Saturday, August 28, 2004

LET THOSE AT LEEDS HAVE LEEDS, AND READING HAVE READING: For the rest of us, there's some rather lovely Carl Barat performances over at Rolling Stone. They're free, if you need any further encouragement.

A SONG OVER TWO LEGS: Together at last: Shania Twain and Mark 'Sugar Ray' McGrath, who've recorded a duet for her soon-come Greatest Hits album. Yes, that would be a new single for the collection of singles, right there.

CHANGE OF HEART: Naturally, we'd find it really tempting if we were walking down a street and saw a queue of people lining up to take a pop at Danny McNamara from Embrace, but we have to be honest and say we're looking at him with renewed respect after he's revealed he's got a bad heart. Not in a demonic way, but in a need-daily-medication way:

"I was about 20 when I found out," he said. "I thought I was having some kind of panic attack but my heart was going mental. In the kind of job that I'm in, with lots of nerves and stress, it's not that easy really. The pills that I take work fine at the moment but I might need to think about having an operation later on in life."
Danny said he wasn't particularly bothered about the condition until he found out that his friend's mother, who is in her 50s, was taking beta- blockers that were 12 times weaker than the tablets he had been prescribed. He decided there and then to see a hypnotist.
"It was out of desperation really - I didn't have anywhere else to turn," he said. "He took me back to a time in my childhood when I was three and I used to be scared of the dark. And he got me, a 30-year-old man, to sit the child version of myself on my knee and make shadow puppets to show the child that the light and dark could be controlled, like my heart condition. It really helped me and that's what Wish 'Em All Away is about."

VENUEWATCH: Sad news from Chicago, whose all-ages punk venue the Fireside Bowl is about to close and re-open as a bowling alley. The Fireside's owner has decided that ten years of rough and tumble is enough and is returning the venue to its earlier use. It seems that bowling alleys are closing down all over Chicago (not, we suspect, because they're turning into punk venues) and so he's hoping to exploit the growing gap in the market. The loss of the Fireside will come as a hit to the Chicago scene, especially as all-ages venues are rare enough in the US. The Fireside was offering slots to three or four bands nearly every night, the sort of reliable venue which any scene really needs to underwrite its next generation.

PEARL SPAM RETURNS: The one-woman NME gossip column Pearl Spam (oh, alright, Lowe) is about to make her comeback to music. Pearl, what-used-to-be-in-Powder, has got a new band - imaginatively, she's called it Pearl - and it might be all as bright and sparky as Powder were. On the other hand, there's so many famous names knocking about in the mix (Jackson Scott, Brett Anderson, Rhys Ifans, Heather Nova) there's a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs that it might turn out to be a little like the musical equivalent of Sadie Frost's What Sadie Did Next tv series: a painfull and self-indulgent way of demonstrating that watching people having fun doesn't always mean that you will. In fact, Sadie Frost even turns up on the album. (Incidently, we love the way that some of the gossip websites have taken to describing Sadie as a "fashion designer" on the basis of her going "okay" to some pant designs.)

Pearl makes an interesting point, though, about the change that the pairing of festivals has made to the atmosphere. Harking back to the Britpop years (ask your parents), she says:

"The festivals were different then ‘cos the bands didn’t move (to an alternative site) so it would just be one mass party the whole weekend from Thursday until Tuesday."

THE LATE REVIEW: LL Cool J has found an unusual way of letting it be known that he's available for judging the 2005 Booker Prize - by defending Madonna's childrens books:

I don't know why people didn't like Madonna's books, maybe they don't think it's a valid art form, maybe they don't like kids. Why not be rich and famous and take time to inspire kids? That would embarrass whoever said you cannot do it! I don't understand it at all!"

Let's try and help you out there, Mr. J: what people are criticising is not the concept of writing children's books - indeed, the success of Rowling, Pulman and Haddon shows that it is seen as a perfectly valid artform. And, no, it's not that they don't like children. Indeed, quite the opposite: they like kids so much, they're ashamed that any poor child should be forced to read Madonna's over-simplistic, poorly thought out, emotionally stunting tales. It's not that people think that Madonna shouldn't be writing children's books; the problem is Madonna's apparent belief that she's able to.

WHAT A CHARMING PIECE OF WORK: How does Usher cheer himself up when he's depressed? He gets out a picture a fan sent him and laughs at her. She's - oh, hold your sides, this'll kill you - naked and... NOT THIN! A-huh-huh-huh-haaa. And now the little charmer has decided to spread the hyuks around by making someone who thought she was doing something intimate and nice for him a very public stock. Nice to see how you treat your fans, you cunt.

SO LONG AS THERE'S A GOOD REASON, THEN: Over on one of the Libertines lists recently, there's been a massive rush to defend Pete for not playing those London gigs, based on the conviction that Pete would never let down his fans without a good reason. Oh yeah? Carl Barat has pointed out that Doherty didn't turn up to gigs last summer in a big girly huff. Barat had - not unsurprisingly - refused to cut his birthday party short to go off to some gig Doherty had arranged in "an East End crack house"; in revenge, Doherty axed a string of proper dates booked in for the following months.

WE NEVER THOUGHT WE'D AGREE WITH BRIAN MCFADDEN: The former Westlifer says that he quit the boyband because he was getting depressed by their relentles dirgey shitey cabaret rubbish. Of course, Brian was lucky - he'd been having to put up with it all these years, but at least was banking large cheques; the rest of us didn't get compensated for having to endure. Brian's keen to make up the yawning cultural deficit he's created, though:

"I don't want to be like anybody. I want to be me. I want to do commercial rock."

Oh, good. Having spent the last - what is it, decade, thirty years? it feels longer - churning out MOR pap, he's now going to churn out MOR pap with the drums turned up.

Apparently, the poor little lamb even has trouble when he tries to do stock rebellion:

"I was missing home. I was missing Kerry and everything was getting to me. So I just drank the mini-bar and them tried to throw the telly out of the window and it landed on my head."

REGGAE PARKED: The cancellation of Reggae in the Park is a mysterious and strange affair. The official announcement seems to suggest its something to do with the protests against homophobic reggae artists (one of whom, Vybz Kartel, was due at the event):

Due to the recent negative publicity surrounding reggae music in the UK press, no suitable alternative venue could be found that was willing to take on the perceived security risk represented by "Reggae In The Park". Therefore it is with sadness that the organisers have had to announce the cancellation of this event.

Obviously, they're referring to the work of Outrage and others in refusing to allow artists who call for the murder of gay men and women to be allowed an easy ride - although, really, we're not sure a small knot of men with placards is so much of a threat. We're wondering if attempting to blame it on "neagtive publicity surrounding reggae" is merely an excuse being cooked up by organisers to cover their failure to find a new place for the event: the original plan for Victoria Park had to be abandoned for technical reasons:

For technical reasons, "Reggae In The Park", which was due to be held at London's
Victoria Park on Sunday September 5, 2004 has now been moved to ***********. The event, brought to us by Choice FM (a Capital Radio Group PLC Company) in association with Apollo Entertainment kicks off at 12 noon and will finish at 10pm.

And with only a week to go, it would seem a little late to be finding somewhere else. It would be outrageous if the really-quite-understandable condemnation of a handful of reggae artists is being used as a cover for a failure of organisation.

REPORTS FROM THE MUDDY FRONT LINE: We would pay large sums of cash to avoid ever being in a place where Har Mar runs on stage and waves his ass around; during a set by Ash we'd welcome it rather like the way those competitors welcomed the guy in a tutu who fucked up the synchronised diving competition; likewise, the appearance of Goldie Lookin' Chain in the middle of a Super Furry Animals set - the sort of ill-judged attmept at humour exhibited by Uncles heckling at weddings. Elsewhere Graham Coxon suffers from clothing superstition and Green Day covered Queen. They chose We are the Champions, which sums up the general obviousness of Green Day: Fat Bottomed Girls, we might have been impressed by. The Darkness used some fireworks to round off their set. Talking backstage, Justin Hawkins said that one of the problems they have is that everyone assumes they're American because of the music. We'd have thought that wouldn't be too much of a problem, except in selling into the Iraq market.

