Saturday, August 14, 2004

ROCKSICKLIST: Get well soon messages winging their way to Charlie Watts. The Rolling Stones drummer is reaching the end of radiotherapy treatement for throat cancer. Diagnosed in June, he's expected to make a full recovery.

PHISH STUCK IN THE MUD: The farewell concert weekend for Phish has turned into a bit of a nightmare all round. Heavy rain turned the carparks at the Vermont venue into mudbath, and police decided to close access to the site. Their chosen method was closing down Interstate 91, which unfortunately didn't encourage people to think "Well, I shall miss the gig, claim my refund and now i shall turn round and go home." Instead - as a child of three would have predicted - the Phish fans abandoned their cars, choking off the road and created a massive blockade on top of the weather problems. The traffic jam stretched for fifteen miles; other roads in the area choked up; the cars which had made it to the Newport State Airport festival site sunk deeper and deeper into the mud soup. The traffic choked off normal life in the area - a performance of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum has been postponed for a week due to the unfunny thing happening on the road to the airport - the theatre company knew it couldn't guarantee audience or actors turning up on time, and have had to take a six thousand bucks hit. Ill-prepared for bad weather, medical staff onsite have dealt with four cases of hypothermia; they also had to cope with people trying to walk twelve miles along the highway being unprepared for the task, resulting in falls down hills and into rivers. Luckily, they'd set up a MASH style unit for this sort of eventuality. All this for Phish. Thank God they're calling it a day - if they ever played again, it would probably result in a small country being destroyed.

Three Colorado fans were killed on their way to the concert when their car hit a pickup on Route 15.

KEEP AWAY MAN, SHE'S UNSTABLE: Apparently some insane man has rushed up to Gloria Estefan on stage and forced her to dance with him. It was in Houston, so maybe he thought he was at the Oil Barron's Ball or something.

NO, PLEASE, NO: Britney to release a cover of Bobby Brown's My Perogative as the single to support the greatest hits package?

DELTA HOSPITALISED: Delta Goodrem has made her first bid for next year's ARIA awards by getting herself hospitalised. Still recovering from cancer, Delat fell ill in Athens from a fever. She'd been in Greece to do some performances for the Australian Olympic team. Incidently, who the hell designed their blazers? So many of the teams last night looked less like athletes, more as if they were going to be trying to sell us a package tour of Mallorca in a Holiday Hypermarket, but the Australians' green jacket with large "Look! £50 OFF!!!" style stars stood out as especially awful - although the Romanian's choice to go with roundels on the sides of both jacket and shirt probably was worse.

KRAVITZ CRUMBLES, CAVES: Fans of pompous self-important egos in the States are reportedly pissed off with the news that Lenny Kravitz has pulled his US tour. The not very useful explanation is that "some things come up in life that you cannot control", although rumours suggest that his guitarist Craig Ross has got sick of Kravitz and has quit. Adding to Kravtiz's woes is the pisspoor sales of his latest album, yet to manage even a quarter of a million in the US market.

MUST OUR POP KIDS FLING THIS FILTH?: News of alcohol-fuelled youngsters in Reigate rampaging about spraying 'McFly', 'busted' and mis-shapen penises on cars in the middle of the night. Some might say there's not very much difference between McFly and Busted, or, indeed, between McFly and mis-shapen penises, but the police are on to it, and they're thinking the words might mean that it's pop fans behind it. You see the level of sleuthing there?

NEWWAVEOBIT: Three weeks after being diagnosed bipolar, Washington label owner and promoter Bill Asp has taken his own life by stabbing. 53 year old Asp had recently moved to Phoenix after thirty years in Washington, a time which saw him support bands including the Insect Surfers, Tru Fax and the Insaniacs, Beex, Tiny Desk Unit and the Beatnik Flies. Between 1976 and 1985 Asp and his wife Debbie were in charge at the Record and Tape Exchange of Virginia, a focal point for punks and new wavers in the district. He went on to promote the bands from the scene, eventually founding Wasp records as well as the Endless Weekend management agency. He closed the shop and withdrew from the music business in 1985, transfering his energies to work in the non-profit sector.

PALTROW IS GOING TO SING, ISN'T SHE?: Following on from her dancing all over the memory of Sylvia Plath, Gwyneth Paltrow is now going to defile Peggy Lee's memory. Paltrow is being lined up to play Lee opposite Toby Jones' Truman Capote in a Hollywood version of Capote's life, Every Word Is True.

WHAT DOES MICHAEL BALL HAVE IN COMMON WITH THE BLAZIN' SQUAD?: They've both pulled out of the Arts for Life Festival - along with Travis and Peter Andre. The event, due to take place in two venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Wiltshire, has been leaking participants from its line up; Ball has axed his participation citing "uncertainty" about the gigs. The festival was intended as a not-for-profit affair.

"WELL, WE'RE CLOSING DOWN HERE FOR THE NIGHT...": Possibly as part of the current review of BBC Online activities, the BBCi Music newsletter is being suspended. Even if it returns, they're going to start the subscriber list from scratch again. Remember, though: other music newsletters are available.

KORN ON THE COB: As we mentioned earlier this week, Korn have covered Cameo's Word Up (not even an especially original choice for a rock band to turn their hands to, of course); but apparently it's about more than pretending they can fill Larry Blackmon's codpiece, they told Launch Radio Networks:

"It was just this great song with a good hook, and it kind of opened the door for a lot of people to listen to rap and hip-hop," said guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer. "It turned a lot of white kids onto it, so I thought that was cool. And, you know, our version's, I think, gonna kinda do the same."

Righto, then... apart from the lamebrained suggestion that by 1986 people still needed "turning onto" Hip Hop, we're not entirely sure how releasing a mussy rock version of a song is going to introduce kids to urban music. After all, with Usher at Number One in the states forever, it's hardly an underground, unknown phenomenon, is it? Maybe Korn might think about introducing the kids to country next.

It could get worse: Korn have recorded a version of Fight The Power. We're not joking, either.

WHY BJORK?: What was the thought process that lead the Greeks to choose Bjork to do the song at the Olympic Opening Ceremony? I suppose it's tricky to find someone to fill the shoes of what is probably the most overblown event in the world, but even so... Bjork? On this basis, it'll be Amy Whinehouse doing the 2016 opening song. We're far from convinced that there's any need for there to be a single popstar doing a song at all in the middle of the spectacle - it's like Elaine Paige doing a song in the middle of the Two Ronnies back in the 1970s; it all interrupts the flow a little and whoever you choose, they're always going to look a little out of place. More music, more bands - perhaps; but just the one? It makes no sense.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO KEEP A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD?: A quarter of a million bucks a month, apparently, according to Mary Ann Den Bok. She is the mother of Corey Robinson, the sixteen year old son of Ray Charles, and is seeking the three million dollar a year income to keep Charles' son in the "lifestyle he enjoyed" before his Dad died. Oddly, the petition she filed with the court suggested that he was living in a house filled with toxic mould, which doesn't really sound like a multi-million lifestyle to us. The minimum she's "prepared" to accept is USD60,000 a month. It's up to the courts now.

Friday, August 13, 2004

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?: The Parent's Television Council - the people who recently tried to get the FCC to slam Buffy for showing too much in the episode where, erm, she was invisible and you couldn't see what she was doing - have decided it's time to to move on. The Council (slogan - "because our children are watching") has manifested itself in the form of L Brent Bozell III to fret that those rap songs have rude words in. Brent - who looks a little like John Kettley - is the head of this self-appointed council; oddly enough, while the group claims to be non-partisan, Brent himself established the Conservative Communications Center, which is basically an attempt to leverage as much right-wing content into American news outlets as it possibly can. (Pushing at an open door in most cases, of course.) But, anyway, yes: won't someone please think of the children?

