is trying to get people to complete its survey into what makes Strokes fans tick. It's an interesting survey in its own right...

SOMEWHERE AT HIS LABEL, A DOOR SLAMS AND A GLASS STARTS TO WOBBLE: The popular view that Prince had hooked up with Sony again purely to bounce them into funding his comeback publicity and that he was intending to withdraw back into the comfort of flogging his own downloads again seems to have got a shoring up following the little one's comments during a TV interview in Canada:

"Kids today, I mean, they're so talented and sophisticated. They can create their own albums on laptops. They can deliver it through the Internet. They
can even be their own distribution service. I mean, what do we really need record companies for?"

We'd love to know how long the record company flunky who's organising this current trip for Prince laughed nervously for. It's hilarious to see a major label being suckered into basically underwriting a massive campaign against its entire business.

UNSURPRISING THINGS IN ROCK: Anyone surprised that Pete Doherty didn't turn up for one of his solo gigs last night? Apparently, his non-appearance was blamed on his guitar tech not being allowed into the Barfly. He did manage to pull it together for a "secret" show in his own flat later in the evening, although the extent to which that will help the poor saps who'd paid for tickets for the earlier event isn't clear.

PIRATES ENCOURAGED TO DRY LAND: We've not been entirely convinced by some of Ofcom's moves since it took over responsibility for virtually all aspects of communication and media regulation, but we find it slightly heartening that it's announced that in future, Pirate stations may be encouraged to apply for proper licences. Under previous admnistrations, even having once listened to Laser558 was deemed to be offence enough to rule out any further attachment to the proper broadcasting industry, although, to be fair, Kiss and X-FM were able to take advantage of a truce that allowed their guilty pasts to be overlooked providing the illegal incarnation of the stations kept off the air during the licencing run-up. Presumably because the Radio Authority knew they'd be able to wave through a quick sell-off to a 'safer' company fairly soon anyway.

TAKE ME OUT: Get ready to buy your tickets for the big Franz Ferdinand tour of the British Isles - they go on sale from 9.30am on Saturday morning.

Belfast Ulster Hall (October 11)
Dublin Olympia (12-13)
Glasgow Barrowlands (15-16)
Wolverhampton Civic Hall (17)
Newcastle Northumbria University (19)
Exeter University (20)
Bradford St George's Hall (21)
Portsmouth Guildhall (23)
Leicester DeMontfort Hall (24)
Manchester Apollo (25)
London Brixton Academy (28-29)

On these dates, it would be possible to see Franz one night and the Scissor Sisters a couple of days later. How zeitgeisty.

STROKES PLAY FOR TIME: While, of course, an official live Strokes album is to be welcomed, a band releasing an onstage set as their third collection seems to suggest a sudden lack of ideas and creativity. Although, to be fair, the second album did send out pretty much the same message.

HOORAY! HOORAY! IT'S A HALLY-HALLYDAY: Universal Music have been forced by a French court to give back master tapes made by Johnny Hallyday over his forty year career. The court agreed with Hallyday's case that, although the record company had put the cash up front for the recordings, Hallyday had paid them back through the money they'd made off them. An independent expert has been appointed to invetigate the fairness of the system - which underpins most record companies' operations - and to decide if it's fair or not, before the court will rule on whether Hallyday should also receive financial compensation as well. But the significance lays in the ownership of the masters, of course: if record companies are forced to return the masters and the copyright to the artists once advances have been recouped, the operations of the big four could be royally buggered. It would be a wonderful irony if the BPI is about to launch a massively expensive campaign to extend the copyright in recordings, only to discover its members are then having to hand that copyright back to the people who actually made the records anyway.

ROCK SICK LIST: Some easy-rockin' get well soons to George Grantham, drummer with Poco, who had an onstage stroke last Wednesday during a Massachusetts date. Rather oddly, since the band were told they couldn't go to the hospital with their mate, Poco decided to finish the show. Acoustically, obviously - filling the drummer's chair so soon might have looked a little cold. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band have also opted to continue the tour while Grantham convalesces.