The real story at Reading, though, is the weather: Drews Ironmongers in the town sold 1,000 pairs of wellingtons in 24 hours; parking had to be moved to the town centre; the Mean Fiddler team insist its business as usual, but we're not sure how routing the traffic into the heart of Reading and swallowing up parking spaces there will go down when next year's licence is being considered...

Friday, August 27, 2004

NOT REALLY GROWING ON ME: Interesting that not only have The Darkness gladly accepted The Sun as sponsor of their forthcoming dates, but they're allowing Sun readers a five day period of exclusivity for buying tickets. Wonder what effect that has on the make-up of the audience...?

WELL, AT LEAST THEY DID HAVE THE BALLS TO INCLUDE U16 GIRLS: It might be seen as a little early in their career for anyone to be offering a Travis singles collection but that's not going to stop them. They are putting all the singles on it, though - including the one about getting off with underage girls. I know what you're thinking - shouldn't there be an unreleased track on there, so they can have a single off the album even although it's all meant to be singles already? And, lo, there is: Walking in the Sun.

We do fully respect them for including Tied to the 90s, as well, which was such a poorly written piece we're surprised they don't try and pretend that it must have been a Mansun track:

We're tied to the 90's
In the middle
I'm terribly frightened
I'm taking it fast
Taking it slow
There's thunder and lightning
It's terribly frightening
Lord knows
Where it goes
But I know
That if so
Well I want to tell you
We're tired of the 90's
We're tired of the 90's
But we're tied to the 90's
Tied to the 90's

Remember the 80's
(They were something)
Were worse than the 90's
We're stuck in a path
Where fashion is fast
And nothing is lasting
It's all ghetto blasting
And Lord knows
Where it goes
But I know
That if so well I want to tell you
We're tired of the 90's
We're tired of the 90's
But we're tied to the 90's
Tied to the 90's

Ah oh no it's nothing to go
On the hi-fi five alive
That's it
I'm staying in bed
Till my hair falls out
Everything's over
That said
I like my wig and I hate myself
I know it's all in my head

We're tired of the 90's
We're tired of the 90's
We're tired of the 90's
But we're tied to the 90's
Oh, we're tied to the 90's
We're tied to the 90's
We're tied to the nines
Tied to the nines
Tied to the 90's

... talking, as we were earlier, of shit lyrics. We're not sure when we'd have abandoned this song if we'd written it - we hope at the stage of "how about writing a song about how we're stuck in the 1990s; railing against the calendar is always a good idea", but certainly before the band meeting where we were reading out the lyrics about "nothing is lasting/it's all ghetto blasting."

BRITNEY'S GUM AND BUSH: Ebay nearly forced a seller to drop his auction for a piece of gum chewed up and spat out by Britney Spears, as they thought at first it was an attempt to flog her husband of a few hours; or, rather, the seller was advertising it as a chance to get hold of Britney's DNA. Now that the ad doesn't explicitly state that you could use the gum to clone Britney Spears, they're happy. "We were just worried what happened the last time someone attempted to make a clone of Britney," explained an Ebay spokesperson, pointing at a picture of Jessica Simpson.

Meanwhile, The Republicans have been attempting to get Britney to go and join them down at their convention in New York, to give some light relief from telling protestors they can't go to Central Park because they might "damage the grass." While we hope she wouldn't go and help take part in the campaign to re-elect the president - apart from anything, strict Republican Party values would really screw with our fantasy of making her Minister of Pop in our post-revolution cabinet, and we'd already started making the costume, too - the Republicans themselves are a little pissed off that she's been even invited:

“Through her immature antics, Spears has probably done more to undermine sexual morality than all the misguided legislation introduced in the United States over the last decade,” the Illinois Family Institute wrote in an e-mail to members. “It would be the height of hypocrisy for a party that claims to represent wholesome values to celebrate her.” Citing Spears’ “lesbian” kiss with Madonna, her “general immodesty,” and her annulled marriage to a childhood friend, the group is urging Republicans to call the GOP’s convention hotline to protest any appearance by Spears.

Of course, on this basis, Cheney's support for same-sex marriages and Bush's divorce would mean that the Prez and the VP should both have their invitations to the convention withdrawn, too. We're not sure if it's fair of the IFI to say that Brit has done more to undermine the sexual morality than government legislation - unless we missed the 1986 'Dress teenagers in hotpants' bill or the introduction to the Senate of new rules insisting on all Americans having to sample incest once a year, we'd be tempted to suggest the many years of strict, joyless laws churned out from Capitol Hill have left even Sister Wendy Beckett open to the charge of having done more to promote general immorality and flesh baring.

VMA ATTEMPTS TO HAVE CAKE, EAT IT: MTV seem pretty awkward in the run up to what are - lest we forget - the first VMAs since Janet Jackson's nipple was thrust into the face of god-fearing Americans at MTV's half-time Superbowl show; trying to re-assure legislators that they're in control of everything, without wanting to lose what they still clearly believe is a reputation for being cutting edgy, and edgy, and on the edge, and a pair of edgetrimmers. What we find interesting in their ooh, we're dangerous, us chat with the Associated Press is this part:

Still, there's talk of using a video delay for the first time on the live broadcast (it's had an audio delay for years).

Um... how does that work, exactly, if the video is delivered live but the audio is on delay?

MTV president Van Toffler is clearly hoping that nothing bad happens on his watch:

"At the end of the day, what Janet Jackson did at the Super Bowl didn't work for her, and the artists that we work with are professionals."

Which is the closest the head of a TV network gets to being a teacher telling the class before they get on the bus to the zoo "remember, you're representing the school; don't let us down."

BROTHERS BEYOND: As part of the ongoing launch celebrations of the website, Keane have recorded a cover version of the Walker Brother's The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore. Our overiding memory of this song is when it turned up on Dave Lee Travis' Golden Oldie Picture Show, a cheap bit of work the BBC used to trot out making 'pop videos for records that predated the pop video.' When TSAGSA turned up, DLT got all teary about the clip that had been made "as it features an interpretation of the song that just wouldn't have been possible when the song was first released." On came the clip, which placed the song in a post-nuclear war zone. So, DLT thinks that there was no paranoia and fear about impending nuclear war in the mid 1960s, apparently.

DISAPPOINTING FILM MADE INTO DVD: Blur's frankly-not-very-good Starshaped on the road documentary gets a DVD release on September 27th; why do bands persist in making these on the road docs? They're always the same:

- band hanging around backstage
- shot of crowd waiting to go in; a girl waves at the camera
- shot of the crowd inside the venue
- band backstage having some sort of minor crisis ("where is the fizzy water?")
- couple of poorly filmed songs
- shot of band backstage with towels; the bassist holds up a bottle of beer to the camera

However, the one saving grave of this DVD is that it's got some footage from when Blur were brilliant and upsetting people with naked women on hippos added as an extra. Might be worth waiting until that comes to bittorrent.

FLEE! IT'S THE ROZZERS: We're deeply amused by the reports of Embrace running away from their "guerilla" gig in Leicester Square because they heard a police siren behind them; even more so by the detail of them running into Capital Radio for sanctuary, like in the middle ages.