TIMBERLAKE "KIND OF OKAY" WITH NOT DOING AN NSYNC REUNION: Despite all the excitement - most of it from Chasez, Bass, Fatone and Kirkpatrick - it looks like there isn't going to be a N'Sync reunion after all as Justin Timberlake says he's "not in the mood" at the moment. The others are, of course "very much in the mood."

"In the mood" is a showbiz phrase, which translates roughly as "desperate for work, and frankly tired of living on rice cakes and dented cans of grape soda they find in the Dumpsters outside Lenny's Deli."

THE SLOW HAND OF THE LAW: Snoop Dogg doesn't go very often to Virginia, but he's probably wishing he had avoided the place altogether - on Wednesday he went there to appear on stage and got served with papers for a seven-year old lawsuit. Patricia Ann Richardson claims Dogg tricked her into collectiong drugs on his behalf, leading to her being taken in for a poke about a police station, and wants USD1 million to make up for the trauma (surely nobody's that traumatised by a search? How does she make it through airport security?). Snoop's not been near the state for so long, he's managed to avoid being served - but his gig on Wednesday night brought the papers to him.

BACK TO BEING NOBODIES: We're actually a little sad to hear that Liberty X are thinking of calling it a day; not because they're that great (although they're one of the few bands who look like they actually have their own fetish wear they might wear at home, or other people's homes, or maybe even just the odd dungeon) but it's quite sad that they're afraid if they don't get a record out soon everyone will have forgotten who they are. There are precious few bands who realise that they can lose the tide of history, and it seems a shame that one of the few that does should be punished for this heightened self-awareness.

And them not yet earned enough to buy blouses.

YES, THAT WOULD BE KEEPING IT REAL: You know we have no respect for Fred Durst round these parts. And we know that some people think we're wrong. He's now apparently dating Nicole Hilton. Never has our "we told you so" felt so sweet.

CIRCULATION FLOWS: The latest set of magazine circulation figures aren't very encouraging for anyone in the pop press, although some have more reason to worry than others. In a generally dropping sector, and facing fairly stiff (no pun intended) competition from the Zoo/Nuts weeklies, the NME has remained more-or-less steady since the last six monthly figures, selling 69,823 copies as against 70,116. It's a drop of just over three per cent on its position this time last year. The greatest comfort for the NME will be the continued slump of Kerrang, which not so long ago had overtaken the paper stealing its title as the World's Biggest Selling Rock Weekly. Now, though, it's 8000 odd copies behind, and losing readers at an enormous rate; 11 per cent down on its glory days a year ago. Surprise of the batch is Mixmag - selling an extra three hundred issues compared with the end of 2003, perhaps suggesting that it's reached its hardcore audience now and the mass desertion of dance music mag readers is over.

Q manages to remain the best selling music title overall, despite a 12.6 per cent drop year on year; it's going to have to hope that the redesign works, otherwise next time round it'll be below the 150,000 mark. Stablemate Mojo has continued to lose ground to IPC's Uncut, which suggests that given a choice between a magazine with long articles about dead guys, and a magazine with long articles about dead guys and a free CD, the free CD will tip the balance.

NO, NO, IT SHOULDN'T: No Rock intends to spend much of the next three or four weeks in a tight-fitting yellow outfit bringing justice to people who voted in the VH1 poll which reckons that Angels by Robbie Williams is the best song that never made it to number one. The poll seems also to have been slightly hijacked - Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply is at number two, seemingly wandering in from a poll for songs that nobody could whistle if their lives depended on it, and Aerosmith are at number three with I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, which, admittedly, didn't make number one but hardly seems to have been a victim of a miscarriage of justice by its failure. Ultravox's Vienna is at four; Ray of Light at five. Although we think that it's fitting Madonna didn't make the top spot with that - surely a message from the British public that she couldn't take our support for granted any more? That the rather brilliant ROL wasn't deemed worthy of the top spot should have sent her back to try even harder; instead, it seems to have persuaded her not to bother that much any more.

We're not even sure how Angels is judged to have missed out on a number one slot - didn't it also miss out on two and three?

SPREADING THE MISERY ROUND: Mr. Morrissey has expanded his September tour by adding some dates:
Newcastle City Hall - September 7
Liverpool Royal Court - 9
Preston Guild Hall - 10

There was a time a Morrissey live appearance was as rare as a girl's name in Joe Orton's address book. Now, though, they're so common as to be almost vulgar.

PARKS ALLOWS MEDICAL RECORDS OUT: We wonder just how good the bright eyed boys of Sony-BMG and their legal teams are feeling today, having bounced a ninety-one year old woman into waiving her right to keep her medical history to herself. Even if the woman wasn't Rosa Parks, surely you'd have to be some sort of cold-hearted empty carapace of human being to respond, when told that a nonagenarian is too frail to turn up in court, "She better be able to prove it." Let's hope that Sony-BMG are happy with the medical records Parks is being forced to make public and don't insist on having her strip to her bra and knickers and parade in the court room. What an inhumane way to treat a great, brave woman.

DOUBTLESS, THIS WILL HAVE ALL COME OUT LAST YEAR, TOO: Some rather nice Bloc Party activity available for download via the rather useful 3hive blog. Go on, it's Friday, and Bloc Party have got to beat out a Crunchie bar, surely?

TREAT JOURNALISTS WITH RESPECT, BITCH: The Russian pop star Philip Kirkorov has been fined 60,000 roubles for swearing at journalist Irina Aroyan when she asked him why he recorded so many cover versions. He actually got off lightly, as the charge of public insult can carry a prison sentence. Let's hope Aroyan never has to interview Sean Ryder.

BEAUTIFUL SOUTH COVER LUSH: No, really. Really, really, really. On the new Beautiful South album, they do a version of Lush's Ciao. Which, actually, we can picture them doing, and picture them doing quite well, to be honest. It's the S Club cover we're worried about, to be frank. The album is called Goldiggas.

BEENIE APOLOGY FAILS TO WORK: Despite his vague attempt to try and pretend his songs about how gay people should be killed weren't actually meant to be upsetting to anyone, Beenie Man's career continues to freefall. Venues in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have pulled Beenie dates this October. Oddly, the Pennysylvania Lesbian and Gay Taks Force had been threatening to picket his Philadelphia gig last week but, when he said he wouldn't sing any anti-gay songs this time, they went "Oh, alright, then" and went home.

Something else on the "apology": his manager, Clyde McKenzie, told Radio Jamaica that the apology wasn't an apology, it came from Virgin Records and nort Mr. Man, and that Beenie would keep on banging on about homosexuals if he chose.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Is Amy Lee writing her own slash fic?

IS AMY LEE WRITING HER OWN SLASH FIC?: Leaving aside the issues raised by her whole wanting to kill Britney Spears thing, we're not sure that Amy Lee from Evanescencedidn't just turn herself on a little when she was describing how she'd do it...

"First I would take my corset off and strangle her around her big gymnast neck. Then I would poison her, the way Snow White was poisoned in the fairy tales. And then afterwards I would dye her hair back to the original colour."

Now, is it just us, or does that mean she's going to grappling with Britney with her breasts jiggling? And how exactly do you strangle someone with a corset?

And does she really mean she's going to poison Brit in the way Snow White was - Snow White being poisoned by an apple offered by an older woman jealous of the young girl's beauty, of course?

MEL B TO BYPASS RECORD LABELS: That's in the same way, of course, that Brighton bypasses the M23 - it gets a lot of help from the road not going anywhere near it in the first place. Anyway, apparently Melanie Brown has written a lot of stuff in her kitchen and is so keen for fans to hear it, she's going to stick it up on the internet. Mind you, unless she's got a one-ring Baby Belling perched on top of a mini-fridge, she could probably get all her fans round into her kitchen to hear the songs without the need to pop down to the Easyinternetcafe with a CD.