MAKING MOVIES: We'd have thought that of all the time to be launching a weepy, made-for-TV movie based on the life of Michael Jackson, now would be probably the worst. That hasn't stopped VH-1 from pushing full steam ahead with 'Man In The Mirror', a Jacko life story that tells his tale from when he was in a cute little boy band up until he may or mayn't have been in a cute little boy. While we can see the attraction of producing a fictionalised account of the Jackson story - or "the case for defence" as it could also be known - is this the time? Wait a couple of months, and you could have a proper ending; as it is, the VH1 flick will time out just as Michael reluctantly turns up in court to deny touching boys in a wrong way. Making the whole thing smell ever so slightly of contempt of court, the movie winds up with Jackson's dance outside the court. But we're sure Viacom's lawyers are happy with the product, right?

OUT OF BETA: After eight years of hearty approval from people who wear the right sort of footgear, but less attention from the larger record buying public, the Beta Band are to call it a day after their autumn tour. We're sure this has been in no way influenced by the successful career-boost Orbital have been getting from their never-ending farewell tour; the shrewd dance act just about to set out on their first contract should really be thinking about announcing their retirement at the signing-on press call. Anyway, the Beta Band try not to sound too much like the Bitter Band:

Eight years of hard work and critical acclaim but little return in terms of commercial success inevitably takes its toll. The Beta Band apple has over-ripened and become riddled with maggots, it must fall from the tree and let its seeds return to ground."

They haven't yet booked any dates on their farewell tour, and are planning a farewell DVD collection sometime in 2005. This truly is a long goodbye.

Monday, August 02, 2004

MEET THEY MOZZER: It's not a massive tour, admittedly, but it's still, unquestionably, a Morrissey Tour:

Paisley Town Hall (September 2)
Perth City Hall (3)
Blackpool Empress Ballroom (4)
Bridlington Spa (6)

THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW FACE OF EVIL: DENTISTS: Well, we suppose the music industry does sometimes listen to its critics - after a period of harrassing students, preteens and old ladies for cash, it's finally come up with a target that people are going to feel less bad about being the subject of their campaigns of terror: SOCAN, the Canadian collection agency, has started to shake down dentists who've been playing tunes to help nervous patients. We really hope that nobody from SOCAN needs root canal work anytime soon.

RETURN (TO THE CELLS) OF THE MACK: A couple of years back, I was in Denver, being shown the city's Big Gay Park. After a couple of minutes of playing spot the chicken, we came across a large podium, upon which was a huge set of speakers, pumping out Mark Morrison's 'Return of the Mack.' "That's funny" I said to my companion, "I wouldn't have thought Mark Morrison was popular here." My companion, an American, looked puzzled and said "I've never heard of him or that song before," she said. We then realised that the sound was playing out from an empty stage, across an empty area of the Gay Park. It was all a rather puzzling experience, and in no way related to the news that mark Morrison has been arrested on suspicion of assault and affray in Leicester. Mark claims its all unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and even - yes - police assault. What happened - according to Mark - is that a bloke approached him. He assumed this guy was a fan (which sounds fishy already - when would have been the last time anyone recognised him?), and was a little surprised to be sucker-punched instead. This assailant then stole Mark's valuable necklace - it was made of platinum, or possibly by Platignum, we're a bit hazy on the details - and ran away. Mark followed him, hooting "stop, thief!" only to be intercepted by eight security men who threw him out. The police then decided that they'd arrest Mark - "the police arrested me and threw me down to the ground and I sustained injuries to my lip, my eye and the back of my head. I was assaulted in the street" says Mark.

Oddly enough, Mark's got a single out right now. Funny, that, eh? And almost certainly in no way related to the general hoopla his label boss Kevin Campbell (yes, the Everton striker) is barking up about the incident, putting up a twenty grand reward for the return of the choker and being slightly odd with BBC News Online:

Campbell said the incident was a "catastrophe" for his new single.
"On his part it's frustration - he wants to get on and do things the right way," he told BBC News Online.
"But it seems sometimes nature has a way of trying to drag you back down and get involved in the wrong sort of publicity, which is what he's been trying so hard to eradicate from his life.
"We've got to try to think positive - we don't want Mark spiralling back into the old ways. This is the new Mark."