IT'S A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE: We've always felt that Elton John's "if I was a sculptor, but then again, no" always had the air of a line that he meant to go back and change later but forgot - like those moments when you glance down and realise the page of your lecture notes still has the words "come up with a punchy but for here" scrawled on them, so it's pleasing to see them turn up at the launch of The Hatemonger's Quarterly Annual Stupidest Lyric In Rock Music contest. The winner, though, surely, will be Dee doo doo doo, dee daa daa daa?

THOSE KERRANG WINNERS IN FULL, THEN: Here are the boys who won prizes in the 2004 Kerrang awards:
Best British Newcomer - yourcodenameis:milo
Best International Newcomer - Velvet Revolver
Best Single - Last Train Home by Lostprophets
Best Album - Absolution by Muse
Icon Award - MC5
Best Video - Funeral of Hearts by HIM
Best Live Band - The Darkness
Spirit of Rock Award - Anthrax
Classic Songwriter - Ash
Best British Band - The Darkness
Best Band on the Planet - Metallica
Hall of Fame - Green Day

We're really enjoying the concept of Velvet Revolver counting as newcomers - like those escort ads which promise girls "new in town" who turn out to be from the outskirts and in their mid-40s. Nice piece of politicing in managing to give two awards to the Darkness despite their only major new work in the period covered by the awards being the Christmas single (but, remember: they're not a novelty act, right?). And a Hall of Fame that has space in it for Green Day must be the size of an aircraft hangar.

NOT ON YOUR TELLY: Although David Crosby and Graham Nash's bid for a joint presidency is a joke, the US TV networks aren't laughing; they've banned their ads. Somehow, despite not containing a single reference to what may or may not have happened on a boat thirty-five years ago, they were deemed to be too political, and dropped.

Not that political TV adverts are illegal in America.

COURT REPORT: For once, it's not the popstar who's in the dock, as the case against Liam McInerney, who's accused of beating up Shane McGowan, comes to court. McInerney's defence is that McGowan offered him money for sex and, of course, he had to fracture his cheek. At the same time, McInerney is also being tried for fracturing the jaw of Karen Sprott a couple of months before - she hadn't offered him money for sex, but had made the mistake of telling him his phone was ringing.

The case continues.

A MOTLEY FOOL INDEED: There's a near-hysterical piece on Motley Fool which stands as an interesting reminder of the sort of people record companies are ultimately working for: men in brightly coloured blazers shouting on stock exchange floors. The Fool is outraged that the EU has the temerity to be worried that if Microsoft is allowed to swallow Contentguard and its DRM technology, it might wind up dominating the market. The Fool waves its bladder on a stick and suggests that this is ridiculous - isn't Apple the leader in DRM anyway? Isn't this punishing Microsoft for something it might do?

The trouble is, of course, they're seeing DRM as if it was a distinct thing, like a type of lawnmower or a flavour of fizzy drink, totally disconected from any other product. Instead, of course, it's a part of a wider product, and, since Microsoft currently control the Operating System market, still throttle the browser market and are attempting to dominate the media player market, it's salutary for the EU to get involved before the problem develops. Surely it makes sense for the regulators to act before Miscorsoft are again allowed to build up a monopoly and squeeze competitors totally out the market. As the people who control the desktops, Microsoft have to be treated differently, especially as they've been proven time and time again to be untrustworthy - or, rather, very Trust-worthy.

Fool says the EU's early intervention is akin to the arrest of people for crimes they would commit in the future, a la Minority Report, but it isnt. It's more the equivalent of having a past offender signing some sort of register, so when they try to get in a position where it might re-offend, the risk is flagged up. I love being a European.

[Thanks to Jana K for the link]

Thursday, August 26, 2004

A PLEASING SYMMETRY: While the RIAA and its hired goons in the FBI go round raiding places in the US in the name of fair play, decency and protecting their rake-off, police in Japan are raiding their sister companies in an investigation into the rigging of the ringtone market, a ten billion Yen business. Apparently, there's a third of a million songs downloaded onto Japanese handsets every day.

ROCKOBIT: Body Count guitarist Dennis Miles has lost his battle with lymphoma. The forty-five year old is the third member of the band to die, following drummer Beatmaster V (leukemia, 1996) and Mosseman (drive-by, 1996). Known as D-Roc, Miles took to wearing a hockey mask at all times to avoid the pressures of fame or, more precisely, infamy.

BYE BYE BABY?: Having seen "how well Mel B has done for herself" in New York (i.e. because nobody knows who she is there, she doesn't get laughed at in the street), Emma Bunton is supposedly mulling a move to the US.

Hmmm... somehow we can picture Emma taking on the role of 'Greatest British Exile in NY', a gap that's needed filling since the death of this chap:

Quentin Crisp, of course, was not a real blonde.

But we're not sure that Emma going down the Letterman treadmill route is going to do her any favours, to be honest.

If she learned how to do gardening she could be the next Kim Wilde...

THANK YOU AND GOODBYE?: We're delighted by the news that Jamelia has signed with a talent agency that may take her to Hollywood. It'd be nice for her to have another string to her bow. She's joining the same stable which represents Styles P, for example:

Styles P., government name David Styles, is no ordinary rapper. He embodies true thug-life to the fullest, and then some. His blood gauging lyrics will leave you cringing and wounded. A hardcore runner whose thugged-out persona leaves admirers and challengers for the chase, and he’s so far ahead of the game that there isn’t anyone who’s remotely close to catching up.

Surely it can only be a matter of time before Jamelia and Styles get to work together.

MORE LAWSUITS: Another few lawsuits issued by the RIAA, bringing the total of people they've brought action against since they started lawsuits at the start of September last year to a mighty 4,000. At which rate, on a conservative estimate of the number of file sharers in the US, it's going to 3504 before they've been able to bring the last action. That they've failed to worry people enough with a year of lawsuits to reduce the problems they claim they face demonstrates that the courtroom threat has totally failed to change people's behaviours in any significant way - for if it had, why would they need to still be bringing these actions?

MC5 IN NW1: Of course, even if you don't go to see the MC5 play the Camden Barfly on Friday, you'll be telling people in ten years time that you did. On the downside, four MC5 tribute sets are promised as well, which is a bit odd; like the Louvre lining the hallway up to the Mona Lisa with a bunch of forgeries. Unless, of course, the tributes are really good, and they send the MC5 out somewhere in the middle of them, so it's like an identity parade: "Which is the real MC5... is it number one, MC Hammer..."

I AM THE LAW: Almost as if he was a placeman at the mercy of large corporations for support for this political campaigns, US Attorney General John Ashcroft has added his weight to the fight against eDonkey.

"P2P does not stand for 'permission to pilfer'" he explained, helpfully. Clearly, the best writers are all busy on the Bush campaign speeches at the moment. He went on:

"We do not believe it is appropriate for the Department of Justice to stand by while such theft is taking place."

He was defending the enormous input of FBI time and resources in a raid on five homes, raids which didn't even result in a single arrest. We're curious how a nation with so many security worries can find the time and space to run about stopping people sharing a few copies of Kill Bill. Unless, of course, the terrorist threat isn't as serious as they tell us, and so they can spare the resources. But why on earth would an administration choose to play up the dangers of terrorism in an election year?

WE DID WARN THEM IT WOULD COME TO THIS: The French record chain FNAC and EMI are being taken to court in France, to face charges of "deception over the material qualities of a product". In other words, selling a CD that won't play on CD players. There's a potential fine of EUR188,000, but more disturbingly for the labels, they could be ordered to withdraw all the corrupted CDs from sale in France.

HURRAH! MORE FROM PATTI SMITH: Another email from Patti:

i got to get back to work. i am researching the late, great walt kelly, creator of pogo. he is next on my list. i forgot to mention that a sparrow shat on my head in ventura. i have been well assured this is very good luck. so i share my good luck to all. now i must mosey on. i got to get my clothes out of the sink and hang them in the sun.