YES, MOBY. OF COURSE. AND THEN DID YOU GO TO SPACE MOUNTAIN AND DID THEY THEN OPEN SPACE MOUNTAIN UP JUST FOR YOU AND DID YOU THEN HAVE ALL THE RIDES YOU WANTED AND COULD TAKE ANY FOOD YOU WANTED FROM THE STALLS AND DID YOU HAVE THREE COKES?: Apparently, Moby managed to get to 38 without taking cocaine, but boy, has he made up for it: coke is a bad drug for someone who needs no help jabbering away in a self-obsessed fashion:

He said a lapdancer offered to dance for him, but he gave her $400 (about £220) just to talk, the New York Daily News reported.
The paper quotes Moby saying, "She gave me a bag of cocaine. I'm 38, but I'd never done coke before. I didn't know you were supposed to share."
When Moby told told the stripper he had snorted all her cocaine she "got very aggressive" and he tried to calm her down by buying a $400 bottle of Champagne.
He said that around 2am after soiling his "sleazy Versace suit" during an emergency trip to the toilet he decided to return home.
Unable to sleep he called a former girlfriend who he claims offered to come over. Moby added, "We made love all night."

The terrible thing is, he thinks this sounds really cool, doesn't it? But it actually puts him mid-way between Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Alan Partridge being smeared with chocolate mousse. Probably the saddest element is that he's such a bore he has to pay two hundred bucks to get someone to listen to him in the first place.

GERMAN SALES DROP SLOWS: The naughty German record market has started to behave more to the liking of the Music Industry - although sales fell, they were only 1.4 per cent down on levels a year ago; this compared with drops closer to 40 per cent last year. Naturally, this is all being put down to the "success" of harrying file sharers, although surely if file sharing had been responsible for the drop in sales, and that has been beaten, you'd expect sales returning to their former levels rather than just levelling off? The alternative analysis - that the music industry has managed to drive away large numbers of its customers by substandard product, cutting back the number of releases available, an insulting pricing structure and a total inability to grasp the changes in their own market brought about by new technology - seems to have been missed out of the report here.

CLINTON SENTENCED: Since he'd basically been so high he'd told police he had pockets crammed with drugs, it's hardly surprising that George Clinton has pleaded no contest to two 'misdemeanour drug paraphanelia' charges. He's been sentenced to 200 hours of community work, two years probation and USD372 costs.

ON THE PLUS SIDE, YOU'RE NOT LIKELY TO GET CHINNED BY A DVD: Oasis have got so bloated and lazy, they're not even bothering to go on their latest tour - instead, they're sending a DVD of Definitely Maybe round to various clubs, thereby allowing their long-suffering fans the chance to, erm, be the first to see their ten year old songs on a television screen. Groupies are believed to be asked to form a queue next to whoever holds the remote control.

XFM OFFERS LIFEBOAT TO STUDENT RADIO: In a shrewd piece of opportunity-making, XFM has made overtures to student radio stations facing crisis as SBN falls apart. We're not entirely sure that seeing Capital Group extend its grip on the radio market further and deeper is entirely desirable, but it's hard to see many campus radio operators feeling they're in a position to reject their overtures.

IT'S THE MODERN KVETCH: Photographers against Celebs - it happens so often nowadays, there's probably a special law course run at Harvard on this alone. Latest square-up is David Keeler against Christina Aguilera, whose bodyguard is meant to have taught him "some respect" after he tried to take a picture of Christina. The Aguilera camp denies that any such incident took place at all, so it'll all be off to court. We should point out the alleged punching and spitting took place on May 21st 2003, but it could just be that the Associated Press has only just heard about it.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: FIRST WITH THE NEWS: AP are reporting that The Pixies are Back After 12-Year Hiatus. We're expecting a flash about the death of Joe Strummer sometime around September.

OKAY... MAYBE THERE IS A GOD OF SOME SORT: Fire has swept through the Black Eyed Peas studio, destroying half a million bucks worth of equipment and instruments. Apparently the band gathered at the fire and kept telling it to Shut Up; when that failed they called in the fire brigade. The building was also badly damaged; it's likely this will push back the schedule for the next album.

NATASHA TO BE iSPOD: Apparently, Apple were searching for ages for someone to be the "face" of the mini iPod, and this is the face they came up with:

In a way, we can see why they chose Natasha Bedingfield to represent the mini iPod - she, too, is the younger, wisiper sibling of a chunky heavyweight. However, they don't share the same sort of navigation wheel in the middle of their carriage.

CHOOSE NEXT WEEK'S NME POSTERS: (and, let's face it, you can't do a worse job than whoever came up with old Reading Festival adverts) - there's fourteen images to choose from, and the eight most popular will be the middle of next week's magazine. It's not enitrely clear what the press deadline for a glossy poster insert is, so the message is: vote early, vote often, but vote Charlotte.

GLASTO HELPS OUT IN SUDAN: Michael Eavis has topped up the Glastonbury festival donation to Oxfam by GBP100,000, making the payment to the charity GBP300,000. This will help Oxfam's work in Sudan, which includes providing toilets to the region. Kind of ironic, that, considering the reputation of the Worthy Farm toilets.

THERE'S A BAD MOON ON THE RISE AGAIN: John Fogerty, formerly of Creedence Clearwater Revival, is unlikely ever to be confused with James 'Hardest working man in showbiz' Brown - he's just about to release his fourth album in twenty years, Deja Vu All Over Again. If only we could persuade some other artists to leave it so long between records.

DRY YOUR EYES, IT'S ONLY A SOAP: Last week, it was Keane on Ramsay Street. This week, Mike Skinner has popped down to Lassiter's Lake. Blimey, if the keep pulling stars like that, it'll be Kylie turning up on the Neighbours set before you know it.

That is a really, really horrible outfit, Mike - you look like a Ray Winstone character being played by Johnny Vaughan.

ASH STATEMENT: Following the discovery of backpacker Sean Kennedy's body, Ash have released a statement:

We are all deeply saddened by the news of Sean Kennedy's death yesterday. We would like to pass on our condolences to Sean's family and friends and let them know that they are in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.

Tim, Mark, Rick and Charlotte


Kennedy was last seen alive at Ash's gig in Sydney.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

HAIL THE CALE: There's something new on the way from John Cale - a man who has worked with Lou Reed and has survived to tell the tale, which is an achievement in itself. The new album is out at the start of next month, but there's a stream [RealPlayer] of first single Things hanging about on the internet if you're curious.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Dave Stewart's Wedding
It's one of those weeks where the NME does the odd double cover thing - probably because there's a free CD, and so for overseas editions they can remove the outer, Franz Ferdinand cover and thus take away all the mention of the free gift which is only available in the UK; but also because the inner cover has got Ian Brown on it, and, frankly, you don't want that staring out at passers-by.

The CD is a celebration of Domino Records, and it is indeed some sort of party: Clinic, Pavement's Range Life, The Kills and Franz Ferdinand. There's much room for debate over whether the 'me is as good as it used to be, but you'd have to be a hard faced caviller to suggest that the covermounts aren't every bit as wonderful as back when it was all Steinski and Mary Chain eps.

Even the news pages are starting to lose their patience with Pete Doherty, siding more with the pissed-off fans from his two aborted nights in London than Doherty's claim he was taking a stand against oppressive door staff. Interestingly, they've also found a bloke who saw the trouble which lead to the axing of the Barfly gig whose version differs quite markedly from that of Pete, making it seem like more of self-satisfied flounce than a departure on principle.