So, to try and avoid "the wrong type of publicity", Kevin's been going round doing interviews about the incident and putting up tonnes of cash for information and generally attempting to get as much coverage of this as possible. Hmmm.

GIVE YOUR EARS THE COMFORT THEY NEED: As if creating International Schools of Perfect Journalism and flogging off the people who actually do the jiggery-pokery which broadcasts the programmes isn't enough work for the BBC to be undertaking right now, they've also launched a survey to find out what people think of the Radio Player, the bit which makes the last seven days radio come to your desktop. Worth filling out, if only to demand the Danny Baker Breakfast Show becomes available to all.

DISLOCATION: As you may have surmised, we've had a bit of a wonky connection here for a couple of days: the glories of the Broadband world are attempting to crawl up our street, but there's stuttering and... odd things are happening... so, we apologise if we repeat ourselves like an Undertones single.

ROCK MEN "NOT SEXY" SHOCKER: It's the time of year when Company Magazine produce their list of the 100 Sexiest Men in Britain, as voted for by their readers. We picture the reader's voting process as a gathering of seven or eight girls and a bottle of Lambrini. Anyway, after last year's victory for Justin Timberlake, pop has done poorly with just a much reduced showing for Timberlake (5) and Robbie Bloody Williams (8) making the presence of music (or, more accurately, 'people who appear in pop videos' felt in the top ten. You then have to run your finger down the list quite a way before you find Will Young at 14 (seriously, how much Lambrini? Not because he's gay, but because he looks like a fish in an ill-fitting suit) and Peter Are you bloody joking? Are you having a laugh? This is a serious bloody business Andre at 19.

Still, music more or less cleaned up in the 'I wanna make your skin crawl' least sexy 10:

1 Michael Jackson
2 Chris Evans
3 Peter Andre
4 Simon Cowell
5 Robbie Williams
6 Justin Timberlake
7 Liam Gallagher
8 David Beckham
9 Gareth Gates
10 Justin Hawkins

MICHAEL JACKSON: THE NOEL EDMONDS OF ROCK MUSIC: You have to sometimes realise that everything you're going to touch is going to turn to shit, buy a pair of thick gloves, and accept your lot. Michael Jackson, surely, must be getting the message by now, as more near-tragedy hits him. Children moaning at the Neverland Ranch in confused, shocked pain is nothing new, apparently, but this time it was because a fifteen year old boy had been driving round Jacko's ranch on one of those mini-tractor things and fell off. Apparently a tyre got blown, which flipped the boy over and he felt the enormous weight of the All-Terrain Vehicle pressing down on him, the engine still throbbing mightily away. It writes itself, really, doesn't it?

Of course, the astonishing thing is that parents are still sending their kids off to Neverland - we find ourselves thinking of Albert's father who, discovering his son had survived being eaten by a lion just as he was about to receive his insurance payout, gave his boy "his stick with the horse's head handle/ go see what the tigers can do."

A GRISLY BATTLE: When they say that Channel 4 and the BBC are struggling over who's going to show the Robbie Williams Greatest Hits promo, you really hope they mean that the BBC are going "Look, you got the Simpsons, can't you take this too?" and Channel 4 are going "We think it has to be public service, doesn't it? Playing broadcasting flunkey to a half-wit: you did it for the Jubilee..."

CAN THIS BE RIGHT - A DIFFERENT ALBUM WINNING A POLL?: Something has gone badly awry with the poll in Classic Rock to find the best live album ever - it wasn't won by Beatles Band or Queen. (Although, doubtless, as soon as the inevitable original cast recording of We Will Rock You come out, that'll be corrected). Instead, the top five were:

1. Live and Dangerous - Thin Lizzy
2. Strangers in the Night - UFO
3. Made In Japan - Deep Purple
4. if You want Blood, You've Got It - AC?DC
5. How the West Was Won - Led Zep

Obviously, you'd never want to go round to any of these people's houses, but it's nice to see a chart that at least shakes up the orthodoxy a little.