You can sign up for her regular, wonderful emails at

PRIVACY GAP: Madonna has always maintained that one of the reasons why she wanted great chunks of the English countryside ruled beyond bounds for locals is because she needs to protect the privacy of her family. Now, we could have some sympathy with the wish, if not the methods: why should Lourdes have her childhood ruined by the glare of publicity?

It must have been a totally different Lourdes, then, that Madonna dragged along and made part of a circus to promote her awful children's books at Great Ormond Street, then. Because you couldn't be serious about protecting your children's privacy if you're using them in publicity stunts, could you?

"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM" WORKS SLIGHTLY LESS WELL WHEN NOBODY DOES: Someone from 441 - Tisha, apparently - seems to think that mere Earth laws of queuing don't apply to her, especially in airports:

"When I came along Suzie our manager said 'Oh do you mind if Tisha comes along and does her ticket?'."
"The woman was like 'No, she can't, I'm gonna miss my plane, blah, blah, blah". She said to me, 'Get to the back'. So I'm like 'Hello, do you actually know me'."
"I was getting really heated, I was like, 'Don't tell me to get to the back of the queue when you don't actually know me'."
"I just don't like people telling me what to do when they don't actually know me, ask me nicely and I'll do it."

Erm... no, Tisha, I think if I'd been queuing for ages at an airport desk and someone tried to push in front with her mates, I wouldn't bother to wait for an introduction before telling you to fuck off to the back. You don't fart roses, you know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

WE MAKE THAT BATTY MEN 6, HOMOPHOBES 0: And still the gathering power of gay pride adminsters the sort of virtual kicking to annabe tormentors: MTV have dropped Beenie Man from a Video Awards warm-up gig in Florida in the face of planned protests.

Meanwhile, Beenie continues to make inept attempts to put things right, most recently in a Miaimi Herald inteview:

"I just smile, because I don't know what they're fussing about. I'm not here to cuss people. I make music. But at the same time I just want to teach people — my sons and my daughters — the right way of life."

If you're further to the right than Dick Cheney, what hope do you have?

BJORK ON THE INTERNET: She's not that bothered by it all, according to Fluxblog:

“You know, its ironic that just at the point the lawyers and the businessmen had calculated how to control music, the internet comes along and fucks everything up.” Bjork gives the finger again, this time waving it into the air. “God bless the internet,” she adds.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Contains some Dominic Mohan
There's The White Stripes on the cover of the NME, which can only mean one thing… there's a big interview with Dominic Mohan inside. Erm…

Even before we'd picked up our copy from the doormat, we'd had this email from Elvis Presley:

I know you're going to mention this in 'what the pop papers say' so I won't knock up a nicely-worded and considered argument, which is just as well coz I'm unable to due to rage: Dominic-fucking-Mohan as the centre piece of a White Stripes cover story without so much as a peep from the band themselves?! Jesus Christ. Aren't the NME one of the sponsors? Sponsoring a festival and giving a headlining band the cover isn't enough to get them to throw a few words your way? If proof was needed the NME's an insular, sycophantic rag that preachers to an ever-decreasing choir...

… although to be fair, at least talking to Mohan was a fairly inspired way of trying to get round the lack of an interview, although anyone who bought the paper for the Whites only to find they were getting a piece largely built upon an interview with the bloke who used to edit the Bizarre column in The Sun are going to feel pretty short changed. The trouble is, though, Mohan is a disagreeable, tiresome self-promoter, who seizes on the opportunity to try and portray himself as some sort of music guru - "I felt their look could catch on… a reaction to the manufactured pop that was clogging up the charts." Eh? Since when did The Sun declare war on manufactured pop? Also popping up is Jack's unreliable nephew Ben Blackwell to observe that "John Lee Hooker played stuff in Detroit and that doesn't get mentioned too often in connection with The White Stripes." Er… no, you’re right. Erm…

Still, if they hadn't given The White Stripes the front page, it would have had to have been Goldie Lookin' Chain, and that would never do.

The news pages have been swallowed by the V Festival reviews: Most shockingly, Kim Deal looks like Sandi Toksvig. [Page six, if you don't believe me]; in Hylands Park Tom from Keane says "we want to thank you, the people of Britain, for turning up to see us"; Sophie Ellis Bextor was spotted with her baby backstage; Muse and Pixies come out of it all as the highlights.

The remainder of the news space is mainly given over to extracts from Robbie Williams' forthcoming biography in which he reveals that he planned on sending Noel Gallagher a gloating letter before playing his three-night traffic jam at Knebworth because of Noel's earlier comments about him being "the fat dancer from Take That." It's perhaps the ultimate confirmation of what an insecure, pathetic third-rate talent Williams is that he not only feels the need to put one over on Gallagher, but that he tells people about it.

Peter Robinson saves us all by telling LL Cool J he's got a friend who thinks "your name a bit gay, what with it not being Cool J Loves Ladies." James' response can be used to calibrate measures of laughing too much: "HAAAAA! I've got to laugh at your friend. Your friend is hilarious to me." He doesn't actually go on to say "The very idea… me, gay? Imagine! Heh, who'd ever think that?" but…

There's a piece on the Suicide Girls - who have, of course, now converted their internet porn site into a cabaret, which will be at Reading-Leeds. We've still yet to have it convincingly explained to us what makes porn different because they've got a tattoo and blue hair.

Scissor Sisters - Brighton Dome - "welcome to the new regency"
The 5678s - Newcastle Cluny - "this shit is infectious"

Dizzee Rascal - Showtime - "sometimes flirts with a more American sound", 9
The blue nile - high - "you owe it to yourself to own a blue nile album - just not this one", 5
Bent - ariels - "making progress at a leisurely pace"

Sotw - fierce girl - double drop - "the reference points are JD Sports and cans of stella"
Kittie - into the darkness - "fisting Justin Hawkins"

And finally, Colin Murray does the 'Why I Love' feature, choosing Ash. He believes that Shining Light is one of the great love songs of our times. It's not often you can say "Colin Murray is probably right there", but… this time, he is.

EVERYONE DOWN TO THE JOHN LENNON JUMBLE SALE: We hope when we're gone, we'll have someone who'll take as great care of our legacy as Yoko is of John's. We've always grumbled there's something hypocritical about the grasping couple's legacy being summed up by a song about "imagining no possessions": now, she's cut out any space for argument by selling 'Imagine' to Nike, along with his image, for a pair of sixty quid plimsoles. A market place hero is something to be.

THIS LAND IS, ACTUALLY, OUR 'THIS LAND': Ludlow have backed down on trying to sue Jib-Jab for the use of oody Guthrie's This Land, as their case proved to have two flaws. The first was it seemed plausible JibJab could describe their Bush-Kerry parody as 'fair use', while secondly, are more significantly, it turned out the song had been public domain since 1973. Which makes you wonder: was the threatening letter a simple mistake, or something more sinister?

JAMIE CULLUM SWEEPS KERRANG AWARDS: Oh, alright, he didn't, but here are the 2004 Kerrang nomiees not in full, as is trad, but in part:

Ash - Orpheus
Lostprophets - Last Train Home
The Rasmus - In The Shadows
HIM - Funeral of Hearts
Linkin Park - Breaking the Habit
Evanescence - Going Under
The Distillers - Drain The Blood

Slipknot - Vol 3 The Subliminal Verses
Killswitch Engage - The End of Heartache
Muse - Absolution
Lostprophets - Start Something
Blink 182 - Blink 182
The Distillers - Coral Fang

The Glitterati [below]

The Darkness
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Funeral For A Friend

The glittering awards ceremony will be hosted by Stuart Cable, which gives just a sense of how thrilling it will all be.