We've read Kelly Osbourne's statement that "People tend to say that Andrew Ridgeley was the talented one (of Wham), but, then again, where's Andrew Ridgeley now" (which we're sure we've heard her say before, actually) over and over. And we still can't tell if it's just a joke that doesn't work, or if she believes it.

Hope of the States burn a CD, using only the legalist of ingredients from Autechere, The Boggs and Liverpool's lovely Kling Klang.

In a bizzare Razorlight-imitates-Alicia Keys piece of spookiness, they've also stuck an aswerphone on the end of a phone number they've sung about it - 07761 010233. Luckily, this one won't terminate in Georgia with an angry former vicar.

The Mercury Nominated Amy Winehouse takes on Peter Robinson, and claims she'd love to do work experience for the NME. Steady on, love, there's a queue, you know.

We're still not sure about Annie, the Norwegian pop goddess who's this week's Radar act - in our experience even a slight dash of Norwegian blood makes for an incredible woman, and we love pop music like you wouldn't believe. But we can't help wondering if there's something just a little bit too well-prepared about her; like a public schoolboy turning up for a pub quiz.

Ian Brown is interviewed in the aftershock of his playing old Stone Roses songs in a National Trust garden - apparently he did this because he was begged to by people worried that John squire was giving the songs an airing on his solo dates, and "murdering" them. Asking Ian Brown to save songs from being murdered is a little like calling in Harold Shipman to make life-saving interventions on a geriatic ward, but we'll let that ride. Brown, however, is on a roll - apparently Squire was "playing the songs for himself" but Brown? He was doing it for "the people." Yes, he really does claim "these are the people's songs." Hang about... Squire murdering The People's Songs? Are we going to expect Al-Fayed to pop up at any moment? And don't expect a Roses reunion anytime soon - "kids say to me 'don't spoil it'" he says. Somehow, I doubt if anyone under about the age of 25 would be bothered by the prospect of a Stone Roses reunion, with the possible exception of the fear that their bloody Dad will bang on about it for ages.

Liam Howlett is back. The Prodigy haven't changed. It's just now, you know, these days, he's going to Dave Stewart's wedding...

Question: Do you like girls or boys or both?
Alex Kapranos: Like most people's social circles, ours is split pretty evenly between the sexes

The Posters are a bit rubbish, just reproductions of adverts for various Reading festivals. The only saving graces are the sponsors credits: seeing Melody Maker tucked in the very centre of the NME is kind of cute, and we'd totally forgotten Radio One's short lived odd handwritten 'one' logo. And, of course, ten years ago, what's now meant to be called the Carling Weekend was sponsored by Carlsberg.

har mar superstar - mean fiddler - "unsightly version of normal people [thrust] into the hyper-sexy world of R&B"
skinnyman - hackney cargo - "borefest"
gravenhurst - london infinity club - "wyrd folks own wandering drone minstrel"

charlotte hatherley - grey will fade - "a minor triumph", 7
goldrush - ozona ep - "if they ever break down in Milton Keynes, they're fucked", 7
animals that swim - faded glamour - the best of... - "worth investing your faith", 8

aberfeldy - heliopolis by night - "a blessed escape from the living hell of everyday normal life"
mylo - valley of the dolls - "belongs on ITV advertising low-fat chocolate"

And, finally, Steven Bayley from The Open loves Joy Division. Which is funny, because we were doing Ian Curtis dancing earlier this week.

ACTUALLY, ROBBIE, MAYBE YOUR LIFE IS EMPTY AND MEANINGLESS AFTER ALL: Robbie Williams was, you'll recall, telling us what an aching void his existence was a few weeks ago. Not that that's stopped him producing a second volume of autobiography. So, what's he filled this book with? Actually, some guff about his obsession with David Beckham's hair - this seems to be the highlight they're trailing the book with, so god alone knows what the filler is going to be like. Williams reveals that he tried to grow his hair "really fast" to compete with David Beckham, "[b]ut Robbie later decided that longer locks made his face look like a football - so had them cut off." No, Robbie, it wasn't your hair that made your face look like a football. That would be the pies.

ONE BID AT A TIME: If you don't mind wearing a dead man's shoes, you might find something to bid on by having a look through the online Sothebys Catalogue for effects from Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's estates. And, yes, you can even put yourself into the great man's boots, should you so desire. (Estimated price: USD1000 - 1,500).

GARBAGE NEARLY CANNED: We won't hear a word against Shirley Manson round here, you know. There's still no release date for Hands On A Hard Body, and it turns out it's nearly shattered the band making it, according to Shirley:

"Christ, did things take a weird turn back in October? I seriously thought we were through.
Oh how I wish I could spill all the beans here but certain members of the band would never forgive me if I washed my dirty laundry in public so I will just have to save it for my memoirs... ha ha ha haaa.
But, suffice to say, it got pretty rowdy in garbageland for a while. I must confess, I loved the drama of it all. I get bored when things stagnate."

We would like to make a public and open invitation to Shirley that she can call round and wash her dirty laundry in our house at any time.

YOU'RE NO STARR: How low can people sink? We're shocked, and feel our trust has been trashed like a cheap backpack in a tsunami, by the news that someone is going round America pretending to be Ringo Starr. We're guessing the person is just someone who's been in a Beatles tribute band for too long and has forgotten that they're not actually the real Ringo, which would be an easy mistake for a drummer to make. Our hint for telling the Ringo from the Ringer is: get them to play the drums. If they can, they're almost certainly fake.

The Not-Ringo travels with four minders - or possibly people pretending to be minders and even got himself a booking on the Home Shopping Network. He was rumbled when someone noticed he was a lot lardier than the real thing; if only he's claimed to be Ringostarrante, or Cubit Ringonium, he would probably have been welcomed with open arms.

JUST STARTING OVER ON OTHER BLOGS: We were delighted to be asked to take part in Silent Words Speak Loudest's Glastonbury considerationathon, which has just gone live in the last twenty four hours. We're in no way connected with Glorious Noise's latest mutation into a record label; and you'll probably already have seen The Morning News' MP3 bloggers roundtable, but in case you've missed it, there it is.

A MILLION LOVE SONGS: Expansion continues over at Apple, with an announcement that they've increased their roster by a thrid in the US: iTunes is now packing a million tracks.

IT'S THE CHART SHOW... OH, NO IT ISN'T: There's another show being flung into the frankly over-crowded Top 40 TV arena, this time by Channel 4, who are turning the Hit40UK (or what used to be the Pepsi Chart) into a TV show. We're not sure why they're bothering, to be frank; it's funny that everyone will tell you how Top of the Pops is a failing programme, and yet the sheer number of competitors and copyist launched at it would seem to suggest otherwise. The Hot40UK (hot aouk?) will be slipped into a Saturday morning slot on Channel 4 where they can find room between the racing news and re-runs of Cheers, and will, of course, use the chart from local radio. Rob Cortlett, the man charged with trying to spark some interest in a listing made from the not-entirely-secure mix of sales, airplay and "interactive voting", is excited, even if nobody else is:

"A lot of the success of music properties is through getting really good access to the biggest artists. It builds our audience and helps them sell product. Hit40UK can now, through one production session with Somethin' Else, offer the music industry the biggest radio audience, a huge TV audience and a massive music website."

Oh, good. So it's basically a big, glorified advertisement portal, is it? Well, I can't wait.

ELEVEN O'CLOCK TICK TOCK: There is no reason under any of the stars why Lil'Kim should feel the need to design her own watches. She thinks there is:

"I love fashion and wanted to create a designer watch collection that would translate my personal style into a product which would appeal to stylish women everywhere."

Now, we don't have access to a panel of stylish women anymore - the last round of cutbacks we had to let go as, frankly, our handbag bill was running out of control - but we can't imagine any stylish woman choosing to wear a watch that has been designed not by one of the finest craftsmen of our time, but instead by the woman who wrote Fuck You and Suck My Dick. The people who shop in FC UK might, though, but that's a totally different market.

KEYS MAKES MAN'S LIFE HELL: Well done, Alicia Keys! Your secret plan to target poor sod J. D. Turner of Statesboro, Georgia, and make his life a misery has worked well. Alicia included a phone number from her old place in New York in the song Diary, which would have been fine - there's a taped message for anyone dull enough to actually ring the number - but she forgot to mention it was New York phone. Hence J D Turner, who has the same number in Georgia, has been getting up to twenty calls a day, most, we'd guess, from men who have already removed their trousers and have a box of Economy Facial Tissues primed. We'd assume the situation would be the same for anyone else unlucky enough to have 489-4608 on any other area code in the US. The best the phone company can do is suggest he set up his phone so that only approved callers can get through, but it seems a little unfair that Mr. Turner will now only be able to receive calls he knows he's expecting - what if his childhood sweetheart returns from Spain, or Mongolia, or Kansas, and tries to look him up?

Key's publicist Lois Najarian doesn't seem too fussed:

Using the number in the song was "just Alicia inserting herself into her music," Najarian said. "Certainly she is not targeting this man in Georgia."

You'll notice that doesn't actually sound like "Yeah, we made the elementary goof-up of sticking a real number on a recording without checking if it was in use or not, or using 555 the way the movies do, we're really sorry, and, frankly, we can't quite believe we were so bloody stupid in the first place."

The phone subscriber on the end of Pennsylvania 6-5000 was unavailable for comment. He'd left his phone off the hook.

SOME DAY, ALL MUSIC REVIEWS WILL BE BUILT THIS WAY: There's an interesting theme (with comments) running over on New York London Paris Munich right now about what people actually want from music criticism: A Consumer Association style report or something a bit more personal. Or a bit of both. Of course, as anyone who's ever reviewed anything in public will know, the over-riding desire of much of the readership for any review is for their opinions to be validated.

Actually, I find the idea of including some facts an allurting concept - I remember the day in 1979 when Smash Hit's Cliff White stopped giving details of the single format he was reviewing because he got tired of people complaining that he'd promised a 12" purple vinyl triangle-shaped disc and they could only find the 7" picture disc double pack; nowadays, I don't think any magazine bothers to list even the basics of the available formats (CD, Vinyl, Cassette).

PROBABLY NOT PROCESSING THE VISAS FOR PETE, EVEN 'JUST IN CASE': The spirit of Albion takes on the New World this autumn, when the Libertines head for their first major tour of the US and Canada. The dates, for those of you thinking about going along, are:

New York Bowery Ballroom -August 17;
Los Angeles Troubadour -19;
Vancouver Richard’s On Richards Cabaret -September 27;
Portland Dante’s -28;
Seattle Neumo’s -29;
San Francisco The Filmore -October 1;
Los Angeles Henry Fonda Theatre - 2;
San Diego Epicentre -3;
Denver Larimer Lounge -6;
Chicago Metro -9;
Detroit Magic Stick -10;
New York Webster Hall -12;
Toronto Opera House -15;
Montreal Cabaret LaTulipe -16;
Philadelphia Theatre Of Living Arts -17;
Boston Paradise Rock Club -18;
Atlanta Echo Lounge -21;
Orlando The Social -22

STUDENT RADIO IN CRISIS: This time round its on a much larger scale than the Student Newspaper has taken its milk from the fridge: Campus Media has cut SBN off, and warns unless it can find a buyer, it'll go into luiquidation. SBN provides sustaining services for 50 student radio stations across the UK, and has provided cash and equipment to underwrite operations. An early casualty of the move could be Shock Radio in Salford, who had been planning a 28 day FM service this autumn; without the guarantees of cash and programming from SBN, Ofcom is reported to be cooling on the granting of a licence.

YES, MAKE PARALLELS BETWEEN CARTER AND KERRY. THAT'S A GREAT PLAN: Back in 1976, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' Wake Up Everybody was used to mobilise the black vote behind Jimmy Carter. Now, the song is being remade by May J Blige, Missy Elliott and Eve to try and get voters out for Kerry. It's like Moulin Rouge meets the White House, we expect. There's also going to be an album featuring Yoko Ono and Marvin Gaye, which actually makes us think for the first time that perhaps Bush isn't all that bad after all.

THE DOG'S BOLLOCKS: Darkness drummer Ed Graham has been telling the Irish Examiner about the strangest autograph he's ever given. A bloke presented him with his gran's dead dog and got him to sign the testicles. Of course, signing a bunch of old, hairy bollocks will stand Graham in good stead if he ever moves into the management side of the music industry.

COPYRIGHT OVER BREAKFAST: Good work by Louis Barfe in battering Barclays Brothers employee Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph on BBC Breakfast a few minutes ago. Called on to discuss the record industry's demands that mechanical copyright be extended, Neil wheedled out the usual "it's unfair that artists will lose control of their own recordings" argument, which Louis pointed out is actually the reverse of what will happen - at long last, the Elvis Presley estate will be able to release its own versions of the Presley classics, for example, since they'll no longer be chained up by a label. "But it's not just Elvis" wailed McCormick "there's lots of artists who'll be affected... Little Richard..." - whereupon Barfe jumped in and pointed out that Richard used to parade about with placards declaring "ATV stole my music." Neil was reduced to muttering "but someone made this music..." (yes, but not, usually, the copyright holder - and, besides, someone wrote Jane Austen's novels - their being out of copyright doesn't seem to have brought the publishing industry to the brink of collapse) and how we must come into line with "America and the rest of the world." Okay, then. Let's come into line with Russia's copyright laws, shall we?

RINGTONES... WE DON'T WANT NO FACKING RINGTONES: We have to be honest and say that we tend to agree with Kasbian's judgement on ringtones:

"Anyone with our ringtone, I'd love to smack honestly. I've heard ringtones of our stuff and it makes me fucking sick. If you want to express the fact you're a fan, wear a tshirt."

Too right. Go for the item with the higher margins.

MORE NEW DIRECTIONS THAN A MILTON KEYNES ROUNDABOUT: No, Kelly Osbourne, we doubt if anyone will be "surprised" that you've chosen a new direction - this time, it's going to be 80s pop. The way you've rushed about trying to find something to stick, we wouldn't be surprised if you turned up offering alpine horn music or showtunes.

By the way, we'll just take this opportunity to mention your presentation of Channel 4's recent Divas programme. We thought it unlikely that you'd be the worst TV presenter in your family, but you managed to combine Jack's inability to relax on camera with your mother's conviction that she is more important than actually bothering to think about what you're saying. Absolutely dreadful. We hope you weren't thinking it the first step to a lucrative career anchoring TV shows.


HILLSONG CHURCH STILL "SELLING" WELL: That Hillsong Church album is still hanging around the Australian charts, despite the band themselves selling virtually every copy of the record, thanks to their unique position as being a band that ARIA, the Australian record industry lobby, treat as a shop. Undercover are really running with this, trying to get answers from ARIA, who seem not be at all bothered with explaining how this interesting system has come into being. They've added an extra question, too: why, when the ARIA system is able to track sales down to the closest one, do they still persist in awarding Platunum Certification on the basis of how many have been shipped rather than how many have been sold? It's a question we'd like to hear the BPI answer, too.