THE REWARDS OF HOMOPHOBIA: The Mobo nominations are out, although the nominated types will probably not welcome being described as "out" in any sense - although Mobo organisers say it doesn't matter that Elephant Man recorded We Nuh Like Gay, as it was "years ago" and, besides, that's not the track they've been nominated for. Vybz Cartel has also picked up a shortlist place - again, not for one of their homophobic songs, so that's alright, then. Oddly, the organisers of the Mobos had told The Times on Monday that anti-gay artists would not feature in the 2004 awards, so the inclusion of Vybz "lesbians and queers must be assasinated" Kartel seems a little odd. [Outrage have more details on the specifics.]

As if the Mobos weren't in enough trouble, amongst the other nominations this year are Jamie Cullum and Amy Winehouse.

"I'LL ANSWER EXACTLY HOW MANY ROADS A MAN MUST WALK": The story of Robert Zimmerman's journey from Minnesota to appearing in knicker adverts is going to be told by the man who knows him best. No, not Bob Willis; himself. Bob Dylan's autobiography is due to appear on October 12th. Oddly, while Robbie Williams and Geri Halliwell have both managed to turn 'I was in a band; I went solo; boo-hoo' into two volumes of autobiography already, Bob seems to think his long career of actually achieving stuff only requires three books. Funny, that.

IF YOU CAN'T GO TO READING, YOU CAN ALWAYS DOWNLOAD: There's some sort of groundbreaking deal to make some of the acts at Reading/Leeds this year available as downloads, and there are plans to extend this to other MF-affiliated festivals as well, including next year's Glastonbury. The price, however, is ridiculous - GBP1.50 if you pay by SMS, which Mean Fiddler expect to be the most common way of paying; still a hefty 99p for people with credit cards.

Meanwhile, the forecast for Reading is heavy rain right across Friday, with showers starting at about five in the morning and getting heavier as the day progresses. The rest of the weekend is expected to be cloudy but dry. The Leeds festival is expected to take place under a mix of light rain, clouds and showers.

DRUCKS IN A ROW: Primal Scream. Spiritualized. Together at last. October 16th, Brixton Academy.

DAVE MATTHEWS SUED FOR DUMPING SHIT ON PEOPLE TRYING TO HAVE A GOOD TIME: Of course, that sounds unfair - surely that's what Dave Matthews is paid to do? - although it actually turns out that the State of Illinois believes Dave Matthews' tour bus deliberately discharged its septic tank into the Chicago River - unforunately while a boat was passing underneath. The attorney general reckons some 800 pounds of "liquid human waste" got dumped onto the boaters. The band maintains this has nothing to do with them.

WHEN IS FREE MUSIC NOT FREE MUSIC? WHEN YOU HAVE TO PAT FOR IT: We're not quite sure how Reuters believes the enforced college opt-in to paid-for file-sharing services counts as "Free" Online Music, since the cost of being made to sign up under the threat of victimisation from the RIAA is going to be shared out amongst every student's fee, one way or another. However, we're also a little uncertain if ary Sherman has thought through the implications of this system:

"You have to look at where we're coming from," RIAA president Sherman said. "As little as a year ago, there was still a great deal of reluctance by universities to consider this a problem that they needed to address at all. Now you have universities taking a wide variety of steps to address the problem. ... It introduces students to the concept that music has value and that the people who create it deserve to get paid."

But surely if the costs of the music are lost in the general fees paid by students anyway, how does that create this concept in the student's mind?

ABOUT BLOODY TIME, TOO: After much too long fannying about on stage, the Princess of the Possee is getting back to what she does best: Queen Latifah releases a new album at the end of September.

WELL, THAT'S CHRISTMAS RUINED: Barenaked ladies announce holiday album.

SHE REALLY DOES HAVE NEVER-ENDING TALENTS: She's a singer, she's a gardener, she campaigns for fell walls and against PMT. Now, Kim Wilde has added expert on child development to her range of skills, helping Dr Terri Apter produce a report on 'Soothing Family Life' for Cambridge University. Surely politcs must be waiting for Kim?

LONG LIST ANNOUNCED: The longlist for the shortlist prize, the annual US award for records which haven't yet sold half a million copies has been announced. What's interesting is the number of famous names whose sales have been poor enough to qualify this year:

AC Newman "The Slow Wonder" (Matador)
Air "Talkie Walkie" (Astralwerks)
Amel Larrieux "Bravebird" (Bliss Life)
Bad Acid Trip "Lynch The Weirdo" (Serjical Strike/RED INK)
Bebel Gilberto "Bebl Gilberto" (Six Degrees)
Belle & Sebastian "Dear Catastrophe Witness" (Sanctuary)
Blanche "If We Can't Trust The Doctors" (Cass)
Blonde Redhead "Misery Is A Butterfly" (4AD/Beggars Banquet)
Bob Schneider "I'm Good Now" (Shockorama/Vanguard)
Buckethead "Bucketheadland 2" (ION)
Cafe Tacuba "Cuatra Caminos" (MCA)
Cee-Lo "Cee-Lo Green Is The Soul Machine" (Arista)
Cesaria Evora "Voz D'Amor" (Bluebird Jazz/RCA)
David Bowie "Reality" (ISO/Columbia)
Dead Prez "Revolutionary But Gangsta" (Columbia)
Devendra Banhart "Rejoicing In The Hands" (Young god)
Dios "Dios" (Startime)
Dizzee Rascal "Boy In Da Corner" (Matador/XL)
Eagles Of Death Metal "Peace Love Death Metal" (Ant Acid Audio)
Elbow "Cast Of Thousands" (V2)
Fiery Furnaces "Gallowsbird's Park" (Rough Trade)
Franz Ferdinand "Franz Ferdinand" (Domino/Epic)
Galactic "Ruckus" (Sanctuary)
Gary Jules "Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets" (Universal)
Ghostface Killah "The Pretty Toney Album" (Def Jam)
Holly Golightly "Truly She Is None Other" (Damaged Goods)
Iron & Wine "Our Endless Numbered Days" (Sub Pop)
Jamie Cullum "Twentysomething" (Verve)
Jaylib "Champion Sound" (Stones Throw)
Jem "Finally Woken" (ATO)
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter "Oh, My Girl" (Barsuk)
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros "Streetcore" (Hellcat/Epitaph)
Josh Ritter "Hello Starling" (Signature)
Juana Molina "Segundo" (Domino)
Julieta Venegas "Si" (RCA International)
Keane "Hopes And Fears" (Interscope)
Keb Mo "Keep It Simple" (Epic/Okeh)
Loretta Lynn "Van Lear Rose" (Interscope)
Macy Gray "The Trouble With Being Myself" (Epic)
Magnetic Fields "I" (Nonesuch)
Melt Banana "Cell-Scape" (A-Zap)
Muse "Absolution" (Warner Bros)
My Morning Jacket "It Still Moves" (ATO)
Neil Young "Greendale" (Reprise)
Nellie McKay "Get Away From Me" (Columbia)
Non Prophets "Hope" (Lex)
Oceansize "Efflorese" (Beggars Banquet)
Patti Smith "Trampin'" (Columbia)
Patty Griffin "Impossible Dream" (ATO)
Peaches "Fatherfucker" (Beggars/XL)
Phil Kline "Zippo Songs" (Cantaloupe)
Phoenix "Alphabetical" (Astralwerks)
PJ Harvey "Uh Huh Her" (Island)
Rufus Wainwright "Want One" (Dreamworks)
Ryan Adams "Love Is Hell" (Lost Highway)
Scarling "Sweet Heart Dealer" (Sympathy For the Record Industry)
Simple Kid "1" (Vector)
Slum Village "Detroit Deli: A Taste Of Detroit" (Priority/Capitol)
Snow Patrol "Final Straw" (A & M/Interscope)
Teitur "Poetry & Aeroplanes" (Universal)
The Coral "Nightfreak And The Sons Of Becker" (Deltasonic/Columbia)
The Honorary Title "Anything Else But The Truth" (Doghouse)
The Killers "Hot Fuss" (Island)
The Secret Machines "Now Here Is Nowhere" (Reprise)
The Sleepy Jackson "Lovers" (Astralwerks)
The Streets "A Grand Don't Come For Free" (Vice)
The Weakerthans "Reconstruction Site" (Epitaph)
Travis "12 Memories" (Epic)
TV On The Radio "Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes" (Touch & Go)
Ty "Upwards" (Big Dada)
Van Hunt "Van Hunt" (Capitol)
Wilco "A Ghost Is Born" (Nonesuch)
Wrens "Meadowlands" (Absolutely Kosher)