APOLOGIES, IT'S KORN: Those of you who bought the cuddly toys they flogged will doubtless want to know exactly what's going to be on the Korn Greatest Hits album, and the cover versions are good for a giggle:

1. Word Up (new)
2. Another Brick in the Wall, Parts 1, 2, 3 (new)
3. Y'All Want A Single (from Take A Look In The Mirror, 2003)
4. Right Now (from Take A Look In The Mirror, 2003)
5. Did My Time (from Take A Look In The Mirror, 2003)
6. Alone I Break (from Untouchables, 2002)
7. Here To Stay (from Untouchables, 2002)
8. Trash (from Issues, 1999)
9. Somebody Someone (from Issues, 1999)
10. Make Me Bad (from Issues, 1999)
11. Falling Away From Me (from Issues, 1999)
12. Got the Life (from Issues, 1999)
13. Freak on a Leash (from Follow The Leader, 1998)
14. Twist (from Life Is Peachy, 1996)
15. A.D.I.D.A.S. (from Life Is Peachy, 1996)
16. Clown (from Korn, 1994)
17. Shoots and Ladders (from Korn, 1994)
18. Blind (from Korn, 1994)
19. Freak on a Leash (Dante Ross Remix)

Oh, bless... Korn churning "Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone..." - they obviously can't look as stupid as Durst, but props to them for trying.

NOT THAT WE'D WANT YOU TO GET THE IMPRESSION THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO QUALITY CONTROL: Van Halen seem quite proud that they've released virtually everything they've recorded in the last 25 years. It does at least mean we're going to be spared any posthumous Free As A Bird type noodling, I guess.

NOT THE JENNY AGUTTER ONE: The finest sons of Wigan, The Railway Children, are just about to release an acoustic best of collection. Oddly popular with Jackie Magazine, Gary Newby's more melodic House of Love had already had a full-instruments best of collection in their honour (Listen On), so the business here is purely for stripped down versions of the classics - everything on Gentle Sounds has been selected by the fans, so at least you can't blame the record label.

Interesting side note: The Railway Children split when EMI swallowed Virgin and dumped a load of bands, them included, although - as this shows - there was still a sizeable market for what they were doing. Something to remember the next time a music industry figure tells you about how they invest in artists.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

IT'S THE ONLY CHART THAT COUNTS: Radio One are going to start broadcasting the download chart in three week's time, although they'll only be counting "legal" downloads from UK sources. So it won't actually reflect what people are downloading so much as what they're meant to be downloading.

IT'S ONLY ONE STEP UP FROM 'I'M WASHING MY HAIR': If we were Jay-Z, we'd be sucking a thoughtful tooth as Beyonce says "We can't get married today, I've got to appear as myself in a movie.

TOO SICK FOR COURT: Pete Doherty played the Courtney Love card today, claiming he was too unwell to make it to court. Well, at least he didn't try and blame it on the door staff this time round. The case has been postponed for a week, in order to give him a chance to get over his "gastroenteritis."

COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS: Hats off to Daniel Turek for his side-by-side comparison of the iPod against the cassette tape. He did, however, neglect that iPods don't have the capacity to unravel themselves all of the insides of a tape machine, rendering both themselves and the player useless.

THAT WOULD BE A NARROW ESCAPE, ACTUALLY: Lee Ryan has dumped Emma Davies, because he thought she was only with him because of his fame. Lee, petal, dating you for your fame would be like dating someone on a hot day for their ice cream - it's not the person pursuing you believes it's not all melting away.

WELL DONE, NELLY: While the idea of the insufferably rich Nelly using some of his cash to fund a scholarship programme, any positive effect this may have had surely has to be undone by the stupid title he's given the scheme: Positive Intellectual Motivated Persons. Or the PIMP scheme. Why not go the whole hog and call is Seeking Knowledge And Nurturing Knowing Young High Obtainers?

WATCH THE BORDERS: The brave men and women at the airports and seaports of our mighty nations have hard enough jobs as it is, what with the staring blankly at TV monitors and making people take their shoes off on the off-chance they might have some bombs in them. Now, popstars seem to be conspiring to make it worse for them. First of all, Brian Teasley of the Polyphonic Spree caused spasms in Dallas Fort Worth Airport when his microphone was mistaken for a bomb of some sort; then, you've got Franz Ferdinand attempting to smuggle citrus fruits into New Zealand. The Franzes were fined two hundred bucks.

THE PUNCHLINE ARRIVED PRE-WRAPPED WITH THE STORY ITSELF: Madonna has insisted on promoters providing her with a totally soundproof room for her current tours.

As I'm sure you've guessed, we're wondering if we can persuade them to build it on the stage around her microphone.

Duncan Norvelle is appearing in Sunshine Fun Special at the Winter Gardens, Mablethorpe, until September 9th.

THE ROAD TO RECORD RELEASE SCHEDULES IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS: We always felt slightly nauseous when Geri Halliwell popped up last year telling kids not to let themselves buckle under the weight of other people's body demands:

"Some people are naturally thin and some people are naturally heavier. It doesn't mean that bigger is healthier, or much thinner is healthier, it's on an individual basis. What we see in magazines or in everyday life doesn't matter.
The most important thing is how you feel on the inside.
I got better because someone before me taught me how to eat properly. She put her hand in mine and, equally, for someone watching, I'm putting my hand in theirs. Learning from others is important when it's not working for yourself.
I really don't want to pass judgement on any of those diets. I've had many years of yo-yo dieting, but thankfully for the last two and half years, I have not been on a diet.
My body has done what it's done. Diets don't work for me.

Newsround, 25-9-03

Because having milked the "oh, I have an eating disorder" thread of press attention for all it was worth, now she's actually about to stick a record out, it seems she's forgotten her own "valuable life lessons":

SOMETHING clearly stands out about Geri Halliwell here...that beaming grin lighting up her face.
And the singer has plenty to smile about after getting back the fabulous figure that once adorned millions of bedroom walls.
Geri looked tanned and healthy yesterday as she celebrated her 32nd birthday with mum Anna-Marie at a restaurant in Holland Park, London.
It's a far cry from two years ago when the yoga-obsessed star was painfully thin. And a veteran of yo-yo diets, she once endured taunts for being chubby.
But it seems she's found a shape she's happy with. A friend said: "Geri feels great. It's written all over her face."
Record bosses urged her to get fitter for a promo drive to launch her first CD and single in three years. She clearly listened.

Daily Mirror, 7-8-04

Sure, it's great to give press interviews about how you shouldn't feel pressured into having a certain body shape, but, hey, you need to get into a bikini if you want to release a record...

ASH FAN FOUND: The body has been found of missing backpacker Sean Kennedy. Kennedy had gone missing after being ejected from an Ash concert in Sydney, prompting the band to make a personal appeal for any information. Initial reports suggest there were no suspicious circumstances.

COUNTRY SICK LIST: More news of musicians with drips in their arms, I'm afraid, as we hear that William Lee Golden, greybearded Oak Ridge Boys, has had a heart attack. The band are currently honouring their tour commitments with his son Chris taking his place, which has got to feel kind of strange however you look at it. William is expected to make a complete recovery.

CROSSING THE WHITE LINE?: Some murmurings from E! Online that Rick James had been spotted in partyville before his death, with a claim that he'd been seen doing a line of coke about ten days before his death. The LA Coroner's office are waiting for toxicology reports before they'll know anything further.

ROCK SICK LIST: Get well soon, David Davies of the Kinks, recovering from a stroke. We're sure the fact that he had the stroke after appearing on Danny Baker's Radio London show is a coincidence.

SEVENTY-FIVE ADULT MAILING LISTS HAVE JUST EXPLODED: Because she's been shoved large sums of cash by the boy Murdoch to promote the new season of football by covering Andrea True Connection's More More More, Rachel Stevens has decided she needs a more raunchy look. This is on a par with the sea announcing it needs a bit of extra salt.

"I'm thinking of going porno girl myself. My stylist was suggesting kind of retro, kind of 70s, not naked but porno-esque. I think that would be quite kitsch and cool."

If Avril Lavigne makes a pole-dancing video, we might start to worry that hypno-celeb isn't just crazed fantasy.

I'M A FIRE RE-STARTER: They've got a new album just about ready to "drop", as they probably don't say anymore, and now the Prodigy have announced their return to live entertainment. Interestingly, Keith Flint - who hasn't had any input into Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned - is meant to be rejoining the band for the live experience, which presumably means he's going to have to pretend to be Juliette Lewis. Anyway, dates:

Birmingham Academy - December 2
London Brixton Academy - 3 and 4
Manchester Apollo - 6
Glasgow Academy - 8
Belfast Ulster Hall - 10
Dublin Olympia Theatre - 11

ROCK SICK LIST: Taking it not quite to the limit is ex-Eagles bassist Randy Meisner, hospitalised on Friday with chest pains. Meisner left the Eagles in 1977 and is currently working with the less-iconic World Class Rockers.

SPREADING IT THINLY: We're kind of impressed that Epic has found enough tracks to put together a Macy Gray Best Of. We tried to come up with a track list and got this far:

1. I Try
2. Was there a remix of I Try of some sort?
3. Maybe there was something on the I Try bside?

But they seem happy they can find enough stuff. Gray's no longer on the label, which might explain why there's this somewhat early career retrospective wrap-up.

THE MARQUEE RETURNS. AGAIN: We've always had our doubts about "moving" clubs - the Liverpool Lomax never really felt quite the same after its first decamping and killed itself stone dead after its second move; it might have been only bricks and mortar, but somehow you lose the sense of history and connection. It's worse when the club is being run by someone else entirely in its new home. No connection at all. Which is why we wish The Marquee well - now being resurrected for, what, the third time? - but fear its well-meaning backers would have been better advised to try and create something new and of the now, rather than reaching for an off-the-shelf rebirthing. The team behind the music programme at the new new Marquee are the same promoters who've put the Water Rats on the map, but that just makes it all the more the more puzzling that this project has chosen a forty year old venue name to slap on its operations. They're moving in above the MTV studios in Leicester Square (which in itself suggests they're going to need an awful lot of business just to pay the rent), and they're promising some great new bands to play. It's just a pity they're doing it under some other generation's banner.

Monday, August 09, 2004

(UN)ORIGINAL ARTISTS: Nice piece from ACME about cover versions that are usually assumed to be the original versions, and we suppose that it was judged that too many people made hay with the "Blondie didn't write The Tide Is High" factoid at the time of the Atomic Kitten version to make it worth mentioning. But we would throw Transvision Vamp not being the original purveyors of Tell That Girl To Shut Up for the category. (That would be your Holly and the Italians, of course.)

BUT REMEMBER, KIDS: ONLY DOWNLOAD LEGAL STUFF: The Saltwater Pizza Blog has rumbled a simple way of using Google to track down mp3s on the internet, left ready for picking, like so many blackberries on a bush. It's worth a shot, but, do remember, kids: only download legal stuff. The music industry won't be able to fund a new Naomi Campbell album otherwise.

DOING A SHATNER: Why is it that, since she recorded the tracks anonymously, that Brittany Murphy hasn't followed through and released the record anonymously? I can understand she wanted to keep her first recording sessions secret, so she could tell if people liked the music or just fancied her bossoms. But surely, the point to then pull off the mask and go "Ha! It was me all the time!" is after people have had a chance to hear the music... not before?

Anyway, the debut album will be out next year, in the now over-crowded 'Actor-turned-singer' section of your local Wal-Mart.

SPLASH!: Oh, how we hope someone had a video camera to capture the moment when Puff Daddy and Naomi Campbell got knocked off their yacht into the sea. It's probably quite lucky Daddy Diddy had all that clunky jewellery stolen the other day, otherwise the weight of it would have dragged him down amongst the octopussies and all.

We wonder what Naomi's doing sitting on Sean Comb's boat. Could it be she's about to relaunch her singing career? It's ten years since the shambles of Babywoman. Oddly, this collection has somehow been allowed to go out of print, despite the inclusion of the cover version of Ride A White Swan, a reading so poor you can taste the salt of the low-water mark for celebrity recordings. [You can obtain this on mp3 from Till Dawn's rather wonderful Marc Bolan tribute site. Let's hope that she's decided its time to make a comeback album. We could all do with something to brighten these dark days.

FRANZ FERDINAND ANNOUNCE MATINEE: Aptly enough, the Franziepans are going to do a mid-afternoon show at Glasgow Barrowlands on October 16th in an "all-ages show" type affair. We're presuming this will mean no alcohol will be on sale at the venue during the gig, but it's a pretty cool thing for a band that doesn't have to to do. Unless, you know, they're just going to round up all the kids and take them off to work in their underground mines. That would be horrible.

IF YOU WEREN'T BONO, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN: Oh, good Lord. We try to be fair to Bono, we really do - we bit our tongue when that 'thank you' to Gordon and Tony advert appeared in the press last week, even although we wanted to point out that it seemed to be more aimed at saying "I'm Bono, these are my friends and we're making a difference" rather than actually thanking the PM and the PM in waiting for their work in helping ease the burden of debt just a smidgen for poor countries. But then he doesn't make it easy. Now, Bono has announced that if he hadn't been a Major Pop Icon, he'd have become a speechwriter for "causes he believes in." Oh, yeah? Since people tend to allow you to get away with half-baked leaps of faith and overly-simplistic summations on the grounds that you're a pop star who wears stupid sunglasses, what makes you think that you'd have been able to make a living from writing speeches without the rock career as a rather large entry point? Isn't it an example of the poor quality of Bono's intellect that, challenged as to what he'd do if he hadn't made millions from being Bono, he doesn't think "well, there'd be no mansion, and I probably wouldn't have broadband, and I'd have to be working sweeping up a baker's to be able to eat...", but instead decides that it'd be "great, not having to tour would leave me time to sit in my mansion writing speeches while eating pickled larks tongues on toast."

Meanwhile, he's not sure about some of the earlier U2 stuff in terms of quality:

When I look at our first 10 years, I just hear unfinished work, lyrics we never finished because we ran out of studio time. I hear Bad and see what's not there. I just see a list of failures."
But, Bono says the band manage to capture a "spirit" rather than aim for craftsmanship in their songwriting.
"Feelings are stronger than ideas or words in a song. You can have 1,000 ideas, but unless you capture an emotion, it's an essay."

And, if you do something like ordering pizzas for Yugoslavia in the middle of a rock concert, that's not a political statement, it's a stunt.

What puzzles us is why he thinks that the first ten years of U2 are failures - does this imply that he thinks the tocking-ticking of more recent U2 stuff is perfect? Is the Annie-Lennox-does-the-crossword style of Stuck In A Minute or the so-sweepingly-banal-it-was-used-by-ITV-as-a-football-theme-tune of Beautiful Day are the sorts of songs he wasn't skilled enough to write in the 80s? Rather than the sort of songs the young Bono would have been ashamed to have written? We've always cut Bono some slack on the basis that he might have another Wide Awake In America or a Sunday Bloody Sunday in him - now, it turns out, he think's he's better than them.

AAAAH-HAAA-HAA-HAA-HAAA-HA!: I think this may have been what we had both hoped for, after the news of their reunion tour, and feared, after that iTunes-only download single: The Pixies are planning to release a new album next year. Memo to Mr. Francis: Let Kim do a lot of the work, eh?