MAKING AMMENDS: Phish are doing their best to do right by the fans who couldn't get into their farewell gig, following the foul-up with all the mud and tailbacks and police turning people away. Holders of tickets will get downloads of the live set and a book of photos chronicling the day. While we think this is a splendid gesture, we're not sure it's the most tactful thing to do - "Hey, sorry you couldn't make it to the gig - here, look and hear how much fun you could have had if you'd got in..."

SHADOWY MEN ON A SHADOWY PLANET: In prepartion for the forthcoming release of their third post-Pure Morning album, Clinic are sending everyone a lovely Winchester Catherdral ecard.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

LONDON CONFUSES ITESLF WITH LA: If it isn't bad enough that London has decided to clone the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cluttering up the pavement on Piccadilly Circus with a bunch of hand prints, the fact that they decided the calibre of the stars they expect to participate lead to them leading off with Jimmy Page probably says a lot about how doomed the whole project is.

Mind you, at least it's not as ridiculous as Brighton Marina's Walk of Fame, where we believe a paving slab commemorating Julie Burchill has been laid.
Burchill's last novel is currently available in branches of Poundland

NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY SCRUB, THERE'S STILL A LINGERING SMELL OF PHISH: Vermont have so far spent USD35,000 trying to clear up after Phish's farewell concert, and they're not prepared to pass the bill on to their taxpayers. Instead, the state are sending the Phish-cleaning bill to the promoters of the gig.

CHAMELEONS. NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD: David Bowie fans will be shuffling their copy of Labyrinth along the shelf to make room for the new live DVD, due this October. David Bowie - A Reality Tour has chosen to focus on his Dublin dates, rather than the ones where his heart went wobbly or he got a sweet in the eye. Presumably the footage from those dates has already been sent to Kirsty's Home Videos.

YOU COULD JUST HAVE RETURNED EARTH SONG TO TOWER FOR A REFUND, DUDE: Off-piste Jacko court action at the weekend, with 26 year old Adrian Poffley sending a death threat to Jackson. But, hey, he had his reasons:

Poffley, who told Toronto's Globe and Mail said he wanted to draw attention to the molestation case. "I wrote he wasn't going to make it to his car alive," Poffley told the newspaper.

See? He may have done a bad thing - he's now going to be up in court himself on a charge of making a death threat - but it was the purest of motives: apparently there are some people left on the planet who might need their attention being drawn to the molestation case.

NO... THIS WAY LIES THE MADNESS OF MARK GOODIER RETURNING: It's interesting that the younger Radio One tries to capture listeners, the more it's getting in touch with its roots; there's the middle of the night slot which replays bits of old Roadshows and Peel grumping around the back of the the Brits; Colin and Edith have been running an archive session which allows Colin to suggest that DLT was an unfunny, self-opiniated buffoon, and now The Evening Session with Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq is being revived - albeit for one night only, and to mark the tenth anniversary of Definitely Maybe. We're running a sweep on exactly at which point between 9pm and 1 am on the night of Monday 6th September Steve says the words "and, unexpectedly, Liam turned up with him, noticeably the worse for wear..."

This may be the last time ever Symposium have a chance of being played on the radio.

JUDGE ALLOWS LUCRATIVE SPECULATION ON WHAT MIGHT BE ON TAPES, HARD DRIVES: In a move welcomed by authors planning on writing 'Michael Jackson - The True Story' type cash-in books, Judge Melville has ordered that 70 pieces of evidence be discounted from Jacko's trial on the grounds that the police hadn't had the right to seize them. This leaves 50 items in the prosecution case, and a lot of room for guesses and rumour to flourish on the other 70.

ROCKOBIT: Al Dvorin, the man who announced that "Elvis has left the building", has died in a car crash. Although the words were not original, it was his distinctive delivery that turned an order to disperse into a catchphrase. He never got a single cent for the use of his words on any Elvis live recording, something which made him increasingly bitter towards Lisa Marie's Elvis Presley Enterprises. Dvorin was 81.

We're guessing that EJ Thribb will run the following in the next Private Eye:

So, farewell, then,
Al Dvorin
"Elvis has left the building"
That was your catchphrase
And now
So have you.

UNDERWATER FESTIVAL: People heading off for Reading this weekend are being advised to pack snorkels and shark repelent, as heavy rain looks set to turn the site into a quagmire. A lot of the car parking is currently under the River Thames following a month of rainfall ten times the normal level for August; current forecasts are for even more rain on Friday. Gallons of the stuff. Still, with the railways closed again, at least you can hire a punt to get you there.

AWW, WHAT A NICE MAN: Although we could be cruel and suggest that doing an gig for an audience of one is something that Craig David is probably getting used to, it's actually bloody nice of him to head off to Wales to do a visit at Rachel Jones' bedside. Jones was hit by a car being driven at 100 miles an hour by 27 year-old Carl Smith, and left unable to walk or feed herself. At her lowest, she'd asked to be allowed to die. But a visit from Craig David has lifted her spirits and made her determined to walk again. And even curmudgeons like us can't be cynical about that.

MO' MOESHA: Although, of course, the programme won't actually be called Moesha, Fox obviously hopes that signing Brandy up to make a sitcom will work as well as her UPN series did. Of course, Moesha came at the start of Brandy's stellar rise, and this deal happens when that rise has more or less stalled a little. Which we're sure has nothing to do with her decision to return to sitcom. Casting for a whacky friend, a crazy mom and a boyfriend who gives her nothing but trouble is expected any day soon.

I NEVER DID: Some movement in the Mindy McCready case. Her lawyers entered a not guilty plea on McCready's behalf to charges rising from an alleged use of a fraudulent prescription.

UNSURPRISING HEADLINES OF OUR TIME: RIAA Lawsuits Unpopular in United States - apparently 57% of respondents in a recent poll by Ispos disapproved of the pursuit of individuals by major international corporations. And the disapproval rate appears to be climbing.

ON THE MONEY: Pharrell Williams has launched a new clothing range - of course he has, he's a musician. Apparently, Pharrell's Reebok tie-up has created the world's first philosophical sneaker:

"'Ice Cream' is ice as in jewels and cream as in cash. The two things that run the world, we wanted to put those two things below people's feet."
"The 'Billionaire Boys Club' is 'wealth is of the heart and the mind and not the pocket' which means money shouldn't validate you, you know, your intelligence should."

So... there you are. Your intelligence is what's important, not how much money you have. Oddly enough, though, Williams has elected to be rewarded by Reebok with large piles of cash rather than games of chess and copies of encyclopedias. Money might not validate you, but it's a great help when it comes to getting a good table at La Belle Etoille.

LIVING DOLLS: The New York Dolls are scheduled to bring their first new album in the post-rationing age when they release Pre-Crash Condition, recorded live at Mozzer's Meltdown. One of their last outings before the death of Arthur Kane, there are also plans for a DVD of the same event.

Monday, August 23, 2004

SONY FALLS SHORT: Early reviews of the new Sony Walkman are suggesting that it leaves a lot to be desired, although it does have a longer battery life than the iPod. Stephen Williams' Newsday review basically hits the nail on the head: this is a hard-disc product from a company that's spent the last five years betting on MiniDisc as the way to store your downloads, and it shows.

Meanwhile, back in Britain, Sony's link-up with McDonalds to promote its Connect download service seems to have flopped, if our local burger house is typical. Despite a couple of posters advertising the 'buy a Big Mac, get a free download offer', my wife didn't get any mention of a download with her meal yesterday. So we wandered up to the counter and asked if we were meant to get a voucher of some sort. "Erm... " the assistant clearly had no idea what we were talking about, and hazzarded a guess that the promotion might be over. She asked a superior colleague, who, after a couple of minutes looking at the poster, turned to us apologetically and said "We've not got any." Clearly, we were the first people even to have bothered asking about the offer - and McDonalds aren't even that arsed about it. The promotion is meant to have been running for a month already, and has another seven days to go - and yet the staff at branch don't appear to even know it's going on. There is a possibility that all 2.9 million tracks offered have been downloaded already, but somehow, we doubt that very much. In effect, it seems: not only can they not give away Sony Connect tracks for free, but they can't even be arsed to bother.

SO... ARE YOU SAYING THAT BUSH TOLD TIMBERLAKE TO REMOVE YOUR TOP?: Janet Jackson seems convinced that all the nipple fuss earlier this year was designed to distract attention from the Iraq War, which is interesting, although slightly unlikely: with the American media so happy to act as Bush cheerleaders, why on earth would the President want to distract Fox from reporting the swift, clean victory in Iraq?

ROCK SICK LIST: Alison Goldfrapp has been told by doctors to get some rest, as she's suffering from "exhaustion." Does anyone else other than rock stars get this mysterious ailment? Anyway, the band have pulled out of Creamfields as a result.

SO... THIS MEANS WE WON'T NEED ANY LAWSUITS, THEN?: The death of the single has been greatly exaggerated, it seems: sales have risen 6.4% and album sales are up as well. Hurrah! Nothing for the BPI to moan about at all, there, then, is there? And the singles increases don't even begin to take into account the number of legal downloads sold too. The UK music industry is booming, booming, booming - and without the BPI having to ruin the life of anyone for sharing tracks over a Peer To Peer network.

V ON TV: Let's try this again; our first post on this got swallowed by net congestion
E4 always had a hard task on its hands with its coverage of the V festival. The BBC had an excellent Glastonbury and T in the Park, and even without V usually feeling like the consolation prize of festivals, so many of the bands playing had already been on at Glasto or T (or both) the whole thing was in danger of looking more like a compilation of previous events rather than something fresh and exciting. Here are the Scissor Sisters, and Amy Winehouse, and Jamie Cullum, and Starsailor, and The Thrills, and... but you get the point. And the venue (E4 chose to base itself in Chelmsford) looked less like a bohemian out door celebration of the gods of music and joy, more like a bunch of protestors penned in a public park.

But it's always possible to turn a potential disaster around, and E4 managed it. They turned it round, and round, and round and round so much the programme lurched all over the place in a dizzy and confused fashion, eventually pausing to throw up in a wastebasket full of wasps. The main presentation was handled by Cat Deeley and Vernon Kay, for reasons we're still left fumbling with. Deeley is useless without a script in her hand and, we'd suggest from watching her rambling, confused attempts at interviews and desperate attempts to adlib, without three or four reshoots, and, although she is easy on the eye, she should never be allowed to anchor anything live ever again. Kay, of course, has wide experience of live television - having wasted so many, many precious minutes of his life presenting Top of the Pops At Play to an audience of almost nobody - so he's able to keep a show flowing.The trouble is, he's almost so insanely unlikeable, with his slightly smug air and inability to tell 'thing that happened' from 'interesting thing that happened' he should be used to protect famous people from being kidnapped. No terrorist, however desperate, is going to bundle someone in the back of a van if they have to take Kay as well. Of course, the duo's shit job would be almost forgivable in the context of a live show, but for some reason they decided to leave their clumsy, pointless links for the highlights package as well. (The package, by the way, claiming to be 'LIVE' even as it showed bright sunlight over Chelmsford at ten thirty at night). Even T4's Simon was a bit rubbish, pissing away an interview with the Scissor Sisters in what was meant to be a humorous undercutting of media people's desire to say "I was there first", but was actually little more than Simes' way of telling us "I was there first." Even though he wasn't. He also interviewed Jamie Cullum for what seemed to be three hours.

Cullum, for me, was the highlight of the music - mainly because he desperately tried to get the crowd to sing along, only to be met with a handful of people participating amongst ranks of stony-faced, closed-mouth Pixies fans.

The gimmick of choice this year seemed to be child labour - Scissor sisters had a couple of scary looking blond kids clog dancing to Laura, while N*E*R*D pulled a young lad in a Muse shirt onstage for Rockstar. Jamelia didn't invite any kids on stage, but did show beyond reasonable doubt that she has just one "dance", that hand-wavy thing that she does; it may just have been a bad gig but her much-vaunted astonishing voice doesn't seem to cut it live, either - you wished she'd just shut up and let her backing singers do the work, to be frank. And whoever it was who suggested Goldie Lookin' Chain are simply 2004's Morris Minor and the Majors (on NYLPM, I believe) was being cruel. Tony Hawke's songwriting talents are way beyond what GLC can achieve. In a way, they're a perfect E4 band, working well in a context which pretends that Bo Selecta is funny; but beyond that, they're very patchy. "Guns don't kill people - rappers do" is a kind of funny phrase, but repeating it sixty odd times in three minutes is a comedy cupboard that's been laid bare. Especially if the best rhyme you can think of to go with it is "woo-woo-woo." Stutter Rap? Closer to Rat Rapping.

"THAT'S NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL": Following a deluge of contempt and sniping at their sudden discovery of "freedom of choice for music", Richard Wolpert, Real's chief strategy officer, has gone on the defensive-offensive. He's not happy to be reminded of Real's earlier legal action against Streambox:

Wolpert said the Streambox case is unrelated to the Harmony software case because Streambox stripped the DRM from Real's product and Harmony doesn't alter Apple's DRM, it only operates with it.

Actually, Wolpert, you're trying to have your MP3 and AAC it as well - the Freedom of Choice For Music site wasn't presenting itself as being anything to do with Digital Rights Management - because, of course, no consumers actually like the whole idea of being told what they can and can't do with stuff they've paid for; FOCFM was supposedly about allowing people to play their music on the products they choose. Which is exactly what Streambox was designed to do. If you want to re-word Freedom of Choice along the lines of "Don't let Apple break your iPod by not letting you play other downloads on it, as long as you have permission of the copyright holder and it doesn't harm the DRM built into either of the products you should be permitted to play anything" - but somehow, I think the site would wind up looking even less cool than it does right now.

Real seem happy that their campaign is working, mind:

Download sales in the Real music store have exceeded the company's expectations, he said. Rhapsody has had its highest peak in active users and new users last week. Over 100,000 people have checked out the new website.

How many people are believed to download music in the US? Seven million, wasn't it? So that's less than one in seventy, even if we assume that nobody who went to the Rhapsody site came from outside the US. (And we went there, so thats minus one already.) Hardly a glowing start. Not that Real will be that upset - it's likely it's losing cash on each download, so, really, the fewer the better would be the corporate message.