... AND A VAN TO TAKE IT ALL AWAY IN: We guess the motivation behind the Sugababes' huge demands for stuff in return for playing a free set (four songs is not, by any stretch, a gig) is to try and grab what they can before the thing comes apart once and for all, but even so, their rider demands for the GWR Free Music Contest in Bristol are quite impressive: twenty three course meals, enough alcohol to slow Richard Madeley down on his way to the exit doors, and an air-conditioned dressing room. GWR's response suggests that, they, too, don't imagine the Sugababes are going to be a force to be worried about for much longer:

"Because it's a free event on a tight budget in a field, we won't be able to fulfil requests such as the three-course meal. We might be able to let them have their own dressing room for half an hour but I doubt it will be air-conditioned. We're also a bit concerned about the vodka, Jack Daniels, Guinness and selection of wine."

THE MIND OF A TOY: You know, people think there's something odd about the Jackson family. Which is very, very unfair. We bet the sneerers will be lining up to snort at the news that LaToya Jackson has changed her name to Toy. But we wouldn't. Oh no, no, no. She's done it so see what would happen if she shed the Jackson name and the baggage that goes with it. Of course, going round doing media telling people "I'm LaToya Jackson but I'm going to be known as Toy so people don't think 'that's Michael Jackson's sister" might not be quite the clean break she thinks it is.

ONE THING TO WORK WITH THE MATRIX. BUT...: Those who thought that Liz Phair had gone kind of soft in recent years will not be revising their opinions with the news that she's taken a shiny shilling or two from Maybeline to headline a tour called - and ready with the basins - Chicks with Attitude. Cosmetics and cliches.

DON'T TRUST PEOPLE IF YOU'D NEED A STEPLADDER TO SEE INTO THEIR EYES: Jewel is afraid of anyone who's taller than she is. She's five foot six, so that's pretty much everyone. Except No Rock, which is five five when it's wearing something with a heel. So, oddly, Jewel wouldn't actually be scared of us, although she probably should be...

JAMES CAUSE OF DEATH STILL A MYSTERY: Despite an autopsy, the actual cause of Rick James' death still appears to be unknown, although his family are putting it down to heart failure. Rumours that on the evening of his demise he'd said "Okay, okay, play me that MC Hammer track, then..." cannot be confirmed.

NOB DATES KNOB: Despite their apparent wishes to "keep it quiet", somehow the news that Lady Victoria Hervey and Jay Kay are "lunching" together has, you know, leaked out, the way stuff does when you've got a PR.

Hervey and Jay Kay might be a good match, actually. It's not clear what the point of either of them is, is it?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

KEANE DISCOVER TELEVISION ISN'T REAL: It took a trip to Rmasay Street to reveal to Keane that TV is all madeup:

"The strange thing was that our illusions were slightly shattered in a way" singer Tom Chaplain told Undercover News, "because you go to have a look at this complex and you see the front of the pub and front of the coffee shop and then realise it is just a front with nothing behind it."

MISSING PERSONS: Following the disappearance of a fan (orginally from Northampton, studying in Liverpool) at one of their Australian gigs, Ash have issued the following statement:

We are all deeply shocked by the news that Sean Kennedy disappeared from our show at The Metro in Sydney last Thursday.

We'd like to encourage any of our fans that attended the show who saw or heard anything, regarding Sean's disappearance, to contact the police immediately.

Our thoughts are with Sean's family and friends.

Tim, Mark, Charlotte and Rick

WOMAD FOR YOUR EARS: A small ripple of applause for Radio 3's WOMAD site, which is simple to navigate and will have audio stuff from the likes of Living Fire, DJ Dolores and Sharon Shannon online for a year. Maybe they should give the R3 website team the job of doing the Glasto site next year.

ROCK SICK LIST: Slightly pushed aside by the coverage of Rick James' death was the news of Ronald Isley (of the Isley Brothers) who had a stroke about a week ago. He was taken ill while walking round London, but has recovered and is back home in Missouri. He's expected to return to live performances fairly swiftly.

THE MIGHTY HAND OF COMMERCE: We're happy that Billboard considered the death of Rick James worthy of a newsflash email. We're a little less impressed that they thought it would be appropriate to add a sponsorship credit on the email:

Funk Legend Rick James Found Dead

Funk legend Rick James was found dead today at 9:45 a.m. PT this morning
at his Los Angeles home by a caretaker, according to a police
spokesperson. He was 56. The cause of death was believed to be natural.
The artist had a history of drug problems that led to poor health in
recent years, including a 1998 stroke.

Go to for the complete story:


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Classy, Billboard. We know it must have cost a couple of cents to send out the mass email, but couldn't you have held back the advertising at least until people had visited your site?

THE PEOPLE WHO REPRESENT YOU ARE BEST AT REPRESENTING THEMSELVES: It's perhaps telling that the organisations who call in cash from royalties on behalf of writers and artists and then pass them on are known as "collection agencies" rather than "distribution agencies", since they tend to put more effort into getting hold of the monies than passing it on. The American collection agencies have got a bit of a rocket recently from songwriter Don Rollins, who's sent this open letter out about how he feels he's being shafted:

I am a writer on "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" which spent eight weeks at #1 last year. To make a long story short, here is the history of the royalty payments on that song:
January 2004-ASCAP $6K/BMI $20K(ASCAP matched)
April 2004-ASCAP $119K/BMI $135K(ASCAP matched)
July 2004 ASCAP total $99K/BMI $60K(drum roll please)
BMI REFUSED TO MATCH!!!!!!! I have received some vague and nonspecific mouthings about making the difference up next quarter, but I will believe that when I can spend it. In the meantime my cowriter has$39K that I don't have, and may never have, for the same song, same writer's share, no publishing, etc.
Its extremely difficult to get to the point in this business where a writer can have a hit, still less one like this, and it is hard to discribe the feeling when you are SCREWED out of just compensation for your work. The best weapon of the PRO's is secrecy, so I feel it is my duty to let as many people in our business as possible know about this. Do I think ASCAP is any better? No I don't. There is a long and ugly history of underpayments on their part as well.
We as writers and publishers need two things to happen. First, we need a scale of pay for performances that is understandable and accountable, so that we can look at spins reported on the charts and know how much our pay will be. Second, we need the right to be members of any or all PRO's at the same time, JUST LIKE OUR PUBLISHERS.
We should be able to designate which group will administer our performances on a song by song basis, and if the PRO's want us to be exclusive, they can pay us a signing bonus.
Please let as many people as possible know about this, those of you with contacts in Congress please let them know as well. Advice is appreciated(anything except "shut up Bo and take the Cadillac and be grateful").
Silence will only let them do this to all of us.
Thank you,
Don Rollins

Great at collection, poor at distribution. Who do the Performing Rights Organstions actually represent?

HOW NON-STORIES WORK: At first glance, Britney Spears 'halts wedding plans because of bugs' seems to be a great story. Except, she's not really had to halt her plans at all, because, erm, she's got fumigators in to clean the house she's just bought. And then there's this quote:

A neighbour revealed: "It's not unusual for people who buy* a home here to have it fumigated before they move in."

So... erm, what exactly is the story here?

CHRISTINA TURNS DOWN CHANCE TO FOLLOW IN SHARON TATE'S FOOTSTEPS: Betty Thomas is clearly someone who's seen the receipts for the remake of Stepford Wives but hasn't seen the movie, as she's now pushing ahead with plans to direct a new version of Valley of the Dolls. She had approached Christina Aguilera to star in it, but for some reason, even Christina decided that taking a major role as a fuck-up on legs wild in the arms of showbiz might reflect badly on her and lead to terse press jokes at her expense. Luckily, Janet Jackson seems to think it would a positive career move. The film, which is expected to be shit, is unlikely to open before 2006.