NOT THE ONLY CHART THAT DOESN'T REALLY COUNT: We're not sure of the details yet of the chart that the FT reports ITV is developing, but we know the basics: ITV has signed a deal with Orange to produce a new chart programme counting down the week's best-selling ringtones. Although we find the idea of forcing Girls Aloud into the studio to mime to the Nokia 330 version of The Show, this really does just stink of a programme being created to fill the sponsorship, and not the other way round. Obviously, we are slightly curious as to what ringtones are best at proving the age-old saw about a fool and their money, but we're not sure we need a TOTP style programme built round the list. Isn't it also going to be going beyond the realms of cruelty to the artist to make them pretend to be excited that their hard-crafted piece of work is now rendered as little more than a social irritant, warbling out the top pocket of a blazer on the back of the 776 bus?

HIS LIFE IS JUST A SOAP OPERA: According to an online posting, Pete Doherty has been attacked on the streets by a tabloid-shouting man. In his own words (or, more accurately, those of the late Anthony Burgess) Doherty reports:

"This was the scene then: Ice (a friend) and I at peace with the world and we share a cigarette as we stroll in a delirious Arcadian harmony. A fella in a baseball cap and Irish accent engages us in a tabloid exchange - calls me a crackhead and says he's gonna break my nose and stick a knife in my neck. He just flares up over nothing and all horror breaks out of guarded cage. I try to get across the road but get hit (not hard) by a car, he boots me full in the head while I am on the floor and punches me a few times or so full in the bilo face. My ears are throbbing like the proverbial flappers of Albion I am ready to perform. But he grabs my feet and drags me back into the road. Fuckin' hell. I scramble witless to my feet and stop the nearest car, get in and scream 'get the fuck out of here (mush)'"

It's this final bit that intrigues us - how many people in London would let a screeching madman get in their car and tell them where to go to? Not, I'd guess, that many.

COCK TALE: So, the big upset of V was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club storming out a signing session when asked to autograph a penis. It was one of those 'amusing' inflatable ones. Peter Hayes attempted to explain why they got up and walked away:

"I'm just not into bullshit really. I tend to get in bad moods when that happens. It shouldn't be taken offensively really but I don't like dealing with that stuff. It doesn't set well with me so I'll just leave. Hopefully people don't get too offended but if they're going to offend me… I shouldn't put myself in that situation to deal with that. I guess I should laugh at that stuff more but there's too much of that stuff going on to deal with."

We're not quite sure what he means with those last words - he's being given too many inflated penises to sign? Because we could see that that would get tired.

We do worry now, though, that he's set himself up for a lifetime of ridicule, as people will start to call him "the one who ran away from a blow-up cock", "Peter petrified of pee-pees" and "the member that wouldn't touch the member", along with some others which we'll write in our lunch break. Whatever Happened To Our Rock & Roll Stars, eh?

MUM'S THE WORD: In news that won't help his chances if he ever decides to go for the James Bond role, Justin Timberlake has been voted 'star most dominated by his mam' in some sort of poll. Oh, they tried to dress it up as "best showbiz mom", but clearly the point is that she's always on hand, ready to spit on a hankie and wipe the smuts from his face. The top ten, in full:


Sunday, August 22, 2004

PUB BORE IN YOUR OWN LIVING ROOM: After testing the UK's IQ to destruction, and then general knowledge, the Test The Nation format (Anne Robinson, Philip Schofield, jiggery-pokery using the red button on the remote and groups of people -roadies being one, we're betting) is being used to hold the largest pop quiz ever, although not the longest. The longest would have been those mammoth ones Radio One used to that lasted for twenty-four hours, we're assuming.

BAN ON BANTON: As the campaign against violent homophobia in music continues to gather pace, a slew of Buju Banton dates in Germany have been pulled. The organiser of the Saarbruecken Festival, Dragan Nikitovic, said he was so disgusted by Banton's lyrics he wouldn't have him on stage even if he meant he lost money - although it's not quite clear how Banton was booked in the first place, since his calls for the slaughter of gays haven't actually just come to light. Meanwhile, a German gays right group LSVD are taking advice about a possible prosecution of Banton if he comes to the country at all - Germany, of course, have very strong anti-hate-crime legislation.

ALL OFF THE PLANE: There was nearly an American Pie style disaster last week when a jet carrying both Katie Melua and Wombles supremo Mike Batt caught fire. The good news is that the resulting delays has knocked Melua off schedule for recording her new album.

[NOT HIS REAL NAME]: JJ Cale isn't really JJ Cale at all - he's actually J W Cale - the JJ was a nickname made up by a bar owner, and the longer version, Jean Jacques Cale, was invented by a french writer who'd been ejected from a venue before he got a chance to do an interview so made the rest up.

GO AWAY: Following on from New Zealand telling Shania twain if she wants to buy a chunk of their land, she'll have to allow public access, Twain and husband Mutt Lange have come up with a better idea - what if they paid for a whole new track on the next plot of land along?. Interestingly, they didn't even bother to ask their neighbours how they felt about this and, as they're actual farmers rather than just paranoid celebrities, Don and Vicky McRae are a bit pissed off that they're expected just to roll over and make things simple for the famous folk.

Shania sees this as a fight to remain normal: "We just have to have boundaries in order to keep some normalcy in our lives."

So, Shania's idea of normal is paying sixteen million bucks for a house in the middle of nowhere, and then pumping more cash into it in a desperate bid to ensure there are no passers-by ever anywhere near them. Even Howard Hughes might spot that that isn't entirely normal.

WHAAAAT NOW?: In an unexpected example of floor-crossing, Andre 3000 of Outkast is booked to appear at a Republican Convention bash being thrown by George Bush's daughters. Last month, several high-profile Republicans were slamming the Democrats for letting 3000 appear on their Convention floor as he was, you know, one of them gun-waving gangster rappers you read about in the paper. It does now seem that inviting him might have been ill-judged, but for totally different reasons.

ODDLY, THE NEPHEW WAS LYING: You might find this hard to believe, but Ben Blackwell, the nephew of Jack White who was saying "not that I've spoken to him or anything, but I've heard it said that the White Stripes are to split" has been dismissed by White Stripes spokespeople, who say they can't be breaking up because they're playing Reading. We're not quite sure that "they're scheduled to a do a gig in a few days" really counts very much as a ringing statement about a long-term future; we'd have thought raising a quizzical eyebrow and asking "and how much about your Uncle's business affairs do you know?" might have been more effective.

DON'T GO ON TOO MUCH: Most nations wait until they qualify before writing a singalong anthem to cheer them on in the World Cup finals - but, since they don't have a great record of qualification, Wales have decided to get their song written for the preliminary stages. Of course, if they do pull it off and make it through to Germany 2006, they'll have the song ready to go. Gary Slaymaker is co-ordinating attempts to find the new song and - as is the way with everything from opera singers to top models these days - his efforts are going to be centred on a TV series.

The Manics had been promising to write a song for the Welsh team if they'd qualified for Euro 2004; they didn't, so they didn't.

ALL THE BACKSTAGE BOYS: An interesting email from Elvis Presley:

This story [about the 'exclusive' backstage VIP sessions] has obviously come from a press release doled out by Virgin (and/or PR Cake Media), which begs the question, why? Do the paying public want to know that whilst they're knee-deep in white wine and collapsible camping chairs from Millets, the choice second-string turns will be putting on intimate and exclusive sets to the Virgin marketing team and their corporate clients? Those who can't be arsed to walk out amonst the great unwashed can now stay at the VIP bar and have bands come to them, making it even easier to bray loudly to each other whilst not giving a shit who's playing. It's not even the backstage area, it's the VIP area within the backstage area. After the Chili Peppers golden circle bollocks are we heading to a two-tired festival system? Glastonbury's got its problems but I can't see Michael Eavis ever agreeing to this kind of elitism.
Of course I might be coming at this from the wrong angle: Maybe Virgin are pleased to announce that this year they've done all they can to keep the wankers penned in and away from the people who pay to watch bands and enjoy music.

To which we can add nothing other than some nodding.